2020 was an election theft dry run for Republicans. Next time, they could succeed

Every election starting now and into the foreseeable future is going to be the most important election of our lifetime. Until the Republican Party as we currently know it is ground to dust, scorched, and the earth on which it stands is salted, the threat of white nationalistic fascism will remain. Right now, in 2022, Republicans are running explicitly on undermining representative democracy, from the smallest local positions up through the state legislatures and all the way to Congress. They are converging behind the Big Lie and promising that they are going to fix it so that they don’t lose any more elections. So that Donald Trump (or his stand-in) will take the 2024 election.

They’re not even trying to be subtle about it—it’s explicit in so many campaigns for governor, attorney general, and secretary of state in plenty of battlegrounds, including the states that Trump tried to contest in 2020.

“What we’re seeing right now is unprecedented,” Joanna Lydgate, co-founder and CEO of States United Action, told CNN’s Rod Brownstein. “To see candidates running on a platform of lies and conspiracy theories about our elections as a campaign position, to see a former President getting involved in endorsing in down-ballot races at the primary level, and certainly to see this kind of systemic attacks on our elections, this spreading of disinformation about our elections—we’ve never seen anything like this before as a country.”

RELATED STORY: Republican state legislators are laying the groundwork to overturn the next election

Brownstein reports on a study released last week—commissioned by the groups States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward—which determined that 13 states have already approved laws to make sure there will be partisan control over election administration, laws to intimidate election administrators, and laws requiring audits of the 2020 election, as if that is a thing. That’s beyond the orgy they’ve been having for the past decade with voter suppression laws, which hasn’t ended either. Thirty-three states have another 229 bills related to denying the results of the last election, and to limiting the electorate and predetermining the outcome of future elections.

“Taken separately, each of these bills would chip away at the system of free and fair elections that Americans have sustained, and worked to improve, for generations,” the groups concluded. “Taken together, they could lead to an election in which the voters’ choices are disregarded and the election sabotaged.”

“In the leadup to the 2020 election, those who warned of a potential crisis were dismissed as alarmists by far too many Americans who should have seen the writing on the wall,” Jessica Marsden, counsel at Protect Democracy, told Brownstein in an email. “Almost two years later, after an attempted coup and a violent insurrection on our Capitol, election conspiracy theorists—including those who actually participated in January 6—are being nominated by the GOP to hold the most consequential offices for overseeing the 2024 election.”

“It’s all connected,” Lydgate said. “The playbook is to try to change the rules and change the referees, so you can change the results.”

They’ve got a very powerful referee on their side in the form of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

A casual observer might reasonably conclude that Ginni and Clarence Thomas are working in tandem to lay the groundwork for the next coup—with Ginni taking up the politics and Clarence handling the legal side. The symmetry between their work is remarkable. https://t.co/wUh5TiHk4q pic.twitter.com/tooRedMQJk

— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) May 23, 2022

Thomas won’t recuse himself from any of these cases, and as of now, a Democratic Congress doesn’t seem particularly interested in trying to force him to via the threat of investigation and impeachment.

“What’s past is prologue, and what was done sloppily in 2020 is being mapped out by experts for 2024,” Slate’s Stern and Dahlia Lithwick write. “It didn’t work in 2020 because the legal and political structures to support it weren’t in place at the time. Those pieces are being put into place as we type this.” That’s the story Brownstein is also trying to get to Democrats and the rest of the traditional media—anyone who will listen and can do something about it.

There are answers. There are ways to fix this. They start with electing enough Democrats to state offices to make sure the damage the fascists can do is limited. We can also elect enough Democrats to the House and to the Senate to make the two Republican-friendly, obstructionist Democratic senators irrelevant.

Then it’ll be a matter of convincing that Democratic majority and a Democratic president that none of this is blogger hysteria, but a very real threat to our freedoms that has everybody else’s hair on fire. Saving our representative democracy means expanding and reforming the court.

RELATED STORIES:

Subpoenas in Georgia’s Trump corruption probe won’t come until May at best

If we've learned anything in the last few years, it's that when powerful people commit crimes, the odds that our nation's various legal jurisdictions can be roused to do so much as even investigate what happened in a rational timeframe are iffy at best. It has been a year and change since the last Republican administration mounted an all-out effort to overturn the results of a not-even-close United States election; although each of of the connected plots mounted by Donald Trump, his allies, and complicit Republican lawmakers are now known in public detail, whether any of those involved face legal consequences for attempting to overthrow the United States government appears to depend on whether Rep. Liz Cheney goads the rest of government into doing so.

If you're feeling cynical about an entire year and change going by with no word from prosecutors that organizing a mob to interfere with Congress' ability to carry out a foundational constitutional function—or just calling up election officials directly to pressure them to change the vote tallies—then join the club.

Yes, yes, we are told that the wheels of justice turn slowly and that, behind the scenes, no doubt, prosecutors are gathering up vast mountains of evidence because they want to do this thing properly. That may be true and it may not be—the Mueller investigation suggests this is the rosiest possible interpretation. But as far as anybody can tell, top members of government conspired to nullify a United States election based on hoaxes, and nobody has done squat about it. The co-conspirators, in the meantime, are invited onto the Sunday shows to rail about the audacity of anyone even being upset about these things a whole year later.

In Atlanta, there is maaaaaaaybe some movement over a year past the time when the American public first heard the audio recording of the Trump White House pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State to "find" enough Trump votes to erase Biden's win of the state. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis received court approval in late January to seat a special grand jury to hear evidence in the case; this was necessary, she said, because witnesses to Trump's pressure were refusing to cooperate with her office without subpoenas forcing them to do so.

So here we are: A year later, key witnesses to the calls are expected to be subpoenaed to give their accounts of what happened. Welcome to the American justice system, subcategory "when you're rich or know somebody who is."

When will the subpoenas demanding testimony and documents begin? Well, the special grand jury won't be seated until May, so no sooner than that. In a new CNN interview, Willis predicted that "most" will begin to come "in June and later months."

In the interview, Willis sounded determined but not necessarily gung-ho about the investigation, which is admittedly the only public demeanor you're allowed to have when investigating even crimes that threaten the stability of government itself. "This is a criminal investigation," and "we're not here playing a game," she said. She also dismissed the expected Trump defense, the claim that presidents can't be prosecuted for crimes committed while in office.

You might remember the theory from its previous versions, in which Trump and the near-entirety of House and Senate Republicans argued during one impeachment that Trump couldn't be held accountable for crimes while he was still president because Shut Up, and couldn't be held accountable for crimes committed on his way out of office because it's just too damn Divisive. But the more generic version offered up by Trump defenders is that you can't prosecute [Republican] presidents for anything, at any time, period.

As for any hint as to which way the district attorney's office is leaning, Willis gave not much. She told CNN:

"You and I have listened to that phone call. But also I have the benefit of also having talked to a lot of witnesses and probably having read more on this than most people would like to."

I'm not going to argue here that the public should be "patient" in waiting to hear if elected officials are allowed to just straight-up phone elections officials to tell them that the election results are wrong and they need to "find" some votes to fix it.

I'm also not going to argue that prosecutors are dragging their feet, because we're in no position to know. But the facts of the matter are this: We're only going to be seeing subpoenas filed to investigate the Trump-Raffensperger call in summer, and the system will assuredly be gamed so that the first (secret) testimony takes place in the fall at best.

That means that the decision about whether to proceed with a Trump indictment will not be made until close to the midterm elections ... which means Willis will likely feel pressure to push it past the midterms so as to not be accused herself of influencing an election.

None of this feels like anybody, anywhere is treating an attempt to overthrow democracy via straight-up crookery as something that needs to be responded to with above-average urgency.

Yes, we get it; it takes vast amounts of time to do even the littlest things when laws are applied to people who have enough money to hire as many lawyers as it takes to make sure tee times are not threatened. But maybe that's been the underlying problem that's led to all the rest of it. We're a society in which a specific subclass of the wealthy, mostly Wall Street and real estate tycoons, can topple economies and even mount attempted coups—and it will all be considered just the sort of thing rich Americans are allowed to do.

Trump's been a crook his whole life and never faced a consequence, other than having to shell out a little bit of cash for settlements that would let the rest of his grift machine keep going. It's obvious he would expect that he could commit any crime he wanted to, as "president," and walk away again. And it's pretty damn obvious that Republican lawmakers have so internalized their positions as protectors of the wealthy that there is no crime an ally could commit that would result in abandonment. Crash the economy, kill hundreds of thousands, rouse fascist mobs to demand we put an end to vote-counting rather than put up with the results—nothing.

So long as the consequences for crimes can be pushed past the next election season, there are no consequences for crimes at all. It's just a question of being able to outlast whatever momentary public disgust is aimed at you.

Related: Trump is trying to incite violence against prosecutors investigating him. One has turned to the FBI

Related: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis may have best case to hold Trump criminally liable

Related: Chair of Jan. 6 House committee says testimony from Raffensperger is proving he is a key witness

Related: Georgia's Brad Raffensperger refuses to rule out supporting Trump, even after death threats

Voting Rights Roundup: Alaska court upholds new top-four primary and ranked-choice general election

Leading Off

Alaska: A state trial court has upheld the constitutionality of Alaska's new law that created a "top-four" primary followed by a general election using ranked-choice voting (aka instant-runoff voting). The ruling rejected arguments by the plaintiffs, who consisted of the right-wing Alaskan Independence Party and members of the Libertarian and Republican parties, that the law approved by voters in a 2020 ballot initiative violated political parties' rights under the state constitution to freely associate.

One of the plaintiffs, former Libertarian legislative candidate Scott Kohlhaas, said he and the other plaintiffs would likely appeal. However, Alaskan Independence Party chairman Bob Bird expressed skepticism that they have much of a chance at success before the state Supreme Court, which has a 4-1 majority of justices appointed by Republican governors.

Consequently, Alaska remains on track to become the first state in the country to implement a "top-four" primary with ranked-choice voting in the general election after Maine in 2016 became the first state to adopt ranked-choice voting overall; Maine's law differs in that it maintained traditional party primaries. By contrast, Alaska's variant of this system will require all the candidates for congressional, legislative, and statewide races to face off on one primary ballot, where contenders will have the option to identify themselves with a party label or be listed as "undeclared" or "nonpartisan."​

Campaign Action

​The top four vote-getters regardless of party will advance to the general election, where voters will be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting. The law will also institute ranked-choice voting in presidential elections, though traditional party primaries will remain in effect for those races. The law further sets up new financial disclosure requirements for state-level candidates.

The implementation of the new top-four ranked-choice voting system may play a key role in next year's Senate election, where Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is facing a tough challenge from the right by former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka after she voted to convict Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year. Tshibaka has been endorsed by the state GOP and Trump himself, but rather than face the constraint of needing to win a Republican primary dominated by Trump diehards to advance to the general election, Murkowski is all but assured of making it to the general election ballot under the top-four system.

However, the new voting system is hardly a guarantee that Murkowski will win another term in this conservative state. If Democratic voters consolidate around a Democratic candidate whom they rank ahead of Murkowski, the incumbent could end up getting squeezed out of the ranked-choice process in the general election; if she is many voters' second choice but few voters' first choice, she could be eliminated before a Democrat and Tshibaka. Thus, Murkowski will likely need some measure of initial support from Democratic and independent voters in addition to more moderate Republicans if she's to make it to the final round of the ranked-choice voting process.

Redistricting

2020 Census: Mark your calendars: The U.S. Census Bureau will release the population data essential for redistricting at a press conference on the afternoon of Aug. 12. The deadline was originally set for April 1, but it was delayed because of the disruptions from the pandemic.

Colorado: Colorado's state Supreme Court has agreed to extend the deadline for the new independent congressional redistricting commission to complete its work because of the delay in the release of the Census Bureau data needed to conduct redistricting until Aug. 16; the commission now plans to pass a final map by Oct. 1 instead of Sept. 1. Commissioners previously unveiled a preliminary map in June drawn using data estimates.

Voting Access Expansions

Guam: Democratic Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed a law that permanently adopts in-person absentee voting after the Democratic-run legislature temporarily adopted it last year due to the pandemic, effectively allowing voters to vote early in-person.

Maine: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has signed a law that will allow voters to register online beginning in 2023. With Maine's adoption of online registration, every state where Democrats control the state government has passed such laws. Only seven states that require voters to register have not allowed full online registration, all of which are run by Republicans, and Texas is home to roughly three-fourths of the people living in those states, who constitute roughly one in eight Americans.

Massachusetts: Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill passed by the Democratic-run legislature with bipartisan support to extend pandemic-era voting access measures through Dec. 15 so that they will remain in place for upcoming local elections (such as Boston's mayoral contest) while lawmakers decide whether to make them permanent. The provisions in question include expanded early voting and no-excuse mail voting.

Voter Suppression

Georgia: Republican legislators have taken the first step toward a potential state takeover of election administration in Fulton County after key GOP lawmakers signaled their support for a "performance review" of the county, which could eventually lead to the GOP-run State Board of Elections temporarily replacing the officials in charge of elections in the county. Fulton County is a Democratic stronghold with a large Black population that is home to Atlanta and one in ten state residents, making it Georgia's largest county.

An eventual state takeover is possible under a law Republicans passed earlier this year that contained several new voting restrictions, which prompted a national backlash of condemnation and numerous lawsuits that argued it was a way to make voting harder for key Democratic-leaning groups and enable GOP officials to overturn election results after Trump's attempt to do so with the 2020 elections failed. Georgia is just one of several states where Republican lawmakers have passed legislation to give partisan GOP officials more control over election administration ahead of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election.

Texas: Democratic Party organizations and civil rights advocates have reached a settlement with Republican officials in Texas that will see the latter permanently implement a limited online voter registration system after a federal court last year ruled that Texas was violating federal law and ordered the state to establish partial online registration. The court found that Texas had violated the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as the "motor voter" law, by failing to offer online registration updates for eligible voters renewing their driver's license or updating their address with the DMV online, and roughly one million voters have registered online since the court's ruling.

Biden And The All-Star Game: A Presidential Wild Pitch?

By Philip Wegmann for RealClearPolitics

The president loves baseball, and has said the earliest memories he has are of the sport: a glove under his pillow the night before his first game and a too-big Little League jersey that hung past his knees. Given a chance to pick between an inning on the mound in the majors or the vice presidency, a much younger Joe Biden wouldn’t hesitate.

“I would have pitched!” the then-vice president told a crowd gathered for the final game of the 2009 Little League World Series, before following through with his trademark addendum, “By the way, I’m not kidding.”

Biden’s whimsical yearning was a variation on an old anecdote told by Dwight Eisenhower, and the crowd laughed appreciatively. He told them how he started at shortstop in elementary school but was playing centerfield by high school.

RELATED: Trump Goes All-In: ‘I Would Say Boycott Baseball’

The lesson he learned along the way, Biden said that day in Williamsport, Pa., is that “we owe our best to whoever is watching.” Here, Biden was paraphrasing Joe DiMaggio, as he acknowledged, adding that he hoped “I have done that in my career.”

Almost a dozen years later, Biden is in the Oval Office. Mixing sports with politics, however, may have led to a few errors in his still-new presidency.

It included an ESPN interview; he said he would “strongly support” pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta to protest new voter laws in Georgia. It ended with an extended rundown, caught between angry fans and legislators.

The White House now insists, contrary to fact, that Biden never weighed in on where the “Midsummer Classic” should or should not be played.

Like most Democrats, Biden opposes the new voting law, which requires a photo ID to cast a ballot, sets limits on absentee voting, and reduces the number of ballot drop boxes.

But the president erred when he said during his first press conference that the law “ends voting early” at 5 p.m. (it actually extends early voting hours and keeps Georgia’s 7 p.m. Election Day voting hours intact). He called it “un-American.”

The Washington Post fact-checker gave his claim “four Pinocchios.” The error has not been acknowledged, let alone corrected, and corporations have started making business decisions in response to public pressure on the issue.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and Home Depot oppose the law. Outside of Georgia, Apple, JPMorgan, and United Airlines issued similar statements. This kind of posturing isn’t unusual and usually only spooks the local chamber of commerce when a company actually decides to act instead of issue press releases.

RELATED: Top Republicans Take On MLB, Big Business Over Georgia Voting Law

Late last week, Biden was asked about “the possibility that baseball decides to move their All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of this political issue” by ESPN’s Sage Steele.

“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them, they’re leaders,” Biden replied.

The exchange was almost Trumpian. No, Biden didn’t shout. But he went beyond politics. He talked about sports and politics, almost like a talking head — and exactly like his press secretary promised he never would act.

When reporters pressed Jen Psaki earlier this year on the impeachment trial of former President Trump, she demurred, saying Biden wouldn’t comment because “he is not a pundit.”

The answer about the All-Star Game, however, has opened the president up to a host of related topics. Now that he’s weighed in on baseball in light of the Georgia voting law, for instance, will he do the same regarding the U.S. participating in the Beijing Olympics given the anti-democratic tendencies of the Xi regime?

RealClearPolitics put that question to Psaki on Friday, and while the press secretary punted, saying that the U.S. Olympic Committee would play a “big role,” she insisted that the president “did not” weigh in on baseball.

“I don’t know if you heard the answer, the question and the answer that happened a few minutes ago where we addressed this, and I answered the question. And I give a little more context, but maybe you weren’t paying attention to that part,” Psaki replied.

Another reporter had asked earlier in the briefing if Biden believed businesses should consider pulling out of Texas as that state considers a bill similar to Georgia’s new law.

RELATED: Marco Rubio Dares MLB Commissioner To Give Up Augusta National Golf Club Membership In Georgia

“Well, first, he didn’t call for businesses to boycott. Businesses have made that decision themselves, of course. He also was not dictating that Major League Baseball move their game out of Georgia. He was conveying that if that was a decision that was made, that he would certainly support that,” Psaki said.

But the president had weighed in on the question, and less than an hour after the briefing wrapped, MLB announced that there would be no All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Georgia Gov. Kemp laid the decision at the feet of Biden, saying that it was “the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections.”

Abrams, a Democratic activist and former gubernatorial candidate who led the opposition to the law, released her own statement praising the league and its players “for speaking out.” At the same time though, she added that she was “disappointed” that the MLB is relocating the game due to its economic impact. She wasn’t the only Democrat to do so.

Newly elected Sen. Jon Ossoff broke with Biden, telling National Review, “I absolutely oppose and reject any notion of boycotting Georgia. Georgia welcomes business, investment, jobs, opportunity, and events.”

The solution, he said, was to “stop any financial support to Georgia’s Republican Party, which is abusing its power to make it harder for Americans to vote.”

Republicans reacted at the national level by condemning the move, and South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan even announced he was drafting legislation to strip MLB of its federal antitrust exemption. And while that is a doomed effort so long as Democrats control the House, it was indicative of a shift on the normally corporate-friendly right.

RELATED: Newt Gingrich Slams ‘Disgraceful’ Big Corporations For Attacking GA Election Law – Shows How ‘Corrupt’ They’ve Become

The Georgia House of Representatives threatened to pull Delta’s tax cuts on jet fuel, the Texas GOP is reportedly mulling a similar response to corporate criticism, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw a brush-back pitch at the business community. He argued in a statement that corporations were acting like a “woke alternative government” with their boycotts.

If that continued, McConnell warned, their actions would “invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from the constitutional order.”

At a moment when Republicans are fighting to keep the White House and Democrats in Congress from increasing the corporate tax rate, McConnell likened the threatened boycotts to “economic blackmail.”

Psaki responded to that statement Monday by saying, “We’ve not asked corporations to take specific actions. That’s not our focus here.” And without going into details Tuesday, she declined to comment on MLB moving the All-Star Game to Colorado even though that state has laws similar to Georgia’s, other than to say “the Georgia legislation is built on a lie. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.”

The White House has not backed down from Biden’s false claim that the Georgia law limits voting hours. But the president appeared to moderate his tone and acknowledge the economic harm that boycotts cause to local communities.

When asked about a different sport in the same state, the president demurred. And if he was a cheerleader who was “very supportive” of MLB’s decision to can the Georgia All-Star Game, he was more libertarian this week when it came to golf.

Should the Masters tournament relocate? “I think that is up to the Masters,” Biden said after remarks about the pandemic in the State Dining room at the White House. Talking sports this time, he was more cerebral, weighing the pros and cons of boycotts.

“Look, you know, it is reassuring to see that for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are,” he said.

“The other side to it too is: When they, in fact, move out of Georgia, the people who need the help the most — people who are making hourly wages — sometimes get hurt the most.

“I think it’s a very tough decision for a corporation to make or a group to make, but I respect it when they make that judgment, and I support whatever judgment they make,” he started to conclude, before adding that “the best way to deal with this is for Georgia and other states to smarten up.  Stop it.  Stop it.  It’s about getting people to vote.”

Before Biden spoke to reporters, State Department spokesman Ned Price announced that the U.S. is considering a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2022.

The president had previously said that his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, didn’t have “a Democratic bone in his body,” and Price told reporters that a boycott “is something that we certainly wish to discuss.”

State then appeared to quickly flip-flop. A senior department official, speaking anonymously, told CNBC in that “our position on the 2022 Olympics has not changed. We have not discussed and are not discussing any joint boycott with allies and partners.”

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

The post Biden And The All-Star Game: A Presidential Wild Pitch? appeared first on The Political Insider.

President Trump Slams Washington Post For Now-Corrected ‘Hoax’ Georgia Election Investigation Story

On Monday, former President Donald Trump responded to The Washington Post making multiple massive corrections to their story that accused Trump of tampering with the Georgia elections, calling the Post’s claims a “hoax.”

The damning quotes from an unnamed “source,” that Washington Post now admits Trump did not make, were used by Democrats in his second impeachment trial.

RELATED: Woke-A-Cola: Coke Will Only Work With Law Firms That Abide By 30% Diversity Quotas

Washington Post Admits Damning Quotes Were False

The Washington Post corrected their bombshell story that originally claimed Trump pressured Georgia’s top elections investigator, Frances Watson, to “find the fraud” in his state’s election. 

The Post also claimed that the then-president supposedly told her she would be “a national hero” if she found any discrepancies. 

Actual audio of the call was published last week by The Wall Street Journal, which proved the Trump quotes were false.

The quotes were used against Trump during his second impeachment trial.

Obviously this is a major correction and story. This is no mere typo.

The Washington Post, which cited the quotes to one person who was an anonymous source, corrected their story Monday.

Trump’s statement read, “The Washington Post just issued a correction as to the contents of the incorrectly reported phone call I had with respect to voter fraud in the Great State of Georgia.”

“While I appreciate the Washington Post’s correction, which immediately makes the Georgia Witch Hunt a non-story, the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning,” Trump blasted.

Trump Pulls No Punches

The former President also noted that media bias seems to “slant one way.”

Trump added, “You will notice that establishment media errors, omissions, mistakes, and outright lies always slant one way—against me and against Republicans.”

“Meanwhile, stories that hurt Democrats or undermine their narratives are buried, ignored, or delayed until they can do the least harm—for example, after an election is over,” Trump wrote.

RELATED: Meghan McCain Smacks Down Joy Behar After She Tries To Defend Andrew Cuomo Amidst Sexual Misconduct Scandal

Trump Calls News Outlets ‘Political Entities’

Trump said news coverage of the coronavirus vaccine was part of this bias.

Trump said, “Look no further than the negative coverage of the vaccine that preceded the election and the overdue celebration of the vaccine once the election had concluded.”

“A strong democracy requires a fair and honest press,” he continued. “This latest media travesty underscores that legacy media outlets should be regarded as political entities—not journalistic enterprises.”

Donald Trump then “thanked” the Post for its update to their story.

“In any event, I thank the Washington Post for the correction,” Trump wrote.

 

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #16 on Feedspot’s “Top 70 Conservative Political Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2021.”

 

The post President Trump Slams Washington Post For Now-Corrected ‘Hoax’ Georgia Election Investigation Story appeared first on The Political Insider.

GOP Sen. Toomey Says Trump Can’t Be The GOP Nominee In 2024 Because He Cost Republicans Senate And White House

Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) spoke out on Friday to say that former President Donald Trump should not be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

It should be noted that Toomey was one of the Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump in his second impeachment trial last month.

Neil Cavuto Questions Toomey

Toomey made his latest comments on this while appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto.”

“I know you’re leaving the Senate,” host Neil Cavuto said. “You got into a storm of controversy with your own state GOP because you voted to convict the president in the impeachment trial in the Senate.”

“Do you look back at that and have any regrets and the wrath you have received for that vote and the criticism of the president and others?” he asked. 

Toomey Responds 

“I did what I thought was right,” Toomey replied.

“Over time what Republicans will do is we’ll acknowledge and recognize, as most already do, that there were some tremendous accomplishments by the Trump administration during those four years, but in my view, the behavior of the president after the election, culminating on January 6, was completely unacceptable,” he added. “And I think I did the right thing.”

“Do you believe he should run and deserves to run for president if he wants to? Would you support him if he were your nomination?” Cavuto questioned.

“I don’t think he can be the nominee,” Toomey responded. “Look what happened. He won the election in 2016, and then we lost the House.”

“And then he cost us the White House, which was a very winnable race,” he added. “And then he cost us control of the Senate by what he did in Georgia. I think with that kind of track record. It’s not likely that he’ll be the nominee.”

“If he were, would you support him?” Cavuto asked, to which Toomey replied, “I don’t see that happening.”

Related: Trump Not Considering Replacing Pence On Potential 2024 Ticket, Jason Miller Claims

Jim Jordan Endorses Trump

This comes days after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) officially endorsed Trump, should he run again in 2024.

“[H]e’s the leader of the conservative movement,” Jordan said of Trump. “He’s the leader of the America first movement, and he is the leader of the Republican Party.”

“And I hope, and you know, I hope — like I said yesterday, I hope on January 20, 2025 he’s, once again, will be the leader of our country,” he added. “I hope he runs, but he’s definitely the leader of our party.”

“We need to stay together, and the vast, vast, vast majority of our party supports President Trump as our leader,” Jordan said.

Full Story: Jim Jordan Defies Left To Say ‘I Hope On January 20, 2025’ Trump Is The President Again

This piece was written by James Samson on March 6, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

Read more at LifeZette:
GOP Rep. Moore Rips Biden As He Says He’s ‘Nowhere To Be Found’ – Predicts ‘Tremendous Landslide’ Wins For Republicans In 2022
Joe Scarborough Claims Senator Josh Hawley Is ‘Responsible’ For Capitol Riot
Mitch McConnell Is Asked Directly If He Regrets Condemning Trump After Riots – Desperately Dodges The Question

The post GOP Sen. Toomey Says Trump Can’t Be The GOP Nominee In 2024 Because He Cost Republicans Senate And White House appeared first on The Political Insider.

Voting Rights Roundup: The House’s new voting rights bill now curtails gerrymandering right away

Programming Note: The Voting Rights Roundup will be taking a break the week of March 13 but will return the following week.

Leading Off

Congress: On Wednesday, House Democrats voted 220-210 to once again pass H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” the most important set of voting and election reforms since the historic Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965. It also includes a major modification to provisions that would curtail gerrymandering, ensuring that they'll take effect right away. All Democrats except Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson voted for the bill, while all Republicans voted against it.

H.R. 1 would implement transformative changes to federal elections by (1) removing barriers to expanding access to voting and securing the integrity of the vote; (2) establishing public financing in House elections to level the playing field; and (3) banning congressional gerrymandering by requiring that every state create a nonpartisan redistricting commission subject to nonpartisan redistricting criteria.

These reforms, which House Democrats previously passed in 2019, face a challenging path in the Senate given Democrats’ narrow majority and uncertainty over whether they can overcome a GOP filibuster, but their adoption is critical for preserving American democracy amid unprecedented attack by Republican extremists both in and outside Congress. Senate Democrats have announced that they plan to hold hearings on the bill on March 24, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has committed to holding an eventual floor vote.

Using Congress’ power to regulate Senate and House elections under the Elections Clause and enforce anti-discrimination laws under the 14th Amendment, the bill would:

  • Require states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting;
  • Establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria such as a partisan fairness provision that courts can enforce starting immediately no matter what institution draws the maps;
  • Establish automatic voter registration at an array of state agencies;
  • Establish same-day voter registration;
  • Allow online voter registration;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they'll be on the rolls when they turn 18;
  • Allow state colleges and universities to serve as registration agencies;
  • Ban states from purging eligible voters' registration simply for infrequent voting;
  • Establish two weeks of in-person early voting, including availability on Sundays and outside of normal business hours;
  • Standardize hours within states for opening and closing polling places on Election Day, with exceptions to let cities set longer hours in municipal races;
  • Require paper ballots filled by hand or machines that use them as official records and let voters verify their choices;
  • Grant funds to states to upgrade their election security infrastructure;
  • Provide prepaid postage on mail ballots;
  • Allow voters to turn in their mail ballot in person if they choose;
  • Allow voters to track their absentee mail ballots;
  • End prison gerrymandering by counting prisoners at their last address (rather than where they're incarcerated) for the purposes of redistricting;
  • End felony disenfranchisement for those on parole, probation, or post-sentence, and require such citizens to be supplied with registration forms and informed their voting rights have been restored;
  • Provide public financing for House campaigns in the form of matching small donations at a six-for-one rate;
  • Expand campaign finance disclosure requirements to mitigate Citizens United;
  • Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders; and
  • Make it a crime to mislead voters with the intention of preventing them from voting.

Importantly, the bill that won approval on the full floor on Wednesday contained critical amendments strengthening its anti-gerrymandering provisions. While the original version would not have required states to use independent commissions and nonpartisan redistricting criteria until 2030, the revised bill would implement them right away. And even if states don't have enough time to set up new commissions ahead of the 2022 elections, they would still be banned from drawing maps that unduly favor a party, which a court could then enforce.​

Campaign Action

​Ending Republicans’ ability to gerrymander is of the utmost importance after Republicans won the power to redistrict two-to-three times as many congressional districts as Democrats after the 2020 elections. If congressional Democrats don’t act, Republican dominance in redistricting may practically guarantee that Republicans retake the House in 2022 even if Democrats once again win more votes, an outcome that could lead to congressional Republicans more seriously trying to overturn a Democratic victory in the 2024 Electoral College vote than they did in January, when two-thirds of the House caucus voted to overturn Biden's election.

If this bill becomes law, Republicans would lose that unfettered power to rig the House playing field to their advantage. Instead, reform proponents would gain the ability to challenge unfair maps in court over illegal partisan discrimination, and the bill would eventually require states to create independent redistricting commissions that would take the process out of the hands of self-interested legislators entirely.

Protecting the right to vote is just as paramount when Republican lawmakers across the country have introduced hundreds of bills to adopt new voting restrictions by furthering the lies Donald Trump told about the election that led directly to January's insurrection at the Capitol. With Republican legislatures likely to pass many of these bills into law—and the Supreme Court's conservative partisans poised to further undermine existing protections for voting rights—congressional action is an absolute must to protect the ability of voters to cast their ballots.

The most important remaining hurdle, however, is the legislative filibuster: The fate of these reforms will depend on Senate Democrats either abolishing or curtailing it. Progressive activists have relaunched a movement to eliminate the filibuster entirely, while some experts have suggested that Democrats could carve out an exception for voting rights legislation. Either way, Democrats will need to address the filibuster in some fashion, since Senate Republicans have made it clear they will not provide the support necessary to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass H.R. 1 into law.

Redistricting

Minnesota: A group of Minnesota citizens, including a veteran redistricting expert and a former state supreme court justice, filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to prevent Minnesota's current congressional and legislative districts from being used next year if state lawmakers are unable to pass new districts by Feb. 15. That outcome is likely given that Democrats hold the state House and governorship while Republicans hold the state Senate. Similarly divided governments have led the courts to intervene to draw new maps in each of the last five decades.

New Mexico: A committee in New Mexico's Democratic-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would establish a bipartisan advisory redistricting commission to handle redistricting for Congress, the state legislature, the state Public Regulation Commission, and the state Public Education Commission. Democratic state House Speaker Brian Egolf endorsed the proposal after previously opposing a competing reform measure that passed unanimously in state House committee in early February.

The Senate bill would create a commission with seven members, with four chosen by the leadership of both parties in each of the state's two legislative chambers, two unaffiliated members selected by the state Ethics Commission, and a final seventh member named by the Ethics Commission who would be a retired appellate judge and would serve as commission chair. No more than three commissioners could be members of the same party, and anyone who is or has served as an officeholder, candidate, or lobbyist (or whose close family members have) in the two years prior to redistricting could not participate.

Commissioners would devise three proposals for each type of office and hold public hearings to discuss them. Districts would have to be drawn according to the following criteria: equal population; legislative districts cannot split precincts; adherence to the federal Voting Rights Act and its protections of voters of color; compactness; preservation of communities of interest and local government jurisdictions; and preservation of the cores of existing districts. The criteria apparently do not prohibit mapmakers from considering partisanship or incumbency.

Once commissioners have come up with three different proposals for each office and held public hearings, they would submit the maps to the legislature for approval by lawmakers. The bill doesn't mention any prohibition on lawmakers amending the proposed districts, meaning this reform measure could nevertheless result in legislators adopting gerrymandered districts.

South Dakota: Last month, the League of Women Voters and other good-government organizations announced a plan to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would establish an independent redistricting commission. Supporters would need to file just under 34,000 signatures, roughly 10% of the total vote for governor in the most recent election, by this November in order to get onto the ballot.

Since South Dakota only has a single statewide congressional district, the proposal would only affect legislative redistricting. The measure would create a nine-member commission chosen by the state Board of Elections with no more than three members belonging to the same party, though the proposal is vague on the specifics of the selection process.

Mapmakers would have to adhere to several criteria, which prioritize compactness, followed by preserving communities of interest and keeping counties and cities undivided to the extent practicable. Commissioners would be barred from considering partisanship or incumbency. While Republican lawmakers would still have the opportunity to draw new districts for the 2022 elections even if the amendment passes, the commission would sweep into action immediately, crafting new maps in 2023 for the 2024 elections and then in years ending in "1" every 10 years afterward.

Voting Access Expansions

Congress: House members are set to introduce a bill with bipartisan support that would make Puerto Rico a state following a referendum last November in which voters backed statehood by a 52-48 margin. The bill's 48 sponsors in the House are mostly Democrats but also include around a dozen Republicans, several of whom are from Florida, which is home to a large Puerto Rican population. However, even if the House passes the bill, it will face a challenging path to overcoming a likely filibuster by Senate Republicans, as only Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are reportedly supporting the bill on the GOP side.

Delaware: Democratic state Rep. Bryan Shupe has announced he plans to introduce a bill later this month that would end Delaware's unusual system that requires voters to register twice: once for state and federal elections and separately for local races. This system regularly leads to situations where voters who are registered in state elections try to vote in their local elections only to find out on Election Day that they can't vote. Democrats hold both legislative chambers and the governor's office in Delaware.

Idaho: Idaho's Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill to set up a standardized process for requiring local election officials to contact voters and give them a chance to fix any errors with their absentee ballots such as a voter signature supposedly not matching the one on file.

Maryland: Maryland's Democratic-run state House has passed a bill to create a semi-permanent list that will automatically mail absentee ballots in all future elections to voters who opt in. A handful of other states have similar systems, though this proposal differs in that voters who don't vote in two consecutive election cycles would be removed from the list and have to reapply.

Meanwhile, state House Democrats passed a bill with some bipartisan support to strengthen voting access on college campuses, military bases, retirement homes, and other "large residential communities." Sites like these would be able to request an in-person voting location, and colleges would be required to establish voter registration efforts on campus and give students an excused absence to vote if needed. The bill would also let military service members register online using their identification smart cards issued by the Defense Department.

New Mexico: New Mexico's Democratic-run state House has unanimously passed a bill that aims to protect Native American voting access in a variety of ways. Among other provisions, the bill requires that every reservation or other Native community have an in-person polling place, which fills an important gap since many Native communities lack reliable postal service for mail voting and also have a large proportion of residents who lack a driver's license or access to other transportation options.

New York: Following its recent passage in the state Senate, a bill has been approved in committee by Assembly Democrats that would automatically restore voting rights to everyone who is not currently incarcerated, which would permanently end the disenfranchisement of parolees. Currently, many parolees are only able to vote because Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order two years ago to restore the rights of people on parole who were convicted of certain crimes, meaning their right to vote could be rescinded by a future governor unless this bill passes.

New Jersey: New Jersey's Democratic-run Assembly has passed a bill with bipartisan support to create an in-person early voting period after their counterparts in the state Senate passed similar legislation last week. The Assembly's bill would adopt 10 days of early voting for general elections starting in November, five days for presidential primaries, and three days for all other primaries and any municipal elections taking place in May. The measure would require each of New Jersey's 21 counties to establish between five and 10 early voting locations.

Utah: Utah's GOP-run legislature has unanimously passed a bill creating a system where voters can track the status of their mail ballots via email or text message. Utah is one of a handful of states that mails ballots to all active registered voters by default.

Virginia: Both chambers of Virginia's Democratic-run legislature have passed a constitutional amendment that would abolish felony disenfranchisement for everyone who is not currently incarcerated. Currently, state law imposes a lifetime ban on voting by anyone convicted of a felony, but that system has been curtailed because Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and his Democratic predecessor issued executive orders to automatically restore voting rights upon completion of any prison, parole, or probation sentences. Those orders, however, could be rescinded by any future Republican governor.

To become law, legislators would have to pass this same amendment again after the 2021 elections before it would have to win approval in a November 2022 voter referendum. A separate amendment that would have abolished felony disenfranchisement entirely, including for people currently in prison, failed to advance before a key deadline.

Voter Suppression

Supreme Court: On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case over two Arizona voting restrictions that could deal a crippling blow to what remains of the Voting Rights Act after the high court's conservatives gutted a key part of the law in 2013. Observers widely agreed that the court's conservative majority was leaning toward upholding the Republican-backed voting restrictions, but it was unclear from oral arguments just how gravely the court could undermine the standards used to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

This case involves two Arizona laws that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found had both the effect and intent of discriminating against Black, Latino, and Native American voters. If both findings are overturned, it may become impossible to challenge similar laws in the future.

Last year, the 9th Circuit blocked both measures: one that bars counting votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, and another that limits who can turn in another person's absentee mail ballot on a voter's behalf.

Arizona had largely transitioned to mail voting even before the pandemic, but the 9th Circuit observed that only 18% of Native American voters receive mail service, and many living on remote reservations lack reliable transportation options. That led some voters to ask others in their community to turn their completed ballots in, which Republicans have sought to deride as "ballot harvesting" in an attempt to delegitimize the practice. The invalidated law had limited who could handle another person's mail ballot to just close relatives, caregivers, or postal service workers.

The 9th Circuit's ruling also invalidated a separate provision prohibiting out-of-precinct voting, in which a voter shows up and casts a ballot at the wrong polling place but in the right county on Election Day. Under the invalidated law, voters in such circumstances could only cast a provisional ballot, which were automatically rejected if it was later confirmed that the voter had indeed showed up at the wrong polling place.

This decision relied on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that have a discriminatory effect against racial minorities regardless of whether there was an intent to discriminate. The finding of a discriminatory effect is critical because it's often much more difficult if not impossible to prove that lawmakers acted with illicit intent, whereas statistical analysis can more readily prove that a law has a disparate negative impact on protected racial groups.

Consequently, it's this so-called "effects test" that is the key remaining plank of the Voting Rights Act following the Supreme Court's notorious 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Some legal observers remained optimistic that the worst may not come to pass, since Arizona Republicans' oral arguments did not touch on the constitutionality of the VRA's effects test. However, others have noted that even if the effects test isn't formally struck down, the Supreme Court could make it so difficult to comply with the requirements to prove discrimination that the VRA would nevertheless become meaningless.

In one revealing exchange, conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Republican attorney Michael Carvin why the state GOP was even party to this case. Carvin responded with an admission that the 9th Circuit decision striking down the two voting restrictions "puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats" because "every extra vote they get ... hurts us."

Arizona: Republicans in the Arizona Senate have passed a bill that could purge roughly 200,000 voters from the state's "permanent" mail voting list, which is supposed to automatically mail a ballot in all future elections to participating voters and has proven very popular since its implementation. The bill would remove anyone who doesn't vote in two consecutive election cycles, even if they still remain eligible to vote. Republicans only hold a two-seat majority in both the state House and Senate, so they would need every member on board to overcome Democratic opposition.

In the state House, meanwhile, Republicans have passed a bill that would require people and groups who register more than 25 voters in a given year to themselves register with the state, mandating that they put unique identifying numbers on every registration form they submit. Voter advocacy groups have condemned this bill and warn that it could lead to registration forms being rejected.

Alabama: Alabama House Republicans have passed a bill that would ban local election officials from establishing curbside voting or setting up voting machines outside of polling places, which would make it harder for people with disabilities and limited mobility to cast their ballots.

Arkansas: Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill into law that makes Arkansas' voter ID law much stricter, making it one of the first of many Republican-backed voting restrictions under consideration nationwide to become law following the 2020 elections. The bill removes the option for voters who lack an ID to vote by signing a sworn statement under penalty of perjury, instead mandating an ID in order to have one's vote counted.

Georgia: On Monday, state House Republicans passed a far-reaching bill to enact several new voting restrictions that would:

  • Require that voters provide the number on their driver's license, state ID, or a photocopy of their ID when requesting an absentee ballot and a photocopy of their ID when returning an absentee ballot;
  • Limit weekend early voting;
  • Restrict absentee ballot drop boxes to only the inside of early voting locations or county election offices, making them unavailable outside of regular business hours;
  • Set a minimum of one drop box per 200,000 registered voters (other states such as California require one drop box per 15,000 voters);
  • Shorten the runoff period in federal elections from nine weeks to four weeks, with the apparent intent of giving campaigns less time to mobilize voters (instant runoffs would be used for overseas civilian and military voters to avoid running afoul of federal law mandating that their ballots be sent out 45 days before an election);
  • Ban state officials from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot request forms to all voters after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did so in the 2020 primary;
  • Disqualify ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, which currently may be counted as provisional ballots;
  • Limit mobile early voting buses to only emergency situations;
  • Bar counties from receiving private funding to help administer elections; and
  • Block officials from distributing food and drinks to voters waiting in line to vote.

Meanwhile, in the state Senate, Republicans passed a bill in committee to end no-excuse absentee voting for voters under age 65, who typically lean more Democratic than older voters. Late last month, Republicans in the full Senate also passed a bill that would give the state the power to take over local election boards that supposedly fail to meet certain standards, which Democrats condemned as a way to let Republicans usurp control over election boards in Democratic-leaning counties.

Montana: State House Republicans have passed a bill over Democratic objections that would bar anyone who isn't a family or household member, caregiver, or an "acquaintance" who is a registered voter in the same county from turning in another person's ballot, thereby preventing voter advocacy groups or political campaigns from organizing ballot collection efforts.

A previous Republican-backed law imposing similar restrictions was blocked in court last year for discriminating against Native American voters, who often live on remote rural reservations where mail service and transportation access are limited. This latest bill may therefore also face difficulty surviving a likely lawsuit.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill along party lines to add a voter ID requirement for requesting and casting absentee ballots, sending it to the state House, which is also controlled by the GOP. New Hampshire is one of several states where Republicans are considering extending voter ID requirements to absentee ballots after Democrats disproportionately voted by mail in the 2020 elections.

Wyoming: State House Republicans have passed a bill establishing a voter ID requirement, sending it to the state Senate, where Republicans are also likely to pass it.

Ballot Measures

Idaho: Idaho's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill that would make it all but impossible for progressive initiatives to get on the ballot by requiring proponents to submit voter signatures equivalent to 6% of registered voters in each of the state's 35 legislative districts instead of 18, the current requirement.

The bill, which would take effect immediately, would disproportionately impact progressives because left-leaning voters are heavily concentrated in a handful of denser urban districts. Liberal organizers would therefore have to canvas in rural districts where receptive voters are few and far between. Conservatives, by contrast, would have an easier time canvassing for signatures in cities because, even if right-leaning voters represent a relatively small proportion of voters, they live in closer proximity to one another.

Republicans in Idaho have advanced similar restrictions on initiatives in recent years as a reaction to successful efforts by progressives to expand Medicaid and increase public education funding at the ballot box during the last decade. Fearing a lawsuit, GOP Gov. Brad Little vetoed a similar bill in 2019 but the Senate passed this most recent bill with a veto-proof majority.

South Dakota: South Dakota's Republican-run legislature voted this week to put a constitutional amendment on the June 2022 primary ballot that would institute a 60% supermajority requirement for ballot initiatives that raise taxes or spend more than $10 million in public funds within a five-year period. The amendment would not, however, require a supermajority to cut taxes or spending. Democratic legislators blasted Republicans for trying to manipulate the election to their advantage by placing the amendment on the primary ballot instead of sending it before voters in the general election, noting that turnout in the 2020 primary was just one-third as high as it was last November.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to enact restrictions on ballot initiatives in recent years after voters approved an initiative in 2016 that would have placed strict limits on lobbying, created an independent ethics commission, and implemented a public campaign finance system that would have given each voter a voucher to donate to their preferred candidates.

In 2017, Republicans resorted to declaring an actual state of emergency to enable the legislature to immediately repeal the voter-approved ethics law and make it immune to a veto referendum, meaning supporters of the reform needed double the signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to restore the measure. Although they did just that in 2018, then-Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley gave the new amendment a ballot summary that said it would "likely be challenged on constitutional grounds," and voters rejected the second ethics commission amendment 55-45.

Electoral System Reform

Burlington, VT: Voters in Vermont's largest city of Burlington voted by 64-36 margin to approve a ballot measure that will adopt instant-runoff voting in City Council elections starting next year. This vote comes just over a decade after Burlington voters narrowly repealed instant-runoff voting for mayoral elections after it had been used to elect the mayor in 2006 and 2009. Before it can take effect, though, it must be approved by the Democratic-run legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Senate Elections

Kentucky: Republican state senators have passed a bill that would require the governor to fill any future U.S. Senate vacancies with an appointee from the same party as the departing senator.

Currently, Kentucky's governor is Democrat Andy Beshear while both of its senators are Republicans, meaning this bill would prevent Beshear from replacing either McConnell or fellow Sen. Rand Paul with a Democrat if either were to leave office. Republicans easily hold enough seats to override a potential veto by Beshear. The bill would allow the party committee of the departing lawmaker to send a list of three names to the governor, who would be required to pick a replacement from that list.

Ever since Beshear's narrow 2019 win, Kentucky Republicans have advanced a series of moves to strip him of his executive power, and this proposal is part of the same partisan effort to constrain Beshear's authority. However, despite the GOP's self-interested motives, the proposed system is already used in many states for legislative vacancies and a handful of states for Senate vacancies and better ensures the will of voters is respected.

Morning Digest: 17 districts flipped from Trump to Biden in 2020, while only two went the other way

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

House: Thanks to the recent completion of Daily Kos Elections' effort to calculate the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district, we now know that Joe Biden won 224 districts to Donald Trump's 211, a net increase of 15 seats for Democrats compared to the 2016 results under the same district lines. In a new story, Stephen Wolf has created maps and a chart showing the geography and electoral stats of the 19 districts that changed parties at the presidential level in 2020. Of those districts, 17 flipped from backing Trump in 2016 to Biden last year, while two districts switched from supporting Hillary Clinton four years ago to voting for Trump in 2020.

The districts that changed hands share some demographic commonalities, and many were competitive at the House level in November. Those that went from Trump to Biden include many historically red suburban seats with high levels of college education and voters who have grown increasingly hostile to the Republican Party under Trump. That's an extension of the pattern seen in 2016, when Clinton also flipped many historically red suburban seats.

Campaign Action

Unlike four years ago when Trump flipped many districts with large populations of white voters without a college degree, the two districts that Trump picked up this time both have large populations of Latino voters, a demographic that shifted sharply back toward Republicans in 2020 after giving Clinton historically high levels of support four years earlier.

Governors

CA-Gov: Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a vocal proponent of the effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, isn't so sure about running himself if the recall makes the ballot. "I'm not planning on it now," he told Politico this week, adding that he'll "look at how the field shapes up."

CO-Gov: Businessman Greg Lopez, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018, has announced that he'll try for the Republican nod to take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis again next year. The little-known Lopez finished a surprising second at the state GOP's convention three years ago, which allowed him to move on to the party's primary, but his campaign was badly underfunded and he ended up a very distant third with just 13% of the vote.

KS-Gov: Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who'd reportedly been looking at a bid against Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, now confirms that he's "seriously considering" a campaign, though he did not offer a timetable for a decision.

MN-Gov: Unnamed GOP operatives tell the Minnesota Reformer that Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson could be a candidate for governor next year, when Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is up for re-election, though there's no word on whether she's interested. So far, no major Republican names have entered the race.

PA-Gov: The Cook Political Report adds former Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings to the long list of Republicans who could run for governor next year, though she doesn't appear to have said anything publicly. Cummings briefly ran for the Senate in 2012 before dropping down to challenge Democrat Matt Cartwright for what was then the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District and got smooshed.

House

LA-02: Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter has released a mid-February internal survey conducted by veteran New Orleans pollster Silas Lee that finds him leading the March 20 all-party primary with 28% of the vote, which is below the majority he'd need to avoid an April runoff. The poll finds that Carter's most likely opponent is fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who edges out a third Democrat, activist Gary Chambers, 19-6 for second place.

The only other poll we've seen of the contest for this safely blue seat was a late February survey conducted for Trust the People PAC, a group opposed to Carter, that also found the two state senators advancing. Unfortunately, the PAC did not reveal the name of its pollster, which is information we require for inclusion in the Digest.

NC-11: Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara just kicked off a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, making her the first notable Democrat to do so. Beach-Ferrara, who described herself "a gay woman who's a Christian minister" in her announcement video, won a second four-year term on the commission last year. Buncombe, which is home to the college town of Asheville, makes up about a third of North Carolina's 11th District and is its bluest bastion. The district overall is quite red, though: According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, it supported Donald Trump 55-43 last year.

OH-01: Ohio's 1st Congressional District may already be represented by a member of his own party, but Franklin Mayor Brent Centers is eagerly trying to elbow aside Republican Rep. Steve Chabot ahead of next year's midterms. That may not go so well, however: Centers says "my assumption and the assumption of a lot of people who are endorsing me" is that Chabot will retire, but a spokesperson for the congressman says he's running for a 14th term and pointed to an op-ed Chabot wrote immediately after winning his second straight difficult re-election campaign in November saying he'd be on the ballot in 2022.

According to Centers, though, that hasn't stopped a whole host of officials in his home base of Warren County from backing his would-be candidacy, which he says he plans to launch in early May. It's possible that some of these local pols think they're avoiding a direct conflict with Chabot because Warren could be drawn into another neighboring district, and Centers even hinted that could set him on a collision course with two other Republicans: Reps. Warren Davidson and Brad Wenstrup. But redistricting is still a long ways away, so if Centers is serious about kicking off a bid in just two months' time, he'll have to make it clear whether or not he's actually going to primary Chabot.

TX-06: There was a surprise less than an hour before candidate filing closed Wednesday when Dan Rodimer, who was the Republican nominee for Nevada's 3rd District last year, filled out paperwork to run in the May 1 special all-party primary. Rodmier's campaign didn't come completely out of nowhere, as the Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers mentioned him as a possible contender last week, but the former WWE wrestler hadn't said anything publicly until now.

Rodimer, whose Twitter account still listed his location as Las Vegas even as he was filing to run in the Lone Star State, said, "We need fighters in Texas, and that's what I'm coming here for. I'm moving back to Texas." We'll have more about Rodimer and the rest of this crowded field in our next Digest.

Meanwhile, former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson tweeted on Tuesday night that she'd be sitting the contest out. A third Republican, party activist Susan Wright, also earned an endorsement this week from 21st District Rep. Chip Roy in her quest to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright.

TX-13: The Department of Defense on Wednesday released its long-awaited inspector general’s report into allegations against freshman Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson from his time as chief White House physician, and it concluded that he displayed egregious behavior during his tenure.

The report concluded that Jackson “engaged in inappropriate conduct involving the use of alcohol” during two presidential trips; “disparaged, belittled, bullied, and humiliated” subordinates, which included “sexual and denigrating” comments against one; and “took Ambien during official travel, raising concerns about his potential incapacity to provide medical care during his travel.”

Jackson, who represents one of the most Republican seats in the nation, responded by once again declaring, “Democrats are using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity.”

WA-04: Far-right ex-cop Loren Culp, who lost a bid for governor by a 57-43 margin to Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee last year, suggested this week that he might run against Rep. Dan Newhouse in Washington's 4th Congressional District next year. Newhouse, of course, is one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, earning him the ire of local GOP officials and conservative activists alike.

However, a Culp campaign could actually benefit him. That's because Republican state Rep. Brad Klippert already launched a challenge in January, meaning that the high-profile Culp might only help fracture the disaffected Trumpist vote on the right. Klippert does have one advantage, though: His entire legislative district is contained in the 4th, while Culp, notes NCWLIFE's Jefferson Robbins, doesn't even live in Newhouse's district but rather in the 5th.

WI-03: Republican Derrick Van Orden, who previously had not ruled out a rematch against Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, says he is "very seriously considering" another bid, though he did not say when he might decide.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special elections:

AL-SD-26: Democrat Kirk Hatcher defeated Republican William Green 78-22 to hold this seat for his party. Hatcher's win was right in line with past Democratic performances in this district. According to FiveThiryEight's Nathaniel Rakich, Hillary Clinton won this district 77-20 in 2016 and former Sen. David Burkette won here 80-20 in 2018.

Republicans now have a 27-7 majority in this chamber with one other seat vacant.

CA-SD-10: As of early Wednesday, Democrat Sydney Kamlager was leading in this South Los Angeles-area district and is on track to easily avoid a runoff. Kamlager declared victory and was leading her closest competition, fellow Democrat Daniel Lee, 68-13.

As the likely outcome of this race is a Democratic hold, the composition of this chamber would return to a 31-9 lead for Team Blue.

CT-SD-27: Democrat Patricia Miller defeated Republican Joshua Esses to hold this seat for her party. The state of Connecticut has not released vote totals for this race yet, but according to the Stamford Advocate, Miller was leading by approximately 100 votes and Esses had conceded the race.  

This chamber will return to a 24-12 advantage for Democrats.

MA-HD-19th Suffolk: Former Winthrop Town Council president Jeffrey Turco won the Democratic primary in this reliably blue seat in the Winthrop area. Turco came out ahead of union representative Juan Jaramillo 36-30 in a contest where there were very sharp ideological contrasts between the two top contenders.

Jaramillo was endorsed by notable progressives such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and also had the backing of several labor groups, such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Turco, meanwhile, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, was supported by several police unions, and received backlash from groups such as NARAL for his stance on reproductive rights. Turco's support of GOP candidates extended into the 2020 cycle as well, when he donated to the re-election campaign of Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

Former Massachusetts House staffer Alicia DelVento, meanwhile, took third with 26% while Valentino Capobianco, who is chief of staff to state Sen. Paul Feeney, took 7%. Capobianco had the backing of establishment figures such as state Attorney General Maura Healey and former Rep. Joe Kennedy but lost their support when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against him.

Turco will begin as the favorite over Republican Paul Caruccio in the March 30 general election in this district that supported Hillary Clinton 60-36 in 2016.

Mayors

 New York City, NY Mayor: On Wednesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams earned an endorsement from the Hotel Trades Council, which is one of the major unions in city politics, for the June instant-runoff Democratic primary.

St. Louis, MO Mayor: St. Louis on Tuesday became the first large city in America to host a race using an "approval voting" system, which allows voters to cast as many votes in the primary as there are candidates, and City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderman Cara Spencer advanced to next month's nonpartisan general election.

Tishaura Jones, who narrowly lost the 2017 Democratic primary to retiring incumbent Lyda Krewson under the old system, won support from 57% of voters, while 46% selected Cara Spencer as a choice. A third Democratic contender, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, earned the backing of 39% of voters, while 19% selected Republican Andrew Jones.

Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer will compete again in the April 6 general election, where voters will only be able to select one of them. Tishaura Jones would be the city's first Black leader since 2001.

St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: St. Pete Polls, working on behalf of Florida Politics, surveys the August nonpartisan primary of its namesake city and finds three Democrats in a close fight for the two spots in a likely general election, though with a large plurality of voters still undecided. City Councilwoman Darden Rice leads with 15%, while former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and former state Rep. Wengay Newton are each just behind with 14%; another five candidates were tested, but none of them took more than 5% of the vote.

St. Pete also tests a hypothetical November matchup between Rice and Welch and finds Welch ahead 31-24.

Data

Pres-by-CD: We've made some minor adjustments to our calculations of the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district in Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York based on more precise data we've received since we initially published our findings for each state.

The largest shift came in New Jersey, which resulted in 427 votes moving between the 5th District to the 9th, with Donald Trump's margin increasing by that sum in the former and Biden's growing a corresponding amount in the latter. We also corrected a minor error in Oklahoma that resulted in a total of 484 votes shifting from the 4th District to the 5th with no change to the raw vote margin between the two candidates.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: The district attorney’s office in Shawnee County, Kansas announced this week that it had reached a diversion agreement with former Republican Rep. Steve Watkins that would allow him to avoid trial over voter fraud charges. If Watkins follows the conditions, avoids breaking the law, and pays a $250 fine, the charges against him would be dropped in September.

Back in late 2019, the Topeka Capital-Journal first reported that Watkins may have committed voter fraud by listing a UPS store in Topeka as his home address on his voter registration form and then proceeding to cast a ballot the previous month as though he lived there. Watkins’ team insisted he’d made an "inadvertent" error and insisted he had "no improper purpose" because the UPS store and his supposed residence are both in the same county and congressional district. However, the locations are in different city council districts, and the contest Watkins cast his ballot in was decided by just 13 votes.

Local authorities began investigating Watkins for potential voter fraud soon afterwards, and they charged him the following July with three felonies, including lying to law enforcement. Watkins, who was already facing a tough intra-party challenge from state Treasurer Jake LaTurner even before the UPS story broke, argued he was the victim of a “hyper-political” attack, but LaTurner beat him by a blistering 49-34 margin that following month and went on to prevail in November. As part of Watkins’ diversion agreement, he acknowledged that he’d lied to a detective by claiming he hadn’t voted in that tight city council contest.

Don’t look now, but GOP already in disarray over Senate battleground races

With any luck, Donald Trump will apply the very same kiss of death he did in the Georgia Senate runoffs to at least a half dozen 2022 races that stand to decide the fate of the Senate.

In fact, we are already seeing Trump's toxic sludge begin to seep into those races in critical states like North Carolina and Pennsylvania, swing states with open seats that are potentially fertile ground for Democratic pick ups.

In Pennsylvania, the vote of retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey to convict Trump has already pitted county parties against Republican moderates like former Rep. Ryan Costello, who is eyeing a bid to replace Toomey. In saner times for the GOP, Costello might be the type of statewide candidate with crossover appeal that the Mitch McConnell wing of the party would champion. 

But Costello has made the fatal error of defending Toomey's vote against Trump. "Former Trump aides, in turn, are making plans to torpedo Costello before he announces a campaign," writes Politico.

Cue Trump-pardoned grifter Steve Bannon. "Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 must be full Trump MAGA," Bannon, a former member of the most corrupt White House cabal in American history, told Politico. Bannon also called Costello a "sellout to the globalists" in a separate statement.

Costello had the temerity to claim the rush to censure to Toomey will "hurt Republican candidates," and he even called a censure resolution drafted by his home county, Chester County Republicans, "staggeringly dumb."

The statement of one GOP county official that went viral really summed up the Trump loyalty test and why the inanity of his cultists is anathema to any reasonable voter. “We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing, whatever he said he was doing,” Washington County Republican chair Dave Ball told Pittsburgh television station KDKA Monday. “We sent him there to represent us, and we feel very strongly that he did not represent us.” 

Of course, Toomey represents nearly 13 million constituents and a majority of Keystone State voters rejected Trump at the ballot box last November.

As Trump advisers promise to take aim at Costello, the former congressman dismissed the effort. “They can say whatever they’d like, it won’t bother me,” he said. “It might help my fundraising, to be honest with you.” Costello has also dissed "Sloppy Steve" Bannon's broadside because "he's forever indebted for his pardon."

So Pennsylvania is off to a rousing start, but North Carolina isn't any less intriguing. Similar to Toomey, the state's retiring GOP senator, Richard Burr, voted to convict Trump. But Burr is vacating his seat under the cloud of a trading scandal in which he dumped a bunch of stock just before the pandemic tanked the market. While Trump lost Pennsylvania by about 80,000 votes, he narrowly won North Carolina by roughly 74,000 votes.

But Burr's conviction vote forced state Republicans to choose sides with nearly all of them lining up behind Trump. According to CNN, the state party censured Burr, he was banned from at least one county GOP headquarters, and every Republican eyeing his seat took Trump's side. So much for moderation—whoever wins that primary will almost surely be the most Trumpy of the bunch. And certainly the prospect of Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump potentially entering the race is already pushing the GOP primary to extremes.

The problem isn't lost on GOP strategists in the state, who fear Trump's brand took a big hit in the aftermath of Capitol insurrection. But they also aren't speaking openly about it. "They're all making a play for the primary," one state Republican strategist told CNN anonymously. "But my worry is that we're going to lose the seat because we get the Trumpiest guy of the bunch."

On the flip side of the equation, Trump's influence already has Republican strategists fretting he could doom their chances in potential pick-up races. In particular, they fear Trump's tinfoil hat loyalists such as Arizona GOP party chair Kelli Ward and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene could kill whatever chances they have to defeat Democratic incumbent Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.  

These races and more are likely to offer a bevy of Trump-inspired surprises for Republicans throughout the 2022 cycle. 

Republicans Start Turning On Marjorie Taylor Greene

Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is facing a growing number of critics from within the Republican party over controversial words and actions she engaged in prior to becoming a congresswoman.

No top Republicans, however, have thus far called for Greene to be punished either with expulsion or censure, nor have they stated she should resign.

CNN reported that in 2019 Greene ‘liked’ controversial comments on social media, including one that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” in a discussion to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Following that report, a video re-emerged showing Greene harassing anti-gun zealot David Hogg near the Capitol.

RELATED: Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene – I Will File Articles Of Impeachment Against Biden The Day After His Inauguration

Republicans Turn Their Back on Marjorie Taylor Greene

Some Republicans have voiced their concerns over Marjorie Taylor Green’s past which dabbled in Qanon conspiracy theories, liking violent comments, and harassing political opponents.

Michele Exner, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, indicated he would be having a “conversation” with Greene over these comments and actions.

Exner also called the reports on Greene “deeply disturbing.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) described the comments as “repugnant” in a statement to CNN, while Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) condemned them in a statement.

RELATED: Nunes Blasts ‘Socialist Revolutionary’ AOC After She Accuses Ted Cruz Of Attempted Murder

Democrats Refuse to Condemn Their Own Extreme Rhetoric

The timing of the media attacks against Marjorie Taylor Greene can hardly be ignored.

Last week, on President Joe Biden’s first full day in office, Greene officially filed articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives, as she promised she would.

“President Joe Biden is unfit to hold the office of the Presidency,” she said in a statement. “His pattern of abuse of power as President Obama’s Vice President is lengthy and disturbing.”

None of her accusations are untrue, so the media has instead pivoted to dredging up past controversial statements.

All the while, they allow current extremist rhetoric from Democrats to poison the political well.

Greene liking a comment about using a “bullet” to remove Pelosi from office is indeed reprehensible.

So is accusing Republicans of being the “enemy within,” asserting that Democrat lawmakers are fearful of that “enemy,” as Pelosi herself said.

Or, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) did, inciting violence against Republicans by accusing them of attempted murder.

Or, when Maxine Waters (D-CA) told her followers to accost Republicans at the grocery store.

Or, when Cory Booker (D-NJ) told supporters that they need to “get up in the face” of some members of Congress.

No, those calls to violence are perfectly fine. Democrats will always rally around their own no matter how despicable their past comments or behavior.

Republicans will all-too-willingly throw Marjorie Taylor Greene to the wolves.

The post Republicans Start Turning On Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared first on The Political Insider.