The Political Report – May 12, 2023

A new Yahoo/YouGov poll finds President Biden with a 43% approval rating and general election leads over both Donald Trump, 45% to 43%, and Ron DeSantis, 45% to 42%.

 “Polls in May 2024 will be of dubious value… Polls in May 2023 are worth as much as Theranos stock.”— Former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, quoted by the New York Times.

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR. As they seek a challenger to take on Republican Sen. Rick Scott next year, some Florida Democrats are reportedly hoping that a former NBA superstar will lace up his high-tops and check in at the scorer’s table. According to a new story from NBC, some major donors are trying to woo Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade while others are pursuing Hall of Famer Grant Hill, who spent seven years with the Orlando Magic.

Wade, who played 15 of his 17 seasons in Miami and won three championships—one alongside Shaquille O’Neal and two with LeBron James—would likely be the bigger name. In 2021, two years after his retirement, the NBA named him one of the top 75 players in league history, and he, too, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

But just last month, Wade, a part-owner of the Utah Jazz, explained that he’d left the state on account of anti-trans legislation Republican lawmakers have recently passed, saying that “my family would not be accepted or feel comfortable there.” (Wade’s teenage daughter is trans, and his family lives in Los Angeles.)

Hill was a seven-time All-Star during his 18-year career, which came to a close in 2013; he last played for the Magic during the 2006-2007 season and has for years lived in the Orlando area. Since his playing days, he’s worked as a basketball analyst and became a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks in 2015.

He’s also long had an interest in politics: He interned for another NBA icon, Bill Bradley, when Bradley represented New Jersey in the Senate and graduated from Duke with a degree in history and political science. In an interview following his retirement, Hill said, “I really like the world of politics, and I look forward to just participating more than I have in the last 20 years.” He’s often supported Democratic candidates and once shot hoops with Barack Obama on the former president’s birthday.

But as is usually the case when celebrities are courted for political office, neither man has publicly said a word about the possibility of running, and a campaign by either is unlikely. As NBC notes, the recruitment efforts “have not been driven by either the state or national parties” but rather by wealthy donors and political operatives acting on their own.

Much more probable is a bid by an established Democratic politician. Several names have circulated so far, but NBC adds one fresh possibility: Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins, who hasn’t spoken about her interest but was vetted by Charlie Crist as a possible running mate during his unsuccessful campaign for governor last year. In addition, state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who’d previously been mentioned, has now indicated he’s thinking about the race, saying he’ll “evaluate how I can best serve Floridians, whether that be in the Florida Senate or elsewhere” in the “coming months.”

Two final updates concern a pair of former U.S. House members, Stephanie Murphy and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Murphy, who did not seek reelection last cycle, previously declined to rule out a bid in December. While her stance hasn’t changed, it’s notable that she still hasn’t foreclosed a run in new comments to NBC, since we hadn’t otherwise heard from her since last year.

Mucarsel-Powell, who lost reelection in 2020 to Republican Carlos Giménez, by contrast first surfaced as a possibility last month when Inside Elections reported she was weighing a run. She confirms to NBC that she has “a lot to consider,” but said she was currently focused on her work with the gun safety organization Giffords.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Wealthy businessman Eric Hovde said Tuesday he’d decide within the next six months if he’ll challenge Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in a contest where the GOP is still looking for a viable contender.

While Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany initially told Punchbowl News Tuesday that he planned to announce a bid against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the summer, his spokesperson quickly followed up by declaring that the congressman only “plans to make a decision this summer on whether or not he’s running.” Tiffany said last month that he’d prefer it if fellow Rep. Mike Gallagher campaigns for Senate instead of himself, and Gallagher has yet to rule anything out.

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga reaffirmed this week that he’s still interested in running for the Senate, though he acknowledged that party infighting could make things tougher. The congressman noted that local Republicans launched an unsuccessful attempt to deny him renomination when he told the Wall Street Journal, “Michigan, to be frank, is a mess politically right now.” He added, “It’s going to be hard attracting good candidates for all offices, and we need to work through that and figure it out in a hurry.”

INDIANA GOVERNOR. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch on Tuesday unveiled an endorsement from Rep. Greg Pence, who is the brother of Mike Pence, for the 2024 Republican primary. Politico reported back in January that Indiana political watchers had “widely gossiped” about the idea the congressman could forgo a re-election campaign to instead serve as Crouch’s running mate, but we haven’t heard anything about the idea since then.

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR. Former Rep. Mark Walker, who has been flirting with a bid for the GOP nod, has a “special announcement” set for May 20.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. While Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose is publicly saying he’s still making up his mind about running against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, NBC reports he sounds pretty sure he’ll make the race in voicemails he’s left for donors. “I am preparing to, hopefully soon, announce my candidacy for this office,” LaRose said in one message last week. The secretary of state, though, still told reporter Henry Gomez he hasn’t reached a final decision, declaring, “This is something that I’ve been carefully looking at and studying and even starting to take steps towards seeing if it’s possible.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Susquehanna Polling & Research (R): Bob Casey (D-inc): 53, Dave McCormick (R): 41

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. Former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft (R), who is running in a hotly contested primary race for Kentucky governor, promised that, if elected, “we will not have transgenders in our school system.” the AP reports.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles’ new ad for next week’s GOP primary tries to position himself as an alternative to Attorney General Daniel Cameron and former Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft without mentioning either by name. “Negative ads, not showing up to debates, and not even traveling across the Commonwealth to ask for your vote―that’s not me,” the candidate declares as the camera shows a tire spinning in mud. Quarles, who has yet to be on the receiving end of any negative ads himself, adds, “I’ve spent the last year traveling across Kentucky, talking about the future and working hard to earn your vote.”

Nick Storm of Kentucky Fried Politics reminds us that Matt Bevin employed this same strategy eight years ago ahead of his 83-vote primary win as his two main rivals, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Louisville Metro Councilor Hal Heiner, attacked each other while ignoring him. Bevin was even less subtle with his imagery than Quarles, though, as his spot featured actors depicting his two main rivals slamming food into each others’ faces.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Attorney General Jeff Landry on Monday publicized an endorsement from Donald Trump ahead of the October all-party primary for governor, a development that comes more than two years after the candidate signed on to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed lawsuit to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

If Trump’s allies had their way, though, Landry would have played an even bigger part in advancing the Big Lie. The New York Times said in 2021 that Landry declined when Trump’s backers “made a particularly intense appeal” for him to be the face of those efforts instead of the indicted Paxton. A former Department of Justice official also testified before the Jan. 6 committee last year that the Trump administration wanted to make Landry their “special counsel” to advance fictitious voter fraud allegations, but this also never happened.

MARYLAND U.S. SENATOR. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced her campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Cardin on Tuesday, and if successful, she’d make history as the first Black woman to represent Maryland in the upper chamber.

“There aren’t a lot of people like me in the U.S. Senate,” Alsobrooks said of a body where no African American women are currently members. Alsobrooks would also be the first woman in the Old Line State’s 10-person congressional delegation since Barbara Mikulski retired from Maryland’s other Senate seat ahead of the 2016 elections and Rep. Donna Edwards lost the primary to succeed her to now-Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Alsobrooks joins what promises to be a competitive Democratic primary. The field already includes Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, who would likewise be the state’s first African American senator, as well as Rep. David Trone, a wealthy liquor store magnate who has promised to use “a lot” of his own money to win.

Trone showed this week that he means it, launching what his campaign says is a “seven-figure buy” a full year ahead of the May 2024 primary. His initial ad, the first of many that voters can expect to see, focuses on substance abuse and criminal justice reform.

Alsobrooks, by contrast, begins the race without any money stockpiled, but she starts with a base of support in populous Prince George’s County, a Democratic bastion that has long been one of the most affluent majority-Black counties in the country. In 2010, she became the first woman to serve as the county’s top prosecutor, then successfully sought a promotion in 2018 when she ran for executive.

Alsobrooks’ main intra-party foe was Edwards, who had carried Prince George’s County 63-32 in the Senate primary two years earlier despite losing 53-39 statewide. But it was Alsobrooks who scored a lopsided 62-24 victory ahead of an uncontested general election, a triumph that made her the first Black woman to lead a Maryland county.

Alsobrooks was initially talked about as a candidate for governor for 2022, but she decided to seek re-election instead. Despite passing on the race, though, she played a big role in the primary by backing former nonprofit head Wes Moore and mobilizing her network behind him. Observers cited that endorsement as one of the reasons that Moore, who carried Prince George’s County 47-21, pulled off a narrow statewide victory on his way to becoming Maryland’s first Black governor.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told Axios the odds of him running to replace retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) are an “absolute tossup” as he sets a June deadline to decide.

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office said Wednesday she was returning to D.C. for the first time since she went to California to get treated for shingles nearly three months ago. The senator’s absence from the Judiciary Committee has allowed Republicans to delay Joe Biden’s judicial nominations, but she did not heed calls for her resignation from Rep. Ro Khanna and other intra-party critics.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Kari Lake (R), the outspoken Donald Trump supporter eyeing a run for the Senate in Arizona, “is planning to meet with at least a half-dozen U.S. senators and officials from the Senate GOP’s campaign arm this week in Washington, D.C.,” Politico reports.

“The Thursday visit, confirmed by a spokesperson for Lake, is the latest in a series of recent signs that the conservative firebrand is inching closer toward a Senate bid. It also will mark the second time this year that she has sat down with staff from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

WASHINGTON GOVERNOR. Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz launched her long-anticipated campaign on Wednesday to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Gov. Jay Inslee. The commissioner focused on global warming in her kickoff, warning, “[W]hile our planet changes, our laws don’t keep up. On climate and across the board, we are paying the price.”

Franz is the first major candidate from either party to join the 2024 top-two primary, though Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson said last week he’d formed an exploratory committee ahead of his own all-but-certain launch. (State law does not distinguish between exploratory committees and full-fledged campaigns.) On the GOP side, former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has confirmed she hasn’t “closed any doors” about a possible campaign for a post her party last won in 1980, though she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to decide. “I just put in my raspberry bushes,” she told KUOW, “and I need to make sure that they go up before I turn my attention to what I’m doing next.”

Franz is a former city council member in Bainbridge Island, the Puget Sound community where Inslee also resides, as well as the one-time head of the state conservation group Futurewise. She first sought statewide office in 2016 when the post of public lands commissioner opened up, and she quickly secured the backing of prominent Democrats like Rep. Adam Smith and King County Executive Dow Constantine. Franz took second in the top-two primary by convincingly defeating her fellow Democrat, King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove, 23-14, and she went on to win the general 53-47 over Republican Steve McLaughlin.

Franz, Ferguson, and Constantine all prepared to run for governor in 2020 in case Inslee, who was waging a long-shot bid for the White House, decided not to seek reelection, but they all deferred to the incumbent when he ended up seeking a third term. (Constantine joked afterwards, “Bob and I are starting a book club, along with Hilary, it’s going to be awesome.”) Franz held her current post in 2020 57-43 that year as Ferguson was turning in a similar performance statewide; Constantine also held his office the following year, though he’s since announced he won’t run for governor.

TEXAS U.S. SENATOR. The Washington Post reports that state Sen. Roland Gutierrez still “intends” to challenge GOP Sen. Ted Cruz even though he’d now need to get past Rep. Colin Allred in the Democratic primary. Gutierrez, who became a prominent gun safety advocate after the Robb Elementary School shooting happened in his district, himself reiterated, “The only thing that matters for the next three weeks is fighting for those families.” He added he’d make “decisions on other things” after the legislative session ends May 29.

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

6 comments on “The Political Report – May 12, 2023

  1. cassandram

    No Labels gets itself a cease and desist letter from the Maine Secretary of State — for cheating voters into signing a petition for ballot line access, while actually re-registering them in their party. Cheating, in other words. It’s how you know they are really Republicans.

  2. Rusty Dils

    One thing you guys may have missed this week is the House Oversight Committee’s press conference showing banking records from 9 Biden family members receiving over 10 million dollars from our foreign adversaries through several dozen llcs wired directly into 9 Biden family members accounts. Sixteen of the 17 payments from Romania occurred while Joe Biden was Vice President.

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