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270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA MI OH PA WI

Romney Gets the Job after All

No, not that Romney. His niece. The RNC has named Ronna Romney McDaniel the head of the organization. President-elect Donald Trump said: "I look forward to her serving as the Party's Chairman in 2017," after the choice was announced. While the chairmanship of the RNC is important, it is much less important than the chairmanship of the DNC for the simple reason that the sitting president is the real head of his party. McDaniel will be expected to go raise money, but she will have no freedom to issue policy positions. In contrast, the person chosen to run the DNC will have much leeway to shape party positions. The leading contenders for DNC chairman are Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. The DNC will elect its chairman in February. (V)

Fiorina Being Considered for Intelligence Director

Donald Trump is making the rounds of his onetime rivals for the GOP nomination; currently up is Carly Fiorina. Although The Donald repeatedly insulted her appearance and once tweeted that, "if you listen to Carly Fiorina for more than ten minutes straight, you develop a massive headache," he interviewed her as a possible candidate for Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Because there's really no better training for that job than nearly wrecking a Fortune 500 company.

Fiorina says that, in her interview, she told Trump that China is "our most important adversary and a rising adversary." They also discussed Russia's "purported" hacking of the U.S. election. Undoubtedly, it will please him to hear any answer other than "Russia" to the question, "Who's our biggest foe?" Similarly, he was surely delighted to hear Fiorina express skepticism about the CIA's hacking-related declarations, since he would definitely want his DNI to quash that kind of talk. So, it's entirely possible that Fiorina will follow the path of Ben Carson, who has already joined the cabinet, and not Mitt Romney, who was apparently just being played for a fool. (Z)

What Went Wrong in Michigan for Clinton

Politico has a long story about what went wrong in Michigan for Hillary Clinton. Briefly summarized, a week and a half before the election, Michigan Democrats were crying out for help. The Service Employees International Union began moving volunteers from Iowa (which they knew was a lost cause) to Michigan—until Hillary Clinton's headquarters ordered them to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into thinking Iowa was competitive (which it never was). This story repeated itself in other Midwestern states. The Democrats on the ground saw a lot of trouble, and the Brooklyn headquarters didn't pay any attention to the warnings.

But the local operatives were also arrogant. When a woman showed up at Clinton's office in Flint, MI asking for a lawn sign and volunteering to canvass, she was turned away. There were also almost no TV ads run in the Midwest and the ground operation didn't even rev up until Election Day, by which time it was too late.

The decision not to invest anything in Michigan and Wisconsin was largely driven by the internal polls, which showed they were safe. And that might have been the case up until FBI Director James Comey's announcement. By the time the internal polls showed trouble brewing in the Midwest, the election was only a few days off and it was too late to do anything. (V)

Bolton May Be Harder to Confirm than Tillerson

While a handful of senators have said they see problems with confirming Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, hoards of them are opposed to giving former U.N. ambassador John Bolton any kind of job in the new administration. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has openly called Bolton a "warmonger" and threatened to block him. In 2015, Bolton called for the U.S. to bomb Iran to stop its nuclear program. He is also against a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He wants to give the Gaza Strip to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. Bolton opposes nearly all multinational organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. But the thing that may kill his chances at a top job—if Trump finds out—is his attitude toward Russia. Not only is he extremely anti-Russia, but he also despises Vladimir Putin and has said the U.S. should do things that "cause him pain." He is definitely not a team player, so it is hard to see how the pro-Russia Tillerson and anti-Russia Bolton could ever work together. Of course, if Trump nominates both of them and the Senate rejects both, the problem is solved. (V)

D.C. Hotel Turning Into a Headache for Trump

One of the (many?) lawsuits that Donald Trump will have hanging over his head when he assumes the presidency involves celebrity chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian. The two men had agreed to open restaurants in the new Trump-branded hotel in Washington, but then backed out in protest of The Donald's policies and rhetoric. Lawsuits were filed on all sides, and now a judge has ordered Trump to make himself available for up to seven hours to be deposed in January. Given his well-known short attention span, that will undoubtedly be a special kind of torture for him.

Meanwhile, it is looking more and more likely that The Donald won't be allowed to keep the hotel, anyhow. His contract with the government's General Services Administration (which owns the building and leases it to Trump) specifically says that no party to the contract can hold federal office. This is meant, of course, to avoid conflicts of interest. Congressional Democrats say that the GSA has already told them that they intend to enforce the contract to the letter. The GSA, for their part, says that they can make no official decision until Trump is actually an officeholder, and not an officeholder-elect. Still, the writing is clearly on the wall. The real question is whether Trump can resolve the issue by transferring his interest to his kids, which he will undoubtedly try to do. That will likely be for the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals to decide.

Just giving the hotel to his kids isn't quite so straightforward, though. If it is a true gift (i.e., they don't pay fair market value for it), a large amount of gift tax will be due. If they pay fair market value, there is no tax due, but there will be questions about where the kids got the money and what the financiers expect in return. The safest course would be to put it up for sale and let Hilton, Starwood, and other hotel chains actually bid on it. From a financial point of view, owning a hotel worth $X or having $X in cash is equivalent, but Trump tends to put a very high value on having his name on a building, something Hilton or Starwood aren't going to pay extra for. (Z & V)

Another Day, Another Conflict of Interest

His Washington hotel is far from Donald Trump's only conflict of interest, as we have noted many times. And really, having at least one or two such conflicts is almost a requirement for serving in his administration (see Michael Flynn and Turkey, Rex Tillerson and Exxon, Steve Bannon and Breitbart, about half a dozen people and Goldman Sachs, etc.). The newest to present itself involves Secretary of Energy-designate Rick Perry. If he is confirmed, one of the first issues he and the President will work on will be the Dakota Access Pipeline. They will have to try to figure out whether to move forward with the project, make (expensive) changes to the plan, or cancel it altogether. And as Perry carefully reviews the options, it is likely that his current service as board member for the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), may just come into play. ETP is the company that is building the pipeline, and who stands to net billions if the plans go forward. They have already paid Perry hundreds of thousands of dollars for his services as board member, and have donated millions more to his political campaigns. Undoubtedly ETP is hoping that he is an honest politician, as defined by one-time Secretary of War Simon Cameron: "one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." (Z)

Russians Also Intervened in House Races

While the intervention of Russian hackers in the presidential race has received wide attention, the Russian hackers were also active downballot. Intrusions also occurred in House races in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico, and North Carolina. For example, Annette Taddeo lost a primary for a House seat in Florida after her entire strategy plan was stolen by Russian hackers and then published. The dozen or so districts targeted were among the most competitive in the country, and may explain why the Democrats won a net of only six House seats.

The nature of the leaked documents differed from race to race. In Pennsylvania, they showed that the Democratic Party did not like its own candidate for one House seat, Mike Parrish, and worked hard to recruit an alternative. The Russian hackers also went after Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), chairman of the DCCC, even though he faced no major challenges. This was probably a warning that the hackers would and could go after Democrats at all levels. (V)

Twitter CEO Not Invited to Tech Summit

Yesterday Donald Trump held a meeting with top tech executives but there was one conspicuous absence: Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey. Since most of Trump's campaign was waged on Twitter, this seems a bit surprising. Trump claims the lack of an invitation was for the company's reneging on a $5 million emoji deal. The Donald wanted a custom emoji for #CROOKEDHILLARY and Dorsey killed the project, saying it would cause legal problems. In the end, Dorsey vetoed all political emojis, not just Trump's favorite. (V)

Gates, Rice and Baker Have Ties to Exxon and Russia

Donald Trump has not been shy about pointing out that former secretaries of state James Baker and Condoleeza Rice and former defense secretary Robert Gates have all endorsed his choice of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Sounds impressive. Until you dig a bit. Baker is a partner at a law firm that represents both Exxon and Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company that works with Exxon. Rice and Gates work for a lobbying firm, Rice Hadley Gates, that has Exxon as a client. All of them stand to gain financially if Tillerson is confirmed, the sanctions on Russia are lifted, and Exxon's deals with Rosneft go through. Might their financial interest have any influence on their support for Tillerson? We report, you decide. (V)

Culture Wars Meet Star Wars

One might have hoped that, no matter how intense the battle between Trump and anti-Trump forces became, the movies would afford an escape. And, as it turns out, one would be wrong, as The Donald's influence is now being felt in a galaxy far, far away.

At issue is the new film Rogue One, which is the latest entry in the Star Wars series of films. Since the first entry was produced in the 1970s, the films have served as a pretty unsubtle allegory on the evils of fascism and on government power run amok. Rogue One is currently in previews, and some Trump supporters have concluded that the film (particularly its corrupt, power-hungry emperor character) is secretly about The Donald. Whether this says more about the filmmakers or about Trump is open to discussion. In any case, there is now a movement afoot to boycott the film, with the hashtag #DumpStarWars. And in case that weren't enough, the leader of the boycott movement is none other than Malik Obama, the President's-brother-turned-Trump-supporter. Someone should really warn him that you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Twitter. He should be cautious. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec14 Trump Picks Perry to Lead the Er, Uh, Whatever Department.
Dec14 Zinke Tapped for Interior
Dec14 McCain Could Be a Real Problem for Trump
Dec14 Why Tillerson?
Dec14 Tillerson Undermined U.S. Foreign Policy in 2011
Dec14 Manchin Will Stay in the Senate
Dec14 Roger Stone: Trump Interviewed Romney Just to Torture Him
Dec14 Trump Humiliates Ryan
Dec14 Fed May Block Trump's Promised Economic Boom
Dec14 Clinton's Popular Vote Lead Approaches 3 Million
Dec13 Trump Wins Wisconsin
Dec13 Electors' Lawsuit Fails
Dec13 Trump's Conflicts of Interest May Already Be Showing in Turkey
Dec13 Trump Postpones News Conference
Dec13 Senate Committee to Investigate Russian Influence on the Election
Dec13 A Battle Is Brewing in the Senate over Tillerson
Dec13 Democrats Not Ready for Trump's First 100 Days
Dec13 Trump to Hang Nixon Letter in Oval Office
Dec13 Plotting, Planning, and Scheming Against Trump
Dec13 Democrats Rediscover Federalism
Dec13 New York Times Gets Out the Big Guns
Dec12 Comey Likely Decided the Election
Dec12 Trump Says He Doesn't Believe CIA Report of Putin Helping Him
Dec12 What Would the Democratic Version of Trump's Team Look Like?
Dec12 Five Things We Know about President Trump and Five We Don't Know
Dec12 Bernstein Slams Trump
Dec12 Christie Turned Down Trump's Job Offers
Dec11 NBC: Rex Tillerson Will be Secretary of State
Dec11 Kennedy Wins Louisiana Senate Seat
Dec11 Intelligence Officials Don't Know How to Deal with Trump
Dec11 A Tale of Two Revelations
Dec11 Heitkamp Is Leading Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture
Dec11 Americans Skeptical over Trump's Agenda and Transition
Dec11 Kander Offers Postmortem for Democrats
Dec11 Gingrich Slams Trump
Dec10 Russians Were Trying to Help Trump; Obama Orders Investigation
Dec10 Trump Picks Cathy McMorris-Rodgers for Interior
Dec10 McDaniel Likely to lead RNC
Dec10 McConnell Meets with North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer
Dec10 Giuliani Withdraws from Consideration for any Cabinet Post
Dec10 Trump Voters Have Their Own Reality
Dec10 Trump Spent $66 Million on His Campaign, but Earned Almost $15 Million from It
Dec10 Trump Opposes Early Voting
Dec10 Trump Tries to Rein Crowd In
Dec10 Democrats Back Down on Government Shutdown
Dec10 Electors File Lawsuit in Colorado
Dec09 Trump Expected to Name Fast-Food Executive to run the Labor Department
Dec09 Why the Republican Health Care Plan is Likely to Fail
Dec09 Democratic Megadonors May Run for Governor
Dec09 Battle Looming over RNC Chairmanship