The Political Report – May 23, 2023

As President Biden embarks on his reelection campaign, just 33% of American adults say they approve of his handling of the economy and only 24% say national economic conditions are in good shape, according to a new Associated Press-NORC poll.

Washington Post: “Public polling has shown clear majorities of the American people — including many Democratic-leaning voters — are concerned about Biden’s health and do not want him to run again.”

“But in both focus groups and polling, concerns about another Trump presidency are even greater, leaving Biden in a much better position if the two men meet in a rematch.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed abortion only briefly during a lengthy address Saturday night at a gala for the most prominent antiabortion group in his state — the latest instance of the soon-to-be presidential candidate declining to more aggressively promote a strict ban he signed this spring,” the Washington Post reports.

“DeSantis gave a 40-minute keynote speech Saturday night at an annual dinner for the Florida Family Policy Council, a major advocate for Florida’s new ban on almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That law, which DeSantis signed with little fanfare this spring, was a massive victory for the social conservatives DeSantis is courting heading into 2024 — but some Republicans worry he’s gone too far to the right on an issue that could hurt them in the general election.”

“Sen. John Thune, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, is endorsing the presidential campaign of Sen. Tim Scott,” Politico reports.

“The South Dakota senator will appear at Scott’s presidential launch on Monday in South Carolina, the person said. Scott will announce his presidential run on Monday in North Charleston and has already launched an ad blitz.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has officially declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

“He isn’t even officially in the race, but Ron DeSantis has already gone through a painful rite of the modern presidential campaign: surge and decline,” Politico reports.

“The precise political science term refers to turnout and preference between the two parties. But increasingly over the past few elections, individual primary candidates have skyrocketed in the polls in open races, only to come back down to earth quickly — and never recover.”

“There are a few examples from which DeSantis can learn: The best case is former Sen. John McCain, who faded away in the polling only to surge again and win the nomination. The worst is an unflattering comparison to another former Florida governor who surrendered the nomination to Trump.”

Jackie Calmes: “Tops among the up-and-comers are two new governors, Wes Moore and Josh Shapiro, who demolished Trump-backed Republicans in November. Moore, an Army veteran of Afghanistan, former Rhodes Scholar, author and investment banker, is the first Black governor of Maryland. Shapiro, former Pennsylvania attorney general, won in his swing state on the strength of his reputation as a consensus-builder and on his prominence in fighting Republican efforts to overturn Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results.”

“Their time could well come. But among those Democrats seasoned enough now for the presidential arena are more experienced governors, including Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and North Carolina’s Roy Cooper, both of whom impressively won reelection in their battleground states and have since gained national attention for their fights for abortion rights in their states. Second-term blue-state leaders J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a billionaire whose family owns the Hyatt chain, and Phil Murphy of New Jersey, a former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany, similarly have raised their profiles, speaking out against Trump and Republican extremism.”

Jonathan Last: “[Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is] not even running, but I’m here to tell you that he has more upside than anyone else in the field.”

“Could he beat Trump? No. That’s a 1-in-100 proposition.”

“But could he consolidate all of the Not Trump voters under his banner and finish with a respectable 35 percent, making himself the putative Future of the Republican Party? Maybe.”

“You have to assume that Youngkin is only re-looking at the race because he’s seeing numbers suggesting that DeSantis is toast. And if DeSantis is fatally wounded, then there’s room for a normie—and Youngkin will be the only guy in the race who is entirely a post-Trump political figure.”

“The bipartisan political group No Labels is stepping up a well-funded effort to field a ‘unity ticket’ for the 2024 presidential race, prompting fierce resistance from even some of its closest allies who fear handing the White House back to Donald Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“At the top of the list of potential candidates is Senator Joe Manchin III, the conservative West Virginia Democrat who has been a headache to his party and could bleed support from President Biden in areas crucial to his re-election.”

“The centrist group’s leadership was in New York this week raising part of the money — around $70 million — that it says it needs to help with nationwide ballot access efforts.”

Politico has a profile of Casey DeSantis, the wife of the Florida governor and his most trusted adviser, that includes a couple of interesting quotes.

Said a former DeSantis administration staffer: “He’s a leader who makes political decisions with the assistance of his wife, who was elected by nobody, who’s blindly ambitious. And she sees ghosts in every corner.”

Said another: “She’s more paranoid than he is.”

Said a former campaign staffer: “He’s a vindictive motherfucker. She’s twice that. She’s the scorekeeper.”

“House Democrats’ campaign arm will begin running digital ads Friday targeting Republicans in battleground districts over their votes this week to refer a Democratic measure to expel indicted Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to the Ethics Committee,” The Messenger reports.

Aaron Blake: “Christie seems prepared to be the one to test the theory, common in Trump-critic circles, that Republicans need to actually go at Trump if they’re to have any chance of defeating him. The problem with that, similar to the GOP’s approach to Trump for years, is that nobody wants to be the one to leap and make that case. Better to let someone else torpedo themselves in the process. And then nobody does.”

“Notably, Christie’s probably best situated to do it. While Never Trumpers love Liz Cheney, and Asa Hutchinson and Chris Sununu appear ready to make such a case, Christie actually has a track record here that suggests it could matter.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announced that former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will serve as his campaign manager.  I had thought Kucinich left for his home planet some years ago.

Republican megadonor Bernie Marcus, a top funder of Donald Trump in his past campaigns, hasn’t decided which candidate to back in the GOP primary, Puck reports.

Said one source: “He doesn’t think Trump can win. That’s clear.”

“A prominent Republican financier and onetime backer of former President Donald Trump is throwing his support behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 election,” the New York Post reports.

“Hal Lambert, founder of Texas-based Point Bridge Capital — which manages an investment fund named after Trump’s “Make America Great Again” 2016 campaign slogan — said it’s time for Republicans to turn the page on the 76-year-old former president and go for DeSantis, 44.”

“Republican worries are growing that Colorado is slipping further into the hands of Democrats after recent defeats and close calls in the most conservative parts of the state,” The Hill reports.

“The latest blow to the GOP in the Centennial State came this week when Republicans lost the mayoral race in Colorado Springs, marking the first time in decades that a member of the party wouldn’t take the helm of the conservative bastion.”

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

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