Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 14

March 17, 2022

In this issue: Former Minneapolis Council member challenges Ilhan Omar and a hypothetical matchup poll shows Kathy Hochul and Andrew Cuomo about even 

Criminal justice issues in spotlight in California AG primary 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) faces Republican and independent challengers in the state’s top-two primary. Politico‘s Jeremy B. White said the attorney general race “could be the most consequential contest in the deep-blue state — a bellwether of Democratic voters’ commitment to criminal justice reform.”

White wrote that two of Bonta’s primary opponents, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert (independent) and former U.S. Attorney Nathan Hochman (R), have sought to connect Bonta to two California district attorneys facing recall efforts this year: Los Angeles County D.A. George Gascón and San Francisco D. A. Chesa Boudin. 

White said, “District attorneys wield far greater influence than the attorney general over whom to prosecute and what sentences to seek. But Schubert and Hochman argue Bonta should have used the power of his office to rein in progressive prosecutors.” 

The Boudin recall is on the June 7 ballot, and signature gathering is underway in the Gascón recall effort. Organizers of the recall campaigns allege that each D.A.’s policies led to an increase in crime. Bonta endorsed Gascón’s D.A. bid and worked with Boudin’s office on legislation when Bonta was in the General Assembly.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Bonta in 2021 after Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) became U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. Bonta served in the General Assembly from 2012 to 2021, where his record included co-writing bills to end cash bail and requiring the attorney general to investigate fatal police shootings of unarmed people. 

Bonta says he “holds those who break the law – especially those in positions of power – accountable” and that in his first 100 days as attorney general, he won a settlement for families harmed by opioids, defended an assault weapons ban, and prosecuted major polluters. 

Hochman says he will “protect our neighborhoods, get fentanyl off our streets, get tough on crime, and find compassionate solutions to homelessness.” 

Schubert’s campaign slogan is “Stop the chaos.” She says she’ll “step in and take over cases from district attorneys when those district attorneys are not protecting Californians.”

Republican Eric Early is also running. He says, “It is time for someone new, an outsider who supports law enforcement and wants a California with low crime, good schools, thriving businesses, secure borders, fair elections, a strong Second Amendment, and government overregulation out of our lives.”

California has had Democratic attorneys general since 1999.

Former city council member challenges Ilhan Omar in MN-05

Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels announced his Democratic primary bid for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. Samuels says incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) “has demonstrated she’s out of touch with the residents of Minneapolis in the last election,” referring to her support for a 2021 ballot measure to replace the city’s police department with a Department of Public Safety. Voters rejected the measure 56%-44%.

Omar’s campaign said in a fundraising email following Samuels’ announcement, “[Samuels] was one of the most vocal opponents of a ballot amendment in Minneapolis that would have established a public safety system rooted in compassion, humanity and love, and delivering true justice. We can’t let him win and put a stop to all our work for progress.”

Samuels was part of a group of residents who sued the city in 2020 alleging it did not have enough police officers to meet the city charter’s requirements. A Hennepin County judge ruled in favor of the group in 2021, ordering the city to hire more officers. On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the decision, stating that the mayor is responsible for determining police staffing levels.

Samuels also criticized Omar’s vote against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. Omar was one of six Democrats to vote against the bill. Samuels said, “Too many D.C. politicians find their success through the division and purity politics that have defined our era, and, unfortunately in this case, Rep. Omar’s position was quite literally ‘my way or the highway,’ a position that fails to recognize the tremendous infrastructural needs of our community.”

Omar said in November, “I have been clear that I would not be able to support the infrastructure bill without a vote on the Build Back Better Act. Passing the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act first risks leaving behind childcare, paid leave, health care, climate action, housing, education, and a roadmap to citizenship.”

The Star Tribune reported that Joe Radinovich, who managed Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s successful re-election campaign last year, is managing Samuels’ campaign.  

Samuels served on the city council from 2003 to 2014. He then served a term on the Minneapolis Board of Education from 2014 to 2018. Omar was first elected to the U.S. House in 2018. She served in the state House of Representatives from 2017 to 2019.

Congressional Progressive Caucus members split endorsements in IL-06

U.S. Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman are both running in Illinois’ 6th Congressional District Democratic primary as a result of redistricting. Both have garnered endorsements from members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), of which Newman is a member and Casten is not. 

Most recently, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), deputy chair of the CPC, endorsed Casten. CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal has endorsed Newman.

In addition to Porter, 14 U.S. representatives have endorsed Casten, including four CPC members. Seven U.S. representatives in addition to Jayapal have endorsed Newman, six of whom are CPC members. The Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed Newman.

Forty-one percent of the newly drawn 6th District’s population comes from the old 3rd District, which Newman currently represents. Twenty-three percent comes from the old 6th District, which Casten represents. 

Casten was first elected to the House in 2018 and won re-election in 2020 by 7 percentage points. Newman was first elected in 2020, defeating then-U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary by 3 percentage points before winning the general election by 13 percentage points.

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

U.S. representatives not seeking re-election

As of the end of February—eight months before the general election—45 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 34 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 46 in 2018.

Poll shows Gov. Kathy Hochul about even with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in hypothetical primary matchup

Emerson College and The Hill released a poll showing that in a hypothetical primary matchup, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) had 37% support and the incumbent she replaced, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), had 33%. The poll had a +/- 4.3 percentage point margin of error.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi had 7%, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams had 4%, Paul Nichols had 2%, and 16% were either undecided or voting for someone else.

Cuomo resigned during his third term last August after New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released reports on investigations into Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes and accusations of sexual harassment. Cuomo made his first public remarks since leaving office on March 6, saying that no legal charges were brought against him. A week later, Cuomo released an ad in which he says, “I haven’t been perfect, I’ve made mistakes, but I also made a difference. I’ve never stopped fighting for New Yorkers, and I never will.” 

AdImpact reported on Tuesday that Cuomo’s campaign committee had spent $2.4 million on ads since he left office, including a new buy to run from March 16 to March 25. Cuomo has not made any announcements regarding another run for political office.

Emerson College/The Hill also asked respondents who they’d vote for between current gubernatorial primary candidates, which showed Hochul at 42%, Williams at 10%, Suozzi at 7%, Nichols at 5%, and 36% either undecided or voting for someone else. 

The poll surveyed 504 registered Democratic voters and was conducted March 9-10. 

The filing deadline is April 7, and the primary is scheduled for June 28.

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper endorses challenger to state Sen. Kirk deViere

On March 8, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) endorsed Val Applewhite, who is challenging incumbent state Sen. Kirk deViere in the Democratic primary for Senate District 19. Cooper said Applewhite “isn’t afraid to stand up to Right Wing Republicans.” 

DeViere said, “This primary challenge is a direct result of putting my community over partisan politics and not being a rubber stamp.”

DeViere, first elected in 2018, was one of four Democrats who voted for a version of the 2021 state budget that the Republican majority supported. Among the items other Senate Democrats, along with Cooper, disagreed with Republicans on were raises for teachers and noncertified school employees. Cooper called for 10% teacher raises and a $15 minimum wage for noncertified employees. The Senate budget called for 3% teacher raises and a $13 minimum wage for noncertified employees. All four Senate Democrats who supported that version of the budget served on the committee responsible for negotiating a final budget with Cooper.

DeViere and Applewhite were candidates in the nonpartisan election for Fayetteville mayor in 2013. Applewhite finished first in the primary with 44% and DeViere was third with 20%. Applewhite lost the general election to Nat Robertson 50.5%-49.4%.

Ed Donaldson is also running in the Democratic Senate District 19 primary. The primary is scheduled for May 17 and will be open to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters only.