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The Political Report – October 13, 2023

A new Fox News poll finds Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential primary with 59%, followed by Ron DeSantis at 13%, Nikki Haley at 10% and Vivek Ramaswamy at 7%.  All others are below 5%.

AP-NORC poll: “Only one-quarter of Republicans say they approve of the stunning decision by a small group of House Republicans to remove McCarthy from his post.”

“Three in 10 Republicans believe it was a mistake for a small faction of the party, and all Democrats, to support a motion ejecting McCarthy from the speakership.”

“Progressive pundit Cenk Uygur will challenge President Biden for the Democratic nomination, offering himself as an alternative to an incumbent who ‘is definitely going to lose’ if he makes it to the general election,” Semafor reports.

“Uygur was born in Istanbul, and immigrated to the United States from Turkey in 1978, but believed that the Constitution’s ‘natural born citizen’ clause wouldn’t disqualify him from running.”

LOL. Delusions of grandieur.

“North Carolina Republicans enacted vote-count restrictions and weakened the governor’s ability to oversee elections and other state regulatory bodies on Tuesday by overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes,” the AP reports.

“Lawsuits attempting to block the new laws are likely as the 2024 elections approach.”

Cornel West’s decision to leave the Green Party and run for president as an independent was due to infighting with Jill Stein and the party’s establishment, Politico reports.

“The Green Party-Cornel West link-up promised to be a fusion of the largely white environmental movement and the social justice activism of West… And for Joe Biden and Democrats, the pairing could have quickly turned into a nightmare, forcing him to protect his left flank from an organized Green Party running a demi-celebrity with decades of progressive bona fides.”

“But to hear West tell it, any cords holding this relationship together had frayed beyond repair.”

HOUSTON MAYOR. The University of Houston’s new poll once again finds state Sen. John Whitmire and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee easily advancing past the Nov. 7 nonpartisan primary and Whitmire decisively ahead in a Dec. 9 runoff. We haven’t seen any surveys since the winter of the race to replace termed-out Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The school shows Whitmire and Jackson Lee, who are also both Democrats, respectively securing 34% and 31% in the first round: two other contenders, self-funder Gilbert Garcia and former GOP City Councilman Jack Christie, are tied for third with just 4% each. UH also finds respondents backing Whitmire 50-36 over Jackson Lee, which is comparable to his 51-33 edge in the school’s late July poll.

ALABAMA 2ND DISTRICT. Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson on Thursday became the first noteworthy Democrat to launch a bid for the new 2nd District, though none of Tyson’s Birmingham base is located in this constituency. Tyson, however, told AL.com she’d be an advocate for the Black Belt, a region that includes Montgomery and nearby rural areas.

The Alabama Political Reporter’s Bill Britt mentions two other new Democrats as possible contenders for the new 2nd District, state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels and Alabama State University President Quinton Ross. An unnamed person close to Daniels says they believe he’d defer to Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed if he got in, as would state Sen. Kirk Hatcher; however, Britt relays that Reed is still making up his mind whether to get in.

Ross, by contrast, is getting talked about as a possible contender no matter what Reed does, though the former state Senate minority leader himself hasn’t shown any obvious sign that he wants to return to elected office. Indeed, Britt writes that “of the nearly dozen people who spoke with APR, no one was quite sure where the rumors of Ross’s interest came from or when they started.” Alabama’s filing deadline is Nov. 10.

CALIFORNIA 27TH DISTRICT. Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commissioner Franky Carrillo announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the top-two primary and endorsing his fellow Democrat, former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. Whitesides, who has the backing of several House members and prominent labor unions, now has no notable intraparty opposition in his bid to take on GOP Rep. Mike Garcia.

NORTH CAROLINA REDISTRICTING and the 6TH DISTRICT. State Senate leader Phil Berger said Tuesday that Republicans would likely unveil their new gerrymanders next week and that he anticipates legislators will vote on them the following week. Under North Carolina law, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper does not have the power to veto the maps.

Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning, though, isn’t waiting to learn whether she’ll be targeted, as she announced Monday that she would run for a third term. High Point Mayor Jay Wagner also declared that same day he’d seek the GOP nod for what’s now the 6th District, telling WXII, “Whichever district the city of High Point is in, wherever we end up landing, I’m committed to running in that district. I really don’t know if I’ll end up running against Rep. Manning, or it might be someone else, it might be an open district.”

COLORADO 4TH DISTRICT. Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams on Wednesday told conservative radio host Dan Caplis that he was interested in waging a primary bid against Rep. Ken Buck in an interview that took place the day after Buck became one of the eight Republicans to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Another local GOP elected official, state Rep. Richard Holtorf, formed an exploratory committee last month after the congressman trashed his party’s drive to impeach Joe Biden. Buck, for his part, has not committed to running again.

NEW JERSEY 7TH DISTRICT. The New Jersey Globe reported Monday that Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello would drop out of the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr.

SOUTH CAROLINA 1ST DISTRICT. Former state Rep. Katie Arrington tells The Hill that she’s considering seeking a GOP primary rematch against South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who shocked her colleagues last week when she voted to terminate Kevin McCarthy’s speakership. Things could become still more volatile in the Palmetto State, though, because the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday for a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Mace’s 1st District as a racial gerrymander.

We’ll start with Arrington, who told reporter Caroline Vakil that “all options are on the table” for another campaign against an incumbent who is no stranger to making enemies within her own party. Mace, who unseated Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in 2020, broke with Donald Trump in the days after she was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack, saying, “I hold him accountable for the events that transpired.” Although the congresswoman, who was an early 2016 Trump supporter, never backed impeachment and soon stopped trying to pick fights with him, her party’s master endorsed Arrington as part of an effort to purge critics.

But while Arrington did all she could to try to frame the primary as a battle between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces, Mace used her superior financial resources to advance a different narrative. The congresswoman reminded voters that Arrington had denied renomination in 2018 to another Trump critic, then-Rep. Mark Sanford, only to suffer an upset loss against Cunningham. The GOP legislature had already done what it could to make sure that no Republican could lose this coastal South Carolina seat by passing a map that extended Trump’s 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but Mace still argued that Arrington could once again cost the party the general election.

The incumbent prevailed 53-45 before easily winning the general election, but Mace wasn’t done refashioning her public image. This summer she became a prominent Trump defender on cable news, and Politico reported he passed on his compliments to the congresswoman he’d previously castigated as a “grandstanding loser.” But Mace’s biggest moment in the spotlight came last week when she joined Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, whom she’d called “a fraud” earlier this year, and six other Republicans to oust McCarthy.

Observers, including Arrington, were quick to highlight how McCarthy’s allies had deployed millions to help Mace in 2020, and the former speaker’s backers were also quick to blast the congresswoman’s perceived disloyalty. Mace, for her part, argued McCarthy had broken his word to her by refusing to advance her priorities, including a balanced budget amendment and a bill to test more rape kits, and she predicted his backers would seek revenge. “I do need help, because they are coming after me,” she said last week to Steve Bannon, the former Trump strategist whom she’d voted to hold in contempt of Congress in 2021.

However, not everyone agrees that Mace will need much help to win renomination in 2024. “When you look at the voting base there, they’re not your typical party-line Republican,” longtime GOP strategist Dave Wilson told Vakil of the local GOP primary electorate. “They’re a little bit more independent in the way that they think.” Arrington, though, dismissed Mace’s actions as a “political stunt” and predicted that if she doesn’t run, “[T]here will be many others.” South Carolina requires a primary runoff if no one secures a majority in the first round.

Complicating things further is that no one knows yet just what Mace’s district will even look like next year. In January, a federal court ruled that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Black voters when they redrew Mace’s 1st District by packing too many African Americans into the neighboring 6th District. However, it’s up to the nation’s highest court to decide if the legislature needs to rework the 1st or if the current boundaries will stand.

Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the current map, though, Republicans may still be able to keep their hold on six of the state’s seven congressional districts. As we explained in January, the lower court’s ruling hinged on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause rather than the Voting Rights Act; while the latter can require states to draw districts that empower Black voters to elect their chosen candidates, the former has been interpreted to mandate only that map-makers don’t let race predominate over other factors without a compelling justification when crafting lines.

For now at least, Mace is behaving like she has more to worry about on her right flank than from Democrats. The congresswoman announced Sunday that she was joining Trump in endorsing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, an election conspiracy theorist, for speaker. CBS’ Margaret Brennan followed up by asking Mace about the accusations from several former Ohio State University wrestlers alleging that Jordan, who was an assistant coach in the 1980s and 90s, knew their team doctor was sexually assaulting them but didn’t intervene. “I’m not familiar or aware with that,” said Mace. “He’s not indicted on anything that I’m aware of. I don’t know anything and can’t speak to that.”

NEW YORK 18TH DISTRICT. Alison Esposito, a former NYPD officer who was the GOP’s 2022 nominee for lieutenant governor, on Tuesday launched her campaign against Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan in this competitive upper Hudson Valley seat. The Congressional Leadership Fund was one of the Republican entities that eagerly awaited her entry; its president responded to the end of Kevin McCarthy’s speakership last week by touting her as one of the “star Republican candidates” that would help the party move forward. The new candidate currently faces no serious intraparty opposition.

Esposito grew up in this constituency before embarking on a 25-year career with the NYPD in Brooklyn well to the south, and she sought elected office for the first time last year when she became Lee Zeldin’s running mate. Esposito, who departed the force during that campaign, would have been the first gay person elected statewide had she and Zeldin prevailed, but they lost to the Democratic team of Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado 53-47.

However, while Joe Biden took this seat 53-46 in 2020, Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux says that Zeldin and Esposito carried it 51-49 two years later. Ryan, though, won his first full term 51-49 after an expensive general election in what proved to be a difficult year for his party. The Times Union writes that Esposito was still registered to vote in New York City as recently as late May, which was when media outlets first revealed her interest in campaigning in the Hudson Valley. Politico’s Jeff Coltin says that voting records show that Esposito registered back in the 18th on Oct. 4.

MICHIGAN 10TH DISTRICT. Rhonda Powell, who took second in the 2022 Democratic primary for this seat, announced Wednesday that she would once again seek to take on freshman GOP Rep. John James. Powell, who is now the statewide operations director for the progressive group We the People Action Fund, will face a rematch against Carl Marlinga, the former Macomb County judge who beat her 48-17 last year; James went on to win 49-48.

Powell likely won’t be the only new Democratic candidate this week, as the Detroit News reports that Wayne State University Board of Governors member Anil Kumar will jump in Thursday. The primary already includes gun safety activist Emily Busch, state Board of Education member Tiffany Tilley, and financial advisor Diane Young.

3Q FUNDRAISING

TX-Sen: Colin Allred (D): $4.7 million raised

NC-13: Erin Paré (R): $200,000 raised (in one month)

NC-14: Pat Harrigan (R): $250,000 raised (in one month), $750,000 cash on hand

NY-18: Pat Ryan (D-inc): $600,000 raised

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

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