Democrats quietly accuse blue state governors of lowering ticket

Left to right: Oregon Governor Kate Brown, California Governor Gavin Newsom and New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Photos: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg; Jerod Harris/VoxMedia; Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With the midterm elections a week away, some Democratic operatives working on House races are already beginning to assign blame in case their party loses winnable seats: The culprit, they say, is blue state governors dragging out the rest of the ballot. .

Driving the news: Bake the political report changed his grades in favor of Republicans today in ten House districts — all in states President Biden has won by 15 points or more in 2020.

  • The districts are in New York (three), California (three), Illinois (two), New Jersey (one), and Oregon (one).
  • Some of those seats, like New York’s 25th district and California’s 26th district, are in deep blue territory but have attracted spending from both sides in recent weeks.

What we mean: “There is a direct correlation between the performance of [New York Gov.] Kathy Hochul and [California Gov.] Gavin Newsom and the effect it has on House candidates,” said A Democratic strategist working on House campaigns told Axios.

  • “I think the Republicans notice it too, especially in New York. They don’t even run ads with Pelosi and Biden anymore. They run ads with Kathy Hochul,” the strategist added. “Unless Hochul and Newsom get it back, we’re going to lose seats in the House.”
  • Newsom has been criticized for focusing more on his national aspirations than his safe re-election in California, including battling Republican governors in Florida and Texas.
  • The strategist also cited Oregon Gov. Kate Brown — who Morning Consult polls show is the nation’s most unpopular governor — as another ticket drag in a state where Democrats have struggled. .

Enlarge: Hochul’s campaign has come under particular scrutiny as polls show her top GOP representative, Lee Zeldin, in single digits in a state where Democrats routinely win by wide margins. Strategists say his apparent unpreparedness for a highly competitive campaign had a clear downvoting effect.

  • “I think they were caught off guard. Everyone I talk to, they’re like what the fuck is going on?” A New York-based Democratic strategist working on House campaigns told Axios, calling her an “absent candidate” until recent signs of her vulnerability emerged.
  • Another New York-based Democratic strategist said Hochul’s “lackluster” campaign was “dragging everyone down.”
  • “Instead of bombing Zeldin earlier this summer…they let it hang around and define itself and the race and now the top contenders are facing the consequences,” the strategist said.

What they say : Alyssa Cass, communications director for Rep. Pat Ryan’s (DN.Y.) campaign, said Hochul, a Buffalo native, has done well in upstate districts like Ryan’s, but “you don’t can’t take your eyes off the ball when it’s just turned base in New York – especially this year.”

  • “Republicans look stronger than we’re used to seeing them in places like New York State and even New York City,” Cass said, calling on Hochul to do more to energize. grassroots voters there.

The other side: Hochul’s campaign pointed to a memo from last week that showed the governor held more than 65 campaign events during the general election, including 47 in September and October.

  • A New York-based strategist not affiliated with Hochul’s campaign said it was “100% wrong” to blame her for the vulnerability of New York Democrats, telling Axios: “She spends royal ransom to help people , and I’m not sure what else she would have done.”
  • The strategist blamed only a disastrous redistricting process, in which Democrats’ attempt to herd Republicans into a handful of seats backfired when a judge blocked the map and appointed a mapmaker who drew lines of much more competitive district.
  • “They were so greedy in redrawing and were so egregious in violating the Constitution that the court had to remove the lines and now we have these ungerrymandered lines.”

A spokesperson for Newsom responded to Axios’ request for comment by sending a screenshot of the California governor’s commanding lead in the FiveThirtyEight poll average.

  • A spokesperson for Brown did not respond to a request for comment.

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