The Political Report – August 20, 2023

Donald Trump “plans to upstage the first Republican primary debate on Wednesday by sitting for an online interview with the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson,” the New York Times reports.

“President Joe Biden’s campaign on Friday accused former President Donald Trump of wanting “to avoid appearing in Wisconsin” as it seems likely the current Republican frontrunner will skip the first GOP presidential primary debate in Milwaukee next week,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Said a spokesman: “Of course Donald Trump wants to avoid appearing in Wisconsin because he knows Wisconsin is a state that illustrates his failed leadership.”

“Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said Friday that he has qualified for next week’s Republican presidential debate, becoming the ninth White House hopeful to meet the fundraising and polling thresholds required to participate in the opening face-off of the 2024 campaign,” the AP reports.

“But senior advisers with the Republican National Committee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions said later that Suarez had not yet officially met the criteria.”

Associated Press: “Trump won’t speak at The Gathering, an Atlanta event by syndicated radio host Erick Erickson taking place Friday and Saturday about 10 miles from the jail where the former president has to surrender before next Friday on a racketeering indictment related to the 2020 election.”

“Six of his 2024 rivals, meanwhile, are scheduled for onstage interviews with Erickson, an influential conservative who has been critical of the former president.”

Jonathan Chait: “It is a strange twist of fate that years of hysterically accusing every leading Democrat of criminality culminated in Republicans falling behind a presidential candidate who came to politics from the world of crime.”

“For some Republicans, the ascension of a transparently amoral swindler precipitated a psychic break from their party. But for most of them, it served merely to deepen the belief system they already subscribed to. Trump’s campaign and presidency followed directly from a mentality that detached the notion of criminality from any actual behavior and turned it into a partisan identity. Trump’s mantra — ‘The crimes are being committed by the other side’ — has become a partywide doctrine.”

“But this idea, which has tightened its grip on conservative minds over the last generation, is now the dominant theme of the campaign. Trump’s indictments have intensified their humiliation and created an insatiable demand for revenge. The party is no longer running on policy or even culture war. It is now consumed above all with turning the criminal-justice system into an instrument of revenge.”

“Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly encouraged Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to run for president in 2024, according to two people familiar with entreaties made in at least two face-to-face meetings,” the Washington Post reports.

“The previously unreported meetings took place months ago, but Murdoch’s ask has taken on fresh relevance as Youngkin continues to lay the groundwork for a potential last-minute White House bid and as Murdoch outlets hyped his presidential prospects this month with a mix of sober Wall Street Journal analysis and buzzy Page Six blurbs.”

New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s relationship with Fox — a long-running saga that has been both lucrative and, more recently, extremely costly for the network — is the other issue that looms large in his thinking about the debate, people close to him said.”

“His professed hatred of Fox — and the animus he often privately expresses about the chairman of Fox Corporation, Rupert Murdoch — is mixed with his recognition of Mr. Murdoch’s power and a grudging acknowledgment that the network can still affect his image with Republican voters.”

“Donald Trump’s indictment has reignited infighting among Georgia Republicans, stoking fears within the party that the division may tip the state to Joe Biden in 2024,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Dan Pfeiffer: “Team DeSantis is still operating like the potential frontrunner he was late last year and has yet to acknowledge that ‘GDR’ is a long shot — at best. When there is a low likelihood of success, you should employ a strategy with a higher variance. In others, you take bigger risks. And you can’t be afraid to fail because failure is the most likely outcome in all scenarios.”

“Bet big to win big.”

“DeSantis is trying to win in 2024 but still maintain viability for 2028; and Jeff Roe is trying to help DeSantis while preserving his ability to make money in a world where Trump wins the primary.”

“All in all, it’s a plan to lose.”

“If Gov. Ron DeSantis follows political consultants’ advice to defend former President Donald Trump during the first Republican presidential debate next week,’ then he should ‘get the hell out of the race,” former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday, poking Mr. DeSantis from his home state of Florida,” the New York Times reports.

Said Christie: “He should do Donald Trump a favor and do our party a favor, come back to Tallahassee and endorse Donald Trump. The only way to beat someone is to beat him.”

INDIANA GOVERNOR. Former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers announced Thursday that he was joining the race to succeed his old boss and fellow Republican, termed-out Gov. Eric Holcomb, and the first-time candidate’s presence will likely make what’s already a pricey May primary even more expensive. And while Sen. Mike Braun had long looked like the favorite to win the nomination, Chambers’ decision to run could also be a sign that the senator’s status is not secure.

Chambers spent nearly four decades running the Buckingham Companies, a prominent Indianapolis-based commercial real estate firm that he founded, before becoming both state commerce secretary and head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation in 2021. Howey Politics wrote last month that Chambers, who at the time was about to step down from Holcomb’s cabinet, would “likely” self-fund a campaign, though it’s not clear how much money he’s willing and able to throw down.

Some of the cash that Chambers long ago parted ways with, though, could give him trouble as he tries to win over conservatives. Journalist Adam Wren reported in March that Chambers has donated a total of $20,000 to state and federal Democrats, including a committee to support Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid and to then-Sen. Joe Donnelly in 2015. (Braun unseated Donnelly three years later.) His most recent contribution to a Democrat came in 2020, when he gave $250 to aid a state lawmaker.

Wren also noted at the time that some of Buckingham’s priorities could further leave Chambers vulnerable to attack on his right flank. “[W]e aim to fully integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices that are aligned with our business strategy and stakeholder interests,” according to a company statement. “Our ESG strategy is informed by industry best practices and intended to reduce our carbon footprint, preserve communities, increase value, and reduce risk.”

Needless to say, these are not popular positions in the GOP: Earlier this year, Braun enlisted his entire caucus in support of a resolution bashing the Biden administration over these corporate governance practices. The senator, however, might be the wrong person to make Chambers’ past donations an issue: CNN reported in 2018 that Braun had a long history of voting in Democratic primaries that continued through 2008, something he claims he did because he lived in a blue county and wanted to have a say in local politics.

The senator announced in December that he’d run for governor rather than seek a second term, and he released an internal poll around that time showing him beating Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch in a 47-10 landslide, with self-funding businessman Eric Doden at 5%. (Only Doden had announced when that survey was conducted, while Braun and Crouch entered a short time later.) No one, though, has released any reliable numbers since then of what’s now a much more crowded race.

The field grew last month when former Attorney General Curtis Hill, a one-time rising star who lost renomination in 2020 after multiple women accused him of sexual assault, launched a comeback effort. Hill echoed Donald Trump’s own protestations of innocence by claiming to the Indiana Capitol Chronicle that, as soon as he was elected in 2016, “there was a target because I was a proven, conservative leader but also someone that would stand up to the status quo.” Doden, who also ran the state’s Economic Development Corporation under then-Gov. Mike Pence, meanwhile beat everyone else to TV this month when he launched a $2 million media buy.

Whoever wins the GOP nod will likely face former state education superintendent Jennifer McCormick, a former Republican who so far has the Democratic primary to herself. McCormick, who like Crouch would be the first woman to lead the state, has gone after her old party for pushing an ultra-conservative agenda, including a near-total abortion ban, while arguing that schools and the economy have suffered. Democrats will face a tough task next year, though, as they last won Indiana’s governorship in 2000, when incumbent Frank O’Bannon secured reelection.

LOUISIANA GOVEROR. Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry this week earned the support of the Louisiana Sheriffs Association, which backed termed-out Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards during both of his successful bids. In Louisiana, sheriffs tend to be very influential figures: When he turned down a gubernatorial bid, the late Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee famously asked, “Why would I want to be governor when I can be king?”

MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has launched a transphobic ad insinuating that Democrat Brandon Presley “said he supports sex changes and puberty-blocking drugs for children.”

Reporters asked Presley in June if he supported a new state law that banned gender-affirming care for minors, to which he responded, “I trust families, I trust mamas and I trust daddies to deal with the health care of their children first and foremost, period.” The Democrat, though, also told Mississippi Today last month, “Tate Reeves knows that I won’t work to overturn these laws, and this issue is settled in Mississippi, but he’s busy pushing the same old false political attacks to cover up his career of corruption.”

MONTANA U.S. SENATOR. NBC News: “Tester has already ramped up his re-election bid by adding staffers across Montana and raising millions of dollars. While Democrats hope Tester’s deep connection to his home state will overcome his party affiliation, Republicans have yet to settle on a candidate to challenge him, and there is the possibility of a messy primary.”

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. EPIC-MRA’s new survey for WLNS finds Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin leading former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers 42-37 in a hypothetical general election. Rogers, who relocated to Florida sometime after leaving the House in 2015, is reportedly considering running back in his former state but has yet to announce.    

MISSOURI GOVERNOR. While state Sen. Bill Eigel’s site is still emboldened with the words “exploratory,” the Republican hardliner has otherwise abandoned the pretense that he’s anything other than a declared candidate to replace termed-out incumbent Mike Parson.

“When I’m the governor of this state, I’m going to bring the Republican Party together by calling on Republicans to do Republican things,” Eigel said Thursday at the Missouri State Fair as he bashed his nominal boss, Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden. Eigel earlier in the month also responded in the affirmative when This Week in Missouri Politics host Scott Faughn said, “You’re running against [Secretary of State] Jay Ashcroft” for the GOP nod. (Faughn presented this as a basic statement of fact rather than as a question.)

Eigel, who formed his exploratory committee last year, pissed off Rowden and plenty of other colleagues in May as they were trying to use the final hours of the legislative session to place an amendment on the ballot that aimed to thwart citizen-backed initiatives to roll back the state’s near-total ban on abortion. Eigel was one of the far-right renegades who instead used that precious time to hold up legislative business in order to promote their own pet issues, and he memorably used his filibuster to protest that the chamber refused to take up his bill to cut property taxes.

“Perhaps the Darth Vader moment we face today is for this chamber because we have spent an entire session, with few exceptions, passing bills that will not change the trajectory of this state,” Eigel told the floor as he accused his fellow senators of having failed like Anakin Skywalker did when he turned to the Dark Side. “You’ve seen the movie, right? Episode III.” (“[W]e’re not Darth Vader,” protested Senate Majority Leader Cindy O’Laughlin.) But even the Force is insignificant next to the power of the clock: The session ended with the Senate failing to advance several priorities, including the plan to require amendments earn the support of at least 57% of voters.

Eigel, characteristically, is continuing to argue that Rowden is the one at fault for the failure of what conservatives have dubbed “initiative petition reform.” He responded last week to the defeat of Issue 1 in Ohio, which would have required a 60% supermajority to approve future amendments, by tweeting out a St. Louis Post Dispatch article where Rowden expressed pessimism that Missouri voters would sign off on a similar proposal. “⁦@calebrowden⁩ says NO to IP reform in MO,” Eigel wrote, adding that “Senate leadership” was why it failed to move forward in his state. “IP reform should be the first thing we vote on this coming session.”

Eigel is competing against Ashcroft and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe in the primary to lead this dark red state, and the few polls we’ve seen have shown the legislator running a distant third. The most recent numbers came from the GOP firm Remington Research’s early July survey for the political tip-sheet Missouri Scout: They showed Ashcroft beating Kehoe 34-14, with Eigel at just 4%.

Eigel and his PAC also finished June behind in the money race, though he at least has the resources to get his name out. Kehoe’s side enjoyed a $4.1 million to $1.9 million cash on hand advantage over Ashcroft’s forces, while Eigel’s backers had $1.1 million available. State House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, who currently is the only notable Democrat in the running, launched her campaign the following month.

Parson himself hasn’t publicly backed any of his would-be successors, though he very much sounds like he prefers Kehoe. The incumbent appointed his fellow Mike to his old job as lieutenant governor in 2018 after Parson replaced scandal-ridden Gov. Eric Greitens, and Parson used his Thursday appearance at the state fair to praise his second-in-command.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. “An official spokesperson for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is out of a job, days after his tweets — including some critical of former President Donald Trump — became fodder for LaRose’s political opponents,” NBC News reports.

“Rob Nichols, a veteran Republican communications operative who had served as press secretary for LaRose’s office, was fired because of the tweets Tuesday.”

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR and 7TH DISTRICT. Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger has yet to confirm Politico’s late July report saying she’s decided not to seek reelection this cycle in order to prepare a 2025 bid for governor, and it sounds like we’ll need to wait until after this year’s legislative races for any declaration. “Right now, I am focused on being a congresswoman for the 7th District and visiting my incredibly interesting constituents all over,” she told The Daily Progress when reporter Luke Fountain asked about her plans. When Fountain inquired if she’ll have a different answer after Nov. 7, though, she responded, “Yes. I’ll talk to you then.”

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

0 comments on “The Political Report – August 20, 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: