The Political Report – 3/23/22

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll out this morning shows that 47% of voters think Ketanji Brown Jackson should be confirmed to the Supreme Court, while only 19% oppose confirmation.

Will Saletan: “In the latest Yahoo News survey, completed on Monday, the gap between the parties remains wide. Seventy-six percent of Democrats say the U.S. should take Ukraine’s side; only 57 percent of Republicans agree. Eighty percent of Democrats endorse ‘severe economic sanctions on Russia’; again, only 57 percent of Republicans agree. Two-thirds of Democrats prefer a ‘full Russian defeat’; only 51 percent of Republicans agree.

“When respondents are asked whether ‘It’s in America’s best interests to stop Russia and help Ukraine’ or ‘The conflict is none of America’s business,’ 72 percent of Democrats say we should help Ukraine. Fewer than half of Republicans share that view.”

A new Emerson College poll finds 83% of voters say they are experiencing some hardship due to increased prices on everyday items, with 40% reporting significant hardship, and another 43% reporting some hardship.

When asked about who they blame for an increase in gas prices, 39% blame the Biden Administration, 21% blame the sanctions on Russia, and 18% blame gas and oil companies.

A new Cygnal poll in Alabama finds Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) falling behind Mike Durant (R) and Katie Britt (R) in the GOP Senate primary.

Durant leads with 35%, followed by Britt at 28% and Brooks at 16%.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Former Gov. Eric Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, accused him of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018, as well as threatening to kill himself, in a court affidavit released Monday in the couple’s ongoing child custody dispute. The former governor, who is competing in the August Republican primary for Missouri’s open Senate seat, responded by calling the allegations “completely fabricated.” His campaign manager also characterized the account as “clearly a politically-motivated attack against him.”

In her filing, Sheena Greitens attested, “Prior to our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cell phone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home.” When her mother confronted the then-governor, Greitens continued, her husband said he’d sought “to prevent me from doing anything that might damage his political career.”

The alleged incident occurred the month before Eric Greitens resigned as governor while under indictment for purportedly sexually assaulting a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailing her into silence, as well as unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity. The tampering charge was dropped in exchange for Greitens’ resignation, while Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker later abandoned the assault and blackmail case saying that, while she believed Greitens’ accuser, she did not think she could prove the charges.

Sheena Greitens further said in her affidavit that, during “the spring and early summer of 2018,” her husband had threatened to kill himself “unless I provided specific public political support.” She continues that “multiple people other than myself were worried enough to intervene to limit Eric’s access to firearms on at least three separate occasions, in February, April, and May 2018.”

She also added that in June of 2018, the month following his resignation, “I became afraid for my safety and that of our children at our home, which was fairly isolated, due to Eric’s unstable and coercive behavior. This behavior included physical violence toward our children, such as cuffing our then three-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by the hair.”

Eric Greitens is currently competing against several other Republicans in the August primary. Donald Trump last week said, in the words of the Washington Examiner, that “Greitens is still in the running for his seal of approval.”

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told Newsmax on Monday that she was considering a bid to succeed the late Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who died on Friday. Palin said she would say yes “in a heartbeat” if she were “asked” to fill Young’s seat. (Alaska will hold a special election to pick a temporary replacement, so Palin wouldn’t be asked to do anything. Does she know that?).

The Anchorage Daily News reports Young’s seat will be filled by special election and not appointment.

Anchorage Daily News: “Under the tentative plan, the special primary election will be June 11, and the special general election will take place Aug. 16 — the same date as the state’s regular primary election.”

“Because of the short timeframe to organize and hold the special primary in June, the Division of Elections plans to conduct a by-mail election, which state law allows in special votes. Every registered Alaska voter would be mailed a ballot — a similar process to the one used by Anchorage for its local elections.”

Politico got an early copy of This Will Not Pass which notes Jill Biden wasn’t happy with Kamala Harris as a top vice presidential choice after she went after Joe Biden over school busing during a debate.

“Speaking in confidence with a close adviser to her husband’s campaign, the future First lady posed a pointed question. There are millions of people in the United States, she began. Why, she asked, do we have to choose the one who attacked Joe?”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Kathy Barnette, an election denier who hasn’t generated much attention ahead of the May Republican primary, uses her new ad to decry rising prices.

Self-funding attorney George Bochetto’s new commercial for the May Republican primary is entirely devoted to attacking TV personality Mehmet Oz for his “pro-abortion views.” Bochetto, who earned all of 1% in a recent Fox News survey, doesn’t even appear at all except to provide the legally required “I approve this message” disclaimer at the very end.

“A super PAC backing Pennsylvania Senate candidate Conor Lamb is warning prospective donors that he is trailing frontrunner John Fetterman by 30 percentage points in the Democratic primary — and that the public’s perception of his opponent’s ideology must change for Lamb to have a shot,” Politico reports.

“Unlike the bloodbath taking place in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary, the contest on the Democratic side has been a relatively tame affair. Fetterman and Lamb haven’t laid a finger on each other on TV, and no outside Democratic groups have aired attack ads on television either.”

“The nine-page slide deck disseminated by Penn Progress after a recent fundraising call with donors suggests that could soon change.”

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. Attorney Jason Richey announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the Republican primary and endorsing former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, a move that leaves a mere nine candidates in the May contest.

Richey’s departure came the day the Associated Press’ Marc Levy reported that GOP leaders were trying to “persuade some candidates who are perceived as weaker to drop out” so they could reduce the chances that a severely flawed contender wins the nomination with just a tiny plurality. None of the GOP leaders identified which candidates they wanted to stop, but Levy singled out state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is one of the most notorious election deniers in a state party full of them.

McSwain, meanwhile, is running another ad along with his deep-pocketed allies at Commonwealth Leaders Fund where he blames problems in the state on Joe Biden, while termed-out Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf goes unmentioned. Another Republican candidate, self-funder Dave White, does decry both Biden and Wolf in his own spot before talking about his business background.

Pennsylvania Works, which is funded by a DGA affiliate, recently began airing ads touting Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the size of the buy is $1 million.

NORTH CAROLINA 11TH CD. Far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) refused over the weekend to walk back his attack on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “thug,” the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

Instead, Cawthorn once again accused Ukrainian government of being “corrupt” and spreading misinformation on the conflict. (He provided zero evidence of this. Meanwhile, Russia’s disinformation campaign on its attack on Ukraine has been well established).

The Republican congressman also said he wasn’t ready to call Russian leader Vladimir Putin a war criminal as Russian forces bomb hospitals, schools and residential neighborhoods in Ukrainian cities.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Republican Rep. Garret Graves tells LaPolitics that he’s received “hundreds of phone calls of encouragement” to run in next year’s all-party primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, and he’s not ruling out the idea.

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that former Sen. David Perdue’s allies at Georgia Action Fund are spending at least $600,000 on a new commercial touting him and tearing down incumbent Brian Kemp ahead of their May Republican primary, which makes this the first major pro-Perdue outside buy. The spot consists of footage of Trump praising the former senator and bashing Kemp as “a complete disaster on election integrity.”  

OKLAHOMA U.S. SENATOR B. Yet another one-time member of Donald Trump’s cabinet is reportedly considering a bid for public office this year: Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt has been “making calls to gauge support” for a potential campaign for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat held by Republican Jim Inhofe, according to CBS News. Pruitt was twice elected state attorney general, in 2010 and again in 2014, before joining the Trump administration in 2017.

Like any Republican who might ascend to the post these days, Pruitt was directly at odds with the ostensible aims of the Environmental Protection Agency: He not only denied climate change but suggested humanity might “flourish” as a result. And at every step, he sought to roll back environmental regulations, though he wasn’t particularly successful.

He also engaged in a never-ending series of ethics abuses, including spending $43,000 to build a special soundproof phone booth in violation of the law and flying first class on the taxpayer dime for “unspecified security concerns,” per the Washington Post. Pruitt finally got the boot after CNN reported that he’d asked Trump to fire Jeff Sessions and install Pruitt as attorney general instead—an idea Trump had reportedly considered but was pissed to see become public.

Yet despite his unceremonious exit (announced by tweet, of course), Pruitt apparently still has a good relationship with Trump, who has yet to take sides in the already crowded GOP primary.

IOWA U.S. SENATOR. Candidate filing closed Friday for Iowa’s June 7 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. The Hawkeye State has an unusual law that requires party conventions to select nominees in races where no candidate receives over 35% of the vote in the primary, but that provision is unlikely to come into play this year in any of the contests we’ll be watching.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is one of the two longest-serving members of Congress following the death of Alaska Rep. Don Young (Grassley is tied with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is retiring), is seeking an eighth term in a state that swung hard to the right during the Trump era. The incumbent’s only primary foe is state Sen. Jim Carlin, a pro-Trump die-hard who has baselessly claimed the 2020 election was stolen and spouted antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming wealthy Jews like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros for the outcome. Trump himself, though, is supporting Grassley over Carlin, who barely raised any money in 2021.

The frontrunner on the Democratic side looks like former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who lost a tight battle for a second term last cycle in northeast Iowa. Also in the running are retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken, who lost the 2020 primary for the state’s other Senate seat, and Minden City Councilman Glenn Hurst.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will be a top GOP target in a state that both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden narrowly won, and eight Republicans have filed to go up against her.

The undisputed frontrunner is former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race 49-45 against Democrat Steve Sisolak and now touts endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for his latest bid. Laxalt so far has shown no interest in tacking to the center, and he’s repeatedly accused Democrats and the media of exaggerating the Jan. 6 attack, saying in September, “What the media and their left wing allies have done to weaponize this against Republicans and Trump voters is reprehensible.”

However, Laxalt still faces a surprisingly well-funded intra-party challenge from Army veteran Sam Brown, though it remains to be seen whether Brown will be able to put up a serious fight. None of the other six Republicans have attracted much attention.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. In her second commercial ahead of the August Democratic primary, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski bemoans how prescription drug costs keep rising and declares that it’s “[b]ecause Republicans like [Sen.] Ron Johnson—and let’s be honest, too many Democrats—don’t have the guts to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies. I’m Sarah Godlewski and I will.”

IOWA GOVERNOR. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ sole Democratic foe is Deidre DeJear, who lost the 2018 general election for secretary of state 53-45 against incumbent Paul Pate. DeJear would be the first Black person elected statewide, but a recent poll from Selzer & Company gave Reynolds a 51-43 advantage.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. Empire Results, a dark money group run by a longtime consultant to Rep. Tom Suozzi, is running a new commercial for the June Democratic primary that once again amplifies the congressman’s attacks against Gov. Kathy Hochul. This time it faults the incumbent for using “state aircraft to travel to fundraisers.”

NEVADA GOVERNOR. Steve Sisolak’s 2018 win made him the Silver State’s first Democratic governor in 20 years, and 16 different Republicans are campaigning to unseat him this year. Most of the field has little money or name recognition, but the Republican side does include a few familiar names.

One prominent contender is former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost re-election to Democrats Jacky Rosen during the 2018 blue wave. Heller, however, has struggled to raise money for his gubernatorial bid. There’s also Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is the top lawman in a county that’s home to about three-quarters of Nevada’s residents and was the field’s best fundraiser in 2021.

Another notable candidate is North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a longtime conservative Democrat who switched parties just before he launched his new bid. Other contenders to watch are venture capitalist Guy Nohra and attorney Joey Gilbert, who has bragged that he was “definitely on the Capitol steps” on Jan. 6. The only recent primary poll we’ve seen was an early March survey from the Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling on behalf of the DGA that gave Lombardo the lead with 26%, while Heller and Lee tied for second with 13% each.

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

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