Delaware

The Political Report – October 25, 2022

Cook Political Report: “When Republicans’ top Super PAC announced an ad buy against Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-17) in April, many assumed it was a gambit to troll or distract the DCCC chair. But two weeks out from Election Day, Maloney finds himself in deep danger, simultaneously fighting for his political life in his Hudson Valley seat and desperately trying to prevent Democrats from being swept out of the House majority.”

“Maloney moves from Lean Democrat to Toss Up.”

Josh Kraushaar: “It’s a sign of how big the GOP wave is looking — and how potent the issue of crime is in New York — that Republicans have a shot at unseating the powerful lawmaker in a double-digit Biden district.”

“Republicans are roaring back in the battle to control the 50-50 Senate,” Politico reports.  “Over the past week, polls show GOP candidates closing the gap in states where Democrats have led all summer — and perhaps pulling away in races that had appeared close for months.”

POLLING.

New York Times: “Seventy-one percent of all voters believe that democracy is at risk, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, but only 7 percent identified that as the most important problem facing the country. Americans face more immediate concerns: the worst inflation in 40 years, the loss of federal abortion rights after 50 years and a perception that crime is surging, if not in their communities then in cities nearby.”

“But another factor is dampening people’s motivation to save America’s representative system of government: Some have already lost faith in its ability to represent them.”

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. “Early voting continues to soar in Georgia, with data indicating that higher proportions of Black voters are casting ballots so far than in the last two election cycles,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

The early vote total in Georgia was up 159% from the 2018 midterms and even surpassed 2020 by 20%l

“Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) has launched two new hard-hitting TV ads in Georgia, going after Republican challenger Herschel Walker over allegations that he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion and threatened his ex-wife,” NBC News reports.

“The first ad, called Hypocrite, addresses allegations that he paid for an abortion for a former partner in 2009.”

“A second spot called Another Lie focuses on claims that the former University of Georgia football star threatened to kill his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman.”

MARYLAND GOVERNOR. As Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox (R) worked the crowd at his primary victory party this summer, a young man wearing a black polo shirt with a Proud Boys insignia offered a handshake and small gift to the newly minted GOP nominee for governor, the Washington Post reports. Said the young man: “Here, this is a present from Maryland Proud Boys to you.”

“Cox accepted the gift, inspecting the small, black comb, then asked the man’s name and shook his hand.”

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Zeldin, a Republican who represents the easternmost parts of Long Island in Congress, has made campaigning in New York City a priority in his effort to unseat Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. Some recent polls have shown the race tightening, with one survey this week putting Mr. Zeldin 4 percentage points behind the incumbent in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office since 2002.”

“His outreach has been focused in areas outside of heavily Democratic Manhattan, such as Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach and the Elmhurst section of Queens. Republican candidates including Donald Trump made gains in those areas in 2020 from 2016.”

The GOP pollster co/efficent finds Republican Lee Zeldin with a 46-45 edge over Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in the first survey from anyone to show Team Red ahead; the firm gave a 49-43 edge to Hochul in early September. These new numbers were released the same week that a trio of polls showed the governor with leads of 4, 6, and 11 points.

Zeldin and his allies have largely emphasized crime in their advertising, and Hochul on Friday rolled out what appears to be her first commercial focused entirely on public safety. The narrator touts how the governor “passed a comprehensive crime plan” that “goes after illegal guns … toughens bail laws to keep repeated offenders off our streets, and gets help for the homeless and those suffering with mental illness.”

Zeldin, for his part, has benefited from $8.4 million in spending from a pair of super PACs largely funded by longtime conservative megadonor Ronald Lauder, and that’s helped him avoid getting swamped by Hochul on TV. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, Hochul and her allies aired 56% of the spots that ran for this race from Oct. 3-16, while Zeldin’s side accounted for the rest.

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) says she plans on ranking Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) first in the U.S. House race on the November ballot, where Murkowski’s own name will also appear as she runs for a fourth term, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

“Just two months after scoring an upset victory over former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) in a special election for the state’s sole House seat, Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) is about to face voters once more,” Insider reports.

“But this time, she’s doing it with the public backing of several former staffers and long-time associates of Don Young, the Republican congressman who held the seat for 49 years until his death in March.”

A super PAC called Vote Alaska Before Party is deploying $1 million to promote Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola in a contest where there’s been surprisingly little outside spending since the August special election.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters (R) named a far-right Christian nationalist as “volunteer of the week” even though he’s been on its payroll for months, Jewish Insider reports.

ALASKA GOVERNOR. “In a lawsuit filed Friday, a former executive assistant to Alaska gubernatorial candidate Charlie Pierce (R) said Pierce sexually harassed her when he was Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for US Senate in Pennsylvania, loaned his campaign an additional $1 million on October 20,” CNN reports.

“Oz has loaned his campaign money from his personal fortune throughout his bid – including $7 million in the most recent third quarter – and his latest $1 million loan brings his cycle total to more than $22 million.”

“Not content with outing his opponent as a one-time New York Yankees fan, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania John Fetterman on Sunday revealed Dr. Mehmet Oz as a Yankees fan who used to do the wave,” the Daily Beast reports.

“After Oz tweeted a word of encouragement to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon (‘Next stop, World Series!’), Fetterman’s team dug deep into Oz’s feed to find a photo of him and his son celebrating a Yankees victory from 2012.”

NORTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT. Stop Liberal Judges is the latest conservative group to use Willie Horton-esque tactics in North Carolina with a commercial attacking two Democrats, incumbent Sam Ervin and Lucy Inman, over a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law requiring automatic lifetime monitoring for anyone convicted at least twice for the same sexual offense.

The spot comes after Rep. Ted Budd and his Club for Growth allies ran a commercial in the Senate race linking former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley to a three-time convicted sex offender named Torrey Grady―who, like Beasley, just happens to be Black. This new ad against Ervin and Inman, who are both white, dials back the explicit race-baiting somewhat by including images of released prisoners who are both Black and white, while also depicting an apparently concerned Black family.

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR. The Senate Leadership Fund surprisingly announced Friday that it was canceling the remaining $5.6 million it had booked in New Hampshire to help Republican Don Bolduc, a candidate the super PAC tried hard to prevent from getting nominated in the first place, against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. SLF’s move comes two weeks after the NRSC also pulled out of the state, which leaves the underfunded Bolduc to fend for himself.

Bolduc may have sensed what was about to happen because he released an internal at the start of the day from Fabrizio, Lee, and Associates that showed him trailing Hassan only 49-47, his closest showing in any released poll. But SLF didn’t even pretend that it was triaging this race because it felt good about where things were going, saying, “As the cycle comes to a close, we are shifting resources to where they can be most effective to achieve our ultimate goal: winning the majority.”

The NRSC was more optimistic, declaring that “our most recent polling has the race inside the margin of error.” However, the committee didn’t say anything about putting its money where its mouth is and returning to the airwaves in the Granite State. Bolduc better hope they change their mind because he’s been depending on outside groups to get his message out: According to the Wesleyan Media Project, GOP super PACs aired 85% of the party’s TV ads from Oct. 3-16. Hassan and her allies, though, still ran 59% of all the spots that ran during this period.

National Republicans were never happy at the prospect of having Bolduc, a Big Lie supporter who also dubbed GOP Gov. Chris Sununu a “Chinese communist sympathizer” with a family business that “supports terrorism,” as their standard bearer, and they took dramatic steps to stop him two weeks before the September primary. A new group called White Mountain PAC launched a $4.6 million ad campaign to promote another candidate, state Senate President Chuck Morse, and savage Bolduc as a surefire loser with “crazy ideas.” Democrats, meanwhile, spent millions themselves on a campaign to weaken Morse.

Bolduc ultimately hung on to beat Morse 37-36; a month later, campaign finance reports revealed that SLF was White Mountain PAC’s main funder. The GOP did the best with its nominee by spending heavily to attack Hassan, but Bolduc seemed determined to prove his critics were right about him in the first place. After briefly acknowledging after the primary that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election, the Senate nominee went back to calling that contest “stolen” a week later. Bolduc himself, though, remained firm in refusing to back Mitch McConnell as leader, telling Politico just days ago, “I have said no to that question, and I’m not backing off.”

Bolduc also made headlines when he dismissed Hassan’s attacks on his opposition to abortion with a “get over it,” a line that Democrats used in ads against him. Bolduc got further unwanted attention this month when he agreed when an undercover Democratic operative called the disposal of embryos for in vitro fertilization “a disgusting practice” and didn’t rule out a national ban. Most surveys still showed Bolduc with only a single-digit deficit, but SLF evidently believed things were far worse for Team Red and that it was done throwing good money after bad.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. Florida’s Hispanic voters back Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over Charlie Crist (D), and they even support the Republican’s decision to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, according to a new Telemundo/LX News poll.

Overall, DeSantis leads Crist by 51% to 44% statewide among those voters, and 56% approve of the job the governor is doing, compared with 41% who don’t.

“Democrats are increasingly concerned that Florida, once the nation’s premier swing state, may slip away this fall and beyond as emboldened Republicans capitalize on divisive cultural issues and demographic shifts in crucial contests for governor and the U.S. Senate,” the AP reports.

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. AdImpact relays that Restoration PAC, a group funded by GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, is spending at least $500,000 to aid Doug Mastriano weeks after his only outside group allies abandoned him.

COLORADO U.S. SENATOR. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is recording a robocall for underdog Senate contender Joe O’Dea, a boost for the Colorado Republican after former President Donald Trump urged grassroots conservatives to abandon his campaign,” the Washington Examiner reports.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR. “I wish I could sit here and say I have complete faith in the system, I don’t have faith in the system.”— Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R), quoted by the Arizona Republic.

NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE. “Jim Marchant, the Republican candidate for Nevada elections chief, has repeatedly promoted false conspiracy theories about elections in his closely contested state,” CNN reports.

“Now, with the November 8 midterms fast approaching, Marchant is going further – pushing a preposterous claim that prominent congressional Democrats in California and New York did not legitimately win reelection, though they actually won fair and square by overwhelming margins.”

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. NBC reports that the Senate Leadership Fund has booked an additional $2.1 million to aid Republican Adam Laxalt.

Sam Wang: “The concentration of pivotal races in Arizona and Nevada is astounding. Viewed in terms of individual voter power, I can’t recall anything like it. And election deniers on the ballot will compound the impact in 2024 and beyond.”

“Two Senate races in these states are central to both parties’ plans for 2023. They both show margins that are well within the polling error we’ve seen in the last few elections. In addition, Arizona and Nevada are home to no fewer than 7 competitive congressional races. In Nevada alone, the Cook Political Report sees 3 out of 4 Congressional races are “lean“ or closer. With a current 50-50 Senate and 220-212 House, these races are critical.”

“Beyond the usual questions of political control, on the ballot are the capacity to hold honestly administered elections at all.”

“Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday he’s worried about turnout levels of young Democratic voters ahead of the November midterm elections,” Politico reports.

“Sanders continued to suggest that Democrats should frame their midterm approach around economic talking points — and not abortion — to drive turnout.”

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

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