The Political Report – October 21, 2023

A new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds that 70% of New Jersey residents want Sen. Bob Menendez to resign. Just 16% want him to serve out his term.

This is when you’re holding on to office to trade it for something in a plea bargain.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) “is trying to hire top Democratic operatives with presidential campaign experience for his longshot primary challenge against President Joe Biden,” The Messenger reports.

“The outreach is the latest sign that Phillips is not only serious about running for president but has begun to put the pieces together to mount a challenge against the president.”

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR. Democratic Sen. Laphonza Butler told the New York Times Thursday that she would not run for a full term next year, a declaration that came 18 days after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed her to succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Butler, who is the first lesbian of color to serve in the upper chamber, informed the paper that, while she would be “the loudest, proudest champion of California,” she felt “this is not the greatest use of my voice.” We may see her name on a future ballot, though, as Politico speculated last week that she could run to succeed Newsom in 2026 if she decided not to remain in the upper chamber.

Butler’s decision means that this will remain an open seat race to represent America’s most populous state, though all three of the Democratic House members running here already made it clear that they would stay in the March top-two primary no matter what the incumbent did. Adam Schiff began the race with a huge financial edge over fellow Rep. Katie Porter, and that continued through the third quarter: Schiff outraised his colleague $5.9 million to $3.4 million, and he finished September with a $32 million to $12 million cash on hand lead.

A special election for the final months of Feinstein’s term will take place concurrently with both rounds of the regular contest, and as Politico previously noted, that could give Schiff the chance to expand his fundraising edge even further. That’s because the special is technically a separate contest, so individual donors are now free to give twice as much as the federal maximum of $6,600 per candidate.

The rest of the field is not in such a good position to take advantage of this, though. Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee took in only $1 million for the third quarter, and she ended it with a similar $1.3 million in the bank. That’s still better than a fourth Democrat, businesswoman Lexi Reese: She hauled in $460,000 from donors and self-funded another $250,000, which left her with $660,000 on hand.

A new Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll finds Donald Trump leading Joe Biden 47% to 43% across the seven swing states.

“Trump is leading head-to-head races in five of the seven swing states: Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden leads in Nevada, and it’s a dead tie in Michigan.”

And Biden gets poor marks on the economy: “Almost twice as many voters say Bidenomics has been bad for the economy as those who say it’s been good, 49% to 26%. Among independents, it’s 52% to 17%.”

“Ron DeSantis has a money problem: Most of the cash in his campaign’s account is off limits, and the donors who have fueled his strong fundraising so far are people he can’t ask again for more money,” Politico reports.

“A Politico analysis shows that roughly 75 percent of all money raised by DeSantis came from donors who can no longer give again for the primary: DeSantis raised $31.3 million through the end of September, and of that, $23.8 million came from more than 3,800 donors who have each given at least the maximum primary amount of $3,300.”

A top GOP donor who recently called himself a “significant supporter” of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is now expected to host a fundraiser for Nikki Haley, ABC News reports.

“Plenty of politicians make big money after leaving office: Just ask Nikki Haley, Mike Pence or Joe Biden, who all tapped into tried-and-true moneymaking methods for political figures — writing books, giving speeches, doing consulting or sitting on boards. But of all the people running for president today, nobody has played the game better than Chris Christie,” Forbes reports.

“The former New Jersey governor and his wife, Mary Pat, reported $1 million to $2 million in assets when Christie left office in 2018, plus a $1.3 million house in Morris County, New Jersey. Today, the couple is worth $15 million, according to Forbes’ estimates, meaning their net worth has roughly quadrupled.”

“Progressive activist and independent presidential candidate Cornel West received a maximum campaign donation from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow,” NBC News reports.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) launched a national nonprofit group focused on protecting and expanding abortion rights in states across the country, part of a broader mission of “combating far-right extremism,” Politico reports.

“It’s been one month since Pennsylvania implemented automatic voter registration, and early results show three times as many Republicans have used the system to register compared to Democrats,” WITF reports.

“This is despite some GOP legislators claiming without evidence the new system would lead to an uptick in fraud – and could compromise election security.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is telling Donald Trump to “get ready” to face off with him as they battle for the Republican nomination, The Messenger reports.

Said Christie: “Donald Trump and I will come face-to-face, whether it’s on a debate stage or whether it’s when he’s walking out of a building somewhere. Don’t you worry.”

Cook Political Report: “Democrats knew the carnage was coming, but their outrage is still palpable: on Wednesday, North Carolina GOP state legislators released two different draft congressional maps that would gut Democrats’ representation in the Tar Heel State.”

“The brutal gerrymanders would transform the current 7D-7R delegation into as lopsided as an 11R-3D breakdown, giving Republicans up to a four-seat boost in their efforts to hold the House majority in 2024.”

“Former crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried and his associates donated $50 million during the 2022 election cycle toward politically active nonprofit groups that don’t disclose their donors,” CNBC reports.

OHIO REFERENDUM. AdImpact reports that the side working to pass Issue 1, which would amend the Ohio constitution to broadly guarantee reproductive freedom, is now outspending conservatives on the air after trailing two weeks ago. AdImpact says that, with future reservations factored in, the “yes” side has a $12.1 million to $10.5 million edge, a shift from the previous $6.9 million to $5.3 million advantage for “no.” A recent poll from Baldwin Wallace University and SurveyUSA found Issue 1 winning 58-34.

PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT. AdImpact relays that Democrat Dan McCaffery and his allies have outspent Republican Carolyn Carluccio’s side $4.2 million to $3.2 million in advertising, a figure that includes reservations.

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

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