The Political Report – March 30, 2023

A new Gallup poll finds President Biden’s latest job approval rating is 40%, his sixth consecutive reading in the 40% to 42% range.

Biden is also underwater in ratings of his handling of four issues — the environment (43% of Americans approve), energy policy (38%), foreign affairs (38%) and the economy (32%).

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR. State Treasurer Dale Folwell kicked off a bid to serve as North Carolina’s next governor over the weekend, making him the first notable Republican to enter the race. Folwell, a former member of the state House, was elected treasurer in 2016 and won re-election four years later, both times by a 53-47 margin over his Democratic opponents. However, he’s all but assured of company in the gubernatorial primary, as Lt. Gov Mark Robinson is reportedly set to announce his own campaign on April 22. Limited hypothetical polling has shown Robinson leading Folwell by 50 points or more.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno, who’s been considering a second bid for Senate, says he intends to reveal his plans “in a few weeks,” in the words of WFMJ’s Corey Vallas. Moreno also recently resigned from the board of MetroHealth, a public hospital system in the Cleveland area, saying he wanted the institution to remain “above politics and conflicts of interest, real or perceived.” Moreno spent almost $4 million of his own money to pursue a Senate campaign last year after Republican Rob Portman announced his retirement, but he dropped out three months before the primary at the behest of Donald Trump for fear of splitting the MAGA vote.

KENTUCKY U.S. SENATOR. Mitch McConnell has returned home following a five-day hospitalization and two weeks in an inpatient rehabilitation facility after he suffered a concussion when he tripped and fell at a reception for the Senate Leadership Fund. The cause of McConnell’s fall has not been disclosed. In 2019, McConnell fell at his home and broke his shoulder.

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR. The Daily Beast’s Ursula Perano queried a bunch of Florida Democrats about their interest in challenging Republican Sen. Rick Scott, and while there are no takers so far, a few haven’t ruled out the prospect. That includes the Democratic leaders in both chambers of the state legislature, Fentrice Driskell in the House and Lauren Book in the Senate. State Rep. Anna Eskamani also once again refused to foreclose a bid (as she has in the past), though she indicated she was likely to seek re-election.

At least one member of Congress is out, though: A spokesperson for Rep. Frederica Wilson says she has “no interest in running.” Rep. Lois Frankel, meanwhile, reportedly plans to run for another term. The five other eligible Democrats in Florida’s House delegation declined to comment; the sixth, as Perano notes, is too young to serve in the upper chamber: At 26, freshmen Rep. Maxwell Frost is four years shy of the constitutionally prescribed minimum of 30.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “Former hedge fund CEO and 2022 Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Dave McCormick continues to signal he’s seriously considering another Senate run in 2024, this time against three-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey,” The Dispatch reports.

“McCormick has spent recent weeks glad-handing with influential Republicans in Washington, D.C., sitting for interviews to promote his new book, and launching a new political action committee aimed at helping the Pennsylvania GOP close Democrats’ mail-in voting gap and boosting Republican candidates for state office.”

CHICAGO MAYOR. On behalf of Northwestern University and a coalition of Black and Latino advocacy groups, the Democratic pollster BSP Research has conducted a survey of next week’s runoff in Chicago showing a 44-all tie between Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas.

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who had considered his own bid to succeed retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has instead endorsed Rep. Barbara Lee for the job. The move also makes Khanna the only member of California’s congressional delegation to back someone other than Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s earned the support of 18 of the state’s 40 House Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi. The third major Democrat running, Rep. Katie Porter, has not yet received any endorsements from her home-state congressional colleagues.

MASSACHUSETTS U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced she’s running for another term in a video this morning.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT.  “With a week before the election for the state Supreme Court, liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz continues to eclipse her conservative opponent Dan Kelly in fundraising — this time with the help of three out-of-state billionaires who have each given $1 million to the state Democratic Party,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Progressive Judge Janet Protasiewicz extended her already enormous fundraising lead in her final report before next week’s pivotal Supreme Court election, posting a haul of $12.4 million between Feb. 7 and March 20 compared to just $2.2 million for her conservative opponent, former Justice Dan Kelly. During that timeframe, Protasiewicz spent $10.6 million but still had $2.1 million left for the stretch run while Kelly spent only $2 million and had less than $400,000 in his coffers.

Protasiewicz benefited heavily from $8 million in donations from the Wisconsin Democratic Party, which in turn received $1 million contributions from three billionaires, including Holocaust survivor George Soros and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The $3.3 million Protasiewicz brought in from individual donors was nonetheless greater than Kelly’s take during this six-week period. Kelly has similarly enjoyed major billionaire support of his own from the Uihlein family, though most of the $4.5 million they’ve put in has gone to a super PAC rather than to Kelly’s campaign directly.

The candidates and their allies have also begun airing their final TV ads. Protasiewicz released two almost entirely positive closing spots, one in which she touts her impartiality and another that focuses on her support for abortion rights and notes that voters will soon “decide the balance of the Supreme Court.” (The second one briefly calls Kelly “an extremist.”) Kelly and his top backers, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Uihlein-funded super PAC Fair Courts America, are all staying negative, with each running new ads that, as before, accuse Protasiewicz of issuing lenient sentences to criminals.

OHIO 9TH DISTRICT. Dan Wilczynski, the former mayor of the small town of Walbridge (pop. 3,000), launched a campaign to challenge Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur on Monday, making him the first Republican to enter the race. Wilczynski, an engineer, was short-listed for a spot on Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission last year, but Gov. Mike DeWine ultimately reappointed an incumbent. Kaptur is one of just five House Democrats who represent a district carried by Donald Trump.

RHODE ISLAND 1ST DISTRICT. Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, who declined to rule out a bid in the hours after Rep. David Cicilline announced his surprise resignation, now says she’s considering entering the Democratic primary for the as-yet unscheduled special election for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. Baldelli-Hunt, who is the aunt of Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, said she has no timetable for making a decision.

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

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