The Political Report – September 12, 2023

A new Wall Street Journal poll finds voters have a slightly rosier view of the economy now that inflation is easing, but few are giving President Biden credit for the improvement.

“It is a dilemma for Biden given that weaker inflation and a strong labor market typically help incumbents when they seek a second term.”

NO LABELS. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Hugh Hewitt that he’s not a fan of No Labels, even though Hewitt said the group would likely help elect a Republican president in 2024.

Said Christie: “I think it’s a fool’s errand. I really do. And I think that they shoot with a shotgun. They don’t know who they’re going to hurt, and depending on who they nominate, and not something that I would ever care to be involved in.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said he would be open to speaking to No Labels if they approached him about a potential third-party run, The Hill reports.

Said Cassidy: “We could have a the setting in which someone has been convicted and someone else shows signs of mental decline so significant 70 percent of the American people are already thinking he’s too old.”

He added: “If they came — if they came and spoke to me, I would certainly speak to them back.”

HALEY 2024. “Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Sunday that a new CNN poll showing her as the only GOP contender with a clear lead over President Joe Biden in a hypothetical general election match-up signals America’s yearning for a new leader,” CNN reports.

Bloomberg: “[Haley and Pence are] running low-budget campaigns [and] are climbing in the polls, at the same time that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — the candidate whose operation started with the most money — is seeing his support fade away.”

BIDEN 2024. “Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has a plan for the next few months: Make sure every voter, no matter their party, knows what is happening in the Republican presidential primary,” The Messenger reports.

“Part of the plan reflects the current political reality. The Republican primary is the most interesting show in town and often the best way for Biden to get attention is to tie his message to countering his possible opponents. But the strategy also reflects a steadfast Democratic belief: The conversations happening on the Republican side – coupled with some of the policy proposals being discussed on everything from abortion to guns to health care – are widely unpopular with most voters, giving Biden and his campaign a chance to highlight their differences.”

“Walking with purpose, pulling up his shirt sleeves, glad-handing voters, commanding the podium — the images of Joe Biden flashing across swing-state television and computer screens since late August present a vibrant and pointed departure from the way most Americans now see the president,” the Washington Post reports.

“About 3 in 4 U.S. adults recently told CNN pollsters that Biden failed to inspire confidence and raised ‘serious concerns’ about his physical and mental competence. But this is a different leader shown in the new ads: Here he is before Congress saying no one should bet against America. There he is at the rope line giving a Black teenager a “go-get-’em-tiger” tap on the chest. Wages are rising. Manufacturing is back.”

“The contrast helps explain why the Biden campaign has decided to buck precedent by launching a major advertising buy sooner than Barack Obama or Donald Trump, the last two presidents to run for reelection.”

SCOTT 2024.  “Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) was anything but the loudest voice at the first Republican presidential nomination debate, but that’s just fine with the conservative lawmaker from South Carolina,” Fox News reports. Said Scott: “The loudest voices too often say too little.”

Scott (R-SC) said “that he would soon introduce an important person in his life — his girlfriend,” ABC News reports. “Scott, who has never been married, brushed aside chatter about his personal life as highlighted in a recent article by the website Axios, for example.”

TRUMP 2024. Politico: “He’s not taking his eye entirely off the primary. In fact, he and his team are heavily engaged behind the scenes. In recent weeks, Trump allies have worked with officials in various states to ensure that rules around the rewarding of delegates benefit them.”

“Trump’s campaign has warned state party officials against dealing with super PACs … Trump has worked donors … He’s had meetings with policy advisers and has churned out policy videos. … A man who once couldn’t resist a camera or crowd is doing a lot of his work outside of public view.”

Nate Cohn: “The patterns in recent polling and election results are consistent with the trends in national surveys, which suggest that the demographic foundations of Mr. Trump’s Electoral College advantage might be fading. He’s faring unusually well among nonwhite voters, who represent a larger share of the electorate in noncompetitive than competitive states. As a consequence, Mr. Trump’s gains have probably done more to improve his standing in the national vote than in relatively white Northern states likeliest to decide the presidency, like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

“Midterm results typically don’t tell us much about the next general election. Polls taken 15 to 27 months out don’t necessarily augur much, either. But the possibility that Republicans’ Electoral College advantage is diminished is nonetheless worth taking seriously. It appears driven by forces that might persist until the next election, like Mr. Biden’s weakness among nonwhite voters and the growing importance of issues — abortion, crime, democracy and education — that play differently for blue and purple state voters.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Daily Beast: “Suddenly sources close to Masters are doubting whether he will go through with a campaign that would entail a brutal cage fight of a primary match against his former ally.”

“Adding to the confusion, some Republican insiders told The Daily Beast they do believe that Masters will ultimately run. But the consensus within Arizona GOP circles was that Masters is a lot further from jumping in than it may have seemed.”

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. With a little more than a month to go before the Oct. 14 all-party primary, GOP Treasurer John Schroder is airing a commercial that ties the frontrunner, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, to the founder of a law firm that’s forbidden from operating in the state. “The largest fraud in Louisiana history,” intones the narrator. “Texas attorney Zach Moseley devised a massive fraud scheme to deprive Louisiana homeowners of tens of millions of dollars in insurance claims.” He continues by declaring that Landry “took campaign money from Moseley, even after he was sanctioned in federal court.”

Moseley has been the subject of much media attention in Louisiana over allegations that his firm failed to deposit $20 million worth of insurance checks for clients impacted by hurricanes, with a federal judge declaring last month, “$20 million of Louisiana residents’ money is sitting―half these checks are stale now.” These stories have rarely if ever mentioned Landry’s campaign, though Schroder is hoping his ad will help change that.

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. Allies of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the New York Times that he might retire to become the president of his alma mater, West Virginia University.

WASHINGTON GOVERNOR. “Gov. Jay Inslee on Saturday endorsed Attorney General Bob Ferguson in next year’s race for governor, handpicking him early — from a competitive Democratic field — as his chosen successor,” the Seattle Times reports.

“Ferguson had put aside his gubernatorial ambitions four years ago after Inslee said he would be the first Washington governor in nearly half a century to seek a third term.”

GEORGIA 6TH DISTRICT. GA-06: Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson has announced that she’ll seek the Democratic nomination to face Republican Rep. Rich McCormick in a conservative Georgia constituency that civil rights advocates hope will soon look considerably different.

The current version of the 6th District is a predominantly white seat that supported Donald Trump 57-42, but June’s Supreme Court decision striking down Alabama’s congressional map could also result in the Peach State needing to draw another majority-Black constituency in the Atlanta area. The federal trial over the Republican-drawn map began Tuesday, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitutional writes that it’s set to last for a total of two weeks.

Richardson herself is no stranger to the impact of GOP gerrymandering, though, as her county is currently trying to fight off the legislature’s attempt to draw her out of her current job a few years after she won a historic victory that helped transform the local government in a community that was a populous Republican stronghold for decades. The area was so red that in 1994, a local state representative ominously joked to the New York Times, “If Bill Clinton came into the district, he probably would not see the light of day again.”

Republicans, who carried the county in every presidential election from 1980 through 2012, secured a majority on the five-member County Commission in 1984 as Ronald Reagan won the county in a 77-23 landslide, and they went into the 2020 election with a 4-1 edge. But Hillary Clinton’s 48-46 victory in 2016, as well as Cobb County Democrat Lucy McBath’s upset win over GOP Rep. Karen Handel two years later in the old 6th, provided early signs that local Republicans were in trouble as the area became more diverse and highly educated suburbanites revolted against the Trump-era party.

Joe Biden prevailed 56-42 here in 2020, a strong showing that both played a key role in his historic statewide win and helped boost county Democrats down the ballot. Two of those Democrats were Richardson, who won 50.5-49.5, and Lisa Cupid, who scored the other pickup that ended the GOP’s 36-year commission majority. The elections of Richardson, Cupid, and fellow Democrat Monique Sheffield also ensured that Black women would hold a majority of the commission seats, something that once would have been unthinkable in a place that was a destination point for conservative voters in the era of white flight. (Gwinnett County to the east experienced a similar political metamorphosis.)

Republicans, however, did what they could to end Richardson’s tenure by passing a map last year that moved her home out of her constituency, and some legal experts have argued the state’s residency requirements could force her out of office even before her term is up. The commission’s Democratic majority responded by passing its own map that would keep Richardson where she is, and the matter is still in court.

Richardson decided not to await the outcome of either map dispute before launching her campaign against McCormick, but she may be in for a tough primary if the congressional map is struck down. The plaintiffs have demonstrated how a new majority-Black 6th District could be drawn in the suburbs west of Atlanta, which would include most of Cobb County and have zero overlap with the current 6th. However, even if the court rules in their favor, the resulting new map could still look somewhat different than their proposal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reports that state Sen. Josh McLaurin could run if there’s a new seat rooted in the part of Fulton County north of Atlanta. Unnamed allies of McBath, who successfully ran against fellow Democratic incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux in the Gwinnett County-based 7th after the GOP made the 6th unwinnable, also tell Bluestein she could switch back if there’s a favorable map.

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

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