The Political Report – November 4, 2023

While there are gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi next week, it’s the Virginia legislative races that will give us the clearest look at the political environment for next year’s elections.

That’s because Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has made a massive bet on abortion.

Youngkin has branded his proposed fifteen-week abortion ban — which makes exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother — as no ban at all.

In fact, the tagline on his main ad says, “Here’s the truth: there is no ban.”

Because abortion is the dominant issue, both parties have spent considerable sums in the state.

If Virginia’s legislature flips to Republicans, it would suggest that Youngkin has threaded the needle on a difficult issue and could radically change GOP messaging going forward.

It might also create an opening for Youngkin to make a late entry into the Republican 2024 presidential primary.

If Democrats win, it would be a sign to President Biden that the issue continues to be an albatross for Republicans up and down the ballot.

BIDEN 2024. “One year out from Election Day, President Joe Biden ’s reelection campaign is outlining a plan to retain the White House by framing the 2024 race around many of the same themes it used in 2020 — presenting a contrast with Donald Trump ‘s ‘Make America Great Again’ movement stark enough to reenergize its winning coalition of supporters,” the AP reports.

“The memo is striking in how it reflects a president who has repeatedly asked voters to allow him to ‘finish the job’ but is also waging a campaign that is just as focused on presenting the race as a referendum on stopping Trump. The MAGA movement is still strong despite the former president being indicted in four separate cases and facing 91 total criminal counts.”

PHILLIPS 2024. “Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) says he will host 119 town halls in his long-shot primary challenge against President Biden. If the reception at his first is any indication of the next potential 118, the nascent campaign faces an even steeper uphill battle for the nomination than expected as a little-known congressman challenging an incumbent president,” the Washington Post reports.

“Speaking in a theater here less than a week after announcing his campaign, Phillips faced screaming and profanity from voters disappointed in his response to a question on a ceasefire in the Middle East. He was accused of gaslighting the lone Black woman in attendance, who was escorted out of the event — but not before a handful of other attendees walked out of the room.”

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) used a real estate holding company to purchase real estate that he hasn’t previously disclosed, the Daily Beast reports.

He also made his D.C. home his primary residence at one point.

Gabrielle Hanson (R), who lost the Franklin, Tennessee’s mayoral election last month, told a podcast that her loss was a result of election fraud — even though the race wasn’t even close.

Said Hanson: “Outside of Donald Trump, I don’t think there’s anybody that’s run for office that’s been as persecuted as I was.”

During the campaign, Hanson conceded that she pleaded no contest to a charge of promoting prostitution in the 1990s.

HALEY 2024. Byron York:  “Some Republicans have long wanted the GOP presidential field to narrow. They hoped the also-ran candidates would drop out. So far, there hasn’t been much of that. Instead, the field has effectively narrowed itself.”

“The bottom tier is out of it. Asa Hutchinson, Doug Burgum, Tim Scott, Chris Christie, and Vivek Ramaswamy — none of them ever touched 10% support nationally, and now they’re all under 5%, some even lower. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who dropped out over the weekend, was in that group, too.”

“That leaves just three candidates: Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley.”

Mike Murphy: “To be clear, I’ve been a grade-A Nikki Haley critic. I’ve found her to be depressingly cynical. If left up to me, her Secret Service code name would be ‘Too Clever By Half.’ But in a race against the ghoulish, democracy-loathing madman Donald Trump, it’s an easy call: Go Nikki, go. I’m all in.”

“Why? Alone among the contenders, she he has a shot.”

Republican mega donor Miriam Adelson met in Las Vegas with 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who has been rising in the polls in key states, over the weekend, Reuters reports.

KENNEDY 2024. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is collecting checks from past Donald Trump donors at a much higher rate than former Joe Biden contributors, a sign the independent presidential hopeful may pull more from the Republican electorate than Democratic voters,” Politico reports.

BURGUM 2024. New York Times: “Though he is barely cracking 1 percent in Iowa polls, his net worth is in the hundreds of millions. He has largely self-financed his campaign, lending it more than $12 million — a further $3 million has come in from donations, according to the campaign’s most recent filing.”

“He can afford to be quixotic. As of the end of September, his campaign had spent $12.9 million — more than the campaigns of Nikki Haley, Chris Christie and Mr. Pence combined. About a third of that was spent on television advertising time.”

“He is a testament to the power of private wealth to sustain a campaign, and to elevate a largely unknown, business-minded conservative from a largely rural U.S. state to the national stage — or, at least, the edge of the stage.”

RAMASWAMY 2024. Vivek Ramaswamy is preparing an eight-figure ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire, The Messenger reports.

Said a spokeswoman: “Vivek’s not an idiot. Anytime earlier would have been stupid. And this is just the beginning. If people thought he was aggressive with events leading up to this, stay tuned for post November 8.”

NO LABELS 2024. “Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi on Thursday became one of the highest-profile elected Democrats to go public with her concerns about the centrist group No Labels’ third-party presidential bid,” Politico reports.

Said Pelosi: “No Labels is perilous to our democracy. I hesitate to say No Labels because they do have labels. They’re called no taxes for the rich. No child tax credit for children. They’re called let’s undo the Affordable Care Act.”

She added: “When they jeopardize the reelection of Joe Biden as president of the United States, I can no longer remain silent on that.”

Axios: “Top White House officials are anxiously watching a potential third-party challenge from No Labels, while studiously avoiding any public attacks that could give the group oxygen for its bipartisan presidential ticket.”

“Team Biden’s goal is to avoid antagonizing No Labels’ founder and CEO Nancy Jacobson, a former Democratic political operative whom many senior Biden officials know well. The hope is that Jacobson will eventually look at the polling and pull the plug.”

DESANTIS 2024. Washington Post: “DeSantis began the year widely viewed as the Republican with the best chance to build a winning coalition against the former president — the Trump alternative who could entice Trump critics yet was also in many ways a continuation of Trump’s ‘America First’ platform.”

“But DeSantis’s support has dramatically shrunk since then, eroding on both ends of the party spectrum, interviews with dozens of early state voters, as well as pollsters and strategists, show.”

“The GOP minority that disapproves of Trump — and that favored DeSantis before he and most other candidates announced — has splintered to other hopefuls. Boosted by them and by independents, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has surpassed DeSantis in New Hampshire and, in one poll released Monday, pulled even with the Florida governor in Iowa — where DeSantis has poured his resources.”

“The Republican Party of Florida that Ron DeSantis built is now turning Donald Trump’s way,” NBC News reports.

“Trump allies in the state are organizing an effort to flip Republican lawmakers from DeSantis endorsers to Trump. Two sources familiar with the effort said as many as six could come out for Trump as early as next week.”

TRUMP 2024. Washington Post: “With just over two months until the caucuses, Trump, who has rallied enthusiastic support as he faces 91 charges across four criminal indictments, is in a dominant position over his rivals in the state, interviews with local GOP strategists and officials, voters, campaign advisers and polls show. Below him sits a traffic jam of lower-tier candidates, including several intensifying their focus in Iowa. The dynamic leaves Trump for now insulated from any breakaway challenger and eying a knockout blow, while others look for a strong enough showing to survive beyond the state.”

“In the state many anti-Trump Republicans hoped would expose his weaknesses, Trump has instead maintained strength this year, running with near incumbent status and legal problems that have only galvanized his base.”

Republican mega donor Miriam Adelson had dinner with Donald Trump on Saturday night, “a nearly three-hour meal at her home,” the New York Times reports.

“The two have history dating back years: Her late husband, Sheldon Adelson, was the largest donor to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and Mr. Trump awarded Ms. Adelson a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018.”

Virginia state Rep. Tara Durant (R) claims an “angry mob” of Black Lives Matter protesters “assaulted” her car in 2020 which led her to run for office, the HuffPost reports. However, newly obtained police reports and audio of a 911 call suggest something very different happened.

“As California Gov. Gavin Newsom met in China with Chinese government officials last week, a top federal prosecutor in his home state quietly told Congress that Beijing is trying to influence elections in California,” Politico reports.

“In recent cycles, most attention has focused on Russian interference, but in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms, intelligence officials warned that China, too, was ramping up efforts to sway state and local races by boosting candidates seen as favorable to Beijing’s interests.”

“And in recent months, California government officials have had heightened concerns about China’s interference in the state’s elections.”

Politico on Republicans seeking to claw back control of local elections: “Unlike prior pushes that have focused on poll access and voting requirements, the current focus is on offices or agencies that have oversight of actual elections and that tend to operate in obscurity.”

Politico writes that the Congressional Leadership Fund and Club for Growth will stick with the January agreement they made to persuade far-right members to support Kevin McCarthy even though Mike Johnson now sits in the chair. The terms were as follows: CLF said it “will not spend in any open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts” or fund any other groups that would, while the Club agreed to endorse McCarthy’s speakership bid.

“House Democrats are targeting vulnerable Republicans over their decision to elect Mike Johnson (R-LA) as their newest speaker, accusing GOP lawmakers of appointing a ‘MAGA Republican extremist’ to the highest position in the lower chamber for political gain,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“The Congressional Integrity Project launched a new national ad campaign on Wednesday targeting 18 vulnerable Republicans representing districts President Joe Biden won in 2020. The ads specifically target the lawmakers over their support of Johnson, who has been a staunch supporter of impeachment investigations into the president, as well as his role in seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.”

“Abortion access is expected to play a central role in the 2024 elections. The preview comes next week, when Ohio voters decide whether to enshrine reproductive rights in their state Constitution,” the AP reports.

“The amendment is the only abortion question on any state’s ballot this year, a spotlight that has generated intense attention from national groups and made Ohio a testing ground for fresh campaign messaging — some of it misleading. The amendment has drawn more than $60 million in combined spending so far.”

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

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