The Political Report – 5/27/22

A new Morning Consult poll finds 88% of Americans strongly or somewhat support requiring background checks on all gun sales while just 8% strongly or somewhat oppose them.

Meanwhile, 75% strongly of somewhat support creating a national database with info about each gun sale, while 18% strongly or somewhat opposes.

And 84% strongly or somewhat support preventing sales of all firearms to people reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider, while 9% strongly or somewhat oppose that.

A new Morning Consult poll finds 41% of voters believe it’s “very important” to pass new gun control measures, while 18% said it was “somewhat important.”   Just 13% said it was “not too important” and 19% said it was “not important at all,” while 9% had no opinion.

A new Marquette Law School poll finds a majority of Americans — 54% — now say they disapprove of the job the Supreme Court is doing following the leak of the draft opinion showing the justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.   FiveThirtyEight: For the first time in years, Democrats are more concerned about abortion than Republicans are.

A new Gallup poll finds just 16% of adults are satisfied with the way things are going in the country.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds President Biden’s approval rate has fallen to 36%  — the lowest of his presidency — with 59% disapproving.  Key takeaway: “In a sign of weakening enthusiasm among Democrats, Biden’s approval rating within his own party fell to 72% from 76% the prior week.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. The close Pennsylvania Republican Senate race between Mehmet Oz (R) and David McCormick (R) will head to a recount, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.  Oz’s lead over McCormick is down to about 900 votes.

Counties will be required to start their recounts by June 1 and report their tallies by noon on June 8, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) announced.

Good news for McCormick: Counties will also be required to segregate and tabulate undated and incorrectly dated ballots, which McCormick’s been pushing for in the lawsuit he filed earlier this week (which the Republican National Committee and Pennsylvania GOP really don’t like at all!).

With Oz ahead by just 902 votes, the gap between the two candidates is by far the smallest of any race in state history that’s gone to overtime since Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law first went into effect in 2004. (The next-closest was a judicial primary in 2011 where the margin was 2,116 votes. The recount upheld a win by Democrat Kathy Boockvar, who lost the general election but later went on to serve as secretary of the commonwealth.)

But the recount is not the only thing that could affect the final outcome. For starters, elections officials said Wednesday there were still 6,000 uncounted mail ballots, which were valid so long as they were postmarked by Election Day and arrived by Tuesday, and another 4,000 provisional ballots whose validity has yet to be adjudicated. However, this includes ballots cast in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, so the total number of GOP votes will be lower—much lower: Of the mail and provisional ballots that have already been counted, about 80% were cast by Democrats.

The most hotly contested bucket, though, is a small batch of about 860 Republican ballots that were cast by mail and received on time but lacked a handwritten date on their outer envelope, which is required under state law. Republicans have fought vigorously to have such ballots excluded in general elections, but now that McCormick needs any votes he can in order to catch up, he’s filed a lawsuit seeking to have them counted.

Oz, naturally, opposes the idea, but just days ago, a federal appeals court hearing a dispute over a 2021 judicial race in the Allentown area ruled that ballots with missing dates should be tallied. McCormick would love to see that precedent followed now, even if he undoubtedly would resist any such attempt to include undated ballots should he win the GOP nomination and face the same issue against Democratic nominee John Fetterman in November.

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. New York Times: “For months, nearly all the political oxygen in Georgia and beyond has been sucked up by ferocious Republican primaries, intraparty feuds that have become proxy wars for Donald Trump’s power and fueled by his retribution agenda. But the ugliness of the G.O.P. infighting has at times obscured a political landscape that is increasingly tilted in the Republican direction in Georgia — and nationally.”

“Democrats were excited for Stacey Abrams, the former state legislator and voting-rights activist, to jump into the 2022 governor’s race, promising a potential rematch of the 2018 contest she only narrowly lost. Mr. Warnock has emerged not only as a compelling speaker but also as one of his party’s strongest fund-raisers. Yet the growing fear for Democrats is that even the strongest candidates and recruits can outrun President Biden’s wheezing approval ratings by only so much, and are at risk of getting washed away in a developing red wave.”

“When Brian Kemp’s top donors huddled with the Georgia governor and his lieutenants at Atlanta’s Capital City Club earlier this year, they had reason to worry that his political career was about to come to an end,” Politico reports.

“Former President Donald Trump had spent the previous year savaging the Republican governor for refusing to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results, and he was bent on ousting the governor from office, recruiting and endorsing Kemp’s primary opponent. Few Republicans in recent years had survived Trump’s wrath. But the Kemp team reassured the nearly 200 well-heeled contributors in attendance they had a plan.”

Said Kemp adviser Jay Walker: “We’re going to go fucking scorched-earth. When you got your foot on someone’s neck, you don’t take it off until the race is over, or they’ve run out of oxygen.”

Rolling Stone: David Perdue’s pathetic, racist, conspiracy-ridden Georgia Governor campaign is officially over.

COLORADO U.S. SENATOR. “The national Democratic Party has done a terrible job talking about what we’ve accomplished and what we’re fighting to accomplish. Nobody is more aggravated than I am with the national Democratic Party, that we didn’t fight harder to extend those child tax credits for working people in this state.”  — Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), quoted by Politico.

“How precarious is Senate Democrats’ majority? Just ask Colorado’s Michael Bennet,” Politico reports. “The low-key Democratic senator hails from a state that President Joe Biden won by 13 points. His in-state colleague, Sen. John Hickenlooper, won by 9 points in 2020 against a Republican incumbent. Yet Bennet has an ominous warning for any Democrat feeling optimistic about holding the majority and even expanding it in November.”

Said Bennet: “When you’re in the same party as the president, that’s gonna be a tough cycle.”

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. Army veteran Mike Durant used his concession speech Tuesday night to make it clear he wanted GOP voters to reject former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt in the June 21 runoff. “Is Katie Britt going to be a train wreck? I don’t know,” Durant mused before adding, “But I’m sure I’m a better candidate than she is.”

Earlier in the day, Durant outright said he’d endorse Rep. Mo Brooks should the congressman beat him for a runoff spot, an outcome that ended up happening hours later. The Army veteran didn’t quite make good on that promise in his concession speech and instead said he’d back “anyone out there who has the heart and integrity that I have.” However, unless Durant decides that he was wrong about Britt (or he thinks a “train wreck” is actually a good thing), that only leaves Brooks to support next month.

ALABAMA GOVERNOR. Gov. Kay Ivey took 54% of the vote in the expensive Republican primary, which put her a few points above the majority she needed to avert a runoff. Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard and businessman Tim James, who also took third in the far-closer 2010 primary, were well behind with 19% and 16%, respectively.

MINNESTOTA GOVERNOR. Rep. Pete Stauber has endorsed former state Sen. Scott Jensen after the latter won the state GOP convention earlier this month. Meanwhile, former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek’s campaign says he’s still considering whether to continue on to the August primary, with the filing deadline quickly approaching on May 31. Stanek had beforehand vowed to abide by the state GOP’s convention process and withdraw should he not win the endorsement, but he ended up not placing his name before delegates, saying injuries from a car accident in April prevented him from attending.

WASHINGTON U.S. SENATOR. Candidate filing closed Friday for Washington’s Aug. 2 top-two primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. Just like in California, the state requires all candidates running for Congress and for state office to compete on a single ballot rather than in separate party primaries. The two contenders with the most votes, regardless of party, will then advance to the Nov. 8 general election—a rule that sometimes results in two candidates from the same party facing off against one another. Note that candidates cannot win outright in August by taking a majority of the vote.

Unlike in the Golden State, though, contenders don’t need to restrict themselves to running as Democrats, Republicans, third-party candidates, or without a party affiliation at all. Instead, as the state explains, anyone on the ballot gets “up to 18 characters to describe the party” they prefer. For example, the U.S. Senate race features one candidate running as a “JFK Republican” while a secretary of state hopeful is identified with an “America First (R)” even though neither is actually a political party in Washington.

While Democratic Sen. Patty Murray faces 17 opponents in her bid for a sixth term, her only serious foe is motivational speaker Tiffany Smiley, who is designated on the ballot as a standard-issue “Republican.” The Evergreen State supported Joe Biden 58-39 and it would take a lot for Murray to lose even in a GOP wave year, though Republicans remember their near-miss in 2010. Murray ended March with a $7.9 million to $2.5 million cash-on-hand lead.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR. In a stunning development, the Michigan Bureau of Elections announced Monday evening that five of the 10 Republicans running for governor have failed to qualify for the August primary ballot because thousands of the signatures they submitted were invalid. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who has led in the polls, and self-funding businessman Perry Johnson are among those disqualified, along with state police Capt. Mike Brown, financial adviser Michael Markey, and businesswoman Donna Brandenburg. Brown has already dropped out, while Craig said he wasn’t ready to do so and urged the state attorney general to open a criminal investigation.

Following the bureau’s recommendations, the Board of State Canvassers will meet Thursday to consider them, and the board could reject the bureau’s findings to allow a candidate with insufficient signatures to appear on the ballot. However, such action would require three of the four board members’ approval, and the body is equally divided between two Democrats and two Republicans.

While it’s common for at least some modest percentage of signatures to be found invalid for various reasons every cycle, something that well-run campaigns plan for by submitting more than the minimum, the issue here goes well beyond that. The bureau indicated that at least 68,000 signatures were invalid across all 10 campaigns, many of which included obvious forgeries, duplicates, and signatures from dead people among other issues aside from mere voter error.

Among the 21,000 signatures that Craig submitted, just shy of 11,000 were deemed invalid, leaving him with roughly 10,000 of the 15,000 needed to qualify. Similarly, more than 9,000 of Johnson’s 23,000 signatures were invalidated, giving him just under 14,000 valid signatures. There’s no indication yet that any of the campaigns themselves were behind the apparent signature fraud rather than the paid circulators they had hired to gather signatures, and multiple campaigns such as Johnson’s said they were considering whether to go to court and contest their disqualification if need be.

Should these disqualifications hold up, though, it would completely shake up the GOP’s primary for governor in a key swing state. Craig had appeared to be the frontrunner since he announced last summer, while Johnson had vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to win the primary and already deployed millions of his wealth to do so.

If Craig and Perry are ultimately kept off the ballot, some of the currently lesser-known candidates could gain an opening, including right-wing radio host Tudor Dixon, chiropractor and anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, and wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke, who had previously said he would self-fund at least $10 million.

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) claimed that he’s “never heard” Donald Trump say that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

OKLAHOMA U.S. SENATOR B. Physician Randy Grellner, a Republican who so far hasn’t attracted much attention in the crowded June 28 GOP primary, has launched a $786,000 ad buy for a cheaply produced spot with choppy editing that features the candidate speaking directly to the camera. Grellner rattles off various right-wing themes and boasts that he refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE. Politico: “Raffensperger capitalized on that chance Tuesday night, dispatching his Trump-backed challenger, GOP Rep. Jody Hice, with a comeback that took him from being ostracized by the state Republican Party to cleaning up in nearly every corner of the state. Trump has endorsed a slate of candidates for election offices who parrot his falsehoods about the 2020 election being stolen — and Raffensperger, who refused Trump’s entreaties to “find” more votes in 2020, just defeated the first one.”

“He did it by meeting skeptical voters head-on, appearing regularly on conservative media and touting his support for conservative election policies. Raffensperger spent long hours on the road to talk to basically any group that would have him — even when they wanted to relitigate the 2020 vote that Raffensperger has consistently defended as clean and fair.”

Philip Bump: Did Georgia Democrats save Brad Raffensperger?

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. The Washington Post reports that far-right billionaire Peter Thiel has contributed an additional $3.5 million to the super PAC supporting his protege, Blake Masters, in the August Republican primary. This brings Thiel’s total investment in Saving Arizona PAC to $13.5 million.

“Donald Trump hasn’t said if he will run for president again, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping him from privately musing about his potential running mate if he does,” CNN reports.  “The latest person to catch his eye: Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the moderate-turned-MAGA star who has developed a strong relationship with the former President.”

“While talk about a 2024 vice presidential pick is of course premature, conversations about adding Stefanik to a future Trump ticket have gained steam in recent weeks at Mar-a-Lago and in other Republican circles.”

“A Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission under fire from members of his own party for refusing to entertain 2020 election distortions stunned his colleagues Wednesday by announcing his resignation from the oversight board and blasting the GOP’s continued focus on former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“One Nation, a nonprofit group aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is gearing up for a $43 million summer spending blitz targeting five competitive Senate seats,” Axios reports.  “The biggest target by far is Georgia.“

Key takeaway: “$43 million is a substantial sum to drop before Labor Day and the final leg of campaigning. It adds to the more than $141 million the group’s sister super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, has booked through the fall.”

“Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur, put another $3.5 million this month into a super PAC supporting Blake Masters in the highly competitive Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Arizona,” the Washington Post reports.

But Masters is still waiting for an endorsement by Donald Trump: “People close to Masters say the money helps make him viable, and provides a symbolic boost, but is nowhere near as consequential as what Trump decides to do.”

Donald Trump will headline a fundraiser for Rep. Liz Cheney’s Republican primary challenger this week, Axios reports.

“Democratic billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried says he could spend $1 billion or more in the 2024 election, which would easily make him the biggest-ever political donor in a single election,” NBC News reports.

“Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, said in a podcast interview released Tuesday that he expects to give ‘north of $100 million’ in the next presidential election and has a ‘soft ceiling’ of $1 billion, with his spending likely to be on the higher end if former President Donald Trump runs again.”

“Democrats and allied groups are launching a $6 million digital, television and voter mobilization campaign attacking GOP Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, betting that his pledges to completely ban abortion will turn off swing state voters,” Politico reports.

“The campaign is a massive sum for the starting gate of the most high-profiled gubernatorial races in the country. And it’s the latest indication that Democrats nationwide believe a potential Supreme Court decision overturning the landmark case Roe v. Wade will be a boon for turnout in November.”

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

1 comment on “The Political Report – 5/27/22

  1. John Kowalko

    Please not Republican “now’s not the time to overreact”. Overreact huh! How about Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkview and all the other movie theater/shopping area etc. where the blood flows freely?,79958

    Representative John Kowalko

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