The Political Report – June 9, 2023

A new Civiqs poll finds Gov. Ron DeSantis currently has a net approval rating of negative 19 points, with an average of 55% of respondents disapproving of him, compared with 36% who have a favorable view of the Republican.

A pro-Donald Trump super PAC responded Tuesday to Chris Christie’s entrance into the crowded 2024 Republican primary by predicting the former New Jersey governor would “waste no time eating DeSantis’ lunch,” the New York Post reports.

Steve Kornacki: “Christie’s got a different stage presence, Christie’s got a different style… I don’t know how it will work but if — and it’s a huge if given the polling criteria that’s going to be involved here — if Christie can make the debate stage, if Donald Trump shows up for it, and if Christie does what he’s telegraphing…he’s going to do, it could be a variable we haven’t seen since ’16.”

“I don’t know if it elevates Christie, at all, in terms of his standing. But it could land a punch against Trump that nobody in nearly a decade now of watching Trump interact with the Republican Party — that nobody has managed to land.”

The real question is whether Donald Trump will ever appear a debate stage with Christie.

“They all know their only shot is jail time or a heart attack for Trump. And truthfully, they’re all hoping and praying for either one.”— Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), quoted by Politico, on the long shot presidential campaigns of Mike Pence, Chris Christie and Tim Scott.

Nathaniel Rakich says Doug Burgum could surprise: “One of the contexts in which campaign cash can be very helpful is early on in a primary when the candidate is not very well known. This, of course, is exactly Burgum’s situation…  Burgum could spend enough to have a meaningful impact.”

Burgum’s presidential candidacy hardly precludes him from seeking a third term at home. North Dakota’s candidate filing deadline usually takes place in April, well after the presidential primary season is underway, and so far no major Peace Garden State Republicans are acting like this will be an open seat race.

“Two national conservative groups appear to be laying the groundwork in Iowa to oppose former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican caucuses,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“After a trio of new announcements this week, the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential field is all but set,” the AP reports.

“A handful of stragglers may jump in later, but as of now there are at least 10 high-profile Republican candidates officially seeking their party’s nomination. And with the announcement phase of the primary campaign largely over, several leading Republican contenders will gather in North Carolina this weekend to begin a more aggressive sorting period.”

“Mike Pence launched his 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday by sharply breaking with former President Donald Trump, laying out clear differences on policy and values and arguing that Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election should be disqualifying,” The Hill reports.

Said Pence: “I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States, and anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.”

UTAH 2ND DISTRICT. Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah cities and towns will have to push their municipal elections back a couple of weeks as lawmakers will postpone the elections in order to replace outgoing Rep. Chris Stewart in Congress as soon as they legally can.”

“It will be the first time in at least the last several decades, and perhaps in Utah history, that a general election will not be held on the first Tuesday in November.”

OREGON 5TH DISTRICT. A trio of Democrats tell Willamette Week that they’re thinking about challenging freshman Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, a 53-44 Biden constituency that could be vital to the party’s hopes for regaining a majority in the House.

The only declared Democrat at this point is Kevin Easton, who sought the neighboring 6th District last year but dropped out well ahead of the primary after raising little. But other alternatives present higher profiles.

The most familiar name talking about running is 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod Skinner, who would be the state’s first LGBTQ+ member of Congress. The Democrat, who lost to Chavez-DeRemer by a tight 51-49, now says she’s “very seriously considering” a rematch in this seat based in Portland’s southern suburbs and central Oregon. McLeod Skinner won the Democratic nomination last year by defeating conservative incumbent Kurt Schrader, who made it clear in December he wasn’t interested in a comeback.

Oregon Metro Council President Lynn Peterson also tells the paper she’s interested. Peterson, who leads a unique regional entity that serves 1.7 million residents across portions of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, last year won her second term 53-32 in an officially nonpartisan primary after she spent her first term expanding Metro’s influence by funding local governments within its jurisdiction. Willamette Week explains that the body historically has “engaged in planning for land use, transportation and solid waste” and is also responsible for “running parks, spectator facilities and the Oregon Zoo and Oregon Convention Center.”

Finally, state Rep. Janelle Bynum, who would be the state’s first Black member of Congress, also says she’s mulling a bid against an incumbent she has plenty of history with. Bynum won her spot in the legislature in 2016 by unseating none other than Chavez-DeRemer 51-49 and defeated the Republican in a rematch two years later 54-46. More recently, Bynum pulled off a convincing 55-45 victory over GOP challenger Kori Haynes following an expensive campaign in 2022.

Chavez-DeRemer narrowly flipped the 5th District during a particularly tough year for Oregon Democrats. In May, McLeod Skinner had denied renomination to Schrader, a Blue Dog Democrat who refused to back her for the general election while prognosticating, “The red wave begins in Oregon―Oregon’s 5th district.” Both parties suspected he was right, especially since outgoing Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s poor approval numbers seemed to be another anvil for her party.

The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund did what it could to make Schrader’s prediction a reality by portraying McLeod Skinner, who had served on the city council of Santa Clara, California, a decade earlier, as an outsider. The DCCC did outspend CLF $1.6 million to $730,000, but its allies at House Majority PAC ended up redirecting its own planned spending here to help Democrat Andrea Salinas in the 6th.

That decision was a boon to Salinas, who won her race 50-48, but it may have cost McLeod Skinner. Chavez-DeRemer ended up prevailing by a similar 2-point margin, a victory that made her the first Republican to win this seat since the 1994 red wave. In doing so, Chavez-DeRemer also became the first Latina to represent Oregon in D.C., a distinction she shares with Salinas. Democrats are hoping, though, that the new GOP incumbent will struggle in a presidential cycle.

DENVER MAYOR. Former state Sen. Mike Johnston defeated his fellow Democrat, former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough, 55-45 in Tuesday’s nonpartisan general election to succeed termed-out incumbent Michael Hancock.

Both contenders campaigned as moderates, but Johnston picked up an endorsement in the final weeks of the campaign from Lisa Calderón, a progressive who finished a close third in the April 4 primary. Calderón declared that she was reluctantly making her choice as a “harm-reduction strategy,” explaining that, while Johnston expressed openness to public safety reform, Brough was backed by the local police union.

Johnston’s side also enjoyed a huge financial advantage thanks to a super PAC funded by megadonors like LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Brough ran ads late in the race arguing her rival was being backed by “out-of-state billionaires,” but it was far from enough.

NORTH CAROLINA 1ST DISTRICT. Republican Fred Von Canon, who lost back-to-back races for the state House, announced this week that he would challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Don Davis in a 53-46 Biden seat the GOP has the chance to gerrymander. Democratic state Rep. Terence Everitt fended off Von Canon 51-46 in 2020, and he turned in a similar 52-46 victory last year.

The only other Republican taking on Davis right now is 2022 nominee Sandy Smith, who doesn’t appear to have stopped running after that loss for this seat in inland northeastern North Carolina. The Congressional Leadership Fund last year spent $600,000 in the primary in an attempt to stop Smith, who was accused of physical abuse by her daughter and not one but two ex-husbands, but neither it nor the NRCC aired ads in the general. Their Democratic counterparts, though, deployed a hefty $4.7 million ahead of Davis’ 52-48 victory.

RHODE ISLAND 1ST DISTRICT. East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva on Monday said he wouldn’t compete in the extremely packed September Democratic primary for the special election for Rhode Island’s vacant 1st Congressional District.

State Rep. Nathan Biah on Monday announced that he was ending his congressional campaign and would instead run in the upcoming special election to succeed his fellow Democrat, the late state Sen. Maryellen Goodwin. Biah is the first candidate to exit the busy September Democratic primary to replace former Rep. David Cicilline.  

TEXAS 32ND DISTRICT. The Dallas News’ Gromer Jeffers reports that two state representatives, Rhetta Andrews Bowers and Julie Johnson, are each “preparing to launch campaigns” to succeed fellow Democrat Colin Allred in the safely blue 32nd District in northern Dallas. Bowers sounds all but certain to get in, saying, “It’s an honor to be thought of, and even more an honor to have so much early support, even before I announce.” Johnson, for her part, told the paper she is still “discussing the race” but “expect[s] to make an announcement in the coming days.”

The field already includes trauma surgeon Brian H. Williams and civil rights attorney Justin Moore, but more could join before too long. Jeffers relays that Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua is considering and adds that some unnamed Democrats are hoping to recruit Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia; there’s no word from either elected official about their interest, though. Jeffers also reports that Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos are “not interested” in the race, though neither are directly quoted on the matter.

NEW YORK 17TH DISTRICT. “Former Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), one of the first two openly gay Black men elected to Congress, was bigfooted out of office in 2022 by his party’s campaign committee chair after a prolonged redistricting saga,” Politico reports.

“Now he’s readying another run for the lower Hudson Valley swing seat.”

“His entrance into the race sets up a primary clash with Liz Gereghty, an education advocate and the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a must-win district for House Democrats.“

Politico has obtained a month-old internal from the Democratic firm EMC Research for a pair of progressive groups, End Citizens United and Let America Vote, that shows GOP incumbent Mike Lawler edging out former Rep. Mondaire Jones 50-48. The 300-person sample, which is exactly the minimum we require for inclusion in the Digest, also favors Joe Biden over Donald Trump 50-48, which would be a big comedown from the president’s 54-44 victory here in 2020.

The memo does not mention local school board trustee Liz Gereghty, who launched her campaign soon after this survey was completed, and neither sponsor has endorsed anyone. Gereghty, who is the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is the only notable Democrat in the running, though that will likely change soon. Politico writes that Jones “plans” to jump in sometime this summer and has already brought on a campaign manager.

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

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