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The Political Report – 5/26/22

A new AP-NORC poll finds Americans “are becoming less supportive of punishing Russia for launching its invasion of Ukraine if it comes at the expense of the U.S. economy, a sign of rising anxiety over inflation and other challenges.”

“Now 45% of U.S. adults say the nation’s bigger priority should be sanctioning Russia as effectively as possible, while slightly more — 51% — say it should be limiting damage to the U.S. economy.”

“In April, those figures were exactly reversed. In March, shortly after Russia attacked Ukraine, a clear majority — 55% — said the bigger priority should be sanctioning Russia as effectively as possible.”

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that 61% of Donald Trump voters agree that “a group of people in this country are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants and people of color who share their political views” — a core tenet of the false conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement.”

Just 34% of Americans overall agree with that statement.

A new CBS/YouGov poll finds that 48% of Republican voters say that it is “not very” or “not at all” important for political leaders to condemn white nationalism and white supremacy.

“We may not win Tuesday, but I can damn guarantee you that we are not down 30 points.” — Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue (R), to a reporter last week.  Well, he was right. Brian Kemp is beating Perdue by 52 percentage points in the GOP primary as of the latest tally.

“Donald Trump has long been the dominant force in Republican politics, but as he has faced a spate of setbacks in recent weeks — punctuated Tuesday night by the defeat of his favored gubernatorial candidate here in Georgia — the former president has been privately fretting about who might challenge him,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has been quizzing advisers and visitors at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida about his budding rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, including his former vice president, Mike Pence, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).”

“He also had revived conversations about announcing a presidential exploratory committee to try to dissuade challengers, they say, even as some party officials and advisers continue to urge him to wait until after the midterm elections to announce that he’s running.”

“The campaigns of seven Republican candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump spent over $400,000, combined, at his private club Mar-a-Lago in the buildup to Tuesday’s primary clashes,” CNBC reports.  Trump’s endorsements don’t come cheap.

WASHINGTON 8TH CD. Three notable Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbent Kim Schrier in a suburban Seattle seat that, just like her current constituency, would have supported Joe Biden 52-45. Schrier’s most familiar foe is 2020 nominee Jesse Jensen, who unexpectedly held her to a 52-48 win last time despite bringing in little money and is proving to be a considerably stronger fundraiser this time.

Another well-established Republican is King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who lost the 2012 open seat race for attorney general 53-47 to Democrat Bob Ferguson; Dunn is the son of the late Rep. Jennifer Dunn, who represented previous versions of this constituency from 1993 to 2005. Team Red’s field also includes 2020 attorney general nominee Matt Larkin, who lost to Ferguson 56-43 and has been self-funding much of his newest bid. The field includes an additional two Republicans, a pair of Democrats, and a trio of third-party candidates.

CALIFORNIA 40TH CD. Physician Asif Mahmood is the latest in a string of Democrats this year who are trying to pick their opponents, but in a bit of a twist, he’s also trying to prevent an incumbent from reaching the general election.

Mahmood is airing a new ad that calls out Republican Greg Raths for his hostility to abortion rights, calling him “too right-wing for Orange County”—exactly the kind of message that would excite conservative voters, of course, and one aimed at boosting Raths past Rep. Young Kim in next month’s top-two primary. Kim also opposes abortion rights but Mahmood would unquestionably rather face the more vocally MAGA-fied Raths in November.

For Mahmood to be successful, Kim would have to come in third in the primary, a fate that’s never befallen an incumbent in the decade since California adopted its current top-two system. However, Kim’s incumbency is as thin as it gets: Thanks to redistricting, she represents just 20% of the redrawn 40th District. Raths, meanwhile, ran against Rep. Katie Porter last cycle in the old 45th District, which makes up almost two-thirds of the new 40th, though he lost 53-47.

Kim is running a commercial attacking Raths. According to Democratic operative Nathan Click, Kim is spending at least $500,000 in the ultra-expensive Los Angeles media market to air this spot on broadcast television.

Kim’s narrator compares Raths to Joe Biden and other Democrats by arguing that the candidate has hiked up taxes and fees “[e]ight times in a row” and wanted to increase his own salary. The second half of the piece praises the congresswoman as a loyal conservative who is “fighting Raths and the liberals.”

MISSOURI 7TH CD. Former state Sen. Jay Wasson has released a new poll of the Aug. 2 Republican primary for Missouri’s open 7th District, conducted by American Viewpoint, that shows him leading state Sen. Mike Moon 21-17, with state Sen. Eric Burlison at 15 and all other candidates in single digits; 31% were undecided. We’ve seen just one other survey here, from Republican pollster Remington Research on behalf of the tipsheet Missouri Scout all the way back in January, that had Burlison leading Moon 21-12, with Wasson at 9.

ILLINOIS 6TH CD. A new internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang for Rep. Sean Casten finds the congressman leading his rival in next month’s primary, fellow Rep. Marie Newman, by a 36-27 margin, with 2% going to perennial candidate Charles Hughes and, presumably, 35% undecided. GHY’s memo also says that “the race was even” when it last polled in January, though actual toplines for that older survey are not included. The only other poll of the contest was a Newman internal from February that had the two incumbents tied at 37 apiece.

NEW YORK 12TH CD. Attorney Suraj Patel, who was waging a third straight primary challenge against Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney after coming up just shy in 2020, says he’s continuing his campaign despite the fact that he’ll now be going up against Rep. Jerry Nadler, too. Another candidate who’d been taking on Maloney, community organizer Rana Abdelhamid, does not appear to have commented on her plans since the state’s new court-drawn map was adopted over the weekend.

A spokesperson for nonprofit founder Rana Abdelhamid says she’s considering whether to continue in the Democratic primary after court-ordered redistricting significantly scrambled the lines here. Abdelhamid is based in Queens, but the portions of that borough that were previously in the 12th were removed under the court’s reconfiguration of the district, which is now contained solely in Manhattan.

NEW YORK 10TH CD. New York’s radically reconfigured 10th District in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn has already attracted a trio of prominent Democratic contenders, but a whole bunch more are considering the race for this newly open and safely blue seat. The potential candidates who’ve publicly stated their interest include:

  • state Sen. Simcha Felder, who spent many years caucusing with Republicans
  • former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who represented a different part of Brooklyn in the 1970s and is now 80 years old
  • Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon
  • attorney Dawn Smalls, who took 4% in the 2019 special election for New York City public advocate
  • Several others are reportedly interested:
  • attorney Daniel Goldman, who was chief Democratic counsel for Donald Trump’s first impeachment
  • City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who filed paperwork with the FEC
  • former City Comptroller Scott Stringer, though he’s reportedly planning to seek an open state Senate seat in Manhattan
  • former City Councilman David Yassky, according to Councilwoman Gale Brewer

Already running are former Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, and Hudson Valley Rep. Mondaire Jones. Assemblyman Robert Carroll, however, is a no. The 10th District is open because the state’s new court-drawn map moved Rep. Jerry Nadler’s Upper West Side base into the 12th District, where he’ll face off against fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary.

NEW YORK 18TH CD. State Sen. James Skoufis has announced that he won’t run for Congress after previously considering a bid, leaving Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan as the only notable Democrat in the race so far.

NEW YORK 19TH CD SPECIAL ELECTION. Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Monday that Rep. Antonio Delgado would be sworn in as her new lieutenant governor on Wednesday, allowing her to consolidate the special election for Delgado’s House seat with the Aug. 23 primary for U.S. House and state Senate races. A new state law says that the governor has 10 days after a congressional vacancy to schedule a special election, which must take place 70 to 80 days thereafter. That gives Hochul a maximum window of 90 days, which is why Delgado has delayed his departure from Congress, even though his appointment was announced several weeks ago.

NEW YORK 23RD CD SPECIAL ELECTION.: Democratic county chairs in New York’s 23rd Congressional District have selected Air Force veteran Max Della Pia to run in the upcoming special election to replace former GOP Rep. Tom Reed. Republicans have yet to pick their nominee for the special, which will take place under the old district lines. Della Pia, who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, says he will also run in November for the new 23rd District. The old district voted for Donald Trump 55-43; the new version would have backed him 58-40.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has yet to schedule the special, though it will likely be consolidated with the Aug. 23 primary for U.S. House and state Senate races. But while Reed announced that he would resign effective immediately on May 10, state officials say they have yet to receive a letter from the congressman informing them of a vacancy. Reed may be delaying transmission of such a letter for the same reason Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado has likewise not yet vacated his seat—see our NY-19 item just above. It’s less clear, however, why Reed might wish to make election administration easier for Hochul, a Democrat, though he has sometimes dissented from GOP orthodoxy.

OREGON 6TH CD. “Republicans in Oregon’s newly drawn 6th Congressional District last week chose as their nominee for the House businessman Mike Erickson (R), an anti-abortion candidate who has been accused of paying for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion,” the American Independent reports.

We now know how much it costs to bend a top Democratic super PAC to your will: $5 million. As we learned late on Friday night, cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried donated $6 million to the House Majority PAC on April 4, just days before HMP began spending $1 million to boost first-time candidate Carrick Flynn in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s brand-new 6th Congressional District.

The move infuriated countless Democrats, who demanded to know why HMP, which had never before involved itself in a primary like this in its decade-long existence, had chosen this race to break with past practice. It particularly enraged the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which was backing state Rep. Andrea Salinas and had given the PAC more than $6 million since 2012 in order to defeat Republicans, not fellow Democrats.

The group’s only explanation was transparent bullshit: “House Majority PAC is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to secure a Democratic House majority in 2022,” a spokesperson said, “and we believe supporting Carrick Flynn is a step towards accomplishing that goal.” No one believed that, prompting widespread speculation, as a campaign manager for a rival campaign put it, “that promises have been made.”

HMP’s financial report for the month of April, however, was not due at the FEC until May 20—three days after the primary. That’s why we’re only now finding out exactly what that promise appears to have been.

Bankman-Fried himself spent far more heavily on Flynn through his own super PAC, Protect Our Future, which ultimately shelled out an astonishing $11.4 million directly—some of which even went to attack Salinas—as well as nearly a million dollars more indirectly. Bankman-Fried’s interest in Flynn was never clear, however. Supporters claimed that Bankman-Fried was drawn to Flynn because of a shared interest in pandemic preparedness, but Bankman-Fried was publicly silent about the race until just days prior to the election, and Flynn didn’t campaign on the issue.

(Flynn had denied knowing Bankman-Fried, but his wife had once worked at the same organization as his benefactor, and Flynn acknowledged he was friends with Bankman-Fried’s brother, Gabriel, who’s heavily involved in the family’s political giving. Campaigns and super PACs, by law, are not allowed to coordinate their activities.)

What’s even less clear is why Bankman-Fried would bother making his arrangement with House Majority PAC in the first place. Given his apparently limitless resources, he could have easily sent another million bucks to Protect Our Future had he wanted to. Instead, he spent six times that amount to net just a $1 million boost for his preferred candidate. You don’t need to be a titan of finance to know how appalling that rate of return is, unless your actual aim is to prove you can make a major arm of the Democratic Party do your bidding.

In the short term, at least, Bankman-Fried’s efforts on behalf of Flynn—and HMP’s decision to sell out on his behalf—were a debacle. Salinas doubled up Flynn, winning the nomination 36-18, and Flynn’s final cost-per-vote will likely exceed $1,000—another terrible return on investment. HMP will also have some serious relationship-mending to do, especially with the CHC.

But even though Bankman-Fried failed to buy a congressional election, he was able to buy the most important super PAC devoted to winning House races for Democrats. For a system already awash in dark money, it’s a dark sign for the future.

“For months, former Vice President Mike Pence has been edging away from his alliance of convenience with former President Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“After four years of service bordering on subservience, the increasingly emboldened Mr. Pence is seeking to reintroduce himself to Republican voters ahead of a potential presidential bid by setting himself apart from what many in the G.O.P. see as the worst impulses of Mr. Trump. He’s among a small group in his party considering a run in 2024 no matter what Mr. Trump decides.”

PENNSYLVANIA 12TH CD. On Friday evening, the Associated Press called the extremely close Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s open 12th District for state Rep. Summer Lee, who defeated Steve Irwin, a former head of the state Securities Commission, by a 41.8 to 41.1 margin. Lee, who presented herself as the more progressive option, would be the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. Lee will be the heavy favorite in this Pittsburgh-based district, which would have voted for Joe Biden 59-40, against Plum Borough Councilman Mike Doyle, a Republican who happens to share the same name as the retiring Democratic incumbent.

PENNSYLVANIA 7TH CD. The Associated Press on Thursday called the Republican primary for 2020 nominee Lisa Scheller, who turned in a surprisingly weak 51-49 showing against technology consulting company owner Kevin Dellicker. Scheller will now get her rematch against Democratic Rep. Susan Wild in a redrawn Lehigh Valley seat where Biden’s margin slipped from 52-47 to just 50-49; Wild turned back Scheller 52-48 last cycle.

VIRGINIA 10TH CD. Navy veteran Hung Cao won the GOP nomination for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in a major upset on Saturday, defeating the better-known and better-funded Jeanine Lawson, a member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, by a 52-34 margin in the seventh and final round of an instant runoff. Rather than rely on a traditional state-run primary, Republicans used a party-run “firehouse primary” that saw a total turnout of about 15,000 voters. By contrast, the last contested primary in this district in a midterm year saw 53,000 people turn out to vote in the Democratic nominating contest in 2018, which then-state Sen. Jennifer Wexton won easily.

Wexton went on to oust Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock by a wide 56-44 margin that November in a northern Virginia district that’s rapidly moved to the left in recent years and won re-election by a similar spread. Under the new lines, the 10th would have voted for Joe Biden 58-40, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, which is very similar to the president’s performance in the previous version of this seat. However, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin lost the 10th just 52-47 in his successful bid for governor last year, per OurCampaigns.

OHIO 9TH CD. Ohio congressional candidate J.R. Majewski (R) said in a livestream following the 2020 election that he thought every state won by former President Donald Trump should secede from the United States, CNN reports.

TEXAS 30TH CD. Protect Our Future PAC is spending $280,000 on an ad campaign for Tuesday’s Democratic runoff that praises state Rep. Jasmine Crockett and reminds the audience that retiring Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson is in her corner. Another crypto-aligned PAC, Web3 Forward, previously dropped $250,000 here for the state representative. While these sums are a far cry from the combined $2.5 million that the two groups shelled out in the first round, party operative Jane Hope Hamilton has yet to benefit from any outside spending for the runoff.  

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

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