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Final Stretch of Primaries Showcase Divided GOP
Why Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Is Utterly Reckless
Biden’s Victory Lap Will Be Short
Misleading Text Messages Sent to Kansas Voters
Rioter’s Daughter Calls for Prison Term for Trump

Primary Action Resumes Tomorrow

July was a big drought in terms of primaries, but that is over tomorrow, with races in six states, so let's just dive in.

  • Arizona: Two of the biggest races tomorrow are in the Grand Canyon State. Both involve Donald Trump and his influence. In the Republican gubernatorial race, there are four candidates left, two of whom are polling at 2% or lower, so that leaves two main candidates: Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson. Lake is a former news anchor for Fox News in Phoenix. She's pretty and pretty Trumpy, so naturally Trump has endorsed her. She claims that Trump won the 2020 election and said anyone who doesn't believe that should be disqualified from holding public office. That gives you an idea of where she stands. She has never run for public office before, so why not start at the top (governor)?

    Lake's main opponent, Robson, is a lawyer and wealthy real estate developer. She was also formerly on the state board of regents, but otherwise has never held public office either. She is plenty conservative, but not very Trumpy. Mike Pence has campaigned for her. Here are short biographies of the candidates. Most polls show Lake somewhat ahead, but the most recent one puts her only 5 points ahead of Robson, with 21% undecided, so it could go either way. From the point of view of Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee, Lake would be easier to beat because she is so far right and totally unqualified for the office of governor. While that is a plus for Republicans, it is not a plus for Democrats and independents.

    The other key race is for the Republican nomination for the Senate to oppose Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ). There are five Republicans in the race, but only three matter. Blake Masters is an extreme right winger endorsed by Trump and financed by Peter Thiel. The latter is not surprising since Masters works for Thiel. He goes beyond the usual right winger because he opposed U.S. entry into WW I and also WW II, has spoken approvingly of Hermann Goering, and much more. Without the $15 million Thiel has pumped into his campaign, people with these views wouldn't stand a chance. Naturally, Trump has endorsed him as well.

    A second candidate is Arizona AG Mark Brnovich. In a normal world, he would be leading. He is conservative, an Army veteran, and has won statewide office in Arizona. Also in the race is a wealthy businessman, Jim Lamon, who made his money in the solar energy business, clearly a good fit for Arizona. There are some others, but they don't matter.

    Recent polls have Masters first, Lamon second, and Brnovich a distant third. We guess people don't like candidates who seem to have lost a vowel somewhere. Again here, Democrats are hoping for Masters since he is an oppo researcher's dream, even with all of Thiel's money. Beating an incumbent senator in a swing state is never easy and if Masters wins the primary, it is going to be very expensive for Thiel. Kelly has raised $52 million and has $25 million in the bank. Given that Kelly is better known than Masters and the Republican has a lot of baggage, Thiel is going to have to drop $50-100 million in the race to make it competitive and he still has a pretty good chance of backing the wrong horse.

    If Lake and Masters win tomorrow, Trump will crow how great and powerful he is. But if both of them go down to defeat in November, a lot of other Republicans will be privately furious that he blew winnable races.

  • Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly (D-KS) is up for reelection. She is probably going to face Kansas AG Derek Schmidt. Incumbents generally have an advantage, but Kansas is pretty red. Charlie Cook, Nathan Gonzalez, Larry Sabato, and Nate Silver all rate the general election as a toss-up.

    In the Senate race, six Democrats are vying for the Democratic nomination so they can lose to Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) in November.

    Now that we have that out of the way, we can move onto the biggest battle, which is not for any elective office. It is for a ballot initiative that would change the Kansas Constitution. The state legislature passed a law banning abortion but the Kansas Supreme Court threw it out, saying that the state Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion. The ballot initiative would change the Constitution to give the legislature the explicit power to ban abortions if it so chooses. There is no doubt that it will if the amendment passes. Millions of dollars are pouring into the state both to support and to oppsoe the amendment. This is the first public test of what the voters think about abortion since the Supreme Court uprooted Roe v. Wade. One complication, however, is that the amendment's language is very confusing. If voters actually read it, many will not understand it. Here is the literal text of the amendment.

  • Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) is up for reelection. The Republican primary for the right to oppose her is a mess. Several Republicans were disqualified in a scandal over their nomination petitions. Then the leading remaining candidate was arrested by the FBI for breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The main remaining candidate is media personality Tudor Dixon, who has the backing of the powerful DeVos family, including former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. However, Dixon is not a shoo-in. Wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke, who has put millions of his own money into his campaign, is moving up. His ads attack Dixon as an establishment-backed never Trumper. On Friday, Trump endorsed Dixon. In a close race, a last-minute endorsement could be just enough to get her over the finish line first. However, many voters are undecided, so it could go either way.

    Another race of interest is MI-03, which pits Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) against Trump endorsed John Gibbs. Trump is furious with Meijer because he voted to impeach Trump the second time so he is backing Gibbs, who says Trump was robbed of victory. The DCCC has intervened in this race in favor of Gibbs, who it thinks is too conservative for the district. The race is a bit complicated though, because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is backing his incumbent, Meijer.

  • Missouri: This is another biggie, like Arizona. The danger here for Republicans is that they could nominate a candidate who can't win in November. The candidate they are scared witless about is disgraced former governor Eric Greitens. Greitens, as every voter in Missouri knows, photographed the woman he was having an affair with nude and blackmailed her. When the story came out, he managed to escape being impeached by resigning before the state House could do it. If he were to win, the seat of retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) could be in play.

    However, a massive ad campaign by Greitens' opponents has pushed Greitens into third place, behind AG Eric Schmitt and Rep Vicky Hartzler (R-MO). Schmitt is pretty far to the right and would probably be a weaker candidate than Hartzler, but Missouri has become a red state, so that might not matter. Trumpworld is divided over the race but there is not a lot of time left for an endorsement.

    Ten people have filed for the Democratic nomination, but only two are serious contenders. Marine Corps veteran Lucas Kunce was initially the clear favorite until Trudy Busch Valentine jumped in. Valentine is the heiress to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune. But even with all that money, she had a tough time raising six children after her husband died young. She trained as a nurse, so naturally healthcare is a big issue for her. She has a slight lead in the polls. For the Democrats, the best situation is that Greitens manages to win his primary and Valentine wins hers. Then the Republicans will have a damaged candidate running against a sympathetic and very wealthy nurse who is emphasizing health care.

  • Ohio: There are primary elections tomorrow in Ohio, but only for the state House and state Senate.

  • Washington: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is up for reelection. Washington uses a top-two primary system, where all the candidates run in the same primary tomorrow and the top two meet head-to-head in November. Murray is virtually certain of being in the top two. The question is who else will be. According to the polls, the most likely #2 is Tiffany Smiley, a Trump-loving MAGA Republican. Although Murray has been elected to the Senate five times and Washington is very blue, Murray won her last Senate race by only 5 points, so it could possibly be close.

    Also of interest is WA-03, where Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who voted to impeach Trump the second time, is in the fight of her life against four Republicans and three Democrats in an R+4 district. She needs to make it into the top two Tuesday. That probably means beating Trump-endorsed Joe Kent.

    WA-03 isn't the only district in the state where a Republican who voted to impeach Trump is on the ballot. In WA-04, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) is also fighting for his life, and in a much more Republican district (R+13). His main opponent is Trump-endorsed Loren Culp, a former police chief who refused to enforce gun laws. There are five other Republicans and one Democrat in the race. If all the Democrats vote for the one Democrat, Doug White, and the Republicans fragment badly, the finalists could be White and just one of the Republicans. But a Republican vs. Republican battle in November is also possible.

That's it, with Arizona and Missouri having the big Senate races and the Kansas amendment being something that will reverberate nationally. (V)

Republican Senators Don't Want Trump to Run

The Hill interviewed a number of Republican senators off the record. One of them said: "I don't think he'll run again and that's a good thing." Another was more blunt: "I could count on one hand the number of Republican senators who want Donald Trump to be our nominee. I could count it on one finger." Both of these feel that the cumulative weight of the Select Committee's hearings has made Trump damaged goods.

Other senators don't think he will be a shoo-in for the GOP nomination if he does run. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump would face a crowded field if he runs. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) predicted that if Trump runs, he will have a "robust" competition from other Republicans. Thune is afraid that if Trump runs and gets the nomination, the hearings are going to make it much harder for him to get votes from independents.

As the hits to Trump keep coming, it is having an impact on his support. A new Reuters-Ipsos poll last week showed that 40% of Republicans think that Trump deserves some of the blame for the riot. Also, a third of Republicans don't want him to run again. Even Fox is wavering. Last week Fox & Friends highlighted Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) leading Trump with some demographic groups. This led Trump to lash out at the program.

A column by CNN's Chris Cillizza gives some data that the senators are probably aware of, even if they didn't see the specific poll Cillizza is talking about. Among other things, the poll shows:

  • 45% of Americans think Trump acted illegally on Jan. 6, 2021
  • 34% think Trump acted unethically, but not illegally
  • 61% believe Trump's statements encouraged violence that day
  • 67% think Mike Pence did more for the interests of the country than Trump that day
  • Only 23% think Trump did everything he could to stop the riot once it started

Those aren't great numbers for a candidate. However, when you look at the cross tabs, everything changes. Among Republicans, only 10% think Jan. 6 was a crisis, only 26% say it was a major problem, while 63% say it was either a minor problem or no problem at all. These data suggest that Trump is popular enough with Republicans to get the GOP nomination but not popular enough to win the general election. This is what Republican senators intuitively understand and are very worried about: Trump could get the nomination and then lose again in Nov. 2024. They desperately want to avoid that as Trump could pull many other Republican candidates down with him.

One of the Republican senators told The Hill that Fox News anchors Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson are going to give potential Trump opponents more air time in the coming year. Of course, the decision about whether Trump runs or not is not going to be made by the Fox anchors. Trump alone will make that decision. If he thinks he can win (or at least stave off indictments) by running, he's going to run, no matter what Fox hosts think. (V)

Kellyanne Conway Is Advising Trump to Wait Until after the Midterms to Announce

It wasn't that long ago that former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband, lawyer George Conway, were fighting so hard in public that their daughter, Claudia Conway, threatened to ask a judge to make her an emancipated minor—in essence, fire her parents. That shook them both up, so they dropped off the radar for a while. But George came back commenting on the Select Committee hearings at length. Friday, Kellyanne gave a long interview to CBS' Catherine Herridge, so both of them are back in the ring again. Poor Claudia.

Unlike the Republican senators (see above), Kellyanne is fine with Trump running again. She just wants him to hold off his announcement until after the midterms. Supposedly, most of his advisers and every elected Republican official are telling him not to announce a run until after the midterms (and in some cases, not to make the run at all). But Kellyanne is all for a run. Nobody has asked George point blank what he thinks yet, but 99.9% chance he would say: "Don't run." So the battle of the Conways is on again.

What Kellyanne and the other advisers are afraid of is that if he announces in the summer or fall, Democrats will make their campaigns all about him and that will make turnout zoom up. The advisers don't want that. But Trump wants to announce before he is indicted somewhere, to scare off the prosecutors who might be afraid to indict a presidential candidate. We think there is zero chance Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis would be scared off, but with AG Merrick Garland, who knows? Willis has more cojones than Garland. Trump's lawyers know that and are already actively working on his criminal defense. Trump also wants to get into the race quickly to head off Ron DeSantis. If Trump gets in first, DeSantis might chicken out and not run. But if DeSantis gets in first, then a Trump announcement won't make him drop out and Trump will have to fight DeSantis, and possibly others.

So it looks like Trump's advisers are divided into three categories: (1) announce now to head off DeSantis, (2) announce after the midterms to avoid making them about Trump, and (3) don't run, which is what the senators want. Tough call, but the buck stops at Mar-a-Lago. (V)

In Politics, a Week Is a Long Time

Want proof? Just a week ago, Joe Biden got COVID-19, his BBB program was deader than the dodo due to the obstruction of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was holding the CHIPS Act hostage, Biden's approval rating was approaching 30%, a majority of Democrats wanted somebody else to run in 2024, and the entire Democratic Party was filled with doom and gloom.

That was then. This is now. His COVID case was mild (although he got it again on the rebound), Manchin has approved a smaller version of BBB that tackles climate change head on, albeit under a new name, Manchin tricked McConnell and the CHIPS Act passed, polls show abortion to be a winning issue for the Democrats (see below), gas prices keep dropping, and much of the gloom and doom is gone. Barack Obama summed it up by saying: "Progress doesn't always happen all at once, but it does happen—and this is what it looks like."

One anonymous Democratic strategist who doubted the Democrats' strategy a week ago now said of Biden: "He had a really good f*cking week. And it's a good reminder that things can change so quickly in politics." We doubt that Manchin planned it this way, but big legislative victories 3 months before the elections are really much, much better than even bigger victories 2 years before the midterms. Not sure? Count the number of articles about Biden's "American Rescue Plan" now or even his win on the infrastructure bill. They are gone and forgotten.

What is especially important is the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022," not so much because it will stop inflation dead in its tracks (it won't) but because it is the biggest attempt the federal government has taken against climate change in its history, and this issue is extremely motivating for young voters, who tend to sit out the midterms. Now when they ask: "We gave you the majority and what did you do with it?" the answer will be: "We passed the biggest law to fight climate change in history." Coupled with abortion (see below), this might just get large numbers of young Democrats to the polls in November. (V)

Poll: Abortion Is Motivating Democrats More than Republicans

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows that the issue of abortion is having a huge impact on Democrats and not such a big one on Republicans. Now 64% of Democrats say the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision is more likely to get them to vote, compared to only 29% after the draft decision was leaked. One potential cause for the big uptick is the case of the 10-year-old Ohio girl who got pregnant after being raped and had to travel to Indiana for an abortion. Abortions in Indiana are about to be restricted as the Indiana Senate passed a bill Saturday to ban all abortions from the moment of implantation in the womb except for pregnancies due to rape and incest. In contrast to the Democrats, only 21% of Republicans say Dobbs will affect their likelihood to vote while a full 75% say it won't have any effect. Advantage Democrats.

There have been endless stories about how Joe Biden's dismal approval is going to sink the Democrats, but this poll has some better news for the blue team. In the generic poll about "which party do you support for Congress," Democrats now lead 44% to 40%, and this is before the effect of the CHIPS Act and the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" kick in. And remember, people can simultaneously think Biden is a weak president while disliking congressional Republicans even more. In June, the generic poll was tied at 40% to 40%, so the Democrats gained a little in July and the Republicans didn't.

Not entirely surprisingly, abortion is a bigger deal with women than with men. It is also a bigger deal with voters 18-34 than with older voters since they are more likely to be personally impacted by it. Also noteworthy is that 91% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans support exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Additionally, 92% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans say that abortion should be available to save the life of the mother. Some states are banning all abortions, which is extremely unpopular. If Democrats focus on those states, they might be able to pick off a few House seats that were not previously in play. Finally, 91% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans say that states should not be able to restrict travel from one state to another for the purpose of having an abortion. Again, in states where Republicans are taking an extremist view, it could hurt them at the polls.

There is another factor that isn't talked about much: Republican women who have had an abortion (or know a woman who had one). You might think that is an oxymoron, but it is not. Republican women are largely against abortions—for other people, not for themselves if the need arises. Politico published a long story written by Republican pollster, data analyst, and strategist Samantha Zaleski, who had an abortion during her senior year at a Catholic high school and never regretted it. She knows the politics and the numbers very well. In 2019, there were 2,922 abortions in Utah, 1,100 in North Dakota, 2,963 in Arkansas, and 6,009 in Alabama, all deep red states. These numbers are lower per capita than in the blue states, but they aren't zero, and the lower rate per capita may reflect the difficulty of getting an abortion in red states more than the desire to have one. So women in red states tend to be against abortion—until they have an unwanted pregnancy—then they have a eureka moment. Most of them are probably not proud of their abortion and probably don't talk about it much, but if abortion becomes the dominant issue in the midterms, it could affect their votes.

Several vulnerable House Democrats are trying to exploit the issue to the hilt. These include Reps. Angie Craig (MN), Sharice Davids (KS), Elaine Luria (VA), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Abigail Spanberger (VA), and others. All of them are facing an anti-abortion Republican. In some polls, abortion is the top issue for about 20% of the voters. In close races, picking up a few points over abortion could mean the difference between winning and losing (V)

Don't Believe Everything You Read

The Washington Post is already handicapping the Democratic presidential nomination if Joe Biden declines to run. We are extremely not impressed. Here is its list in order of most likely to least likely and our take on them.

  1. Kamala Harris: Yes, sitting vice presidents often have a head start, but if Biden doesn't run there will be a couple of dozen Democrats in the race. In 2020, Harris was a candidate and did absolutely terribly. She ran an awful campaign and dropped out before Iowa caucused. Can you name one important thing she has done as vice president? Do you remember the all-important Harris Act that she rammed through as a senator? We don't. Some Black women may vote for her, but Black women are savvy and Harris is not some kind of star, as evidenced by her lack of any kind of track record.

  2. Pete Buttigieg: He's young, attractive, and a friendly guy. However, he doesn't have Jack Kennedy's wit or charm. He's openly gay, which is probably a plus in the Democratic primary and a minus in the general election. Still, he is a smart politician. He's probably not our #2 choice, but in a divided field, he might do well.

  3. Gavin Newsom: Governors of big states are always POTUS wannabes and Newsom certainly is, what with his already running negative ads against Ron DeSantis, who could be his opponent. He's young, telegenic, and reasonably popular in his home state. Can Californians be elected president? Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did it. If he decides to run, he'll probably get California to have its primary on March 5th and win lots of delegates, potentially giving him a big lead. Then a lot of headlines will be: "Can anyone stop Newsom?"

  4. Gretchen Whitmer: A female governor from a key Midwest swing state is a strong candidate, at least on paper. But her big campaign slogan is "fix the damn potholes." That may work in a state race, but hardly in a national and very ideological race. She might run, but she's a bit of a longshot since she hasn't been tested nationally.

  5. Amy Klobuchar: She is a nice lady from a nice state. She ran in 2020 and won zero contests and got 7 delegates. Of the candidates who made it to the first primary, she got more popular votes than—Tulsi Gabbard, who is a DINO at best. The Democrats are going to want a fighter, especially if Trump is the GOP nominee. Klobuchar is a nice person but she is not a fighter.

  6. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Is the Post out of its mind? She's legal in the sense that she will be 35 a couple of weeks before the election and 3 months before the inauguration. The Bernie wing of the Party might go for her, but she doesn't have Bernie's campaign skills and a very young woman of color is pushing the envelope much too far. She has no chance, especially if a more serious leftie, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), runs. She should wait until Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) retires and then go for his seat first. She has plenty of time. No need to run and be wiped out prematurely and be branded a loser.

  7. Raphael Warnock: The Post seems to be of the opinion that a straight white man has almost no chance (except Newsom and Sherrod Brown). That's crazy. There are still a lot of straight white men in the Democratic Party and they win elections a lot. Warnock is a very good public speaker but Democrats probably know (even if they won't admit it) that Trump's election was a reaction by half the country to the election of a Black man as president. Maybe if the party is tired of white men, a straight white Christian woman might work (although its experience in 2016 might argue against this). Still, there are a lot more white women voters in the country than Black voters.

  8. Cory Booker: The Post is obsessed with people other than straight white men. Booker ran in 2020 and dropped out before Iowa. Why would he do any better this time? No way.

  9. Sherrod Brown: He is up for reelection in 2024 and would have to choose between a pretty good chance of getting reelected as senator and a distant longshot for the big chair. If he wanted to be president, he could have run in 2020, when he wasn't up for reelection and chose not to. If he wasn't interested in running when he wouldn't have to risk his Senate seat, we don't think he is going to run when it means giving up his Senate seat. He had his chance and passed. It seems to us he is very unlikely to run. If he surprises us and runs, he is progressive enough to do well with the Bernie wing while not scaring the Hillary wing.

The Post's list has as also-rans Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) (but only if he is Sen. Tim Ryan by then), Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN), and some even longer shots. Combat veteran and former astronaut Mark Kelly is also an interesting possibility, but he may have too much responsibility taking care of his wife, Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011, to run. And it is certainly possible that by late 2023, someone not on anyone's presidential radar now could come out of the woodwork.

One person not on the list but we think has potential is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) (if he is Sen. John Fetterman by then). People want something different and he is about as different as they come and probably acceptable to all wings of the Democratic Party. He is probably also the only Democrat who could get a substantial number of blue-collar votes, thus undermining Trump substantially. He would also lock down Pennsylvania, a key swing state. A huge win in his Senate race would propel him forward and he might get it because his opponent, Mehmet Oz, is so bad Republicans have privately given up on him. (V)

Some Republicans Want a New Constitution

With the current Supreme Court, Republicans have gotten wins on abortion and guns, and may get wins on gay rights and contraception soon, but it is a slow process. Some of them want to speed the process up. They are looking for help in Article V of the Constitution, which begins as follows (our emphasis in italics):

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; ...

What this means is that if 34 states' legislatures call for a constitutional convention, they can rewrite the entire Constitution from scratch and then submit the new Constitution to the states for ratification. Note that if the legislature of a state passes a bill to call for a so-called Article V convention, the governor has no power to veto it. It's just up to the legislatures. In such a convention, which has never happened, each state would (presumably) have one vote, so each of the small red states would have the same voting power as California.

What might such a new Constitution do? Here's a small sample of the exciting possibilities:

  • Declare that personhood begins at conception and killing a fetus is murder punishable by death
  • Ban any federal or state laws that in any way limit gun ownership
  • Declare that marriage is only between one biological male and one biological female
  • Repeal the 14th Amendment (with its equal rights provision)
  • Require that the federal budget is balanced every year
  • State that the federal government may not tax people's incomes
  • State that the federal government may not play any role in determining what is taught in schools
  • Allow the president to declare an emergency, send Congress home, and rule by decree
  • Declare that Christianity is the national religion
  • Declare that English is the official language and all government proceedings must be only in English
  • State that "forced savings" programs, like Social Security, are unconstitutional
  • Provide that only persons born on U.S. soil of two citizen parents are U.S. citizens (and retroactively)
  • Cap the number of states at 50 and declare that new states cannot be created or admitted
  • State that all limits on campaign funding are unconstitutional
  • Declare that all currently ratified treaties are null and void and have to be re-approved by the Senate
  • Repeal the 17th Amendment and have state legislatures once again pick the senators
  • Allow any state to nullify any federal law the state legislature disapproves of
  • Give each state one vote in the House of Representatives, no matter how big its delegation is
  • Based on the above, give each state three electoral votes
  • Limit the power of the federal government to very few things
  • Make the amendment process more difficult (e.g., four-fifths of the states need to ratify)
  • Abolish the civil service and give the president power to fire any civil servant
  • Establish term limits for all federal and state offices and also for civil servants

And much more. The sky is the limit. The core idea would be to reduce the federal government to something more like the Swiss federal government, with the states holding all the real power. It would be conservative nirvana, without all the fuss of passing two dozen amendments.

How realistic is this? Well, interested state legislators met yesterday as the Academy of States 3.0 in Denver to plan the convention. Would the states go along with this? Quite a few have already done so. Here is a map of them.

States that have passed a law calling for a constitutional convention

How might an Article V convention work and what else could it come up with. Nobody knows since it has never happened, but depending on who was allowed to be a voting delegate and what rules it adopted, it could be a runaway convention.

Who is behind the movement for an Article V convention? Tax filings have discovered that the Koch-connected DonorsTrust, the Mercer family, and various anonymous donors have ponied up millions, some of the money in bitcoins.

If you want to learn more about a so-called Article V convention, check out this long article in Wikipedia. Have a nice day. (V)

Pelosi Is Going Somewhere

Yesterday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) confirmed that she will soon head off to Asia, making stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. But what she didn't say is more important than what she did say: Is she going to visit Taiwan? Only Nancy knows for sure and she's not talking. No high-ranking U.S. official has visited Taiwan in 25 years, mostly to avoid antagonizing China.

A visit to Taiwan might be interpreted as support for Taiwan if China invaded it. However, not including Taiwan on the trip might be interpreted as a lack of interest in Taiwan, and thus a green light for China to invade. South Korea and Japan are major U.S. allies in the region, but Singapore and Malaysia are bit players and it is not clear why she is bothering with them. A visit to India to encourage it to wean itself from Russian oil might make more sense, but India is not on the itinerary.

Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone last Thursday. Xi warned Biden against playing with fire on the Taiwan issue because China regards Taiwan as a runaway province that rightfully belongs to China. This puts Biden on the spot. If he asks Pelosi to go to Taiwan, that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Xi will be furious. On the other hand, if he asks her not to go, then it looks like he is taking orders from Xi, something the Republicans will harp on during the fall. Of course, Biden can only ask Pelosi. She makes her own travel decisions, but it would be unlikely for her to intentionally cross Biden. They have known each other for decades and she respects him.

This is where diplomacy could come in. Biden could offer Xi a deal in which Pelosi avoids Taiwan and in return China quietly stops supplying Russia with military equipment and supplies it is using in Ukraine. Then both would "save face," which is extremely important for China. (V)

And Then There Was One

Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is now the third Democratic Senate candidate to drop out in the same week. This leaves Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D-WI) as the only viable candidate left, especially since Godlewski has endorsed Barnes. It also means the general election battle between him and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) starts right now.

The general election will feature a young Black progressive, Barnes, against an old white Trumpy conservative, Johnson, in a swing state. The one thing we can be sure of is that an awful lot of out-of-state money will start pouring in. With the passage of the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS Act, and likely passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the Democrats have an actual track record of popular measures they can run on. This means that their incumbents will be able to crow about their votes to get these popular bills through. These bills mean the Democrats might actually have a fighting chance in November, especially if gas prices stay down from their high.

What the Democrats need in order to actually govern is to hold the House and pick up a net two seats in the Senate. If all the Democrat incumbents hang on in the Senate, which is certainly plausible, they need to flip two Republican Senate seats. Pennsylvania is very likely to flip, so the Democrats would need one more seat. By far, the most likely other one to flip will be Wisconsin, so this race could determine whether the Democrats can actually govern—again, if they hold the House. The amount of money that is going to flow into Wisconsin as a result is going to be mind boggling. This could be the most expensive senate race of all time. (V)

The DNC Will Delay a Key Vote Until after the Midterms

Many Democrats are tired of having two small, nearly all white, states, Iowa and New Hampshire, have oversized roles in picking Democratic presidential nominees and want to do something about it. Consequently, the DNC has a plan to allow states to bid for the right to be one of the early states, basically in February, before the big show begins at the start of March.

Picking early states is not easy but definitely is controversial. First, the DNC has a preference for ethnically diverse states, which better reflect the Democratic Party. Second, the DNC does not want any big states early on. If California went first, any candidate would need, say, $100 million to launch a campaign. This would mean that unknown candidates, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton would never have had a chance. Third, the DNC wants all regions of the country to take part in the early voting.

To achieve these goals, earlier this year the DNC approved a plan that requires states to apply to hold their primary in February. Then the DNC will decide which ones get permission and set the dates. Sixteen states and Puerto Rico applied. The states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Illinois and New Jersey have no chance because it is too expensive to campaign there. Oklahoma has no chance because it has no Democrats. All of the others are plausible. Some conceivable combinations are:

  • Maryland (East), Georgia (South), Michigan (Midwest), and Nevada (West)
  • Connecticut (East), South Carolina (South), Minnesota (Midwest), and Colorado (West)
  • Delaware (East), South Carolina (South), Michigan (Midwest), and Nevada (West)

Wisconsin would also be a good choice for the Midwest, but it didn't apply. Oregon might be a good choice for the West, but it didn't apply either.

Anyway, the news here is that on Saturday the DNC decided to postpone the selection of early states until after the midterms. The members don't want fighting and backbiting and disappointment to mar the midterms. Right now, they want everyone to focus on winning seats in the House and Senate and picking up governors' mansions.

But even if the Democrats make their choices, they are not home free. To put Minnesota or Michigan early on, those states would have to change their primary dates. That would require the state Republicans to agree. While having an early primary brings lots of attention and money to a state, Republicans instinctively oppose anything the Democrats want. Also an issue is that if New Hampshire loses its slot as the first primary, New Hampshire Republicans would try to blame Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for the loss. Better to have her win on Nov. 8 and then boot New Hampshire. In politics, there are rarely easy choices. (V)

Inflation Is Way Up in the Eurozone

Republicans are going to run this fall on a platform of "Democrats caused inflation." The reality is that is not true in the slightest and if the Democrats are smart, they will talk about what they are doing about it, like passing the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022."

But they also could do something else: Point out repeatedly that inflation is a worldwide phenomenon. In particular, inflation in the eurozone is almost 9%. Clearly nothing the Democrats did caused prices to go up in Germany or Italy. They went up for the same reason they are going up in the U.S.: disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. It is probably worthwhile to keep pointing it out since it is very unlikely many Americans are aware that inflation is a worldwide phenomenon and not caused by Joe Biden.

While Americans are peripherally aware that Europe exists, very few know anything about the economy in Europe. Still by pointing out that inflation is rampant in Europe, the U.K., Canada, and elsewhere, it is possible to make the point that it was caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and not by the Democrats. Here is a bar chart showing inflation in seven big economies.

Chart showing inflation in seven countries

While the U.S. is the second highest, inflation is way up in other advanced countries except Japan. Democrats would be advised to make this point over and over. Inflation is a worldwide phenomenon and was caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and they are doing everything possible to get it under control even though they weren't responsible for it. (V)

Ruben Gallego Is Fundraising Off a Senate Race He Hasn't Even Entered Yet

A lot of Democrats want Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) to challenge Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in the Democratic Senate primary in 2024. They keep asking him about the race. So far, he has been very coy about 2024 and said he is focused on being reelected to the House in November. However, he does remind people that any money he raises now could be used in any 2024 race. He hopes they get the message (wink, wink).

Sinema has been a thorn in the Democrats' side since she was elected to the Senate. She and Joe Manchin together killed Joe Biden's Build Back Better program. Manchin at least has the excuse that his state voted for Donald Trump by 40 points, so opposing Biden is what his constituents want. Sinema has no such excuse since Biden carried Arizona.

Last week Manchin and Chuck Schumer finally struck a deal on a smaller version of Biden's program, now called "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022." But Sinema still hasn't said if she will support it. If she opposes it, she could single-handedly kill it and Democrats would be jumping all over themselves to get Gallego to announce a 2024 Senate run against her already. But he would never do that until after he is reelected. It is generally political suicide for a candidate to make it clear he has no interest in the office he is running for but is using that merely as a stepping stone to a different office. Gallego knows that and can easily keep saying that for the moment he is entirely focused on his reelection to the House. His Phoenix-based district is D+23, so he is in no danger of losing, but it is in poor taste to talk about a Senate run before the midterms.

Sinema and Gallego have locked horns before. In 2006, they both were working on a campaign to stop a ban on same-sex marriage. Sinema requested that Gallego leave the team. Ever since then, he has been lobbing barbs in her direction. He has called her out repeatedly for defending the filibuster. In January he tweeted that she cared more about arcane Senate rules than protecting people's right to vote. In June he wrote that she was empowering Mitch McConnell. He has also challenged her to debate him at a town hall in Arizona. Meanwhile, Gallego is just collecting money that he doesn't need for this year's race. But come January, he might just announce a Senate run. If he does, it will be one of the nastiest Democratic primaries of 2024. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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