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Special Election Field in Alaska Nearly Set
Ginni Thomas Corresponded with John Eastman
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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  A Day of Few Surprises
      •  "Stop the Steal" Goes National
      •  A Couple of (Small) Bumps in the Road for 1/6 Committee
      •  House Passes SCOTUS Security Bill
      •  Walker Is an Oppo Researcher's Dream...
      •  ...Boebert, Too?

A Day of Few Surprises

Some election days are full of drama. Some, less so. Yesterday, with voters in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina casting ballots in primaries, and (some) voters in Texas casting ballots in a special election, was in the latter category. Here are the results:

  • Governors' Races Set: The three sitting governors on the ballot yesterday—Janet Mills (D-ME), Steve Sisolak (D-NV), and Henry McMaster (R-SC)—were all renominated with ease, as expected. And they got the opponents that everyone anticipated, namely former governor Paul LePage (R) in Maine, Clark County sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) in Nevada, and former representative Joe Cunningham (D) in South Carolina. In the Nevada race, former senator Dean Heller finished a distant third, with only 15% of the vote. He called this race the beginning of his comeback, but it would seem "beginning of the end" would be more correct. Or perhaps just "the end."

    Polling of the general election matchups, which has been understandably scant, suggests that all three incumbents enter their races as solid favorites, with the two Democrats up 6-7 points on their challengers and McMaster up 10 on his. Lombardo is probably the most dangerous of the three would-be governors (and we don't mean his cavalier attitude about guns). He has the potential to grow his name recognition, whereas everyone in Maine already knows LePage and what he stands for, while Cunningham is starting from too deep a hole in too red a state.

  • Senate Races, Too: As with the governors, the three incumbents who were up yesterday—Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Tim Scott (R-SC)—won renomination easily. Their opponents, respectively, will be former Nevada AG Adam Laxalt (R), entrepreneur and educator Katrina Christiansen (D) and (very likely) activist Catherine Bruce (D). Of the three races, the only one that has a chance to be close is the one in Nevada; Masto is probably the most endangered Democrat up this cycle. That said, incumbent senators win 90% of the time, Nevada voters have never been especially enthusiastic about Laxalt, and the only recent poll of this (then-hypothetical) general election matchup had Masto up 20 points, 47% to 27%. So, maybe Masto isn't that endangered, after all.

  • This is VERY MEANINGFUL, Part I: Politico headlined it "Democrats take a blow in Texas," while The Hill had "Alarm bells sound for Democrats in Texas" and U.S. News & World Report wrote that it "demonstrates that Republicans are making inroads with Hispanic voters." It is true that Mayra Flores (R) won election outright in TX-34, thus flipping the district and making Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) life a little harder. It is also true that Flores is the first Mexican-born person elected to Congress.

    That said, we caution, as we did yesterday, against reading too much into this. Flores spent $1 million on her campaign and outside groups spent another $2 million versus $140,000 for the leading Democrat, Dan Sanchez. And for that, Flores attracted 14,780 votes (51.0%). That's roughly $200 per vote. Sanchez got 12,560 votes (43.3%) for his money, meaning he spent (a bargain-basement) $11 per vote. And this is in an special election, which is prone to being wonky and to going against the party that holds the White House. After all, a grand total of 28,990 voters showed up, which is about 4% of the population of the district. Oh, and the election was for a 6-month term in a district that won't exist after that 6 months is up. Anyhow, if you want to generalize about what 100+ million voters will do in November based on what 20+ thousand did in one district in June, feel free, but we can't recommend it.

  • This is VERY MEANINGFUL, Part II: Rep. Tim Rice (R-SC) dared to challenge the throne by voting for the second impeachment. He compounded the error by not apologizing afterward and claiming that his brain was zapped by Jewish space lasers. Now, he's out of a job. The Trump-backed challenger to Rice, Russell Fry, took 51.1% of the vote, while Rice took 24.5%.

    That is a very, very bad result for an incumbent, of course. And so, there are many stories right now about the former president's continued strong grip on the GOP. But the district, SC-07, gave 58% of its vote to Trump in 2020 and Rice committed the ultimate betrayal of the Dear Leader. By contrast, over in the less Trumpy SC-01 (52% for him in 2020), Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) was also critical of Trump. Although she didn't vote for impeachment, she did aggravate him enough for him to back a challenger. And guess what? Mace survived, taking 53.1% of the vote to 45.3% for Trump's candidate, Katie Arrington. So while there are still some risks to apostasy, at least in some districts, let's not read too much into yesterday's results.

  • TrumpWatch 2020: As long as we are on the subject, Trump went 1-1 in the two high-profile South Carolina House races. Beyond that, he was 10-0 with his endorsements. The former president's support may have been meaningful in Adam Laxalt's victory, but maybe not. That one is 54.8% for Laxalt versus 35.6% for Sam Brown with 58% reporting. Trump has not generally shown an ability to create 20-point victories. Beyond that race, four of Trump's wins were in landslides (at least 30 points) and five of them were in races where the Republican was unopposed.

  • A Rematch in Maine: Back in 2018, then-state representative Jared Golden (D) challenged then-representative Bruce Poliquin (R) in ME-02. The race got some national attention, first because of the flip potential, and second because it ended up as the first use of Maine's ranked-choice voting system. Poliquin led after the first round of voting but did not have 50% of the vote, and after the process had played out, Golden won. Poliquin sued, but unsuccessfully. Now, they will face off again, as Golden was unopposed yesterday while Poliquin took 60% of the vote in the Republican primary. On one hand, a red wave could get Poliquin his job back. On the other hand, Golden remains the candidate more likely to benefit from ranked-choice voting, since he's centrist enough to be the second choice of some Republicans. Anyhow, this one's going to get national attention again.

  • Sorry Bernie: It would appear that the "serious challenge" from the left, for Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) wasn't so serious after all, as the Representative beat the Bernie-Sanders-backed Amy Vilela, 84.3% to 15.7%. Ouch. Indeed, all four Nevada representatives, all of them running for reelection, won renomination easily. The closest race was in NV-02, where Rep. Mark Amodei (R) dispatched Danny Tarkanian by "just" 21 points, 54% to 33%. Two of the representatives (Amodei and Democrat Susie Lee in NV-03) learned who they will be facing in November; the other two will have to wait as it's too close to call.

Another round in the books, then. Next week it is Virginia and... that's it. The week after will be another biggie, with Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma and Utah taking their turns. (Z)

"Stop the Steal" Goes National

The Washington Post was interested in exactly how deeply Donald Trump's whining about his loss in 2020 has penetrated. And so, reporters Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf took a close look at the Republican nominees for statewide office and for Congress. What they found was... disheartening, to say the least. There are at least 108 successful Republican candidates across 170 races (63.5%) that have embraced the former president's nonsense lock, stock and barrel. If the criteria are expanded to include candidates whose platform includes less specific claims of "voter fraud," then the total jumps to 149 out of 170 (87.6%).

There is no way to know, of course, exactly what is going on in the minds of these candidates. We can imagine at least three basic categories of stop the stealers:

  • Those who actually believe it
  • Those who don't believe it, but think they have to pretend in order to be viable candidates
  • Those who don't believe it, but who see benefits to the Republican Party in playing along

It is the third group that is, perhaps, the scariest. Part of the deal in a democracy, of course, is that you win some and you lose some, and when you lose, you go home and lick your wounds and try again the next time. In turn, that implies that if whatever political program a party is selling isn't finding enough takers, then that party has to adapt.

Adapting is hard, though. Both of the major parties have had lengthy periods spent in the wilderness as they tried to recalibrate. And, as we've pointed out many, many times, the modern Republican Party is in deep demographic trouble, as they are already the minority party and many of their core constituencies are shrinking (while several core Democratic constituencies are growing). Recalibrating the modern GOP would be a long and ugly slog and would probably entail telling the white supremacists and the xenophobes and the religious fanatics to get lost, and trying to open the tent to Latinos or trying to get back the suburbanites or both. Much easier, at least in the short term, is to find ways to win elections without, you know, actually having the votes. The Electoral College makes that viable at the presidential level, while rewriting the rules for elections has the potential to make it viable in the other races.

Meanwhile, the Trumpers may not see it, or they may not care, but there will be consequences if they try to actually legislate based on stop the steal. Their own partisans will grow more and more fanatical, because they can. Is it not obvious that, by accepting Trump, the GOP opened the door to people like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano (R)? What will the next generation of nutters look like?

And the Democrats will not go gentle into that good night. Governance rests on the consent of the governed, and if Republicans steal power through chicanery, they are going to get an object lesson in how a federal system works, and how hard it is to bring states, counties, and cities into line if they do not accept your legitimacy. Meanwhile, while the Republicans tend to take the lead in playing dirty pool these days, the Democrats tend to eventually come around. And if the country gets to a place where one of the "jobs" of the party in power is to neuter the other party completely, well, there are more Democrats in the country than Republicans.

Needless to say, the fabric of the democracy will not be helped by this kind of struggle. And, indeed, the fabric may not survive without being torn asunder. Consequently, the better option, if it is possible, is to cut the stop the stealers off at the pass. That means, if we may say so, that it's incumbent on voters of all stripes to vote against stop the stealers at all costs, even if it means casting a vote for someone with a (D) next to his or her name in the general election when one would prefer not to do so, or it means foregoing a protest vote for a third-party candidate.

The model here is the 1/6 Committee, which features at least some members who have put country over party. Indeed, it could be that the most important thing the Committee is doing is not making the case that Donald Trump should be punished, but instead making the case that his theory of the 2020 election is a sham, and that voters should not allow themselves to be hoodwinked. And riped off financially. (Z)

A Couple of (Small) Bumps in the Road for 1/6 Committee

As long as we are on the subject, the 1/6 Committee was supposed to have its third hearing today. However, on Tuesday, the Wednesday hearing was pushed to Thursday. So, folks looking for something to watch at lunchtime are just going to have to make due with The View.

Exactly why the hearing was postponed is not entirely clear. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told reporters that the video editing staff needed a bit more time to pull everything together. Other members of the committee said that there were scheduling issues with some witnesses. Donald Trump speculated that the postponement was due to low ratings. Two of these explanations are quite sensible, and are probably both true. One of them is dumb, and makes no sense. We'll leave it to readers to figure out which is which.

In the absence of a hearing today, the Committee released a brief video (a teaser trailer?) featuring Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY):

The two main takeaways are: (1) the next round of hearings is going to focus on efforts to pressure Mike Pence, and (2) former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, on hearing what Trump lawyer/adviser John Eastman was planning in terms of challenging the election results, told Eastman that he should retain the services of an excellent criminal defense lawyer because he (Eastman) was going to need it.

In addition to the scheduling problems, the Committee is reportedly bickering about whether to make a criminal referral of Donald Trump to the Department of Justice, with Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) saying "no," and other (unnamed) members of the committee saying "yes."

Keeping in mind that a referral from the Committee has no legal weight, this is purely a symbolic issue. The members who want to make a referral feel they need to make the strongest statement possible. Undoubtedly, they are thinking of the Mueller Report, where all the evidence was laid out, but the conclusions were presented in a diplomatic and vague manner. We know how that turned out, and it's not something the 1/6 Committee wants to repeat. Thompson, for his part, is concerned about appearing to politicize a DoJ investigation. He's also likely taken note that AG Merrick Garland appears to be particularly sensitive to being told what to do, and may react badly if the Committee tries it. Also, Thompson knows that Garland is watching all the hearings. Garland said so himself.

Undoubtedly, Thompson & Co. will eventually get on the same page as regards the referral. As to the hearings, the party resumes at 1:00 ET on Thursday. The networks have not announced their coverage plans, but the Committee streams everything on its website, so you can always watch there. (Z)

House Passes SCOTUS Security Bill

This is a story that has been reported rather badly by some outlets, especially those whose names rhyme with "socks." The House has been wrestling with a Senate-passed bill related to the security of the Supreme Court. You would be forgiven for having the impression that the Republicans are trying hard to make sure the members of the Court are protected, and the Democrats don't care and are willing to let the Supremes take their chances. This is not the case, however.

In fact, the Justices are already protected by the Dignitary Protection Unit of the Supreme Court Police. The bill in question will extend protection to the Justices' family members, at the discretion of the marshal of the Supreme Court. The Democrats did not, and do not, object to this. They just wanted to expand the list of potential discretionary recipients of security. Some members of the caucus wanted to include all federal judges, some wanted to include employees of the Supreme Court and their families, and some wanted to include staff at abortion clinics (noting that the Supremes have made decisions, and are about to make another one, that put abortion-clinic workers at risk).

Aided by their friends at "Socks," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his colleagues managed to make it look like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) & Co. don't care if a few Supreme Court justices get gunned down. In fact, there is a conspiracy theory floating around, and tacitly endorsed by some in the right-wing media (think "rhymes with 'Smucker Barlson'"), that the Democrats are trying to get a few right-wing Supremes get gunned down so they can be replaced with tree-hugging liberal justices. Again, keep in mind that justices already get protection, so this claim is nonsense.

Anyhow, Pelosi ultimately decided the heat was too great, and that this is not a hill she was willing to die upon. So, the House approved the bill yesterday, 396-27. A sizable number of the "nay" votes came from New Jersey Democrats, as the Garden State was where the son of District Judge Esther Salas was murdered in response to one of Salas' rulings. The bill will now head to the White House for an already promised signature, theoretically depriving the Republicans of a hammer to wield against the Democrats. (Z)

Walker Is an Oppo Researcher's Dream...

The candidacy of would-be Georgia U.S. Senator Herschel Walker (R) is not something you would believe if you didn't know it was actually happening. Recruited off the football field, constantly putting his foot in his mouth, new dirt coming to light every week—it's a lot like the movie Election, except that this ain't high school.

In any event, additional Walker baggage has been piling up fast and furious this week. To start, as reader J.G. in San Diego brings to our attention, Walker has made many statements about how it is incumbent for parents to remain a major part of their children's lives, even if the parents are no longer married or in a relationship. Just a couple of weeks ago, he appeared on the show of Diamond and Silk, who apparently still have an audience, and decreed that "[if you have] a child with a woman, even if you have to leave that woman... you don't leave the child." That is like waving a red flag in front of the people who dig up dirt. And guess what? It took The Daily Beast just days to find out that Walker has a previously unknown son. The candidate was compelled by court order to pay support to the child, who lives multiple time zones away, and whose "fathering" from Walker consists of the occasional birthday or Christmas gift sent by mail. There are some who would say that looks an awful lot like leaving the child.

That's not all. Walker has also claimed that he is an officer with the Cobb County Police Department and that he's also an FBI agent. Again, waving a red flag. And again, not true. The Cobb Po-pos said they had no employment record for Walker, at which point he changed the claim to "honorary deputy," but there's no record of that, either. As to the FBI, Walker was a guest for a week of FBI training, but that doesn't make you an FBI agent any more than a week's worth of guitar lessons make you Jimi Hendrix.

And even when Walker isn't making false claims about himself and his biography, he can still be counted on to stay silly and impolitic stuff. For example, he appeared on the show of Ben Carson, who apparently still has an audience. And Carson lobbed the biggest softball question ever, asking: "What do you see as some of the biggest problems going on in our country today?" This is essentially an invitation to the candidate to deliver the two-minute version of their platform.

Unfortunately for Walker, he's a football player not a softball player, and so he whiffed on the question. Instead of talking about crime, or racism, or taxes, or the economy, or COVID or any of two dozen other things, Walker went with this:

I think some of the biggest problems going on in our country today, we have so many celebrities telling people that they can't do it. Telling a lot of people, 'oh, well, you got to feel bad for yourself, feel sorry for yourself' Which is sad to me... They've done it, but they're telling you you can't do it. And it's like, you did it, why they can't do it? I think they tell all the kids they can't do it, making our kids feel sorry for themselves.

Yep. When the history of the current era is written, undoubtedly these negative-nelly celebrities will loom large.

So, is all of this hurting Walker? Well, there's a new poll of Georgia from Eastern Carolina University, and it reports that Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is tied with Walker, 46% to 46%, while Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) is up on Stacey Abrams, 50% to 45%. It's only one poll, of course, but it suggests two things. The first is that Walker is being hurt, a little bit, either by his own baggage or by being the candidate of Trump. The second is that none of these four candidates is likely to run away with their election, no matter how weak their opponent might be, and that it's going to come down to turnout. (Z)

...Boebert, Too?

As we have noted, American Muckrakers PAC, which helped take down Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) by uncovering salacious videos featuring the congressman and other dirt, has set its sights on Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). And, as reader D.R. in Omaha, NE, alerts us, they claim they've come up with some pretty big skeletons.

If you wish, you can view the PAC's evidence (or, maybe, "evidence") at the website they have created, However, in contrast to the Cawthorn material, the material hasn't caught fire and hasn't been picked up by any serious outlet yet. There are three issues, we would say:

  1. The main claims, namely that Boebert had two abortions and that she worked as an escort, are pretty outlandish.

  2. The evidence isn't a slam dunk. In Cawthorn's case, it was clearly him in the videos. In Boebert's case, for example, the site has pictures claimed to be from her escort-site profile. However, while they might be her, they might not be.

  3. The presentation is shockingly amateurish. It looks like a tribute to MySpace circa 2006.

If the abortion claim can be proven with something more substantial than what American Muckrakers already has, that could really hurt Boebert, since it would make her look like a hypocrite and it would aggravate many of the people who make up her base. But beyond that, she's not likely to be damaged by this. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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