The Political Report – July 7, 2023

A new Echelon Insights poll finds Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential field with 49%, followed by Ron DeSantis at 16% and Vivek Ramaswamy at 10%.

Russell Berman: “Advocates for proportional representation acknowledge that such a radical change is a long shot, at least in the immediate future. Multimember House districts actually have an extensive history in the U.S., but it’s not one remembered fondly. Congress outlawed their use at the federal level during the civil-rights era, after southern states exploited the rules to disenfranchise Black voters. Proponents say they’d ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again, and they’ve won the support of some civil-rights activists who believe that under the right legal parameters, multimember districts could significantly expand Black representation. Another challenge for the movement is that Israel, a frequently cited example of a multiparty system that uses proportional representation, has recently experienced no less political instability than the U.S.”

“That such an idea has gained a following is a reflection of just how frustrated election experts have grown with the fractured state of American politics, and how worried some of them are for the future. They believe—or at least hope—that a new season of reform in the U.S. will make possible proposals that were once deemed unachievable.”

2Q FUNDRAISING. The second fundraising quarter of the year, covering the period of Apr. 1 through June 30, has come to an end, and federal candidates will have to file campaign finance reports with the FEC by July 15. But as per usual, campaigns with hauls they’re eager to tout are leaking numbers early, which we’ve gathered below.

  • CA-Sen: Adam Schiff (D): $8.1 million raised
  • MD-Sen: Angela Alsobrooks (D): $1.6 million raised (in seven weeks), $1.25 million cash on hand
  • MO-Sen: Lucas Kunce (D): $1.2 million raised
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): $4 million raised
  • TX-Sen: Colin Allred (D): $6.2 million raised (in two months)
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): $3.2 million raised
  • CA-47: Scott Baugh (R): $545,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • NY-22: Sarah Klee Hood (D): $319,000 raised (in 10 weeks), $221,000 cash on hand
  • RI-01: Don Carlson (D): $312,000 raised, additional $600,000 self-funded, $750,000 cash on hand
  • TX-32: Julie Johnson (D): $410,000 raised (in 11 days), Brian Williams (D): $360,000 raised (in six weeks)

The Economist: “Born out of the pandemic anti-mask movement, the organization now boasts 120,000 members. Its enthusiasts attend school-board meetings across 45 states to get books containing obscene images, critical race theory (CRT) or gender ideology stripped from library shelves. On June 29th hundreds of “mama bears” gathered in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was written and thus American liberty was born, to mobilize to protect their cubs from the ‘K-12 cartel.’”

“The country’s top Republicans came to court them. Five presidential candidates, including the front-runners, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, spoke at the four-day event. Vivek Ramaswamy, a businessman-turned-politician, vowed to defund the Department of Education and Mr Trump promised to let parents fire principals. All committed to battling the ‘indoctrination’ of children.”

“Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump are finding that the price to make the 2024 Florida primary ballot is going up,” Politico reports.

“All GOP candidates will have to pledge their loyalty to the eventual Republican nominee to make the March 19 primary, a contest that could tip the balance of the crowded race since Florida’s contest is a winner-take-all primary.”

Dan Pfeiffer: “The largest drivers of electoral outcomes are beyond anyone’s control — the mood of the country, the state of the economy, world events, etc. There are two factors, however, that a candidate can ostensibly control — their performance on the stump and their campaign strategy. I spend a lot of time in this newsletter and on Pod Save America, gleefully documenting Ron DeSantis’s shortcomings as a candidate. He lacks charisma, presence, humanity, and oratory skills. The Florida governor is the political equivalent of a baseball player who cannot throw, catch, or bat. In other words, what does Ron DeSantis bring to the table?”

“Sometimes, good candidates run bad campaigns. Other times, candidates are so lacking in talent that even an incredible strategy executed perfectly is insufficient. Ron DeSantis is a bad candidate running a very bad campaign. In fact, his campaign seems designed in a lab to make Donald Trump more electable.”

 “And here’s the thing. Whether you’re talking about Adolf Hitler, whether you’re talking about Chairman Mao, whether you’re talking about Stalin, whether you’re talking about Pol Pot, whether you’re talking about Castro in Cuba, or whether you’re about a dozen other despots all around the globe, it is time for us to get back and start reading some of those quotes.”— North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R), speaking to the “Moms for Liberty.”

Politico: “The Republican Party is now up to a half dozen candidates of color seeking the GOP nomination, surpassing the previous record of four set during the 2016 cycle. But in the modern GOP — a party supercharged by anti-‘woke’ culture wars and whose presidential candidates lean heavily on white voters — it’s better left unsaid.”

 “I think we are at a point in our country’s history where people are dying for a generational shift. The party that figures that out has the upper hand next year.”— Karl Rove, quoted by Axios.

“Democrats have held a fundraising advantage against Republicans for years,” The Messenger reports.

“And the newly announced second-quarter reports from Senate candidates across the country signal the advantage shows no signs of abating.”

“The advantage has significant implications for Republicans. Because candidates get far better rates on television advertising than committees and outside groups, Democrats are able to blanket the airwaves with less money, forcing top Republican donors to pour money into outside groups so that candidates can reach some parity on the air.”

“Mike Pence said Wednesday it would only be appropriate to consider pardoning former President Donald Trump if Trump is found guilty of a crime,” USA Today reports.

Said Pence: “I’ve been a governor, I’ve actually pardoned people. And I think any pardon that you could conduct would only be appropriate to consider after somebody has been found guilty. And I don’t know why some of my competitors in the Republican primary assume the president’s going to be found guilty.”

 “I don’t really buy into the rich need to pay their fair share.”— Mike Pence, campaigning in Iowa.

“The super PAC backing former Vice President Mike Pence hit Donald Trump Thursday in a new ad criticizing the former president’s broad support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” The Messenger reports.

“The new spot marks the second hit from the Pence-aligned super PAC against Trump. In its first spot aired last month, the group called Trump a “weak man” for failing to quell the January 6th insurrection.”

“Donald Trump nearly doubled his fundraising during the second quarter of 2023 — an indication that his legal troubles are propelling his campaign financially,” Politico reports.

“The former president’s joint fundraising committee raked in more than $35 million, according to a campaign official. That figure is about twice the $18.8 million the committee raised during the first quarter of the year.”

OHIO ABORTION REFERENDUM. “Proponents of abortion access filed more than 700,000 signatures Wednesday to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“Backers of the measure filed 710,131 signatures − more than the required 413,487 to account for possible errors and mistakes. It will be several weeks before Ohioans know if this measure has officially made the fall ballot.”

That figure gives organizers a sizable cushion should any petitions get thrown out after state officials review them, but a much more serious hurdle looms: Next month, voters will decide on a separate amendment approved by Republican lawmakers that would raise the threshold for passage for any future amendments from a simple majority to 60%.

Republicans have been explicit in explaining why they’re pushing their measure. “This is 100% about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said at an event in May, according to video obtained by News 5 Cleveland. “The left wants to jam it in there this coming November.” A broad array of organizations are opposing the GOP amendment, which will go before voters in an Aug. 8 special election.

NEW YORK ABORTION REFERENDUM. New York could join the ranks of states whose constitutions protect the right to an abortion next year when voters decide whether to approve a far-reaching amendment placed on the ballot by lawmakers.

The amendment, which the legislature passed for the required second time in January, would outlaw discrimination based on a wide variety of factors, including race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, and sex. Under “sex,” the measure further adds several more categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as “pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.”

It is that last grouping that proponents say will protect abortion rights, though the amendment doesn’t actually reference the word “abortion” anywhere. State law expert Quinn Yeargain expressed concern about that omission in an essay earlier this year. While noting that the amendment “encompasses a number of really good ideas” that would put New York at the vanguard of prohibiting a number of types of discrimination, he opined that it “leaves a lot to be desired” if it’s to be regarded as “an abortion-rights amendment.”

Yeargain contrasted New York’s approach with a much more explicit amendment that will appear on the Maryland ballot next year. That amendment guarantees “the fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including but not limited to the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one’s own pregnancy.” Regarding the New York amendment, Yeargain concluded that if he lived in the state, “I’d enthusiastically vote for this measure next year—but I wouldn’t do so with the assumption that it’ll constitutionalize abortion rights.”

OHIO REDISTRICTING. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated last year’s ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that struck down the state’s congressional map in a brief order issued just before the holiday weekend, directing the Ohio court to reconsider the case in light of the federal Supreme Court’s recent decision in a related redistricting case out of North Carolina.

In the North Carolina case, known as Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court rejected a radical argument by Republican legislators that would have allowed them to gerrymander without limits. Republicans claimed that the U.S. Constitution forbids state courts from placing any curbs on state lawmakers with regard to laws that concern federal elections, including the creation of new congressional maps. The supreme courts in both states had struck down GOP maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders, and in both cases, Republicans responded by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn those rulings.

The Supreme Court declined to do so in Moore, but a majority of justices in the North Carolina matter did embrace a more limited version of the GOP’s argument, saying that “state courts may not transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review” when assessing state laws that affect federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court now is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to determine whether it did in fact transgress these bounds in its prior ruling.

The written opinion in Moore, however, declined to provide any guidance whatsoever as to what those bounds might be, or what transgressing them might look like. The Ohio Supreme Court, therefore, faces the awkward task of deciding whether to tattle on itself without really knowing what it might have done wrong. Still, it’s hard to see how the court might have run afoul of this standard, even if interpreted loosely. But whatever it decides, the outcome likely won’t make any difference.

That’s because partisan Republicans took firm control of the state Supreme Court in November after moderate Republican Maureen O’Connor, who had sided with the court’s three Democrats to block GOP gerrymanders, retired due to age limits. The new hardline majority would likely have overturned the court’s previous rulings rejecting Republican maps regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new order. As a consequence, Ohio will likely be able to use the same tilted map next year, or possibly even a more egregiously slanted one, since Republicans recently said they might pass a new map this fall.

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

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