The Political Report – December 19, 2022

Monmouth poll: “Interestingly, one third of Republican voters maintain that you have to deny the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election in order to be considered a good Republican.”

New York Times: “This year, as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Mr. Peters did not have a race of his own, but he applied some of the political lessons learned through his experience in difficult contests to forge a winning strategy for his party in multiple challenging campaigns featuring Democrats.”

Said Peters: “We had an incredibly sophisticated ground campaign that helped us, that allowed us to win even though the other side had spent millions of dollars against me. I saw the power of a ground campaign in making sure your voters are voting.”

“He exceeded expectations in the midterm elections, helping Democrats add to their majority in a cycle that would typically favor Republicans, bolstering their 50-50 majority to a more functional 51-49.”

“President Biden’s advisers are moving forward with planning for the president’s likely 2024 re-election campaign, with discussions focused less on whether Mr. Biden will seek a second term and more on how a campaign would operate alongside the White House next year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Biden’s team has begun to hold preliminary discussions about the structure of the campaign and who could fill key roles, though there is no timeline for hiring, as well as where headquarters would be located. Possibilities include Philadelphia, where the 2020 campaign was based before the Covid-19 pandemic, and the president’s hometown of Wilmington, Del., people close to the discussions said.”

Incoming NRSC Chair Steve Daines (R-MT) suggested to Fox News that he might play a more active role in selecting Republican candidates.

Said Daines: “I will tell you this. If I have heard one thing since the last election, a little over a month ago, Republicans are sick of losing, and we’re gonna do whatever it takes to win. We want to make sure we have candidates that can win general elections.”

Since Democrats are rethinking the 2024 presidential primary calendar,  Colin McEnroe argues for Connecticut to be the first primary state.   Connecticut is a small state with a population slightly larger than Iowa. That makes it possible for lesser-known candidates to compete and possibly break out of the pack — as they have for decades in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But unlike the traditional first two states, Connecticut has a relatively diverse population. It’s roughly 78% white, 11% Black and 5% Asian. And since Hispanics may be of any race, it’s also 17% Latino or Hispanic.  That’s quite similar to the country as a whole.

Connecticut also mirrors the nation in terms of tremendous wealth disparity. It has old mill towns and farms. It has struggling cities, middle-class suburban towns and picturesque small towns.  It also has its own media market which isn’t swamped by New York City. But its proximity to New York would make it easy for the national media to follow the primary race closely.

Finally, while Connecticut is pretty solidly blue, it’s still diverse enough to show how a candidate might fare in the general election.

NBC News: “Democrats warn that Biden’s changes could have catastrophic consequences for a party that’s worked for decades to turn the state purple, and a delegation that is already taking blame for the White House’s move. The president made the decision even after the New Hampshire delegation made a personal appeal to him.”

House: Several outgoing House members from each party are showing at least some openness in trying to return to the lower chamber or run for a different office, though some soon-to-be-former representatives have already closed the door on a comeback. We’ll start with a look at the Democrats and Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who isn’t dismissing talk about challenging Republican Rep.-elect John James in the 10th District.

“I’m definitely not shutting the door to running for office again, whether for Congress or something else,” Levin told Politico’s Ally Mutnick. This year the congressman turned down his party’s pleas to run in the 10th, a suburban Detroit seat that Trump took by a tiny 50-49 margin and where Levin already represented two-thirds of the residents, and instead campaigned for the safely blue 11th. That was a bad decision for both him and for national Democrats: Levin ended up losing his primary to fellow Rep. Haley Stevens 60-40, while James beat Democrat Carl Marlinga just 48.8-48.3 a few months later in a race that Democratic outside groups spent nothing on.

Mutnick also relays that unnamed Democrats are urging New York Rep. Tom Suozzi to challenge Republican Rep.-elect George Santos in the 3rd District. There’s no word, though, if Suozzi is interested in trying to regain the constituency he gave up to wage a disastrous primary bid against Gov. Kathy Hochul. While Biden prevailed 54-45 here, the GOP’s strong performance on Long Island last month helped power Santos, who lost to Suozzi in 2020 and later attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, to a 54-46 win over Democrat Robert Zimmerman.

Another outgoing New York congressman, Mondaire Jones, also responded to questions about his future by telling Bloomberg, “I’m not closing the door to anything, other than doing nothing, these next two years … I’m always going to be fighting for the communities that I represent, even if I’m not formally their elected in the United States Congress these next two years.”

Jones, though, did not elaborate on if he has a specific office in mind or where he’d run. Jones, who represents the Hudson Valley, decided to run in New York City in order to avoid a primary against DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney: Jones ended up taking third place in the 10th District primary won by Dan Goldman, while Maloney lost his general election to Republican Mike Lawler.

But New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires, who was not on the ballot anywhere this year, has made it clear he wants to run for a very different sort of office in May 2023. While Sires says he won’t make an announcement until his term ends in early January, the congressman has said he’s looking at a bid for mayor of West New York, which is the job he held from 1995 until he joined Congress in 2006; the New Jersey Globe reports that he’ll enter the contest sometime next month.

However, there’s no direct vote at the ballot box to determine who gets to succeed retiring Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez, a fellow Democrat who will likely campaign for the state Assembly next year, as leader of this 52,000-person community. Candidates will instead run on one nonpartisan ballot for a spot on the five-person Town Commission, and the winners will select one of their members for mayor. Anyone who wants the top job, though, will lead a slate of allied commission candidates, something that Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo has already put together.

We’ve also previously written about a few other departing House Democrats who may run for something in 2024. New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski hasn’t ruled out another campaign against GOP Rep.-elect Tom Kean Jr. in the 7th, while retiring Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy likewise hasn’t dismissed talk she could take on Republican Sen. Rick Scott. There’s also been some chatter that Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, who lost his primary for Senate, could campaign for attorney general, though he hasn’t said anything publicly about the idea.

There is one Democrat who has already closed the door on a comeback, though. Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, who refused to back Jamie McLeod-Skinner after she beat him in their primary, dismissed talk he could go up against GOP Rep.-elect Lori Chavez-DeRemer by telling Mutnick, “I’ve been there, done that—time for a young American to step up.” Characteristically, the Blue Dog Democrat added, “It can’t be a far-lefty. It has to be someone that cares about rural America.”

We’ll turn to the Republicans, where another Michigan congressman is keeping his options open after a primary defeat. When Politico asked if he was thinking about trying to regain the 3rd District, Rep. Peter Meijer responded, “I’m thinking about a lot of things.” Meijer narrowly lost renomination to far-right foe John Gibbs after voting to impeach Donald Trump, while Democrat Hillary Scholten went on to defeat Gibbs in the fall.

Mutnick writes that another pro-impeachment Republican whom the base rejected, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, is also considering a bid to get back her own 3rd District against Democratic Rep.-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez. Extremist Joe Kent kept Herrera Beutler from advancing past the top-two primary, but he failed to defend the constituency against Gluesenkamp Pérez.

One member who could run for local office in 2023 is New York Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican who in October didn’t rule out the idea that he could challenge Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, in next year’s general election. Jacobs instead put out a statement saying he would “always give serious consideration to any opportunity to serve” the Buffalo area. The congressman decided not to seek a second full term to avoid a tough primary over his newfound support for an assault weapons ban and related gun safety measures in the wake of recent mass shootings, including one in Buffalo.

There are also a few other outgoing Republicans who previously have been talked about as contenders in 2024. The most serious appears to be New Mexico’s Yvette Herrell, who filed new paperwork with the FEC for a potential rematch against Democrat Rep.-elect Gabe Vasquez; Herrell soon told supporters she was considering, though she didn’t commit to anything.

Retiring Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth also hasn’t ruled out a Senate or gubernatorial bid, though Sen. Mike Braun was recently overheard saying that Hollingsworth would instead support him for governor. (See our IN-Gov item.) There’s been some speculation as well that Lee Zeldin, who was the GOP’s nominee for governor of New York, could run next year for Suffolk County executive, though Zeldin hasn’t shown any obvious interest.

One person we won’t be seeing more of, however, is Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot. While Chabot regained his seat in 2010 two years after losing re-election to Democrat Steve Driehaus, the congressman told Spectrum News last week that he wouldn’t try the same maneuver against Democratic Rep.-elect Greg Landsman. “I was 26-years-old when I first ran for Cincinnati City Council. When this term ends in January, I’ll be turning 70 in January,” Chabot explained, adding, “Twenty-six to 70, that’s long enough. It’s somebody else’s turn.”

VA State Senate: Democrat Aaron Rouse touts his time in the NFL and Virginia Beach roots in his opening TV ad ahead of the Jan. 10 special to succeed Republican Rep.-elect Jen Kiggans. Rouse faces Republican Kevin Adams, a Navy veteran and first-time office-seeker, in a contest that gives Democrats the chance to expand their narrow 21-19 majority in the upper chamber to a wider 22-18 advantage.

Rouse’s spot opens with footage of the candidate in action as an announcer proclaims, “What a break on the football by Aaron Rouse!” The Democrat himself then appears on a football field where he talks about the Virginia Beach neighborhood he grew up in by saying, “Before I was Aaron Rouse, the NFL player… I was just Aaron, from Seatack. Mom raised us on her own.”

Rouse, who now serves on the City Council, continues, “My granddad told me: I was man of the house. So I did whatever it took. Mowing lawns, pumping gas, cleaning buses.” He concludes, “It’s time for Richmond to get to work making life more affordable for Virginia families.”

Chicago Mayor: Rep. Chuy Garcia’s allies at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 have released a month-old poll from Impact Research that shows him as the frontrunner in both the Feb. 28 nonpartisan primary and in an April 4 showdown with incumbent Lori Lightfoot. The survey finds Garcia up front with 25% as the mayor edges out former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas 18-14 for second, with wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson at 10%. Impact goes on to show Garcia demolishing Lightfoot 55-25 in a general election.

Lightfoot, for her part, began running positive TV ads in mid-November around the time that this poll was in the field. Her latest commercial has the mayor tell the audience how her parents “were born in the segregated South” and how she wouldn’t be where she is now without their sacrifices. Lightfoot continues, “As mayor, I’m doing everything I can to widen and open up opportunities for those families who are growing up like the ones like mine.”

WI State Senate: Here’s a true blast from the past: Former Wisconsin state Sen. Randy Hopper, who was ousted in a major 2011 recall campaign, has announced that he’ll compete in the Feb. 21 special election primary to succeed his old colleague and fellow Republican, Alberta Darling. Democrats are hoping to score a pickup here on April 4 that will deprive Republicans of their new supermajority in the upper chamber.

Hopper was elected in 2008 from a constituency around Fond du Lac, which is located to the northeast of Darling’s former Senate District 8 in the Milwaukee suburbs, and he attracted national attention in 2011 when he helped pass Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s infamous anti-labor legislation. Both Hopper and Darling were among the group of six Republican state senators who had to defend their seats from recall efforts that summer, and while Darling held on, things didn’t go so well for Hopper.

The contest began poorly for the incumbent when his estranged wife both said she’d signed a recall petition against him and declared Hopper had filed for divorce several months prior after she learned he was having an affair. The media also reported that Walker’s administration had hired the woman identified as Hopper’s girlfriend for a well-paying state job, a decision Hopper denied playing any role in.

Democrats weren’t able to recall enough Republicans that August to take back the state Senate after Darling and three others prevailed, but they at least got the satisfaction of watching as Democrat Jessica King, who lost to Hopper by 163 votes in 2008beat him 51-49. (Fellow Democrat Jennifer Shilling that night also ousted Dan Kapanke; Democrats briefly took the majority the next year when voters recalled another Republican state senator, Van Wanggaard.)

Hopper was back in the news a few months later when he was arrested for drunk driving, charges he claimed were politically motivated. He prevailed in court, though, and the former state senator, who now lives in the Milwaukee suburbs, has largely kept a low profile in the ensuing decade until now.

Hopper joins a primary that includes Thiensville Village President Van Mobley and two state representatives: Janel Brandtjen, an election conspiracy theorist who was recently banned from attending the GOP caucus’ private meetings, and Dan Knodl, who is closer to the party leadership. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, meanwhile, currently has the Democratic primary to herself.  

Philadelphia Mayor: Grocer Jeff Brown is spending what the Philadelphia Inquirer reports is $100,000 for a one-week opening TV buy, a move that comes shortly after his allied PAC sank $150,000 into the first TV ads of the packed May Democratic primary.

One Brown ad commends him for putting his stores in “underserved neighborhoods,” which the narrator says “became a national model to combat poverty.” The other features the first-time candidates arguing that city government is failing, with one person saying that “anybody from City Council, they’ve all sat on their hands.” Four of Brown’s eight intra-party rivals just happen to be former City Council members.

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

2 comments on “The Political Report – December 19, 2022

  1. Another Republican has a phony resume. This one is George Santos who is a newly elected Congressman from suburban NYC When I read this in the NYT this AM, I just wanted to know how NY Dems — or at least his Dem opponent — didn’t do this check as basic due diligence?

    • Welp. It seems that the incumbent did know about the fake resume, but thinks that the NY media being caught up in reporting on fake crime waves crowded out any attention to this,

      Twitter thread

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: