The Political Report – 4/10/22

Gallup: “Americans’ concern about crime and violence in the U.S. has edged up in the past year, and for the first time since 2016, a majority (53%) say they personally worry a ‘great deal’ about crime.”

“Another 27% report they worry a ‘fair amount,’ which places the issue near the top of the list of 14 national concerns — behind only inflation and the economy.”

MICHIGAN 4TH CD. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump last year, announced Tuesday that he would not seek a 19th term this fall. In an email to supporters, Upton said he believed “it is time to pass the torch,” though the person who will most likely be claiming that beacon in the new 4th Congressional District is his colleague and would-be primary foe, Trump-backed Rep. Bill Huizenga.

While it’s possible that Upton’s departure will entice someone else to run against Huizenga in the August GOP primary, they’d need to collect at least 1,000 valid signatures by the April 19 filing deadline. No notable Democrats have entered the race so far for the new version of the 4th, a southwestern Michigan seat Trump would have carried 51-47 in 2020.

Huizenga announced back in December, right after the state’s new congressional maps were completed, that he’d be seeking re-election in the new 4th, and he earned an endorsement from Trump last month. Upton, by contrast, spent months keeping the political world guessing as to whether he’d go up against Huizenga in the primary or retire, though until Tuesday, it seemed that he had one more race in him: In February, Upton launched a $400,000 ad campaign in which he told viewers, “If you want a rubber stamp as your congressman, I’m the wrong guy. But if you want someone committed to solving problems, putting policy over politics, then I’m asking for your support.”

Upton, though, said at the time that he was still undecided about 2022, and his retirement announcement proves he wasn’t just playing coy. On Tuesday, he insisted that redistricting mattered more to him than any backlash from his impeachment vote, saying, “My district was cut like Zorro—three different ways.” However, it was Huizenga who, at least on paper, was more disadvantaged by the new map: While about two-thirds of the residents of the new 4th are currently Upton’s constituents, Huizenga represents only about a quarter of the seat he’s now the frontrunner to claim.

COLORADO 8TH CD. State Rep. Yadira Caraveo became the sole Democratic contender for this new swing seat on Tuesday, while at least four Republicans will be competing in the June party primary. Caraveo took 71% of the delegate votes at her party’s convention (also known as the party assembly), while Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco fell just short of the 30% he needed to appear on the primary ballot. Tedesco, like Caraveo, had originally planned to both collect signatures and take part in the assembly, but because he failed to turn in enough petitions ahead of last month’s deadline, his showing Tuesday marked the end of his campaign.  

On the other side, Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine was the only major candidate to compete at Team Red’s assembly on Saturday, and her easy victory earned her the top spot on the June ballot. Republican conventions often favor extreme contenders, and Saine offered just that with a video where she declared she “ran to expose, stop, and destroy the anti-family, anti-America, anti-God agenda” the Democrats presented; she also used her message to decry “weak, whiney moderates” in the GOP.

Unlike Caraveo, though, Saine’s convention win doesn’t ensure her the nomination. That’s because state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, and retired Army Green Beret Tyler Allcorn previously turned in the requisite 1,500 signatures they needed to make the ballot, so they did not need to take part in the assembly. A fifth Republican, business owner Jewels Gray, is still waiting to hear from election officials if she submitted enough petitions to make the ballot after she failed to win 30% of the vote at the convention. Biden would have carried this new seat, which includes Denver’s northern suburbs, 51-46.

OHIO 7TH CD. Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs said Wednesday that he was ending his re-election bid for Ohio’s 7th Congressional District, a surprising announcement that came well after candidate filing closed and days following the start of early voting for the state’s May 3 primary. The six-term congressman’s abrupt retirement leaves former Trump aide Max Miller as the frontrunner to claim a seat in the Canton area and Akron suburbs that Trump would have carried 54-45. Gibbs’ name will remain on the ballot, but the secretary of state’s office says that any votes cast for him will not be counted.

Gibbs used his statement to express his anger at the state Supreme Court, which is not scheduled to rule on the fate of the new GOP-drawn congressional map until well after the primary. “It is irresponsible to effectively confirm the congressional map for this election cycle seven days before voting begins,” said the incumbent, “especially in the Seventh Congressional District, where almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two-thirds is an area primarily from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District.” To put it another way, a mere 9% of the residents of the new 7th are already Gibbs’ constituents, so he would have been campaigning in largely unfamiliar turf.

Miller, by contrast, began the cycle by running against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in a primary for the old 16th District, which makes up 65% of the new 7th. Miller, who was one of Trump’s favorite aides (an unnamed source told Politico that the two “had … kind of a unique ‘bro’ relationship”) received his old boss’ backing last year against Gonzalez, who voted for impeachment and later decided to retire.

Miller ended up taking on Gibbs, who was far more loyal to the MAGA movement, after redistricting led them to seek the same seat, and Trump’s spokesperson said last month that the endorsement carried over to Miller’s new campaign. Miller last year also filed a defamation lawsuit against his ex-girlfriend, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, after she accused him of physically attacking her in 2020.

NORTH CAROLINA 4TH CD. The state AFL-CIO has endorsed state Sen. Valerie Foushee in next month’s Democratic primary.

OKLAHOMA 2ND CD. Businessman Guy Barker, who is also the secretary-treasurer of the Quapaw Nation, has announced that he’s joining the busy June Republican primary for this safely red open seat in eastern Oklahoma.

TEXAS 15TH CD. The first poll we’ve seen of the May 24 Democratic runoff is a Lake Research Partners internal for businesswoman Michelle Vallejo, and it shows her leading Army veteran Ruben Ramirez 39-29.

VIRGINIA 2ND CD. Former Rep. Scott Taylor announced on Thursday, which was the day that candidate filing closed in Virginiathat he’d support Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans’ bid to take on Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria rather than run again himself.

GEORGIA 7TH CD. Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath has earned the support of the American Federation of Government Employees for next month’s primary against fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux.

NEW JERSEY 2ND CD. Monday was the filing deadline for New Jersey’s June 7 primary, and the state has a list of contenders for the U.S. House available here.

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew won a competitive re-election campaign in 2020 the year after he defected from the Democratic Party, and the state’s new congressional map extended Trump’s margin of victory in this South Jersey shore seat from 51-48 to 52-47. Civil rights attorney Tim Alexander has the backing of the local Democratic establishment and faces no serious intra-party opposition, but he struggled to raise money during 2021.

CALIFORNIA 22ND CD SPECIAL ELECTION. Former Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway took first place in Tuesday’s special all-party primary to succeed her fellow Republican, former Rep. Devin Nunes, but she may need to wait a while to learn the identity of her opponent in the June 7 general election. (Whether Nunes will still have his gig running Trump’s disastrous social media platform by June is a separate question.) With 64,000 votes counted Conway leads with 35%, while Democrat Lourin Hubbard, who is an official at the California Department of Water Resources, is in second with 20%; just behind with 15% each are GOP businessman Matt Stoll and another Democrat, Marine veteran Eric Garcia.

It is not clear how many votes are left to tabulate, but the Los Angeles Times says that any mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday have until April 12 to arrive. Neither Conway nor Hubbard are running for a full term in Congress anywhere, while Stoll and Garcia are challenging Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in the new 21st District.

FLORIDA 22ND CD. Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen announced Wednesday that he would compete in the August primary to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. Sorensen joins a primary that includes Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who’d had the field to himself for a month, and commercial airline pilot Curtis Calabrese, a recent entrant.

Commercial airline pilot Curtis Calabrese announced this week that he would join the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. Calabrese, who is a first-time candidate, will take on Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who had the field to himself up until now. Calabrese, who would be the state’s first openly gay member of Congress, served as a Navy combat aviator before working for the FAA, including as a labor official. Florida Politics writes it was in that capacity that he made several media appearances, including on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” to explain how the 2018-2019 government shutdown was impacting him and his colleagues.

ILLINOIS 15TH CD. Politico reports that the anti-tax Club for Growth is spending $400,000 on an ad campaign touting Mary Miller ahead of her June Republican primary showdown against fellow Rep. Rodney Davis. The commercial reminds viewers that Miller is Trump’s choice and pledges she’ll “never compromise on election integrity.”

OREGON 6TH CD. Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that she was endorsing state Rep. Andrea Salinas in the crowded May 17 Democratic primary for this new seat.

TEXAS 34TH CD SPECIAL ELECTION. Former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez announced Wednesday that he was entering the June special all-party primary with endorsements from former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela and 15th District Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who is Team Blue’s nominee for a full term in the new version of the 34th.

IOWA 1ST CD. 314 Action, which is supporting Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan, has released an internal from Public Policy Polling that shows her trailing Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks by a tiny 43-42 margin. This is the first poll we’ve seen of the contest for this southwestern Iowa seat, which Trump would have carried 50-48.

GEORGIA 6TH CD. Former state ethics commission chair Jake Evans’ new spot for the May 24 Republican primary features him standing in front of a jarringly bad green-screen image of the Supreme Court as the narrator proclaims that he’s “the only candidate who took the fight for President Trump to the U.S. Supreme Court, so only legal votes would count.” Evans was part of a 2020 amicus brief that tried to prevent Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots for an additional three days; what his ad doesn’t mention, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution does, is that his side lost.

Evans’ other commercial has a different narrator praising him as the one candidate who “defended our religious liberties against liberals in court, protecting a church’s right to its own property.” The AJC also explains that this is a reference “to a lengthy zoning dispute between an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention and the City of Clarkston.”

NORTH CAROLINA 13TH CD. Politico’s Natalie Allison reports that the Club for Growth has launched a $1.2 million ad campaign in support of law student Bo Hines ahead of the May 17 Republican primary for this newly drawn swing seat. The spot, which is almost identical to the one it’s currently airing for Illinois Rep. Mary Miller, tells viewers that Hines is Trump’s endorsed candidate, believes in term limits, “will never compromise on election integrity,” and opposes “socialist green energy schemes.”

However, not everyone in this suburban Raleigh district is as enamored with Hines as the Club and Trump. Several conservative activists tell Allison that they feel Trump made a bad call by backing Hines, whom she describes as a “Charlotte native who most recently resided two hours away in Winston-Salem,” thanks to his weak ties to the area. She adds that Hines’ team says he’s “in the process of moving” to the district and “intends to update his voter registration in time to vote in the upcoming primary.”

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Wiley Nickel has earned the backing of the state AFL-CIO.

NEW MEXICO 2ND CD. Physician Darshan Patel announced late last month that he’d turned in enough signatures to advance to the June Democratic primary to take on Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell, and the secretary of state has confirmed that he’ll be on the ballot. In mid-March, Patel lost the state party convention to Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez 80.4-19.6, but he argued that his total should be rounded up so he’d have the 20% needed to make the ballot without gathering petitions. A party spokesperson said at the time they’d leave the matter up to state election officials, but we never heard whether any decision was made.

OREGON 4TH CD. Airbnb executive Andrew Kalloch’s new ad for the May 17 Democratic primary has him arguing, “The price of gas, housing, prescription drugs, soaring. The old way of doing things isn’t working.” Kalloch continues by telling the audience, “I’m running for Congress to bring a new generation of leadership that puts Oregon first, not the special interests.”

WEST VIRGINIA 2ND CD. The National Journal’s Erin Covey reports that two different outside groups are airing ads supporting Rep. David McKinley ahead of his May 10 Republican primary showdown with his Trump-backed colleague, Rep. Alex Mooney.

Covey writes that Defending Main Street, which is a super PAC set up all the way back in 2013 to stop anti-establishment candidates from winning GOP primaries (you can see how that went) has deployed $250,000 on an anti-Mooney buy, though a copy doesn’t appear to be online. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, has launched what NBC says is a $160,000 campaign that praises McKinley for wanting to “increase oil and gas exploration on federal lands.”

COLORADO 7TH CD. State Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who already had the backing of retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter and the rest of the state’s Democratic delegation, will have the June Democratic primary to herself following her decisive win against minor opposition at Tuesday’s party convention.

Colorado allows candidates to advance to the primary either by turning in the requisite number of signatures or by taking at least 30% of the vote at their party convention, and no other Democratic contenders successfully pursued either route. Republicans, who are the underdogs in a seat that Biden would have carried 56-42, have not yet held their party gathering yet.

NEW JERSEY 3RD CD. Redistricting transformed Democratic Rep. Andy Kim’s South Jersey seat from a constituency Trump narrowly carried to one that Biden would have won 56-42, though it’s possible this district could still be in play in a tough year for Team Blue. The most serious Republican contender appears to be wealthy yacht manufacturer Robert Healey, who is also a former punk rock singer.

NEW JERSEY 5TH CD. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who is one of the most prominent moderate Democrats in the House, got some welcome news when filing closed and he learned he had no primary opposition in this North Jersey constituency. Five Republicans, though, are competing here even though the new map extended Biden’s margin from 52-47 to 56-43.

The most prominent challenger appears to be Marine veteran Nick De Gregorio, who has the influential GOP party endorsement in populous Bergen County. (We explain the importance of county party endorsements in New Jersey here.) Also in the mix are 2020 nominee Frank Pallotta, who lost to Gottheimer 53-46, and businessman Fred Schneiderman, who recently began airing his opening TV ad.

NEW JERSEY 6TH CD. Longtime Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone faces his first notable Republican opposition in some time in the form of Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley, but she’s still very much the underdog in a seat that would have backed Biden 59-40. (Redistricting even made this seat, which includes northern Middlesex County and the northern Jersey Shore, slightly bluer.) A few other Republicans are also in including former RNC staffer Tom Toomey and Rik Mehta, who was Team Red’s doomed 2020 Senate nominee.

NEW JERSEY 7TH CD. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is defending a North Jersey seat where redistricting shrunk Biden’s margin of victory from 54-44 to 51-47, and he’s likely to face a familiar opponent in the fall. Former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. is running again after losing to Malinowski just 51-49 in 2020, and he has the influential party endorsement in all six of the district’s counties. Kean’s most notable intra-party foe is Assemblyman Erik Peterson, but there are five other candidates, including Fredon Mayor John Flora and 2021 gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo, who could split whatever anti-Kean vote there is.

NEW JERSEY 8TH CD. Democratic leaders responded to Rep. Albio Sires’ retirement announcement in December by immediately consolidating behind Port Authority Commissioner Robert Menendez Jr., who is the son and namesake of New Jersey’s senior U.S. senator. Four other Democrats are running in this safely blue seat in the Jersey City area, but there’s no indication that any of them are capable of giving Menendez a serious fight.

NEW JERSEY 11TH CD. The state’s new congressional map augmented Biden’s margin in this North Jersey seat from 53-46 all the way up to 58-41, but five Republicans are still hoping that Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill is vulnerable. The frontrunner looks like Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen, who sports important GOP county party endorsements; also in the race are Army veteran Toby Anderson and former prosecutor Paul DeGroot.

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

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