The Political Report – November 19, 2023

A new Iowa State Poll finds 54% of likely Republican caucus-goers said they support Donald Trump, while just 18% said that of Ron DeSantis and 12% backed Nikki Haley.

The other candidates are in single digits.

The numbers are nearly identical to an October poll.

A new CNN poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential primary field with 42%, followed by Nikki Haley at 20%, Chris Christie at 14%, Ron DeSantis at 9%, Vivek Ramaswamy at 8% and no other candidate holding more than 2% support.

Haley’s support jumped 8 percentage points from the last CNN/UNH poll in September, with Ramaswamy dipping 5 points and support for Trump, Christie and DeSantis remaining relatively steady.

“Built on a foundation of robust enthusiasm for his candidacy and a widespread acceptance among Republican primary voters of his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, Donald Trump holds a commanding 28-point lead in New Hampshire in his bid to capture the party’s 2024 presidential nomination,” according to a Washington Post-Monmouth University poll.

A new CNN poll in New Hampshire actually finds a Biden write-in campaign out way ahead of the pack at 65%, followed by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) at 10% and Marianne Williamson at 9%.

Michigan 8th District. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) “will not seek reelection in his battleground Michigan district after a decade-long career in the House,” Politico  reports.

In a statement, Kildee said he had been “planning another campaign” but explained that his diagnosis of skin cancer earlier this year had prompted him to “reassess” his plans. The congressman added that he is “cancer-free” following surgery and expressed confidence that Democrats would hold his seat.

But that won’t be an easy task. Michigan’s 8th District, which includes Flint and the area known as the Tri-Cities, is very evenly divided turf that supported Joe Biden by a slim 50-48 margin. Last year, Republicans spent millions in the hopes of flipping the seat, though Kildee hung on by a surprisingly comfortable 53-43 margin.

The result was in part a reflection of Republican Paul Junge’s weak ties to the region and, conversely, Kildee’s strong connection. His uncle, Dale Kildee, represented the area in Congress from 1977 until his own departure ahead of the 2012 elections, when the younger Kildee took over. Dan Kildee had long served in local office himself, first winning a spot on the Flint Board of Education when he was just 18, followed by 12 years on the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and another dozen as county treasurer.

When Kildee sought to succeed his uncle, the district was numbered the 5th and looked rather different. (In fact, it’s changed dramatically over the years the two have represented it, though it’s always included Flint.) It was also much, much bluer: In 2012, Barack Obama carried it by a 61-38 margin, and Kildee won his first term 65-32. But by the end of the decade, Biden was winning the same district just 51-47, and that spread narrowed further following the most recent round of redistricting. Kildee’s own reelection campaigns kept growing tighter as well.

But Mid-Michigan’s shift has chiefly been attributable to an increasing preference for Republicans among working-class white voters, especially since Donald Trump came on the scene. That is the crux of why retaining this district will be a particular challenge for Democrats, especially without Kildee’s personal strengths: Now that the seat is open, the district has shot up on Daily Kos Elections’ House Vulnerability Index from being the 30th-most vulnerable to being tied with two others for 3rd-most.

Republicans had yet to land any notable challengers to Kildee, but now both parties will hustle to put strong candidates on the board. Michigan’s primary, however, is not until Aug. 6, with a candidate filing deadline in late April.

New York 3rd District. Following the release of a scathing report by the House Ethics Committee on Thursday, Republican Rep. George Santos told Semafor that he would not run for a second term next year—but as with everything Santos says, who knows if it will be true tomorrow? Of more immediate concern for the freshman congressman is the fact that GOP Rep. Michael Guest, who chairs the committee, immediately announced that he would file a motion on Friday to expel Santos from the House.

Guest said he expects a vote on the motion after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess on Nov. 27. Earlier this month, a previous motion to expel, which requires a two-thirds supermajority, failed when most Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against it. However, a number of members who opposed that attempt to oust Santos said at the time they wanted to wait for the Ethics Committee to issue its report. Now, dozens of those previously reluctant representatives from both parties say they are ready to expel Santos.

Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan just became the second Democrat in a week to drop out of the race against George Santos and endorse former Rep. Tom Suozzi, following the same move by nonprofit founder Zak Malamed. Last week, Lafazan lost his bid for reelection to the county legislature to Republican Samantha Goetz by a 58-42 margin. Two other notable Democrats still remain in the primary for the 3rd Congressional District, former state Sen. Anna Kaplan and surgical center CEO Austin Cheng.

New Jersey 8th Distict and U.S. Senator. Businessman Kyle Jasey, who was waging a longshot primary challenge against indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, has instead decided to run against Rep. Robert Menendez, the senator’s son. Jasey, the son of outgoing Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, raised just $17,000 for his now-abandoned Senate bid in the third quarter. Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who is also weighing a campaign against the younger Menendez in the Democratic primary, recently said he’s already raised more than $500,000.

New Jersey 3rd District. State Senate Majority Whip Troy Singleton, a Democrat, has announced he won’t run here to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Andy Kim next year.

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, who was mentioned as a possible candidate for New Jersey’s open 3rd Congressional District a while back, is now considering the race, according to the New Jersey Globe, though there’s no direct quote from him. DeAngelo, however, has a weak record on reproductive rights and abstained on a bill to codify the right to an abortion into state law last year. He also fell out with party leaders in his home base of Mercer County earlier this year when local Democrats declined to give him their official backing despite his incumbency.

New Jersey 7th District. Summit Council President Greg Vartan just became the third notable Democrat to join the race for New Jersey’s swingy 7th Congressional District, which freshman GOP Rep. Tom Kean flipped last year. Already running are former State Department official Jason Blazakis and Working Families Party state director Sue Altman.

Texas 12th District. Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, a Republican whose city makes up 58% of the 12th District’s population, has endorsed state House Republican Caucus Chair Craig Goldman for this open seat.

Michigan 13th District. Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters has begun circulating petitions to challenge Democratic Rep. Shri Thanedar in next year’s primary and will announce a bid “within two weeks,” reports Detroit Metro Times’ Steve Neavling. If she enters the race for the dark blue 13th District, though, that could potentially benefit the incumbent, who has already drawn one notable opponent in former state Sen. Adam Hollier. Waters previously served in the state House and now represents one of two at-large districts on the Council that cover the entire city. Neavling describes her as an outspoken progressive who is close to organized labor.

North Carolina 14th District. State House Speaker Tim Moore, who just launched a campaign for Congress after gerrymandering North Carolina’s map, has already announced that he’s spending $1.1 million on a TV and radio ad buy that will last from December through the March 5 GOP primary. Also seeking the Republican nod for the open 14th District are former state judge Eric Levinson and Army veteran Pat Harrigan. Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson launched a campaign for state attorney general last month after Moore and his colleagues made his district unwinnable for a Democrat.

Maryland 3rd District. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, who had been considering entering the Democratic primary for Maryland’s open 3rd Congressional District, now says that he will not run. Two notable Democrats, state Sen. Sarah Elfreth and Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, are already running, while many more are eyeing bids to succeed retiring Rep. John Sarbanes in the solidly blue 3rd.

Virginia 7th District. Former National Security Council official Eugene Vindman confirmed to the Washington Post that he will announce he’s running in the Democratic primary for this blue-leaning open seat, something that was first reported on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Democratic Del. Elizabeth Guzman announced this week that she’s forming an exploratory committee and said she would make “a formal announcement soon” in a statement where she seemed likely to run. Another Democrat, Prince William County Supervisor Margaret Franklin, has filed paperwork to run following her recent reelection win, but she doesn’t yet appear to have commented on her interest in the race.

Arkansas 2nd and 3rd Districts. A day before candidate filing closed on Tuesday, state Sen. Clint Penzo confirmed he would challenge Rep. Steve Womack in next year’s GOP primary in Arkansas 3rd District, accusing the incumbent of being insufficiently conservative. Earlier this year, Womack, a self-described “institution guy,” had considered retirement because of the antics of far-right colleagues, whom he said had made serving in Congress “so unpleasant.” He ultimately decided, however, to seek another term.

Meanwhile, another member of the state’s delegation who’s faced his share of criticism from the right, 2nd District Rep. French Hill, avoided a second straight primary battle after no fellow Republicans filed to run against him. Last year, Hill fended off underfunded businessman Conrad Reynolds, who had attacked the congressman for his insufficient fealty to Donald Trump, by a relatively soft 59-41 margin.

Washington 6th District. Democratic state Sen. Emily Randall, who serves in the chamber’s leadership as one of two deputy majority leaders, has announced she’ll run to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Derek Kilmer next year, and she quickly earned an endorsement from Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. Randall was first elected to the Senate in 2018 by flipping a swingy GOP-held seat, which also made her one of the chamber’s first two lesbian lawmakers.

Randall joins a top-two primary that includes Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, a fellow Democrat. Franz is touting endorsements that include Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, Kitasap County Commissioner Christine Rolfes, and Pierce County Councilmember Ryan Mello. Media sources had previously mentioned all three Democrats as potential candidates, but they’re backing Franz instead.

New York 17th District. As Republicans struggle to hold on to their slender majority in the House—which at the moment stands at just four seats—MAGA-flavored extremists are gearing up to do everything in their power to make the GOP’s life more difficult. The latest batch of trouble is getting whipped up by former Trump administration official William Maloney, who now tells Hotline that he’ll announce whether he’ll challenge freshman Rep. Mike Lawler from the right in early January.

Lawler was already one of the most vulnerable House Republicans heading into 2024, and a primary fight won’t help. Joe Biden carried his 17th District in the lower Hudson Valley by a 54-44 margin, making it one of the bluest seats held by a Republican. Lawler’s efforts to moderate his image have also not gone smoothly: While he voted against making the far-right Jim Jordan speaker, he later capitulated and supported the installation of Mike Johnson, a just as extreme figure.

But a battle with Maloney could yank him even further to the right. After interning with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Maloney worked his way through a series of minor government jobs before finally landing at the U.S. Agency for International Development at the age of 23. There, as White House liaison, he was responsible for installing a number of appalling Trump loyalists as political appointees, including one who dubbed the United States a “homo-empire” in thrall to “the tyrannical LGBT agenda” and another who derided Islam as a “barbaric cult.”

Maloney enraged longtime USAID employees and only lasted a few months, soon moving over to the U.S. Agency for Global Media. That placed him under Michael Pack, an ally of Steve Bannon who would wreak havoc at the agency, which runs Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Maloney, too, was “close to people in Bannon’s orbit,” Politico’s Daniel Lippman reported at the time, and later worked at Bannon’s radio show, per an update from Lippman just last week.

Maloney told Hotline that he’s hoping for Trump’s endorsement, but vocal support on Bannon’s popular podcast (which has been removed from multiple platforms for spreading disinformation) could prove just as important. He’s also already drawing a contrast with the incumbent, attacking Lawler for backing funding for Ukraine and opposing a 15-week abortion ban—the same type of ban that got Virginia Republicans crushed in the suburbs last week.

What makes the GOP’s predicament so acute is that Lawler is by no means the only swing-district House Republican facing the same problem. California Rep. David Valadao, for instance, has to deal with a repeat matchup with Chris Mathys, a far-right critic who nearly beat him in the top-two primary last year. Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has a prominent anti-abortion activist, Mark Houck, seeking to deny him renomination, and it’s likely we’ll see similar challengers emerge elsewhere.

And even if these MAGA devotees aren’t capable of running especially polished campaigns, House GOP leadership always has to worry that outside Democratic groups will help them over the finish line—just as they did in Michigan’s 3rd District last year, which flipped from red to blue after Democrats boosted an extremist past a more pragmatic incumbent in the Republican primary. The strategy worked flawlessly nationwide in 2022, and Democrats will be eager for Trump acolytes like Maloney to give them a chance to deploy it again.

California 20th District. Kevin McCarthy now says he’s considering whether or not to seek reelection next year, despite insisting just days after getting ousted as House speaker that he’d run for another term. McCarthy told CNN that he’d discuss his future with his family over “the holidays” (though it wasn’t clear whether he meant Thanksgiving or the winter holidays), but he doesn’t sound quite as enthusiastic about remaining in Congress as he did just last month. “Well, there’s so many ways you can do that to make sure you’re getting the job done,” he said in the same interview. “And I’m going to look at all options.” Unnamed McCarthy staffers also tell CNN their boss will not resign early.

Virginia 5th District. Del. John McGuire, a Republican who just won a solidly red seat in the state Senate last week, has announced that he’ll wage a primary challenge against far-right Rep. Bob Good in the 5th District. Although Good is a hard-liner and was one of the eight Republicans who voted to remove Kevin McCarthy from the speakership last month, McGuire appears to be challenging him from the right. In announcing his campaign, McGuire attacked Good for having insufficient fealty to Trump; the incumbent endorsed Ron DeSantis for president earlier this year.

Alabama 1st District. Eh, those endorsements were sour anyway. The Hotline reports that Rep. Barry Moore claims he won’t “accept support” from the Club for Growth in his redistricting-induced primary against fellow Rep. Jerry Carl, despite the fact that the deep-pocketed group has backed him in the past. It appears that Moore might be making this public disavowal to stay on the good side of Donald Trump, who has long feuded with the Club and has lately been the target of attack ads by a PAC linked to the group.

Alabama 7th District. State Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton has opted against a primary challenge to Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell in the 7th District, despite saying in September that he was “looking forward” to just such a campaign, according to’s Roy Johnson. When he announced he was considering a bid, Singleton told the Alabama Daily News, “I want the big fish.” But when the filing deadline came and went, Singleton’s name was nowhere to be found on the menu. Sewell should have no problem winning another term in the majority-Black 7th, which would have voted for Joe Biden 64-35, per Dave’s Redistricting App.

Florida 20th District. The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it was investigating Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, though it did not include any details about what it was looking into. A spokesman for Cherfilus-McCormick, who represents a safely blue seat in South Florida, only said the congresswoman was “committed to compliance and will work to see that the matter is resolved.”

Virginia 10th District. Del. Shuhas Subramanyam, who was just elected to a solidly blue seat in the state Senate last week, has announced he’ll run to succeed Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton next year. The Washington Post described Subramanyam as a moderate who aims to foster more bipartisanship, though in an announcement interview, he also expressed his support for mainstream Democratic positions on issues such as abortion rights and gun safety.

Subramanyam joins what has quickly become a crowded Democratic primary, and he’s the fifth notable contender who has jumped into the race just since Virginia held its state elections last week. However, the field may yet expand further since state lawmakers won’t need to give up their legislative seats to run for Congress.

Del. Dan Helmer became the latest Democrat to announce he’s running in the crowded primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton next year. Helmer served as the campaign chair for the state House’s Democratic caucus this year, which saw his party regain a majority last week.

Helmer ran for the previous version of the 10th District in 2018 but took a distant fourth place in the primary behind Wexton, who went on to oust Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock that fall. However, his political career bounced back the next year when he flipped a GOP-held state House seat, and Helmer won a third term by 59-41 last week.

Meanwhile, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, a Democrat, has announced she won’t run for Congress next year following her reelection victory last week. Several other Democrats had previously announced they were running, including former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Del. David Reid, and former state Education Secretary Atif Qarni.

Colorado 4th District. Former Fort Collins City Councilman Gino Campana is reportedly considering a bid for Colorado’s newly open 4th Congressional District, according to Colorado Politics, but there’s no quote from the potential candidate. Campana, a real estate developer, ran for Senate last year but failed to make the primary ballot after taking just 11% among delegates at the state GOP’s convention.

State Rep. Richard Holtorf declared Thursday that he was entering the June GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ken Buck in this reliably red eastern Colorado constituency. Holtorf formed an exploratory committee back in September before the incumbent announced that he wouldn’t run again, but the state representative isn’t done trashing his would-be opponent. “Ken Buck let us down when he failed to push for the Trump agenda,” declared Holtorf.

Holtorf, who cosponsored a resolution last year calling for a “full forensic audit of the 2020 and 2021 elections in Colorado,” has also made it clear exactly what he thinks of Buck’s anger with Republicans who refuse to accept Joe Biden’s win. He previously took Buck to task for condemning a letter from local Republicans accusing the federal government of violating the rights of Jan. 6 defendants, as well as Buck’s opposition to his party’s fervor to impeach Biden. “Why is he on CNN and MSNBC?” Holtorf asked in September, “I don’t think the message he is explaining represents the sentiment of the district.”

Holtorf, by contrast, made national news in 2021 when he called a Latino colleague “Buckwheat,” claiming later that he didn’t know of the racist origins of the word. Holtorf again attracted unwanted attention again the next year when he accidentally dropped his gun in the state capitol while rushing to a vote, an episode that one observer called “reckless and scary.”

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

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