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The Political Report – 4/6/22

Playbook previews new focus group research to find out in real time how Americans are processing events in 2022:

  • A preoccupation with inflation and crime.
  • Exhaustion with pandemic restrictions.
  • Cynicism about politics.
  • Deep frustration that President Joe Biden and Democrats have failed to deliver on their early promises.
  • Sympathy for Ukraine mixed with a lack of enthusiasm for Biden spending too much time and money on the issue.
  • Ambiguity about how important Jan. 6 should be for Democrats in the midterms.

“These sentiments are captured in recent polling: Biden’s decline in approval from Black voters and millennials has been well documented, as of course has the rise in importance of inflation, crime and pandemic fatigue.”

“But watching the three-and-a-half hours of conversations, you notice a yawning gap between what Democrats here in D.C. are saying and what their most loyal voters are experiencing outside the Beltway.”

“Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a longtime member of Congress who has served in the lower chamber since 1987, announced his retirement Tuesday in an emotional speech on the House floor,” The Hill reports.

“Upton was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”

Matt Mowers (R), a former Trump administration official now running for Congress in New Hampshire, voted twice during the 2016 primary election season, potentially violating federal voting law and leaving him at odds with the Republican Party’s intense focus on “election integrity,” the AP reports.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) used her congressional account to tweet the baseless accusation that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) are “pro-pedophile” because they said will vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.

The power and rancidness of QAnon is being turned against the GOP’s own, and it ain’t pretty.

For context: GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee spent weeks accusing Jackson of being lenient on child-sex offenders, in a not-so-subtle QAnon callback. Now comes Greene and others saying the quiet part out loud. (Fun fact #1: Greene is buddies with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who’s currently under investigation for alleged sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old.)

Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway, the CEO and editor-in-chief of the conservative Federalist, respectively, both made similar comments on Monday. (Fun fact #2: The Federalist published multiple pieces in 2017 arguing why people should vote for then-Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore regardless of several women’s accusations that he had molested them when they were teens.)

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Mo Brooks is airing his first new commercial since he lost Donald Trump’s “Complete and Total” endorsement for the May 24 GOP primary nearly two weeks ago. “Since 2010, Mo Brooks has been one of the most conservative guys in Washington,” says the narrator, “Weak, big spending, open border Republicans, Mo’s fought them all.”

The closest the ad comes to alluding to Trump dumping Brooks is the line, “But there’s a cost of being a true conservative, and the swamp hates Mo Brooks.” The congressman, of course, still doesn’t dare criticize Trump on the air, and the spot instead casts him as an enemy of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. Army veteran Sam Brown, who is the underdog in Nevada’s Republican Senate primary, emphasizes his biography in his newest commercial, including how “a Taliban bomb nearly killed me.” Brown, whose face remains scarred, continues, “After 30 surgeries, years of recovery, turns out I’m hard to kill.” The campaign says the spot is running as part of a six-figure buy.

UTAH U.S. SENATOR. Donald Trump has endorsed Sen. Mike Lee, a former critic who reinvented himself as a MAGA lackey, in the June Republican primary.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Opportunity Wisconsin says it’s spending nearly $1 million on a new TV and digital buy that once again portrays Republican Sen. Ron Johnson as self-serving.

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the RGA has reserved a total of $5 million to help Gov. Brian Kemp fend off former Sen. David Perdue in the May 24 Republican primary.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR. The DGA recently began an ad campaign attacking Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in order to weaken him ahead of the June GOP primary, and Irvin is responding with a spot arguing that this shows he’s the candidate Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker is most afraid of. AdImpact says that Irvin has now spent a total of $13 million, which is far more than the $7.2 million it had tracked through the previous week.

KANSAS GOVERNOR. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly aired her first TV spot Saturday during the University of Kansas’s Final Four game, and her team says it’s part of a six-figure buy. The ad highlights the wretched condition of the state’s economy four years ago, with the narrator describing, “A reckless tax experiment left Kansas with huge budget deficits and dangerously underfunded schools.” The voiceover then touts how Kelly was elected and “brought together Democrats and Republicans to balance the budget. Fully funding our schools, fighting for a tax cut for every Kansan.”

MARYLAND GOVERNOR and ATTORNEY GENERAL. The Maryland State Education Association, which is the state’s largest teachers union, has backed former nonprofit head Wes Moore in the July Democratic primary for governor and Rep. Anthony Brown for attorney general.

Daily Beast: “Download data shared by the analytics firm Apptopia shows that downloads of the app have plummeted from a peak of 170,000 downloads a day to just 8,000 now. The app is now just the 355th most popular app on Apple devices overall. And those who have downloaded it don’t seem to be using it that much.”

“Daily active users—a metric that social media and tech companies use to measure how many engaged users an app has—stood at just 513,000 as of last week. By contrast, daily active users at Twitter—Trump’s erstwhile and beloved social media home—were around 217 million, according to the company’s last quarterly earnings report.”

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. Candidate filing closed Friday for the June 11 top-four primary to succeed the late Republican Rep. Don Young, which will make this the first election in American history to use this voting system. The race will also feature one of the longest ballots we’ve seen in quite some time, as 48 candidates will be competing to become Alaska’s only House member. You can find the very long list of contenders here.

Altogether there are 16 Republicans, six Democrats, and 26 hopefuls unaffiliated with either major party. The four candidates who take the most votes regardless of party will face off in an instant-runoff general election on Aug. 16, which is the same day as the state’s regularly scheduled primary. Another instant-runoff race will take place in November, this time for a full two-year term in the next Congress. The filing deadline for the regular election is June 1, so anyone who wants to replace Young for more than just a few months will need to file before they learn how they did in the first round of the special election.

Several notable names entered the race on the final day of qualifying including, Sarah Palin, who earned an endorsement Sunday from fellow former reality TV show star Donald Trump. But while Palin is still a household name almost 13 years after she resigned as governor, she may have to reintroduce herself to her former constituents. Last year, the Anchorage Daily News sought to figure out what Palin had been up to lately but was rebuffed by the ex-chief executive and everyone in her circle. The paper described her as “nearly invisible within the state” and “almost entirely absent from Alaska politics” since her failed turn as John McCain’s running mate.

But Palin, who announced only an hour before filing closed, was far from the only new GOP arrival. The field now includes state Sen. Josh Revak and former Interior Department official Tara Sweeney, who each had been co-chairing Young’s re-election campaign before he died. (Palin, by contrast, did not enjoy a good relationship with the congressman when she was in office: In 2008, she supported the campaign of then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who fell just over 300 votes short of denying Young renomination under the old primary system.) Revak is an Army veteran and former Young staffer, while Sweeney would be the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress.

Homebuilder Max Sumner, who had the misfortune of filing at the same time as Palin at the Wasilla branch of the state Division of Elections, is running as a Republican as well. His brother, Jesse Sumner, also put his name forward only to drop out and say his bid was an April Fool’s joke. (Hilarious, we know.) The GOP field already included former state Sen. John Coghill and businessman Nick Begich III, who was challenging Young before the incumbent died last month.

On the Democratic side, the new candidates include state Rep. Adam Wool and former state Rep. Mary Sattler. And in a true blast-from-the-past, Friday also saw the return of Emil Notti, who lost a tight special election to Young in 1973; Notti, who is 89, said he would only run in the special election, though. Meanwhile, Anchorage Assembly member Chris Constant kicked off a campaign against Young back in February; Constant would be the state’s first gay member of Congress, while Sattler and Notti would be the first Alaska Natives to serve there.

Among independents, the most notable new arrival was former state Rep. Andrew Halcro, an ex-Republican who last took a close third in the 2015 race for mayor of Anchorage; like Notti, Halcro is only running in the special. The new arrival who got the most attention Friday in the hours before Palin filed was North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described “independent, progressive, democratic socialist” who previously had his name changed from Thomas O’Connor. (Sorry, Kerry Bentivolio fans.) Already in the race were Al Gross, who was the Democrats’ Senate nominee in 2020 and sports an endorsement from former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles, and Jeff Lowenfels, a former oil executive who is a longtime gardening columnist for the ADN.

CALIFORNIA 22ND SPECIAL ELECTION. Tuesday’s all-party primary for the soon-to-be-junked version of California’s 22nd Congressional District may end up answering one of the biggest questions in American politics: Will former Rep. Devin Nunes still have his job at Donald Trump’s social media company by the time his successor takes office? Four Republicans and two Democrats will compete on one ballot for a Central Valley seat Trump carried 52-46; if no one earns a majority, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, would compete in the June 7 general election that would take place the same day as the regular statewide primary.

The frontrunner appears to be Republican Connie Conway, a former state Assembly minority leader who is not running for a full term in Congress. The GOP side also includes businessmen Matt Stoll and Michael Maher, as well as businesswoman Elizabeth Heng, who challenged Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in the 2018 race for the old 16th District and lost 58-42. Democrats, meanwhile, are fielding Marine veteran Eric Garcia and Lourin Hubbard, who is an official at the California Department of Water Resources. Maher, Stoll, and Garcia are all seeking to challenge Costa for a full term in the new 21st District, while Heng and Hubbard, like Conway, are only competing in this special.

INDIANA 1ST CD. Former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo, who is the favorite to win the May 3 GOP nod to take on Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan, uses her first TV ad to portray herself as a conservative Navy veteran who is running because “Biden and Pelosi threaten all we hold dear.”

COLORADO 5TH CD. State Rep. Dave Williams, who is challenging Rep. Doug Lamborn for renomination in the 5th District, won Saturday’s Republican convention with the support of 74% of the delegates, which earns him the top spot on the June primary ballot in this safely red Colorado Springs seat. However, that event was overshadowed by ugly intra-party fighting in the days before between Lamborn and El Paso County party chair Vickie Tonkins, whose county makes up most of the 5th District.

Lamborn, who, unlike Williams, decided to collect signatures in order to advance to the primary, had also planned to compete at the convention, also known as the party assembly. However, he told delegates last week that he wouldn’t take part in the assembly because he’d heard about “troubling irregularities” that showed that party officials favored Williams. Lamborn continued by alleging he’d “witnessed a shocking lack of transparency and basic competence in the handling of the delegate and alternate list for the 5th CD Assembly,” and said that “[p]articipants can’t have confidence in the process if there is concern that the list has been tampered with.”

Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning writes that “[n]umerous Republican candidates” have also leveled similar complaints against Tonkins, charging that she and her allies, including Williams, “have been hoarding lists of Republicans who attended precinct caucuses and party assemblies.” Navy veteran Rebecca Keltie, who also collected enough signatures to qualify for the primary ballot without going through the convention, told her supporters she’d likewise decided not to attend the assembly after it “degraded into an absolute circus by those who disregard the rules.”

Business owner Andrew Heaton, who is still waiting to learn if he submitted enough petitions before last month’s deadline, similarly complained to Luning, “Although we respect the assembly process, my campaign has requested the most recent delegate list three times, yet never received a list.”

But it was Lamborn’s message that brought a furious response from Tonkins, who denied she favored any candidate while also making it clear how little she likes the incumbent. “When a politician breaks their word to voters in this way, the Party would normally stay silent and let the campaigns settle the matter,” she emailed local Republicans. “However, as the Party Chairwoman, I will not let any person besmirch our Party’s good name nor attack the tireless volunteers who have served so honorably to ensure our efforts are successful in November.”

The chair also reminded recipients that the congressman is under investigation by the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics for allegedly misusing official resources by having congressional staff perform personal and campaign-related tasks for him and his wife. She further used the Big Lie to attack Lamborn, saying, “The El Paso County Republican Party will not be lectured about election integrity by Doug Lamborn, especially when he supported the continued use of Dominion Voting Systems counting Republican primary ballots by forcing our Party to stay in a rigged open primary system controlled by Democrats.”

A spokesperson for the state GOP responded to Tonkins’ missive by saying, “Even if a candidate criticizes the county party, the county party chairman has an obligation to run the operation he or she is entrusted with in a way that every candidate and voter can trust.”

INDIANA 9TH CD. State Sen. Erin Houchin uses her opening spot for the May 3 Republican primary to tell the audience, “After the 2020 election, I wrote the bill to require voter ID for everyone. I authored the ban on critical race theory and have been the state’s number-one defender of our law enforcement officers.” Houchin’s commercial comes a few weeks after two of her intra-party foes in this safely red open seat began their own ad campaigns. Howey Politics reported last week that former Rep. Mike Sodrel has spent $81,000 on TV so far while Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel has dropped $58,000, but there’s no word yet on how much Houchin is spending.

Meanwhile, Sodrel’s trio of ads (hereherehere) tout his “experience” in the military and business, though they don’t actually mention his one term in the House from 2005 to 2007. (Also, at least in the YouTube version of his spots, his narrator has quite the distracting booming voice.) Barnes-Israel, for his part, declares, “In Congress today, we have too many career politicians who won’t fight and can’t fix anything.”

NORTH CAROLINA 4TH CD. Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam launched her opening commercial for the May 17 Democratic primary during Saturday’s UNC-Duke game (the archrival schools are both located in in the 4th District), and it emphasizes her work in office raising the minimum wage for county workers and helping implement “property tax relief.” Meanwhile, state Sen. Valerie Foushee has earned an endorsement from 1st District Rep. G.K. Butterfield.

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

1 comment on “The Political Report – 4/6/22

  1. Part of the lesson re: that focus group is that Democrats really need to stop letting the media tell their story. Because they won’t. They will obsess on whatever circus is available and do it in the least informative way possible. Inflation is a problem — caused by higher prices along the supply chain, but corporations have hidden behind it to raise their prices. ALOT. It is one more grab of middle class and working class funds to funnel to rich people. Democrats need to say those words every time they are asked about it. But they won’t, lest some campaign funder get in their feelings. Democrats need to tell people who is responsible for blocking progress on campaign promises. We already know of the media asymmetry — that just means we have to work harder at saying the things that count and be crystal clear about pointing out who is doing the work and who is not.

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