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Trump’s 2024 Launch Fails to Rally GOP Around Him
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Republicans Gain Control of House
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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  He's Baaaaaaaack!
      •  Alex Mooney Throws His Hat into the Ring
      •  Where Things Stand
      •  The Congressional Leadership Dance Continues
      •  Missed It By That Much?, Part II: House Retirements
      •  Warnock Sues Georgia
      •  Senate Expected to Have a Gay Day Today

He's Baaaaaaaack!

As expected, Donald Trump walked up to a podium at Mar-a-Lago yesterday evening and announced that he will be a 2024 candidate for President of the United States. Here's the FEC form, just so you can see for yourself.

If you would like to see the announcement, you can view it here:

We can't imagine why you would want to do so, however. Maybe if you're Catholic and you need to do penance, we guess. Or if you're really into S&M and the whips just aren't getting it done anymore. Or you are playing a drinking game where you take a shot of Baijiu every time someone mispronounces "China."

Whether you watch it or not, the fact is that it was a standard Trump performance. That means:

  • Braggadocio: If you believed everything said in the speech, then the Trump presidency was the greatest era in American history, with the finest leadership, the best economy, the strongest foreign policy, the highest standard of living and the happiest citizens that the nation has ever seen. Actually, he said that the economy was the best that any country in the world has ever seen. The 1950s and 1990s might have something to say about that. Mansa Musa I, Julius Caesar, George III and Emperor Gaozong might have some thoughts, too.

  • Braggadocio, Part II: Again, if you believed everything said in the speech, then this year's midterms were an enormous success for the Republicans in general, and for Trump in particular. He went on at length about his batting average, neglecting to mention that most of his "wins" were in races that were uncontested or that could have been won by a talking chicken as long as the chicken had an (R) by its name.

  • Finger Pointing: Of course, the counterpart to "I am the greatest president ever" is "Joe Biden is the worst president ever." Trump had much to say that presented the Democrats and their leader as some combination of the Keystone Kops, Satan's armies and the student body at Mrs. Grumby's School for the Mentally Challenged (it's a feeder school for certain universities in downtown L.A.).

  • Conspiratorial Thinking: The former president sees plots, plans and schemes everywhere he looks, of course. The one he emphasized yesterday was that China interfered with the 2020 election, to give the victory to Biden. Change that to Russia, 2016 and Trump, and now we might be on to something.

  • Airing of Grievances: The companion of the conspiratorial thinking is Trump's sense that he is treated very unfairly by... pretty much everyone. He pointed the finger at the media, of course, and made a few veiled references to having been cheated in 2020. That said, he didn't hammer on "stop the steal" all that much. Maybe someone has finally persuaded him that airing that particular grievance is now a political loser. We kinda doubt it, though.

  • Lies, Lies and More Lies: It wouldn't be a Trump speech, of course, without copious quantities of baldfaced lies. He claimed he built the border wall. He harped on the alleged Russian missile that landed in Poland on Thursday, and said "People are going absolutely wild and crazy and they're not happy." You can always tell Trump is BSing when he talks about what "people" are saying. In truth, it's not clear whose missile it was, and it may well have been a Ukrainian misfire. If you would like a fuller accounting of the falsehoods, here is the one from CNN, and here is the one from The New York Times.

  • Unintentional Irony: Trump also has a penchant for saying things that he (or his speechwriters) don't seem to have thought all the way through. For example, in the address last night he decreed: "I never respected critics. I never respected critics, they tell people what's wrong but can't do anything about it themselves." Hmmmmm... sounds like someone we know.

  • Logical Contradictions: Trump spent so much time talking about what a stellar president he was, and then so much time talking about how the country has gone to hell since then. Does he not realize that one thing that makes a president great is positive change that lasts beyond their time in office? Think Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt. In other words, to moan and groan about how bad the country is right now is ultimately, at least in part, an indictment of Trump himself. To take another example, he talked about how tough he was on China, and how that probably made them interfere with the elections, but then later he talked about how great his relationship with Xi Jinping is. So which is it? Does China like Trump or does it hate him?

Ultimately, the most important thing to know about the speech is probably this: Trump is supposed to be a veteran entertainer, but last night he put aside his prepared remarks after 15-20 minutes and started riffing. And as a result, he prattled on and on and on. Does he not know that you can only maintain an audience's attention span for so long? Once it was clear that he'd wandered off into... whatever place he goes when he's improvising, the various networks started cutting away from the speech. MSNBC didn't carry the announcement at all. CNN cut away after 25 minutes or so. Even Fox jumped ship at 45 minutes or so (though they cut back for the final portion).

The point here is that he's really not all that newsworthy. Yes, he's a presidential candidate, but that election is 2 years away, and he's saying and doing the same things he's now been saying and doing for 6 years. It seems that he expects to get the same kind of attention he got back in 2016, but that's not happening. He's not a circus sideshow anymore. "Can you believe what Trump said?" doesn't raise any eyebrows anymore.

For our part, we've been trying to think about what Trump-related things we'll end up covering in the next 6-12 months. We'll write up big developments on the legal front, but we would have done that regardless of whether he was a candidate or not. And we'll probably write up some of the many Trump vs. Biden or Trump vs. DeSantis polls that are coming down the pike. And we might write about the occasional Trump running mate speculation. But it's hard to think of much else, because his rallies and his wild pronouncements just aren't worthy of attention. And most other politics-centered outlets, even Fox, are clearly thinking the same way. So, Trump is likely to be disappointed by how much (or really, how little) attention his 2024 campaign gets. (Z)

Alex Mooney Throws His Hat into the Ring

Perhaps you were thinking the 2024 election cycle would not begin until, say, mid-2023. Or, at least, the start of 2023. Or, at least, until after the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff is over. Ha! You fool. And Donald Trump wasn't the only one to be guilty of premature declaration yesterday. Rep. Alan Mooney (R-WV) also declared a 2024 run, as well.

Most readers presumably have no idea who Mooney is. After all, he's just one of 435 members of the House. He's very Trumpy, so he would never run for president against the Dear Leader. Knowing that, and knowing that Mooney is R-WV, you presumably can guess who he's gunning for. That's right; Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has his first potential opponent. Mooney said that he is "all in" on knocking off Manchin.

Of course, there are still many unknowns about this race. West Virginia has two other Republican House members (David McKinley and Carol Miller) who might be interested in a promotion. Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is also said to be considering a run, since he will be term-limited by 2024 (technically, he could run again for governor in 2028, but he has to vacate for at least one term). And on top of all the Republican maneuvering, Manchin has not yet committed to a run; he says he will decide later this year. He could very well decide to retire, or he might try to get his old job as governor back. If Manchin steps down, who knows what candidate the Democrats will come up with. Maybe they can run the corpse of Robert Byrd. After all, the South Carolina GOP managed to elect the corpse of Strom Thurmond multiple times.

Anyhow, the 2024 races are already underway. Hope you enjoyed your one-week breather. (Z)

Where Things Stand

Until the good people of Georgia head to the polls on or before Dec. 6 (more below), the main pending storyline is "What's going to happen with the House?" Here's the latest accounting of where the various outlets have it:

Outlet Rep Seats Dem Seats Toss-ups 24-hour Net Change
AP 217 209 9 Democrats +4
The New York Times 217 209 9 Democrats +4
The Wall Street Journal 217 209 9 Democrats +4
Politico 217 208 10 Democrats +3
FiveThirtyEight 217 209 9 Democrats +4
CNN 217 207 11 Democrats +1
Fox 217 209 9 Democrats +4
ABC News 217 209 9 Democrats +4
CBS News 217 211 7 Republicans +1
NBC News 220 215 0 No change

NBC's plus/minus remains at ±3. Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham has already declared the House for the Republicans, claiming that the victory of Kevin Kiley in CA-03 put the red team over the top. She does not appear to have cleared that with the people at Fox who crunch the numbers, however, as the network's official tally remains at 217.

Also, as long as we're at it, here's the latest from Alaska, with 90% reporting:

Candidate Pct. Votes
Mike Dunleavy* 51.04% 123,479
Les Gara 23.81% 57,609
Bill Walker 20.42% 49,398
Charlie Pierce 4.46% 10,789

U.S. Senate
Candidate Pct. Votes
Kelly Tshibaka 43.34% 103,972
Lisa Murkowski* 43.11% 103,407
Patricia Chesbro 10.01% 24,013
Buzz Kelley 2.87% 6,880

Candidate Pct. Votes
Mary Peltola* 48.13% 116,322
Sarah Palin 26.08% 63,025
Nick Begich 23.76% 57,437
Chris Bye 1.7% 4,114

As you can see, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) and Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) are pretty much slam dunks. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) fate will be determined by the second-place choices of Patricia Chesbro's voters. We previously guessed that approximately 100.0% will go to the Senator, and we stand by that. (Z)

The Congressional Leadership Dance Continues

There have been a few developments in the last 24 hours, as regards the jockeying for leadership positions in the next sitting of the United States Congress. To start, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been reelected as the leader of his conference, and has been chosen as their official nominee for Speaker. However, the vote was 188-31, and those 31 are not bound to vote for their conference's nominee. So, if the MAGA crowd is willing to dig their heels in, then they can absolutely stop McCarthy from getting a promotion.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is keeping quiet about her plans until all of the remaining House races are decided. However, Puck, which is a politics-gossip-oriented website, somewhat like Wonkette, reports that the scuttlebutt is that she plans to stand down and back Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as her successor. Take that report with several grains of salt, but we pass it along nonetheless.

And finally, things remain tense among Republicans on the other side of the Capitol Building. There was a working lunch yesterday, and things got heated. Consequently, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) has decided that he will challenge Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for leadership of the conference after all. Scott won't win, but this will please Scott's boss, Donald Trump, and will also generate a bunch more stories about how angry the Republicans are with McConnell. And every bit of oxygen that is devoted to that topic is one less bit of oxygen devoted to stories about how Scott blew it as chair of the NRSC, and managed to spend half a billion dollars without flipping a single seat (so far). (Z)

Missed It By That Much?, Part II: House Retirements

It's not yet official, unless you trust Laura Ingraham (you shouldn't). However, it looks like the Republicans are going to recapture the House by a small margin. This being the case, Democrats are naturally going to look carefully at the things that may have cost them a seat here, and a seat there, and thus control of the lower chamber.

On Monday, we had an item about the New York Democrats, who flew too close to the sun while gerrymandering the state's district map, and came crashing to the ground. They shot for three more Democratic seats and, thanks to the new map imposed by a judge, it looks like the Empire State will end up with the Republicans picking up three more seats instead. The blue team probably couldn't have gotten away with such an aggressive gerrymander, but they probably could have made D+2 stick. So, it's fair to guess that the misstep cost the Democrats 4 House seats. If the House ends up 219-216 for the Republicans, then the new Republican Speaker can thank New York for his or her shiny new gavel.

That said, there are other possible directions to point the finger. Reader J.W. in Hillsboro, OR, sent us this question: "If most of the Democrats who quit because of the red wave hadn't retired, would the Democrats still control the House?" That seems an interesting question to look at, so let's see if we can come up with an answer.

To start, here's our list of House retirements, with an added column that shows the current disposition of each seat:

Representative Party District PVI Reason for retirement Result
Kevin Brady Rep TX-08 R+28 He hit the term limit for chairing the Ways and Means Committee Rep hold
Louie Gohmert Rep TX-01 R+25 Running for Texas AG Rep hold
Billy Long Rep MO-07 R+24 Running for the seat that Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is vacating Rep hold
Vicky Hartzler Rep MO-04 R+20 Running for the seat that Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is vacating Rep hold
Ted Budd Rep NC-13 R+20 Running for the seat that Sen. Richard Burr (R-MO) is vacating Dem flip
Frederick Keller Rep PA-12 R+20 Pennsylvania is losing a seat, and he was odd man out Dem flip
Mo Brooks Rep AL-05 R+17 Running for the seat that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is vacating Rep hold
Jody Hice Rep GA-10 R+15 Running for Georgia Secretary of State Rep hold
Trey Hollingsworth Rep IN-09 R+13 He is keeping his promise to serve only four terms Rep hold
Bob Gibbs Rep OH-07 R+12 His rural district became somewhat competitive Rep hold
Adam Kinzinger Rep IL-16 R+10 Reps don't like Trump critics Rep hold
Lee Zeldin Rep NY-01 R+8 Running for governor of New York Rep hold
Anthony Gonzalez Rep OH-16 R+8 He voted to impeach Trump and is now in Trump's crosshairs District abolished
Devin Nunes Rep CA-22 R+6 Left to run Donald Trump's social media company Pending
Tom Reed Rep NY-23 R+6 Got enmeshed in a #MeToo-type scandal Rep hold
Van Taylor Rep TX-03 R+6 Adultery Rep hold
Ron Kind Dem WI-03 R+4 Tired of close elections, says he's "run out of gas" Rep flip
Antonio Delgado Dem NY-19 R+3 Agreed to become (temporary) lieutenant governor of New York Rep flip
Conor Lamb Dem PA-17 R+2 Running for the seat that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) is vacating Dem hold
Ann Kirkpatrick Dem AZ-02 R+1 Her seat could be vulnerable after redistricting Rep flip
Stephanie Murphy Dem FL-07 EVEN Probably due to the possibility of her district being made redder Rep flip
Tim Ryan Dem OH-13 D+1 Running for the seat that Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is vacating Dem hold
Charlie Crist Dem FL-13 D+2 He is running for governor Rep flip
Cheri Bustos Dem IL-17 D+3 She badly botched her job as chair of the DCCC Dem hold
John Katko Rep NY-24 D+3 Trump is out to get him and the district will probably get bluer Rep hold
Tom Suozzi Dem NY-03 D+3 Running for governor of New York Rep flip
Kathleen Rice Dem NY-04 D+4 She is a moderate in a caucus increasingly dominated by progressives Rep flip
John Yarmuth Dem KY-03 D+6 At 75, he prefers playing with his grandson to politics Dem hold
Ed Perlmutter Dem CO-07 D+6 He's 68, and says it's time to pass the baton to the next generation Dem hold
Ted Deutch Dem FL-22 D+6 Leaving to become CEO for the American Jewish Committee Dem hold
Jerry McNerney Dem CA-09 D+7 He's 70 and ready to move on to new things Dem hold
Peter DeFazio Dem OR-04 D+9 At 74, and after 18 terms, he's had his fill Dem hold
Jim Cooper Dem TN-05 D+9 Gerrymandering turned his blue district red Rep flip
Filemón Vela Dem TX-34 D+10 His seat will definitely be vulnerable after GOP-led redistricting Dem hold
Val Demings Dem FL-10 D+12 Going to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Dem hold
Alan Lowenthal Dem CA-47 D+13 He is 80 and doesn't want to be in the minority Pending
Mike Doyle Dem PA-18 D+13 He is frustrated that the House Democrats can't agree on anything District abolished
Peter Welch Dem VT-AL D+15 He is running for the seat that Sen. Pat Leahy (D) is vacating Dem hold
Kai Kahele Dem HI-02 D+15 He is running for governor Dem hold
Jim Langevin Dem RI-02 D+16 He has had his fill after 11 terms Dem hold
David Price Dem NC-04 D+17 Republicans will probably radically change his district Dem hold
George Butterfield Dem NC-01 D+17 Republicans changed his district to be D+1 Dem hold
Bobby Rush Dem IL-01 D+22 At 75, wants to focus on his ministry Dem hold
Albio Sires Dem NJ-08 D+27 He said: "The whole atmosphere in Washington is awful." Dem hold
Jackie Speier Dem CA-14 D+28 Four decades in politics is enough Dem hold
Eddie Bernice Johnson Dem TX-30 D+29 She'll be 86 on Election Day 2022 Dem hold
Anthony Brown Dem MD-04 D+29 Running for AG of Maryland Dem hold
Brenda Lawrence Dem MI-14 D+30 The new district maps were not to her liking District abolished
Lucille Roybal-Allard Dem CA-40 D+33 She's 80 and her district has changed shape, though still very blue Rep flip
Karen Bass Dem CA-37 D+36 Running for mayor of Los Angeles Dem hold

If we simply count up the flips, then the Democrats grabbed two seats that were vacated by Republicans, Republicans grabbed nine seats that were vacated by Democrats, and there are two retiree seats still up in the air. So, the Democrats are anywhere from minus five to minus nine thanks to retirements.

With that said, it's not so simple as merely counting the flips. First, this was a redistricting cycle, which means that some of the flips (e.g., CA-40) had little or nothing to do with the sitting member's retirement, and everything to do with the new district having a very different constituency. Second, some folks retired because they were trying to move on to bigger and better things, not because they feared a red wave. Third, some members may not have been fully honest about their reasons for retirement. Someone who says they want to focus on their ministry might not want to admit they fear defeat. Someone who says they don't want another tough election contest may know that oppo researchers have dug up dirt that will see the light of day if they run again, and want to avoid that. Fourth, there's no guarantee that even a sitting member could have held on to a purple district. And fifth, there's no way to know what districts some of the members in heavily redrawn states would have chosen if they'd tried to stick with the House.

Anyhow, trying to read between the lines, it looks to us like Ron Kind, Antonio Delgado, Ann Kirkpatrick, Stephanie Murphy and Alan Lowenthal were the Democrats whose decision was strongly influenced by fears of a red wave, and whose seats are lost (4) and/or could be lost (1). But one or two of them probably would have lost even if they had tried to keep their seats. So, that means the blue team probably bled 2-3 seats to fears of a red wave that did not materialize. They also gained one or two seats from Republicans who decided they didn't have the heart to remain in the fray (Frederick Keller and possibly Devin Nunes). That's a net of one or two seats for the Republicans. So, we are inclined to conclude that red-wave retirements probably didn't cost the Democrats the House, at least not all by themselves. (Z)

Warnock Sues Georgia

This is kind of an interesting issue. In the Georgia runoff, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) would like there to be as many days of early voting as is possible. He knows which party's members are more likely to take advantage of that opportunity. In particular, he would like early voting to be available on Nov. 26, as Saturdays are the days that many of his voters are off work but also don't have church responsibilities.

There is a wonky law in Georgia, however, that has left Nov. 26 in murky territory. That law says that early voting cannot be held the day after a holiday. So what is the holiday here? Well, Thanksgiving is Nov. 24, but that's two days earlier, not the day before. And Nov. 25 used to be Robert E. Lee Day. But, as it turns out, Lee was a racist slaveowner who committed treason against the United States. Who knew? Anyhow, it's now a paid state holiday that has no name.

The upshot is that Friday the 25th is a paid day off for a lot of people in Georgia, which makes it kind of a holiday. But it's not a named holiday, which means it's not any different from Dec. 26 or Dec. 31. So, Warnock's campaign has sued, asking a judge to declare Nov. 25 to be "not really a holiday" and thus Nov. 26 to be fair game for early voting. Who knows what the judge will decide, but it's worth noting that it's complicated enough that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued a memo declaring that Nov. 25 was not a holiday and then changed his mind and issued a second memo declaring that it is a holiday, after all. Georgia law also says that early voting has to be announced at least a week in advance, so this will need to be decided by Nov. 19. (Z)

Senate Expected to Have a Gay Day Today

That headline would have meant something quite different 100 years ago. But what it means in 2022 is that, now that the midterm elections are (largely) in the rear-view mirror, the Senate is ready to vote on a bill that would formally legalize same-sex marriage, making it rather harder for the Supreme Court to get involved in the matter by overturning Obergefell v. Hodges. This is something that Clarence Thomas has already signaled an interest in doing.

Today's vote is just procedural; the first step to bringing a bill to the floor of the Senate. Nonetheless, it should make clear where the various senators stand. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has been working on putting together the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Delaying the legislation until after the election was a key concession needed to get those 10 votes. So, unless some number of Republicans go back on their promises, then the procedural vote, and ultimately the underlying legislation, should succeed.

In a pretty instructive sign that this fight has reached its conclusion, the LDS Church yesterday threw its support behind the bill. Actually, the linked news story says the Church "came out" in favor of the bill, which is certainly interesting wording. LDS adherents are pretty socially conservative, and the press release Church leadership sent out yesterday made clear that their position is that marriage is between one man and one woman. But they realize that the bill allows them to discriminate against LGBTQ people in some circumstances, and LDS leadership would prefer that to a bill that outlaws all discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Once the bill passes—and again, it looks like it will—then that will be the latest setback for the evangelical/social conservative cause resulting from the Dobbs decision. As they say, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov15 Sunken Lake
Nov15 Let the Leadership Dance Begin
Nov15 Ronna Romney McDaniel Wants to Keep Her Job
Nov15 Are You Certain You Want to Announce Today, Donald?
Nov15 There's One Mystery Solved
Nov15 Gallego Goes After Sinema
Nov15 Reports from the Front Lines, Part II
Nov14 Where Things Stand
Nov14 Democrats Did Well in the State Legislatures
Nov14 Most of Trump's Picks for Secretary of State Lost
Nov14 How Fetterman Won
Nov14 Let the Finger Pointing Begin
Nov14 Missed It By That Much?, Part I: New York Democrats Were Too Greedy
Nov14 Postmortem, Part I: How Did the Pollsters Do?
Nov14 Democrats Will Tackle the Debt Limit in the Lame-Duck Session of Congress
Nov14 Outlook for the Georgia Runoff
Nov13 Democrats Hold the Senate
Nov13 Sunday Mailbag
Nov12 Where Things Stand
Nov12 Trump Sues 1/6 Committee
Nov12 Saturday Q&A
Nov11 Where Things Stand
Nov11 Republicans Got Fu**ed
Nov11 What Will Trump Do?
Nov11 What Will McCarthy Do?
Nov11 Bad News, Good News for Biden
Nov11 This Week in Schadenfreude: Twitter in the Shi**er
Nov11 This Week in Freudenfreude: Cold as Ice (Water)
Nov10 Trump Lost
Nov10 How Did Election Deniers Do?
Nov10 How Did the Democrats Stave Off Disaster?
Nov10 The Senate: Candidate Quality Matters after All
Nov10 The House: There Was a Pink Ripple
Nov10 The Governors: The Center Held
Nov10 Takeaways
Nov10 What Will the Next Two Years Be Like for Biden?
Nov10 Attack on Husband May Influence Pelosi's Future
Nov08 Let the Shenanigans Begin...
Nov08 ...And the Quiet End
Nov08 Election Workers in Arizona Threatened
Nov08 Reports From the Front Lines
Nov08 The Root of All Evil
Nov08 Bellwether House Races
Nov08 The Wisdom of the Crowd
Nov08 Today's Senate Polls
Nov07 Last Look at the Senate Races
Nov07 Latinos Won't Save the GOP
Nov07 Generic Poll Is Nearly Tied
Nov07 Fetterman Didn't Blow It at the Debate
Nov07 Who Are the Biggest Donors This Cycle?