The Political Report – May 6, 2023

More Americans support than oppose laws aimed at restricting transgender care for minors, and a majority favor banning transgender women in sports, according to a Scripps News/YouGov poll.

WASHINGTON GOVERNOR. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Tuesday that he’d formed an exploratory committee for a likely 2024 campaign to succeed Gov. Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat who announced his own retirement the previous day, though the Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner notes that Evergreen State law doesn’t actually distinguish between these sorts of entities and full-fledged campaigns. Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, another Democrat who has long expressed interest in running for the top job, also said that day she’d have her own “[b]ig announcement coming soon.”

State Sen. Mark Mullet also expressed interest in joining the top-two primary to succeed the governor who almost managed to topple the moderate Democrat in a truly expensive 2020 contest. Inslee that year cited the incumbent’s opposition to his climate bills as the reason he was backing an intra-party challenge from Ingrid Anderson, while the challenger also hit Mullet for opposing taxes for capital gains and on banks. Labor groups, including the statewide teachers union, supported Anderson in this suburban Seattle constituency, while the Washington Realtors and business groups sided with Mullet in a campaign that saw a hefty $3 million in outside spending.

The state senator ultimately held on by 57 votes in a contest that took six weeks and a hand recount to settle. “It was a shot across the bow what they did in my race last year,” Mullet later said of the effort, adding, “Even though I won, they sent a very powerful message to other people not willing to vote for their policies that they will be willing to take them out.” He told Axios Tuesday that he was considering a bid to replace Inslee because he believed “people want an alternative” to Ferguson, though there’s no word what Mullet thinks of Franz.

Washington’s top-two primary system could allow the state senator to advance to an all-Democratic general election with Ferguson, though a notable Republican candidate could make that much less likely. The only declared GOP contender so far is Richland school board member Misipati Bird, who launched in November and has raised $50,000 so far. Physician Raul Garcia is also mulling a bid after running in 2020, but that race did not go well for him. Garcia entered that contest late and picked up endorsements from several prominent Republicans from yesteryear who said they wanted a moderate option, and all he got for his trouble was 5% in the top-two primary.

Two more prominent Republicans also played down their interest. “I still have no plans to run in 2024,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, while former state House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox told Axios it was “very unlikely” he’d campaign here.

Former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, who has a long history of flirting with running for statewide office but never actually doing it, characteristically responded to questions about his interest in campaigning to succeed retiring Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee with a “[n]ever say never.”

State Rep. Jim Walsh, meanwhile, says it’s a “possibility” he’ll enter next year’s top-two primary, though he may not exactly be the guy Evergreen State Republicans should want as their standard bearer as they try to win their first gubernatorial election since 1980. The state representative apologized in 2021 for comparing COVID mitigation policies to the Holocaust, and he’s bashed a new Washington law meant to protect out-of-state residents who come seeking abortions or gender affirming care.  

Former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, for her part, has yet to say anything publicly about a run for governor, though the Washington Observer says she’s been speaking to donors about the idea. Finally, state party chair Caleb Heimlich lists state Sen. John Braun as one of the Republicans he’s talked to about running, but there’s no word on his interest. “We’re kind of taking all calls right now,” the chair added.

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR. SurveyUSA takes a look at next year’s Republican primaries on behalf of the conservative John Locke Foundation and gives Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson a huge 43-9 edge over former Rep. Mark Walker in the race for governor, with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and Treasurer Dale Folwell clocking in at 8% and 4%, respectively. Robinson and Folwell are the only ones who have announced bids yet, though Walker’s team says he’ll join this month. Troxler, for his part, hasn’t shown any obvious interest in competing here.  

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. NV-Sen: Jim Marchant, the Big Lie spreader who narrowly lost last year’s race for Nevada secretary of state, on Tuesday became the first notable Republican to launch a bid against Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen. Marchant quickly showed that he was planning to run the same type of race as last time with a kickoff featuring fellow far-right figures like Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and Michael Flynn and where the candidate proclaimed, “We have to encourage principled, ‘America first’ MAGA candidates to run for office.”

But while Gosar and Flynn may be eager to have Marchant back on the ballot, the Republicans who are searching for a candidate who can actually beat Rosen aren’t likely to be so happy. The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston relays that party insiders want Army veteran Sam Brown, who ran an unexpectedly strong 2022 primary campaign for the state’s other Senate seat, to try again, and added, “Marchant is the nominee, and that would not surprise me, this race is over. Period.”

Marchant first won a seat in the state legislature in 2016 only to narrowly lose reelection two years later, and he proceeded to go up against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in 2020. The Republican responded to his incontrovertible 51-46 defeat by baselessly claiming he was the “victim of election fraud” and unsuccessfully suing to overturn the results, but he didn’t stop there. Marchant, who has repeatedly addressed QAnon gatheringsassembled a 2022 “America First” slate of conspiracy theorist candidates running to control their state’s elections.

One prominent member of that slate was Marchant himself, who insisted during his campaign for secretary of state that anyone who won an election in Nevada since 2006 was “installed by the deep-state cabal.” It’s not clear what the former assemblyman attributed his 2016 victory to, though he explained the endless string of courtroom losses Trump allies were dealt when they sought to undo the 2020 election by insisting, “A lot of judges were bought off too—they are part of this cabal.”

Marchant didn’t restrict his conspiracy mongering to domestic events, though, as he let loose an antisemitic rant against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the early weeks of the Russian invasion. “We need to support the people in Ukraine that are not the Bidens, the Clintons, the cabal,” said Marchant, continuing, “They have patriots like us … that have been oppressed by the cabal, the central bankers for centuries. And that’s who we need to support people that were oppressed by the Soros cabal.”

None of this was at all a disqualifier for GOP voters, of course, who proceeded to hand Marchant a 38-20 primary victory over developer Jesse Haw. National Democrats, though, very much recognized the threat Marchant posed and they directed millions to aid opponent Cisco Aguilar in the general election. There was no accompanying Republican spending spree, which likely made all the difference in a year where Aguilar prevailed by a tight 49-47 margin.

Marchant uncharacteristically went quiet for some time afterward, though it didn’t last. He instead used his first post-Election Day tweet in March to respond to Trump’s looming indictment by saying he’d founded his Big Lie slate “to counter & reverse this Soros takeover strategy which has now led to the attempt to indict & arrest the rightful President of the United States.”

MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR. Democrat Brandon Presley has publicized an internal from Impact Research showing him trailing Republican incumbent Tate Reeves only 47-44, which the memo says is an improvement from his 49-42 deficit in an unreleased December poll. Presley showcased these numbers days after a Siena College survey for Mississippi Today found things moving in the opposite direction: The school’s April numbers put the governor ahead 49-38, a big improvement from his 43-39 edge in January.  

The only poll we’ve seen conducted in the intervening time was a March offering from Mason-Dixon that showed the governor, who like Pressley has no serious intra-party opposition, up 46-39.

TEXAS U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) launched his campaign for U.S. Senate, saying Texas “can’t afford six more years” of incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said Allred: “The political extremism that we are becoming increasingly known for is a real risk to our business community and our path forward. It’s making some folks say they don’t want to send their kids to school in our state. We can go in a different direction.”

The Cook Political Report moves the race from Solid Republican to Likely Republican.

Allred, who played as a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans before becoming a civil rights lawyer, released a video that begins, “When I left the NFL, I thought my days of putting people on the ground were over. Then Jan. 6 happened.” The congressman continues by saying that, while he “took off my jacket and got ready to take on anyone who came through that door,” Cruz encouraged the rioters before hiding in a supply closet. “But that’s Ted for you,” says Allred, “all hat, no cattle.”

Democrats haven’t won a single statewide race in Texas since 1994, but Cruz’s surprisingly small 51-48 victory against Beto O’Rourke in 2018 gives the party some reasons for optimism in a cycle where they have so few other viable Senate targets. But before Allred, who would be the Lone Star State’s first Black senator, can focus on his potentially history-making bid, he’ll need to prepare for what could be a competitive primary against state Sen. Roland Gutierrez.

The San Antonio Express-News wrote last month that people close to Gutierrez, who would be the first Latino Democrat to represent the state, believe he’s “nearly certain” to get in, though the San Antonio-based legislator says he’ll make his choice after the legislative session ends on May 29. But unlike Allred, who had $2.2 million stockpiled at the end of March in his federal campaign account, Gutierrez would need to start his fundraising from scratch. Cruz, for his part, finished the first quarter of the year with $3.3 million to defend himself in this expensive state.

It’s possible that other Democrats may also take an interest in this race, though no one else has publicly expressed interest. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was reportedly interested in February, but the Texas Tribune writes that a spokesperson indicated he “does not plan to run.” Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, meanwhile, endorsed Allred.

Allred himself first reached Congress by winning both a tough primary and general election campaign in 2018 in a suburban Dallas constituency that once appeared unwinnable for his party. Two years earlier, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions secured his 11th term without any Democratic opposition—even as his 32nd Congressional District was swinging hard to the left from 57-41 Romney to 49-47 Clinton—and plenty of observers doubted that longtime GOP voters were ready to abandon their party down the ticket.

Sessions was one of them, saying in October 2017 that he’d “begged the NRCC, even when I was chairman, ‘Keep the hell away from Dallas, Texas,'” and that, “We need to go in somewhere else, it’s up to me to win in Dallas, Texas. It’s not up to some other group.” Allred was one of several Democrats who believed otherwise, but he initially struggled to raise money in a crowded nomination contest. However, he unexpectedly took first place in the primary before convincingly winning the runoff, and it soon became apparent, even to Sessions, that this was one of the most competitive races in the nation.

Conservative outside groups, despite the incumbent’s earlier pleas, did indeed spend millions here, and one of their products was an infamous digital ad showing an image of a darkened hand over a white woman’s mouth. Allred ended up toppling the once-invincible Sessions by a 52-46 margin, and the former NRCC chair responded to his defeat by whining that he’d been the victim of “an incredible amount of money and an overwhelming sense of mischaracterization.”

Sessions initially considered a 2020 rematch with the new congressman but unexpectedly decided to wage a successful bid to return to the House 80 miles away in the dark red 17th District. Wealthy businesswoman Genevieve Collins instead stepped up to take on Allred, but major outside groups this time steered clear of a seat that was moving the wrong way for the GOP. The Democrat went on to turn in another 52-46 win as Joe Biden was taking this former GOP stronghold 54-44, and Republican mapmakers soon decided to make the 32nd safely blue in order to shore up their incumbents in other Dallas-area seats.

Allred, who for once had no serious GOP opposition to worry about, soon drew attention as a possible challenger for Cruz, and he made it official Wednesday. The congressman, after recounting the incumbent’s infamous vacation to Cancun during the 2021 Texas freeze, declared in his launch video, “He’ll do anything to get on Fox News, but he can’t be bothered to help keep rural Texas hospitals open … the struggles of regular Texans just don’t interest him.”

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) on Wednesday announced his endorsement of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) in the competitive Democratic Senate primary in California, breaking with former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is supporting Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Washington Post reports.

Los Angeles Times: “[Katie] Porter is far from the first politician to try to elevate her profile and charm voters and potential donors by releasing a memoir while kicking off a campaign for higher office.”

“But Porter’s strategy is another example of how a Senate campaign in California, a vast territory that’s home to nearly 40 million people, can require almost quasi-national campaign tactics.”

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. John Tuttle, who serves as vice chair of the New York Stock Exchange, is the newest Republican name to surface as a possible contender in a race where the party doesn’t currently have any viable options. Politico’s Ally Mutnick writes that Tuttle, who “splits his time” between New York and Michigan, is mulling over the idea, and NRSC chair Steve Daines praised him as “a strong potential recruit.”

NEW JERSEY U.S. SENATOR. The New Jersey Globe writes that no notable Republicans appear interested in taking on Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez even as he’s under federal investigation for corruption, though the article mentioned state Sen. Mike Testa, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, and Warren County Commissioner Lori Ciesla as possible just-in-case contenders.  

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig on Monday formed an exploratory committee, a step no other Democrats have taken yet as they wait to see if GOP Gov. Chris Sununu will seek another term next year. Craig, who didn’t say how she’d be affected by the incumbent’s deliberations, kicked off her effort with support from former Gov. John Lynch, who left office in 2013 after completing his fourth two-year term.

Later in the day 2022 nominee Tom Sherman said he would not be running again, but another Democrat isn’t dismissing chatter she could campaign for governor. Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, who has reportedly been thinking about running, responded to Craig’s announcement by saying, “There will be plenty of time for politics later.”

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. Self-funder Kelly Craft’s latest ad attacking Attorney General Daniel Cameron ahead of the May 16 GOP primary also functions as a broadside against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who played a key role in making her ambassador to the United Nations. Craft frames the contest as a choice between “[c]areer politicians, who would rather follow than lead,” a statement that’s accompanied by a picture of a smiling Cameron and McConnell. She goes on to extol herself as a “proven leader” and “an outsider not owned by the establishment.” McConnell, for his part, has not publicly taken sides in this contest.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. An unnamed source tells The Dispatch that businessman Kevin Nicholson is “keeping a close eye on” getting into the GOP primary to face Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, a contest where the party is waiting for its first viable contender to step up. Nicholson is a former College Democrats of America president who lost the 2018 primary to face Baldwin and dropped out of last year’s nomination contest for governor.

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. The Republican firm co/efficient has conducted a survey arguing that Gov. Jim Justice is well ahead in both the GOP primary against Rep. Alex Mooney and the general election with Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin, though it did not respond to an inquiry as it was done for a client. Justice, who entered the race two days after this survey was finished, posts a 45-17 edge over Rep. Alex Mooney, while he leads Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin 43-29. But the incumbent, who says he’ll decide in December, edges out Mooney 36-30.

While it’s not clear if co/efficient has a rooting interest, its memo, which was released to the National Journal, very much touts the governor as a strong recruit. It declares he “holds a dramaitc [sic] image advantage over Mooney that may prove insurmountable,” while Manchin may win re-election “without a well known and well liked Republican challenger like Governor Justice.”

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

0 comments on “The Political Report – May 6, 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: