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The Political Report – August 8, 2022

“Democrats in competitive election races were quick to promote their sweeping new climate and economic package after it passed the Senate on Sunday in a party-line vote, with all Republicans opposing it,” NBC News reports. “Some were particularly eager to celebrate the policies aimed at cutting prescription drug costs.”

John Pitney: “Democrats have many problems. The economy is rocky and Biden is deeply unpopular. A larger than normal share of Democratic House incumbents are not running for reelection, which is always a leading indicator of losses. Their starting margins are thin.”

“And yet, Democrats have been handed an opportunity to portray themselves as the opposition party. For the last five election cycles, that has been a good place to be.”

Washington Post: “The top lines for Democrats continue to be brutal heading into the November midterm elections: Voters are furious about inflation, they overwhelmingly believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, and President Biden is not at all a popular figure.”

“But based on recent polling, the issue matrix has shifted enough to provide Democrats some hope that they can limit some of their potential losses and outperform expectations, especially in statewide races for the U.S. Senate and governorships.”

In a memo to campaigns and allies, the House Democratic campaign arm says that internal polls from more than 20 frontline and target congressional districts show that Republican attacks on abortion access register as “the top testing negative” since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, NBC News reports.

“In a Senate split 50-50, Democrats on the campaign trail and in Congress have zero margin for error as the party tries to navigate a hostile political environment defined chiefly by President Biden’s albatross-like approval ratings,” the New York Times reports.

“But with the Senate battlefield map mostly set after primaries in Arizona and Missouri this past week, Democratic candidates are outperforming Mr. Biden — locked in tight races or ahead in almost every key contest.”

New York Times: “The most closely-watched primary of 2022 has not become much of a race at all. Polls show Ms. Cheney losing badly to her rival, Harriet Hageman, Mr. Trump’s vehicle for revenge, and the congresswoman has been all but driven out of her Trump-loving state, in part because of death threats, her office says.”

“Yet for Ms. Cheney, the race stopped being about political survival months ago. Instead, she’s used the Aug. 16 contest as a sort of a high-profile stage for her martyrdom — and a proving ground for her new crusade. She used the only debate to tell voters to ‘vote for somebody else’ if they wanted a politician who would violate their oath of office. Last week, she enlisted her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, to cut an ad calling Mr. Trump a ‘coward’ who represents the greatest threat to America in the history of the republic.”

“In a state where Mr. Trump won 70 percent of the vote two years ago, Ms. Cheney might as well be asking ranchers to go vegan.”

“What’s more puzzling than her schedule is why Ms. Cheney, who has raised over $13 million, has not poured more money into the race, especially early on when she had an opportunity to define Ms. Hageman. Ms. Cheney had spent roughly half her war chest as of the start of July, spurring speculation that she was saving money for future efforts against Mr. Trump.”

“Ms. Cheney long ago stopped attending meetings of House Republicans. When at the Capitol, she spends much of her time with the Democrats on the Jan. 6 panel and often heads to the Lindy Boggs Room, the reception room for female lawmakers, rather than the House floor with the male-dominated House G.O.P. conference. Some members of the Jan. 6 panel have been struck by how often her Zoom background is her suburban Virginia home.”

Joseph Epstein: “I have never given money to politicians or political parties. Yet I am about to send a $200 check to Liz Cheney for her Wyoming congressional campaign. Ms. Cheney, who is trailing more than 20 points in the polls against Trump-backed candidate Harriet Hageman, appears all but guaranteed to lose her congressional seat in the Aug. 16 primary…”

“She didn’t have to do what she did and continues to do on the committee to investigate Jan. 6. Yet she has done it with gravity and high intelligence. Not since Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan have I encountered a political figure for whom I felt the same strong respect.”

“Few politicians risk losing their next election to take the high ground of just action. Ms. Cheney’s performance is all the more admirable when placed next to various Republicans—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is vying for speaker if Republicans take the House, is a sad example—spinning, squirming, hedging their true views of Mr. Trump lest they and their party lose his support in the midterm elections. The sight is not pretty and gives good reason why politicians, and politics generally, are often held in richly deserved contempt by many Americans.”

WASHINGTON 4TH CD. The AP has called a general election matchup between  incumbent Dan Newhouse and Democrat Doug White, which makes Newhouse the first House Republican to beat a Trump-endorsed intra-party foe after supporting impeachment. (California Rep. David Valadao made it through his own June top-two primary, but Trump did not take sides in that one.) Newhouse is in first with 26%, while White leads 2020 Republican gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp 25-21 for second. Trump would have taken this eastern Washington seat 57-40.

WASHINGTON 8TH CD. Both 2020 nominee Jesse Jensen and King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn conceded Tuesday’s top-two primary to their fellow Republican, 2020 attorney general nominee Matt Larkin, shortly before the AP called the race. Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier was at 48% of the vote on Sunday evening while Larkin led Dunn 17-15; Jensen was in fourth with 13%. Biden would have carried this suburban Seattle constituency 52-45.

ARIZONA 1ST CD. Incumbent David Schweikert defeated wealthy businessman Elijah Norton 43-33 after a truly ugly campaign, while the balance went to underfunded opponent Josh Barnett.

Norton used his personal resources to outspend the congressman and attack him over a major scandal that resulted in the incumbent admitting to 11 different violations of congressional rules and campaign finance laws in 2020. Schweikert responded by circulating mailers showing the challenger and a male friend with the caption, “Elijah Norton isn’t being straight with you.” Norton quickly fired back with a defamation lawsuit accusing Schweikert of falsely insinuating that he’s gay.

Schweikert will go up against Democrat Jevin Hodge, a communications consultant who would be Arizona’s first Black congressman. This seat in the eastern Phoenix area would have supported Biden 50-49, while Schweikert’s existing 6th District went for Trump 51-47.

ARIZONA 4TH CD. The AP has also projected that self-funding restaurant owner Kelly Cooper has defeated former Arizona Bankers Association president Tanya Wheeless, who had the backing of the Congressional Leadership Fund, for the right to take on Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton. Wheeless benefited from $1.5 million in outside support, but she trails Cooper 28-25​. Biden would have carried the new 4th District 54-44, while he took Stanton’s existing 9th 61-37.

NEW YORK 10TH CD. Impact Research’s internal for attorney Dan Goldman shows him leading Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou 18-16 in the packed Aug. 23 Democratic primary, with New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and 17th District Rep. Mondaire Jones at 14% and 10%, respectively. Other polls have found different candidates ahead, but they all agree with Impact that a hefty plurality are undecided. 

NEW YORK 12TH CD. A new PIX11/Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll finds Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) surging ahead to a 9% lead in the Democratic primary that pits him against Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Attorney Suraj Patel (D).

COLORADO 3RD CD. Democrat Adam Frisch has released an internal from Keating Research that shows him trailing far-right freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert 49-42 in a western Colorado seat that Trump would have taken by a similar 53-45 spread.

COLORADO 7TH CD. The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund has publicized a survey from Meeting Street Insights that gives Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen just a 44-42 edge over the Republican nominee, former oil and gas executive Erik Aadland. Biden carried this seat in the western Denver suburbs 56-42, but Republicans are hoping that Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s retirement will give them a bigger opening. This is the first poll that’s been released of this contest.

FLORIDA 4TH CD. St. Pete Polls’ new survey for Florida Politics gives state Sen. Aaron Bean a hefty 59-16 lead over Erick Aguilar, a Navy veteran who made news last month for getting ejected from the GOP fundraising platform WinRed, in the Aug. 23 primary.

FLORIDA 10TH CD. Both the state AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association have endorsed gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost ahead of the busy Democratic primary on Aug. 23.

FLORIDA 13TH CD. The Club for Growth is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the Aug. 23 GOP primary, and its piece rips Kevin Hayslett as a “trial lawyer” who was disloyal to Donald Trump in 2016. The broadside comes days after Hayslett released an internal that showed him trailing 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, whom both the Club and Trump are supporting, only 36-34.

The narrator informs the audience, “While Hillary’s campaign called Trump a fraud, Hayslett declared it was ‘ludicrous’ Trump had not released his tax records.” The commercial concludes that Hayslett, whose offense doesn’t seem to have gone further than Facebook posts, is “guilty of aiding and abetting the Democrats to assault Donald Trump.”

Hayslett himself launched his own negative spot around the same time arguing that it’s Luna who’s the GOP heretic. The audience is treated to footage of Luna saying, “I always agreed with President Obama’s immigration policies,” and favoring a “pathway to citizenship.”

MINNESOTA 1ST CD. SurveyUSA, working for ABC 6 News, shows Republican Brad Finstad beating Democrat Jeff Ettinger 46-38 in next week’s special election for this 54-44 Trump constituency. The only other poll that anyone’s released is an early June Ettinger internal that put Finstad’s advantage at 48-47.

MINNESOTA 3RD CD. Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips is out with a poll from GQR giving him a hefty 57-36 edge over Navy veteran Tom Weiler, who has next week’s Republican primary to himself. Biden would have carried this suburban Twin Cities constituency 59-39, though Weiler’s allies are hoping that a GOP wave could reverse the dramatic Trump-era gains Democrats made in this once-swingy area.

MINNESOTA 5TH CD. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose city makes up about 60% of this constituencyhas endorsed former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels’ bid against Rep. Ilhan Omar in next week’s Democratic primary. Omar backed the mayor’s two main rivals in last year’s instant runoff race, though Frey ended up winning re-election convincingly. Frey and Samuels also defeated a 2021 ballot measure that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, while Omar supported the “Yes” side.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that a newly established group called Make A Difference MN 05 has launched a $350,000 TV buy to aid former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels in his Tuesday primary battle against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

NEW YORK 16TH CD. Former Rep. Eliot Engel has endorsed Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi’s Democratic primary campaign against the man who unseated him two years ago, freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Gashi also earned the backing of Nita Lowey who, unlike Engel, left the House voluntarily last year after decades of service. About three-quarters of this seat’s denizens live in the old 16th District where Bowman upset Engel, while the balance reside in Lowey’s old turf.

NEW YORK 23RD CD. Barry Zeplowitz and Associates has conducted a survey that gives state GOP chair Nick Langworthy a 39-37 edge over 2010 gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino in this month’s primary, which is dramatically different from Paladino’s 54-24 lead in his own mid-July internal from WPA Intelligence. Veteran pollster Barry Zeplowitz said he conducted this new poll independently, though Paladino quickly called foul and attacked Zeplowitz for donating $99 to his rival.

“So because I gave $99 to a candidate who asked and gave nothing to a second candidate who did not, the poll is a complete scam?” Zeplowitz asked rhetorically, adding, “Mr. Paladino should be thanking me for giving his campaign a heads-up that he is involved in a toss-up. Let the best man win.”

ARIZONA 2ND CD. Navy SEAL veteran Eli Crane, who earned Trump’s endorsement late in the campaign, beat state Rep. Walt Blackman 34-24. Crane, who like Blackman is an ardent Big Lie promoter, will take on Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran in a dramatically reconfigured seat in northern and eastern rural Arizona: While Biden carried O’Halleran’s existing 1st District 50-48, Trump would have taken the new 2nd 53-45.

ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL. Former prosecutor Abe Hamadeh, who had Trump’s backing, defeated former Tucson City Councilor Rodney Glassman 32-24 to win the nomination to succeed termed-out Republican incumbent Mark Brnovich. Hamadeh, who has denied that Biden won the state, will face former Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes in the fall.

MICHIGAN 13TH CD. Wealthy state Rep. Shri Thanedar defeated state Sen. Adam Hollier, who benefited from heavy spending by AIPAC and other groups, 28-24 in this safely blue seat; Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson, who had retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence’s endorsement, took third with 17%.

Thanedar, who immigrated to the United State from India, would be the state’s first Indian American member of Congress. His win, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s primary victory in the neighboring 12th District, also all but guarantees that the city of Detroit will not have a Black representative for the first time since 1955.

CALIFORNIA 22ND CD. David Binder Research is out with a mid-July internal for Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas and the DCCC that shows Salas beating Republican incumbent David Valadao 43-35. This is the first survey we’ve seen testing Salas against the congressman, who only narrowly made it out of the June top-two primary after voting to impeach Trump. Biden would have won this Central Valley constituency 55-42, but this largely rural agricultural region has traditionally seen much weaker turnout among Democratic-leaning voters in midterm years.

WASHINGTON 3RD CD. The Associated Press last week called the first spot in the previous day’s top-two primary for Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who notched 31%, but it remains unclear which Republican she’ll face. With 158,000 votes counted, which the AP estimates is 83% of the total, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler leads Trump-backed Army veteran Joe Kent by a narrow 23-22. The five Republican candidates on the ballot are taking a combined 66% of the vote compared to 33% for Democrats in this 51-46 Trump seat, though Herrera Beutler may have won some support from Democratic voters after voting for impeachment.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY (MD) EXECUTIVE. It’s been more than two weeks since the July 19 Democratic primary, but we still don’t know who won the nomination to lead this populous and reliably blue county. With 132,000 ballots counted, incumbent Marc Elrich leads wealthy businessman David Blair 39.3-39.2―a margin of 154 votes.

Election officials say that there are about 4,000 mail-in votes left to tabulate as well as 7,250 provisional ballots to sort through, and that they’re aiming to certify the results by Aug. 12. The second-place candidate would then have three days to request a recount, which is what happened in the 2018 contest between these very two candidates: Elrich ultimately beat Blair by 77 votes four years ago.

This dragged-out count came about because Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a measure that would have allowed mail-in ballots to be processed ahead of Election Day. The author of that bill is state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents part of Montgomery County; Kagan has called for the state to change its policies to prevent another major delay this November.

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

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