The Political Report – 3/19/22

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds that, two years into the pandemic, 43% of U.S. residents say they feel “worse” about their “fellow Americans. Just 10% say they feel “better.”

Only 14% of Americans say they’re “better off” now than before the pandemic, while 35% say they’re “worse off.”

A new Monmouth poll finds just 46% of the American public says the state of the union is strong, while another 27% say it is not too strong and 24% say it is not at all strong.

“When Monmouth asked poll respondents to use one word or phrase to describe the United States of America today, the most common response was ‘divided’… This sentiment accounts for more than 1 in 10 responses when combined with related words such as polarized, conflicted, and fractured. Other commonly mentioned top-of-mind words are chaos, mess, confused, and disappointing.”

“In all, 76% of poll respondents used a negative word to describe the current state of the country while just 15% used a positive one.”

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The national redistricting picture is nearly complete, as only 5 more states — Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio — have yet to enact congressional maps.”

“While Democrats are currently up in our running House tally, the plans from those 5 remaining states should boost the Republican tally.”

“The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the third set of state House and Senate maps late Wednesday, effectively ending any hope of a May 3rd primary with both legislative and statewide races,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has said clearly for months that he doesn’t like the once-in-a decade redistricting maps being pushed through the state’s legislature by fellow Republicans who control both chambers,” Fox News reports.  “And on Wednesday, the Republican governor announced that he will veto the maps.”

Josh Barro: “Late last year, I said there was reason to think Democrats’ performance in the midterm elections might not be as weak as polls (and November 2021 election results) seemed to presage: The public was unhappy about Covid and the economy, but fundamentals relating both of those matters were likely to improve by the midterms, with lower inflation and less disruption to daily life.”

“Well, I no longer think fundamentals are likely to improve materially between now and the election.”

Catherine Rampell: “Just as it seemed as though the global economy and its tangled supply chains could be getting back to normal, three factors might supercharge inflation and/or raise the risk of recession… There’s never a good time for a downturn. But given all the other suffering and loss of life over the past few years, it’s hard to imagine a worse time than the present.”

Matt Lewis: “Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there’s no going back to ‘America First’ as it was. That’s not to say the public is clamoring for a war with Russia. But the Trumpian worldview that embraced Vladimir Putin and threatened to abandon NATO has, for now, been repudiated. Republicans with their ears closest to the ground already know this.”

WISCONSIN. Washington Post: “In just the last four weeks, a state legislator who believes the election can be decertified has jumped into the race for governor; former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R), who has led in polls of that primary, would not say if she would have certified the 2020 election; and a Vos-appointed special counsel told the legislature that it ‘ought to take a very hard look’ at decertifying President Biden’s 10 electoral votes in the state.”

Said Gov. Tony Evers (D): “They are leapfrogging over each other to get the far, far right. They may want to forget about that, when whoever wins the primary runs against me. But we won’t let them forget about that.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously decided not to sanction 10 Republicans — including one of the commissioners — for falsely claiming to be presidential electors in 2020, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Michigan state Rep. Steve Carra (R) ended his campaign for Congress on Tuesday, days after former President Donald Trump gave his “complete and total” endorsement to Carra’s Republican primary opponent, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), the Detroit News reports. 

“Carra, who had been endorsed by Trump in September, said he will now support Huizenga’s reelection campaign. Carra’s decision is a blow for Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) who potentially stood to benefit from Carra and Huizenga splitting the pro-Trump vote in the August GOP primary.”

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told a church assembly that he’s “open” to mounting another run for New York governor, Bloomberg reports. Cuomo said that he’s not only open to running for governor again, he would “consider creating his own political party to do so,” Bloomberg reports. Cuomo is quoted by Politico: “I have a lot of options open, and I’m considering them.”

CALIFORNIA 5TH CD. Republican Rep. Tom McClintock faces intra-party opposition from Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig and three others in a 55-43 Trump constituency in the upper Central Valley and Sierra foothills. McClintock’s existing 4th District makes up just over 40% of the new district, while fewer than 5,000 people are Magsig’s constituents.

CALIFORNIA 6TH CD. While Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Courtney Bailey-Kanelos took out paperwork last month for a possible independent bid against Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, she didn’t end up filing ahead of Friday’s deadline. Bera should have little trouble winning this 58-39 Biden seat based in Sacramento and its northern suburbs.

CALIFORNIA 8TH CD. Democratic Rep. John Garamendi is the favorite for another term even though his existing 3rd District makes up just over 20% of this new seat, which is home to suburbs east of Oakland. However, he does face noteworthy intra-party opposition from Richmond City Councilman Demnlus Johnson. Johnson, who is Black, has argued, “The new congressional district was created to represent people like us. We can finally elect someone who knows our community because they’re from our community.”

People of color make up close to three-quarters of this new constituency, but Garamendi, who is white, is arguing that he knows this area well from his time “not only as a member of Congress, but also as lieutenant Governor and as insurance commissioner.” (Garamendi is of Basque descent but does not identify as Hispanic.) Three other Democrats and one Republican are competing for this seat, which would have backed Biden 76-22.

CALIFORNIA 9TH CD. Democratic Rep. Josh Harder decided to seek re-election in this seat, a Stockton-area constituency that would have backed Biden 55-43, right after fellow Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney announced his retirement in January. Just over a quarter of the new 9th’s denizens live in Harder’s existing 10th District, but he doesn’t appear to have any serious intra-party opposition. Three Republicans are running here, though the only one who looks noteworthy is San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti.

CALIFORNIA 21ST CD. Democratic Rep. Jim Costa should be the heavy favorite in a Fresno area district that Biden would have taken 59-39, though he struggled in the 2014 general election against a weak GOP foe in a similarly blue constituency. The only Republican who is going up against him this time is businessman Michael Maher, who is also campaigning in the special election for the old 22nd District.

CALIFORNIA 22ND CD. Rep. David Valadao, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump last year, is running for re-election in a southern Central Valley seat that Biden would have won 55-42. Valadao faces two fellow Republicans, King County School Board Member Adam Medeiros and former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, but neither of them has attracted any public support yet from Trump. Mathys ran for office a few times in New Mexico including in 2020, when he took last place with 24% in the three-way primary for the 2nd Congressional District.

On the Democratic side, state and national leaders have consolidated behind Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who doesn’t face any serious intra-party opponents.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball notes “there appears to be some connection between higher gas prices and lower presidential approval, but the connection is not that strong, and it has become weaker in recent years.”

CALIFORNIA 27TH CD. Republican Rep. Mike Garcia is defending a seat based in Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley that would have gone for Biden 55-43, and three Democrats are facing off against him. The most familiar name is former Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who badly lost the spring 2020 special election to Garcia but came just 333 votes shy months later as Biden was winning the old 25th District 54-44; Smith recently earned the endorsement of the state Democratic Party for her third bid.

The two other Democrats are Navy veteran Quaye Quartey and Simi Valley City Councilwoman Ruth Luevanos. Luevanos continued to run after her community was moved to the new 26th District, but she barely had any money available at the end of 2021.

CALIFORNIA 31ST CD. While Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano, who will be 86 when the new Congress is sworn in, has long been the subject of retirement speculation, she’s running for a 13th term. She faces no serious opposition in an eastern San Gabriel Valley seat that Biden would have won 64-33.

CALIFORNIA 34TH CD. Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez beat former prosecutor David Kim just 53-47 in the 2020 all-Democratic general election, and Kim is seeking a rematch. One Republican and an independent are also running, but it’s very likely Gomez and Kim will advance to November in a downtown Los Angeles seat that Biden would have carried 81-17.

CALIFORNIA 40TH CD. Freshman Republican Rep. Young Kim is seeking re-election in an eastern Orange County district where she currently represents just 20% of the population, a seat that Biden would have carried by a close 50-48 margin. Four fellow Republicans are challenging her. The most notable is Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths, a frequent congressional candidate who most recently challenged Democratic Rep. Katie Porter in 2020 for the old 45th District and lost 53-47. On the other side, state Democratic leaders have consolidated behind physician Asif Mahmood, who took third in the 2018 race for state comptroller.

CALIFORNIA 41ST CD. Well, so much for that: While state Sen. Melissa Melendez took out paperwork last week for a potential intra-party challenge to her fellow Republican, 15-term Rep. Ken Calvert, she doesn’t appear to have submitted it before Friday’s deadline.

Calvert now faces only minor intra-party opposition in this suburban Riverside seat, though he could have his first serious general election fight since his surprise near-defeat in 2008. While the congressman’s existing 42nd District backed Trump 53-45, the new 41st would have supported him only 50-49. For the Democrats, the state party has endorsed former federal prosecutor Will Rollins over engineer Shrina Kurani.

CALIFORNIA 45TH CD. Freshman Republican Rep. Michelle Steel is seeking a second term in a western Orange County that would have supported Biden 52-46 and where only 16% of the population lives within her existing 48th District. State and national Democrats are backing community college trustee Jay Chen, who ran a respectable 2012 campaign in the old 39th against longtime Republican Rep. Ed Royce back when Orange County was considerably redder than it is now.

CALIFORNIA 47TH CD. Rep. Katie Porter, who is one of the best fundraisers in the Democratic caucus, is seeking a third term in a seat located in coastal Orange County and Irvine that Biden would have won 55-43just over 40% of the new 47th’s residents live within Porter’s existing 45th District. Her only notable foe appears to be former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh, who ran against Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher in the 2018 top-two primary for the old 48th and finished a close fourth.

CALIFORNIA 49TH CD. Three notable Republicans are competing to take on Democratic Rep. Mike Levin in a coastal San Diego County seat that would have favored Biden 55-43. One familiar name is 2020 nominee Brian Maryott, who lost to Levin 53-47 even as Biden was carrying the old version of the 49th by that same 55-43 margin and has the state party endorsement for his second bid. The field also includes Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez.

COLORADO 7TH CD. EMILY’s List has endorsed state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who doesn’t have any serious intra-party opposition in sight in the June Democratic primary.

FLORIDA 7TH CD. Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani, who previously hadn’t ruled out a bid for Florida’s open 7th Congressional District, announced on Tuesday that she’d seek re-election to the legislature.

Longtime congressional staffer Rusty Roberts tells Florida Politics that he’s considering seeking the Republican nod to succeed Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, and the site adds that he “will likely announce next week.” Roberts used to serve as chief of staff for Republican John Mica, the Styrofoam hoarder that Murphy unseated in a 2016 upset.

FLORIDA 20TH CD. Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief has confirmed that she’s leaning towards waging a primary challenge to state Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book rather than seeking a rematch with Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, though she said the ultimate outcome of redistricting would help her make her decision. The legislature recently passed a map, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to veto, that moves Sharief’s longtime base in Miramar out of the 20th. She said, though, that if the city winds up back in Cherfilus-McCormick’s seat when all is said and done, another congressional campaign is “fair game.”

FLORIDA 22ND CD. Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen is the latest Democrat to say he’s considering a bid for Florida’s open 22nd Congressional District, though he adds that he’s in “no rush” to make a decision.

FLORIDA 15TH CD. Former Rep. Dennis Ross announced Tuesday that he’d try to return to the House after a four-year absence by seeking the Republican nomination for the newly drawn 15th District in the Tampa area. GOP state Rep. Jackie Toledo is also campaigning for what would be an open seat even though Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to veto the congressional map that she and her colleagues passed.

Ross was elected in the 2010 tea party wave to succeed Adam Putnam, a fellow Republican who left to successfully run for state agriculture commissioner (he later lost the 2018 primary to none other than DeSantis) in what was then numbered the 12th District. Ross, whose reliably red constituency was redubbed the 15th two years later, rose to become senior deputy majority whip, but he rarely attracted much attention otherwise; indeed, national observers sometimes referred to him as the other Dennis Ross when they referred to him at all.

The congressman unexpectedly announced in 2018 that he would not seek a fifth term, though characteristically, his declaration was vastly overshadowed by Speaker Paul Ryan’s own retirement that same day. (The Florida Man said he learned of Ryan’s parallel departure as he was telling his own staff about his decision and happened to look at a TV tuned to Fox.) Ross explained his decision by saying, “Eight years takes its toll on you. When you feel like a stranger in your hometown, it’s time to say, ‘There’s got to be an exit strategy at some point.'”

However, Ross now very much is looking for a re-entry strategy, declaring, “Seeing what’s happened in the last few years has just forced me to get off the sidelines and get back in the game, and that’s exactly the way I feel. And I feel compelled to do that in, I think, a very statesmanlike fashion (that) I think the voters are craving for.”

GEORGIA 2ND CD. Veteran Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop hasn’t faced any serious general election foe since he almost lost in the 2010 GOP wave, but six Republicans are now taking him on in a southwestern Georgia seat that would have favored Joe Biden 55-44.

Only half of the field reported raising any money before the end of the year. Businessman Wayne Johnson, who is a former Trump official in the Department of Education, led Air Force veteran Chris West in cash-on-hand $135,000 to $104,000 thanks mostly to self-funding, while perennial candidate Vivian Childs had just over $6,000. The other Republicans are Army veteran Jeremy Hunt, teacher Paul Whitehead, and Rich Robertson, who is another Air Force veteran. Bishop, for his part, had $393,000 on hand to defend himself.

GEORGIA 6TH CD. The new Republican gerrymander led Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath to seek re-election in the neighboring 7th District, and nine Republicans are competing for an open seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs that would have favored Trump 57-42.

The most familiar candidate may be physician Rich McCormick, who narrowly lost last year’s race for the old 7th District to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux (the old 7th makes up 30% of the new 6th) and once again has the backing of the anti-tax Club for Growth. Another well-connected contender is former state ethics commission chair Jake Evans, whose father, Randy Evans, is Trump’s former ambassador to Luxembourg. McCormick ended 2021 with a small $1.15 million to $1 million cash-on-hand edge over Evans, who has also been doing some self-funding.

The field also includes pastor Mallory Staples, who had $476,000 on-hand thanks mostly to self-funding, and former state Rep. Meagan Hanson, who had $279,000 available. It remains to be seen if any of the other five candidates can stand out in this crowded race.

GEORGIA 7TH CD. The Democratic primary for this 62-36 Biden seat in Atlanta’s northeastern suburbs is a three-way contest between Rep. Lucy McBath, who represents the current 6th District; Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who holds the existing 7th; and state Rep. Donna McLeod. Bourdeaux represents 57% of the new seat compared to just 12% for McBath. However, the more progressive McBath may be more in line with primary voters than Bourdeaux, who last year joined a group of nine renegade Democratic moderates who threatened to derail Biden’s Build Back Better agenda if they didn’t get a vote on Congress’ bipartisan infrastructure bill first.

McBath also has the backing of Stacey Abrams, who will be Team Blue’s gubernatorial nominee again, while a super PAC called Protect Our Future funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has pledged to spend $2 million for her. The only poll we’ve seen this year was a January Data for Progress survey for that group that showed McBath leading Bourdeaux 40-31, with McLeod at 6%.

End Citizens United has endorsed Rep. Lucy McBath in her May Democratic primary battle against fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux.

GEORGIA 9TH CD. Freshman Rep. Andrew Clyde faces four opponents in the Republican primary for this safely red northeastern Georgia seat including Ben Souther, a former FBI agent and University of Georgia football player who launched his campaign last month specifically citing the fact that Clyde does not live in the new district. The congressman, for his part, has claimed that his home county of Jackson was moved into the 10th District as the result of “a purposeful decision made by a handful of establishment politicians” to target him for being a “hardcore conservative.” Clyde ended 2021 with just $41,000 on hand, though it remains to be seen if any of his foes can put up a serious fight.

GEORGIA 10TH CD. Far-right extremist Jody Hice is leaving to run for secretary of state with Donald Trump’s blessing, and eight fellow Republicans are facing off to replace him in a safely red constituency based in Atlanta’s eastern exurbs and Athens. The most prominent contender is former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a conservative Democrat-turned-Republican who earned Trump’s support right after he ended his campaign for governor and started running here last month. Jones, though, never represented any of this area in the legislature or as DeKalb County CEO, and his opponents have sought to portray him as an outsider.

The contest also includes a few other familiar names. There’s former Rep. Paul Broun, who gave up the previous version of the 10th in 2014 to unsuccessfully run for the Senate and went on to lose comeback bids for the old 9th in both 2016 and 2020. There’s also businessman Mike Collins, the son of the late Rep. Mac Collins, who sought to succeed Broun in 2014 but lost to Hice 54-46. State Rep. Timothy Barr, meanwhile, has the support of Hice and 9th District Rep. Andrew Clyde.

The primary also features former Georgia Revenue Commissioner David Curry, businessman Marc McMain, retired Air Force Col. Alan Sims, and Mitchell Swan, who took a mere 4% in the 2014 primary. Former Trump administration official Patrick Witt was also running until last week, but he switched to challenging Insurance Commissioner John King in the GOP primary and endorsed Jones on his way out.

Swan seems to have decided that anti-trans bigotry will help him stand out this time. Swan is running a TV spot for the May primary where he declares, “I oppose transgenders in our ranks.”

GEORGIA 13TH CD. Rep. David Scott, who has long been one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus, took just 53% of the vote in the 2020 primary, and he now faces intra-party opposition from former state Sen. Vincent Fort, South Fulton City Councilor Mark Baker, and consultant Shastity Driscoll. This seat in Atlanta’s western and southern suburbs would have backed Biden 80-19.

Fort, who was one of Bernie Sanders’ most prominent Georgia supporters during the 2016 presidential primaries, is arguably Scott’s top foe, though the former state senator took just 10% of the vote in the 2017 race for mayor of Atlanta. Scott ended 2021 with $1.1 million on-hand, while none of his foes had yet begun fundraising as of the end of last year.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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