The Political Report – December 15, 2022

A new CNN poll finds 62% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they want their party to nominate someone other than Donald Trump in 2024, while a similar 59% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they’d like to see someone other than President Joe Biden at the top of their ticket in the next presidential election.

But this is important: “When pressed, though, a majority of Republican-aligned voters who say they’d like someone other than Trump to win the nomination indicate they would ultimately vote for him if he did emerge as the nominee. standard bearer. An even larger majority of Democratic-aligned voters with a similar opposition to Biden as their party’s nominee say they would vote for him in a general election if he won their party’s primary.”

“Republican support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid in 2024 has cratered, an exclusive USA Today/Suffolk University Poll finds, as the former president is beleaguered by midterm losses and courtroom setbacks.”

“By 2-1, GOP and GOP-leaning voters now say they want Trump’s policies but a different standard-bearer to carry them. While 31% want the former president to run, 61% prefer some other Republican nominee who would continue the policies Trump has pursued.”

“They have a name in mind: Two-thirds of Republicans and those inclined to vote Republican want Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president. By double digits, 56% to 33%, they prefer DeSantis over Trump.”

Meanwhile, while Joe Biden now leads Trump in a possible match up, he trails DeSantis in a head-to-head race, 47% to 43%.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who is considering running for president, on Tuesday called a third Donald Trump White House bid the “worst scenario” for Republicans in 2024, the AP reports.

Said Hutchinson: “That’s really the worst scenario. That’s almost the scenario that Biden wishes for. And that’s probably how he got elected the first time. It became, you know, a binary choice for the American people between the challenges that we saw in the Trump presidency, particularly the closing days, versus Biden, who he made it that choice.”

Rich Lowry: “Donald Trump got his way and announced his next presidential campaign as early as possible.”

“Like almost everything else he’s done lately, it’s proved a flagrant political misjudgment.”

“So far, Trump is having the worst campaign launch since Beto O’Rourke.”

“A move that was supposed to demonstrate his strength is showing his weakness; a move that was meant to keep other candidates out of the race is an invitation to other candidates to get in; a move that was supposed to serve notice of his continued dominance of the party is pointing toward its potential end.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) “called on state lawmakers to eliminate its general-election runoff, a reversal on his position after the 2020 and 2022 elections resulted in high-stakes, second rounds of voting,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Jonathan Chait: “Republicans are certainly wise to try harder next time to nominate candidates who live in the state they are running to represent, are not violent criminals, have avoided publicly calling for the overthrow of the government, and so on. That said, this advice is so blindingly obvious that one wonders why it became a question at all and why it took a cycle of election defeats for this lesson to set in.”

“The answer is that the candidate-quality problem is merely the byproduct of a much more deeply rooted crisis of delusion that has spread up and down the ranks of the party. The GOP’s voters and its elites reside in a hermetically sealed world of paranoia so far removed from reality that it is often difficult for them to relate to the concerns of average people. The attempts by the likes of McConnell to address this problem at the level of the nominating process only scratch the surface of the predicament.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blamed the power Donald Trump exerted in GOP primaries for the “candidate quality” issues his party struggled with in key races, The Hill reports.

Said McConnell: “I never said there was a red wave, I said we had a bunch of close races. We ended up having a candidate quality issue. Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire, there was a challenging situation in Georgia as well.”

He added: “Our ability to control primary outcomes was quite limited in ’22 because the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries so my view was do the best with the cards you’re dealt.”

“Republican primary voters have high interest in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential 2024 presidential nominee and view him more favorably than they do former President Donald Trump,” a new Wall Street Journal poll shows.

“In a hypothetical contest between the two, Mr. DeSantis beats Mr. Trump, 52% to 38%, among likely GOP primary voters contemplating a race in which the first nomination votes will be cast in just over a year.”

Virginia 4th District. Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin (R) set the special election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) for Feb. 21, but the real deciding moment in the heavily Democratic district is Dec. 20, as party leaders announced they will hold a “firehouse primary” to choose a nominee.

The Richmond Times looks at the field of candidates.

The 4th District, which includes the state capital of Richmond as well as eastern Southside Virginia, supported Joe Biden 67-32 in 2020, and the Democratic nominee should have no trouble holding it. 

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Lamont Bagby have both filed with the FEC to run in the upcoming special election to succeed their fellow Democrat, the late Rep. Donald McEachin, and the Richmond Free Press reports that both have decided to run.

A spokesperson for McClellan, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2021 primary for governor, said that “she is very likely to run” and added that an announcement would occur early in the coming week. Bagby himself tweeted Thursday, “I have a major announcement coming soon!” An unnamed source told WRIC around that time that he’d launch in the week of Dec. 12.

Another new contender is former Del. Joseph Preston, who was elected in a 2015 special election. Preston sought a promotion that year by challenging state Sen. Rosalyn Dance for renomination but lost 62-38. Insurance business owner Tavorise Marks entered the race Monday as well, declaring, “I’m NOT a part of the Richmond Democratic power circle.” Marks lost a 2019 primary to Lindsey Dougherty by 83 votes a few months before Dougherty lost the general election.

Yet another contender seems to be confused as to which party he should belong to. Joe Morrissey, a self-described “unapologetically pro-life” lawmaker who has confounded observers for years by surviving numerous serious scandals.

However, Morrissey, who is white, also has long had a strong base of support among local Black voters thanks in part to his career as a defense attorney and his service as Richmond’s top prosecutor from 1989 to 1993.

One African American ally, former Richmond City Council member Marty Jewell, explained his appeal in 2016 by saying, “Joe Morrissey has spoken up on Black issues when so many others haven’t opened their mouths. He does pro-bono work for low-income people on a regular basis where Black lawyers can’t be found.” Jewell continued, “He’s spoken out on various issues with regard to payday lending, he’s spoken out about the failure to address economic inclusion for Black businesses, he has spoken out on the excesses of law enforcement.”

This support has helped Morrissey endure despite a seemingly never-ending string of scandals. Indeed, he already had years of legal baggage when he was first elected to a suburban Richmond state House seat in 2007. This included, but was not limited to, a 90-day jail sentence for making public statements about witnesses in violation of federal court rules; losing his license to practice in federal court; and losing his Virginia law license for several years.

For a moment, Morrissey’s time in politics seemed to be over in late 2014 when he resigned from office after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor named Myrna Pride, a 17-year-old receptionist at his law office whom prosecutors accused the delegate of having sex with. (The two, who later married, both maintained that they’d never had sex before Pride turned 18.) However, Morrissey decided to run as an independent in the special election to succeed himself in early 2015, a contest he won even as he was still serving his prison sentence in a halfway house.

But Morrissey, who was permitted to attend sessions of the legislature as part of his work-release program, was only back for two months before he announced he was running as a Democrat again, this time in a primary against state Sen. Rosalyn Dance, even though their districts didn’t overlap at all.

As a result of strict residency rules, the state House declared that Morrissey’s seat had again become vacant after he moved to Richmond to take on Dance, and Bagby won the year’s second special to replace him. Morrissey, however, failed to collect enough signatures to make the ballot so once again he became an independent, though he later announced he was dropping his campaign against Dance because of a paralyzed diaphragm.

Of course, there was much more Joe Morrissey to come in everyone’s future. The former delegate, who still identified as an independent at the time, campaigned in the 2016 contest for mayor of Richmond, and it soon became clear he had a real shot. (One opponent even dropped out to stop him.) Yet another scandal emerged late in the campaign after a former law client accused Morrissey of exposing himself to her and making sexual advances through text messages; Morrissey himself admitted to sending “flirtatious” texts to her, though he denied the rest of her account.

Morrissey ended up taking third place, and in 2018 he lost his law license again partially because of his alleged relationship with Pride before she was an adult. Undeterred, he went on to challenge Dance once more in 2019 as a Democrat in a safely blue seat, portraying himself as an anti-establishment contender. Dance had the support of then-Gov. Ralph Northam, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Sen. Tim Kaine, who was governor when Morrissey first got to the legislature, but the challenger won 56-44. “It’s somewhat sweet that three governors campaigned against me,” he said in victory.

Democrats immediately recognized that they’d likely need Morrissey’s vote even before the party ended years of Republican control in the Senate by winning a narrow 21-19 majority that fall, and they quickly worked to keep the longtime outcast close. But Morrissey’s power only increased two years later when that same Democratic majority became the only thing keeping Republicans from gaining total control of the state government following their loss of the state House and governorship in 2019, especially since GOP Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears would be able to break any ties for her party.

Morrissey, who received a pardon from Northam on his last day in office for his 2014 conviction, arguably remains the most influential member of the state legislature. He’s even publicly mused about backing a GOP proposal to limit abortion after 20 weeks, though he hasn’t committed to advancing any legislation.

Morrissey also has a radio show called “The Fighting Joe Morrissey Show” on a network owned by conservative commentator John Fredericks, who’s been encouraging Republicans to vote for Morrissey in the firehouse primary. Unsurprisingly, the program has also been a source of scandal: Two employees sought a restraining order against Morrissey earlier this year for allegedly making them feel unsafe after a violent verbal and physical outburst. The Democrat acknowledged in court that he’d called the station manager a “fat fucking pig” but maintained, “At no time did I ever say ‘I’ll kick your ass.'” A judge ended up ruling in his favor and lifted the order.

Morrissey would be able to turn around and seek re-election next year if he fails to win the contest to succeed McEachin, but he’d be in for another tough intra-party battle, this time against former Del. Lashrecse Aird. Aird, who has the backing of Planned Parenthood of Virginia, declared Monday that she wouldn’t run for Congress herself and would instead continue her bid against the state senator she called “an anti-choice Democrat in sheep’s clothing who has committed to voting in support of an abortion ban in Virginia.”

Arizona U.S. Senator. Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton confirmed to CNN this week that he is indeed thinking about challenging independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. If Stanton got in he’d likely need to go through a primary battle against fellow Rep. Ruben Gallego, who was reportedly organizing a campaign even before Sinema bolted the Democratic Party last week.

The Daily Beast also mentions Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who used to be married to the congressman, as a possibility, adding that “Arizona politicos believe she will pursue an office beyond mayor someday.” The Gallegos, though, reportedly were still close in 2019 a few years after their marriage ended, so we probably shouldn’t expect them to go up against one another.

Arizona Democrats very much want to drive Sinema out of the upper chamber, but Senate Democrats haven’t made it clear if they’ll target their apostate colleague. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday declined to provide an answer when pressed if he’d support a Democrat over the incumbent, who hasn’t announced if she’ll run again. Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly was no more forthcoming about if he’d back his homestate colleague, saying, “You are getting into hypotheticals. But I have worked very closely with her for a long period of time.”

Colorado 3rd District. State election authorities confirmed that far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert had fended off Democrat Adam Frisch by 546 votes after completing a mandatory recount on Monday, a process that saw Boebert lose three votes while Frisch gained one. The final margin of just 0.2% made the election for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District the closest House race in the nation, despite the fact that Donald Trump would have carried the district by a 53-45 spread. Frisch, who conceded before the recount, has expressed interest in a 2024 rematch.

Louisiana Governor. Republican Sen. John Kennedy has released another internal poll from Torchlight Strategies in an email to supporters where he divulged he would decide sometime next month if he’d enter the 2023 all-party primary. This survey tests Kennedy against just two foes: Democrat Shawn Wilson, the state transportation secretary who recently formed an exploratory committee; and fellow Republican Jeff Landry, the far-right attorney general who launched in October.

Torchlight’s new numbers show Kennedy taking 42%, which is a bit below the majority he’d need to avert a runoff, with Wilson and Landry at 22% and 14%, respectively. Kennedy goes on to beat Landry 46-21 in a hypothetical runoff, while he defeats Wilson 57-27. The senator’s last survey in November included considerably more potential foes, though several notable Republicans now say they don’t want to run against Kennedy.

Indiana U.S. Senator. Termed-out Gov. Eric Holcomb was again asked if he’s interested in campaigning to succeed Sen. Mike Braun, a fellow Republican who is seeking Holcomb’s current post, and he responded with a “we’ll see.” Holcomb didn’t say much more about a potential job switch beyond, “I’ve been involved in some campaigns that have been 16 months, and I thought that was early. And then I’ve been involved in some that took about 106 days, and I thought that was rushed and the best way to do it.”

Rep. Victoria Spartz has confirmed that she’s interested in seeking the Senate seat that her fellow Republican, Mike Braun, is giving up to run for governor, and says she’ll decide in January or February. Several other Hoosier State Republicans are eyeing this contest including fellow Rep. Jim Banks, who has promised a decision early next year.

California U.S. Senator. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein tells the Los Angeles Times she’ll decide whether to run again “probably by spring,” though she ruled out resigning before her term is up.

Rep. Ro Khanna tells Semafor he’d consider running for the Senate should his fellow Democrat, incumbent Dianne Feinstein, retire, though he added, “But the most likely scenario is that I will be running for re-election to the United States House of Representatives.”

New Hampshire Governor. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, writes Politico, has “been positioning himself for the 2024 presidential primaries for a while now,” but for now he’s keeping everyone guessing about his 2024 plans.

Sununu, who decisively won another two-year term as governor last month, says, “I haven’t ruled anything in or out. I haven’t ruled out a fifth term. I haven’t ruled out running for higher office.” The Granite State has long had one of the latest candidate filing deadlines in the nation for non-presidential offices, so he could turn around and seek re-election if his White House dreams were to falter.

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

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