The Political Report – November 5, 2023

A new Quinnipiac poll finds Donald Trump way ahead in the Republican presidential race nationally with 64%, followed by Ron DeSantis at 15%, Nikki Haley at 8%, Tim Scott at 3%, Vivek Ramaswamy at 3% and Chris Christie at 3%.

All other listed Republican candidates receive 1% or less support.

A general election match up with President Biden is a virtual dead heat.

The final Emerson College Polling survey of Kentucky voters before the 2023 gubernatorial general election finds incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) in a dead heat, 47% to 47%.

A new CNN poll in South Carolina find 53% of likely Republican primary voters back Donald Trump in the GOP presidential race, followed by Nikki Haley at 22%, Ron DeSantis at 11% and Tim Scott at 6%.

IOWA 3RD DISTRICT. Army veteran Lanon Baccam, a former official with the Department of Agriculture, says he’s exploring a campaign for Iowa’s swingy 3rd Congressional District but will wait until after next week’s local elections to decide on a bid. If he enters, he’d be the first Democrat to challenge freshman GOP Rep. Zach Nunn, who narrowly ousted Democrat Cindy Axne last year.

The Des Moines Register’s Galen Bacharier says that Baccam, who served in Afghanistan in 2004, has worked for many prominent Iowa Democrats, including former Gov. Tom Vilsack (who now heads the USDA) and former Sen. Tom Harkin and also worked on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Baccam’s parents, members of the Tai Dam ethnic minority, fled Laos as refugees following the communist takeover in 1975. In 1980, they settled in Iowa, where Republican Gov. Robert Ray had set up a refugee resettlement program and where their son was later born. Baccam would be the first person of color to represent Iowa in Congress.

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (D) will announce plans next week to run for mayor of Jersey City — nearly 20 years after he resigned as chief executive of the Garden State, sources tell NBC New York.

McGreevy’s once-bright political career crumbled amid a scandal over threats by his scorned lover — who was a state employee — to sue him for sexual harassment.

COLORADO 4TH DISTRICT. Republican Rep. Ken Buck’s retirement announcement on Wednesday will likely draw widespread interest from Republicans in running for his safely red district, and conservative talk radio host Deb Flora joined the primary on Thursday. Flora ran for Senate last year and took second place at the state party’s assembly, trailing state Rep. Ron Hanks by 39-29, which was just below the 30% she needed to advance to the primary ballot. (Hanks ultimately lost that primary 54-46 to businessman Joe O’Dea, who in turn lost to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet by 56-41 last fall).

Weld County Council member Trent Leisy, who calls himself a “die-hard” Trump supporter, also launched his own primary campaign against Buck last week just before the congressman called it quits. In an unusual arrangement compared to the vast majority of counties nationwide, Weld County elects both a commission that acts as its head of county government and a council with more limited powers.

Local NBC affiliate KUSA also has a long list of potential candidates, the following of whom have confirmed they’re considering:

  • state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg
  • Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon
  • Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas
  • former state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville
  • 2018 attorney general nominee George Brauchler

Former state party chair Kristi Burton Brown didn’t fully shut the door on running but said it was “highly unlikely” that she would go for it. She instead said she was “highly likely” to run for the state Board of Education seat that corresponds to this same congressional district so that she could remain in Colorado with her family.

The following Republicans told KUSA they won’t run:

  • Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams
  • Douglas County Commissioner George Teal
  • former state Sen. Greg Brophy
  • state Sen. Barb Kirmeyer
  • Meanwhile, the Republicans below didn’t respond to KUSA:
  • state House Minority Leader Mike Lynch
  • Former state Sen. Ted Harvey
  • 2020 gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl

However, Colorado Politics reported that Ganahl was considering running, but there’s no direct word about her interest. Ganahl won an at-large seat on the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents in 2016, making her the last Republican to win a statewide office in the Centennial State, but she lost in a 59-39 landslide when she challenged Democratic Gov. Jared Polis last year.

The only other Republican who had taken steps to run earlier this year is state Rep. Richard Holtorf, who formed an exploratory committee in September after Buck spoke out against his party’s drive to impeach Joe Biden.

CALIFORNIA 12TH DISTRICT. Politico reports that Gov. Gavin Newsom has endorsed Lateefah Simon, a member of the board of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, in her bid to succeed Rep. Barbara Lee, who is running for Senate. Simon is the only Democrat in the race for California’s deep blue 12th District who has raised real money, bringing in $262,000 in the third quarter.

Politico also says that Simon is “expected to win” the backing of the state Democratic Party when it convenes in two weeks. While such endorsements don’t impact ballot access (as is sometimes the case in other states), they do confer certain advantages. Most notably, endorsees are listed by name in a special section of the official election guide sent to all voters.

NEW YORK 3RD DISTRICT. “Indicted Rep. George Santos says he plans to run for his seat in 2024 even if he’s expelled from Congress and insisted that fabricating large parts of his life story would not have any impact on voters next year,” CNN reports.

Politico: Santos sent thank you notes to members who voted against expelling him earlier this week.

ALABAMA 2ND DISTRICT. State Rep. Jeremy Gray announced on Thursday that he’d join the field of Democrats seeking to represent Alabama’s brand-new 2nd Congressional District, which will be used for the first time next year. Gray, a fitness instructor and former college football star, rose to prominence a few years ago when he spearheaded a push to lift Alabama’s three-decade ban on practicing yoga in public schools. (After Gray’s bill was signed into law in 2021, the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman pronounced that it had finally “close[d] the book on one of the stupidest moral panics in Alabama history, which is really saying a lot.”)

Two other legislators, state Rep. Napoleon Bracy of Prichard and state Sen. Kirk Hatcher, are already seeking the Democratic nod for the new-look 2nd, which now includes the cities of Mobile and Montgomery as well as most of the rural Black Belt. Politico also reports that Shomari Figures, who recently stepped down from a post at the Justice Department, will enter the Democratic primary next week. Time is short, though: Alabama’s filing deadline for major-party candidates, which is the first in the nation this cycle, is on Nov. 10.

VIRGINIA 5TH DISTRICT. “Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) endorsed Ron DeSantis over Donald Trump, then joined the rebellion that ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker,” Politico reports.

“Now one of the more unpopular House Republicans may get a viable GOP primary challenger.”

TENNESSEE 7TH DISTRICT. “Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (D) is actively exploring a run for Congress,” the Nashville Banner reports.

“According to three independent sources, Barry is considering a race against Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) for the 7th District seat. Barry, who resigned in 2018 in the wake of an affair with her security chief, has remained popular among Nashville voters even after she left office.”

COLORADO 3RD DISTRICT. New York Times: “The month before, Ms. Boebert, then in the midst of finalizing a divorce, was caught on a security camera vaping and groping her date shortly before being ejected from a performance of the musical Beetlejuice at the Buell Theater in Denver for causing a disturbance. The footage contradicted her own initial claims about the incident, and the venue’s statement that Ms. Boebert had demanded preferential treatment added to the outrage.”

“The episode has proved surprisingly sticky for Ms. Boebert, a politician who more than almost any other has embodied the gleefully provocative, no-apologies politics of the party’s right wing in the Biden era. Several local Republican officials have since announced their endorsement of Jeff Hurd, a more conventional Republican challenging her for the nomination this year.”

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR. Retired healthcare executive Jesse Thomas has dropped his bid for governor and will instead seek to challenge Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall next year. Limited polling showed Thomas failing to make any impact among the field of Republicans hoping to succeed termed-out Gov. Roy Cooper next year. He’ll still have to face several opponents for the GOP nomination to take on Marshall, who has been in office since 1996. Unlike in many other states, the secretary of state does not administer elections in North Carolina.

MARYLAND 3RD DISTRICT. State Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Vanessa Atterbeary both told Maryland Matters that they will run here, making them the first notable Democrats in the primary to succeed retiring Rep. John Sarbanes.

Atterbeary, who chairs the state House’s Ways and Means Committee, also drew a geographic distinction between herself and her prospective rivals, arguing that she represented “the heart of the district, which is Howard County.” By contrast, Elfreth represents the Annapolis area in neighboring Anne Arundel County.

However, according to Daily Kos Elections’ calculations, Anne Arundel makes up 54% of the district’s population to just 43% for Howard (the balance is in Carroll County), but the primary electorate would likely be a bit more evenly divided between the two big counties due to Howard’s deep blue hue. Of the district’s voters who backed Joe Biden in 2020, just over 50% hailed from Howard, while 48% resided in Anne Arundel.

Meanwhile, Maryland Matters lists several other potential Democratic candidates. Among those who say they’re considering running are Del. Jon Cardin, who is retiring Sen. Ben Cardin’s nephew; state Department of Planning official Kristin Riggin Fleckenstein; and Anne Arundel County Council Chair Pete Smith, who says he’ll decide in the next few weeks.

The site also mentions Del. Terri Hill, who lost the 2020 special primary election for the old 7th District, as potentially interested, though they couldn’t reach her for comment. Businessman Juan Dominguez, who is currently running a longshot Senate primary campaign, also declined to comment.

On the GOP side, Maryland Matters mentions former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and former First Landy Kendel Ehrlich, but any Republican would have a very difficult time running for this seat since it supported Biden by 62-36.

MARYLAND 6TH DISTRICT. Failed Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox (R) announced his intent to run for Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, CBS News reports.

MINNESOTA 1ST DISTRICT. State Sen. Nick Frentz, who had been considering a challenge to Republican Rep. Brad Finstad in Minnesota’s 1st District, has reportedly told local Democrats that he won’t run, according to the newsletter Morning Take. Finstad has yet to land a notable Democratic challenger and may avoid one altogether, given his district’s conservative lean (it supported Donald Trump 54-44).

However, until Finstad’s reelection in November, the 1st saw four straight elections in which the winner failed to top 51% of the vote, including the special election earlier in August of 2022 that originally sent Finstad to Congress. Last fall, though, Finstad won his rematch with Democrat Jeff Ettinger, whom he’d edged by less than 4 points in the special, by a 54-42 spread.

NEVADA 4TH DISTRICT. Former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee earned an endorsement this week from a former rival when Gov. Joe Lombardo gave his backing to Lee’s campaign for Congress. Lee, a conservative Democrat turned Republican, ran for governor last year but took just 8% in the GOP primary, which Lombardo won with 38% before going on to narrowly oust Gov. Steve Sisolak. Last month, Lee announced a challenge to Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, joining Air Force veteran David Flippo in the race.

OREGON 3RD DISTRICT. Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales announced Wednesday that he was running for the safely blue seat held by his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Morales, who is the state party treasurer, narrowly lost the 2020 race for mayor of his community in the Portland suburbs to Travis Stovall.

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