The Political Report – August 15, 2023

Seth Masket: “Typically, candidates go after the front-runner, but we know that most of the field is pretty shy about attacking Trump. Instead, they’ll likely focus on attacking the front-runner in the race to be Trump’s alternative if the legal system takes him out of contention. Which means that a lot of them are going after DeSantis. That could be a rough night for DeSantis. On the other hand, if he comes off deftly parrying attacks and exceeding the fairly low expectations for his stage performances, it could help his flagging campaign.”

“This will be way more media attention than any of these candidates has received so far. Yes, a debate audience is kind of a nerdy one, but there will be moments of drama and excitement and those will be repeated on TV news and shared on social media so that people who aren’t well attuned to the contest so far will gain some exposure to these candidates.”

“And the great thing about debates is that you can have moments, whether scripted or unscripted, that elevate obscure candidates and affect the contest.”

“A major legal challenge to Florida’s disputed congressional map could result in the reinstatement of a north Florida district formerly held by a Black Democrat under a sweeping agreement reached late Friday,” Politico reports.

“But the agreement between the state and groups challenging Florida’s congressional map — which does not end the litigation — narrows the scope of the ongoing lawsuit to focus on ex-Rep. Al Lawson’s (D-Fla.) seat. This means that the plaintiffs suing over the maps will drop legal challenges to other revamped districts, such as those in central Florida and the Tampa Bay area. There is still a separate lawsuit over Florida’s congressional maps in federal court.”

“America is headed full-steam into an election soaked with an unprecedented mix of scandal, high-stakes court cases and possible impeachment hearings,” Axios reports.

“The two most likely finalists for president in 2024, former President Trump and President Biden, both will be burdened by politically fraught legal cases that together involve a trio of special counsels.”

“The unprecedented dynamic offers the potential for a split screen of American politics, with partisan media going all-in on their trial(s) of choice.”

Donald Trump “is seeking to keep the spotlight on him by drawing out his decision on whether or not to join his fellow candidates in the first GOP presidential primary debate later this month,” The Hill reports.

“He told Eric Bolling Wednesday on Newsmax that he’s ‘already decided’ whether to attend or not, but said he won’t announce his plans until the following week, even closer to the event date.”

Politico: “Iowa’s transition to a deep-red state has taken place with remarkable speed. Democrats controlled the State Senate as recently as 2016. In 2018, Democrats won three of the state’s four congressional seats and three of the six statewide offices. But after the party’s bungling of its 2020 presidential caucuses, President Donald J. Trump cruised to victory in Iowa that November.”

“The midterm elections last year were a Democratic blood bath in Iowa, even though the party had over-performed in much of the rest of the country.”

ARKANSAS REFERENDUM. State election authorities said last week that the campaign to repeal Arkansas’ hard-right education law had failed to submit enough signatures to move forward. Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students, which acknowledged it had fallen short, faulted GOP Attorney General Tim Griffin for rejecting its first two proposed ballot measures and thus costing it 35 of the 90 days it had to gather petitions following the conclusion of the legislative session. “We are confident that if we had the time the Constitution allows, we would have far exceeded the minimum,” said CAPES’ head, who added, “As for what is next? CAPES is not done, so stay tuned.”

MICHIGAN STATE HOUSE. Conservatives looking to recall six Democratic state representatives filed new paperwork against at least four of them after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers determined that they’d previously failed to provide enough information about why they wanted them ousted. Bridge Michigan’s Anna Liz Nichols says that the Board is set to meet again in late August, though it hasn’t announced its agenda.

Last week the bipartisan body voted 2-2 to reject the recall campaigns, a deadlock that prevented recall proponents from being able to gather the signatures needed to proceed. One Democrat and Republican board member each faulted the recall forms, which contained almost identical wording, for merely citing a bill number as its reason for wanting the member ousted, with Chair Mary Ellen Gurewitz declaring, “The (bill) number does not give somebody who is apt to sign a petition sufficient information to make an informed decision.”

The resubmitted paperwork explicitly faults three Democrats―Noah Arbit, Jennifer Conlin, and Reggie Miller―for their votes on a bill called HB 4474 and provides descriptions of the legislation that Nichols says “would expand the state’s hate crimes law to include members of the LGBTQ+ community and disabled Michiganders.” Recall proponents meanwhile say they want to oust state Rep. Betsy Coffia over her vote for gun safety legislation.

Meanwhile, two Democratic members of the state House, Kevin Coleman of Westland and Lori Stone of Warren, advanced to the nonpartisan general elections to become mayor of their respective cities, and the Democratic-led chamber would temporarily become tied if they both won on Nov. 7. However, Bridge Michigan says that Democratic Speaker Joe Tate would retain his position in the event of a deadlock.

Democrats would also be favored to keep both of their constituencies should any special elections take place. According to data from Dave’s Redistricting App, President Joe Biden carried Coleman’s 25th House District 59-40, while he racked up an even larger 64-35 margin in Stone’s HD-13. It’s very possible, though, that neither special will be required, as both members came in second on Tuesday: Interim Westland Mayor Michael Londeau outpaced Coleman 44-41, while Warren City Human Resources Director George Dimas edged out Stone 34-28.

HOUSTON MAYOR. Former City Councilmember Jack Christie announced Wednesday that he would campaign to succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner in the Nov. 7 nonpartisan primary, a late entry that nonetheless makes Christie the first notable Republican in the race. The candidate filing deadline is Aug. 21 for a post that Republicans last won in 1979.

Christie was first elected to a citywide seat in 2011 and made news two years later when he became the one member of the 16-member body to vote against accepting a federal grant for childhood immunizations. The Republican, who apparently thought the program was for flu vaccinations, volunteered he’d never had a flu shot and declared, “You don’t die from the flu.” A local physician called out Christie’s “totally wrong” views, saying, “There is very good evidence that the flu shot reduces deaths from the flu.” None of this, though, stopped Christie from winning two more citywide races, with his most recent campaign taking place in 2015; the Republican left four years due to term limits.

Christie argued this week that he could prevail in a race that’s been dominated by two Democrats, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire, by arguing that “there was a possibility of a fiscal conservative winning because the two leaders will be fighting each other.” Political scientist Bob Stein, though, argued that the only impact his late arrival would be to “siphon votes away” from Whitmire, a longtime moderate who has the support of several prominent GOP donors.

ARIZONA REFERENDUM. Arizona for Abortion Access, a coalition that includes the ACLU, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood, has launched a ballot initiative effort for November 2024 that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. The proposed amendment would guarantee abortion access up until fetal viability, or roughly 22 to 24 weeks, after which the procedure would be allowed to protect a patient’s physical or mental health.

Arizona Republicans enacted a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with almost no exceptions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, which remains in effect. Abortion opponents are also currently appealing to the state Supreme Court, which is dominated by conservatives, asking it to allow a law from 1864 banning almost all abortions to take effect after a state appellate court blocked its enforcement last year.

Abortion rights supporters will have until July 3, 2024 to gather roughly 384,000 voter signatures to make the ballot. That gives them almost a full year to collect signatures, a considerable advantage over a similar failed attempt last year. That effort only began after the leak of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling in May of 2022, meaning supporters had just weeks to gather signatures before a similar July deadline.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s ex-attorney-turned-critic who has characterized his former boss as a “conman” and “racist,” is considering a run for Congress, Semafor reports.

Cohen said he would run as a Democrat, potentially mounting a primary challenge against Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the party’s top member on the House Judiciary Committee.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sam Brown (R) “created a political action committee to ‘help elect Republicans’ but most of its funds were spent paying down debt from his failed previous campaign,” CNN reports.

“The group donated less than 7% of its funds to the candidates it was set up to support, according to campaign finance records – a move one campaign finance expert likened to using the PAC as a ‘slush fund.’”

Associated Press: “Republicans in Nevada could have two chances next year to decide who they want to be their party’s presidential nominee. The catch: Only one will count.”

“The Nevada GOP is insisting on holding its own caucus despite a new state law calling for a primary election, a move critics say is designed to benefit former President Donald Trump. The competing contests are likely to confuse some and require GOP campaigns to spend extra time and money educating voters in one of the earliest states to cast ballots for the presidential nomination.”

NC-AG: The Republican Attorneys General Association on Monday endorsed Rep. Dan Bishop, a far-right House member who is his party’s frontrunner for this open seat.

The Arizona Superior Court ruled that No Labels Party is a qualified party in Arizona, Ballot Access News reports.

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

1 comment on “The Political Report – August 15, 2023

  1. cassandram

    I would like to set up a guillotine specifically for media who keeps treating TFG and Hunter Biden Special Councils as somehow the same. Somehow the same scandal. Because they aren’t. And it is deeply insulting to have to keep hearing this crap because the media can’t live with the active asymmetry of GOP actions.

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