The Political Report – February 18, 2023

Quinnipiac poll finds that when GOP voters are given a list of 14 names of Republicans who either have said they are running for president in 2024 or are seen as potential candidates in a Republican primary, Donald Trump receives 42% of the vote followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who receives 36%.

Nikki Haley receives 5%, Mike Pence receives 4%, and Mike Pompeo receives 4%. No other candidate tops 2% of the vote.

When the potential field is narrowed to only four candidates, voters are split between Trump at 43% and DeSantis at 41%, a virtual dead heat. Haley receives 6% and Pence receives 4% in this hypothetical 4-way Republican primary.

HALEY 2024. Failed New Hampshire U.S. Senate nominee Don Bolduc (R) will endorse Nikki Haley’s (R) presidential bid later today, NH Journal reports.

Tom Nichols: “For all her talk about ‘a new generation,’ Haley knows that the Republican base doesn’t want to move on. Those voters, to judge from the polls, want Trump, unless he can’t win; in that case, they’d like a Trump who can win, a candidate who reeks of Trump’s cheap political cologne but who will wisely wear somewhat less of it while campaigning in the crowded spaces of a general election.” Meanwhile, in an interview on Fox News, Haley couldn’t name a single issue where she differed from Trump.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Nikki Haley — who was born in South Carolina — should “go back to your own country” after the former South Carolina governor announced her 2024 presidential candidacy.  Coulter took issue with Haley removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol in 2015 after a White supremacist shot and killed nine people at a historically Black church in Charleston.  She added: “This is my country, lady. I’m not an American Indian, and I don’t like them taking down all the monuments.”

Peggy Noonan: “Ms. Haley, later that night on Hannity, said the answer is for the Republican Party to talk in a way that ‘brings people in.’ This was the language of the famous GOP ‘autopsy’ in 2013: The GOP must do a better job ‘messaging.’ But what does that even mean? That there are magic words and they must find them? There are no magic words.”

“This is communicating about the need to communicate. It is empty, circular, goes nowhere. The only thing in politics is strong, clear, honest stands on issues of great import. The American people know what they are, and declare them every four years.”

DESANTIS 2024. Charlie Shamp — a self-proclaimed Christian “prophet” who back Donald Trump in 2020 — told the Jim Bakker Show last week that God isn’t backing Trump in the 2024 election this time, Rolling Stone reports.  Said Shamp: “We need to watch Ron DeSantis. Because the Lord is going to use him in a powerful way.”

Sarah Palin said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should not run for the 2024 Republican nomination, The Guardian reports.  Said Palin: “I envision him as our president someday, but not right now. Everybody I speak with in Florida, they all love him. And he does set the tone for, I’d say every other governor in the nation. I think he’s our best governor and he should stay governor for a bit longer. He’s young. You know, he has decades ahead of him where he can be our president.”

Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany — famously loyal to Donald Trump — praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and encouraged him to enter the 2024 presidential race.  Said McEnany: “How can you wait when you are currently the hottest governor in Republican politics, seeing how hard it is to regenerate that attention almost a decade later?”

PENCE 2024. “Former Vice President Mike Pence wants to make something clear: No 2024 Republican presidential candidate will outflank him on the gender, sexuality and education controversies that animate the right,” Politico reports.  “He’s staking a claim as an original, if sunnier, culture warrior — a bona fide alternative to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley…”

TRUMP 2024. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) “is warning his fellow Republicans that former President Donald Trump is best-positioned to emerge from a crowded primary as the party’s presidential nominee in 2024, and that the only way to stop him is to ultimately shrink the field to a one-on-one contest against a viable alternative,” NBC News reports.

Said Romney: “I think President Trump is by far the most likely to become our nominee. If there’s an alternative to that, it would be only realistic if it narrows down to a two-person race at some point.”

LOSER LAKE. A legal group plans to file bar complaints Thursday against four lawyers representing Kari Lake in voter fraud litigation, NBC News reports.

“An Arizona appeals court has rejected Republican Kari Lake’s challenge of her defeat in the Arizona governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, denying her request to throw out election results in the state’s most populous county and hold the election again,” the AP reports.

“In a ruling on Thursday, the Arizona Court of Appeals wrote Lake, who claimed problems with ballot printers at some police places on Election Day were the result of intentional misconduct, presented no evidence that voters whose ballots were unreadable by tabulators at polling places were not able to vote.”

A new Stanford Business School study finds that election-denying Republicans in statewide races outperformed their co-partisans in the GOP primary by roughly 2%, while they underperformed in the general election by about 2.3%.  Key takeaway: “The general-election penalty is larger than the margin of victory in battleground states in recent close presidential elections, suggesting that nominating election-denying candidates in 2024 could be a damaging electoral strategy for Republicans.”

“At the same time, it is small enough to suggest that only a relatively small group of voters changed their vote in response to having an election-denying candidate on the ballot.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. A new OH Predictive Insights poll in Arizona finds Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) is leading every one of his potential competitors.

Key takeaway: “As of now, Ruben Gallego’s best bet would be the GOP nominating a Trump-style Republican and Kyrsten Sinema opting out of the race. However, if Republicans nominate a more moderate candidate, Republicans will be in a better position for a more competitive race with Sinema on the ticket.”

“Sinema stands a better chance if Gallego does not run. However, assuming that is not likely, her best bet is that Ducey opts out of the race. Regardless, as the Arizona electorate stands now, it’s going to be an uphill climb for Sinema.”

We’ll start with the four testing him in head-to-heads with possible Republican rivals:

  • 38-34 vs. former Gov. Doug Ducey
  • 36-32 vs. 2022 gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson
  • 43-33 vs. 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake
  • 43-32 vs. 2022 Senate nominee Blake Masters

OH also included scenarios where Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema runs, and it shows the incumbent in third place no matter what:

  • Gallego (D): 32, Ducey (R): 27, Sinema (I-inc): 17
  • Gallego (D): 31, Taylor-Robson (R): 24, Sinema (I-inc): 21
  • Gallego (D): 34, Lake (R): 26, Sinema (I-inc): 19
  • Gallego (D): 33, Masters (R): 24, Sinema (I-inc): 22

While this firm shows Sinema barely making an impact, the senator’s detractors found something different weeks ago. The Democratic firm Normington Petts, working on behalf of anti-Sinema groups, had Gallego beating Lake 50-45 when they were the only two choices. However, the pair deadlocked 36-36 in a three-way contest, with Sinema at 24%.

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Barbara Lee has filed FEC paperwork for a potential campaign to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Her team said Wednesday, “The campaign is taking the necessary steps to prepare and the Congresswoman will have more to say by the end of the month.”

Politico: “Lee, a member of the House since 1998, will join a field that already includes two of her colleagues — California Democrats Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter. Feinstein formally announced she would not seek another term on Wednesday, though the jockeying to replace her had already been well underway for months.”

While some media outlets had mentioned Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell as a possible Democratic candidate, she said this week she would be seeking re-election instead.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATORS. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey’s office said Tuesday that his surgery for prostate cancer went well, and that he “should not require further treatment.” The statement added that the senator “looks forward to getting back to a normal schedule after a period of rest and recovery.”

Democratic Sen. John Fetterman’s staff said Thursday that he’d checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center the previous evening so he could “receive treatment for clinical depression.” The statement continued, “While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks.” It concluded, “After examining John, the doctors at Walter Reed told us that John is getting the care he needs, and will soon be back to himself.”

Fetterman stayed in the hospital for two nights last week after he felt lightheaded, and he left Friday after tests didn’t find any signs of a stroke or seizure. The senator’s wife, Gisele Fetterman, said Thursday, “After what he’s been through in the past year, there’s probably no one who wanted to talk about his own health less than John. I’m so proud of him for asking for help and getting the care he needs.”

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. “Republicans are coming to an increasingly popular consensus: Gov. Jim Justice is by far the best candidate to take on Joe Manchin,” Politico reports.

“In fact, the two-term governor and Democrat-turned-Republican is the only potential challenger who would currently beat the centrist Democratic senator, according to a new GOP poll gaming out the race. While Justice leads Manchin handily, according to the survey, Manchin has big leads over Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) — the only Republican officially in the race — and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who ran against Manchin in 2018 and is mulling another bid.”

The ​​Senate Leadership Fund, the deep-pocketed super PAC run by allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has released an internal from The Tarrance Group that makes it very clear it wants Republican Gov. Jim Justice to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. The survey shows Justice beating Manchin 52-42 even as the same sample favors the incumbent over Rep. Alex Mooney and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey by margins of 55-40 and 52-42, respectively. The poll also finds Justice defeating Morrisey 53-21 in a primary, with Mooney grabbing 16%.

The memo extolled Justice as “far and away the strongest Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race in West Virginia,” though Mooney is the only declared contender so far. The governor, though, has said he’ll decide by early March, and he’s said he’s likely to go for it. Morrisey, who lost to Manchin in 2018, plans to make up his mind the following month if he’ll seek a rematch, run to succeed Justice, or seek re-election, while the senator is in no hurry to settle on his own 2024 plans.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. CNN mentions 2022 Senate nominee Adam Laxalt as a possible Republican contender against Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen, though there’s no word if he’s interested months after his narrow loss to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. Army veteran Sam Brown, who lost last year’s primary to Laxalt 56-34, didn’t rule out another campaign last fall, but we haven’t heard anything from him since then.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a look at the Wisconsin Republicans who could take on Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin in this swing state, though only one would-be candidate confirmed he was interested. Wealthy businessman Eric Hovde told the paper, “I’m looking seriously at this race but won’t even try to make a decision until this fall.” Hovde narrowly lost the 2012 primary to former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who in turn lost to Baldwin; Hovde considered both another try in 2018 and a run for governor last year, but he stayed out of both races.

The paper also notes that Rep. Mike Gallagher continues to be mentioned as a possibility, though the congressman has said little about his interest in public. Gallagher declared in December that a Senate campaign was “not on my mind,” which was not a no. A spokesperson for fellow Rep. Tom Tiffany was likewise blithe this month, merely saying, “Congressman Tiffany is focused on serving the people of northern and western Wisconsin.” An advisor for a third congressman, Bryan Steil, meanwhile said that Steil “plans on running for reelection in 2024.”

The Journal Sentinel also names a few other Republicans as possibilities. One familiar name is businessman Kevin Nicholson, the former College Democrats of America president who lost the 2018 primary to face Baldwin and dropped out of last year’s nomination contest for governor. The paper also lists former Rep. Sean Duffy and Rachel Campos-Duffy, his wife and fellow Fox News talking head, but acknowledges that “[n]either is likely to run.” The couple lives in New Jersey, though this didn’t stop Donald Trump in 2021 from unsuccessfully urging Sean Duffy to challenge Gov. Tony Evers.

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

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