Perfect Storm Brewing in CD-2?
There’s been a lot buzz building about Cort Van Ostran’s challenge of Congresswoman Ann Wagner in CD-2. He was recently added to the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” list. I asked a someone who’s been following the race what it looks like. Here’s the response…
Some Republicans are calling the 2nd CD race a classic case of Lucy and the football or the Blues and the playoffs: you get excited that it's finally gonna happen, but it never does.
But if it was ever gonna happen, this could be the year.
Why? Well, affluent suburban districts like MO-02 have been trending Dem since 1992, when Bill Clinton explicitly ran against the excesses of 1980s liberalism, supporting a balanced budget, free trade, and making a series of Wall Street-friendly top appointments – while supporting tolerant social policies in an era when Republicans became more closely aligned with the political wing of the evangelical movement.
The same suburban women who began trending Dem almost three decades ago, in places like West St. Louis County, Chicago's North Shore, Philadelphia's Main Line, and southern Connecticut, have been leaving the Republican party in droves since the day the Access Hollywood tape broke. At this point, these women – at least in Missouri – could easily have 3-4 images conjured when asked about Republicans: Donald Trump's pussygrabbing and payoffs; Eric Greitens' bad basement behavior; Josh Hawley's attribution of cultural rot to the sexual revolution; and now Brett Kavanaugh's alleged high school hijinks.
And if there were ever a candidate to exploit this, it's the cherubic-looking young lawyer who looks like the guy they wish their daughters married, Cort Van Ostran, whose central message is about the ACA-assisted health care of which his dying mom was able to avail herself.
Ann Wagner, meanwhile, responded to the Access Hollywood tape by distancing herself from Trump, which has continued to plague her with the Trump wing of the party even two years ago, despite her cozying up to him as president. It's a delicate balancing act that seems to have mollified neither independents nor the Trumpian base, based on recent VanOstran’s internal polling numbers that show her stuck at 40%.
Meanwhile, VanOstran emerged from the primary unscathed with his party unified, one of his opponents having dropped out early to endorse him and the other going away quietly. His campaign now has 1,000 volunteers signed up and signs are popping up everywhere, while there is little sign of a Wagner ground game.
Wagner certainly has one thing going for her: a $3M cash-on-hand edge. That's not nothing. But with an estimated $30-50M yet to be spent in U.S. Senate race television ads, how much will that matter?
It's too soon to say that Wagner is in serious trouble. But it might be the sort of thing we won’t know for sure until it happens.
Legislative Races Forecast Update
I’m going to update my 2018 forecast spreadsheet with the legislative races every Tuesday. See the new spreadsheet here.
The changes are based on the theory that turnout will be driven largely by sentiment about President Donald Trump. I’m downgrading a couple Republican leaning districts – House 3 from likely GOP to tilt GOP; House 11 from safe GOP to likely GOP; and House 136 from safe GOP to likely GOP. These are districts where Trump increasing unpopularity with educated women could create downside surprises for Republicans. I’m also moving House 97 from a Dem tilt to a GOP tilt. That’s Jefferson County where I think support for Trump remains relatively solid. Also the Republican Mary Elizabeth Coleman is working very hard.
This means, despite downgrading a few GOP districts, the needle moves in their direction to a +2 Dems pick-up. But Dems still have more possible positive surprises My current range prediction is +3 GOP to +11 Dems.
The rumors I wrote yesterday were true, by the way… Ryan Silvey has been tapped to be the new chair of the Public Service Commission. And Tony Monetti did announce an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2020.
Visiting the Governor’s Office
One MOScouter sent me description of their recent visit to the 2nd floor….
I went by the Governor's office to set an appointment for the first time since Gov. Mike Parson took over. The difference could not have been more striking.
Under Greitens, I often found the outer office empty except for the security person or persons and the receptionist… All the doors were closed, and everything seemed to be very quiet. A few of his staff members like Will Scharf were pretty engaging to interact with, but others were sort of "Stepford Wives."
[During my visit] I walked through an open hallway door to find the inner office packed with people. The door to the governor's private office space was wide open with a view to an open outdoor space as well so the breeze could blow through. The governor was chatting in the reception area with a man in a wheelchair and a woman with the man. The visitor had brought a box of donuts, and he indicated "I want you to have this one!" so the governor took that one. (I heard staff say he and the man "go way back.") I greeted the governor, extended my hand, and offered congratulations, and the security detail did not tackle me. He warmly greeted me.
The office was full of activity, and a staff member came out to help me with what I needed and was quick to give me additional information about who does what so that I could ask for the right person in the future…
West Coast Hawley
Dinger from a Dem denizen… “Word is fellow Stanford alum Joe Malchow and Silicon Valley entrepreneur is hosting a lunch today for Josh Hawley, with UC-Berkeley professor Steve Hayward in attendance. Now I don’t begrudge Josh for his education, but a little rich for him to hitting on elitist values when he is literally in a lunch in San Francisco with Bay Area big-wigs who benefit from West Coast economic values.”
Penn Wins Round on STL County Smoking Ban
Post Dispatch reports that “a judge on Monday removed from the Nov. 6 ballot a proposition aimed at snuffing out exemptions for casinos and more than 90 bars allowed under St. Louis County's seven-year-old indoor smoking ban… Monday's ruling, by Associate Circuit Judge Nicole Zollweger, was in response to a lawsuit filed by Maryland Heights Mayor Mike Moeller. Moeller's city is where one of the county's two casinos, Hollywood Casino, is located… Moeller, the Maryland Heights mayor, called the judge's decision "the fair thing to do" and would keep Hollywood on a level playing field with the nearby Ameristar Casino in St. Charles. He said his legal fees were paid for by Penn National, he said….”
Keri Ingle (Dem, House 35) fundraiser at Stockyard Brewing Company, Kansas City – 5:30PM.
John White formed a candidate committee (Citizens To Elect John White) to run St. Charles County Council District 7 as a Republican.
PG PAC was formed. Its treasurer – like so many of these – is Heather Grote.
IBEW Local No.412 COPE was formed. It’s a PAC. Its treasurer is Randy Adams.
Daniel Darian formed a candidate committee (Elect Dan Darian) to run for Jefferson County Council District 5 as a Democrat.
We Are Missouri - $10,000 from CWA COPE PCC.
SaferMo.Com - $10,000 from Journagan Construction Co.
MO Opportunity PAC - $10,000 from McBride & Son Management LLC.
MO Opportunity PAC - $10,000 from Kevin K Knasel.
Happy birthdays to former Reps. Chris Carter and Don Calloway.