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The Political Report – September 23, 2022

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll underscores long-standing trends: “The GOP enjoys an advantage on economic issues, as well as immigration and national security. Conversely, Democrats are more trusted on health care, the coronavirus, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and voting rights.”

“More surprising results come in a handful of policy areas where the parties’ shifting positions have scrambled the usual political battle lines in recent years: education, gun policy and energy. Voters are close to evenly split on all three, but they lean toward trusting congressional Democrats more by 3- to 5-point margins.”

“We also asked voters how enthusiastic they feel about voting in November. The results, along with other recent surveys, indicate that Dems have closed the gap with — or even exceeded — Republicans on this measure: Sixty-one percent of Democrats say they’re very or extremely enthusiastic, compared to 57% of Republicans.”

“The American public’s views of former President Donald Trump have remained remarkably stable across a number of different measures in recent months, even as he faces multiple investigations and as he remains a central figure in the midterm elections,” according to the most recent New York Times/Siena College poll.

“Voters held nearly identical views from those earlier in the summer on whether they had a favorable view of Mr. Trump, whether they thought he had committed serious federal crimes, and whom they would support in a hypothetical 2024 Trump-Biden matchup.”

POLLING.

OHIO 9TH CD. While Republican J.R. Majewski was at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, the Associated Press reports that military documents appear to show that the self-described “combat veteran” and “Afghanistan War Veteran” was never stationed in Afghanistan. What the records instead say is that Majewski, who tweeted last year that he would “gladly suit up and go back to Afghanistan,” spent six months in 2002 loading planes at an Air Force base in Qatar.

The story adds that the campaign “in a lengthy statement issued to the AP, did not directly address questions about his claim of deploying to Afghanistan.”

Majewski “presents himself as an Air Force combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, once describing ‘tough’ conditions including a lack of running water that forced him to go more than 40 days without a shower,” the AP reports.

“Military documents… tell a different story. They indicate Majewski never deployed to Afghanistan but instead completed a six-month stint helping to load planes at an air base in Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally that is a safe distance from the fighting.”

DEMOCRATIC FUNDRAISING. “Democrats are pumping an unprecedented amount of money into advertising related to abortion rights, underscoring how central the message is to the party in the final weeks before the November midterm elections,” the AP reports.

“With the most intense period of campaigning only just beginning, Democrats have already invested more than an estimated $124 million this year in television advertising referencing abortion. That’s more than twice as much money as the Democrats’ next top issue this year, “character,” and almost 20 times more than Democrats spent on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms.”

Asked by Vox if he’s thought about the prospect of working in a House led by Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) said: “No, in some regard because it’s hard for me to imagine someone that dumb being speaker of the House.”

REPUBLICAN FUNDRAISING. “Fundraising groups tied to Republican Party leaders are sharply increasing spending on campaign ads to help the party win control of Congress in the Nov. 8 general elections,” Reuters reports. “But not Donald Trump’s Save America, a PAC fundraising group that under U.S. election law can fund the Republican former president’s political allies and his frequent rallies but not any election campaign of his own.”

“Despite amassing more than $90 million in the PAC – an unprecedented sum for a former leader – Trump’s group has yet to report any ad spending to support Republican candidates.”

At a closed House Republican caucus meeting this morning, the conference raised a record $6 million from its members, Punchbowl News reports.

“Retirees are becoming one of the most powerful political financial forces in the nation as they spend their savings to fuel federal-level campaigns,” Insider reports.

REPUBLICAN CONTRACT ON AMERICA. “Kevin McCarthy will announce it in a red Pittsburgh suburb, not on the Capitol steps. In most other ways, though, his Friday GOP agenda rollout will mirror Newt Gingrich’s 28-year-old Contract With America,” Politico reports.

“The blueprint that the California Republican plans to unveil is designed to serve as a voter messaging guide for party incumbents and candidates. Just as Gingrich’s ‘contract’ aimed to do, this year’s Commitment to America is expected to set out the GOP’s plans for addressing pressing national problems before a midterm election that’s likely to hand it the House majority.”

OREGON 6TH CD. House Majority PAC is dusting off a story that badly damaged Republican Mike Erickson in his 2008 House campaign with a new ad that accuses him of trying to “outlaw abortion” even though, according to a former girlfriend, Erickson “encouraged her” to undergo the procedure and even paid for it.

These allegations first surfaced 14 years ago when Erickson, who was the GOP’s 2006 nominee in an old version of the swingy 5th District, was running again to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Darlene Hooley. First, though, he had to get through an ugly primary against 2002 gubernatorial nominee Kevin Mannix, who sent out mailers late in the race accusing Erickson of impregnating a woman, who was identified only as Tawnya in media reports, in 2000 and paying for her subsequent abortion.

Erickson called these “unsubstantiated and untrue allegations,” though he admitted he’d given Tawnya $300 and taken her to a doctor. The candidate insisted he hadn’t even known she was pregnant, recounting, “She asked for some money to go have a doctor’s appointment—not knowing what that was—and whatever happened, happened, I guess. I didn’t even know she had an abortion.” Erickson also said of their relationship, “I knew her pretty well but not like — it wasn’t my girlfriend — but it was somebody that I had a relationship with.”

Tawnya, though, had a different version of events. She said that during the 2006 campaign she’d received a mailer that described him as “some sort of safe haven for babies, and honestly, it made me sick.” Tawnya also disputed the idea that Erickson hadn’t known what he was paying for, declaring, “I’m just sick to my stomach watching him be interviewed on the news completely lying about everything.”

Democrat Andrea Salinas’ newest commercial tries to get ahead of any Republican attempts to attack her on crime by highlighting her GOP opponent’s 2016 arrest for drug possession and drunk driving. The narrator opens, “The truth about Mike Erickson and law enforcement? Erickson was charged with felony drug possession for illegal oxycodone, pled guilty to drunk driving at nearly twice the legal limit.”

The commercial goes on to praise Salinas, who is the daughter of a police officer, for having “voted to increase funding for the Oregon State Police by tens of millions to fight violent crime.” The narrator adds, “Because she believes defunding the police is wrong.”  

NEVADA 1ST, 3RD and 4TH CD. The DCCC is doing something we haven’t seen before by airing one commercial hitting a trio of three Republicans competing against three separate Democratic incumbents. The narrator says, “Three Republicans for Congress in Nevada–April Becker, Mark Robertson, and Sam Peters. All three supported overturning Roe v. Wade, taking away a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest or to save a woman’s life.”

The spot does not specify which seat each candidate is competing for: Robertson is trying to unseat 1st District Rep. Dina Titus, while Becker and Peters are going up against 3rd District Rep. Susie Lee and 4th District Rep. Steven Horsford, respectively. Almost all of the voters across these constituencies reside in the Las Vegas media market but, since there’s no way to air TV ads just in one section of a market, campaigns and committees have long had to accept that they’ll be paying to show commercials to numerous people in the “wrong” district.

So far, other outside groups have been content with this state of affairs. The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund, for instance, recently launched a spot attacking Lee, and only Lee. The DCCC, though, is betting that it can get more bang for its buck by trying to turn Las Vegas TV viewers against all three GOP candidates at once even though they’ll only be able to vote against one.

NEW MEXICO 2ND CD. House Majority PAC is airing one of the first ads we’ve seen tying a Republican to Marjorie Taylor Greene, though its piece against Rep. Yvette Herrell doesn’t identify the far-right Georgia congresswoman by name. Instead, the narrator blames Herrell for “voting to protect an extremist who supported executing other members of Congress and denied 9/11.” The on-screen text cites the 2021 vote to remove Greene from all of her committees, which Herrell and most of the GOP caucus opposed.

The ad goes on to declare that the incumbent said “she was proud to sponsor a law banning abortion―specifically in cases of rape.” The commercial cites a failed 2013 bill Herrell co-sponsored in the state legislature that read, “Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.”

Herrell defended the legislation, saying, “It was only against the perpetrator if the woman was coerced or forced to have an abortion. I just wanted to clear that up.” The congresswoman faces Democrat Gabe Vasquez, who is a former member of the Las Cruces City Council, in a southern New Mexico constituency that the Democratic legislature transformed from a 55-43 Trump seat into one Biden would have taken 52-46.

ARIZONA 4TH CD. House Majority PAC’s opening commercial stars a Green Beret veteran who takes Republican Kelly Cooper to task for having “supported defunding the FBI and compared federal law enforcement agents to Nazis and the Gestapo.” The commercial continues, “He even supported an extremist with ties to the Proud Boys and Neo Nazis.” Cooper is challenging Democratic incumbent Greg Stanton in what’s now a 54-44 Biden seat based in the eastern Phoenix suburbs.

Cooper, according to Democratic opposition research, responded to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago lair by liking an anti-FBI tweet from Rep. Paul Gosar, who is running for re-election in another Arizona district and has a long, ugly, and ongoing history of ties to prominent white supremacists. The Gosar message read, “I will support a complete dismantling and elimination of the democrat [sic] brown shirts known as the FBI.”  

The next week, far-right podcaster Sherronna Bishop told Cooper that the government’s search “sounds a lot like the SS or the Gestapo that was used in tyrannical governments before. Is that extreme?” He responded, “I don’t think so at all. I think that this is, based on history what we’ve seen so far these last two years, that feels exactly like what this is. And I don’t mean to be alarmist or conspiracy theory [sic].”

Cooper, who owns several restaurants, scored an upset win in an early August primary over establishment favorite Tanya Wheeless, who benefited from $1.5 million in outside spending from the Congressional Leadership Fund and other groups to promote her or attack Cooper. The new nominee self-funded $1.3 million to get past Wheeless, but Roll Call reports that “his assets and salary on required disclosure forms did not appear to identify where he got that much money, even after he amended the report.”

CALIFORNIA 13TH CD. Democrats are running a spot attacking Republican John Duarte over an unresolved 2015 lawsuit leveled at him by former employees of his agribusiness. House Majority PAC’s narrator declares that the candidate is being “sued by his own employees for refusing to pay wages he owed, not paying overtime, and denying his employees rest breaks, even meal breaks.”  

Duarte is going up against Assemblyman Adam Grey in a mid-Central Valley constituency that would have favored Biden 54-43, but where Democrats often struggle to turn out their base in midterm years. Both sides are treating this contest as very competitive, and, as the newest edition of our major House group independent expenditures tracker shows, Democratic and GOP outside groups have each spent about $500,000 so far.

Reuters: “Refusing to certify election results would immediately be met by lawsuits and pleas to state courts to reverse such unprecedented actions, and there is no guarantee these Republican office holders would ultimately succeed in overturning results if they decided to try.”

“Yet at a minimum such radical action would delay election results, likely throw the country into chaos, undermine faith in the voting system and potentially lead to civil unrest.”

“Liberals who lavish praise on Liz Cheney for her defiance of Donald Trump are making one thing crystal clear: Don’t expect us to support her for president, or any other political office, for that matter,” Politico reports.

“The Wyoming Republican’s anti-Trump maneuvers have lately belied her conservative policy views — particularly on foreign affairs, an area in which some progressives have managed to align with Trump in slamming her as a warmonger. It could be a big hurdle for Cheney as she considers a 2024 presidential run that would function as a means to block Trump from a return to the White House, something she has said is more important than any policy disagreements with Democrats.”

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

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