The Political Report – November 1, 2023

Nate Cohn: “Mr. Biden may be weak among young, Black and Hispanic voters today, but that weakness is almost entirely concentrated among the voters who stayed home last November. As a consequence, Democrats paid little to no price for it in the midterms, even as polls of all registered voters or adults show Mr. Biden struggling mightily among these same groups against Mr. Trump.”

“These less engaged voters might just be the single biggest problem facing Mr. Biden in his pursuit of re-election, the Times/Siena data suggests. If there’s any good news for Mr. Biden, it’s that his challenge is concentrated among voters who still consider themselves Democrats — a group that, in theory, ought to be open to returning to the president’s side.”

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) told Puck that he personally tried to reach out to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to encourage them to get into the Democratic presidential primary but that neither returned his calls.

Peter Hamby: “Phillips talks about Biden’s age with an air of conspiracy. He flatly called the president too old to serve, while also pausing a few times to say, ‘I want to be respectful.’ Phillips said ‘there’s a culture of silence’ among Democrats in Washington about Biden’s age. Many of his House colleagues, Phillips claimed, secretly want Biden to step aside, or hope that other Democrats step forward and run. But no elected official or Democratic strategist wants to say that publicly, he said, at the risk of running afoul of a sitting president.”

“I asked Phillips when these supposed concerns began. He told me a story about watching Biden speak to House Democrats behind closed doors, in 2021, as the White House was selling the Build Back Better plan to skeptical progressives in Congress. ‘The President appeared twice in front of the caucus to sell the BBB,’ Phillips told me. ‘Those presentations were … jarring.’ He paused, and I asked him what he meant. He paused again. ‘I want to leave it at that. Everybody who was in that room with me knows exactly what I am saying.’ (I asked two Democrats who were in the room for those meetings what, exactly, Phillips was talking about, and they disputed his account).”

OREGON 3RD DISTRICT. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), one of the most experienced Democratic lawmakers in the House, told the Willamette Week he will not be seeking a 15th term in Congress.

Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal (D) is expected to announce she is running for Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s House seat (D-OR), the Oregonian reports. She is the sister of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

“Democrats outnumber Republicans more than three to one in the 3rd Congressional District… That means the real race to take over Blumenauer’s seat will come in the May Democratic primary, with the winner of the primary expected to coast to victory in November.”

Gov. Ron Desantis (R) was confronted on a podcast about why he is wearing lifts in cowboy boots to make himself appear taller.

Three expert shoemakers say Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is probably wearing height boosters, Politico reports.

 “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign, trying to cut into Trump’s big polling lead in the GOP presidential race, has been targeting Trump’s age,” Axios reports.

“Last week, DeSantis’ campaign revealed a Trump accident tracker to compile the former president’s verbal slips on the trail, and asked whether Trump had the ‘stamina’ to be president — using a word Trump often has invoked against his opponents, particularly Hillary Clinton in 2016.”

Said DeSantis: “This is a different Donald Trump than 2015 and ’16 — lost the zip on his fastball.”

“President Joe Biden on Monday launched a write-in campaign in New Hampshire after announcing he would not be on the primary election ballot in the state,” The Messenger reports.

Jonathan Martin: “By scrapping Iowa, demoting New Hampshire from its first-in-the-nation perch and moving up South Carolina to begin the balloting, President Joe Biden was hoping to preempt a nuisance primary challenge that could embarrass him before the general election. But that may be precisely what he has invited upon himself…”

“Now, the Granite State will once again hold an election to begin the presidential nominating process, Biden will not appear on the ballot and Democratic insiders here are being made to organize a write-in campaign to ensure that the sitting president prevails when the vote is held in January. Which may have been the end of the story before last Friday.”

“That’s when, just hours before New Hampshire’s filing deadline closed, an earnest Midwestern congressman made clear he wasn’t totally free of guile and, to borrow from the famed Tammany Hall leader George Washington Plunkitt, saw his opportunities and he took ’em.”

“House Majority PAC, the party’s top congressional outside group, released a TV ad this week hitting Speaker Mike Johnson on three key themes: the Jan. 6 insurrection, abortion rights and entitlements,” Politico reports.

“Democrats planned to weaponize the chaos that engulfed the House in October on the campaign trail no matter who emerged with the gavel. But in Johnson, strategists see someone far more socially conservative and easy to paint as an extremist.”

Time: “Most immediately, his advisers say Pence is considering his options for an endorsement of a one-time rival. He is likely to pray on the decision and consider who is most plausible to block Trump from the nomination.”

“But in the most likely scenario, with that last-ditch effort failing and Trump becoming the GOP nominee for a third time, Pence will be faced with how to use his remaining political capital. Backing Trump would be viewed as a blatant betrayal of his longtime supporters not to mention his ideals, while stopping short—or the least likely scenario, endorsing Joe Biden—would seem to leave his relatively new fans in a lurch.”

CALIFORNIA 20TH DISTRICT. “A self-proclaimed MAGA Republican plans to run against Kevin McCarthy for his House seat, a primary challenge that represents the latest fallout from his speakership ouster,” Politico reports.

“And David Giglio is praising the eight Republicans who voted to remove the former speaker, as the GOP challenger prepares to launch his run for California’s 20th District Monday morning.”

NEW JERSEY U.S. SENATOR. “In the next few days, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy will take steps to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate by filing with the Federal Election Commission to raise funds to test the waters and gauge the feasibility of becoming a candidate,” the New Jersey Globe reports.

“A formal announcement for the seat currently held by indicted Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez could come sometime in the next few weeks.”

COLORADO 3RD DISTRICT.  “Retreating from the turmoil in Washington, D.C., Rep. Lauren Boebert arrived in bucolic southwest Colorado to turmoil of a different sort — the lingering impact of an embarrassing moment when she was caught on tape vaping and groping with a date during a musical production of Beetlejuice,” the AP reports.

“The scandal threw a wrench into an already tough reelection bid. After Beobert won her last race by just 546 votes, she began revamping her campaign strategy. It now includes apologies to voters at campaign events for an episode that has rattled even loyal Republicans.”

ALABAMA 1ST DISTRICT and 2ND DISTRICT. Rep. Barry Moore announced Monday that he’d take on fellow incumbent Jerry Carl in the March Republican primary for Alabama’s revamped 1st District, a declaration that comes almost a month after a federal court approved a new map that makes Moore’s old 2nd District all but unwinnable for his party. The 1st remains centered around the Mobile area but lost nearly all of the city itself and now includes the rural Wiregrass region in the state’s southeastern corner.

Moore, who unlike Carl belongs to the far-right House Freedom Caucus, used a new interview with the conservative site 1819 News to try to position himself as the ideologically purer choice. After noting that redistricting made Carl’s already safely red 1st District even more Republican, Moore argued, “Me being a House Freedom Caucus guy, I realized at that point the district really needs a true, true conservative to represent it.”

But Carl, who is much closer to his party’s leadership, was not content to let this narrative take hold. “Bring it on,” he said in a statement. “I have a proven track record of putting Alabama first every day and delivering conservative results for Alabama’s First Congressional District.” Carl finished September with a $870,000 to $650,000 advantage in cash on hand. He also represents 59% of the population of the redrawn district to Moore’s 41%. (Each incumbent’s section of the new 2nd is comparably conservative, with both having given about 75% of the vote to Donald Trump, and the two regions saw similar turnout.)

It’s possible, though, that the Club for Growth could come to Moore’s aid. The hard-line anti-tax group spent over $700,000 on ads to boost him in his first successful campaign for Congress in 2020, when he came from behind to handily win the GOP primary runoff after Rep. Martha Roby retired. (Moore himself challenged Roby for renomination two years before, but he ended up taking third place in that primary.)

The Club also sought to influence that year’s race in the 1st District, which was also open thanks to Rep. Bradley Byrne’s unsuccessful Senate bid, and spent $1.4 million in an attempt to thwart Carl. But Carl managed to squeeze past state Sen. Bill Hightower 52-48. The Club didn’t commit to anything on Monday, however, merely telling that its “endorsement process is confidential and we have nothing to announce at this time.”

Moore, who previously served in the state House, also used his announcement to remind 1819 News that Monday marked nine years since a jury found him not guilty of perjury in connection with a corruption investigation targeting Mike Hubbard, who had been speaker of the state House. “I became a conservative who was attacked by the swamp itself, but it was the Montgomery swamp at that time,” he said of that trial. “That was the thing that changed the trajectory of my life that we felt we were called into this fight.”

Both Carl and Moore voted against recognizing Joe Biden’s win in the hours after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, but Moore went even further in promoting extremism that weekend. “[I]t was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran,” Moore tweeted of rioter Ashli Babbit, who was fatally shot attempting to breach a hallway adjacent to the House chamber. Moore went on to propose legislation this year to designate the AR-15 the “National Gun of America” and later spoke at a CPAC Hungary event headlined by autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

VIRGINIA and NEW JERSEY LEGISLATIVE RACES. AdImpact reports that Democrats in Virginia have outspent Republicans $27.4 million to $21.8 million in advertising ahead of the Nov. 7 legislative elections, where both the GOP-held House and Democratic-led Senate are up for grabs.

Every seat is also on the ballot in New Jersey, but while Republicans have expressed optimism about controlling at least one chamber for the first time since the early 21st century, AdImpact says that Democrats hold a wide $6.4 million $1.4 million advantage. Democrats go into Nov. 7 with a 25-15 majority in the Senate and a 46-34 advantage in the lower chamber: Each of the 40 legislative districts elects one senator and two assemblymembers.

Joe Biden, according to data in Dave’s Redistricting App, carried 30 districts to Donald Trump’s 10 as the president was winning the state 57-41 in 2020. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also took 22 of the 40 districts in 2021 as he was winning reelection by an unexpectedly tight 51-48.

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

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