Delaware

The Political Report – 7/15/22

A new Pew Research poll finds 64% of U.S. adults approve of the new gun law, including 32% who strongly approve. Just 21% say they disapprove of the law, including 11% who strongly disapprove; 15% are not sure.

“Despite broad support for the new law, however, most Americans are not optimistic it will do much to reduce gun violence in the country: 78% think the new gun law will do a little (42%) or nothing at all (36%) to reduce gun violence. Only 7% say the bill will do a lot, while 14% say they are not sure.”

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, SECRETARY OF STATE. The Glengariff Group’s new general election poll for WDIV and the Detroit News shows Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer leading all five of the candidates listed on the Aug. 2 Republican primary ballot:

  • 50-41 vs. real estate agent Ryan Kelley
  • 51-40 vs. conservative radio host Tudor Dixon
  • 52-40 vs. businessman Kevin Rinke
  • 52-38 vs. chiropractor Garrett Soldano
  • 52-37 vs. pastor Ralph Rebandt

The poll did not quiz respondents about former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who is trying to win the GOP nomination through a write-in campaign. This is also the first look at the general election we’ve seen in over a month.

Glengariff additionally found Democratic incumbents with smaller advantages in the other two fall statewide contests: Attorney General Dana Nessel outpaces Matt DePerno 44-38, while Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson leads Kristina Karamo 46-39.

Mitchell Research’s newest poll for MIRS shows conservative radio host Tudor Dixon jumping into a 26-15 lead over real estate agent Ryan Kelley ahead of the Aug. 2 GOP primary, with wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke and chiropractor Garrett Soldano just behind with 13% each as a 33% plurality remains undecided.

The poll represents a notable shift from three weeks ago, when Dixon and Rinke deadlocked 15-15 as Kelley, who had just been arrested on misdemeanor charges related to his role in the Jan. 6 riot, took 13%; neither survey appears to have allowed respondents to say if they’d write in the name of former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. We haven’t seen any other numbers since that last Michell survey was conducted.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Missouri First Action PAC, a group largely funded by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, has launched an $820,000 ad campaign defending disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens ahead of the Aug. 2 GOP primary, with its opening spot dismissing unnamed “smears” against him. The commercial’s star, who is a Missourian identified as Jamie Munce, argues that Greitens is being attacked because he’ll “work for us and see President Trump’s America first agenda through” and “will stand up to the woke liberals and the RINO D.C. elites who’ve betrayed us and betrayed President Trump.”

Show Me Values PAC, a group that has spent $2 million so far to stop disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens from winning the Aug. 2 Republican primary, released an internal Friday from the Tarrance Group that found Attorney General Eric Schmitt leading Rep. Vicky Hartzler 28-24 as Greitens lagged in third with 16% and Rep. Billy Long struggled with just 6%. But if the super PAC was hoping that these numbers might inspire Donald Trump to join them in trashing Greitens, it quickly got a rude shock when the GOP master both declared that he won’t back Hartzler and left open the possibility he’d endorse Greitens sometime in the next three weeks.

Trump, seemingly out of the blue, wrote that Hartzler “called me this morning asking for my endorsement, much as she has on many other occasions.” He continued, “I was anything but positive in that I don’t think she has what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats, together with their partner in the destruction of our Country, the Fake News Media and, of course, the deceptive & foolish RINOs.” And in case that message was too subtle, he concluded, “I was very nice to Vicky on the call, but will NOT BE ENDORSING HER FOR THE SENATE!” Still, in perhaps a small relief to the congresswoman, the MAGA boss didn’t actually implore his legions to vote against her in the race to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.

Trump didn’t elaborate on exactly what Hartzler, who sports an endorsement from Sen. Josh Hawley, had done to offend him, but a March Politico story sheds some light into their relationship. Trump, the story said, was told how she responded to the Jan. 6 attack by accusing him of “unpresidential remarks” and noting that “many” of the rioters “supported President Trump.” Hartzler still joined the majority of her GOP colleagues in objecting to Joe Biden’s victory, but that may not have been enough to get her back on Trump’s good side.

Trump, though, has been far more forgiving when it comes to the scandal-plagued Greitens, whose ex-wife has accused of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018. Trump spoke to the far-right OAN over the weekend, where a host encouraged him to endorse Greitens because of the former governor’s opposition to their shared intra-party nemesis, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump, in a very rare nod to political reality, acknowledged that Greitens is “the one the Democrats legitimately want to run against,” but he quickly added, “Eric is tough and he’s smart. A little controversial, but I’ve endorsed controversial people before. So we’ll see what happens.”

McConnell is one of those people who is waiting to see what happens, though the Kansas City Star notes that, despite his past aggressive efforts to stop unacceptable candidates from winning their primaries, he’s “made no indication he would get involved” here. Indeed, McConnell has refrained from even discussing Greitens publicly even though the candidate can’t stop talking about his would-be leader: Greitens has accused McConnell of being behind the abuse allegations, and he’s also claimed that Show Me Values, which is funded largely by Schmitt ally Rex Sinquefield, is linked to McConnell.

Hartzler, for her part, is trying to make the best of her situation with a new commercial that dubs her two main foes, “Eric and Eric,” as “too weak on China.” The congresswoman then makes the case that “if you want a senator who fights China like President Trump did, stand with me,” a statement that’s accompanied by a photo of her shaking hands with Trump back in happier days. Both Schmitt and Greitens’ allies have previously run commercials using anti-China messaging against the other, though they’ve yet to seriously target Hartzler this way yet.

Hartzler and the Erics, however, are united in ignoring Long, whose best moment in the race came in March when Trump not-tweeted, “Have the great people of Missouri been considering the big, loud, and proud personality of Congressman Billy Long for the Senate?,” a question he added was “not an Endorsement, but I’m just askin’?” Every poll, though, has found that the answer to be a resounding no, which may be why Trump has stopped talking about Long. The congressman, who made news in 2019 by giving his colleagues fake $45 bills bearing Trump’s face, hasn’t given up trying to get his actual endorsement even as his campaign has struggled to raise real money.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “John Fetterman’s cash machine is still rolling — and gaining speed,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “The lieutenant governor raised $8.3 million for his U.S. Senate campaign between his Democratic primary win and the end of June… That was part of a record-setting $11 million haul over April, May, and June, a period almost evenly split between the final stretch of the primary and the start of the general election campaign against Republican nominee Mehmet Oz. Fetterman, however, has already spent most of that money.”

Fetterman “has an in-person fundraiser scheduled for later this month, suggesting his return to the campaign trail is imminent following his stroke two months ago,” National Journal reports. “But even if he’s back to shaking hands and kissing babies within the next few days, the stretch of time he has spent away from the Senate race is nearly unprecedented in recent political history.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan’s newest ad will not only air exclusively on Fox News, it features multiples clip of high-profile Fox figures offering what passes for praise of the congressman, including Maria Bartiromo, Brett Baier, Peter Doocy, and even Tucker Carlson.

The chyron shown during the Carlson segment reads, “NOT EVERYONE IN THE DEM 2020 FIELD IS A LUNATIC,” a reference to one of Ryan’s two debate appearances during his short-lived presidential campaign. During that debate, Ryan agreed that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposals would “incentivize undocumented immigrants to come into this country illegally” and said, “[I]f you want to come into the country, you should at least ring the doorbell.”

OREGON GOVERNOR. Legislative Republicans have publicized numbers from Cygnal that show Republican Christine Drazan edging out Democrat Tina Kotek 32-31, with independent Betsy Johnson grabbing 24%. The survey comes days after Johnson released her own internal from GS Strategy that put Kotek ahead with 33% as Johnson and Drazan took 30% and 23%, respectively.

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR. State Sen. Tom Sherman, who has the Democratic field to himself, has released an internal from Public Policy Polling that shows him trailing Republican Gov. Chris Sununu 43-33, with Libertarian Karlyn Borysenko grabbing 8%. This result, while still not close, is considerably better for Sherman than his 55-29 deficit in an April poll from the University of New Hampshire, which is the most recent survey we’ve seen until now. Sherman’s poll also argues he’ll make up ground once voters are reminded that Sununu signed an anti-abortion bill in 2021.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno did not rule out a 2023 bid for governor over the weekend after state Democratic Party chair Katie Bernhardt mentioned her as a possible candidate. Moreno instead told NOLA.com, “People have been encouraging me for a statewide run for some time, but since last week the calls have increased from people, mostly women, who are liberal and conservative.” Moreno has been talked about for years as a likely candidate for mayor in the 2025 race to succeed termed-out incumbent LaToya Cantrell, though she’d still be able to campaign for the Crescent City’s top job if a statewide bid failed.  

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) gave his supporters a lesson about climate change and air pollution. Said Walker: “The Green New Deal, you know climate change. I’m going to help you with that real quickly… We, in America, have some of the cleanest air and cleanest water of anywhere in the world. So what we do is, we gonna put, from the Green New Deal, millions and billions of dollars cleaning our good air up.”

He added: “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then now we got we to clean that back up.”

ARIZONA GOVERNOR. The Republican firm HighGround Public Affairs, which says it sponsored this poll itself, finds former TV anchor Kari Lake leading Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson just 39-35 in the Aug. 2 Republican primary, while 4% went for another option. The survey was conducted July 2-7, with termed-out Gov. Doug Ducey backing Robson on that final day.

Lake, meanwhile, appears to be running the first, though probably far from the last, negative TV ad of the contest. After telling the audience that she’s Trump’s endorsed candidate, Lake goes on to label Robson, “a real RINO.” Lake insists, “She gave illegals tuition discounts and made us pay for it. She voted for abortion and gun control and refused to vote to end vax and mask mandates on our children.”

In what may be a first in American elections, a new ad from a conservative super PAC stars a drag queen attacking a Republican candidate for statewide office—in this case, former TV anchor Kari Lake, Donald Trump’s choice for governor.

The unnamed performer, in full drag, tells the audience, “A drag queen knows a fake when we see one—like Kari Lake.” The star then, well, drags Lake for her past support for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (“Ugh—politics,” they groan, with a flourish of a makeup brush) but really lays into her for denying her own past friendship with another female impersonator.

“But when Kari attacked drag queens even though she counted us as friends, went into our bars, invited us into her home, now missy pretends it never happened,” the performer chides. “That Kari Lake—she’s not just a fake, she’s a phony.” This spot is the first we’ve seen focused on this story, which has given Lake plenty of grief ahead of her competitive Aug. 2 intra-party fight against Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson.

Lake, like countless anti-LGBTQ candidates across the nation, has targeted drag performances as “grooming” and “child abuse.” In response, a prominent Phoenix drag queen named Richard Stevens posted on social media that he and the candidate had been friends for 20 years; Stevens also shared several pictures of the two together, and some of those images are included in this commercial.

Stevens himself relays that he’s seen this ad airing on TV, while local Democratic operative Tony Cani puts the size of the buy at $225,000. Cani also says that American Focus PAC, the group behind the spot, is funded by Randy Kendrick, a GOP donor who is married to Arizona Diamondbacks’ owner Ken Kendrick.

The ad comes days ahead of Trump’s Saturday rally in Prescott Valley for Lake and other members of his Big Lie slate. Trump’s candidate for secretary of state, state Rep. Mark Finchem, recently generated renewed attention when he told supporters, “Ain’t gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy. I’m going to demand a 100% hand count if there’s the slightest hint that there’s an impropriety. And I will urge the next governor to do the same.”

Lake, the person Finchem identified as the state’s next chief executive, quickly agreed, saying she’d “absolutely” react the same way if she lost. She noted that Trump himself “did not concede, and I think that was really smart because that was the most dirty, filthy, rotten election I’ve ever seen.”

OKLAHOMA U.S. SENATOR B. On Saturday, Donald Trump provided his “Complete and Total Endorsement” to Rep. Markwayne Mullin ahead of the August 23 Republican primary runoff. Mullin lapped former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon 44-18 in the first round of voting in late June.

TEXAS GOVERNOR. YouGov’s newest survey for the University of Houston shows Republican incumbent Greg Abbott leading Democrat Beto O’Rourke 49-44. The pollster pegged Abbott’s lead at 45-39 and 49-41 in other recent polls for the University of Texas and CBS, respectively.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR. The DGA-backed A Stronger New Mexico recently  launched a $75,000 ad campaign attacking Mark Ronchetti over his opposition to abortion rights, and the Republican has responded with his own commercial trying to frame Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham as the one who’s too “extreme.” Ronchetti’s spot makes him one of the rare Republicans to focus on abortion in a commercial at a time when Democratic campaigns have been intensely focused on the topic.

Ronchetti tells the audience, “The governor supports abortion up to birth,” while he’s “personally pro-life, but I believe we can all come together on a policy that reflects our shared values.” The on-screen text identifies his position as “Limit abortion to First 15 weeks,” while the candidate himself declares, “We can end late-term abortion while protecting access to contraception and health care.”

MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR. Mississippi Today’s Adam Ganucheau takes a deep look at the 2023 race to lead the Magnolia State and highlights the many candidates who could end up taking on Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in either the August primary or fall general election, but one name in particular has stood out as the incumbent’s most high-profile potential rival. The name belongs to state House Speaker Philip Gunn, a fellow Republican who refused to rule anything out last year; Gunn doesn’t appear to have said anything new since then, but Ganucheau writes that Reeves’ people “have stalked every move” the speaker has made “for years.”

Reeves, whom longtime political analyst Sam Hall once said “notoriously lacks strong people skills,” has a long history of feuding with fellow Republicans including Gunn, and that very much hasn’t changed since he won the governorship in 2019. Things got especially ugly during the opening months of the pandemic when the two fought over control of federal COVID relief money: Reeves argued that “people will die” if he didn’t have his way, while Gunn took umbrage at how the governor “portrayed legislators as thieves and killers.”

The two found themselves in alignment this year during a fight with the state Senate over a spending bill, but Ganucheau writes that Gunn remains “transparent about both his disdain for Reeves and his consideration of running against him in 2023.” However, even Reeves’ many intra-party critics acknowledge that he will have access to plenty of money: The governor ended 2021 with almost $5 million available, while Gunn had about $1 million to spend.

Gunn isn’t the only Republican who could take on Reeves in next year’s primary, though. Ganucheau relays that Attorney General Lynn Fitch, Secretary of State Michael Watson, and former state Rep. Robert Foster “have heard from advisers about how a primary of Reeves could play out,” though they don’t appear to have said anything publicly. Foster himself learned the hard way in 2019 how a primary against Reeves did play out as he took third with 19% of the vote; Foster went on to support former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. in the runoff, but Reeves still won the nomination 54-46.

Far fewer Democrats are being talked about as potential candidates in this very red state, but Mississippi Today says that Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is considering. Presley, who is indeed related to Elvis, has long been talked about as one of Team Blue’s few rising stars here, but he’s always turned down calls to run statewide. Presley has remained secure at home in his conservative northern Mississippi constituency, and he even won another term in 2019 on the Public Service Commission, the three-member body that regulates utilities, without opposition as Republicans were winning a majority.  

However, if Presley or another Democrat does mount a strong effort, the general election may need to be settled with a late November runoff. That’s because in 2020, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to require a second round of voting in any statewide general election contests where no one earns a majority of the vote.

Until that measure passed, state elections were governed by an infamous 1890 Jim Crow-era law that required contenders to win not only a majority of the vote but also a majority of the state House’s 122 districts; if no candidate surpassed both thresholds, the members of the House would choose the winner, and there was nothing to stop the GOP-dominated body from picking the person who lost the popular vote.

In 2019, Reeves beat Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood 52-47 as two other candidates notched just 1%, but Ganucheau argues that a more prominent independent could run this time. Indeed, Waller himself expressed interest in going this route last year, though he also spoke well of Gunn. Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, a former Democrat who later became a Reeves ally, also said in 2021 that he was thinking about campaigning as a non-aligned candidate; Ganucheau also name-drops Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Byram Mayor Richard White as possibilities, though neither appears to have expressed interest yet.

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

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