It's far from clear, however, whether this latest gambit will soothe anyone. The legislation would enact a map that does in fact carve up the 5th District, which stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and was created by the state Supreme Court during redistricting litigation in the previous decade. However, this version of the 5th would nevertheless retain a sizable Black population (about 35%, compared to 43% in the old district) concentrated around Jacksonville and would have voted 56-43 for Joe Biden; DeSantis, by contrast, wants to vaporize the 5th entirely and ensure every district in north Florida leans Republican.
A key reason Republican lawmakers have resisted DeSantis' approach is their concern that the state Supreme Court could invalidate any map that eliminates the 5th District, which is currently held by Democrat Al Lawson. To address that possibility, the House bill contains a "backup" map that would become law if the first one is invalidated. This version would preserve the 5th by making changes elsewhere, though like the initial map, it would create 18 Trump districts and 10 Biden districts. The plan passed with bipartisan support by the Senate in January, by contrast, features a narrower 16-12 split in favor of Trump.
As a consequence, the House's approach may be insufficiently bloodthirsty to satisfy DeSantis and too aggressive for the Senate. Neither side, however, has publicly offered an opinion on these latest maps.
● OH Redistricting: Ohio's Republican-dominated redistricting commission finally passed a third set of legislative maps on Thursday after missing the state Supreme Court's Feb. 17 deadline to do so, with one Republican member, state Auditor Keith Faber, siding with the panel's two Democrats in opposition. Commissioners still face a contempt hearing on Tuesday before the court, which has demanded an explanation as to why they blew the previous deadline. That leaves two questions: Will the commission's belated action stave off a contempt finding? And, more importantly, will the justices accept these latest maps or reject them once again?
● AL-Sen: CNN reports that, while Donald Trump is still supporting Rep. Mo Brooks in the May Republican primary, he's warmed up to former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt and even told her that "he would speak positively of her in private and public appearances." This amicable meeting, says the story, came about after Trump and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked about the race at Trump's Super Bowl party. Belichick once coached Britt's husband, former offensive lineman Wesley Britt, and a source says he "said positive things about the couple when they got to talking about the race."
All of this is a particularly unwelcome development for Brooks, who has spent the last several months dealing with stories relaying that Trump thinks he's running a poor campaign. One unnamed source now says the GOP leader "has zero interest in lifting a finger for Mo," though this person added that Trump's people are still talking to the congressman about at least letting him hold fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. One candidate whom Trump doesn't sound at all likely to ever speak well of, though, is Army veteran Mike Durant: CNN says Trump derided him as "a McCain guy" because he functioned as a surrogate for John McCain’s 2008 campaign, when he was the GOP’s nominee for president.
● OK-Sen-B: Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe confirmed Thursday's reports that he's resigning and endorsing his chief of staff, Luke Holland, in the special election to succeed him in dark-red Oklahoma. Inhofe says he will remain in office for the rest of this Congress, which will prevent Gov. Kevin Stitt from being able to appoint a replacement.
Soon after Inhofe’s remarks, Holland held a press conference announcing that he would compete in the June primary, though he said that Inhofe couldn't attend in person as planned because he was dealing with COVID symptoms. Holland rose from a mailroom job in the senator's office in 2009 to become his chief of staff eight years later, though he does not appear to have ever run for office himself until now.
There are numerous other Republicans who could enter the race ahead of the April 15 filing deadline, and Politico reports that one unexpected Sooner State resident is considering: former Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, who previously served as a state senator in Illinois. It was in the Land of Lincoln that McCarter, with the endorsement of the Club for Growth, waged a 2016 primary challenge against GOP Rep. John Shimkus in the old 15th District, but he lost 60-40. News 9 also mentions state House Speaker Charles McCall's name as a possibility, though it notes he's a "likely 2026 candidate for governor." Stitt, however, quickly took his own name out of contention and said he'd continue to seek re-election.
Inhofe's departure will conclude a political career that began all the way back in 1966, a time when Democrats were still the dominant party in the state. That year, the 32-year-old businessman was first elected to the state House from a seat in Tulsa. His deskmate for his brief time there was Democrat David Boren, another newly elected member who would become very important to his future career in both welcome and unwelcome ways. Two years later, Inhofe won a promotion to the state Senate as Richard Nixon was carrying Oklahoma in the first of what would turn out to be an unbroken chain of GOP presidential victories stretching to today.
In 1974, Inhofe sought another promotion with a bid for governor in what he thought would be a battle against Democratic incumbent David Hall. But Hall, whose tenure was overshadowed by bribery and extortion accusations that would later send him to jail, ended up taking third place in the primary. Inhofe's general election foe instead was his friend Boren, who ran a reform-themed "new broom" campaign that featured him campaigning across the state with an actual broom and pledging to reject the $7,500 salary increase the legislature had recently given the governor.
The Republican tried to frame the race as a choice between a practical businessman and Boren, whom he portrayed as an over-idealistic political science professor, and he tried to capitalize when the Democrat had to clarify that his calls for "across the board" rights for 18-year-olds didn't include the right to drink beer (Inhofe himself was in favor of allowing them to drink). Boren, however, avoided going after his opponent in favor of emphasizing "the positive," and he won in a 64-36 landslide amidst the Watergate wave.
Inhofe took over as Senate minority leader following that defeat, but he left the legislature in 1976 to challenge Democratic Rep. James Jones in the Tulsa-based 1st Congressional District. He decisively won the primary 67-25 against Frank Keating, who would later become governor, but Jones defeated Inhofe 54-45 in November. The Republican, though, soon revived his career in early 1978 when he was elected mayor of Tulsa by a 51-46 margin.
Inhofe used that office to promote, even if sometimes reluctantly, policies that ran counter to the hardline conservative image he’d later adopt. Inhofe pushed a three-penny tax proposal that voters eventually approved, saying, "I'd much prefer, and it would be a lot easier to be against it. But we can't sit here and let Tulsa rot from the inside." The future climate changer denier also used a Sun Day proclamation to call for residents "to enhance their understanding and dedicate themselves to the development of alternative energy sources" like solar and wind power. But in 1984, Inhofe narrowly lost his bid for a fourth two-year term by just a single percentage point to Democrat Terry Young in what was seen as a huge upset; on his way out, Inhofe told a reporter his greatest regret was the failure of his monorail project.
He wasn’t out of office long, though. Inhofe ran for the 1st Congressional District again in 1986 when Jones left to unsuccessfully campaign for the Senate, and he prevailed 55-43 in the general election. Over the next several years Inhofe would be dogged by harsh headlines about his insurance company, Quaker Life Insurance Co., which went into receivership while he was running for the House and which led to him suing his brother. Those stories weren't enough to stop the congressman from winning re-election, though he turned in unimpressive 53-47 showings in both 1988 and 1992.
Inhofe got the chance to seek a Senate seat in 1994 when a special election took place to succeed Boren, who was resigning after 16 years to lead the University of Oklahoma. Inhofe easily beat a primary opponent who tried to use the Quaker Life stories against him, but he soon found himself in an expensive race against Democratic Rep. Dave McCurdy. Inhofe was careful to avoid criticizing the well-regarded Boren, and he even denied he was telling voters that they needed to replace him with someone more conservative. The Republican instead tied McCurdy to the unpopular Clinton administration and rode that year's GOP wave to a 55-40 victory that permanently gave Team Red control of both the state's Senate seats.
Inhofe two years later won a full term by beating Boren's cousin, Jim Boren, 57-40, and he pulled off similar wins during his next two campaigns against former Gov. David Walters and state Sen. Andrew Rice. The senator, who rose to chair the Environment and Public Works Committee, became nationally infamous in the 21st century for his opposition to same-sex marriage and climate science (among many other things, he called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" in 2010 and hurled a snowball on the Senate floor in 2015 to show that it was "very, very cold out"). However, he won his final two terms with ease in a state that, under his watch, had transformed into a Republican bastion.
● CO-08, NY-11: End Citizens United, a progressive campaign finance reform group that often spends considerable sums to boost the candidates it backs, has issued new endorsements in two races. In Colorado's brand-new 8th Congressional District in the Denver suburbs, the organization is getting behind state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, while in New York's Staten Island-based 11th District, ECU is supporting former Rep. Max Rose in his rematch against Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis.
● MN-01: Republican state Rep. Jeremy Munson has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid to succeed the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn in the Aug. 9 special election.
● NC-13: Former state Sen. Sam Searcy said on Friday that he's considering a bid for North Carolina's open 13th Congressional District, a newly redrawn seat in the Raleigh suburbs that would have backed Joe Biden by a narrow 50-48 margin, adding that he'd be "taking the weekend to weigh all options carefully." Searcy unseated a Republican incumbent in 2018, but shortly after winning re-election two years later, he resigned to pursue an "unexpected opportunity" he did not identify at the time.
● NC-14: State Sen. Jeff Jackson announced Friday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for the new 14th District, a Charlotte-area seat that Biden would have won 57-41. The legislator, an Army veteran who has been talked about as a rising star for years, spent most of 2021 running for the U.S. Senate before dropping out in December, and he said Thursday he still has almost all of the $830,000 war chest he ended that campaign with. Jackson is the first notable Democrat to get in ahead of the March 4 filing deadline, though Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt has confirmed she's considering.
● NE-01: Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who is under federal indictment for allegedly lying to federal investigators regarding a campaign finance probe, has released an internal poll from Moore Information showing him with a 36-25 lead on state Sen. Mike Flood in the May GOP primary. The memo also includes trendlines indicating that Fortenberry has gained on Flood in a one-on-one matchup, going from a 35-33 edge for the incumbent in January to a 40-30 advantage now, and argues that the congressman's negative ads on immigration have hurt Flood's standing with voters.
However, 36% is a very dangerous place for any sitting officeholder to find themselves in, especially since an equal number of voters say they're undecided. What's more, this is the first and so far only poll of the race we've seen, and there's still more than two months until the primary.
● NY-04: Former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen has entered the race for New York's 4th Congressional District, which is open because Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice is retiring. In 2017, Gillen shocked Long Island's GOP establishment when she narrowly unseated a Republican incumbent by just a single point to become Hempstead's first Democratic supervisor in more than a century. Two years later, however, she lost a similarly tight race for re-election by 1 point.
While Hempstead is officially designated a "town," its population of 793,000 makes it by far the second-largest municipality in the state, behind only New York City and well ahead of Buffalo, which is home to just 278,000 people. Nationally, Hempstead would sit between San Francisco (pop. 874,000) and Seattle (737,000), big enough for 18th place. About 80% of the town is in the 4th District, and likewise roughly 80% of the district is comprised of Hempstead.
● OR-06: Protect Our Future, a super PAC backed by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, just reported spending $1.4 million on ads backing economic development adviser Carrick Flynn, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Oregon's brand-new 6th Congressional District. In response to criticisms from other candidates about the PAC's involvement, Flynn said he has "never met or talked to" Bankman-Fried.
● PA-06: Just a day after dropping his bid for governor on Thursday, Republican Guy Ciarrocchi kicked off a new campaign against Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District. The recently redrawn district, which is located in the Philadelphia suburbs, would have voted for Joe Biden by a 57-42 margin.
● TN-05: Retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, the former head of the Tennessee National Guard, entered the GOP primary on Thursday for the open 5th Congressional District, which Republicans recently transformed from blue to red by cracking apart the city of Nashville. He joins several other candidates seeking the Republican nomination, including former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, who kicked off her campaign earlier the same day.
● TX-08: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has endorsed Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell, who has benefited from close to $700,000 in outside spending from his allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary.
● TX-AG: The Texas Tribune reported Friday that incumbent Ken Paxton has launched a $1 million ad buy against former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman just ahead of Tuesday's four-way Republican primary. Paxton had previously only run ads targeting Rep. Louie Gohmert, though Land Commissioner George P. Bush had been attacking Guzman as the two challengers fight to place second in a potential May runoff.
Paxton's anti-Guzman spot accuses her of having "spent our tax dollars on a woke critical race theory summit that claimed our justice system is racially biased and called for mandatory CRT training for every police officer in the state." The narrator continues by saying Guzman "wants to give Texas children an app that tells them about their racial bias."
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which is the city's well-funded policy union, endorsed billionaire developer Rick Caruso in the June nonpartisan primary on Thursday. The Los Angeles Times called the development a "setback" for Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is a former police officer.
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