The Political Report – October 18, 2023

“The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is spending six figures in ads for Virginia House races amplifying the GOP rifts in the speaker fight,” Politico reports.

“This spending from the DLCC is the latest example of Democrats starting to broaden messaging against Republicans with the speaker’s race as a key cudgel.”

“If the Republican presidential primary this year is putting you half to sleep, you’re not alone. And it’s not just because Donald Trump is running away with the nomination,” Politico reports.

“Operatives and party activists in key early voting states say they can’t recall a recent cycle in which they had such little interaction with candidates.”

“GOP candidate events in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state, are down nearly 50 percent this election cycle, compared to the same point in 2015, according to a review of campaign event trackers in early states. In New Hampshire, the first primary state, the candidates’ roster of September events was a fraction of those eight years ago. And hardly anyone is making the trek to Nevada.”

“Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) campaign saw a net loss of more than $16,500 in campaign contribution between July and September,” Axios reports.

“Such dire fundraising numbers are rare for congressional incumbents actively seeking reelection and speak to the indicted Long Islander’s uphill battle in keeping his seat.”

“Santos brought in $674 in contributions in the third quarter of 2023 while refunding $17,200, giving him -$16,526 in contributions over the course of the three months, according to the filings.”

“House Majority Forward, a nonprofit with ties to Democratic leadership, is launching a new ad campaign targeting 11 GOP incumbents from swing districts and urging them not to support Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker,” Politico reports.

“Democrats are already crafting a strategy to use Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as a political weapon against Republicans in the next election if he becomes the next House speaker,” NBC News reports.

“In a memo to House Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee urged party members and candidates to portray the entire GOP as beholden to radicals should Republicans hand him the speaker’s gavel.”

“Billionaire business leaders Paul Singer, Ken Griffin, Joe Ricketts and Stephen Schwarzman blew through tens of millions of dollars trying to topple an ascendant Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“They are reluctant to give it another go.”

“With Trump commandingly leading GOP primary polls three months before voting begins, some of the party’s biggest donors are holding back on major investments in other candidates.”

“Cornel West knows what most Democrats think of him. Since he launched his presidential bid four months ago, the progressive, media-savvy academic has heard the accusations that he’ll prove a spoiler and hand the 2024 election to Donald Trump. He doesn’t think that will be the case. But he also can’t imagine four more years of Joe Biden as President would be much better,” Time reports.

Said West: “I mean, it’s a good question. Is World War III better than Civil War II?”

“The sole remaining Democratic primary challenger to President Joe Biden who has any support in the polls shed even more staff members in the last three months and spent more than she raised,” Politico reports.

“Spiritual guru and third-time political candidate Marianne Williamson brought in just $821,000 in the third quarter of her presidential campaign and spent more than $825,000.”

Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) — who once called Donald Trump an “egotistical madman” and “non-serious carnival act” — said he had “a great conversation” with him and offered his “full and complete endorsement to win back the White House and Make America Great Again!”

“Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is endorsing Donald Trump in the leadup to the 2024 Republican caucuses,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“The high-profile endorsement comes as Trump continues a weeks-long Iowa blitz in his bid to cement his lead ahead of the caucuses.”

The Biden campaign is launching an account on former President Trump’s Truth Social, Fox News reports. Said a Biden campaign aide: “There’s very little ‘truth’ happening on TruthSocial, but at least now it’ll be a little fun.”

“The super PAC supporting Tim Scott’s presidential bid is canceling most of its remaining TV spending, reversing course after reserving $40 million in ads for him ahead of the Iowa caucuses,” Politico reports.

“The retreat from TV is the latest sign of how dire the primary has become for a candidate who once anticipated outside help from big donors — but who is now polling in low single digits and hasn’t yet qualified for the third debate.”

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR. New York Times: “The opening reception on Friday evening was pared down to three small tables overlooking the beach. There were still open seats: Only about a dozen people showed up to the subdued affair and roughly half of them were the senator’s aides. Trays of sushi and shrimp cocktail were left uneaten.”

“The shunned senator never showed, absent at his own ill-timed and ill-fated fund-raiser.”

“More than half of the 50-or-so donors and their guests canceled attendance after the senator was charged three weeks ago. A defiant Mr. Menendez refused to cancel the retreat despite the defections. Then, as he landed in San Juan on Thursday, he was buffeted with more untimely news: Prosecutors filed additional charges and asked a judge to seize his home.”

VERMONT GOVERNOR. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger on Friday told VTDigger that he might seek the Democratic nomination to serve as Vermont’s next governor, a development that has once again prompted questions about Republican incumbent Phil Scott’s political future.

But Scott, who decisively claimed each of his four two-year terms, isn’t in any hurry to provide answers: A spokesperson says that the governor “hasn’t made any decisions personally” about running again, adding that Scott has typically waited until the spring of each election year to announce his plans. That means we may remain in suspense until the May 30 filing deadline to learn if Vermont will host an open-seat race.

In 2020, Scott waited until the last possible day to kick off his reelection effort, though there was never any serious talk about him stepping aside that year. Two years later, though, the governor insisted in the weeks leading up to the deadline that he was truly undecided about whether to seek another term.

“I think a lot depends on what happens in the next month with the legislature in this legislative session—what we accomplish and what we don’t,” said Scott at the time. Evidently, he decided he and the Democratic-led legislature had accomplished just the right amount, as he confirmed he’d run again a whole 10 days before qualifying closed. But Scott also hinted that his career might be winding down, acknowledging he’d spent a “long six years” in office.

Scott’s latest deliberations come months after New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a fellow Republican who also first won his post in 2016, declared he would not seek a fifth term. (Neighboring New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states in the nation that still elect their governors to two-year terms.) However, while Sununu telegraphed his retirement by flirting with a longshot presidential bid and joking that he had to “get a real job,” New England’s only other Republican chief executive hasn’t displayed the same sort of discontent in public.

But just as Sununu’s departure has given New Hampshire Democrats a major opening, their counterparts in Vermont likely will also need Scott to retire to have a strong chance at victory. Scott’s last two elections were blowouts: He turned back Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman in a 68-27 rout in 2020 even as Joe Biden was carrying the Green Mountain State 66-31, then won his most recent term 71-24 against an unheralded foe. (Zuckerman regained the lieutenant governor’s office last year after his successor, Molly Gray, left to wage an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House.)

If Scott does decide to call it quits, it would be difficult for the GOP to find someone with his sort of cross-party appeal. Scott, who had previously served as lieutenant governor, is the only Republican who has won statewide office in Vermont in the last decade. Hammering the issue home, the Valley News asked outgoing state Sen. Corey Parent which of his fellow Republicans could wage a strong statewide effort late last year. “I don’t know,” he responded. “I don’t have a clue, to be honest.”

On the flipside, a large number of Democrats could run if Scott doesn’t, though Weinberger is the first notable name we’ve heard from. The mayor of Vermont’s largest city responded to VTDigger’s inquiries about his possible interest in running for governor by saying he wanted “some kind of statewide role,” while a pair of unnamed sources added that he’s specifically interested in the top job.

Weinberger, who announced last month that he wouldn’t run for reelection to his current post, added it would be “some time” before he decides what to do next. However, as Politics1 flagged Monday, his website directs to a new “” that’s under construction.

P.S. Scott would still not be his state’s longest-serving leader should he win and serve out another term. That distinction belongs to Democrat Howard Dean, who served more than 11 years. Dean was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor in 1991 after Republican Richard Snelling died in office, and he went on to claim five terms before he retired in 2002 ahead of his 2004 presidential run.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. “Kari Lake is making nice with the GOP establishment,”  Politico reports. “Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the chair of the Senate Republican Conference, endorsed her bid on Monday for Arizona’s Senate seat — the latest sign that the party’s leaders are warming to her candidacy.”

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

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