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Ohio Heads to the Polls...

The good people of Ohio helped launch the meaty part of primary season on Tuesday. Here are the notable results out of the Buckeye State:

And that's pretty much it, as far as Ohio goes. (Z)

...Indiana and Michigan, Too

Nearly everything of interest last night took place in Ohio. Indiana is a redder state with a thinner Democratic bench. Its statewide offices are not up this year, and the Senate race will feature candidates on both sides, namely Sen. Todd Young (R) and Thomas McDermott Jr. (D) who were unopposed. Young is obviously going to win in the general.

That said, there were a few House races in the Hoosier State worth taking notice of. To start, IN-01 is D+4, and Rep. Frank Mrvan (D) did not light the world on fire when winning his first term in 2020. He would have preferred to face off (again) against perennial candidate Mark Leyva, who is pretty wackadoodle, and who loses almost as often as the Cincinnati Reds. However, Leyva was crushed last night, winning only 13.4% of the vote. Instead, Mrvan will face off against Jennifer-Ruth Green, who got 47.1% of the vote. Green is an Air Force veteran, is the former mayor of La Porte, and is Black. She could certainly give Mrvan a run for his money.

In a testament to the art of the gerrymander, there's no other district in Indiana that's remotely competitive, and there's only one other one that's not ruby red. So, all the other storylines of interest involved exactly which Republican would advance to the general election and a certain victory. In IN-06, Greg Pence took 77.6% of the vote en route to a third term. So, at least one member of the family is employed. In IN-09, former state senator Erin Houchin (R) won the right to succeed Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R), who promised he would only serve four terms and stuck to that.

Finally, Michigan had a special election last night. Carol Glanville (D) won a special election for the state House seat vacated by Republican Mark Huizenga after he won a special election for a state Senate seat. The district is fairly red (Cook doesn't do state house districts, but it would be roughly R+5 if they did), so Democrats are holding this out as a hopeful sign, and have already sent out a bunch of e-mails crowing about the win. What they are not mentioning is that Glanville's opponent was R.J. Regan (R) who said at a campaign event: "You know that's kind of like having three daughters, and I tell my daughters, well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it. That's not how we roll. That's not how I won this election." Hard to understand what point he was trying to make, but many people took offense. It also did not help that at least one of the three daughters urged people to vote against her father. Anyhow, this looks like a race that Regan blew more than it looks like one that Glanville won.

Next up are Nebraska and West Virginia, on Tuesday of next week. And the big story will be whether the Trump-backed Charles Herbster can overcome accusations that he groped eight women. (Z)

The Next Day: 10 News Stories about the Sinking of Roe

There was, as you might guess, a lot of news on a lot of different fronts in response to the premature leak of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. We're going to run down the 10 biggest ones, with some comment on each:

  1. Polling: Since this is the mother of all political footballs, it seems apropos to start with polling news. As chance would have it, ABC/The Washington Post had just wrapped up a poll on whether or not Americans would like to see abortion rights maintained. The poll would have been released on Tuesday anyhow; it just ended up being released right after the bombshell dropped. Anyhow, 54% would like to see abortion remain legal while just 28% want to see it outlawed. That's pretty close to a 2-to-1 margin, and is consistent with other recent polling on the issue, such as a recent CNN poll that had it 69% to 30%.

    You presumably don't need us to tell you that this suggests that the Democrats have a golden opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of midterm defeat. And our guess is that the numbers will skew even further in favor of keeping abortion legal now that the Supreme Court has made its move. You know, you don't know what you have until you lose it, and all that. With that said, there has been much polling along the lines of "60% of Americans want to see harsh sanctions on Russia, but not a war, which is exactly what the Biden administration is doing, and yet only 38% approve of the administration's Ukraine policy." So, you never know about these issue-based polls.

  2. Biden's Response: As is his style, Biden is taking things cautiously. He condemned the Supreme Court's decision, and he called on Congress to codify the right to an abortion, but he said he isn't yet willing to push for the filibuster to be overturned in order to achieve that end.

    At the moment, it's fine for Biden to be a little mealy-mouthed. This is not going to be a one-news-cycle, or one-week-of-news-cycles thing. It's going to be a rest-of-this-midterm-cycle issue. Another 24 hours in, and we stand by our view that this will be the dominant issue of 2022 (and possibly 2024). Anyhow, there is no need for the President to commit to a particular course of action right now. However, if he doesn't eventually show some real leadership here, he will make permanent a reputation for not being able to get things done, and will alienate vast swaths of the Democratic base. In particular, there is zero chance that legislation of this sort gets passed without killing the filibuster, and so Biden has no real option but to eventually climb on board that train and to call for that to happen (even if it ultimately doesn't).

  3. Schumer's Response: For the moment, it is entirely apropos for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to take the lead on this. After all, if there is going to be legislation, it's the Senate where the logjam exists. Schumer has promised to take the fight to the floor of the Senate, but it's hard to see how he can make any progress there. Friend-of-the-filibuster Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is also anti-abortion. So, his vote to kill the filibuster is not going to be available. Other-friend-of-the-filibuster Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) issued a fairly milquetoast statement yesterday: "Protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women's access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever." That doesn't seem like someone who's ready to make a move, and even if she is, where's the 50th vote? Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)? Maybe, but that's a longshot.

    Stranger things have happened, of course, like Obamacare surviving two near-death experiences thanks to Sen. John McCain and Chief Justice John Roberts. But it is probably the case that all the Democrats can do here is bring abortion-rights legislation to the precipice, and then try to convince voters in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and maybe Ohio that the party needs a couple more senators to make that happen. Of course, they would also need to hold the House, which night just have gotten a bit easier now.

  4. Collins' Response: Besides the Majority Leader, the senator with the most eyes on them yesterday was Susan Collins (R-ME), who said she only voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh after she was confident they would not vote to overturn Roe. Boy, does she have egg on her face now, amirite? Yesterday, she expressed her shock and dismay and said that the two justices' votes were "completely inconsistent" with what they "said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office."

    We could make a joke about "being concerned" here, but let's lay our cards on the table, instead. Collins has been elected to the U.S. Senate five times, and she's not from a Southern state, nor is she a former football coach. That means you can be 100% certain she's plenty smart. Certainly smart enough to know that two Roman Catholics who were vetted by the Federalist Society were near-slam-dunks to vote to strike down Roe. She also thinks that the voters of Maine, the only ones she cares one whit about, are stupid. So stupid that they won't see through her crocodile tears. Collins cast the votes she did because she knew that she was facing a tough reelection bid, and that being the one to torpedo a Republican nomination to the Court would likely mean the end of her career. Any pretensions otherwise are just Moose crap, to use a term apropos to the state she serves.

  5. McConnell's Response: McConnell, like all prominent Republicans, spent the 24 hours after the leak indignantly talking about his outrage over the leak. He described it as "an attack" on the independence of the Court, and said: "By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left's ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law." Please. This is nearly as large a pile of muskrat crap, to use a term apropos to the state he serves, as the pile of moose crap that Collins is peddling. McConnell has never once shown concern for the independence or the integrity of the Court, and he's not going to start this week. No, what he knows is that the actual decision is going to be wildly unpopular, and that the best chance he and the Republicans have is to focus outrage on the leak rather than the ruling. We don't even have to guess about this; Axios has laid hands on a memo hastily written and circulated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) that instructs members to do just that. It contains this suggested statement:
    The leak of this document is troubling and is indicative of the Radical Left's mission to undermine the institution of the Supreme Court and ultimately pack the Court with liberal judges who will rubber stamp the Democrats' radical agenda. It's wrong and the leaker should be found, fired and potentially prosecuted.
    Sound vaguely familiar? Don't forget that the NRSC takes its marching orders from... Mitch McConnell.

    In any case, this "focus on the leak" stuff be a viable strategy in the short term. But in a month or two, is anyone going to care exactly how the news was made public? We doubt it.

  6. Leak Detectives: Republicans, both the politicians and their close allies in the media, are behaving as if it's a slam dunk that the leaker was a Democrat/liberal. And, as we wrote yesterday, we think that a Democrat, specifically a Democratic clerk, is the likeliest possibility. But that is far from a certainty, no matter what McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Ben Shapiro and Tucker Carlson say. There are/were potential benefits for conservatives in the leak. And many folks who are not in the bag for one partisan faction or another had some fun yesterday working through the various scenarios. And just about everyone agrees that while a Democratic/liberal partisan is the most likely culprit, there is a significant chance it was a Republican/conservative.

    We may never find out unless the person outs themselves, or their contact at Politico does so. The draft opinion is old enough that there is little possibility of re-creating a nearly three-month chain of custody. And it looks to be a photocopy. That means no record on a printer server, or telltale marks from the printer itself.

  7. Leak Historians: In addition to those who are playing Sherlock Holmes right now (too bad there wasn't a dog who didn't bark when the opinion was leaked), there are also those who are cranking out extensive histories of past Supreme Court leaks. See here and here for examples. The upshot is that this sort of thing has certainly happened before, including a partial leak of the initial Roe decision (including the correct vote tally). However, there has never been a leak of an entire draft opinion. This is a huge, huge black eye for the Court.

  8. John Roberts: The Chief Justice as also full of bluster yesterday. He described the leak as a "singular and egregious breach" of trust, and ordered an investigation... while also conceding the document is authentic.

    If you thought our assessment of Collins, or possibly McConnell was... frank, you might want to buckle your seatbelt before you keep reading. John Roberts has made a farce of his high position, and can now be safely ranked among the 2-3 worst Chief Justices in history. Mind you, this assessment has nothing to do with our feelings about his personal political leanings. In part, our judgment is about the leak itself, which speaks to the low regard that one or more members of the Court's inner circle have for his leadership. In part, it is about the Chief's carefully-cultivated reputation for allegedly calling balls and strikes. Is there anyone in the entire country who thinks that Roberts' decisions are governed, first and foremost, by the law? From where we sit, it looks like "protecting the reputation of the Court" is foremost, and "my own personal political agenda" is second, with the law a distant third. Maybe those first two are reversed, we're open to being persuaded on that point. In any event, in trying so hard to demonstrate to everyone that he's about the balls and strikes, Roberts has caused everyone to notice that he is most certainly not about the balls and strikes at all. So, he's utterly failed in his primary objective. When he's all done, they're going to have to make sure to hang his memorial portrait right next to that of Roger Taney.

  9. Don't Fence Me In: Shortly after the decision leaked, police put up barricades around the Supreme Court building. It's a testament to the state of modern American politics, and also of the fact that the Court is no longer held out as being above the fray. You can add that to John Roberts' ledger as well.

  10. Impatience: We guessed yesterday that red states, rather than showing restraint in hopes of taming the backlash, would seize the opportunity to press the advantage. Oklahoma took about 12 hours to prove us right, with Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signing into law the bill that bans abortion at 6 weeks, and that implements a Texas-style enforcement scheme. It's true that wheels were in motion here before the SCOTUS leak. But it's also true that Stitt made a point of expressing his delight that he could be the first to capitalize on the new state of affairs.

That's the rundown. Forgive our strong words, but we have a low tolerance for B.S. Or Maine M.S. Or Kentucky M.S. (Z)

The Next Day: What The Commentariat Is Saying about the Sinking of Roe

All righty, then, you've got some of our thoughts about the big news of the week. Now, how about a rundown of what other outlets are saying?

Left-leaning Commentators

International Commentators

Right-leaning Commentators

And there you have it. (Z)

New York Has a New Lieutenant Governor

Given that the last guy she picked appears to be a crook, maybe Gov. Kathy Hochul was trying to sneak this one in under the radar, knowing that the primaries and the fallout from the Supreme Court leak would be sucking up most of the oxygen. In any event, she announced her (latest?) pick to be her right-hand man: Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY).

It would seem that the Governor decided that the state legislature is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and so decided to skip it altogether in favor of a member of New York's congressional delegation. As to Delgado, his district is NY-19, and is one of those that is in dispute as a result of the court right over gerrymandering. He must have decided he doesn't want to hang around to see how it turns out. Given that the ballot for this year's elections is already set, Delgado won't keep his new job beyond January of next year, but maybe he's positioning himself for some future run for office, or for a few cushy corporate board gigs.

In any event, it's yet another Democratic retirement, and in a district where the Party could likely really use an incumbent. This choice could easily cost the Democrats a House seat. If the Republicans capture the House 218 to 217, then Hochul's unforced error will be to blame. Delgado's current district is R+2 but the New York Court of Appeals has ordered a new map to be drawn by a special master so we don't know what it will look like. Still, With all the Democratic politicians in a large state to choose from, Hochul has chosen one of the few who might well cost the Democrats a crucial House seat they could have won if he were the candidate. (Z)

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