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The Political Report – November 26, 2022

The final House count will be 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats — a mirror image of the Democrats’ current majority, according to the Cook Political Report.

Politico: “After a shockingly disappointing election night, Republicans will have a razor-thin majority of no more than five seats (and maybe as small as four). A margin that small means that the GOP could not have reclaimed control without their redistricting advantage.”

“Republicans drew several red districts in states where they controlled the redistricting process: one each in Tennessee, Texas and Georgia, and three in Florida. Without them there would be no GOP majority.”

ALASKA U.S. SENATAOR AND AT LARGE CD. It was expected but now it’s official. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) who was elected to congress earlier this year in a special election to replace the late Rep. Don Young (R) has defeated former half-term governor Sarah Palin by the solid margin of 55% to 45%.

Peltola is the first Alaska Native woman to serve in Congress. Peltola came just shy of the 50% threshold in the first round of voting and shot up to 55% when second choices were sorted in Alaska ranked choice voting system.

Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) became the first Alaska Native to win a full term in Congress, securing reelection along with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who both defeated challengers endorsed by former president Donald Trump after state officials finished a final round of vote-counting, the Washington Post reports.

“Peltola, who made history with her August special election win, and Murkowski, a senator for two decades, led after earlier vote counts. But the centrist lawmakers’ victories were not clinched until Wednesday, when the Alaska Division of Elections redistributed votes under the state’s new ranked-choice voting system.”

New York Times: “She was, in many ways, undone by the same political currents she rode to national prominence, first as Senator John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee in 2008 and later as a Tea Party luminary and Fox News star. Along the way, she helped redefine the outer limits of what a politician could say as she made dark insinuations about Barack Obama’s background and false claims about government ‘death panels‘ that could deny health care to seniors and people with disabilities.”

“Now, a generation of Republican stars follows the template she helped create as a hybrid celebrity-politician who relished fighting with elements in her own party as much as fighting with Democrats — none more so than Mr. Trump, who watched her closely for years before deciding to run for president himself. He ensured this month that he would remain in the spotlight, announcing another bid for the White House in 2024.”

“But as the next generation rose up, Ms. Palin’s brand of politics no longer seemed as novel or as outrageous.”

Jonathan Allen: “It’s worth pausing to note that the 2008 vice presidential nominee of a major party — Sarah Palin — just lost a House election. And that she did so in a state, Alaska, that her ticket won with 60 percent of the vote 14 years ago and where she was once elected governor.”

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. “The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously rejected an appeal by the Republican Party that sought to prevent early voting on Saturday in the runoff for the U.S. Senate,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The brief ruling by the state’s highest court Wednesday clears the way for the weekend voting opportunity in 22 counties that plan to open polling places two days after the Thanksgiving holiday. Early voting will be required statewide from Monday through Friday next week.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) had $29.7 million in cash on hand on November 16, while Herschel Walker (R) had $9.8 million heading into the final three weeks before the Senate runoff, Inside Elections reports.

And Democratic outside groups are also outspending Republican outside groups.

With less than two weeks until the Georgia Senate runoff, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) released a new ad about Thanksgiving and what it means to him. This is Warnock’s fourth campaign in two years for this Senate seat and it shows. He’s getting pretty good at this.

Wall Street Journal: “The Georgia GOP and Republican National Committee said in a memo that they have 400 paid staffers on the ground, in addition to 30 people from Mr. Walker’s team and aides from the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm.”

“The Warnock campaign has added over 900 paid field staffers—an addition of about 300 people to scale up for the runoff—to reach voters who supported him or another candidate in the general election, aides said. The campaign plans to use that field team to knock on more doors than it did during the general election. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has made a $7 million investment in the campaign’s effort to bring its voters back to the polls.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is planning to hold a “virtual rally” for Walker shortly before Election Day — which his team considers “an effective way to motivate his fans without drawing the kind of news coverage that stirs up opposition.”

The AARP has released the very first poll we’ve seen of the Dec. 6 runoff, and it gives Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock a 51-47 edge over Republican Herschel Walker. The survey was conducted by the AARP’s usual bipartisan team of pollsters, the Republican firm Fabrizio Ward and the Democratic group Impact Research.

Warnock’s allies at the Senate Majority PAC’s Georgia Honor affiliate, meanwhile, are out with another ad highlighting the many domestic violence allegations leveled against Walker, including how “an ex-girlfriend says Herschel Walker used the threat of violence to force her to have an abortion.”

The spot then plays footage of that Walker accuser telling ABC, “He said … I would not be safe and that the child would not be safe … It is very menacing. It is very menacing.” The woman, identified as Jane Doe, concludes, “And I felt threatened and I thought I had no choice.” Another Georgia Honor commercial warns that the Republican would endanger a woman’s right to choose and utilizes clips of Walker saying, “There’s not a national ban on abortion right now, and I think that’s a problem,” and, “There’s no exception in my mind. No exception.”

Herschel Walker (R) “is getting a tax break intended only for a primary residence this year on his home in the Dallas, Texas, area, despite running for Senate in Georgia,” CNN reports.

“Publicly available tax records show Walker is listed to get a homestead tax exemption in Texas in 2022, saving the Senate candidate approximately $1,500 and potentially running afoul of both Texas tax rules and some Georgia rules on establishing residency for the purpose of voting or running for office.”

ARIZONA SORE LOSERS. Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) “filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County officials, accusing them of breaking election laws and demanding they provide information about voters whose ballots were impacted by Election Day printer issues,” the Arizona Republic reports.

“Her case joins other challenges and criticisms hurled at Maricopa County by conservative politicians and personalities in the past week.”

CNN: Election deniers faced defeat but election denialism is still swirling in Arizona.

“Abe Hamadeh, the Republican candidate for attorney general in Arizona, on Tuesday sued his Democratic opponent and a wide range of state and county officials in a bid to block certification of his loss and force them to declare him the winner in the Nov. 8 contest,” the Washington Post reports.

2024. Washington Post: “With just days left before Democrats gather on Dec. 1 to decide their presidential nominating order, it remains unclear just how the calendar will sort out. The most important voice in Democratic politics, that of President Biden, has yet to weigh in, and many members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee responsible for deciding the outcome continue to await word from the White House.”

“That has left an increasingly unruly void, with competing states sniping at each other in public and private, as they grapple for position ahead of a decision that could ultimately reshape the petri dish from which Democratic presidents emerge. The fight, which is scheduled for resolution at a three-day meeting in Washington, now circles around three major questions, according to several people involved in the process, who emphasize that the outcome remains entirely uncertain.”

Politico: “Iowa, Florida and Ohio — each of them carried by former President Barack Obama as recently as 2012 — weren’t really considered core battleground states in 2020. Now, after Republican blowouts in those states this fall, they should be removed from the 2024 discussion altogether.“

“At the same time, strong Democratic midterm performances in New Hampshire and Minnesota — a state which offered former President Donald Trump a rare offensive opportunity in 2020 — suggest they might not be worth contesting in 2024. Minnesota, which some Republicans regarded as a Trump sleeper state in 2020, turned out to be a mirage…”

“For Democrats, perhaps the most important midterm revelation of all was that the party is well-positioned to defend its ‘Blue Wall,’ the term applied to a northern tier of 18 states, stretching from coast to coast, that appeared to provide a structural advantage for a Democratic nominee — at least prior to 2016, when Trump blew it up.”

“Prominent conspiracy theorist and pillow tycoon Mike Lindell is weighing up a challenge to Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel for leadership of the party following the GOP’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections,” Newsweek reports.

PENNSYLVANIA SORE LOSERS. “Doug Mastriano lost by a lot,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “But some of his supporters wrongly believe the results are inaccurate, and they think they’ve found a way to do something about it. So now election denial groups are flooding Pennsylvania courts with petitions seeking to force hand recounts under a little-known provision of state election law.”

VIRGINIA STATE SENATE. Virginia Democrats quickly settled on a nominee in the upcoming special election for the vacant 7th District, selecting Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse at a party gathering late last week. A second Democratic hopeful, former state Del. Cheryl Turpin, apparently failed to file proper paperwork, leaving Rouse as the party’s only candidate. He’ll face Republican Kevin Adams, a Navy veteran and first-time office-seeker who was likewise the only GOP contender to emerge.

The special election will take place on Jan. 10 to fill the seat previously held by Republican Jen Kiggans, who defeated Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in the 2nd Congressional District earlier this month. The race is being held under the old lines for the 7th District, which Biden won 54-44 but Republican Glenn Youngkin carried 52-48 in the governor’s race in 2021. If Democrats prevail, they’d expand their narrow 21-19 majority in the Senate to a wider 22-18 advantage. Both Rouse and Adams have also announced plans to run again next year in the new 22nd District, the considerably bluer successor to the 7th.

NORTH CAROLINA 13TH CD. Republican Bo Hines has submitted FEC paperwork for a potential 2024 bid less than two weeks after his 51-49 loss to Democrat Wiley Nickel, though these super-early filings from defeated candidates often have more to do with resolving financial matters from their last campaign than they do about the future.

Indeed, while some observers treated a similar filing from Colorado Democrat Adam Frisch’s last week as a sign that he’s planning a rematch against far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert, Frisch himself said he’d taken this step so that he could raise money ahead of an automatic recount. The Democrat went on to concede a short time later (see our CO-03 item), which he acknowledged makes his new campaign paperwork “moot” for now.

Hines, unlike Frisch, knew his fate on election night, and also unlike Frisch, he hasn’t spoken publicly about his intentions. (Frisch, by contrast, hasn’t ruled out a second go-round. You always want to hear it from the proverbial horse’s mouth whenever you can.) But recounts aren’t the only reasons why candidates might file again with the FEC.

Back in the spring of 2019, for instance, former Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder filed for what his team immediately confirmed would not be a rematch against the Democrat who had just defeated him a few months earlier, Rep. Sharice Davids. Instead, a consultant explained that the FEC flagged a recent refund from the landlord Yoder used for his last campaign, requiring the ex-congressman to nominally declare his candidacy for 2020 in order to properly accept that reimbursement.

Of course, Hines may be filing to run in 2024 because he actually wants to run in 2024, especially now that North Carolina Republicans have the power to re-implement the gerrymanders they’ve already made clear are coming. That’s because, while the state Supreme Court’s previous Democratic majority instituted a congressional map for just the 2022 cycle, the GOP’s new 5-2 majority on the bench can greenlight whatever boundaries the Republican legislature devises for the rest of the decade. (State law does not give Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper a veto in most redistricting matters.)

Still, observers need to be careful when seeing new FEC filings before concluding that someone is preparing a bid. This holds true both for defeated candidates and victorious incumbents who want the option to fundraise for the future whether or not they’ve decided to undergo another campaign. And as we’re reminded every cycle, some politicians—including some who are not in either position—will file with the FEC only to decide later on not to run after all.

MISSOURI GOVERNOR. The GOP firm Remington Research Group has conducted a very hypothetical poll of the 2024 GOP primary for governor on behalf of the political tipsheet Missouri Scout that finds Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft beating Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe 44-10, with state Sen. Bill Eigel at 4%.

Kehoe himself announced all the way back in March of 2021 that he’d be running to succeed his boss and fellow Republican, termed-out Gov. Mike Parson. Ashcroft, for his part, has been talked about for years as a likely contender, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said last week that he’s “planning a run.” The secretary of state is the son of John Ashcroft, a former governor and senator who was George W. Bush’s first attorney general.

Eigel, for his part, said in September that he was forming an exploratory committee. The Missouri Scout’s Dave Drebes identified the state senator as an “ultra-conservative” who is “not well known outside political circles.”

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

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