The Political Report – January 31, 2023

Former President Donald Trump took aim at Ron DeSantis Saturday, claiming the Florida governor and his team are “trying to rewrite history” regarding their Covid-19 pandemic response, and called the potential presidential run by his GOP rival “very disloyal,” CNN reports.

Said Trump: “There are Republican governors that did not close their states. Florida was closed for a long period of time.”

“Donald Trump took aim at President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, U.S. foreign policy and undocumented immigrants Saturday as he kicked off his bid for a return to the White House with campaign stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina,” NBC News reports.

“Trump, who is attempting to become the first president elected to non-consecutive terms since Grover Cleveland, cast himself as the Republican best positioned to win the nomination and defeat Biden.”

Said Trump: “Through weakness and incompetence, Joe Biden has brought us to the brink of World War III. We’re at the brink of World War III, just in case anybody doesn’t know it. As president, I will bring back peace through strength.”

The Guardian: Trump says he is “more angry” than ever as he tries to revive White House bid.

Time: “It was, in essence, a standard Trump speech, but with a more uneven pacing, and a little weirder and meandering.”  “For a fragile frontrunner facing criticism for the shaky start to his third bid for the White House, Trump’s initial showing did little to calm the skittishness that the candidate himself acknowledged.”

Dan Balz: “Trump’s path to GOP nomination is strewn with obstacles. Still, a wide field could so divide the race that Trump could take the nomination, as he did in 2016, by winning a plurality of primary voters.”

Playbook: “There is a very déjà vu quality to the reporting. There are a million reasons that Trump shouldn’t still be standing and that his party should reject him and move on and find a new nominee for 2024. But he has a good chance of winning anyway if he can just clear a few hurdles in the primaries.”

Josh Kraushaar: “From party officials to state legislators, there wasn’t a visible show of support for Trump’s 2024 bid among rank-and-file New Hampshire Republicans in attendance.”

“In contrast to the large rallies that propelled him in 2016 and 2020, the New Hampshire event — timed to the state party annual meeting — was held in a compact high school auditorium, with about 400 people in attendance.”

Dan Balz: “Eight years ago, the 2016 race began as an apparent free-for-all with an enormous field of well-experienced candidates. Today, the 2024 nomination campaign looks like a contest dominated by Trump and DeSantis. If there is an analogy, it could be the 2008 Democratic race, where the competition between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton suffocated other qualified candidates.”

“Trump is weaker than he once was; DeSantis is untested nationally. That gives other prospective candidates hope that there will be an opening for someone else.”

“Those others will be counting on stumbles by Trump and DeSantis. Absent that, they could struggle to find enough oxygen to sustain themselves long enough to prove they are viable contenders.”

Politico on DeSantis: “The dozen confidantes he leans on most — to shape his agenda in Tallahassee, assemble an extensive fundraising operation and devise his political future — include his chief of staff, well-known lobbyists and especially his wife.”

“Now he’s leaning on this group of insiders as he plots his next move toward 2024 and a collision with former President Donald Trump.”

Politico: “In recent days, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called Trump and suggested she would be announcing her decision to enter the presidential race soon, a conversation that a person familiar with it described as cordial.”

Said Trump: “She called me and said she’d like to consider it. And I said you should do it.”

The Dispatch: “She could make her 2024 presidential bid official as soon as next month. Haley possesses the architecture of a robust, White House campaign operation through the Stand For America political action committee and Stand For America, a 501(c)(4) policy-focused political nonprofit organization. Trusted senior aides are already on board, prepared to step into positions directing political strategy, fundraising, communications, grassroots outreach, and policy development.”

In all of the media coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign trips to New Hampshire and South Carolina over the weekend — and there was a lot of it — there was a glaring hole.

January 6 was not mentioned.

Instead, the coverage was mostly about the horse race. Does Trump have the support of the Republican party? How would Trump fare in a one-on-one match up with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis? Who else is going to jump into the race? Can any of these candidates beat President Biden?

As Politico noted: “There is a very déjà vu quality to the reporting. There are a million reasons that Trump shouldn’t still be standing and that his party should reject him and move on and find a new nominee for 2024. But he has a good chance of winning anyway if he can just clear a few hurdles in the primaries.”

Incredibly, the news media treated Trump this weekend as a mostly normal candidate, not as the former president who attempted to subvert an election.  The January 6 Committee did an admirable job of showing how Trump was at the center of this failed coup.  But the lack of an indictment and criminal trial has allowed Trump to face no real reckoning for his actions.  And the news media is back to treating him as normal.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said Sunday he is considering a White House bid in 2024, citing the Granite State’s “live free or die” spirit as a model for the Republican Party, CNN reports.

Said Sununu: “I really don’t have a timeline. I’m spending a lot of time naturally trying to grow the party as Republicans, talk to independents, talk to the next generation of potential Republican voters that right now no one is really reaching out to.”

Sununu predicted on Sunday that former President Donald Trump would not win the New Hampshire GOP primary in 2024, dinging the early performances of Trump’s re-election bid and adding that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) would more likely come out on top, The Hill reports.

Asa Hutchinson (R) says he has not made a decision yet about running for president in 2024 but the former Arkansas governor said in an interview he plans to decide in the next several months, USA Today reports.

Politico: “Along with staff from the Trump-allied Make America Great Again PAC, there are around 40 people working on Trump’s campaign or with the aligned PAC, according to multiple advisers.”

“There is a push for the campaign to be scrappier than it was in 2020, when a massive operation worked out of a slick office building in Arlington, Virginia. And that ethos, according to an adviser, extends to how Trump will approach fundraising with a focus on small-dollar donations over big donor events.”

After three disappointing elections in 2018, 2020 and 2022, one might expect Republicans to finally step back from Donald Trump and his divisive rhetoric.

Instead, the party seems to be doubling-down on Trump.

RNC chair Ronna McDaniel just won a fourth term in a landslide vote of party members last week.

And in Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, state Republican parties are looking for changes in leadership after the disappointing midterm election — but they’re mostly embracing Trump acolytes who denied the 2020 election results.

“Arizona Republicans on Saturday selected former state treasurer and Donald Trump aide Jeff DeWit to be the party’s next chairman, turning to a familiar face with relationships across the fractured party after its worst election in decades,” the AP reports.

NBC News: “For years, the Republican National Committee has been closely tied to Donald Trump. But with other candidates likely to run against him in 2024, RNC members want neutrality.”

“Rifts in the GOP between those who support Donald Trump’s false 2020 election fraud claims and those who want the party to move on from the former president have resurfaced in party leadership races in key states, with each side blaming the other for disappointing midterm results,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

ARIZONA 3RD DISTRICT. Inside Elections’ Erin Covey relays that former state Sen. Martin Quezada, who was the 2022 Democratic nominee for state treasurer, is “reportedly considering” a bid to succeed Senate candidate Ruben Gallego in this safely blue seat. There’s no word from Quezada, whom Gov. Katie Hobbs appointed this week to lead the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. Covey also mentions two other Democrats, Phoenix City Council Member Betty Guardado and state Rep. Analise Ortiz, as possible contenders.

CALIFORNIA 30TH DISTRICT. Several Democrats began preparing potential bids to succeed Rep. Adam Schiff even before he announced his Senate bid Thursday, and there could be a crowded contest to replace him in California’s 30th District, which includes part of Los Angeles as well as all of Burbank and Glendale. This constituency, which is home to landmarks such as Griffith Park, the Hollywood Sign, and Universal Studios, backed Joe Biden by a 72-20 margin, so there’s a very good chance that two strong Democrats could advance out of the top-two primary.

One announced candidate is tech businessman Joshua Bocanegra, who does not appear to have run for office before; Bocanegra tweeted over the weekend that he’d considered his own Senate bid, but “I realized that my district is where I can have the most impact.”

Another declared contender is Maebe A. Girl, a member of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council who attracted national attention in 2022 when she tried to become the first trans member of Congress. Girl, a drag performer who uses she/they pronouns, became the first nonbinary congressional candidate to ever compete in a general two years after falling short, but Schiff prevailed 71-29.

Two elected officials also set up campaign committees with the FEC about two weeks ahead of Schiff’s launch: Nick Melvoin, who is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. Actor Ben Savage, the “Boy Meets World” star who lost a race for West Hollywood City Council last year, filed with the FEC last week too.

Politico reported two weeks ago that state Sen. Anthony Portantino is “widely expected” to get in as well, and he filed new FEC paperwork Thursday. Portantino launched a campaign for Congress back in 2011 against Republican incumbent David Dreier, but neither man ended up running for office the next year after redistricting completely scrambled the map; Portantino, though, still has $180,000 on-hand from that effort. Former Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who ran for mayor last year but dropped out before the nonpartisan primary, also told Politico this month he was “very seriously” considering.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman announced Friday that she would run to succeed her fellow Democrat, Senate candidate Adam Schiff, in what’s shaping up to be a crowded top-two primary for this safely blue constituency.

Friedman was an executive in the 1990s at the now-defunct film and TV production company Rysher Entertainment (among other things, she was an executive producer of 1996’s Foxfire co-starring an up-and-coming Angelina Jolie) about a decade before she was elected to the Glendale City Council in 2009. Friedman won a promotion to the state Assembly in 2016, and the redrawn constituency she won last year is home to 38% of the 30th’s denizens.  

INDIANA 3RD DISTRICT. Former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, an Indiana Republican who was a tea party favorite during his tenure from 2010 to 2017, told WANE 15 Tuesday that he was considering running to reclaim his old safely red seat next year. The story says Stutzman is “expected to make his decision within the next several weeks” as he mulls whether to campaign to replace Rep. Jim Banks, a fellow hardliner who is leaving the Fort Wayne-based 3rd District behind to run for the Senate.

Stutzman, who made national news during the 2013 government shutdown by saying, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is,” left the House behind three years later to campaign for Indiana’s other Senate seat. But that bid ended in a decisive 67-33 primary defeat against eventual winner Todd Young, a colleague who was far closer to the party leadership, while Banks went on to take the 3rd District in the fall.

Stutzman hasn’t run for office since then, though his wife, Christy Stutzman, was elected to the state House in 2018. The couple went on to purchase a tourist attraction previously called Amish Acres, and the state representatives announced after the 2020 elections she was resigning to focus on the business they’d renamed The Barns. (The Barns, which is home to several eateries, festivals, and “relaxing tours of Amish life,” is located in the 2nd District under both the current and previous congressional maps.)

Both Stutzmans were talked about last year as potential candidates to replace 2nd District Rep. Jackie Walorski, a fellow Republican who had died in a traffic collision, and Christy Stutzman ultimately put her name forward. Because the primary had already taken place months ago, party leaders were tasked with choosing their new nominee for that reliably red seat, and they passed over Stutzman and other candidates in favor of businessman Rudy Yakym.

NEW YORK 3RD DISTRICT. Politico reports that, while several of former Rep. Tom Suozzi’s old Democratic colleagues have tried to convince him to run to retake this seat, he “has mostly been noncommittal.” Some of those people think that he would be more likely to run in a special election should talking bobblehead inspiration George Santos leave early, though Suozzi himself didn’t comment. Meanwhile, an unnamed source says that 2022 nominee Robert Zimmerman is indeed considering another try.

Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who lost last year’s primary to Zimmerman, recently formed a new FEC committee for his own potential second bid, though he’s once again saying that he’s only focused on winning re-election this year. Politico also mentions another Democrat, former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, as a possibility along with Manhattan Republican Party chair Andrea Catsimatidis, though neither of them have said anything. (While this Long Island seat contains a small bit of Queens, it doesn’t even border Manhattan.)

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

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