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New polls find Boston’s new mayor in danger of losing next week’s primary

First up is MassInc, which was in the field Aug. 25-30. Wu takes 30% in this all-Democratic field as Janey edges out Essaibi George 15-13 for second, while Campbell isn’t far behind with 11%; former city cabinet official John Barros brings up the rear with 4%. MassInc’s last poll in April, which was done weeks after Janey’s ascension made her the first woman and person of color to ever lead Boston, found Wu ahead with 19%, while Janey led Essaibi George by a much larger 18-6 margin.

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Suffolk, which polled days later from Sept. 2-4, showed the candidates in the same order but found an even tighter race for the second spot in the Nov. 2 general election. Wu led with 31% as Janey outpaced Essaibi George by a mere 20-19, with Campbell at 18%; Barros also barely registered with 3%. Suffolk also found a dramatic transformation since it last went into the field in late June: Back then, Wu was at 23% while Janey beat Essaibi George 22-14.

Despite Janey’s struggles in these surveys, though, both pollsters find that she very much enjoys a positive favorable rating. MassInc gives her a 38-20 score, while Suffolk shows her in even better shape with a 56-22 favorable rating; Suffolk also asked about Janey’s approval rating, and respondents gave her the thumbs up by a 61-23 margin. And while the incumbent has attracted plenty of criticism, especially from Campbell, in recent weeks after she compared proof-of-vaccine requirements to slavery and birtherism, Suffolk’s sample still approves of her handling of the pandemic by a 64-20 margin.

Both polls, though, do find that Janey isn’t as well regarded as two of her main rivals. Wu, who has been elected citywide four times and boasts an endorsement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, posts a 50-16 favorable rating with MassInc and a 69-14 score with Suffolk.

The two pollsters, meanwhile, have Campbell on positive ground by margins of 38-13 and 63-12, respectively. Campbell, like Janey, represents one of Boston’s nine district-level City Council seats, but she’s benefited from heavy spending by Better Boston, a PAC the Globe says is heavily funded by “wealthy charter school supporters.” Campbell also received the paper’s endorsement last week, which her allies quickly mentioned in a TV ad.

Essaibi George, who also holds a citywide seat, sports smaller 30-19 and 44-23 favorable ratings with MassInc and Suffolk. The candidate, though, has set herself apart as the one major candidate who has spoken out against the idea of reallocating funds from the police budget to other areas, which could give her a base of support with more moderate voters.

The candidates and their allies are also acting like Wu will take first next Tuesday while second place is very much up in the air. The Globe‘s Stephanie Ebbert wrote Sunday that Essaibi George and Campbell have been focusing on Janey while largely ignoring Wu.

And while the incumbent spent months ignoring her foes, she forcefully pushed back on Essaibi George’s criticism of her last week after the councilor accused Janey of not doing enough to stop evictions. Janey, writes Ebbert, “pointed to another Globe story showing that Essaibi George’s husband has a history of evicting low-income tenants and that her council office had been involved in a city hearing into a project that could affect one of his developments.”

Janey’s allies at the Hospitality Workers Independent Expenditure PAC also launched the first negative ad of the entire race on Tuesday when it debuted a radio spot against Campbell. That commercial argued that Campbell’s own super PAC backers are “special interests that want to take money from our schools and give it to other schools that discriminate against kids with special needs.” Campbell quickly organized a press conference condemning the ad, arguing, “I’m the only candidate that actually has represented students with special needs in education cases, sometimes against Boston Public Schools, to ensure that they got the rights they were entitled to.”

While there’s plenty of uncertainty about what will happen next week, there’s no question that whoever wins in November will achieve at least one historic first in one of America’s oldest cities. Janey, Campbell, and Barros would each be the first Black person elected to lead a community that still has a reputation for racism targeting African Americans. Wu, meanwhile, would be Boston’s first Asian American leader, while Essaibi George would be its first Arab American chief executive. Additionally, Janey, Campbell, Essaibi George, and Wu would each be the first woman elected mayor.


GA-Sen, GA-LG: To the surprise of no one, Donald Trump on Thursday backed former NFL player Herschel Walker in the GOP primary for Senate and state Sen. Burt Jones in the open seat race for lieutenant governor. Trump spent months trying to entice Walker to move back to Georgia from Texas to campaign against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock, while he’d previously blasted Jones’ main intra-party foe, fellow state Sen. Butch Miller, “because of his refusal to work with other Republican Senators on voter fraud and irregularities in the State.”

Meanwhile, state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who is one of several Republicans also competing in the Senate primary, earned an endorsement last week from freshman Rep. Andrew Clyde. Clyde represents the most Trumpy congressional district in Georgia, and has quickly established himself as one of the far-right’s loudest voices in the House.

FL-Sen, FL-Gov: Recent polls have very much disagreed whether next year’s Senate and gubernatorial races start as competitive fights or if both Republican incumbents are far ahead, but the British firm Redfield & Wilton falls in the latter camp. The survey shows Sen. Marco Rubio fending off Rep. Val Demings 48-37, while he leads gadfly ex-Rep. Alan Grayson by a similar 48-36. Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, enjoys an identical 48-38 lead over Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

NC-Sen: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s allies at EMILY’s List have publicized a Democratic primary survey from Public Policy Polling that gives her a 33-24 lead over state Sen. Jeff Jackson. The release did not include any of the other candidates seeking the Democratic nod, including 2020 contender Erica Smith.

WI-Sen: On Tuesday, Milwaukee County prosecutors charged Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis with allegedly using campaign money to pay for trips and other inappropriate expenses, and for allegedly filing false reimbursements with the city. Lewis was already a longshot candidate in next year’s Democratic primary.


CA-Gov: Vice President Kamala Harris will campaign in the Bay Area Wednesday for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom days ahead of next week’s recall vote. Harris had originally planned to hold a rally in her home state late last month, but the event was called off following the deadly terrorist attack outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Newsom, meanwhile, narrates a commercial where he extols viewers for their pandemic sacrifices. “Now I’m asking you as Californians one more time,” the governor says, adding, “Republicans want to take us backwards with the Sept. 14 recall. They’ll eliminate vaccine mandates for health and school workers on day one, threatening school closures and our recovery.”

IL-Gov: Politico reports that venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan will announce this week that he’ll seek the GOP nomination to face Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker.

KS-Gov: It’s looking unlikely that Attorney General Derek Schmidt will face any serious opposition in the Republican primary now that wealthy businessman Wink Hartman has endorsed his campaign to take on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Hartman, who was Team Red’s 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, had expressed interest in running himself as recently as Wednesday, but he said four days later that he was all-in for the attorney general instead. Sen. Roger Marshall, who had been supporting former Gov. Jeff Colyer’s now defunct campaign, also threw his backing behind Schmidt on Tuesday, arguing that the GOP could now avoid “a costly, contentious, and detrimental primary race.”

Marshall may get his wish, as Hartman was the only notable Republican who still appeared to be considering joining the race. That’s a marked turn of events for Schmidt, who began last week locked in a competitive primary with Colyer. The attorney general, though, abruptly became the heavy frontrunner on Aug. 30 when the former governor exited the race and endorsed his now-former rival; Schmidt then earned the backing of all three of Kansas’ GOP House members the next day.

MN-Gov: Jennifer Carnahan, who resigned in disgrace as state GOP chair last month, indicated on Sunday that she was interested in taking on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. Carnahan said in a Facebook post, “I’ve received thousands of calls for action to take my leadership in Minnesota to the next level. From running again for Chair on October 2nd to running for Governor and other ideas in between, the calls are loud, strong and encouraging.” She added, “What will I do next? Stay tuned.”

Carnahan, who is the wife of Rep. Jim Hagedorn, faced widespread calls for her departure as state party chair last month after Tony Lazzaro, a close friend and party donor, was arrested on sex-trafficking charges. Carnahan denied knowing about the allegations against Lazzaro and argued that the people trying to oust her were just her old internal enemies.

Carnahan’s own stewardship of the state party, though, was also the subject of much criticism, with the Associated Press writing she was “also accused of creating a toxic workplace environment in which personal and professional lines were blurred, concerns about sexual harassment ignored, and employees who didn’t fall in line were subjected to retaliation.” Carnahan finally announced her resignation on Aug. 20, though only after she’d cast the deciding vote to give her three months of salary as severance.

VA-Gov: Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s new commercial begins with audio of Glenn Youngkin declaring, “President Trump represents so much of why I’m running,” and goes on to argue that the two Republicans each don’t take the pandemic seriously. The narrator says, “Youngkin opposes requiring vaccines for healthcare workers and teachers. And despite the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and pediatricians, Glenn Youngkin is against requiring masks in schools.”


AZ-02: State Rep. Randy Friese on Thursday abruptly dropped out of the Democratic primary for this open seat, with the physician declaring, “As the Delta variant surges across our region, it has become an increasing challenge to fulfill my obligations to the hospital, my patients, and the campaign amidst a run for Congress.” Friese was arguably the frontrunner to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, in this Tucson-based seat: Friese’s $425,000 war chest at the end of June gave him an early financial advantage, while 314 Action reportedly planned to spend heavily for him.

Two fellow Democratic legislators essentially have the primary to themselves, at least for now. State Rep. Daniel Hernandez had $255,000 to spend at the end of the second quarter, while state Sen. Kirsten Engel had $235,000 available. The only notable Republican, by contrast, is Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey who announced last month. The current version of this constituency backed Joe Biden 55-44, though no one knows how redistricting will play out here.

MI-06: Donald Trump on Tuesday continued his revenge tour against the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him by endorsing state Rep. Steve Carra’s primary campaign against longtime Rep. Fred Upton. The current version of this southwest Michigan seat backed Trump 51-47 last year, and Upton, who flirted with retirement last cycle, has not yet announced if he’ll seek a 19th term.

The Detroit Free Press‘ Dave Boucher tweets that Carra has introduced eight bills or resolutions during his brief time in the legislature, “None have garnered any discussion.” One of his resolutions demanded that the U.S. House “adopt a resolution disavowing the January 2021 impeachment of President Donald J. Trump or expel [California] U.S. Representative Maxine Waters for continuing to incite violence.”

Another of his bills called for the state to conduct a “forensic audit” of Joe Biden’s 51-48 victory in the state. Carra argued that he didn’t know anyone in his community who wanted to overturn Biden’s win, though he himself previously appeared at a November rally calling for that very action.

NM-02: Local reporter Joe Monahan mentions state Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill and Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez as possible Democratic foes against Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell in the 2nd Congressional District, a 55-43 Trump seat that the Democratic legislature has the power to dramatically redraw.

Secretaries of State

MI-SoS: Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed Kristina Karamo, who joined him in spreading lies about voter fraud after working as a poll challenger last year in Detroit. The GOP will choose its nominee to face Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson at a party convention in April; the only other announced contender is Plainfield Township Clerk Cathleen Postmus.


Albuquerque, NM Mayor: On Thursday, City Clerk Ethan Watson announced that he was once again denying Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales access to over $600,000 in public financing after concluding that the conservative Democrat’s campaign had violated city election law. Gonzales, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Tim Keller in this November’s nonpartisan race, quickly made it clear he’d continue his legal challenge to the decision, though he acknowledged he was considering ending his attempts to participate in the program so he could go after larger donations.

Watson had said in July that he was rejecting the sheriff’s application to public money because of evidence submitted in two ethics investigations, but a judge ruled weeks later that the clerk had not given Gonzales the chance to answer the allegations. Watson held a new hearing Wednesday during which, writes the Albuquerque Journal‘s Jessica Dyer, Gonzales sat in silence as his legal team “argued that the proceeding was a ‘sham’ and that Watson was not impartial because of his ties to Gonzales’ opponent.” Watson, as the paper notes, was appointed by Keller and confirmed by the City Council, and “his term is tethered to the mayor who picked him.”

The next day, Watson released a letter to Gonzales that once again denied him access to the $600,000 in public financing. Watson wrote:

“[Y]ou, as a candidate, your campaign’s employees and the designated representatives for whom you expressly accepted responsibility, submitted materially false statements to the Clerk’s Office, submitted forged Qualifying Contribution acknowledgment forms to the Clerk’s Office to obtain public financing in your campaign, which you and your employees knew or should have known were forged, and paid for the Qualifying Contributions of purported contributors.”

The clerk also said, “You did not admit evidence, nor did you seek to admit any evidence or documents” at the hearing.

Gonzales’ team, as Dyer wrote in July, has “confirmed that it turned in forged documentation,” but has insisted that “forgeries are typical in campaigns and that the sheriff was not responsible for them.” On Thursday, his campaign once again argued that Watson could not be fair in a decision involving Keller’s re-election campaign.

Buffalo, NY Mayor: The Erie County Board of Elections voted Tuesday to appeal a federal judge’s order last week that would require it to list Mayor Byron Brown as an independent on the November ballot.

Brown had launched a write-in campaign shortly after losing the June Democratic primary to nurse India Walton, but he also sought to get on the ballot as the nominee of his newly-created Buffalo Party. The county Board of Elections rejected Brown’s petitions last week because the state legislature had recently changed the deadline for candidates to submit signatures from September to May, but Judge John Sinatra ruled Friday that the new deadline “severely burdens plaintiffs’ rights.”

Brown also got some welcome news on Labor Day when he picked up endorsements from two unions, AFSCME and the CSEA.

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