Morning Digest: First House Republican retires this cycle after sexual misconduct allegation

Morning Digest: First House Republican retires this cycle after sexual misconduct allegation

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

NY-23, NY-Gov: Republican Rep. Tom Reed said Sunday evening that he would not run for re-election or for any other office in 2022, an announcement that came two days after the Washington Post published a story where a former lobbyist named Nicolette Davis accused Reed of sexually harassing her at a Minneapolis restaurant in 2017.

Davis, who was a 25-year-old insurance company lobbyist at the time, recounted that she had briefly met Reed earlier on the day in question during a networking trip. Davis says she went to a restaurant with several of her colleagues later that evening that Reed also happened to be at, and she wound up sitting next to him at a table.

In the words of reporter Beth Reinhard, Davis says that the congressman put his “hand outside her blouse, briefly fumbled with her bra before unhooking it by pinching the clasp,” which left her “stunned” and afraid to speak. Reinhard continued, “He moved his hand to her thigh, inching upward.” Reed only stopped, according to Davis, after she asked another person at the table for help, who then “pull[ed] the congressman away from the table and out of the restaurant.”

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Davis showed the paper a text from that night in which she told her friend and coworker, Jessica Strieter, “A drunk congressman is rubbing my back,” and later added, “HELP HELP.” An unnamed witness also told Reinhard that “Reed was visibly intoxicated and put his hand on Davis’ back before being escorted from the restaurant while the rest of the group remained.”

Strieter says that Davis told her more about the incident after the trip, adding, “She was really shaken by it.” Davis’ supervisor at the time, Brad Knox, also said that he remembered Davis telling him about what happened. Knox added that he asked Davis if she wanted to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee but says that she decided not to. Davis herself says she now regrets not pursuing that option, but explained, “I was afraid I would become ‘that girl’ who made a mess of things for a member, and that no one would ever want to associate with me.”

The Post contacted Reed, who had been mulling a bid for governor of New York, with a list of questions for its story, to which he responded, “This account of my actions is not accurate.” On Sunday, though, Reed published a statement apologizing to Davis and announcing that he would not be on the ballot for anything next year. Reed’s upstate seat backed Trump 55-43, though no one knows what the congressional map will look like after redistricting. 


GA-Sen: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reports that Rep. Buddy Carter and banking executive Latham Saddler are each considering entering next year’s Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Neither Republican has publicly expressed interest yet in running in what could be a crowded nomination fight to face Warnock, who is defending a Senate seat that the party badly wants to take back.

The more familiar name is Carter, who won a competitive 2014 primary for a safely red seat along the Georgia coast, the 1st District, and has not been seriously threatened since then. The congressman has spent the last few years as a loyal Trump supporter, though he’s rarely generated much attention for himself.

Saddler, meanwhile, does not appear to have run for office before, though it sounds like he has some connections. The Navy SEAL veteran went on to serve as a National Security Council aide in the Trump White House, and last year, he joined the board of Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, which the Atlanta Business Chronicle called “a public-private partnership dedicated to making Georgia the tech capital of the Eastern seaboard.”

Several other Republicans are eyeing this race including two who unsuccessfully competed in the recent special election, former appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and ex-Rep. Doug Collins. The AJC also recently reported that another GOP congressman, Drew Ferguson, is thinking about running, but the paper now adds that he and Collins are “unlikely to run against each other.”

OH-Sen: We hadn’t heard Republican Rep. Mike Turner say much about a possible Senate run since late January, when he expressed interest right after incumbent Rob Portman surprised the political world with his retirement announcement, but the Dayton Daily News reports he’s very much still considering. The congressman himself was more evasive, telling the paper only, “Nothing to say right now.”

Republicans could have a much harder time holding Turner’s Dayton-area seat if he seeks a promotion, though the party may have the chance to strengthen their hold over the seat during the upcoming round of redistricting. In its current form Ohio’s 10th District, which includes all of Dayton, backed Donald Trump 51-47 four years after supporting him by a larger 51-44 spread. Turner, though, has never failed to win re-election by double digits, and he won his 10th term last year by defeating a well-funded Democrat 58-42.


FL-Gov: Former Rep. David Jolly, a Republican turned anti-Trump independent, said Wednesday that he would decide later this year whether to run for governor. Jolly sounds like he very much plans to do it, though, saying, “I likely will be an independent candidate for governor in 2022.”  

TX-Gov: Outgoing Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told the Washington Post Thursday that she wasn’t going to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the Republican primary, though she acknowledged that unnamed people had asked her to think about it. Price also didn’t commit to supporting the incumbent, saying that, while it’s “more than likely,” she “will just see who is in the race.”

VA-Gov: Virginia Republicans have somehow found yet another way to showcase just why holding nominating conventions instead of primaries can be so terrible, but this time, it’s not about site selection. On Wednesday, the Virginia Scope’s Brandon Jarvis released Ring camera footage of a woman attempting to convince a homeowner to sign up to be a delegate for the May 8 convention. It’s normal for campaigns to try to pre-register supporters for the party gathering, a process that involves collecting personal information, but what happened next wasn’t.

This homeowner, who is a member of the Republican State Central Committee, directly asked the canvasser, “Is this for a particular candidate?” to which she responded, “It is for the Republican Party, not for a particular candidate.” However, she later acknowledged, “Well, I work for Vanguard Field Services but it is for the Republican Party.”

As Jarvis notes, though, there is no such thing as “Vanguard Field Services.” Jarvis explains that a group called Vanguard Field Strategies is part of the GOP consulting giant Axiom Strategies, which is not employed by the state party―but is employed by wealthy candidate Glenn Youngkin.

The story brought a furious reaction from Stephen Kurtz, a party official backing rival candidate Pete Snyder, who declared that Youngkin has “failed to address the fraud, the lies, and the fact that we don’t know the extent of this abuse of trust.” Youngkin’s campaign, for its part, called this incident “unacceptable,” while Vanguard said, “All of our staff were pulled from the field today to engage in an intensive re-training to ensure nothing like this happens again.” Other Republicans have shared similar stories from canvassers who later admitted they were there on behalf of Youngkin.


AZ-02: On Friday, state Sen. Kirsten Engel became the first notable candidate to announce she would run to succeed retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a fellow Democrat. Engel, who works as an environmental law professor at the University of Arizona, was elected to the state House in 2016 from a Tucson-based seat, and she won a promotion to the upper chamber last year.

The Tucson Weekly‘s Jim Nintzel also mentions Tucson Mayor Regina Romero as a potential Democratic contender, though he also notes that there’s chatter she could take a post in the Biden administration instead. Nintzel additionally name-drops Pima County Supervisor Steve Christy, who is the one Republican on the five-member body, as a possibility. The current version of the 2nd District backed Biden by a tough 55-44, though no one knows how redistricting will play out here.

PA-07: Technology consulting company owner Kevin Dellicker, who is a veteran of Army and Air national guards, told The Morning Call that he was thinking about seeking the Republican nod to face Democratic Rep. Susan Wild. 2020 nominee Lisa Scheller, who lost to Wild 52-48 as Biden was prevailing by a similar 52-47, also said in January she was eyeing another congressional run.


St. Louis, MO Mayor: EMILY’s List has endorsed city Treasurer Tishaura Jones in the April 6 general election. Jones faces Alderman Cara Spencer, a fellow Democrat, in the officially nonpartisan race.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Bill Nelson probably won’t be going back to space, but Joe Biden has nominated Florida’s former Democratic senator to lead NASA.

Nelson represented Florida’s Space Coast in the House when he served aboard Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. He would explain that he began to get ready for a possible mission when NASA announced that it would start to allow non-professionals into space in the 1980s. Nelson wrote in his 1988 book about his experience, “If I was going to speak about the space program accurately in Congress, I wanted to feel what the astronauts felt.”

Nelson trained with Utah Sen. Jake Garn, a Republican who, like Nelson, served as a chairman of a subcommittee that oversaw NASA’s budget. Nelson recounted of the experience:

I started a regimen of physical conditioning that included running at least four miles every day, plus workouts in the gym. … In an Air Force F-16 jet, flying over the bombing test range in south Florida, I asked the pilot to pull the max Gs. For fifteen seconds in a left turn, we pulled nine times gravity. The pressure was so intense that my oxygen mask was sagging off my face.

Garn went up in Discovery in 1985, which made him the first sitting member of Congress to go into space. Nelson went into orbit as a payload specialist aboard Columbia several months later in January of 1986, a mission that ended 10 days before the fatal Challenger explosion. Nelson said months before his launch, “Do I want to be an astronaut? No. I want to be a congressman.”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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