The Political Report – March 11, 2023

A new Politico survey of national Republican county chairs finds that Ron DeSantis has nudged ahead with 19% support in the “invisible primary,” compared to 17% for Donald Trump.

But it’s still wide open: Half say they’re uncommitted.

Also interesting: When asked which candidates they’re open to considering, 73% list DeSantis — but just 43% say Trump.

DESANTIS 2024. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “has indicated privately that he intends to run for president,” the Washington Post reports. “A super PAC that seeks to draft DeSantis into the race launched Thursday and is likely to serve as an approved outside spending vehicle for his campaign.”

“And DeSantis will visit the early nominating states of Iowa on Friday and Nevada on Saturday as he tours the country promoting his memoir.”

Bloomberg has DeSantis going to Iowa: “[Governor DeSantis] will greet members of the state House and Senate at the Capitol, according to the people, engaging in the sort of retail politicking that’s expected in the Iowa caucuses.”

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who served as a top immigration official in the Trump administration, announced Thursday that he has formed a PAC to urge Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

“When former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took his turn on stage at a Republican donor conference here late last month, he brought the crowd alive with a rousing and extended denunciation of Donald Trump,” Jonathan Martin reports.

“Demanding his party ‘stop whispering’ about their unease with Trump, Christie excoriated Trump for falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen, propelling a series of lackluster candidates last year and generally presiding over the decline of the GOP over the last half decade.”

“Yet what was even more revealing about Christie’s half-hour remarks, a recording of which I obtained, was the less direct but unmistakable and certainly not whispered criticism he leveled at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.”

“He’s not even officially running against President Biden (yet), but Democrats are already using Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in battleground state ads urging voters to stick with Biden in 2024,” Axios reports.

“Dems are betting DeSantis’ culture-war politics are a turnoff to women and working-class voters in rural counties, and they’re lumping him with former President Trump and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in messages about battling ‘extremists.’”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) new book debuted at the top spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list without any indication it relied on bulk purchases to boost sales.

“Democrats defended every state legislative chamber in their control in 2022, the first midterm elections since 1934 in which the party in control did not lose a chamber. To replicate that record next year, they say they’ll need more money,” CBS News reports.

“A memo from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee sent to donors asks for an additional $10 million for 2024, as well as for Virginia’s legislative elections this fall and any special elections that may emerge in New Hampshire, where Democrats are just three seats away from flipping the state House.”

BIDEN 2024. President Biden has narrowed down his choices on candidates to run his 2024 presidential reelection campaign,” The Hill reports.

“Jenn Ridder, who served as national states director for Biden’s 2020 bid, is said to be a leading contender for the campaign manager job.”

“Sam Cornale, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, has also been discussed as a leading candidate, sources say, adding that it’s an ongoing, exhaustive process and there are other candidates in the mix for that position and other top roles.”

Politico: “Biden’s trip west will take him to Rancho Santa Fe, a wealthy enclave of sprawling estates north of San Diego… He also will have likely stops in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Nev. The trip is planned for Monday and Tuesday, though the two people stressed Biden’s itinerary is still being finalized and specifics remain fluid.”

BIDEN 2024. The Economist: “There is precedent for a president reneging on a re-election pledge, but it is not a happy one. In 1968, after a disappointing show in the New Hampshire primaries, Lyndon Johnson dropped his campaign for another term just eight months before the presidential election—which his party subsequently lost to Richard Nixon. Still, an open primary might not be as catastrophic as some Democrats fear.”

“When evaluating a party’s presidential bench, conventional wisdom tends to focus on those who campaigned in the previous election. Most of those also-ran Democrats—such as Pete Buttigieg, now transportation secretary, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator—do not inspire much confidence as contenders. Ms Harris’s standing is so dismal that she would not freeze the field as Mrs Clinton did in 2016. That leaves room for alternatives.”

TRUMP V. DESANTIS. A new Emerson College poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump way ahead in the Republican presidential primary with 58%, followed by Ron DeSantis at 17% and Chris Sununu at 7%.

Rich Lowry: “Trump wants to tempt DeSantis to try follow him in his ‘Maga More Than Ever’ messaging, but the governor can only go so far down this path. He’s not going to peel off enough Trump voters to beat Trump. To win the nomination, DeSantis is going to need to win over a segment of Trump populists at the same time he locks down Republican voters who like Reagan more than Trump.”

“The Trump forces are going to try to make DeSantis’ roots in the party of Reagan disqualifying. Instead, played correctly, it can be a strength.”

Politico: “The two-day confab at the luxury Conrad Hotel, billed as the Principles First Summit, was implicitly constructed as a counterweight to the MAGA-fied Conservative Political Action Conference. But the programming also served to underscore the often-bleak, occasionally hopeless, existence that comes with being a modern day anti-Trump Republican.”

TRUMP 2024. New York Times: “While other recent presidents routinely drew financial support from key campaign aides and West Wing advisers, contributions to Mr. Trump from his team have been the exception rather than the norm.”

“The lack of contributions from the Trump team is surprising, given the former president’s penchant for testing his top staff members’ allegiances and his tendency to view loyalty through a starkly transactional lens. Mr. Trump is also known to harbor deep resentment over the manner in which aides — in real or perceived ways — have leveraged their connections to him for their own financial gain.”

SUAREZ 2024. “Miami’s popular Republican Mayor Francis Suarez has been privately holding court with wealthy political financiers as he considers challenging former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination in 2024,” CNBC reports.

SCOTT 2024. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has started hiring for a potential presidential campaign, the Columbia State reports. A source stressed that the senator had still not made a final decision and added that one was not “imminent.”

YOUNGKIN 2024. “Glenn Youngkin, who rose to prominence after defeating Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2021, has done just enough to keep the embers of a potential 2024 bid glowing. Yet the Republicans closest to the Virginia governor aren’t sure he intends to run—or wants to,” The Dispatch reports.

“Republican donors who attended a meet-and-greet with Youngkin in New York last week exited the event believing the governor is inclined to stand down. Youngkin did not rule out running. But the governor left the impression that any possible campaign was months away—that he is hyper-focused on running Virginia and wants time to assess the 2024 primary field.”

Said one: “He did not sound like an all-in candidate. He’s sort of testing the waters.”

“The man who has accused Matt Schlapp, the influential leader of the Conservative Political Action Conference, of sexual misconduct came forward publicly Wednesday after a judge said he must use his real name to proceed with a lawsuit,” the Washington Post reports.

“Carlton Huffman, 39, a longtime aide to Republican campaigns who lives in Raleigh, N.C., said he plans to amend the previously anonymous lawsuit, which seeks $9.4 million in damages for alleged sexual battery and defamation.”

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

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