The Political Report – 6/25/22

The Senate Majority PAC and its affiliated nonprofit, Majority Forward, have booked $38 million in airtime to run ads this summer in six key battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where Democrats are on defense, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the party’s two best shots to pick up seats. The PAC previously reserved $106 million for the fall, though this is the first time its target list has included New Hampshire, where it now has $4 million in spending planned.

“A record number of LGBTQ candidates are running for all levels of office this year, motivated in part by red states passing scores of laws targeting LGBTQ people,” Axios reports.

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. A spokesperson for Republican Tara Sweeney says her campaign will not challenge a decision by the Alaska Division of Elections ruling that Sweeney, the fifth-place candidate in the recent top-four special primary for the state’s vacant House seat, cannot take the spot of independent Al Gross, who finished third but unexpectedly dropped out of the Aug. 16 general election on Monday. The Alaska Beacon suggests that “a third party could” file a lawsuit, but it’s not clear how such an entity would demonstrate legal standing to bring such a claim.

TEXAS 15TH CD. The Texas Democratic Party announced Friday that a recount has confirmed that businesswoman Michelle Vallejo won the May 24 runoff by defeating Army veteran Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes, which was five more than she started with. Vallejo will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz in a Rio Grande Valley seat that, under the new GOP gerrymander, would have supported Trump 51-48.

NEW YORK 19TH CD SPECIAL ELECTION. Freedom Council USA, a right-wing group that supports Republican Marc Molinaro, had publicized a survey from Triton Polling & Research that shows him defeating Democrat Pat Ryan 52-38, which makes this the first poll we’ve seen of the in the August special for this 50-48 Biden constituency.

MINNESOTA 1ST CD. Democrat Jeff Ettinger has publicized an internal from Expedition Strategies that shows him trailing Republican Brad Finstad only 48-47 in the Aug. 9 special election. This is the first poll we’ve seen of the contest for this 54-44 Trump constituency in southern Minnesota.

FLORIDA 15TH CD. Alan Cohn, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for the old version of the 15th District, has earned an August primary endorsement from 14th District Rep. Kathy Castor; just over one-third of the new 15th’s denizens are currently Castor’s constituents.

WYOMING AT LARGE CD. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), “whose polling remains far behind her Trump-endorsed primary challenger as her House committee’s Jan. 6 hearings continue, is urging Democrats in her home state to switch parties to support her in the Aug. 16 primary,” the New York Times reports.

NEW YORK 4TH CD. EMILY’s List has endorsed former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen in the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice, who backed Gillen herself in March.

NEW JERSEY 5TH CD. new ad from Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is spotlighting his GOP opponent’s ties to a domestic terrorism group linked to the Capitol insurrection, Politico reports. The spot hits Frank Pallotta (R) for refusing to denounce the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group that helped plan the Jan. 6. riot.

NEW YORK 23RD CD. “Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the No. 3 Republican in the House, rankled fellow House GOP leaders when she backed a New York congressional candidate with a history of controversial and racist remarks,” NBC News reports. “Stefanik endorsed Carl Paladino (R) earlier this month without consulting other members of a leadership team that includes House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).

TEXAS 34TH CD. Newly elected Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) “spread conspiracies on social media that the January 6 riot at the US Capitol was caused by members of the far-left group Antifa and repeatedly used a hashtag of the QAnon conspiracy theory in tweets that have since been removed,” CNN reports.

ILLINOIS 15TH CD. Victory Geek, a firm we’ve only occasionally encountered in the past, finds Rodney Davis edging out fellow Rep. Mary Miller 38-35 in Tuesday’s GOP primary in a survey for The Illinoize, a blog run by former GOP strategist Patrick Pfingsten. (Pfingsten worked for Davis’ successful 2012 campaign.) The only other recent poll we’ve seen was a Cygnal internal for Miller that gave her a 45-40 lead.

Far-right Rep. Mary Miller has publicized an internal from Cygnal showing her edging out fellow incumbent Rodney Davis 45-40 ahead of next week’s Republican primary, which is an improvement from their 41-41 tie in an unreleased survey from two weeks ago. We haven’t seen any other recent polling of the contest for this dark-red seat in downstate Illinois.

ILLINOIS 14TH CD. Conservative radio host Mike Koolidge has earned an endorsement from 18th District Rep. Darin LaHood, who represents a downstate Illinois seat to the south of this Chicago-area constituency, days ahead of what’s been a pretty low-key Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood.

Koolidge faces Kendall County Board Chair Scott Gryder, businessman Jack Lombardi, businesswoman Jaime Milton, and perennial candidate James Marter in a contest where no one has raised much money. Democratic map makers sought to protect Underwood by augmenting Biden’s margin of victory from 50-48 to 55-43 in this constituency in Chicago’s western exurbs, but it could still be in play in a red wave year.

FLORIDA 13TH CD. Former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn, who is the only Democrat in the race, has dropped a poll from Global Strategy Group showing him trailing 2020 GOP nominee Anna Paulina Luna 45-36, though the memo argues he’ll obtain a lead “once Eric Lynn can introduce himself and present Anna Paulina Luna’s extremist positions.” The survey also has the Democrat trailing two of Luna’s August Republican primary foes, Kevin Hayslett and 2020 contender Amanda Makki, by margins of 39-36 and 41-36, respectively.

MISSISSIPPI 3RD CD. Rep. Michael Guest has earned an endorsement from Thomas Griffin, whose 5% of the vote prevented either the incumbent or Navy veteran Michael Cassidy from winning a majority on June 7, ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff. Griffin said that an unhinged supporter of Cassidy, who edged out Guest 47.5-46.9 in the first round, motivated him to back the congressman by allegedly threatening his business.

OKLAHOMA 2ND CD. Fund for a Working Congress, a conservative super PAC that has gotten involved in a few other GOP primaries this cycle, is dropping $125,000 on advertising portraying former state Sen. Josh Brecheen as “[w]eak on crime” and anti-Trump. The group’s spending comes about a week after the Club for Growth affiliate School Freedom Fund launched a $260,000 buy supporting Brecheen ahead of a Tuesday primary that hadn’t previously attracted much outside spending.

TEXAS 28TH CD. A recount has confirmed Rep. Henry Cuellar as the winner of the Democratic primary runoff in Texas’ 28th District, with his final margin over progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros increasing from 281 votes to 289. Cuellar, the last anti-choice Democrat in the House, will now face former Ted Cruz aide Cassy Garcia as he defends a south Texas district that became slightly bluer in redistricting, shifting from a 51-47 margin for Joe Biden to a 53-46 Biden edge. However, this heavily Latino region has moved sharply to the right in recent years: Hillary Clinton carried the prior version of the 28th 58-38 in 2016, and Republicans recently flipped the nearby 34th District in a special election.

FLORIDA 11TH CD. Six-term Rep. Dan Webster faces Republican primary opposition from far-right activist Laura Loomer, a self-described “proud Islamophobe” who has been banned from numerous social media, rideshare, and payment services for spreading bigotry, in a constituency in the western Orlando area that Trump would have won 55-44. Webster only represents 35% of this new district, but he’s still a far more familiar presence here than Loomer, who ran a high-profile but doomed 2020 bid against Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in South Florida. Two other Republicans also filed here.

FLORIDA 20TH CD. Freshman Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick faces a Democratic primary rematch against former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, whom she beat by all of 5 votes in last year’s crowded special election, in a safely blue constituency that includes part of the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. Holness doesn’t have the anti-incumbent lane to himself, though, as state Rep. Anika Omphroy is also in.

FLORIDA 23RD CD. Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch is retiring from a Fort Lauderdale-based seat that’s very similar to the 22nd District he currently serves, and six fellow Democrats are running to succeed him in this 56-43 Biden constituency. The frontrunner from the beginning has been Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, a well-connected former state representative who later served in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Moskowitz’s two main rivals appear to be Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen and former prosecutor Hava Holzhauer.

FLORIDA 27TH CD. Republican map makers did what they could to insulate freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar by shifting her Miami-area seat from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but Team Blue is still betting she’s beatable. National Democrats, including the DCCC, have consolidated behind state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who dropped out of the governor’s race earlier this month to run here. Taddeo’s main intra-party rival is Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, who abandoned his own long-shot Senate bid, while progressive activist Angel Montalvo rounds out the field.

ILLINOIS 1ST CD. Two crypto-aligned groups, Protect Our Future and Web3 Forward, are dropping just shy of $1 million total to support businessman Jonathan Jackson in next week’s Democratic primary, a crowded contest that saw little outside spending until now. Only the latter’s spot is currently available, and it reminds the audience that Jackson is the son of civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. “Jonathan Jackson knows we are in the fight for our lives now,” says the narrator. “Jackson is running for Congress to get guns off our streets, tackle inflation, and protect our right to vote.”

Meanwhile, another organization called Forward Progress is deploying $160,000 to help former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves, who has retiring Rep. Bobby Rush’s backing.

MARYLAND 4TH CD. The hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC last week began a $600,000 ad campaign against former Rep. Donna Edwards through its United Democracy Project super PAC, which was the first major outside spending of the July 19 Democratic primary. AIPAC, which supports former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, argues that Edwards did a poor job with constituent services during her first stint in the House: The narrator claims, “Her congressional office was widely regarded as unresponsive to constituents who needed help and Donna Edwards was rated one of the least effective members of Congress, dead last among Democrats.”

Edwards quickly responded by releasing a video message from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who supports her comeback campaign, praising her as “one of the most effective members in Congress” and someone who “fought hard for Prince George’s County—for jobs and investments in her community, to help constituents in need, and to deliver results.”

MARYLAND 6TH CD. Matthew Foldi, a former staff writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon whom we hadn’t previously written about, has unveiled an endorsement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ahead of next month’s GOP primary to face Democratic Rep. David Trone.  

Foldi, who previously worked for McCarthy’s allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, faces five intra-party opponents including Del. Neil Parrott, the 2020 nominee who lost to Trone 59-39 as Biden was carrying the old 6th 61-38. However, the new map, which the Democratic-dominated legislature passed after their original draft was struck down in state court, halved Biden’s margin to 54-44.

WISCONSIN 3RD CD. Former CIA officer Deb McGrath has released an attention-grabbing spot for the August Democratic primary that features the candidate skydiving. McGrath, who is campaigning to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, explains that, as the one woman in her Army jump school, “The guys thought I’d chicken out. I was the first out the door.” Following her jump and before deploying her parachute, McGrath explains through a voiceover, “I’m running for Congress because of the sky-high cost of everything. Wisconsin needs a representative who thinks for herself, works with both parties, and fights for women’s rights.”

FLORIDA 28TH CD. Democrats landed a notable candidate on Friday just before filing closed when former state Rep. Robert Asencio launched a campaign against freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez. Trump would have carried this exurban Miami seat 53-46, which makes it a tad redder than Giménez’s existing 26th District.

Asencio, for his part, was elected in 2016 by defeating the infamous former Republican Rep. David Rivera by 53 votes. (You can read more about Rivera, who is once again running for the state House this year, in our Grab Bag section below.) Asencio, though, was unseated 51-49 two years later, and he badly lost a 2020 contest for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 1ST CD. Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas has 10 Republican opponents in an eastern New Hampshire constituency that would have supported Joe Biden 52-46 but has long been one of the swingiest seats in America. (The court-drawn congressional map made only tiny changes to both of the state’s districts after Gov. Chris Sununu thwarted efforts by his fellow Republicans in the legislature to make the 1st considerably redder.)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pulling for 2020 nominee Matt Mowers, who lost his first campaign 51-46, but he’s not the only notable fundraiser here. Another contender to watch is former TV reporter Gail Huff Brown, whose husband, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, lost a close 2014 race to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen shortly after moving north to the Granite State. State Rep. Tim Baxter, a member of the legislature’s giant 400-member lower chamber, and former White House staffer Karoline Leavitt have also been running since last year, while former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott launched a bid last month.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 2ND CD. While Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster hasn’t been seriously targeted since she decisively won re-election during the 2014 red wave, Republicans are hoping a favorable climate could threaten her in a district that Biden would have taken 54-45. Seven hopefuls are running, with Gov. Chris Sununu  pulling for Keene Mayor George Hansel. The only other contender who has won elected office here is former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns, who took fourth in the 2018 primary.

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

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