The Political Report – April 9, 2023

New York Post: “Donald Trump still leads the Republican field in Iowa, according to the first poll taken in the Hawkeye State following Trump’s indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.”

“The J.L. Partners survey shared exclusively with The Post Thursday showed the 76-year-old leading his main prospective rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 47% to 39% among registered Republicans in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup — with 15% still undecided.”

“In a six-person GOP field that includes DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the 45th president receives 41% support, followed by DeSantis on 26%.”

Meanwhile, NBC News suggests DeSantis may try to skip the early primary states.

TEXAS 3RD DISTRICT. Businesswoman Suzanne Harp this week filed FEC paperwork for a potential rematch against freshman Rep. Keith Self, who outpaced her in a truly strange 2022 Republican primary that neither of them exactly won. Last year incumbent Van Taylor scored 49%, just under the majority he needed to win renomination outright, while Self edged out Harp 26-21 for the second spot in the runoff. There was no runoff, though, as Taylor stunned everyone the day after the first round he was ending his re-election campaign because of an affair the married congressman had with a woman named Tania Joya who had fled her ISIS terrorist husband years ago.

That news surfaced on the far-right site National File just before Election Day in part because Harp sent one of her supporters to do the interview with Joya that ran there, but Harp wasn’t the candidate who ultimately benefited from it. Instead, Taylor’s departure automatically made Self the nominee in a gerrymandered Plano-based seat that Trump took 56-42.

OHIO 9TH DISTRICT. Former state Rep. Craig Riedel announced Monday that he’d once again challenge Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a move that comes less than a year after he unexpectedly lost the Republican primary to the disastrous J.R. Majewski 36-31.

Riedel joins former Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski in the nomination contest for a 51-48 Trump seat that Ohio Republicans will have the chance to gerrymander all over again, but it remains to be seen if Majewski will come back to threaten his party’s chances all over again. The last 2022 nominee wrote in late January he was “looking forward to making a decision very soon,” but the prolific tweeter still has yet to reveal his plans.

NEW MEXICO 2ND DISTRICT. Former Rep. Yvette Herrell has publicized an April 10 rally with Speaker Kevin McCarthy where she’ll “launch a new campaign to restore our values and flip this district,” and her spokesperson confirms “she will be making a campaign announcement” there. The Republican opened a new FEC account less than a month after her 50.3-49.7 defeat to Democrat Gabe Vasquez last year in a constituency in the southern New Mexico and western Albuquerque area that Biden took 52-46.

FLORIDA 11TH DISTRICT. Veteran incumbent Daniel Webster on Monday picked up a GOP primary challenge from former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a hard-right extremist who lost last year’s primary for the the neighboring 7th District to now-Rep. Cory Mills. Sabatini, though, made his announcement almost three months after Laura Loomer, a far-right troll who held Webster to a shockingly weak 51-44 victory in their 2022 nomination battle, said she’d seek a rematch. It only takes a plurality of the vote to win the primary for this 55-44 Trump seat, which includes the western Orlando suburbs and The Villages.

MICHIGAN 10TH DISTRICT. Financial planner Diane Young on Monday became the first Democrat to launch a campaign against freshman Republican John James in Michigan’s 10th District, a constituency in the Detroit suburbs that Trump took by a narrow 50-49 margin. Young, who badly lost a 2016 state House race for a dark red seat, said she was entering the race now so she’d have time to bring in money against James, who is a prolific fundraiser.

James won his seat last year by holding off Democrat Carl Marlinga just 48.8-48.3 in an open seat race that the two largest Democratic outside groups spent nothing on, and Democrats very much want to make this a target in 2024. Marlinga reportedly has been telling party activists he plans to run again, but he does not appear to have said anything publicly yet.

CALIFORNIA 12TH DISTRICT. BART Board member Lateefah Simon, who remains the only major declared candidate in this dark blue East Bay seat, last week publicized a long list of endorsements, and two names stand out: 15th District Rep. Kevin Mullin, who represents a San Mateo County seat on the other side of the San Francisco Bay, and Attorney General Rob Bonta, who represented about two-thirds of this constituency in the Assembly until he was appointed to his current job in 2021.

HOUSTON MAYOR. The November nonpartisan primary to succeed termed-out Mayor Sylvester Turner got a little smaller Thursday when former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins announced he was switching to the contest for city comptroller, but one familiar rich guy may take his place before long. Attorney Tony Buzbee, an independent who lost the 2019 runoff to Turner 56-44 after spending $12 million, said earlier in the week that he may run again because he believes he’s the one candidate who could beat Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Buzbee added of a potential second try, “I can spend 15 to 50 million to win, if I think there is a path to victory.” He said of his ideology, “I’m a moderate. I’m not affiliated with any party, but I do (lean) a bit left.” That might be a surprise, though, to the people who attended the 2016 fundraiser at his mansion for Donald Trump.

DENVER MAYOR. Denver has released what Axios says is the “final preliminary vote tally” for Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary, and they confirm that former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough have advanced to the June 6 general election to succeed their fellow Democrat, termed-out Mayor Michael Hancock.

Johnston took first with 24% while Brough edged out criminal justice activist Lisa Calderon 20-18 for second. Late-tabulated ballots favored Calderon, who trailed Brough 22-15 on Wednesday morning, but she conceded after final tallies were released. Brough would be the first woman elected mayor of Colorado’s capital and largest city, a distinction Calderon also would have achieved.

Johnston and Brough are both well-connected candidates who, along with their allied super PACs, were responsible for what AdImpact said was 80% of the spending in the 16-way primary. Johnston, who took third in the 2018 Democratic primary for governor, this time benefited from a super PAC primarily funded by Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn co-founder and Democratic megadonor. Brough, a first-time candidate who served as Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff when he was mayor in the 2000s, in turn was aided by a group that received a plurality of its funding from the National Association of REALTORS.

TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE. Tennessee’s Republican-dominated state House voted to expel two Democratic lawmakers on Thursday for participating in a protest in favor of gun safety legislation on the chamber floor, though a third legislator was unexpectedly spared the same fate. It’s likely, though, the two ejected members won’t be gone very long.

On nearly party-line votes, Republicans removed Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson from the House for violating rules on decorum last week after they led visitors in the gallery in a chant of “gun reform now” following a school shooting in Nashville that left three children and three adults dead. However, Rep. Gloria Johnson retained her post after Republicans fell one vote of the two-thirds supermajority needed to expel her, though all three had previously been stripped of their committee assignments.

Johnson had argued that, though she stood with Jones and Pearson in the well of the chamber, she did not join in the chant or use the megaphone Jones deployed after Republicans cut off his microphone. Seven Republicans wound up voting against her expulsion, but Johnson herself told reporters afterward that the disparate treatment “might have to do with the color of our skin”; Johnson is white while both Jones and Pearson are Black.

Both may also soon return to the House. Under the Tennessee Constitution, vacancies in the state legislature can be filled by the legislative body in the home county of the lawmaker who needs to be replaced, and there’s no prohibition on picking a member who was just expelled. And because these two seats have become vacant more than a year from the next general election, special elections must be held as well—and once again, there’s nothing stopping an expelled former legislator from running.

Immediately after Jones’ ejection, Nashville’s Democratic-leaning Metropolitan Council (which includes surrounding Davidson County) called a special meeting for Monday, at which, says the Nashville Banner’s Steve Cavendish, Jones is likely to be reappointed to his former job representing the 52nd District. Democrats also control the county commission in Shelby County, which includes Pearson’s hometown of Memphis. The commission’s chair said Thursday evening that he will seek to fill the now-vacant 86th District “as soon as possible.”

Pearson said he hopes to get restored to his seat and added that he intends to run in the ensuing special election. (Pearson in fact originally joined the legislature via a special just last month.) Both he and Jones would be locks to win again, given the heavy Democratic lean of both of their districts. And if they do make it back to the legislature, there’s nothing Republicans can do to punish them further, since the state constitution also bars expulsion “a second time for the same offense.”

PENNSYLVANIA 1ST DISTRICT. Retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz declared Thursday that she would seek the Democratic nomination for a rematch against Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who beat her 55-45 in a contest that attracted relatively little outside spending.

Ehasz is the first notable candidate to enter the race for a seat based in Bucks County north of Philadelphia, an area that has long backed Republicans down the ballot even as it has favored Democrats in presidential bids. Fitzpatrick himself turned back a well-funded 2020 rival 57-43 as Biden was taking the old version of his seat 52-47, and redistricting didn’t make any major changes to this constituency.

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

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