The Political Report – March 24, 2023

A new AP-NORC poll finds President Biden notched an approval rating of 38% in the new poll, after 45% said they approved in February and 41% in January.

His ratings hit their lowest point of his presidency last July, at 36%, as the full weight of rising gasoline, food and other costs began to hit U.S. households.

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds that more Americans oppose than favor seven out of eight signature policies put forward by Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, with support ranging from 36% (for requiring public school books to be reviewed for content “the government deems inappropriate”) to a low of 21% (for “granting political appointees the power to fire tenured faculty at public colleges and universities at any time and for any reason”).

Gov. Ron DeSantis, when asked about Donald Trump’s “Ron DeSantimonius” nickname for him:

“I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it’s long, it’s got a lot of vowels. We’ll go with that, that’s fine. I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this State to the next level.”

“A super PAC closely aligned with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is making a major expansion, bringing on a top Republican strategist and establishing its headquarters in Atlanta,” Politico reports.

“It is a move that comes as the Florida governor takes steps toward launching a widely-expected presidential run.”

Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman is exploring ways to edge Donald Trump out of the GOP presidential primary, Puck reports.

“Hoffman’s team is currently studying early voting states — party registration requirements, demographic groups, state G.O.P. nominating rules, media ecosystems, etcetera — to see where they can move the needle. And if they do inadvertently elect a President DeSantis? I’m told that Hoffman and adviser Dmitri Melhorn, at a high level, don’t view the Florida governor as an existential threat to democracy, unlike Trump, and believe he may even have the ability to successfully govern.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s team, for its part, believes the former president’s biggest weaknesses currently are fatigue with his chaos and controversies; his baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen; and the poor showing by Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, one top adviser said. The personality-based attacks, this person added, are less successful because concerns about Trump’s character are already ‘baked in the cake.’”

Said a longtime Trump adviser: “The message I think works against him is that there’s only one person who could lose to Joe Biden in 2024.”

“Republicans looking to beat Trump have begun considering — and in some cases testing — other messages, including some based on Trump’s record in office, according to several people familiar with the different efforts. The possible attacks include that he empowered Fauci, who became the face of covid prevention efforts and a target of right-wing anger; that Trump never finished building a wall at the nation’s southern border; and that Trump hired and elevated ‘woke’ military generals.”

Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled that lower courts rightly dismissed six out of seven claims in Kari Lake’s lawsuit arguing she was cheated out of the governorship and actually won the 2022 election, the Arizona Republic reports.

The high court asked a Maricopa County judge to take another look at a seventh claim.

“Democrats across the Midwest are appealing to President Joe Biden to back Chicago as the destination for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, arguing the party must send a strong signal of support if it is to keep its ‘blue wall’ of states intact in the next presidential election,” NBC News reports.

“A band of governors, congresspeople and mayors from Illinois to Minnesota, to Kentucky, signed a letter Wednesday… calling on both the White House and DNC Chair Jaime Harrison to choose Chicago.”

“Their argument? The so-called ‘blue wall’ has voted for Democratic presidential candidates since 1992 with one exception – Donald Trump in 2016. That’s when Democrats took their eye off the ball, they say.”

Politico: “So far, at least 10 candidates with sizable net worth are seriously considering self-funded Senate campaigns in more than a half-dozen swing states — many of them at the behest of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

“Both parties have relied on self-funders before. But this approach has taken on increasing importance for Republicans because they failed to counter Democrats’ massive grassroots fundraising in Senate races during the past two cycles.”

Donald Trump is set to talk to Sean Hannity on Fox News on Monday, the New York Times reports.  It would be his first weekday appearance since September amid a so-called “soft ban” of the former president at the network.

Tina Nguyen: “I asked a number of Republicans close to the top candidates to predict how an indictment would affect Trump’s campaign, and whether it would boost his standing in the GOP presidential primary. The overwhelming consensus was succinctly captured by Alex Bruesewitz, CEO of the MAGA-focused consulting firm X Strategies: ‘Trump wins.’”

“This assessment doesn’t come only from MAGA-blinded Trump allies, either: Republicans across the spectrum, from DeSantis fans to Never Trumpers, echoed Bruesewitz’s conclusion…”

“Sure, rallying the base around the former president’s infidelity might create a liability down the road, especially with women, moderates, and independents who are fatigued or turned off by the behavior. But winning a general election is a problem for the future, as several consultants noted, and Trump has more than a year to worry about it.”

NEW ORLEANS MAYOR. The effort to remove New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell from office early came to an end on Tuesday when officials announced that organizers had fallen far short of the necessary number of petitions to trigger a recall election. Just over 27,000 signatures turned out to be valid, far fewer than the requirement of nearly 45,000.

The well-financed campaign to oust Cantrell, which was nominally led by Democrats but was funded almost entirely by a major Donald Trump donor, attracted almost as much controversy as had the embattled mayor herself. Recall proponents reneged on a court-approved settlement to share copies of their petitions with the New Orleans Times-Picayune by insisting the paper pay $15,000 for documents that are considered public records, then reached an unusual agreement with Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to reduce the number of signatures needed by about 10%.

It later emerged that the judge who oversaw that second deal had herself signed a recall petition but failed to disclose that fact prior to blessing that settlement. That prompted Cantrell to file a pair of lawsuits seeking to overturn the agreement, but the matter is now moot. Barring a future recall attempt, Cantrell will be able to serve out the remainder of her second term, though she’s barred by term limits from running for re-election when the post next goes before voters in 2025.

CHICAGO MAYOR. Former longtime Rep. Bobby Rush, who represented a large part of the city of Chicago for 30 years until leaving Congress in January, has endorsed former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in his April 4 runoff for mayor against Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Rush’s involvement makes him one of Vallas’ most prominent Black supporters. (Vallas is white and Johnson is Black.)

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT. “What a jerk!” So says a woman in progressive Judge Janet Protasiewicz’s latest ad slamming conservative Dan Kelly for likening Social Security to slavery—an infamous quote that both Protasiewicz and her allies have used in previous ads. In a lengthy 2013 blog post, Kelly indeed made that very comparison:

Remember involuntary servitude? I know – we need to reach back into antiquity for the definition. Its essence is the requirement that, against your will, the benefit of your work goes to someone else without receiving anything in exchange. […]

We all see involuntary servitude every day, but without recognizing it for what it is. […] When the recipients are people who have chosen to retire without sufficient assets to support themselves, we call the transfer Social Security and Medicare. And it’s welfare when the recipients are those who don’t create enough to sustain themselves during their working years.

In a book he penned the following year, Kelly added that affirmative action was also slavery: “Neither can exist without the foundational principle that it is acceptable to force someone into an unwanted economic relationship,” he wrote. “Morally, and as a matter of law, they are the same.” (Is there anything that doesn’t qualify as slavery in his mind?)

Kelly even included the chapter this passage was drawn from when he submitted an application to be appointed to a vacant state Supreme Court seat in 2016, though he refused to answer questions about it after then-Gov. Scott Walker tapped him for the job. Four years later, Kelly lost his bid for a full term to progressive Janet Karofsky in a landslide.

As she keeps putting new spots on the airwaves, Protasiewicz continues to dominate in ad spending: According to AdImpact’s latest figures, she’s spent $9 million versus just $500,000 for Kelly. Though conservative outside groups have outspent their liberal counterparts, $5.5 million to $2.5 million, as the New York Times’ Reid Epstein recently explained, the rates that television stations charge to campaigns are approximately a third as much as those paid by third-party organizations, so Protasiewicz’s side has run far more total advertisements.

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

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