Morning Digest: We’re looking back on Harry Reid’s long and storied career on the campaign trail

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

Leading Off

Deaths: Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who died Dec. 28 at the age of 82, is lying in state at the Capitol today. As his former colleagues honor his singular career, we've put together an obituary taking a look back at his long electoral history—a path that dealt Reid several setbacks on his way to the pinnacle of American politics.

Reid won elected office for the first time in 1968 when he took a seat in the Nevada state Assembly at the age of 28, and he made the jump to statewide office two years later when he was elected lieutenant governor. Reid’s career stalled, though, after he lost an extremely close 1974 Senate race to former Republican Gov. Paul Laxalt, and he hit his nadir the next year after he failed to win the mayor’s office in Las Vegas.

Of course, that was far from the end for Reid, who had several more competitive Senate races ahead of him beginning with his 1986 triumph in the open seat contest to succeed Laxalt. Reid went on to pull off an extremely tight 1998 win against his future GOP colleague, then-Rep. John Ensign, in a race that took over a month to resolve.

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The majority leader later looked like an all-but-inevitable loser ahead of his 2010 bid for a fifth term, but Reid, in the words of longtime Nevada political chronicler Jon Ralston, displayed a “Terminator-like single-mindedness, relentlessness and discipline turned preparation” that helped him upset former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle. We detail all those campaigns and more in our obituary.

Redistricting

CT Redistricting: Stanford Law School professor Nathan Persily, the special master appointed by the Connecticut Supreme Court to assist it in drawing a new congressional map, has asked the state's deadlocked redistricting commission to try to reach a compromise once more. The panel failed to settle on a final map last month, despite receiving a three-week extension from the court, prompting the justices to take over the process and tap Persily to help them. Commissioners have until Wednesday at 12 PM ET to submit a new map "or at least report progress," per the CT Mirror, while Persily himself must furnish a map to the court by Jan. 18.

NY Redistricting: As expected, New York lawmakers have rejected dueling sets of maps put forth by the state's bipartisan redistricting commission after the panel failed to agree on a single group of plans for Congress and the legislature. Because of that failure, legislators were under no obligation to consider the maps that the commission forwarded to them, one batch of which was produced by Republicans and the other by Democrats.

Commissioners have until Feb. 28 to take one more shot at reaching a deal, but such a deal looks unlikely. Even if they were to strike a compromise, though, legislative Democrats would still be able to override the commission thanks to their two-thirds supermajorities.

4Q Fundraising

  • NC-SenCheri Beasley (D): $2.1 million raised, $2.8 million cash-on-hand
  • UT-SenEvan McMullin (I): $1 million raised
  • WA-SenPatty Murray (D-inc): $1.5 million raised, $7 million cash-on-hand
  • GA-GovBrian Kemp (R-inc): $7 million raised (between July 1 and Jan. 9), $12 million cash-on-hand
  • KS-GovLaura Kelly (D-inc): $2 million raised (in 2021), $1.9 million cash-on-hand; Derek Schmidt (R): $1.6 million raised (in 2021), $1.3 million cash-on-hand
  • MN-GovTim Walz (D-inc): $3.6 million raised (in 2021), $3.6 million cash-on-hand; Paul Gazelka (R): $545,000 raised (since August)
  • NV-GovJoe Lombardo (R): $3.1 million raised (since late June)
  • SC-GovHenry McMaster (R-inc): $909,000 raised, $3 million cash-on-hand; Joe Cunningham (D): $343,000 raised, $422,000 cash-on-hand
  • IA-02Ashley Hinson (R-inc): $809,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • KY-06Andy Barr (R-inc): $538,000, $1.9 million cash-on-hand
  • NE-01Patty Pansing Brooks (D): $210,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • NY-24Francis Conole (D): $202,000 raised, $280,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

AZ-Sen: Ugh. Rich guy Jim Lamon is dropping a reported $1 million on a TV buy to air the first—but undoubtedly not the last—ad we've seen featuring a candidate bleat, "Let's go, Brandon!" If for some reason you have no idea what this is all about, consider yourself blessed. Meanwhile, the super PAC run by zillionaire Peter Thiel that's supporting another rich guy, Blake Masters, is spending another $1.1 million, per Politico, to run a new spot tying Masters to Donald Trump.

NH-Sen: Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith resigned his post this week, saying that "it is my intent to formally announce my candidacy for the United States Senate in the not too distant future." Smith sought the GOP nod for governor in 2012 but lost badly in the primary.

PA-Sen: George Bochetto, a longtime Republican attorney in Philadelphia who also served as state boxing commissioner from 1995 to 2002, has joined the packed May primary and says he'll self-fund $1 million.

Bochetto recently attracted attention when he aided Donald Trump's defense team in his second impeachment trial. In August, he persuaded a judge to stop Philadelphia's city government from removing a prominent Christopher Columbus statue. Bochetto is also the leader in a lawsuit alleging that Mayor Jim Kenney's executive order replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day discriminates against Italian Americans.

Bochetto in the past has talked about running for mayor of his heavily Democratic city plenty of times and even waged a brief campaign in 1999, but he ended up dropping out before the primary; the eventual nominee, Sam Katz, ended up losing the general election 51-49 to Democrat John Street, which is likely to remain Team Red's high-water mark for decades to come.

Governors

MA-Gov: Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who'd been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor, instead announced a bid for lieutenant governor on Tuesday. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries but run together on a single ticket in the general election.

MI-Gov: The Glengariff Group's first survey of this year's contest, conducted on behalf of WDIV and the Detroit News, finds Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer well ahead of four potential Republican foes:

49-39 vs. former Detroit Police Chief James Craig

50-33 vs. chiropractor Garrett Soldano

50-33 vs. businessman Kevin Rinke

50-31 vs. conservative radio host Tudor Dixon

Polling from reliable firms has been rare here so far. A Strategic National survey for Craig from all the way back in September found him trailing Whitmer 47-46 (Craig and Strategic National have since parted ways). An independent poll from EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press released the previous month had Whitmer ahead of Craig by the same 44-45 spread, while no other matchups were tested.

NY-Gov: Rep. Jerry Nadler, who as House Judiciary Committee chair is one of the most senior House Democrats from New York, has endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul's bid for a full term. Two upstate representatives, Brian Higgins and Joe Morelle, previously backed Hochul.

RI-Gov: Cranston Mayor Kenneth Hopkins said Tuesday that he's "forming an exploratory committee [to] possibly run for governor." Hopkins, who was first elected to his post in 2020, would be the most prominent Republican to enter the race to date should he decide to get in.

WI-Gov: Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is resigning as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System in March, declined to rule out running for a fifth term as governor at the age of 80 in a new interview on Tuesday. "I'm not saying it's in the cards. But I'm physically and mentally capable of doing anything," insisted Thompson, who served as governor from 1987 to 2001 before stepping down to serve as George W. Bush's HHS secretary.

At a GOP debate in 2007 during his short-lived presidential campaign, Thompson had to apologize repeatedly after saying he thought employers should be allowed to fire gay workers, alternately blaming his response on needing to go to the bathroom and on a malfunctioning hearing aid. In 2012, Thompson ran for Senate but lost to Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin 51-46 after narrowly winning a bruising GOP primary with just 34% of the vote.

House

CO-07: State Sen. Britney Pettersen became the first Democrat to kick off a bid for Colorado's open 7th Congressional District on Tuesday, a day after Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced his retirement. Pettersen sought this seat once before in 2017 when Perlmutter ran for governor, but after the congressman abandoned his bid and later decided to seek re-election, she dropped out of the primary (as did every other notable Democrat).

Pettersen is unlikely to be the last contender to emerge, though. The Denver Post mentions two other Democrats as possible candidates, state Rep. Chris Kennedy and Jefferson County Commissioner Andy Kerr, who also ran in 2017. Kerr did not respond to a request for comment from Colorado Politics.

MN-03: Businessman Mark Blaxill, a former treasurer for the state GOP, announced a bid for Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District against Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips on Tuesday morning. He joins Navy veteran Tom Weiler in the Republican primary. Redistricting has yet to take place but will likely be handled by the courts due to a deadlock between the Republican-run state Senate and the Democratic-held state House.

NJ-11: Lobbyist Rosemary Becchi, who was the GOP's nominee against Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill in 2020, has closed her campaign committee with the FEC, a likely signal that she does not intend to seek a rematch. While Becchi could of course form a new committee, the New Jersey Globe notes she still owes $6,000 to a fundraising consultant, who previously filed a claim over the unpaid debt. Democrats also made the 11th District considerably bluer in redistricting.

Morning Digest: Onetime ‘Boy Mayor’ Dennis Kucinich campaigns to reclaim office he lost in 1979

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

Leading Off

Cleveland, OH Mayor: Former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced Monday that he'd run this year to regain his old job as mayor of Cleveland, the post that first catapulted him to fame more than four decades ago. Kucinich joins what's already a crowded September nonpartisan primary for a four-year term to succeed retiring incumbent Frank Jackson, who is this heavily blue city's longest-serving mayor; the top-two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

Kucinich, who got his start in public office as a member of the City Council, was elected mayor in 1977 at the age of 31 in a close race, a victory that made him the youngest person to ever run a major American city. His accomplishment earned him national attention and the nickname "Boy Mayor," but his two years in office would prove to be extremely difficult.

Kucinich had a terrible relationship with the head of the City Council and the local business community, but his clash with Richard Hongisto, the city's popular police chief, proved to be especially costly. Hongisto accused the mayor's staff of pressuring the force to commit "unethical acts," which led Kucinich, who said the chief had failed to submit a report detailing his allegations, to fire him on live TV.

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Things got so bad that Kucinich, in response to death threats, wore a bulletproof vest to the Cleveland Indians' 1978 opening game. He left the event safely, though he would recount, "When they called my name, I got a standing boo from about 75,000 people." Kucinich's opponents also saw their chance to end his term early by waging a recall campaign against him that year. Almost every influential group in the city backed his ouster, but the incumbent held on by 236 votes.

Kucinich's troubles were hardly over, though. In late 1978, after an ulcer prevented him from making a planned appearance at a parade, he learned that the local mob planned to murder him at the event. He also more recently divulged that he knows of two other attempts on his life during his tenure.

Near the end of that year, Kucinich refused recommendations to sell the publicly-owned Municipal Light (also known as Muny Light) power company to Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) in order to help the city pay its debts. Cleveland soon became the first major American city to default since the Great Depression, but the mayor defended his decision by arguing that the sale would have given CEI a monopoly that would drive up electricity rates.

Kucinich persuaded voters in the following year's referendums to raise income taxes and to keep Muny city owned, but he wasn't so effective at advocating for himself. Cleveland mayors at the time were up for re-election every two years, and the incumbent lost his bid for a second term by a 56-44 margin to Lt. Gov. George Voinovich, a Republican who would go on to be elected governor and U.S. senator.

That wide defeat was far from the end of Kucinich's time in politics, though. After losing a close primary for secretary of state to future-Sen. Sherrod Brown in 1982, he rebounded by regaining a seat on the City Council the next year. He went on to get elected to the state Senate before winning a seat in the U.S. House in 1996 on the fifth such attempt of his career.

Kucinich used his perch in Congress to wage two presidential runs in 2004 and 2008; while neither came close to succeeding, the campaigns, as well as his vote against the Iraq War, helped Kucinich gain a small but vocal following with progressives nationally. He had problems at home in 2012, though, when redistricting placed him in the same seat as fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. After flirting with running for the House in other states, including Washington, Kucinich stuck it out in Ohio and lost the primary 56-40.

While Kucinich portrayed himself as a progressive hero during his time in D.C., he went on to use his subsequent job as a Fox commentator to defend none other than Donald Trump. He spent early 2017 praising Trump's inauguration speech (you know, the "American carnage" one), arguing that U.S. intelligence agencies forced Michael Flynn to resign as Trump's national security advisor, and agreeing with Sean Hannity that the "deep state" was out to get Trump. Kucinich also repeatedly met with and defended Syria's murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Kucinich tried to make another return to office in 2018 when he competed in the Democratic primary for governor against establishment favorite Richard Cordray. During that campaign, Kucinich announced he was returning $20,000 in speaking fees from the pro-Assad Syria Solidarity Movement that he had previously failed to disclose on financial forms.

While Kucinich had praised that organization the prior week as a "civil rights advocacy group," he now insisted that he hadn't known what it really stood for; he also very belatedly denounced the Assad regime's "repressive practices." Cordray ended up winning the primary 62-23, but Kucinich narrowly carried Cleveland.

That brings us to 2021, where the 74-year-old onetime "Boy Mayor" is hoping to become his city's oldest leader. Kucinich used his campaign kickoff to focus on concerns like crime, police accountability, and poverty, but the fate of Cleveland's public utility will also likely be a big issue in his comeback campaign.

In the months before his launch, Kucinich released a memoir focused on his successful battle to prevent Muny Light, which is now known as Cleveland Public Power, from being privatized in the late 1970s. The future of the utility, which is still owned by the city, is likely to come up on the campaign trail: Last year, Kucinich argued that the city is doing a poor job overseeing Cleveland Public Power, declaring, "When money is being lost, or the rates keep going up, that means something is wrong."

Cleveland.com also notes that his longtime antagonist CEI, which remains Cleveland Public Power's main competitor, could also be a factor in this race. CEI's parent company, FirstEnergy, is currently at the center of a high-profile scandal over an alleged $60 million bribery scheme involving then-state House Speaker Larry Householder.

Kucinich will face several other high-profile contenders in the September nonpartisan primary. The only other major white candidate in this majority-Black city is City Council President Kevin Kelley, who also hails from the West Side: Last month, Cleveland.com's Seth Richardson suggested that the two would end up "going after each other's base of supporters," which could prevent either of them from advancing to the general election.

The field also includes four serious Black contenders: Councilman Basheer Jones; former Councilman Zack Reed, who lost to Jackson in 2017; state Sen. Sandra Williams; and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb. The filing deadline is Wednesday, so it would be a surprise if another notable contender runs at this point.

Senate

PA-Sen, PA-04: Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean announced on Tuesday that she would not run for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat next year and will instead seek re-election. Dean's name came up as a possible contender earlier this year after she served as one of the House managers for Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, but she never spoke about her interest publicly.

Governors

IA-Gov, IA-Sen: State Rep. Ras Smith kicked off a bid for Iowa's governorship on Tuesday, giving Democrats their first notable candidate in next year's race against Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Smith, who at 33 is the youngest of the state's six Black lawmakers, has been a vocal advocate for racial justice and spearheaded a bill to bring greater accountability to the police that passed the legislature unanimously last year in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Smith had also weighed a run for the Senate but always sounded more likely to seek state office, saying in April that "it's hard to see myself living anywhere where I can't throw my dog in the back of the truck, my shotgun and a box of shells and drive 20 minutes in any direction and do some pheasant hunting or some turkey hunting."

A number of other prominent Democrats are also still considering the governor's race, though, including Rep. Cindy Axne, 2018 secretary of state nominee Deidre DeJear, and state Auditor Rob Sand. Reynolds, meanwhile, hasn't officially kicked off her re-election campaign, but earlier this month she said she would "make a formal announcement later."

NM-Gov: Retired Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti has launched a bid against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, making him the second notable Republican in the race. Zanetti unsuccessfully sought his party's nod for lieutenant governor all the way back in 1994, then ran an abortive campaign for governor in 2009, dropping out after just a few months. He's also served as Bernalillo County GOP chair twice and, in his day job as an investment advisor, has regularly appeared on local radio to offer financial advice.

Already in the race for Republicans is Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Brock, though several other notable candidates are still considering, including state GOP chair (and former Rep.) Steve Pearce.

House

FL-13: Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, who was the GOP's nominee for Florida's 13th Congressional District in 2020 and is running again this cycle, has received a temporary restraining order against a fellow candidate, Will Braddock, claiming that Braddock and two other potential rivals, Matt Tito and Amanda Makki, were conspiring to murder her to prevent her from winning next year's election. Braddock responded by saying, "This woman is off her rocker," Makki (who lost to Luna in last year's primary) called the claims "nonsense," and Tito said he was talking to a lawyer about pursuing a possible defamation suit. A hearing on whether to continue the restraining order is scheduled for June 22.

IA-01: Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis says she's "seriously considering" a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson in Iowa's 1st Congressional District and will make an announcement in "late July." Mathis first won office in a key special election in 2011, after Democrat Swati Dandekar accepted an appointment from Terry Branstad, the Republican governor at the time, that threatened Democrats' narrow 26-24 majority in the Senate. She's since won re-election twice, by double digits both times.

KWWL's Ron Steele also notes that, were Mathis to run, it could set up a race between two former TV news personalities. Mathis began her career as a news anchor alongside Steele at KWWL in 1980, then later worked at KCRG, both of which are in Cedar Rapids, before retiring from broadcasting in 2007. Hinson also worked at KCRG for a decade as a reporter prior to her election to the state House in 2017.

SC-07: Despite forming what he called an exploratory committee in January, state Rep. William Bailey announced this week that he would not challenge Rep. Tom Rice in next year's Republican primary and would instead seek re-election. Bailey explained his decision by saying that "we clearly have a number of strong conservatives that most likely will jump into the race and challenge Rice," who enraged Republicans when he voted to impeach Donald Trump in January.

Two notable candidates are in fact running, Horry County School Board chair Ken Richardson and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, while several others are still considering. South Carolina requires a runoff if no candidate takes a majority in the primary.

TX-06: Ted Cruz has endorsed conservative activist Susan Wright in the all-Republican special election runoff for Texas' 6th Congressional District that'll take place on July 27. Prior to the first round of voting on May 1, Cruz had attacked Wright's opponent, state Rep. Jake Ellzey, for his "financial support from never-Trumpers, openness to amnesty, and opposition to school choice."

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Data for Progress has released a survey of next week's instant runoff Democratic primary that finds Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading attorney Maya Wiley 26-20, with 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia at 16% and 14%, respectively. That's a huge shift from two months ago, when DFP had Yang leading Adams 26-13.

DFP made it clear as it was releasing this latest poll that it hopes Wiley, who has picked up a number of endorsements from high-profile progressives in recent days, will stop the more moderate Adams. Data for Progress Political Director Marcela Mulholland released a statement saying, "In close second, Wiley has a window of opportunity to bring together a winning coalition ahead of next Tuesday — and block Eric Adams, a veritable Republican who's looking out for the NYPD and corporate interests instead of working New Yorkers, from becoming Mayor."  

The only other poll we've seen that was conducted in June was a Marist College survey that had Adams leading with a similar 24%, though it showed Garcia in second with 17%. Marist found Wiley a close third with 15% while Yang, who was the frontrunner in early polls, was in fourth with just 13%.

Yang is hoping to regain his footing, though, with a new spot that labels Adams "a conservative Republican." This commercial, just like a recent negative ad from Yang's allies at Future Forward PAC, does not mention any of the other mayoral candidates.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Data for Progress has released a survey of next week's rarely-polled Democratic primary that shows two former prosecutors, Alvin Bragg and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, deadlocked at 26% apiece; a third ex-prosecutor, Lucy Lang, is a distant third with 8%.

DFP is using this data to explicitly argue that progressives "have an obligation to consolidate" behind Bragg, calling him "the only progressive positioned to beat Farhadian Weinstein." The winner of the primary—where only a plurality is necessary—should have no trouble prevailing in the general election to succeed retiring incumbent Cyrus Vance as head of what's arguably the most prominent local prosecutor's office in America.

All of the contenders except for Liz Crotty, a self-described centrist who takes just 5% in this poll, have pitched themselves as progressives who will bring much-needed changes to the post, though the three contenders who have never been prosecutors—attorney Tahanie Aboushi, public defender Eliza Orlins, and Assemblyman Dan Quart—have portrayed themselves as the most aggressive reformers. Bragg, Farhadian Weinstein, Lang, and yet another former prosecutor, Diana Florence, have all, in the words of the New York Times' Jonah Bromwich, "pitched themselves as occupying a middle ground, focused on less sweeping changes."

There are some notable differences, though, between Bragg and Farhadian Weinstein, who have been the top fundraisers in this contest. Ideologically, Bragg has generally staked out territory to the left of Farhadian Weinstein (who only registered as a Democrat in 2017), including on issues like the decriminalization of sex work and the imposition of long sentences.

And while Bragg, who previously worked as the chief deputy state attorney general, has bragged about suing Donald Trump "more than a hundred times," the Times reported earlier this month that Farhadian Weinstein met with Trump administration officials in 2017 about a potential judicial appointment. The paper, citing an unnamed source, writes that the discussion "became heated during a disagreement over constitutional law" and did not advance further.

Farhadian Weinstein's detractors have also taken issue with her connection to the financial industry. The Wall Street Journal reported that more than half of the candidate's fundraising from earlier this year "came from four dozen donors, many of whom work in the financial sector." Farhadian Weinstein, who is married to wealthy hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein, also recently self-funded $8.2 million for her campaign, an amount that utterly dwarfs what everyone else has raised or spent combined.

Though Bragg doesn't have the resources of Farhadian Weinstein, he does have some important backers, including three of the city's most politically influential unions, as well as the endorsement of the Times, which often carries uncommon weight in local races.

As Bromwich has noted, every contender save Quart would achieve a historic first should they prevail. Six of the candidates would be the first woman to win this office, while Aboushi would additionally be the first Muslim or Arab American to hold the post. Bragg, meanwhile, would be Manhattan's first Black district attorney.

Other Races

New York City, NY Comptroller: Data for Progress has also released a poll of next week's Democratic primary for city comptroller, a post that has plenty of influence over the nation's largest city, that finds City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Councilman Brad Lander in a 23-23 tie; Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who badly lost a challenge from the right to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in last year's primary, is in third with 10%.

DFP, which did not mention a rooting interest for any of the candidates, did not try to simulate the instant runoff process, though it did find that more voters preferred Johnson to Lander as their second or third choice. The winner will be the heavy favorite to hold an office that Democrats have controlled since 1946.

Johnson, who would be the first gay person elected citywide, was universally expected to run for mayor until he announced last September that he'd skip the contest in order to focus on his mental health. He ended up launching his campaign for comptroller in March, though, saying, "Where I was in September is not where I am today," and he's since earned endorsements from all of the city's major unions, as well as Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Richie Torres. Johnson, who entered the race with money he'd stockpiled for his planned mayoral bid, has also enjoyed a small fundraising advantage over Lander.

Lander, meanwhile, has the backing of several high-profile progressives, including AOC, fellow Rep. Jamaal Bowman, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, as well as the Working Families Party. Lander enjoys the backing of longtime Reps. Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez, and the New York Times is also in his corner.

In addition to Johnson, Lander, and Caruso-Cabrera, the field includes state Sen. Brian Benjamin; Marine veteran Zach Iscol; state Sen. Kevin Parker; financial advisor Reshma Patel; and Assemblyman David Weprin, who unsuccessfully ran to succeed the disgraced Anthony Weiner in the 2011 special election for what was numbered the 9th Congressional District at the time. All of these contenders have qualified for at least $1 million in public financing, though they've each fallen well short of Johnson and Lander.

The comptroller's job is an influential post, though its duties are often not well understood. Among other things, the office is responsible for reviewing contracts, auditing and overseeing city agencies, and "[e]nsuring transparency and accountability in setting prevailing wage and vigorously enforcing prevailing wage and living wage laws." The comptroller is also one of only a trio of citywide elected offices: The other is public advocate, where Democratic incumbent Jumaane Williams doesn't face any serious opposition for re-election this year.

What the comptroller's post hasn't been, though, is a good springboard to the mayor's office. The last person to successfully make the jump was Democrat Abe Beame, who was elected mayor in 1973 on his second try and lost renomination four years later. Since then four other comptrollers have unsuccessfully campaigned for the city's top job, and it looks like that streak will continue this year: Comptroller Scott Stringer once looked like a formidable candidate for mayor, but he lost several major endorsements after two women accused him of sexual harassment.

The most important accomplishment of impeaching Trump was its impact on Joe Biden

Impeaching The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote was incredibly important, and not only because it was the right thing to do. Yes, he committed crimes and abused the power of his office, and yes he deserved to be impeached and removed from that office—the record of every Republican Senator other than Mitt Romney will be forever stained by their votes to acquit. History will remember their cowardice.

Beyond the morality, impeachment has had a clear, long-lasting political benefit, one that will pay dividends for Vice President Joe Biden this November. Thanks to impeachment, everyone knows that the charges Trump leveled against Joe and Hunter Biden on Ukraine—the ones he tried to blackmail that country’s president into investigating, or least announcing an intention to investigate—are utter malarkey.

Trump always feared running against Biden, and he acted corruptly in a failed bid to get enough dirt to derail the former VP’s quest to win the Democratic nomination. The impeachment process shone a bright light on Trump’s actions, and on his lies about Biden, ensuring that the smear campaign ultimately backfired.

Since the end of the impeachment trial, Trump and his minions have continued to bleat on with their completely invented and thoroughly debunked stories about the Bidens. I won’t dignify them by repeating the specifics here. Recently, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who heads the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have been “investigating”—i.e., trying to keep the story in the media—this bullshit.

Never mind that by falsely smearing Biden over Ukraine, Johnson and his fellow Republican senators are all but doing the work of Vladimir Putin for him, as this Associated Press article explained

But the stark warning that Russia is working to denigrate the Democratic presidential candidate adds to questions about the probe by Johnson’s Senate committee and whether it is mimicking, even indirectly, Russian efforts and amplifying its propaganda.

The investigation is unfolding as the country, months removed from an impeachment case that had centered on Ukraine, is dealing with a pandemic and confronting the issue of racial injustice. Yet allegations about Biden and Ukraine remain a popular topic in conservative circles, pushed by Russian media and addressed regularly by President Donald Trump and other Republicans as a potential path toward energizing his supporters.

[...] “Particularly as a public official and somebody who’s responsible for keeping the country safe, you should always be suspicious of narratives that are trying to sort of damage or target the electoral process in your country,” said former CIA officer Cindy Otis, a foreign disinformation expert and vice president of analysis at Alethea Group. “You should always be suspicious of narratives that foreign countries are pumping out.”

As Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld pointed out, Johnson even admitted that his so-called probe would “would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.” It amazing; these Republicans always manage to say the quiet part out loud, which I guess is helpful. Nevertheless, to paraphrase what Otter said to his nemesis (and professional Republican, according to the character futures provided) Gregg Marmalard in Animal House, “Gee, you’re dumb.”

Then the Orange Julius Caesar himself got into the act. On August 16 he retweeted material that our own intelligence agencies had previously identified as Russian disinformation—part of its effort to directly influence the presidential election by “denigrating” Biden. As CNN put it: “By retweeting material that the US government has already labeled as propaganda -- and doing so with the 2020 Democratic National Convention kicking off on Monday -- Trump demonstrated once again that he is willing to capitalize on foreign election meddling for his own political gain.” Here’s Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner:

The President of the United States should never be a willing mouthpiece for Russian propaganda. https://t.co/9y6L6uMKbM

— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 17, 2020

Then came the four-day marathon of lies known as the Republican National Convention. Former Florida (where else?) Attorney General Pam Bondi went before a national audience and, once again, did Putin’s bidding by lying about the Bidens and Ukraine. The truth? When Joe Biden sought the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shukin he did so, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post noted, “because the prosecutor was corrupt.” Sargent added some more important facts: “This was U.S. policy, backed by international institutions. GOP senators had no problem with it in real time. As The Post’s fact-checking team puts it, Bondi’s story is ‘fiction,’ and in reality, Joe Biden ‘was thwarting corruption, not abetting it.’” Bondi told some other lies about Hunter Biden, which the WaPo fact-checking team also debunked

When these latter day Marmalards now issue their breathtaking press releases or repeat Russian disinformation about the Bidens and Ukraine, the media—thus far at least—has been taking them for what they are: Utter horseshit. I won’t say the media has learned their lesson, but unlike 2016, when “but her emails” was literally the most reported story of the campaign, this year everyone who isn’t directly sucking at the Trump teat is treating these debunked charges with the (lack of) seriousness they deserve. 

For that, we can thank the impeachment of Donald Trump, which exposed the lies against the Bidens for what they are. The impeachment process inoculated the media and the American public by preparing them for what Trump is now trying to pull on this matter. So thank you Nancy Pelosi, thank you Adam Schiff, thank you Val Demings, thank you Jerry Nadler, and thanks to the rest of the Democratic impeachment team. I’m sure Joe Biden is thanking you as well.

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)

Nadler mulling impeaching Barr as he lets one more deadline for holding Barr accountable slide

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is inching toward holding Attorney General William Barr accountable for his vast lawlessness, but it's a case of one inch forward, two inches back. Nader is now saying he "may very well" pursue impeachment of Barr after ruling it out in a weekend interview as a "waste of time." Now he says: "I think the weight of the evidence and of what's happened leads to that conclusion."

"What's happened" being the blatantly political removal of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who was conducting investigations into Trump cronies in the Southern District of New York. This follows Nadler's threat to subpoena Barr issued earlier this week for a hearing on July 2. Yeah, about that July 2 date—Barr has now "accepted an invitation to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a general oversight hearing on July 28th," the Justice Department said Wednesday. July 28. Not July 2. Sound vaguely familiar? It should, because Nadler has been playing this game with Barr since early February.

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Back on Feb. 12, Nadler announced Barr would testify on March 31, 2020 about all the things, from what Rudy Giuliani was doing working with Justice Department people to exactly what Barr was doing to interfere in the prosecutions of Roger Stone, Rick Gate, and Michael Flynn. The coronavirus stopped that testimony from happening, but later on in February Nadler wrote a sternly worded letter to Barr demanding information about what Barr has done to intervene in the Roger Stone case and the Michael Flynn case, with a March 13 deadline. And that was after another sternly worded letter on Feb. 10 demanding answers about what the hell Rudy was doing in Ukraine, and why there was an "intake process" in the DOJ for information from Giuliani.

What we haven't seen from Barr is any goddamned answers to any of these questions from Nadler. For all these months. What we have seen is Barr creating his very own armed force of cops to bash Black Lives Matter protesters heads in as he assumed control over a hodgepodge of security forces in Washington for days from a command center he set up. Barr "was effectively the general overseeing the operation that allowed the president his photo op" in front of St. John's Church. A general conducting war on Americans.

So, yeah. July 28. Barr is surely going to voluntarily show up this time. Nadler should start impeachment proceedings immediately, if only to force Barr to finally show up—if he would even bother in those circumstances. It's clear that Barr doesn't take Nadler or his threats seriously, and that Barr believes he himself is as much above the law as he thinks Trump is.

Judiciary Chair Nadler needs to do his job, he needs to impeach Barr

House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler said Sunday that while Attorney General William Barr deserves to be impeached, doing so would be a "waste of time." He told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," that instead the House would punish Barr by withholding $50 million in Justice Department funding.

"I don't think calls for his impeachment are premature any more than calls for the President's impeachment were premature, but they are a waste of time at this point," Nadler said, following Barr's firing of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Berman has been investigating Rudy Giuliani and others in the Trump circle, as well as whether Deutsche Bank, with all its ties to both Trump and Jared Kushner and his family, has been laundering money. That's on top of everything else Barr has done, encapsulated in this Twitter thread to show he will do anything to cover up for and protect Trump. Yes, he deserves to be impeached. No, Senate Republicans should not be allowed off the hook, they should be forced to reckon with the walking mound of corruption that is Bill Barr.

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Nadler said as much Sunday. "We've seen a pattern of […] Barr corruptly impeding all these investigations, so this is just more of the same," he told Tapper, noting that Berman's office had numerous cases involving Trump associates. Nadler also said that the Republican Senate is "corrupt" and that was demonstrated when it blew off Trump's impeachment this winter. But, he said, that would just happen again with Barr, so it's not worth the effort. Which is totally not how to demonstrate to the American voting public that the Senate Republicans are corrupt. A functioning House Judiciary Committee would have the impeachment hearings against Barr, calling in Berman and all the other casualties of Barr's corruption, and force the Senate to deal with it. That's what protecting the rule of law is supposed to be all about, which is Nadler's ultimate job, since he's the one holding that Judiciary Committee gavel.

The weekend's events just punctuated how important it is right now to shine a very bright light on Barr's corruption on behalf of Trump. In case you missed the bizarre episode over the weekend, Barr fired Berman in favor of his personal friend Jay Clayton, a corporate lawyer who's been Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission who has never once prosecuted a case, could get the job. The exchanges leading up to Berman's actual capitulation were bizarre, to say the least, with Barr initially stating on Friday evening that Berman was stepping down, which Berman emphatically denied. Then Barr said okay, he's not stepping down so Trump is firing him, to which Trump said nope, not him, this was all Barr's idea. In the end, Berman, a loyal Republican who had even donated $5,400 to Trump's 2016 campaign, capitulated.

Barr has proven again and again that he considers his job to be Trump's personal lawyer and protector, with a big dollop of racism authoritarianism on top. Barr was even responsible for that horrific Trump Bible photo op, "essentially assuming battlefield control over a hodgepodge of security forces in Washington for days from a command center he set up" to violently clear protesters from Lafayette Square for the publicity stunt. The man is dangerous. He must be held accountable, and the Senate Republicans have to be forced to decide whether they'll do it.

Top Democrats urge Justice Department internal watchdog to investigate AG William Barr

Two top Democrats are urging the Justice Department's internal watchdogs to investigate slanderous remarks made by Attorney General William Barr about the intelligence community official who elevated the whistleblower complaint regarding Donald Trump.

Appearing on Fox News on April 9, Barr said Trump had done "the right thing" when he fired former intelligence investigator general Michael Atkinson, suggesting that Atkinson had exceeded his mandate as IG by exploring "anything" and then reporting it back to Congress. But in a letter to two Justice Department officials, the Democratic chairs of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees said Barr had "blatantly mischaracterized" Atkinson's conduct.

"Mr. Barr’s remarks followed the President’s admission on April 4 that he fired Mr. Atkinson in retaliation for Mr. Atkinson’s handling—in accordance with the law—of the whistleblower complaint," Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler wrote. "Mr. Barr’s misleading remarks appear to have been aimed at justifying the President’s retaliatory decision to fire Mr. Atkinson."

Barr claimed that Atkinson had "ignored" Department of Justice (DOJ) guidance that he was "obliged to follow" regarding how to handle the whistleblower complaint, a total distortion intended to gaslight Americans about what transpired. In actuality, Atkinson had no legal or professional obligation to defer to the Justice Department, which had conveniently and perplexingly declined to investigate whether Trump broke any laws in his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

"To the contrary, Mr. Atkinson faithfully discharged his legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General in accordance with federal law,” Schiff and Nadler wrote to Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz.

Schiff and Nadler further said that Barr had not only misrepresented the matter, he also sought to obscure the fact that DOJ and the White House had improperly coordinated their efforts in order to "keep Congress in the dark about the existence of the complaint." 

"The role of Attorney General Barr and other senior DOJ officials, in coordination with the White House, in attempting to prevent the whistleblower complaint from reaching Congress — as required by law — warrants your attention," they wrote, referring to the complaint that sparked Trump’s impeachment trial.

The two added that Barr's remarks represent a "disturbing pattern of misrepresenting facts" about the conduct of other government officials, including his purposeful misrepresentation of the conclusions of Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

"Indeed, a federal judge recently examined Mr. Barr’s 'lack of candor' and concluded that Mr. Barr 'distorted the findings in the Mueller Report,' which 'cause[d] the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump.'"

The message reinforced points made in a similar letter sent to the Justice Department last week by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Mark Warner of Virginia. It's hard to know whether DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz will take up an investigation into Barr, but Horowitz has previously touted Atkinson's "integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight."

Plotting impeachment revenge, Trump ‘has an enemies list that is growing by the day’

Donald Trump is preparing his revenge against everyone who has crossed him. Just as he got on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and committed an impeachable offense the day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress, Trump will take the success of the Senate Republican impeachment cover-up as license to commit new abuses of power and acts of personal retribution.

This is completely clear to anyone who’s observed Trump even casually, but Republican sources are also lining up to (anonymously) dish to reporters. “It’s payback time,” one “prominent Republican” told Vanity Fair, while, according to another source, “He has an enemies list that is growing by the day.”

Enemy No. 1 is former national security adviser John Bolton, who it seems is “going to go through some things.” In addition to the White House threatening Bolton’s publisher over the contents of his forthcoming book, Trump wants Bolton himself criminally investigated, a source told Gabriel Sherman. But even if a criminal investigation doesn’t materialize, “Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after Bolton.”

It’s not just Bolton, though. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney dared to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial, so he’s in trouble. Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler led the impeachment inquiry and the team of House managers at the trial, so they’re on the enemies list.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from Trump. He expects to be free from any consequences for his actions, and anyone who threatens what he sees as his royal prerogative is going to be the target of his unhinged narcissistic rage. Expect the next several months to be even uglier than what we’ve already seen—but nothing compared to what will happen if he manages to cheat his way to a win in November.

Republicans swoon with fake outrage after Nadler calls a cover-up a cover-up

It looks like the accurate characterization of Republican plans for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump as a cover-up is getting under some Republican skin. After Rep. Jerry Nadler dared to call a cover-up a cover-up on the Senate floor late Tuesday night, Republicans are clutching their pearls and declaring themselves offended in a blatant effort to change the subject from the cover-up to how Democrats are mean.

“It was so insulting and outrageous it was a shock to all of us,” Sen. John Cornyn huffed to CNN producer Ali Zaslav.

”They're on a crusade to destroy this man, and they don't care what they destroyed in the process of trying to destroy Donald Trump... I'm covering up nothing. I'm expose your hatred of this president, to the point that you would destroy the institution,” Sen. Lindsey Graham ranted.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski declared herself “offended.” Sen. Ron Johnson said Nadler was “insulting” and “completely inappropriate.” Senate Majority Whip John Thune called it “not helpful to [the Democrats’] cause,” a classic claim from Republicans: It’s not that they’re strenuously trying to change the subject from the facts of the case with an attack on Democrats; it’s that Democrats committed an unforced error.

Get them their fainting couches and smelling salts, now. Members of a historically norm-breaking, institution-dismantling party are just overcome with shock at someone daring to identify their actions for what they are. Or it’s all a strategy of distraction. Hmmm ...

Chuck Schumer and House impeachment managers destroy Team Trump on first night of Senate trial

All through Tuesday afternoon, and evening, and night, and the early hours of Wednesday, the Democratic team of House managers fought the good fight, seeking subpoenas of documents and witnesses as well as procedural changes that would close loopholes intentionally built into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s design for the Senate impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump. And they lost every time. In fact, except for a single early morning vote from faux moderate Susan Collins, Republicans voted exactly as expected, giving Trump and McConnell a 53-47 party line victory on nine straight proposed amendments.

But if that made it seem that the day was a waste … it wasn’t. Yes, Republicans batted down attempts to get documents, call witnesses, and prevent the White House from flooding the zone with cherry-picked documents. However, with every amendment, House managers got the chance to lay out their case. They introduced the facets of Trump’s malfeasance step by step, pillar by pillar, with each member of the team stepping up to carry the load on a specific area. Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team was left sputtering and looping back over not just talking points, but also obvious lies. It might have been a losing effort—but it was still magnificent.

At first, it wasn’t clear exactly what was happening. After an introductory speech from both sides—during which Trump attorneys Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow burned up every talking point they had—Schumer introduced a proposal to seek documents from the White House. This provided for an hour on each side to debate the merits of the amendment. Except the Democratic team used that time for a detailed review of those documents that were being withheld by the White House and how key they were to the case ahead. Trump’s attorneys responded by repeating their talking points and throwing on more personal insults for the case managers.

This pattern then repeated for an incredible nine more amendments. After the second, it became clear just what was happening: Chuck Schumer structured the amendments not as simple requests, but as detailed explanations that mentioned specific exchanges, particular conversations, critical meetings, and other events that were known to have happened, but were missing from the evidence available to the House team. During the debate period for each amendment, different members of that House team rose to give an even more detailed defense of the need for those documents, with Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries, and Jason Crow all doing spectacular jobs in dealing with requests from the White House, State Department, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Defense.

After the OMB request, Schumer mixed things up a bit by requesting a personal subpoena of Mick Mulvaney. Again, this wasn’t just a “Give us Mulvaney” request, but a detailed summons that included a recitation of Mulvaney’s interactions with Trump, his role in blocking military assistance to Ukraine, and—wonderfully—his press conference confession, complete with the “Get over it” moment. The individual subpoenas continued, allowing Sylvia Garcia and Jerry Nadler to join in the fray. Those subpoenas bracketed additional requests for changes to the structure of the proceedings to eliminate wording that made it excessively easy for the White House to pretend to respond to a request by producing only documents that are favorable to Trump, and another section that gave Republicans multiple chances to kill future requests for witnesses.

By the sixth proposed amendment—at around 9:30 p.m.—a clearly dragging Mitch McConnell begged for mercy. He called for a quorum vote to force a delay, trying to negotiate Schumer into making all his remaining requests in a lump so Republicans could give them a single down vote and go home.

But Schumer had no inclination to make such a deal for a very, very good reason. Over the course of 10 amendments, the team of Democratic House managers introduced the case against Trump in loving detail. Without touching a minute of the 24 hours that the proposal allots to each team, the House managers made a 10-hour introduction to the case, spelling out the players and the crimes.

Through it all, both McConnell and the Trump team seemed utterly unprepared, while the Democrats had clearly practiced this maneuver for weeks. Despite McConnell’s vaunted reputation as a master of Senate secrets, he seemed utterly unable to deal with Schumer’s moves as the Democratic team slowly, methodically, and systematically bulldozed the Republican team. 

There were some highlights for Trump’s attorneys, but not in a good sense. While Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin stepped in to occasionally spell Sekulow and Cipollone, it was after 11 p.m. before Trump lawyer Pam Bondi was allowed to make a five-minute appearance in which she not only failed to even mention the topic at hand, but also sat down without even noting that her moment in the spotlight was done. The other top-notch moment came when Jay Sekulow apparently misheard Val Demings talking about “FOIA lawsuits” and spent his entire time period making an incoherent rant about “lawyer lawsuits,” and “how dare” Demings talk about “lawyer lawsuits”?

The Bolton subpoena was near the end of the proceedings, and when a still-wound-up-at-midnight Nadler rose to support that amendment, he jumped in with both feet, taking a much more aggressive tone than previous House managers. The usually much more pedantic House Judiciary Committee chair called Republican votes to suppress subpoenas “treacherous” and accused Republicans in the Senate of being part of the cover-up as they voted to shut out witnesses. Nadler’s sharply worded performance seemed to wake up Trump’s tired team, and both Cipollone and Sekulow jumped in to flat-out scream at Nadler in response—following which Chief Justice John Roberts saw fit to waggle a finger at both sides, cautioning them about the Senate’s rules against personal insults. Notably, Roberts had not been stirred to make such a comment despite hundreds of insults and lies from the Republican team earlier in the night.

In the end, the Republicans got everything they wanted. On paper. But the Democratic team didn’t put on a pointless show. It showed that it’s come loaded for a serious fight, and that neither McConnell nor Trump’s legal team is prepared. It’s almost as if the House managers spent that time that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave them planning strategy and tactics and practicing their approach to the material. Which suggests that, like Tuesday night, the rest of the week might not go quite as well for Team Trump as they’ve been expecting.

Schumer and the House team may not have won the votes, but they absolutely won the evening. By miles. And everyone on the other side of the aisle should be sweating.

Impeachment trial opening arguments kick off Wednesday after marathon Tuesday debate

Opening arguments in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump begin at 1 PM ET on Wednesday, after a brutal nearly 13-hour day of procedural debate on Tuesday that ended at nearly 2 AM. Democrats offered a series of amendments to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s cover-up plan, seeking to be able to call witnesses or subpoena new evidence that the White House has obstructed, but Republicans voted down proposal after proposal, making clear again and again that they do not want the facts.

On Wednesday, the House impeachment managers will begin to make their case, for which they have 24 hours over three days. That means arguments could stretch past 9 PM, depending on how many breaks the Senate takes. The day will be especially exhausting for Chief Justice John Roberts, who presides over the trial and will also be hearing arguments at the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.

The House managers—Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, and Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow, and Sylvia Garcia—will lay out the case that Trump abused power and obstructed Congress. In fact, they already began to make that argument on Tuesday as they argued for why the Senate trial should include more witnesses and evidence, showing themselves to be far sharper and more prepared than Trump’s defense team, even before you consider that the facts are on the House managers’ side. Wednesday, they have the opportunity to put it all together uninterrupted.

Trump will spend most of the day in the air on his way back from Davos, Switzerland, where he conducted several typically lie-riddled interviews before leaving.