The Political Report – June 20, 2023

A new National Research poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump has increased his lead in the GOP presidential race over Gov. Ron DeSantis by five percentage points since last month, 44% to 12%, in a multi-candidate ballot.  They are followed by Tim Scott at 7%, Chris Christie at 7% and Nikki Haley at 5%.

New York Times: “Headlining a conservative jamboree in the swing state, where loyalties to Mr. Trump still run deep, Mr. DeSantis never mentioned his rival for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination during a speech in Gardnerville, Nev.”

“But the Florida governor sought to draw a not-so-subtle contrast between himself and the former president, a onetime ally who is the party’s overwhelming front-runner in a crowded Republican field. He described last year’s midterm elections as another disappointment in a string of defeats for the party, while touting his more than 1.2 million-vote margin of victory in his re-election last November.”

Said DeSantis: “We’ve developed a culture of losing in this party. You’re not going to get a mulligan on the 2024 election.”

New York Times: “As much as the president wants to turn to his looming fight against a Republican — he has signaled he is itching for a rematch with Mr. Trump — his Democratic allies warn he has significant work to do with voters in his own party. He still has to find ways to promote his accomplishments, assuage voters wary of his age and dismiss the Democratic challengers he does have without any drama.”

“Those upstart rivals include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaccine activist with a celebrated Democratic lineage who has emerged with unexpected strength in early polls even as he spreads conspiracy theories and consorts with right-wing figures and billionaire donors. Mr. Kennedy’s support from Democrats, as high as 20 percent in some surveys, serves as a bracing reminder of left-leaning voters’ healthy appetite for a Biden alternative, and as a glaring symbol of the president’s weaknesses.”

Washington Post: “Biden’s operation is drifting ahead at a slower pace, betting that it can rely heavily on the Democratic National Committee’s infrastructure for support until later in the summer and into the fall.”

“This approach — in essence, campaigning without a campaign — allows Biden to stockpile money that he can spend later when the race heats up and he has a clear opponent. But the slow ramp-up may also make it harder for Biden to define his rivals early in the process, and it could be risky to rely on others to set up the ground operation for a reelection where turnout will be critical.”

Chris Christie said Sunday it was a “useless idea” to force 2024 GOP contenders to sign a pledge to back the party’s ultimate nominee in order to participate in primary debates, CNN reports.

Said Christie: “It’s only in the era of Donald Trump that you need somebody to sign something on a pledge. So I think it’s a bad idea.”

But he affirmed that he would do what was needed “to be up on the stage to try to save my party and save my country from going down the road of being led by three-time loser Donald Trump.”

ABC News: “The South Carolina Republican Party voted unanimously on Saturday to hold their 2024 GOP presidential primary on February 24 next year.”

“The designation, if approved by the Republican National Committee, would upend the usual cadence of the Republican nominating calendar by placing South Carolina after Nevada for the first time in cycles. It would also make South Carolina Republicans vote 18 days after Nevada’s scheduled primary, putting the first-in-the-South presidential primary state front and center in the race for more than two full weeks.”

“After years of deriding early and mail-in voting, claiming they lead to fraud and help Democrats to steal elections, top Republicans are changing their position, leading to a split in the party as the 2024 election approaches,” the New York Times reports.

“The converts atop the party warn that they must adapt or risk further electoral setbacks, especially in key states where early and mail balloting are in place. However, the entrenched foes within Republicans’ election-denier ranks could muddle the party message on voting.”

ALABAMA REDISTRICTING. Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision earlier this month that upheld a lower court ruling requiring under the Voting Rights Act the creation of a second congressional district where Black voters could elect their preferred candidate, the lower court has given​ the Republican-led legislature until July 21 to draw a new map, which the judges would then decide whether to accept. However, if Republican lawmakers once again pass a map that violates the rights of Black voters, then the court itself would likely step in and draw one for the 2024 elections.

KENTUCKY 5TH DISTRICT. Longtime Republican Rep. Hal Rogers responded to the Lexington Herald Leader’s inquiries about his reelection plans with, “I haven’t thought about that. Unless something happens, yes.” The 85-year-old Rogers, who became dean of the House after Alaska Rep. Don Young died last year, has been on the retirement watchlist for several cycles, but the 22-term member has always opted to retain his dark red eastern Kentucky constituency.

MAINE 2ND DISTRICT. The conservative site The Dispatch reports that Republicans are waiting to see if former Rep. Bruce Poliquin will seek a third bout against Democratic incumbent Jared Golden, though there’s no sign he’s interested in trying again after how badly his last comeback went. “According to everyone that I’ve spoken with, he’s not going to run or even looking at it,” an unnamed strategist said of Poliquin, who lost 53-47 in 2022 four years after Golden narrowly unseated him.

The only notable Republican currently running for this 52-46 Trump seat is Robert Cross, who lost his own primary last year for the state Senate.

ILLINOIS 12TH DISTRICT. Former state Sen. Darren Bailey will host a July 4 event at his farm, and ABC7 writes there’s “some speculation” the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee could use the occasion to announce a primary bid against Rep. Mike Bost. The incumbent recently confirmed that he’d be seeking a sixth term in this dark red constituency in downstate Illinois.    

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. EPIC-MRA shows Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin with a 40-39 edge in a hypothetical general election against Detroit’s former police chief, Republican James Craig, with a hefty 21% undecided. Craig, who ran a chaotic 2022 campaign for governor even before he was ejected from the ballot over fraudulent signatures, doesn’t appear to have said anything about a Senate run since he first expressed interest two months ago.

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

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