The Political Report – October 9, 2023

“Democracy Corps conducted focus groups in Georgia and Arizona to gain insights into key segments of the Republican Party. They engaged with four distinct demographic groups representing various facets of the Republican electorate: Trump loyalists, Evangelical Trump loyalists, Cheney conservatives, and Moderate Republicans.”

“Trump’s Republican Party is very political and engaged — across all factions. They are mostly ‘worried,’ and the hot topics in their families are out-of-control prices, border and immigration, the cost of the Ukraine War, and woke policies being forced on their children. They were animated on the topic of gender fluidity, in particular.”

“Trump dominates his party. His loyalists comprise 63 percent of the party (48 percent Trump loyalists and 13 percent Evangelical Trump loyalists.) But the 37 percent do not approve of Trump, and the fault lines emerge in the groups.”

NEW JERSEY U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Andy Kim’s allies at End Citizens United are out with an internal from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that shows the congressman beating First Lady Tammy Murphy 42-19 in a hypothetical Democratic primary, with indicted Sen. Bob Menendez taking all of 5%. The firm also finds Kim, who remains the only major declared candidate, defeating the incumbent 63-10 in a one-on-one fight. This is the only primary poll we’ve seen other than a Data for Progress survey that showed Kim beating fellow Rep. Mikie Sherrill 27-20 in a crowded contest, but that survey was largely conducted after Sherrill said she wouldn’t run.

Another Democratic House member, Rep. Frank Pallone, sounds unlikely to seek a promotion, though he didn’t quite rule it out to Politico. Pallone, who has served in the lower chamber since 1988, instead says he wants to regain the top post on the Energy and Commerce panel under a new Democratic majority. He said of the Senate chatter, “I’m flattered by the suggestions.”

The story also adds that Rep. Josh Gottheimer is continuing to prepare his likely 2025 gubernatorial bid and isn’t “planning to change course and run for Senate,” though he hasn’t said this publicly.

“Roughly half the rooms reserved at a swanky resort in Puerto Rico for Bob Menendez’s fundraiser next weekend have been canceled,” the New Jersey Globe reports. “That’s a bad sign for the three-term U.S. Senator who was indicted on federal bribery charges two weeks ago.” It should have been all of the rooms.

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Politico relays that Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff have all made it clear they’d continue to run for the Senate even if their fellow Democrat, appointed incumbent Laphonza Butler, sought a full term.

“The first step for the candidates running in next year’s California Senate race is to quietly try to spook newly appointed Sen. Laphonza Butler into not running at all,” CNN reports.

“Advisers to the campaigns of Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff all say that they are giving Butler time and space to decide. They each issued statements praising her – albeit gradually.”

“But while they briefly paused public politicking until after the Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s funeral on Thursday – with Lee and Schiff flying there on Air Force 2 – they spent even this past week preparing to ramp up new endorsements and outreach that they hope will convince Butler there is not enough time to mount a credible campaign, and that she could risk being known now for her historic appointment to serve the remainder of the late senator’s term through January 2025 to being known for coming in third, fourth or even fifth in a race that has its first round on March 5.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. “Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) raised an eye-popping $5.8 million in the third quarter of this year, leaving the vulnerable Democratic incumbent with a pile of cash heading into a tough reelection campaign,” Politico reports.

“Though many incumbents and candidates are still releasing their numbers, Brown’s haul is the biggest announced so far for this quarter. He will report having $11.2 million on hand.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Kirsten Sinema (I-AZ) announced that she ended the 3rd quarter with $10.8 million of cash on hand — without announcing any new money raised. She finished last quarter with $10.8 million on hand as well.

“Arizona’s high-profile Senate race has not yet begun in earnest, but on Thursday, the Republican Kari Lake and Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, were already trading barbs — in midair,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Lake, the former news anchor who refused to concede her loss in the state’s governor’s race last year, and Mr. Gallego, a progressive congressman from the state’s capital, ended up on the same flight from Washington, D.C., to Phoenix, where they began wrangling over the border wall.”

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. Politico: “If Manchin were to change his party affiliation to an independent, the incumbent West Virginia senator would still trail GOP Gov. Jim Justice in a head-to-head match-up, according to a polling memo from GOP pollster The Tarrance Group.”

“Justice would lead Manchin, 49-43, with 8 percent undecided and a 4.5 percent margin of error. The poll was commissioned by the Mitch McConnell-aligned groups Senate Leadership Fund.”

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. “When Reps. Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds staked out opposing positions on shutting down the government, they framed it as a fight over spending,” Politico reports.

“On ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the two Florida Republicans disagreed over whether it was a referendum on McCarthy’s leadership or a distraction from urgent House business.”

“What they didn’t say is that the divergent views were also likely about the next campaign for governor of Florida.”

“Gaetz and Donalds are two of the most prominent Republicans expected to run to succeed Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2026, a distant contest that is already churning up political conflict at the state and national level. They have positioned themselves differently in Congress: both as stern conservatives, but with Gaetz as a rebellious gadfly and Donalds as a more conventional hard-liner, a dynamic that helped shape the shutdown fight.”


  • AZ-Sen: Ruben Gallego (D): $3 million raised, $5 million cash on hand
  • NV-Sen: Jacky Rosen (D-inc): $2.7 million raised, $8.8 million cash on hand
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): $3.2 million raised, $7.3 million cash on hand
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): $3.1 million raised, $7 million cash on hand
  • CA-27: George Whitesides (D): $400,000 raised, additional $300,000 self-funded, $1.7 million cash on hand
  • CA-41: Will Rollins (D): $830,000 raised
  • CO-03: Adam Frisch (D): $3.4 million raised, $4.3 million cash on hand
  • NY-17: Mondaire Jones (D): $1.15 million raised, $840,000 cash on hand
  • WI-03: Rebecca Cooke (D): $400,000 raised

MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR. The conservative Magnolia Tribune has released a survey from Mason-Dixon that shows GOP Gov. Tate Reeves leading Democrat Brandon Presley 51-43, which is only a little smaller than the 52-41 advantage that Siena College found in late August. Mason-Dixon does not appear to have asked respondents about independent Gwendolyn Gray, whose presence on the ballot could conceivably prevent anyone from taking the majority needed to avert a Nov. 28 runoff; Siena, though, found just 1% opting for “someone else.”

MARICOPA COUNTY (AZ) SHERIFF. Democratic Sheriff Paul Penzone announced Monday that, not only would he not run again in 2024, he would resign in January as the top lawman in America’s fourth-largest county. Penzone implied he was quitting because another opportunity had presented itself, saying he wanted to avoid “distractions” during what would have been his final year in office.

State law requires the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to select another Democrat to succeed Penzone even though Republicans enjoy a 4-1 majority on the body. Supervisor Steve Gallardo, who is the only Democrat, tells the Arizona Republic he wants the new sheriff to be an “effective candidate” for next year’s race.

Penzone first ran for this post in 2012 against Republican incumbent Joe Arpaio, who had spent decades as one of America’s most venal and abusive law enforcement officials, but he lost 51-45. Their rematch four years later went very differently, though, and the department’s racial profiling policies against Latinos finally caught up to the sheriff.

That October, just a month before his re-election campaign, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would charge Arpaio with criminal contempt of court for violating a judge’s orders to curtail his department’s unconstitutional profiling practices. Penzone ended up winning by a lopsided 56-44 even as Donald Trump, who would pardon Arpaio soon after the election, carried the county 48-45.

Penzone went on to secure reelection by that same 56-44 spread against Jerry Sheridan, a former Arpaio chief deputy who had just beaten his old boss in the primary, but the department still has a long way to go to excise Arpaio’s legacy. Raul Piña, who serves on the court-appointed Community Advisory Board, told the Republic on Monday that “institutional racism in the Sheriff’s Office” persists. Piña, while acknowledging that Penzone had made much-needed changes, said of the incumbent’s legacy, “[T]here will always be an asterisk … because the racial profiling continued, and you can’t run away from that.”

Democratic elected officials were more complimentary, with Secretary of State Adrian Fontes saying, “Even on the hardest days when there were very serious threats being hurled at me and my staff, I always felt safe knowing Paul and his team were always watching out for us.”

VIRGINIA 10TH DISTRICT. Axios’ Hans Nichols reports that former National Security Council advisor Eugene Vindman, the whistleblower who attracted national attention in the leadup to Donald Trump’s first impeachment, is considering running to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton. Vindman didn’t deny anything to Nichols when asked at an event for the Democratic group VoteVets, saying instead, “I’m focused on Ukraine funding. I’m focused on war crimes now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

Nick Minock of the local ABC affiliate 7News, meanwhile, writes that Loudoun County Supervisor Juli Briskman discussed campaigning for the Democratic nod after Wexton announced that she wouldn’t run following her diagnosis with Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy. Briskman, who was photographed flipping off Donald Trump’s motorcade while biking in 2017, divulged last week that she was being treated for breast cancer, and she said doctors are optimistic about her prospects. The supervisor, who is up for reelection on Nov. 7, did not respond to 7News’ inquiry about her 2024 plans.

Minock also mentions state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, and former Attorney General Mark Herring as possible Democratic candidates. Nichols additionally names Jessica Post, who announced last week that she would step down as president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee after this year’s races; like the aforementioned trio, Post does not appear to have said anything publicly about participating in this contest. But Del. Danica Roem, who is seeking a promotion to the state Senate, told 7News she wouldn’t run herself; Roem previously ruled out a bid for the neighboring 7th District.

On the GOP side, attorney Mike Clancy on Thursday became the first declared candidate for this 58-40 Biden seat. Clancy, whom Minock describes as a “business executive with a global technology company,” ran here last year and self-funded the majority of his campaign’s $400,000 budget, but he didn’t come close to winning the party-run “firehouse primary.”

Minock also supplies a few names of possible GOP contenders:

  • 2020 nominee Aliscia Andrews
  • Loudoun County Supervisor Caleb Kershner
  • 2022 candidate Caleb Max
  • state Sen. Jill Vogel

Kershner is up for reelection next month, while Vogel is retiring from the legislature.

COLORADO 3RD DISTRICT. Adam Frisch’s (D) campaign reported a massive third quarter haul of nearly $3.4 million — more than many nationally touted Democratic Senate candidates — as he seeks to win a rematch with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) next year, Politico reports.

MINNESOTA 3RD DISTRICT. Punchbowl News: “First, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) stepped down from House Democratic leadership over his views on President Joe Biden’s reelection bid. Now, Phillips may face a primary challenger thanks to his 2024 ambitions.”

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

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