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Haley Is Starting to Pick Up Scott's Donors

Now that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has finally figured out what every serious political observer knew from day 1 (but was afraid to say out loud), namely that his presidential quest was totally pointless, how go his donors? Basically, there are only three serious candidates for the GOP nomination left: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). The rest are wasting everyone's time. Donors who like Trump wouldn't have signed up to back Scott in the first place. A sort of ranked-choice donation schedule of (1) Scott and (2) Trump makes no sense. Anyone who backed Scott clearly doesn't like Trump, so where do they go now?

There is some evidence that they are staying with candidates from South Carolina and moving on to Haley. She has parlayed her strong debate performances into momentum, including a New Hampshire poll putting her in second place with 18%. Donors, who naturally want to back the winner, are seeing that and she is beginning to vacuum up Scott's orphaned donors.

Eric Levine, a former Scott donor, is co-hosting a New York fundraiser where he expects to net at least $100,000 for Haley. He said: "She has serious momentum and folks genuinely believe she can beat Trump and easily win the general against Biden." The other co-hosts, including Terry Kassel, who heads HR at billionaire Paul Singer's hedge-fund firm, also have ties to Singer. Singer himself hasn't said what he will do, but his associates are clearly vetting Haley for him.

In Iowa, David Oman, a former co-chair of the state Republican Party, has assembled a group of 70 activists and donors who are planning to support Haley now. Chad Walldorf, the co-founder of Sticky Fingers restaurants, is also jumping from Scott to Haley. He says he is impressed with her views on Israel and Ukraine.

Billionaire Citadel CEO Ken Griffin is slightly different. He was a DeSantis supporter who gave him $10 million to run for governor. Now he is saying that he is about to join Team Haley.

The new money allows Haley to run ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, but they actually aren't that important. In those states, retail politicking is what does the job. That said, the news stories of Scott (and DeSantis) donors settling on her give her that enormously important quality: momentum. When there are news stories all over the place about this big donor and that big donor signing up to help Haley, it makes it look like she will be the last person standing among the Trump challengers, and that is worth more in the early states than gold. (V)

Colorado Judge Refuses to Kick Insurrectionist Trump Off the Ballot

Lawsuits for using the 14th Amendment to keep Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot are not doing well. The plaintiffs lost in Minnesota and Michigan last week, and on Friday lost in Colorado as well. Judge Sarah Wallace ruled that Trump did engage in insurrection against the United States but wasn't sure if the Fourteenth Amendment applied to the presidency.

The Fourteenth Amendment does not specifically reference the presidency the way it does the Senate and House. She ruled that in the absence of a clear constitutional mandate to have the section apply to the presidency, it was better to leave it up to voters. It took her 102 pages to say this, though.

Since the people trying to dump Trump are now 0 for 3, it is growing less likely that any of the attempts in other states will win. If Trump is to be beaten, it will likely have to be at the ballot box, not in the courts. (V)

Senators May Soon Change Senate Procedures to Approve Military Promotions

Increasingly, many Republican senators have had it with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) blocking over 400 military promotions. All it takes is for nine of them to join with the 51 Democrats to invoke cloture and pass a change to Senate rules that would allow all military promotions to be passed on a single vote. That would take away the ability of a single senator to force each one to be debated and voted on separately. The senators have told Tuberville that if he doesn't drop his blockage by Christmas, they are going to vote for cloture and the Democrats' resolution to allow all military promotions to be handled in a single batch.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), himself a former Air Force Colonel who served in the Judge Advocate General Corps, is especially annoyed with military promotions being held up. On the floor of the Senate, he told Tuberville: "I promise you this. This will be the last holiday this happens. If it takes me to vote to break loose these folks, I will." Being a former high-ranking officer himself, Graham knows how dispiriting it is for military officers to be denied promotions they have earned because some senator wants to grandstand.

Republican senators Dan Sullivan (AK), Joni Ernst (IA), and Todd Young (IN) are in agreement with Graham and are actively working on recruiting more senators.

John Ullyot, a former National Security Council spokesman during the Trump administration, has told the senators that there is enormous pressure from their constituents to approve military promotions. Holding military officers hostage because one former football coach has a bee in his bonnet is not popular with voters.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has expressed admiration for the work that Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has put into writing and lobbying for the resolution, but said he is going to let Tuberville continue blocking the promotions just a little bit longer.

In short, Tuberville can drag this out a little longer. But if he doesn't give up within the next month, the rules are likely to be changed so that hundreds of promotions can be approved in a single vote of the Senate. (V)

Biden Advisers Don't Think Manchin Will Run for President

Joe Biden's advisers think that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) ultimately will decline to run for president on the No Labels ticket. They base this on his love of publicity and staying in the limelight as long as he can, but in the end coming home and supporting Biden. Manchin also knows that if he ran on the third-party ticket, that would probably help elect Donald Trump. While Manchin gets along with some Republicans, they are typically Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). He doesn't especially get along with and make deals with the Trumpiest Republicans.

Despite Manchin frustrating Biden at times, he has voted for nearly all of Biden's nominations at all levels. He also has a history with Biden. During the Obama administration, then-Vice President Biden was the only top-level official who talked to Manchin. They bonded over their working-class upbringing and their support for unions (in Manchin's case, primarily the coal miners' union). Although Manchin didn't give Biden a heads up about his decision not to run for reelection, Biden didn't expect him to run because he would be running against a popular sitting governor in a hugely pro-Trump state.

Manchin has remained in contact with the No Labels leadership, keeping his options open. One of the issues is that Manchin is concerned the group doesn't have enough resources to run a modern presidential campaign. He doesn't want to run a shoestring campaign whose only function is to defeat Biden.

Another indication that Manchin is not serious about running for president is that he has said he will make a decision after Super Tuesday. By then he would probably know who the Democratic and Republican nominees were. But organizing a presidential campaign starting in March would be extremely late in the cycle. If he were serious, he would want to start months earlier. In fact, by dragging things out, he makes it tough for No Labels to run anyone with any efficacy, since they are going to wait on Manchin, and then, if and when he jumps ship, they'll be left scrambling. Maybe, just maybe, this semi-dalliance is one last gift from Joe M. to Joe B. (V)

Aileen Cannon Is Trying to Delay Mar-a-Lago Trial Until after the Election...

Judge Aileen Cannon has ordered Donald Trump to provide her with a list of classified documents that he wants to bring up at his trial. However, she has refused to set a deadline he must meet. She did say that she would set a deadline in March 2024 since, after all, these things require at least 100 days' careful thought. That deadline could be months later and the trial might not even begin until 2025 or 2026. Needless to say, Trump is in no hurry. And it seems that Cannon isn't either.

Many of the documents are being kept in a special storage room in Miami, but some are so highly classified that Trump's lawyers must specifically request them. In that case, special couriers from the intelligence community hand-deliver them to the lawyers and take them back after the lawyers have read them.

Several former U.S. attorneys have noted that it is now obvious that Cannon is trying her best to delay the trial until after the 2024 election. Brandon Van Grack, who was on Robert Mueller’s team, tweeted that the order is a "clear indication May trial date won't happen." Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance agreed that Cannon is "on track to delay past the election." National security attorney Bradley Moss tweeted: "I have long been opposed to [Special Prosecutor Jack] Smith's team getting the 11th Circuit involved with respect to Cannon's scheduling rulings. I just didn't see it as worthwhile and expected any such step would cause the very delay Smith was trying to avoid anyway. At this point, it might be needed." Former prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said: "Judge Cannon's bias is showing over and over again. Not scheduling a CIPA section 5 hearing, which is routine, is a clear sign she is just as much in the bag for Trump as when she issued her horrendous pretrial rulings (both reversed in scathing language by the conservative 11th Circuit)."

What's with Cannon? Why is she dragging out simple things like setting a deadline for delivering a list of documents to her? She's not saying, but it is important to realize that she was appointed to the federal bench by Trump. She is no doubt aware of the possibility of her being promoted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit if Trump is reelected, and from there potentially to the Supreme Court if a vacancy arises. The worst that could happen to her is that Smith asks the 11th Circuit to remove her from the case and it does. Even if that happens and a vacancy arises on the 11th Circuit, Trump might still elevate her because he thinks she is his kind of gal. For Cannon, there is a lot of upside and no real downside to her being in the tank for Trump. Joe Biden would never promote her, no matter what she does, so it's better to bet on the other horse. (V)

...However, Fani Willis Wants to Start on Aug. 5

In contrast to Aileen Cannon, Fulton County DA Fani Willis is ready and rarin' to go. She has filed a motion asking Judge Scott McAfee to start the Georgia electoral fraud trial on Aug. 5, 2024. She picked that date to avoid being in conflict with the federal case in D.C. scheduled for March 5, 2024, and Cannon's case, nominally scheduled for May.

Of course, Willis doesn't get to set the date; McAfee does. He was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), who is definitely no fan of Donald Trump, to put it mildly. For McAfee, his personal path to a promotion would be for Kemp to approve of his work as a judge and move him up in the Georgia court system. Acting as Trump's personal defense attorney would not be helpful to him at all. Running the trial according to established rules and not treating Trump differently from other defendants would work in his favor.

Another (important) thing in Willis' motion is setting June 21 as the final date for defendants to jump ship and make a plea deal. This gives them plenty of time to flip, although their own lawyers will surely tell them that the early bird gets the worm. Willis certainly wants more defendants to flip for two reasons. First, defendants asking for plea deals will have to provide her with useful information or at least corroborate information she already has. They also have to be available as witnesses if she needs them. Second, prosecuting two or three or four people is a lot easier than prosecuting 15 people. Just getting the bit players out of the way and clearing the field is also valuable to her, even if the information they provide isn't critical and she already has it from another source by now.

Trump will almost certainly strenuously object to the Aug. 5 date. If the trial begins then, he will have to spend the most important part of the general-election campaign sitting in an Atlanta courtroom with his mouth taped shut. That would be incredibly painful for him. Being unable to campaign much (except in the evening and on weekends) would make him furious and could hurt him with some swing voters who might start thinking that they would prefer a president with less baggage. His lawyers could argue that the trial would interfere with his election campaign, but McAfee doesn't have to take that into account. It's entirely his call and from his personal point of view (gaining Kemp's favor by treating Trump like every other defendant), it would make sense to approve Willis' request. (V)

The Maryland Senate Race: a Young Black Woman vs. an Old White Man

Maryland is a very blue state. Joe Biden carried it by 33 points in 2020. Democrats hold both Senate seats, seven of the eight House seats, the governorship and all other statewide offices. They also hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. It is safe to say that whoever wins the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be the next senator from Maryland, no matter who the Republicans nominate.

The Democratic primary is heating up. There are now only two serious Democrats running and a handful of irrelevant also-rans. Most of the Democratic establishment in the state is backing Angela Alsobrooks, chief executive of Prince George's County. She is a young (52) Black woman and also a single mother. She has been endorsed by four senators, six representatives, Gov. Wes Moore (D-MD), and many others.

The other one is David Trone, a 68-year-old white man who represents MD-06 in the House. He is also extremely wealthy (he owns a wine and beer company) and said he is prepared to spend $50 million of his own money on the Senate race. He has emphasized that in his ads, saying that he cannot be bought by anyone or any special interest group because he doesn't need their money. He has been endorsed by over 50 representatives and a handful of other officials.

Both of them are pro-choice, pro gun reform, and the usual stuff, although Trone is a shade more moderate than Alsobrooks.

While Trone will swamp Alsobrook in money, she also has strengths. The Democratic electorate in Maryland is 60% female and 42% Black. This, plus the fact that Trone is already past the normal retirement age, could help her counter the torrent of ads he is running and will continue to run until the end. On the other hand, Trone has a base of white, Asian-American, and Latino voters.

Sparse initial polling has Alsobrooks leading, but whether she can survive the expected onslaught of negative ads remains to be seen. In any event, the seat is completely safe for the Democrats, no matter which one of them wins the primary. (V)

A Michigan Democrat in a Swing District Will Retire in Jan. 2025

Retirement season is definitely upon us. Now Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) has announced that he will not run for reelection. His district, MI-08, is R+1, which guarantees a huge battle next year for the open seat. Here is the district.

Congressional district MI-08

Kildee was first elected in 2012 and was reelected five times since then, despite the district being R+1. He is calling it quits at 65 not so much because getting elected in a swing district is so hard (he's done it six times), but because he was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma. He has been treated successfully for it, but it made him reassess his life. Much of the time when a politician announces a retirement, the reason given sounds iffy. In this case, it is likely true. Kildee's focus has always been his district, not national politics. That's probably why he keeps winning. He has fought for his hometown of Flint and its beleaguered water supply. He has also obtained federal funding for Saginaw, a blighted city with a crime rate higher than Detroit's. He has also been a strong supporter of getting manufacturing done in the U.S., especially Michigan and his district. His uncle, Dale Kildee, held the seat before him.

For the Democrats, it seems obvious that the pitch should be continuing in Kildee's footsteps. Democrats have a deep bench in the district, which will lead to a vigorous primary. Good prospects are Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, former state House minority leader Jim Ananich, and state Sen. Kristen Rivet. Other possibilities are Saginaw County Clerk Vanessa Guerra and Michigan Board of Education President Pamela Pugh.

One Republican candidate who is already in is Saginaw police officer Martin Blank, a former Army surgeon. Other possibilities are state Sen. Timmy Beson, state House Speaker Tom Leonard, and state Rep. Bill Schuette Jr. (son of former state AG Bill Schuette Sr.).

The primary is on Aug. 6, 2024. The Cook Political Report has moved the district from lean Democratic to toss-up.

What with Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) running for Sen. Debbie Stabenow's seat, both MI-07 and MI-08 are open-seat races. Along with the open Senate race and the fact that Michigan is a key swing state, Michigan will be very hotly contested next year. (V)

AZ-08 Open-Seat House Race Has a Strange Mix of Candidates

The open-seat from which Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) is retiring (AZ-08) is going to get a lot of attention next year, even though it is an R+10 district that will be nearly impossible for the Democrats to flip. That is because a lot of outside money will pour into the Republican primary. Arizona has nine House districts, with four big, low-population ones and five in the greater Phoenix area, as shown below. AZ-08 is one of the five.

Arizona House districts

The attention will be due to the candidates. Blake Masters ran for the Senate in 2022 and was beaten rather badly. He clearly concluded that statewide office was not a great place for an undistinguished newbie to start his political career. The House might be more of an entry-level job. Another guy who came to the same conclusion is Abe Hamadeh. He ran for attorney general of Arizona in 2022 and also lost. So he, too, downgraded to running for a House seat. Now the two of them are opposing each other. Neither of them live in AZ-08. Both were endorsed by Donald Trump last time. Now he will have to choose a favorite if he wants to have any influence here. On the other hand, fake elector Anthony Kern is also running. For Trump it is a veritable smorgasbord of choices.

However, there is also a somewhat less-Trumpy candidate running for the Republican nomination, Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma. He has never had Trump's endorsement, but he does have the endorsement of the outgoing representative, Lesko.

Two Democrats have filed, Bernadette Greene Placentia and Gregory Whitten. Placentia used to be a truck driver. Whitten is a bio security expert who has helped the Pentagon standardize health records. Neither one has much of a chance to win the general election.

However, there is one other significant candidate in the race, Jacob Chansley, the QAnon shaman who marched through the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, an activity that got him a 3-year prison sentence. Released after serving less than 2 years, he is running for the Libertarian Party nomination. He might well get it and is probably the only candidate in the race with a national profile. Remember him?

Jacob Chansley

The race will attract a lot of attention due to the cast of players. Also, if either Masters or Hamadeh wins, it will be one more Trumper and the Freedom Caucus will get some fresh blood. Chansley just adds color. (V)

Many Companies Suspend Advertising on X (Twitter)

Shortly after Elon Musk endorsed an antisemitic tweet on Twitter (X), IBM announced it was going to suspend advertising on the site. Then Disney, Lionsgate, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Comcast, Warner Bros. Discovery, Apple and the European Union followed suit. Activists are trying to get other companies to join in the boycott. These decisions will cost Musk millions of dollars. Of course when you are losing billions of dollars monthly by destroying a property you paid $44 billion for, millions don't even register.

Jewish groups have compared the tweet Musk endorsed to "The Great Replacement Theory," which right-wing groups are pushing. It says that Democrats are trying to replace white European-Americans with brown minorities. The White House also chimed in. White House spokesman Andrew Bates said it was "unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust." Various civil rights groups have also condemned Musk.

On the other hand, Ron DeSantis has refused to say anything about the post. He said: "I did not see the comment." A profile in courage this is not.

The company's CEO, Linda Yaccarino, tried to stanch the bleeding by saying: "X is a platform for everyone." Nice try, but don't expect to see Apple back next week. What she needs to do, of course, is take Musk's phone and computer away from him and lock them in a safe somewhere. But that seems unlikely.

And wait, it gets worse. Musk has threatened a "thermonuclear" lawsuit against Media Matters, a progressive research and information center. Winning a defamation lawsuit is tough, as that requires showing the defaming statement is false and whoever said it knew it and didn't care. (V)

Rosalynn Carter Has Passed Away

Rosalynn Carter was more Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton than she was Laura Bush or Melania Trump. She was an active participant in Jimmy Carter's administration, even attending cabinet meetings. She maintained an office in the West Wing of the White House, something no other first lady had done. She had just moved to hospice care at home and died yesterday at 96. The Carters were married 77 years, the longest presidential marriage in history.

The former first lady worked hard on a number of issues, including mental health, elder care, and the Equal Rights Amendment. However, she opposed abortion on religious grounds. She accomplished many things in her career. She was the driving force for making Walter Mondale her husband's running mate in 1976. She helped arrange the Camp David meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat in 1978. She was more political than her husband and encouraged him to put off controversial topics like the Panama Canal until his second term, which never happened, of course. She didn't always get her way with Jimmy, of course, but she was tough enough to have acquired the nickname the "Steel Magnolia." She was more upset when he lost in 1980 than he was.

Rosalynn and Jimmy were married on July 7, 1946. He was 21, she was not quite 19. For the next 7 years, she followed to wherever the Navy sent the young naval officer. Eventually he became a submarine commander, but after his father died, Jimmy resigned from the Navy to go back to Plains, GA, to become a peanut farmer. Rosalynn hated that decision. When a drought hit and their crops failed, they made only $200 their first year back in Plains.

Jimmy later ran for the Georgia state Senate and then was elected governor of Georgia in 1970. Rosalynn played a large role behind the scenes and served on various commissions. When he ran for president in 1976, she campaigned for him for 18 months and in 42 states. Once they were in the White House she greatly expanded the role of the first lady and gained great power. A staffer once told Newsweek: "There are very few people in this administration that I fear. Rosalynn Carter is at the top of the list."

Carter's loss to Ronald Reagan was a bitter pill for Rosalynn to swallow. She said: "I'm bitter enough for the both of us." They went back to their home in Plains. Later they founded the Carter Center, where she continued her focus on mental health. She (co-)wrote five books, most of them about mental health. She also traveled around the world with her husband, promoting human rights and building houses for Habitat for Humanity. In 2018, the couple was asked if they wanted anything. Jimmy said: "I can't think of anything. And you?" She said: "No, I'm happy." Now Jimmy is alone, but probably, at 99, his widowerhood will be short. He wouldn't want to be long without her. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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