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Political Wire logo Surge In Virus Strains Hospitals In Several States
Trump’s Financial Disclosure Report Is Late
All in the Family Dynamics
FBI Probes Chinese Exile Who Worked With Bannon
Tulsa Sees Coronavirus Surge
Houston Cancels Texas GOP Convention

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  New Jersey, Delaware Vote
      •  Mary Trump Book "Leaks"
      •  White House Again Searches for Leakers
      •  Republicans Underwhelmed by Trump Campaign
      •  Democratic Senate Candidates Are Raking It In
      •  Carlson Launches 2024 Campaign
      •  Roberts Was Briefly Hospitalized Last Month
      •  Bolsonaro Tests Positive for COVID-19
      •  Trump Administration Formally Begins WHO Withdrawal

New Jersey, Delaware Vote

One and a half states up, and one and a half states down, as American voters make their way through the COVID-19-addled primary calendar.

The big news, such as it is, comes out of New Jersey. There, Democratic voters in NJ-02 decided they preferred a progressive member of a political dynasty to a centrist poli sci professor. And so, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R), who has fully hitched his wagon to Donald Trump, will face off against Amy Kennedy (D) in the R+1 district. That race should be a barnburner, and will likely be determined by how many Republicans are willing to swallow hard and vote for a fellow who was a Democrat just six months ago. Or, it might be determined by exactly how toxic Trump is on Nov. 3.

In the other high-profile House race, NJ-03, it appears that businessman David Richter has defeated former county official Kate Gibbs for the right to be the Republican nominee. New Jersey's results won't be official for another week because, by state law, they can't count provisional or absentee ballots until the 7-day window for receipt of mail-in ballots has elapsed. And so, the race has not been called for Richter yet. However, he's up by a two-to-one margin right now (67.4% to 32.6%), so he's definitely in the catbird seat. That has to make Rep. Andy Kim (D) happy; Richter looks to be a weaker general election candidate than Gibbs.

Nearly every other House race has been called, even without the absentee and provisional ballots, and it looks like none of New Jersey's sitting representatives were beaten in a primary. The only possible exception is Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D) in NJ-05, whose race against progressive challenger Arati Kreibich is just close enough to still be technically in doubt (Gottheimer is up 68.8% to 31.2%). Also in doubt is the identity of Sen. Cory Booker's (D) next victim, as engineer Hirsh Singh and biotech entrepreneur Rikin Mehta are neck and neck (38.9% to 36.8%) for the GOP Senate nod.

Meanwhile, as several readers brought to our attention, Delaware actually splits its presidential primary off from all the other primaries. And so, the only thing that citizens were voting on there was the already-decided presidential race. Not surprisingly, native son and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden trounced the two other candidates on the ballot, taking 89.4% of the vote to 7.5% for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 3.1% for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). That's a tad bit better than he did in New Jersey, taking 87.4% of the vote (so far) as compared to 12.1% for Sanders.

Since Donald Trump was unopposed in New Jersey, his totals there were not tabulated. Presumably he took 100.0% of the vote which, he will be happy to hear, ties the all-time record. In Delaware, he took 88% of the vote as compared to 12% for "run for as many offices as you can in as many states as you can" perennial candidate Roque De La Fuente. This cycle, De La Fuente ran for the House in California, and is running for president as a member of the Republican Party, the Reform Party, and the Alliance Party (depending on which state it is).

Next up on the primary calendar are Louisiana (this Saturday) and Puerto Rico (this Sunday). (Z)

Mary Trump Book "Leaks"

On Monday, Simon & Schuster announced that it was moving the publication date for Mary Trump's book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man up to next Tuesday. Yesterday, in a remarkable coincidence, every media outlet in the land just so happened to lay their hands on a "leaked" copy of the book. And so, there were lists of takeaways to be found all over the place, including CNN, Yahoo! News, NBC News, Forbes, Slate, Business Insider, and Politico. Here's the executive summary of the claims that Mary Trump makes about her presidential uncle:

  • He paid someone to take his SAT exam for him.

  • His sister (and Mary's aunt), Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, said that the President is "a clown" and thought he had no chance to win the 2016 election. Barry, who is a practicing Catholic, is also disgusted by evangelicals' support for Trump, and once declared: "The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there. It's mind-boggling. He has no principles. None!"

  • The President is a pretty lousy family member. He barely knows his daughter-in-law Lara, and the night his brother (and Mary's father) Freddy died, he skipped the hospital and went to the movies instead.

  • He fits all nine criteria for clinical narcissism, and may also have antisocial personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, an undiagnosed learning disability, and a sleep disorder.

  • His parents were awful people; mother Mary was cold and distant, father Fred was emotionally abusive, and was also a racist and an anti-Semite.

  • The pu**y grabbing tape was par for the course; The Donald has a decades-long reputation for saying sexist and wildly inappropriate things about women, including family members. He once admired Mary (his niece, not his mother) in a bathing suit and declared that she was "stacked."

  • The President is a tightwad, and had a reputation for doing things like regifting a gift basket, except with the high-cost items (e.g., caviar) removed.

Again, these are claims made by Mary Trump; that doesn't mean they are true. On the other hand, they line up pretty well with that which is already known. For example, the claim about the SAT is the one getting the most attention. Since preparing for and taking the SAT is a long, boring task, and since the President has no patience for long, boring tasks and also no compunctions about skirting the rules, it's entirely plausible he cheated. Plus, Mary names the person who actually took the exam (Trump family friend Joe Shapiro). That is an awfully specific lie to tell.

And now, we sit back and see whether the President takes the bait and lashes out against the book. If the Supreme Court's decision about his taxes comes out today (see below), it may cause the book to be forgotten pretty quickly. Or, it might drive sales even higher, since Mary Trump has a couple of chapters about the Donald's taxes. Meanwhile, in yet another reminder that the Trump family does not seem to inspire much loyalty, another tell-all was announced on Tuesday. This one will be from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, adviser to First Lady Melania Trump, will be titled Melania and Me, and will be released on Sept. 1. It would seem that insiders who think they have a tale to tell have decided it's better to get their book out there before Nov. 3. (Z)

White House Again Searches for Leakers

For the first two years of Donald Trump's term, give or take, the White House leaked like a sieve. Thereafter, Team Trump got a little better at plugging some of the holes. Not all, but some. But the recent news about Russian bounties definitely came from an administration insider, and it has the President seeing red. So, the search is on, and the administration thinks they have it narrowed down to 10 possible suspects.

The Lincoln Project, which is now living rent-free in Trump's head, responded with this ad, made for an audience of one:

For those who don't care to watch, the message is: "They're all betraying you, Donald. They're all disloyal. And they're all laughing at you."

This also gives us the opportunity to mention an item from Politico headlined "What the Lincoln Project Ad Makers Get About Voters (and What Dems Don't)." This brings to mind the question from S.S. in Lynchburg, VA, we ran this weekend, asking whether Republicans just make better ads than Democrats do. Our answer was that Republicans (like the Lincoln Project) have a certain credibility, such that they can get away with ads that would be considered cheesy or over the top if released by Democrats. What Politico argues is that Republicans are more willing to appeal to emotion, particularly the emotion of fear, and that Republican voters are more responsive to emotion, particularly the emotion of fear. There is something to that, though we actually think it dovetails pretty well with our answer. In any event, the Politico piece is worth reading in its entirety. (Z)

Republicans Underwhelmed by Trump Campaign

Donald Trump is doing what Donald Trump does: campaigning from the gut, and worrying only about what's best for Donald Trump. In various ways, Republicans are beginning to push back, though how much headway they might make is anyone's guess.

First up is Karl Rove, who piped up on Tuesday, and said he was unimpressed by the racist, nativist, and xenophobic direction the President took on Monday. The Republican strategist was not so upset about the vaguely (or not so vaguely) fascist address at Mt. Rushmore, or the repeat performance at the White House the next day. However, he thought it unwise for Trump to wade into the various sporting controversies, particularly taking sides against NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. "The question is, did what the president tweeted on Monday advance the cause that he laid out on Saturday? And I think the answer is an unambiguous no. It did not," Rove said. Of course, Rove hasn't run a successful campaign in close to two decades, and when he did, he was himself more than willing to play to the lesser elements of human nature, substituting homophobia for Trump's xenophobia. So, his opinion should probably be taken with a few grains of salt.

Of far greater consequence is growing concern among many Republican operatives about the President's war on absentee ballots. It's not too hard to see what the problem is; we've already pointed it out a couple of times. But, in short, if absentee balloting becomes a partisan issue like mask wearing, then Trump supporters may reject vote-by-mail, and then might end up not voting at all (particularly if COVID-19 is still running rampant in November). You thus have this irony: vote-by-mail probably wouldn't benefit either party, but Trump thinks it will benefit Democrats and is kvetching about it, and so is helping to create the very skew he fears (while also hurting Republicans downballot). Anyhow, RNC pooh-bahs are going to try to get him to knock it off. But, as everyone knows, the President is not much in the habit of taking advice from anyone or anything besides his gut. (Z)

Democratic Senate Candidates Are Raking It In

Maybe the Democrats will retake the Senate this year, and maybe they won't. If they do come up short, however, it won't be for a lack of money, because Democratic candidates in close-fought races are collecting money hand over fist.

The real eye-opener is Jaime Harrison, who is trying to knock off Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Harrison used to run the state Democratic party, and it would seem he learned a trick or two, as his haul for Q2 2020 was nearly $14 million, which is almost certain to leave Graham in the dust (the Senator hasn't reported yet). Similarly, Amy McGrath's $17.4 million will surely outpace her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), by a fair distance. Sara Gideon raised more than $9 million, a veritable fortune in Maine (and this excludes the $3 million being held for her when the nomination is official). Steve Bullock took in $7.7 million, which will go far in a state where prime advertising spots can be had for as little as $100. Cal Cunningham collected $7.4 million for his race in North Carolina, and Jon Ossoff brought in $3.5 million for his race in Georgia. Those figures are not quite as impressive, especially since North Carolina and Georgia (especially North Carolina) are not cheap places to wage a campaign. However, those two have only recently locked up their respective nominations, so they will presumably improve in Q3. Plus, the DSCC is going to lavish money upon them.

Because the Democrats' fundraising is going so much better, they've been able to substantially outspend the Republicans on TV advertising this cycle, $109 million to $79 million. That is due, in part, to the fact that the blue team had a larger number of competitive primaries. However, that money had to come from somewhere and, based on the figures above, it looks like the spigot is still open. If so, it's going to be very hard for the red team to catch up. (Z)

Carlson Launches 2024 Campaign

A couple of weeks ago, we had an item pointing out that, like it or not, the 2024 presidential campaign is underway. Not on the Democratic side, since there is too much uncertainty there. But on the Republican side, there is no question there will be a vigorously contested primary in 2024, and it's never too early to start jockeying for position, apparently.

As we noted in that piece, there is going to be a "Trump" lane. The candidates may be a little more refined than the current occupant of the Trump lane, but maybe not. Among the potential Trump successors, and one who is getting many Republicans excited, is Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Carlson, of course, is very Trump-like: He is a reality TV star and provocateur with no elective experience, he dislikes immigrants, he says whatever damn thing comes into his head, and he's a millionaire but almost certainly not a billionaire.

Anyhow, given the buzz that he's generating, Carlson decided to make a few Trump-style headlines this week. During the Monday edition of his program, he set his sights on Senator and possible Democratic VP Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), complaining that she's apparently above criticism because she lost both legs in service of her country, slurring her as an "unimpressive person," and declaring that people like the Senator, who talk about the removal of statues and monuments, "hate America."

It's very rich for Carlson, whose military experience includes several viewings of the movie "Top Gun," to question the patriotism of a decorated war hero. It's also straight out of the Donald Trump playbook and brings to mind the President's attacks on then-Sen. John McCain, because McCain was captured. And in case anyone thought there was some sort of mistake or misunderstanding, Carlson doubled down on Tuesday, and channeled his inner white supremacist, with a graphic featuring Duckworth and Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN), and verbiage very similar to the mantra of white supremacists:

It is unlikely that Carlson will be the GOP candidate in 2024, if for no other reason than there will be so many contenders. But this story does suggest that instead of Trump-lite, the candidates hoping to inherit his mantle in 2024 may actually try to out-Trump Trump. (Z)

Roberts Was Briefly Hospitalized Last Month

Late Tuesday, it was revealed that Chief Justice John Roberts was hospitalized for one night, on June 21. He was walking near his home in Maryland, suffered a fall, hit his head, and was taken to the hospital for tests and observation. Fortunately for him, Supreme Court justices get excellent health insurance.

Needless to say, people fall all the time, and some of those folks end up in the hospital for a brief stay. The reason that this was "breaking news" for just about every outlet in the land is that Roberts is Chief Justice, 65 years old, has suffered seizures on at least two occasions in the past, and neglected to say anything about this recent incident until it was discovered by The Washington Post. Since public officials are notorious for covering up serious health problems, the subtext is that it is at least possible the Chief Justice is more ill than he lets on. And if so, he might just spend some time during the upcoming break mapping out the future of the Court, and thinking about whether he wants to throw in the towel this year so that his replacement is nominated by a Republican, or he wants to take a chance and hope that he remains capable for another 4, or 8, or 12 years.

The current term will be concluded once decisions in five remaining cases are announced. At least some of those decisions are set to be announced at 10:00 a.m. ET today. Given that two of the five involve Donald Trump's tax returns, that means there's at least a 40% chance that we finally learn what's going to happen on that front. If so, it will be the 1A story on every front page in America, and the lead story on every newscast. Well, except for Fox News. (Z)

Bolsonaro Tests Positive for COVID-19

Another day, another prominent person diagnosed with COVID-19. On Tuesday, it was Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. He developed clear symptoms over the weekend, was tested on Monday, and announced the results via a televised address on Tuesday, conceding "Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me."

As with the Roberts story (see above), the subtext of this story is the reason it's on the front page of pretty much every news site and newspaper in America. Bolsonaro and Donald Trump are not only right-wing populists, they have also downplayed and/or denied the virulence of COVID-19, with the not-coincidental result that their nations have had the worst outcomes in the world in terms of the disease. And so, the general idea is that now that the Brazilian president has fallen victim, the American president is not far behind. We shall see what happens, although it is hard to imagine Trump publicly admitting a positive diagnosis, even if he gets one. Of course, if he ends up at Walter Reed and Mike Pence invokes the 25th Amendment, it will be harder to hide. (Z)

Trump Administration Formally Begins WHO Withdrawal

Also on the COVID-19 front, the Trump administration on Tuesday formally initiated the process for withdrawing the U.S. from the World Health Organization. The President, of course, blames them for COVID-19 because that's a heck of a lot easier than blaming himself.

In the short- and medium-term, this is entirely for show. It takes a year for withdrawal to become official and legal, which means nothing is going to happen before the election. And, in case there was any doubt that the decision would not stand if Joe Biden becomes president, he's already announced that he will cancel the withdrawal on Jan. 20, 2021, if elected. Maybe Trump thinks that there are fence-sitting voters who will be impressed by his bold leadership, and that those folks will be larger in number than the fence-sitting voters who see this as reckless and/or a desperate attempt to shift blame. On the other hand, maybe this isn't about the voters at all, and he's just lashing out at WHO to make himself feel better. Whatever the case may be, the next chapter of this story will not become clear until the first week in November. Or depending on how fast the absentee ballots can be counted, the second week of November. Or the third week. Or until the Supreme Court picks the president. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul07 SCOTUS News, Part I: States Can Punish Faithless Electors
Jul07 SCOTUS News, Part II: No Robo-calls to Cell Phones
Jul07 Trump Doubles Down...
Jul07 Democrats Smell Blood in the Water
Jul07 Veepstakes Is in Full Swing
Jul07 Two More States Vote Today
Jul07 Mary Trump Book Will Drop Two Weeks Early
Jul07 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul07 Today's Senate Polls
Jul06 Trump's Shrinking Map
Jul06 Republicans Are Nervous about Being the Party of White Grievance
Jul06 Was the Faustian Bargain the Republicans Made Worth It?
Jul06 Biden Has Put Together a Large Legal Team to Deal with Election Trickery
Jul06 Biden Voters Are Afraid
Jul06 President West in the West Wing?
Jul06 Bookies Are Betting on Biden
Jul06 What Is the Next Big Threat?
Jul06 Tommy Tuberville Isn't Quite in the Senate Yet
Jul06 Crystal Ball: 14 House Races Are Toss-ups
Jul05 Sunday Mailbag
Jul04 Saturday Q&A
Jul03 Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested in New Hampshire
Jul03 June Jobs Report Is Stellar...or Is It?
Jul03 Reasons for Trump to Be Optimistic...
Jul03 ...and Reasons for Him to Be Pessimistic
Jul03 When It Comes to Money, Trump Is Doing Great, but Biden Is Doing Better
Jul03 Trump's (Advertising) Achilles' Heel
Jul03 Nowhere to Hyde
Jul03 Texas, Florida Take Divergent Paths
Jul03 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul03 Today's Senate Polls
Jul02 Eighty percent of Evangelicals Will Vote for Trump
Jul02 Trump's Approval Drops Below 40%
Jul02 Hundreds of Bush Officials Support Biden
Jul02 Trump Will Be Intensely Jealous Today
Jul02 Massive Wave of Bankruptcies Is Expected
Jul02 Cheney Criticizes Trump
Jul02 Eleventh Circuit Will Take Up Florida Felon Reenfranchisement Case En Banc
Jul02 Well, That Was Fast
Jul02 Do the Democrats Have Their Own Tea Party?
Jul02 Trump May Be Meddling with the Census Again
Jul02 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul02 Today's Senate Polls
Jul01 Hickenlooper Advances...
Jul01 ...and So Does McGrath
Jul01 COVID-19 Looks to Be Headed from Bad to Worse in the United States
Jul01 Democrats Stake Out Their Positions
Jul01 Trump Campaign Recalibrates
Jul01 Anti-Trump Book Blocked, at Least Temporarily
Jul01 Some Gettysburg Distress for Trump