The Political Report – 4/14/22

Politico: “Earlier this year, approval for President Joe Biden among people aged 18-30 hit depths no Democratic president had plumbed in decades: the mid- to low-30s in Gallup and other polls. (Barack Obama never dropped below 42 percent among that group in Gallup’s surveys.) In some cases, the swing against Biden in 2021 totaled anywhere from 20 to 30 percentage points. He has since made gains in some polls but is still on unstable ground.”

“An alienated youth vote is an existential threat for Democrats in 2022: They backed Biden by a 25-point margin in 2020, voting at all-time highs.”

Wall Street Journal: “The defection of once-loyal voters like Ms. Loughran—along with disapproval from independents—is among the challenges Democrats face in their bid to retain control of Congress and win state-level races in this November’s midterm elections.”

“These voters say Democratic officials left pandemic restrictions in place too long and mishandled the health crisis, with devastating consequences for their children, while Republicans have generally pushed to minimize school closures and keep the economy open.”

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. Donald Trump put out a statement: “One person in Pennsylvania who I will not be endorsing is Bill McSwain for Governor. He was the U.S. Attorney who did absolutely nothing on the massive Election Fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth… Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our Country down. He knew what was happening and let it go. It was there for the taking and he failed so badly.”

President Pro Tempore of Pennsylvania’s Senate Jake Corman (R) “has petitioned to remain in the race for Governor hours after petitioning to have his name removed from the ballot after reportedly speaking with former President Donald Trump, who has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race,” WHTM reports.

Amanda Carpenter: “LOL, if you thought Donald Trump’s endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz for Senate was the worst development in Pennsylvania’s 2022 GOP primaries, wait until you hear about the Republicans running for governor.”

“Pennsylvania Republicans will nominate a 2020 election conspiracist for governor in the May 17 primary. How can I be sure of that? Because they’re all election conspiracists. The only thing differentiating them is how far down the rabbit hole they go. And, there’s an excellent chance the nuttiest bunny of them all, Doug Mastriano, is going to win the primary.”

“Which means that Republicans might get a crackpot governing this swing state in 2024. What could possibly go wrong?”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENAT0R. Mehmet Oz received Trump’s backing on Saturday, which makes him the second former TV personality to earn a Trump endorsement in as many weekends. Former hedge fund manager David McCormick, who is Oz’s main opponent in the May 17 GOP primary, responded days later with yet another negative ad that opens with footage of Oz smooching his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before he’s shown praising Hillary Clinton and Anthony Fauci.

Meanwhile, McCormick on Monday earned the backing of a politician from yesteryear, while Oz picked up the endorsement from someone who is about to go there. In McCormick’s corner is former Sen. Rick Santorum, while retiring Rep. Fred Keller is supporting Oz. 

McCormick is out with a new ad attempting to portray Oz as a liberal who praised Hillary Clinton, Dr. Anthony Fauci and China. The spot ends with Oz dancing with Michelle Obama.

“Oz won the Donald Trump primary by securing the former president’s endorsement over the weekend,” NBC News reports.  “Now, Oz’s Senate campaign says it plans to spend at least $1 million to make sure Pennsylvania Republicans know about it — betting that by bolstering awareness of the endorsement, his poll numbers can be buoyed.”

“Pennsylvania voters won’t choose their Senate nominees for more than a month but already almost $80 million has been spent on television by candidates and their aligned super PACs in the race,” CNN reports.  “That total makes Pennsylvania the most expensive Senate race in the country, leading Arizona ($64 million) and Georgia ($62 million) in total ad spending to date.”

“New research shows Gmail was substantially more likely to mark Republican fundraising emails as spam during the heat of the 2020 campaign, while Yahoo and Outlook disproportionately flagged Democratic ones,” Axios reports.

“GOP candidates from Nevada to Ohio are stepping up attacks on undocumented Latino immigrants despite warnings the strategy may backfire in some general election contests,” Axios reports.

“Dozens of politicians running for state or federal office are aligning themselves with the right-wing, conspiracy-rich, sometimes-violent movement known as QAnon. They’re drawing tens of millions of dollars in donations as the movement’s popularity stays strong among voters,” Grid reports.

“And despite the movement’s penchant for lies and violence, key Republicans — from influential megadonors to prominent elected officials — are welcoming the QAnon movement into the party.”

NEW JERSEY 3RD CD. Body camera footage from police officers who arrested New Jersey congressional candidate Ian Smith (R) on charges of intoxicated driving reveal Smith’s defiance during the arrest, with the Republican asking one officer whether the officer was arresting him for money, the New Jersey Globe reports.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR 2024. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who is a rumored primary challenger to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in 2024, had a record fundraising quarter in the first three months of this year after Sinema faced a wave of progressive backlash, Insider reports.

Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) had a meltdown via Twitter on Monday over Georgia voters’ bid to get her disqualified from running for office, declaring that courts “should not be used as political platforms that entertain political conspiracy theories and lies invented by one party against another.” Okay Marjorie.

Much of her rage was directed at “fraudster lawyers from NY and Mass,” and in case it wasn’t clear exactly what she was getting at, Greene ended her rant with a second reference to “scumbag lawyers from NY and Mass” who allegedly want to “control” who Georgians vote for.

The federal judge overseeing the lawsuit has hinted at allowing the disqualification bid to move forward. She said that she will make her decision sometime this week.

Greene criticized the media attention on the January 6 Capitol insurrection, arguing that it “only happened one time,” The Independent reports.

“Just as he was emerging as a top target of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack, former Trump lawyer John Eastman took a trip to Wisconsin,” ABC News reports.

“Eastman, a right-wing lawyer who drafted a plan for former President Donald Trump to cling to power by falsely claiming then-Vice President Mike Pence could reject legitimate electors during the 2020 presidential election, was part of a small group of Trump allies who secured a private meeting last month to try and convince the Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Assembly to decertify President Joe Biden’s win.”

HAWAII GOVERNOR. Rep. Kai Kahele’s (D-HI), who is mulling a run for governor, has barely spent any time in Washington since the beginning of the year and has voted by proxy 96% of the time, Civil Beat reports.  Kahele has only cast five votes in person this year, all of them over the course of three days in January.

NEBRASKA GOVERNOR. NBC reports that Trump-endorsed self-funder Charles Herbster has outspent University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who is termed-out Gov. Pete Ricketts’ choice, $3.9 million to $2.8 million so far on advertising ahead of the May 10 Republican primary, while state Sen. Brett Lindstrom had deployed $1.2 million.

Plenty of that spending, as you might guess, includes negative ads. An offering from Hebster argues that Pillen “illegally released feces, waste filled with pathogens, heavy metals, and bacteria into our water supply.” The narrator, in a line you’d rarely expect to find in GOP ads in this day and age, then exclaims, “Pillen even polluted a protected wildlife refuge.” A different Hebster spot is more of what you’d anticipate coming from Team Red, declaring, “Under Jim Pillen, our university became a sanctuary campus, giving scholarships to illegals.”

A Ricketts-funded group called Conservative Nebraska, meanwhile, has been running spots portraying Hebster as a “Missouri millionaire.” Meanwhile, a group known as Restore the Good Life has been airing ads attacking Lindstrom on taxes, though there’s far less information about who is behind it. Last month the Nebraska Examiner reported that the organization was incorporated by a banker named Tanner Lockhorn, whom Ricketts appointed to the Judicial Nominating Commission. The governor, however, denied he had anything to do with this organization, saying, “I don’t typically criticize Republican senators during the session as I always want to give them the chance to do the right thing.”  

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. Former Gov. Pat McCrory’s latest commercial for next month’s GOP primary features the candidate standing in front of a wheelbarrow filled with excrement as an image of Rep. Ted Budd flashes by, and … you know what, just watch it yourself if you absolutely must. And no, you’re not imagining it: There are a lot of ads this cycle filled with dung. Politico, meanwhile, reports that Budd’s allies at the Club for Growth’s total spending for this primary will hit $15 million.

North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Mark Walker (R) announced on Twitter that he’d been approached to drop out of the race, appear at Trump’s Saturday rally in the state and endorse Rep. Ted Budd (R) in return for onstage praise.  Said Walker: “I didn’t play this game in DC and I won’t do it now.”

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. Army veteran Sam Brown’s new ad goes negative on former Attorney General Adam Laxalt ahead of the June GOP primary, though not very aggressively. It opens with photos of Laxalt and Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto as Brown argues, “Political elites have all the money and Washington’s agenda.” The candidate goes on to portray himself as a conservative outsider who can “make real change.”

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Vicky Hartzler has publicized an internal poll from OnMessage that gives her a narrow 23-22 edge over disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens in the Aug. 2 GOP primary to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, with state Attorney General Eric Schmitt in third with 16%. This is the first survey we’ve seen from a credible pollster giving Hartzler the edge, though previous polls have shown her in a close third place against Greitens and Schmitt.

Indeed, the attorney general’s supporters at Protect Missouri Values in turn have released numbers from NMB Research giving their man a 25-23 edge over Greitens, with Hartzler close behind with 20%. Fellow Rep. Billy Long takes a distant fourth with 7%, while wealthy attorney Mark McCloskey and state Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz are at just 3% and 2%, respectively. No one else will be joining or leaving the crowded race at this point, though, as April 8 was finally the filing deadline for Senate: You can find a list of contenders here. (We recently explained why the deadline was automatically extended from March 29.)

These twin polls come as Hartzler and Schmitt seek to position themselves as the strongest alternative to Greitens, whom Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies have long fretted could threaten Team Red’s hold on this seat if he wins the nomination. Their worries took on a new urgency last month when Greitens’ ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, accused him of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018.

However, as both polls indicate, anti-Eric Greitens forces have yet to consolidate behind anyone. Hartzler, for her part, sports an endorsement from Missouri’s other GOP senator, Josh Hawley, while outside groups so far have spent $1.7 million to promote Schmitt. Gov. Mike Parson, meanwhile, is supporting Schatz, while Long is hoping that a recent supportive not-Tweet from Donald Trump will turn into an actual endorsement. Greitens has one big ally in his corner, as mega donor Richard Uihlein last year financed a super PAC to aid him. On the Democratic side, the two main contenders are Marine veteran Lucas Kunce, who is campaigning as a progressive, and philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine, an Anheuser-Busch heir who entered the race late last month

IOWA U.S. SENATOR. A state judge ruled late Sunday that former Rep. Abby Finkenauer could not appear on the June Democratic primary ballot to take on Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley because she’d failed to meet Iowa’s signature requirements, a decision that reverses a recent State Objection Panel ruling that allowed her to advance. Finkenauer, who is the frontrunner for Team Blue’s nomination against retired Navy Vice Adm. Mike Franken, soon said she would appeal, while the state attorney general’s office also said it would challenge the verdict on behalf of the Panel.

The state requires Senate candidates to submit at least 3,500 valid signatures, with at least 100 petitions each coming from 19 different counties. (Iowa has 99 counties total.) Finkenauer turned in more than 5,000, and the Panel ruled in late March that the former congresswoman had just barely met the 19-county requirement because she’d gathered 100 valid signatures for Allamakee County and 101 in Cedar and Muscatine counties.

A pair of Republicans responded by filing a lawsuit: They argued that a total of three signatures from Allamakee and Cedar should not be counted because the petitioners had not provided the date as required, and the GOP-appointed judge agreed. The secretary of state’s office says it needs a final resolution to this matter by April 15 so that it can send ballots to military and overseas voters in time to comply with federal law.

COLORADO U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. The Colorado Republican Party held its convention (known locally as the party assembly) Saturday, and the event dramatically winnowed the June primary field for both U.S. Senate and governor. State Rep. Ron Hanks, a vocal Big Lie proponent who won the party’s Senate endorsement, will take on construction company owner Joe O’Dea for the right to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. The gubernatorial race will pit the convention winner, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, against University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, and the winner will face Democratic incumbent Jared Polis.

As we’ve written before, candidates in Colorado can reach the primary ballot by either taking the support of at least 30% of the assembly delegates or by collecting the requisite number of signatures ahead of last month’s deadline. Candidates can opt to try both methods, but doing so still doesn’t offer a guarantee: If a contender takes less than 10% of the vote at the convention, then their campaign is over no matter how many signatures they turned in.

Hanks, who was depending on the convention to advance, used his address to the assembly to once again proclaim his fealty to the Big Lie, saying, “I fully expected Donald Trump to win in 2020—and he did.” Delegates responded by awarding Hanks 39% of the vote, which gets him the top spot on the primary ballot. Former talk radio host Deborah Flora was in second with 29%, which was just below what she had to hit in order to keep her campaign going: Four other Senate candidates also saw their campaigns come to an end including Air Force veteran Eli Bremer and real estate developer Gino Campana. O’Dea, though, previously collected enough signatures to make the ballot and was thus able to avoid the assembly.

Over in the race for governor, Lopez, the former mayor of the Denver suburb of Parker, won 34% of the delegates. Ganahl was just behind with 32%, though because she’d already turned in the requisite number of petitions, she just had to take at least 10% to keep her campaign going. It was the end of the road, however, for real estate broker Danielle Neuschwanger, who fell just short of the 30% she needed and didn’t have signatures to fall back on. Neuschwanger responded to her elimination by claiming the count was fraudulent and vowing to challenge it, though the Colorado Sun says that “it’s not clear how she could do that.”

Ganahl is the one Republican left in statewide office, while Lopez didn’t come anywhere close in his last two quests. He sought to challenge Bennet in 2016, but he ended his little-noticed campaign after his father died. Lopez had more luck in the 2018 race for governor when he took a surprisingly strong second place at the convention; several delegates acknowledged that they knew nothing about him when the day began, but that his speech won them over. He had a far more difficult task swaying primary voters, though, and he ended up earning a distant third place with just 13%.

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

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