The Political Report – June 14, 2023

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 62% of respondents — including 91% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans — said it was believable that Donald Trump illegally stored classified documents at his home in Florida.

Despite Donald Trump’s multiple indictments, 62% of Republican primary voters say he would “definitely” beat President Biden in a 2024 general-election rematch.

Philip Bump: “In a CBS News-YouGov poll released over the weekend, three-quarters of likely Republican primary voters said the indictment was politically motivated. Three-quarters also said the indictment doesn’t change their view of Trump or improves their view (though that’s almost certainly just a way for respondents to emphasize how little they care).”

“There is no voice who could convince Trump’s most energetic supporters of the idea that he willfully violated the law. There never has been. Anyone who tries to present the reality of the situation to his base, however close they were to Trump at the outset, is immediately exiled.”

Nikki Haley made a surprise pivot to criticizing Donald Trump over his federal criminal indictment, Fox News reports.  Said Haley: “If what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security.”

Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is a former U.S. Attorney, said that the conduct alleged in a federal indictment against Donald Trump is “awful,” The Hill reports.  Said Christie: “What I can tell you, for sure I know about that indictment, is there’s probably about a third of the evidence they actually have is in that indictment.”  He added: “There will guaranteed be a lot more. When you’re a prosecutor, you never put every card on the table before the trial.”

New York Times: “For Mr. Trump and his team, there has been a sense of familiarity, even normalcy, in the chaos of facing a 37-count indictment in the classified documents case. After two House impeachments, multiple criminal investigations, the jailing of his business’s former accountant, his former fixer and his former campaign manager, and now two criminal indictments, Mr. Trump knows the drill, and so do his supporters.”

“The playbook is well-worn: Play the victim. Blame the ‘Deep State.’ Claim selective prosecution. Punish Republicans who stray for disloyalty. Dominate the news. Ply small donors for cash.”

“His allies see the indictment as a chance to end the primary race before it has even begun in the minds of Republican voters by framing 2024 as an active battle with President Biden.”

Joe Scarborough on Republican politicians defending Donald Trump: “You keep narrowing down your base until you have insurrectionists, weirdos, and freaks. And that’s where we are.”

Time: “A week ago, on the verge of launching his 2024 presidential campaign, Chris Christie’s old website from his 2016 run was still online. The site included an in-depth ‘Issues’ page, which detailed the former New Jersey Governor’s support for “common-sense bail reform,” lowering corporate tax rates, and creating a nationwide veterans’ mental health hotline.”

“By Wednesday, had been revamped entirely. The updated site included only scarlet donation buttons and a video of his announcement. There was no ‘Issues’ page in sight.”

“Christie isn’t the only candidate to forgo and issues page. Of the fourteen major candidates who have entered the presidential race, only a handful have detailed, stand-alone pages describing where they stand on the issues and what they plan to do in office. Several include no written policy commitments at all.”

Mike Pence: “We will end the political correctness in the hallways of the Pentagon and North Carolina will once again be home to Fort Bragg.”

Ron DeSantis: “I also look forward to, as President, restoring the name of Fort Bragg to our great military base in Fayetteville, North Carolina… It’s an iconic name and iconic base, and we’re not gonna let political correctness run amok.”

“Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) 2024 presidential campaign announced on Monday that the senator had received endorsements from more than 140 former and current South Carolina elected officials,” The Hill reports.

“The endorsements from Scott’s home state are especially noteworthy given South Carolina’s status as an early presidential primary state and as former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, also a two-term governor from the Palmetto State, vies for GOP support there.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told Politico that he supports Gov. Doug Burgum’s (R) presidential bid: “If he asks for a release or an ad or to use the word endorsement rather than ‘I’ll support him,’ I’ll do it.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) said in interview says he’s backing Gov. Doug Burgum (R) in 2024 presidential race.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who has tried to steer the Republican Party away from Donald Trump, called the latest charges against the former president a “distraction” from issues that he says presidential candidates should be talking about, CBS News reports.

Said Kemp: “For us to win the presidential race in 2024, we don’t need to be distracted.”

He added: “President Trump has been targeted in a lot of different ways — many of them unfairly. But also I think there’s some serious concerns in this indictment. But at the end of the day, there’s a jury that’s going to make that decision. And quite honestly, I think it’s a distraction politically. I think in some ways it’s exactly what the Democrats want.” 

New York’s Democratic-led state legislature passed a bill over the weekend to move elections for county and town government from odd-numbered to even-numbered years, and while Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said she still needs to review the legislation, she sounds likely to sign it. “I would say having elections in the year when there’s more people turning out for either a presidential or a gubernatorial race, it increases turnout,” said the governor, “and more people voting in these elections is always better for democracy.”

The bill would impact races for county executive and county legislature as well as for town supervisor and town legislature, though it would only take effect starting in 2025. As a result, this year’s races for executive in populous communities like DutchessErie, and Suffolk counties would still proceed as planned, and the winners would still earn four-year terms. However, winners in 2025 and 2027 would be elected to abbreviated terms in order to realign the calendar.

But even if Hochul approves the bill, many local contests, including all elections in New York City, will still be conducted in odd-numbered years for the foreseeable future. The state constitution, explains Spectrum News, determines the timing of elections in municipalities that are classified as cities or villages for offices such as mayor. It also governs the calendar for other posts, like district attorney and sheriff, that are elected at the county level. However, the legislation’s impact would still be considerable, since it would affect all counties outside of New York City as well as New York’s 933 towns, which are collectively home to almost half the state’s 20 million residents.

Supporters are eager to bring even more elections into alignment, but the hurdles are much higher. “This is the first step,” Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, one of the cosponsors of the legislation, told Gothamist. “The next step [is] changing elements to the constitution.” State law requires both chambers to pass a potential constitutional amendment during two successive sessions of the legislature with an election in between before it can get on the ballot, so the soonest voters could weigh in would be 2025.

Republicans, though, have made it clear they think the bill on Hochul’s desk already goes too far. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, whose jurisdiction includes Syracuse, claimed in remarks to The Post-Standard that Democrats were pursuing these reforms “to have one-party rule in every level of government.”

But McMahon, who holds an office the Democrats have never won since its creation in 1961, is one of many Republicans who’ve benefited from the status quo. Despite the fact that Democratic candidates for president have won Onondaga for three straight decades, the incumbent prevailed by a comfortable 55-45 margin in 2019, and he looks like the favorite this fall against Democratic County Legislator Bill Kinne.

The New York Association of Counties, which has argued a calendar shift would prevent voters from focusing on local races, also expressed its opposition. But cosponsor James Skoufis, a Democratic senator who first proposed similar legislation in 2013, pointed to low turnout in odd years as reason why change is needed.

“Why are you afraid of higher turnout?” Skoufis asked GOP critics. “As it stands right now in a lot of these local town county elections, you have 20 or so percent of voters deciding the outcome for the entire jurisdiction. Why are you so afraid of 50, 60, 70% of voters determining who should hold these local positions?”

Research has shown that moving off-year elections to even-numbered years boosts voter participation considerably, with one study finding that turnout in municipal races had tripled after similar reforms were introduced in California. That higher turnout also tends to yield a voter base that’s more reflective of citizens as a whole, compared to the whiter and more conservative electorates that typically show up in odd years.

“About 15 people with flags displaying Nazi insignia gathered outside Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, as others displayed messaging in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis,” USA Today reports.

“Ron DeSantis’ supporters are grumbling that the larger GOP field is complicating their path in South Carolina, where two of the early primary state’s highest profile politicians, Senator Tim Scott and former governor Nikki Haley, are in the race. Adding to their frustration: Their suspicion that the candidates are actually running to be Donald Trump’s vice president,” Semafor reports.

Said one DeSantis insider: “It’s particularly a concern for South Carolina, because it seems very clear that both of the South Carolinians in the race are not contenders and are clearly running to curry favor with Trump in some regard, whether it’s to be VP or something else. And I think that is very problematic, because in all probability, most if not all of their votes in South Carolina would go to Ron DeSantis if they weren’t in the race.”

“Jill Biden in her first solo outing of the 2024 campaign said Monday it was ‘a little shocking’ that a sizeable number of Republicans are still thinking of voting for Donald Trump even after his federal indictment, a subject that her husband has tried to avoid speaking about,” the AP reports.

“The political network financed largely by billionaire Charles Koch is launching a wave of digital ads targeting former President Donald Trump,” CNBC reports.  “The ads argue that if Trump becomes the Republican nominee next year, it will lead to President Joe Biden winning reelection.”  “One of the spots, titled Only Way, has a voiceover saying, ‘The only way Biden wins is if we nominate Trump again.’”

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

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