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Booker unveils housing affordability plan

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker Wednesday unveiled an affordable housing plan that would provide a refundable tax credit to those whose rents run more than 30 percent of their income.  

Booker's campaign says his housing plan would help 57 million people, many of those whose rent costs more than half of their income. 

“Making sure all Americans have the right to good housing is very personal to me. I’m determined to tear down the barriers that stand in the way of every American being able to do for their families what my parents did for mine," Booker said in a statement. 

Booker would pay for his plan by repealing the latest estate tax cuts and putting those rates back to 2009 levels, which taxed income over $3.5 million per year at a 45 percent rate. Currently, the tax applies to any income over $5.3 million per year which is taxed at a 40 percent rate. 

Booker's core plan is to help people pay their rents, but combined with his baby bonds would help make housing more accessible.

Booker says his baby bonds plan, which would give every child born in the United States $1,000 at birth and an amount up to $2,000 based on family income on every birthday until 18, would create a a fund that could be used for a down payment for a first-time home buyer. 

Booker often invokes his family's trials with buying a home when he was a child on the campaign trail. He said that his family was discriminated against and had difficulty buying a home when they tried to move to a middle class New Jersey neighborhood. 

Booker would also strengthen rules that make it harder to discriminate against those previously incarcerated and push for the passage of the Equality Act to outline discrimination against people based on gender and sexual orientation. He would also create a $40 billion housing fund to refurbish and build low-income housing, provide right to counsel for those facing eviction and invest in affordable housing in rural areas and Indian County. 

Outside group launches $6 million ad campaign supporting Ron Johnson

One Nation, a super PAC with ties to the conservative Senate Leadership Fund, is launching a $6 million ad campaign to back Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., today.

The group’s first ad will run for eight weeks in Wisconsin and highlights Johnson’s efforts to curb inflation. 

“Gas, groceries, rent. Everything costs more. Senator Ron Johnson is fighting back,” a narrator in the ad says.

The narrator adds, “The D.C. liberals' spending spree is out of control.  Jacking up inflation on Wisconsin families. Wiping out wage gains and making it harder for families to make ends meet.”

Johnson is running for a third term this year and while he faces no significant primary challenge, Democrats are eyeing his seat as one they can flip in November. So far, there are three main candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Senate — state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, businessman Alex Lasry and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 26, 2022.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 26, 2022.Bonnie Cash / Pool via Getty Images file

Wisconsin’s primary election is August 9.

So far, Lasry has spent the most on ads of any candidate, spending $5.6 million on the airwaves, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. Johnson himself has spent over $5.1 million on ads.

Godlewski and Barnes trail, with Godlewski having spent $1.9 million on ads so far and Barnes having spent under $100,000 on ads.

Barnes, however, has racked up significant progressive endorsements, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., planning to campaign for him soon, according to NBC News’ Shaq Brewster.

One Nation, however, will be competing against an anti-Johnson outside group, Opportunity Wisconsin. The group hasn’t explicitly backed any of the Democratic candidates, but they have been running ads against Johnson since early this year.

The commercials allege Johnson used loopholes in legislation he supported to make money for himself. So far, the group has spent the most of any candidate or group on the airwaves, spending $6.4 million.

Like One Nation, Opportunity Wisconsin is an advocacy organization that does not have to disclose its donors, though the group’s website claims they’re, “made up of a diverse group of leaders who span the urban/rural divide and live and work in communities and industries through Wisconsin.”

Barnette says she won't support "globalist" candidates if she loses Pa. GOP primary

Republican Kathy Barnette, who has been surging in the final days before the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary race, threw cold water on the idea of her backing rivals Mehmet Oz or David McCormick if she loses the primary election. 

"I am not a globalist, both of them are. They have very strong ties to the World Economic Forum. I've heard McCormick several times espouse the glowing benefits of ESG scores --environmental social governance scores. If you just look at who they are, Mehmet Oz is not only an American but also Turkish as well. That's a very important distinction," Barnette said during an interview with SiriusXM's Breitbart News Daily. 

When asked subsequently if she'd back the eventual GOP nominee if she loses Tuesday, Barnette replied: "I have no intention of supporting globalists."

"I don't think we have room to just vote for any old warm body with an 'R' next to their name. I think we can do better than that." 

During the interview, Barnette went onto criticize Oz and McCormick as not authentic conservatives, as well as criticizing the idea that they're electable because they have deep pockets to loan to their campaigns. 

"I have been an America First individual long before I decided to run for this race. And now, these two particular men, because it's convenient, because we have this seat open, they are now presenting themselves as Trump, card-carrying members of the Patriot Party," Barnette said.

"That's not how they've lived their life prior to stepping into this role."

In recent interviews with NBC News, both Oz and McCormick raised questions about Barnette's candidacy.

"He's not been transparent. And every time she answers a question, she raises a lot more," Oz told NBC's Dasha Burns last weekend before saying he would support her if she wins. 

And Monday, McCormick criticized Barnette for losing her 2020 congressional bid. 

"I've gotten to know Kathy on the campaign trail, I respect her personal story. She's been tested, she was tested 18 months ago when she ran for Congress and lost by 20 percentage points," McCormick said.

Dasha Burns contributed

Poll: Democrats are becoming more progressive, while most Republicans want Trump to lead GOP

Ahead of a slew of notable primary races taking place over the next two weeks, the latest NBC News poll finds that the Democratic primary electorate has become more progressive since 2020. 

It also shows a majority of Republican primary voters wanting Trump to continue leading their party.

Now neither development should be that surprising to anyone who follows politics. But it’s instructive to see them backed up by numbers.

Per the poll, 63 percent of Democratic primary voters say they prefer a candidate who proposes larger-scale policies even if they cost more and might he harder to pass, versus 33 percent who prefer a candidate who proposes smaller-scale policies that cost less and might be easier to pass.

That’s a jump from Feb. 2020 — during the height of the Democratic presidential primary season — when 53 percent wanted candidates proposing larger-scale policies, versus 41 percent who wanted candidate with smaller-scale policies.

NBC News poll

As for Republican primary voters, 55 percent believe the party should continue to be led by former President Donald Trump; 33 percent say he was a good president but it’s time for new leaders; and 10 percent say he was a bad president, and it’s time to move on.

On a separate question, however, 34 percent of Republicans in the poll identify themselves as more supporters of Trump, while 58 percent consider themselves more supporters of the party. 

The NBC News poll was conducted May 5-7, 9-10 of 1,000 adults — including 750 on their cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

The margin of error for the poll’s 259 Democratic primary voters is plus-minus 6.09 percentage points, and the margin of error for the poll’s 247 Republican primary voters is plus-minus 6.24 percentage points.

Fetterman won't appear at campaign's primary night event after last week's stroke

Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman won't attend his Senate campaign's primary-election night event on Tuesday after suffering a stroke late last week. 

In a press release Monday, the campaign said Fetterman's wife and "other special guests" will deliver remarks, while Fetterman himself "will not be in attendance on Tuesday as he will remain in the hospital resting and recovering."

Fetterman Sunday that he had suffered a stroke Friday, but he said that he didn't suffer "cognitive damage" and insisted he is "well on my way to full recovery." The Democrat is considered the frontrunner in the Democratic primary bid, where he's running against Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. 

In Pennsylvania, Mastriano rises to top of GOP field despite little ad spending

State Sen. Doug Mastriano has established himself as a frontrunner in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania governor despite being vastly outspent on the airwaves. 

Mastriano’s campaign has spent just $332,000 on ads ahead of Tuesday’s primary, accounting for just over 1 percent of the $22.7 million spent on the governor's race by the total GOP primary field, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact. 

Mastriano, who has championed former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, has been the target of a $1.1 million ad campaign from Pennsylvania Patriots for Election Integrity. The group has knocked Mastriano for supporting a 2019 law expanding mail voting in the state (which Mastriano has said he would reverse if elected). 

Image: Doug Mastriano
Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano speaks during a campaign rally at The Fuge on May 14, 2022 in Warminster, Pa.Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

Despite minimal spending on campaign ads, Mastriano has established himself as a frontrunner in the crowded race and he picked up Trump’s endorsement over the weekend. 

Trump’s endorsement in the final days of the primary race came after he encouraged his supporters last month to reject former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, calling McSwain a “coward” for not investigating election fraud. 

Half of all ad spending in the GOP race — $11.1 million — has bolstered McSwain. But Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which has spent millions supporting McSwain, announced over the weekend that it is instead backing former Rep. Lou Barletta in an attempt to consolidate behind one Mastriano opponent. 

The group’s decision comes after two other candidates, state Sen. Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart, dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Barletta, whose campaign has spent $967,000 on ads.

Aside from McSwain, the top spender in the race has been former Delaware County Councilman David White’s campaign, which has dropped nearly $5.7 million on ads so far. The conservative Club for Growth Action has spent $801,000 on an ad campaign opposing White.

Rep. Mike Simpson is seeking to fend off primary challenger in Idaho

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, will be defending his seat Tuesday when he faces a challenge from personal injury attorney Bryan Smith in Idaho's 2nd district GOP primary.

The two have been engaged in an intense ad war, running over a dozen unique ads combined this cycle. Most of those ads have been on the offensive, with Smith attacking Simpson over his decision to vote in favor of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Simpson has attacked Smith for his debt collection practices, featuring families in his ads who were sought after by Smith’s business to pay back small amounts.

Smith has spent over $450,000 on his ads, while Simpson has spent just over $368,000 on the airwaves, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. 

However, Simpson has been defended by outside groups, including the Defending main street Super PAC, which has run ads supporting him. That group has spent over $460,000 on ads in Simpson’s favor. 

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, speaks at the Capitol on July 22, 2020.
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, speaks at the Capitol on July 22, 2020.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file

Defending Main Street is the political arm of the Republican Main Street Partnership and is spending in House GOP primaries across the country, including in Ohio and Minnesota.

Smith has had the backing of an outside group, too. America Proud PAC has poured $405,000 into ads supporting him in the district, accusing Simpson of being a “career politician” and a RINO (Republican In Name Only). The group is largely funded by Boise real estate developer Joe C. Russell, according to FEC filings.

Simpson has been serving in this seat since 1999, and it’s the second time he’s faced a primary challenge from Smith. In 2014, Smith ran against Simpson, but Simpson earned 61.6 percent of the vote on election night, compared to Smith’s 38.4 percent.

Though former President Donald Trump has endorsed against some members of Congress who voted in favor of the January 6 commission, he has not publicly supported either candidate in this race.

Data Download: The number of the day is… -19 percentage points.

That’s the net-negative rating for the Democratic Party in the latest national NBC News poll, with 50 percent of adults saying they had negative feelings about the Democratic Party and 31 percent saying they had positive feelings about the party. That’s also the highest net-negative rating the Democratic Party has seen in 30 years of the survey. 

Adults surveyed in the poll gave the Republican Party a net negative rating of minus 11 percent, with 46 percent viewing the party positively and 46 percent viewing the party negatively. 

The results are yet another warning sign for Democrats heading into a difficult midterm election, with the Democratic Party’s image struggling across the country. Among registered voters in the suburbs, the Democratic Party had a net negative rating of minus 24 percent, which is nearly three times their negative rating among suburban voters in 2018. 

The party also had a 2 percent net-positive rating among urban voters, a sizable drop from a plus 15 percent rating in 2021. Rural voters have increasingly reported negative feelings about the Democratic Party, giving the party a rating of minus 32 percent. 

 Here's the positive/negative ratings – from most popular, to least popular – for all the politicians or institutions the NBC News poll measured:

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy: 62 percent positive, 9 percent negative (+53)
  • Disney: 33 percent positive, 30 percent negative (+3)
  • Ron DeSantis: 28 percent positive, 26 percent negative (+2)
  • The US Supreme Court: 36 percent positive, 35 percent negative (+1)
  • The Republican Party: 35 percent positive, 46 percent negative (-11)
  • Joe Biden: 37 percent positive, 51 percent negative (-14)
  • Donald Trump: 36 percent positive, 51 percent negative (-16)
  • Kamala Harris: 31 percent positive, 48 percent negative (-17)
  • The Democratic Party: 31 percent positive, 50 percent negative (-19)

PACs funded by crypto executives face first tests in Tuesday’s primaries

The crypto executives behind multiple super PACs this cycle will get their first chances at victory next week in a handful of House primaries as they flood Democratic races with cash.

The super PACs Protect Our Future and Web3Forward have spent a combined $8 million on ads in next week’s primaries so far, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.

The bulk of that spending has been focused on Oregon’s 6th District, Protect Our Future has spent over $6.5 million on ads supporting former government contractor Carrick Flynn’s election. The 6th District is brand new, created due to population gain during redistricting in the state.

Protect Our Future is a new group funded by crypto executives including Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the crypto currency exchange FTX. The PAC has endorsed nearly a dozen candidates and lawmakers and claims to be focused on candidates who take long--term stances on certain legislation, particularly related to pandemic preparedness.

The amount of money spent on Flynn significantly outweighs the money spent on any other candidate in the race, which include veteran and businessman Cody Reynolds, internal medicine Dr. Kathleen Harder, and former state Rep. Andrea Salinas, who has the support of BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. House Majority PAC, a group tied to top congressional Democrats, has also spent in Flynn’s favor. 

Protect Our Future has also spent significantly in two other open Democratic primaries in deep blue districts – Kentucky’s 3rd District and North Carolina’s 4th district.

In North Carolina, the group has spent $625,000 on ads supporting state Sen. Valerie Foushee, who’s running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. David Price. She’s been endorsed by EMILY’s List, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and other members of Congress.

Her most notable opponent is Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who’s been endorsed by progressive lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is also running.

In Kentucky, Protect Our Future has poured $591,000 into ads supporting state Sen. Morgan McGarvey. McGarvey faces one opponent, state Rep. Attica Scott, in his bid for an open seat to replace retiring Rep. John Yarmuth. 

Another crypto-backed super PAC has spent heavily on the open seat race in Oregon’s 4th District. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio is retiring, leaving a reliably Democratic seat open. He and Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., have endorsed Val Hoyle, Oregon’s Labor Commissioner.

Web3 Forward, which is tied to another PAC funded by crypto executives from companies like Coinbase and FTX, has spent $286,000 on ads supporting Hoyle. The PAC “supports Democratic candidates committed to making the next generation internet more secure, open and owned by the users,” according to the group’s website.

Web3Forward so far endorsed three Democratic candidates in primaries – Hoyle, Sydney Kamlager in California and Jasmine Crockett in Texas, who’s facing a primary runoff later this month.

Super PACs target Kathy Barnette in Pennsylvania Senate race

A pair of super PACs launched two new TV ads Friday morning attacking conservative commentator Kathy Barnette as she surges in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary. 

The ads come as former President Donald Trump, who has backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the race, and Barnette’s opponents target her as she has turned the race between Oz and former hedge fund manager David McCormick into a three-way contest. 

Honor Pennsylvania, a pro-McCormick super PAC that’s spent $16.1 million largely attacking Oz, launched an ad where a narrator asks, “What do we really know about Kathy Barnette?” 

The spot goes on to accuse Barnette of supporting the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd and of saying, “I was not a Trumper,” citing her Twitter feed and her book.  

Another super PAC, USA Freedom Fund, launched a new ad blasting Barnette for supporting the building of a statue of former President Barack Obama.

The ad starts by mentioning comments Obama made about conservatives in 2008, saying some conservative voters are bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them.”

“Remember how that made you feel?” the ad’s narrator asks. He adds, “One candidate for Senate doesn't care. In fact, Kathy Barnette wants to build a statue of Barack Obama right next to the one of Abraham Lincoln on Capitol Hill.”

The ad references a Change.org petition that appears to be written by Barnette, advocating for erecting statues of Obama, his family and abolitionist Frederick Douglas in Washington, D.C. The petition was written two years ago. NBC News hasn’t independently verified whether Barnette was indeed the person who wrote the petition.

USA Freedom Fund previously supported former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel’s unsuccessful run for Senate.

New ads target GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn in primary race

A super PAC supporting one of GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn's primary challengers launched two new ads targeting the controversial congressman ahead of next week’s primary in North Carolina. 

Cawthorn, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, has been at the center of numerous scandals. 

The first-term congressman, who faced sexual harassment allegations in his first bid, drew criticism for his repeated lies and aggressive rhetoric about the 2020 election; he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug” and he said that he had been invited to drug-fueled sex parties by other lawmakers. And he’s also been the subject of leaked photos and videos of a sexual nature that attempt to paint Cawthorn in a negative light. 

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., attends the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., attends the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post / via Getty Images file

The new spots from the outside group Results for NC slam Cawthorn for falsely claiming an accident prevented him from attending the Naval Academy, even though he had already been rejected prior to the accident. 

One of the new ads labels Cawthorn an untrustworthy “playboy politician,” and flashes one of those leaked images. The other spot features a woman veteran who is backing state Sep. Chuck Edwards in the May 17 primary. 

Results for NC has spent the most on the airwaves of any campaign or outside group in the 11th District so far, dropping $739,000 on ads, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact. 

Edwards has picked up endorsements as Cawthorn has racked up headlines. North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is supporting the state senator. 

If no candidate wins more than 30 percent of the primary vote on Tuesday, the top two contenders head to a primary runoff in July.

Beasley internal poll shows dead heat in North Carolina Senate general election

North Carolina Democrat Cheri Beasley's internal campaign polling shows her in a statistical tie with the two Republican frontrunners squaring off in next week's Senate primary. 

In a new polling memo shared with NBC News, Beasley, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, is tied with Republican Rep. Ted Budd at 45 percent in a general election matchup with 10 percent undecided. Beasley trails former Gov. Pat McCrory in a separate matchup with McCrory at 45, Beasley at 44 and 11 percent undecided. 

The live-caller poll of 800 likely general election voters taken from April 28 through May 4 has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent, meaning that the polling shows Beasley in a statistical dead heat with either of the two Republicans. The poll tested head-to-head matchups, which don't capture third-party candidates that may be on the ballot (last cycle, conservative third-party candidates pulled about 4 percent of the vote in the Senate race). 

The memo includes favorability ratings for all three candidates, suggesting that the raucous GOP primary may have affected how voters view McCrory and Budd, even while Beasley remains known to a smaller portion of the general electorate. 

McCrory, who served four years as the state's governor, has a favorable rating in the poll from 33 percent of the likely general electorate, compared to a 45 percent unfavorable rating. Budd has a 28 percent favorable rating and a 30 percent unfavorable rating. 

By comparison, Beasley has a 30 percent favorable rating and a 15 percent unfavorable rating in the poll.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, center, laughs with husband Curtis Owens, right, while son Matthew Owens, watches, before she speaks with reporters at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 24, 2022.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, center, laughs with husband Curtis Owens, right, while son Matthew Owens, watches, before she speaks with reporters at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 24, 2022.Gary D. Robertson / AP file

 

The memo also suggests Beasley leads Budd with suburban voters and white college-educated voters, but the full crosstabs of the poll were not included. 

Most public polls show a tight contest in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator since 2008 but did elect a Democratic governor in 2016, when Roy Cooper defeated McCrory. Former President Donald Trump won the state in the 2020 presidential election, defeating President Biden by a margin of 50 percent to 49 percent. 

The race is expected to draw tens of millions in ad spending — the GOP backed Senate Leadership Fund has $22 million of ad time booked in the race already after primary day, per the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. And Politico reported Thursday that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is buying $6.5 million in advertising time in the state with ads starting Friday.