• Infrastructure Talks Just Keep Getting More Complicated
• RNC Hacked by the Russians
• How Greedy Is Too Greedy?
• Vance Can't Dance
• Mary Trump: Ivanka's Less Loyal than Weisselberg
• Happy Anniversary, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter!
That didn't take long. Or, at least, not as long as expected. The New York City Board of Elections released the latest round of voting totals for the mayoral race, and though it ended up pretty close, it turns out that the competition to be the Democratic nominee for mayor is over: Eric Adams is the chosen one.
As things currently stand, Adams has 403,333 votes (50.5%) to 394,907 (49.5%) for Kathryn Garcia. That means that things definitely tightened up after election night, but they didn't tighten up enough to change the result. The gap between the top two candidates stands at 8,426 votes, and there are only 942 absentee ballots left to be "cured." So, Adams now has an insurmountable lead. Garcia, and third-place-finisher Maya Wiley, have not yet conceded, and they are reserving the right to ask for recounts, or take the matter to court. We doubt they will actually move forward with that, but if they do, 8,000+ votes, while not a lot in the grand scheme of things, is far more than can plausibly be overcome with legal wrangling. 50, or 100, or 500 votes? Maybe. But not multiple thousands. Well, unless they hire Cyber Ninjas to do the recount.
And so, Adams will move on to the general election, where he will face off against Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa. Sliwa is an intriguing candidate; if you were trying to construct a Republican who might plausibly make this competitive, you might come up with someone very much like him. He's got a very interesting résumé, to start with. He is the founder of the Guardian Angels, a group of unarmed civilian volunteers who patrol New York and other cities in hopes of combating violence and crime. He's also a longtime morning drive host on one of NYC's radio stations (though his show has been suspended for the duration of the mayoral campaign). And before that, he managed a McDonald's, so he's got some blue collar bona fides.
New York City loathes Donald Trump, of course, having given more than three-quarters of its votes to his opponents in 2016 and 2020. And Sliwa is very anti-Trump, having called the former president a "screwball" and a "crackpot." Indeed, if there is anyone who deserves the sobriquet "RINO," it's Sliwa. He only registered as a Republican a year ago (before that he was a member of the Reform Party), and he has taken some very un-Republican positions, including that he wants to adjust property taxes so that rich people pay more and working-class people pay less.
Anyhow, inasmuch as the two men who served prior to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, were first elected as Republicans (though Bloomberg later switched registrations), it's not impossible Sliwa could make this competitive. It's not likely, however. NYC is much bluer now than it was when Bloomberg last won election as a Republican (in 2005); registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans 6 to 1, and de Blasio won his two elections by 48.9 and 38.6 points. Further, given Sliwa's lack of political experience, and his party hopping, many voters do not take him seriously. He has struggled to pick up endorsements as a result. And finally, the centerpiece of Sliwa's campaign was fighting crime, which is an issue where he has some credibility given his work with the Guardian Angels. However, the centerpiece of Adams' campaign was also fighting crime, and he has even more credibility on that front, since he was an actual cop for 22 years.
We will be keeping an eye on the race, of course, as will all politics-watchers, in part because there are so few elections taking place this year, but also because this is one of a handful of mayoralties that comes with a spot on the national stage (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, and maybe one or two others). That said, there may not be much to see here, as one has to presume that a rout is in the offing. We'll find out for sure on November 2. (Z)
Because Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is so good at herding the cats in her caucus, and because no single individual in the House can, by themselves, tank a piece of legislation, it is easy to forget that the blue team's margin there is almost as narrow as the one in the Senate (currently, 4 votes out of 220). That gives the individual members a fair bit of leverage if they are willing to risk the wrath of Nancy, and (particularly) if they can find a few like-minded colleagues to join with them.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García (D-IL) decided to provide a little proof of concept, announcing that his vote for an infrastructure reconciliation bill is not available unless that bill also contains provisions that provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers and for recipients of Temporary Protected Status. He's thus far the only House Democrat to come out and say this, but it appears that he's just the vanguard, and that the progressive wing of the caucus is going to unite in demanding this (in addition to also insisting upon higher corporate taxes, as we noted yesterday).
Helping out the Dreamers is a broadly popular position, not only among Democrats, but among independents, and even some Republicans. Taking action on this front would curry favor with many Latino voters, a demographic the Democrats have struggled with in recent years, and would also eventually create a bloc of 5-10 million new voters, many of whom would remember which party helped them out and which one did not. And so, it is likely that getting Democrats in both chambers on board with this should be doable, assuming that Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough does not put the kibosh on it, which she might, since it is not really budget related.
Of course, this will also make Republicans hopping mad. The two issues held most dear by the modern, Trumpy iteration of the GOP are anti-immigration and low corporate taxes. And here, they are in danger of suffering big losses on both fronts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) certainly sees how things are unfolding, and on Tuesday he derided Democratic efforts at bipartisanship, and promised a "hell of a fight" over whatever reconciliation bill the Democrats put forward.
Clearly this is going to get ugly. Of course, if the Democrats can stick together, then McConnell's talk is just that, and he'll be powerless to stop them. He probably can kill the smaller, bipartisan bill if he wants to, and presumably he will do just that. Which means that everything would be back at square one, with everyone getting yet another lesson in the general futility of bipartisanship when the two parties are so far apart. Are you taking notes, Sens. Manchin and Sinema? (Z)
Here's a story with a lot of known unknowns and a lot of unknown unknowns. On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that Russian hackers—specifically, members of the group Cozy Bear, which was also responsible for the 2016 DNC hack and the SolarWinds hack—has successfully targeted the RNC. Initially, the Republicans insisted that they weren't hacked. Later, they issued a statement that clarified that when they said "we weren't hacked," what they actually meant was, "OK, yeah, we were hacked."
Because hackers tend to be shadowy figures, and because the RNC has been less than forthcoming, there remain many unanswered questions. Among them:
- What information did the Russians want? And why?
- What, exactly, did they take, if anything?
- Is there a connection between this hack and the recent ransomware hacks?
- Was this a shot across the bow from Vladimir Putin, who just discussed this issue with Joe Biden at their summit?
- Why bother with hacking? Why not just call up Donald Trump and get the password?
OK, that last question is just a joke. He doesn't know it. He'd have to tell them to call RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel.
Because so much here remains obscure, it's hard to draw any larger conclusions about this news. We do know that the 2016 DNC hack was undertaken specifically to hurt the Party and their then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. It is improbable that Team Putin has now flipped sides, and is ready to put its finger on the scale for the Democrats/Joe Biden. More plausible is that the Russkies were looking for leverage over Trump and/or other Republicans. (Z)
As long as we're on the subject of the Republican Party, the GOP's muckety-mucks are now in the thickety-thick of gerrymandering the maps in those states where they have the power to do so. And that means they are now wrestling with the question that gerrymanderers have confronted since time immemorial (or, at least, since the gerrymander was invented 200 years ago): How greedy should we be?
More specifically, the great white whale of modern Republican politics is big cities. Even in red states, the big cities tend to skew very Democratic. In past redistricting cycles, the general preference for Republican gerrymanderers has been to jam as many Democrats as is possible into ultra-safe urban Democratic districts, leaving the GOP to create a bunch of pretty-safe suburban and rural Republican districts. For example, GA-05 (Atlanta), OH-11 (Cleveland), MO-01 (St. Louis), TX-30 (Dallas), TX-09 and TX-18 (both Houston), FL-24 (Miami), TN-09 (Memphis), and LA-02 (New Orleans) are all D+25 or bluer. But now, some Republicans think the time has come to carve up the cities in hopes of creating even more Republican-leaning districts.
At the moment, there is a spirited debate going on among Republican decision-makers. As is the case with anyone who has embraced gerrymandering, whether Republican or Democrat, fairness is not a concern. No, the main issues are (1) can the map pass muster if and when a lawsuit is filed?, and (2) how much leeway, optimally, should be built into a partisan district?
The first concern is very much on Republicans' minds right now, as they went too far in some places in the last round of redistricting (most obviously Pennsylvania and North Carolina), got slapped down by the courts, and ultimately lost a few seats as a result. Further, Obama-era AG Eric Holder has put together a veritable army of lawyers to push back against any maps the Democrats deem to be problematic. It's also the case that a representative who finds their district yanked out from under them is likely to sue.
The second concern also looms large. Given that Republicans did unexpectedly well in 2016 and 2020, and unexpectedly poorly in 2018, they are uncertain as to exactly how many loyal voters they have in years where Donald Trump is not on the ballot (and he won't be in, at very least, three of the elections covered by these maps, and more probably four or five of them). Further, 10 years is plenty of time for serious demographic change to take place. For example, South Carolina currently has six red districts that are R+7, R+9, R+11 (x2), R+14, and R+21. The seventh district, which covers much of Charleston, is D+17. The maps could be redrawn to cut that D+17 way down, or even to make the district slightly Republican. But that would require knocking some of those safe-Republican districts to R+4 or R+5. And so, the price of making that D+17 district winnable for Republicans is opening up 2-4 districts to possible Democratic takeover.
It will be another couple of months until we see what the Republicans decide. And there's every chance that some states will choose one path, and other states will choose a different one. However, Mitch McConnell—who is as partisan as it gets—is loudly advocating for playing things safe, and not getting too cutesy with the maps. Many other prominent Republican officeholders, particularly in Washington, DC, are in agreement. So, the results here could tell us some interesting things about who is really calling the shots in the GOP these days. What Republican gerrymanders forget at their own peril is: pigs get fat but hogs get slaughtered. (Z)
If you got the reference in that headline, then you really know your 20th century pop music. A lot of readers do, as evidenced by the responses to the work-still-in-progress albums game. Anyhow, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, as expected, declared his candidacy for Ohio's open Senate seat last week. And in an extremely amateurish move, he apparently forgot to scrub his Twitter account of problematic tweets. So, it didn't take long for reporters (and opponents) to find some strongly anti-Trump tweets that Vance sent out during the 2016 election cycle, like "Trump makes people I care about afraid. Immigrants, Muslims, etc. Because of this I find him reprehensible. God wants better of us." and "In 4 years, I hope people remember that it was those of us who empathized with Trump's voters who fought him the most aggressively."
These days, of course, Vance is running in the Trump lane, and he desperately needs The Donald's blessing in order to send fellow Republican Josh Mandel to defeat in the primaries. So, once the tweets came to light, Vance fell all over himself apologizing, as he publicly prostrated himself in hopes of assuaging King Donald I. "I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016," Vance said, "because I've been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy. I think he was a good president."
It is possible that Vance will weather this particular storm, since he's raking in the bucks from big donors like Peter Thiel, and since it's not like anyone is polling Senate races right now. But this illustrates exactly why it's difficult to take him seriously as a candidate. In short, Vance is a phony, about as big a phony as is to be found in American politics, which is really saying something. His fame is based on his "insight" into Appalachian life and poverty, but his book is so problematic that it resulted in a whole book full of essays explaining how problematic it is. He was nowhere near as impoverished growing up as he claims to be, and he eventually fled to Yale, and is now an investment banker and venture capitalist, so it's not like his experience is in any way representative.
Part of Donald Trump's appeal was that he convinced his base that he was not a phony, and that he is a straight shooter who will tell it like it is. Selling them on that was an accomplishment of epic proportions, since Trump is a giant phony, but the fact is that he did it. Most others, including Vance, can't pull it off, particularly given that the base is always on the lookout for fakers. With an actual Trumper in the race in the person of Mandel, it is inconceivable that the Trumpers will gravitate toward a Johnny-come-lately like Vance, no matter how many checks Peter Thiel writes. (Z)
As long as we are on the Trump beat—sigh—we will pass this bit of news along. Mary Trump, the niece of the former president, who has unique insight into the family but also an axe to grind, sat for an interview earlier this week. She was asked about the recent criminal charges brought against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg, and said that Weisselberg is very loyal to Trump and might not sing. On the other hand, she says that Ivanka is "much less likely to stay loyal," and may very well flip on her father.
Mary's reasoning, beyond her personal knowledge of the people involved, is that Ivanka—as a person with a family and young children—has more to lose by going to prison for however many years than Weisselberg does. She also has a fair bit of her own money, and Jared Kushner is quite wealthy, too. So, if she is cut off and/or cast out by her father, she can still maintain the lifestyle she is accustomed to. Mary also notes that Ivanka has already been distancing herself from The Donald, and so there may already be trouble in paradise (well, in Mar-a-Lago, which is just a little south of paradise, right? Or Paradise Heights, at least).
At this point, this is just gossip, and it may or may not be on target. We mostly pass this news along because of another important point that Mary Trump made:
If there are two sets of books for Allen, there are two sets of books for other people. And I think we're also going to find that in these millions of pages of documents there will be more evidence. So either they're not going to be solely relying on Allen Weisselberg to flip because either there's documentary evidence of Donald's direct wrongdoing or there will be other people who might be more willing to flip than Allen.
We remain skeptical that Weisselberg will allow himself to be thrown under the bus, particularly if his children end up in the crosshairs as well. But he's just the easiest and most potentially productive smaller fish for the authorities to target in their quest to land the big fishes. If he does zip his lip, they undoubtedly have plenty of other fish to go after, and one of those is sure to spill their guts. (Z)
This item is the antidote to all the not-so-admirable folks addressed in the previous handful of items. Today, the 39th president and his wife celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. As that figure implies, they've had an incredibly successful marriage that has adapted over time, and that is still rooted in profound love and affection. There are many stories about the Carters' 75th to be found today, and they all make that point, while also observing that the couple are both model citizens in just about every way: they are modest and unassuming, they attend church regularly, they give their time to charity, they treat other people well, etc.
In short, the Carters are fundamentally decent people; a reminder that, in politics, that is not an impossibility. Certainly, there were phonies and sleazeballs, even in their day, and of course there are still some decent folks in politics today. However, it sure does seem like the balance has shifted in the direction of the not-so-nice politicians in the last generation or two. Exactly why that is, and whether there is a possibility of reversing the trend, are certainly interesting questions, even if they don't have clear answers. (Z)
If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.
- firstname.lastname@example.org For questions about politics, civics, history, etc. to be answered on a Saturday
- email@example.com For "letters to the editor" for possible publication on a Sunday
- firstname.lastname@example.org To tell us about typos or factual errors we should fix
- email@example.com For general suggestions, ideas, etc.
To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.
Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul06 What's the Plan for the 1/6 Commission?
Jul06 How Not to Respond to Being Prosecuted
Jul06 Breyer Clerks Up for Next Term
Jul06 An Interesting Election in Saxony-Anhalt
Jul06 An Interesting Election in Brazil
Jul05 Biden Narrowly Misses Vaccination Goal
Jul05 DeSantis Is Preparing for 2024--Very Carefully
Jul05 Republicans Are Testing New Attacks on Biden
Jul05 Clyburn Doesn't Want Trump to Testify
Jul05 Biden Wants to Encourage Legal Residents to Apply for Citizenship
Jul05 The New Cold War?
Jul05 Plentiful Jobs and Rising Wages Help the Democrats
Jul05 Garcia Could Yet Win the NYC Mayor's Race
Jul05 Alvin Bragg Wins
Jul05 The Numbers Didn't Add Up
Jul04 Sunday Mailbag
Jul03 Saturday Q&A
Jul02 RIP Voting Rights Act, 1965-2021
Jul02 Pelosi Makes Her Picks for 1/6 Commission
Jul02 A Win for Biden (Not That Anyone Will Notice)
Jul02 Weisselberg Surrenders, TrumpWorld Spins
Jul02 At Least It's Not Just a Blog...
Jul02 It's a Date!
Jul02 New York City Releases Update on Mayoral Race
Jul01 Report: Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg to Be Charged Today
Jul01 Trumpers Want More Arizona-style "Audits"
Jul01 Maricopa County Will Replace the Tainted Voting Machines
Jul01 Wisconsin Republicans Cower in Fear of Trump
Jul01 Select Committee to Investigate Insurrection Passes
Jul01 McConnell Now Has a Tough Choice to Make on Infrastructure
Jul01 Pelosi Pushes Back against McConnell on Infrastructure
Jul01 New Study Shows How Biden Won
Jul01 New Ranking of the Presidents--Trump Beats Pierce, Johnson, and Buchanan
Jun30 No News Is Bad News (for RCV)
Jun30 The South Will Fall Again
Jun30 Trump Says Herschel Walker Will Run for Senate in Georgia
Jun30 Whither Lisa Murkowski?
Jun30 A Famous Name Is Not Enough
Jun30 What Happens to Sh** Stirrers When There's No Sh** to Stir?
Jun30 A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Part I
Jun29 RuJoe's Drag Race
Jun29 Pelosi Spells Out Commission Details
Jun29 No Charges for Trump in New York?
Jun29 Maybe Trump Should Be Focused on Some Image Management
Jun29 Political Themes of the Olympics Are Emerging
Jun29 Arizona Audit Is Not Helping Trump
Jun28 Biden: I'll Sign Bipartisan Bill without Reconciliation Bill
Jun28 Donald Trump Wants to Make the 2022 Elections about ... Donald Trump
Jun28 Two States Undercut Secretaries of State for Not "Finding" Votes for Trump