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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020 : (None)
Political Wire logo Putin Poised to Declare All Out War on Ukraine
Special Grand Jury Considers Trump Election Interference
Coronavirus Cases Rises Nearly Everywhere
Trump Endorses Greg Pence
Pressure Mounts on Cawthorn as Scandals Pile Up
Biden Seeks to Rob Putin of His Top Scientists

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Oklahoma One-Ups Texas
      •  Mayorkas Gets a Preview of Life Under a Republican-led House
      •  Trump Grand Jury Expires
      •  Governors Up in 2022 Look to Be in Good Shape
      •  Trump Endorses in Nevada
      •  Rep. Kai Kahele to Retire from the House
      •  Democrats Gunning for Cawthorn
      •  This Week in Schadenfreude

Apologies again for the tardiness. The school year is almost done... but not quite yet.

Oklahoma One-Ups Texas

Supposedly, everything is bigger in Texas. But not the abortion bans, it would seem. The neighboring state of Oklahoma was, apparently, jealous of the extremely restrictive, bounty-based ban that the Lone Star State has put in place. So, the Oklahomans decided that instead of 15 weeks, they would impose a cutoff that is Sooner. The bill passed by the state legislature, without debate or discussion, embraces the Texas-style bounty system, and would ban all abortions after the fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally about 6 weeks after gestation (instead of 15 as in the Mississippi law). That, of course, is before most women even know they are pregnant.

There is not a lot for us to write here that we have not already written. However, we will point out that if Chief Justice John Roberts does indeed want to re-criminalize abortion, he would prefer to do it slowly and methodically, so as to avoid a backlash. The red states are clearly not interested in giving him that option, and want this matter decided completely in their favor right now. It will be nearly impossible at this point to uphold the Mississippi law (no abortions after 15 weeks) or the Texas law (bounty system) without effectively conceding that the imminent next step is to allow states to ban abortions entirely.

So, Roberts can either embrace the status quo, or he can overturn half a century of precedent on abortion and then brace himself for the backlash. Of course, if he's the only one who's nervous about that backlash, then Roberts' vote and his concerns may not matter at all. (Z)

Mayorkas Gets a Preview of Life Under a Republican-led House

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas appeared before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. Ostensibly, the purpose was to discuss the proposed 2023 budget for his department. However—and this was a secret to absolutely nobody going in—the appearance was used by Republicans on the Committee to slur Mayorkas (and, by extension, Joe Biden) as soft on immigration and weak on border policy.

In case there was any doubt on this point whatsoever, The New York Times even managed to lay hands on the 60-page playbook that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) developed for attacking Mayorkas in particular, and Democrats in general, on immigration policy. He wants to get the message out there that the Secretary regularly looks the other way while hordes of would-be criminals, terrorists, etc. violate the border with impunity. Actually, maybe the Representative's critique should be taken seriously. After all, he is an expert in looking the other way.

Anyhow, it was predictably nasty, as some of the most performative members of the Republican conference—Jordan, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), etc.—took turns taking potshots at Mayorkas. It was also preparation, at least potentially, for what will happen next year if the Republicans regain control of the lower chamber. The base is champing at the bit for an impeachment, any impeachment, and Mayorkas has emerged as a favorite target. Again, in case there was any doubt on this point, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) was on Sean Spicer's NewsMax program yesterday, so they could have a nice conversation for the benefit of both of Spicer's viewers. And during that tête-à-tête, Clyde casually revealed that House Republicans have already drawn up articles of impeachment against the Secretary. The Representative claims that this is imperative to protecting the national security of the United States. Of course, he was also the first member of the House to begin referring to the 1/6 insurrectionists as "tourists." So, his sense of who is, and who is not, a threat to the U.S. might not be 100% accurate. (Z)

Trump Grand Jury Expires

The Trump-focused grand jury that was empaneled by then-Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance will expire today. Although its term has been extended several times, current DA Alvin Bragg declined to ask for another extension. So, these folks' service is over.

What does this mean? Who knows? We can see at least four possibilities:

  1. Bragg has what he needs, and an announcement about filing charges is imminent.

  2. Bragg does not need a grand jury at the moment, and so did not want to leave the members in limbo, since he can always reconvene a new grand jury in the future.

  3. Bragg wants a different grand jury, maybe because this one wasn't giving him what he wanted, or was growing weary of serving.

  4. Bragg is trying to wind this down, as quickly and quietly as is possible, since he has no intention of pursuing the matter.

If it is the latter explanation, it does run contrary to Bragg's public pronouncements that this investigation is still very much in effect. Also, since we don't know what the New Yorkers have come up with, nor do we know the nuances of New York law, we don't know exactly what authority AG Tish James has here. However, we would have to imagine that if Trump broke laws that are in the purview of the Manhattan DA, then he certainly broke laws that are in the purview of the New York State attorney general, and that James would pick up the ball if Bragg decided to drop it.

In any event, even if this is ultimately good news for Trump, well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Fulton County DA Fani Willis is not only still investigating the former president's actions in Georgia during the 2020 election, she has a team of 10 people assisting her with the project. And the special grand jury that she is going to empanel will be seated on Monday. So, Trump is going to have a grand total of 2 days where he's not under a grand jury's microscope. He'll have to enjoy it while it lasts. (Z)

Governors Up in 2022 Look to Be in Good Shape

For a while, Morning Consult had backed off doing regular polls of gubernatorial approval ratings. But the pollster is back at it, it would seem. Here are the new numbers just released:

State Governor Approve Disapprove Net Approval Running in 2022?
Massachusetts Charlie Baker 74% 21% 53% Retiring
Vermont Phil Scott 72% 23% 49% Maybe
Maryland Larry Hogan 71% 22% 49% Term-limited
Utah Spencer Cox 62% 24% 38% Not up in 2022
West Virginia Jim Justice 65% 27% 38% Not up in 2022
Arkansas Asa Hutchinson 63% 29% 34% Term-limited
North Dakota Doug Burgum 60% 29% 30% Not up in 2022
Alabama Kay Ivey 62% 32% 30% Yes
New Hampshire Chris Sununu 63% 32% 31% Yes
Wyoming Mark Gordon 62% 32% 30% Yes
Ohio Mike DeWine 60% 33% 28% Yes
Tennessee Bill Lee 58% 32% 26% Yes
Delaware John Carney 58% 32% 26% Not up in 2022
Kentucky Andy Beshear 59% 36% 24% Not up in 2022
Indiana Eric Holcomb 56% 33% 23% Not up in 2022
Montana Greg Gianforte 57% 34% 23% Not up in 2022
Colorado Jared Polis 57% 35% 22% Yes
Connecticut Ned Lamont 57% 35% 22% Yes
California Gavin Newsom 57% 37% 20% Yes
Idaho Brad Little 56% 36% 20% Yes
Kansas Laura Kelly 55% 35% 20% Yes
South Carolina Henry McMaster 54% 36% 19% Yes
Florida Ron DeSantis 56% 38% 18% Yes
New York Kathy Hochul 52% 34% 18% Yes
South Dakota Kristi Noem 58% 40% 18% Yes
Virginia Glenn Youngkin 51% 35% 16% Not up in 2022
Missouri Mike Parson 50% 36% 15% Not up in 2022
Oklahoma Kevin Stitt 53% 38% 15% Yes
New Jersey Philip Murphy 53% 39% 14% Not up in 2022
North Carolina Roy Cooper 52% 38% 14% Not up in 2022
Nebraska Pete Ricketts 52% 39% 13% Term-limited
Alaska Mike Dunleavy 50% 38% 12% Yes
Texas Greg Abbott 53% 41% 12% Yes
Minnesota Tim Walz 53% 41% 11% Yes
Louisiana John Bel Edwards 51% 41% 10% Not up in 2022
Nevada Steve Sisolak 51% 41% 10% Yes
Washington Jay Inslee 52% 43% 9% Not up in 2022
Georgia Brian Kemp 50% 41% 9% Yes
Mississippi Tate Reeves 49% 41% 8% Not up in 2022
Illinois J.B. Pritzker 51% 43% 8% Yes
Maine Janet Mills 53% 44% 8% Yes
Iowa Kim Reynolds 50% 43% 7% Yes
Michigan Gretchen Whitmer 50% 46% 4% Yes
New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham 48% 45% 3% Yes
Arizona Doug Ducey 47% 45% 2% Term-limited
Rhode Island Dan McKee 42% 40% 2% Yes
Pennsylvania Tom Wolf 46% 46% -1% Term-limited
Wisconsin Tony Evers 45% 48% -3% Yes
Hawaii David Ige 41% 50% -9% Term-limited
Oregon Kate Brown 41% 54% -14% Term-limited

A few observations:

  • As noted, the folks who are running for reelection generally appear to be in good shape. The only one of them who is underwater is Wisconsin governor Tony Evers (D).

  • Bipartisanship isn't completely dead, at least not in some parts of the country. The three most popular governors in the land are all Republicans who lead blue states, and who clearly are getting crossover support. The second most popular Democratic governor, Andy Beshear (KY), must also be getting crossover support.

  • If you can't be the Republican governor of a blue state, then being the Republican governor of a red state is also a pretty good situation to be in. It appears to be fairly easy to keep Republican voters happy, given that 15 or so of the 25 most popular governors are Republicans in red states.

  • On the other hand, keeping Democrats happy is clearly like herding cats. The bottom portion of the chart is a sea of blue, including all four of the governors who are underwater right now.

  • If there's good news for Democrats, it's that Arizona looks like it might just be winnable, and also that Brian Kemp (R-GA) is at least a little bit vulnerable. Since the blue team has a strong candidate in Stacey Abrams, "a little bit vulnerable" might be enough.

  • The good news for the Republicans, meanwhile, is that Wisconsin looks awfully winnable, though it may require a strong candidate, and the GOP does not appear to have one. Also, Ron DeSantis (R-FL) may be spending much of his time channeling his inner Mussolini, but a solid majority of Floridians like what they see. It's not so easy to knock off an incumbent who is 18 points above water.

Hopefully, Morning Consult will continue this polling up through November, as it's useful to know how the incumbents' employers—i.e., the voters—feel about them. (Z)

Trump Endorses in Nevada

As long as we're on the subject of governors, there's a bit of news out of Nevada. As you can see above, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) is running for reelection. And since Nevada voters seem to like what he's selling, he appears to be in excellent shape. However, that has not stopped numerous Republicans from throwing their hats into the ring in hopes of having the opportunity to knock the Governor off. That includes Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who yesterday secured the endorsement oF Donald Trump.

The primary is not far off—June 14—so Trump certainly waited a fairly long time to pick a horse. Perhaps the former president was meticulously evaluating the policy positions of the various candidates. Or possibly he was subjecting each of them to probing interviews, so he could personally judge their character and their mettle. Or, he might have been collecting feedback from various Republican stakeholders, and carefully weighing that input as he made his choice. Could be any of these things... but probably not. We suspect that Trump, or someone in his orbit, noticed that Lombardo has taken a commanding lead in polls, and saw a chance to improve The Donald's batting average. In the most recent poll of the race, Lombardo was up 28% to 22% on nearest competitor Dean Heller, and in the one before that, he was up 26% to 13%. Both were conducted in March.

In other words, we doubt the Trump endorsement will affect the primary race all that much. His power appears to be more effective when it's targeted at destroying a candidate rather than propelling a candidate to victory. Trump's endorsement could affect the general election, assuming Lombardo advances to that round. Given that Nevada is a blue state that is full of Latinos, and that Trump lost twice, the biggest beneficiary of Thursday's announcement might end up being... Steve Sisolak. (Z)

Rep. Kai Kahele to Retire from the House

And, just to wrap up this particular subject, here's a third gubernatorial item for you: Rep. Kai Kahele (D-HI) has decided that one term in the House is enough for him, and so he will not run for reelection. This is the same perfectly good, perfectly safe seat that Tulsi Gabbard gave up needlessly. Maybe it's cursed or something, like teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts.

Of course, Gabbard gave up the seat to mount a quixotic bid for president that was never going to go anywhere. Kahele's sights are set on a lower, and at least slightly more realistic, target, namely the Hawaii governor's mansion. That job will be open, as you can see above, though even if it wasn't, Gov. David Ige (D-HI) is the second most unpopular governor in America, and would present a tempting target.

Kahele joins a crowded Democratic field that includes former mayor of Honolulu Kirk Caldwell, former First Lady of Hawaii Vicky Cayetano, and Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D-HI). Kahele's decision was foreseeable, and so there's actually been some polling of what the race looks like with him in it. In short, he's got a steep hill to climb before the Aug. 13 primary, as he trails the frontrunner Green by about 30 points (roughly 45% to 15%). Whoever survives the Democratic primary will go on to face one of the exceedingly mediocre candidates the Hawaii GOP has come up with, and in a deep blue state at that. In other words, the job will go to that winning Democrat.

As to the House, the story is the same as with the majority of these Democratic retirements. The blue team will certainly hold onto the seat, given Hawaii's deep blue hue, as well as the fact that Kahele's district (HI-02) has never elected a Republican to the House (well, unless you count Gabbard). However, the eagerness with which the Representative threw a safe seat overboard in order to mount a difficult gubernatorial bid is yet another reminder that House Democrats are not enthusiastic about the 2023-25 term. (Z)

Democrats Gunning for Cawthorn

As we noted yesterday, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was caught trying to take a loaded gun onto an airplane this weekend. Oops! And that's the second time he's committed that particular offense in as many years. Double oops!

We refuse to believe that anyone is really and truly that stupid and careless (although if they are, maybe they shouldn't be allowed to own a firearm). It could not be plainer that Cawthorn wanted to get caught, because that means a round of headlines that underscore that he's a gun totin', Second Amendment-lovin', shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later patriot. We wouldn't be surprised if he tries to get a gun onto every flight, and that he just prays that someone finds it and makes a stink about it.

House Democrats—who are, after all, themselves politicians—are onto the Representative's game, and they want to put a stop to it. They don't really care about Cawthorn scoring cheap political points, since he's always going to find some way to do that. However, they are concerned that he's helping to encourage people to test the rules when they travel. So, with Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) taking the lead, House Democrats have written a letter to the TSA asking the agency to consider more serious punishments for Cawthorn and others who are caught carrying at the airport. At the same time, a group of House Democrats, with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) taking the lead, have asked the House Sergeant-at-Arms to take a long look at policies governing gun possession at the Capitol (members can't have guns on the floor of the House or the Senate, but they can carry them on the grounds, and can have them in their offices).

Nothing is going to come of the letter to the Sergeant-at-Arms, since the Senate would have to sign off on any changes in the rules, and there are too many gun-loving members of the upper chamber, including too many gun-loving Democratic members of the upper chamber (ahem, Joe Manchin, D-WV). As to the letter to the TSA, it is possible they will be emboldened. Certainly, if Cawthorn pulls this stunt yet again, they should throw the book at him and put him on the no-fly list. There would be a lot of winners, we think, if he could no longer get around the country easily. (Z)

This Week in Schadenfreude

The theme this week is "the law of unintended consequences." And we're going to have two different illustrations of that, both courtesy of the great state of Texas.

We'll start with a story sent in by reader E.W. in Skaneateles, NY. As Republicans—the same folks who lament "cancel culture"—try to weaponize the power at their disposal, there are a number of red states that have passed laws forbidding the state from doing business with "climate conscious" firms. In other words, if a potential business partner is pro-alternative fuels, or is anti-oil, or both, red states do not want to give business to them. Texas is among the states that have passed such laws.

This is fair enough, we suppose. If a business was in the habit of banning or censoring movies, California might avoid them, and if a business was anti-car, Michigan might look elsewhere. However, when it comes to Texas' rather broad ban, it turns out that eco-friendly firms are pretty large in number and in importance, so they're not easy to avoid. That becomes even more true if you are talking about mutual funds and other instruments where Texas might park some of its money, since most investment portfolios are sure to have a few pro-environment businesses represented.

In order to help navigate this, the Texans hired a consulting firm called MSCI. That was fine and dandy until someone discovered that MSCI is... wait for it... eco-friendly. Oops! So, working with them to help implement the Texas law was a violation of that very same law. The folks who run the state basically decided to ignore that, but even then, they still had trouble avoiding eco-friendly businesses and mutual funds. And the businesses/investments that Texas did successfully identify as boycott targets immediately turned around and began using that as part of their marketing. It turns out that "Banned by Texas" is a pretty good selling point, as far as many Democrats are concerned. And so, in a curious version of the Streisand effect, a Texas law meant to punish anti-oil businesses largely ended up helping those same businesses. Schadenfreude, anyone?

And again, that's not the only story of this sort we've got. The second comes to us courtesy of reader M.C. in Raleigh, NC. As readers know, there are few things that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) loves more than an opportunity to engage in performative anti-immigration stunts. The business of stopping trucks at the Texas border for "hidden immigrant" inspections did not work out so well, and so the Governor shifted to a different plan, which involved chartering buses and using them to transport immigrants to Washington.

We must admit, we're not clever enough to figure out how exactly this was meant to work out. Apparently it was supposed to bring the issue to the very doorstep of Congress. Or maybe there was supposed to be some sort of photo-op or something. In any event, the folks on the buses were thrilled to be given seats. They got to travel somewhere they might actually get some help, and to get the hell out of Texas, and they didn't even have to pay for it. "I am very thankful to the governor. His help is very much welcomed," said one. "Imagine, how much would it cost to get from here [North Carolina] to all the way over there," said another, who had just $45 in his pocket when he got on board the bus.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration policy on asylum seekers essentially boils down to "let's relieve the pressure on border states and towns, and get the asylum seekers distributed across the country, so that the burden is spread around." In other words, the Texas Governor is kinda doing the Biden administration's bidding. "In a way, it's actually perfect," said one immigration rights activist. "Unintentionally, Governor Abbott sent them to one of the best places in the nation to welcome people." In short, it's another Texas policy that was meant to hurt "enemies" of the Lone Star State, but that ended up doing the opposite. Again, schadenfreude, anyone? (Z)

We'll finish off the bracket competition next week. Turns out the remaining material really needs to be split over several days.
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Apr28 McCarthy Got a Standing Ovation from the House GOP Caucus Yesterday
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