Showing posts with label Never Back Down super PAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Never Back Down super PAC. Show all posts

Monday, May 22, 2023

Tim Scott Enters the Race

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • There is something of a time crunch for the two parties in Iowa to schedule the 2024 caucuses, but much of it seems self-imposed. There is a time they want to have that completed by and a point they have to have that set. Plus an additional note on Trump and 2024 delegate allocation rules. All the details at FHQ Plus.
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In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
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After filing with the Federal Election Commission on Friday, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is set to officially announce his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Monday, May 22. The move comes a little more than a month since the junior senator from the Palmetto state launched an exploratory committee

Scott is the first to strike in a week that seemingly promises at least one more similar announcement, but Scott's entry also comes at an interesting time. Donald Trump still enjoys a comfortable lead in the endorsement primary among Senate Republicans. However, the upper chamber in the US Congress is increasingly looking as if it may be a flashpoint of sorts in this Republican nomination race. And that may or may not be because of Tim Scott. Scott will enter the race with two Senate endorsements, both from South Dakota colleagues. Mike Rounds, FHQ has talked about, but Scott also scored the important endorsement of Senate Minority Whip John Thune over the weekend. And there is said to be a reservoir of support for Scott among those he works with most closely. 

Moreover, Republican senators not aligned with Trump have been increasingly outspoken in recent weeks. First, Indiana Senator Todd Young unendorsed Trump. Then another member of the Senate Republican leadership, Senator John Cornyn last week noted that Trump cannot win a general election. And Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy followed suit over the weekend. Neither Cornyn nor Cassidy went quite as far as Young did in their comments, but they come at a time that gives Scott some cover as he announces his bid. No, none of it is explicitly pro-Scott, but it is anti-Trump enough, via an electability argument. 

And together it all offers an interesting set of signals from among a group of the most high-profile possible gets in the endorsement primary.


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South Carolina Republicans convened over the weekend and narrowly re-elected Chair Drew McKissick. With both Tim Scott and Nikki Haley on hand and Donald Trump addressing the delegates in a video, McKissick turned back a challenge from Jeff Davis, head of a Trump-loyalist group in the Upstate of South Carolina. This was not a convention where 2024 delegate rules were on the table -- the winner-take-all by congressional district system is not one South Carolina Republicans are going to mess with -- but it was a demonstration of another state Republican Party battling on pragmatism versus purism grounds, something that has flared up in other states as 2024 approaches. That may not have implications for delegate allocation rules in South Carolina, but it bears watching elsewhere as the rules increasingly get nailed down. 


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Harry Enten has another good one up about the comeback path DeSantis may take to the Republican nomination. He draws a parallel between where DeSantis is in the polls now to where both Barack Obama and John McCain were in 2007. Both obviously went on to win their respective nominations in 2008, but both needed early wins to help propel them in that direction. Of course, DeSantis' main competition, Donald Trump, is probably closer to where Hillary Clinton was in 2015 than to where she was when she was the poll leader -- ahead of Obama -- in 2007. And that matters as well. 


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In a further fleshing out of an ongoing story, Tom Beaumont describes the tough work ahead for DeSantis-aligned super PAC, Never Back Down, in attempting to flex organizational muscle. Again, that effort is a kind of Frankenstein's monster, combining the grassroots strength and knowhow of the 2016 Cruz campaign with the similar try at organizing through a super PAC that the Jeb Bush campaign pushed in the same cycle. 



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On this date...
...in 2012,  former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney swept primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.

...in 2020, the voting in the all-mail Hawaii Democratic party-run primary concluded.



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Monday, April 24, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- For 2024, a Frankenstein's monster of 2015 parts

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

It was not that long ago that some were over-reading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' travel as potentially indicative of his approach to the early states on the 2024 presidential primary calendar. And while FHQ is often quick to preach actions, not words in the invisible primary, that long haul plan of DeSantis and his aligned super PAC, Never Back Down, is perhaps more nuanced than simply where the governor is going. [He is abroad this week, for example.]

Despite some anxiety among his supporters, DeSantis and those aligned with his nascent presidential run seem to be playing a slow and methodical long game. In a week last week when the news was bad and the polling continued to take a turn for the worse, DeSantis and Never Back Down plodded along. The governor was in first-in-the-South South Carolina and Super Tuesday Utah addressing the state convention of Beehive state Republicans while Never Back Down was making hires several layers deep for operations in all four early states. The latter, in an evolution over the super PAC apparatus the (Jeb!) Bush effort built in 2015, appears to be assembling a full shadow campaign with all the cash it has at its disposal. 

And that is an interesting amalgam at this point in the race. It seems a bit of an attempt at a better Frankenstein's monster in 2023, taking elements of the Bush super PAC build out in 2015 and melding it with the deep organizing -- staff, grassroots and delegate efforts -- of the Cruz campaign. Neither were particularly successful against Trump separately in 2015-16, but fused in some respects in 2023, it may prove different. Regardless, the evolution continues to hint at the learning that has happened for the 2024 cycle among those who opposed Trump during the competitive 2016 Republican nomination race. 


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Eyes were on Iowa this past weekend as Republican candidates, announced and prospective, addressed the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. Political scientist, Steffen Schmidt, gives a reminder about why Iowa commands attention. 


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Patrick Svitek has a thorough rundown of the state of the Republican presidential nomination race in Texas over at the Texas Tribune. The Lone Star state may be getting more competitive by some measures, but there are a lot of Republicans to go around to support national races. In the endorsement primary, some elected and former elected officials in the state lined up behind former President Trump ahead of his rally in Waco. 
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired both of Trump’s previous campaigns in Texas, has been preoccupied with the legislative session but continues to have the former president’s ear. Speaking at Trump’s March rally in Waco, Patrick blasted those who tied the event to the deadly Branch Davidian standoff in 1993, saying Trump was following his recommendation to hold the rally there.

In the week before the rally, as speculation grew that Trump was facing indictment, his campaign made a push to corral more endorsements from Texas Republicans in the U.S. House. U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson of Amarillo, who was Trump’s doctor in the White House, took the lead inside the delegation, according to a person close to him.

The effort paid dividends as his campaign prefaced the Waco rally by announcing its “Texas Leadership Team” featuring eight new congressional endorsers. Fresh supporters also included Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham and former U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores of Los Indios.
However, many are still sitting on the sidelines. And big donors in Texas have not shied away from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
As the political world waits for his official presidential campaign launch, DeSantis has cultivated some intriguing — and generous — donors from Texas. Two of last month’s top contributors to his Florida political committee were both from Texas: an entity called Rural Route 3 Holdings LP, which gave $1 million, and a Houston doctor named Clive Fields, who gave $500,000.

Rural Route 3 Holdings also contributed $250,000 to DeSantis last year.
There are not just a lot of potential endorsements and donors in Texas. The Super Tuesday primary there offers a significant chunk of delegates that will keep it at the forefront of the campaign as the invisible primary continues. 


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Over at FHQ Plus...
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...
On this date...
...in 1976, Rep. Mo Udall (D-AZ) won the Democratic caucuses in his home state of Arizona.

...in 1980, Illinois Rep. John Anderson (R) withdrew from the Republican presidential nomination race (...but he would return for the fall campaign as an independent candidate).

...in 1984, Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) completed the sweep of 1984 Vermont contests, winning the beauty contest primary in March and taking the caucuses in the Green Mountain state on this date that April.

...in 2004, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) won the caucuses in the territory of Guam.

...in 2012, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) swept the five ACELA primary states (Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) to pad his delegate total against only nominal competition at that point in the race. 



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Thursday, April 20, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- DeSantis Wilts in the Glare of the National Spotlight

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

It has been nearly a month since FHQ declared in Invisible Primary: Visible that national scrutiny had arrived for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And even then, that declaration may have been behind the curve. Regardless, things have not really turned around for DeSantis in the short term and the spotlight has not gotten any less bright. Whispered discontent has only grown louder. From donors. From potential voters. From folks in his backyard who otherwise might be inclined to endorse the governor. Opponents, announced and not, have also taken notice and taken (repeated) shots.

It has not been a good month.

And that is especially true for a potential candidate who is not yet even in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. His travel schedule may betray that notion, but the governor is not an official candidate for president. It is still early, but as FHQ has said, borrowing from Yogi Berra, it gets late early out there. 

Still, even with Donald Trump scooping up Florida endorsements seemingly left and right in the last several days and weeks, there is one thought that has stuck in FHQ's mind. Yes, a quarter of the Florida Republican delegation to congress may already be in Trump's corner, but what about all those state legislators who are working hand-in-hand with DeSantis this 2023 session to deliver a conservative agenda to serve as a policy blueprint for the governor's likely presidential run? If that working relationship runs deep, then that is a potential wellspring of support, if not manpower, to fuel a campaign ahead of the primary in the Sunshine state next March. 

Only now, even those state legislators are voicing frustrations with the governor. And that is a potentially troubling sign for DeSantis. There may not be as high a premium on those endorsements in 2023 as there was in 2015 when the Republican presidential nomination race was more wide open and national figures mostly stayed on the sidelines, not endorsing. However, state legislators carry their own worth in this process. That is truer of home state legislators. These are the folks who work most closely with the governor to pass an agenda on which they are presumably in lockstep. But if those same state legislators cannot or will not vouch for or vociferously back the governor and what he has expended his political capital on, then that also says something. And it would not be the best of invisible primary signals.

No, that does not mean that folks in the Florida legislature will not ultimately endorse DeSantis. But that that is even a topic of conversation says a lot about the current state of affairs for Team DeSantis. There will be pressure to roll out a lot of endorsements from these very types of officials on day one when the governor does announce. He will need something of a counterweight to the damage Trump has already done in pulling in Florida endorsements so far.


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FHQ spoke some earlier this week about the Trump campaign's professionalization through the lens of these congressional endorsements from the Florida delegation. Rolling Stone adds a bit of color to that:
By this past weekend, Trump’s inner circle was convinced they had a number of new Florida lawmakers ready to announce their support. Previously, the idea was to release the endorsements at once, likely Thursday or Friday of this week. However, by the weekend, plans had changed: It was decided that the Trump campaign would drip them out at different points in the coming days — including on Tuesday when DeSantis would be on the ground in Washington, D.C., trying to lock down his own endorsements from the Florida delegation. The ploy was part of a deliberate effort to, in the words of one of the sources familiar with the matter, “embarrass and mindf*ck DeSantis” as much as possible, via a steady drip.

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Meanwhile, DeSantis did make his way into the first-in-the-South Palmetto state on Wednesday, a trip with events organized by And to the Republic, a DeSantis-aligned 501(c)(4) nonprofit group. Never Back Down, the super PAC affiliated with the Florida governor, bracketed the visit with ads placed on local news during the 6pm hour on both Tuesday and Wednesday, the latter of which was just before DeSantis was set to speak in Spartanburg in the Upstate. 


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Over at FHQ Plus...
  • Connecticut Democrats' delegate selection plan says something about presidential primary legislation in the Nutmeg state, Idaho is still in a pickle over its own presidential primary and the push to change the Ohio primary date won't die. All at FHQ Plus.
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...
On this date...
...in 1976, Democrats in Missouri caucused and although Jimmy Carter got the most votes, caucus-goers followed state leaders' advice to send an uncommitted slate of delegates to the national convention.



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Friday, April 14, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Friday Quick Hits

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

The Iowa bill that would restrict how parties could conduct presidential caucuses advanced out of a House committee a party line vote on Thursday, April 13. But Democrats are already hinting at defending their plans through legal challenges (while stressing that the state party is still working on a delegate selection plan for 2024). 

DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee member from Iowa Scott Brennan had this to say:
It’s a solution in search of a problem. I don’t understand it. It makes no sense. We have decades of history where the two parties came together and talked about issues important to Iowans in our (Caucus) process. Nothing this time.

[As an aside, Democrats are attempting to present some uncertainty here, calling the legislation premature. Honestly, the state party can attempt to delay/create uncertainty in this instance because the Iowa Democratic Party delegate selection plan, no matter what ultimately makes it into the draft, will go back and forth between the state party and the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee before it is finalized (perhaps well into the summer if not beyond).]


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Idaho Republican Party Chair Dorothy Moon did not pull any punches in a recent local op-ed concerning the presidential nomination process in the Gem state for 2024. 
"This past legislative session, Secretary of State Phil McGrane brought forward House Bill 138 — a bill that would remove the Republican Party’s March presidential primary. The bill passed out of the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little.

"McGrane and his backers say an error and omission in the legislative language unwittingly removed the presidential primary; their goal was to move the primary to May. But because of sloppy drafting, Idaho is now without a “legal mechanism for political parties to request a presidential primary election,” as McGrane recently put it.

"In essence, McGrane’s goof makes an Idaho GOP presidential nominating contest that much more difficult for the people. Where does that leave us? The Idaho GOP is evaluating all legal avenues and working to determine how to safeguard the early March nominating process that has already brought significant benefits to Idaho."
She is not wrong. The "goof" was clear from the start. Now Idaho has no presidential primary (without a legislative fix). In the meantime, state Republicans can go a different route. And the state party seems to be exploring its options. But Moon has apparently backed off her proposal to hold (noncompliant) February caucuses. The emphasis appears now to be on keeping the process, whether primary or caucus, in March.


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Never Back Down, the super PAC affiliated with the nascent Ron DeSantis bid for the Republican presidential nomination has made its first ad buy, set to roll out nationally on Monday, April 17.


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Wyoming Republicans convene in Jackson this weekend and will have an election for chair amid an internal party squabble that may have been the story of the 2023 legislative session in the Equality state. FHQ raises this not because of the fight, but rather because these are typically the settings where decisions are made on rules for the coming presidential nomination process. That may or may not be in the offing this weekend in Wyoming, but it is worth flagging nonetheless whether the party battle affects the rules or not. 


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Over at FHQ Plus...
  • Michigan Republicans still do not seem to realize what they are up against in opting into a non-compliant presidential primary or going the alternate caucus route. 
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On this date...
...in 1984, Democrats held caucuses in Arizona.

...in 1992, Republicans caucused in Missouri. 

...in 1999, former Vice President Dan Quayle (R) announced a run for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. Quayle as a classic "running for 2000, but did not run in 2000" candidate. He later withdrew in September 1999.

...in 2012, President Barack Obama swept a series of western Democratic caucuses in Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. This cluster was the among the first to get the regional bonus delegates for clustering contests together on the same date.

...in 2019, Pete Buttigieg announced his intentions to seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination (after having formed an exploratory committee in January).



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Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Tim Scott Staffs Up

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

The essential Caitlyn Byrd at the Charleston Post and Courier has the latest on the moves a Tim Scott-aligned super PAC has made in the staff primary. Opportunity Matters Fund Action has brought on both Matt Moore and Mark Knoop, a pair with deep ties in the Palmetto state. Moore, the one-time South Carolina Republican Party chair is a big get for Scott in a cycle in which South Carolina operatives have some tough choices to make with two home-state candidates in the running at the presidential level. Knoop was most recently a part of current Governor Henry McMaster's (R-SC) reelection effort in 2022.

Both hires say something about Scott's positioning in a Republican presidential nomination race. Yes, there is the Scott against (former governor) Nikki Haley angle, and these hires definitely say something about that battle within the state. However, that both operatives have South Carolina ties does raise some questions. First, is the field of Republican candidates so deep that Scott is left to choose from among those campaign hands closest at hand in South Carolina? Second, what do the hires suggest about the strategy of a Scott campaign? It is likely South Carolina or bust to start for Scott at the very least, so putting some to a lot of eggs in that basket is almost essential. And South Carolina is a big piece in the early calendar. Unlike the other three states, Palmetto state Republicans do not allocate their delegates in a proportional manner. They use a hybrid system that is likely to give the winner of the primary a pretty healthy net delegate advantage coming out of the most delegate-rich state on the early calendar. 

But these hires probably say more about strategy than they do about any "dregs" Scott has been left to sift through to staff a presidential campaign. Moore and Knoop are not dregs. 


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Donald Trump has been able to raise more than $7 million since the Manhattan indictment came down late last week, but the former president is not the only candidate (or likely candidate) with ample resources in the money primary. Never Back Down, the super PAC backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has raked in north of $30 million in a little less than a month. Money is not everything, but these are staggering sums that give both men a leg up on the competition for the Republican nomination. And that is what the press releases about these totals are intended to signal to every other candidate: Think twice about getting in. Resistance is futile. Despite the signals, those who are running or considering a run, do not seem to have been deterred. Not yet, at least. 


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A few polling quick hits (maybe against my better judgment):
  • A new St. Anselm's poll of the Republican primary race in New Hampshire had Trump leading DeSantis, 42 percent to 29 percent. Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH), who is also considering a bid, was the only other candidate in double digits at 14 percent. That would be enough to get Sununu in the delegate count -- New Hampshire Republicans use the 10 percent qualifying threshold called for in state law -- but is hardly the kind of support that a home-state candidate would like to tout. It certainly is not the kind of support that would keep other candidates away from New Hampshire over the next nine plus months. Sununu, at this point, is no Tom Harkin and Iowa 1992. 
  • Gov. DeSantis Holds Slight Lead Over Donald Trump Among Florida Voters. Without even looking at the numbers, Florida is set to hold a presidential primary on March 19. Two weeks after Super Tuesday. Likely two months after New Hampshire. Those events, not to mention the remainder of the invisible primary, will have A LOT to say about the situation in the Sunshine state in 2024. But sure, one Florida candidate has a small advantage over another Florida candidate in one poll eleven and a half months before a contest that is on few voters' radars. 
  • Trump has ‘commanding lead’ over DeSantis in Massachusetts Republican primary poll conducted after indictment. I mean, see above, but with one caveat: Trump can be two things at once. Yes, the former president more than doubles the support DeSantis received in that survey. But he also falls short of majority support. It is the latter that will have much more to say about "commanding" leads next year. Majority support triggers winner-take-all allocations in a lot of states in the Republican process. Massachusetts included (as of this writing). 


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Over at FHQ Plus...
  • If Democrats in the Kansas House were unified like their co-partisans in the state Senate, then the Sunflower state would likely be headed for a state-run presidential primary for 2024. Instead, they split (with most in the Democratic House leadership against), and the bill to bring back the primary died.
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On this date...
...in 1972, George McGovern (D-SD) won the Wisconsin primary and former New York Mayor John Lindsay withdrew from the Democratic presidential race. 

...in 1988, George H.W. Bush won the Colorado Republican caucuses. 

...in 2000, both Al Gore and George W. Bush swept the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin primaries (in nomination races each had already clinched).

...in 2011, President Barack Obama announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination and running for reelection. [No, Biden still have not done likewise.]



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