The Political Report – 6/22/22

The 2022 primary season continues Tuesday in Virginia and Washington, D.C, while Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia will hold runoffs for contests where no one won a majority of the vote in the first round of voting on May 24.

“All the action is on the Republican side in this week’s primary battles,” National Journal reports. “In Virginia, Republicans will cast their ballots in primaries for the state’s two most competitive districts.”

“In Georgia, two runoffs will effectively determine who represents the 6th and 10th congressional districts. And in Alabama, Katie Britt and Mo Brooks will face each other in the conclusion to the most expensive primary in the state’s history.”

The Hill: 7 races to watch Tuesday.

The most high-profile contest is the Republican Senate runoff in Alabama, where the candidate Trump endorsed a year after he called her “not in any way qualified” is going up against the candidate Trump labeled “woke” when he unendorsed him in March. The former contender—and now frontrunner—is former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt, who is going into the runoff with a wide lead in the polls against Rep. Mo Brooks.

Trump’s picks, though, face dicier prospects in Georgia, where his slate fared poorly last month against Gov. Brian Kemp and other statewide elected officials. The most drama-filled confrontation is in the rural 10th District, where Trump’s man, former state Rep. Vernon Jones, has been involved in an ugly, multi-front confrontation with trucking company owner Mike Collins. Kemp, for his part, endorsed Collins late in the contest, a move that turned this already intense runoff into a closely watched proxy war.

Over in the 6th in the Atlanta suburbs, meanwhile, Trump-backed candidate Jake Evans is trying to beat physician Rich McCormick after trailing him by a wide 43-23 margin in May. The Club for Growth, which has been on the outs with Trump for months, is supporting McCormick, who narrowly lost the prior version of the 7th District to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in 2020. You can find more about these races, as well as several more key contests, in our comprehensive preview.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR. “One of the Phoenix area’s best-known drag queens is calling his former friend — candidate for governor Kari Lake (R) — a hypocrite after Lake weighed in on drag performances, the latest front in the conservative culture war,” the Arizona Republic reports.

“Richard Stevens, who has performed for 25 years as Barbra Seville, said he was disappointed and decided to speak out after Lake tweeted Friday that ‘they kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens. They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow.’”

“Stevens shared pictures and texts from Lake in several social media posts and said Lake had attended countless shows and private events over the decades of their friendship. He said he had performed as Marilyn Monroe in front of Lake’s daughter when she was 9 or 10 years old.”

Lake’s gone to many of Stevens’ shows, and Stevens has performed in front of her daughter in drag when she was nine or 10, according to the drag queen (who also has pics to back up his story).

Lake is now threatening to sue Stevens, who said that all the GOP candidate’s going to end up getting is “66 pairs of high heels, 112 wigs, a rescue dog and my mom’s ashes.” Republicans need to learn that truth is an absolute defense to any frivilous claim of defamation.

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. Al Gross (I), a leading contender in Alaska’s U.S. House race, dropped out Monday without providing a reason, Alaska Public Radio reports. “Gross finished in third place in the June 11 special primary to fill the vacancy left by the death of Rep. Don Young. He was on track to be one of the four candidates who would advance to the special general ballot.”

“Instead, the fourth spot on that ballot will go to the next finisher — and that appears to be Republican Tara Sweeney.”

The Anchorage Daily News reports Gross urged his supporters to consider voting instead for Mary Peltola (D) or Sweeney.

Former President Donald Trump applauded the Texas Republican Party’s proposed platform that declares President Biden “was not legitimately elected,” The Hill reports.  Said Trump: “Look at the Great State of Texas and their powerful Republican Party Platform on the 2020 Presidential Election Fraud. After much research and study, they disavow the national result for President.”

Former President Donald Trump told the New Yorker he would defeat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if they both ran for president in 2024.  Said Trump: “I don’t know if Ron is running, and I don’t ask him. It’s his prerogative. I think I would win.”  Trump added that DeSantis would not have been elected governor without his support.

By a 2-1 vote, the all-Republican Otero County Commission in New Mexico finally certified the state’s 2022 primary election results on Friday after the state Supreme Court ordered it to do so.

It wasn’t because the commissioners realized the MAGA election fraud conspiracy theories they’d bought into were B.S.: Before the vote, the commission chair lamented that “We honestly don’t have a choice.”

Cowboys for Trump leader and convicted Jan. 6 insurrectionist Couy Griffin was the one “no” vote. He had to call in from D.C. to cast his vote because he was also being sentenced for trespassing on Capitol grounds.

Griffin was sentenced 14 days with time served, a $3,000 fine and a year of supervised release, during which he’ll be required to complete 60 hours of community service.

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. One last poll of Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff finds Katie Boyd Britt handily turning aside Mo Brooks by a 50-30 margin, according to Auburn University at Montgomery. That’s right in line with all the other polling we’ve seen this month.

John Wood, a former federal prosecutor currently serving as a top attorney on the congressional panel probing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is being urged to run for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat as an independent, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

COLORADO U.S. SENATOR. The super PAC Democratic Colorado, which has been spending heavily to influence the GOP primary for Senate, just dropped another $850,000 on television and digital advertising into the race, but this time, the group is seeking to kneecap wealthy businessman Joe O’Dea rather than boost state Rep. Ron Hanks. The PAC’s new TV ad slams O’Dea for supporting “Biden’s $1.2 trillion spending bill” and for donating to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet—the man Republicans are trying to beat this year. In total, Democratic Colorado has spent just under $2.5 million in an effort to ensure the more extremist Hanks emerges as the GOP’s nominee.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. The Florida branch of SEIU, which represents 80,000 members across the state, has endorsed Rep. Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary for governor, where he faces state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR. Candidate filing closed June 10 for New Hampshire’s Sept. 13 primary, and the state has separate lists of Democratic and Republican candidates. Following the end of qualifying Friday in Florida, which we’ll run down in an upcoming Digest, there are only three states left where major-party candidates can still get on the ballot this year: Rhode Island, Delaware, and Louisiana.

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan faces a tough general election in a state that’s prone to wild swings, but no one has emerged as the frontrunner in the 11-person GOP primary in the seven months since Gov. Chris Sununu decided to seek re-election rather than run for Senate. The only elected official in the contest is state Senate President Chuck Morse, who served as acting governor for two days in early 2017. Another notable name is former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith, who badly lost the 2012 primary for governor.

The field also includes Donald Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who lost the 2020 nomination for New Hampshire’s other Senate seat 50-42 and has spent his new campaign accusing Sununu of being a “Chinese communist sympathizer” with a family business that “supports terrorism.” Other contenders to watch are wealthy Bitcoin investor Bruce Fenton, who has pledged to self-fund $5 million, and author and investor Vikram Mansharamani.

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary is almost a year away, but Donald Trump has already announced which GOP hopeful he’d like to see take on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear: state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who kicked off a long-expected bid last month. However, Cameron faces a number of high-profile rivals in his quest for the nomination, and more could join, including former Gov. Matt Bevin, whom Beshear defeated in a 2019 upset.

Trump’s entrée into the race did inspire one candidate to bow out, but that’s not necessarily good news for Cameron or the GOP. Attorney Eric Deters slammed Cameron as “Mitch McConnell’s man” and said he’d instead run as an independent. Three years ago, a Libertarian candidate took 2% of the vote, considerably more than the 0.4% margin that Beshear won by, so Democrats would be delighted to see a third-party option pull votes from Republicans once again.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR. A mystery group called Michigan Families United has booked $600,000 in airtime time to boost conservative media personality Tudor Dixon, according to Politico, which is one of the largest outside interventions we’ve seen so far in the GOP’s absolute shitshow of a primary. MFU’s TV spot describes Dixon as a “conservative businesswoman” who will “stand up to woke indoctrination of our kids”; it then features a clip of Dixon saying, “Our kids don’t need sex and gender talk” and ends with Donald Trump declaring her “brilliant.” (Trump has not actually endorsed in the race.)

Last month, the Detroit News ran a story about Dixon’s career in D-list slasher flicks headlined, “Michigan governor hopeful Tudor Dixon eaten by zombies in gory horror film.” One movie, titled “Buddy BeBop vs. the Living Dead,” “featured two people having sex in a bathroom stall and a zombie biting a man’s genitals.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR. Gov. Chris Sununu frustrated Republican Senate recruiters last year by choosing instead to run for re-election, but his immense popularity made seeking a fourth term the much easier option. The governor’s only Democratic rival is state Sen. Tom Sherman. Sununu won his third term 65-33 in 2020 even as Joe Biden was carrying the state (neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states that still elect their governors to two-year terms), and an April University of New Hampshire poll showed him beating Sherman by a 55-29 spread.

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro crushed it on the fundraising front from May 3 to June 6, taking in $4.7 million versus just $162,000 for his Republican rival in the race for governor, far-right state Sen. Doug Mastriano—nearly a 30-1 advantage. That period included Pennsylvania’s May 17 primary, where Shapiro was unopposed, allowing him to stockpile a massive $13.5 million for the general election. Mastriano, by contrast, has just a pittance in the bank—less than $400,000—despite the heavy press coverage occasioned by his insurgent victory in the GOP’s nominating contest.

BIDEN 2024. Tara Palmeri: “Normally, a sitting president chooses to announce their decision to run for re-election sometime after the midterms. And this is, by all appearances, the plan for Biden, too. White House aides are carrying on preparations for his big announcement, which would typically come during sometime between November and January. Staffers have been told to arrange for Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign, while his inner circle works out details like when and where they will officially announce it.”

“And yet this very same official acknowledged to me that this could all be ‘busy work.’ Indeed, Biden’s political future appears more tenuous than ever before.”

Tara Palmeri: “Biden is intently focused on his family, who have become an ‘unhelpful, distraction’ to the White House, as the senior official put it, and a huge consideration for the president.”

“People close to Biden have told me that he is genuinely wondering whether he wants to put himself and his family through the excessive scrutiny that would accompany re-election. Hunter Biden is now under federal investigation, and the White House has been preparing for the reality that Republicans, once they retake the House, could mount a scorched-earth inquisition with the aim of scrutinizing his alleged nefarious political activity and trying to tie it to the president.”

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) claimed he broke his term limit promise because people were crying and begging him to run.  Said Johnson: “I didn’t want to do this… but people are literally coming up to me with tears in their eyes, streaming down their cheeks saying, ‘You got to run. You got to help us save this country!’”

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

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