John Eastman’s attorneys advised him not to testify in Georgia’s presidential election probe

The Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney’s office is demanding that John Eastman answer questions for the special grand jury investigating election tampering in the state in 2020. The former attorney for Donald Trump is pleading the Fifth.

According to USA TODAY, Eastman’s lawyers issued a statement stating that they had advised him to “assert attorney-client privilege and the constitutional right to remain silent where appropriate.”

“By all indications, the District Attorney’s Office has set itself on an unprecedented path of criminalizing controversial or disfavored legal theories, possibly in hopes that the federal government will follow its lead,” the statement reads. “Criminalization of unpopular legal theories is against every American tradition and would have ended the careers of John Adams, Ruth Ginsburg, Thurgood Marshall and many other now-celebrated American lawyers."

RELATED STORY: Lindsey Graham believes he’s above the law, tells judge that Georgia DA must explain her questioning

The attorney, infamously known for creating the bogus falsehood that Joe Biden didn’t actually win the election, is among such MAGA notables as former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and whiny Trump lapdog Sen. Lindsey Graham. All were called to testify in front of the Georgia grand jury and all have put up a fight—mostly to no avail.  

Eastman was behind the idea of sending a group of fake electors out into swing states in hopes of blocking the congressional certification of the 2020 election.

The New York Times reports that Eastman continued looking for election irregularities long after Trump was out of office. In one of a slew of previously uncovered emails, Eastman wrote, “A lot of us have now staked our reputations on the claims of election fraud, and this would be a way to gather proof… If we get proof of fraud on Jan. 5, it will likely also demonstrate the fraud on Nov. 3, thereby vindicating President Trump’s claims and serving as a strong bulwark against Senate impeachment trial.”

Kemp’s attorneys tried everything to save the incumbent governor from giving a sworn statement. But according to reporting from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney refused to allow the governor to skirt his testimony but did allow him to push it off until after the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Giuliani tried to play the “too sick to testify” card but was staunchly shut down by McBurney and appeared in Atlanta on Aug. 17 to give testimony.

Graham is doing everything he can to avoid testifying to the special grand jury in Georgia, including filing a brief on Aug. 24 that reasons that the subpoena to testify is invalid based on a rarely used section of the U.S. Constitution.

“The Constitution guarantees that a Senator ‘shall not be questioned’ about his protected ‘Speech or Debate’—and yet the District Attorney insists that Senator Graham must submit to questioning to ascertain whether he can be questioned or is immune from questioning. That makes no sense,” Graham’s motion reads.

Eastman also pleaded the Fifth in refusing to answer questions from the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, per USA TODAY.

The Downballot: Effective political ads + speaking to Black voters, with Terrance Green (transcript)

Black voters are the most stalwart constituency in the Democratic Party, but candidates cannot take them for granted. Media consultant Terrance Green joins us on this week's edition of The Downballot to discuss his career in politics communicating with voters, including leading the largest-ever paid media operation to turn out the Black vote on behalf of the Biden-Harris campaign. Immediately after that historic victory, he found himself targeting white voters on behalf of a Black Senate hopeful, Raphael Warnock, in Georgia's epic runoffs. Terrance also tells us how he's helped African American candidates turn back racist attacks and what he thinks the impact of having so many high-profile Black Senate contenders this year will be.  

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard, meanwhile, recap this week's races, including a special election in a conservative Minnesota House district that saw the Republican badly underperform Donald Trump; a surprisingly close call for one of the most vocal progressives on Capitol Hill, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar; and the Democratic primary for Vermont's open House seat, which means that, at long last, the state will almost certainly end its status as the only one never to send a woman to Congress come next year.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

David Beard:

Hello and welcome. I'm David Beard, contributing editor for Daily Kos Elections.

David Nir:

And I'm David Nir, political director of Daily Kos. The Downballot is a weekly podcast dedicated to the many elections that take place below the presidency, from Senate to city council. You can subscribe to The Downballot wherever you listen to podcasts, and please leave us a five-star rating and review.

David Beard:

We had another exciting primary night this week. So what are we going to be covering on today's show?

David Nir:

We had a special election in Minnesota where Republicans dramatically underperformed the top of the ticket. We also saw the final conclusion to last week's primaries in Washington state, where yet another pro-impeachment Republican has lost. We have some primaries in Minnesota and Wisconsin and Vermont that we want to catch up on. And then we are going to be talking with political consultant Terrance Green, who among other things was responsible for running the Biden-Harris campaign's paid media outreach to black voters in 2020. Plenty to talk about on this week's show, so let's get rolling.

David Beard:

We had a number of primary elections this past Tuesday. But most importantly, we actually had a special election in Minnesota for the 1st district. So what happened there, Nir?

David Nir:

So this was a special election for the vacancy in Minnesota's 1st congressional district that was held by Republican Jim Hagedorn, who died earlier this year. And Republican Brad Finstad defeated Democrat Jeff Ettinger by a 51-47 margin. And you might ask, why do we think it's so important to talk about a race where a Republican held a Republican seat? The answer is that this is rather conservative turf in southern Minnesota. It includes the city of Rochester and also a lot of rural areas as well. Donald Trump won this district by a 54 to 44 margin in 2020. So he won it by 10 points. Finstad only carried it by four points, which means he ran six points behind Donald Trump. And simply put, that kind of underperformance is not the sort of thing that you would expect to see if the GOP supposedly is facing a favorable political environment for them, if they are on the verge of benefiting from typical midterm patterns, which invariably almost always harm the party that is in control of the White House.

David Nir:

That really isn't what should have happened. Finstad should have won by at least Donald Trump's margin, if not by a bigger margin. Now, this is a district that has been home to very close House races for the last three election cycles. So even though this district has moved sharply away from Democrats at the presidential level, it still often is likelier to vote for Democrats further down ticket. However, this is not the only recent data point we have that is confounding our expectations of what the 2022 election will look like. At the end of June, just four days after the Supreme Court's Dobbs ruling, Nebraska held a special election in the similarly conservative 1st district, and the results were almost exactly the same. The Republican there ran six points behind Donald Trump. And then of course, last week, we saw the incredible 18-point victory in Kansas to defeat an amendment that would've stripped the right to an abortion from the state constitution.

David Nir:

So now we have three data points suggesting that maybe there really has been quite a shift in the political environment since the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dobbs case, overturning the right to an abortion. I don't want to draw too many conclusions as a result of such a small sample size, but we are about to have a whole bunch more data come in. In fact, there are three more special elections coming up in just the next two weeks. Next week, we have Alaska's at-large special election. And two weeks from now, we have two special elections in New York in the 19th district and the 23rd district. The 19th district is really going to be one to watch here. This is a seat that the Democrats hold, it's quite a divided swing seat. But the Democrat who's running in this race, Pat Ryan, has really made abortion a central issue in this race. He's run ads on it. He's really called it a referendum on abortion rights. And I think we're going to get a really good window into just how the Dobbs decision is affecting the electorate in a couple of weeks.

David Nir:

I don't want to revise my predictions for November yet. I am still relatively bearish on Democrats' chances for holding the House, but it's going to be really important to pay attention to what happens over the next two weeks. And if the results continue to indicate that abortion is a massive motivating issue for democratic voters, then democratic candidates have to lead and they have to lean into this one, because it could really change the trajectory of the midterm elections.

David Beard:

And special elections are important data points because there have been so many issues with polling over the past years, particularly favoring Democrats and leading to these bad surprises in 2016 and 2020, and in Florida year after year after year. And so special elections are like polls, except they're real live experiments basically in these individual districts of exactly how the elections will happen in November. And so they are better data points. Because they're so rare, you then struggle with the fact that like, “Oh, is there a weird situation here or an unusual candidate there?” But taken as a whole and the more data points, as you said, we can get here, the more representative it is of what we might expect to happen in November.

David Beard:

The other point I wanted to make was that last year in Virginia is another example of an actual election we can look to. And that election didn't go very well for Democrats and sort of was more along the lines of what you'd expect for a good Republican year, but that potentially has changed with these special elections. And again, we'll get to more data points, we'll see if that continues to happen. And the one that I think I would look at most closely is New York 19, as you mentioned. If Democrats have any potential shot to hang onto the House in November, given these special election results, they should be able to win and hold this seat. And so if that happens, that would really make me think twice about what sort of chances do Democrats have in November in the House.

David Beard:

Another really important result that we wanted to highlight is actually from last week's primary races in Washington, where votes continued to come in and resulted in a really significant change in one of the congressional races. In Washington's 3rd district, as we mentioned last week, Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler was in a tough race. She was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year. She was facing off both against a Democrat, a Republican endorsed by Trump, and a number of other candidates who were also in the ballot.

David Beard:

The Democrat Marie Perez leads the vote with 31% and Herrera Beutler led the Trumpist candidate, Joe Kent, by a small but noticeable margin right after election night. But the votes that were counted later ended up being much more favorable to Kent than Herrera Beutler. And he ended up edging her out, 22.8% to 22.3% for the second general election spot. Of course, Washington state has a top-two primary. So Perez and Kent will be the two candidates advancing to November. That means that only likely two of the Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump will advance to the general election. Dan Newhouse in Washington's 4th district: He did survive as we talked about last week. And David Valadao in California. Liz Cheney still has her primary coming up, but she's a big, big underdog in that race. So it's most likely that only Newhouse and Valadao will make it to the general election.

David Beard:

The other notable thing about this race is that Herrera Beutler lost despite significant Democratic support. Democrats got 42% in the 2020 congressional primary, but only got 34% of the vote in this year's congressional primary. Republicans got 64% of the vote, which is much higher than they would've normally gotten. That leads to the fact that a number of Democrats crossed over and voted for Herrera Beutler in hopes that she would advance to the general instead of the Trumpist candidate. So the fact that she nearly lost… without those Democrats, she would've lost to Kent by a much, much larger margin.

David Beard:

I'll also point that potentially this race could be on the fringes of competitiveness. Obviously, Perez should pick up a lot of those Democrats who voted for her and Beutler. Is that enough to put it on the board? Still to be seen, but certainly at least worth keeping an eye on.

David Nir:

It also just goes to show that for all the handwringing about Democratic meddling in GOP primaries, this is truly what Republicans want. As you said, without Democratic help, Herrera Beutler would've gotten completely destroyed. So how is it that Democrats can or even should be responsible for the outcome of GOP primaries? These trends, these patterns are just far, far too strong, even when you have tens of thousands of Democrats switching sides.

David Nir:

Tuesday night, of course, we also saw a bunch of primaries. The most surprising results almost certainly happened in Minnesota's 5th district. This is a dark blue seat based in Minneapolis. And here, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar fended off former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels by just a 50 to 48 margin. Omar's win was the weakest primary showing by a Democratic incumbent in the House since the Democratic Party merged with the Farmer-Labor Party in 1944 to create the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, best known as the DFL in Minnesota.

David Nir:

Omar reportedly did not run any television ads at all in this race, apparently due to a belief that her base constituted younger voters who would not be receptive to such a message. It seems like that was a huge mistake, and she got very, very lucky to win renomination. Samuels himself was a flawed candidate who wasn't necessarily the right fit for this sort of district, but winning just 50% in party primary, especially when you have the official DFL endorsement is a terribly weak showing and it suggests that a stronger candidate could unseat Omar in a future election cycle. Though I would certainly expect her to campaign differently in a future year, given how close a call this was.

David Beard:

And I think you can compare it to the other Squad members who have faced primaries and dispatched them very easily. The fact that Omar struggled so much in this race really points to a poorly run campaign. Hopefully, she learns from that, runs a stronger campaign in the future if she's facing the primary challenger so that this sort of near miss doesn't come out anywhere like that.

David Beard:

Another competitive race on Tuesday night was in the Wisconsin governor's race for the Republicans where a self-funding businessman, Tim Michels, defeated former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, 47% to 42%. Michels will be taking on incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Michels had Trump's endorsement, which of course goes a long way in these Republican primaries. He was also on the ballot previously, way back in 2004, when he lost the Senate race to Democrat Russ Feingold, 55% to 44%.

David Beard:

Michels jumped into this race very late in April, but of course he had a ton of money to spend to reintroduce himself to voters after not being on the ballot for almost two decades. And he decisively outspent Kleefisch after investing $12 million of his own money into his comeback. Kleefisch, of course, was Scott Walker's running mate in each of his campaigns and had his backing for the top job and seemed to be the clear front runner, but the amount of money that was spent and, of course, Donald Trump's endorsement of Michels went a long way into turning the race around and ended up causing Kleefisch's loss.

David Nir:

This of course is going to be one of the very, very top gubernatorial races in November. Evers only defeated Scott Walker by a very small margin in 2018. It really was one of the biggest Democratic upsets of the night in that big wave year. Democrats are also desperately trying to hold on to their current set of seats in the legislature. They want to avoid giving Republicans a supermajority. That's super important because even if Evers wins a second term, if Republicans can win two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the legislature, they will be able to override any of his vetoes.

David Nir:

And given Wisconsin's undoubted importance to the 2024 presidential election, just as it's been so important in all of these past presidential elections in our lifetimes, for Democrats to hang on to power in the Badger State is incredibly important.

David Beard:

And lastly, we wanted to highlight Vermont who will be likely sending a woman to Congress for the first time and will be the 50th and final state to do so. State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beat Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, 61% to 37% in the primary to replace Peter Welch, who is of course running for Senate to replace Pat Leahy, so the winner will likely become Vermont's only House member. She had endorsements from Bernie Sanders as well as the LGBTQ Victory Fund. She would also be the Green Mountain State's first gay representative.

David Nir:

Well, that does it for our weekly hits. Coming up, we are going to be talking with political consultant, Terrance Green, who among many other things was responsible for the Biden-Harris campaign's media outreach to Black voters in the 2020 election. He also worked on the famous Georgia Senate runoff for Raphael Warnock, following the 2020 elections. We have a lot to talk about with him. So please stay with us after the break.

David Nir:

Joining us today is Terrance Green, who is managing partner at the political consulting group 4C Partners. Among many campaigns, he notably led the largest ever paid media operation to turn out the black vote by a presidential campaign in history on behalf of the Biden and Harris ticket in 2020. Terrence, thank you so much for joining us today.

Terrance Green:

Hey, thanks for having me on, appreciate it.

David Nir:

So we always like to start with hearing a little bit about our guest backstory. So we would love to have you tell us about how you got involved in politics, and how you became a leading democratic political consultant.

Terrance Green:

My journey here is probably similar to some other folks. A lot of people were just looking for a job that paid consistently. Sometime in late 1999 or in 2000, I was on the road as a trainer for bartenders at TGI Fridays. I gave up an illustrious career, serving food to the masses, to join politics where I now serve messages to the masses. But I was on the road, I received a call from a gentleman, whose name is Adam Ferrari, at a firm called GMMB. And they wanted someone to just help them out for a three-month period, in what was the fall of 2000, in the heat of Bush V. Gore? I didn't know much about politics or about political media. I didn't know this existed at all, but I knew that there was a job that was going to pay me, I don't know, I think a hundred bucks a day, and I jumped at it, because it wouldn't have to come home and smell like French fries. That three month gig turned into 13 years, and a lot of amazing things that happened along the way. So shout out to Fridays and I'm glad not to be there now.

David Nir:

So you mentioned that was a 13 year gig, but if we add that to 1999, that puts us in the early 2000's, early 2010s rather. So what happened next?

Terrance Green:

Well, after that... Look, my time at GMMB was really amazing. I was able to work on numerous presidential campaigns. I was able to use my degree. I went to American University, and I studied film and politics, and that's what I do today and that's what I've done for the last 20-plus years, which is pretty amazing. I have a lot of friends who went to school who do something way different than what they studied. And that's great, college is the time to learn about yourself, and what you might want to do.

Terrance Green:

But I was able to find and start training for what I was doing without knowing I was getting ready for that moment. So after my time at GMMB I was able to be a part of John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004, Barack Obama's campaign in 2008, and the reelection in 2012. And to have a real front seat in all these things and I was able to go to the White House and film the president, that's pretty amazing, able to go on the road with the President of the United States and film him and making history. Able to meet then-candidate Barack Obama in a hot sweaty office in downtown D.C. to get him to say his radio disclaimer, ‘I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message,’ way before the caucuses in Iowa and when people were still trying to figure out who was going to win at that point. Probably Hillary was the odds-on favorite.

Terrance Green:

So being a part of those pieces of history was a pretty amazing thing for a kid from Long Island, New York, who he grew up trying to figure out his own path in the world, and finding it later on doing these amazing things that I'm still, sometimes, you can't quite digest it. But being there for the moment Barack Obama was nominated for the Democratic ticket in Denver, something I'll never forget as a person, as an individual, or professional, just seeing the history happen, the looks in people's eyes, the energy. And the state of things that we're in right now, it's kind of hard to believe that actually happened not too long ago. But my time at GMMB and the people there, who are really groundbreakers and trailblazers in this field of political advertising, taught me everything that I know about what I do.

Terrance Green:

In 2012 after the Obama campaign ended, I started thinking about what my future looked like and wanted to forge my own path as my own person. And that's when I decided to leave the firm in 2013 and start my own company called Truxton Creative. And that led to opportunities down the line, which put me together with the 4C team. So now as a few consultants in this world , we have multiple brands, Truxton Creative is around, 4C is something I'm also an owner and partner of. And these are vehicles of our own making that allow us to do the same work, but to do it our own way, and to write the next chapter of how this type of work happens and who does it. And it's exciting to be a part of that.

David Nir:

One thing we love to do here on The Downballot is get into the nitty gritty of campaign operations and sort of pull back the curtain because everyone listening to this program has of course seen political ads on TV or heard them on radio, but how does one actually get made? Can you walk us through the steps from beginning to end, from conception, to actually getting the ad placed on the air? What is that whole process? What needs to happen before viewers at home can actually see an ad?

Terrance Green:

That's a great question and sometimes for us, we do this on autopilot. We do it so much that sometimes you don't think about the process, per se, you just are doing it. But I'll say the genesis of ads, look, no candidate runs a campaign so they can run political ads. Political ads are a means to an end, to get people to know who you are, and to help win an election. It's one of the tools that you use, same as direct mail, online video, yard signs. The thing with political ads is that a lot of people see them, and people love video, and people want to see and hear from candidates.

Terrance Green:

So this is a very niche and unique platform to do that with. Making an ad depends on your priorities, it depends on do we need to get people to know the candidate? Do we need to speak about an issue specifically? Do we need to attack somebody? So we have to make that determination before we start. But assuming that we've already made that determination and we have our direction and marching orders, it might involve getting a camera on a candidate. So I'll say, "Hey, you know what? I've got to have John Smith film a 30 second ad about this issue," abortion rights, gun control, you name it. And that may take a couple of days, or we may have a few weeks to organize that type of a filming. And we'll get that captured. That will be a high end camera, type that you might use for a movie, that will involve lights, that will involve an audio team, and sometimes a makeup artist, and a location which may be a candidate's house or something that we source a different way.

Terrance Green:

So those things need to happen. The candidates need to look and sound right, that is priority number one. The next piece will be post-production. We take these ads to video editors and skilled folks, sometimes at larger creative shops where they've got several editors, sometimes they're individual editors that we will use. And they're using the latest materials, the same stuff that people put together the TV shows with, and online videos and everything that you see, they're using the same materials and the same tools to put together these political ads that are 30 seconds of joy that we deliver into everyone's TVs and timelines from there.

Terrance Green:

Then we move to getting the ad distributed. The ad will go out very quickly, usually within a few minutes if it's for digital, or it could be within 18 hours or so if it's going to be for television. And the workflow for that has changed immensely over the years, used to be a lot more analog, but now it's almost instantaneous. And we're able to get our ads on broadcast television, cable, you name it, and get the message out.

Terrance Green:

Yeah, for independent expenditure [IE] ads, the process is a little different. There's a higher legal threshold you've got to meet. So there usually are a lot of lawyers involved as you're writing the script for it. There are certain things you can say or not say; you got to be able to substantiate whatever the claims are. Usually with third party sources like news clips, research documents, the statements of those candidates themselves, whatever words they use out of their own mouths, can be used against them in campaign ads or the court of law.

Terrance Green:

So those are the types of things that we will use to substantiate those types of ads. And we also have to be credible if you're out there swinging wildly and saying crazy things about folks, and you are an independent expenditure [IE], you could do more harm to the cause than good.

Terrance Green:

The first rule of independent expenditures is do no harm. So you don't want to undercut the candidate that you're supporting, if it's, say, that a Democrat running for House seat or a Senate seat, by making a third party ad that gets everyone in trouble, because you said something that wasn't true or it was too inflammatory. So there's certainly a code that must be followed when it comes to independent expenditures. And you want to be as helpful as possible with the cause overall. We make a ton of those types of ads, as we've seen in the recent years, those types of ads are in some ways the majority of the ads that are out there. And there's a reason why, the money allows people to do more of these types of expenditures.

Terrance Green:

So there's two different tracks of the types of ads that you can do. Depends if you're working on a candidate directly or independent expenditure. And there's two different approaches that we typically take to get those done.

David Nir:

I find that difference so interesting between candidate ads and third party ads, and if you're wondering why these standards are so different, it's because TV and radio stations are obligated by law, to run any ads from candidates that they receive. And so these stations said in response, "Well, if we're obligated to run these ads, then we shouldn't be able to be held liable for any defamatory content as a publisher of these ads." And the courts have agreed, whereas stations are not obligated to run ads from third party groups like Super PACs, so they can be held liable for any defamatory content and therefore, stations are more likely to take ads down from third party groups, something they'll never really do in fact, they really can't do with, candidate ads. So it's a huge gulf, and every so often you will see a third party group ad get taken down for making false statements. And like you said, it totally violates the do no harm principle, because then you have a whole new cycle about some false ad from some third-party group and no candidate ever wants stuff to deal with that.

Terrance Green:

Yep, a candidate ad, you can lie in your candidate ads, because it's the First Amendment, and it's covered by free speech and candidates have... We've seen many candidates from the president on down, say whatever they want in their campaign ads, and sometimes it's not true. And not to say that Democrats won't do it either because we can bend the truth with the candidate ads. On the independent expenditure ads, the Super PAC ads, there are lawyers involved on both sides, and people are looking with a fine-toothed comb, for you to mess up, and they want to get that ad taken down. And when an ad gets taken down, it becomes a news story, and it becomes a news story and it hurts.

The collateral damage is that it would hurt also the candidate that you're trying to support. So, we don't want to be a part of that. Someone's going to give you the stink eye and bad mouth you later. So, you don't want to be a part of those types of stories if you can avoid it.

David Beard:

As we mentioned at the beginning, you were working on the Biden campaign. You led their paid media effort targeting African American voters in that election. So, what were the biggest challenges that you faced during that election in terms of both persuading African American voters and focusing on them out?

Terrance Green:

Yeah, I mean, look, the Biden team called up to run a program that was evolving in real time to get Black voters engaged. I will give them so much credit for realizing that they had to have a separate program and also fund it. Those are two different things. Having a program is one thing because every presidential campaign has a program to get Black voters, but to really fund it the way that they did was something that I was really happy about and proud to be a part of. And alluding to my prior experience, I've been around several presidential campaigns, which even for the work that we do, not everyone has been a part of those types of campaigns. They're large, they're unwieldy, they are a whole different animal from Senate campaigns and from House campaigns. There's different things that happen in these races at scale that are tough to deal with.

Terrance Green:

But if you've been around it, you can at least not get overwhelmed with the prospect of running multiple ad tracks in multiple states. So, the challenges with running the ad campaign in 2020 were numerous. We were in the middle of a pandemic. We had a contentious primary where we had Biden come out of a crowded field, but didn't have the internal operation built up as maybe some other candidates would've in the past as they were coming out of a primary win. We were also dealing with a country in the state of great unrest with the killing of George Floyd. We saw riots and civil disobedience and demonstrations in a way we hadn't seen in a really long time in this country. So, in the midst of all that, and we had a President, who didn't seem to care much about doing much to solve the problems that we were facing.

Terrance Green:

There were a lot of things that we had to overcome in terms of putting a program together and then talking to Black voters and meeting them where they were. We had to meet that moment in time and it was an unprecedented moment. There was a lot of uncertainty, but there was a great desire to get President Trump out of the office. He was still the best turnout tool that you could ever ask for. Black voters, generally speaking, are done with the drama, they're done with the disrespect, and the chaos that defined the Trump years. We wanted something new. But we had to also realize that people weren't going to go vote just because they loved Joe Biden. Voting for Black folks has a different approach to it historically, we wanted to choose someone who is the best choice for us, who will be someone who can help move us forward or which candidate would hurt us the least.

Terrance Green:

That's also sort of the inverse question that had to be answered in some ways, as you're trying to frame the arguments. The messaging that we were going at this with was understanding that the choice for Black voters wasn't going to be Biden versus Trump. We're already done with Trump. It was Biden versus sitting this one out. Biden versus staying home. We had to make sure that people didn't see staying home or sitting out as a viable option for them. What's happening right now in the country, what was happening in 2020 was way too important for people to set it out. So, the very first ads in messaging that we had even before we had all of the research and polling was really about empowering Black voters and letting them know that they were going to be the ones that decided this election, and giving them that power, reminding them of the power that has been used in the past to make change in this country and calling on voters to do that once again.

David Beard:

And then right after the 2020 election happened, obviously we found ourselves in the situation of having these double-barreled Georgia runoffs would potentially control of the Senate. And we have seen over the past year and a half, how incredibly consequential those races ended up being with all of the legislation. Most recently, of course, the Inflation Reduction Act, as it's now called, that just passed the Senate. You moved very quickly to do work in these races. You did paid media on behalf of Raphael Warnock, but through Senate Majority PAC. So, through that IE campaign that we mentioned previously, and this was for general audiences, not just African American voters. What was the strategic plan in that race? How did it come about? What was the turnaround time when we only had 60 days to go from zero to sixty here?

Terrance Green:

That was such very trying time in life. I was very personally exhausted from the prior 150 days of running the Biden effort for Black voters. And the very next day had to find some more energy and some more gas in the tank to be a part of this next race. Because Biden's win wouldn't mean as much if we couldn't flip those two seats in Georgia. So, we were obviously up for the task and got into it. One thing that we like to say over here, and one thing that makes us stand out from some of the other folks who do this work is that on one day, this firm, this team is called on to get Black voters for Biden. And the very next day we're getting white voters for Warnock. That involves a lot of cultural competency, being nimble, and also being able to understand whatever assignment that is given to you.

Terrance Green:

The key for the Georgia runoff working with Senate Majority PAC was to understand the playing field. There was a lot of spending already going on. A lot of money being spent already in the state of Georgia and a lot more to come. We weren't planning on being the biggest fish in the pond when it came to advertising in the Atlanta media market and in some of the other major markets. But we wanted to understand which audience that we could impact on the margins. It was going to be a close race no matter what. We understood that from the jump. So, what we saw in the research, and this program relied heavily on a lot of research and ad testing, that we wanted to make sure that the current Senator, Kelly Loeffler, could be disqualified because of her actions as Senator, with a particular set of white voters who are not in the Atlanta media market.

Terrance Green:

So, we were working in all the other corners of the state from your Savannahs, your Macons, those little tiny markets on the Tennessee border and the Florida border, that's where we were playing. We wanted to get that half a percent, that 1%, which might end up making the difference. Let the other folks do the work with turning out folks in Atlanta Metro and having the battle there. So, the ads that we ran, we ran maybe a half a dozen but we made, I would say at least 15 or 20 that didn't see the light of day. Were tested with this particular set of voters, they were white voters, they were seemingly had a profile that they could be... I wouldn't say they were going to vote for Warnock, but they could be turned away from Loeffler. If these folks didn't turn out, that would be a win for us.

Terrance Green:

If they turned out to vote for Warnock, even better. But we wanted to make sure they didn't vote for Kelly Loeffler. Her stock scandal was the number one thing that popped the people's heads that happened earlier on that year, with her insider trading scandal was top of mind for a lot of voters. So, we used that against her and we also tried to see if we pivot to also pin the tail on the donkey with some other issues that were going on economically, with the pandemic, you name it. So, we did a lot of different variations to see which ones really stuck with voters. Most of our arguments centered around how small businesses were suffering while Kelly Loeffler was making a profit. In the end, everything that happened in that race mattered. Every group that spent money and was active because we won by the hair of our chins. And we were able to make a big difference and be a part of that. So, around January 5th or so, we were able to take a nap finally from the 2020 elections. Unfortunately the very next day, the world kind of went to hell.

David Beard:

That was such a jarring time to have this extraordinary success on January 5th and to feel on top of the world. And then all of a sudden, the very next day, we're still talking about that day.

Terrance Green:

We had no time to celebrate. That was the one thing with the 2020, there was no time to celebrate anything. Biden didn't really win on election night. So, there was no popping of champagne until a week later, but even that was muted. We flipped the Senate two seats in Georgia, history made, and the very next day chaos in the Capital. So, in some ways we haven't had time to really celebrate what we did here because the work was extraordinary. But with so many people, we just had one little piece of the story, but I'm still waiting for that celebration, maybe one day.

David Nir:

Well, I sort of feel as Beard alluded, every time a bill passes the Senate by a 50/50 margin with Harris breaking ties, I kind of feel like that's a moment to pop the bubbly.

Terrance Green:

Look, that feels good every time they call her into the chamber to break the tie because that doesn't happen without Warnock and Ossoff being in the Senate. And those were two wins that people didn't think were possible. But when you think about the prior cycles and the work that was done in Georgia to mobilize, especially the Black vote, even what Biden was able to do to enhance that, and we had some part of that story too in terms of keeping folks engaged, to keep voting and to make change. And we saw that, we won Georgia. Who would've thought: Democrats haven't won Georgia since the nineties. And we were able to do that three times in 60 days. I wouldn't have put a bet in Vegas on that likely, but we're not here to play the odds in that way. We still have to work just as hard and try to achieve that result that we're hired to do.

David Beard:

Turning to 2022 and the midterms of course, Joe Biden's approval is down across the board and Black voters are no exception. What is the general feeling, the sense you are getting from African American voters in terms of their feelings about Joe Biden and about voting in the midterms?

Terrance Green:

That's a great question. This is a real time thing that we are trying to figure out right now in a lot of different places. So, we're consulting on a bunch of different races in different corners of the country, from House races to statewides. And there have been a lot of focus groups that have already happened in other research tools. So, what I can share from that is sort of an amalgamation of those sentiments. Some of that research has involved focus groups with African Americans who can hear from people's own mouths what's going on? How do you feel about things? Generally speaking, Black folks are still with Joe Biden. They're not excited about Joe Biden necessarily, but they're generally with him. They're not with him with the intensity level that you'd need to really be successful in a midterm. So, that's something that we have to keep a really close eye on.

Terrance Green:

There's certainly a lot of discontent that not enough has been done as we were explaining earlier, the Herculean effort that it took in 2020 to get folks to the polls in the midst of the pandemic in all this uncertainty and unrest. I think people wanted more of a return on that investment and they're not feeling that. The prices of things are too high. We wanted some change with policing to get more justice and also safer communities, more action, tangible action on guns, better jobs, better wages, things like that. And those are things that people aren't really seeing or feeling in a tangible way. So, there's certainly some hesitancy about voting and if I come out, what's going to change? You said last time we were going to get somewhere and we are not there yet. We're also realizing though that the Supreme Court has really put a spotlight on our rights and our rights are under attack, and we're seeing how we can position ourselves when it comes to abortion rights, when it comes to some of the other rights that are seemingly also in the cross hairs of this conservative court, and putting Democrats on the right side of protecting those rights.

Who you can marry, what you can do with your body, your right to vote, all these things, having the chance to codify that. We've already moved to put some of those votes there. I think that it'll be important for Democrats to tell people what they've done when it comes to rights when it comes to economic issues, and also what they want to protect. Fear is always a healthy additive to this argument, too. If we tell people what the other guy's going to do is really bad, that will be very helpful as well.

Terrance Green:

When we're talking about getting black folks out, I think we have to also understand that we just can't take black folks for granted. Candidates have to pursue those votes, and invest in black votes. Those are still democratic votes to lose for now, but they must be earned. When you're thinking about your media plans. When you're thinking about your community investments, you've got to put the time in to make sure that African American voters are engaged early and often. Then they will come out to support. If you wait till too late, then those are voters that may choose to sit home and not come out.

David Nir:

Democrats have nominated or will soon nominate four African American Senate candidates in some of the most competitive Senate races this year, including of course, Rafael Warnock, as we've mentioned, Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin and Val Demings in Florida. How does having an African American nominee in these races, in these states affect those races, both among the African American voters and their turnout and their enthusiasm for that and the general electorate?

Terrance Green:

I'm personally excited about all four of these candidates. To reelect Senator Warnock would be obviously a big deal in Georgia, but Barnes, Beasley and Demings are also extremely strong and exciting candidates. I think that the Black candidates in these statewide races have unique opportunity to shed the labeling of typical liberal that happens I think with some other types of candidates.

Terrance Green:

They can carve their own path about what type of Senator that they would be. I'll take one case in point of a candidate who's done that successfully. One of our clients is Antonio Delgado. He's now the Lieutenant governor of New York, but he got his start in 2018 running in a House district in upstate New York, which is 90% white.

Terrance Green:

Nobody thought he could win. A lot of people said that he should not even run. I will leave those names out of this podcast, but they're names that you know. We ignored their terrible advice and went to run a campaign the way that we wanted to run it. Delgado had an opportunity to tell people exactly who he was. He was from that area. He was grounded in the region. He was from upstate Schenectady, New York, which is a little bit out of the district. You don't say you're from Schenectady, unless you're from Schenectady. It's the kind of place that lets people know that you didn't grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth and you probably had to work pretty hard to get wherever you are in life today.

Terrance Green:

A lot of these candidates successful in their own rights, but they're from these states and they can make their own story as to why they understand the people from their respective states and would be a good representative for those states. Delgado ended up winning a competitive seven-way primary, and then went on to beat the incumbent by five points. He got reelected by double digits in the following race in 2020. He did that because he outworked everyone. He is super smart, he's disciplined. That built a lot of good will with a lot of people that didn't look like him.

Terrance Green:

Part of the reason is that his positions, well, he voted very much as a progressive. He was able to talk about it in very reasonable way as to why this is the way that he thought about things in one to approach policy and was able to get a receptive audience from a lot of these voters. Again, most of them white, a lot of them independent, and a whole bunch of them had voted for Donald Trump just a few short months before the 2018 election.

Terrance Green:

There is an opportunity to build that goodwill and look like a very reasonable candidate while not conceding your principles as a liberal, as a Democrat. Each state's going to be a little bit different. Each race is a little bit different, but if you can avoid being painted as a liberal or typical Democratic, liberal socialist, Marxist, and all those things, those labels don't stick as well to black candidates as we've seen recently, and I think that each of these candidates has a chance to run their own race and be their own person and connect with voters in a different way. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.

Terrance Green:

Full disclosure on this. We are working with some Super PACs in support of Val Demings and Cheri Beasley in this cycle. We will be hopefully a part of the story of their success in their individual states.

David Nir:

Now, I'm glad you mentioned Delgado. We followed his 2018 campaign very closely. In my opinion, the ads that Republicans ran against him in that election were the most racist of any they ran that cycle. That is really saying something. In particular, they focused on his early career as a rapper. We thought that made him look incredibly awesome, but obviously it was designed to inspire fear in racist, white voters. How is that something that you combated, because he obviously did go on to some impressive wins in this district.

Terrance Green:

With the Republicans and race, when it comes to these types of ads, I would say that it's like a moth to a flame. We knew exactly what they were going to go for. There were probably some other things that Antonio's bio would've yielded a little bit more potency with the attack ads, but they couldn't help themselves to go ahead and run things that darkened his features, made him look like a tough gangster rapper.

Terrance Green:

Don't forget this man's a Rhodes Scholar. This man was an NCAA basketball player, went to an Ivy League school. He is the best of what folks have to offer. He's from upstate New York and he wasn't afraid to say that. The thing that we wanted to do was to disarm all of that racism in a subtle, yet head on way. We wanted to show that Antonio was a smart dude and that people liked him, people from that area. Most of the folks up there are white. We're going to make sure that we go and campaign with white voters.

Terrance Green:

The ad campaign that we ran in the primary, which also extended to the general election was called doors. We wanted to bring the campaign experience of door knocking to the doorstep of everyone who was watching these ads. We had simply Antonio walking up driveways and going through the various towns of upstate New York, talking to people about the stuff that mattered to them, healthcare jobs, the environment, women's health, all the things that were on the minds of voters and having a very reasonable and sensible smart guy to do that was something that helped turn the tide.

Terrance Green:

Now, when we looked at the outcome of that election and the types of voters that we were able to get, his numbers with white voters, particularly white women voters, were through the roof. They're the types of numbers that you don't normally see. The reason is that we disarmed voters from the normal way of thinking and were able to show Antonio as a human being who wanted to do something good for the community that he's from.

Terrance Green:

The more people saw those other ads play against that the less inclined they were to absorb that negative messaging, because he looked like someone who didn't deserve this type of nastiness. He's just a nice guy. It ended up having a negative effect on John Faso's election chances. Going back to the earlier comment about, do no harm from the IE's, at the end of the day, those racist nasty attack ads on Delgado did more harm than good for the Republican side.

Terrance Green:

It put more people in our camp because they didn't think they were fair. We were able to scoop them up with a positive message.

David Nir:

Well, I love hearing that there was a price for Republicans to pay for their racist ads. This is a fantastic conversation. We have been talking with Terrance Green, political media consultant and managing partner at 4C partners. Terrance, where can people find you online?

Terrance Green:

For those in the Twitter verse, I am @twgreen27. You can follow me for political news as well as sports updates. I'm a big baseball and football fan. Happy to have you join and I'll follow back. Promise.

David Nir:

Thank you so much for joining us today.

Terrance Green:

Thank you both.

David Nir:

That's all from us this week. Thanks to Terrance screen for joining us. The Downballot comes out every Thursday, everywhere you listen to podcasts, you can reach us by email at The Downballot, DailyKos.com. If you haven't already please like and subscribe to The Downballot and leave us a five-star rating review. Thanks to our producer, Cara Zelaya, and editor Tim Einenkel we'll be back next week with a new episode.

History 101: Parallels between Putin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany, plus U.S. reaction then and now

Battlefield developments regarding the brutal, unprovoked, imperialistic Russian invasion of Ukraine appear multiple times on this site’s front page every day—with good reason. For starters, Moscow has the world’s second largest military, and more nuclear weapons than any other country. Truly understanding the conflict means looking beyond what’s happened since hostilities began and examining history.

For example, although many of us have a vague sense that Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler share some similarities as aggressive warmongers, it’s important to provide substance to supplement that vague sense—and to connect the history to the present both in terms of events in Europe and the reaction of our own country to the two dictators’ bloodthirsty acts.

The First World War officially ended at the stroke of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918—an appalling six hours after the countries involved had signed the armistice agreement. How many soldiers died in combat during those final six hours? Almost three thousand, and the last one was an American.

The conflict decisively altered the map of Central and Eastern Europe.

Before:

After:

Four states that had ruled over large swathes of territory were defeated, and their dynasties overthrown: the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian, and German empires. The Ottoman Empire dissolved, and the Turkish Republic that emerged in its place was limited to the Turkish heartland of Anatolia and, in Europe, a tiny bit of land surrounding Istanbul (they had lost much of their territory in Europe in the Balkan Wars that immediately preceded WWI).

The war led to fundamental change in Russia. The country became a democracy for a few months in 1917, and then, thanks to the Bolsheviks, transformed into the Soviet Union near the end of that year. By losing the war, it lost control over Finland, as well as the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which all became independent, while the territory known now as Moldova went from being Russian to Romanian. However, during the Second World War, the USSR reacquired all of these, except Finland—of which it did get a small slice—and added a large block of eastern Poland as well.

Austria-Hungary, the patrimony of the Habsburg dynasty, split apart completely. Most importantly for our purposes, its dissolution left millions who identified as ethnic Germans as either minorities in newly created states such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, or in the rump-Austrian Republic. The Treaty of Versailles barred the newly created Austria from joining their territory to that of Germany, a step—known in German as Anschluss—that its leaders and most citizens wanted to take, rather than remain an independent state.

As for Germany, the Hohenzollern family abdicated the throne and democracy became its form of government. Elected leaders drew up a new constitution in the city of Weimar, which gave its name to the era running from the end of the war until Hitler’s takeover in 1933. The Versailles Treaty mandated that Germany hand over Alsace-Lorraine to France, a small piece of land to Belgium, a province to Denmark, and, in the East, one city (Memel) to Lithuania, as well as a large chunk of territory to Poland—which was reconstituted 123 years after having been forcibly partitioned by neighboring states. Large numbers of people who identified as Germans were now citizens of the new Poland, living in what became known as the “Polish Corridor.”

Germany had been the predominant military power on the European continent since its unification in 1871—accomplished in the wake of its crushing defeat of France, which had held that title for over two centuries. The country had a long tradition of militarism, and most Germans held martial values in high regard. They were proud of the nation’s military strength and battlefield victories. On the whole, Germany felt humiliated and was left wanting revenge after their defeat in WWI. Some Germans, in particular on the right, wanted nothing more than to undo the war’s outcome.

These revisionist desires were a major factor fueling Hitler's ability to win support—he was going to make Germany great again—and, ultimately, provided the basis for his aggressive foreign policy in the 1930s. As noted on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website:

Revision of the Versailles Treaty represented one of the platforms that gave radical right wing parties in Germany, including Hitler's Nazi Party, such appeal to mainstream voters in the 1920s and early 1930s. Promises to rearm, to reclaim German territory, particularly in the East, and to regain prominence again among European and world powers after a humiliating defeat, stoked ultranationalist sentiment and helped average Germans to overlook the more radical tenets of Nazi ideology.

During the Weimar era, Germany’s relations with its neighbors were not exactly placid, but at least war was avoided. After 1923, when the conflict over reparations payments was resolved, Germany had a “productive working relationship” with the two large West European democracies, Britain and France, and officially accepted the territorial losses along its western borders. German relations with its eastern neighbors were less settled, to be sure. However, In 1928, Germany signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which officially outlawed war “as an instrument of national policy.”

Five years later, Adolf Hitler had become chancellor of Germany. Through the violence and deceit he employed in the initial weeks of his rule, he became absolute dictator—the Fuehrer. Hitler’s military and foreign policy contains strong parallels to what we are seeing from Putin’s Russia today.

not carbon copies

The two are not carbon copies, to be sure. Nazi Germany’s commitment to murderous antisemitism and genocide—its meticulously developed and executed plan to kill every Jew, along with Roma and other groups deemed racially or otherwise inferior—is not something we are seeing from present-day Russia, although their war crimes against Ukrainian civilians are certainly despicable. Nevertheless, virtually from the time Hitler took power, he began his quest to reverse the results of WWI and alter his country's borders, a quest that brought Europe into war.

One of Hitler’s guiding principles was that ethnic Germans—those with, in his terms, German blood—needed to be “regathered" into the German state after being left outside it. The most egregious injustice, in the eyes of the Nazis, were those people whose territories were part of non-German states, such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, where they were being supposedly "mistreated."

Among his earliest steps, in 1936 Hitler took full control of the Rhineland—the demilitarized zone west of the Rhine River, on the border with France. Then, in 1938 he sent German troops into Austria and achieved the long-sought Anschluss. Later that year, he used the threat of force to acquire the Sudetenland—a part of western Czechoslovakia that bordered Germany, where German-speakers lived—although he promised that he’d then leave the rest of the country alone. In March 1939, he broke that promise. German forces marched in and took the rest of the Czech part of the country, and set up a Nazi-puppet regime in the Slovak half.

Hitler then turned his focus to Poland. After enacting a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union—which included a “secret protocol” by which the two countries agreed to divide Poland between them—Nazi Germany invaded its eastern neighbor on Sept. 1, 1939, and plunged Europe into the Second World War.

the many similarities

Russia's story over the past three-plus decades contains many similarities. The end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet empire—which, in Putin's words from 2005, constitute "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century"—stand as the equivalent of Germany’s defeat in WWI.

Within Russia, one generation after the end of the USSR, the autocratic Putin had dismantled the Yeltsin-era democracy that followed Soviet communism. Although the post-Soviet democracy did look shaky right from the start—people were talking about "Weimar Russia" as early as 1995—Putin is the person who delivered the death blow. Timothy Snyder, the preeminent historian of totalitarianism, has characterized Putin’s Russia as a fascist government, and contended that it is currently waging “a fascist war of destruction” in Ukraine. In this insightful New York Times op-ed piece, Snyder explores significant commonalities in the nature of the Putin and Hitler regimes.

Since first taking power in 2000, Putin has also ushered in an abrupt close to a period of relatively good relations with Russia's neighbors, which culminated in the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997. The document states that “NATO and Russia do not consider one another adversaries and cites the sweeping transformations in NATO and Russia that make possible this new relationship.” After Putin became president, he cast aside those sentiments as easily as he takes off his shirt for photo-ops.

It’s also worth noting that in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, Russia made a guarantee to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine,” in return for Kyiv turning its share of the Soviet nuclear arsenal over to Moscow. Putin has made clear that agreement isn’t worth the paper on which it’s written.

The Russian president’s overarching goal has long been to reverse previous territorial losses born by his country. Much like Hitler, his revisionism focuses on recovering lands populated by his people’s ethnic kin (or those, like Ukrainians, he claims are kin, even if they reject such an identity). An estimated 25 million people who identified as ethnically Russian suddenly found themselves living outside the Russian Federation when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. Some moved back to Russia, while others went elsewhere, but approximately 20 million or more remain living in Russia’s near abroad.

but our people ...

Exactly as Hitler did regarding ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland and Poland in the 1930s, Putin has been employing rhetoric decrying how Russian-speakers in the former USSR were supposedly being mistreated. Putin used this to justify military action against Georgia in 2008—where South Ossetia and Abkhazia have large ethnic Russian populations—and Ukraine, both in 2014, when it outright annexed Crimea and put troops into eastern Ukraine, as well as now.

Thinking beyond places where Moscow currently has armed forces or otherwise exercises control today (i.e., Belarus)—which also includes Transnistria, a breakaway, Russian-speaking part of Moldova bordering on Ukraine that has de facto sovereignty—significant numbers of people identifying as Russian live in every post-Soviet state. The largest in raw numbers reside in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Most ominously for European security, Russian-speakers also constitute large percentages of the population in Lithuania (15%), Estonia (30%) and Latvia (34%). These last three are members of NATO, but Russia has attempted to sow “disruption and discontent” in those countries nonetheless.

To take the long view, one can characterize European history from German unification in 1871 through 1945 as being centered around that country’s push to expand its borders and dominate the continent, and the period from 1945 to the present as being dominated by a similar push from Russia. Many once thought the latter push ended in 1991, but, as with Germany, a second phase began fewer than twenty years after the first one met defeat. The apocryphal Mark Twain quote applies here: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."

the difference in U.S. responses

We can also explore parallels, as well as differences, between the U.S. response to the outbreak of the Second World War and to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. Concerning the former, Franklin Roosevelt faced significant isolationist sentiment in the U.S. These were embodied by the strong restrictions contained in the Neutrality Acts of 1935 and 1936, which imposed a U.S. embargo on the sale of all arms and military supplies to any party involved in a war. However, after Hitler’s invasion of Poland, FDR overcame the opposition of isolationists and began aiding the enemies of Nazi Germany.

First, President Roosevelt convinced Congress to allow him to sell military equipment on a “cash and carry” basis—as long as Britain and France could pay up front and get what they had bought home on their own, such sales were allowed. France fell to Hitler in June 1940, and Britain needed much more help, so FDR and newly minted British Prime Minister Winston Churchill got creative.

Next, the U.S. sent 50 outdated but still useful destroyers to help the British protect against a naval invasion of their island in return for 99-year leases on British bases in the Caribbean and off the Canadian coast. By the end of 1940, it was clear that far more was needed, so FDR introduced legislation, the Lend-Lease Act, that would authorize the necessary assistance without requiring any payment from those receiving it. It passed in March 1941. Here’s more on the act’s impact:

Roosevelt soon took advantage of his authority under the new law, ordering large quantities of U.S. food and war materials to be shipped to Britain from U.S. ports through the new Office of Lend-Lease Administration. The supplies dispersed under the Lend-Lease Act ranged from tanks, aircraft, ships, weapons and road building supplies to clothing, chemicals and food.

By the end of 1941, the lend-lease policy was extended to include other U.S. allies, including China and the Soviet Union. By the end of World War II the United States would use it to provide a total of some $50 billion in aid to more than 30 nations around the globe, from the Free French movement led by Charles de Gaulle and the governments-in-exile of Poland, the Netherlands and Norway to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru.

Let’s compare FDR to our two most recent presidents: Donald Trump and Joe Biden. First, we have The Man Who Lost An Election And Tried Steal It. Sticking just to what became public, we know that he not only sucked up to Putin, but he also engaged in a long-running extortion campaign aimed at getting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to smear Biden in hopes of weakening the Democrat for the 2020 campaign. You might remember that when Zelenskyy sought to buy Javelin missiles in 2019, to protect against the Russian invasion he rightly feared, Fuck a L’Orange replied “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to announce that his government was going to investigate Biden for argle-bargle. That’s what brought about his first impeachment. It wasn’t exactly a Rooseveltian response to a request for help made by a country facing attack.

President Biden, on the other hand, responded to the Russian invasion by strongly supporting Ukraine, with a robust diplomatic effort and billions of dollars in military assistance. His echoing of FDR even includes a revival of the historic Lend-Lease Act in the form of the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022. Just one more way Biden is the polar opposite of Trump.

The response of the U.S. and its NATO allies to Putin’s attack on Ukraine demonstrates a key difference between now and the events of Hitler’s day. Despite unleashing the greatest evil humanity has yet seen—and hopefully ever will see—the Nazi leader actually found military allies. The Nazi-led Axis included Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania in Europe, as well as Japan, because other countries not only had fascist governments too, but also shared Hitler’s aggressive desire to remake the map in their favor (democratic Finland, which was attacked by the USSR in 1939 and again in 1941, fought with the Axis as well after the second attack before reaching an armistice and switching sides in 1944).

Thus far, Putin’s Russia fights alone (except for tiny Belarus) against a country whose military efforts—and even its overall government functions—are being funded to a significant degree by the rest of Europe plus the U.S. The European Union in late June even made Ukraine an official candidate to join. NATO is working together more successfully than it has done in decades, coordinating their efforts to help Kyiv and punish Moscow. Furthermore, with the forthcoming accession of Sweden and Finland—the latter of which shares an 830-mile border with Russia—NATO will have more resources and strength than ever with which to contain Putin’s aggression.

Hitler’s war divided Europe (please note that, in addition to the countries fighting with Germany, the USSR was his “de facto ally,” as seen in the simultaneous Nazi/Soviet 1939 invasion of Poland, an alliance that lasted until he invaded the Soviet Union in 1941) whereas Putin’s war has united Europe against him. This is the great success of the institutions—NATO and the EU—created in the post-WWII years to incentivize democracy and peace on the continent. Hitler succeeded to the degree that he did because pre-WWII Europe lacked such institutions.

However, having the institutions exist on paper isn’t enough. Joe Biden deserves much credit for the NATO response to Ukraine, in particular given how much his disgraced predecessor weakened the U.S. relationship with NATO. Of course, Trump is now trying to “rewrite history” on this. Why not, I guess? He’s lied about literally everything else.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

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."​

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​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.

 

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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.