The Political Report – September 30, 2023

A new FiveThirtyEight/Washington Post/Ipsos post-debate poll finds the Republican presidential race hasn’t changed a bit after Wednesday’s debate.

Daily Mail snap poll of Republican voters found Donald Trump won the second Republican debate last night by simply staying away.

A new Monmouth poll finds 48% of Republican voters named Donald Trump at their preferred candidate, followed by 15% picking Ron DeSantis and 18% picking some other person. In a subsequent question listing nine announced candidates, Trump’s support increases to 55% while DeSantis is at 17%.

A new Saint Anselm Poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump leading the GOP presidential race with 45%, followed by Nikki Haley at 15%, Ron DeSantis at 11%, Chris Christie at 10%, Vivek Ramaswamy at 6% and Tim Scott at 3%.

“More than half of Republicans see former President Donald Trump as a person of faith, putting him ahead of more vocally religious figures like his former vice president, Mike Pence,” according to a Deseret News/HarrisX poll.

“Registered voters were asked whether they considered a list of political figures people of faith. Trump rose to the top of the list for Republicans, while President Joe Biden topped the list for Democrats. Among independents, Sen. Mitt Romney was most likely to be chosen as a person of faith.”

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. The Public Policy Institute of California’s new survey shows Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter advancing out of the March top-two primary, which is the same outcome that UC Berkeley found in its most recent poll. PPIC shows Schiff in first with 20% as Porter edges out a third Democratic representative, Barbara Lee, 15-8.

UTAH U.S. SENATOR.  Utah state House Speaker Brad Wilson on Wednesday launched his long-anticipated campaign for the Senate seat held by his fellow Republican, retiring incumbent Mitt Romney, and he entered the primary as the frontrunner. However, he got a reminder that the nomination battle remains unsettled hours before his kickoff when Rep. John Curtis told the Deseret News he was “very seriously” considering joining the race.

Wilson’s exploratory committee finished June with $2.1 million in the bank thanks to a combination of fundraising and self-funding, and it remains to be seen if any of his intra-party foes will have the resources to put up a serious fight. However, as we’ve noted before, Wilson may not be quite right-wing enough to satisfy his party’s base who would prefer someone in the mold of the Beehive State’s other senator, Mike Lee. Political scientist Damon Cann told the Associated Press, “I think most people are expecting Brad Wilson would govern somewhat more conservatively. I think he would be toward the political center from where Mike Lee’s at but I think he would be more conservative than Mitt Romney has been.”

Wilson made sure to emphasize his hardline credentials ahead of his launch: His campaign rolled out endorsements in August from fellow legislators that featured testimonials calling him a “conservative champion” and someone who worked to “advance pro-life legislation.” (Altogether, three-quarters of House Republicans and two-thirds of the Senate caucus backed him.) However, while Wilson has indeed helped pass anti-abortion legislation, the AP also noted that he helped stop the legislature from formally rebuking none other than Romney in 2020 for his vote to convict Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial.

Wilson joins a contest that includes two mayors, Riverton’s Trent Staggs and Roosevelt’s Rod Bird. Staggs launched his campaign in late May but raised little during his first month, while Bird pledged to self-fund $1 million when he entered the race last week. Conservative activist Carolyn Phippen is also talking about running, and Curtis and other Republicans could end up campaigning to represent this dark red state.

Salt Lake Tribune: “As the Republican field to replace Sen. Mitt Romney next year continues to expand, the list of notable Utahns who aren’t running is growing, too. The senator’s son, Josh Romney, is not prepping a 2024 U.S. Senate run.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Republican Kari Lake told the Wall Street Journal’s Eliza Collins that she’ll use an Oct. 10 rally to enter the GOP primary in an interview that took place the same week that Lake suffered yet another legal setback in her bid to overturn her 2022 loss for governor against Democrat Katie Hobbs. Collins adds that, while national Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are convinced she’ll be the nominee, they need to be persuaded that she’s strong enough to invest resources in.

Collins also confirms that, while 2022 nominee Blake Masters had intended to run no matter what Lake did, he “put those plans on hold after Trump called him and walked through Lake’s strengths in a GOP primary.” She adds, though, that Masters hasn’t ruled out getting in anyway.

NEW JERSEY U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Donald Norcross didn’t rule out a Democratic primary challenge to indicted incumbent Bob Menendez on Tuesday, telling the New Jersey Globe, “There are a number of things that are taking place right now in the state of New Jersey that are of great concern to everyone. We’ll take it one day at a time.” Norcross is the brother of George Norcross, a longtime party power player who has watched his influence diminish in recent years.

The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran also writes that former Rep. Tom Malinowski is considering, though there’s no word from him. Malinowski lost a tight 2022 reelection contest against Republican Tom Kean Jr., and the Democrat announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t try to regain his old seat.

Rep. Andy Kim’s allies at VoteVets have publicized a survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling to argue that Democrats badly need him as a general election alternative to indicted Sen. Bob Menendez. PPP shows former GOP Gov. Chris Christie leading the incumbent 27-24 as a hefty 41% opt for an unnamed “someone else,” while Kim beats Christie 46-20. (Christie, who is running for president, said over the weekend, “I have no interest in being in the United States Senate.”) The release, which also showed Menendez with a dire 8-74 favorable rating, did not mention any other Democrats.

Latina Civic PAC, meanwhile, is hoping to recruit another candidate, and it publicly suggested five names Thursday: federal judge Esther Salas, state Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, state Sens. Nellie Pou and Nilsa Cruz-Perez, and former PAC leader Patricia Campos-Medina. The New Jersey Globe also speculates that the group’s current head, Laura Matos, could run, but there’s also no word if she’s interested.

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. Businessman Perry Johnson, who has failed to qualify for either GOP presidential debate despite spending millions of his own money, tells NBC he may run for the Senate after all. Johnson, whose primary bid for governor ended last year after he fell victim to a fraudulent petition signature scandal, insists, “I’ve only had, what, somewhere between 100 to 150 calls [to be] running for Senate.”

PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, who has served as Puerto Rico’s non-voting member of Congress since 2017, announced Wednesday that she would challenge Gov. Pedro Pierluisi in next year’s primary for the pro-statehood Progressive New Party. The PNP, which is known in Spanish as Partido Nuevo Progresista, includes people who also belong to both of the mainland’s main parties: González affiliates with the GOP in D.C., while Pierluisi identifies as a Democrat.

The incumbent is trying to become the first governor to win a second term since another PNP politician, Pedro Rosselló, was reelected in 1996. Pierluisi won his 2020 general election by narrowly beating Carlos Delgado Altieri of the Popular Democratic Party 33-32, and the challenger is once again running to be the standard bearer of the pro-commonwealth party.

CALIFORNIA 27TH DISTRICT. The powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has endorsed former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides, who is the Democratic frontrunner to take on GOP Rep. Mike Garcia.

CALIFORNIA 45TH DISTRICT. Attorney Derek Tran has filed FEC paperwork to run as a Democrat against GOP Rep. Michelle Steel.

COLORADO 8TH DISTRICT. While former state Rep. Dan Woog expressed interest in challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo back in June, the Republican instead announced Tuesday that he’d try to return to the legislature. Woog will take on Democratic state Rep. ​​Jennifer Parenti, who unseated him 50-47 last year.

CONNECTICUT 5TH DISTRICT. 2022 GOP nominee George Logan is teasing a “special announcement” Monday evening in a tweet that just happens to contain a “George Logan for Congress” logo. The former state senator lost to Democratic incumbent Jahana Hayes 50.4-49.6 two years after Joe Biden carried this northwestern Connecticut constituency 55-44. Logan may not have the GOP side to himself, though, as former ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele hasn’t ruled out waging her own campaign.

CALIFORNIA 43RD DISTRICT. Omar Navarro (R), who has run four times against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), was charged on 43 criminal counts, including “funneling tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations back to himself through his friends and family.”

INDIANA 5TH DISTRICT. While GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz briefly sounded interested in reversing her retirement decision last week during a spat with Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Howey Politics writes that she went on to tell a constituent at a Saturday town hall, “And listen, you don’t have to worry. I’m not running again.” Brian Howey says that response came after the questioner complained that Spartz hadn’t done anything to help when he was trying to keep his restaurant afloat during the height of the pandemic; Spartz also used that event to say of her boss, “This is probably going to be the end of Kevin.”

P.S. The article adds that Spartz’s January retirement announcement didn’t just surprise the political world, it also caught her own husband off guard. “So abrupt was the congresswoman’s decision,” writes Howey, “that her husband, Jason, was heard at a recent Hamilton County Republican Lincoln Dinner saying that he had just bought a condo in Washington the day before she announced she wasn’t going to run.”

SOUTH CAROLINA 3RD DISTRICT. GOP Rep. Jeff Duncan on Wednesday alluded to the infidelity allegations his estranged wife recently leveled against him in divorce papers, tweeting, “My family is dealing with a difficult and private moment and I’m not going to comment on a deeply personal matter.” The congressman’s wife, Melody Hodges Duncan, says that he informed her that he was having a sexual relationship with a lobbyist and that he also carried on a different affair during their 35-year marriage.

Duncan, who has always campaigned as an ardent social conservative, has never faced any serious intra-party opposition in the years since his initial 2010 win in this dark-red constituency in the northwestern part of the state. South Carolina requires a runoff if no one earns a majority in the first round of the primary.

MICHIGAN 7TH DISTRICT. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has endorsed 2022 GOP nominee Tom Barrett, who faces no serious intra-party challenge in his second bid for this swing seat.

MONTANA 1ST DISTRICT. EMILY’s List on Wednesday endorsed 2022 Democratic nominee Monica Tranel, who faces no serious intra-party opposition as she seeks a rematch against GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 1ST DISTRICT. Hollie Noveletsky, who runs a steel fabricator business, has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid against Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas. Noveletsky would join a GOP nomination contest that includes former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott, who took fourth place in the 2022 primary.

NEW JERSEY 7TH DISTRICT. Former state Sen. Ray Lesniak said this week that he would not enter the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr. The New Jersey Globe also reports that physician Tina Shah, who served in the Obama and Biden administrations, has decided not to run despite talking to party leaders about a potential bid; David Wildstein writes that one unnamed “party bigwig said at one point Shah said she was in, only to move back to the maybe list a week later.”

ALABAMA 7TH DISTRICT. Bobby Singleton, who serves as minority leader in the Alabama state Senate, announced Tuesday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential Democratic primary bid against Rep. Terri Sewell in the safely blue 7th District. A federal court will choose a new congressional map next month after blocking two consecutive maps enacted by GOP lawmakers for violating the Voting Rights Act, but there’s little question that this will remain a majority-Black and heavily Democratic district covering parts of both the Black Belt and the Birmingham region.

Singleton, who was first elected in 2002 to represent part of the Black Belt in the legislature, argued to that Sewell hasn’t done a good job serving his area. He instead argued that he could effectively represent the entire district, including Birmingham’s Jefferson County. The congresswoman, who grew up in Selma in the Black Belt and resides in Birmingham, has not faced any serious primary opposition since she first won an open seat in 2010.

As one of multiple sets of plaintiffs in the litigation against the GOP’s 2021 gerrymander, Singleton had tried to redraw the 7th District in a way that plenty of his fellow Democrats were unhappy with. The minority leader proposed a new map that split relatively few counties but didn’t contain a single majority-Black seat: Instead African American residents would form a tiny 46.8-46.6 plurality in his 7th, while the other six seats would remain majority white.

Singleton’s side would argue that the state was wrong to continue to divide Jefferson County’s predominantly Black and white areas, claiming that the best solution was to unite the county in one district. After the courts blocked the GOP’s 2023 map earlier this month, Singleton proposed another plan where all of Jefferson County and a small part of neighboring Shelby County would be based in the 6th, which is currently represented by GOP Rep. Gary Palmer, while Sewell’s 7th would contain most of the Black Belt by adding all of the Montgomery area.

According to Dave’s Redistricting App, Joe Biden would have carried both the 6th and the 7th under Singleton’s latest plan. However, because several downballot Republicans over the past decade won or only narrowly lost the 6th, the GOP would have had a good chance to maintain control of six of the seven seats.

A different set of litigants known as the Milligan plaintiffs proposed a new map where Black voters would be a majority in two districts, but Singleton’s side continued to promote their boundaries as the best solution. Several fellow Democrats were unconvinced, with state House Minority Leader Chris England reposting a thread from journalist Kareem Crayton declaring, “There are more problems with this case than I can discuss here.” Sewell’s team also filed a brief excoriating the proposed map.

A court-appointed expert tasked with assisting the judges proposed three maps on Monday for their consideration that largely mirrored the Milligan plaintiffs’ proposal. The lower court will likely adopt one of them or something similar early next month.

While Singleton isn’t getting the map he wants, he expressed interest Tuesday in taking on Sewell anyway. “I’m not running in the new district,” he told Alabama Daily News Tuesday, “I’m running in Congresswoman Sewell’s, that’s what I want, I want the big fish.” In a separate interview that day with, though, he acknowledged he hadn’t actually decided, saying, “If the exploratory committee comes back with something positive, we’ll be in it. If not, we wish [Sewell] good luck.”

The state’s filing deadline is set for Nov. 10 and, because Alabama’s legislative seats are only up in midterm years, Singleton would not have to risk his current post if he sought a promotion.

ALABAMA 2ND DISTRICT. John Sharp of takes a look at the many Democrats who could run for the 2nd District now that the U.S. Supreme Court has paved the way for a lower court to adopt a new map that creates a second district where Black voters could elect their preferred candidate. The exact boundaries of the new 2nd are not yet known, though judges next month will consider three different maps that each link Montgomery and Mobile.

The four state legislators who tell Sharp they’re thinking about getting in are state Sens. Vivian Figures and Merika Coleman and state Reps. Napoleon Bracy and Juandalynn Givan. Figures, who was the 2008 nominee against then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, hails from Mobile, while Bracy is from the nearby suburb of Prichard. Coleman and Givan both represent Birmingham, which would not be located in the 2nd under any of the trio of maps advanced by the court-appointed expert.

Sharp also mentions two Montgomery-based politicians, state Sen. Kirk Hatcher and Mayor Steven Reed, as possibilities, though neither of them commented for his article. Reed, though, didn’t rule out a House bid in July during his reelection campaign, saying instead, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. For one, I’ve got to win first.” He did indeed win by a convincing 57-39 the next month.

Most Republicans are treating this seat like an automatic Democratic flip, but former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker argues that he could run and win it for his party. Brewbaker, who unlike all the aforementioned Democrats is white, predicts to Sharp that if the general election comes down to “straight-up racial polarization … the Republicans can potentially hang onto the seat.”

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

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