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Meadows' Gambit May Backfire

Mark Meadows desperately wants his RICO case to be tried in federal court. Monday, he even testified before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in support of his motion to move the case to federal court. At first glance, taking the stand is risky due to cross examination and doesn't appear to have a lot of benefits, though it does have some neutral aspects. To wit:

It seems that he is taking a huge risk in order to argue that helping Trump win the election was part of his job description—and thus immune from prosecution. However, the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees (except the president, veep, and members of Congress) from engaging in partisan politics on company time, so the chance of his getting the change of court is microscopic.

On the down side, Meadows' plan could backfire for at least five reasons, as follows.

It doesn't look good for Meadows, but only Jones knows how he will rule. If he rules against the motion to move the case, the chance that it works for Donald Trump is close to zero, and exactly zero if Jones gets that case. Trump isn't going to have a better answer to where Article II gives the president any power over state elections. There is no answer. (V)

There Are Three Republican Parties

Neocon and Trump-hater Bill Kristol interviewed Whit Ayres, a long-time Republican pollster, about the state of the Republican primaries. The interview is 53 minutes, but nevertheless worth watching, although Kristol, who is not a good speaker, doesn't let Ayres, who is an excellent speaker, talk enough. Still Ayres makes many good points, summarized as follows.

There are really three Republican Parties at the moment:

Ayres said that each of the not-Trump candidates is appealing primarily to one of the three miniparties above. Vivek Ramaswamy is Trumpier than Trump and appealing only to the Always Trumpers. He also has the problem that his hero is Neville Chamberlain and his answer to the red MAGA hat is a white flag. He is quite happy to give Putin as much of Ukraine as he wants. Ramaswamy has no chance because the Always Trumpers are always Trumpers. The same is true of DeSantis. Trying to out-Trump Trump won't work because Always Trumpers will always prefer the real thing over a fake Trump.

Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) are all aiming at the Maybe Trumpers. In greater or smaller measure, they support most of what Trump wants but say that because they don't have his baggage, they are more electable. Scott and Pence each have a shot at winning Iowa, because it has almost as many evangelicals as it has pigs. If one of the two can consolidate the evangelical vote, which is up for grabs, that person could win and go into New Hampshire with momentum. Burgum is wasting his time, but Haley did very well in the debate. If she comes off as the only adult in the room, maybe she could consolidate the Maybe Trumpers behind her. In any event, that is her assignment.

Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson are going after the Never Trumpers. They are not a large chunk of the party, but in an 8-way split, even 15% is a lot. Also, Christie is from the northeast and is well known there. In addition, there aren't a lot of evangelicals in New Hampshire but there are a lot of ornery people there. He could catch on with the Never Trumpers there. If Christie wins the New Hampshire primary, he could become a real force. Otherwise, he is dead in the water. Hutchinson is dead in the water already. (V)

Giuliani Loses the Lawsuit from Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss

These days Rudy Giuliani is playing some weird game that no one else seems to understand. In 2020, he claimed that Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, both of them Georgia election workers, were stuffing the ballot box. They got death threats and had to hide. Their lives were destroyed. When they finally landed on their feet again in Dec. 2021, they sued Giuliani for defamation. Giuliani didn't provide the documentation U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered him to produce during the discovery process. Instead he conceded that he did say the things they accused him of saying, but asserted that the First Amendment gives him the right to say whatever he wants to.

Yesterday, Howell had enough of his dilly-dallying. She ended the case by noting that as a lawyer and former prosecutor, he knew the law very well and simply refused to comply. Consequently, she ruled for the two plaintiffs. In her 57-page ruling, she wrote: "Giuliani has submitted declarations with concessions turned slippery on scrutiny and excuses designed to shroud the insufficiency of his discovery compliance. The bottom line is that Giuliani has refused to comply with his discovery obligations and thwarted plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Wandrea 'ArShaye' Moss' procedural rights to obtain any meaningful discovery in this case."

Both Freeman and Moss testified before the House January 6 committee. They were very emotional about how Giuliani had ruined their lives. But she who laughs last, laughs best, as they say. Sometime later this year or in early 2024 there will be a second trial whose purpose is to determine the damages Giuliani has to pay the two women. It is almost certain to run into the millions. Giuliani had absolutely no legitimate reason to defame the women, whom he didn't even know. He was simply being malicious. He has already been hit for $90,000 for payment of the Moss and Freeman's lawyers' fees and may get hit with more. He is also going to need at least $500,000 and probably much more for his own lawyers in the Georgia RICO case. Oh, and Dominion Voting Systems, which recently extracted $787 million from Fox News for lying about their company, has an active lawsuit against Giuliani as well, also for lying about it. In addition there is the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, which says Giuliani is not cooperating because "the dog ate my homework."

Donald Trump is holding a fundraiser for America's Former Mayor in September. He might try to structure that by putting that money in a trust or something else that Freeman and Moss couldn't get at, but her lawyers are probably already thinking of the arguments they will use when they sue to get at the money anyway. The lawyers will probably get 30-40% of whatever they can shake loose from Giuliani. That could easily be in the seven figures, so they are highly motivated to go to the mat on this.

Giuliani is reported to be almost broke. He recently put his Manhattan co-op apartment up for sale for $6.5 million at Sotheby's. It is on East 66th St. at Madison Avenue, a top location, but the building is from 1906. Did they have fiber optic Internet then? Presumably not, since Al Gore hadn't been born yet. And besides, like Trump, Giuliani probably doesn't know how to use a computer. Is the building even wired for telephones or electricity? Here is Sotheby's listing if you care to put in a bid. Zillow lists a pending sale of another apartment in the building with 4,000 sq. ft. and an asking price of $8 million. From the floor plan of Giuliani's apartment on the Sotheby's Website, we estimate its size at 3,000 sq. ft. If another apartment in the building is going for $2,000 per square foot then Giuliani's apartment is indeed worth something like $6 million, minus the cost to fumigate it. However, Giuliani may not own the apartment free and clear. He may have one or more mortgages on it. The fact that he is selling his lovely bachelor pad (his third divorce was finalized in 2019) indicates that he is indeed in need of some quick cash. He won't be able to raise it by lawyering (assuming he could find any clients at this point) since he is in the process of being disbarred.

In summary, Giuliani just lost a defamation lawsuit and two others (Dominion and Smartmatic) are in progress. And of course, there are his soon-to-be astronomical legal costs in the RICO case. And heaven help him if Special Counsel Jack Smith indicts him in Washington after Trump's trial is over. He should have stopped when he was ahead after 9/11, continued giving speeches to big companies at $100K a pop, and gone out as a hero. He might well end up dying in prison as a pauper. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. (V)

Letitia James Claims that Trump Inflated His Net Worth by $2.2 Billion

With four criminal indictments against him and a defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll coming up in January, Donald Trump has plenty to think about in his copious free time. Now something else has popped up. New York AG Letitia James has been quietly investigating whether Trump committed fraud when he told banks how much his property was worth and told property tax assessors how little it was worth.

Yesterday, James filed a motion in court asking for a summary judgment in the case she is working on. She claims that the disparity between what Trump's property was worth and what he claimed it was worth was $2.2 billion. In her filing she wrote: "Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the court to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values in the (statements of financial condition) and then used those SFCs repeatedly in business transactions to defraud banks and insurers." Oops.

Just as one example, Trump said he could develop his Mar-a-Lago estate as a bunch of single-family homes and sell them for an aggregate amount in the range $347-730 million. This ignores the inconvenient fact that zoning regulations would never permit this, as it is zoned for a private club and golf course and his battles with the Palm Beach City Council are legendary.

The suit is not only against Trump, but also against his adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric. Barron's not old enough to get in on the grifting... yet. It is a civil suit, so even if the judge finds against Trump, he won't go to prison. But he could be hit with a multimillion-dollar fine. James has been working quietly on the case for years, but it looks like she is getting close to going to trial. Since this is a state case—and not even a criminal one at that—even if Trump is elected president he couldn't make this one go away. He is in for a heap of trouble, with three Black women (James, Fani Willis, and Tanya Chutkan) at the center of it. That's gotta make him extra angry. (V)

Frozen Turtle--Again

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fell and bumped his head earlier this year. Then, a month ago, he froze for 20 seconds while speaking at the podium. Yesterday, it happened again in midsentence while addressing the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He appears to be considerably thinner and frailer than ever before as well. It is now abundantly clear that something is seriously wrong with him. The last time this happened, neurologists who were questioned by reporters thought it could be a TIA (ministroke).

McConnell hasn't said whether he has consulted a neurologist, but it is hard to imagine that he won't do that immediately now. He is up for reelection in 2026. These two frozen-turtle incidents strongly suggest that he won't run in 2026 as he would be 88 at the end of another term. He knows very well how Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is being propped up by her staff and really doesn't want to go out like that.

This is not his first brush with illness. At age 2, he contracted polio but survived it. He said his family almost went broke due to the costs of dealing with his illness. Nevertheless, he opposed the Affordable Care Act, even though he knows full well what an illness can do to a family's finances and plans.

Discussions about his leaving the Senate midterm have been hush-hush up to now. That may change very soon. A bitter and difficult election is coming up and the question is whether McConnell can handle it. He would dearly love to capture the Senate, but if he is in no condition to lead the fight, his sense of party loyalty might cause him to abruptly retire now. His seat won't be in danger if he does, however. Kentucky law states that if there is a Senate vacancy, the party of the departing senator must give the governor—Andy Beshear (D-KY), in this case—a list of three qualified candidates to choose from. Kentucky has five Republican U.S. representatives, multiple statewide Republican officeholders, and 31 Republican state senators. The state party will be able to find three qualified Republicans, although there might be a lot of in-fighting about which ones make the list.

The reactions are pouring in. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted: "Severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation's leaders MUST be addressed." It was accompanied by a video clip of McConnell freezing. She's a real sweetie. It's remarkable that it took her ex-husband 27 years to figure out who she really was and divorce her. In contrast, Joe Biden, gentleman that he is, said that McConnell is a friend from the 20-odd years they were in the Senate together and he called him in the afternoon. Unlike Biden, we were never in the Senate, but we second his wish that McConnell have a speedy recovery. (V)

DeSantis Refuses to Accept $350 Million for Florida

One of the few organizing principles of the modern Republican Party is: "If Democrats want it, it is wrong." It doesn't matter what it is or how much your constituents would benefit from it, it is simply wrong, so the answer is "NO!" If the Democrats were smart, they would propose eliminating income taxes on billionaires and watch the Republicans shoot the idea down, much to the horror of the billionaires. In a different field, this is called child psychology.

Why are we bringing this up now? Because many red states rejected federal money for Medicaid on the grounds that poor people deserve to be sick? Take that, poor people! No, actually, it's something different this time.

The Inflation Reduction Act has many features to fund the transition to sustainable energy. Florida is entitled to $350 million of that money, but Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has rejected it all. In the primaries, this will be a badge of honor: "I rejected federal money on principle." But if DeSantis is the GOP nominee, it will be a millstone around his neck. Why? Because some of the money is in the form of rebates to consumers for buying energy-efficient appliances or retrofitting their homes. This is a freebie for the Democrats. Joe Biden and other Democrats can say: "We passed a law that gives you a big rebate if you buy a new energy-efficient fridge that will save you money on electricity and the Republicans won't let you have it." When a federal program is somewhat abstract, like protecting the spotted owl or reducing water pollution, it is tricky to defend. When it is about tangible benefits that voters could have had if only some Republican weren't blocking it, is a much better campaign issue.

Another talking point for the Democrats is sunshine. Florida is the Sunshine State, after all. It has lots of it (except when it is experiencing a hurricane). Putting up solar panels to reduce (maybe even eliminate) your electricity costs makes lots of sense in Florida, especially when the feds chip in to pay for a chunk of it. But DeSantis turned that down. When people ask Biden what he is doing to help with the cost of living, one of the things he can say is that he signed a bill to help you buy solar panels to reduce your electricity bill—but the Republicans are against it.

Also, with one of the hottest summers on record fresh in everyone's memory, Biden can point out that he signed a bill offering funding to help weatherize your house to protect it from the heat next year, but Republicans oppose this, too.

Things like this have happened before. Medicaid funding was one, but so was the Obama-era plan to fund high-speed rail. Many red states turned it down. If Dwight Eisenhower had proposed the Interstate Highway System in such a way that states could block it in their territory, then I-40, I-70, I-80, and I-90, which link the East to the West, would never have been built.

DeSantis is not the only top Florida Republican, of course. There is also Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who last year voted against a short-term government funding bill that included money to help Florida rebuild from Hurricane Ian. Now Scott is demanding federal disaster aid for Hurricane Idalia. Maybe he'll get it and DeSantis will veto it. Seems that the Republicans have a love-hate relationship with federal money. (V)

The Democrats May Have An(other) Economic Issue that Works

Unemployment is at historic lows, but people who have a job aren't affected by unemployment, so whether it is 3% or 6% doesn't matter much to them. It doesn't hit them in the face every day. In contrast, inflation does, which is why so many people are saying the economy is in bad shape. There isn't much Joe Biden or the Democrats can do about inflation, but they may have found another issue that does resonate with voters: junk fees. Increasingly many companies are attaching little (mandatory) fees to bills without telling the customer in advance. For example, many hotels have a (mandatory) "resort fee" to cover use of the business center, gym, and WiFi, even if the guest doesn't want to use any of them. Or fees to allow people to pick their own seats on a flight. How about service charges when buying tickets for events? Maybe out-of-network ATM fees? Or living-wage fees at restaurants? What about a fee for an airline to charge its passengers for using its seat belt if they don't bring their own? Is that next? There are tons of others. If a hotel wants to have a gym and charge for its use, that's fine, but making the fee mandatory for everyone and keeping that hidden until the bill is presented is extremely deceptive, even if it is mentioned on page 9 of the Terms & Conditions document guests have to agree to when they sign in.

Many people are extremely irritated by these junk fees, especially if they are well hidden until the bill shows up. The Democrats are aware of this irritation and want to cash in on it, for free. They are starting to campaign on the idea that if they get the trifecta in 2025, Congress could pass a law requiring all mandatory fees to be disclosed explicitly in any ads or other communications where the price of the product or service is displayed. That could be coupled with a legal right to pay only the advertised price if no extra services were used. In much of Europe, not only are all fees included in the offered price, but so are all taxes, including VAT (sales tax). What you see is what you get. The only reason that junk fees exist in the U.S. is that some businesses want to deceive customers into believing that the price is lower than it really is and Republicans in Congress are willing to enable this behavior. It is a sensitive issue and could resonate with many voters.

To a limited extent, federal agencies may have the power to require up-front disclosure of all fees, but to really do the job right, Congress has to pass a law making it legal to refuse to pay any fees not disclosed in advance. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA) is on this and working to make it a campaign issue and get other Democrats to join him. Focus group testing has shown that banning hidden fees is a popular issue with many people, so worth pursuing.

There are really two issues at stake here. One is the fees themselves and the other is disclosure. Should a hotel be able to advertise: "Room is $200, resort fee is $25," or should they be forced to simply advertise: "Room is $225"? Some people argue that requiring disclosure is beating around the bush. The advertised price for everything should be the price the customer pays, period.

Banks and credit card companies are notorious for all manner of hidden fees: account balance too low fee, late payment fee, returned check fee, and many more. They are lobbying hard to prevent Congress from taking action, which is why Republicans don't want to do anything, lest the campaign donations cease. Consequently, this is an issue that Democrats could flog hard if they tried. (V)

Republicans Are Working on a New Campaign Finance Loophole

Under current law, the party committees—the NRSC, NRCC, DSCC, and DCCC—aren't allowed to coordinate with candidates. They have to set up separate operations to advertise or to otherwise help specific candidates. The Republicans, especially, don't like this because they tend to get money from big donors and would like to essentially give it to candidates to get the lower advertising rates candidates get. Democrats tend to get money from small donors and much of it goes to candidates directly, so they already get the lower rates.

Effectively, what the Republicans want to do is drop the prohibition on coordination. This would de facto allow big donors to give large sums to individual candidates, so the donors can get the cheaper ad rates. Getting a handful of billionaires to fund campaigns is much easier for them than to convince millions of voters to give $20 or $50 each.

The national committees already have workarounds that allow some forms of coordination. What they do is fairly subtle. The candidate sets up a website that doesn't sound very political or even interesting, say,, or The top page discusses the subject of the URL, but 6 deep in a convoluted path is a special page that outlines things the candidate would like to publicize. Some committee member checks this daily and then makes suggestions to the group producing ads about what to focus on. See, no public lunches and no coordination. Easy. However, this does not solve the problem of funneling money over there to get the cheaper ad rate.

A case on this issue is now with U.S. District Judge Douglas Cole, a Donald Trump appointee, who is setting up the case on a glide path to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit is a conservative court with a supermajority of Republican appointees on it. From there it is certain to make it to the Supreme Court, which has shown time and time again that it has no interest at all in limiting money in politics. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in a similar case that the national committees could be prohibited from coordinating with candidates. The case was decided 5-4, with Justice David Souter writing the opinion on behalf of himself, Sandra Day O'Connor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. In case you don't remember those names, it's probably because none of them are currently on the Court, and the last two aren't even alive. The current Court has shown little hesitation to toss previous opinions into the paper shredder when it wants to, and this looks like a golden opportunity to help the Republican Party going forward. (V)

Republicans Have a Senate Candidate in Michigan

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is retiring and the DSCC has its candidate to replace her: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). Slotkin has to first get through a primary with actor Hill Harper, but that is expected to be easy with the entire party behind Slotkin. The Republicans have been hunting around for a candidate without much success until now. They have talked former representative Mike Rogers into running, and he is expected to announce a run shortly. He represented MI-08 from Jan. 2001 until Jan. 2015.

Rogers was born in Michigan, grew up there, graduated from Adrian College in Adrian, MI, and then served in the Army for 4 years. He later worked for the FBI and was elected to the state Senate in 1994 and served for 6 years, ending as majority leader. In the U.S. House, he sponsored a bill forbidding anti-war protests on federal land near funerals of soldiers killed in action. He also sponsored a bill to allow the government to share its cyberintelligence with private companies and another to ban Internet gambling. He was also chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for several years. After retiring from the House, he became a radio personality. He is also the chairman of the board at the MITRE Corporation, a nonprofit that manages six federally funded R&D labs with an aggregate annual budget of nearly $2 billion.

The race will be critical. Michigan is a swing state and in a closely divided Senate, every seat counts. As a veteran with a law enforcement background and 8 years in Congress, Rogers is a strong competitor. The race could be close. (V)

Masters Will Try Again

The above item about Michigan is bad news for the Democrats. The Republicans found a strong candidate. But there is also good news for the Democrats. Blake Masters is going to try again to win a Senate race in Arizona. In 2022, he was trounced by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ). This time, if he gets the nomination, he will face Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and probably Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), although she hasn't announced yet.

The news will get even better for the Democrats if pretend governor Kari Lake also jumps in. A battle between two extremely far-right election-denying loonies would be quite a sight. Lake hasn't made her plans known yet. She basically moved to Mar-a-Lago for a few weeks in order to get Donald Trump's attention. She clearly would love to run for vice president on a Trump ticket. If she thinks she has a good shot at that, she might decide not to run for the Senate. But if he seemed uninterested, then she might go for the Senate. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R) is already in, but he would be crushed by either Masters or Lake.

A bitter Republican primary with two well-known and well-funded candidates trying to out-Trump one another, followed by a strange three-way general election in a swing state, would be ... interesting, to say the least. If Masters announces in a few weeks, as expected, that puts pressure on Lake to fish or cut bait. If he is in, she isn't going to want to give him a big head start, especially if his employer, right-wing billionaire and anti-immigrant immigrant Peter Thiel, ponies up to fund Masters, like last time. (V)

Big Republican Donor Joins the No Labels Team

Just in case you had some idea that the No Labels group was a bunch of Goody Two-Shoes who simply support honest government, try again. Major Republican donor Allan Keen, a Florida-based real estate developer and Trump supporter, has signed up to be an adviser to No Labels, even though his label is as big as a 10-foot-high neon sign.

No Labels says it does not want to play the role of spoiler, but it has directly solicited help from Republican fundraisers, like Keen. Former Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said: "A third party will likely benefit Trump, whether it's No Labels or Green Party candidate Cornel West." He compared such efforts to Jill Stein's Green Party campaign in 2016. West only needs 30,000 votes to tip Wisconsin to Republicans.

Keen's joining No Labels isn't his only foray into "centrist politics." He also has donated to the campaign of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ).

Keen said he doesn't have an opinion on who No Labels should run for president and vice president. He said he will watch the process play out. However, No Labels is already on the 2024 ballot in Arizona, Florida, and eight other states and is trying to get on the ballot in all of them.

The fundamental problem the Democrats have is that the party is more divided than the Republicans. There is a strong progressive wing that might support Cornel West. Young Black men might support Kanye West (Ye) if he runs. Moderates might follow the siren song of No Labels. If each one takes, say, 1-2% of the vote in the swing states, that could hand the election to Donald Trump. Republicans just fall in line and vote for the guy with the (R) after his name, probably even if he is a convicted felon. No Labels is a bigger threat than any of the Wests because it has big Republican money behind it.

In theory, Democrats could play this game too by creating a group that would appeal to George Bush/Ronald Reagan Republicans, give it a nice name, like "Americans for America," and try to get Democratic millionaires to fund it. Then they would have to find some moderate former Republican officeholder who would like another 15 minutes of fame to be the candidate. But we don't see any such group forming and it takes time and a lot of money to get on the ballot in many states.

Of course Democrats, who tend to be worrywarts, could be wrong. The No Labels group could also get a fair number of votes from Republicans who don't want to vote for a convicted felon but have a huge aversion to voting for any Democrat and would never do that no matter what. Those would be votes that would come out of Trump's hide. (V)

The House Toss-Up Races Look Good for the Democrats

Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections is rating 66 House races as competitive, but only 12 as true toss-ups. The other 54 lean one way or the other, but in a wave could flip. Gonzales has a different way of rating House districts than Charlie Cook. He uses all the results in federal and statewide elections during the past four cycles in each district as his data set. Then he applies a trimmed mean to them, eliminating the data points with the highest and lowest differences between the parties (which could be due to a fluke of some kind) and averages the rest. For the 12 toss-up districts, here are his results, sorted on how Democratic the district is (column 6). Cook's PVI is also given (column 7):

District Incumbent Party Dem Pct. GOP Pct Dem - GOP Pct. PVI
NY-04 Anthony D'Esposito Republican 55.4% 43.7% 11.7% D+5
NY-17 Mike Lawler Republican 54.3% 44.0% 10.3% D+3
NM-02 Gabe Vasquez Democratic 52.1% 46.2% 5.9% D+1
NY-03 "George Santos" Republican 52.2% 46.8% 5.5% D+2
NY-22 Brandon Williams Republican 51.7% 46.4% 5.3% D+1
MI-07 Open (was Elissa Slotkin) Democratic 51.3% 46.3% 5.0% R+2
CA-27 Mike Garcia Republican 51.6% 48.0% 3.7% D+4
OR-05 Lori Chavez-DeRemer Republican 48.2% 45.8% 2.3% D+2
CO-08 Yadira Caraveo Democratic 49.6% 47.4% 2.2% EVEN
CA-13 John Duarte Republican 50.4% 49.2% 1.2% D+4
NJ-07 Thomas Kean Jr. Republican 46.7% 51.0% -4.3% R+2
WA-03 Marie Perez Democratic 45.6% 53.7% -8.1% R+5

As you can see, Republicans are defending eight of the 12 toss-ups and seven lean Democratic according to the GVI (Gonzales Voting Index?). These are surely going to be top targets. The New Mexico and Michigan districts also lean Democratic, although Cook has Elissa Slotkin's district as R+2. The only Democrat in a very unfavorable district is Marie Perez in WA-03 in SW Washington, just north of the Columbia River, but she did win in 2022. She is the bluest of blue dogs, but in her district, that is the only way for a Democrat to win. She also owned a car repair shop before being elected to Congress, which gets her some street cred with blue-collar workers.

Democrats need to pick up five seats to capture the House. If they win the first 10 in the list and lose the next two, they will flip seven Republican seats and lose Perez' seat, for a net gain of six seats. That will do the job, but not leave a lot of margin for error. Of course, some of the seats that lean one way or the other could also flip, especially in a wave election. (V)

The Democratic Party Is at War with ... the Democratic Party

The Republicans aren't the only party that is badly split (see above). So are the Democrats. At least in Rhode Island. David Cicilline resigned from the House on June 1 to lead the Rhode Island Foundation. The special election to fill his seat has gotten very messy, full of identity politics at its worst. Executive summary: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are at each other's throats.

The primary is on Sept. 5 and the district, RI-01, is D+12, so some Democrat will win, but which one? One of Cicilline's political strategists said: "Rhode Island politics is a lot like a crowded mall parking lot where a space just opened up and there's a dozen cars circling for it." The big crowd is there because you need only 500 signatures to make the primary ballot. The leading candidates are Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (Latina), Gabe Amo (Black), and former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg (progressive).

The Hispanic Caucus has already spent $400,000 to support Matos, the only statewide official who filed. She has been dogged by a scandal about how she got on the ballot. She turned in 1,285 signatures, but half were deemed invalid. Some of the signatories were dead and others appeared to be forged. An investigation is ongoing. Not a great look for a statewide official to be barely able to get 500 legitimate signatures.

Polling puts Regunberg, who has the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in the lead. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 and barely lost the primary. But his campaign has also faced controversy. He has complained loudly about the role of money in politics and the rich donors who supply it. However, his father-in-law, a wealthy executive at an investment firm, started a super PAC for him and dropped $125,000 into it. That makes him look a tad hypocritical. Matos filed a complaint alleging illegal coordination between Regunberg and the super PAC. If he discussed his campaign with his wife, it is just possible that she mentioned it to her rich father.

Amo has raised $463,000 and has former White House chief of Staff Ron Klain on his side. But Klain is not nearly as well known as Sanders. On the other hand, there are no scandals associated with Amo. In the end, it will come down to the ground war—getting your supporters to the polls. (V)

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