The Political Report – September 16, 2023

A new Monmouth/Washington Post poll in South Carolina finds Donald Trump leading the GOP presidential field with 46%, followed by Nikki Haley at 18%, Tim Scott at 10%, Ron DeSantis at 9% and Chris Christie at 5%.

“Trump’s advantage in the poll results may actually be understated because his backers tend to be more engaged, and thus may have a higher likelihood of turning out, compared with other potential voters.”

“For example, 87% of Trump voters claim to be absolutely certain to vote in the February primary, compared with 69% of other candidates’ supporters who say the same. Also, 76% of Trump voters are extremely motivated to vote in the primary, which is far greater than supporters of other candidates (46%).”

Half of Americans expect misinformation spread by AI to impact who wins the 2024 election — and one-third say they’ll be less trusting of the results because of artificial intelligence, according to a new Axios-Morning Consult AI Poll.

A new Los Angeles Times/Berkeley poll finds that 47% of likely California voters surveyed “said they would be open to supporting a third-party candidate if the 2024 presidential campaign is a rematch of Biden and Trump’s contest three years ago, with 24% saying they would be ‘very open’ to the idea.”

COLORADO 4TH DISTRICT. Though he’s a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Ken Buck has recently emerged as a vocal critic of extremists in his own party who want to impeach Joe Biden, which naturally has his fellow Republicans talking about a primary challenge. CNN reports that two possible names are already circulating, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and state Rep. Richard Holtorf, though neither has spoken publicly yet.

Sonnenberg declined a bid for Colorado’s safely red 4th District once before, when it became an open seat under unusual circumstances in 2014. That year, Buck had been running against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, but D.C. Republicans managed to coax Rep. Cory Gardner, whom they saw as more palatable, into making a late bid for the Senate. Buck simultaneously dropped down to run for Gardner’s seat and earned the congressman’s endorsement, all while denying the fix was in. The switcheroo worked out better for Buck, though, since Gardner lost his campaign for reelection in 2020 while Buck is still in Congress—for now, at least.

MARYLAND 6TH DISTRICT. Commerce Department official April McClain-Delaney will join the Democratic primary for Maryland’s open 6th Congressional District next month, according to an unnamed source who spoke with MoCo360. McClain-Delaney is the wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who represented the 6th District for three terms before leaving office in 2019 for an ill-fated bid for president best remembered by a meme-worthy photo showing the grim-faced candidate descending a slide at the Iowa State Fair. MoCo360 adds that “it is widely expected” that McClain-Delaney will self-fund to some degree, much as her husband did for his own campaigns. A large number of candidates from both parties are seeking this left-leaning seat in western Maryland.

OHIO 13TH DISTRICT. Former state GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, who unsuccessfully competed in her party’s 2022 primary for Senate, announced Wednesday that she wouldn’t run for the 13th District next year. Timken’s decision comes just a week after the state Supreme Court granted a request by plaintiffs to dismiss their legal challenges against the GOP’s current gerrymander, which ensured that Republicans won’t get a chance to draw an even more extreme map for 2024 that could have targeted freshman Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes in this 51-48 Biden seat in Akron.

OH-13: Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin tells’s Jeremy Pelzer that he isn’t ruling out a bid against Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes in Ohio’s 13th District, but he doesn’t sound enthused. According to Pelzer, Coughlin had hoped his fellow Republicans in state government would make the district redder, but a recent decision by voting rights activists to drop a challenge to the state’s congressional map almost certainly means it will retain its current form for 2024. Under those lines, Joe Biden would have carried the district 51-48, and Sykes won it as an open seat last year by a 53-47 margin.

Pelzer also reports that another possible GOP candidate, state Sen. Kristina Roegner, has taken her name out of contention. The only Republican currently in the race is attorney Greg Wheeler, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination in 2022, though Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg has filed paperwork with the FEC to set up a campaign committee.

VIRGINIA 2ND DISTRICT. Virginia Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton have both endorsed Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal, who is seeking to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. So far, Cotter Smasal is the only Democrat running in this swingy district in the southeastern part of the state.

CALIFORNIA 31ST DISTRICT. Former Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros, who’d been mentioned as a possible candidate for California’s open 31st Congressional District, has filed paperwork with the FEC ahead of a potential campaign. Cisneros previously represented the old 39th District, but it has virtually no overlap with the 31st.

ARKANSAS 3RD DISTRICT. Republican Rep. Steve Womack announced that he’ll seek another term representing his safely red seat in northwestern Arkansas, which he first won in 2010. Although Womack himself is solidly conservative, he had nonetheless recognized Joe Biden’s 2020 victory and had previously told the Washington Post that he had been considering retirement due to dissatisfaction with GOP leadership caving to far-right hardliners, though he’s never had any trouble winning renomination before.

INDIANA 5TH DISTRICT. Businessman Raju Chinthala, who is also the treasurer of the Hamilton County GOP, has joined the race for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District, which is open due to Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz’s retirement. Republicans already running for this seat in the Indianapolis suburbs, which GOP lawmakers redrew following the most recent census to make it solidly red, include self-funding businessman Sid Mahant and state Rep. Chuck Goodrich, though several other candidates are reportedly considering.

CALIFORNIA 3RD DISTRICT. National security strategist Jessica Morse, who unsuccessfully sought California’s 4th District in 2018, announced on Tuesday that she’d challenge freshmen Republican Rep. Kevin Kiley in the 3rd District. In her prior race, Morse sought to unseat GOP Rep. Tom McClintock but lost 54-46, a result roughly in line with Donald Trump’s 54-44 margin two years later. The new 3rd, by contrast, is considerably bluer: Trump would have carried it just 50-48. Kiley, however, turned back Democrat Kermit Jones 54-46. More than half of the 3rd District is made up of the old 4th, according to calculations from Daily Kos Elections.

NORTH CAROLINA 8TH DISTRICT. Republican Mark Harris, whose 2018 House campaign was responsible for one the most ignominious election fraud scandals in recent memory, announced on Tuesday that he’s waging a comeback bid for North Carolina’s open 8th Congressional District.

Harris, an ultra-conservative pastor, managed to oust Rep. Robert Pittenger in the primary for the old 9th District, but despite the area’s conservative lean, he faced a strong challenge in the general election from Marine veteran Dan McCready. It appeared that Harris managed to survive that year’s blue wave by fewer than a thousand votes, but in a shocking development, the state’s bipartisan Board of Elections unanimously refused to certify the results amid allegations of fraud.

In the following weeks, it emerged that McCrae Dowless, a consultant for Pittenger, had run a scheme to illegally collect blank or incomplete absentee ballots in rural Black counties (North Carolina prohibits third-party ballot collection), then filled them out and returned them to election offices with forged signatures. With the number of potentially tainted ballots far larger than Harris’ ostensible margin of victory, the elections board eventually threw out the results of the race and ordered a do-over election. Dowless, along with half a dozen co-conspirators, was later indicted on a variety of felony counts but died last year while awaiting trial.

Harris, by contrast, was never charged with wrongdoing, but his fellow Republicans knew he was toxic. The GOP-run legislature quickly passed a bill changing state law to allow for a new primary rather than require the same candidates for both parties to run again. That allowed Republicans to replace Harris with state Sen. Dan Bishop, the author of North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill,” who defeated McCready by a tight 51-49 margin in a special election held 10 months after the original contest. Republicans, in other words, paid no electoral price for the fraudulent scheme designed to benefit their party.

And now that Bishop is running for state attorney general, Harris has the chance for a do-over of his own. But he doesn’t seem to want to let the past remain there: In a statement accompanying his kickoff, he claimed to be a victim of a “manufactured scandal” perpetrated by Democrats and even re-hired the same campaign manager from his 2018 effort. He also seems aware that some Republicans may not be so happy to see him again, saying he “fully expects a flurry of lies and rumors from both Democrats and some from my own party.”

As of now, though, he’s the only candidate in the race. And with Republicans slated to re-gerrymander North Carolina’s map, if he wins next year’s primary, he’s exceedingly likely to finally make it to Congress after all.

NEW MEXICO 3RD DISTRICT. Former Republican state Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, a member of the Navajo Nation, has announced that she’ll run against Democratic Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Clahchischilliage served three two-year terms in the legislature but lost to Democrat Anthony Allison in 2018.

After Democrats made both the 3rd and 1st Districts redder in redistricting in order to make the 2nd District bluer, some in the party feared Leger Fernández could earn a stiff challenge in 2022, and the NRCC even placed her on a target list. However, Leger Fernández handily turned back her unheralded Republican foe by a 59-41 margin—the same spread she’d won by two years earlier, when her district was several points bluer.

OHIO REFERENDUM. Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, which is supporting November’s ballot initiative that would enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution, has launched their first TV ad buy for $687,000 over the next week. The new spot argues that the government shouldn’t be making difficult reproductive healthcare choices for Ohioans and that voting yes on Issue 1 would “end Ohio’s extreme abortion ban,” which has “no exceptions for rape or incest.” It also emphasizes that the amendment would protect access to birth control and emergency care for miscarriages.

NEW YORK 4TH DISTRICT. Attorney Sarah Hughes, a former Olympic figure skater who won a gold medal at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, has announced that she won’t seek the Democratic nomination for New York’s 4th Congressional District. While she never formally kicked off a campaign, she launched a website soliciting donations in the spring. Two prominent Democrats remain in the race to unseat GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito: state Sen. Kevin Thomas and former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, who was the party’s unsuccessful nominee in 2022.

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

0 comments on “The Political Report – September 16, 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: