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Republican Attorneys General Are Suing Biden for...Everything

Republican state attorneys general do not like what Joe Biden is doing. None of it. So they are suing him for his call on the Keystone XL pipeline, his immigration policies, his climate policies, and his coronavirus relief package. They are even gearing up to sue him on H.R. 1, which hasn't even been brought up for a vote in the Senate yet. Their goal is to get the Supreme Court to simply invalidate his entire administration. With a 6-3 majority of Republican appointees, it could work.

The nation's 26 Republican state AGs have emerged as the shock troops of the Republican Party. Their motto is: "Sue first, ask questions later." Of course, they are just following the precedent set by Democratic AGs who sued Donald Trump constantly, in many cases over the same issues (oil, immigration, climate, coronavirus, etc.). The old model of the people elect a president and a Congress and they get to govern is being replaced by one in which nine unelected justices set public policy on every political issue of the day. When it was Democratic AGs in California and New York filing the lawsuits, the blue team cheered them on. Now, not so much.

It's probably not surprising, but perhaps not so good for democracy that everything ultimately lands in the Supreme Court. When the party out of power can't get anything it wants from Congress or the administration, it naturally uses the only remaining weapon it has: the courts. Also, the AGs themselves have plenty of skin in the game personally. A Democratic AG in California who sues a Republican administration can expect lots of plaudits and votes for doing so, just like a Republican AG in Texas who sues a Democratic administration. A promotion is a real possibility, too. Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and VP Kamala Harris, among others, served as their state's AG before moving on to bigger things.

A decision to construct a controversial pipeline that passes over an underground reservoir of pure water and that might damage sacred Native American sites but could help free America from the need to import oil from kingdoms in the Middle East run by autocratic Arab sheikhs who murder journalists is fundamentally a political issue, not a legal one. There are arguments for and against, and ultimately the voters should get to make the call by electing politicians they like. But it is hard for the losing team to accept that.

Part of the problem is that, due to the inability of Congress to do much of anything, recent presidents have tried to govern mostly by executive order. Barack Obama did that for 6 years after Democrats lost control of the House in 2010. Donald Trump did that for 4 years, even though Republicans controlled Congress for his first 2 years. Now Joe Biden is following suit. All the presidents pushed the envelope on what they could do by XO and many of the lawsuits at least nominally challenge the process, rather than the content of the decision. In other words, the claim is not that action X is unconstitutional but that action X requires an act of Congress. Of course, if Congress were to pass a law saying that action X is the law of the land, the AGs would then challenge the action itself, but then their case would be weaker. Congress clearly has the power to regulate interstate commerce, for example, so a law approving or banning an interstate pipeline might stand up, whereas a unilateral presidential decision to do the same thing might not.

Of course, in a legal fight over what is actually a policy issue, the president can, and will, be represented by the best legal minds in the country, so he is not powerless. Nevertheless, the Constitution does not address most modern public policy issues (if any), so the justices pretty much have to wing it and that ultimately often comes down to their personal and political preferences. Of course, when a hot-button case shows up, they can refuse to rule, simply saying: "This is a political decision, which is the job of the other two branches, not ours." But that doesn't always happen, often even when the other two branches are in agreement, and rarely when they are not. It may surprise some people but the Constitution does not say: "When the Legislative and Executive Branches are having a food fight, the Judicial Branch shall act as the referee." (V)

Why McConnell Really Fears Abolishing the Filibuster

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blustered and thundered that if the Democrats abolish the filibuster, he will be really, really angry and there will be hell to pay. Why did he bother? It isn't as if the Democrats are now cowering under their desks, too frightened to do it, lest they incur his mighty wrath. Their decision to reform (not abolish) the filibuster will depend on whether they can get 50 votes to do so in their own caucus. What the Republicans want is irrelevant. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is the key player here, not McConnell.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post has a plausible reason why McConnell actually wants to keep the filibuster. And it is not about what the Democrats might do now. It is about what might happen if the Republicans win all the marbles in 2024. Fundamentally, there are two categories of things Republicans might do if they had the White House and a majority in the Senate and House. First, they would confirm conservative judges and pass tax cuts. But they can do both of those with or without the filibuster. The former can't be filibustered and the latter can be done using the budget reconciliation process.

Second, they will try to pass all kinds of legislation that the activist conservative grass roots would love but would be a disaster for the Party in 2026. Imagine a law making it a felony to cross state lines to obtain an abortion—with a 10-year prison sentence for the first offense going up to 50 years on the third one. Before too long, many red states won't have any abortion clinics left, so the only way for a woman to obtain one would be to cross state lines (or an international border). McConnell knows the pressure from the base to pass laws like this would be unbearable if there were no filibuster. Now he can say to the activists: "No can do, because the Democrats will filibuster it." McConnell knows that if there were no filibuster and extreme laws like that were proposed, he would catch hell from the base if he didn't bring them up for a vote and would lose his majority in 2026 if he did.

And abortion is only one issue. How about a federal law allowing concealed carry of any weapon in any state? How about a federal law banning immigration of all kinds? Or a law providing a $1,000 bounty for anyone capturing an undocumented immigrant and turning him or her over to the Border Patrol? And since fetuses would be legally people by, say, Feb. 1, 2025, capturing and turning over a pregnant woman would be worth $2,000. There are so many more laws the base would demand but which would wipe out the GOP at the next general election.

Another problem is the asymmetry in what the parties want. Most of what the Republicans want could be undone the next time the Democrats took over. Taxes on rich people could be raised, interstate travel for abortions could be made legal again, and concealed carry could be made illegal again. However, the Democrats' priorities, like making D.C. a state or granting citizenship to all the undocumented immigrants would be very hard to reverse. Other things, like repealing H.R. 1 and taking the vote away from people who just got it, would be technically possible but would generate an enormous blowback that would hit Republicans like a ton of bricks. So in this view, McConnell sees the filibuster as an excuse he can offer to the base when they demand things he knows are very unpopular. He can just say: "Democrats will filibuster it" so he is off the hook. (V)

Durbin Doubles Down on Filibuster Reform

While Mitch McConnell may want to keep the filibuster for his own reasons, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) went on CNN yesterday to attack it. Now that Joe Biden wants to reform Senate Rule XXII and the #2 Democrat in the Senate has also strongly come out for change, the odds on something actually happening are increasing. It is extremely unlikely that it will be abolished altogether because Joe Manchin needs to save face, but even Manchin has agreed to make it more painful—as in really needing to visit the rest room and yet not being able to go.

Durbin's interview with CNN signals the direction Democrats are likely to go. It is what they are calling the "talking filibuster," like in the Jimmy Stewart movie. This is a less radical change than carving out special exceptions for voting-rights bills, statehood bills, etc. Durbin isn't the only senior Senate Democrat who now seems prepared to revive that old practice. On Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who had resisted changing the rules, said she was open to change now.

The trickle of support is becoming a flood now that Democrats are coming to realize that without reform, they will get nothing passed until the next reconciliation bill. And some of their top priorities, such as S. 1 (the Senate counterpart to H.R. 1) and D.C. statehood have zero chance of being passed unless they emasculate the filibuster.

But requiring a real old-fashioned filibuster will also test the Democrats' willingness to blow up the Senate and go for total war. Forcing elderly Republican senators to stand at the podium hour after hour, often in an empty chamber in the middle of the night, reading the Bible, Shakespeare, or the phone book in order to make their party happy is going to destroy whatever relationships still exist between senators of the opposing party. In effect, the Democrats are going to have to push their Republican colleagues to the point of physical exhaustion and beyond, to get them so tired and in pain that they can't function any more and give up. It's not going to be pretty. And it won't even work unless Democrats change the rules so that after a certain amount of normal debate, the Senate can vote to enter a "final phase" of debate in which every senator who wants to gets exactly one more turn speaking, with no chair, no drinks, no food, and no bathroom breaks allowed. It will also mean enforcing the rules vigorously, so if a senator asks for permission to go to his desk for a minute to get something, the answer has to be "yes, but then your speaking turn is finished."

How long could a filibuster go on? The gold medal for the one-person filibuster goes to Strom Thurmond's speech of Aug. 28, 1957, when he spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes. Thurmond was 55 at the time. Alfonse D'Amato gets the silver medal, with 23 hours and 30 minutes in 1986, when he was 49. The bronze medal goes to Wayne Morse, who spoke for 22 hours and 26 minutes in 1953, when he was 52. The fourth and fifth longest were 18 hours and 23 minutes and 16 hours and 12 minutes, respectively. But these are exceptions. Most senators are not capable of standing and talking that long.

How long could a multi-person filibuster go on? That's hard to model since we don't know the endurance of each individual senator. Here are three possible models for how long the senators could go on. Each one assumes that the younger senators are more vigorous and could go on longer than the older ones. For simplicity, we have grouped them by decade, lumping the 40-somethings together, the 50-somethings together, etc. For the mathematicaly inclined reader, the average age of the Republican senators is 63.5 and the median age is 65. These are not spring chickens.

Senator Age Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Chuck Grassley (R-IA) 87 4 3 2
Jim Inhofe (R-OK) 86 4 3 2
Richard Shelby (R-AL) 86 4 3 2
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 79 8 6 4
"James ""Jim"" Risch (R-ID)" 77 8 6 4
Mitt Romney (R-UT) 74 8 6 4
Roy Blunt (R-MO) 71 8 6 4
John Boozman (R-AR) 70 8 6 4
Deb Fischer (R-NE) 70 8 6 4
John Cornyn (R-TX) 69 12 9 6
Mike Crapo (R-ID) 69 12 9 6
John Kennedy (R-LA) 69 12 9 6
Roger Wicker (R-MS) 69 12 9 6
John Barrasso (R-WY) 68 12 9 6
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) 68 12 9 6
Susan Collins (R-ME) 68 12 9 6
Rick Scott (R-FL) 68 12 9 6
Shelley Capito (R-WV) 67 12 9 6
Mike Braun (R-IN) 66 12 9 6
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) 66 12 9 6
Jerry Moran (R-KS) 66 12 9 6
Mike Rounds (R-SD) 66 12 9 6
Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) 66 12 9 6
Richard Burr (R-NC) 65 12 9 6
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 65 12 9 6
Ron Johnson (R-WI) 65 12 9 6
Rob Portman (R-OH) 65 12 9 6
John Hoeven (R-ND) 64 12 9 6
Bill Cassidy (R-LA) 63 12 9 6
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 63 12 9 6
Bill Hagerty (R-TN) 61 12 9 6
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) 61 12 9 6
Kevin Cramer (R-ND) 60 12 9 6
Roger Marshall (R-KS) 60 12 9 6
John Thune (R-SD) 60 12 9 6
Thom Tillis (R-NC) 60 12 9 6
Pat Toomey (R-PA) 59 16 12 8
Steve Daines (R-MT) 58 16 12 8
Rand Paul (R-KY) 58 16 12 8
Dan Sullivan (R-AK) 56 16 12 8
Tim Scott (R-SC) 55 16 12 8
James Lankford (R-OK) 53 16 12 8
Ted Cruz (R-TX) 50 16 12 8
Joni Ernst (R-IA) 50 16 12 8
Mike Lee (R-UT) 49 20 15 10
Marco Rubio (R-FL) 49 20 15 10
Ben Sasse (R-NE) 49 20 15 10
Todd Young (R-IN) 48 20 15 10
Tom Cotton (R-AR) 43 20 15 10
Josh Hawley (R-MO) 41 20 15 10
Weeks   3.76 2.82 1.88

In model 1, we assume the six younger senators (in their 40s) could each talk for 20 hours apiece, the eight senators in their 50s could each talk for 16 hours each, and so on up to the three octogenarians, who we think couldn't stand there talking for more than 4 hours. We think this model is extremely optimistic (from the Republican point of view) because it assumes six senators can each talk for 20 hours and eight senators can make it to 16 hours. In all of history, only five senators made it this long. Can 14 senators do it now?

Model 2 is less ambitious, assuming speeches only ¾ as long as model 1. Model 3 assumes that the speeches are only half as long as model 1. Still it requires 14 senators to stand there and talk for 8 hours or more. That's a lot, even for younger senators. Will a retiring senator (Pat Toomey, PA) or a Black senator (Tim Scott, SC) really want to do this to prevent the red states from disenfranchising Black voters?

So the three models lead to 4-week, 3-week, and 2-week filibusters, respectively. But we believe this is an overestimate. In particular, we don't believe the female senators—who tend to be sensitive to appearing overly "aggressive"—will go to the mat on this. Maybe Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who is only 50, is capable of reading the Iowa phone book for 8-16 hours, but we really doubt she will do it. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is not going to read the Alaska phone book for even 6 hours—it isn't long enough. Besides, she may be a conservative, but she is fundamentally a decent person and won't go for this. Also, a few of the male senators, like Ben Sasse (NE) and Mitt Romney (UT), have enough respect for the Senate to make a short speech to oppose the bill, but not to speak for hours and hours. So our guess is that 2 weeks of day-and-night talking would be the maximum delay feasible.

One issue the Democrats would have to prepare for is quorum calls. Requiring the Democratic senators to get out of bed five times a night and rush to the Senate would definitely reduce their appetite for this maneuver. But a change in the rules could prevent endless quorum calls (e.g., quorum calls are allowed only during voting, not during speaking time).

The Senate would not grind to a complete halt during this time. Probably only three senators would be in the chamber during a filibuster: the speaker, a backup speaker who could take over if the speaker collapsed, and the presiding officer (a Democrat). The two other than the speaker could sit down and spend their time with headphones on listening to music on their phones. The other senators could attend committee meetings, negotiate with House members on bills, dial for dollars, deal with constituent issues, and plenty of other things that senators do. So the talking filibuster might waste 2-3 weeks, max, but to get S.1 passed or D.C. admitted as a state, Democrats might be willing to do that. (V)

Weisselberg's ex-Daughter-in-law Is Talking to Vance

A tactic that prosecutors use all the time is to go after little fish and squeeze them hard enough to get them to squeal, and then use their testimony to get larger fish to squeal, and so on up the chain until they get to the Big Fish. Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance is well aware of this technique. Therefore, it is of note that Vance is talking to Jennifer Weisselberg, the former wife of Barry Weisselberg, the son of the Trump Organization's CFO Allen Weisselberg. Barry W. is the longtime manager of the Trump-run ice skating rink in Central Park. Jennifer even kindly provided NBC News with this photo of the lovely couple in better times and another lovely (?) couple.

Jennifer and Barry Weisselberg with the Trumps

Trump is known to put pressure on everyone who works for him to cut corners and generate the greatest profit for him. Vance probably suspects that under pressure from Trump, Barry might have committed some financial crimes related to the ice skating rink and Jennifer might know about them. In addition, Trump allowed the couple to live in a nice apartment off Central Park, rent free. It is perfectly legal for an employer to provide free benefits, such as living accommodations. However, such benefits are taxable income for the employee. If Trump deducted a (possibly inflated) market-rate for the apartment as a business expense in the category of "salary and benefits" and listed that on his tax returns (which Vance now has), but Barry "forgot" to report it as income for the past several years, then Barry could be indicted for tax evasion. You probably see which sized fish Vance may just have caught. If Jennifer and Barry both signed the state tax returns, then Jennifer has the same liability here as Barry, so it might not be too hard for Vance to make her an offer she can't refuse.

Given a choice between having his son go to prison for many years for tax evasion and possibly financial crimes related to the rink, or else singing like a canary, Allen Weisselberg might just clear his throat and practice some songs. And we're not done yet. Weisselberg's other son, Jack, works for Ladder Capital, one of Trump's biggest lenders. Now that Vance has Trump's tax returns, no doubt he will take a long and careful look at Ladder Capital's dealings with Trump. Who knows what might turn up?

Vance knows perfectly well that while former Trump fixer and current felon Michael Cohen knows the general pattern of any crimes Trump might have committed (like inflating property values when talking to banks and deflating them when talking to the property tax assessor), Cohen doesn't know the details. Besides, as an admitted liar and current felon, his testimony in court is of marginal value. Allen Weisselberg is not a felon and knows exactly what Trump said to whom and why. His testimony in court could be fatal. This is why Vance is using Jennifer to the max.

Another little detail: The Weisselberg divorce was extremely acrimonious and Barry got custody of their children. Jennifer wants them back. If Barry were to suddenly have to take an extended involuntary vacation at Club Fed, a judge would be fairly likely to change the custody arrangement. She knows this. Vance knows this. Barry knows this. Donald knows this. Now you know this. We don't know how this will play out, since there are a lot of moving parts here, but the story bears watching. (V)

Report: Trump Will Start a New Social Media Platform

A spokesman for Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, Jason Miller, went on Fox News yesterday and announced that Trump will start his own social media platform in 2-3 months. Presumably he will not ban himself, no matter what he says, as most of the other ones have done.

Miller said that Trump's new site would "completely redefine the game." He said it would attract tens of millions of users. He didn't get into the details, but said there have been discussions with multiple companies about getting it off the ground.

A key decision is what kind of a platform would it be. Starting something like Facebook would probably be impossibly difficult because people invest too much of their life in a platform like that. So, they are not likely to jump from the existing option (i.e., Facebook) to something new. Something like Twitter would be easier and more likely to succeed because people don't try to live their entire lives there. Still, why would Trump go to the trouble of starting a new platform when Parler is back on the air? He could surely make a deal with Parler to get featured billing. With Trump, ultimately everything comes back to money, so perhaps he has plans to monetize his new platform. He could charge a monthly fee to receive his tweets or blips or orange alerts or TrumpDumps or whatever he calls them. Of course, even paying $4.99 a month would be a huge barrier for many people who expect everything on the Internet to be free. Maybe he could make the site free to read but require a paid membership to post anything. But that has the danger that many supporters would be happy just to read his brilliant remarks and not join. Running any mass site costs real money, and before Trump could profit from it, he would have to first cover the costs of running it (servers, telecomm fees, technical and managerial personnel, etc.). That would require thousands of paying customers, which might be hard to achieve if anyone could read it for free. Trump could try to lure advertisers, but other big sites that tried to live on advertising dollars often failed and had to go over to a subscription model.

If Trump were to indeed set up something and call it, say, Tritter, we might end up with two microblogging platforms: Twitter for Democrats and most other people and Tritter for Trumpists. That might create a need for a third one for traditional Republicans. On the other hand, Tritter might be an abject failure and cost its founders (definitely not Trump himself) millions of dollars. Think: Trump Airlines, Trump beverages, Trump: The Game, Trump Casinos, Trump magazine, Trump Mortgage, Trump steaks, Trump University, Trump Vodka, and more. Trump has this amazing ability as a businessman to turn gold into lead, and Tritter could fail as well, just as all these did. After all, how much original content could Trump generate every day to get people to pay money for in one form or another? And could he convince other right-wing stars to jump ship and sign up with his new venture? History shows that Trump is actually not very good at anything outside his core business of real estate, and even there he has been losing money at most properties for years. (V)

Trump Force One Is Grounded

Donald Trump used to "Wow!" supporters by showing up at airports in his own personal hand-me-down 757 that a second-rate budget Mexican airline no longer wanted. He called it Trump Force One. He loved to tell people that it had 500 MPH Rolls Royce engines. He generally neglected to point out that all 757s have 500 MPH Rolls Royce engines. That is standard equipment on that model. Then he got an upgrade to Air Force One. Not nearly as gold plated inside, but with much better communications gear. But somebody else is now using that plane, so Trump is on his own again.

Can he just go back to the 757? Not exactly. One engine is missing some parts and the other is wrapped in plastic. It is parked at a small airport in upstate New York. Here it is:

Trump's 757

There are a couple of problems here. First, the repair job needed to make the plane airworthy again will be in the high six figures. Second, a 757 costs between $15,000 and $18,000 per hour to fly, even when it is in perfect condition, which his is not. Trump is not exactly flush with cash now, with $421 million in loans coming due in the next 4 years. Also, his hotels and golf courses are losing money hand over fist due to the pandemic, so they are a huge money suck. On the other hand, he could use money from his super PACs to fix up the plane. That is actually legal, as super PAC money need not be spent on campaigns. And even if it had to be, he could argue that he was using the plane to test the waters for a 2024 campaign.

Trump could also sell the plane, for which he paid $100 million. However, 757s are old, the parts are getting harder to find, and they are real gas guzzlers. The market price for them is now in the $7-$10 million range. Maybe he is planning to do that, although the news of a sale would be: "Trump buys plane for $100 million, sells it for $10 million," which is not the kind of news he likes. Maybe he'll just let it sit around for a while he decides what to do. If so, parking it outdoors in Orange County, NY, is kind of dumb. It rains and snows there a lot and this causes corrosion, which makes it even more expensive to fix up. Normally, when airlines have an excess plane they don't need for a while they fly it to a boneyard in Arizona where the air is very dry, so there is no corrosion. This is what a military boneyard in the Arizona desert looks like, but commercial ones look the same.

Trump can still get around, though. He has a Cessna 750 Citation X plane. It can hold up to 12 people, depending on how it is configured, and has a range of 4,000 miles, so it will get him anywhere he wants to go in the contiguous U.S. at 600 MPH. Also, it costs only about $5,000/hr to fly and can get in and out of small airports with short runways quite easily, which the 757 cannot do. But the "Wow!" factor when showing up in a small Cessna is considerably less than when showing up in a big 757. And Trump cares a lot about having people be awestruck by his wealth and extravagance.

Of course, Trump could get wherever he wants to go by flying first class on a commercial airline, but then he would run into people who would recognize him instantly and while half of them might ask for a selfie with him, the other half might not be nice to him. One person who knows him said: "I think if it was a choice of flying on a commercial plane or staying home, he would just stay home." (V)

Grassley and Johnson's Indecision Is Freezing Key Senate Races

Two incumbent senators in competitive states, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), haven't decided if they are going to run for reelection in 2022. As a result, everything is on hold on the Republican side in those states. If they wait many more months to drop out, there will be less time for the field to sort itself out and for interested Republican candidates to raise money, hire staff, and start campaigning. In reality, this uncertainty mostly helps the Democrats because they know they will need to find candidates in those states no matter who the GOP candidate is, so potential candidates are already doing the initial legwork.

Most senators who are planning to retire announce that early in the cycle to give members of their party plenty of time to get ready for a run. In fact, five Republican senators have already thrown in the towel. The link Congress: retirements to the left of the map above shows the current state of play with respect to retirements and will be kept up to date as more are announced. Grassley has already filed the paperwork to run, but he will be 89 on Election Day in 2022 and 95 at the end of another term, so he might yet decide to call it quits. Especially since his grandson, speaker of the Iowa House Pat Grassley (R), is said to be interested in the job. In that case, all the old "Vote for Grassley" signs Chuck has stored away wouldn't have to go into the paper recycler. However, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) is probably also interested. If Grassley wants to hand the baton over to his grandson, he'll have to think carefully about timing, since Pat could stand to build up name recognition, whereas the sitting governor does not have that problem. Also a factor is a recent poll showing that 55% of Iowa's voters think it's time for the Senator to go.

The situation in Wisconsin is different. Johnson ran as a can-do businessman and is now Trumpier than Trump. He has irritated Mitch McConnell repeatedly with his inflammatory remarks. McConnell would surely prefer a less troublesome Republican in his seat, but will support Johnson if he decides to violate his "only two terms" pledge and runs again. Even with Johnson in the race, Democrats smell blood in the water, so a number of Democrats are getting ready to run. That includes Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D-WI), state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI). Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry is already in the race. Johnson's hesitation is really hurting only his own team, so Republicans want him to make up his mind already. (V)

Former North Carolina Justice Will Run for Burr's Senate Seat

Cheri Beasley, a Black woman who ran for chief justice of North Carolina in 2020 and lost by just 401 votes statewide, is going to announce a Senate run in April. She ran in 2014 for a position as associate justice and won.

Beasley isn't the only Black woman gearing up to run for the open seat. Former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham is also expected to run. A Black female astronaut would no doubt get a lot of attention. No doubt multiple other Democrats are also planning campaigns already. If one white man entered, he might have an advantage over two Black women, but if half a dozen white men entered, then the Black women might have the advantage.

On the Republican side, Lara Trump is considering a run. If she jumps in, she would certainly clear the field of Trumpy candidates, though there could be one or more Trump-free candidates. But as with Iowa and Wisconsin, the longer Trump takes to make a decision, the more it hurts potential Republicans planning to run if she doesn't jump in. No matter what, everyone expects North Carolina to be one of the most expensive Senate races in history, so the best time to start raising money was in January, or maybe even earlier. (V)

Dead Congressman's Widow Is Elected to Replace Him

When Representative-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died of COVID-19 in December, before he could be sworn in, a special election was forced. Among the candidates was his wife, Julia Letlow (also R). On Saturday, she won a 12-way race to succeed him, garnering 62% of the vote, thus avoiding a runoff. Donald Trump endorsed her and she raised $680,000 for the race, $600,000 more than anyone else. The district is R+15, so it is not surprising that a Republican won. Letlow is the first woman ever to win in that district.

Letlow has a Ph.D. in communication from the University of South Florida and is now an executive at the University of Louisiana. That is not quite as good a preparation as her late husband had (he was the chief of staff for the district's previous representative, Ralph Abraham), but is better than many members of Congress. After all, members of Congress need to be good at communicating and with a Ph.D. in the subject, presumably she knows how to do it. She ran on a platform of upholding Christian values, such as the right to bear arms and banning abortion. She should fit in well with most of the rest of the Louisiana delegation.

Letlow is one of 31 Republican women in the House now, up from only 13 after the 2018 cycle, a stunning gain. Since she is only 40 and the district is so red, she could undoubtedly serve for decades, should she so choose.

There was also a race in deep-blue LA-02 to replace Cedric Richmond, who took a job in the Biden administration. In contrast to LA-05, nobody got over 50% of the vote, so a runoff will take place on April 24. The two candidates are a pair of state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson. Both of them are Black Democrats, so Richmond, who is also a Black Democrat, will be replaced by a new Black Democrat. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar21 Sunday Mailbag
Mar20 Saturday Q&A
Mar19 Vlad Is Mad
Mar19 100,000,000 and Counting
Mar19 Today's Appointments News
Mar19 Senators Gang Up
Mar19 What Insurrection?
Mar19 Untruth and Consequences
Mar19 Keep It Up, Joe!
Mar18 Poll: Voters Love the New COVID-19 Relief Law
Mar18 ... But Florida GOP Politicians Are Fighting over It
Mar18 House Republicans Are Also at Each Other's Throats
Mar18 Republican State AGs Already Planning to Sue over the COVID-19 Relief Law
Mar18 Biden Will Finally Hold a News Conference
Mar18 Redistricting Is Complicated
Mar18 Biden Will Soon Learn Where the Buck Stops
Mar18 Senate Approves Katherine Tai for USTR 98-0...
Mar18 ...and Isabel Guzman for SBA Administrator 81-17
Mar18 In the Netherlands, the Voters Have Spoken, Now What?
Mar17 Russians, Iranians Tried to Interfere with 2020 Election
Mar17 Governors in Trouble, Part I: Gavin Newsom
Mar17 Governors in Trouble, Part II: Andrew Cuomo
Mar17 Filibuster Theater: Biden and McConnell
Mar17 The Five Types of Republicans
Mar17 Ohio Senate Race Likely to Feature a "Hillbilly"
Mar17 It's Hard to Stand out in Today's GOP
Mar17 They Were Trump Before Trump, Part IV: James Gordon Bennett
Mar16 Biden's Headaches, Part I: The Border
Mar16 Biden's Headaches, Part II: The Budget
Mar16 Biden's Headaches, Part III: The Winter Olympics
Mar16 Haaland Is Confirmed
Mar16 Democrats Now Waging Full-Frontal Assault on the Filibuster
Mar16 Iowa Voters: Grassley Must Go!
Mar16 Booker May Challenge Paul in Kentucky
Mar15 Trump Is Adrift
Mar15 Trump Will Be Discovered
Mar15 Where's Joe?
Mar15 Stacey Abrams Wants to Exempt Election Bills from the Filibuster
Mar15 Treasury Won't Have to Borrow $1.86 Trillion to Fund the Relief Bill
Mar15 Jay Ashcroft Won't Run for the Senate
Mar15 McConnell Is Already Looking for Senate Candidates
Mar15 First House Retirement is Announced
Mar15 Suppose You Could Vote for a Party Where Everyone Agreed with You?
Mar14 Sunday Mailbag
Mar13 Saturday Q&A
Mar12 Biden Addresses the Nation
Mar12 Watchdog Group Wants 13 GOP Representatives Investigated
Mar12 The Gubernatorial Jockeying Is Well Underway
Mar12 Donald Who?
Mar12 Newsmax What?