The Political Report – July 16, 2023

A new AP-NORC poll finds “the majority of U.S. adults, including those living in states with the deepest limits on abortion, want it to be legal at least through the initial stages of pregnancy.”

“Overall, about two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal, but only about a quarter say it should always be legal and only about 1 in 10 say it should always be illegal.”

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Far-right Attorney General Jeff Landry has begun what the Shreveport Times says is a “statewide million-dollar plus ad” campaign talking about his humble origins, which is a departure from his previous ads blaming crime on Black Democratic elected officials. The candidate declares, “Digging ditches in a sugarcane field, serving our country, working nights as an officer, raising a family; I have walked in the very shoes of the people who struggle way more than they should is a state as blessed as this one.”

WISCONSIN 3RD DISTRICT. Businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, who unsuccessfully competed in last year’s Democratic primary, on Monday became the first notable candidate to launch a bid to take on freshman Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden. Cooke, though, may face a pair of familiar intra-party foes, as well as a potentially new opponent, as she campaigns for a southwestern Wisconsin seat that Trump took 51-47.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Lawrence Andrea reports that state Sen. Brad Pfaff, who beat Cooke 39-31 before losing the general to Van Orden 52-48, is still considering whether to run again, though there’s no quote from the 2022 nominee. Unnamed sources tell Andrea that one of the things that will influence Praff’s decision is whether the incoming progressive majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down the current GOP-crafted legislative map, which Justice-elect Janet Protasiewicz blasted as “rigged” during her campaign; the article did not mention the possibility that the court could also invalidate the gerrymandered congressional map.

Former CIA officer Deb McGrath, meanwhile, tells the paper she’s “started to strongly consider” whether to run again. McGrath ran an attention-grabbing ad last cycle that featured her skydiving, with the candidate telling the viewer that, when she was the one woman in her Army jump school, “The guys thought I’d chicken out. I was the first out the door.” Despite that piece, though, she ended up taking a distant third in the primary with 19%.

Andrea also reports that state cabinet member Missy Hughes, who did not run here in 2022, is considering seeking the Democratic nod as well. Hughes, who serves as CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., has not said anything publicly about her interest.

TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL. GOP Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas would get yet another temporary attorney general later in the week when incumbent John Scott steps down Friday to be replaced by Angela Colmenero, who is one of the governor’s top aides. Impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton remains suspended from office ahead of his trial before the state Senate, which is set to begin Sept. 5; Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the upper chamber, said Tuesday that he expects it to last “two and a half to three weeks.”

PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL. York County District Attorney David Sunday on Monday became the first notable Republican to announce a bid to succeed appointed Attorney General Michelle Henry, a Democrat who has said she won’t seek a full term next year.

FLORIDA 11TH DISTRICT. While far-right troll Laura Loomer declared early this year that she’d be seeking a GOP primary rematch against veteran Rep. Daniel Webster, whom she held to a shockingly close 51-44 last cycle, she now tells Florida Politics she’s still making up her mind about another try. “Right now, my entire focus is the re-nomination and reelection of President Donald J. Trump, and exposing Ron DeSantis for the con man that he is,” she said, continuing, “I am preserving all of my options regarding a potential candidacy for U.S. Congress in Florida’s 11th district.”

Loomer also predicted that if she ran she’d “pulverize” both Webster and former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who is the congressman’s only notable declared intra-party foe in this conservative seat in the western Orlando suburbs. Sabatini, a hard-right extremist who lost last year’s primary for the neighboring 7th District to now-Rep. Cory Mills, says he’s raised $205,000 during the first three months in his campaign to replace Webster as the congressman for the gargantuan retirement community of The Villages.

HOUSTON MAYOR. EMILY’s List has endorsed Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in the Nov. 7 nonpartisan primary for mayor.

ARIZONA 6TH DISTRICT. Businessman Jack O’Donnell has quietly ended his month-old campaign for the Democratic nomination, a move the Arizona Republic says he made “without comment.” O’Donnell’s departure leaves former state Sen. Kirsten Engel without any intra-party opposition as she seeks a rematch against freshman Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who beat her 51-49 last cycle.

OREGON 5TH DISTRICT. 2022 Democratic nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner on Monday announced her campaign for a rematch against Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer as expected.

Last cycle, McLeod-Skinner successfully primaried centrist Rep. Kurt Schrader by arguing that he was too unreliable of a Democrat in a district that had favored Biden by 53-44, but she lost the general election 51-49 in what was overall a tough year for Oregon Democrats. According to calculations from Daily Kos Elections Republican Christine Drazan carried this district even as she was losing last year’s hotly contested race for governor to Democrat Tina Kotek: Drazan outpaced the now-governor 47-43, with another 9% going to conservative Democrat-turned-independent Betsy Johnson.

However, McLeod-Skinner will first have to get through a Democratic primary that includes state Rep. Janelle Bynum and Oregon Metro Council President Lynn Peterson, who both recently joined the race. One candidate who won’t be running against her, though, is longtime political operative Kevin Easton, who dropped out and backed McLeod-Skinner shortly after her announcement.

NORTH CAROLINA DISTRICT. An attorney for Scott Lassiter, a former Apex Town Council member who filed a lawsuit last month alleging that state House Speaker Tim Moore helped destroy his marriage, said last week that the matter “has been resolved,” but neither side provided any additional information. Moore, a Republican who reportedly plans to draw a new congressional district for himself, previously acknowledged he had an “on-again, off-again, very casual, nothing-consistent type of relationship” with Lassiter’s estranged wife, but said he’d “fully understood that she was separated.”

OHIO 9TH DISTRICT. Former state Rep. Craig Riedel on Friday earned an endorsement from 7th District Rep. Max Miller, a close Trump ally whose constituency is located about 30 miles to the east, in the GOP primary to take on Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur.

MARYLAND 2ND DISTRICT. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, reports Maryland Matters, has spent the last month raising money for a potential campaign to succeed longtime Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, though Olszewski’s team made it clear he’d only run if his fellow Democrat retired. Ruppersberger’s spokesperson, meanwhile, reiterated that the 77-year-old incumbent “has not made any decisions regarding 2024.”

MONTANA 1ST DISTRICT. Attorney Monica Tranel announced Monday that she would seek a rematch as the Democratic nominee against Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, whom she held to a surprisingly close 50-46 win last year for an open seat that had favored Trump by a wider 52-45 in 2020. Tranel gained traction by highlighting Zinke’s many corruption-related scandals during his time as Trump’s secretary of the interior, which ultimately led to his resignation from that position in 2019, but the district’s conservative lean proved too much for her to overcome. Zinke himself recently ruled out running for Senate next year.

MICHIGAN 7TH DISTRICT. Both major parties this week saw their leading contenders, Republican Tom Barrett and Democrat Curtis Hertel, launch campaigns to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin in this swingy district in the Lansing area.

Barrett, who like Hertel is a former state senator, is seeking to avenge his loss to Slotkin last cycle, when he campaigned as a far-right hardliner who appealed to vaccine conspiracy theorists and used transphobic scaremongering tactics in an attempt to boost his lackluster fundraising. Barrett also ardently opposed abortion rights in a year where Michigan voters decisively approved an amendment to enshrine reproductive rights into the state constitution. That issue may have played a key role in his surprisingly decisive 52-46 loss in a contest that saw the second-highest amount of spending by the major party committees of any House race nationwide last year and was widely expected to be very close.

On the Democratic side, Hertel joined the race after recently stepping down as legislative director for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. He comes from a prominent family of Democratic elected officials that includes his brother, current state Sen. Kevin Hertel; his father, the late state House Speaker Curtis Hertel Sr.; an uncle, former Detroit-area Rep. Dennis Hertel; and another uncle, former state Sen. John Hertel.

Hertel had already secured Slotkin’s endorsement and was joined at his kickoff announcement by several prominent local Democrats who had been potential candidates for this seat, including two who hadn’t previously ruled out running, state Reps. Angela Witwer and Kara Hope. Additionally, while state Rep. Julie Brixie had said back in February right after Slotkin announced for Senate that she was also considering joining the Democratic primary, she doesn’t appear to have said much about her interest since then.

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

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