The Political Report – January 10, 2023

“Asian Americans have typically formed a crucial and reliable voting bloc for Democrats in recent years, helping the party maintain its political dominance in liberal states like New York,” the New York Times reports.

“But Republicans shattered that presumption in November when they came within striking distance of winning the governor’s race in New York for the first time in 15 years, buoyed in part by a surge of support among Asian American voters in southern Brooklyn and eastern Queens.”

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) announced that she is running for U.S. Senate from California in 2024.

Politico reported Friday that both Reps. Barbara Lee is thinking about entering the 2024 top-two primary “in the coming weeks.” An unnamed person close to Lee adds, in the words of Politico, that she “intends” to get in, though she hadn’t disclosed anything publicly yet.

Feinstein, who has faced serious questions about her cognitive health over the last year, hasn’t revealed what she’ll do, though Politico adds that “[a]lmost everyone in the Senate expects” her not to run. The incumbent herself said in December she anticipates a decision “probably by spring,” while the story writes her announcement is expected “within the next couple months.”  

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told Politico not to expect a U.S. Senate campaign announcement from him today, along with a veiled shot at Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) who did make an announcement. Said Schiff: “You don’t announce a campaign in the middle of a natural disaster.”   Meanwhile, Porter’s pollster David Binder put out a survey showing Porter leading Schiff, 37% to 26%, in a hypothetical top-two November election.

“President Biden’s proposed 2024 presidential election primary calendar is running into a buzzsaw of opposition from two politically critical states — creating a standstill in locking down the Democrats’ presidential primary schedule,” Axios reports.

“With the GOP in power in Georgia and New Hampshire, it’s hard to expect Biden’s changes will go through — even as Dems in those states have been given an extension to work things out.”

Gerard Baker: “Joe Biden will shortly announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Despite his age, his evident cognitive decline and the risk of an accident that results in President Kamala Harris, and even if by this time next year the U.S. economy is mired in recession, he will be re-nominated by acclamation. This will be no 1968 or 1976 for the incumbent.”

“The Republicans meanwhile, are about to embark on yet another orgy of self-mutilation, one that may make last week’s Grand Guignol in the House look positively amicable.”

“Republicans need to get a grip—and fast—or they, and we, are going to lose the ability to halt this country’s march to the left for a decade or more. The lessons of history couldn’t be clearer. Divided parties lose elections. Parties that indulge their most unrepresentative dogmatists alienate the rest. Parties that put ideological purity over governing become neither ideologically pure nor any longer in government.”

Stacey Abrams, the two-time failed candidate for governor in Georgia and a renowned voting rights activist, says she will “likely” run for office again but did not specify for which position, The Hill reports.  Said Abrams: “I will likely run again. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. If it doesn’t work, you try again.”   I am a fan of second chances, but not thirds. 

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. In a true surprise, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has opted to seek re-election rather than enter October’s all-party primary to succeed term-limited Democrat John Bel Edwards as governor of Louisiana. This development came the same day that another Republican, state Treasurer John Schroder, launched his own gubernatorial bid. Nungesser’s decision upends a race that already included Attorney General Jeff Landry, a far-right Republican whom the lieutenant governor is not fond of, and attorney Hunter Lundy, who is running as an independent.

Nungesser, while an ardent conservative, has worked well with Edwards in the past, and he’d intended to win over some of the Democrat’s supporters had he sought a promotion. But now that Nungesser isn’t running, it remains to be seen whether another Republican will attempt to secure that same type of crossover support by arguing they represent the best chance to keep Landry from winning the governor’s mansion in this dark red state. In the likely event that no one secures a majority in October, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, would advance to a November runoff.

Local political observers have for years speculated that the Pelican State could host precisely this sort of Republican vs. Republican showdown between Nungesser and Landry. The only thing that seemed likely to deter Nungesser from jumping in was the possible candidacy of yet another prominent Republican, Sen. John Kennedy, but last week Kennedy said that he’d stay out of the governor’s race. That move made Nungesser’s decision to eschew the contest all the more unexpected, since just last month he telegraphed that he’d get in if Kennedy wouldn’t, saying, “If he doesn’t, I have to run. Jeff is not a good person.”

Nungesser said he’d reveal his plans on his birthday Tuesday, and while he told LaPolitics twice last week that he had a “tough” decision to make, there didn’t seem to be much suspense about what that decision would be. On Monday, though, The Advocate published a statement from Nungesser in which he wrote that he would run for re-election because he had “unfinished business” helping the state’s tourism sector, which he oversees as lieutenant governor, in its efforts to recover from the pandemic and recent storms. (Why he thinks he couldn’t help the tourism industry as governor is unclear.)

Schroder, meanwhile, did kick off his bid for governor Monday, hours before ​​The Advocate published its report, a move that came a few days earlier than the Thursday launch date he’d originally planned. Schroder won his post in a 2017 special election, but he’s fared poorly in the few polls we’ve seen for the race for governor. The most recent numbers came from a December internal for Nungesser that put Schroder at just 2%, though the lieutenant governor’s absence could give his would-be rival an opening.

Schroder, however, spent the months leading up to his launch positioning himself as another conservative hardliner rather than a less-extreme Republican in the Nungesser mold. He notably tried to boost his profile by appearing on Fox News last month to brag about his decision to pull nearly $800 million in state funds out of the investment giant BlackRock over its environmental, social, and governance policies, which include taking the effects of global warming into account when making investment decisions. Schroder’s self-described “crusade” against BlackRock and other firms predictably earned the treasurer the praise he desired from host Tucker Carlson.

Landry, for his part, unveiled an endorsement from Rep. Mike Johnson, who represents the Shreveport area. Landry previously won the backing of Rep. Clay Higgins even though a third member of the GOP’s House delegation, Garret Graves, remains a potential candidate.

Graves is by no means the only Republican we’re still watching, though. State Sen. Sharon Hewitt has said she’ll decide sometime this month, while state Rep. Richard Nelson said Monday he’ll announce if he’ll run next week. It’s also possible that other GOP politicians will take a new look at this race, especially now that they know they’ll be facing neither Kennedy nor Nungesser.

On the Democratic side, state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, who would be the first Black person elected to statewide office since Reconstruction, formed an exploratory committee last month and said Monday he plans to decide “very soon.” New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno and state party chair Katie Bernhardt each haven’t ruled out running either, and while East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore sounded like he was unlikely to run in a recent interview, LaPolitics is hinting that he showed more interest in a soon-to-be-published conversation.

But we may be left wondering what the field looks like for a while: Louisiana’s filing deadline isn’t until August, and it’s not uncommon for politicians at all levels to decide whether they’ll jump in during the last hours of the qualifying.

New York Times: “Although he courted right-wing podcasters and conservative Fox News hosts, Mr. DeSantis did not grant an extensive interview to a national nonpartisan news organization during his 2022 re-election bid — and he coasted to victory, with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire now promoting him as a 2024 contender.”

“His success is an ominous sign for the usual rules of engagement between politicians and the press as another nationwide election looms. Presidential candidates typically endure media scrutiny in exchange for the megaphone and influence of mainstream outlets. But in an intensely partisan, choose-your-own-news era, the traditional calculus may have shifted.”

Said GOP lobbyist Nick Iarossi: “The old way of looking at it is: ‘I have to do every media hit that I possibly can, from as broad a political spectrum as I can, to reach as many people as possible.’ The new way of looking at it is: ‘I really don’t need to do that anymore. I can control how I want to message to voters through the mediums I choose.’”

“Two months after the Florida Democratic Party suffered one of its worst elections in modern history, Party Chair Manny Diaz announced on Monday that he was resigning from office,” the Florida Phoenix reports.

“A group of Republican mega-donors say the party is ‘on the verge of permanent irrelevance’ if it fails to come together and support a change of leadership” in the Republican National Committee, Fox News reports.

Cook Political Report: “Our analysis, using an approach similar to the Cook PVI, arrives at a similar conclusion: Republicans wouldn’t have won the House without gerrymanders in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. But overall, Democrats fared slightly better than they would have under old maps thanks to their own gerrymanders in Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon and a temporary court-drawn map in North Carolina.”

“Whereas Republicans focused on locking in as many safe GOP seats as possible (some of which have produced McCarthy detractors), Democrats embarked on a riskier strategy of drawing as many Democratic-leaning seats as possible — and it paid off. Democrats won 24 of the 25 seats they set out to draw for themselves in Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon — including five seats by less than five points.”

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Lucas Kunce (D), a Marine veteran who last year lost a bid for U.S. Senate, announced he would try to unseat Sen. Josh Hawley (R) in 2024, a contest likely to draw national attention due to Hawley’s outspoken support for overturning the 2020 election results, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Kunce, a Democrat who lost last year’s primary for Missouri’s other Senate seat, announced Friday that he’d challenge Hawley, a kickoff that coincided with the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack. Kunce launched his campaign with a video highlighting how Hawley ran from the rioters just hours after raising his fist to salute the crowd that wanted to overturn Biden’s victory. Kunce told Politico that “if I ran like that in Iraq or Afghanistan—or anybody else there did—the Marine Corps would have court-martialed us.”

Kunce last cycle raised about $5.6 million for his campaign to succeed retiring incumbent Roy Blunt in what’s become a very tough state for Democrats. Self-funder Trudy Busch Valentine, though, defeated Kunce 43-38 for the nomination before losing the general election 55-42 against Republican Eric Schmitt.

SUFFOLK, NY COUNTY EXECUTIVE. Venture capitalist Dave Calone has had the field to himself ever since he entered the race last July, and prominent Democrats are working to make sure he has no intra-party opposition to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone this year. Calone on Thursday held his kickoff with powerful county chair Rich Schaffer, the Democratic caucus in the county legislature, and local party officials. Calone was on the ballot back in 2016 when he competed in the primary to take on 1st District Rep. Lee Zeldin, but he narrowly lost the nod to Anna Throne-Holst.

It remains to be seen who the Republicans will run as they try to take control of Suffolk County, a populous Long Island community that has moved to the right in recent years. Local GOP chairman Jesse Garcia didn’t name anyone who might compete in the June party primary, merely telling Newsday his camp was “talking to a number of candidates.” County Comptroller John Kennedy, who lost to Bellone 56-43 in 2019, didn’t rule out the idea of another campaign in early November just before Kennedy was re-elected 60-40.

INDIANA GOVERNOR. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch revealed Friday that she’d finished 2022 with $3.1 million on-hand, which gives her a slightly larger war chest for the 2024 Republican primary than her two declared opponents. Sen. Mike Braun ended last year with $2.9 million to spend, while businessman Eric Doden had $2.8 million available.

None of them will be bringing in much for a while, though, because state law prohibits candidates for statewide office from raising money during the legislative session. The legislature is set to convene Monday and remain in session until late April.

LAS VEGAS MAYOR. Former Rep. Shelley Berkley, who was the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2012, announced Thursday that she was entering the 2024 nonpartisan race to succeed termed-out independent Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Berkley, who was elected to a Las Vegas-based seat in 1998, has not sought office since her tight loss to GOP Sen. Dean Heller.

Berkley joins a contest that began to take shape all the way back in 2021 when City Councilman Cedric Crear and Nevada Equal Rights Commission head Kara Jenkins, who would each be the city’s first Black chief executive, both announced they were in. The last mayoral contest, which Goodman won easily, took place in 2019, but the Democratic legislature soon passed a law requiring all Nevada municipalities conduct local elections in even-numbered years starting in 2022.

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

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