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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Cheri Beasley launches campaign to become North Carolina’s first Black woman senator

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Several other Democrats are already running, the most prominent of whom is state Sen. Jeff Jackson, who is white. Several more are still potential contenders, though Inside Politics’ Jacob Rubashkin reports that Democratic operatives do not expect Beasley and former astronaut Joan Higginbotham, who is also Black, to run against one another.

Campaign Action

The GOP field may soon grow, too: An adviser to Rep. Ted Budd, who’s been considering the race, says his boss will make a decision “in the coming days.” Meanwhile, the state’s other senator, Republican Thom Tillis, has yet to take sides, though he recently offered some mild praise for both Budd and another recent entrant, former Gov. Pat McCrory, in an interview with CNN.

However, he savaged the candidate who’s been in the race the longest. “I have no support for Mark Walker,” Tillis said of the former congressman. “I don’t think he’s right for the job. You look at his body of work. There’s not a lot to rely on.” Last cycle, Walker contemplated running against Tillis in the GOP primary after the incumbent flip-flopped on supporting Donald Trump’s bogus emergency declaration regarding his fantasy of building a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

Senate

OH-Sen: Rep. Tim Ryan, who so far is the only prominent Democrat running in Ohio’s open Senate contest, just received endorsements from one of his House colleagues, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, as well as former Gov. Ted Strickland, who was the Democratic nominee in the 2016 race for this seat. Kaptur had been mentioned as a possible candidate by the occupant of the state’s other Senate seat, Sherrod Brown, but she never publicly expressed any interest.

Governors

CA-Gov: An election to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is all but certain to take place later this year after California election officials reported on Monday that organizers had turned in a sufficient number of signatures for the effort to proceed.

In theory, the recall could still collapse: Under state law, voters who signed the recall petition now have until June 8 to withdraw their signatures, and if enough were to do so, no election would take place. However, while there are examples of precisely this sort of thing happening in the past—Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter successfully derailed a recall in 2017 thanks to signature withdrawals, for instance—it’s unlikely Newsom’s campaign will pursue this option given that some 100,000 voters would have to recant.

Assuming the signatures stand up, it’ll still be some time before a recall can take place, as officials must fulfill a number of procedural obligations first. One step involves calculating the cost of the election, which preliminary estimates put at $400 million. The most likely date for the recall is some time in November.

House

NJ-05: Investment banker Frank Pallotta announced on Monday that he’d seek a rematch against Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who won last year’s race by a 53-46 margin. Pallotta joins Wantage school board president Nicholas D’Agostino in seeking the Republican nomination for New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, a seat in the New York City suburbs that went for Joe Biden 52-47 in 2020.

NM-01: Without any backup, evidence, or citations whatsoever, Republican state Sen. Mark Moores’ new ad claims Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury supports “legislation that defunds the police.” The New Mexico Democratic Party responded with a statement calling Moores’ spot “false[]” and pointed to examples of “bipartisan legislation that would protect and expand funding for law enforcement” that Stansbury has supported.

Stansbury, meanwhile, is running a new positive ad that touts her ties to the district (an approving biker calls her “a proud Burqueña”—local parlance for someone from Albuquerque) and says she’ll “work with President Biden and bring home jobs to New Mexico.”

OH-01: On Tuesday, federal prosecutors charged political consultant Jaime Schwartz, a longtime campaign manager for Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, with embezzling $1.4 million from his former employer over the past decade. The development brings some belated clarity to a very strange and long-running scandal that overshadowed Chabot’s hotly contested campaign for re-election against Democrat Kate Schroder last year.

Schwartz’s name burst into the limelight in 2019 when Chabot amended a fundraising report from earlier that year to show an additional $124,000 in receipts that hadn’t previously been accounted for, which prompted the FEC to launch an investigation. Schwartz shuttered his consultancy and went to ground, and the campaign treasurer who apparently signed that report and many others—Jim Schwartz, father of Jamie—insisted he’d never in fact served in that role, a claim that befuddled what remained of the Chabot campaign.

It was later reported that the younger Schwartz had turned himself in to the U.S. Attorney’s office not long after the original story broke, but no further explanations as to what went down had emerged until now. Schroder ran ads last year attacking Chabot over the missing money, though the congressman always maintained he’d been the victim, not the perpetrator, of wrongdoing. (Chabot wound up winning 52-45.)

The charging document filed by prosecutors supports Chabot’s position: It repeatedly alleges that Schwartz defrauded the campaign, including by overbilling, fabricating bank statements, and cutting himself checks he hadn’t earned. It also wraps up a longstanding mystery, explaining that Schwartz “misrepresented” to the FEC that his father was the campaign’s treasurer even though Schwartz himself “was actually serving as the de facto treasurer.” According to prosecutors, Schwartz could face up to 20 years in prison.

OH-11: Former state Sen. Nina Turner is up with her first TV ad in the Democratic primary for the special election in Ohio’s 11th District, which cleveland.com says is backed by a $514,000 buy. The minute-long spot covers a wide range of topics, from Turner’s humble upbringing to her rise to become a history professor to her work on the Cleveland City Council and in the state Senate. She concludes by discussing her role as Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign co-chair and her priorities for Congress (equal pay for women and a living wage).

The reference to Sanders stands out because he did not perform particularly well in the 11th District during his 2016 bid, which Turner also backed: Hillary Clinton carried the district by a 68-32 margin in the primary, making it by far Sanders’ weakest district in the state. (Joe Biden also dominated in the 11th last year, but Sanders had dropped out of the race weeks earlier.)

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: State Sen. Nick Collins announced this week that he would not compete in this year’s mayoral race. The May 18 deadline to turn in petitions is coming up quickly, so while it’s possible someone else could still enter the six-way contest, Politico’s Stephanie Murray writes that it seems unlikely.

New York City, NY Mayor: City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday became the most prominent candidate to launch a TV ad for the June 22 Democratic primary, and his campaign says it will run for just under $1 million. Two other contenders, former financial executive Raymond McGuire and ex-White House budget chief Shaun Donovan, have already been running commercials, but unlike Stringer, they haven’t posted much support in the few polls that have been released so far.

Stringer’s debut spot opens with him getting suited and masked up to leave his apartment as a narrator declares, “He’s not a celebrity. He doesn’t govern by tweet or TikTok.” That line very much seems to be a reference to 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who has led in every survey that’s been made public, though the ad doesn’t mention him or any of the comptroller’s other rivals directly.

As Stringer boards an elevator, the narrator continues by extolling how he “got his start as a housing activist” and “fought in the trenches against domestic violence and global warming when it was still called … well, ‘global warming.'” The ad goes on to say the candidate has “been a progressive from Day 1 who will be ready on Day 1 to lead our city’s greatest comeback. And he still wears a suit, because it suits him.” Stringer briefly looks directly at the camera and lowers his mask to let off a quick smile and shrug at that last bit before remasking.

Other Races

King County, WA Executive: State Sen. Joe Nguyen announced Tuesday that he would challenge King County Executive Dow Constantine, a fellow Democrat, in this year’s race to lead Washington’s largest county. Nguyen is the first major candidate to enter the contest against Constantine, who was first elected to this post in 2009, and it would be a major surprise if any other big names enter. All the candidates will face off on one nonpartisan ballot in August, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

Nguyen said in his kickoff that the county’s leaders had been too slow to deal with vital issues like racial wealth gaps, criminal justice reform, and homelessness. The state senator, whose 2018 election to a West Seattle seat made him one of the first two Vietnamese Americans to serve in the legislature, also insisted it was necessary to have “leaders who reflect the diversity of this community, who have lived experiences of failed policy and being able to act on these to make positive change.”

Constantine begins the race with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee, outgoing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and the King County Labor Council, as well as $373,000 in the bank. If Constantine wins and serves out a fourth term, he would be King County’s longest-serving leader since the post was created in the late 1960s.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Joe Biden has nominated Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who lost hotly contested races for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District in 2018 and 2020, to serve as undersecretary of the Air Force. Jones served as an intelligence officer in the Air Force from 2003 to 2006, including a deployment to Iraq, and later worked as an intelligence analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency.



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