The Political Report – June 6, 2023

Trump will host the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s Lincoln Day Dinner at Mar-a-Lago on Friday.

Nikki Haley holds a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Monday and will travel to Texas later in the week.

On Tuesday, the President will speak on gun violence in Los Angeles. He will speak on prescription drug costs in Las Vegas on Wednesday before returning to the White House.

Chris Christie is expected to enter the GOP presidential race on Tuesday during a New Hampshire event.

On Wednesday, Doug Emhoff will speak on “gender equity and the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to advance women’s rights” at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Mike Pence are both expected to enter the GOP presidential race on Wednesday.

Vivek Ramaswamy takes part in a town hall on parental rights in New Hampshire on Thursday.

Dave McCormick, a potential Republican candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania next year, speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Thursday.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he would not rule out a potential third-party presidential run in 2024, touting the value of the “moderate middle” over the far left and right extremes, after the debt ceiling package managed to clear both chambers of Congress and avoid a U.S. default, Fox News reports.

Chuck Todd, who has served as moderator of NBC’s Sunday-morning talk show “Meet the Press” since 2014, will pass the baton to colleague Kristen Welker, starting in September, the Washington Post reports.

Todd offered this wisdom for political reporters: “Listen more to what the voter has to say and listen less to what the candidates claim the voters are saying.”

Playbook reports that less than 10 people knew ahead of time that Todd would be departing.

“President Joe Biden has successfully fended off calls from his opponents for him to participate in primary debates, a move that would be unprecedented in recent memory,” ABC News reports.

“Democrats have so far opted to tune out the primary challenges levied against him, with the Democratic National Committee throwing its support behind Biden. And while some in the party have criticized the organization and Biden as “un-democratic” for presuming he’s the de facto nominee, there’s precedent in sitting it out: No incumbent president has participated in a primary debate since the first modern debate was held in 1948, even when presented with high-profile primary challengers.”

“Elon Musk will host outspoken anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr in a virtual call on Twitter as he prepares to take-on President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for the 2024 election — weeks after Ron DeSantis’ catastrophic campaign launch on the platform,” Insider reports.

“Showtime quietly pulled an episode of its Vice newsmagazine last week — one that featured a report on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ time as a U.S. Navy lawyer serving at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

“How are we supposed to get our girls used to the fact that biological boys are in their locker rooms? And then we wonder why a third of our teenage girls seriously contemplated suicide last year.”— Nikki Haley, at a CNN town hall, seemingly blaming teen suicides on trans kids in locker rooms.

Mark Leibovich: “DeSantis and his wife, Casey, had just finished a midday campaign event, and the governor was now working a quick rope line—emphasis on quick and double emphasis on working. The fast-talking first lady is much better suited to this than her halting husband. He smiled for the camera like the dentist had just asked him to bite down on a blob of putty; like he was trying to make a mold, or to fit one. It was more of a cringe than a grin.”

“Until recently, gerrymandered districts tended to stick out, identifiable by their contorted tendrils. This is no longer the case,” Quanta Magazine reports.

Said mathematician Beth Malmskog: “With modern technology, you can gerrymander pretty effectively without making your shapes very weird.”

“This makes it that much harder to figure out whether a map has been unfairly manipulated.”

Politico says the Senate GOP Campaign committee is feeling good: “Privately, there is a growing belief that they are close to landing even more top recruits in the critical swing states of Montana, Pennsylvania and Nevada.”

MARICOPA COUNTY (AZ) BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. Republican Bill Gates told the Washington Post on Thursday that he won’t run for a third term on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors next year, a decision that comes after years of extreme harassment from far-right conspiracy theorists. However, it could also open the door to the first Democratic majority in more than half a century on the five-member body that governs Arizona’s largest county.

The atmosphere that pervaded Gates’ tenure is part of a disturbing trend that has prompted many other election officials to leave office. After certifying the results of the 2020 elections, Gates faced death threats and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The assault continued into the next cycle, growing so dangerous that Gates spent Election Day last year at an undisclosed location due to fears for his safety. In the days that followed, Gates countered lies about the election leveled by Republicans at the highest levels, saying, “The suggestion by the Republican National Committee that there is something untoward going on here in Maricopa County is absolutely false and again, is offensive to these good elections workers.”

Given the widespread embrace of these sorts of conspiracy theories by Republicans, the best chance for Gates to be replaced by someone who will likewise stand up for fair elections is if he’s succeeded by a Democrat—a strong possibility despite the GOP’s long domination of local politics. Maricopa County, which contains the state capital of Phoenix, was an early source of Republican strength in the burgeoning Sun Belt in the years following World War II, and Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 victory began a GOP winning streak in presidential elections that went unbroken until 2020.

But the county, which is now home to about 60% of Arizona’s population, has moved to the left along with the state as a whole in recent years, a shift most vividly highlighted by Biden’s narrow victories in 2020 in both jurisdictions. That same year, Democrats had high hopes that they might also take over the board of supervisors for the first time since 1968 and even appeared poised to do so after the first batches of votes were tallied on election night.

Later-counted ballots, however, eventually pushed two close races back to Republicans, with Gates prevailing by just 1.5 points and Jack Sellers winning a first term by a bare one-tenth of one percent of the vote. But while that left the GOP’s 4-1 majority intact, Republicans have grown increasingly fretful about their grasp on this one-time conservative bastion, so much so that state lawmakers introduced a plan earlier this year that would gerrymander Maricopa into four new counties—three of which would be solidly red.

That proposal ultimately failed to advance, leaving Maricopa whole for now and putting Democrats in a position to finish the task that just barely eluded them three years ago. Gates’ district, numbered the 3rd, will be their top target: According to Dave’s Redistricting App, it voted for Biden by a 54-45 margin, making it ripe for a pickup. Sellers, meanwhile, has said he’ll seek reelection, but Democrats will also work to oust him, as his 1st District supported Biden 51-48.

MAGA-type Republicans may try as well, and they might go after not only Sellers but also his two remaining GOP colleagues, Thomas Galvin and Clint Hickman. All three of them, as well as Gates and county Recorder Stephen Richer, were censured earlier this year by the county Republican Party, which said it “encourages all registered Republicans to expel them permanently from office.”

The recent experience of Galvin, who was appointed to the board in 2021 to fill a vacancy, is instructive. The supervisor won a special election to retain his post last year after saying he believed the county had conducted the presidential election fairly, but he only managed to win the Republican primary with a 37% plurality against a split field of three election deniers. In a one-on-one race, a Republican incumbent who acknowledges that Joe Biden is the rightful president of the United States may very well be doomed.

Galvin, however, says he’ll run for a full term, though Hickman says he’s a “maybe.” Most bullish of all, though, is the board’s lone Democrat, Steve Gallardo, a former state senator who represents a safely blue seat and has been a supervisor since first winning a special election in 2014. Gallardo said last month that he’s “looking forward to becoming the Chairman” of the board following the 2024 elections.

That role is chosen by the supervisors themselves, so if Gallardo expects to become the board’s leader, that means he’s counting on two more Democrats to join him. According to state elections expert Quinn Yeargain, if Democrats take a majority next year, it would be their first time doing so since 1964.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. The NRSC, reports Politico’s Ally Mutnick, is waging a “renewed push” to get Rep. Mike Gallagher to take on Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, an effort that includes the disclosure of a Fabrizio, Lee & Associates internal showing Baldwin ahead only 47-46 in a hypothetical contest. Gallagher continues to deflect questions about his interest, though Mutnick says he is indeed considering the idea despite initial reluctance.

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR and ATTORNEY GENERAL. The GOP firm Cygnal has publicized a survey showing Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear and Republican Daniel Cameron deadlocked 47-47, numbers that come weeks after Cameron released his own internal giving the governor a tiny 45-43 edge. Cygnal also finds Republican Russell Coleman with a 39-29 edge over Democrat Pamela Stevenson in the contest to replace Cameron as attorney general. In response to an inquiry from Daily Kos Elections, Cygnal said, “We’re not involved in those races” but did not offer further clarification as to who, if anyone, commissioned the poll.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams unexpectedly told The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges on Wednesday that he could enter the October all-party primary, deliberations that come months after former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson appeared to have cleared the Democratic field.

Williams disclosed that he hadn’t considered running until Attorney General Jeff Landry ran ads accusing him and other Black Democrats of supporting policies that made violent crime worse, messaging he denounced as “racist.” Williams, who said he wants to ensure the GOP frontrunner is stopped, added that he “wouldn’t do anything to hurt Shawn,” but observers were quick to note that his entrance could make it much tougher for Wilson to even advance to the general election.

Termed-out Gov. John Bel Edwards, who backs his former transportation secretary, also argued Wednesday that Williams should stay out and can “attack Jeff Landry from wherever he is.” However, the district attorney put out a lengthy statement the following day saying that, while he and his family didn’t want to leave New Orleans, “being in a contest with a candidate who is publicly working harder to ban more books than high-powered assault weapons has some appeal.” The filing deadline is Aug. 10.

This isn’t the first time that Williams has flirted with waging a late campaign for governor. Back in August of 2015, when he was still a New Orleans City Councilman, he suddenly started talking about running even though he’d previously shown no obvious interest in seeking office outside the Big Easy. A Williams candidacy could have ensured that the scandal-tarred frontrunner, David Vitter, faced a fellow Republican in the general election instead of Edwards, a scenario the Democratic candidate wanted to avert.

Luckily for the now-governor, he never got to find out how Williams would have impacted his prospects. Williams, as Bridges and Jeremy Alford wrote in their book Long Shot, told an Edwards consultant dispatched to talk him out of running that he wasn’t serious about seeking the governorship and instead wanted to make sure his city’s needs were addressed in the campaign; a short time later, the councilman confirmed he’d stay put.

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

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