The Political Report – February 6, 2023

“President Biden and former president Donald Trump may have each drawn a record number of votes in 2020, but at this early stage in the 2024 election cycle, Americans show little enthusiasm for a rematch between the two well-known yet unpopular leaders,” according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“Neither Biden nor Trump generate broad excitement within their own party, and most Americans overall say they would feel dissatisfied or angry if either wins the general election.”

Also important: “Financially, more Americans say they are not as well off since Biden became president than those who say they are better off (41 percent to 16 percent). Another 42 percent say their financial situation is about the same under Biden as it was before he was sworn in.”

“The donor network created by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch is preparing to get involved in the presidential primaries in 2024, with the aim of turning ‘the page on the past’ in a thinly veiled rebuke of former President Donald Trump,“ the New York Times reports.

“The network, which consists of an array of political and advocacy groups backed by hundreds of ultrawealthy conservatives, has been among the most influential forces in American politics over the past 15 years, spending nearly $500 million supporting Republican candidates and conservative policies in the 2020 election cycle alone. But it has never before supported candidates in presidential primaries.”

Washington Post: “The return of one of the biggest spenders in American politics to the presidential primary field poses a direct challenge to the former president’s comeback bid.”

Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Trump has been critical of the Kochs, branding them globalists and a ‘total joke,’ within a GOP he infused with more populist and isolationist policies.”

“The Democratic National Committee […] Saturday [approved] the most significant changes in the party’s presidential nominating process in nearly two decades, ending the tradition of starting in Iowa and instead awarding that prize to South Carolina,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The changes would also reduce the importance of New Hampshire, which has traditionally hosted the first primary following Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. The shifts would give greater early influence to Black and union voters, while reducing the clout of rural ones.”

“Iowa and New Hampshire have said they would hold unapproved contests, although the DNC has the authority to strip 2024 national convention delegates, as well as access to debates and voter databases, from candidates who campaign in unsanctioned elections. States that break the rules also can lose seats at the convention.”

CALIFORNIA 30TH DISTRICT. Former Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on Thursday became the latest Democrat to join next year’s packed top-two primary to replace Senate candidate Adam Schiff in California’s safely blue 30th District, which includes part of L.A. as well as all of Burbank and Glendale. Feuer launched his campaign with an endorsement from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, whose city is home to just over half of the 30th’s denizens.

Feuer is a longtime local office holder who got his start back in 1995 when he was elected to the City Council, and he later won races for the state Assembly and city attorney. He went on to campaign for mayor last year, but his effort was hindered by allegations that his office concealed evidence in a long-running criminal investigation involving over-billing by the Department of Water and Power, a scandal that resulted in a guilty plea for one of Feuer’s former top deputies.

Feuer, who struggled to raise money, ended up dropping out ahead of the nonpartisan primary and endorsing Bass. Feuer got some welcome news in August, though, when federal authorities announced that the city attorney was not a target in their probe.

Feuer joins a field of Democratic congressional candidates that already included:

  • Tech businessman Joshua Bocanegra
  • Assemblywoman Laura Friedman
  • 2022 candidate Maebe A. Girl
  • Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member Nick Melvoin
  • State Sen. Anthony Portantino

Actor Ben Savage, the former “Boy Meets World” star who unsuccessfully ran for West Hollywood City Council in 2022, has also filed with the FEC, though he has not yet announced he’s in. Joe Biden carried this seat by a 72-20 margin, so there’s a very good chance that two Democrats could advance out of the top-two primary.

There’s no obvious frontrunner in this field, which still has plenty of time to expand, though Primary School notes that Bocanegra stands out as the contender who has tried to bring back the dead. Popular Science interviewed Bocanegra in 2015 about his company’s efforts, and he explained:

“We’ll first collect extensive data on our members for years prior to their death via various apps we’re developing. After death we’ll freeze the brain using cryonics technology. When the technology is fully developed we’ll implant the brain into an artificial body. The artificial body functions will be controlled with your thoughts by measuring brain waves. As the brain ages we’ll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells. Cloning technology is going to help with this too.”

Bocanegra further predicted, “We believe we can resurrect the first human within 30 years,” so we have another 22 years to see if he was right. His campaign website, though, does not mention anything about resurrection: Instead, he writes that he started “a med-tech startup where I assembled a team of scientists and researchers to extend human life through advances in robotics, artificial intelligence and medical nanotechnology.”  

CHICAGO MAYOR. A new pollster called 1983 Labs, which says it’s not affiliated with anyone running in the Feb. 28 nonpartisan primary, has released a new survey showing several candidates within striking distance of securing one of the two spots in the likely April runoff:

  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot: 16
  • Wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson: 14  
  • former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas: 10
  • Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson: 9
  • Rep. Chuy Garcia: 7
  • Alderman Sophia King: 6
  • State Rep. Kam Buckner: 6
  • Activist Ja’Mal Green: 6
  • Write-in/ other: 1
  • Alderman Roderick Sawyer: 1
  • Undecided: 22

We’ve seen several other polls in the last month, but there’s no consensus at all on the state of the race.

NASHVILLE MAYOR. Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (D) told Axios that she’s considering running for the office again.  Barry resigned from office in 2018 following the revelation that she had an affair with the head of her police security detail.

AP-NORC Poll: “More U.S. adults disapprove than approve of the way President Joe Biden has handled the discovery of classified documents at his home and former office, a new poll shows, but that seems to have had little impact on his overall approval rating.”

Just over half of American voters think Ukraine is winning the war against Russia and nearly two-thirds want to keep helping them in their fight, according to a new Fox News survey.

“Donald Trump’s knack for generating millions of dollars simply by emailing or texting supporters has helped him maintain a firm grip on the Republican Party since the 2016 presidential race,” the New York Times reports.

“But in the first weeks of his third presidential campaign, he notched a less-than-stellar fund-raising haul, yet another signal that his hold on some conservatives may be loosening.”

“The GOP’s much-touted, small-dollar fundraising platform WinRed, created in response to the Democratic-aligned ActBlue, lost millions of dollars during the midterm election cycle, according to top Republicans,” the HuffPost reports.

“One Republican familiar with the privately held entity’s finances said it lost about $6 million over 2021 and 2022. A second confirmed the loss but believed the total was not quite that high. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) “is doubling down on his belief that former President Donald Trump is the wrong choice for Republicans in 2024, saying he would not support Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee for president,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Said Ryan: “There are too many people like me in the Republican Party who would not support him if he were the nominee, and that is why I don’t think he’ll be the nominee. Because everyone knows we’ll lose the election if we nominate this guy again.”

A new internal report prepared by the Republican National Committee proposes creating a permanent infrastructure in every state to ramp up “election integrity” activities in response to perceptions within GOP ranks of widespread fraud and abuse in the way the country selects its leaders, the Washington Post reports.

Charlie Sykes: “The last six years have been chock full of lessons, cautionary tales, and the sort of clarifying moments that come with placing your face on a hot stove. On Earth 2.0, the impeachments, sedition, the prospect of indictment, and electoral defeats would marvelously focus the mind, especially for Republicans.”

“After Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, the GOP was so rattled that it actually conducted its own autopsy, which made a series of recommendations for fixing the part that it promptly and thoroughly ignored.”

“After 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022, the party needed an exorcism. Instead, the GOP looked itself in the mirror, shrugged, and said, looks good to me.”

Washington Post: “Unlike in previous decades, where losing candidates largely slunk away, many Republicans have increasingly been celebrating political losers, with certain sections of the GOP base lionizing them as wronged warriors and avatars of legitimate grievances.”

“Trump is the most obvious embodiment of the phenomenon — a man who lost both the electoral and popular vote to President Biden in 2020 and refused to accept the results of the election, yet has maintained a powerful, if waning, hold over his party.”

“Now, however, he has company in the likes of defeated far-right politicians Bolsonaro and Lake.”

“Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) announced she’s hired a former Republican rival for her House seat, Josh Revak, to serve as her state director,” Politico reports.  “Such moves are rare in modern politics but not unheard of for the Alaska Democrat.”

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Virginia finds Gov. Glenn Youngkin with a 56% to 31% job approval rating, while President Biden is underwater at 45% to 52%.

Cook Political Report: “House Republicans enter the 2024 cycle with an infamously thin 222-213 majority and lots of questions about why they didn’t perform better in 2022. But they have history on their side: despite the House flipping partisan control five times since 1994, it hasn’t flipped in a presidential cycle since 1952 and hasn’t flipped to the party occupying the White House since 1948, when Harry Truman barnstormed against a Republican ‘do nothing Congress.’”

“Still, with 18 Republicans sitting in districts carried by President Biden in 2020 and just five Democrats sitting in districts carried by Donald Trump, there are more than enough vulnerable GOP seats on the table to keep the House in play for Democrats.”

“The most recent precedents for this cycle might be 1996 and 2012, when Presidents Clinton and Obama faced voters two years after the GOP retook the House. Despite a government shutdown in 1995 and a debt ceiling showdown in 2011, voters opted to preserve a divided government — with slightly reduced GOP House majorities. Of course, a true debt limit catastrophe could lead to a greater backlash against Republicans.”

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

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