The Political Report – February 28, 2023

A new Fox News poll finds Donald Trump tops the list of Republican presidential contenders with 43% of support among GOP voters, followed by Ron DeSantis at 28%, Nikki Haley and Mike Pence at 7% each, and Greg Abbott and Liz Cheney at 2% each.

All others receive 1% or less. Even at this early stage, only 3% are unsure of their pick.

A new co/efficient poll finds former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was running third behind former President Donald Trump (R) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in a new poll of likely GOP presidential primary voters in Maryland.

DESANTIS 2024. The New York Times review the new book for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R): “As governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has been casting himself as a Trump-like pugilist. But the overall sense you get from reading his new memoir is that of the mechanical try-hard — someone who has expended a lot of effort studying which way the wind is blowing in the Republican Party and is learning how to comport himself accordingly.”

“Not that he admits any of this, peppering The Courage to Be Free with frequent eruptions about ‘the legacy media’ and ‘runaway wokeness.’ But all the culture war Mad Libs can’t distract from the dull coldness at this book’s core…”

“For the most part, The Courage to Be Free is courageously free of anything that resembles charisma, or a discernible sense of humor. While his first book was weird and esoteric enough to have obviously been written by a human, this one reads like a politician’s memoir churned out by ChatGPT.”

Associated Press: “The apparent CPAC snub is nothing new for DeSantis, who has emerged in the early phase of the 2024 presidential election as a leading contender for the GOP nomination even as he ignores many conventions of modern politics.”

“DeSantis is a frequent voice in conservative cultural fights on cable television, but he often avoids gatherings of fellow Republican governors and party leaders, who are quick to complain in private about his go-it-alone approach. He is the only top-tier presidential prospect yet to court voters in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, the states hosting the GOP’s opening presidential primary contests. And he is often at odds with the press, refusing even to notify local media of last week’s rare three-state tour with law enforcement…”

NBC News: Ron DeSantis’ 2024 campaign emerges from the shadows.

CHICAGO MAYOR. Politico: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, faces eight challengers in Tuesday’s contest and neither money, advertising nor polling are clear indicators of the outcome in a race almost entirely about crime.”

“The only thing that seems certain among political insiders, alderpeople, members of the congressional delegation, pollsters and the mayor herself, is that Lightfoot won’t crack the 50 percent needed to avoid a two-person runoff on April 4.”

M3 Strategies, which has released polls this year for a group opposed to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, has publicized a new one showing her taking third place in Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary. (There’s no word if this survey had a sponsor.) The numbers are below, with the early February results in parenthesis:

  • former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas: 32 (31)
  • Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson: 18 (16)
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot: 14 (17)
  • Rep. Chuy Garcia: 12 (13)
  • Wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson: 6 (7)

Lightfoot, meanwhile, earned an endorsement from former Rep. Bobby Rush, who is the only person to ever beat Barack Obama in an election.

PHILADELPHIA MAYOR. Businessman Jeff Brown’s allies at For a Better Philadelphia are running an ad that uses old footage of former Gov. Tom Wolf praising their man, a move that comes weeks after Michelle Obama’s team condemned Brown and the PAC for doing the same thing with her. Wolf’s spokesperson responded to this new spot by saying, “Governor Wolf has not endorsed in the race for mayor in Philadelphia and has no plans to do so … As such no campaign or outside entity has been given permission to use his likeness.”

“Three days after delegates elected her to lead the Michigan Republican Party, Kristina Karamo reaffirmed her belief in a conspiracy theory, claiming shadowy forces are working to achieve global domination right here in Michigan,” MLive reports.  Said Karamo: “What prompted me to run for chair of the Michigan Republican Party is the fact that Michigan has become ground zero for the globalist takeover of the United States of America.”

She added: “This is not me being emotional and dramatic and trying to just rally the troops — these are facts. These are facts that these people’s actions are consistent with people who have one agenda, and that is to intentionally implode the United States of America.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “Trumpism isn’t just a series of slogans; it’s also a bit of a fever dream. Since 2015, Never Trump Republicans and more mainstream pundits have predicted it would break. But so far, despite candidates like Kari Lake, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Herschel Walker, and Don Bolduc getting shellacked in the midterms, there’s still a fantasy that somehow Trumpism is a scalable phenomenon. If we’ve learned anything since 2015, it’s that Trumpism generally only works for Trump. I could see, theoretically, Donald Trump Jr. being able to pick up the Trump mantle, but the idea that some unrelated party would be able to take over seems less likely.”

“As for the non-Trump lane of this GOP primary, I just don’t understand how these more normal candidates break the fever that is Trumpism.”

“Donald Trump’s team has quietly launched a nationwide campaign to buttress his chances of getting sympathetic delegates at next year’s nominating convention and identify opportunities to shape party rules that could help his campaign,” the Washington Post reports.

“The behind-the-scenes effort comes at a time when most Trump rivals have not even launched campaigns and focuses on the most esoteric part of the Republican nominating process — the state rules and party leaders that actually select presidential nominating delegates.”

“His team has invited state party officials to Mar-a-Lago, arranged private meet-and-greets between state leaders and Trump as he travels, endorsed state officials they believe will be supportive of him and met with senior Republican Party officials in Washington to discuss how the delegate selection process will unfold.”


MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR, 7TH and 10TH DISTRICTS.  Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin on Monday morning became the first major candidate from either party to announce a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, a move that also opens up her competitive 7th Congressional District. Slotkin’s kickoff in this swing state came shortly after Republican Rep. John James and a pair of Democrats, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, each said they would stay out of the race.

We’ll start with Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and Department of Defense official who arrived in Congress after unseating Republican Rep. Mike Bishop 51-47 during the 2018 blue wave. Slotkin’s Lansing-based seat, which was then numbered the 8th District, immediately became a top Republican target, but the new congresswoman once again proved to be a tough opponent. The incumbent turned back Republican Paul Junge in another 51-47 win as Trump was taking the 8th 50-49.

The new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission went on to make Slotkin’s seat, which was renumbered the 7th District, a little more blue, but it was still far from safe at 49.4-48.9 Biden. Her opponent for 2022 was state Sen. Tom Barrett, a far-right politician who wore a “naturally immunized” wrist band and refused to say if he’s vaccinated; Barrett also tried to raise money by sending out a fundraising appeal by text message falsely telling recipients that “your child’s gender reassignment surgery has been booked,” complete with a phony time for the appointment.

Stotkin outspent her opponent by a vast $11.3 million to $2.8 million, but major outside groups on both sides believed this would be one of the top House races in America. The big four House groups (the DCCC and House Majority PAC on the Democratic side and the NRCC and Congressional Leadership PAC for the GOP) altogether spent $21.3 million, putting it behind only California’s 22nd. The fabled red wave didn’t materialize for Michigan Republicans, though, and Stotkin won by an unexpectedly strong 52-46 margin.

While Stotkin’s decision to run for the Senate means that Democrats both have a top-tier statewide candidate even as they need to focus on defending her seat, Republicans have the opposite issue with James has decided to seek re-election. James, who lost the 2018 race to Stabenow and narrowly failed to unseat Sen. Gary Peters in 2020, would have given Senate Republicans a strong fundraiser had he chosen to make a third statewide bid.

Their counterparts in the House, though, will be happy to have James defending the 10th District in the Detroit suburbs: This seat backed Trump only 50-49, though James himself beat Democrat Carl Marlinga just 48.8-48.3 last year in an open seat race that the two largest Democratic outside groups spent nothing on.

A number of Republicans have expressed interest in running for the Senate, but there’s no word if any of them are close to running. The only notable declared candidate is state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, who failed to even make the ballot in 2020 when she tried to challenge Rep. Elissa Slotkin.

On the Democratic side, Simon Schuster writes in that actor Hill Harper is also “privately telling Democrats he intended to run,” while an unnamed source says we should anticipate an announcement from “The Good Doctor” cast member in what Schuster describes as “the near future.” Wolverine State Democrats are also watching to see if Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will get in. Benson didn’t rule anything out to Schuster but sounded reluctant, saying that “my heart is committed to doing the work that Michiganders hired me to do.”

Associated Press: “Republican Senate primaries in several pivotal states last year exuded a carnival-like aura, dominated by far-right candidates whose ill-advised remarks and damaging personal baggage ultimately cost the party its chance of retaking a majority. But even as alarms sounded over a growing crisis of electability, party leaders mostly stood by, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the Senate GOP’s campaign chief, who insisted on remaining neutral in the nominating contests.”

“Now, at the dawn of the 2024 campaign season, Republicans say they are taking steps to avoid a repeat. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which Scott formerly led, intends to wade into party primaries in key states, providing resources to its preferred candidates in a bid to produce nominees who are more palatable to general election voters.”

“It may be easier said than done. Similar efforts have backfired in recent years, with the party’s restive base rejecting the attempts. The new push will test anew whether the GOP establishment can steer a party reshaped by Donald Trump’s insurgent presidency back to mainstream appeal.”

“New York City’s heavy-hitting Republican-leaning donors in recent years were frozen in place at the presidential level by a fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump. But that was before Mr. Trump’s decampment to Florida, his plethora of legal entanglements, and his fall from grace after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob,” the New York Times reports.  “Now, as the 2024 presidential field takes shape, uncommitted donors and prospective political supporters in one of the country’s wealthiest areas are again opening their doors to Republicans seen as prospective candidates — and the candidates are pouring in.”

“The House Democrats’ campaign arm is launching a new effort to link vulnerable New York Republicans to Rep. George Santos, with Democrats betting that the freshman congressman will be a major liability for the GOP in key swing districts next year,” CNN reports.

“Former President Trump and his ex-United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are set to give dueling addresses at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week, putting a sharp focus on the ongoing tug-of-war within the GOP,” The Hill reports. “It’ll be the first time since Haley launched her presidential bid last week that the two declared major Republican 2024 contenders will pitch their candidacies at the same event. And while few Republicans expect Trump and Haley to go after each other directly, they say that it could offer one of the clearest examples yet of the simmering tensions within the party.”

“The reality is, is this is a two-person race between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. Nearly 75 percent of the voters have chosen between those two… this will be a very small field. A lot of people were talking about a crazy barroom brawl. I don’t think so at all. I think it’s going to be a small field because the money’s not there, the debate stage rules will keep it very limited. Yet have to have a donor threshold, you have to have national polling, and there’s simply no room for a – for a third and fourth or even fifth person in this race.”— Republican strategist Jeff Roe, on Fox News.

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

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