The Political Report – April 12, 2023

With former President Donald Trump now formally charged on criminal charges, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds 53% of Americans believe he intentionally did something illegal. An additional 11% say he acted wrongly but not intentionally. Only 20% believe Trump did not do anything wrong, and 16% say they don’t know.

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds Donald Trump’s favorable rating at just 25%.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 40% of Republicans said the criminal case against Donald Trump made them more likely to vote for Donald Trump in 2024, while 12% said it made them less likely to support him. Another 38% said it had no impact.

In the GOP primary race, Trump leads Ron DeSantis for the Republican nomination by a wide margin, 58% to 21%. On Monday, Trump had only 48% support among Republicans.

A new Victory Insights poll in Florida finds Donald Trump leading Ron DeSantis in a Republican presidential primary, 43% to 35%.

A new Morning Consult poll of “potential Republican primary voters” finds Donald Trump leading Ron DeSantis in a 2024 GOP primary match up, 56% to 23%.

Seth Masket: “The number of undecided really hasn’t shifted. Trump’s new supporters are coming from the DeSantis camp. And support for other candidates hasn’t really shifted much yet.”

Tufts Public Opinion Lab: “All respondents saw a preface about a Republican nominee for a Congressional seat in their state named Terry Mitchell. Respondents either viewed ‘conventional’ Republican viewpoints (lowering taxes, limiting government’s role in healthcare, and opposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants) or ‘unconventional’ Republican viewpoints (increasing taxes, expanding government’s role in healthcare, and supporting citizenship for undocumented immigrants). Respondents then received one of three Trump endorsement conditions: Trump’s support for Mitchell, Trump’s disapproval of Mitchell, or no mention of Trump.”

“Our findings provide strong evidence that Trump hurts Republican candidates in general election contests. Among respondents who saw the condition where Trump was not mentioned, the average favorability rating was 52 points. When participants were shown a scenario with a Trump endorsement, Mitchell’s favorability decreased by 7 points on average.”

NORTH CAROLINA REDISTRICTING AND STATE HOUSE. At a Wednesday press conference where state Rep. Tricia Cotham made her previously reported switch from the Democratic Party to the GOP official, Republican state House Speaker Tim Moore made some news of his own when he said his party expects to redistrict North Carolina’s maps for Congress, the state Senate, and—most notably—the state House. While observers had long expected Republicans to revisit the first two maps, Moore’s comments reveal that the GOP is in fact planning a much broader redraw than is allowed under state law.

In December, the state Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering violated the state constitution and struck down the congressional and state Senate maps that Republicans enacted last year, ordering they be redrawn for 2024. However, in that same decision, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ challenge of the GOP’s state House map. Because North Carolina’s constitution prohibits mid-decade redistricting of legislative districts barring a court order, the justices determined that the state House map was “established” and therefore binding for the rest of the decade.

That decision, however, was issued by the high court’s previous Democratic majority; a month earlier, Republicans had flipped control of the court but did not actually assume power until January. Once they did, though, the new GOP majority accepted GOP lawmakers’ request to rehear the case, an unprecedented move that led dissenting Democratic justices to brand it a “display of raw partisanship.” The court held oral arguments last month and could issue a new decision at any time.

Legal experts widely expect the GOP majority to reverse December’s ruling and re-legalize gerrymandering, but that alone would not empower the GOP to redraw the state House map, since December’s ruling rejected claims that it constituted an illegal gerrymander. Any new decision permitting Republicans to alter the state House map would amount to an even more egregiously partisan action by the court’s new majority.

Republican lawmakers contend that they can nevertheless redraw the current state House map, arguing that it was not legally “established” because the courts preliminarily blocked the original legislative maps that Republicans drew in 2021 on the basis of illegal partisan gerrymandering while the case proceeded on the merits. But following that ruling, Republicans enacted a second set of maps that were not as extreme as their first pair. These replacement maps were used in last year’s elections and remain in place today.

Republicans claim that judicial intervention to temporarily bar the first House map means that the second map was not “established” because legislators only drew that second map after being compelled to act by the courts. But Republicans in fact voluntarily chose to pass a revised map. They could instead have continued fighting to preserve their initial map and let the courts temporarily implement one for just the 2022 elections while the case remained pending. (Under state law, a court-imposed remedial map may be used “in the next general election only.”)

Legal journalist Billy Corriher called the GOP’s argument “incredibly weak,” but the Supreme Court’s Republican majority may nonetheless play along. If it does, the justices could allow GOP lawmakers to lock in the three-fifths supermajority that they regained from Cotham’s party switch for years to come—and simultaneously return her favor by making her current safely blue district much redder in the process.

LOUISIANA STATE HOUSE. “Democrats in the Louisiana House have lost another member, the second party switch in less than a month amid a yearslong decline in Democratic electoral fortunes,” the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

“State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe, a Democrat who was elected in 2019 to District 18, spanning parts of Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes, said Monday he is switching his party affiliation to Republican.”

DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION. “The Democratic National Committee selected Chicago to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, with the city beating bids from Atlanta and New York,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

“The convention will take place Aug. 19 to 22 next year.”


  • NV-Sen: Jacky Rosen (D-inc): $2.4 million raised, $6 million cash-on-hand
  • CA-30: Mike Feuer (D): $654,000 raised (in eight weeks), $630,000 cash on hand
  • RI-02: Seth Magaziner (D-inc): $360,000 raised

“House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) on Tuesday announced a whopping $2.2 million haul in the first quarter of the 2024 cycle,” Politico reports.

“That figure is part of a massive GOP fundraising push this year, led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to seek record-breaking sums as Republicans work to hold onto their narrow House margin next November.”

TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE. Just days after being expelled from the Tennessee legislature for taking part in a demonstration on the House floor, Democrat Justin Jones was unanimously restored to his post by Nashville’s Metropolitan Council. Republicans had sought Jones’ ouster after he used a megaphone to lead a chant in favor of gun law reforms from the chamber’s well, but the state constitution gives local county governments the power to fill vacancies. (The Metro Council is officially nonpartisan but leans Democratic.)

The constitution also forbids lawmakers from punishing members twice for the same offense, so Jones should be able to keep his seat until a special election can be held for a permanent replacement—a race in which he’s also eligible to run. Jones was unopposed last year in his bid for the safely blue 52nd District, though he first had to win a competitive primary.

A second Democrat who was ejected from the House, Justin Pearson, is also likely to be reinstated when the Shelby County Commission meets on Wednesday to discuss the fate of the Memphis-area 86th District, another deep blue seat. Like Jones, Pearson also ran uncontested when he won a special election just last month after dominating a large primary field.

One commissioner who supports Pearson said that Republican legislative leaders have threatened to cut funding for the county if it sends Pearson back to the legislature. GOP lawmakers have also retaliated against Nashville for thwarting their plans to host the 2024 Republican convention by, among other things, passing a bill to cut the 40-member Metro Council in half, but that effort was temporarily blocked by a court on Monday.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Bob Casey confirmed Monday he’d seek a fourth term, a long-anticipated decision that still relieves Democrats who weren’t looking forward to the idea of defending an open seat in a swing state. Republican leaders continue to hope that rich guy ​​Dave McCormick will take on Casey after narrowly losing the 2022 primary for the other Senate seat, though McCormick has yet to reveal any timeline for deciding beyond sometime this year. Those same GOP leaders are also not looking forward to the prospect that state Sen. Doug Mastriano could make trouble for them again after his catastrophic bid for governor last cycle.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) “will seek a fourth term in office, bringing the power of incumbency and unmatched name recognition in Pennsylvania politics to his party’s defense of a seat in a critical presidential battleground state,” the AP reports.

MELANIA TRUMP. Sources tell Page Six that Melania Trump has agreed to be a fixture on her husband’s 2024 campaign.

Said one source: “He told her, ‘I really need you for this because we are going to be campaigning.’ They had a major talk over the weekend, and she has… agreed to be on board.”

However, People magazine reports she “simply wants to be left alone.”

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. The latest Michigan Republican to express interest in the state’s open Senate race is former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who ran a chaotic 2022 campaign for governor even before he was ejected from the ballot over fraudulent signatures. But Craig, who went on to wage a hopeless write-in campaign last year, remains characteristically undeterred, telling The Detroit News he’s giving a Senate effort a “real critical look” but has no timeline to make up his mind. Several more disastrous Republican candidates from last cycle are also eyeing Senate runs in other states, though unlike Craig, they were at least able to make the ballot before losing.

Craig was the frontrunner in the summer of 2021 when he entered the GOP primary to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, though his initial announcement that he was forming an exploratory committee―an entity that doesn’t actually exist under Michigan law―was an early omen about the problems ahead. Indeed, the former chief’s bid would experience several major shakeups, including the departure of two different campaign managers in less than four months.

Craig, who also made news for his heavy spending, got some more unwelcome headlines in April of 2022 when Rep. Jack Bergman announced he was switching his endorsement to self-funding businessman Perry Johnson; Bergman complained that his first choice ignored “campaigning in Northern Michigan and the [Upper Peninsula] in favor of a self proclaimed Detroit-centric approach.” Still, polls showed Craig well ahead in the primary as he sought to become the Wolverine State’s first Black governor.

Everything changed in May, though, when election authorities disqualified Craig, Johnson, and three other contenders from the ballot after they fell victim to a huge fraudulent signature scandal and failed to turn in enough valid petitions. Both Craig and Johnson both unsuccessfully sued to get reinstated, but only the former chief decided to forge ahead with a write-in campaign to win the GOP nod.

Craig blustered, “I’m going to win,” but he became an afterthought even before far-right radio commentator Tudor Dixon emerged as the new frontrunner. Craig’s write-in effort ended up taking all of 2% of the vote, though he was far from willing to back Dixon after she secured the nomination that once looked his for the taking. He instead endorsed U.S. Taxpayers Party contender Donna Brandenburg, who had also been ejected from the Republican primary, saying that Dixon’s extreme opposition to abortion rights went too far even for him. Whitmer soon won 54-44, with Brandenburg in fourth with just 0.4%.

Craig’s newest campaign flirtations come at a time when no major Republicans have stepped up to run for the Senate seat held by retiring Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. The only notable declared contender is state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, who also failed to make the primary ballot in 2020 when she tried to challenge Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin. (Dixon herself didn’t shut the door on a Senate bid right after Stabenow announced her departure in January, but we’ve heard little from her over the following three months.)

Slotkin continues to have the Democratic side to herself, though actor Hill Harper reportedly plans to run and state Board of Education President Pamela Pugh is publicly considering herself.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. “Mark Lamb, a right-wing sheriff and an ally of former President Donald Trump known for his policing of elections and his defiance of a pandemic lockdown, announced Tuesday that he would run for Senate in Arizona next year, a contest that could determine control of the closely divided chamber,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Lamb became the first high-profile Republican to compete for the seat, one currently held by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in December to become an independent. Ms. Sinema has not said whether she will run, but if she does, there is already one Democratic challenger: Representative Ruben Gallego, a progressive Democrat from Phoenix.”

“Lamb’s entrance could set up a key Republican primary match-up with Kari Lake, the defeated gubernatorial candidate and close ally of Donald Trump who has yet to rule out her own run.” Plenty of other Republicans are waiting to see if Kari Lake, who still pretends she won last year’s race for governor, will run, but Lamb evidently doesn’t plan to defer to his onetime ally.    

Sinema herself hasn’t revealed her 2024 plans yet, but the Wall Street Journal also published a story Friday detailing how she recently held a staff retreat to plan a potential re-election campaign, which included a slideshow detailing key dates ahead. FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich points out, though, “This feels a little more like ‘taking the steps you need to take to run’ rather than ‘definitely running.'”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Bernie Moreno (R), a self-funding businessman who abandoned a 2022 bid for Senate in Ohio after huddling with former President Donald Trump, will try again in 2024, NBC News reports.

Wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno has a “special announcement” set for April 18, and NBC’s Henry Gomez anticipates he’ll use it to launch his anticipated campaign against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Moreno threw down $3.8 million of his own money for his 2022 quest for the state’s other Senate seat only to drop out months ahead of the Republican primary, a move he said came after he and Donald Trump agreed “this race has too many Trump candidates and could cost the MAGA movement a conservative seat.” Moreno’s departure was widely interpreted as an attempt to shrink the field to make it tougher for state Sen. Matt Dolan, a self-funding Trump skeptic who is also running again this cycle.

PHILADELHIA MAYOR.  A judge on Monday issued a temporary order banning grocer Jeff Brown’s super PAC allies from spending more money on his behalf, a move that came after the Philadelphia Board of Ethics filed a lawsuit alleging that Brown and For A Better Philadelphia had improperly coordinated ahead of the May 16 Democratic primary. The PAC’s attorney said that the group, which has spent $1.1 million, had finished its spending for the campaign and would agree to the order, though it pushed back on the board’s claims. A full hearing is set for April 24.

The board alleges that Brown “engaged in extensive fundraising” for the PAC’s nonprofit arm, which in turn financed its electoral efforts. The candidate’s attorney disputes this, calling the suit “a disagreement on campaign finance between the lawyers.”

Former City Council member Maria Quiñones Sánchez revealed Sunday that she was suspending her campaign to win the May 16 Democratic primary, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer, “The obnoxious, obscene amount of money that is shaping the race just got away from us.” Quiñones Sánchez, who was the only Latino in the contest, added that she made her decision after seeing how much her opponents and their super PAC allies had raised and spent, saying, “I’m very concerned about the money in the race.”

Quiñones Sánchez’s departure took place days after fellow former City Council member Cherelle Parker on Wednesday secured the backing of the deep-pocketed International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, which remains one of the city’s most powerful unions even after longtime leader John Dougherty’s 2021 departure following his conviction for federal bribery charges. Local 98 finished late March with a massive $13.8 million on hand, and it has a history of spending big for its favorite candidates.

These developments come as two wealthy candidates continue to enjoy a huge advertising edge ahead of the busy and unpredictable primary, where it takes just a plurality to win the all-important nomination in this dark blue city. The Inquirer says that former Council member Allan Domb, a self-funding real estate magnate nicknamed the “Condo King,” has deployed $5.6 million on ads through April 4. Grocer Jeff Brown has spent $1.6 million while For A Better Philadelphia, an allied super PAC that has not disclosed its donors, has thrown down another $1.1 million.

Former city Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, for her part, so far has outspent Parker’s campaign $456,000 to $274,000 on the air. Parker’s supporters at Philadelphians For Our Future, which is primarily funded by unions like the Laborers District Council, has deployed an additional $460,000 for her, though, in the leadup to the primary.

Another former councilmember, Helen Gym, has benefited from $583,000 from the American Federation of Teachers affiliate Fighting Together for Philadelphia, while her own campaign just begun a $128,000 opening ad campaign. Gym’s inaugural ad features her pledging to issue “a state of emergency on crime, fix the 911 system, and put mental health first responders on the street.” Derek Green and Quiñones Sánchez, who are also former council members, have deployed just $82,000 and $43,000, respectively, while state Rep. Amen Brown barely registers at $13,000.

Brown (who is not related to Jeff Brown) launched his campaign last year in an actual smoke-filled room in New York City accompanied by prominent developer Marty Burger, who has reportedly predicted the state representative would have $5 million in super PAC support, but not a dollar has been spent on his behalf. “I can’t talk about it,” Burger told the Inquirer at the end of March, “But you’ll see something happen.” We’re still waiting both to see if something will happen and for Brown to file the campaign fundraising reports that were due Tuesday.

The other notable contenders all met this deadline, though, so we know that Domb goes into the final weeks with a $1.7 million to $1.4 million cash-on-hand edge over Gym. Rhynhart and Parker had $854,000 to $607,000, respectively, compared to $409,000 for Brown; the grocer, though, has self-funded $1 million so far, so like Domb, he may be capable of throwing down more of his own money over the next few weeks. Green, finally, had $304,000 in the bank, which was a little less than the $321,000 that Quiñones Sánchez reported just before she suspended her bid.

We’ve seen all of one poll here, a mid-March FM3 survey for Jeff Brown’s allies that showed him in front with 24%: Gym and Domb took 15% each to Rhynhart’s 12%, with Parker and Quinones-Sanchez at 7% apiece and no one else breaking 2%.

ALLEGHENY COUNTY (PA) DISTRICT ATTORNEY and EXECUTIVE. The first poll we’ve seen of the May 16 Democratic primary is an early March survey from the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies for the “business-organized labor-workforce-economic development alliance” Pittsburgh Works Together, and it shows county Treasurer John Weinstein leading Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb 28-24 as state Rep. Sara Innamorato took 17%. No other candidate earned more than 2% in the nomination fight to succeed termed-out incumbent Rich Fitzgerald in this loyally blue community.

WESA’s Chris Potter writes that, while party insiders “say the numbers track with other internal polls taken in March,” much has happened since this POS survey was conducted. Weinstein launched his first ads in late February and had a monopoly on the airwaves for weeks, but Lamb, Innamorato, and attorney Dave Fawcett have since started running commercials. Weinstein also has attracted weeks of scrutiny over his ethics in office, including what Potter weeks ago characterized as “alleged secret deals to be returned to the board of the county’s sewer authority.”

Pennsylvania Justice & Public Safety PAC, which is affiliated with a national organization largely funded by philanthropist George Soros, has gone on the offensive against Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala with a spot accusing him of having “betrayed our values” over his two decades in office. Zappala is trying to fend off an intra-party challenge from the left from county Chief Public Defender Matt Dugan, whom the PAC supports in the May 16 Democratic primary.

This ad, which WESA’s Chris Potter writes appears to be the first negative one of the contest, lays out a litany of allegations against Zappala, including how a “judge accused Zappala’s office of giving sweetheart deals to white defendants.” Potter says that a judge in 2010 rejected a plea deal that the district attorney’s office made with a man accused of fighting with police, saying it was “a ridiculous plea that only goes to white boys.” (Potter adds that the judge later recused himself from the case.)

The narrator also declares that Zappala “even jailed a woman who had a miscarriage,” with the accompanying on-screen text reading, “The woman’s lawyer called it ‘The most abusive prosecution I’ve ever witnessed.'” WESA explains that one of his prosecutors in 2007 charged a woman who, following a miscarriage, put the fetus in the freezer, a story that resurfaced during the 2016 attorney general primary as Zappala competed against now-Gov. Josh Shapiro.

Zappala seven years ago responded to Shapiro’s commercial about the story by saying the charges were filed, with the support of the woman’s family, to ensure she received mental health treatment. “I’ve got nothing to hide about my position on a woman’s right to choose,” said Zappala, who did not prosecute the woman in question. Her attorney, though, declared that the district attorney was behind “the most abusive prosecution I’ve ever witnessed.” Shapiro won that race 47-37, though Zappala scored 73% in Allegheny County.

The only poll we’ve seen was a February GQR internal for Dugan, which Potter says his campaign recently showed donors, that found Zappala initially leading 56-26 before respondents learned more about each contender. The memo argues that Dugan can win once he gets his message out because “Democratic primary voters find Zappala’s preferential treatment for white defendants and fierce defense of police brutality most offensive,” and this PAC appears to listening as it tries to help the public defender pull off an upset next month.

President Biden on Monday said he plans on running for reelection in 2024, but he’s not yet ready to make an official announcement, The Hill reports.

CNN: “The President has been notoriously deliberate over the course of decades in public office, often putting off major decisions until the 11th hour. But holding off on making a reelection announcement is rooted in far more practical considerations, aides say, first and foremost of which is focusing on governing matters such as raising the debt ceiling and avoiding getting drawn into the political fray a moment sooner than he must.”

Said a longtime Democratic adviser: “He’s not ambivalent about serving a second term, but he’s in no rush to be a candidate again. What’s the upside?”

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Republican Stephen Waguespack says he’s raised about $900,000 in the four weeks since he stepped down as head of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry to run for governor, but his super PAC allies have taken in considerably more to help jump start his campaign. Delta Good Hands and Reboot Louisiana together have hauled in $2.23 million during the not-quite quarterly fundraising period that finished April 7; reports are due for everyone April 17.

Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin reports that Republican state Treasurer John Schroder has spent $290,000 on TV ads from mid-March through mid-April at a time when he has the broadcast TV airwaves to himself. The few polls we’ve seen have shown Schroder taking 3% at best well ahead of the October all-party primary, though no one has released any surveys in the month since the current field took shape.

ARIZONA 1ST DISTRICT. Businessman Andrei Cherny on Thursday became the latest Arizona Democrat to announce a campaign to unseat Republican Rep. David Schweikert in the competitive 1st Congressional District, a move that comes a decade after Cherny lost a nasty House primary to none other than Kyrsten Sinema. He joins state Rep. Amish Shah and orthodontist Andrew Horne in the campaign to flip a seat in northeastern Phoenix and Scottsdale that Joe Biden took by a narrow 50-49.

Cherny in October stepped down after nine years as CEO of Aspiration, a startup backed by stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr. that the Arizona Republic’s Tara Kavaler describes as “a sustainability-focused financial services company that serves as an alternative to big banks.” Cherny before that had an active, though electorally unsatisfying, political career that began when he made history at age 21 when the Clinton administration made him still the youngest White House speechwriter in history.

He went on to seek office himself in 2002 when he campaigned for a seat in the California Assembly, but he decisively lost the primary. Cherny later relocated to Arizona and worked under Attorney General Terry Goddard, and he also published a well-reviewed 2008 nonfiction book about the 1948 Berlin airlift. He sought elected office himself in 2010 when he campaigned for state treasurer, but he lost the general election to future Gov. Doug Ducey 52-41 at the same time that his old boss, Goddard, was unsuccessfully challenging sitting Gov. Jan Brewer.

Cherny soon rebounded by winning the state party chairmanship, and he soon began eyeing a campaign for the 9th Congressional District, a newly created constituency that began the decade as competitive turf. (About 20% of the residents of the seat Cherny is seeking now live in the boundaries of the old 9th.) He also made an indelible contribution to the political vocabulary when his name first surfaced, saying, “That’s the great ‘mentioner’ out there, and there are going to be a lot of people mentioned. I think the best rule in situations like this is, ‘The folks who are talking don’t know, and the folks who know aren’t talking.'”

Cherny’s actual campaign for the 9th, though, didn’t go so well, as quite a few details about him emerged that would be unappealing to most Democrats. They included racist mailers he produced during his 2002 California campaign; allegations by Sinema that he’d privately told would-be supporters her bisexuality was a political liability; comments he made in 2010 expressing affinity for the tea party movement and opposition to the Affordable Care Act; and a 2000 book he wrote in which he called Social Security “a huge and antiquated Ponzi scheme.”

Cherny sported endorsements from Clinton and Goddard, and Al Gore, as well as a fundraising edge, but all of this was far from enough to put him over the top. Sinema, who was years away from being utterly reviled by progressives, ended up beating fellow state Sen. David Schapira 41-30, with Cherny taking last with 29%. Since then, most of the attention Cherny has cultivated has come from his time leading Aspiration, with Fortune running a 2020 article about him titled, “This former D.C. insider is building a bank for ‘forgotten Americans.'”

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

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