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The Political Report – October 5, 2023

 “Fourteen percent of voters say they dislike both of the leading candidates for president, according to the latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, more than four times the number who were dissatisfied with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump last Election Day.”

“Voters who dislike both Trump and Biden — ‘the double haters,’ Republican strategist Whit Ayers says — ‘become a swing voter group’ that both parties will spend significant time and money trying to win over.”

A new NBC News poll finds that almost 15% of registered voters said that they will vote for a third party or independent candidate if given the option in 2024.

However, the test did not include candidate names or information about them.

Gallup: “Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults currently agree with the statement that the Republican and Democratic parties do ‘such a poor job’ of representing the American people that ‘a third major party is needed.’”

“This represents a seven-percentage-point increase from a year ago and is the highest since Gallup first asked the question in 2003.”

CALIFORNIA 20TH DISTRICT. Kevin McCarthy’s colleagues ousted him as speaker of the House on Tuesday, and if you’re like us you have just one question: What’s next for California’s 20th District?

Ok, even the most hardcore among us may have a few other things on our minds right now, but California’s early filing deadline means that McCarthy will have only a little more than two months to decide if he wants to seek a 10th term to the chamber where he was just humiliated. The congressman himself did nothing to dispel speculation that he might retire or resign when he responded to a question about whether he’d stay in office by answering, “I’ll look at that.” 

Candidates have until Dec. 8 to turn in paperwork if they want to compete in the Golden State’s March 5 top-two primary, and, because hopefuls can pay a fee rather than submit signatures, major contenders can decide whether they’ll run on the final day of qualifying. The state automatically extends the deadline to five days in contests where the incumbent chooses not to file for reelection, so the field might only take shape late if McCarthy doesn’t end up running.

The current version of the 20th District, which includes parts of the Bakersfield and Fresno areas, supported Donald Trump 61-36, which makes this the most conservative of any of California’s 52 congressional districts. The GOP likewise has a large bench of prospective candidates, and, because this area is so red, it’s possible that two Republicans could advance to the general election. McCarthy has always easily prevailed in this area going back to his initial election in 2006, and it remains to be seen if any strong opponents would take him on even in his diminished state.

PENNSYLVANIA 12TH DISTRICT. Edgewood Borough Council member Bhavini Patel has announced that she’ll take on freshman Rep. Summer Lee in the Democratic primary for the reliably blue 12th District. Patel, who would be the first Indian American to represent the state in Congress, did not mention any policy disagreements with the incumbent but instead implied that the prominent progressive was neglecting local concerns in her Pittsburgh-based seat. “We need a member of Congress in touch and laser-focused on helping real people in this district,” said the challenger, adding, “We need a leader who wants to bring people together to get things done, not divide us.”

Lee has long had a bad relationship with the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, and the group spent heavily against her in both the 2022 primary and general elections. An AIPAC spokesperson tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it has not decided if it will be taking action here again this cycle.

CALIFORNIA 45TH DISTRICT. Consumer rights attorney Derek Tran has announced that he’ll run in the March top-two primary to face Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican who represents a western Orange County constituency that backed Joe Biden 52-46 in 2020. Several fellow Democrats had previously launched campaigns against Steel in this diverse district, but none of them had more than $130,000 in the bank at the end of June. (Updated campaign finance reports are due Oct. 15.)

Tran, who is a U.S. Army veteran, does not appear to have run for office before, but HuffPost writes that the Consumer Attorneys of California board member has access to donors. Tran’s background of military service and as the son of Vietnamese refugees could also be an asset against Steel, who ran ads last year accusing her Democratic opponent of being linked to communists, a tactic that local Republicans had long used in areas with large Vietnamese American electorates like this one.

OHIO 13TH DISTRICT. Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R), announced his campaign against Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes in the 13th District. Coughlin, who has been out of office since early 2011, is campaigning for a seat in the Akron and Canton areas that favored Biden 51-48. The GOP field already includes Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg, who recently publicized an endorsement from Sen. J.D. Vance.

Over in Connecticut’s 5th District, former GOP state Sen. George Logan has launched his long-anticipated rematch campaign against Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes, who fended him off 50.4-49.6 after an expensive 2022 contest. That close call came two years after Biden carried this seat, which is located in the northwestern part of the state, 55-44. But Logan, who is seeking to become the first Republican to represent this area since now-Sen. Chris Murphy unseated GOP Rep. Nancy Johnson in 2006, may not have the field to himself this time.

Daily Ructions reported last month that unnamed Republicans were trying to recruit former ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele, who apologized in 2021 after saying of women sports reporters, “So when you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too.” Steele—who also questioned two years ago former President Barack Obama’s decision to identify himself as Black, and has denounced corporate vaccine mandates—did not rule anything out when the Indianapolis Star asked about her interest in running.

OHIO 9TH DISTRICT. One Republican campaign announcement in Ohio brought joy to Democrats nationwide: J.R. Majewski, a QAnon ally who was one of his party’s very worst nominees for any office in 2022, has restarted his rematch effort against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the 9th District. The GOP establishment, by contrast, was relieved back in May when Majewski dropped out following his mother’s recent surgery, but he said Saturday that he was back in now that she’s recovered.

Prominent Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and far-right Rep. Jim Jordan are supporting former state Rep. Craig Riedel for this seat in the Toledo area and northwestern Ohio, a constituency that supported Donald Trump 51-48 under the GOP’s gerrymandered map. Majewski beat Riedel 36-31 before losing to Kaptur in a 57-43 landslide, and the 2022 nominee tweeted Monday, “The GOP Establishment is having a meltdown because I’m back in the race. That tells me I’m on the right track.” The field also includes real estate broker Steve Lankenau; a fourth Republican, former Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski, dropped out in late July.

INDIANA 1ST DISTRICT. In northwestern Indiana, Lake County Councilman Randy Niemeyer, a trucking company owner who also leads the county GOP, declared that he’d take on Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan in the 1st District. Last cycle, the incumbent fended off GOP foe Jennifer-Ruth Green 53-47 two years after Biden carried his seat 53-45, and Green endorsed Niemeyer on Monday. The new candidate currently faces no serious intraparty opposition.

NEVADA 4TH DISTRICT. In Nevada, a familiar name reemerged as former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who spent years as a conservative Democratic state senator, will seek the Republican nomination to go up against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the 4th District. Lee joined the GOP in 2021 just before he announced a bid for governor, but his new party rewarded him with a weak fourth-place showing. Air Force veteran David Flippo is already campaigning for this 53-45 Biden seat in the northern Las Vegas area.

WISCONSIN 3RD DISTRICT. Democratic state Rep. Katrina Shankland, who has spent the last few months mulling a bid against GOP incumbent Derrick Van Orden, declared Tuesday that she was joining the Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who made national news in July when he reportedly screamed at teenage Senate pages.

Shankland, who was first elected to the legislature in 2012, won reelection in 2020 56-44 as Joe Biden was taking her seat by a smaller 53-45, and she touted herself as a candidate with “a proven track record of not only winning elections but outperforming the top of the ticket in those elections.” Van Orden’s southwestern Wisconsin constituency is significantly redder turf, though, as Donald Trump took it 51-47.

Shankland joins a nomination contest that includes businesswoman Rebecca Cooke and former La Crosse County Board chair Tara Johnson. Cooke, who took second in last year’s primary, announced Tuesday that she’d raised $400,000 during the opening quarter of her new effort.

INDIANAPOLIS MAYOR. The GOP firm ARW Strategies, polling on behalf of Crossroads Public Affairs and IndyPolitics.org, finds Democratic incumbent Joe Hogsett leading self-funding GOP rival Jefferson Shreve 47-37 in the first survey we’ve seen of the Nov. 7 general election. IndyPolitics.org is run by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who lost the May GOP primary to Shreve.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 1ST DISTRICT. Businesswoman Hollie Noveletsky has launched a campaign for the GOP nod to take on New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, who holds the historically competitive 1st District in the eastern half of the state. Pappas’ party has done better here in recent years, though: Biden prevailed 52-46, while the congressman won by a larger 54-46 last year.

Noveletsky, the CEO of a steel-fabrication business, joined the Republican nomination contest about two months after former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott kicked off his campaign. Prescott is a veteran Granite State politician, but he took a weak fourth place in last year’s primary to face Pappas.

ALABAMA 2ND DISTRICT. Democratic state Rep. Juandalynn Givan told CBS 42 on Monday that she’d decide within the next two weeks if she’d run for the new 2nd District.

PENNSYLVANIA 8TH DISTRICT. Businessman Rob Bresnahan, a Republican who Politico says is capable of self-funding, has filed FEC paperwork for a bid against Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright.

NEW YORK 16TH DISTRICT. Westchester County Executive George Latimer tells Politico he doesn’t expect to decide before mid-November if he’ll wage a Democratic primary bid against Jamaal Bowman, with Latimer saying that he’s watching to see if the congressional map will need to be redrawn.

INDIANA 5TH DISTRICT. Retiring Rep. Victoria Spartz on Monday threatened to resign “[i]f Congress does not pass a debt commission this year to move the needle on the crushing national debt and inflation,” a declaration that came a day after the Republican said she was “open-minded” about Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s efforts to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The congresswoman previously implied during a social media fight with McCarthy two weeks ago that she was thinking about seeking reelection after all, but she soon reaffirmed again that she wouldn’t run.

If Spartz actually followed through on this latest threat and left, it would be up to local GOP leaders to select a nominee for the special election for this gerrymandered 57-41 Trump seat.

ILLINOIS 4TH DISTRICT. Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez, who the Chicago Sun-Times calls “one of the police union’s staunchest City Council supporters,” announced Tuesday that he’d challenge Rep. Chuy Garcia in the March Democratic primary for this safely blue constituency. Lopez, who the paper adds has a history of “anemic fundraising,” previously entered the 2018 race for a previous version of this seat and this year’s contest for mayor of Chicago, but he dropped out well before each primary.

Lopez ended up backing wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson for mayor over Garcia, incumbent Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, and several other contenders. Neither Garcia nor Lightfoot ended up advancing past the nonpartisan primary, though, and Lopez supported former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in the general election against Johnson. Garcia, for his part, endorsed fellow progressive Johnson, who went on to pull off a tight win.

BALTIMORE MAYOR. Goucher College’s new poll with The Baltimore Banner shows former Mayor Sheila Dixon beating incumbent Brandon Scott 39-27 in the first survey we’ve seen of the May Democratic primary, with another 23% opting for “some other candidate.” That latter group said they preferred Scott over his rival 36-33, though that would be far from enough to make up the deficit. The school also finds Dixon, who resigned in 2010 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families, with a narrow 47-45 favorable rating, which is far better than the 37-53 score that respondents give Scott.

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

1 comment on “The Political Report – October 5, 2023

  1. cassandram

    Rick Caruso — billionaire shopping center developer who was beaten by Karen Bass for LA Mayor — is promising to spend a lot of money to support House Democratic candidates in Swing districts.

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