The Political Report – June 30, 2023

A new St. Anselm College poll in New Hampshire finds Joe Biden with 68% support among Democratic primary voters, well ahead of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is polling at 9% and Marianne Williamson at 8%.

Marquette University Law School Poll in Wisconsin finds Donald Trump edging Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential race, 31% to 30%. But in a head-to-head matchup, DeSantis was favored by 57% and Trump by 41%.

National Public Affairs poll in South Carolina shows Donald Trump leading Ron DeSantis by 23 points in the Republican presidential primary, 41% to 18%. Trump has gained two points and DeSantis has lost five points in the last month.

Sue Halpern: “The fundamental fallacy at the heart of the No Labels effort is that there is no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties—that both favor extremists. Everything we know from recent history demonstrates that this is not true.”

“This feigned evenhandedness disguises what seems to be an inevitable effect of No Labels’ ‘insurance policy’: a paving of the way for a candidate who will not challenge the current constellation of wealth and power.”

“As part of its push for a unity ticket presidential bid, the bipartisan group No Labels quietly employed a firm with ties to GOP candidates including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis,” Politico reports.

A new NBC News poll finds 44% of registered voters say they are willing to consider supporting a third-party or independent presidential candidate if President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are the two major party nominees in 2024 — and the group includes more Democrats than Republicans.

However, a majority of all registered voters, 53%, say they wouldn’t consider voting for another candidate in a matchup between Biden and Trump next year.

Lee Drutman and Beau Tremitiere: “A centrist party embracing fusion voting could have extraordinary leverage in the 2024 election. All signs point to another close race, where modest numbers of swing voters in a few purple states could again prove decisive. In exchange for their nomination, the centrist party could secure a commitment from the better candidate to support its key policy objectives, appoint moderate or cross-ideological officials in senior roles, or otherwise prioritize what matters to its supporters.”

“Is this possible? Absolutely. This strategy is viable now in several states that allow some form of fusion voting in presidential elections. And efforts are underway to re-legalize fusion voting in New Jersey and other states. If No Labels were to invest even a fraction of its $70 million war chest in this direction, they could actually advance their goals of reducing extremism and making our politics more representative. On their current course, No Labels will instead spend a fortune with little to show for it—except putting American democracy in even greater peril.”

MONTANA U.S. SENATOR. Republican leaders got the recruit they wanted for Montana’s Senate race on Tuesday when Navy SEAL veteran Tim Sheehy, an aerospace company CEO who reportedly plans to self-fund, announced that he’d seek to take on Democratic incumbent Jon Tester. Sheehy may need to use some of his wealth to win a primary first, though, as Politico reported just days ago that Rep. Matt Rosendale has been telling his colleagues he plans to run as well.

Rosendale, who lost the 2018 contest to Tester 50-47, responded to Tuesday’s news by tweeting, “Congratulations to Mitch McConnell and the party bosses on getting their chosen candidate. Now Washington has two candidates – Tim Sheehy and Jon Tester – who will protect the DC cartel.” The congressman, who led Sheehy 64-10 in a recent in-house survey conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, is an ally of the far-right Club for Growth, and the well-funded organization in February pledged to support him if he ran for Senate again. The previous month, Rosendale had refused to support Kevin McCarthy on any of the 15 ballots needed to elect a new House speaker, a move the Club expressed appreciation for.

But party leaders don’t have fond memories of Rosendale’s failed bid to unseat Tester and have been eager for an alternative. NRSC chair Steve Daines celebrated Sheehy’s launch by declaring, “I could not be happier that he has decided to enter,” though Montana’s junior senator stopped short of officially endorsing the fledgling candidate.

While GOP strategists have been talking up Sheehy for months, several stories have already previewed some of the attacks Tester’s side may level at him―including a few liabilities similar to those that helped sink Rosendale’s 2018 effort. To begin with, HuffPost’s Chris D’Angelo noted late last month that Sheehy is a Minnesota native who only moved to the state in 2014. Tester used every chance he got during his last campaign to remind voters that Rosendale was a Maryland native who’d only relocated 16 years prior. The state Democratic Party crowed, “Jon Tester has farm equipment that’s been in Montana longer than Tim Sheehy” in response to his kickoff.

D’Angelo’s report also highlighted the fact that Sheehy has variously listed his occupation as “cowboy” or “rancher” on donation forms yet owns “thousands of acres of land and multimillion-dollar properties on Flathead Lake and in the lavish resort community of Big Sky.” Rosendale likewise described himself as a “rancher,” but Talking Points Memo reported during his first Senate bid that he didn’t own any cattle or actually ranch his property. Tester, who is a third-generation farmer who still works his land, blasted Rosendale as a phony, while a Democratic group dubbed the Republican “all hat, no cattle.”

Those aren’t the only ways that Sheehy, contrary to Axios’ characterization of him in March, may not be recruit “straight out of central casting.” That item described him as an appealing candidate for Republicans in part because he “doesn’t have a history of controversial statements or unpopular votes,” but that was a month before he responded to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that, at least temporarily, protected access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

Sheehy told a conservative radio host, “It’s really frustrating how, you know, we have one party in this country that seems to be bent on murdering our unborn children and taking that, taking that tack, you know, in a very militant way.” Rosendale, HuffPost noted, has a similar stance: He’s not only cosponsored a bill to ban abortion but has also tried to outlaw birth control.

Those anti-choice positions could be a liability for either Republican in a general election, even in a state that Donald Trump took 57-41. Last fall, a referendum that would have required doctors to take extraordinary measures “to preserve the life of a born-alive infant”—even those with no chance of living—or face up to 20 years in prison failed 53-47. The Democratic firm Civiqs also finds that 52% of the state’s voters agree abortion should be legal in all or most cases while 44% believe the opposite; a separate February survey from the progressive pollster Middle Fork Strategies showed an even wider divide, with a strong 60-37 majority saying the procedure should remain legal.

Sheehy was also the subject of a Daily Beast story earlier this month that detailed a 2019 incident in which the small plane he was in crashed into a Florida home and injured a 17-year-old on the ground named Carmelle Ngalamulume. (Click the link for some astonishing photos.) Sheehy, says reporter Ursula Perano, was taking flight lessons when the instructor, James Wagner, lost control of the craft; Wagner died in the accident, while Sheehy suffered only minor injuries.

Federal authorities blamed the incident on Wagner’s decisions and “a total loss of left engine power for reasons that could not be determined,” but Ngalamulume’s family has sued Sheehy, arguing that he was responsible for “carelessly and negligently flying, inspecting, maintaining and/or operating” the aircraft. An unnamed person close to the NRSC insisted to Perano, “This lawsuit does not raise any concerns whatsoever with regard to the NRSC’s support for Tim Sheehy.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. used a Russian photo in a campaign tweet.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. refused to criticize former President Trump on Wednesday night and said he was flattered by recent comments from Trump praising him as a “common-sense guy,” The Hill reports.

He added: “I’m proud that President Trump likes me.”

MAINE U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Angus King again told the local media this week that he’s seeking reelection, a declaration that comes almost five months after the Democratic-aligned independent said he was in. While the incumbent said of his skeptics back in February, “I could be struck by lightning. But I am running,” that declaration didn’t quite end talk that the 79-year-old King could retire after all. The senator, though, responded “yes sir” when CBS13 reporter Johnny Maffei asked if he’d campaign for a third term, adding, “there’s too much to do, I just don’t feel like this is the time to quit.”

NEBRASKA U.S. SENATOR B. A spokesperson for wealthy agribusinessman Charles Herbster tells the Nebraska Examiner that his boss is still considering waging a GOP primary bid against the appointed incumbent, Sen. Pete Ricketts. Herbster last year lost a close and ugly 2022 nomination contest to replace Ricketts as governor to Jim Pillen, who benefited from heavy spending by the outgoing chief executive.

TEXAS U.S. SENATOR. Democratic state Rep. Carl Sherman on Tuesday did not rule out a campaign against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, writing instead, “[O]ur priority must remain putting the best candidate forward to elect a U.S. Senator that ALL Texans can be proud of … I have nothing to announce at this time.” The only notable Democrat who has entered the race so far is Rep. Colin Allred, who like Sherman would be the state’s first Black senator.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. NBC News reports that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi will headline a virtual fundraiser Thursday evening for fellow Rep. Ruben Gallego, who remains the only notable Democrat running for the seat held by Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has yet to say whether she will seek a second term. Pelosi’s support for Gallego is notable since top Democrats on the Senate side such as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the DSCC have yet to back a candidate.

It’s obvious the roots of Trumpism started long before Donald Trump ran for president in 2016.

Some suggest it goes as far back as the Richard Nixon era.

Doug Sosnik, who worked as a political advisor to Bill Clinton, thinks it began with the 1992 presidential campaign, which featured both Pat Buchanan’s primary challenge against President George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot’s surprisingly strong populist third party campaign.

That campaign planted the seeds of Trumpism and we first saw the true chaos of our political era during the 2000 presidential election.

In an excellent conversation with Bill Kristol, Sosnik argues that this period resembles the late 1800s, when the country transitioned to the Industrial Age.

Similarly, our current political dysfunction can be traced to the transition to the Information Age.

The bad news is that Sosnik doesn’t see this era ending anytime soon.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Is the GOP effort to sink the far-right frontrunner in the race to be Louisiana’s next governor having an impact? Dueling polls tell different stories, but either way, the news still isn’t good for the target of that campaign, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry.

The contest took an early turn for the ugly last month when Reboot Louisiana, a super PAC backing former state Chamber of Commerce head Stephen Waguespack, launched an expensive ad blitz both promoting their candidate and slamming Landry. The PAC released a poll Wednesday arguing its efforts are starting to pay off, but a Democratic survey from a week earlier suggests the effects haven’t been quite so dramatic.

That new internal from Reboot Louisiana, conducted by the Republican firm Remington Research, shows former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, who is the only serious Democrat in the race, taking 27% in the Oct. 14 all-party primary as Landry outpaces Waguespack 25-16 for the second-place spot in the likely runoff.

While that’s still a clear edge for the frontrunner, it’s also the first time we’ve seen Waguespack taking more than 5%. Indeed, Remington says that an unreleased March survey gave him just 2% compared to 30% for Landry. The poll further finds Waguespack well ahead of the remainder of the field, with GOP Treasurer John Schroder a distant fourth with 7%.

This new poll was conducted June 22-25, which was about a week after another firm showed Waguespack performing very differently. The Kitchens Group, a Democratic pollster, put Landry ahead of Wilson 31-21, with Schroder at 6% and Waguespack at just 5%. But pollster Jim Kitchens, who worked for termed-out Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards ahead of his upset 2015 win, argued that his results still shouldn’t delight Landry.

“While Jeff Landry has a good start, he is in a similar position to where David Vitter began eight years ago,” Kitchens told’s Tyler Bridges. “With 25% of the electorate undecided, there is ample opportunity for any candidate to find a message and emerge as a strong contender.” Vitter, who spent most of that race as the frontrunner despite his myriad scandals, ended up only narrowly outpacing fellow Republican Scott Angelle just 23-19 a month before he badly lost the general to Edwards. (Kitchens, who says that a partner, Vantage Data House, sponsored this survey to get its name out, did not publicize any numbers looking at whether Wilson could score a third straight runoff victory for his party in this red state.)

One major difference between this race and the one that saw Edwards upset Vitter is just how early the mud has started to fly. In 2015, Republicans waited until around Labor Day to begin attacking one another on TV, but Waguespack’s backers deployed their first negative ad hitting Landry a month ago. The effort to both destroy the frontrunner’s tough-on-crime image and build up their man’s own name recognition hasn’t been cheap, as the GOP firm Medium Buying reports that Reboot Louisiana has already spent $1.5 million on TV and radio ads so far. (Schroeder himself has spent a comparable $1.45 million, but no one’s released any polls showing him escaping the single digits.)

Landry’s own super PAC allies at Protect Louisiana’s Children responded with their own commercials informing viewers that Waguespack once served as chief of staff to former Gov. Bobby Jindal, a one-time GOP rising star who left office in 2016 with disastrous approval numbers after presiding over years of massive budget cuts. The PAC, according to Medium, has so far spent $385,000 on advertising, though.

Landry’s campaign, meanwhile, has deployed $465,000 on his own advertising, including messaging unsubtly blaming crime on Black Democratic mayors and district attorneys, but he’s yet to bring up any of his actual opponents by name. In fact, the attorney general doesn’t even want to be seen with his actual opponents: Bridges reports that, not only has Landry skipped every candidate forum so far, his team has informed organizers he’ll only show up to events if he gets the stage to himself.

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. Longtime political columnist Tim Skubick relays that actor Hill Harper is “expected to join” the Democratic primary for this open Senate seat in July. Harper’s team had previously said he was considering the race but did not give a specific timeline for a decision.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Former Gov. Scott Walker recently told the conservative site The Dispatch that Rep. Bryan Steil is still a “maybe” on seeking the Republican nomination for Senate next year, though last month a spokesperson for Steil had said his boss would seek reelection instead and there’s been no further update from his team since then. Republicans still have yet to land a notable candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

WASHINGTON GOVERNOR. While former Rep. Dave Reichert has yet to publicly express interest in running for governor, Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute points to the large number of Republican elected officials tweeting out their support to argue that he really “seems to be in and ready to run.” Reichert, famously, has a long history of flirting with campaigning for the Senate or governor yet never done it, but his backers are at least acting like this time could be different: One of those allies is Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, who leads the state’s second-largest county.

Axios: “The overturning of Roe v. Wade took away the card most GOP candidates could play to express their anti-abortion views.”

“While many in the party now say the issue should be left to the states, some anti-abortion groups are pressing candidates to at a minimum, back a national 15-week ban.”

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

0 comments on “The Political Report – June 30, 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: