The Political Report – 5/5/22

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds 57% of voters want the Supreme Court to support abortion rights, 28% hope it opposes them, and 15% don’t know or have no opinion.

In addition, 56% of voters believe abortion should be legal in “most” or “all cases,” 25% of voters said they think abortion should be legal in all cases, 31% said legal in most cases, 24% said illegal in most cases, 11% said illegal in all cases, and 9% either don’t know or had no opinion.

A recent Wall Street Journal poll found that 55% of voters said they wanted abortion to be legal in all or most cases, while 30% said it should be illegal except in cases involving rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger, and 11% said it should be illegal in all circumstances.

“Democrats and their affiliated outside groups have raised more than $5 million since a report first unveiled a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the historic Roe v. Wade ruling and allow states to restrict abortions,” CNBC reports.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll finds abortion-rights supporters are more galvanized than opponents by the prospect of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

That trend reverses more than a decade of polling that showed Republicans have been more motivated by the abortion issue.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. “J.D. Vance’s victory in the Ohio Senate primary on Tuesday was an unmistakable victory for Donald Trump,” Politico reports.

“It’s fair to say Trump’s endorsement put Vance over the top. That matters for two reasons. First, we’re still early in the primary season, and Republicans in other states are closely watching Ohio. The Vance victory will keep the premium on Trump’s brand, while Trump-critical Republicans will have every incentive not to draw many distinctions with the former president. Second, Trump is obsessed with his win-loss record in the midterms. His victory in Ohio, the first major test of his influence, is setting a tone.”

David Leonhardt: “Most one-term presidents recede from the political scene, with their party’s voters happy to see them go. But Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican Party a year and a half after he lost re-election.”

The Republican primary for Ohio’s open Senate seat—which weighed in at nearly $75 million—finally concluded on Tuesday with a win for Trump’s endorsed candidate, venture capitalist J.D. Vance. Vance, the Hillbilly Elegy author and one-time vociferous Trump critic, reinvented himself as a MAGA diehard and defeated former state Treasurer Josh Mandel 32-24 for the nod to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman. Vance will take on Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who won his own primary 70-18 against former Treasury official Morgan Harper, in a longtime swing state that has lurched hard to the right in recent years.

Just a few months ago, Vance’s allies at Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC funded by megadonor Peter Thiel, warned that the candidate’s poll numbers were in “precipitous decline.” The group highlighted the previous fall’s assault by the Club for Growth, which supported Mandel and had run a barrage of ads using 2016 footage of Vance saying, “I’m a Never Trump guy,” an offensive that persuaded many voters that Vance could not be trusted.

Thiel’s group responded with new advertisements that rebranded Vance as a Trump loyalist, a maneuver that seems to have at least kept him in contention. Vance was also able to keep going because none of his four major rivals were able to establish a meaningful lead—either in the polls or in the contest to win Trump’s endorsement. (Only state Sen. Matt Dolan, who criticized Trump as recently as last year, didn’t seek it.) The financier also had a powerful ally in Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whom Rolling Stone reported played a key role in winning Trump over to Vance’s side.

Carlson reportedly not only made the case that Vance’s anti-Trump days were long behind him, he also argued that Mandel’s main benefactor, Club president David McIntosh, was untrustworthy because of what the story calls an “an embarrassing and ‘chronic’ personal sexual habit.” The magazine refused to provide any details about this salacious claim, but it relayed that Trump “spent a notable amount of time gossiping and laughing about the prominent Republican’s penis.” (Can’t believe you just had to read that sentence? We can’t believe we had to write it, either.)

No matter what ultimately convinced Trump, though, he went on to give his stamp of approval to Vance less than three weeks ahead of the primary. Trump excused Vance’s past disloyalty at a recent rally, saying that while his new favorite had indeed “said some bad shit about me,” each of his rivals “did also.”

The Club hoped that voters wouldn’t be so forgiving, and it even ran a commercial questioning Trump’s judgment—a shocking gambit given the GOP’s obeisance to its supreme master. Even Trump himself managed to give Vance a humiliating round of headlines just two days before Election Day when he told an audience, “We’ve endorsed—JP, right? JD Mandel, and he’s doing great.” But while Trump couldn’t remember Vance’s name, enough Republican primary voters could.

“If J.D. Vance follows his Tuesday night victory in Ohio’s Senate primary with a general election win in November he’ll arrive in a Washington filled with enemies and be seen as arguably the hardest-edged populist nationalist in the Senate GOP,” Axios reports.

“The Republican establishment privately regards Vance with the same disgust many felt toward Donald Trump when he entered the White House on Jan. 20, 2017.”

Jonathan Chait: “Let me state my thesis directly. Politicians who wish to defend democracy ought to draw a line at supporting allies who pose a threat to democracy. J.D. Vance is an authoritarian. Granted, this charge is difficult to prove without first handing him power, but the authoritarian nature of his beliefs is established as clearly as it can be without a pile of corpses. That said, the evidence of Vance anti-democratic inclination is about as clear as it can be for a figure in his current position.”

Sarah Longwell: “Mr. Vance’s win will likely come as a disappointment to some Republicans who have been quietly hoping that Mr. Trump’s grip on the party is slipping. They see the midterms as an existential moment for the party. They are acutely aware that if the candidates he endorsed do well, the feeling of inevitability that he will be the party’s nominee in 2024 increases, annihilating any hope of reconstituting a political coalition around anything other than fealty to Mr. Trump…”

“Yet conservatives must be honest. At this time, there is no moving past Mr. Trump. He has remade the Republican Party in his image, and many Republican voters now crave his particular brand of combative politics.”

“In races across the country, Republicans who have won Mr. Trump’s endorsement mention it constantly. Even those who didn’t win his endorsement still mention him constantly. Mr. Trump might not have endorsed them, but they all endorse him.”

Robert Regan (R), who made national headlines last month for suggesting that women who are raped should “lie back and enjoy it,” lost his race in a surprise defeat, the Detroit Free Press reports. He was favored to win in the heavily Republican district that had only ever been held by a Republican. He lost to a Democrat who campaigned vigorously against his horrible anti-woman and anti-choice comments.

Within hours of winning the U.S. Senate nomination in Ohio, Tim Ryan (D) is out with a new ad hammering rival J.D. Vance (R).

“Frustrated Indiana conservatives fell short in most primary races Tuesday in their drive to push the Republican-controlled state Legislature further to the right, and two of the movement’s leaders lost their reelection bids,” the AP reports.

“The roughly two dozen so-called liberty candidates saw only a few victories in Republican legislative races across the state, with one defeating a 10-term incumbent in northern Indiana and two others winning nominations for GOP-leaning open seats.”

OHIO 11TH CD. In a rematch of their 2021 special election clash, Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) again defeated progressive favorite Nina Turner (D), a former state senator who rose to national prominence as a top aide and surrogate to Sen. Bernie Sanders during his two presidential campaigns, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

NORTH CAROLINA 11TH CD. Punchbowl News: “Here’s a pretty brutal ad targeting Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC).”

“The spot shows police footage of Cawthorn getting pulled over. It also briefly features an image of the first-term lawmaker’s crotch allegedly being touched by one of his staffers, and another of him wearing women’s clothing.”

“A lawyer for embattled GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn argued Tuesday in federal court that states can’t enforce basic age or residency requirements for congressional candidates, let alone enforce a constitutional ban against insurrectionists from holding office,” CNN reports.

OHIO 9TH CD. There’s little doubt that Donald Trump’s endorsement of J.D. Vance (R) in Ohio’s U.S. Senate primary led to his victory last night. But another race might be an even better example of Trump’s influence in the Buckeye State — and it could cost Republicans.

J.R. Majewski (R), who attended the January 6 rally at the Capitol and painted his backyard in tribute to Trump, won the GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) in Ohio’s 8th congressional district, the Toledo Blade reports.

Most Republicans gave the edge to either state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R) or state Rep. Craig Riedel (R). National Republicans didn’t even think the far-right Majewski was a serious contender. He once appeared on Fox News wearing a “Q” shirt and often uses QAnon slogans. And Majewski’s “Let’s go, Brandon” rap video will give you a good feel of the candidate.

Majewski’s victory could give Kaptur an edge in retaining a seat Republicans thought they could flip. The Cook Political Report rated it a Toss Up before yesterday’s primary due to redistricting. Although Trump did not make a formal endorsement in the race, his influence in the contest could end up costing Republicans what could have been a relatively easy pick up in a tough Democratic year.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR, GOVERNOR, 4TH CD. Former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt has publicized an internal from WPA Intelligence that gives him a 57-20 lead over Army veteran Sam Brown ahead of the June 14 Republican primary. Back in mid-March, WPA’s survey for Laxalt’s allies at the Club for Growth found him ahead by an almost-identical 57-20 margin.

The central committee of the Nevada Republican Party, though, spurned the Trump-backed frontrunner over the weekend by voting to endorse Brown. The party’s leadership also threw its support behind attorney Joey Gilbert, who has bragged that he was “definitely on the Capitol steps” on Jan. 6, in the primary for governor; the decision came days after Trump endorsed another candidate, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. Additionally, the state GOP went for Air Force veteran Sam Peters in the GOP contest to face 4th District Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.

“A dark money group launched in February to support former Rep. Lou Barletta (R) in the Republican primary for Pennsylvania governor is now… attacking him on social media,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. The state Board of Elections ruled Monday that both 2014 nominee Rob Astorino and former Trump White House staffer Andrew Giuliani had submitted enough valid signatures to appear on the June Republican primary ballot despite a challenge by one of their intra-party rivals, Rep. Lee Zeldin. The field also includes wealthy businessman Harry Wilson, whose petitions were not contested by anyone.

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Ted Budd’s allies at the Club for Growth are out with a new survey from WPA Intelligence that shows him defeating former Gov. Pat McCrory 43-23 in the May 17 Republican primary, which is an improvement from the congressman’s 44-31 edge a little less than a month ago.

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR. Campaign finance reports are in covering the first quarter of 2022, and WPRI has rounded up the totals for all the notable Democratic contenders:

  • former CVS executive Helena Foulkes: $900,000 raised, additional $400,000 self-funded, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
  • Gov. Dan McKee: $427,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
  • Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea: $378,000 raised, $896,000 cash-on-hand
  • former Secretary of State Matt Brown: $110,000 raised, $79,000 cash-on-hand 

Businesswoman Ashley Kalus, who is the only major Republican contender, took in a mere $13,000 from donors but self-funded another $500,000, which left her with $410,000 available at the end of March.

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is using her first TV ad of the campaign to tell the audience, “I am taking on members of my own party to push a gas tax holiday, and I am pushing Joe Biden to release more of our oil reserves. That’s how we lower costs and get through these times.”

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. Republican firm InsiderAdvantage’s new poll for Fox5 Atlanta shows Gov. Brian Kemp fending off former Sen. David Perdue 54-38 in the May 24 Republican primary, which is a big improvement from the incumbent’s 44-35 lead two months agoEvery poll we’ve seen in the last few weeks has found Kemp taking the majority he needs to avert a June runoff.

HAWAII GOVERNOR. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship champion B.J. Penn has declared that he’ll seek the Republican nomination to lead heavily Democratic Hawaii, an announcement that the mask and vaccine mandate foe naturally made to podcaster Joe Rogan. The UFC forbade Penn from fighting again in 2019 after videos showed him involved in a bar brawl, though he was not arrested or charged.

IDAHO GOVERNOR and ATTORNEY GENERAL. Idaho Dispatch last month released a mid-April survey from Zoldak Research, a firm we haven’t previously encountered, that shows incumbent Brad Little turning back Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin 60-29 in the May 17 Republican primary. We haven’t seen any other polls all year testing Little’s prospects against McGeachin, a far-right favorite who sports Trump’s endorsement.

But the news isn’t good for five-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, as Zoldak shows former Rep. Raúl Labrador narrowly leading him 36-33. The Club For Growth, which is running commercials attacking Wasden, publicized an internal back in March that had Labrador ahead by a large 35-14 in the GOP nomination contest.

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said Saturday that he was entering next year’s Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. Quarles’ only notable intra-party foe so far is state Auditor Mike Harmon, who has struggled to raise money, but considerably more Bluegrass State Republicans are eyeing the contest: Secretary of State Michael Adams, who himself hasn’t quite ruled it out, mused, “I think we’re going to need more paper for the ballots.”

And while we hadn’t previously heard state Sen. Ralph Alvarado mentioned as a possibility, the Associated Press reports that he’s indeed considering. Alvarado became incumbent Matt Bevin’s running mate in 2019 after the then-governor ejected Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton from his ticket, but the duo narrowly lost to Beshear and Jacqueline Coleman.

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR. Suffolk University, working on behalf of the Boston Globe, is out with the first survey we’ve seen of the general election to succeed retiring Republican incumbent Charlie Baker, and it finds Massachusetts Democrats well-positioned to retake the governorship after eight years. Attorney General Maura Healey leads both former state Rep. Geoff Diehl and wealthy businessman Chris Doughty 54-27 and 55-25, respectively, while state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz outpaces them 45-29 and 43-27.

The school also tests out an extremely hypothetical scenario where Baker runs for re-election as an independent and has him beating Healey 37-28, with 17% going to the Trump-endorsed Diehl. Baker, though, has shown no obvious interest in abandoning either his party or his retirement plans.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR. Democratic incumbent Tony Evers has launched a $3.5 million opening ad buy, and his first spot commends him for saving jobs, improving public schools and roads, and working “with Republicans and Democrats to pass middle class income-tax relief.”

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

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