Delaware

The Political Report – November 13, 2023

A new Blueprint/YouGov poll finds that President Biden’s attempt to tout strong jobs numbers is falling completely flat with voters, who care way more about inflation.

Also troubling for Democrats: “Just over half of voters said they had heard that inflation had fallen from 8.3% to 3.2% since 2021, for example. But by a 24-point margin, voters said they did not believe that inflation had fallen that far.”

A new Atlanta Journal Constitution poll in Georgia finds Donald Trump barely ahead of Joe Biden in a presidential match up, 45% to 44%.

VIRGINIA STATE SENATE and HOUSE. Just one race in the Virginia legislature remains unsettled after Democratic state Sen. Monty Mason conceded to Republican Danny Diggs, a former sheriff, in the 24th District, following an AP call of the race on Wednesday afternoon. With all precincts reporting, Diggs wound up defeating Mason by a 51-49 margin. As a result, Democrats will hold a 21-19 majority in the Senate, one seat narrower than the 22-18 edge they took into election night.

The final outcome in the state House, however, remains uncertain. In the 82nd District, Republican Del. Kim Taylor holds a 50.3 to 49.5 lead over Democratic challenger Kimberly Pope Adams, a difference of 233 votes. (Taylor’s lead expanded from 173 votes Wednesday evening after election officials corrected tabulation errors.)

That’s outside the 0.5 margin that would allow Adams to request a recount that would be paid for by the state, but Bill Atkinson of the Petersburg Progress-Index reports that there are approximately 187 provisional ballots that will be counted on Monday. In addition, absentee ballots that were postmarked by Election Day are valid as long as they arrive by Monday.

Taylor declared victory on Tuesday night, but Adams has not conceded. However, she faces difficult odds given the size of the gap she must make up and the comparatively small number of ballots left outstanding, many of which will be found invalid. If the results hold, Democrats will have a 51-49 advantage in the next session of the legislature, a turnabout from the GOP’s current 52-48 majority.

DAUPHIN COUNTY (PA) BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS. Democrats say they’ve won their first-ever majority on the board of commissioners for Dauphin County, which includes the state capital of Harrisburg and nearby communities. (PennLive.com says relevant records tracking party affiliation only go back to 1919​.) Commissioners have a great deal of influence over how their county’s elections are conducted, so an upset win may resonate well outside central Pennsylvania.

In Dauphin County, like in many of the state’s counties, each party may nominate only two candidates for the three-member body. Two incumbents, Democrat George Hartwick and Republican Mike Pries, secured the first two spots, but Democrat Justin Douglas holds a 42-vote edge over GOP Commissioner Chad Saylor for third.

Douglas, who is a pastor and first-time candidate, and the Dauphin County Democratic Committee have claimed victory, though there are 250 provisional ballots that must be processed by Monday. Reporter Michael Gorsegner of CBS21 writes that the result was so unexpected that neither Pries nor Saylor would answer his questions Wednesday.

Dauphin County favored Joe Biden 53-45 after supporting Hillary Clinton by a smaller 49-46, but the GOP has long benefited from off-year turnout to stay in power. Both parties seemed to anticipate that 2023 would be another strong year for the GOP, as Republican incumbents faced no opposition Tuesday in the races for district attorney, sheriff, register of wills, or controller. The GOP also successfully defended the offices of treasurer and recorder of deeds and held local judgeships, though Democrats flipped the clerk of courts.

However, Democrats are hoping their unexpectedly strong performance for the board of commissioners will foreshadow success next year in statewide races and in their quest to unseat one of America’s most prominent election deniers. Dauphin County is entirely located in GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s 10th District, and several Democrats are already challenging him.

OHIO REFERENDUM ON REDISTRICTING. Republican state Attorney General Dave Yost has once again approved the summary language for a proposed 2024 ballot initiative to create an independent redistricting commission after supporters recently had to restart the process to correct a typo.

MICHIGAN STATE HOUSE. Two Democratic state representatives, Kevin Coleman of Westland and Lori Stone of Warren, were elected mayor of their respective communities, and their departure will temporarily reduce their party’s 56-54 majority to a tie. Democrats, though, will be favored to keep both their seats in special elections: According to data from Dave’s Redistricting App, Joe Biden carried Coleman’s 25th House District 59-40, while he racked up an even larger 64-35 margin in Stone’s HD-13.

MASSACHUSETTS STATE SENATE. Bay State Republicans got some rare good news Tuesday when Peter Durant beat fellow state Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik 53-47 in the special election to succeed Anne Gobi, a Democrat who resigned in June to take a post in Gov. Maura Healey’s administration. Democrats will maintain a 36-4 supermajority once Durant is sworn in.

GBH writes that Democrats had held the Worcester & Hampshire District in the central part of the state for more than five decades, though this seat hasn’t been so friendly to the party at the top of the ticket. Joe Biden, according to data from Dave’s Redistricting App, won 52-45 here four years after Donald Trump took it 46-45.

PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE. Democratic state Rep. John Galloway won his uncontested race for a judgeship in Bucks County on Tuesday, but he hasn’t said if he’ll resign before his term begins in January. Whenever Galloway does leave, though, Democrats will once again have a crucial special election ahead in a chamber they currently control 102-101. Galloway’s seat in the Philadelphia suburbs favored Joe Biden 55-44.

Democrats will still control the chamber once it becomes tied, however, thanks to a rule they adopted in March. The majority is now defined as the party that “won the greater number of elections for the 203 seats in the House of Representatives” in the most recent general election, and should a vacancy open up, “the political party that won that seat at the last election shall remain the party that won that seat until any subsequent special election is held to fill that seat.” Control would still shift, though, if the other side flipped enough seats before the next general election.

JERSEY CITY (NJ) MAYOR. Former Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat who became the first openly gay governor in American history in 2004 as he was announcing his resignation, confirmed Thursday that he’d run for mayor of Jersey City in 2025. McGreevey has the backing of influential local Democrats in the nonpartisan race to replace Steven Fulop, who is leaving to wage his own 2025 campaign for McGreevey’s old job.

McGreevey addressed his political fall two decades ago in a kickoff video that begins with footage of his historic press conference. The governor stepped down over his affair with a Homeland Security aide named Golan Cipel, whom the administration hired even though he didn’t have the requisite qualifications and had failed to secure federal security clearance. Cipel’s legal team threatened to sue McGreevey for sexual harassment shortly before the governor stepped down, alleging that he made “repeated sexual advances,” though such a suit was never filed.

“I am a gay American,” McGreevey proclaimed in 2004 as he stood alongside his then-wife, “I engaged in an adult consensual affair. It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable.” “I’m imperfect,” the present-day McGreevey tells the audience, “and I’ll always be imperfect … But I would not have traded anything that I’ve experienced.” The candidate’s daughter goes on to tout how he went into the prison ministry, and a former incarcerated person praises McGreevey’s nonprofit work focusing on reentry. The video does not mention Cipel’s allegations against McGreevey, who himself has claimed that Cipel was extorting him.

McGreevey isn’t the only candidate who wants to lead his state’s second-largest city. City Council President Joyce Watterman tells Politico’s Ry Rivard she’s in, while the New Jersey Globe says that Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea will announce his own campaign on Nov. 18. Rivard adds that City Council Member James Solomon is also considering a bid.

McGreevey himself has a bad relationship with the man they’re all hoping to succeed. McGreevey and Fulop were once close allies, but McGreevey alleged that their subsequent falling out was the reason that the Jersey City Employment and Training Program’s board fired him as director in 2019; the city in turn said the decision was made “because they felt there were financial improprieties” under McGreevey. However, Rivard notes that Fulop may not want to alienate any potential statewide backers by getting involved in the mayor’s race.

OREGON 6TH DISTRICT. Republican political consultant Reagan Knopp recently said he has been “told” that 2022 GOP nominee Mike Erickson is going to seek a rematch after narrowly losing to Democratic Rep. Andrea Salinas last year. A different consultant who has worked for Erickson previously told the Capital Chronicle in August that Erickson would supposedly announce within a month. However, it’s been two months since that deadline passed, and Erickson still has yet to clarify his plans for 2024.

VIRGINIA 10TH DISTRICT. Fresh off of Tuesday’s Democratic legislative victories, state Sen. Jennifer Boysko has announced she’ll run next year to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in this suburban Northern Virginia seat. Boysko has served in the legislature since flipping a GOP-held state House seat in 2015, and she succeeded Wexton herself in the state Senate by winning a 2019 special election after Wexton was elected to Congress in 2018. However, none of Boysko’s Senate district overlaps with the 10th District, although it does directly border it in Fairfax County.

Meanwhile, Hotline reported that Del. Michelle Maldonado is planning to join the Democratic primary, too, though there’s no quote from her. Maldonado just won her second term 56-43 on Tuesday, and her Manassas-based state House district is entirely contained within the 10th.

Already running in the primary is Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, a former state House speaker who chose not to run for reelection this year. Like Boysko’s seat, the constiuency Filler-Corn is retiring from is entirely located in the 11th Congressional District.

PENNSYLVANIA 8TH DISTRICT. Wealthy businessman Rob Bresnahan has become the first notable Republican to launch a campaign against Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright in this 51-48 Trump district in the Scranton area, and an unnamed GOP operative told Politics PA that the national party is “excited” about having him in the race. Bresnahan is the CEO of a local construction company, and Politico previously reported that he was capable of self-funding.

UTAH 2ND DISTRICT. Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe began running her first TV ad last week ahead of the Nov. 21 special election for this gerrymandered 57-40 Trump district, which includes part of the Salt Lake City area and southwestern Utah. Riebe highlights how she’s been a teacher for over two decades and decries how politicians are “fanning the flames of the culture wars” and “meddling in our local schools.” She advocates for banning donations from special interests and argues that members shouldn’t get paid if they don’t pass a budget.

NORTH CAROLINA 6TH DISTRICT. Bo Hines, who was the 2022 GOP nominee for the swingy 13th District in the Raleigh suburbs, has announced he’ll run in the new 6th District currently held by Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning—a seat located multiple districts to the west of the one he sought to represent last year.

Hines ran for Congress last year while he was still in law school, and he won the crowded primary with 32% of the vote, just above the 30% needed to avoid a runoff. But while his endorsement from Donald Trump and emulation of far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn may have helped him win the nomination, he lost the general election to Democrat Wiley Nickel by a 52-48 margin in a district Joe Biden had won just 50-48.

However, Republicans recently enacted a new gerrymander that flipped the Greensboro-based 6th District from a 56-43 win for Biden to a 57-41 margin for Trump. Whoever wins the GOP primary, which already includes former 6th District Rep. Mark Walker and High Point Mayor Jay Wagner, will be heavily favored next fall.

Once again, though, Hines’ ties to the district he wants to represent are all but non-existent. The new candidate says he lives in Charlotte, which is not located in either the old 13th or the new 6th, and he’s still registered to vote in a suburb of Raleigh.

However, he’s no stranger to district-hopping across the Tar Heel State. Early in 2021, Hines launched a challenge to Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx in the old 5th District, which was then based in the western Piedmont region and extended to the Tennessee border. But after GOP Rep. Ted Budd announced a bid for Senate, Hines switched to what was then numbered the 13th District, a conservative seat based in the central Piedmont.

He changed gears yet again when Republicans passed a new map following the release of 2020 census data, jumping into a redrawn 7th District, which was by and large the successor to Budd’s old seat. But a state court blocked that new map, calling it an “unlawful partisan gerrymander.” That led Republicans to pass yet another proposal that inspired Hines to bounce over to the newest incarnation of the 6th District in the Greensboro area.

The GOP’s second map, however, was likewise barred as an illegal gerrymander by the court, which instituted its own remedial plan. Hines made one last journey, trekking to the Raleigh area to run in the revised 13th District, where he finally met his fate against Nickel.

INDIANA 4TH DISTRICT. State Rep. Craig Haggard tells the Indiana Capital Chronicle’s Leslie Bonilla Muñiz he’ll run whenever his fellow Republican, Rep. Jim Baird, retires from this safely red seat, and Haggard adds that he’s formed an exploratory committee to support that effort. “My plan is not to challenge the incumbent,” Haggard said, a statement that may not quite close the door on a primary challenge.

Baird announced last month that he’d seek reelection, but Haggard doesn’t seem convinced that the three-term Republican won’t retire ahead of February’s deadline. Haggard instead told Muñiz, “The best way for me to put it is: I’m going to run for the Fourth Congressional District, period—when it’s ready to go—whether that’s in a month or two, whether that’s Feb. 9, or after this next term.”

Haggard also seems to agree there’s something to the rumors that the congressman may time his eventual departure so that his son, state Rep. Beau Baird, could succeed him. Haggard, who said he’d run against his colleague if it comes to it, noted that the incumbent’s merchandise now emphasized just the name “Baird.”

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

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