The Political Report – September 19, 2022

NBC News poll: “Democrats have pulled even with Republicans ahead of November’s midterm elections, fueled by six-in-10 voters who disapprove of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, by President Joe Biden’s approval rating improving to its highest mark since October and by Donald Trump’s favorability rating dropping to its lowest level in more than a year.”

The poll “also finds 45% of registered voters approving of President Biden’s overall job (up 3 points from last month), versus 52% who disapprove (down 3 points).”

MAINE 2ND CD. Associated Press: “In a race that will help decide control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden will defend his seat against Republican former Rep. Bruce Poliquin and independent candidate Tiffany Bond. The race is a rematch for Golden and Poliquin, who ran for the same seat in 2018, when Golden emerged victorious by a razor-thin margin.”

“The appeal of Trump-style politics has grown in the district since then despite the fact it is represented by Golden, a moderate Democrat. Poliquin, who represented the 2nd District as a moderate Republican from 2014 to 2018, has shifted his own messaging rightward to try to take advantage of those headwinds.”

“The result is a race that could be an indicator of Trump’s continued influence on swing districts and rural politics.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. John Ellis: “Anyway, bad candidates matter is a featured piece of the mainstream media’s political coverage so far this year. And of course it’s true; bad candidates do matter. What’s odd about the mainstream media’s ‘bad candidates matter’ narrative is that all the bad candidates are Republicans.”

“Take Pennsylvania. There, Republican primary voters had a choice between Dr. Oz (endorsed by Trump) and former Bridgewater CEO David McCormick. They chose Oz (by a whisker). There’s no doubt that Oz is a second- or third-string politician. There’s no doubt that McCormick would have been a much, much stronger general election candidate. But the worst candidate in the Senate race in Pennsylvania is not Dr. Oz. The worst candidate in the race is the Democratic Party’s nominee: Lt. Governor John Fetterman.”

“To be fair, the primary reason Mr. Fetterman is the worst Senate candidate in Pennsylvania this time around has nothing to do with his political skills. Shortly before winning the Democratic primary back in May, Fetterman suffered a stroke. It was not a ‘minor’ stroke or series of TIAs. It was a stroke stroke. It has had a discernible impact on his ability to speak and think coherently. It has kept him off the campaign trail for months. It has required his campaign operatives to insist on general election debate ‘conditions’ that no reasonable person would consider acceptable. It has left his campaign with the following message; ‘He’ll be fine, eventually.’”

FLORIDA 13TH CD. While none of the four largest groups involved in House races have aired any general election ads in this newly gerrymandered seat, a group called Progress Pinellas PAC has launched a $2.2 million buy attacking Republican Anna Paulina Luna’s opposition to abortion. After playing a clip of Luna describing herself as a “pro-life extremist,” the audience hears the candidate say, “Abortion is not health care. It will never be health care. It’s wrong.” The ad does not mention Democrat Eric Lynn, who is trying to hold a St. Petersburg-based constituency that would have supported Trump 53-46.

RHODE ISLAND 2ND CD. The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund has launched what it says is a $1 million buy against Seth Magaziner days after he decisively won Tuesday’s Democratic primary, which makes it the first of the big four outside groups to spend in this 56-42 Biden seat. The opening spot goes after Magaziner for hailing from a wealthy family and argues that he’d favor “elite families like his” in Congress.  

ARIZONA 2ND CD. Republican Eli Crane late last month released a Moore Information internal conducted Aug. 11-15 that showed him leading Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran just 45-44, though the survey didn’t get much notice until now. Those numbers, dusty as they are, may help explain why the NRCC recently threw down $900,000 on an effort to unseat O’Halleran in a sprawling northeastern Arizona constituency that, under the new map, would have favored Trump by a wide 53-45.

CALIFORNIA 27TH CD. Democrat Christy Smith is out with a poll from The Mellman Group taken just before Labor Day that found her edging out Republican incumbent Mike Garcia 44-42 in their third matchup. This is the first survey we’ve seen since April of the contest for a seat based in northern Los Angeles County that, at 55-43 Biden, is a couple points to the left of the district where Garcia beat Smith by 333 votes in 2020.

OREGON 4TH CD. In a damning new story on Army National Guard veteran Alek Skarlatos, the Oregon Capital Chronicle details the Republican nominee’s history of creepy and misogynistic behavior toward women. The Capital Chronicle notes that Skarlatos, who is 29, has “liked” Instagram photos of underage girls as young as 15 who were wearing bikinis or other revealing clothing, doing so within the past few months and dozens of times since 2020. Skarlatos issued a statement defending himself stating, “To imply that a ‘follow’ or a ‘like’ of social media influencers on Instagram with over 100,000 followers is inappropriate is absurd.”

However, the story doesn’t end there for Skarlatos, who narrowly lost a Douglas County commissioner race in 2018 and was also the 2020 GOP nominee in the old 4th District. Back in 2018 on a podcast interview a few months before he first ran for office, the candidate and host joked about women violently dying during sex, including Skarlatos laughing “oh yeah” in response to the host’s question, “You ever thought if you choked someone and killed them in bed what would happen?” Skarlatos also complained that the women in his town of Roseburg were unattractive and that he had to travel elsewhere for dating.

In response to the reporting on the podcast comments, Skarlatos offered a classic non-apology: “Looking back at the comments I made as a 24-year-old who just left the Army, I’m disappointed. I apologize if I offended anyone.”

NEW YORK 22ND CD. Democrat Francis Conole this week unveiled an endorsement from Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, an independent who did not take sides in the competitive 2018 and 2020 contests in the previous version of this seat. Walsh is the son of former Rep. James Walsh, a Republican who represented Syracuse from 1989 until his 2009 retirement.  

NEVADA 3RD and 4TH CDs. The Nevada Independent reports that Morning in America PAC, a GOP group that had little money when reports were last released in early July, has spent $1 million so far to help April Becker in the 3rd District and another $280,000 to aid Sam Peters in the 4th.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Donald Trump “drew more than 6,000 fans for a rally Saturday evening in this industrial northeast Ohio city — and mocked venture capitalist J.D. Vance, his pick in the state’s surprisingly tight U.S. Senate race, in the process,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Trump: “J.D. is kissing my ass. Of course he wants my support.”

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

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