The Political Report – April 5, 2023

A new St. Anselm College poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump leading Ron DeSantis in the Republican presidential primary, 42% to 29%, while Gov. Chris Sununu trails with 14%.

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida shows Ron DeSantis ahead of Donald Trump in a GOP primary match up, 44% to 39%.

CHICAGO MAYOR. “Brandon Johnson has defeated Paul Vallas to become the next mayor of Chicago,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Johnson, 47, had emerged as the most popular progressive among the initial nine candidates, then bested the more conservative Vallas in the runoff to take Chicago’s top elected office Tuesday.”

“With a campaign was bankrolled largely by political funds tied to CTU and affiliated unions, Johnson focused his run around themes of equity, championing working people and addressing the root causes of crime.”

The results were Johnson 51.4% to Vallas’ 48.6%.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT. “Wisconsin voters on Tuesday chose to upend the political direction of their state by electing a liberal candidate to the State Supreme Court, flipping majority control from conservatives, according to The Associated Press. The result means that in the next year, the court is likely to reverse the state’s abortion ban and end the use of gerrymandered legislative maps drawn by Republicans,” the New York Times reports.

“Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal Milwaukee County judge, defeated Daniel Kelly, a conservative former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who sought a return to the bench. With more than 60 percent of votes counted, Judge Protasiewicz led by about 14 percentage points. The contest, which featured over $40 million in spending, was the most expensive judicial election in American history.”

The result was Janet 55.5% to Kelly’s 44.5%.

“Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly lost his race against Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz by at least 10 percentage points Tuesday but refused to call his opponent to concede, instead choosing to lash out against her in a concession speech to supporters,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Said Kelly: “I wish that in a circumstance like this, I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent. But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.”

Kelly called Protasiewicz’s campaign “deeply deceitful, dishonorable and despicable.”

“Spending on the high stakes Wisconsin Supreme Court race has topped $42 million, nearly triple the previous national record for a court race, with the Democratic-backed candidate having a roughly $6 million advantage,” the AP reports.

Associated Press: “The fate of abortion access in battleground Wisconsin likely rests with Tuesday’s outcome of the heated race for state Supreme Court, with the future of Republican-drawn legislative maps, voting rights and years of other Republican policies also hanging in the balance.”

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has been under conservative control for 15 years, serving as the final word on a wide array of Republican policies enacted by the GOP-controlled Legislature. The court came within one vote of overturning President Joe Biden’s narrow win in 2020.”

Donald Trump’s campaign claims to have raised more than $8 million since new of his indictment broke last week.

“Donald Trump, the ex-president, is about to make history as the first former POTUS to be criminally charged. But Donald Trump, the 2024 presidential candidate, isn’t about to let the buzz around his booking go to waste — and he may include using his mugshot in a large campaign marketing blitz,” Rolling Stone reports.

“In recent days, some of Trump’s close aides and advisers have pushed the ex-president to turn his mugshot into fuel for a fundraising drive, or as a potent new symbol on 2024 campaign merchandise.”

Democrats on Monday released 500 pages of opposition research as a preemptive strike on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign, Axios reports.

NBC News: “Trump’s online war machine is training those virtual weapons on DeSantis and has repeatedly attached him to another enemy — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg — in the run-up to Trump’s Tuesday arraignment. The goal is to portray DeSantis as insufficiently supportive of the former president at a time when most Republicans are rallying to his side.”

Washington Post: “Uncertainty over the $70 million No Labels ballot effort has set off major alarm bells in Democratic circles and raised concerns among Republican strategists, who have launched their own research projects to figure out the potential impacts.”

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. The super PAC Bluegrass Freedom Action, which supports Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in the May 16 Republican primary for governor, made history Friday when it launched the first TV ad in American history to tout an endorsement from an indicted former president.

The spot, which represents the first pro-Cameron commercial of the contest, extols the attorney general as “a conservative fighter” who sued President Joe Biden over border security, battled “the companies that fueled the opioid crisis,” and is a “champion for law enforcement.” The narrator goes on to remind the audience that Donald Trump backs Cameron before it turns to a clip of the candidate declaring, “Mr. President, we are going to make sure that Kentucky is never a sanctuary state.” The commercial does not mention any of Cameron’s intra-party opponents or the man they’re all hoping to unseat this fall, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

The ad, which was posted to YouTube just before the news broke Thursday that a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump, also unsurprisingly avoids mentioning his legal travails. Cameron himself, though, predictably responded by claiming that “political weaponization of our justice system” was to blame for what happened to Trump. Two of Cameron’s primary foes, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, jumped in with similar language; McClatchy points out that none of these three candidates noted that Trump is also being investigated in Georgia for his attempts to overturn Biden’s win.    

Bluegrass Freedom Action says this opening ad is a “multi-six-figure” buy, and the Republican firm Medium Buying has tracked $200,000 for a week-long TV buy. However, the super PAC has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to match the $4.2 million that NBC says Craft and her allied super PAC have already deployed with about a month-and-a-half to go before the primary. So far, there have been no TV ads to support Quarles, Auditor Mike Harmon, or Somerset Mayor Alan Keck.

A late January survey from Mason-Dixon for several state media organizations gave Cameron a wide 39-13 lead over Craft, but that was well before anyone started attacking the attorney general on the airwaves. Over the last few weeks, though, Craft and her backers have run commercials labeling the frontrunner as a “soft establishment teddy bear” and arguing he “decided to close” a “coal-fired plant running that serviced 165,000 Kentuckians.” While Cameron has hit back in tweets and press releases, including with a photo of a teddy sporting an “I ♡ Cameron” shirt, he’s had no one defending him on the air until now.

MARYLAND U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin tells Bloomberg that he plans to decide whether to seek re-election next year during Congress’ current recess (lawmakers reconvene on April 17) and will make an announcement some time next month.

NEW YORK U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) teased a potential challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Politico reports.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who said in October that “I think I’m gonna run for re-election,” now tells Bloomberg she intends to announce her plans in “mid-April.”

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Bryan Steil, a potential Baldwin challenger, dodged a question about his interest in seeking a promotion in a new interview with WISN’s Matt Smith. Asked if he was considering a Senate bid, Steil responded, “I’m busy with my job here in the House of Representatives and plan to run for re-election.” When Smith further pressed, “So is that a no?” Steil replied, “No, I’m not planning to run for Senate. If I can be more clear, I will for you.” Of course, he could have been more clear had he wanted to by eschewing the words “planning to,” so it still sounds like he’s not ruling out a run.

Arizona’s Republican-run legislature has failed to pass a bill that would have split up Maricopa County, which is the nation’s fourth-most populous and contains 62% of the state’s population, into four new counties in order to ensure GOP control over three of them.

Republicans fear losing control over Maricopa’s County government. Republicans only narrowly held onto their 4-1 majority on the county Board of Supervisors in 2020. Thanks to heated GOP infighting, the country’s leftward trend, and fairly drawn districts, Democrats have a strong chance to flip the two seats they need to win control next year.

Supposed small-government motivations didn’t hold up to scrutiny. Supporters claimed that splitting up the county would advance small-government principles and bring government closer to the people. However, even some Republicans disputed that notion, pointing out the measure would have required raising taxes.

The bill failed this time, but the issue could return again. State senators rejected the bill, with a quarter of Republicans joining every Democrat in opposition, but the main sponsor said he plans to bring it back up again in 2024.

RHODE ISLAND 1ST DISTRICT. State Sen. Ana Quezada tells the Boston Globe’s Dan McGowan that she’s planning to enter the upcoming special election to succeed her fellow Democrat, outgoing Rep. David Cicilline, though she hasn’t committed to anything yet.

Meanwhile, Arlene Violet, a former Republican whose 1984 win made her the first woman to serve as attorney general of any state, said Friday she was considering running as an independent for this 64-35 Biden constituency. Violet said she wouldn’t campaign as a Republican because of her disgust with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump and belief that “independents have more power.”

Violet, a one time member of the Sisters of Mercy who was dubbed “Attila the Nun,” has been out of office since she narrowly lost re-election in 1986 (the Ocean State later voted in 1992 to elect its statewide officials to four-year terms), but she’s remained an active presence in Rhode Island. The former attorney general went on to host a radio show on WHJJ, and she continues to write a column in The Valley Breeze. Violet also was heavily featured in a 2017 episode of the podcast “Crimetown” focused on her efforts to combat corruption in the state.

ARIZONA 1ST DISTRICT. Democrat Jevin Hodge said Friday that he would not seek a rematch with Republican Rep. David Schweikert, who held him off 50.4-49.6 in a 2022 contest that only attracted major outside spending from each party about two weeks before Election Day. This seat, which is based in northeastern Phoenix and Scottsdale, will still likely be a key Democratic target, though: Biden prevailed 50-49 here in 2020, and Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux says that Sen. Mark Kelly and Gov. Katie Hobbs last year took it 52-46 and 52-48, respectively.

The only other notable Democrat who showed any public interest in running before Friday was former TV anchor Marlene Galan Woods, a self-described moderate who said in mid-January she was giving herself 90 days to decide. Woods is the widow of Grant Woods, who served as Arizona’s Republican attorney general in the 1990s, and she also identified as a “lifelong Republican” before joining the Democrats during the Trump era.

MICHIGAN 8TH DISTRICT. Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee said Friday he’d been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and would receive treatment in a few weeks for this “serious but curable form of cancer.” The congressman added, “​​I’m really fortunate to have caught it early and I’m especially fortunate that I have people around me … who are very supportive and are going to help me get through these difficult several weeks.”

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

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