House GOP aide targeted in latest subpoenas from Jan. 6 select committee

House investigators probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol took a rare and little-noticed step on Wednesday, subpoenaing a current House staffer working in the office of Rep. Carol Miller, a West Virginia Republican.

Amid a round of 11 subpoenas targeting the organizers of a rally that preceded the violent attack on the Capitol, the Jan. 6 select committee demanded documents and testimony from Maggie Mulvaney, a former Trump campaign aide who was listed on permitting paperwork as “VIP Lead” for the event.

But just three days before the assault on the Capitol, Mulvaney — the niece of former congressman and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — began working as a senior adviser to Miller. House records show her employment began at the start of the new Congress even as she completed her commitment to help organize the rally.

Tatum Wallace, Miller’s communications director, said their office is “awaiting guidance from House Counsel,” after which they will provide an update.

Aides to the Jan. 6 committee declined to comment on the decision. Mulvaney did not respond to a request for comment.

Legal experts, including former attorneys for the House, say the step by the Jan. 6 committee may set a new precedent. The House has rarely turned its subpoena power on its own, and when it has, it’s been in the context of investigations by the Ethics Committee, a bipartisan panel explicitly charged with internal disciplinary matters.

While there’s little doubt the House has the legal authority to subpoena its own employees in matters of national significance, doing so may be a new frontier for an institution already mired in distrust and discord.

“In the Jack Abramoff scandal at one point the FBI surreptitiously ‘wired’ a staff member to gather incriminating evidence as the Member for whom he worked and that sent shock waves through the Capitol,” said former House counsel Stan Brand in an email. “This could have a similar impact.”

“While not necessarily a legal rubicon, I believe it does have the potential to impact the Member/staff relationship which is built on loyalty and trust,” Brand continued, adding that “exposing staff to subpoenas could affect how members regard their staff (as potential witnesses against them).”

Jan. 6 investigators have already flirted with taking unprecedented steps, like subpoenaing the phone records of members of Congress believed to have been in contact with Donald Trump and the White House ahead of the Jan. 6 attack. Those steps could become necessary, they emphasized, in part because of the unprecedented nature of the assault itself — an attack on a pillar of American democracy that threatened the peaceful transfer of power.

The committee has also taken the rare step of issuing immediate subpoenas without offering witnesses a chance to comply voluntarily first. That decision, the panel’s chair Bennie Thompson and other members have said, is to prevent Trump allies from protracted stonewalling that could permanently derail the probe. Trump himself stymied multiple congressional inquiries during his presidency by miring the House in lengthy court battles, and the Jan. 6 committee is eager to avoid a repeat.

“The concerns about setting precedents must take a backseat to the 1/6 committee getting the truth and if that means subpoenaing congressional staff, members of Congress, congressional phone records, or anything else, those concerns must predominate,” said Norm Eisen, counsel to the Judiciary Committee during the 2019 Trump impeachment. “The concern with truth must predominate.”

Typically, members of Congress and their staffs are protected from legal processes by the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution. Courts have generally taken a broad view of conduct that can be viewed as official business by lawmakers — and the Supreme Court has ruled that staff members generally enjoy the same protections because they are extensions of their bosses.

But Eisen, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, emphasized that these protections apply only when there are encroachments by other branches of government — and that in any case, the conduct in question here likely can’t be portrayed as part of Mulvaney’s official business.

“In my view, they’re striking the right balance because of the central importance of their inquiry to our nation’s future,” Eisen said.

Maggie Mulvaney isn’t the only Hill staffer of interest to the Jan. 6 committee. The panel has asked the National Archives to produce communications from the Trump White House related to Thomas Van Flein, the chief of staff to Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Judd Deere, a former White House aide who now works for Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).

But the committee has not specifically targeted those aides, and the decision to subpoena a sitting staffer raises new and potentially uncomfortable questions about how the House may wield its subpoena power in the future.

“This is, of course, a much more politically charged issue and will raise the issue of retaliation the next time Republicans are in power,” said a former House official who has been involved in similar investigations. “But that is where both the House and Senate are headed, or already there.”

One lingering question: What does Mulvaney know? Her role in the rally is murky.

Mulvaney notified her office that she would be taking two days off to help with the event, where her job was to escort VIPs who arrived at the White House to their seats, according to a House source familiar with the situation. But there are still questions about the nature of conversations she had with top White House officials about the event as well, which the committee is looking to explore.

“According to press reports, those working with you and [Women for America First] to organize the January 6th rally collectively communicated with President Trump, White House officials including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and others about the rally and other events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results,” Thompson wrote in his letter accompanying the subpoena to Mulvaney.

Mulvaney is being asked to turn over documents by Oct. 13 and testify by Oct. 21, making her an early witness that can help the committee piece together conversations held by key players.

The Justice Department and courts have similarly regarded the Jan. 6 attack as a unique moment in American history that warrants unprecedented steps to confront.

Federal authorities have arrested more than 600 people for participating in the Capitol breach, which left more than 130 police officers injured and multiple rioters dead. Several D.C. and Capitol police officers who responded to the attack later died or took their own lives.

Posted in Uncategorized

Jan. 6 committee prepares legal arsenal for likely subpoena fights

The House committee investigating Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol is quietly devising plans to pressure hostile witnesses to spill their secrets.

The select panel’s leaders are preparing a narrow set of legal and tactical options as they brace for Trump allies to invoke a wide range of constitutional protections to avoid testifying — from claiming executive privilege to invoking their constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination.

Whether it’s coaxing reluctant witnesses with offers of immunity or bludgeoning them with criminal contempt of Congress, lawmakers say they’ll be ready for whatever obstacles witnesses throw their way. The goal: prevent lengthy court battles that could derail the Jan. 6 investigation the way Trump stymied House and Senate investigators for his entire term.

“We have the full panoply of sanctions available for people who refuse to comply with a congressional subpoena,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), one of the Jan. 6 Committee’s nine members. “We want the truth to come out, not just about the foot soldiers but about the generals too.”

“We’re very aware that time is of the essence,” added Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the panel and a veteran of three presidential impeachments.

The Jan. 6 panel signaled its impatience last week when it skipped the usual haggling over voluntary invitations to testify, instead slapping former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, longtime Trump aide Dan Scavino, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and national security aide Kash Patel with subpoenas. Only one of the witnesses would comment in public — Patel, who complained about the process.

Based on interviews with seven lawmakers on the Jan. 6 Committee, here are the options the committee is poised to pursue, should these witnesses and others decide to fight back:

1) Civil and Criminal Contempt

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) previewed the possibility of holding resistant witnesses in contempt last week, emphasizing that while Congress’ citations often went ignored during the Trump presidency, the Biden Justice Department is less likely to stand in the way. It seems to be the first step the Jan. 6 committee will take if any Trump allies defy subpoenas.

Asked about the possibility of contempt proceedings, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) told reporters the committee had “discussed all the actions, and we will wait to see how people respond and then decide what the appropriate action is after that.”

2) “Use” Immunity

Congress has been reluctant to offer immunity to witnesses in politically sensitive investigations, fearing that extending even limited protection to potential wrongdoers could derail potential prosecutions. But the Jan. 6 investigation could be an exception.

Multiple members of the panel said that, if necessary to cajole testimony from a reluctant witness, immunity offers were in their arsenal. And they emphasized that their decisions are carefully coordinated with the Justice Department to ensure they don’t disrupt the DOJ’s parallel Jan. 6 investigation.

“There has been ongoing conversation with the Department of Justice as we move forward,” Thompson said.

Congressional investigators could drill down even further on this tactic and offer a specific immunity known as “use” immunity, according to Lofgren. Use immunity permits witnesses to testify about their conduct without risking prosecution for anything they say in the deposition.

Though prosecutors could theoretically still bring charges based on evidence collected separately, the Justice Department has encountered major problems in the past in prosecuting witnesses who testified under such immunity. As such, “use immunity” provides significant protection for witnesses to discuss potentially criminal actions that they or their associates might have committed.

One odd wrinkle could aid the committee’s information gathering. Lofgren noted that anyone pardoned by Trump for conduct connected to the committee’s investigation would be unable to invoke a Fifth Amendment right to decline testimony. It’s unclear which witnesses might fit this description, but Trump issued post-election pardons to a handful of witnesses the Jan. 6 committee has expressed interest in obtaining information about: Bannon, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Bernard Kerik and George Papadopoulos.

3) Outside pressure

Members of the Jan. 6 committee say they have one cudgel that wouldn’t require them to go to court at all: fear of the unknown. An untold number of witnesses have come forward to provide voluntary testimony — and their cooperation could spook some ex-Trump hands to work with investigators, rather than let others speak for them.

“At a certain point, these people might begin to wonder what kind of information we already have,” Raskin said. “Nobody should be telling himself that they’re going to sweep the facts under the rug.”

“We have a number of individuals who have reached out to us who are coming in without subpoenas coming in to talk to us,” said Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). She added that the committee had already met with some witnesses “in some cases.”

The committee has even gleaned useful information from a public tip line, including “valuable leads and additional people,” Luria said.

4) Joe Biden

Perhaps the most important weapon in the Jan. 6 Committee’s arsenal is the current president. Only Biden — the chief executive — can invoke executive privilege to prevent the disclosure of a predecessor’s secrets. And the White House has signaled that Biden is strongly considering waiving the privilege when it comes to material sought by the Jan. 6 panel.

That might also apply to the testimony of former White House aides, some of whom would conceivably have been considered part of Trump’s inner circle.

5) Inherent Contempt

Perhaps the least likely option in the committee’s toolbox is inherent contempt: Congress’ unilateral authority to fine or even jail recalcitrant witnesses.

Though there’s little dispute Congress has this authority, it has languished in disuse for a century. And in recent congressional probes — despite howls from some Democratic factions to dust it off — House Counsel Doug Letter has made clear this option simply would not be feasible, both practically and politically.

Schiff has noted that attempting to wield inherent contempt might still wind up before federal courts, bogging down the process for months and undermining the decision to deploy it in the first place.

But that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from musing about the possibility. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, asked Tuesday about the prospect of inherent contempt, said the process “is on the table and will remain on the table.”

Raskin confirmed the committee hasn’t ruled it out.

“There is a growing appetite for using Congress’ own contempt powers,” he said.

Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.

Posted in Uncategorized

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem responds to report on abuse of power by playing the victim

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem knows that to gain national prominence and have a shot at the presidential or vice presidential nomination, a Republican governor has to be particularly terrible, not just on policy but as a human being. She’s giving it her best shot. Bolstering her credentials this week is the Associated Press report that Noem leaned on state officials to certify her daughter as a real estate appraiser.

Noem’s 26-year-old daughter, Kassidy Peters, was initially denied the certification, according to a letter from her supervisor—though no official record of a denial exists. Days later, Noem summoned Sherry Bren, the head of the licensing agency, to a meeting along with the state labor secretary and a host of lawyers. As if that doesn’t look suspicious enough, Peters herself was at the meeting.

Peters got the certification months later, and days after that, state Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman demanded Bren’s retirement. Bren filed an age discrimination complaint and got a $200,000 settlement. The settlement, though, bars her from disparaging state officials, and she limited the details in her account of the meeting to the AP. But she did say that the letter from Peters’ supervisor complaining that Peters had been denied her appraiser’s license was brought out at the meeting. Which, again, Peters, the governor’s daughter and would-be certified appraiser attended.

So: Peters was either denied certification in a way that there’s no record of, or her supervisor thought she had been or would be rejected. The supervisor wrote a letter complaining. The governor, Peters’ mother, summoned the responsible official and her bosses and top lawyers in the governor’s office for a meeting that included Peters and at which the letter complaining about her rejection was discussed. Peters got her license. The head of the agency responsible for the licensing was forced into retirement by someone at that original meeting, at the cost to South Dakotans of a $200,000 age discrimination settlement.

And … Noem is playing victim.

Listen I get it. I signed up for this job. But now the media is trying to destroy my children. This story is just another example of the double standard that exists with the media... going after conservatives and their kids while ignoring Liberals #AskTheBigGuy

— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) September 27, 2021

No, Noem. When you abuse your power to get your kids—in this case your grown-ass 26-year-old adult offspring—things they didn’t earn, it’s news. Because when you, the governor and aspiring Republican primary candidate, abuse power, it is news. 

And about that double standard Noem claims exists.

Here we’ve got Noem trying to make a story about a politician’s child into a story about that politician even though as far as we know, President Joe Biden never convened a major government meeting with multiple top officials because he was upset about someone not giving Hunter a job. Yet even without the president having done anything wrong on that front, his son’s career and struggles with addiction have been thoroughly aired in the media, in a presidential debate, in an impeachment.

There should be one standard. And it should apply not just to Hunter Biden and Kassidy Peters but to Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. and Eric, too. But the real story is Kristi Noem, governor and wannabe nominee. If she was trying to show that she can be as self-serving and nepotistic as Donald Trump … it’s a start, anyway.

Closer analysis suggests Giuliani-Powell press conference was start of Trump insurrection

Until this week, the most outrageous thing I’ve seen in my 29 years as a political junkie was the religious right’s four-year campaign to bully the American people into bowing down to Donald Trump. In hindsight, I got a foreshadowing of this when I spent the first six months of my freshman year at the University of North Carolina in the belly of the religious right beast. The mentality that made people willing to do the bidding of a pastor who hid his past in a notorious campus cult was the same mentality that drove the religious right effort to make us bow and pray to the orange god it helped make. 

But that looks minor league compared to the spectacle of a president spreading pernicious lies and conspiracy theories claiming that he had been cheated out of victory when he knew full well that he had lost. We now know this not just beyond reasonable doubt, but all doubt thanks to an internal Trump campaign memo obtained by former Dominion executive Eric Coomer for his lawsuit against the Trump campaign and many of Trump’s acolytes. It shows that even as Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis held a press conference airing outlandish claims of a far-reaching plot to “steal” the presidency for Joe Biden, senior Trump campaign officials knew those claims were complete, unadulterated bullshit.

As damning as that memo is by itself, it’s even worse when put in the context of what has already been publicly reported about what Trump likely knew and when he knew it. It was already clear that the insurrection was underway long before the Trumpkin hordes raided the Capitol on Jan. 6. But the more I look at this, the clearer it becomes that we can now put a definitive date on when the insurrection began: Nov. 19, the day of that now-infamous press conference.

Consider the evidence from the published record that already indicated Trump knew he’d lost at some point in November. In February, The New York Times reported that Trump knew as early as Nov. 12 that there was no hope of winning enough legal challenges to overturn Biden’s lead. Back in February, William Saletan of Slate compiled a tranche of articles that moved that date back even further. Specifically, Trump likely knew as early as the weekend of Nov. 7 that his presidency was on life support.

We can now assemble a timeline of events leading up to Giuliani and Powell’s press conference that puts that damning internal memo in context, and shows that the press conference was the first overt act in an insurrection.

  • Nov. 7: According to Axios, within hours of Biden being declared president-elect, Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien and Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark told Trump that he needed the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass to win a second term. Specifically, he needed to win outstanding ballots in Arizona and Georgia by a landslide, while also winning a court challenge to election practices in Wisconsin. Even then, Clark said, their chances of pulling this off were, at best, 5% to 10%. According to The Washington Post, Trump “signaled that he understood” how long his odds were.
  • Nov. 12: According to Axios, Trump’s already long odds of getting to 270 shrank to near-impossible. That night, all remaining news outlets called Arizona for Biden. According to the Times, Trump’s legal team had filed objections to 191 ballots—not even a fraction of Biden’s 10,000-vote lead. The Grey Lady also reported that earlier in the day, Trump’s campaign lawyers concluded that they stood no chance of winning enough legal challenges to overturn Biden’s lead. And yet, despite all of this, Trump was receptive to Giuliani’s claims that Dominion machines were switching votes. As the Grey Lady put it, this was the start of an “extralegal campaign” to overturn Biden’s lead—a term that, in light of what we now know, reads “insurrection” or “attempted self-coup.”
  • Nov. 13: Trump names Giuliani and Powell to lead his legal efforts to challenge the election results. On the same day, the Times reported Monday, Deputy Campaign Communications Chief Zach Parkinson asked his team to “substantiate or debunk” the claims about Dominion.
  • Nov. 14: Parkinson’s team compiles a memo that thoroughly debunks the most outlandish claims about election fraud. Not only did Dominion have no present relationship with Smartmatic, but it had no ties with Venezuela, George Soros, or antifa.
  • Nov. 19: Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis hold a press conference in which they repeat some of the very claims that were thoroughly (if privately) debunked five days earlier.

Let’s review: The Trump campaign knew on Nov. 7 that it was about to shoot its last legal bolt. It knew on Nov. 12 that said bolt had missed. On Nov. 14—within 48 hours of finding out that the campaign’s last legal options had run out—Trump’s campaign team was told in no uncertain terms that the Big Lie was, well, a lie.

So when Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis stepped in front of the cameras on Nov. 19, they knew or reasonably should have known that they were blowing crystal meth smoke. Which means Trump almost certainly knew as well. Even though he reportedly pushed Powell aside soon afterward, the lies continued to percolate. The Trump campaign kept churning out hair-on-fire fundraising emails about fraud, and the deplorable ecosystem kept spreading lies about the election being stolen.

It is now clear that the snowball that ultimately crashed into the Capitol on Jan. 6 started rolling down the hill on Nov. 19. And it is equally clear that Trump’s minions started this attack on democracy while knowing that there was no evidence of fraud.

To my mind, after Nov. 19, we were no longer talking about the fine line between protected speech and unprotected speech. We’re talking about action. We’re talking about sedition and potential wire fraud.

Matt Gaetz boosts neo-Nazi ‘Great Replacement Theory’ as Republicans turn full fascist

In the wake of sex trafficking allegations that would have forced his resignation in any prior version of the Republican Party before it turned into a bucket of bubbling fascism, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz has been doing his level best to be a deplorable sleazebag in all—and we do mean all—circumstances. He has gone out of his way to broadcast his devotion to the Mar-a-Lago ruler of golf courses and buffets; he has gone on an ersatz promotional tour with top sedition backer Marjorie Taylor Greene, and on and on.

But this is Trump-era Republicanism we're talking about, so Gaetz was all but certain to cap things off by going full white nationalist. Fox News' own white nationalist host gave him the opportunity, and Gaetz took it.

.@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America. The ADL is a racist organization. https://t.co/32Vu60HrJK

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) September 25, 2021

What the accused cocaine-party-having sex-trafficking Gaetz is referring to is a neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that Tucker and other white nationalists have been injecting into "mainstream" conservatism with increasing insistence after Trump's loss and the subsequent fascist attempt at insurrection. "Replacement Theory," otherwise known as The Great Replacement, is a conspiracy theory claiming that powerful figures (globalists, socialists, Democrats, or the usual "secret worldwide cabal" of "wealthy Jews") are attempting to bring massive numbers of nonwhite immigrants into the United States in order to dilute the white "essence" of the nation and reduce slab-haired white child rapists and their supporters to minority status.

It's very literally a conspiracy theory torn from the neo-Nazi corners of the internet. It's completely batshit, it's very often paired with conspiracy claims against liberal American billionaire George Soros, and up until Rupert Murdoch and his kin decided to go full fascist, you would never hear such a thing claimed on television because television shows in general tried to avoid giving airtime to obviously unhinged white supremacist groups. It's the sort of delusional rant that would convince a past version of Fox News to part with an increasingly unstable Glenn Beck; you can promote a lot of nonsense on the news networks, but executives generally drew the line at conspiracy theories that were likely to result in domestic terrorism if an audience believed them.

That line has now been crossed repeatedly, but even Carlson dared no more than play smirking footsie with one of neo-Nazism's defining conspiracy phrases—until now. Last week the Fox Host explicitly embraced "replacement theory" as supposedly factual, smashing the network's previous plausible deniability on the subject. Fox News is now promoting a neo-Nazi conspiracy claim; Fox News executives are now signaling they'll support the conspiracy claims.

If you're wondering which side of this supposed debate the sex trafficking cocaine-party-with-college-students sedition-backing would-be-election-nullifying helmet-haired treasonbag would take, you haven't been paying attention. Of course Gaetz was going to come out backing neo-Nazi conspiracies. Gaetz doesn't give a rat's ass, Gaetz needs to hitch his wagon to whatever fascist cause he runs across because Gaetz is desperately trying to avoid criminal charges for all that crap he's done.

No government? No charges. It's not likely the twit has an agenda any more substantive than that. You'd be hard pressed to be one of Dear Leader's biggest bootlickers, even after all that the nation has been through in the last half-decade, unless you very specifically don't care about anything but your ability to keep getting away with crimes.

Dunno what to tell you on this one, America. The adaptation of one of the most infamous and dangerous conspiracy theories of the fascist right is absolutely assured to result in domestic terrorism, just as it has repeatedly in the recent past. Tucker appears at this point to be intending that. Gaetz probably doesn't give a damn one way or the other; to him, he just needs an unending series of signals he can send to reassure his far-right Florida base that no matter what he might be accused of doing with their daughters, his devotion to remaking America into a fascist nation should be more than enough to allow them to look the other way.

Morning Digest: Prominent California congresswoman overheard saying she’ll run for Los Angeles mayor

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

Los Angeles, CA Mayor, CA-37: Multiple media outlets reported Friday that Democratic Rep. Karen Bass has decided to run for mayor of Los Angeles next year, with Politico adding that one of its reporters overheard the congresswoman telling someone over the phone, "I'm going to officially announce a run for mayor." Her team has not publicly confirmed that she'll enter the open seat race to lead America's second-largest city rather than seek a seventh term in her safely blue 37th Congressional District, though Bass said Tuesday that she would decide within the next week.

Bass' entry would make her the most prominent candidate to campaign to succeed termed-out Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is President Joe Biden's nominee to become ambassador to India, in this heavily Democratic city. The California assemblywoman made history in 2008 when she became the first Black woman to lead any of the nation's 99 state legislative chambers, and she won an open seat in Congress two years later without any serious opposition. Her profile rose further in 2020 when Biden seriously considered her as his running mate, though the post ended up going to another California Democrat, Sen. Kamala Harris.

Bass has the opportunity to again make history as the first woman elected to lead Los Angeles, as well as its second African American mayor following the legendary Tom Bradley, but she would need to get past a number of opponents first. City Attorney Mike Feuer, City Councilman Joe Buscaino, and real estate broker Mel Wilson have been running for a while, while Central City Association head Jessica Lall and City Councilman Kevin de León each announced over the last week. The field could expand further, as real estate developer Rick Caruso and former L.A. Unified schools Superintendent Austin Beutner are also thinking about getting in.

Campaign Action

All the candidates will face off in next June’s nonpartisan primary, and a general election would take place in November in the very likely event that no one took a majority of the vote in the first round. An early August survey from FM3, which was conducted on behalf of an unidentified client, showed Bass leading a hypothetical field with 22% while no other names topped 6%, but the rest of the field has time to get their names out. Indeed, Politico's Christopher Cadelago reports that Buscaino has already reserved $2 million in TV time; Cadelago also says the councilman has raised $1 million for his proposed June local ballot initiative to ban homeless encampments in public areas.

Bass' departure from the House would also set off an uncertain race to succeed her in Congress. The 37th District, which includes the neighborhoods of South Los Angeles, Crenshaw, and West Los Angeles, backed Biden 84-14. California is losing a House seat, though, and no one knows what the new map will look like once the independent redistricting commission is done with its work.

P.S. While it's rare for House members to choose not to run for re-election in order to run for mayor at home, especially since many big city mayoral races take place in odd-numbered years, it's hardly unheard of. The last person to try this was fellow California Democrat Bob Filner, who was elected mayor of San Diego in 2012. (Filner's career imploded the next year after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.)

Three of Bass' other homestate colleagues have more recently given up their seats in order to run for a place on their county board of supervisors, with mixed results. Gloria Negrete McLeod unsuccessfully campaigned for a seat on the San Bernardino County board in 2014, but fellow Democrat Janice Hahn won a spot on its counterpart body in Los Angeles County two years later. Republican Paul Cook went on to successfully run in 2020 for this job back in San Bernardino County.

Redistricting

IL Redistricting: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed Illinois' new legislative maps, which lawmakers passed at the end of last month. The maps, which will lock in continued Democratic majorities in both chambers, replace earlier plans that were based on population estimates and therefore had to be revised after firm data from the 2020 census was released in August.

Illinois is now the second state this year to pass new legislative maps after Ohio (and excluding Oklahoma, which also adopted preliminary maps but will likewise have to revisit them). Legislators have yet to make public any congressional redistricting proposals.

ME Redistricting: Maine's bipartisan Apportionment Commission (which is really a mostly legislative panel that handles redistricting) has reached an agreement on a new congressional map that will make the state's 2nd District slightly bluer. Under the new plan (available here), the state capital of August would move from the 1st District to the 2nd, though the latter, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, would still have voted for Donald Trump, albeit by about 6 points, according to Dave's Redistricting App, rather than 7.5.

State lawmakers will convene for a special session to address redistricting starting on Wednesday. Though Democrats hold a majority in both chambers, it takes a two-thirds vote to pass any new maps, which is why the redistricting committee (which is made up of 10 legislators and five political appointees) settled on a compromise, lest the matter wind up in court. Previously, a deal was struck on a map for the state House, though the state Senate remains unsettled.

NE Redistricting: Lawmakers in Nebraska's unicameral legislature appear to have reached a compromise over a congressional map after a Democratic-led filibuster blocked an earlier GOP-drawn proposal from advancing.

Unlike the previous version, which sought to split the Democratic bastion of Omaha between two districts, the new map keeps the city (and surrounding Douglas County) wholly within the competitive 2nd District, which Republican Rep. Don Bacon held on to by a 51-46 margin last year. However, it relies on creative gerrymandering to keep the revised district roughly in line with the seat's current political lean (it went 52-46 for Joe Biden last year). It does so by removing blue-leaning suburbs from adjacent Sarpy County and placing those in the solidly red 1st District while adding farther-flung red areas to the 2nd.

Because the Omaha region grew faster than the rest of the state, a more logical and compact map would slim down the 2nd District by reuniting the city with the adjacent inner suburb of Bellevue in Sarpy County; such a district would have voted for Biden by about 9 points. Bellevue was in fact part of the 2nd District for many decades, until the previous Republican gerrymander excised it following the 2010 census. Instead, under this plan, Bellevue remains in the 1st District, while rural Saunders County and the most rural parts of Sarpy are grafted on to the 2nd.

The map must still pass further votes before it's finalized, and one Democratic senator who voted against it says he plans to seek further adjustments. However, given the bipartisan 36-10 majority in favor of the map during the initial vote, a renewed Democratic filibuster to compel more changes looks unlikely.

Senate

GA-Sen: While Mitch McConnell was reportedly extremely skeptical of former NFL player Herschel ​​Walker's viability in a general election as recently as last month, the Senate minority leader now tells Politico, "I think there's every indication he's going to be a good candidate." McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund has a history of spending vast amounts of money in GOP primaries in order to block unacceptable candidates, but that's almost certainly not going to happen here unless he sours on Walker again.

IA-Sen: Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, who is already the longest-serving senator in Iowa history, announced Friday that he would seek an eighth term next year. Grassley has always taken at least 60% of the vote in his previous six re-election campaigns (the smallest of those wins was his most recent campaign in 2016, when he prevailed 60-36), and he'll once again start as the clear favorite in a state that swung hard to the right during the Trump era.

Grassley currently faces intra-party opposition from Jim Carlin, a far-right state senator who said in February that he'd run no matter what the incumbent did, but the challenger has struggled to raise money or attract attention. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who won a competitive House race in 2018 and narrowly lost two years later.

A recent Selzer & Company poll found Grassley ahead by a wide 55-37 margin in a general election, though Finkenauer's presence at least gives her party a serious candidate in case this race turns out to be unexpectedly competitive. Finkenauer used her July campaign kickoff to argue that Grassley has "lost touch" with both Iowa and democracy following the Jan. 6 attack, though the 32-year-old challenger refrained from focusing on the vast generation distance between her and the 88-year-old incumbent.

OH-Sen: Venture capitalist J.D. Vance on Wednesday responded to a Spectrum News question asking whether women should be required to give birth even if they became pregnant because of rape or incest by saying, "It's not whether a woman should be forced to bring a child to term; it's whether a child should be allowed to live, even though the circumstances of that child's birth are somehow inconvenient or a problem to the society."

While those comments brought immediate comparisons to fellow Republican Todd Akin's infamous "legitimate rape" quote from the 2012 Missouri Senate race, Vance has yet to attract any serious intra-party outrage. Vance faces several opponents in next year's GOP primary, and almost all of them are also running as anti-abortion zealots.

Governors

KS-Gov: Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's allies at EMILY's List have released a Clarity Campaign Labs poll that gives her a 47-44 edge over Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who has the Republican primary to himself. This is the first survey we've seen of this very likely general election matchup.

NY-Gov: The Washington Post recently asked Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi about reports that he's considering a primary campaign against New York's new governor, Kathy Hochul, and he did not rule anything out. Suozzi, who represents part of Long Island, instead merely responded, "Right now, the most important thing I can do for New Yorkers is to get SALT relief for them and their families. Everything else right now is secondary."

Suozzi sought the governorship in 2006 when he was Nassau County executive, but that campaign went horribly for him. Suozzi had the vociferous backing of Home Depot founder Ken Langone, who sought payback against then-state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for his crusade to uproot Wall Street corruption: It amounted to little, as Spitzer crushed Suozzi 82-18. Suozzi went on to lose re-election in 2009 and failed to regain the county executive four years later, but he bounced back in 2016 by winning New York's 3rd Congressional District.

TX-Gov: While Axios reported earlier this month that former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke was "expected" to run for governor, the 2018 Senate nominee said Friday he was still considering. When the Texas Tribune asked him for a timeline, O'Rourke said, "It won't be in a week, but it'll be some time in the near future."

Meanwhile, actor Matthew McConaughey recently said that he was also still considering challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, though McConaughey once again didn't indicate which party, if any, he'd run with.

VA-Gov: Democrat Terry McAuliffe recently launched a commercial featuring a trauma surgeon taking Republican Glenn Youngkin to task for opposing vaccine mandates for healthcare workers and mask requirements in schools, and Youngkin quickly responded with an ad featuring a doctor vouching for him. Physician Peter Zedler declares that Youngkin "believes vaccines save lives and is the only candidate with a TV ad encouraging Virginians to get the COVID vaccine," though he doesn't mention the candidate's opposition to mandates.

House

MI-06: Longtime Rep. Fred Upton recently told CNN that he would wait for the redistricting process to conclude before deciding whether he'd seek re-election. Donald Trump earlier this month endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra's primary bid against Upton, who is one of the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment in January, but the incumbent insisted that will have nothing to do with his 2022 plans.  

NJ-11: Insider NJ reports that former Kinnelon Councilman Larry Casha has sent letters to local county GOP leaders saying that he plans to run against Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill and will announce next month. Casha briefly campaigned for this North Jersey seat last cycle but dropped out after tax attorney Rosemary Becchi reached a deal with power brokers that resulted in her running here rather than against party favorite Tom Kean Jr. in the neighboring 7th District.

Attorneys General

MI-AG: Former state House Speaker and 2018 nominee Tom Leonard announced Friday that he would again seek the Republican nomination for Michigan attorney general even though Donald Trump endorsed one of his intra-party foes, election conspiracy theorist Matthew DePerno, just days before. Both parties pick their nominees for both offices at party conventions rather than through traditional primaries, and the GOP's event will take place in April. State Rep. Ryan Berman is also running for the right to take on Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel beat Leonard 49-46 last time, which was the Michigan GOP's best statewide showing during the 2018 blue wave. Leonard was later nominated by Trump to be U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, but the Senate never confirmed him. Leonard currently serves as the state party's finance chair, and The Detroit News writes that his "history in the party and long-term connections are among the reasons many Republicans have viewed Leonard as a strong potential candidate for the party nomination."

Mayors

Cleveland, OH Mayor: Nonprofit head Justin Bibb earned an endorsement Thursday from former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, who is the only woman to ever have been elected to lead Cleveland, in this November's race to succeed retiring incumbent Frank Jackson. Campbell won this office in 2001 but lost four years later to Jackson, who is supporting City Council President Kevin Kelley.

Bibb previously picked up the backing of Campbell's predecessor, Michael White. Ideastream Public Media notes that the only living former mayor who hasn't taken sides yet is Dennis Kucinich, who finished a close third in the Sept. 14 nonpartisan primary and spoke well of Bibb in his concession speech.

Mob rule is overtaking America, driven by the collapse of the Republican Party

In a profoundly detached fit of magical thinking, GOP leader Mitch McConnell told journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that the Trump era was on the wane.

In their recently released book Peril, McConnell is quoted as saying there was "a clear trend moving" away from Trump and he was "a fading brand."

McConnell, who is hailed by many Beltway journalists as a master strategist, had obviously created his own alternative reality because he prefers it to the one in which Trumpism is crushing his fanciful delusions about the present state of the Republican Party—and his place in it. 

In fact, Trump and, more specifically, Trumpism, are reshaping everything from the policies Republicans champion to the candidates who will prevail in GOP primaries to the lawmakers who will fill GOP seats. The Republican Party is enduring a full Trump makeover inside and out, and anyone who doesn't see it is living in fantasy land.

Far from “fading,” Trump's influence is metastasizing. When it comes to party leadership, Trump's list of endorsees has grown to roughly 40, giving everyone he blesses a leg up in their primary. At the same time, he continues to force GOP lawmakers into retirement—particularly those with any sense of integrity, dignity, or independent thinking skills.

Trump's personal derangement is also transferring to the masses. The delusion that the 2020 election was stolen from him—one dismissed internally by his own campaign—continues to get traction. On the same week that Arizona's 2020 sham audit managed to find exactly zero fraud, the number of fraudits being entertained nationwide grew to four as Texas added its name to the list of ignominy. These fraudits have no authority to overturn results and no credibility among anyone outside of 2020 truther circles. But among a sizable portion of the GOP electorate, they keep some dim hope alive that the election could be overturned, Trump could be reinstated, and perhaps most importantly, that they as voters were egregiously wronged. Because it's not really about Trump anymore—it's about the rage and the permission structure that Trumpism has created for it. 

While Trump may be channeling his acolytes’ anger to achieve his own ends, he is no longer the master of it. Trumper rage has infected nearly aspect of American public life, and it can just as easily turn on its perpetrators as it can on the rest of us. Trump told an Alabama rally last month, "I believe totally in your freedoms. I do. ... But I recommend take the vaccines. I did it. It's good. Take the vaccines." Instead of cheering for their supposed hero, the mostly maskless crowd fell mostly silent except for a chorus of boos that rang out from the throng. 

Why? Because Trump's just the vehicle for their anger, and if he's not saying what they want to hear, screw him.

As Costa told MSNBC this week, in their more candid off-the-record moments, Republican lawmakers will tell you they're not in control any longer.

"It's the voters now in the Republican Party that are in control," Costa told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace in a two-hour special on the collapse of the Republican Party. "It's the voters and the crowds that are driving this."

The GOP rage machine is off the rails, and it's proving even more harmful at the local level. "We know where you live" has become its favorite refrain. A QAnon activist in Iowa used that threat this week, as a preamble to more intimidation and bullying at a local school board meeting.  

"We’re going to stalk you! We’re coming to your house!” he continued, brandishing a little wand like a sword.

In Kent County, Michigan, health department director Dr. Adam London recently pleaded for help in a letter to the county board of commissioners.

“I need help. My team and I are broken. I’m about done," he wrote in a letter dated August 22. "I’ve given just about everything to Kent County, and now I’ve given some more of my safety." London, who issued a mask mandate for local schools, had recently been run off the road by an angry driver—not once, but twice—traveling at more than 70 miles per hour.

If America was ever a nation of laws, it's not anymore. Slowly but surely, a system of mob rule and vigilante justice is sweeping the country. While the Jan. 6 Capitol siege surely empowered this celebration of lawlessness, its most dangerous seeds are being sown across the country at the local level during city council, school board, and health department proceedings that used to be sleepy, mundane affairs. 

And while Trump has regularly stoked violence at his rallies and on Jan. 6 encouraged supposed patriots to "fight like hell" for the country, the GOP's supposed leaders—Trump and McConnell included—are no longer in charge of the the monster they fed and created. They're just holding on for dear life, hoping the monster doesn't turn on them.

I can’t wait for the midterms, and I said this before Texas went full fascist

Remember way back when, say, in August, when Republicans were sure that the Afghanistan evacuation would be the top issue for them in the 2022 midterms? Sensible people knew that ending an unpopular 20-year war wasn’t going to stain Biden’s legacy for long—I just didn’t count on it happening so soon. After deliberately helping to spread the pandemic, followed by a direct assault on voting rights, Texas decided to go full Gilead regarding women’s health, as well. Not only is reproductive freedom effectively outlawed in Texas, but government officials have now deputized private citizens to become bounty hunters. There was even a website that allowed people to snitch on their fellow citizens, just like they do in other authoritarian states.

Republicans are doing everything they can to downplay their march toward fascism by hyping phony concerns such as “cancel culture,” masks, and critical race theory. It hasn’t been working. Keep in mind that the huge margins we saw in 2018 were due to the extreme anger against what the GOP was doing to their fellow citizens. As a result, Democrats came out in droves, and an unprecedented number of women were elected to office—almost all of them Democrats. This year, the attack on women in Texas is far worse than anything that happened three years ago.

The GOP is counting on low Democratic turnout in the midterms, and if that fails, voter suppression and gerrymandering—which admittedly we need to do a much better job of fighting. Yet, even before Democratic enthusiasm skyrocketed, there were quite a few factors with this election and this electorate that put the quest of self-declared “moron” Kevin McCarthy to become House speaker in serious peril. Doom-and-gloom Democrats are dreading the upcoming midterms, but I am actually looking forward to them. There are many reasons to be optimistic, and I’ll point out a few of the races I’m anxious to help.

I always enjoy “analysis” pieces like this one, which says, “Democrats should write off the midterms.” The problem is that Democrats, who admittedly have a predisposition toward pessimism, sometimes turn these silly attacks into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Before the Texas abortion law, I just wanted to hold the House. Now, I want more seats. What I really want is for Democrats to add two more seats in the Senate so we can finally get the desperately needed reform done that Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have prevented. So here are a few things to get excited about:

Gerrymandering is not the slam dunk the GOP is expecting

As far as gerrymandering goes, Democrats are right to be pessimistic but likely blowing the effects way out of proportion. The fact is, the red states being gerrymandered have already been gerrymandered to their breaking points. “There are states that can’t get worse, like Michigan and Ohio,” said Ali Lapp, the founder and president of House Majority PAC. She raised $160 million for the Democrats in the 2020 election cycle. Pointing out states like New York and Illinois, where Democrats have control, she said, “I think the national result of all these states will be a wash.” In fact, the recent Cook Political Report just downgraded the Republican gain by redistricting alone to netting only one or two House seats.

States like Texas, which have been gerrymandered to death for the past 16 years, have to figure out what to do with all those new liberals moving into their cities. They have to go somewhere. However, a state like New York was last redistricted when the GOP was in control of the state Senate. This year, the Democrats are in firm control and could take five to seven seats from the Republicans. New York Governor Hochul has already said she has no problems with gerrymandering the hell out of the Empire State to make up for the GOP assaults elsewhere.

Ironically, the Republicans might have had more seats to play with if not for their blatant racism. The Commerce Department, which conducts the census, did the bidding of Trump’s white nationalists to undercount minority votes—especially with the Latinx population. The thinking here is that counting them would help the Democrats. Unfortunately, this racist strategy meant they undercounted in states like Florida, Arizona, and Texas. This means that these states aren’t getting the seats they deserve, and since the Republicans have the trifecta in these states, they aren’t available for the GOP to gerrymander. Oops.

Voting suppression will backfire

The Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot here as well. The assumption they run with has always been that if you make voting more accessible, it will inevitably benefit Democrats. Donald Trump admitted as much when he stated that allowing early and absentee voting options means “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Yet that just isn’t the case. When the National Voter Registration Act—known as the “Motor Voter Act”—was signed into law in 1993, Republicans cried that it would kill their party. It didn’t. They won the majority the following year. If you make registration and voting more straightforward, all that happens is that the pool of less partisan people is more likely to vote, which cuts both ways.

The biggest target of the GOP’s war on democracy is getting rid of, or at least significantly curtailing, mail-in voting. Yet, a recent study conducted by a team at the Public Policy Institute of California found that while it increased turnout, it didn’t make electoral outcomes any better for the Democrats. Their models indicated that access to mail-in voting increased turnout for Republican candidates, who did quite well in 2020. It was pretty popular with rural populations, and especially the elderly. Older voters, which have historically trended Republican, used vote-by-mail ballots more than any other group. Gov. DeSantis even begged Trump to lay off attacking voting by mail in Florida, which the Republicans count on. Trump reversed himself, but only in Florida.

Mail-in ballot

However, it was confirmed in Texas as well. Republicans have always used mail-in ballots more than Democrats in Texas, up until last year. If Texas Republicans were smart, they would have studied to see if last year’s election was more of a one-off because of the pandemic before they shot themselves in the foot. But no, Donald Trump told them that mail-in voting is bad, so the Texas legislature is moving to significantly curtail it.

Republicans who are concerned are counting on their base’s white privilege and enthusiasm to counter the obstacles they are putting up for Democratic voters. Still, not everyone is convinced this is a good idea. Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Republican operative who has since left the party, said there's a real possibility this blows up their faces: “By appearing to intentionally try to keep poor people of color from voting, you will incense them, and you’ll get exactly the reaction you didn’t want.”  

There’s already evidence that this has happened. People went ballistic when Georgia passed their ridiculous law targeting African American voters this year, getting so petty as to ban giving bottled water in large voting lines. Thanks to Stacey Abrams and her vast network of Black women organizers on the ground via Fair Fight Action, 95% of Georgia citizens over 18 years old are now registered to vote next year. Again, oops.

Running on what?

Republicans are working overtime to give the American populace plenty of reasons to hate them. In return, the entire national Republican strategy is trying to give Americans reasons to hate Democrats. What they can’t ever do is articulate why anyone should vote for them.

If you ask a Republican what they stand for, you won’t get any good answers. Too much government spending? Oh, that’s rich. The so-called party of limited spending spent almost 4 trillion while in power, not counting the COVID-19 spending, with absolutely nothing to show for it.

In 2020, Republicans banked on the idea of “law and order.” That’s problematic because the party of “law and order” refuses to condemn sedition and has even attacked the cops at the Capitol who defended them. They look utterly ridiculous complaining about peaceful protests in cities while supporting obvious right-wing violence. And make no mistake, the GOP has gone all-in on violence.  The former Party of Lincoln has now become the party of “loony lies and conspiracy theories,” as Mitch McConnell put it recently. Thanks to Trump’s influence, white supremacists and Nazis advocating for a “race war” run for office as Republicans. It’s a disturbing trend.

Some Republican lawmakers are trying to say they are all about accountability in places like Afghanistan. Even putting aside Trump’s surrender to the Taliban, everyone has seen that Republicans are incapable of managing a damn thing, whether it’s relief to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico or even just distributing vaccine doses. As you may recall, Trump delegated everything to either incompetent underlings or his unqualified son-in-law, who essentially ran the country.

When the GOP “helps” hurricane victims

In contrast, the Democrats took COVID-19 seriously and put scientists back in charge. Vaccinations were made easily accessible, and vaccination sites increased, which means the vaccination rate skyrocketed. There were no more ridiculous conspiracy theories coming from the White House, like telling people to inject bleach. We rejoined the World Health Organization and restored the directorate for global health security. Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan to save the economy.

We repaired alliances and let Russia know they aren't calling the shots anymore. We got the desperately needed infrastructure bill through the Senate. We are the party that protects women’s rights, while the GOP tries to take them away. Oh, and Biden will be the one remembered for finally getting us out of Afghanistan. The GOP? They opposed all of these things.

So I ask again, what the hell is the GOP going to run on?

Pundits always look at history, even when it’s wrong

The year was 1998. Pundits and pollsters predicted that Republicans would pick up seats during Clinton’s second term. After all, there was the well-documented six-year itch: one would have to go back to 1822, in which a president’s party gained seats in the House during a president’s second term. In addition, House Republicans had a foolproof plan to win: don’t try to pass any laws, but bring up the Monica Lewinsky scandal all the time. The GOP, like always, stayed on message. Then the election happened. Republicans lost five seats, including two of Clinton’s most vocal critics.

Biden treats his pets very well. Trump abused his pets—just ask Ted Cruz. 

The GOP is following the same playbook this year. Don’t pass anything, and bring up a Biden scandal—even if it’s made up. (They were all in on Afghanistan, but lately, it’s been Biden’s dog.)

It’s the Republican motto: If something is proven not to work, keep doing it. I guess that’s why they still promote trickle-down theory.

The June ticking time bomb

If you thought the SCOTUS ruling on Texas’ abortion law was bad, wait until June. The justices will take on Roe v. Wade directly in late June of next year with a Mississippi law that seeks to overturn it. I can’t stress enough the pitfall for the Republicans here. Since no one in politics can see past the next few days, no one is talking about this now. Just wait. Right-wing media, like Fox, is still telling people that young voters are obsessed with Afghanistan. Oh, Fox.

In reality, there is no good way out for the Republicans here. SCOTUS may finally overthrow Roe v. Wade, as the right-wing conservatives are pushing. If they do, I promise you the backlash will be enormous. Younger voters have taken abortion for granted, and most want it legal in all circumstances. If you want every Democrat to come out for the midterms, this is how you do it.

On the flip side, if the conservative justices don’t overturn Roe v. Wade, the backlash from angry conservatives will be just as grave. They have been promised this action for decades, and I cannot stress the betrayal they would feel with a 6-3 majority. There won’t be that enthusiasm that Republican legislators are counting on from their base to overcome the voting obstacles they installed this year, but that certainly won’t be an issue on the Democratic side.

First election since the insurrection

Democracy is on the ballot this year, and that’s not hyperbole, but the truth. The overwhelming majority of Americans were disgusted by the Republican attempt on Jan. 6 to overthrow the 2020 election results, using terms like “shocked, horrified” and “something you would expect to see in a third world nation.” Some in the Republican party desperately want people to forget this even happened. Yet, the fringe that runs the Republican base is making sure no one forgets by holding rallies supporting the insurrectionists. Even worse are the Republican lawmakers who have attempted to downplay or even justify the violence of that day. Everyone knows that if the Republicans were to seize power in the House, things would get much worse.

Don’t let them forget.

Not only would what happened in Texas be peanuts if the GOP takes control in the midterms, but our very elections would be in peril. After Jan. 6, no one can say they don’t know the consequences of giving Kevin McCarthy the speaker’s gavel. A GOP-controlled House will not certify the electoral votes for a 2024 Biden win, no matter what.

They will again make baseless claims that the election was marred by widespread fraud and then contest it so McCarthy can assume duties as “acting president” over Joe Biden. The conservative block on SCOTUS, which is now not even pretending to be unbiased, will let this happen.

This is simply a fact and is the case that Democrats need to be making at every opportunity. It’s not left vs. right anymore; it’s democracy vs. fascism. This alone should give people pause before voting for a Republican at any level of government. They are supporting the party apparatus that has declared war on our nation’s very foundations, and they need to be stopped.

Well-deserved Republican funding problems

People are angry, and they are no longer just blaming the politicians who are trying to kill democracy but also attacking those who would fund them. Many corporate PACs vowed not to support the #SeditionCaucus. When Toyota tried to backpedal, it didn’t go well for them.

Among House Republicans who voted for sedition, there were sharp variations in their fundraising attempts. Those who built national profiles as hard-line Trump loyalists made up the difference from corporate PACS with significant fundraising hauls from small donors. This category includes incumbents like Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz. Yet, the other seditionists saw a substantial decline in fundraising as compared to last year. The majority of them are small-time industry hogs who screwed themselves. Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican in Oklahoma, had almost $150,000 in his first quarter of 2019. This year? $42,000.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a long history of backing Republican candidates over the past decade, but it’s getting harder and harder. The population has been none too keen on companies who fund legislators who assault democracy and voting rights. The chamber recognized this and is no longer a GOP playground. For the first time last year, the chamber endorsed 23 House Democrats. Tom Donohue, the organization’s CEO for 24 years, resigned after Trump refused to accept the election.

The Republican funding problems go deeper. House Republicans have long depended on funding from the Koch network, but the Kochs announced they are re-evaluating their donations—especially to members of the Sedition Caucus. Other funding avenues have taken a big hit. Their vast corruption has practically demolished the National Rifle Association, and the godawful Sheldon Adelson has finally departed this earth.

On the flip side, Democrats are soaring past Republicans in fundraising. The second quarter of 2021 showed that ActBlue pulled in $289 million in online contributions, far more than doubling the amount that the GOP apparatus has taken in.

Trump is screwing things up, as always

Lastly, there is Trump. Fortunately for us, his colossal screwups are no longer hurting everyone—just the GOP. Right now, he is telling Republicans not to donate to any arm of the Republican party but instead to himself and his PAC directly. He made clear to big donors that he expects them to keep funding him, not other candidates. They’ve listened. He’s amassed $100 million, which I doubt will find its way into too many campaigns since he will need it for his legal troubles and his own failed 2024 run. (That total also includes funds that had to be refunded due to Trump’s questionable fundraising tactics.) Trump has also launched several personal vendettas to many vulnerable members, even though GOP leadership has begged him to stop.

Trump’s bruised ego has also been the launching pad for Republican claims that elections they lose are the result of fraud. The big issue with this mindset is that it makes it easy for Republican voters to stay home since they believe the vote will be rigged anyhow. Fanatical Trump voters staying home will impact certain races, and most experts agree it was at least part of the reason that Georgia gained two democratic senators this year.

Lastly, Trump’s minions in the House are now the face of the GOP. The most ridiculous, conspiracy-driven officials are also the ones who most crave the spotlight. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz are the representatives of the Republican party, along with their racism, antisemitism, and criminal behavior. That’s just the new norm, and the majority of Americans are repulsed by what they see.

Democrats have plenty of reasons for optimism. The backlash the GOP counts on is supposed to happen right after the election. Consider that by June of 2016, the Democrats were overperforming everywhere there was a special election, which foreshadowed the 2018 blue wave. Yet that’s not happening this time for the GOP. Democrats beat our own margins in New Mexico and another Louisiana seat this year and won both Senate runoffs in Georgia. Maybe, just maybe, the GOP's assault on our democracy, Trump's refusal to leave the stage, and popular policies that Democrats are fighting for have given us a real chance.

The list below is for nine seats House Democrats lost in the 2020 election that Biden won. I should point out that these don’t even list all of the targets of the DCCC, which is focusing attention on southern Florida's 26th district, Iowa's 1st and 2nd districts, New York's 22nd District, and Utah's 4th District, just to name a few. However, it’s an excellent place to start for good pickup opportunities:

HOUSE DEMocrat PICKUP OPPORTUNITIES: Biden districts that are held by Republicans State District GOP incumbent District’s 2020 GOP win margin District’s Biden  win margin

democrats running notes Ca Ca CA ca fl NE` NY PA TX
21 David Valadao (R)50.4%- (D)49.6%

11 points!

This is the most Democratic district to be represented by a Republican. Seriously, Biden won by 11 points here. This is even worse since Valadao is an extremist who votes against his constituents’ interests.
39 Young Kim (R)50.6%-(D)49.4% 10 points

Democrat Jay Chen is a Taiwanese immigrant who was a Naval Intelligence officer and Harvard grad. He is well known in the community.

In contrast, the GOP incumbent has repeatedly been involved with shady foreign fundraisers under investigation  

25 Michael Garcia (R)50.0%-(D)49.5% 10 points

There are too many running in the D primary to list, but Christy Smith was the incumbent who came within a hair of beating Garcia last time. 

This is a blue district, and Garcia is a member of the #SeditionCaucus.

48 Michelle Steel (R)51.1%-(D)48.9% 1.5 points

Harley Rouda blames his narrow loss on respecting the national party’s wish to not campaign in person during COVID. He won’t make that mistake this time.

The GOP incumbent apologized to a GOP crowd for working with Katie Porter to pass an anti-Asian hate bill. 

27 Maria Elvira Salazar (R)51.4%-(D)48.6% 3.3 points

Janelle Perez is an LGBTQ+ activist and health care business owner in Miami who quit as a GOP staffer over Trump. She has raised a lot in small donations.

Maria Elvira Salazar is a huge Trump fan that is out of place for this district. She rode the wave of socialist hysteria to victory and needs to be defeated now, or she will likely hold this seat for a long time.

2 Dan Bacon (R)50.84%-(D)46.2% 6 points

Tony Vargas is a popular state legislator who was reelected with 75% of the vote. Alisha Shelton is a mental health worker. 

This district used to lean Democrat, but gerrymandering has made it R+1. The GOP incumbent won only because centrist NE Democrats foolishly endorsed him over the progressive challenger last time. Bacon reliably votes with the GOP. Thanks, guys.

24 John Katko (R)52.6%-(D)47.4% 9 points

Steve Holden is a military veteran who has been endorsed by Blue America PAC.

Republican John Katko survives this blue district by being relatively moderate, but is staunchly anti-choice and voted against the COVID relief bills.

1 Brian Fitzpatrick (R)56.6%-(D)43.4% 6 points Open  This district is mostly Bucks county and is the most competitive suburb in PA. It grows more Democratic every year. The Democrats are behind the curve and haven’t recruited anyone yet. 
24 Beth Van Duyne (R)48.8%-(D)47.5% 5 points

Business owner and current state rep Michelle Beckley is making a go of it, as is Marine veteran and attorney Derrik Gay. This is a blue district that is 40% minority, won by both Beto O’Rourke and Biden.

On the other hand, GOP incumbent Beth Van Duyne is the most appalling Republican on this list. She posted a racist image of a Black woman, spreads anti-Muslim propaganda, and was honored by a hate group

I know Democrats are trying their best to do everything they can before the midterms, which is a tall order. We have to rebuild our nation’s entire dilapidated infrastructure, reverse climate change, save voting rights, fix immigration, fix policing, save reproductive rights, and possibly fill a Supreme Court vacancy. We must do all of this and more with the most razor-thin of margins in both houses. We can and should try.

But if we don’t make it, I’m not prepared just yet to assume that all is lost, and neither should you. There’s plenty of indication that Democrats will hold onto their majorities and possibly even expand them. If Democrats do the right thing and go bold, we can very much make this a reality. We have to: the alternative is too grim to bear. 

Lauren Boebert really wants to impeach Biden, but she should have hired a proofreader first

The campaign finances of Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado have been the subject of a lot of speculation. The seemingly corrupt and possibly illegal ways she has used her campaign’s finances to pay for personal items—like $20,000 worth of gasoline and rent. She’s not particularly bright, but neither are most of her colleagues. She’s petty, suspected of being tied up deeply in the Jan. 6 attempted coup d’etat, and practices a substance- and fact-free style of political theater that was employed most successfully by Donald Trump in 2015. 

On Friday, Rep. Boebert did her best impression of whatever it is the GOP think public servants look like and sent out a press release calling for the impeachment of President Joe Biden. Why? Who cares. What is Rep. Boebert offering to do for her constituents? Nothing. Did Lauren Boebert send out this news release with big capitalized signage that reads “IMEACH BIDEN”? Yes. Yes, she did. And while she has since tried to hide this glaring mistake, the internet is forever.

Let us start with a caveat: We are laughing at Lauren Boebert because she’s a crap person. People with GEDs, a group to which Boebert reportedly belongs, are not stupid.

Boebert’s issues are specific to her profession and political party. Whatever education she has had does not seem to make her any less “smart” than Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his carefully scheduled Yale legacy. It makes her no less intelligent than suspected sex trafficker and William and Mary Law School alum Rep. Matt Gaetz. And while Marjorie Taylor Greene is nine years older than Boebert, there does not seem to be much of a difference between the two when it comes to maturity.

So let’s focus on the gaffe, and avoid punching down on the millions of people with GEDs who aren’t Lauren Boebert.

Without further ado, I bring you epic typo political theater!

Lauren Boebert has sent a release calling to impeach Biden, but she has messed up the logo here pic.twitter.com/IR3m2QxNFT

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 24, 2021

Here’s the full piece.

Rep. Boebert confounds constituents by making a sign declaring she’s “each Biden” pic.twitter.com/in6n3BVfg2

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 24, 2021

And the responses are very soothing.

Lauren Boebert: "Hey Marge, mind if I copy your work?" Marjorie Taylor Greene: "Sure just don't make it obvious." Lauren Boebert: *chuckles "KAY!" pic.twitter.com/AW2OhpJYNB

— 💀DeathMetalViking💀 (@DeathMetalV) September 24, 2021

And then fun with words.

I cannot wait for her to go to rison.

— Jen Henry (@jenresisted) September 24, 2021

We cannot let her imeach the President. I meap it.

— James Gregory (@JasGregory) September 24, 2021

And here’s a joke.

Imeach is already registered by Ikea as the name of a footstool.

— Tinzien (@Tinzien) September 24, 2021

Then there is the imagery.

Lauren Boebert says that she’s ...“each Biden” . Also Lauren Boebert : pic.twitter.com/075K0YTssZ

— JFK (@JFKtheone) September 24, 2021

And some classic gaff reminders.

Lauren Boebert misspelled the word "impeach" today as "imeach." In March she misspelled her own last name. Lol. https://t.co/HZ1pl0L1v6

— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 24, 2021

And from the “I didn’t say it, this person did” files:

Boebert is why we have to have directions on shampoo bottles. https://t.co/qdQtCJe8FT

— Hold My PomPoms Bitches (@Scattered211) September 24, 2021

In Boebert’s filing, she wants to imeach both President Biden and Vice President Harris. If you imeach the president and vice president, the next in line is speaker of the House.  

Also, maybe this is what Boebert was going for?

I'm Joe. I'm Jill. I'm Ashley. I'm Hunter. Imeach Biden. https://t.co/kwlncxnFDe

— Yanick Saila-Ngita (@wunderkind87) September 24, 2021

And finally.

What do you expect? It is Lauren Boebert.

— Mam2902 (@madds123) September 24, 2021

Please feel free to add some ideas in the comments.