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April 8th , 2022          Political Note #459 Democrats to support in Republican leaning districts

2022                          General Election

My measure for district lean is the website Five Thirty Eight’s calculation of lean.  Using that measure, I figure that +5 or more should be thought of as a lean. Those in today’s piece all lean Republican by more than that. Consider these districts as leaning Republican, but not hopeless.

Before we get down to the hard part of fighting for every inch of territory for the districts that tilt or lean Democratic, see if any of these candidates move you.  Sending money won’t be a waste.  Victories in seats like this are part of making a substantial Democratic majority.

CHALLENGERS – Eight candidates worth investing in.  If more than half of them win, we are on our way to be substantial Democratic majority.

IA 02 R+6 State Sen Liz Mathis.  See Political Note #445

Liz Mathis was a farmer’s daughter.  She went away to the University of Iowa and never returned to the farm.  She married a man who made a career in Marketing and they are still married.  She went into television and became an anchor for the local news.  She worked as a journalist for over twenty years.

While raising children, she shifted to more flexible work.  She worked in community relations on behalf of charitable agencies and then ran for state senator in a special election when a seat opened up.  She remained a state senator advocating reducing property and gasoline taxes, favoring gun safety laws, and sustaining voter access.

Now, she is running for Congress.  She has raised nearly a million dollars to defeat Ashley Hinson – whose staff seems genuinely afraid that Liz Mathis can win this election.  They have labelled her Liberal Liz, called her an advocate of tax increases and Covid lockdowns, and have accused her of corrupt efforts on behalf of a sports complex.  Despite triumphantly announcing an infrastructure project, Hinson has defended her vote against infrastructure claiming the plan was “socialist.”

That’s not Liz Mathis’s way.  She is campaigning for expanding health care in rural areas and preserving family farms.  She has been effective in raising money, having raised nearly a million dollars.  That’s less than Hinson, but, with your help, it is enough to compete.

MI 10 R+6 County Judge Carl Marlinga

At the very end of January, Target Insyght reported the results of a poll of the race in Michigan’s 10thCongressional District, a newly constructed district north of Detroit.  Think of the district as the outer part of the knuckle of the thumb of the Michigan mitten.

Target Insyght is a Michigan firm.  They don’t say who the poll was conducted for.  They do predict that Michigan 10 will be heavily contested and would be among the most expensive contests in the state.

They found that two-time, unsuccessful Republican US Senate candidate, businessman John James was leading among Republicans with 68% of the vote.  Second place former Congressional candidate Eric Esshaki dropped out of the race.

They found that County Circuit Court judge and former county prosecutor Carl Marlinga was leading among Democrats with one-third support.  Michael Taylor, Mayor of Sterling Heights, was second with half of Carl Marlinga’s support.  Taylor withdrew from the race.  The remaining Democrats, other than the nearly 50% undecided, scored in low single digits.  Target Insyght found that in a matchup between the two leaders, Carl Marlinga led John James by a narrow 46-43 margin.

James argues he is not a career politician, but can create jobs and believes in faith and family, God and country, and service before self.  Carl Marlinga says he will work to fix the supply chain and bring jobs back to Michigan.  He notes he has lived in the community all his life, understands the challenges of families and small businesses, and that the people of the district have been his neighbors for nearly 40 years.  Help send Carl Marlinga to Washington.  (270)

CA 41 R+7 Prosecutor Will Rollins

This is a chance to replace “just talking” Ken Calvert.  He was first elected to Congress in 1994.  If elected in 2022, he will be elected for his 29th and 30th year in Congress.  He was first elected despite being arrested with a prostitute in his car.  “Just talking,” he explained.

Many of his Congressional successes don’t amount to much more than “just talking.”  He is responsible for the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial.  He is responsible for Armed Forces Day.  And he is responsible for National Child Awareness Month.  His principal genuine legislative accomplishment was passage of E-Verify which ensures that new hires are legitimate to work in the US.  He is among the Republican Members of Congress who voted to reject Arizona and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College ballots and is insistent that Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

Among the strong candidates to face Ken Calvert, Will Rollins earned the endorsement of the California Democratic Party.  Will Rollins was a federal prosecutor until he entered the campaign. As a prosecutor, he says he saw an increase in extremism and hate crimes that culminated in the January 6 insurrection – an event that convinced him to run for Congress.  Differences on the 2020 election and ways to address the economy (Calvert voted for the enormous Trump tax cut) will be part of the campaign.

Rollins is a gay man.  He moved with his partner to Palm Springs in preparation for the campaign.  Commenting on the desert communities that make up a large part of the district, he said “we were just really excited to be in one of the most well-known LGBTQ-friendly cities in the United States.”  Help him get to Washington, a city friendly to politicians.  (285)

CA 03 R+8 Doctor Kermit Jones See Political Note #439

Consider this an open seat.  The districts in northeastern California are too much revised to be identified with previous districts.  The Republican incumbent who might have been considered the district’s incumbent left for easier pickings.  Kermit Jones’ Republican opponent is a county sheriff named Scott Jones.

Kermit Jones grew up in Michigan, son of a farmer and a home health nurse.  He has a perfect understanding of the need for universally accessible health care. His family had to sell their farm to pay for his mother’s cancer care.

Kermit Jones was just what his family wanted.  He went to an historically black university in Atlanta, Clark Atlanta.  To study engineering, he took advantage of Georgia Tech’s availability to local colleges without equivalent programs.  Kermit Jones got himself two Bas – one from Clark Atlanta; the other from Georgia Tech.

After internships in Europe and India, he went to Duke, where he got two degrees – an MD and a law degree.  9/11 happened while he was at Duke.  He decided to give something back; joined the navy and became a flight surgeon.  He returned to the US, got an MPA from Columbia, went to Washington, where he practiced both law and medicine, and became a White House Fellow.

After that, he worked his way across the country, practicing medicine in Chicago and then in California.  In California, he was convinced.  He should make a dent politically, not just with his medical practice.

Can Sheriff Jones make a case against Doctor Jones?  He has run for Congress before and lost.  He promises he will be a “law and order” candidate.  He’ll oppose those who would “defund the police” and those who will not protect the border.  Running against a surprising and interesting Democrat, Sheriff Jones is just plain predictable.

One more surprise would be to elect Doctor Kermit Jones to Congress. (308)

PA 10 R+9 Army Veteran Rick Coplen

Here’s a chance to take on one of the Congressional miscreants who invested time and energy and heart and soul in doing whatever it took – legal or not – to keep Donald Trump as President for a second term.

Rick Coplen has stepped in as the anticipated Democratic nominee after Eugene DePasquale withdrew from the race.  A combat veteran who exudes toughness and integrity, Rick Coplen might be the stronger candidate.

Incumbent Scott Perry defeated DePasquale 53-47 in 2020.  He defeated Pastor George Scott 51-49 in 2018.  Even without his peculiar involvement with Trump, Scott Perry might be vulnerable.

Trump was frustrated with Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. He could not get past Rosen with his various schemes to ensure that he remain President.  Scott Perry came to the rescue.  He introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, the Acting Head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  Jeffrey Clark had been working on ways to create doubt about the election and, in particular, to pressure Georgia’s Republican leaders.

Trump arranged a kind of serial face off.  He had Jeff Rosen make his case.  And then he had Jeffrey Clark make his case.  After that, leaders of the Justice Department were told that a plan had been developed to oust Jeffrey Rosen from his position as Acting Attorney General. On a subsequent conference call, Justice Department officials agreed.  If Rosen were dismissed, they would all resign.

Scott Perry got points from Trump for loyalty, but lost points for being a lightweight.  He could not bring off his plan.

Rick Coplen is no lightweight.  He graduated from West Point in 1981.  In 2010, he began teaching at the US Army War College.  In between, he became a combat veteran, beginning as a paratrooper in the attack on Panama to bring Manuel Noriega to justice.   Help bring Scott Perry to some kind of justice.  He can be and should be defeated.  (314)

OH 15 R+11 County Recorder Danny O’Connor. See Political Note #129

Danny O’Connor is not glamorous.  He went to Wright State University which used to say about itself on its website:  We already have one of the lowest tuition rates in the state. And we want to make sure it stays that way …. 

After law school, Danny O’Connor did not go to Washington.  He did volunteer work in the Bronx as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  Then he came home to work first as a prosecutor and then as a divorce lawyer.

Consider Danny O’Connor on family values.  He is grateful that his mother, a school teacher, had good health insurance.  He returned home every weekend from Dayton during his freshman year of college because his mother had breast cancer.

Ultimately, Danny O’Connor‘s case rests on his work as the Franklin County Recorder.   Not glamorous work for a member of the elite.  The Recorder keeps land records — deeds, surveys, mortgages, easements, and liens.

A County Recorder can do the job efficiently or not., honestly or not.  Danny O’Connor has been efficient and without a hint of corruption.

His opponent? Recently elected in a special election, Mike Carey? He was vice president of government affairs for American Consolidated Natural Resources, a coal company.  He was also chair of the board of the Ohio Coal Association.  In other words, Mike Carey was a lobbyist.  Mike Carey, in Congress?  You might  say he is still a lobbyist.  Replace him with a decent guy — Danny O’Connor. (242)

 TX 23 R+13 John Lira. See Political Note #424

Prior to redistricting, Republicans had won this seat consistently.  In 2014 by 2 points.  In 2016 by 1.3 points.  In  2018 by 1.5 points.  In 2020 by 4 points. With redistricting, Republican did not take chances.  They added 7 points to the Republican lean of the district.

That does not mean the seat is unwinnable.  It means a win has become tough.

Can John Lira  make a successful run?  His Mexican American parents came to San Antonio and lived in the southeast side.  He describes his family members as assembly line workers, office assistants, beauticians, musicians, and oilfield workers.  Both parents worked, sometimes two jobs. Despite the work, John Lira was poor enough to be eligible for free lunch at school.  He didn’t leave school, but he did go to work at age 16 – bussing tables at a Riverwalk restaurant.  His incentive to join the service came, in part, from the death of an uncle who was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.  Four years after the bombing, John Lira joined the Marines.

John Lira was a Marine for 11 years on active duty and in the Reserves.  He had two combat tours in Iraq — the first in 2003, the second in 2005.   He served as an intelligence analyst and retired as a Sargent E-5.  It may not be a particular help to him politically, but he’s been to school.  After leaving the service, he earned a BA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master’s Degree from Carnegie Mellon – both with the help of the GI Bill.

His opponent?  The Republican incumbent is a first termer.  He grew up in the Five Points neighborhood of San Antonio – a neighborhood described as walkable and historic. He does not say, in his website, or even in interviews that I’ve found, where his family immigrated from. He quit school at 15 and joined the navy.  He got his degrees online while in the navy, even including a doctorate.  He has been an unquestioning Republican in Congress, departing once to support the failed proposal for a bipartisan investigation of the January 6 insurrection.

Before redistricting, John Lira would have been the probable winner.  Now, help him win the struggle.  (369)

 NC 11 R+14 Pastor and County Commissioner Jasmine Beach Ferrara

Jasmine Beach Ferrara may be in a position to pick up the pieces after Republicans tear themselves apart.  The incumbent, Madison Cawthorn, has worn out his welcome with the Republican Congressional leadership.

Wheelchair bound, Cawthorn is something of a sad sack with a remote connection to the truth.  It is not just his claims about Congressional orgies that got him into trouble.  It was also his flitting between districts where he might run, damaging the prospects of a Republican or two on the way.  Maybe it was even his lies to get elected in the first place in 2020, like his false claim that his application to the Naval Academy was disrupted by his accident, even though his application had been rejected well before his accident.

Even a strong Republican candidate, like State Senator Chuck Edwards, who remained in the mix in NC 11 after Cawthorn announced he would return and run there, will have trouble keeping the incumbent below the 30% of the vote that would trigger a run off in North Carolina.

Jasmine Beach Ferrara, an advocate for LGBTQ equality in the South, has a base in progressive Asheville in this western Carolina district.  She will have to reach beyond her base if she wants to clean up after the Republicans fight each other.  (216)

INCUMBENTS – Four of them plus a Democrat running for an Open Democratic seat.  If we can protect most of them, we are protecting the Democratic majority.

OH 09 R+8 Marcy Kaptur See Political Note #430

Ohio Republicans have targeted Marcy Kaptur for elimination.  They are picking on old ladies now.  Seventy-five years old, she has been representing Toledo and environs since she was elected in 1982.    She is the longest serving woman in the current Congress and the longest serving woman in the House of Representatives of all time.

Marcy Kaptur is the daughter of Polish Americans.  Her dad ran a small grocery store.  He mom was a union organizer in the automobile industry.  After graduating from a local Catholic high school, she went to the University of Wisconsin.  She worked for planning commissions after college and then as the director of planning for the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs — an organization founded and led by Geno Baroni, a Catholic priest who marched with Martin Luther King Jr and who eventually served as an Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development under Jimmy Carter. Baroni sought to avoid racial divides by emphasizing the development of ethnic cultures within cities.

Marcy Kaptur was getting a doctorate at MIT in urban planning when local politicians urged her to return to Toledo to run for Congress in 1982. She defeated a one term Congressman by nearly 20 points. She has been a member of the House Progressive Caucus and supported Bernie Sanders for President.  She has been a member of the Ukrainian Caucus in Congress before that was popular.  She’s as tough as a Ukrainian.  Nevertheless, she needs your help in getting reelected. (247)

PA 08 R+8 Matt Cartwright. See Political Note #70

Redistricting giveth.  Redistricting taketh away.  In addition, the world changes.  Matt Cartwright was elected in 2012 to what redistricting had made a much more Democratic district.  He defeated the Blue Dog Democrat who represented the district in the primary and defeated a Tea Party Republican in the general.

Using the phrase that he was from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, he kept on winning. By 2016, those wins were no longer in double digits. Matt Cartwright’s district had become Trumpish.  The. Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s redistricting moved Matt Cartwright’s district into the northeast corner of the state, but didn’t change its politics much.  He was winning in an R+9 district.  This year’s redistricting hasn’t changed the politics much either.  Matt Cartwright is running in an R+8 district.

Matt Cartwright has mastered the process.  Maybe not forever, but so far.  He established himself by voting for the Affordable Care Act and by explaining it to his constituents.  He threaded the needle on immigration, opposing proposals to withdraw funds from cities that served as sanctuaries, but supporting withdrawal of certain grant funds.  He supported tougher punishments for the undocumented who committed violent crimes and supported the Dreamers. He has been a proponent of gun safety, including opposing immunity for gun manufacturers.  He has supported same sex marriage, but noted that clergy should not be required to perform those marriages.  He keeps his proposals local – advocating for restoring rail transportation from New York City to northeastern Pennsylvania.

Matt Cartwright will probably face Jim Bognet again in 2022.  He defeated Bognet, who Trump had appointed to the Export-Import Bank, 52-48.  Bognet is convinced that Trump was cheated out of victory in 2020 and he, himself, was similarly cheated.  Let’s defeat Bognet again, convincingly enough so that he can’t claim he was cheated.  (304)

WI 03 R+9 State Senator Brad Pfaff See Political Note #418

Brad Pfaff is not really an incumbent.  Ron Kind, who is retiring, is the incumbent.  Brad Pfaff served for ten years as Ron Kind’s aide for agriculture and rural matters in this agricultural and rural district.  He did similar duty as an Obama appointee heading Wisconsin’s Farm Service Agency.  He has most recently been Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ Secretary of Agriculture.

All of a sudden, he became a controversial figure in Wisconsin for Republicans.  Maybe it was because he criticized the Republican legislature for delaying a vote on a suicide prevention measure for Wisconsin farmers.  More likely, it was because he proposed a rule change to allow localities to set requirements for runoff management and odor standards for new farms and expanded farms with 500 or more animals.  The Wisconsin legislature withdrew approval for Pfaff, forcing him out.  He became, instead, Director of Rural Development within the Administration Department, not a post requiring the legislature’s approval.

Brad Pfaff is a great candidate for WI 03, which includes Eau Clair and La Crosse.  Even though Trump carried the district by more than 4 points in 2016 and 2020, Brad Pfaff can win elections in Republican areas.  In 2020, he won his state senate race by 582 votes.  In 2022, he’ll need every bit of help he can get to keep Ron Kind’s seat Democratic and to make it his own.  (229)

ME 02 R+10 Jared Golden. See Political Note #406

Jared Golden is the only Member of Congress to have been elected by Ranked Voting.  Ranked Voting was used for the first time in Maine in 2018.  His opponent in 2022, Bruce Poliquin, was the Congressman Jared Golden ousted.  Poliquin is still bitter, still insists that the Ranked Voting system was illegal.  Obsession does not work well in politics.

Jared Golden’s record is distinctive.  He was one of three Democrats voting against Article II to impeach Trump in the first trial.  He was one of two Democrats to oppose the American Rescue Plan – expressing concern about the cost.  He was one of two Democrats to vote against enhancing background checks for the purchase of guns. He is one of the nine Democrats pressing for an immediate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan, contrary to the leadership’s expectation that the infrastructure plan and the budget reconciliation would be addressed at that same time.  A former intern for Republican Senator Susan Collins, he has said he would never campaign against her.

No one claims that Jared Golden’s votes and positions are intended to curry favor with Republicans and conservatives in his district.  These positions reflect who he is.  Being a Democrat reflects his views.  He is just not a mainstream Democrat.

Jared Golden came to politics after having had a bad war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He had volunteered, preferring war to Community College.  He left with PTSD.  His road back was via Bates College.  A Bates College faculty member found him in a pizza joint.  He sent a Dean to meet him.  The Dean arranged for his admission.  He became a valuable addition to the campus and the college was crucial to his rehabilitation.  He went back to Iraq learned Pashto, then returned to the US able to obtain interesting internships.

Honoring his Dad’s love of JFK, he ran for office as a Democrat.  He is still a Democrat, just an unconventional one.  He’s the kind of Democrat we need to win elections in a R+10 leaning district.  (337)

AZ 02 R+15 Tom O’Halleran  See Political Note #389

Tom O’Halleran’s Dad was a janitor in Chicago.  His Mom worked when she could.  Tom O’Halleran became a cop and then a homicide detective. He didn’t stay, though.  He left the work before he was eligible for a pension.  Instead, he worked in and around the Chicago Board of Trade, earned enough money to buy a seat, and served two terms on a related Board of Directors.  Eventually, he became a technology consultant as well as a trader.  He made enough money to be more than prosperous and planned a retirement in Arizona.

Tom O’Halleran’s Arizona retirement included running for office.  As a Republican.  He was elected as a State Rep and was a Republican who was happy to work with Democrats.  With Democrats, he got the legislature to raise funds for full day kindergarten.  That raised the ire of Republicans, who defeated him in a primary.  Unstoppable, he took some time off and then ran for Congress as a Democrat.  He has won consistently as a moderate in AZ 01, a Republican leaning district.

Redistricting has made AZ 01 impossibly Republican for Tom O’Halleran while moving him into AZ 02. This district will be a challenge.   Making up for an R+15 lean is more than challenging.  Keeping Democrats like Tom O”Halleran in Congress, though,  can help make the Democrats a majority party that has a truly substantial majority.  We need Tom O’Halleran.  (224)