Live coverage: June 18 primaries in Oklahoma and Virginia, plus runoffs in Georgia

Downballot primaries continue tonight with races in three states, with the first polls closing at 7 PM ET in Georgia and Virginia. We'll be liveblogging the results here and also covering the returns closely on X.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:39:54 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-05 (R): The “percentage of vote” counted is just an estimate, and as such, it’s subject to revisions, both up and down. Over the last several minutes, the AP’s estimate has dropped from greater than 95% to 88% to 84% to (now) 79%. Meanwhile, they’ve still been adding votes for both candidates. McGuire is up 52-48 (about 1,100 votes), but suddenly, there’s a lot more runway.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:35:29 AM +00:00 · David Nir

OK-04 (R): Rep. Tom Cole and his allies sure seemed freaked, but the AP just called the race for the longtime Republican congressman, who is leading challenger Paul Bondar by a giant 68-21 margin. Cole & co. spent a ton to protect the incumbent, but evidently, there was no need. Would love to see the internal polling that had them so panicked, though.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:29:02 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-10 (D): We could have a very close race brewing here. Suhas Subramanyam is up 31-26 on Dan Helmer with about 80% reporting, but Subramanyam’s base in Loudon County appears to have finished county. Helmer is leading in everywhere else in the district, though he still would have to make up another 2,000+ votes to close the gap.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:23:02 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-05 (R): This is turning into a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it primary. Good and McGuire have traded leads repeatedly in the last few minutes. At this precise second, McGuire is back up 51.5 to 48.5 with an estimated 79% of the vote reporting, but that could truly change at any second.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:17:41 AM +00:00 · David Nir

OK-04 (R): We should note that polls closed about a quarter of an hour ago in Oklahoma, where veteran GOP Rep. Tom Cole faces an expensive challenge from a guy who’s so new to the state that he literally voted in the Texas primaries in March. Only a trickle of votes so far, though.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:15:56 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-05 (R): Well this is most unexpected. Rep. Bob Good has now moved into a narrow lead of less than 1 point over his challenger, John McGuire. Geoffrey Skelley of 538 does some back-of-the-envelope math and suggests that Good—who had looked like the underdog for the longest time—could actually survive, particularly because most of Campbell County (Good’s home turf) has yet to report.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:11:12 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-07 (D): No surprise: Former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman has won the Democratic nomination in a walk, per the AP, which has called the race with Vindman up 51-14 on his closest opponent. Vindman benefitted from his close association with his identical twin brother, Alexander, who was a key figure in Donald Trump’s first impeachment in 2019. That allowed Vindman to raise enormous sums in the form of small-dollar donations from progressives, something local elected officials just could not match.

It’s not clear yet who his Republican opponent will be for this swingy seat, but Army veteran Derek Anderson is leading right now.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:07:42 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-02 (D): The AP has called the Dem primary for Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal, who now heads to a general election against freshman GOP Rep. Jen Kiggans. Joe Biden carried the 2nd, which is based in the Hampton Roads suburbs, by a slender 50-48 margin, so this should be a competitive race.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024 · 12:04:10 AM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-05 (R): If you’re watching a live AP tally, the results have been going haywire. At the moment, McGuire is up 53-47 with 42% counted, but at least twice, the AP shot all the way to 69% (and gave McGuire a 40-point lead). That appears to have been based on an error, though.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:59:17 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-07 (D & R): We’ve finally crossed the 10% mark in the Dem primary, where former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman has a giant 54-14 lead on his nearest opponent, former Del. Elizabeth Guzman, with 12% reporting. On the GOP side (where the AP says almost half of all votes are tallied), Army veteran Derrick Anderson 47-37 on former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton.

This race is for the right to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who announced her retirement to focus on her 2025 bid for governor.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:55:37 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-02 (D): We just shot up to 19% reporting, and Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal has a commanding 68-32 lead on attorney Jeremiah Denton. In a rare move, the DCCC decided to back Cotter Smasal (who lost a competitive race for the state Senate in 2019) ahead of the primary. Dems are eager to unseat first-term GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans, who defeated Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in 2022 in this swingy district.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:53:08 PM +00:00 · David Nir

GA-03 (R): The AP has called this runoff for Brian Jack, a former Trump aide who will now be on a glide path to Congress given this district’s deep red lean. The guy he’s replacing, incidentally, is retiring GOP Rep. Drew Ferguson, who is bailing on Congress at the age of just 57 after only four terms. Another sign of how lovely life must be in the Republican caucus.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:43:11 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-07 (D & R): This open seat in the exurbs south of D.C. is extremely swingy and therefore both parties’ primaries tonight are high on everyone’s watch list. But there’s something strange going on here, too. The AP thinks that 30% of the vote has been tallied for the GOP but just 4% for Democrats. It’s hard to understand what the thinking is here, but we’re gonna hold off a bit so that we delve into this more.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:39:27 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-10 (D): Subramanyam has now legged out to a much larger 34-21 lead on Helmer with more than a third reporting, on the strength of a good showing (comparable to his overall lead) in Loudon County.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:35:39 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-05 (R): Things are, as expected, looking rough for GOP Rep. Bob Good in the 5th District. He trails state Sen. John McGuire 52-48 with an estimate 12% reporting, but this appears to be the advance vote (ie, mail and/or early voting). McGuire, who has Donald Trump’s endorsement, is likely to do even better with Election Day voters, since the MAGA base hates mail voting. (In case you were wondering what’s got Trump so upset, Good, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, committed the unforgivable sin of endorsing Ron DeSantis in the presidential race.)

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:32:57 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-Sen (R): The AP has called this race for Navy veteran Hung Cao, who ran a reasonably creditable campaign for the House last cycle in the 10th District but now will be a massive underdog against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:29:38 PM +00:00 · David Nir

VA-10 (D & R): We’re at our threshold in Northern Virginia’s open 10th District, a once-Republican seat that has swung sharply toward Dems in the Trump era. State Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, who has the backing of retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton for the Democratic nod, is up 26-21 on Del. Dan Helmer, who is the best-funded candidate in the race. Former state Education Secretary Atif Qarni is in third with 15%, but this one could be volatile.

A bit oddly, the AP is saying 18% of votes have been counted on the Dem side but 48% have already been tallied for the GOP. That would imply a huge turnout disparity, which is not impossible but bears keeping an eye on (the AP often shifts its estimates of the vote reporting). Republican Mike Clancy has a massive lead.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:23:49 PM +00:00 · David Nir

GA-03 (R): In the runoff for Georgia’s open (and very conservative) 3rd District, former Trump aide Brian Jack has jumped out to an early 63-37 lead on former state Sen. Mike Dugan with around 14% reporting. Jack had the endorsement of his old boss and also had a wide lead in the first round, so a victory for him is quite likely.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 · 11:09:45 PM +00:00 · David Nir

Good evening, everyone! We have a tiny trickle of votes in Georgia, but nothing worth discussing yet. As is our practice, we always wait until we have at least 10% of the estimated vote tallied before we talk about any results.

But as keen election watchers know, things can change a lot even once that threshold is hit. That’s especially true on primary nights, where different areas report in at different times—and when different candidates often have regional bases of support. In addition, mail and early votes often behave differently from votes cast in-person on election day, and the former are usually counted first. So strap in!

Why it seems like the entire GOP wants this Republican to lose his primary

Three states are holding major primaries on Tuesday, headlined by Virginia, where Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy are both working to punish the chair of the Freedom Caucus for his disloyalty. Oklahoma is also on tap, while Georgia is holding runoffs in contests where no one earned a majority of the vote in the first round of voting on May 21.

Below, you'll find our guide to all of the top races to watch, arranged chronologically by each state’s poll closing times. When it’s available, we'll tell you about any reliable polling that exists for each race, but if we don't mention any numbers, it means no recent surveys have been made public.

To help you follow along, you can find interactive maps from Dave's Redistricting App for Georgia, Oklahoma, and Virginia. You can find Daily Kos Elections' 2020 presidential results for each congressional district here, as well as our geographic descriptions for each seat. You’ll also want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.

We'll be liveblogging all of these races at Daily Kos Elections on Tuesday night, starting when the first polls close at 7:00 PM ET. Join us for our complete coverage!  

Georgia

Polls close at 7 PM ET.

• GA-03 (R) (64-34 Trump): Brian Jack, a former Donald Trump aide who has his old boss' endorsement, outpaced former state Sen. Mike Dugan 47-25 in the first round, making him the favorite to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson in this seat in Atlanta's southwestern exurbs.

Jack consolidated his position by earning the backing of the third- and fourth-place finishers, Mike Crane and Philip Singleton, who took a combined 23% of the vote in the first round. Outside groups, including the crypto-aligned Defend American Jobs, have also deployed over $800,000 to help Jack in the runoff, while there's been no serious spending for Dugan.

Virginia

Polls close at 7 PM ET.

• VA-02 (D) (50-48 Biden): Two Democrats vying to take on Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans, who flipped a swing district based in Virginia Beach last cycle and will likely be a top Democratic target this year.

Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal, who lost a competitive race for the state Senate in 2019, has the support of the DCCC and all six members of Virginia's Democratic House delegation. Her rival is Jake Denton, an attorney whose late grandfather, Jeremiah Denton, represented Alabama in the Senate as a Republican in the 1980s.

Smasal has decisively outraised Denton, and there's been no outside spending in the primary.

• VA-05 (R) (53-45 Trump): Rep. Bob Good has spent his tenure as chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus antagonizing GOP leaders and rank-and-file Republicans alike. Now, thanks to all the grief he's caused, the two-term congressman faces an uphill primary against state Sen. John McGuire for the right to keep representing this conservative district in central and southwest Virginia.

Good knows all about bitter intra-party battles: He first got to Congress by wresting the GOP nomination from then-Rep. Denver Riggleman at a Republican convention in 2020. But now a similar fate looms for him. Good infuriated Trump last year by endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' doomed presidential campaign, prompting Trump to exact his revenge last month by endorsing McGuire.

Good also was one of eight House Republicans who last fall voted to end the speakership of Kevin McCarthy, who's now looking to get even. On top of that, several conservative megadonors close to the party's current leadership are tired of Good's antics and want him gone. All of this has led outside groups to throw down close to $6 million to attack Good and promote McGuire.

But Good's allies, including the hardline Club for Growth and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's Protect Freedom PAC, haven't given up. They've spent almost $5 million on messaging arguing that Good, unlike McGuire, is an ardent conservative.

• VA-07 (D & R) (53-46 Biden): Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger decided not to seek reelection so she could focus on her 2025 bid for governor, spurring busy primaries on both sides for her district based in the southern exurbs of Washington, D.C.

The frontrunner in the seven-way Democratic contest is former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman, who, along with his identical twin brother, Alexander, was at the center of the scandal that led to Donald Trump's first impeachment in 2019.

Thanks to the siblings' high profile during that affair, Vindman has been one of the strongest fundraisers among House candidates in the nation. Vindman has also benefited from about $1.3 million in outside spending from a pair of super PACs: VoteVets, which promotes Democratic veterans, and Protect Progress, a group with ties to the crypto industry. The Washington Post, which has a large readership in Northern Virginia, is supporting him as well.

Vindman faces four current and former elected officials who have faulted him for not being active in politics in what's long been a competitive region and for sometimes displaying a lack of knowledge about local matters. However, the members of this quartet—Prince William County Supervisors Andrea Bailey and Margaret Franklin, Del. Briana Sewell, and Elizabeth Guzman—have each raised just a fraction ​of the money Vindman has at his disposal.

The only other third-party spending of note has come from a super PAC called Casa In Action, which has deployed $200,000 to promote Guzman, who would be the first Hispanic person to represent Virginia in Congress.

A late May internal poll for Vindman showed him beating Bailey 43-10, with his rivals taking single-digit support. No one has released any data to contradict the idea that Vindman is well-positioned to triumph in a contest where none of his many opponents have established themselves as the clear alternative.

Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping that Spanberger's absence will give them a chance to flip this seat. The main contender in the five-candidate field appears to be Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson, who lost a close primary for this seat in 2022 and has House Speaker Mike Johnson's endorsement for his second try.

The other notable Republican is former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton, who has the support of much of the Freedom Caucus. Both veterans have been attacking the other from the right, and their allies have spent well over $1 million on behalf of each man. Anderson's main support has come from the American Patriots PAC, which is funded by Republican megadonors Ken Griffin and Paul Singer, while Rand Paul's network is supporting Hamilton.

• VA-10 (D) (58-40 Biden): A dozen Democrats are campaigning to replace retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton in a district based in the southwestern suburbs and exurbs of Washington, D.C.

Wexton is backing state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, who would be both Virginia's first Indian American and Hindu member of the House. Subramanyam has raised more money than most of his many opponents and has also gotten more than $500,000 in support from the Indian American Impact Fund.

Del. Dan Helmer, though, still enjoys a huge financial advantage over Subramanyam and the rest of this busy field. Helmer, an Army veteran and the top fundraiser in the race, has been the beneficiary of well over $5 million in outside spending. His largest ally is the crypto-aligned Protect Progress, while VoteVets is also spending to help him. In addition, the Washington Post has endorsed Helmer

However, few of Helmer's current constituents live in the congressional district he wants to represent, though he may have more serious concerns to worry about.

Four current and former officials in the Loudoun County Democratic Committee put out a statement during the final week of the race publicly accusing Helmer of engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with one of their number in 2018. One signatory told NOTUS that the committee's sexual harassment policy was adopted as a "direct result" of his actions. The candidate responded by denying what he called "baseless claims."

The race also includes four other current and former members of the state legislature: state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Dels. Michelle Maldonado and David Reid, and former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. But while Filler-Corn has raised considerably more than the rest of this foursome, her old legislative seat doesn't overlap with Wexton's district at all. Boysko has the same problem, while Maldonado and Reid have struggled to raise money.

Two other names to watch are defense contractor Krystle Kaul, who has self-funded much of her campaign, and former state Education Secretary Atif Qarni. Kaul would be the state's first Indian American or Sikh member of Congress, while Qarni would be both its first Pakistani American and Muslim representative.

The only survey we've seen here in recent weeks was a Qarni internal poll from mid-May that showed Helmer edging out Subramanyam 17-16, with Qarni and Filler-Corn respectively at 12% and 9%. That survey, however, was conducted with almost a month left to go before the primary.

Oklahoma 

Polls close at 8 PM ET/7 PM local time. An Aug. 27 runoff would take place in any races where no candidate wins a majority of the vote.

• OK-04 (R) (65-33 Trump): Rep. Tom Cole faces an unexpectedly expensive primary battle thanks to the arrival of businessman Paul Bondar, who has spent over $5 million of his own money to portray the appropriations chairman as an insider who "voted with Democrats for billions in new deficit spending."

The 11-term incumbent, though, has benefited from almost $4 million in support from third-party groups. Those include the American Action Network, a nonprofit with ties to the House GOP leadership, which has been airing TV ads on the congressman's behalf. Cole and his allies have spent the campaign both touting his support from Trump and reminding voters that Bondar did not register to vote in Oklahoma until April—a month after he cast a ballot in the Texas primaries.

Three little-known candidates are also on the ballot, so it's possible that neither Cole nor Bondar will capture a majority of the vote on Tuesday. Bondar has been airing ads featuring that trio saying they'd back him in a hypothetical runoff.

ICYMI: Trump attorney goes low, House GOP goes bonkers

House Oversight Committee explodes as Hunter Biden crashes their party

The president’s son called their bluff, and Republicans folded like a cheap suit.

Watch Rep. Jared Moskowitz call GOP’s bluff on Hunter Biden

This Florida Democrat is developing a habit of embarrassing Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

Judge rescinds permission for Trump to give his own closing argument at his civil fraud trial

Judge Arthur Engoron’s patience is running thin with a defendant who refuses to play by the rules.

Watch AOC slam Rep. Nancy Mace's rant on white privilege

Oh my goodness, bless Nancy’s heart.

Rep. Raskin tells Marjorie Taylor Greene she's the 'porn expert' on the committee

The thin-skinned “gentlelady” from Georgia brought her “I want to speak with the manager” energy.

Cartoon: Clay Bennett on the NRA

A look at Wayne LaPierre’s resignation letter to the NRA.

More top stories:

Trump attorney defends the right to assassinate political opponents

If this sounds like Trump’s attorney is saying a president could order a hit on a political opponent and never face prosecution unless his own party supported his impeachment, that’s exactly what he’s saying.

Maine renews effort to elect president by national popular vote

Democrats are making a new push for a huge change to presidential elections.

2023 was the hottest year in human history. 2024 is already setting records

Even the cold weather the United States is experiencing at the moment could be directly related to the way the climate crisis is warming the Arctic.

GOP gerrymandering targeted two Black women. Now they're facing off in a primary

This shouldn't be happening in the first place, but the GOP played dirty and here we are.

Senate inches closer to border deal. Will House GOP and Trump kill it?

Republicans need to decide whether they stand with Ukraine or with Donald Trump.

Click here to see more cartoons.

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3 fake electors want Georgia election subversion charges against them to be moved to federal court

Lawyers for three Georgia Republicans, who falsely claimed that Donald Trump won the state and they were “duly elected and qualified” electors, are set to argue Wednesday that criminal charges against them should be moved from state to federal court.

David Shafer, Shawn Still and Cathy Latham were among the 18 people indicted last month along with Trump on charges they participated in a wide-ranging scheme to keep the Republican president in power after his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. All 19 defendants have pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones is set to hear arguments Wednesday on why Shafer, Still and Latham believe the case against them should be tried in federal court rather than in Fulton County Superior Court. Jones already rejected a similar effort from Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has appealed that ruling. He held a hearing Monday on a similar bid by former U.S. Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and has yet to rule.

Shafer, Still and Latham have all indicated in court filings that they will not be present in court for the hearing.

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If their cases are moved to federal court, a jury would be drawn from a broader and potentially less Democratic pool than in Fulton County alone. And any trial would not be photographed or televised, as cameras are not allowed inside federal courtrooms. But it would not open the door for Trump, if he’s elected again in 2024, or another president to issue pardons because any conviction would still happen under state law.

Part of the overarching illegal scheme, the indictment alleges, was the casting of false Electoral College votes at the Georgia Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, and the transfer of documentation of those votes to the president of the U.S. Senate, the National Archives, the Georgia secretary of state and the chief judge of the federal court in Atlanta. Those documents were meant to “disrupt and delay” the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, in order to “unlawfully change the outcome” of the election, the indictment says.

Prosecutors allege that Shafer, Still, Latham — and the other Georgia Republicans who participated in that plan — “falsely impersonated” electors. The related charges against them include impersonating a public officer, forgery, false statements and writings, and attempting to file false documents.

Republicans in six other battleground states that Trump lost also met and signed fake elector certificates. Michigan's attorney general in July brought criminal charges against the fake electors there.

Lawyers for the three contend that a legal challenge to the state's election results was pending and that lawyers told them it was necessary to have an alternate slate of Republican electors in case the challenge was successful.

They cite the example of the 1960 presidential election when Republican Richard Nixon was initially certified as the winner in Hawaii. Supporters of Democrat John F. Kennedy filed a legal challenge that was still pending on the day the state's presidential electors were to meet. That day, the certified electors for Nixon and uncertified elector nominees for Kennedy met at the state Capitol to cast votes for their candidates and sent them to Congress as required by the Electoral Count Act. Kennedy ultimately won the election challenge and was certified the winner, and Congress counted the votes of the Kennedy electors.

At the time of the actions alleged in the indictment, Shafer was the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, Latham was the chair of the Coffee County Republican Party and Still was the finance chair for the state Republican Party. Still was elected to the state Senate last year and represents a district in Atlanta’s suburbs.

Their lawyers say their clients were acting as contingent U.S. presidential electors and in that role were or were acting at the direction of federal officers. Their actions outlined in the indictment stem directly from that service, and they were performing duties laid out in the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, their lawyers argue. As a result, they assert defenses under several different federal laws.

The prosecution team led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argues that they were not federal officers and were not acting at the direction of a federal official carrying out a federal function. Instead, they were impersonating genuine electors at the direction of Trump's campaign with the goal of illegally keeping him in power, they said.

They argued in court filings that “contingent electors” are not presidential electors — either the contingency is met and they become presidential electors or it is not met and the losing candidate's electors have no role. Even if the Trump campaign's legal challenge to the election results had been successful, they wrote, the only solution a court could impose is a new election, not a substitution by the Republican slate of electors.

In addition to the charges related to the fake elector plan, Shafer is also accused of lying to investigators for the Fulton County district attorney's office. Latham is accused of participating in a breach of election equipment in Coffee County by a computer forensics team hired by Trump allies.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is making Kevin McCarthy look really, really pathetic

Confronted by the abundant evidence of former President Donald Trump’s widespread criminality, Republicans have demonstrated consistent outrage … at law enforcement. When they’re not trying to defund the FBI or get rid of the Department of Justice, they’re going after more specific targets.

That has included (but is far from limited to): Rep. Jim Jordan subpoenaing a former member of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a browbeating, repeated efforts to defund special counsel Jack Smith, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suggesting a no-evidence-required impeachment of Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Trump supporter threatening to kill federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, and Georgia Republicans trying to defund Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Rep. Andy Biggs even tried to defund the Manhattan DA’s office, which is made only slightly more ridiculous by the fact that Congress provides only a fraction of funds for local prosecutors in the first place.

Really, Republicans have vividly demonstrated that no law, no judge, and no agency means anything to them when it comes to protecting Trump. But when Republicans in both Washington, D.C., and Georgia began planning a means to impeach Willis, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp did something completely unexpected—he defended the Fulton County prosecutor and denounced his fellow Republicans.

As PBS reports, Kemp pulled no punches in saying that efforts to oust Willis for having the gall to indict Trump are just “political theater that only inflames the emotions of the moment.”

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Kemp is no liberal. When he ran for governor in 2018, he had Trump’s ”full and total endorsement,” and Trump praised Kemp for his anti-immigrant, pro-gun positions. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire after the 2020 election when Kemp refused to intervene to prevent certification of Georgia’s election results, despite a call from Trump. Trump went on to attack Kemp on social media, which didn’t stop the governor from easily winning the 2022 Republican primary and being reelected. In the latest elections in the state, candidates endorsed by Kemp easily outperformed those endorsed by Trump.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that much of the Georgia GOP isn’t in Trump’s pocket. Because it is.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, the state party has broken into factions, but Trump still enjoys great support among party officials and state legislators, even as a new poll shows high levels of concern among the state’s Republican voters about Trump’s actions following the 2020 election. In short, Georgia may be the one state where Republican leadership is seriously struggling with the question of whether to free themselves from Trump … though even Kemp has inexplicably suggested he would still vote for Trump in 2024.

Kemp’s willingness to stand up to the members of his party who want to rip up the legal system to defend Trump stands in stark contrast to America’s most spineless man, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Kemp appears to recognize that going after district attorneys just because they are prosecuting someone you support is more than a little problematic. On the other hand, McCarthy is not just failing to stand up to nonsensical demands in the House, but also he’s adding his own.

When Republicans started to worry that a no-investigation impeachment of President Joe Biden might not come off as planned, McCarthy offered up an impeachment of Garland for … whatever.

“I don’t know of a chargeable crime,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told The Hill.

Neither does anyone else. Including McCarthy. The suggestion is just another in a long line of examples of how the barely-speaker is willing to toady to his party’s extremists to keep his fingernail-thin grip on his big office. As Vanity Fair notes, caving to threats from the same extremists who tried to keep him from being elected to begin with is what McCarthy is all about.

As MSNBC puts it, McCarthy might be expected to ignore “oddball bills” and calls to impeach members of the Biden administration. Instead, he has “expressed tacit support” for all these actions, no matter how off the rails. In MSNBC’s words, McCarthy is “taking orders from Mar-a-Lago” and “going along with absurd talking points about … ‘weaponization’ of agencies that haven’t actually been weaponized.”

Kemp is no hero. On many points, his positions are reprehensible. But at least he has enough self-respect to refuse to be the lapdog of extremists willing to sacrifice everything to save Trump. He shows the path that McCarthy might have taken if he actually wanted to lead the House, rather than just follow the worst actions of its worst members.

The far-right justices on Wisconsin's Supreme Court just can't handle the fact that liberals now have the majority for the first time in 15 years, so they're in the throes of an ongoing meltdown—and their tears are delicious. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard drink up all the schadenfreude they can handle as they puncture conservative claims that their progressive colleagues are "partisan hacks" (try looking in the mirror) or are breaking the law (try reading the state constitution). Elections do indeed have consequences!

Why an accused Trump co-conspirator could get suspended from the Georgia Senate

Republican state Sen. Shawn Still, a fake elector who was indicted last week alongside Donald Trump for his alleged role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, could get suspended from the Senate as a result of his legal woes, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David Wickert.

Under the state constitution, a three-person panel to be convened by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp must decide whether Still's indictment both "relates to and adversely affects the administration" of his office and “that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected thereby." If the panel concludes the answer to both questions is yes, then Still would be suspended until "the final disposition of the case" or his term expires, whichever happens first.

It's unclear when the matter will be resolved, though legal experts believe the case is unlikely to go to trial in March, as requested by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. As a result, Still could find himself contemplating whether to seek reelection next year while he's under suspension. Undoubtedly, party leaders would prefer he not do so, particularly because his district in the Atlanta suburbs is vulnerable despite extensive GOP gerrymandering.

Incidentally, Still can thank former state Labor Commissioner Sam Caldwell for his latest predicament. In 1983, Caldwell was indicted by Fulton County prosecutors on a variety of charges, including allegations that he'd defrauded the state by demanding his employees perform extensive repairs on boats he owned. He resisted calls to resign and was only removed from office under threat of impeachment following his conviction the next year.

To avoid a similar spectacle in the future, Georgia lawmakers placed an amendment on the ballot in 1984 that would allow for the suspension of indicted public officials. It passed with 93% support. Shortly thereafter, Caldwell was also found guilty in federal court of deliberately sinking his yacht in order to collect insurance proceeds. Ironically, Caldwell's earlier conviction in state court centered around RICO charges—the very same statute Fulton County's current district attorney, Fani Willis, is relying on to prosecute Trump, Still, and their alleged co-conspirators.

Three House members could soon make their exits—and more will join them

Politico relays that Georgia Rep. David Scott's colleagues in the Democratic caucus "widely expect him not to run" again in his dark blue seat; Scott, who has a history of siding with Republicans, has not commented publicly, though. Two House Republicans who identify with the declining institutionalist wing of the GOP, Arkansas' Steve Womack and Idaho's Mike Simpson, tell the Washington Post in a separate report that they're considering retiring from their safely red seats.

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We’ll start with Scott, whose performance as the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee has been the subject of much intra-party frustration. His lack of a response to Republican efforts to cut food assistance programs—in a new report, Politico says that he hasn't held a single press conference on the topic this year—apparently prompted Democrats to form a special task force, led by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, to take point on the issue.

The unusual move seems to have been prompted by concerns about Scott's health. Last year, Politico reported that people close to Scott "acknowledged he’s noticeably slowed in the last few years, citing his increasingly halting speech and trouble at times focusing on a topic."

Politico's article this week says that Scott "no longer speaks with reporters in the halls of the Capitol"; in June, when one reporter was actually able to ask the congressman how a hearing had gone, the congressman replied, "I don't know." "There are real questions about whether he’s with it," an unnamed House colleague told Politico of the 78-year-old Georgian.

Scott, who was first elected in 2002 with support from his late brother-in-law, the legendary Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, has long been one of the more conservative members of his caucus. The Democrat crossed party lines in 2016 to back Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson’s bid for reelection, declaring, "He's my friend. He's my partner. And I always look out for my partners." Scott, who donated to Utah GOP Rep. Mia Love's campaign that year, has also sided with Republicans to undermine regulations aimed at reining in predatory payday lenders and preventing auto dealers from charging higher interest rates to people of color.

If the congressman does surprise his colleagues and run again, though, his renomination in this safely blue suburban Atlanta seat is hardly assured. Scott unexpectedly earned just 53% of the vote in a crowded 2020 primary against several underfunded foes—just a few points more than the majority he needed to avert a runoff against former state Rep. Keisha Waites. (Waites, who is now a member of the Atlanta City Council, took 25%.) The incumbent did better last cycle when he turned back South Fulton City Councilor Mark Baker 66-13, though that performance wasn't emphatic for a longtime incumbent.

Meanwhile there’s Womack, a self-described "institution guy" who told the Post's Paul Kane that the far-right's antics have made serving in D.C. "so unpleasant" that he's weighing retirement and would decide whether he's had enough around Labor Day. After the article was published, though, the seven-term congressman backtracked somewhat.

"To be clear, I am frustrated with the state of play in Congress," he tweeted. "[H]owever I have every intention of running for reelection and using my work to fix the institution I love." He still left the door open to leaving, though. "I have always used Labor Day as the time frame for these decisions," he continued. "I take nothing for granted and I’m honored every day to serve my constituents in Arkansas’ Third District."

But while Womack, in Kane's words, is tired of seeing "his party’s leadership kowtowing to a small band of hard-right lawmakers," the story notes that his friends fear one of those hardliners would simply replace him in this northeast Arkansas seat. Womack himself has never had trouble winning renomination, though that hardly means he'd be in for another easy campaign if he ran again: Last year, Rep. French Hill, another member of the GOP minority that recognized Biden's victory, only won his primary for the neighboring 2nd District by a relatively soft 59-41 margin against a foe who was happy to spread the Big Lie.

Simpson, finally, made it clear he shares Womack's grievances. "I think there’s a lot of people like that, to tell you the truth," he told Kane." It’s just people considering: Is this really worth it?" And the answer for the Idaho Republican may be no: "Right now, I’m running again," he said before, as Kane puts it, "pausing for effect" and finishing, "Right now." Unlike Womack, though, Simpson did not provide a timeline for when he expects to make up his mind.

The 72-year-old Simpson is only six years older than his likeminded colleague from the South, but unlike Womack, Simpson just had to fend off an organized attempt to beat him in last year's primary. In that matchup, the incumbent fended off attorney Bryan Smith 55-33 after an expensive fight for an eastern Idaho constituency Simpson first won in 1998. The congressman, who had also turned back Smith 62-38 in 2014, didn't come close to losing, but his declining vote share could foreshadow more tough races to come―if he tries to stick around, that is.

No matter what Womack, Simpson, or Scott do in 2024, however, there's almost certainly plenty of other House members from both parties who are thinking about whether they want to remain in office. Currently just two representatives―California Democrat Grace Napolitano and Indiana Republican Victoria Spartz—have announced they're leaving the chamber and not campaigning for another office. And while just two outright retirements might seem like very few so far, that's in keeping with patterns over the last two decades.

According to data compiled by Daily Kos Elections since the 2005-06 election cycle, an average of about three House incumbents have decided to say goodbye to elective politics altogether before Aug. 1 of each odd-numbered year. That means we can expect many more to call it a career ahead of the 2024 elections, though we'll likely be waiting well into the new year for some decisions.

White House picks fight with Greene over funding

The White House is picking a fight with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) after her hometown newspaper in Floyd County touted federal public safety grants the area was set to receive through the American Rescue Plan.

Greene, along with every other House Republican, voted against the American Rescue Plan in March 2021.

The White House took a shot at Greene over that vote after the Rome News-Tribune in Greene’s district ran an article on the front page Tuesday that highlighted a more than $1 million federal public safety grant the Floyd County Commission is set to accept.

“President Biden is proud of the resources he’s provided to stand up for the rule of law, crack down on gun crimes, and keep cops on the beat in Floyd County – and across the country,” White House spokesperson Robyn Patterson said in a statement first provided to The Hill.

“Unlike Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who voted against this funding, as well as to defund federal law enforcement and fire thousands of Border Patrol agents, President Biden is committed to ensuring law enforcement has the resources they need to keep Northwest Georgians safe,” she added.

The money is appropriated through the Public Safety and Community Violence Reduction grant program, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan and meant to address violent gun crime and community violence that increased as a result of COVID-19.

Greene on Wednesday called the White House’s comment “ignorant” and railed against Biden’s handling of the situation at the border.

“Since taking office, Joe Biden’s blatant violation of our border laws has caused a flood of over 5,000,000 illegal aliens into our country, allowed 85,000 trafficked children to go missing, and murdered hundreds of Americans each day with Mexican cartel-smuggled Chinese-made fentanyl. Our district doesn’t face a crime epidemic, but we are feeling the real effects of Biden’s border crisis. My constituents are dying due to the drugs he allows into our country,” Greene said in a statement to The Hill.

“The flippant comment from the White House would be laughable if it wasn’t so ignorant of what Northwest Georgia faces due to border invasion created by Joe Biden,” she added.

Tuesday is not the first time that the White House has gone after Greene, a firebrand Republican congresswoman who has emerged as one of Biden’s top critics on Capitol Hill.

Greene has introduced impeachment articles against Biden. Last week, she voted with Republicans to refer a resolution to impeach Biden over the situation at the southern border to two congressional committees.

In March, during the House Democratic retreat in Baltimore, Biden mocked Greene while delivering remarks to lawmakers, asking the crowd of the Georgia Republican “isn’t she amazing?”

And last month, White House spokesperson Ian Sams circulated a memo that criticized House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Greene for their “bizarre focus” on Biden and his family members.

More generally, the White House has accused House Republicans of opposing funding for law enforcement with their votes against the American Rescue Plan and of cutting funding for border security when they supported the debt limit plan the conference approved in April.

Last August, the White House wrote on Twitter, “Every single Republican in Congress voted against funding for law enforcement in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.” And last month, the White House circulated a memo arguing Republicans were gutting border security with their debt limit bill.

The accusation that Republicans are defunding the police through their vote against the American Rescue Plan, however, has been contested. The Washington Post’s fact checker awarded the claim three pinocchios in 2021.

Alex Gangitano and Brett Samuels contributed. Updated on June 28 at 12:16 p.m.

Trump’s big mouth is finally getting him in (legal) trouble

Donald Trump's charmed stretch defying legal gravity in spite of his penchant for self-incrimination finally came to an end last month, when he sunk himself in the E. Jean Carroll rape case deposition.

He claimed he had never seen Carroll before in his life and even if he had, she most certainly wasn't his type. Those twin defenses were hilariously blown apart when he was shown a picture of himself interacting with Carroll—and mistook her for his ex-wife Marla Maples.

Ultimately, the jury found Trump had sexually abused and defamed Carroll and awarded her $5 million.

Although the case was civil, not criminal, it marked the beginning of the end of Trump's luck evading the law. During his tenure at the White House, Trump successfully used his chief bulldog at the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, to run interference on pesky inquiries ranging from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to the impeachment probe of Trump's efforts to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not to mention Carroll’s rape case.

But without his White House shield, Trump's publicly incessant blathering, blustering, and bullying is poised to cost him dearly.

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In special counsel Jack Smith's federal probe of Trump's classified document scandal, the emergence of a 2021 recording revealing that Trump clearly knew he had classified information and was contemplating sharing it has provided prosecutors with a rare legal gem: proof of Trump's state of mind.

"The import of the new Trump audio is not that it eviscerates his defense that he declassified everything,” tweeted Justice Department veteran Andrew Weissmann, who served as a prosecutor during the Mueller special counsel investigation. “That was never a legal defense (nor factually plausible). The import is that he is caught lying to the public to gain support when he’s indicted."

Weissmann added that such a recording would be an "admission” that Trump "intentionally and knowingly" possessed a classified document, which is a crime if the document actually exists and Trump wasn't simply bragging to people about a document that didn’t exist.

Given the damning nature of that recording, Weissmann predicted an indictment is "days, not months" away. But either way, he firmly believes it's a matter of when, not if.

As if that weren't enough, now there appears to be a mad hunt for the document in question, which no one seems able to locate. Its apparent disappearance raises the specter that Trump might have followed through on his stated desire (in the recording) to share the classified information. Good thing Trump’s blathering gave the game away!

This week also brought news that the Georgia election fraud probe—built around Trump's recorded demand that the Republican secretary of state "find" the votes to beat Joe Biden—is reportedly expanding into examining Trump's activities in other states and the District of Columbia.

The Washington Post calls the news a "fresh sign" that Fulton County prosecutors and District Attorney Fani Willis could be building an expansive racketeering case against Trump.

[Georgia’s] RICO statute is among the most expansive in the nation, allowing prosecutors to build racketeering cases around violations of both state and federal laws — and even activities in other states. If Willis does allege a multistate racketeering scheme with Trump at its center, the case could test the bounds of the controversial law and make history in the process.

Trump is already facing more than 30 criminal counts of falsifying business records in the hush-money-scheme case brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.

And Smith's probe of Trump's role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection is ongoing. Fortunately, there's no shortage of taped material there either, including Trump's post-insurrection assertion that he didn't want to admit the election was over.

“I don’t want to say the election’s over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, okay?” Trump insisted on Jan. 7, 2021, while filming outtakes for a video intended to help calm a roiled nation.

Trump remains the undeniable frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The initial Bragg indictment arguably gave him a small bump with Republican voters, but a gusher of criminal scandals awaits him in the coming months—or days, depending on who you ask.

We have Rural Organizing’s Aftyn Behn. Markos and Aftyn talk about what has been happening in rural communities across the country and progressives’ efforts to engage those voters. Behn also gives the podcast a breakdown of which issues will make the difference in the coming elections.

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McConnell launches mad hunt for whoever whiffed Trump’s impeachment then backed his loser candidates

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows who's to blame for Senate Republicans' midterm drubbing, and he is definitely not it.

“Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire, and the challenging situation in Georgia as well,” McConnell said Tuesday, ticking through a list of once-promising GOP losses at his weekly press conference. “You have to have quality candidates to win competitive Senate races.”

McConnell stopped short of calling out Donald Trump by name, because god forbid he show some actual leadership. But every GOP candidate in those states—Blake Masters in Arizona, Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, and Herschel Walker in Georgia—had Trump's endorsement. In fact, Trump's heavy-handed backing was instrumental to the candidacies of both Masters and Walker.

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McConnell did, however, admit that he was basically powerless in the face of Trump.

“Our ability to control the primary outcome was quite limited in ‘22 because of the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries,” McConnell lamented.

Of course, McConnell bears as much responsibility as Trump for the Senate GOP’s pathetic cycle. In New Hampshire, McConnell tried desperately to recruit the state's highly popular GOP governor, Chris Sununu, to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. But after speaking with several members of the Senate GOP caucus, Sununu took a hard pass on jumping on that sorry do-nothing bandwagon. Instead, he ran for and secured a fourth term as governor.

The Senate GOP's Sununu misadventure highlighted the fact that Trump obviously wasn't the only hurdle to recruiting quality candidates. McConnell also tried to convince term-limited GOP Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to run for Senate to no avail. So let’s just be honest that the Senate GOP's lack of appeal to reasonably capable people certainly isn't on Trump—it's on McConnell.

Beyond his recruiting failures, McConnell also gave Walker his full-throated endorsement in the Georgia race.

"Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate," McConnell said in an October statement to Politico. "I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done."

Walker not only failed to help Republicans take back the Senate, he didn’t exactly deliver as a uniter either.

Back at the post-election press conference, McConnell reflected on similar losses by fatally flawed Republican candidates in 2010 and 2012, saying the GOP had “unfortunately revisited that situation in 2022.”

Gee, Senator, if only there had been a way to avoid "that situation" again. If only Trump had, for instance, orchestrated a wildly unpopular insurrection against the U.S. government, leaving himself open to a career-ending impeachment.

The truth is, if McConnell hadn't miscalculated every step of this midterm cycle, perhaps he'd be poised right now to become the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader in U.S. history. Instead, he's devoting press conferences to excuse peddling for the GOP's anemic election showing.

If McConnell's still looking around for culprits, might be time to take a look in the mirror.

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