The Political Report – October 16, 2023

New York Times: As Mr. Trump dodges debates and is regularly seen on his golf courses in branded white polo shirts and red MAGA hats, it can seem that he is bypassing the 2024 primary fight entirely. He has done relatively few public campaign events until recent weeks. But Mr. Trump and his political team have spent months working behind the scenes to build alliances and contingency plans with key party officials, seeking to twist the primary and delegate rules in their favor.”

“It amounts to a fail-safe in case Mr. DeSantis — or anyone else — scores a surprise victory in an early state. And it comes as Mr. Trump faces an extraordinary set of legal challenges, including four criminal indictments, that inject an unusual degree of uncertainty into a race Mr. Trump leads widely in national polling.”

“President Joe Biden, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committees brought in more than $71 million combined in this year’s third quarter,” Politico reports.

“It’s a large, though not record-breaking, amount that has allowed Biden to launch a major TV and digital advertising campaign earlier than past presidents’ reelection efforts.

“Former Vice President Mike Pence’s 2024 campaign faces a potentially existential cash squeeze, with debt already piling up,” NBC News reports.

“The campaign told NBC News it will report having raised $3.3 million in the third quarter, with $1.2 million cash on hand and $620,000 in debt, when its campaign finance filing is due to be made public Sunday. Pence himself chipped in $150,000 from his personal funds.”

“Dennis Kucinich left his post as the presidential campaign manager for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and was replaced by Mr. Kennedy’s daughter-in-law, a political neophyte best known for a memoir about her tenure in the CIA,” the New York Times reports.

“The campaign shake-up comes at a moment of renewed scrutiny on Mr. Kennedy’s campaign. The political scion of one of the most influential families in contemporary American politics announced on Monday that he was ending his Democratic primary challenge to President Biden and would continue his campaign as an independent candidate.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said he’s encouraged several Democratic senators — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) — to run against President Biden, but so far he’s found no takers, the Deseret News reports. “But, he said, Democrats have told him that the likely heir to Biden is a more progressive Democrat like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.”

New York Times: “On Friday, teams of advisers to Mr. DeSantis, Ms. Haley and Mr. Scott descended on Dallas for separate presentations to an exclusive gathering of some of the most influential Republican donors in the nation, a group known as the American Opportunity Alliance. They met at a property owned by the billionaire Republican financier Harlan Crow, who has gained attention and scrutiny for his close relationship with Justice Clarence Thomas.”

“The crowd included some of the party’s biggest contributors or their top representatives, megadonors like Paul Singer and Ken Griffin who can spend tens of millions of dollars. And the stakes produced pointed presentations, according to more than a half-dozen people who were in the room or had been briefed on the remarks.”

“Vivek Ramaswamy was confronted by a voter Saturday who slammed him as a fast-talking showman without any of the experience needed to serve as president of the United States,” The Messenger reports.

Said the voted at a town hall event: “Let’s talk about your lack of job qualifications. You’re definitely not qualified to run the highest office of our nation.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. “Kari Lake campaigned for governor of Arizona last year as a fierce ally of former President Donald J. Trump who was in lock step with her party’s right-wing base, calling abortion the “ultimate sin” and supporting the state’s Civil War-era restrictions on the procedure,” the New York Times reports.

“This week, she made a remarkable shift on the issue as she opened her bid for the U.S. Senate: She declared her opposition to a federal ban.”

“The maneuvering by Ms. Lake, along with similar adjustments by Republican Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Michigan, is part of a broader strategic effort in her party to recalibrate on an issue that has become a political albatross in battleground states and beyond.”

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-CA) Senate bid raised $3.4 million in the third quarter, The Messenger reports. That’s barely half of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) total. He ended the quarter with $20 million more on hand than her.

MICHIGAN U.S. SENATOR. The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling has released a new poll of Michigan that looked at next year’s Republican primary for Senate and finds former Detroit police chief James Craig leading former Rep. Mike Rogers 30-19 with a 51% majority still undecided. PPP tells us that they didn’t conduct the survey on behalf of a client, and it’s the first poll we’ve seen from anyone here since both Craig and Rogers kicked off their campaigns in recent weeks.

MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR. Democrat Brandon Presley outraised Republican incumbent Tate Reeves $5.6 million to $1.6 million during the third quarter of the year, with about $3 million of Presley’s total coming from the DGA. Reeves, though, still finished September with a $6 million to $1.8 million cash on hand lead.

The third contender, independent Gwendolyn Gray, announced Monday that she was dropping out and endorsing Presley, though her name will remain on the Nov. 7 ballot. It’s possible that Gray could still take enough support to prevent either remaining candidate from securing the majority needed to avert a Nov. 28 runoff, though a recent Mason-Dixon survey for the conservative Magnolia Tribune placed Reeves ahead 51-43.

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. Gov. Jim Justice has released a month-old internal poll from Fabrizio, Lee and Associates that showed him with a wide 62-23 lead over Rep. Alex Mooney in next year’s Republican primary for Senate.

WEST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s allies at Americans for Prosperity West Virginia have publicized an internal from i360 that shows him beating Del. Moore Capito 29-18 in the May GOP primary. Two other contenders, Secretary of State Mac Warner and businessman Chris Miller, respectively take 8% and 6%, while a 37% plurality is undecided or opts for an unnamed other candidate. The survey was released about a month after Research America’s poll had Capito leading Morrisey 32-27 as Miller grabbed 9%.

This new poll came out the same week that the candidates released their fundraising totals for the third quarter:

  • Morrisey: $560,000 raised, additional $40,000 self-funded, $1.5 million cash on hand
  • Capito: $280,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand
  • Miller: $270,000 raised, $3.6 million cash on hand
  • Warner: $70,000 raised, $210,000 cash on hand

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams launched his bid for the Democratic nod last month, but he said he wouldn’t be filing paperwork to fundraise until the start of the fourth quarter.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. The National Journal’s Sydney Kashiwagi writes that rich guy Eric Hovde likely won’t launch a bid against Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin “until later this year or even next year if he does decide to run.” Republicans still do not have a credible candidate against Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, though they argue Hovde’s ability to self-fund allows him to take his time.

MISSOURI GOVERNOR. Restaurant business CEO Mike Hamra has filed paperwork to seek the Democratic nod for governor, and he says he’ll likely announce his plans by the end of the month.

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR. The GOP firm Cygnal’s survey for the conservative John Locke Foundation finds far-right Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson far outpacing Treasurer Dale Folwell 49-5 in the March Republican primary, with 41% undecided. Every poll we’ve seen has shown Robinson dominating the nomination contest.

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

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