• Great, Scott? Not Even Good Scott
• Trump Goes Full Authoritarian for Veterans Day
• Right-Wing Tech Billionaires Are Souring on Trump
• Trump Asks Judge Tanya Chutkan to Televise His Trial
• Maybe Elise Stefanik Is Interested in Being Trump's Veep after All
• A Third Opinion on the 2024 Elections
• Jon Tester Is a Historically Strong Candidate
• New York Wants to See North Carolina and Raise It Three Seats
• Arizona AG Kris Mayes Is Investigating the 11 Fake Trump Electors
• Four More House Members Call It Quits (and a Fifth Hints at It)
No, we don't mean that the administration is stocking up on little blue pills. We mean that, unless Congress acts by Friday, the government will shut down. To prevent a shutdown, both chambers must agree on a plan. The easiest plan is to pass a continuing resolution, kicking the can down the road. But when then-speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did just that earlier this year, the Freedom Caucus, which thrives on chaos, fired him. The big question now is whether the current (and very inexperienced) speaker, Mike Johnson (R-LA), can herd the cats and get something passed by Friday. The Senate is not expected to be a problem and will likely sign onto whatever Johnson can manage, as long as it is within reason.
The White House doesn't really expect him to succeed, but is working on two plans. The first plan is for a shutdown. Team Biden doesn't really want one, but is aware that the Republicans are almost certainly going to get most of the blame if one happens, so it doesn't see it as a disaster. Bill Clinton's comeback after the 1994 rout started when the Republicans shut down the country. In 2018-2019, there was another (35-day) shutdown, and Donald Trump got the blame. So although Biden certainly won't say it out loud, he probably would welcome a situation in which everyone compares him to the alternative rather than to the almighty.
If a shutdown occurs, Biden is going to loudly focus on the negative effects of it, including forcing service members and law enforcement personnel to work without pay. It won't be hard to find affected people who will be happy to explain that their families are in danger of being evicted because no pay means not paying the rent. It will be easy to get the shutdown out of the realm of the abstract and show how it is causing huge problems for actual people. Biden will also talk about how public health is affected if government-run agencies and clinics shut down. There is plenty of material to work with, and the administration is planning to do so if there is a shutdown.
The second plan is what to do if the government does stay open. Biden is going to push hard on getting funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan through the House. Among other things, he is going to keep saying that failing to approve aid for Ukraine is being "soft on Iran" (because Iran is a major supplier of attack drones to Russia). No Republican wants to be accused of being soft on Iran. Biden has made it clear already that a bill that funds Israel but not Ukraine is dead on arrival.
Johnson has a plan, but it is far from certain that he can get it through the House. He wants to kick the can to Jan. 19, 2024, on appropriations for agriculture, energy, water, military construction, and Veterans Affairs. Everything else would be funded through Feb. 2, 2024.
But even if Johnson is able to buy a couple of months' time on some of the funding bills, the actual content of the bills is highly contentious. Freedom Caucus members want to cut some departments by 30%. The Biden 18 will never go along with that. What then? Johnson could work with the Democrats, but they would undoubtedly demand concessions that will make the FC members go apoplectic. But somehow Johnson has to come up with a bill that can pass the House and also pass the Senate. Telling the Senate to suck it up and approve the House bill or face a shutdown is not going to work when Democrats believe a shutdown works for them. It will be interesting to see if Johnson is up to the job.
And we will find out very soon. The House Rules Committee will take up the 32-page bill to fund the government for a couple of months today. One member of the Rules Committee, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), said: "My opposition to the clean CR just announced by the Speaker ... cannot be overstated. Funding Pelosi level spending and policies for 75 days—for future promises." That doesn't sound like an "aye" vote to us, but who knows. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Warren Davidson (R-OH) are also on record against a clean CR, without cuts. Johnson can afford to lose only four votes if all the Democrats vote against him just to show he can't govern.
Fundamentally, the Freedom Caucus' model of governance is hostage-taking. They have fewer than 10% of the votes in one chamber of Congress, no leverage over the other chamber at all, and lack the White House. Their model is to take something the other people value (a functioning government) and hold it hostage until they get what they want. In less polarized times, the speaker would negotiate a deal with the minority leader and pass it with many Democratic votes. But that could be political suicide right now. (V)
When Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) announced his presidential bid back in May, we didn't get what his theory of his candidacy was. We wrote:
It is now official: Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is running for president. We have no idea why. We doubt that he does. Certainly nobody else does. Is the goal to show that Black politicians can be as egotistical and dumb as white politicians? That would be equality of sorts, we guess.
Obviously, we did not think he had any chance of becoming president.
As it turns out, we might have been on to something. In the first five national polls conducted after Scott declared his candidacy, he polled at 2%, 2%, 2%, 2% and 3%, for an average of 2.2%. Meanwhile, in the five most recent national polls, he polled at 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% and 2.3%, for an average of 2.46%. At that rate, he'd become the Republican frontrunner in just 60 years (or so). Recent weeks have also featured an announcement by a pro-Scott PAC that it had canceled all its ad buys, the weird "does he really have a girlfriend?" story, a very mediocre debate performance in Republican candidates' debate #3, and a very high likelihood of not making the stage for Republican candidates' debate #4.
This weekend, the Senator saw the writing on the wall, and so announced that he was suspending his presidential campaign. This came as a surprise to his campaign staff, who had no idea he was so close to pulling the plug (and who now find themselves out of work with no warning). Still, the only question was how long Scott would linger: (1) until officially missing the next debate cut, (2) until the Iowa caucuses, (3) until the South Carolina primary, or (4) until Super Tuesday. In short, the game was going to be up sometime between now and March 6, and Scott chose "now."
In contrast to Mike Pence, Scott had enough money to keep going, so that's probably not what the problem was (unless he decided to conserve funds for his next Senate run or for a gubernatorial run). Our guess is that knowing he was making no headway, his heart just wasn't in it anymore. Who wants to spend the holiday season needlessly traveling around Iowa in the cold and snow, giving speeches to 20 people at a drug store, then sampling the variant of casserole sold at Pop's Diner, then watching a pig castration demonstration?
It's also possible the RNC (or some other entity, like Mitch McConnell) is leaning hard on non-viable non-Trump candidates to get the hell out, so that the non-Trump vote can consolidate around Nikki Haley. Trump is still polling well above 50%, and some Republicans will gravitate to him when their favored option drops out, so he'd need to take a hit of 10-15% for an alternative to become viable. Still, getting the little fish out of the way is a start, and then a conviction or two would go a long way toward taking some of the wind out of his sails and putting it in Haley's.
The field is now down to seven, four of whom probably won't make the next debate stage. So, who's going to be next, Doug, Chris, Vivek or Asa? (Z)
Even though Donald Trump is not of Italian heritage, Benito Mussolini would have been proud of him. Veterans Day was intended to celebrate those men and women who have defended the country in uniform. So, Trump went to some national cemetery to honor the veterans, right? Nah. He made an incendiary speech at a campaign stop in New Hampshire using language to call out his political opponents as subhuman. He said that as president he would root out the "radical left thugs that live like vermin."
He didn't mention Joe Biden by name, but surely he wouldn't bother to give a speech merely to denounce Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Claremont, NH, where he gave the speech, is only 3 miles from the Vermont border, so maybe he thinks Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a radical left thug who lives like vermin? Three years ago, Sanders was criticized for buying a house on a lake in North Hero, VT, for $575,000. Maybe there are silverfish or other vermin in his house?
Trump did mention Biden later in his speech though. He said Biden was trying to roll back Trump's efforts to expand health care for veterans. As usual with Trump, the opposite is true. Biden has increased funding for health care for veterans. The rest of Trump's speech was also full of lies, exaggerations, and half-truths. He covered election fraud and the 2020 election (he won), gas prices, and energy independence.
The former president also pleased the crowd by mocking people he doesn't like. He commented on the stories about Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and said: "I'm not wearing lifts, either, by the way. I don't have six-inch heels." That was a reference to a remark made by Nikki Haley at the last debate saying she wears five-inch heels, which she sees as ammunition. He also made fun of Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH), who does not support him, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Hillary Clinton, and Biden. The crowd lapped it up. Third-graders might be impressed.
It wasn't just his speech. On his boutique social media site, Trump wrote that he would "root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave, than the threat from within. Despite the hatred and anger of the Radical Left Lunatics who want to destroy our Country, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Got it?
Recently, Trump has also started talking about firing civil servants he considers disloyal and using the DoJ to prosecute his political opponents. He also believes in the unitary executive theory, which basically means the president has unlimited power over the entire Executive Branch and can fire anyone in the government just because he doesn't like them. He also believes the president has the authority to order any government official to do anything he wants them to do, laws be damned. Does he really mean it? Keep in mind what Maya Angelou said: "When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time."
Despite all the authoritarian rhetoric, not to mention 91 indictments, Trump keeps getting more popular by the day. What is going on? Is the media failing to inform people about what is going on? Maybe, but there is a bigger problem. Many people want something like a dictator. In a recent PRRI poll, people were asked if they agreed with this statement: "Because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that is what it takes to set things right." Here are the results:
Almost 40% of all Americans want a president who will break the law to get what they want. Among Republicans it is nearly half. Even among Democrats it is nearly 30%. In answer to another question, 33% of Republicans, 22% of independents, and 13% of Democrats are willing to use violence to "save the country." Of course, what these people want the dictator to do is wildly different. What the big problems are varies heavily by party. Democrats alone are worried about guns, climate change, healthcare, democracy, and mental health issues. Republicans alone are worried about what children learn in school, immigration, crime, and human trafficking. The only issue everyone is worried about is the increasing cost of housing and everyday expenses. Other than that, there is no overlap at all on what the dictator should do and which laws he should break to get the job done. Surprisingly, only 49% of Democrats and 32% of Republicans said abortion was a critical issue.
Other surveys have shown similar results. However, it is important to realize the wording of the questions is significant. Asking politely if the president should bend the rules or even break the rules is very different than asking if the leader should ignore the law and do what he thinks is best. The survey also asked which candidates respect the rule of law. For Biden, 51% think he does but for Trump only 35% do. But if you think lack of respect for the rule of law is a feature rather than a bug, that only makes Trump more attractive. (V)
Many people in Silicon Valley are liberal, but there are also some right-wing billionaires. Their numbers aren't huge, but their large donations to candidates' super PACs give them an outsize impact. Some of them supported Donald Trump in the past, but many are deserting him now because he failed to deliver on what they wanted: less government regulation of business.
One of the more outspoken ones is immigrant-hating immigrant Peter Thiel. He gave $1.25 million to Trump's PAC in 2016 and that bought him a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. He also bankrolled Blake Masters' Senate race in 2022 in Arizona and some other Trumpy candidates. Trump called him in April begging for money, but Thiel declined. He said he was probably going to sit out 2024. Part of the problem here is that Thiel is gay and the GOP is taking increasingly hostile stances toward gay people. He and his gay friends don't like that much.
Thiel is not alone. Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy gave $500,000 to Trump and hosted a $100,000-a-head fundraiser at his home. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison gave Trump lots of money and the use of his Southern California mansion for fundraising. Venture capitalist Doug Leone donated $200,000 to Trump. Right-wing venture capitalist David Sacks was also a Trump fan. All of them and others are disappointed with Trump now and have dumped him. Some of them have found shiny new candidates to support, some have not. Ellison is (well, was; see above) supporting Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Leone gave $2 million to Ron DeSantis' super PAC. McNealy gave $6,600 to his one-time Stanford classmate Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) but is otherwise lying low. Sacks started to support DeSantis, but has since soured on him and moved on to Vivek Ramaswamy and Robert Kennedy Jr.
One political adviser to major Silicon Valley donors said: "There's such a massive disconnect right now between caucus-goers and primary voters and the people who write the big super PAC checks. We don't care about [transgender] kids going to bathrooms. We care about dismantling the regulatory state." Were the FTC, the FDA, and other agencies smaller after Trump's term? Nope. The billionaires wasted their money. None of the current Republican presidential candidates talk much about dismantling the regulatory state. This puts many of the big Republican tech donors adrift.
By next summer, when it is clear that the real choice is between Joe Biden and Donald Trump and all fantasies of other candidates are lying in the dust, the tech billionaires will have to choose among Biden, Trump, or keeping their wallets closed. Most of them hate the Democrats, but they mostly like continuity and predictability. Biden offers that. Trump doesn't. It is going to be a tough call for many of them, but they may mostly decide to sit this one out or perhaps focus on financing selected Republican Senate candidates. Even billionaires can't always have what they want. (V)
It must be tough being Donald Trump's lawyer. He sometimes asks his lawyers to try to do things that are explicitly forbidden by law or federal procedure. Sometimes they can talk him out of it, but often not. Friday, it was the latter with Trump's lawyers asking Judge Tanya Chutkan to televise his trial, so he can turn it into a political rally and fundraise off it. His lawyers, John Lauro and Todd Blanche, argued that a secret trial would undermine confidence in the U.S. judicial system.
Actually, the trial will not be secret. It will almost certainly be the biggest news story in the entire world on the first day. Reporters for numerous media outlets will be present and taking notes. There will be detailed stories about the trial everywhere for weeks, just no audio or video recordings.
Chutkan will reject the motion because federal rules prohibit federal trials from being televised. The judge will probably chastise the lawyers for filing a motion that they well know violates federal rules, but they will probably bill Trump for $10,000 for filing, so other than some embarrassment, it was worth it to the lawyers.
Not that Chutkan is going to need any help on this, but just in case, Special Counsel Jack Smith has explicitly asked Chutkan not to televise the trial and has cited the federal rule banning televised trials. He said that in addition to it being forbidden, TV coverage would risk intimidating witnesses and jurors. There is zero chance that Trump will get his way and also zero chance that the appeals court will give him his TV show. He wants to grandstand and it's not going to work. Trump is not used to anyone saying "no" to him. It will take some getting used to. (V)
For a while, we thought Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) was more interested in becoming the first Republican woman to be Speaker of the House and not being Donald Trump's running mate. Now we are less sure. She just filed an ethics complaint about Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over Trump's civil trial, with the New York State Commission of Judicial Conduct. Stefanik has a degree in government from Harvard but is not a lawyer.
In her complaint, Stefanik said that Engoron is not giving Trump a fair trial in part because there are no victims as a result of his allegedly giving banks false information. Not being a lawyer, she apparently does not know that lots of crimes do not have victims. Suppose you run a red light and do not hurt anyone. Can you be fined for that? What about prostitution? If a man and a woman (or some other combination) decide to exchange sex for an agreed upon amount of money, where is the victim? What about someone who uses heroin? Who's the victim? Then there are vagrancy, gambling, trespassing, jaywalking, drinking alcohol in public, and quite a few other crimes with no specific victim.
The letter also goes after Engoron's clerk, who purportedly donated money to Democratic candidates. Since she is not a lawyer, Stefanik is apparently not aware that judges and clerks do not lose their constitutional rights to vote and donate to candidates when they join the judicial system. Stefanik also attacks the gag orders that the judge issued, telling Trump not to threaten the judge, the clerk, members of the court, and potential witnesses.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weismann called Stefanik's letter "irresponsible" and added "She knows better." He also said: "You can say he's missed evidence. But really? A complaint against him for doing his job? Beyond the pale."
This letter is going nowhere. Why did Stefanik write it? The only reason that makes sense to us is that she is interested in the veep slot, especially since she now knows that some of the other potential women have problems. She does have a toddler at home, but maybe she figures she can raise enough money by grifting Trump supporters to hire a babysitter while she is traveling the country campaigning. The only person who might care about her letter is Trump, and why would she have written it unless she wanted to get in his good graces for some reason? We can't think of any alternative other than angling for the #2 slot on the ticket. (V)
Last weekend, a Siena College poll shocked Democrats by announcing that Donald Trump was leading Joe Biden in five of the top six swing states. Then on Tuesday, a second opinion showed up in the form of Democrats doing exceptionally well in elections in multiple states. So it is tied, 1-1. As a tiebreaker, we can go to betting markets. These are different from polling. A pollster basically asks: "Who do you want to win?" A betting market asks: "Who do you think will win?" A person may fervently want X to win but believes that isn't going to happen and Y will actually win. Most people who plan to vote for Jill Stein or Cornel West probably fall into this category. This results in betting markets being fundamentally different from polls. Also, since real money is at stake, people are far less likely to lie in a betting market than to a pollster, just to make a point.
There are several betting markets out there. The Iowa Electronic Markets is something of an academic experiment to collect data more than anything else. PredictIt is run by Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand but with an office in D.C. The FTC is trying to shut it down. A third one is the Irish bookie Paddy Power, which is a commercial gambling company in Dublin that takes bets on sports events, politics, and much more. Its core business is taking bets.
Right now, Paddy Power's odds imply that there is a 40% chance of Donald Trump being elected president, a 35% chance of Joe Biden being elected president, a 12% chance of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) winning, a 7% chance of Nikki Haley getting to sit in the big chair, a 5% chance for Ron DeSantis, and even smaller chances for a few others, down to 0.2% for Jeff Bezos. The results never add to 100% due to the vigorish (the bookie's take).
Still, in the minds of the bettors, Trump is the slight favorite right now. Of course, the odds change all the time as new information comes out and new bets are placed (all with the bettors' real money). (V)
Usually a candidate's strength is measured by whether he or she won or lost and maybe by the margin of victory. But that is not an especially good gauge of how good the candidate was. For example, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) was reelected in 2021, so he is a strong candidate, right? Actually, no. He won 51% to 48% in New Jersey, which has a PVI of D+6, so he greatly underperformed. A generic Democrat would have done better than he did.
So who's actually a good candidate? Split-ticket.org has done some math on this using the concept of "wins above replacement." This compares how well a candidate did compared to the state's PVI and the national political environment for the year of the election. Nathaniel Rakich, at what is left of FiveThirtyEight, used this data to compile a list of the 20 strongest Democratic Senate candidates since 2017. It is somewhat surprising. Many of the strongest candidates lost, but lost by relatively small margins in states where they should by all rights have been decimated. This indicates that the candidates had the right stuff, but the environment was hopeless from the start. Here is the list:
|Wins above replacement
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) leads the list. He outperformed a generic Democrat in West Virginia by almost 31 points in 2018. Especially interesting is #4, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who outperformed a generic Democrat by almost 11 points in 2018 in Montana, a state with a PVI of R+11. If you can outperform a generic Democrat by 11 points in an R+11 state, you are headed for a near tie. Indeed, in 2018, Tester got 50.33% of the vote compared to the combined Republican's 46.78% and the Libertarian's 2.88% for a total of 49.66% against Tester. That's pretty close to a tie. Tester's ability to outperform generic Democrats shows that he is a strong candidate and that people like him personally.
The Republican-controlled Montana state legislature was afraid Tester could pull this off again, so it—naturally—made plans to change the law to make it harder for Tester. The plan was to have a nonpartisan primary, with the top two candidates advancing to the general election. The patently obvious reason for this, since it would only have applied to the 2024 Senate race and no others, was to get the Libertarian Party candidate off the November ballot. They had hoped the Libertarians would vote for the Republican candidate. However, that was a gamble. Libertarians don't like government in general and they certainly don't like this kind of government machinations in particular. They also tend to be pro-choice, on the grounds of "it's none of the government's damn business what you do with your own body."
Ultimately, the legislature backed down on their plan, since there was much blowback, as well as lawsuit threats. However, there is a very real possibility that the whole thing left a bad taste in the mouth of Libertarian Party voters, and that some of them will express that at the ballot box. So, the Montana GOP might bear the costs of their scheming without getting the benefits. (V)
Aided by a newly Republican-dominated state Supreme Court, the North Carolina state legislature passed a new congressional map that will give the Republicans three new seats in the House, maybe even more. Now New York Democrats want to beat the Republicans at their own game. On Wednesday, the New York Court of Appeals will hold a hearing on whether the legislature is allowed to do a midterm redistricting. Democrats have a majority on the Court and the Democratic legislators are hoping for a green light. If they get it, they are going to go to town and draw a map that will flip seats from Long Island to Syracuse. Should this come to pass, they might be able to flip as many as six seats, making up for North Carolina and then some.
Only once in recent history before North Carolina did it has redistricting been done mid-decade. In early 2000, Democrats controlled the Texas state House and Republicans controlled the state Senate. They couldn't agree on a map, so the courts drew one. It had 17 Democratic and 15 Republican districts. After the Republicans captured the state House in Nov. 2000, then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) said: "I want more seats." Texas Republicans obliged him and drew a new map mid-decade. That opened the floodgates. Now North Carolina did it and New York wants to counteract that by doing it as well. Alabama is being forced to do it by the courts and Louisiana and Florida may be forced as well. It is up in the air in Ohio.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that while racial gerrymanders violate the Voting Rights Act, partisan ones are fine and dandy, so the North Carolina and New York ones are unlikely to be ruled unconstitutional. If North Carolina nets the GOP three seats and New York nets the Democrats six seats, and nothing else changes, the Republicans will hold a 218-217 majority in 2025. But if Democrats pick up a second seat in Alabama on account of a racial gerrymander, then the Democrats would have a 218-217 majority. Talk about a game of inches. But a lot depends on how the hearing goes on Wednesday. (V)
The 11 fake Arizona Trump electors in 2020 were extremely brazen about what they did, carefully documenting their crime. They called it "The Signing," the moment when they fraudulently signed the document purporting to be the valid presidential electors. They even broadcast it.
Arizona AG Kris Mayes (D) has a different name for it. She thinks of it as "The Evidence" and is going after them. They are in deep trouble, in no small part because they left behind a huge trail of proof of their illegal activities. For example, they were all over social media bragging about their fraud. With Mayes now actively going after them, they are likely to regret their actions fairly soon.
In Georgia and Michigan, fake electors have already been charged with crimes. So naturally, Mayes is in contact with the prosecuting officials there—Fulton County DA Fani Willis in Georgia and AG Dana Nessel in Michigan. They can probably give her some tips, especially since she is new to the job, taking office only in January 2023. On the other hand, the fake electors in the other states didn't run a major PR campaign publicizing their crime, as the ones in Arizona did, so Mayes may have it much easier collecting evidence. Anthony Kreis, an expert on constitutional law at Georgia State University, said: "There is no difficulty trying to piece together their unlawful, corrupt intent because they publicly documented their stream of consciousness bread trail for prosecutors to follow."
All 11 fake electors took part in multiple failed legal challenges. They asked a judge to invalidate the official results, and when that didn't work, tried to force Mike Pence to throw the election to Donald Trump. Probably the most vocal of the bunch were the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Kelli Ward, and her husband, Michael Ward. They left a trail for Mayes to pick up and run with and she seems to be interested in doing just that. (V)
Announcement season is upon us. Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) has announced that he will not run for reelection. His OH-02 district is R+25. With victory in the general election certain, a messy multiway GOP primary is probable. Wenstrup is deeply conservative and is only 65, so he could probably hang around another 20 years if he wanted to. He didn't give a clear reason why he's had it. He used to be a podiatric surgeon, operating on feet and ankles. He could go back to that or just retire.
Another member throwing in the towel is Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA). His WA-06 district is D+6. That means it will probably stay Democratic, but that is far less certain than Wenstrup's district. Kilmer is only 49 and could probably serve decades more if he wanted to, but he doesn't want to. He is a moderate, pro-business Democrat and can pull in Republican votes, so reelection isn't the problem. He is also on the House Appropriations Committee, so he has a relatively powerful position. Before getting elected to the House, he worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. He can probably go back there or work as a lobbyist and make a lot more than the $174,000 that members of Congress make.
Meanwhile, a fellow who has really had enough is Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY). He held a press conference this weekend, in his hometown of Buffalo, and said: "Congress is not the institution that I went to 19 years ago. It's a very different place today. We're spending more time doing less. And the American people aren't being served." Then he said he's quitting, and he's not even going to wait until the end of his term to do it (though he did not specify exactly when he will stand down). At the moment, his district, NY-26, is D+9, so he is likely to be replaced by a Democrat whenever the special election is held. Exactly what the PVI will be when and if the New York legislature draws new maps (see above), we do not know, but if they have to err on the side of making a district a little dicey, they tend to do that in districts not occupied by a long-serving incumbent. So, NY-26 could end up much closer to EVEN than it is right now.
Moving on, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) made it official that she will not run for reelection to the House because she will run for governor of Virginia. Her VA-07 district runs from Manassas down to the northern Richmond suburbs and from the Potomac River on the east to Skyline Drive on the west. The PVI is D+1, which means Democrats will have to fight hard to hold it. While they are sad to see her leave a swing district open, she could be a strong gubernatorial candidate in 2025. She got beat to the punch by Richmond mayor Levar Stoney (D), who recently announced his run for governor. Spanberger is a 44-year-old white woman. Stoney is a 42-year-old Black man. Virginia had a Black governor 1990-1994, Doug Wilder, but has never had a female governor. It should be a real barnburner. In any event, it's more fallout from the underwhelming lack of muscle shown by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) in last week's elections.
And finally, it's nowhere near official yet, but it is predictable, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about such things openly unless you're 90% of the way there. So, we think it's worth taking note that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave an interview this weekend where he said he really wasn't sure if he was interested in running for reelection. He's clearly still angry about being cashiered, he has little hope of returning to the top of the mountain, and it's not easy to go from being the most important member of Congress to being a backbencher (although he could ask Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, for tips). So, it sure looks like the greener pastures of the private sector are beckoning. McCarthy did not make clear if he was willing to abandon ship mid-term, but if he decides his career in politics is over, we would guess he wouldn't linger on until January of 2025. Should there be a special election and/or an election for an open seat, McCarthy's district (CA-20) is R+16, so it will remain in Republican hands.
You can keep track of retirements using the Congress: retirements link in the menu to the left of the map above. Currently the retirement situation favors the Republicans. Seventeen Democrats and eight Republicans have already said that they are calling it quits next year, creating an open-seat election in Nov. 2024. (Higgins' seat will be filled by a special election in early 2024 so it will have an incumbent next November.) The Republicans are in districts with PVIs from R+10 to R+25. None of these are in much danger, even as open seats. In contrast, ten of the Democratic districts fall in the range R+2 to D+8. Any of these could flip. For the Democrats, having 10 open-seat districts potentially in play while no Republican open-seat districts are in play is not good news. Of course, the Biden 18 are Republicans in districts Joe Biden won, so all of those are in play, along with the Trump 5 districts (where a Democrat represents a district that Trump won).
This situation is somewhat surprising since the Democrats' chances of flipping the House look reasonably good. Normally, it is members of the party that expects to be in the minority who run for the hills. Now we seem to have the reverse. Still, many announcements tend to come after the holidays, so the picture in February could be quite different. (V & Z)
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Nov11 It's Veterans Day
Nov11 Saturday Q&A
Nov10 Manchin Deals (Slight) Blow to Democratic Senate Hopes
Nov10 Stein Is a Presidential Candidate... and a Vegetarian?
Nov10 The Day After: The Third Republican Debate
Nov10 The Fallout Has Begun: Progressive Mayor Jumps Into Virginia Governor's Race
Nov10 I Read the News Today, Oh Boy: Silver Threads Among the Gold
Nov10 This Week in Schadenfreude: Mark Meadows, Straight Talking American Government Official... Or Not
Nov10 This Week in Freudenfreude: Surprise!
Nov09 Takeaways from the Elections
Nov09 Republicans Debate in Florida's Arsht Hall
Nov09 Debates Were Not Always Modeled on Cranky Toddlers in a Nursery School
Nov09 Do Phillips and Tlaib Have Biden in a Pincer Attack?
Nov09 Ivanka Testifies That She Has a Bad Memory
Nov09 Could Trump Have a Secret Plan While Insulting the Judge?
Nov09 Trump Gets (a Smidgen of) Good Legal News for a Change
Nov09 Mike Johnson Could Be the Democrats' Secret Weapon
Nov09 House Is Considering Kicking the Can Down the Road
Nov09 Meta Is Starting to Deal with AI
Nov09 Tester Runs His First Ad
Nov09 Poll: People in China Are Less Hostile to U.S. Than They Were
Nov08 A Disastrous Night for the GOP
Nov08 Time for Another "Debate"
Nov08 The War in Israel, Part X: Genocide in Gaza?, Part I
Nov08 The War in Israel, Part XI: Genocide in Gaza?--Reader Responses, Part I
Nov08 Senate Races Are Getting Down and Dirty
Nov07 Today is Election Day
Nov07 Trump Legal News: Ramble On
Nov07 The Sky Is Usually Falling, Rinse and Repeat
Nov07 Johnson Is Gunning for Entitlements
Nov07 News From the Other Side of the Pond
Nov06 Poll: Trump Would Get over 300 Electoral Votes If Election Were Today
Nov06 Trump Is Planning to Really Lock Them Up
Nov06 Kim Reynolds Is Expected to Endorse DeSantis Today
Nov06 Trump Will Take the Witness Stand Today
Nov06 Appeals Court Rejects Ivanka's Attempt to Delay Testimony
Nov06 Squad Members Will Face Primaries
Nov06 Is the Democratic Party Just a Big Virtual College Campus?
Nov06 Trump Wants a Televised Trial; Jack Smith Does Not
Nov06 Fourth Republican Debate Will Be Dec. 6 in Alabama
Nov06 Lauren Boebert Has a Tough Fight on Her Hands--against a Republican
Nov06 Jury in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case Will Be Anonymous
Nov06 Could Mongolia Teach the U.S. How to Run Elections?
Nov06 Some Bits and Pieces of Site Business
Nov05 Sunday Mailbag
Nov04 Saturday Q&A
Nov03 Trump Legal News: Walking on Thin Ice
Nov03 Mike Johnson: Louder Than Words
Nov03 Senators to Tuberville: Do You Want to Rock?