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The Political Report – 6/27/22

Washington Post: “Democratic strategists argued that such a massive change in the legal landscape will trigger a drumbeat of news coverage as states adapt, keeping the issue front of mind for a sustained period. Some argued it could help the party improve its standing among women, including those in the suburbs who grew frustrated with Democrats over pandemic school closures.”  Said pollster John Anzalone: “If you are in a close race this will be a game changer.”

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The president’s party often struggles in midterms, although extraordinary circumstances can save them from losses. The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade could be 2022’s extraordinary circumstance.”

Key takeaway: “Public opinion is very complicated — the public’s nuanced position on abortion is a good example, which we will explore later on — but one thing that can get a party in trouble is challenging or changing the status quo on an issue where the party is also on the wrong side of public sentiment.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a former party campaign chief, “said the abortion decision could help Democrats flip one or two seats at most,” Politico reports.  “But he argued it wouldn’t hurt Republicans in other key areas — such as the predominantly Hispanic districts already moving in their direction.”  Said Cole: “It may well hurt us in old Republican suburban strongholds, but those have been slipping away from us for a variety of reasons, gun control among them.”

“Far-right candidates are surging in House races across the map: Republican leaders increasingly fear that a red wave will wash in a raft of conspiracy theorists and extremists,” Axios reports.   “The establishment grows ever weaker. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — on the doorstep of the speaker’s office — can expect to be saddled with new members who have zero loyalty or predictability.”

MISSISSIPPI 3RD CD. Navy veteran Michael Cassidy is running an ad ahead of Tuesday’s Republican runoff accusing incumbent Michael Guest of getting “caught coordinating with Democrat [sic] leaders to rig our Republican primary by turning their voters out to vote for him.” Cassidy claims that an email from one of Guest’s allies, Neshoba County Republican Party chair David Carter, said “Even if you are a Democrat, you can vote in this primary for a Republican and then vote Democrat in November (let our Democrat neighbors know we need their help).” Cassidy also reminds viewers that Guest voted for a Jan. 6 commission.

However, while the challenger claims in his accompanying tweet that Guest’s side is working with Democrats “to *illegally* rig our Republican primary,” Mississippi allows any voter to participate in either party’s runoff as long as they didn’t cast a ballot in the other side’s June 7 primary. The far-right learned this the hard way back in 2014 when Sen. Thad Cochran, who like Guest narrowly trailed in the first round of voting, focused on convincing the state’s heavily Democratic African American electorate to support him in his GOP runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Cochran’s unusual appeal worked and he ended up securing renomination in a 51-49 upset.

McDaniel and his allies never accepted his defeat, and, insisting that Democratic voters had illegally voted in the GOP contest, filed a lawsuit that demanded a new election. They never got that redo, though, and Cochran easily won his general election for what turned out to be his final term; the senator resigned in 2018 a year ahead of his death, and McDaniel decisively lost the all-party primary to succeed him.

However, while Cochran put plenty of energy into his pitch to Democratic voters, Guest is using his new TV ad to instead appeal to Republicans by insisting he’s the more ardent conservative candidate. After the narrator argues that Cassidy “proposes $48 trillion in new federal spending,” she promotes the congressman as “a real conservative.” Guest himself later appears to brag about his “proven conservative record” before a picture fills the screen showing him standing next to Donald Trump. Guest’s allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund have spent about $450,000 on commercials attacking Cassidy, who has received little outside support himself.

Steve Bannon called for an “army of the awakened” to “shatter” the Democratic party in post-Roe America, Insider reports. Said Bannon: “This is the key take-away for MAGA … the pro-abortion movement is shattered and is now turning in on itself — because for 50 years they didn’t have to work— the Courts and Regime Media covered for them — now The Abyss.”  He added: “That’s the Democratic Party in November— we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shatter it into a million small pieces.”

“Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) on Sunday refused to say whether she believed there should be restrictions on abortions or whether she believed abortion was acceptable all the way up to nine months, saying it is a ‘medical decision’ and shouldn’t be political,” Fox News reports.

CONNECTICUT U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal faces a few notable GOP opponents in this blue state. The state GOP has endorsed former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, who decided to run here rather than wage her long-anticipated bid for governor. Klarides’ main intra-party foe is former Ambassador to Chile Leora Levy, a self-funder who provided her campaign with $760,000 through March. Also on the ballot is attorney Peter Lumaj, who lost the 2014 general election for secretary of state 53-47 but dropped out of the 2018 governor’s race after faring poorly at the state convention.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Show Me Values, a new super PAC that’s seeking to torpedo Eric Greitens in the August Republican primary, launched its very first commercials on Friday as part of what Politico says is a $1 million buy through the end of June. The spots come over a year after prominent Republicans started to openly fret that Greitens, who resigned the governorship in 2018 in disgrace, could jeopardize the party’s hold on this seat if he won the general election; the ads also debuted days after Greitens’ dropped his quickly infamous digital ad calling for viewers to get a “hunting permit” to go after Republicans In Name Only.

One of the Show Me Values commercials focuses entirely on the many scandals involving Greitens. The spot first uses old news footage to recount the two felony charges that led to his departure before a reporter is heard saying, “The former Missouri governor is now accused of spousal abuse and intimidation.” Another voice goes into detail by recounting allegations that the candidate’s ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, made in court in March, saying, “One of the boys had a swollen face, saying his father had hit him.” The ad’s narrator jumps back in, “Scandals. Felony charges. Physical abuse allegations. That’s not conservative, but it is the real Eric Greitens.”

The other spot goes a different route and argues that Greitens “sucked up to communist China on state-run TV.” Show Me Values then uses the same clip that a PAC supporting Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is one of his primary rivals, deployed in its own ad all the way back in February. Then-Gov. Greitens tells a Chinese anchor, “It’s amazing to see the transformation that’s taken place here over the course of the last 24 years,” to which the commercial’s narrator responds, “While President Trump was getting tough on China, Eric Greitens was praising them.” Greitens’ side made use of anti-China messaging itself earlier this year when a PAC funded by conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein aired its own commercial against Schmitt.

It’s unclear how much Show Me Values plans to spend over the next six weeks, but there’s good reason to think it will have access to plenty of money. Politico notes that one of its main donors is Rex Sinquefield, a Schmitt supporter who has a long history of bankrolling conservative candidates and causes in Missouri. (Sinquefield, a 2014 Politico profile detailed, is devoted to advancing three “idiosyncratic passions: promoting chess, dismantling the traditional public school system and eliminating income taxes.”) One of those candidates from yesteryear that Sinquefield went all-in for was Catherine Hanaway, a former U.S. attorney who was one of the three intra-party opponents Greitens checkmated on his way to winning the governorship.

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. The Republican firm Cygnal’s newest poll for the conservative Josh Locke Foundation shows Republican Ted Budd leading Democrat Cheri Beasley 45-40, a small increase from his 44-42 edge a month prior. The only numbers we’ve seen in the intervening time was a mid-June SurveyUSA poll that gave Beasley a 44-40 advantage.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. The GOP pollster Cygnal finds John Fetterman beating Republican Mehmet Oz 44-40 for Senate as his fellow Democrat, gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, enjoys a similar 48-45 edge over Republican Doug Mastriano. Two recent polls, one from Suffolk University and one for the AARP, also put both Democrats ahead, but they each showed Fetterman doing notably better than Shapiro.

One vote Oz may not be getting in the fall, however, belongs to Kathy Barnette, who took 25% of the vote in last month’s primary. After Oz claimed Tuesday, “my competition―they’ve all endorsed me, by the way,” Barnette told CNN, “No, I have not endorsed Oz. He knows that.” She went on to point out that 70% of primary voters “voted against” Oz despite his endorsement from Donald Trump, adding, “Donald Trump won this election for Oz; it wasn’t Oz.” She added that, while she might end up backing him later, “I have a lot of issues with Oz and who he presented himself to be.”

Shapiro, meanwhile, is airing a commercial focused entirely on Mastriano’s opposition to abortion rights. After a pair of women tell the audience how scared they are of a Mastriano governorship, a clip plays of the Republican saying, “My body, my choice is ridiculous nonsense.” The ad’s subjects go on to warn that Mastriano would force pregnancies even if the mother’s life was at risk; the audience then sees more footage of Mastriano declaring, “I don’t give a way for exceptions either.”

CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont is in for a rematch against 2018 Republican nominee Bob Stefanowski, a fellow self-funder whom he beat 49-46 four years ago; neither man faces any intra-party opposition. A late May poll from Quinnipiac University showed Lamont ahead 51-43, but Team Blue can’t take anything for granted in a state that also hosted tight races in 2010 and 2014.  

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR. Mitchell Research’s new look at the August GOP primary for MIRS News shows conservative radio host Tudor Dixon and wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke tied 15-15 as another 13% goes to Ryan Kelley, the real estate agent who was recently arrested on misdemeanor charges related to his role in the Jan. 6 riot. The poll, which does not appear to have allowed respondents to say if they’d write in the name of former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, also has a 46% plurality undecided.

Dixon, for her part, scored an endorsement Friday from the Police Officers Association of Michigan. The candidate recently earned the backing of the wealthy DeVos family, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and prominent anti-abortion group Michigan Right to Life.

CONNECTICUT 2ND CD. Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney is going up against Republican state Rep. Mike France, who is his first notable opponent since 2006, when the Democrat first won his seat by ousting Republican Rep. Rob Simmons by 83 votes. This eastern Connecticut constituency would have supported Biden 55-43 and France, who has no primary opposition, had only $120,000 on-hand at the end of March. Still, this contest could still be worth watching in a GOP wave year.

CONNECTICUT 5TH CD. Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes’ one GOP rival is former state Sen. George Logan, who is trying to flip a district in the northwestern corner of Connecticut that Biden would have won 55-44. While Logan had a modest $210,000 available in late March, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund reserved $1.75 million earlier this year for fall ad time.

FLORIDA 13TH CD. Florida Politics reports that a new super PAC called Stand For Florida has launched a $400,000 buy in support of attorney Kevin Hayslett ahead of the August Republican primary, where Hayslett is the underdog against Trump’s pick, 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna. The narrator touts Hayslett as a prosecutor who will stand up to the “radical left” and labels him a “Trump Republican.”

MICHIGAN 7TH CD. The NRCC has publicized an internal from the firm Cygnal that shows GOP state Sen. Tom Barnett edging out Democratic incumbent Elissa Slotkin 46-44. Barnett, who sent out a horrid anti-trans solicitation back in April, has no serious intra-party opposition in a Lansing-based seat that would have supported Joe Biden by a 50-49 margin.

NEW YORK 10TH CD. The Working Families Party has endorsed Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou ahead of the busy August Democratic primary.

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL. The Associated Press on Thursday evening projected that former federal prosecutor Nathan Hochman had defeated his fellow Republican, Eric Early, in the June 7 top-two primary. Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta took a firm first with 55% while Hochman beat out Early 18-16 for the second spot in the November general election. Bonta’s allies took action during the campaign in an unsuccessful effort to ensure Early, a far-right Trumpy candidate, would be his opponent; however, the contender Bonta very much didn’t want to face, independent Anne Marie Schubert, fell far short of advancing after she grabbed just 8% of the vote

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

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