The Politial Report – October 17, 2023

A new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll finds that 65% said the U.S. should support Israel publicly in its war against Hamas.

That was true of big majorities of both parties — 77% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats.

But there are huge age and racial gaps — 78% of those 45 and older think the U.S. should take a publicly pro-Israel stance, but just 48% of those under 45 said so.

Along racial lines, just 51% of nonwhites said the U.S. should take such a public stance supporting Israel, while 72% of whites thought it should.

MINNESOTA 3RD DISTRICT. DNC member Ron Harris announced Friday that he’d run for the House seat held by Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips even though his fellow Democrat has yet to say if he’ll wage a longshot primary bid against President Joe Biden. The 3rd District, which is based in the western Minneapolis suburbs, was swingy turf until the Trump era, but it moved rapidly to the left following the 2016 election. Phillips himself unseated GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen 56-44 in 2018, and Biden carried the current version of the constituency in a 60-39 landslide two years later.

The state’s June filing deadline, which is always one of the latest in the nation, would allow Phillips to turn around and seek reelection in the 3rd District should his White House dreams crash and burn, but Harris made it clear he was willing to go up against the congressman if necessary. The new candidate, who would be the first Black person to represent a seat based in the Twin Cities suburbs, blasted Phillips’ presidential flirtations by tweeting, “There’s too much at stake to weaken President @JoeBiden w/ critiques that miss the point.”

The new contender previously served as chief resilience officer for the city of Minneapolis, which is entirely in Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 5th District, and he now chairs the DNC’s Midwestern Caucus. However, Harris acknowledged to the Star Tribune that, while he grew up in the boundaries of the 3rd, “I currently live a mile outside the district.” His campaign added to The Messenger that Harris would be moving back to the 3rd and that “[r]ight now Ron does everything in the district except sleep.”

Phillips, though, responded to Harris’ entry by writing, “As a MN-03 voter myself, I prefer candidates who actually live in the district, but competition is good for democracy and Everyone’s Invited!” The congressman also told the Star Tribune, “I don’t fear primaries; I actually encourage them,” and that he would decide if he’d wage one against Biden “in the next few weeks.”

There are plenty of other Democrats who could run for this seat, but so far no other notable names seem ready to join Harris in challenging Phillips. Both Secretary of State Steve Simon and state Rep. Zack Stephenson say they could run for the 3rd, but only if the congressman doesn’t try to hold it.

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR. Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry unexpectedly achieved an outright win with 52% of the vote in Saturday’s 15-person all-party primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, and that majority means there will not be a Nov. 18 runoff for this office. The contest’s only serious Democrat, former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, was a distant second with 26%, while none of the other candidates broke into the double digits.

The far-right Landry, who among many other things tried to deny flood protection money to New Orleans because city officials refused to make the enforcement of Louisiana’s near-total abortion ban a priority, spent essentially the entire contest as the frontrunner. He enjoyed the support of Donald Trump and deep-pocketed conservative allies like the Club for Growth and the state party, and he also vastly outraised everyone else.

Fellow Republican Stephen Waguespack, who is the former head of the state’s Chamber of Commerce affiliate, tried to position himself as an alternative to Landry, and his dark money allies launched an expensive campaign to try and damage the attorney general’s image in May. Landry’s side, though, quickly hit back and preserved his healthy lead in the polls, and he continued to hold a huge financial advantage as the contest continued.

Waguespack, who had hoped to appeal to the “Anybody but Jeff” crowd that saw the frontrunner as a hard-line bully, ultimately took a distant third with just 6%. AdImpact also relays that the RGA deployed a total of $4.7 million to attack Wilson, who did not have the resources to adequately respond.

MINNESOTA 2ND DISTRICT. The Minnesota Reformer reported on Thursday that former federal prosecutor Joseph Teirab is planning to run for the swingy 2nd District, which lies in the Twin Cities suburbs. Republicans have yet to land a seemingly strong challenger to the district’s incumbent Democrat, Rep. Angie Craig, but Teirab may have some serious pull with national Republicans. The local political tipsheet Morning Take says he is expected to announce his campaign in the coming week.

Teirab didn’t clarify his interest in the race when the Reformer asked him. Instead, he referred their questions to an NRCC official who is also a senior adviser to House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, a Minnesota congressman who recently finished his four-year tenure as the NRCC’s chairman. That’s a sign that national Republicans could be supportive of his candidacy since the NRCC is the party’s main national organization for recruiting candidates and winning House races.

Months ago, Republican Tyler Kistner said that he was considering another rematch with Craig after losing expensive races against her the last two times, but the Reformer additionally relayed that Kistner told supporters via an email last week that he has been deployed abroad as a Marine reservist. However, Kistner hinted at a future campaign in the same email: “We are not finished with what we started … I look forward to seeing you all upon my return in 2024.”

The only Republican who appears to be actively campaigning is attorney Tayler Rahm, who last month earned an endorsement from Craig’s GOP predecessor, former one-term Rep. Jason Lewis. However, Rahm only had $34,000 on hand at the end of the last reporting period, which ended on June 30. That is far from enough to run a strong race, but we’ll find out very soon if he raised significantly more in the third quarter. New campaign finance reports are due on Sunday.

3Q FUNDRAISING. The deadline to file fundraising numbers for federal campaigns was Oct. 15.

  • FL-Sen: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D): $1.5 million raised (in five weeks), $1.1 million cash on hand
  • MI-Sen: Hill Harper (D): $559,000 raised, additional $463,000 self-funded, $418,000 cash on hand; Mike Rogers (R): $824,000 raised (in 24 days)
  • MO-Sen: Lucas Kunce (D): $1.5 million raised, $1.7 million cash on hand
  • NV-Sen: Sam Brown (R): $1.1 million raised, $938,000 cash on hand
  • WV-Sen: Jim Justice (R): $603,000 raised, $1.2 million cash on hand
  • CA-22: Melissa Hurtado (D): $44,000 raised, $33,000 cash on hand
  • CA-40: Young Kim (R-inc): $975,000 raised, $2.2 million cash on hand
  • CA-41: Ken Calvert (R-inc): $730,000 raised
  • CA-45: Cheyenne Hunt (D): $102,000 raised, $145,000 cash on hand
  • MI-10: John James (R-inc): $1 million raised, $2.2 million cash on hand
  • NY-17: Mike Lawler (R-inc): $840,000 raised, $2 million cash on hand
  • OH-13: Emilia Sykes (D-inc): $457,000 raised, $753,000 cash on hand
  • TX-15: Monica De La Cruz (R-inc): $666,000 raised, $1.4 million cash on hand

PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL. EMILY’s List has endorsed former Philadelphia Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey in next year’s busy Democratic primary.

UTAH 2ND DISTRICT. Lighthouse Research & Development, polling on behalf of the Utah Debate Commission has publicized the first survey we’ve seen of the Nov. 21 special election, and it shows Republican Celeste Maloy leading Democrat Kathleen Riebe 43-34. Another 10% are undecided, while the balance is divided between various third-party and independent candidates. (The sponsor required contenders hit 10% to be invited to its debate, and only Maloy and Riebe qualified.) Donald Trump carried this seat 57-40.

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s campaign is airing another ad attacking Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron for opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest, a hard-line stance that the challenger has struggled to even be consistent on.

Cameron has defended the state’s near-total ban, which does not include exceptions for rape or incest, in court and spent months doing the same on the campaign trail, telling LEX 18 News in April, “I’m not going to waiver in my position on this and we’re going to continue to defend the law as is.” And while Cameron said last month that he’d sign legislation that would include those exemptions, a recording surfaced a short time later where he was heard telling an unhappy conservative he’d only do this “if the courts made us change” the current law. Cameron added, “[I]t wouldn’t be me, proactively.”

However, the attorney general wasn’t done trying to explain himself. In early October WKYT-TV’s Bill Bryant asked Cameron what he’d do if the legislature sent him this bill without a court order, to which the candidate responded, “I would sign the exceptions.” (The relevant portion begins around the 10:00 mark.)

ILLINOIS 7TH DISTRICT. Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin announced Friday that she’d wage a Democratic primary challenge against longtime incumbent Danny Davis despite the abuse of power allegations that have been leveled against her by two top former aides. “I do not believe it will be an issue in the race, she told Politico. “The hard-working families of this district have more important issues to address.”

Conyears-Ervin joins a field that already included Kina Collins, a gun safety activist who lost to Davis 52-46 last year, and Kouri Marshall, who is a former aide to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The 82-year-old Davis himself dispelled rumors he could retire back in May when he declared he’d seek a 15th term. It only takes a plurality to win the Democratic nod in this safely blue seat, which includes Chicago’s West Side and downtown.

Conyears-Ervin temporarily postponed her planned kickoff last month after the city released a 2020 letter where two of her former top aides—Ashley Evans and Tiffany Harper—accused the treasurer of misusing government money and personnel. The pair claimed Conyears-Ervin hired an unqualified employee “for personal services;” used official resources for electoral matters, including sending money to religious organizations that supported her; and threatened to retaliate against any subordinates who wouldn’t help her. Evans and Harper later received a total of $100,000 in a 2021 settlement after arguing they were fired in just such an act of illegal retaliation.

While that settlement was public knowledge, then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was a Conyears-Ervin ally, spent years trying to keep this letter from becoming public. However, Mayor Brandon Johnson, who successfully ran against Lightfoot earlier this year, released the document in September. Conyears-Ervin issued a statement afterward saying, “While I am not allowed to discuss the specifics of this settlement, I will make a general statement as I take these matters seriously. I have never, nor will I ever abuse or misuse taxpayer dollars and breach the public trust.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told the author of a forthcoming book that Oprah Winfrey suggested he join her on a unity presidential ticket in 2020 to stop President Trump’s reelection, Axios reports.

A source familiar with Winfrey’s thinking said she was never serious about running — although some close to her thought she should.

“Climate Power, a liberal advocacy group, plans to spend $80 million on advertising to lift President Biden’s standing on environmental issues and inform voters about the impact of legislation he signed last year,” the New York Times reports.

“Polls show few voters are aware of the president’s record on climate issues, and there is a broad dissatisfaction with his stewardship of the issue, a dynamic that mirrors voters’ discontent with his handling of the economy and other concerns.”

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