Dem 49
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GOP 51
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Trump ComME-ME-MEmorates ME-ME-ME-morial Day

Imagine that someone gained access to Donald Trump's Twitter account, and they decided to send a single tweet that (1) Makes clear the President harbors no real patriotic feeling, and (2) Demonstrates that the Donald really cares only about himself. That hypothetical tweet might look something like this:

Generally speaking, Memorial Day is supposed to be used to remember those who have died in wars, not to speak on their behalf from beyond the grave.

The response was predictably blistering. The most common sentiment went something like this:

Trump, of course, does not care what a Democrat like this thinks. But quite a few conservatives and veterans were none too pleased, either:

Admittedly, some of these folks were already anti-Trump. Fortunately, for those who are still on board with the President, they can assuage their hurt feelings with discounted merchandise at the official Trump store:


Just keep in mind that you need to use the code "REMEMBER" to get your 25% off.

Undoubtedly, Trump does not like to be criticized. But for all the vitriol that was unleashed upon him Monday, including some coming from the base, there is no question that he is much more upset about this:

Note that 44 got more than three times as many "likes" for his Memorial Day message than 45. That's an even bigger advantage than Obama had in terms of inaugural attendance. (Z)

New Dark-Money Tactics Could Be Used This Year

West Virginia is not a pioneer in many areas, but this year's primary there may have served as a testing ground for a new (and legal) technique for outside groups to avoid reporting their campaign spending until after the election they are trying to influence. Both the Democrats and the Republicans gave the method a test run in the Mountain State, with the Democrats trying to have the Republicans nominate convicted felon Don Blankenship and the Republicans trying to prevent it.

Here is how the new technique worked: The Republican Mountain Families PAC was set up March 29 and elected to file quarterly reports with the FEC. The first report was due March 31 and showed that no money had been collected yet. However, quarterly filers have to submit a report 12 days before the election, listing donors and expenditures. Rather than do that, the PAC switched to a monthly filing system just before the report was due. Under the monthly reporting system, the first report wasn't due until after the election. Bingo! Mission accomplished. West Virginia voters didn't know that a super PAC controlled by the much-despised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was running all those anti-Blankenship ads until after the election. The Democrats did essentially the same thing. This is likely to be the prototype going forward to evade campaign finance laws.

In principle, the Federal Election Commission could take action to bar this kind of chicanery, but the panel is split with two Republicans, two Democrats, and two vacancies, and is completely paralyzed. To really solve the problem, Congress would have to pass new campaign finance laws. The chance of that happening in an already bitter campaign year is just about zero. (V)

Democrats Plan to Run on Gas in Midterms

Well, not on actual gas. Gas prices, which are as high as they have been in four years. In the last few months, the cost of a gallon of gas has spiked 50 cents on average. The blue team sees this as a concrete way to make an argument that the policies of the administration and the Republican-controlled Congress benefit the wealthy at the expense of other Americans.

Whether or not this strategy is a good one is open to debate. The evidence is mixed, as are the historical precedents. Running on gas prices worked for Ronald Reagan in 1980, for example, but didn't help Mitt Romney in 2012. If the blue team is going to make this work, two things will have to happen. First, they need voters to feel the effect of higher gas prices. That's actually the easy part; 42% of Americans say they will curtail their vacations this year because of the cost of gas.

Second, it will be necessary to pin the blame for the high gas prices on Trump and/or the Congress. That's much harder, as gas prices are generally beyond the control of anyone in the U.S. government, and are dictated by market forces (and the decisions of OPEC). However, the President's decision to pull out of the Iran deal, which may reduce the amount of oil on the market, could give the Democrats an opening. "There's a straight line between Trump's policies and the price of gasoline," said Rep. Brian Schatz (D-HI). That's a line that is probably going to be used a lot on the campaign trail this year; how well it works is anyone's guess.

There's also one other problem for the Democrats. Crude oil prices are actually falling right now, because Saudi Arabia (which largely calls the shots for OPEC) said it would likely release extra oil this year in order to make up for possible Iran sanctions and for the decline in output from Venezuela. Given how much they enjoy the rug being pulled out from under Iran, it is not outside the realm of possibility that they will do whatever it takes to get U.S. gas prices to below average levels this summer. In that scenario, the tables would be turned, and the GOP would be able to run on how they have been able to reduce gas costs. (Z)

Franklin Graham Is Campaigning for Republicans in California

Billy Graham's son Franklin probably hasn't lost interest in Jesus permanently, but for the past week and for next week, his slogan has become "vote Republican" rather than "Jesus saves." He is much more political and much further to the right than his famous dad (which is saying something). For the two weeks leading up to California's June 5 primary, Graham has been holding campaign rallies up and down the Golden State, complete with top Christian singers, light shows, and videos, using evangelicals to try to turn California red. He has told pastors to openly urge their flocks to vote Republican, even if it costs them their tax-exempt status.

While California is very blue and very secular, Graham's two-week bus tour is not mission impossible. According to a Pew poll, one in five adults in California is an evangelical Christian. However, as much as a third of these may be black, and convincing them to vote Republican is a tall order. And some white evangelicals are unhappy with Graham's politics. For example, Daniel Balcombe—the pastor of the Living Way Church near Escondido—refused to promote Graham's rallies, saying that he is politically toxic. In addition, Latinos are a growing part of the evangelical movement, and not all of them are on board with Graham's political views.

Graham wasn't always a right-wing political activist. When he was younger, he dropped out of college and was fond of alcohol. Only later did he see the light and take over the family business. If he manages to turn out large numbers of evangelicals next week, he will no doubt be satisfied with a job well done. If not, well, there is always 2020 to look forward to. (V)

China Has Granted Ivanka Trump 13 Trademarks in 3 Months

The Constitution's emoluments clause forbids the president from taking gifts from kings, princes, or foreign states. But it doesn't say anything about the president's daughter, who is continuing to run and expand her business in foreign countries. Case in point: In the past 3 months, China has granted her 13 valuable trademarks. Together, they allow her to market products ranging from baby blankets to coffins, not to mention perfume, bowls, mirrors, furniture, honey, and many more. Would they have moved so fast on her applications if her father weren't president? China says it is strictly business.

The executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, Noah Bookbinder, said yesterday: "It raises significant questions about corruption, as it invites the possibility that she could be benefiting financially from her position and her father's presidency or that she could be influenced in her policy work by countries' treatment of her business." Put in other words, China could have an explicit or unspoken deal with The Donald: "You give us what we want politically and economically and your daughter's business will flourish in China." It is potentially good old-fashioned corruption, in which a foreign government enriches the president's family in return for official acts that it wants (think: dropping the sanctions on Chinese telecom firm ZTE). Avoiding these kinds of ethical issues is precisely why previous presidents put their assets in a blind trust and didn't have their kids do business with foreign countries while they were in office. (V)

McCain Writes His Own Eulogy

John McCain has written seven books. The first six were aimed at the voters of Arizona. The latest one, published a week ago, is for a different audience. It tells future historians how he wants to be memorialized after his rapidly approaching death. In short, he would like to be remembered as a conservative maverick and profile in courage, even if the facts don't quite match. The book tends to emphasize the few times he bucked his party and did what he thought right, although the vast majority of the time he was a reliable vote for the Republican leadership.

Unlike many books by politicians, this one doesn't shy away from pointing out some of the author's greatest blunders. Among other things, McCain notes that his advocacy for the Iraq troop surge in 2007 was a huge mistake. He also admits that picking Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 was a disaster. He really wanted to pick his Senate buddy, Joe Lieberman, but his campaign staff said it would divide GOP voters badly and lead to his defeat. In retrospect, the incompetent and resentful Palin may have hurt him worse than Lieberman, who for all his faults, was an experienced politician who could have moved into the Oval Office in a heartbeat if McCain ceased to have one. Looking back, McCain is sorry he didn't follow his gut and pick Lieberman, advisers be damned.

Probably the biggest omissions that future historians are going to notice are in his discussion of Donald Trump, for whom he has zero respect. McCain clearly loathes the man and just about all of his policies. In particular, he can't stomach Trump's love affair with Russian President Vladimir Putin, someone the Senator sees as America's biggest enemy in the world. McCain does take a few potshots at Trump on various issues, but at this stage of his life, with absolutely nothing to lose, he could have spent his remaining days telling the country what he really thinks of Trump. If he were to be honest, he would probably use words like "fraud," "traitor," and "destroyer of the Republican Party." But for whatever reason, McCain has decided to just snipe a bit and leave it at that. The Washington Post's James Hohmann has written a long review of the book. (V)

Another Republican Congressman Retires

Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) has gotten himself enmeshed in a couple of scandals in the last year. First, he was pictured with Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of last summer's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. More recently, it came to light that Garrett has been abusive to his staffers, treating them like personal servants. On Monday, the Congressman decided to throw in the towel, explaining that he's decided to get treatment for his alcoholism:

Here's one area where I haven't been honest. The tragedy is that any person Republican, Democrat or independent, who's known me for any period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man, and I am an alcoholic. This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made, by far. It's also the truth. With this in mind, not for fear of losing or for lack of love for our great nation, today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election. Sometimes winning means knowing where your priorities should be.

Only Garrett knows if he really had this revelation about himself this week, or if this is merely cover for the other issues that have gotten him in trouble.

In any case, Garrett's district has a PVI of R+6, which in 2018 means "in play." Now the state GOP will have to scramble to find a candidate, since Garrett had already secured renomination. The Democrats also have a pretty solid candidate in Leslie Cockburn, who has raised $700,000. In short, the 44th Republican retirement of the year is pretty good news for the blue team. (Z)

Giuliani Booed at Yankee Stadium

Rudy Giuliani was a hugely popular, if controversial, mayor of New York City in the 1990s. His popularity back home has apparently waned since he became one of Donald Trump's lawyers. Always a Yankees fan, Giuliani decided to celebrate Memorial Day—and his 74th birthday—at Yankee Stadium watching the Yankees play the Astros. The public address system announced that he was present and wished him a happy birthday. The fans didn't all yell "amen." In fact, a huge chorus of boos rang out. To make it even worse for Giuliani, the Yankees lost the game. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May28 Giuliani Says Muller's Investigation Is Illegitimate
May28 Trump (& Co.) Will Say Anything
May28 Preparations for Talks with North Korea Are Proceeding
May28 Heitkamp Has a Native American Problem
May28 Democrats Are Spending Millions to Avoid Disaster in California
May28 Almost Half of Republicans Believe Millions of Illegal Votes Were Cast in 2016
May28 In Case There Was Any Doubt...
May27 Clocks Are Striking Thirteen in Washington
May27 American Held in Venezuela Is Released
May27 FBI Obtained Wiretapped Calls from Spain
May27 Bolton Wants to Eliminate Cybersecurity Job
May27 Warren Tries to Blunt "Pocahontas" Slur
May27 McConnell Thinks Sherrod Brown's Seat Is in Play
May27 Nunes Gets Ready for the Fight of His Life
May26 Cohen Was Paid over $500,000 by Top Lobbying Firm
May26 About that Russian Oligarch...
May26 Trump's Foreign Policy Is a Mystery, Probably Even to Him
May26 McConnell Supports Mueller's Investigation
May26 Quick Question: Is It Bernie vs. Hillary All over Again for the Democrats?
May26 Menendez Barely Leads Hugin
May26 Rohrabacher Shoots Himself in the Foot
May25 Trump Cancels Meeting with Kim Jong-Un
May25 James Clapper: Russia Swung the Election to Trump
May25 Republicans, Democrats Get Briefing on Informant
May25 Stone Could Be a Bigger Threat to Trump Than Cohen
May25 Trump Thrilled with NFL's New Policy, but Maybe He Shouldn't Be
May25 Senior Republicans Blast Trump's Car Tariff
May25 Trump's Approval Rating Is Now Up to 45%
May24 Giuliani Now Wants Trump to Be Interviewed by Mueller
May24 Democrats to Get Intel Briefing, Too
May24 The First Amendment Is Taking a Beating These Days
May24 BBC: Cohen Was Paid at Least $400,000 to Give Ukrainian President Access to Trump
May24 Schneiderman Is Out, Grewal Is In
May24 Congress Does Not Want Trump to Cave on ZTE
May24 Glenn Beck Climbs on Board the S.S. Trump
May23 Georgia Democrats Pick Stacey
May23 Trump's Nobel Is on Hold
May23 Trump Finally Has a Mueller Strategy
May23 Cohen's Partner in the Taxi Business Has Flipped
May23 Officials Warn Congress of 2018 Election Hacking
May23 Trump Uses an Unsecure Cell Phone
May23 EPA Blocks Media Outlets from Covering Pruitt Speech
May22 Trump Lashes Out; Rosenstein Is on the Hot Seat
May22 Pompeo Announces Iran Policy
May22 Pence Threatens North Korea
May22 Blankenship Wants to Sink Morrisey's Ship
May22 Sanders Supporters Are in Disarray
May22 "Drain the Swamp" Set to Be a Major Theme of 2018 Midterms
May22 Nathan Gonzales Moves 19 House Races Toward the Democrats
May21 Trump Demands Justice Dept. Determine if FBI Spied on His Campaign