The Political Report – June 26, 2023

A new NBC News poll finds Donald Trump has expanded his lead over Gov. Ron DeSantis since Trump’s latest indictment on federal criminal charges, 51% to 22%.

Said GOP pollster Bill McInturff: “For the first time in history, a former president has been indicted, and we can’t find a marker in this survey that it’s had an impact with his standing.”

“The trouble for Trump comes not among Republicans but among the general electorate: A majority of all registered voters have concerns about Trump after his indictment on federal criminal charges, including 55% of independent voters. And President Joe Biden leads Trump by 4 points in the NBC News poll’s first hypothetical general-election matchup for 2024.”

Geoffrey Skelley: “Just how small that slice is depends on how you measure it. One shorthand way to read the Republican race is to sum up the vote share that Trump and DeSantis receive in national polls, which adds up to nearly 75 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s national average.”

“That is, the best-known ‘Trumpy’ candidates (including the man himself) are pulling in around three-fourths of the vote, while the other candidates are garnering support from the remaining quarter.”

“Now, this is not a perfect measure of how pro-Trump the party is. After all, not every DeSantis supporter may identify as pro-Trump… Nevertheless, about three-fourths of likely GOP primary voters told YouGov/CBS News earlier this month that if Trump didn’t become the party’s nominee, they wanted a nominee ‘similar to Trump.’”

TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL. Texas’ Republican-controlled state Senate has voted to establish a package of rules for the upcoming trial of state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who was impeached and suspended from office last month. The trial will commence on Sept. 5, and senators voted with wide bipartisan support to bar Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, from voting in the trial, though she will still be able to attend the trial. However, despite his wife’s recusal, it will still take 21 votes in the 31-member chamber to permanently remove the attorney general from office.

Meanwhile, earlier this month the FBI arrested Ken Paxton ally Nate Paul, a wealthy real estate investor who is at the center of the scandal that led to Paxton’s impeachment. Paul was charged with several counts of defrauding financial institutions, for which the government is seeking $172 million in restitution. Most of the impeachment charges against Paxton accused him of illegally using his powers to help Paul, whom the attorney general also allegedly convinced to hire the woman Paxton was having an affair with.

TEXAS 32ND DISTRICT. Former Dallas City Council member Kevin Felder has filed to run in the Democratic primary to succeed Senate candidate Colin Allred in this heavily Democratic seat, though he has yet to comment on his interest in the race.

Felder previously led the NAACP’s Dallas chapter and won election to the City Council in 2017, but he lost his reelection campaign in 2019 after he had been charged with a felony over an alleged hit-and-run incident, and he lost a comeback attempt for the seat in 2021. However, the case was dismissed last year on the condition that Felder complete a defensive driving course.

VIRGINIA. Just three seats to flip it the State House: Republicans currently hold a 52-48 advantage after netting seven seats in 2021, which followed two straight cycles that saw Democrats collectively add a whopping 21 members to their caucus. Set against that, three seats seems small, but Democrats only flipped a single seat in both 2011 and 2013.

Going by Biden or going by Youngkin? Joe Biden carried 59 districts under Virginia’s new map, but Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin won 52, including 11 that had gone for the president. Was Biden’s performance a high-water mark, or is a similar showing once again possible for Democrats with abortion still a major albatross for the GOP?

The make-or-break districts: Seven of those Biden/Youngkin seats are hotly contested battlegrounds all across the state that will likely decide who ends up with the majority. Many look very different than they once did, though, thanks to redistricting, and four are open seats.

TEXAS. Texas Republicans just enacted a pair of laws designed to target left-leaning Harris County—and Harris County alone—with measures that include enabling the GOP secretary of state to take control of running its elections and use that power to restrict access to voting in a county that’s home to one in six Texans.

A one-time GOP stronghold that’s flipped to Democrats. Thanks to a racially diverse and well-educated electorate, Harris County, the largest in the state, has zoomed leftward during the Donald Trump era. Democrats took control of the county’s government in 2018, giving them an important base of power and a potential springboard for higher office.

A low, vague threshold for a state takeover. One of the new laws empowers the secretary of state to take control of local election administration if she has “good cause to believe” recurring problems exist with running elections or voter registration—but “good cause to believe” doesn’t require hard proof.

Texas Republicans have undermined Harris County’s voters for years. These laws aren’t isolated: GOP lawmakers in previous years have passed legislation banning measures county Democrats had implemented to expand and protect voting access. Now, following their losses last year, Republicans are complaining about … a supposed lack of access to voting.

TEXAS 15TH DISTRICT. 2022 Democratic nominee Michelle Vallejo this week publicized endorsements from two of Texas’ 13 Democratic House members, 16th District Rep. Veronica Escobar and 29th District Rep. Sylvia Garcia. Vallejo is currently the only major candidate challenging freshman GOP Rep. Monica de la Cruz, who won their first bout 53-45 last fall.

TEXAS 18TH DISTRICT and HOUSTON MAYOR. Former Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards announced Monday that she was dropping out of the Nov. 7 nonpartisan primary for mayor and would instead seek the safely blue 18th Congressional District held by her now-former opponent, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. It remains to be seen if Edwards would be competing for an open seat, though, because we don’t yet know if Jackson Lee would have time to turn around and seek reelection should she lose the race to succeed termed-out Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Edwards, who endorsed Jackson Lee’s mayoral campaign, also doesn’t appear to have said if she’d defer to the congresswoman should she run for reelection after all, while Jackson Lee herself hasn’t revealed what she’d do if she fails to become mayor. Edwards, who took fifth place in the 2020 primary to face GOP Sen. John Cornyn, for now is the only major candidate to announce a campaign to replace Jackson Lee.

Part of the reason for all of this uncertainty is that a runoff date hasn’t been picked for any city contests where no one earns the majority of the vote needed to win outright. The Houston Chronicle said in 2019 that state law “requires a 30-day gap between general elections and most runoff races,” but in 2015 and 2019 the second round of voting took place 39 days after the first. If that schedule were used this year, the runoff would be Dec. 16― five days after the state’s Dec. 11 filing deadline to appear on the March 2024 ballot for federal and state offices.

MICHIGAN 7TH DISTRICT. Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin over the weekend endorsed former state Sen. Curtis Hertel to succeed her in this swing seat even though he hasn’t yet announced if he’ll seek the Democratic nod. Hertel currently serves as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s legislative director, and the Detroit News reported a few weeks ago that he could jump in as soon as next month.

UTAH 2ND DISTRICT. In an upset, Utah Republicans tapped Celeste Maloy (R) at a convention to replace Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) in an upcoming special election, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Maloy, a former Stewart staffer, triumphed over former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R), a prominent Trump supporter.

MONTANA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) “is plotting a Senate comeback bid — a move that’s bound to revive the GOP’s long-running battle over electability in key battleground races,” Politico reports.

“Rosendale has told lawmakers in both chambers that he plans to run for the nomination to take on Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) next year… Conservatives are encouraging a run by Rosendale, who lost to Tester in 2018 and would almost certainly join the party’s right flank if he can topple the incumbent.”

“His timeline is unclear, but any campaign launch could set him on a collision course with Senate GOP leaders who are working to recruit a fresh face for the must-win contest. If Rosendale jumps in, a brutal primary could complicate the party’s chances of retaking the Senate.”

Mother Jones obtained a list of 36 wealthy contributors who last year wrote big checks to support No Labels’ effort to win 2024 ballot lines in states across the nation.

“Among the No Labels backers are donors who contributed millions of dollars to Republican causes, such as past GOP presidential candidates and super-PACS connected to Republican congressional leadership, and several who have poured money into the Democratic presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. One donor provided a big chunk of political cash to Donald Trump.”

“Generally, these No Labels supporters, who mostly made contributions of $5,600 to its 2024 project, appear to favor conservative candidates, though many have played both sides of the aisle, financing Republican and Democratic politicians.”

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

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