Delaware

The Political Report – 6/12/22

Harry Enten’s forecast for the 2023 House makeup, if the election were held today, would have Republicans winning between 236 seats to 241 seats, while Democrats are on target for 194 to 199 seats. Enten said Republicans are in their best position in more than 80 years.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “At long last, the 2022 U.S. House map is complete. So it’s a good time to take stock.”

“The new House landscape is fairly similar to the old one… However, there is a notable increase in the number of super-safe Republican seats — and a modest decline in the overall number of competitive districts.”

The new ratings show 214 races leaning to Republicans, 193 leaning to Democrats, and 28 Toss-ups.

Vanity Fair runs an excerpt from Dan Pfeiffer’s new book, Battling the Big Lie.  “The Question comes in many forms, but it always boils down to some version of: Why do Democrats suck at messaging? The Question was usually, but not always, asked politely. Sometimes it came with a series of ideas. Politics is one of those endeavors where everyone thinks they are qualified to have an opinion. And the people successful enough to write checks big enough to attend these events are generally not the sort of people who experience self-doubt.”

Dan Pfeiffer: “One of Bannon’s insights into modern media is that curating an audience itself is not the end goal. Every reader and viewer can also be an amplifier of the message by sharing it on social media, in group chats, or around the water cooler.”

“Most of the people who watch the hearings already believe that Trump and his allies are guilty. But every one of those people will know many others who haven’t made up their mind. We know millions of Democrats will drop what they are doing to call and text strangers. It’s well past time we start asking them to amplify the message to people they know.”

Tim Miller: “Last fall, the members of the old guard GOP consultant class and their friends in the conservative media gushed about a new playbook for winning in the post-Trump era without the embarrassing conspiracy-mongering and far-right flirtations that were sullying their brand.”

“They called their shiny new toy the Glenn Youngkin Model…”

“The brand wizards behind this new model even went on a media tour to attract fresh clients who might want to procure their services.”

“Sadly for the GOP admen, the Glenn Youngkin Model stalled out on the Pennsylvania Turnpike late Friday when David McCormick, with his Trump-appointee bride standing by his side, conceded his Senate campaign.  McCormick was edged out by Dr. Mehmet Oz and the knockoff Trump playbook Republican voters have gotten comfortable with.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is building momentum in the West, a region that’s home to a series of upcoming GOP primaries that will test Donald Trump’s hold on Republicans there,” Politico reports.

“Over the weekend, DeSantis topped Trump in the annual Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll, with 71% of participants wanting the Florida governor to run for president in 2024 compared to 67% for Trump. The next closest was 28% for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).”

MONTANA 1ST CD. Trump’s scandal-plagued former Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, is projected to win the GOP House primary for Montana’s First Congressional District.

GEORGIA 10TH CD. The NRA has thrown its support behind former state Rep. Vernon Jones ahead of the June 21 runoff.

FLORIDA 10TH CD. State Sen. Randolph Bracy has publicized an internal from Impact Research that shows him leading gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost 29-9 in the August Democratic primary.

MISSOURI 1ST CD. State Sen. Steve Roberts is out with an internal from Lincoln Park Strategies that shows him trailing freshman Rep. Cori Bush 36-18 in the August Democratic primary, which his team argues shows that the incumbent is vulnerable.

MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL. OpinionWorks, working on behalf of the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore, finds Rep. Anthony Brown beating former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley 42-29 in the July 19 Democratic primary for attorney general.

WYOMING AT LARGE CD. Attorney Harriet Hageman’s allies at Wyoming Values PAC are out with a Fabrizio, Lee & Associates internal showing her toppling Rep. Liz Cheney 56-28 in the August GOP primary, which is almost identical to the 56-26 Hageman lead that another anti-Cheney group, the Club for Growth, recently publicized. Fabrizio’s memo says that an unreleased December poll also had Hageman ahead by a smaller 34-26 spread.

“When the House committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing Thursday, Rep. Liz Cheney will stand out as the Republican who broke ranks with her party and with former President Donald Trump over his role in inciting the mob,” NBC News reports.

“But that national platform and crusade of hers is contributing to Cheney’s undoing with GOP voters at home in Wyoming, according to polls and interviews with state Republicans who say she’s becoming too identified with Washington politics that damage the de facto leader of her own party.”

COLORADO 3RD CD. State investigators announced this week that they were probing allegations that GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert filed false mileage reimbursements during her 2020 bid and used the money to pay off her restaurant’s tax liens. The far-right candidate, the Denver Post reported last year, took $22,000 in reimbursements from her campaign, which, under the IRS’s mileage reimbursement rate at the time, would have meant she’d driven about 39,000 miles even though she had almost no events advertised for several of those months. (The circumference of Earth itself is only 25,000 miles.)

The paper took a look at the 80 events she publicized on her Facebook page in 2020 and calculated that she’d driven just 18,000 miles then. Her team argued in response that these represented just a “small sampling” and didn’t include each “meeting, fundraiser or campaign event.” Boebert’s campaign later filed amended paperwork with the FEC bringing her mileage reimbursement down to $17,000, saying that they’d initially included the cost of other travel expenses.

“Voters are jumping ship from their Republican and Democratic party labels in Colorado’s 3rd district, particularly in Mesa County,” Politico reports.  “Nearly 12,000 people have registered as ‘unaffiliated’ voters just this year in the district, which is represented by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).” 

“A factor for the Democratic defections? Colorado is an open primary state where unaffiliated voters can vote in any party’s primary.”

COLORADO 5TH CD. Rep. Doug Lamborn is airing a commercial arguing that state Rep. Dave Williams, who is his main adversary in the June 28 Republican primary, was “fired” by Donald Trump’s state campaign and had supported legislation to send fines “​​to pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and groups supporting ‘defund the police,’ like Black Lives Matter” instead of law enforcement.

Williams’ attorney, James Cook, responded by calling the attack a “bald-faced lie” and calling for TV and radio stations to pull the offending content, arguing, “Broadcast licensees have a legal and moral responsibility to assess and dismiss any false, misleading, or deceptive materials contained in advertising.” However, as multiple station managers pointed out in response, they have a legal responsibility not to “assess and dismiss any false, misleading, or deceptive materials contained in advertising” as long as the ads come from a candidate.

That’s because, as we’ve noted before, federal law forbids broadcasters from censoring or refusing to air commercials from candidates as long as they’re paid for. That’s created some awkward situations in the past: In 2018, for example, a TV station in New Mexico had no choice but to run a spot from a Democrat who started his piece by saying, “Fuck the NRA.” The station even used the 15 seconds before the commercial ran to warn viewers about the offending language they were about to hear.

The same rule doesn’t apply to spots from outside groups, as several have already learned the hard way this year, but there’s nothing Williams can do to force the Lamborn campaign’s spot off the air. Williams can still sue Lamborn for defamation, and he says he’s asked a district attorney to investigate the congressman for allegedly violating a state law prohibiting candidates from “knowingly or recklessly” spreading false information “designed to affect the vote.” However, Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning writes that, while candidates have often complained that their rivals are violating this 20-year-old provision, it never appears to have been prosecuted.

As for Lamborn’s message, Luning explains that Trump’s 2020 state campaign ended its association with Williams after he called himself a “Trump surrogate” as he made an endorsement in a primary. Cook, though, argued that, contrary to what Lamborn claims, his client wasn’t “fired” because Williams was never employed by the Trump campaign. Luning also writes that the bill mentioned in the spot “would have allowed anyone receiving a minor traffic ticket resulting from a red-light camera to pay their fine to qualified nonprofits.” Cook says the legislation, which never became law, didn’t mention Planned Parenthood or Black Lives Matter.

ILLINOIS 15TH CD. Rodney Davis’ new commercial for the incumbent vs. incumbent Republican primary begins by arguing Mary Miller “coddles criminal illegals,” but things truly escalate when the narrator claims the rival congresswoman “hired a convicted pedophile to be her driver, prowling our neighborhoods, putting our kids at risk.”

The spot references a story last month from KSDK’s Mark Maxwell about a Miller campaign volunteer named Brad Graven, whom Maxwell writes “pleaded guilty to luring a young boy to a drugstore parking lot for sex acts in 2005.” Graven was never on Miller’s payroll, but Maxwell notes he “enjoyed virtually unlimited access” to her by serving as the congresswoman’s chauffeur, which included driving her family car, and raising money the campaign.

Davis’ allies at Illinois Values PAC are also running a spot, which echoes a recent Davis campaign ad, that portrays Miller as anti-military. Miller’s supporters at Conservative Outsider PAC, meanwhile, are airing their own piece calling these type of attacks “horse manure” before labeling Davis “a squish” and reminding the audience Trump is for Miller. Altogether, reports NBC, the Davis campaign has spent $650,000 on ads, while Miller has deployed less than $100,000. Outside groups have rushed in to help Miller from getting drowned out, though: According to OpenSecrets, pro-Davis PACs have edged out Miller’s supporters $2.8 million to $2.7 million.

Mary Miller is going up with an attack ad against fellow Republican Rep. Rodney Davis weeks after the better-funded Davis went on the offensive himself. Miller’s narrator labels her colleague a “RINO” on guns before the ad makes use of old footage of Davis saying, “That’s why the red flag law is so important and should be put on the floor.” The second half of the spot reminds the audience that Trump is in Miller’s corner in the June 28 primary and that she’s “A-rated by the NRA, unlike Rodney Davis.”

SOUTH CAROLINA 1ST CD. While Donald Trump recently used a telerally to urge Republican primary voters to deliver him “a beautiful, beautiful birthday present” on Tuesday by ejecting both 1st District Rep. Nancy Mace and 7th District Rep. Tom Rice, the birthday boy doesn’t seem optimistic that Mace’s constituents will give him his gift. Trump, writes Politico’s Alex Isenstadt, has decided not to physically campaign in person again for former state Rep. Katie Arrington “for fear his candidate may lose.” (His team reportedly feels better about their chances against Rice.)

However, Isenstadt says that Trump’s network is still funding a super PAC called Our American Century, which is airing a spot that tries to throw in as much far-right red meat against Mace as possible. After opening with a claim that the incumbent votes with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “45% of the time,” the narrator attacks Mace for voting to “send an excessive $40 billion to Ukraine.” Plenty of Trump favorites, most notably Ohio Senate nominee J.D. Vance, have dismissed the idea that the United States should fund Ukraine’s fight against Putin’s invasion, though this is the first time we can recall Republicans bringing it up in a campaign ad.

The narrator continues by saying that Mace “cosponsored legislation to open an LGBTQ military center,” which he doesn’t elaborate on. Mace herself used a similar bigoted line of attack in her victorious campaign last cycle by running ads accusing her Democratic rival, incumbent Joe Cunningham, of working with Nancy Pelosi to pass “a law requiring transgendered [sic] equality in the military.” The PAC continues by going after Mace for being the one Republican in the delegation who voted to remove the statue of the 19th century pro-slavery leader John C. Calhoun from the Capitol, which the narrator says explains why Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney raised funds for her.

FLORIDA 27TH CD and GOVERNOR. Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo announced on Monday that she’d drop her bid for governor and would instead seek to run against freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in south Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Republicans made this seat several points redder in redistricting, shifting it from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but it remains one that Democrats are eager to target.

Last year, Taddeo had entered the gubernatorial primary behind two much better-known opponents, Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and failed to gain any traction, with every recent poll showing her in the low single digits. But by switching races, Taddeo brings a high profile to a contest for a swingy seat that Democrat Donna Shalala picked up in 2018 but lost two years later.

After several unsuccessful bids for office, Taddeo flipped a Republican seat in the state Senate in an attention-grabbing 2017 special election, a perch that means she represents about a quarter of the congressional district she’s now running for. The Colombia-born Taddeo also gives Democrats, who’ve lost serious ground with Hispanic voters in the region, the chance to put forward a Spanish-speaking Latina candidate.

First, though, Taddeo faces a matchup in the Aug. 23 primary with Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell, a one-time professional yo-yo player who reiterated his commitment to the race after Taddeo’s entry. But Taddeo immediately hoovered up a series of major endorsements, with Shalala (who herself had still been considering a bid), Crist, and a couple of nearby congresswomen, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, all giving her their backing.

The final name on that list represents quite the irony. In 2008, when Taddeo first ran for the House against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Shalala’s predecessor), Wasserman Schultz infamously refused to endorse Taddeo despite the fact that she was co-chair of the DCCC’s Red to Blue program—the Democrats’ campaign arm devoted to flipping Republican seats. Wasserman Schultz’s absurd excuse that she couldn’t get involved because of her supposed friendship with Ros-Lehtinen sparked immense outrage online and among Florida Democrats, but she never budged and Taddeo went on to lose 58-42.

Wasserman Schultz remains in office but her career has soured badly: She was greeted with widespread hostility when she floated the possibility of a Senate bid in 2015, and a year later, she was forced to resign as DNC chair after hackers released emails stolen from the committee. Taddeo, by contrast, is being hailed as a strong recruit at a time when Democrats could very much use one.

ILLINOIS 3RD CD. State Rep. Delia Ramirez is airing what appears to be the first negative TV spot ahead of the June 28 Democratic primary, where the narrator calls Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas a “lobbyist for big oil, private prisons and for ComEd, which was caught giving out bribes.”

NEW YORK 17TH CD. Sean Patrick Maloney has publicized an internal from Global Strategy Group giving him a 45-15 lead over state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in their August Democratic primary. This is the first survey we’ve seen of the contest for this redrawn constituency in the lower Hudson Valley.

NEW YORK 23RD CD. The state Conservative Party on Tuesday endorsed state GOP chair Nick Langworthy even though he still had yet to announce a bid. The filing deadline is Friday but, because GOP and Conservative Party leaders are substituting Langworthy’s name for Rep. Chris Jacobs, who previously qualified for the ballot but dropped out last week, the GOP chair doesn’t need to collect signatures.

CALIFORNIA 3RD CD. Navy veteran Kermit Jones, a Democrat, and Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley will square off in November for this open seat in the eastern suburbs of Sacramento that would have backed Trump by a narrow 50-48 margin. Jones led Kiley 39-37 as of Wednesday afternoon, with Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones a distant third at 17.

CALIFORNIA 5TH CD. Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, who chose to seek re-election in the more conservative 5th despite representing a larger portion of the 3rd, easily shrugged off intra-party opposition from Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig and will head to the general election with Democratic attorney Mike Barkley. McClintock leads Barkley 44-37, with Magsig at just 11. This district in the upper Central Valley and Sierra foothills would have voted for Trump 55-43.

CALIFORNIA 13TH CD. Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray holds a 33-31 lead over agribusinessman John Duarte, a Republican, as of Wednesday morning for this 54-43 Biden open seat in the mid Central Valley, though neither top-two slot has been called yet. Financial advisor Phil Arballo, another Democrat, is much further behind at 19%, while a second Republican, businessman David Giglio, has 14%.

CALIFORNIA 15TH CD. Democratic Assemblyman Kevin Mullin has secured a spot on the November ballot with 40%, though his opponent was not yet determined by Wednesday morning. San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, a fellow Democrat, holds a 25-18 lead over businessman Gus Mattamal, the only Republican running in this dark-blue open seat in San Francisco’s southern suburbs.

MISSOURI 4TH CD. Gov. Mike Parson has endorsed cattle farmer Kalena Bruce in the packed August Republican primary for this safely red seat, a contest that has lacked an obvious frontrunner. Parson, who now resides in the 4th District thanks to the new congressional map, explained he was taking sides because of his longtime friendship with Bruce’s parents, saying, “I am going to return those favors at times like this.”

VIRGINIA 7TH CD. The NRA has endorsed state Sen. Bryce Reeves ahead of next week’s Republican nomination contest to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger. The organization itself has dramatically diminished in recent years and it rarely spends much in primaries, but its stamp of approval can still give Republican office seekers a boost with conservatives.

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

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