The Political Report – June 15, 2023

USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds that 34% of Republican voters say Donald Trump’s legal situation makes them less likely to vote for him, though another slice, 11%, say it makes them more likely to support him.

A 51% majority say it doesn’t make a difference.

I want to win. And if we nominate Trump, we’re gonna lose.”— Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), quoted by CBS News.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is urging his primary rivals to sign his pledge to pardon Donald Trump. And thus, a new litmus test for Republican presidential candidates is born.

After calling Donald Trump “reckless,” Nikki Haley on Tuesday said she would still be “inclined” to pardon him if he is convicted of federal charges, Politico reports. She’s attempting a middle ground position by criticizing Trump’s “reckless” behavior while also promising to let him off the hook.

The other GOP candidates haven’t weighed in yet. While promising to pardon Trump might seem any easy way to improve one’s standing among Republican primary voters, it’s likely deadly in a general election.

We saw the impact of pardoning a former president when Gerald Ford gave one to Richard Nixon just a month into his presidency. ord thought a pardon would spare the country from a divisive trial, but his approval rating plummeted 30 percentage points almost immediately and never really recovered. The Republican party was wiped out in the 1974 midterms and Ford lost the presidency two years later.

Trump is not much more popular than Nixon. It’s unlikely that keeping Trump out of prison “for the good of the country” would prove popular. So while pardoning Trump might seem like smart politics in a Republican primary, it’s a sure loser for the general election.

New York Times: “Since his indictment last week — and for the second time in less than three months — former President Donald J. Trump has used the criminal charges against him to rile up supporters for a fund-raising push.”

“But while his campaign provided daily updates on the flood of donations the first time Mr. Trump was indicted, his team has so far stayed quiet on details of their fund-raising off the 37-count federal indictment.”

“Top Democratic strategists, including current advisers to President Biden and former U.S. senators, met last week with former Republicans who oppose Donald Trump at the offices of a downtown D.C. think tank,” the Washington Post reports.

“Their mission: to figure out how to best subvert a potential third-party presidential bid by the group No Labels, an effort they all agreed risked undermining Biden’s reelection campaign and reelecting former president Donald Trump to the White House.”

“The centrist political organization No Labels has defended its third-party presidential bid by insisting there’s a broad voter appetite for a candidate running in the political middle,” Politico reports.  “But the group said it would likely exit the race entirely if Donald Trump doesn’t win the GOP nomination — even as more conservative candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis run to Trump’s right.”

NBC News: “Democrats worry that as a Black man, Scott, who was elected to the Senate in 2012, would peel away voters who are crucial to Biden’s re-election.”

“That, at age 57, Scott’s mere presence on the debate stage would call attention to the inconvenient fact that Biden is the oldest president ever. And that with an upbeat message, Scott might appeal to an electorate disenchanted with the sour state of American politics.”

“Virginia legislative candidates raised more than $20 million in cash and other donations in just over two months in the run-up to next week’s primary election,” the AP reports.

“Democratic candidates for the Virginia Senate and for the House of Delegates collectively outraised their Republican peers during the reporting period that ran from April 1 through June 8, bringing in about $14 million of the approximately $22 million total.”

Harry Enten: “It’s not unheard of for candidates polling below 5% (or even at 1%) at this point in the cycle to win their party’s nomination. Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were barely registering in primary surveys at this stage in the 1976 and 1992 cycles, respectively.”

“The problem for Christie et al. lies with the two candidates polling above 5%: former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump is polling in the mid-50s, while DeSantis is a distant second in the low 20s.”

“When candidates such as Carter and Clinton mounted their rise in the polls, the polling leader wasn’t hitting 20%. There is no historical precedent for candidates down 50 points at this stage going on to win their party’s nomination for president.”

NEW YORK 22ND DISTRICT. VoteVets has endorsed DeWitt Town Board member Sarah Klee Hood, who is an Air Force veteran, in the Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Brandon Williams.

UTAH 2ND DISTRICT. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that several more notable Republicans have entered the September special primary to succeed outgoing Rep. Chris Stewart ahead of Wednesday’s deadline.

Henry Eyring, an assistant professor at Duke University’s business school who also advises the management consulting firm Cicero Group, says he will try to reach the ballot by competing at the convention rather than collecting signatures; Eyring is the grandson and namesake of a high official in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The other new arrivals are state party official Jordan Hess, Leeds Mayor Bill Hoster, Stewart aide Celeste Maloy, and former congressional staffer Scott Reber, though they don’t appear to have specified which route they’ll take try to reach the ballot as of Monday evening.

RNC member Bruce Hough, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, and former state Rep. Becky Edwards have all announced that they’ll compete in the Sept. 5 primary to replace their fellow Republican, outgoing Rep. Chris Stewart. The Salt Lake Tribune also reports that academic Henry Eyring, who is the grandson and namesake of a high official in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will run ahead of Wednesday’s filing deadline, though there’s no quote from him. State Sen. Dan McCay and Salt Lake County Councilmember Aimee Winder Newton, however, have both taken their names out of contention.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot either by collecting signatures or competing at the convention, and Hough has opted to try both methods. (Under the state’s special election law only one person can advance out of the convention instead of the maximum of two that are normally allowed.) Edwards, by contrast, will only pursue the signature route, while Hughes is restricting his efforts to the convention.

Hughes, who was an early Donald Trump supporter in 2016, did this very thing when he ran for governor four years later, and his second-place convention finish against Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox was strong enough to keep his campaign going. Primary voters, though, didn’t like him as much as delegates did: Cox won the nod by edging out former Gov. Jon Huntsman 36-35, while Hughes was a distant third with 21%.

Edwards, by contrast, was part of a group encouraging fellow Mormon women to vote for Joe Biden in 2020. She campaigned statewide herself in 2022 when she tried to deny renomination to far-right Sen. Mike Lee, but her poor convention performance foreshadowed her 62-30 primary defeat.

OREGON 5TH DISTRICT. Oregon Metro President Lynn Peterson on Thursday became the first notable Democrat to launch a bid to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in a constituency that, at 53-44 Biden, will likely be a major battleground this cycle. Peterson entered the race with endorsements from former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who was elected to her only term in 1990, and former 4th District Rep. Peter DeFazio, who represented about 20% of this seat until he left office in January.

Peterson, as we recently wroteleads a unique regional entity that serves 1.7 million residents across portions of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, and she’s expanded its influence during her tenure by funding local governments within its jurisdiction. The metro president won her second four-year term in 2022 by prevailing 53-32 in an officially nonpartisan primary.

Peterson may have to get past serious intra-party opposition before she can focus on flipping this seat, which is based in Portland’s southern suburbs and central Oregon, as two former Chavez-DeRemer foes recently told Willamette Week that they’re thinking of also running here. The potential field includes state Rep. Janelle Bynum, who won her post by unseating none other than Chavez-DeRemer in 2016 and fending her off two years later, and 2022 Jamie McLeod Skinner, whom Chavez-DeRemer beat 51-49.

WEST VIRGINIA 2ND DISTRICT. State Treasurer Riley Moore this week picked up an endorsement from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for his bid to succeed his fellow Republican, Senate candidate Alex Mooney, in this dark red seat; Mooney previously endorsed the treasurer all the way back in November. Moore, who is the nephew of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, currently has no serious intra-party opposition as he runs to represent the northern half of the state. The same cannot be said for his cousin, Del. Moore Capito, who is taking part in a crowded primary for governor.

NORTH CAROLINA 1ST DISTRICT. The conservative Carolina Journal writes that Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson is considering a second bid for the GOP nod in the seat the party may gerrymander, a development that comes a year after an expensive primary defeat for both him and the Republican establishment.

Roberson in 2022 self-funded $1 million, while the Congressional Leadership Fund deployed $600,000 on ads attacking 2020 nominee Sandy Smith. Smith, though, won the nomination 31-27, and allies of Democrat Don Davis spent the general election airing their own commercials highlighting how she’d been accused of physical abuse by her daughter and not one but two ex-husbands. Davis went on to score a 52-48 victory over Smith, and she quickly made it clear she’d run again. The GOP field also includes Fred Von Canon, who lost back-to-back races for the state House.

CALIFORNIA 47TH DISTRICT. EMILY’s List has backed Democratic activist Joanna Weiss ahead of next year’s top-two primary to replace Democratic Senate candidate Katie Porter, and Roll Call says this is the first time this year the group has endorsed a non-incumbent in a competitive House seat. Weiss’ main intra-party foe in this Orange County constituency is state Sen. Dave Min, while 2022 nominee Scott Baugh is the favorite on the GOP side.

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

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