The Political Report – January 26, 2023

A new Morning Consult survey finds that 46% of U.S. adults believe the country is currently mired in a recession, while another 25% expect one within the next year.

A new Atlanta Journal Constitution poll in Georgia finds 58% of voters want to ditch runoffs that lead to seemingly endless election seasons.

A new Gallup poll finds a 57% majority of U.S. adults believe that the federal government should ensure all Americans have healthcare coverage.  Yet nearly as many, 53%, prefer that the U.S. healthcare system be based on private insurance rather than run by the government.

More than 8 in 10 Americans approve of the appointment of a special counsel to investigate classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s Delaware residence and an office he used after serving as vice president, according to a new CNN Poll.

ARIZONA 3RD DISTRICT. Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego kicked off his long-awaited Senate campaign on Monday, and plenty of fellow Democrats are looking at running to succeed him in a majority Latino constituency that’s by far the bluest U.S. House district in the state. The 3rd District, which is based in downtown and western Phoenix, includes most of the territory that made up the 7th District under the old congressional map (yes, we’re still writing AZ-07 on our checks too), and it supported Joe Biden by a massive 75-24 margin.

One Democrat who says she’s considering a bid to replace Gallego is Phoenix City Councilmember Laura Pastor, who comes from a family that has clashed with the congressman in the past. Her late father, Ed Pastor, became the Grand Canyon State’s first Latino member of Congress when he won a 1991 special election for a constituency that at the time stretched from Phoenix to take in Yuma and parts of Tucson well to the south. Laura Pastor ran for the City Council in 2007 but lost to Michael Nowakowski, whose effort was managed by none other than Gallego, after what The Arizona Republic years later characterized as “a bruising campaign.”

The younger Pastor won a Council seat in 2013 against a different opponent, and she decided against running to take her father’s place in D.C. when he announced his retirement the next year. The congressman ultimately backed Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox in the primary, but then-state Rep. Gallego still beat her 48-36; Ed Pastor went on to speak well of his successor, who he predicted could someday be speaker of the House.

Gallego, though, has made it clear for years that he wants to be in the Senate, and Laura Pastor has been talked about as a possible candidate to replace him for a while. Indeed, the councilmember generated attention in December of 2021 when she urged the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to revise its proposed congressional map to place a heavily Latino part of Phoenix in Gallego’s seat, a change that would have made Republican Rep. David Schweikert’s new 1st District reliably red.

Pastor, who represented most of this area, said that she was acting to make sure the city’s “historic core,” heavily LGBTQ neighborhoods, and other locations weren’t split; however, skeptics argued she was willing to protect Schweikert in order to boost her own prospects in a future contest to succeed Gallego. But the dramatic changes Pastor wanted didn’t happen, and Schweikert went on to only narrowly win re-election.

Pastor isn’t the only Democrat talking about running for Congress, though, as both Phoenix City Council member Yassamin Ansari and former state House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding tell Axios’s Jeremy Duda that they’re interested. Ansari is the first Iranian American elected to office in the state, while Bolding would be Arizona’s first Black member of Congress. Bolding last year campaigned for secretary of state but lost the primary 53-47 to Adrian Fontes, who went on to win the post in the fall.

Both Duda and the Arizona Republic’s Tara Kavaler also offer some other names as possibilities:

  • former state Rep. Cesar Chavez
  • U.S. Senate staffer Luis Heredia
  • State Sen. Catherine Miranda
  • State Senate Minority Leader Raquel Terán
  • State Corporation Commissioner Anna Tovar

Miranda, who endorsed Republican Doug Ducey when he first ran for governor in 2014, challenged Gallego for renomination in 2018 but lost in a 75-25 landslide. That wasn’t the end of her career, though, as she won back a spot in the state Senate last year. Heredia​, for his part, serves as state director for Sen. Mark Kelly.

Finally, Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo said he wouldn’t run for Congress, but not everyone is taking his no as final. Duda writes that there’s speculation that Gallardo could switch course if he loses this weekend’s vote to replace Terán as state party chair.

CALIFORNIA 47TH DISTRICT. Dom Jones, a business owner and local Democratic activist who competed on “The Amazing Race” last year, has joined the top-two primary to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Katie Porter. Another prospective Democratic candidate is Lori Kirkland Baker, an Emmy-winning producer who has filed paperwork with the FEC.

The contest already included two Democrats, state Sen. Dave Min and former Rep. Harley Rouda, as well as Porter’s 2022 foe, former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh. A packed Democratic field could give Republicans a chance to secure both general election spots, though it remains to be seen if a second viable GOP contender will get in.

CHICAGO MAYOR. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has released an internal from GBAO that finds her taking first place in the Feb. 28 nonpartisan primary as former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, who the incumbent says is the candidate she most wants to face in an April runoff, edges out Rep. Chuy Garcia for second. The numbers are below, with the results of a previously unreleased GBAO poll conducted last month in parenthesis:

  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot: 25 (26)
  • former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas: 22 (14)
  • Rep. Chuy Garcia: 18 (25)
  • Wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson: 11 (14)
  • Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson: 9 (4)
  • State Rep. Kam Buckner: 2 (3)
  • Alderman Sophia King: 2 (2)

We’ve seen two other surveys from this month, and there’s no consensus on the state of the race. An internal for King from Lester & Associates put Garcia in first with 21% as Lightfoot edged out Vallas 15-10 for the second-place spot; King and Johnson were just behind with 8% each.

However, a poll from M3 Strategies for a group called Americans for a Safer and Better Tomorrow, which has not made it clear who it’s backing, put Vallas in front with 26% as Garcia beat out Johnson 19-12 for second. That survey also placed Lightfoot in fourth place with just 10%.

Lightfoot, though, is releasing this GBAO poll to argue that, not only does she have a strong chance to make it out of next month’s nonpartisan primary, she can also get the opponent she wants. “[F]olks, I would love to have Paul Vallas as my runoff challenger,” the mayor said, and while she didn’t elaborate, her campaign recently demonstrated how it would go after Vallas if it gets the chance.

While Vallas, like most politicians in this dark blue city, identifies as a Democrat, he accepted an endorsement earlier this month from the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, a police union led by prominent Trump supporter John Catanzara. Lightfoot’s team quickly responded that Vallas “should denounce Catanzara’s “history of hate-filled rhetoric” instead of “standing alongside him and (carrying) the shared MAGA values into City Hall.”

Politico notes that this new Lightfoot survey comes at a time when the incumbent has been running commercials promoting herself and tying Garcia to two disgraced figures, former crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried and former Illinois state House Speaker Michael Madigan. Vallas, by contrast, has not been on the receiving end of any TV attack ads even as he’s run his own positive messages, while Garcia has yet to take to the airwaves. AdImpact, however, reports that the congressman’s first spots will debut Wednesday.

PHILADELPHIA MAYOR. Former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart this week publicized an endorsement from former Mayor John Street, who led the city from 2000 to 2008, ahead of the May Democratic primary. So far, Street is the only former mayor to take sides in the contest to succeed termed-out incumbent Jim Kenney, who also has not backed anyone.

INDIANA U.S. SENATOR, LT. GOVERNOR and 6TH DISTRICT. Politico’s Adam Wren relays that Indiana political watchers have “widely gossiped” about the idea that Republican Rep. Greg Pence, who is Mike Pence’s older brother, could forgo a re-election campaign in 2024 and instead serve as Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch’s running mate as she seeks the governorship. Pence himself doesn’t appear to have said anything publicly about the idea he might give up his safely red 6th District to run for lieutenant governor.

To complicate things, the nominee for lieutenant governor of Indiana is chosen by party delegates, rather than primary voters or the candidate for governor. Crouch herself also has a tough primary ahead of her against Sen. Mike Braun and wealthy businessman Eric Doden as she seeks to succeed termed-out Gov. Eric Holcomb, so she may not be in a position to urge delegates next year to select Pence or anyone else as her running mate. The eventual nominees for governor and lieutenant governor will run together as a ticket in the general election.

It’s possible, though, that Pence would hedge his bets and seek re-election to the House while holding out hope he’ll be nominated for lieutenant governor later. Indeed, then-Gov. Mike Pence won his 2016 primary for another term only to withdraw his name right ahead of the July deadline when Donald Trump chose him to be his own running mate: Indiana party leaders soon selected Holcomb to be their new nominee for governor.

This potential career switch isn’t the only way that Greg Pence has made news in the last few days. While Pence backed his colleague Jim Banks’ Senate bid on Tuesday, Wren says he’s since retracted his endorsement over what his allies call “unwarranted attacks” against former Gov. Mitch Daniels from both Donald Trump Jr. and the Club for Growth. Daniels himself hasn’t yet decided whether or not to run for the Senate seat that Braun is giving up to campaign for governor.

P.S. Pence’s former Democratic colleague, New York’s Antonio Delgado, last year did leave the lower chamber to become his state’s lieutenant governor, though the circumstances were different. Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed Delgado, who was facing a tough campaign, to become her second-in-command after her first choice, Brian Benjamin, resigned after being arrested on bribery charges. Delgado went on to win his primary and win a full term along with Hochul.

“For the first time since becoming a 2024 presidential candidate, Donald Trump plans to visit two of the three early states Saturday, starting with a keynote speech with the New Hampshire GOP in the morning, followed by a larger planned rally in South Carolina,” NBC News reports.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t take sides in the battle for Republican National Committee chair, a contentious race that has split his party, Politico reports.  Said McConnell: “I think they’ll be able to figure that out themselves.”

Daily Beast: “[ABC’s] decision on the future of the famed politics, economics, and sports analysis website [Five Thirty Eight] is set to be made by the summer when Nate Silver’s contract is up, multiple people with knowledge of the situation told us.”

“According to a letter sent by House Republicans last week, cable television carrier DirecTV is on the verge of dropping conservative network Newsmax this week—essentially repeating the platform’s decision last year to boot pro-Trump channel One America News from its lineup,” the Daily Beast reports.

Michigan state senators raised, on average, only 11% of their campaign funds in that period from the districts in which they ran, MLive reports.  Nearly half of elected legislators in both the House and Senate won election after raising no more than 10% of their money from the constituents they sought to represent.  PACs represented a majority of the fundraising for 33 campaigns of the 38 elected senators, and for 66 representatives in the 110-member House.

Tim Weiner reviews Never Give an Inch by Mike Pompeo, noting it “is not like most books by nakedly ambitious people preparing to run for president.”

“It’s more interesting and more vicious. It’s a master class in the performative anger poisoning American politics.”

“If Pompeo indeed runs for president, he may want to modulate the tone he has chosen in this tome. It’s like being locked in a room and forced to listen to 20 hours of Tucker Carlson reruns at top volume. But it’s certainly more entertaining and substantial than most campaign books. On the evidence of Never Give an Inch, Pompeo is a good husband, a good father, a good Christian and a great patriot. But no reader can fail to appreciate — as Trump did — that he really is a mean son of a bitch.”

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

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