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The Political Report – 4/27/22

A new Fox News poll finds support for J.D. Vance (R) has doubled in the Ohio Republican senate primary race, catapulting him ahead of earlier frontrunners Josh Mandel (R) and Mike Gibbons (R) — although many voters remain undecided or uncertain about their vote. 

Vance leads with 23% of primary voters, followed by Mandel at 18%, Gibbons at 13%, Matt Dolan at 11% and Jane Timken at 6%.

Mark Penn: “In a rare convergence, America’s voters are not merely unhappy with their political leadership, but awash in fears about economic security, border security, international security and even physical security. Without a U-turn by the Biden administration, this fear will generate a wave election like those in 1994 and 2010, setting off a chain reaction that could flip the House and the Senate to Republican control in November, and ultimately the presidency in 2024…”

“This electorate is not experiencing a malaise, as President Jimmy Carter was once apocryphally said to have proclaimed, but has instead formed into a deep national fissure ready to blow like a geyser in the next election if leadership does not move to relieve the pressure.”

“Tony Daunt, a longtime Michigan Republican insider, resigned Tuesday night from the GOP’s state committee, saying party leaders had made the coming election a test of ‘who is most cravenly loyal’ to former President Donald Trump,” the Detroit News reports.  In an email to party leaders, Daunt described Trump as a “deranged narcissist.”

He added: “Incredibly, rather than distancing themselves from this undisciplined loser, far too many Republican ‘leaders’ have decided that encouraging his delusional lies — and, even worse — cynically appeasing him despite knowing they are lies, is the easiest path to ensuring their continued hold on power, general election consequences be damned.”

FLORIDA 2ND and 5TH CD. Democratic Rep. Al Lawson told Politico on Sunday that if he decides to run again, he would do so in the Tallahassee-based 2nd District against Republican Rep. Neal Dunn rather than in the new 5th, which is contained to the Jacksonville area. Lawson for three terms has represented a plurality-Black 5th District spanning from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, and Republicans targeted him with their recently enacted congressional map by breaking up the 5th District to ensure that both cities were drawn into majority-white districts that favored Republicans, leaving Lawson with no great options.

In a sign of which way he might be leaning, Lawson also recently told a local TV reporter that his “plan right now is to be on the ballot,” though that isn’t quite a firm commitment to running again. If Lawson does choose to run in the 2nd, he would face sizable headwinds in a seat that Donald Trump would have carried by 55-44 in an area that has been trending to the right over the last decade. Furthermore, Lawson currently represents only 31% of the redrawn 2nd’s population compared to 64% for Dunn.

However Lawson argued that his ties to the area are much deeper and broader than a quick glance at the toplines might suggest: Lawson represented much of this area, including several conservative counties outside of Tallahassee, when he was in the state Senate from 2000 to 2010. Additionally, prior to his initial 2016 victory in the current 5th following court-ordered redistricting, Lawson made two runs for Congress in older versions of the 2nd District that contained a large majority of the new 2nd’s territory, coming up short by close margins in the 2010 primary and 2012 general election.

Still, with Joe Biden sporting a low approval rating and the midterms shaping up to favor Republicans this fall, Lawson would have his work cut out for him if he chooses to run here. One reason he may be holding off on making a decision, though, is that several advocacy groups and Florida voters filed a lawsuit in state court last week alleging that the new map violates the state constitution’s prohibitions on partisan gerrymandering and diluting minority representation, which could result in something close to the existing 5th District getting revived if the plaintiffs prevail.

TEXAS 30TH CD. The cryptocurrency-aligned group Web3 Forward has reported a $250,000 ad buy ahead of the May 24 Democratic primary runoff to support state Rep. Jasmine Crockett, who came just shy of winning the nomination outright last month with a 48-17 lead over party operative Jane Hamilton. Web3 Forward may have more where that came from if the initial primary, where they and another crypto-oriented group had already spent over $2 million aiding Crockett, was any indication.

MASSACHUSETTS 4TH CD. Former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell, who just barely came up short by 22-21 in the crowded Democratic primary against freshman Rep. Jake Auchincloss when the current version of this seat was open in 2020, has announced that she won’t seek a rematch this cycle. Auchincloss, a relative moderate who benefitted last time from multiple more progressive opponents splitting the vote, faces no notable opponent in the September primary this cycle, and time is quickly running out for one to materialize before the May 10 filing deadline.

MINNESOTA 1ST CD. Republicans in the new 1st Congressional District held their convention over the weekend, but while a majority of delegates backed state Rep. Jeremy Munson, he was unable to take the requisite 60% needed to secure the party endorsement for the full two-year term. The GOP did not do a convention for the special election because redistricting was completed just before Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn died, though an endorsement for the regularly scheduled race still could have given one of the contenders a lift in the May 24 primary.

Ultimately, however, Munson fell just short. He led former Department of Agriculture official Brad Finstad 55-35 in the seventh round, but attendees voted on Sunday at 1 AM local time to disperse after concluding that no one would outright win. “By one o’clock, everybody was getting kind of grumpy,” explained one delegate.

MINNESOTA 3RD CD. Navy veteran Tom Weiler defeated businessman Mark Blaxill on Saturday to win the Republican Party endorsement to take on Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips; Blaxill does not appear to have said if he’ll file to compete in the August primary for a seat Biden would have carried 59-38.

NORTH CAROLINA 1ST CD. Retiring Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield has endorsed state Sen. Don Davis in the May 17 primary to succeed him.

OREGON 5TH CD. President Biden has endorsed Rep. Kurt Schrader ahead of the May 17 Democratic primary, where the moderate incumbent faces a progressive primary challenge by attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner. In addition to Biden’s support, Schrader headed into the primary’s final stretch with a large financial advantage: Schrader outraised McLeod-Skinner in the first quarter by $714,000 to $314,000 and started April with a $2.7 million to $310,000 edge in cash-on-hand.

OREGON 6TH CD. CHC BOLD PAC, which is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ campaign arm, says it is spending $1 million on an ad backing state Rep. Andrea Salinas in next month’s Democratic primary. Their spot notes Salinas’ background as the daughter of an immigrant father and praises her state legislative record on issues including abortion rights, healthcare, the minimum wage, and climate change.

In an effort to unravel why billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried’s super PAC, Protect Our Future, has spent more than $7 million so far boosting first-time candidate Carrick Flynn’s quest for the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s brand-new 6th Congressional District, OPB’s Dirk VanderHart dives deep into the possible ties between the two men.

Most notably, Flynn’s wife, Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn, worked at an organization called the Center for Effective Altruism in 2017—the same time that Bankman-Fried served as the group’s director of development. Flynn has maintained he “has never met or talked to Sam Bankman-Fried”—by law, super PACs are forbidden from coordinating with campaigns they’re seeking to boost—and in response to VanderHart’s reporting, he said of his wife, “If she’s met him she hasn’t said anything. I think she would have said something.”

VanderHart also points out that Bankman-Fried’s younger brother, Gabe Bankman-Fried, runs yet another super PAC called Guarding Against Pandemics that has likewise endorsed Flynn; it so happens that the president of Protect Our Future, Michael Sadowsky, also works for Guarding Against Pandemics. Gabe Bankman-Fried offered effusive praise for Flynn in remarks to VanderHart, though he insisted he “could not comment” on the interest shown in Flynn by his older sibling, who has not said anything about the candidate publicly.

UTAH 1ST CD. Retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger outpaced freshman Rep. Blake Moore 59-41 at Saturday’s Republican convention, which secured the challenger a spot on the June primary ballot. Former Morgan County Councilmember Tina Cannon, who has the support of former Rep. Rob Bishop, will also be competing in the primary because, like Moore, she collected enough signatures to advance no matter how the weekend gathering went. But it’s the end of the line for both Vineland Mayor Julie Fullmer and businessman William Campbell, who were only pursuing the convention route.

Cannon has faulted Moore with not living in this safely red northern Utah seat, while Badger’s objections are more ideological. Badger, whom Cachevalleydaily.com says delivered “brief speeches that sounded more like revival meetings,” has pledged to join the far-right House Freedom Caucus. The story says that Moore, by contrast, has a “carefully cultivated reputation for bipartisanship,” but he tried out more conservative rhetoric on Saturday. Neither Cannon nor Badger has much money available to make their case against Moore to primary voters, however.

UTAH 3RD CD. Former state Rep. Chris Herrod led Rep. John Curtis 55-45 at the weekend’s GOP convention, but Herrod heads into their June primary showdown with less than $3,000 to spend. This will be the third face-off between Curtis and Herrod for a safely red seat in the Provo area and southeastern Utah: Curtis won the 2017 special primary 43-33, and he prevailed 73-27 in their rematch the following year.

MICHIGAN 7TH CD. Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Michigan’s new and competitive 7th Congressional District, recently sent out a fundraising appeal by text message falsely telling recipients that “your child’s gender reassignment surgery has been booked,” complete with a phony time for the appointment. Barrett, a far-right politician who has worn a “naturally immunized” wrist band and refused to say if he’s vaccinated, deployed this tactic after David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner reported that he’d badly missed his own team’s fundraising goals.

We know about Barrett’s underperformance because a Democratic operative provided Drucker with a vivid recording of one of his top aides. “We announced just before Thanksgiving, you know, really, you know, we chained him to a desk and had him on the phones,” said the staffer in February, “and he raised, you know, 310 grand. He’s raising more money now—our goal is a million by the end of March.” However, the senator hauled in only $456,000 during the first three months of 2022, which left him with $396,000 on hand. Slotkin, by contrast, took in $1.32 million during the first quarter and had a gigantic $5.5 million on hand.

One thing Barrett doesn’t need to worry about, though, is the Aug. 2 primary. Candidate filing closed Tuesday, and the only other Republican to turn in paperwork was insurance agency owner Jacob Hagg, who hasn’t reported raising any cash at all. This constituency in the Lansing area would have supported Joe Biden by a 50-49 margin, a small improvement for Slotkin from Trump’s 50-49 edge in the old 8th District. But even an underfunded extremist like Barrett has an opening in a district this close.

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. The Alaska Republican Party has endorsed businessman Nick Begich III ahead of the top-four special election primary this June, where Begich has emerged as one of the leading Republicans in the crowded all-party contest alongside former Gov. Sarah Palin.

MICHIGAN 3RD CD. Rep. Peter Meijer, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, faces primary opposition from conservative commentator John Gibbs, who is Trump’s endorsed candidate. (We recently took a closer look at this primary.) Little-known attorney Gabi Manolache is also running, though “MAGA bride” Audra Johnson did not end up filing. The winner will take on 2020 nominee Hillary Scholten, who faces no intra-party opposition for her second bid, in a Grand Rapids-based seat that redistricting transformed from a 51-47 Trump seat to one Joe Biden would have carried 53-45.

MICHIGAN 4TH CD. Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga, who represents the existing 2nd District, has no primary opposition following fellow Rep. Fred Upton’s retirement announcement earlier this month. This seat in southwestern Michigan would have favored Trump 51-47, and the one Democrat to file, Joseph Alfonso, has not reported raising any money.

MICHIGAN 8TH CD. Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee is defending a seat in the Flint and Saginaw areas that would have favored Joe Biden only 50-48, a small but potentially important shift from Biden’s 51-47 showing in Kildee’s existing 5th District. The Republican frontrunner is former Trump administration official Paul Junge, who lost to Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin 51-47 in the old 8th District in 2020. (The old and new 8th Districts do not overlap.) Former Grosse Pointe Shores Councilman Matthew Seely and businesswoman Candice Miller (not to be confused with the former congresswoman with the same name) are also in, but neither opened fundraising committees until recently.

MICHIGAN 10TH CD. Five Democrats are competing to take on John James, who was Team Red’s Senate nominee in 2018 and 2020, in an open seat in Detroit’s northeastern suburbs that would have gone for Trump 50-49. James, who only has a little-known primary foe, had $1.25 million stockpiled at the end of March, which was considerably more than the Democrats had combined.

Warren Council member Angela Rogensues finished the quarter with $160,000 on hand, while attorney Huwaida Arraf and former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga were similarly situated with $145,000 and $135,000 to spend, respectively. Sterling Heights City Council member Henry Yanez, though, was far back with only $22,000 in the bank, while former Macomb County Health Department head Rhonda Powell had less than $5,000.

MICHIGAN 11TH CD. The Democratic primary is a duel between Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin for a constituency in the Detroit northern suburbs that Biden would have won 59-39. Stevens’ existing 11th District makes up 45% of the new seat, while Levin represents only 25%. (Several Democrats grumbled to Politico recently that Levin should have instead run for the new 10th, where he already serves most of the residents.)

Stevens has the support of retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents the balance of this district, and EMILY’s List, while the SEIU is in Levin’s corner. The two have largely voted the same way in Congress, though while Levin has emphasized his support for Medicare for all and the Green New Deal, Stevens has portrayed herself as more pragmatic. Stevens ended March with a $2.79 million to $1.47 million cash-on-hand edge over her fellow incumbent.

MICHIGAN 13TH CD. A total of 11 Democrats have filed to run to succeed retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who is Michigan’s only Black member of Congress, in this safely blue seat, which includes part of Detroit and its southern suburbs. Lawrence, who supports Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson, has argued that it’s vital to keep a “qualified, committed” African American representing the state, something that several other Black candidates have also emphasized.

However, the candidate who ended March with the most money by far is self-funding state Rep. Shri Thanedar, who is originally from India. (Thanedar, who lived in Ann Arbor when he unsuccessfully ran for governor, moved to Detroit ahead of his victorious bid for a state House seat in the city two years later.) Thanedar had over $5 million on hand, which was more than ten times as much as the $453,000 that his nearest foe, state Sen. Adam Hollier, had available.

Other candidates to watch include hedge fund manager John Conyers III, who is the son and namesake of the late longtime congressman; Detroit School Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo; Teach for America official Michael Griffie; former Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail; and Detroit city official Adrian Tonon, who is one of the few other non-Black contenders in the primary.

MICHIGAN 12TH CD. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is one of the most prominent progressives in the House, faces three Democratic primary opponents in this safely blue Detroit-based seat. Tlaib, whose existing 13th District makes up 53% of the new 12th, ended March with a $1.62 million to $221,000 cash-on-hand lead over her nearest foe, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey; Winfrey, for her part, has faulted Tlaib for casting a vote from the left against the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. Also in the race are former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett, neither of whom reported raising any money during the last quarter.

NORTH CAROLINA 11TH CD. Axios reports that Results for North Carolina, a super PAC close to Sen. Thom Tillis, is spending $310,000 on an ad campaign against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, which makes this the first major outside spending of the May 17 Republican primary. The commercial focuses on reports that the incumbent “lied about being accepted to the Naval Academy” and declares he’s “been caught lying about conservatives.” The narrator, who brands the congressman “an attention-seeking embarrassment,” does not mention Tillis’ endorsed candidate, state Sen. Chuck Edwards.

State Sen. Chuck Edwards’ latest ad for next month’s Republican primary cuts right to the chase and calls far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn an Instagramer who posts all day but doesn’t actually do anything to solve the country’s ongoing problems. Edwards draws a contrast by claiming he “fought the liberals [in state government] and won,” pointing to how he advanced conservative positions on taxes, guns, and immigration.

MINNESOTA 1ST CD. In what appears to be the first TV ad from anyone ahead of the special May 24 Republican primary, former Freeborn County party chair Matt Benda plays up his farming background and pledges to “protect our children from indoctrination in the classroom [and] ensure election integrity.”

TENNESSEE 5TH CD. Tennessee has finalized its list of candidates for the Aug. 4 primary ballot now that each party has had the chance to eject contenders who did not meet their “bona fide” standards, an option the GOP utilized in the 5th District in order to bounce three notable candidates. The 5th will also likely be home to the only seriously contested House race, and we’ll be taking a look at the field now that we know who’s on the ballot.

There are nine Republicans remaining in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper in the 5th, which GOP mapmakers transmuted from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency by cracking the city of Nashville. The only three who appear to be serious contenders are former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, who took a disappointing fourth place in the 2018 primary for governor; Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles; and retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, who has the largest war chest by far, though it’s possible another candidate will catch fire. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Heidi Campbell has the field to herself.

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

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