The Political Report – June 7, 2023

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), a frequent Republican critic of former President Donald Trump, told CNN that he will not seek the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

Sununu followed up in the Washington Post: “Our party is on a collision course toward electoral irrelevance without significant corrective action. The stakes are too high for a crowded field to hand the nomination to a candidate who earns just 35 percent of the vote, and I will help ensure this does not happen.”

Donald Trump lashed out at Gov. Chris Sununu (R) after the governor explained his reasoning for not launching a 2024 presidential bid of his own.

Said Trump: “RINO Chris Sununu stated in his Fake Opinion published in The Washington Compost, ‘I’m not running for president in 2024. Beating Trump is more important.’ No, he’s not running for President because he’s polling at Zero, and has no chance of winning.”

Trump added that people in New Hampshire have “gotten wise to Chris Sununu” and “they no longer like or respect him.”

“Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie will announce his presidential campaign in New Hampshire on Tuesday evening — positioning himself as a bare-knuckled brawler best-equipped to make the case against Donald Trump, his onetime ally,” the Washington Post reports.

Politico: 55 things you need to know about Chris Christie.

Jonathan Bernstein: “While Christie has conventional credentials, his chances of winning are slim to none. Among other things, he’s polling between 1% and zero. He found no support in 2016, and it’s hard to see what he’s done since to change that outcome.”

“That doesn’t mean Christie’s campaign has to be a useless exercise in vanity. He’s already talked quite a bit about taking on former President Donald Trump, who enjoys a double-digit lead over all potential Republican rivals. Instead of running what is likely to be futile race for the GOP nomination, Christie could dedicate his campaign to taking down Trump.”

However, it’s not even clear Christie can qualify for the GOP primary debates.

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu announced on Monday that he would not wage a longshot bid for the White House, but he’s going to keep us guessing as to whether he’ll seek a record fifth two-year term as New Hampshire’s chief executive next year.

In a Washington Post op-ed that accompanied a simultaneous interview on CNN, Sununu wrote, “I believe I can have more influence on the future of the Republican Party and the 2024 nominating process not as a candidate but as the governor of the first-in-the-nation primary state,” though he did not specify whether he hopes to remain governor past next year. Later that same day, he would only say to WMUR’s Adam Sexton that another gubernatorial bid was still “on the table”—the same stance he’s taken all year.

Last month, Sununu told Puck’s Tara Palmeri there was, in her words, “a 50 percent chance” that he’d run for reelection—but in the same interview, he also said there was a “61 percent chance” (his phrasing) he’d run for president, so any bookies making odds will want to keep both those claims in mind.

The betting pool among New Hampshire Democrats, at least, is currently pointing to a Sununu retirement. Just last week, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington became the first prominent Democrat to announce a bid of her own, and another major name, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, has been exploring a bid and will reportedly join the race soon. While it’s certainly possible that Warmington and Craig are prepared to take on Sununu, they’d have a considerably easier time of it if the popular incumbent isn’t on the ballot, so there’s a good chance they’re planning on that eventuality.

“Robert Kennedy Jr. suggested during an interview Monday that President Biden wouldn’t be competing in either of the Iowa or New Hampshire primaries, instead choosing to run in a safer presidential primary state like South Carolina,” The Hill reports.

New York Times: “Kennedy said he planned to travel to the Mexican border this week to ‘try to formulate policies that will seal the border permanently,’ called for the federal government to consider the war in Ukraine from the perspective of Russians and said pharmaceutical drugs were responsible for the rise of mass shootings in America.”

Playbook: “Needless to say, these views are out of step with the vast majority of the party whose nomination he’s ostensibly seeking. Supermajorities of Democratic voters support a national assault weapons ban, received the Covid-19 vaccine, and express confidence in the electoral process. Kennedy is on the opposite side of all of these issues.”

“And, yet, he’s constantly polling in the double digits against Biden.”

Political activist and academic Cornel West announced that he is running for president as a third party candidate “to reintroduce America to the best of itself.”

Former software company CEO turned two-term North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) is described as a “small town boy turned self-made, world-class business leader” and “a new leader for a changing economy” in a video released ahead of his expected Republican presidential campaign launch this week, Fox News reports.

Said Burgum: “Anger, yelling, infighting, that’s not going to cut it anymore.”

“Mike Pence is filing paperwork on Monday declaring his campaign for president in 2024, setting up a challenge to his former boss, Donald Trump, just two years after their time in the White House ended with an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Pence fleeing for his life,” the AP reports.

Axios: “The DeSantis team argues that the swing voters of the Republican primary are on the far-right rather than the center-right and are more focused on cultural than economic power.”

“This week, the Super PAC Never Back Down will begin a $5 million ad buy through July 4 designed to burnish DeSantis’ conservative credentials.”

Tim Miller: “If someone is aspiring to the presidency and their critical takeaways regarding the Trump administration are that Trump was: 

  • Too deferential to experts on COVID 
  • Too anxious to distribute a life-saving vaccine 
  • Not harsh enough on immigrants who were brought here as children 
  • Too adversarial to the prison-industrial complex, and 
  • Not passionate enough about the need for a rhetorical attack on the “woke left” 

“Well, then you are going to have to forgive me if I come to the conclusion that you are a deranged lunatic.”

“And yet there is a category of DeSantis supporters who become incandescent with rage at any suggestion that their guy might be worse than Trump in certain ways.”

Mark Leibovich: “His whole act can feel like a clunky contrivance—a forced persona railing against phony or hyped-up outrages.”

Andrew Marantz: “Some advocates of the theory interpret a clause of the Constitution to mean that state legislatures can run federal elections almost however they choose—drawing maps for partisan advantage, outlawing forms of voting (such as mail-in ballots) that tend to favor one party, and challenging election results on thin procedural grounds—and that, even when these actions violate state constitutions, state courts would be powerless to stop them.

“It’s hard to overstate how wild it would be if this went the wrong way.”

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. A super PAC supporting Attorney General Jeff Landry has launched a negative advertising blitz hitting Stephen Waguespack, an offensive that comes days after Waguespack’s allies made Landry their target in the first attack ads of the race. While Waguespack, a former head of the local Chamber of Commerce, took all of 2% of the vote in the October all-party primary in an April internal poll for the pro-Landry Club for Growth, this new offensive indicates that some of the attorney general’s backers see the well-funded Waguespack as a threat.

The opening spot from Protect Louisiana’s Children informs viewers that Waguespack (who, like Landry, is a Republican) once served as chief of staff to former Gov. Bobby Jindal, a one-time GOP rising star who left office in 2016 with disastrous approval numbers after presiding over years of massive budget cuts. “Under Waguespack, 13,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared,” declares the narrator. “Essential state programs faced severe cuts. And one in five Louisianans was left in poverty.” The spot, though, also makes sure to link Waguespack to Democrats by accusing him of backing the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise last week responded to the opening anti-Landry salvo by calling for Waguespack to “denounce” the message and warning that “Republicans attacking other Republicans is the only way we can lose this November’s election,” but his team offered up a very different reaction to Protect Louisiana’s Children’s efforts. “Scalise made it clear that anyone who takes the first negative shot at another Republican should expect ‘defensive retaliation’ in response and should not be surprised when the reaction they provoked happens,” the head of the congressman’s political efforts told The Advocate. “Most importantly, Scalise has maintained that this kind of infighting in an open primary is what cost Republicans the governor’s mansion in the 2015 and 2019 elections.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. “When Arizona Senate candidate Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) bought a house near Capitol Hill last year, he claimed the Washington property as his primary residence as part of a special mortgage rate afforded to military veterans,” Politico reports.

“But Gallego and his wife also say a home they own in Phoenix is their primary residence.”

“Politically, it means the Democratic congressman aiming to take out Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ.) in a hotly contested race next year may have to explain why he declared he was primarily a resident of the nation’s capital.”

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. “I don’t want to be unkind to Sen. Manchin, but he’s kind of dead man walking in West Virginia. There’s nowhere for him to go.”— David Axelrod, quoted by The Hill, on the uphill fight Manchin has to be re-elected in 2024.

MARYLAND U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who previously said he was “taking the month of May” to weigh a possible bid for Maryland’s open Senate seat, told CNN over the weekend that he still had not made up his mind but hopes to do so “before the fourth of July.” A trio of high-profile Democrats are already seeking the nomination: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Rep. David Trone, and Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando.

UTAH U.S. SENATOR. The Utah State Fraternal Order of Police, which is the largest police union in the state, has endorsed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs’ primary bid against GOP incumbent Mitt Romney. Stags is so far the only notable candidate who has launched a challenge to the senator, who is continuing to keep everyone guessing about his reelection plans.

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

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