The Political Report – 6/13/22

“Early results in Alaska’s 48-candidate special primary election for U.S. House Saturday showed Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III taking the lead, followed by independent Al Gross. Democratic former state Rep. Mary Peltola, in her first statewide campaign, was in fourth,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

The top four finishers in the primary advance to a ranked choice general special election later this year.

“Palin, in her first campaign since resigning as Alaska governor in 2009, was the clear leader with 30%. Begich, a businessman and investor who launched his campaign before the March death of longtime Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young — which prompted Saturday’s special election — was in second with 19%.”

“Gross, an orthopedic surgeon who ran unsuccessfully as an independent for U.S. Senate in 2020, with the Democratic Party’s nomination, was in third with 12%.”

The battle for the fourth and final spot is tight, with former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola holding a 7-5 edge over a third Republican, former state Interior Department official Tara Sweeney; not far behind with 4% is North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described “independent, progressive, democratic socialist” who previously had his name changed from Thomas O’Connor. 

It’s not clear how many votes are left since mail-in ballots received though June 21 will be tabulated as long as they were postmarked by Saturday, though election authorities say that a total of 139,000 votes have been received thus far. The state, writes the Alaska Beacon, plans to count more ballots on Wednesday, Friday, and June 21, with certification to follow four days later.

“Donald Trump in recent months has been telling confidants that he may launch his 2024 presidential campaign early — and that he’s considering launching it in Florida to stick it to Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Trump has kicked around staging a large, flashy launch rally (with fireworks, of course) that would announce his White House bid before the 2022 midterm elections.”

“People who’ve spoken to Trump say that one reason he’s eying the Sunshine State is to assert his dominance over an ascendant DeSantis, who — if they both run in 2024 — would likely be the former president’s most formidable competitor in a primary fight for the GOP nomination. One of the sources said Trump’s motivation is to show the governor ‘who the boss is’ in the modern-day GOP.”

For the first time, the PredictIt political futures market gives Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis the same odds of winning the Republican presidential nomination.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis’s fundraising continued at a torrid pace in May, allowing the governor to put more distance between himself and his Democratic rivals,” the Tallahassee Democrat reports.  “DeSantis raised another $10.2 million, bringing the total raised for his reelection bid to $124 million.”

“The day that Trump makes it clear he’s going to run — it would be a mountain to climb to beat him … If it’s a policy election, he’s in good shape. It’s his primary to lose.”  — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by the Washington Post.

Michael Goodwin contacted Donald Trump “by phone after I learned Trump told an associate he was definitely running in 2024. Similar reports have surfaced in the past, and this one met the same fate: He wouldn’t confirm or deny he made the comment.”  Said Trump: “Well, something has to be done but I haven’t announced anything. But in my mind, I’ve made a decision.”

“It’s a near-lock he is running but he sees no advantage in saying so now. It would mean complying with federal rules on reporting fund-raising and expenditures and would stretch the campaign to an unbearable length.”

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) told a local television station that Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D), who defeated him in a primary, will lose in the general election. Said Schrader: “The red wave begins in Oregon – Oregon’s 5th district. That’s unfortunate.” He added: “I think people are exhausted with the extreme, far-right Trumpites. I think they’re very concerned about the socialist drift on the Democrat left. So that opens up the middle.”

California Gavin Newsom (D) said he is frustrated with “what is going on with the Democratic Party” on a national level, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Associated Press: “Many of the nation’s most vulnerable Democrats are actively trying to distance themselves from Washington — and their party. Responding to deep frustration from voters who will decide their fate in November, Democratic candidates in swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Hampshire are railing against the institutions their party has managed for the last 16 months.”

“With the first Republican debate in the governor’s race scheduled for Monday night on WCBS-TV, the roster of in-person candidates has shrunk by one, as Andrew Giuliani — proudly unvaccinated against the coronavirus — announced on Sunday that he will not be allowed to attend,” the New York Times reports.

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. A new McLaughlin and Associates poll in Alabama finds Katie Britt (R) leading Mo Brooks (R) in the Republican U.S. Senate runoff, 55% to 36%.

“Donald Trump endorsed Katie Britt on Friday in an Alabama U.S. Senate race, doubling down on the former president’s decision to spurn his previous choice in the Republican primary,” the AP reports.  “The decision was another blow to Mo Brooks, who had sought to regain Trump’s support.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) criticized former President Donald Trump for endorsing Alabama Senate challenger Katie Britt (R), saying that Trump “is the only man in American politics who could get conned by Mitch McConnell twice in an Alabama Senate race,” The Hill reports.

He added: “This is weird: last time Donald Trump talked about Katie Britt, he said she was unqualified for the Senate.”

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR. In a potentially seismic shift in the Republican race for Illinois governor, a new Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ Poll finds farmer Darren Bailey (R) with a 15-percentage-point lead over Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin (R) less than three weeks before the GOP primary, 32% to 17%.

“If the numbers hold, it would represent a brutal repudiation by Illinois’ Republican voters of Irvin, his array of mainstream party endorsements and, most pointedly, his $50 million benefactor, Chicago hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin.”

The poll came shortly after a conservative PAC called People Who Play by the Rules PAC, which has been attacking Irvin, publicized its own numbers from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates giving Bailey a smaller 27-20 edge over the mayor.

Irvin in late May had unveiled his own numbers showing himself ahead 31-25, but he didn’t have anything to offer Friday when reporters asked him about his underwhelming showing from PPP. Instead, the one-time frontrunner said there were “two and a half weeks left” before primary day and that “that’s a lifetime in politics.” Those comments came a day after Irvin’s campaign confirmed they had cut planned advertising in southern Illinois, which led observers to wonder if the mayor was running out of the $50 million he’d received from billionaire Ken Griffin.

But Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s allies at the DGA are still pouring it on with another ad designed to make Bailey, who among other things once pushed a hopeless bill to kick Chicago out of Illinois, more appealing to GOP voters. Just like the group’s previous spots, the narrator asks, “Are pro-Trump conservative Darren Bailey’s policies too conservative for Illinois?” The spot goes on to remind viewers that Bailey “sued to stop J. B. Pritzker’s Covid mandates” before showing footage of the state senator using a firearm.

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. The progressive group VoteVets has launched a TV commercial as part of a $1.5 million ad buy that accuses Republican Herschel Walker of using his supposed charity to prey upon veterans to his own financial benefit of $331,000 last year alone, noting that prosecutors charged the charity with defrauding the federal government. As the Associated Press has reported, Walker served as a celebrity spokesperson for Patriot Support, which is actually a for-profit program marketed to veterans by the large hospital chain Universal Health Services.

A civil lawsuit against Universal by the Justice Department and a number of state governments alleged that the company aggressively pushed veterans into inpatient mental health care facilities, often via misdiagnosis and fraudulent documents, to take advantage of how government-sponsored insurance plans don’t limit the duration of psychiatric hospital stays under certain conditions, unlike private insurance plans. Universal ultimately reached a $122 million settlement with the federal government and various states in 2020 but denied any wrongdoing.

U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) regularly claims he once worked in law enforcement, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.  However, although Walker’s campaign says he majored in criminal justice in college and was an “honorary deputy” in Cobb County, the Cobb County Police Department said they have no record of involvement with Walker.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. The nonpartisan Nevada Independent has once more released a survey from the GOP firm OH Predictive Insights of Tuesday’s Republican primaries, and it finds the Trump-backed Senate and gubernatorial frontrunners, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, maintaining double-digit leads in their respective contests.

In the contest to take on Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Laxalt posts a 48-34 edge over Sam Brown, an Army veteran who has run a surprisingly well-funded campaign. One month before, the firm showed Laxalt up by a similar 45-30 edge, and we haven’t seen any reliable polling in the intervening time. The former attorney general’s allies at the Club for Growth and its School Freedom Fund affiliate aren’t taking any chances, though, as they’ve continued to spend on advertising in the closing days of the contest.

Meanwhile in the race to go up against Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, Lombardo outpaces attorney Joey Gilbert, a former professional boxer who has bragged that he was “definitely on the Capitol steps” on Jan. 6, 34-21, which puts things a bit closer than Lombardo’s 35-15 edge the previous month. Two other Republicans, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and former Sen. Dean Heller, tie for third with 10% each, which is about where they each were in May.

NBC reported Wednesday that Lee, a former conservative Democrat who defected to the GOP last year, has actually outspent Lombardo $2 million to $1.2 million on advertising, but that a group called Better Nevada PAC has deployed an additional $2.9 million to help the sheriff. The DGA-affiliated A Stronger Nevada, meanwhile, has poured $2.5 million into ads largely attacking Lombardo as “more worried about his public image than public safety” in an effort to try to derail the frontrunner.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. The Democratic group Innovation Ohio has publicized an internal from GrowProgress that shows Democrat Tim Ryan leading Republican J.D. Vance 44-41, little different from his 43-41 edge in a late April poll taken just before both men won their primaries. The only other recent general election survey we’ve seen was a late May Suffolk University poll that put Vance ahead 42-39.

MARYLAND GOVERNOR. Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced Friday that he was suspending his campaign, saying that he didn’t have the money to win the Democratic nomination on July 19. Baker, who took second in the 2018 primary, said he’d consider restarting his efforts if he received substantially more donations in the next month, but he acknowledged this was very unlikely to happen.    

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who was the Republican primary frontrunner before he was disqualified last month for fraudulent voter petition signatures, announced Thursday that he’d wage a write-in campaign to secure the nomination in August. “I got emails, text messages through my campaign that says: ‘Chief, we know you were robbed,” insisted Craig. “And you know what? I’m not going to roll over. Because this is not about me as a candidate.”

Craig made his announcement on the local station Fox 2 along with self-funding businessman Perry Johnson, who is suing in federal court to get back on the ballot himself. However, while Johnson, whose campaign also fell victim to a fraudulent signature scandal, is going to federal court to try to get back on the ballot, he sounded skeptical about running his own write-in effort.

Johnson, while not explicitly ruling out the idea, acknowledged it would be “very, very difficult” for anyone to pull off and estimated the effort would take $22 million. Craig, who had $1.2 million on-hand at the end of 2021, suggested that he and his wealthy former rival “should be partners,” but Johnson quickly said he didn’t want to be his running mate.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR and ATTORNEY GENERAL. The Democratic firm Change Research’s new survey for the nonpartisan MinnPost shows Democratic Gov. Tim Walz leading his likely Republican rival, Scott Jensen, just 42-40, but there’s an important caveat.

The poll also finds Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison locked in a tight race against both of the Republicans competing in the August primary. Attorney Jim Schultz, who won the party convention last month, edges out Ellison 45-44, while the incumbent deadlocks 44-44 in a rematch against 2018 rival Doug Wardlow.

NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE. The GOP firm OH Predictive Insights surveys Tuesday’s Republican primary for secretary of state for the nonpartisan Nevada Independent and finds a 21-21 deadlock between former Assemblyman Jim Marchant and developer Jesse Haw. Marchant, a QAnon ally who has said he would not have certified Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, has attracted attention by grouping with other conspiracist candidates running to become their state’s chief election official. Haw, though, has himself winked at the Big Lie by saying that last election “had a lot of shenanigans and potential fraud.”

The eventual nominee will go up against former state Athletic Commission member Cisco Aguilar, who faces no Democratic primary opposition in the race to succeed termed-out Republican incumbent Barbara Cegavske.

MASSACHUSETTS SECRETARY OF STATE. Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan outpaced seven-term Secretary of State Bill Galvin 62-38 at Saturday’s Democratic convention, but Galvin proved four years ago that he can very much win renomination after being rejected by party delegates. Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim snagged 55% of the convention vote back in 2018 after arguing that the incumbent had done a poor job advocating for needed voting rights reforms only to lose the primary to Galvin 67-32 months later.

Sullivan, who sports an endorsement from 6th District Rep. Seth Moulton, is adopting a similar argument against Galvin this time. The challenger used her convention speech to argue, “Despite record voter turnout in 2020, hear me on this, voters from some of our most vulnerable communities still saw the lowest voter turnout across Massachusetts, leaving behind far too many voices. I’m talking about the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and AAPI folks.”

Galvin, though, insisted his presence was more vital than ever, saying, “I am now the senior Democratic election official in the United States and I intend to use that role to make sure that we’re able to make sure that citizens throughout our country have the opportunity to vote.”

SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR. Gov. Kristi Noem had no problem stopping state Rep. Steve Haugaard, a former speaker of the state House who tried to run to her right, winning renomination by a 76-24 margin. Noem will be the overwhelming favorite for a second term against her Democratic opponent, state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith.

NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR. Former TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti rolled to an easy 58-16 triumph over state Rep. Rebecca Dow, who’d run to his right in the Republican primary. Ronchetti lost an open-seat bid for Senate by a surprisingly close 52-46 margin in 2020, though this time he will face an incumbent in the form of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. An early May poll from SurveyUSA found Grisham leading just 47-43.

IOWA U.S. SENATOR. Retired Navy Vice Adm. Mike Franken defeated former Rep. Abby Finkenauer for the right to take on Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley in something of an upset, beating her by a 55-40 margin in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Franken took just 25% in a losing bid for the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2020, but this time, he outraised (and out-advertised) Finkenauer, and internal polls showing him surging went unanswered. However, Grassley, who beat back far-right state Sen. Jim Carlin 73-27, will be the heavy favorite as he seeks an eighth term.

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla and Republican attorney Mark Meuser will face off both in the special election for the final two months of Kamala Harris’ term as well as the regular election for a full six-year term in November. Padilla led Meuser 53-14 in the special and 54-22 in the regular race, with the difference in Meuser’s vote share likely because there were four other Republicans in the former but just two in the latter. One Democrat who failed to make any impact at all was wealthy businessman Dan O’Dowd, who spent millions on ads to air a grudge with billionaire Elon Musk (who was not on the ballot) but took just 3% of the vote.

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

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