Hey guys, (some) Republicans want you to forget that they’re Trump toadies

Senate Republicans, like almost all Republicans, stood strongly with Donald Trump through four years of chaos, incompetence, malice, and mayhem. They stood with him as he promoted his Big Lie, that he hadn’t lost decisively to an American electorate sick of his bullshit. They stood with him during certification of the vote, not just those who challenged the Arizona and Pennsylvania votes, but those who stayed quiet and refused to criticize their colleagues’ efforts to undermine democracy. And with seven notable exceptions, they stood by him during the impeachment vote by refusing to hold Trump accountable for his unprecedented efforts to destroy American democracy. 

Now they want you to think that they really don’t stand with Trump, you know, just because. 

There are only seven Senate Republicans with any credibility left on the matter of democracy—Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), and Pat Toomey (PA). Every single other Republican can go to hell, having destroyed the United State’s credibility on matters of human rights, democracy, and the right of self-determination. Why should the military coup leaders in Myanmar give two shits what Mitch McConnell has to say about their undemocratic power grab? He literally just gave Donald Trump a pass on the same kind of effort, here at home. 

Trump literally tried to get Vice President Mike Pence killed, and 43 Republicans didn’t give a shit. 

Oh, many are talking a good game. 

McConnell himself tried to have it both ways, pretty much hoping the criminal justice system does to Trump what he himself was too afraid or feckless to do. With an eye to nervous corporate PACs, wary of giving money to insurrectionists, he all but begged them to come back to the GOP’s embrace, without doing anything to actually address those concerns. 

Trump’s literal strategy was to try and throw out the votes of predominantly Black voters in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit. And McConnell, given the chance to do something about it, merely shrugged, while his Senate committee sent out “stand with Trump” fundraising emails. 

As Senate GOP leader McConnell blasts Trump but uses constitutional excuse to vote to acquit, his NRSC issues fundraising email to “stand with Trump against impeachment.”

— Rick Pearson (@rap30) February 13, 2021

Other Senate Republicans are equally eager to put Trump and the damage he creates in his wake behind them. “Senate Republicans are warning that they no longer view former President Trump as the leader of the party amid growing signs that they are ready to turn the page after a chaotic four years,” says the lede of a Hill piece on those efforts, as I almost died of laughter. North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer, who was too cowardly to hold Trump accountable for trying to murder his Vice President, said, “Now, as you can tell, there’s some support that will never leave. But I think that there’s a shrinking population and it probably shrinks a little bit after this week.” South Dakota’s John Thune claimed that the vote was “absolutely not” an endorsement of Trump’s actions, except it was exactly that. 

You’d think that Republicans would be concerned about their political peril. Under Trump, Republicans lost the House, the Senate, and the White House. In fact, Trump was only the third president in the last 100 years to lose reelection. They lost ground among people of color (in absolute numbers, even if as a percentage, they may have made some gains). They lost ground among young voters. They lost ground among suburban college-educated women. 

Their most substantial gains? Old white rural men, a constituency that is literally dying off. 

Smart Republicans might look at that damage and think, “on the one hand, he tried to get his Vice President murdered, launched an insurrection against our country, and damaged out international standing, and we’re okay with that, but hell, do we want to keep losing elections?” It’s not as if they’re blind to the damage, as Indiana’s Kevin Cramer said, “I am more concerned about how we rebuild the party in a way that brings in more people to it.”

But really, their strategy, for the most part, really appears to be “let’s pretend Trump doesn’t exist.” Texas’ John Cornyn said, “We won’t keep talking about his tweets or what he did or did not do.” Ha ha ha as if they ever talked about his tweets. It was uncanny how Republicans never ever saw his tweets! 

Meanwhile, too many Republicans still think they can win over Trump’s base in a 2024 presidential bid, like the Senate’s biggest opportunist, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asserted on Sunday that twice-impeached former President Donald Trump was the face of the Republican Party, declaring that “Trump-plus” was the best path forward for the GOP. At the same time, he insisted that Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara was the “future of the Republican Party,” reported the Daily Beast, on his appearance on Fox’s Sunday show. Too many Republicans will trip themselves to be the biggest Trump cheerleaders, when Trump will only ever enthusiastically support someone from his own tribe, and her name is “Ivanka.” 

Undoubtedly, Trump’s deplatforming has dramatically reduced his influence, but it’s only a matter of time before he lands on one of the right’s many platforms, whether it’s Gab, OANN, or Parler, if it ever resuscitates. And then, it doesn’t matter if Trump is speaking to the mainstream as long as he reaches the true believers. He doesn’t have to control the party to severely damage it.

Now to be clear, there’s no way Trump launches a viable third party to challenge the GQP. No freakin’ way. We’ve seen the crowd that surrounds Trump. He doesn’t exactly attract top talent. He’s the guy who bankrupted a casino, a business that literally mints its own money. What’s he going to do, put Steve Bannon in charge? Jared Kushner? We’d witness the biggest grift in political history, which might be great for Trump and his cronies, but wouldn’t be particularly effective in winning significant support. 

Ultimately, it’s much easier to take over the existing party, which is where Republicans stand today—swarmed by the MAGA/Q believers they so avidly cultivated with fear-based racist appeals. I don’t think anyone doubts that Trump would be convicted by the Senate in a secret vote. The fact that Republicans couldn’t publicly pull the trigger is all the evidence you need that the Republican Party hasn’t moved past Trump or his supporters. They remain held in thrall by them. 

In the short- and mid-term, it’s important we hold corporations accountable for any donations to the Republican Party. They made the right move to cut off that flow of money, and McConnell did nothing to mitigate their concerns. And of course, we need to make sure our side remains engaged and active, to punish Republicans in 2022. History says we’ll lose Congress, but history isn’t always right. It wasn’t in 2002 when George W. Bush won seats in his first mid-term, in the wake of 9-11. January 6 should have as much cultural and political resonance, if not more, than 9-11. Saudi terrorists never threatened our Constitution or democracy. My own fury remains unabated. 

So yeah, good luck GQP trying to pretend that they can move on and pretend Trump is irrelevant, and that their own actions enabling him to the very end should be shrugged off. No one is ready to move on. 

McConnell’s vote against allowing impeachment trial shows once again how he’s manipulating the media

Senate Republicans once again showed the limits of their willingness to hold Donald Trump accountable for his actions. Those limits include the occasional disapproving statement, but emphatically do not include following through when he’s impeached. Just five Republicans voted to even allow the impeachment trial to go forward when Sen. Rand Paul tried to block it on the grounds that Trump is already out of office.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had used leaks that he might vote for conviction to con the traditional media into portraying him as a fair broker, was not one of those five Republican votes. Sen. Rob Portman, who likes to be seen as a reasonable guy who’d consider bipartisan action and who doesn’t have to worry about a primary because he’s retiring, was not one of those five Republican votes.

Nope, the only Republicans who were even open to hearing the evidence on Donald Trump inciting an insurrection that physically threatened all of them were Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey. Murkowski and Romney probably meant it, Collins and Sasse knew that the time had come when they had to do something do justify continuing coverage of their supposed distaste for Trumpism, and Toomey is retiring.

Here’s the really perfect, chef’s kiss part of McConnell voting against a retroactive impeachment trial: Two weeks ago, when he was still majority leader and Trump was still in office, McConnell refused to reconvene the Senate for a trial. But at the same time, he leaked that he might maybe vote to convict, getting the Very Serious Reasonable Person headlines he was seeking. Now McConnell turns around and votes against holding a retroactive trial that is only retroactive because of him.

I’d say, “Do they not think we’re going to notice what they’re doing?” Except that McConnell has the measure of the traditional media, most of which will absolutely allow itself to get played in this way. To really oomph up the level of “Are you kidding me?” involved here, Republicans decided to hear from their go-to constitutional law scholar, Jonathan Turley, about how retroactive trials are no good … even though in 1999 he strongly endorsed retroactive trials

The next level of Republican procedural objection will be because Chief Justice John Roberts isn't presiding over the trial, which was 100% his decision and apparently didn’t come with any indication that he is opting out because he considers the trial illegitimate. But Sen. Patrick Leahy, the most senior Democrat in the chamber, will be presiding, which Republicans will use to suggest it’s a partisan event even though Leahy is scrupulously fair, frequently to a self-owning extent.

It remains possible that evidence of Trump’s incitement of insurrection will emerge that’s so strong that not even most Republicans can ignore it. But in the absence of that, consider the wagons fully circled around Trump, and don’t be surprised by it.

Senate Republicans second only to Putin in their reckless disregard for U.S. democracy

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who's up for reelection this fall, took a bold stand for the republic Thursday after Donald Trump had brazenly refused the day before to commit to a peaceful transition of power. “He says crazy stuff," said Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power. It’s not going to change.”

Wow, strong stuff. Sasse really drew a line in the sand. But despite his hardball tactics, Trump shockingly went straight back at it Thursday. Asked again if he would accept defeat if he lost the election, Trump responded, “We want to make sure the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be.” Because there's nothing Trump values more than honesty. 

Sasse, his pathetic response, and those of all his Senate GOP counterparts—with the possible exception of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah—are exactly why Trump is destroying this nation without a single care in the world. Every time Trump has done something totally unconstitutional or illegal— like deliberately corrupting our once-sacred elections—GOP senators have waved it off with a wink and a smile. Or worse yet, they've actively worked to band together and save Trump’s presidency, even in the face of a mountain of evidence. Voting to acquit Trump of impeachment charges without hearing from a single witness was both a masterpiece of cowardice and the height of complicity. 

Once Senate Republicans proved to Trump that no matter what he did, they could always be counted on to either look the other way or even exonerate him, Trump was free to do absolutely anything. And so he does. 

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who did her part to give Trump his get-out-of-jail-free card during the impeachment trial, had the gall to later suggest that Trump had learned "a pretty big lesson.” Now, there's some serious duplicity. Hope Collins is resting easy at night—maybe just skip that last look in the mirror before bed.

On Thursday, I made an honest mistake while writing up a story for the Daily Kos website. I published a piece that included an outdated poll of the presidential election. I should have caught it, but I didn't. When I realized my mistake, I started shaking as my blood pressure spiked and I sought to get it off the site immediately, which honestly took longer than I had hoped. It's certainly not the first mistake I've made as a reporter/blogger and, frankly, I've done worse.

But in this moment when the world feels upside down and we are all collectively pushing as hard as possible to save our democracy, it just felt horrible to think I may have misled people, however unintentionally, especially given all the misinformation out there. 

I went for a walk to shake it off. Later in the day, I started revisiting the damage done with a touch more perspective. No one had lost their job. No one had died. I hadn't irreparably harmed our democracy or willed future generations to suffer decades of fascist rule. I hadn't personally let children go hungry during a pandemic (though children are going hungry) out of sheer malice. I hadn't left struggling families without food, shelter, health care, and a basic sense of safety and dignity. And on top of the 200,000 already dead, I hadn't consigned tens of thousands more Americans to death in the coming months through the indifference and incompetence of my leadership.

Nope. That's what Senate Republicans like Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, and their entire band of miscreants have done. Through their conniving, they have lent a helping hand to Donald Trump as he's worked to flush every last vestige of this centuries-long experiment down the toilet and hang the American people out to dry.

Pondering all that really put my own misstep on the day in a new light. How do these people sleep at night? Do any of them have a conscience? Do they have kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews they care or worry about? And it may sound silly to even ask, but do they give a damn about anybody else at all but themselves? 

Following Trump’s failure to commit to leaving office peacefully, just one lone Republican senator dared to stand up for our democracy, however small a gesture it was. "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable," Romney tweeted Wednesday evening.

GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who trampled the Constitution to steal a Supreme Court seat, promised an "orderly transition" in a tweet without ever mentioning Trump. That's worthless as ever. Mitch McConnell doesn't believe in democracy, he believes in raw power. And if Trump has an opening to contest the election and hold on to power, McConnell will back him 100%. Just like with impeachment.

All that is to say, these people are simply horrific. Perhaps only Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has shown more disdain for U.S. democracy. Frankly, no one summed it up better than the satirical website The Onion. 

GOP Lawmakers Watch Silently As Trump Strangles Each Of Their Loved Ones In Turn https://t.co/rcGwLVYjHW pic.twitter.com/xZeQNpEzK8

— The Onion (@TheOnion) September 24, 2020

Romney makes up new ‘precedent’ to say he’ll vote on a Trump Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Willard Mitt Romney, the Republican from Utah who broke ranks with Republicans to vote to convict Donald Trump on one of the articles of impeachment, abuse of power, has snapped back into line when it matters most: a Trump Supreme Court nominee. He says his decision isn’t based on “a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” but on “the Constitution and precedent.” And then makes up some real bullshit on precedent: "The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own." Except for when a Democratic Senate confirmed Ronald Reagan’s nominee, Anthony Kennedy, in 1988. 

“The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own,” he says. Historical precedent set by Mitch McConnell in 2016 in order to steal a Supreme Court seat from President Barack Obama. Maybe in the future we’ll have to call it the Romney Doctrine, just to cement for history how pathetic he is. 

This means McConnell has the votes. He doesn’t know (supposedly) the nominee yet, but he’s got the votes. It’s worth noting that he’s been sitting on the HEROES Act coronavirus relief bill for four months without acting, but will try to push a Supreme Court nominee in five weeks. It means that Sen. Susan Collins now has permission from McConnell to vote against the nominee, if she thinks that will save her pathetic political skin, because he doesn’t need her vote. It will be too little, too late for Collins, but that’s what will happen. 

It's about saving the country. Simple as that. Donate now to help bring it back to the White House and Senate.

David Frum: Don’t assume McConnell has the votes to confirm

Last night and this morning, I felt like crawling into a hole for the next 40 days or so. And not a deep hole. I didn’t have the energy or joie de vivre for a deep hole. It would have been a shallow hole. Barely a hole at all. Really, I would have just lay down in the dirt until my DNA fused to the worms’ and slugs’ and grasses’ much more upbeat genetic material.

But I’m a more resilient guy ever since I got into therapy and on antidepressants (I recommend both if you’re struggling). And this morning a friend sent me this Atlantic story from former George W. Bush speechwriter and confirmed NeverTrumper David Frum.

He makes some excellent points (one of them being, don't swallow your tongue in abject, pants-shitting fear just yet):

What McConnell did in 2016 was an assertion of brute power, and what he proposes in 2020 is another assertion of brute power. And so the question arises: Does McConnell in fact have the power he asserts?

The answer may be no, for four reasons.

Do tell, David Frum:

The polls do not favor Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, or Thom Tillis—senators from Maine, Colorado, and North Carolina up for reelection this cycle. Yet these competitors may not be ready to attend their own funerals. They may regard voting against McConnell's Court grab as a heaven-sent chance to prove their independence from an unpopular president—and to thereby save their own seats.

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has also made skeptical noises, and even Lindsey Graham of South Carolina may flinch. He faces an unexpectedly tough race this year, and he is extra-emphatically on the record vowing not to support a Supreme Court confirmation vote in the later part of a presidential year.

Frum also asks if Trump can find a woman nominee (Trump almost needs to nominate a woman to replace the legendary RBG, lest his female support erode even further) at the 11th hour who will be viewed as moderate enough by the senators who could be thinking of defecting.

Any last-minute Trump nominee will face a gantlet of opposition in the Senate, a firestorm of opposition in the country, and probably a lifetime of suspicion from the majority of the country.

Can McConnell and Trump find an appointee willing to risk all that for the chance—but not the guarantee—of a Supreme Court seat? Specifically, can they find a woman willing to do it? The optics of replacing Ginsburg with a man may be too ugly even for the Trump administration. And if they can find a woman, can they find a woman sufficiently moderate-seeming to provide cover to anxious senators? The task may prove harder than immediately assumed.

In addition, Yertle the Asshole’s hypocrisy on this issue is so egregiously off the charts it might create a mutually assured destruction scenario in which Democrats (assuming Biden wins and Dems retake the Senate) feel justified in packing the court by, say, adding two more justices.

But a last-minute overreach by McConnell could seem so illegitimate to Democrats as to justify radical countermoves should they win in November: increasing the number of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices; conceivably even opening impeachment hearings against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

McConnell may want the win badly enough to dismiss those risks. But many conservative-leaning lawyers in the country may be more cautious. And their voices will get a hearing in a contentious nomination fight—not only by the national media, but by some of the less Trump-y Republican senators. This could be enough to slow down a process that has no time to spare.

I think Frum makes some great points, and anything that will keep me from reaching for the shovel is welcome news right now.

So let’s breathe, and keep fighting on.

A Democratic Senate has never been more important. Make it so.

“This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry." — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via TwitterFind out what made dear Bette break up. Dear F*cking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump and its boffo sequels Dear Pr*sident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing are now available for a song! Click those links, yo!

Senate Republicans privately more worried that Trump talked to Woodward than about his deadly lies

Three days into the revelation that Donald Trump willfully lied to the American people about the deadly coronavirus from the absolute beginning of the crisis, and Senate Republicans are still hiding out, avoiding the press, pretending like they missed the biggest news of the week entirely.

"Haven't seen it." "Didn't read it." Or, in the case of Sen. Susan Collins, pretending like she's invisible. Collins "walked quickly into Thursday's morning series of votes, flanked by an aide who shielded her from a reporter who yelled a question in her direction about Trump downplaying the threat of coronavirus," The Hill reported. CNN adds she refused to take any questions on Wednesday or Thursday. At least her fellow vulnerable colleague, Iowa's Joni Ernst, took the question. She waffled it—"I haven't read it, I haven't seen it, so give me a chance to take a look"—but she answered the damn question.

We'll never get out of this crisis without taking back the Senate. Donate now to help make that happen.

Same with Arizona's Martha McSally and Colorado's Cory Gardner. Not reading or paying any attention to any news at all has become quite fashionable among Republicans. If you haven't read it or listened to the tapes with your very own ears, it didn't happen. At least that's Texan John Cornyn's take. He said he didn't have "personal knowledge" and didn't "have any confidence in the reporting," so he couldn't weigh in on it.

Others decided their best bet was going all in with the Trump excuse that he was trying to avert a national panic. Because if there's anything the guy who screams about antifa and Mexicans and Black Lives Matter protesters coming to rape and pillage and loot in the suburbs wants, it's not to cause a panic. North Carolina's Thom Tillis endorsed Trump's excuse. "When you're in a crisis situation, you have to inform people for their public health but you also don't want to create hysteria." When Tillis was pushed and asked if Trump should have been comparing the virus to the flu when he knew that it was far deadlier, Tillis wouldn't answer.

Trump's little golfing buddy, Lindsey Graham, piped up: "I don't think he needs to go on TV and screaming we're all going to die." Georgia's David Perdue agreed. "I understand trying to manage the psyche of the country and also look at the actions that he took. […] I look at what he did—and it was certainly a strong response." In no universe whatsoever was it a strong response, but that's a popular lie among Republicans. "Actions speak louder than words," said Louisiana's Bill Cassidy, another Republican up for reelection. "The President tends to speak loosely. We know that. That's just his pattern." And of course there’s Sen. Mitch McConnell, who combined the professed ignorance and defense of Trump into one: "Well, I haven’t read the Woodward book, but we all knew it was dangerous. The president knew it was dangerous and I think took positive steps very early on, for which he should be applauded, not criticized," he said.

Anonymously, Republican senators were less bothered by Trump's lies to the American public about a pandemic that has gone on to kill 200,000 Americans than about the fact that he would talk to Bob Woodward. "Most of us say, 'What the hell is he doing talking to Bob Woodward at 11 at night?'" one of them told The Hill.

Remember back in March, when McConnell talked about how Trump's flat-footed response to the pandemic was the fault of House Democrats and impeachment? How he said that it "diverted the attention of the government?” Yeah, that. The refusal of McConnell and fellow Republicans to actually look at the evidence, to put country over party in the impeachment, has led directly to this: 200,000 people dead. McConnell's continued insistence on putting party over country means that six months into the pandemic, he's abandoned it.

Morning Digest: How a brazen campaign finance scandal led to this Florida Republican’s downfall

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.

Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming held their primaries on Tuesday. You can find current results at the links for each state; we’ll have a comprehensive rundown in our next Digest.

Leading Off

FL-15: Republican primary voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District on Tuesday denied renomination to freshman Rep. Ross Spano, who has been under investigation by the Justice Department since last year due to a campaign finance scandal, and instead gave the GOP nod to Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.

With all votes apparently counted, Franklin defeated Spano 51-49. Franklin’s next opponent will  be former local TV news anchor Alan Cohn, who beat state Rep. Adam Hattersley 41-33 for the Democratic nomination.

Campaign Action

This central Florida seat, which includes the mid-sized city of Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, moved from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump, and Franklin is favored to keep it in Republican hands. Still, the general election could be worth watching: In 2018, before news of Spano’s campaign finance scandal broke, he won by a modest 53-47 margin.

Spano’s defeat ends a short, but unfortunately for him quite eventful, congressional career. Spano, who was elected to the state House in 2012, had been waging a campaign for state attorney general in 2018 until Republican Rep. Dennis Ross surprised everyone by announcing his retirement. Spano switched over to the contest to succeed Ross, which looked like an easier lift, but he nonetheless faced serious intra-party opposition from former state Rep. Neil Combee.

Spano beat Combee 44-34 and went on to prevail in the general election, but he found himself in trouble before he was even sworn into Congress. That December, Spano admitted he might have broken federal election law by accepting personal loans worth $180,000 from two friends and then turning around and loaning his own campaign $170,000. That's a serious problem, because anyone who loans money to a congressional candidate with the intent of helping their campaign still has to adhere to the same laws that limit direct contributions, which in 2018 capped donations at just $2,700 per person.

The House Ethics Committee initially took up the matter but announced in late 2019 that the Justice Department was investigating Spano. The congressman variously argued that he'd misunderstood the law governing campaign loans but also insisted his campaign had disclosed the loan "before it became public knowledge" in the financial disclosure forms all federal candidates are obligated to file.

That latter claim, however, was flat-out false: As the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno explained, Spano had failed to file those disclosures by the July 2018 deadline, only submitting them just before Election Day—after the paper had asked about them. Only once those reports were public did the paper learn that the money for Spano's questionable loans came from his friends.

Despite his scandal, most of the party establishment, including Sen. Marco Rubio and most of the neighboring Republican congressmen, stood by Spano. However, he had trouble bringing in more money, and Franklin used his personal wealth to decisively outspend the incumbent. The anti-tax Club for Growth dumped $575,000 into advertising attacking Franklin, but it wasn’t enough to save Spano from defeat on Tuesday.

P.S. Spano is the fifth House Republican to lose renomination this cycle, compared to three Democrats. The good news for the rest of the GOP caucus, though, is that none of them can lose their primaries … because the remaining states don’t have any Republican members. (Louisiana does host its all-party primaries in November, but none of the state’s House members are in any danger.)

Senate

AL-Sen: In what appears to be the first major outside spending here on the Democratic side, Duty and Honor has deployed $500,000 on an ad buy praising Sen. Doug Jones. The commercial extols the incumbent for working across party lines to protect Alabamians during the pandemic and "fighting to expand Medicaid to cover Alabama families who need it." The conservative organization One Nation, meanwhile, is running a spot hitting Jones for supporting abortion rights.

GA-Sen-A: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is running an ad going after a Georgia Republican senator's stock transactions … just not the senator you might expect. The commercial begins, "Jan. 24, the U.S. Senate gets a private briefing on the coronavirus. Georgia Sen. David Perdue gets busy." The narrator continues, "That same day, he buys stock in a company that sells masks and gloves. Then sells casino stocks and winds up buying and dumping up to $14.1 million dollars in stock."

Perdue, like homestate colleague Kelly Loeffler, has argued that these trades were made by advisers who acted independently. Perdue has also said that he was not part of that Jan. 24 briefing.

Meanwhile, SMP's affiliated nonprofit, Duty and Honor, is airing a spot that uses Perdue's own words to attack his handling of the pandemic. "Very, very few people have been exposed to it," the audience hears Perdue say, "The risk of this virus still remains low." The narrator continues, "No wonder Perdue voted against funding for more masks, gloves, and ventilators. And voted to cut funding at the CDC to combat pandemics."

GA-Sen-B: Georgia United Victory, which supports Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, is airing another commercial attacking Republican Rep. Doug Collins, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that its total buy now stands at $6 million.

As pigs fill the screen, a truly bored-sounding narrator begins, "Another talking pig commercial? Good grief. We all know pigs are wasteful." She goes on to ask, "Is that the best comparison to Doug Collins? Oh sure. Collins loves pork for things like wine tasting and the opera." She goes on to say the congressman is too close to lobbyists and concludes, "He's laid quite a few eggs. Ever seen a pig lay an egg? Didn't think so." We really don't understand why this spot decided to go into the details of pig reproduction for no apparent reason, but ok.

IA-Sen, NC-Sen: Politico reports that Everytown for Gun Safety is launching an ad campaign this week against two Republican senators: The group will spend $2.2 million against Iowa's Joni Ernst (here and here), and $3.2 million opposing North Carolina's Thom Tillis (here and here).

Both ads argue the incumbents are too close to special interests, including the "gun lobby" and the insurance industry. The Iowa commercials also reference Ernst's infamous 2014 "make 'em squeal" spot by arguing, "She said she'd go to Washington and make them squeal. Joni Ernst broke that promise to Iowa and made the special interests her top priority." The narrator concludes that Ernst has actually left Iowans to squeal.

MA-Sen: Priorities for Progress, a group that the Boston Globe says is affiliated with the pro-charter school and anti-teachers union organization Democrats for Education Reform, has released a SurveyUSA poll that shows Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey narrowly leading Rep. Joe Kennedy 44-42 in the Democratic primary. Neither group appears to have taken sides in the Sept. 1 contest.

This is the third poll we've seen in the last month, and the others have also shown Markey in the lead. However, while the Republican firm JMC Analytics gave the incumbent a similar 44-41 edge in an early August crowdfunded survey, a YouGov poll for UMass Amherst and WCVB had Markey ahead 51-36 last week.

MI-Sen: Republican John James has publicized a poll from the Tarrance Group that shows him trailing Democratic Sen. Gary Peters "just" 49-44; the survey, like most Republican polls this cycle, did not include presidential numbers.

There isn't any ambiguity about why James' team is releasing this survey, though. The memo noted that, while the Democratic group Duty and Honor has been airing commercials for Peters, there has been "no corresponding conservative ally on the air against Gary Peters," and it goes on to claim the Republican can win "[w]ith the proper resources." Indeed, as Politico recently reported, major Republican outside groups have largely bypassed this contest, and neither the NRSC or Senate Leadership Fund currently has any money reserved for the final three months of the campaign.

James is getting some air support soon, though. Roll Call reports that One Nation, a nonprofit affiliated with SLF, will launch a $4.5 million TV and radio ad campaign against Peters on Wednesday.

NC-Sen: While most Republican downballot candidates have largely avoided tying their Democratic opponents to Joe Biden, Sen. Thom Tillis tries linking Democrat Cal Cunningham to Biden in a new spot.

Polls: The progressive group MoveOn has unveiled a trio of new Senate polls from Public Policy Polling:

  • GA-Sen-A: Jon Ossoff (D): 44, David Perdue (R-inc): 44 (June: 45-44 Ossoff)
  • IA-Sen: Theresa Greenfield (D): 48, Joni Ernst (R-inc): 45 (June: 45-43 Greenfield)
  • ME-Sen: Sara Gideon (D): 49, Susan Collins (R-inc): 44 (July: 47-42 Gideon)

The releases did not include presidential numbers.

House

OH-01: Democrat Kate Schroder is running a TV commercial about the truly strange scandal that engulfed Republican Rep. Steve Chabot's campaign last year. The narrator accuses the incumbent of lying about Schroder to draw attention away from his own problems, declaring, "Chabot is facing a grand jury investigation for $123,000 in missing campaign money."

The ad continues, "After getting caught, Chabot blamed others. And his campaign manager went missing." The narrator concludes, "We may never learn the truth about Shady Chabot's missing money, but we do know that 24 years is enough. (Chabot was elected to represent the Cincinnati area in Congress in 1994, lost a previous version of this seat in 2008, and won it back two years later.)

As we've written before, Chabot's campaign was thrown into turmoil last summer when the FEC sent a letter asking why the congressman's first-quarter fundraising report was belatedly amended to show $124,000 in receipts that hadn't previously been accounted for. From there, a bizarre series of events unfolded.

First, Chabot's longtime consultant, Jamie Schwartz, allegedly disappeared after he shuttered his firm, called the Fountain Square Group. Then Schwartz's father, Jim Schwartz, told reporters that despite appearing as Chabot's treasurer on his FEC filings for many years, he had in fact never served in that capacity. Chabot's team was certainly bewildered, because it issued a statement saying, "As far as the campaign was aware, James Schwartz, Sr. has been the treasurer since 2011." Evidently there's a whole lot the campaign wasn't aware of.

The elder Schwartz also claimed of his son, "I couldn't tell you where he's at" because "he's doing a lot of running around right now." Well, apparently, he'd run right into the arms of the feds. In December, local news station Fox19 reported that Jamie Schwartz had turned himself in to the U.S. Attorney's office, which, Fox19 said, has been investigating the matter "for a while."

Adding to the weirdness, it turned out that Chabot had paid Schwartz's now-defunct consultancy $57,000 in July and August of 2019 for "unknown" purposes. Yes, that's literally the word Chabot's third-quarter FEC report used to describe payments to the Fountain Square Group no fewer than five times. (Remember how we were saying the campaign seems to miss quite a bit?)

We still don't know what those payments were for, or what the deal was with the original $124,000 in mystery money that triggered this whole saga. Chabot himself has refused to offer any details, insisting only that he's been the victim of an unspecified "financial crime."

There haven't been any public developments since December, though. The Cincinnati Inquirer's Jason Williams contacted Schwartz's attorney last week to ask if Schwartz had been informed of any updates, and the reporter was only told, "No, not yet." Unless something big changes in the next few months, though, expect Democrats to keep pounding Chabot over this story.

OK-05: State Sen. Stephanie Bice is going up with a negative commercial against businesswoman Terry Neese just ahead of next week's Republican primary runoff. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in what will be a competitive contest for this Oklahoma City seat.

Bice accuses Neese of running "the same fake news smears she always sinks to." Bice continues by alluding to Neese's unsuccessful 1990 and 1994 campaigns for lieutenant governor by declaring that in her 30 years of running for office Neese has been "mastering the art of dirty politics but never beating a single Democrat." (Neese badly lost the general election in 1990 but fell short in the primary runoff four years later, so she's only had one opportunity up until now to beat a Democrat.) Bice then sums up Neese by saying, "Appointed by Clinton. Terrible on gun rights. Neese won't take on the Squad, because she can't beat Kendra Horn."

Neese outpaced Bice 36-25 in the first round of voting back in late June, and Neese' allies have a big financial advantage going into the runoff. While Bice did outspend Neese $290,000 to $210,000 from July 1 to Aug. 5 (the time the FEC designates as the pre-runoff period), the Club for Growth has deployed $535,000 on anti-Bice ads this month. So far, no major outside groups have spent to aid Bice.

SC-01: The NRCC has started airing its first independent expenditure ad of the November general election, a spot that seeks to attack freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham on the issue that powered his upset victory in 2018: offshore drilling. The ad tries to question Cunningham's commitment to opposing such drilling in a move straight from Karl Rove’s dusty playbook, but given how closely his image is tied to the cause—he defeated his Republican opponent two years ago, Katie Arrington, in large part because of her support for offshore oil extraction—it's a tough sell.

And while Nancy Mace, his Republican challenger this year, might welcome the committee's involvement, the move doesn't come from a position of strength. In fact, the NRCC's own ad seems to acknowledge this at the outset, with a narrator saying, "Your TV is full of Joe Cunningham" as three images from prior Cunningham spots pop up on the screen. It's not wrong: The congressman has been advertising on television since the first week in July, and he recently released his fifth ad.

Cunningham's been able to blanket the airwaves because of the huge financial advantage he's locked in. Mace raised a prodigious $733,000 in the second quarter of the year, but Cunningham managed to beat even that take with an $845,000 haul of his own. It's the campaigns' respective bank accounts that differ dramatically, though: Cunningham had $3.1 million in cash-on-hand as of June 30 while Mace, after a costly primary, had just $743,000.

As a result, she hasn't gone on the air yet herself, which explains why the NRCC has moved in early to fill in the gap. Interestingly, the committee didn't bother to mention that this is its first independent expenditure foray of the 2020 elections in its own press release, whereas the DCCC loudly trumpeted the opening of its own independent expenditure campaign in New York's 24th Congressional District a month ago.

TX-21: Both Democrat Wendy Davis and the far-right Club for Growth are running their first commercials here.

Davis talks about her life story, telling the audience, "[M]y parents divorced when I was 13. I got a job at 14 to help mom. And at 19, I became a mom." Davis continues by describing her experience living in a trailer park and working two jobs before community college led her to Texas Christian University and Harvard Law. She then says, "As a state senator, I put Texas over party because everyone deserves a fair shot."

The Club, which backs Republican Rep. Chip Roy, meanwhile tells the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek that it is spending $482,000 on its first ad against Davis. The group has $2.5 million reserved here to aid Roy, who ended June badly trailing the Democrat in cash-on-hand, and it says it will throw down more.

The Club's spot declares that Davis is a career politician who got "busted for using campaign funds for personal expenses," including an apartment in Austin. However, while the narrator makes it sound like Davis was caught breaking the rules, Svitek writes, "Members are allowed to use donors' dollars to pay for such accommodations—and it is not uncommon."

This topic also came up during Davis' 2014 campaign for governor. The campaign said at the time that legislative staffers also stayed at the apartment, and that Davis followed all the state's disclosure laws.

Polls:

  • AZ-06: GQR (D) for Hiral Tipirneni: Hiral Tipirneni (D): 48, David Schweikert (R-inc): 45 (50-48 Biden)
  • MT-AL: WPA Intelligence (R) for Club for Growth (pro-Rosendale): Matt Rosendale (R): 51, Kathleen Williams (D): 45
  • NJ-02: RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits: Jeff Van Drew (R-inc): 42, Amy Kennedy (D): 39
  • NY-01: Global Strategy Group (D) for Nancy Goroff: Lee Zeldin (R-inc): 47, Nancy Goroff (D): 42 (46-42 Trump)
  • WA-03: RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-inc): 44, Carolyn Long (D): 40

The only other numbers we've seen from Arizona's 6th District was an early August poll from the DCCC that had Republican Rep. David Schweikert up 46-44 but found Joe Biden ahead 48-44 in this Scottsdale and North Phoenix constituency; Donald Trump carried this seat 52-42 four years ago, but like many other well-educated suburban districts, it's been moving to the left in recent years.

The Club for Growth's new Montana survey comes a few weeks after two Democratic pollsters found a closer race: In mid-July, Public Policy Polling's survey for election enthusiasts on Twitter showed a 44-44 tie, while a Civiqs poll for Daily Kos had Republican Matt Rosendale ahead 49-47 a few days later. PPP and Civiqs found Donald Trump ahead 51-42 and 49-45, respectively, while the Club once again did not include presidential numbers.

U.S. Term Limits has been releasing House polls at a rapid pace over the last few weeks, and once again, they argue that Democrats would easily win if they would just highlight the Republican incumbents' opposition to term limits; as far as we know, no Democratic candidates have tested this theory out yet. These surveys also did not include presidential numbers.

The only other poll we've seen out of New York's 1st District on eastern Long Island was a July PPP internal for Democrat Nancy Goroff's allies at 314 Action Fund. That survey gave Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin a 47-40 lead, which is slightly larger than what her poll finds now, though it showed the presidential race tied 47-47. This seat has long been swing territory, though it backed Trump by a 55-42 margin in 2016.

Mayoral

Honolulu, HI Mayor: Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who finished a close third in the Aug. 8 nonpartisan primary, announced Monday that she was endorsing independent Rick Blangiardi over fellow Democrat Keith Amemiya. Blangiardi took 26% in the first round of voting, while Amemiya beat Hanabusa 20-18 for second.

ELECTION CHANGES

Minnesota: Republicans have dropped their challenge to an agreement between Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon and voting rights advocates under which Minnesota will waive its requirement that mail voters have their ballots witnessed and will also require that officials count any ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within a week.

In dismissing their own claims, Republicans said they would "waive the right to challenge [the agreement] in any other judicial forum." That likely moots a separate federal case in which Republicans were challenging a similar agreement that a judge had refused to sign off on.

North Dakota: An organization representing county election officials in North Dakota says that local administrators are moving forward with plans to conduct the November general election in-person, rather than once again moving to an all-mail format, as they did for the state's June primary.

South Carolina: Republican Harvey Peeler, the president of South Carolina's state Senate, has called his chamber in for a special session so that lawmakers can consider measures to expand mail voting. Legislators passed a bill waiving the state's excuse requirement to vote absentee ahead of South Carolina's June primary, and Peeler says, "I am hopeful we can do it again."

However, Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas is refusing to convene a special session for his members, who are not due to return to the capitol until Sept. 15. That would give the state significantly less time to prepare for a likely influx of absentee ballot requests should the legislature once again relax the excuse requirement.

Ad Roundup

A Democratic wave pickup of 10 Senate seats is a real possibility

Early in the cycle, the big question was wether Democrats could pick up the net-four seats they needed to get control of the U.S. Senate (assuming they won the presidency, and the tie-breaking vote). It was a tall order, given that only one top pickup opportunity (Colorado) was in a 2016 blue state. But Donald Trump’s disastrous and deadly presidency hasn’t just crushed his own reelection chances, but is now threatening Republican Senate seats no one would’ve ever thought would be at risk, even in some solidly red states. 

Welcome to my inaugural ranking of Senate races, by most likely to flip. 

TIER ONE (expected to switch)

1. AlabamaDoug Jones (D)

Our two-year Democratic rental, thanks to a narrowly won special election against a child predator, should come to an end this November as Alabama’s strong Republican lean and a run-of-the-mill Republican challenger ends Jones’ term. No regrets. It was great while it lasted. 

2. Colorado, Cory Gardner (R)

Joe Biden will win Colorado by double-digits. There’s no way Gardner overcomes that margin, and especially not against former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who remained popular throughout his two terms in office. In fact, Gardner has acted as someone vying for a spot on a second Trump term, reliably defending his president during the impeachment proceedings, rather than a blue-state senator trying to differentiate himself from the top of the ticket. 

3. Arizona, Marth McSally (R)

McSally narrowly lost in the Democratic wave in 2018, and since appointed to fill Sen. John McCain’s seat after his death, she is headed toward another defeat at the hands of Democrat Mark Kelly, an astronaut and husband to former congresswoman and gun violence victim Gabby Giffords. Polling is showing both Biden and Kelly pulling away, in a state in which resurgent Latino voters and suburban white women are heavily engaging. 

4. North Carolina, Thom Tillis (R) 

Democratic Iraq and Afghanistan war vet Cal Cunningham has proven a surprisingly strong challenger to first-term Republican Thom Tillis, handily leading him in all recent polling. It’s not even looking close, in a state in which Biden has also led (albeit more narrowly). Tillis runs weakly against Republicans, who see him as a traitor to Trump’s cause. And the double-whammy of Trump losing the state, and Tillis losing Trump voters, looks too much to overcome. 

5. Maine, Susan Collins (R)

Collins survived decades as a Republican in blue Maine by pretending to be a “moderate” independent-minded legislator. The Trump years have torn that facade away, as she’s sided with the wannabe despot in both his Supreme Court nominations, and in voting to acquit him during the impeachment proceedings. Democrat Sara Gideon, Speaker of the Maine House, is leading in all recent polling, and would be the first woman of color (Indian American) elected in Maine. 

These five races would net Democrats the +3 seats they need for a 50-50 Senate, with Biden’s vice-president casting the tie-breaking vote. But what a nightmare that would be, right? We’d have the nominal majority, but well-short of the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and without the Democratic votes needs to eliminate that stupid filibuster. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has already declared he’d vote against any such efforts. So it is imperative that Democrats pad their majority in order to have the votes to get rid of the filibuster and push through critical legislation like statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico (if its residents vote for it), voting right protections, economic stimulus, police reforms, measures to address climate change, and other Democratic priorities. 

TIER TWO (toss-ups)  

6. Montana, Steve Daines (R)

How can Democrats be competitive in a state which Trump won by over 20 points? First, convince popular Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to run, then watch Trump’s numbers collapse to the point that Biden is actually competitive. Recent polling in this hard-to-poll state show Republicans with the narrow edge, but it’s narrow. 

7. Iowa, Joni Ernst (R) 

This wasn’t a state that was supposed to be competitive, with Trump winning by nine points in 2016. Yet Trump disastrous trade wars decimated Iowa farmers, and the coronavirus pandemic has only added to anti-GOP sentiment. So this state of rural non-college whites—the core base of the modern Republican Party—is suddenly flirting with voting Democratic. Most recent polling shows Trump leading by a hair, the same as Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. 

8. Georgia, Kelly Loeffler (R)

Georgia has a racist Jim Crow-era election system, in which candidates require 50% in the first round, otherwise the race moves to a January runoff. This is a special election, thus features a “jungle primary” in which all candidates, of all parties, run on the same ballot. If none reaches 50% (and none will), this gets decided January next year. Democrats are running several candidates, and would be best served if they rallied around Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where Dr. Rev, Martin Luther King preached). 

While Democrats have traditionally suffered turnout woes during the runoff elections, I doubt that’ll be an issue this cycle. January will be HOT in Georgia. 

9. Georgia, David Perdue (R)

Same as above, except that there’s no jungle primary. Democrats nominated Jon Ossoff to take on the incumbent. Polling has been mixed in this race, with some showing a tied race, and others showing Perdue close to 50%. But at the same time, almost all polling is showing a competitive presidential contest. If Biden can extend his lead in this coronavirus-stricken state, he could very well pull Democrats across the line with him, at least into January runoffs where defeated and demoralized Republicans might just sit things out. 

TIER THREE (lean Republican)

These solidly Republican states shouldn’t be competitive at the Senate level, yet amazingly, they are! 

10. Kansas, Open (R)

The conventional wisdom is that if Republican nominate crazed right-winger Kris Kobach, that this seat in this +20 2016 Trump state becomes far more competitive in November. That would make sense, since Kobach cost Republicans the governorship in 2018. Our own Civiqs polling, actually, found Democrat Barbara Bollier competitive no matter who Republicans nominate. A tough state, for sure but Kansas is one of the few remaining Republican states with high educational attainment (the other being Utah). Given the nation’s partisan stratification based on college education, we can expect Biden to narrow the gap from 2016, improving Bollier’s chances down the ballot. And if Republicans nominate Kobach? That can’t hurt, either. 

11. Alaska, Dan Sullivan (R)

Alaska is competitive at the presidential level (more here), despite the fact that Trump won it by 15 in 2016. No polling has shown the Senate race competitive, but that’s because 1) there is no Democratic nominee—an independent is filling that slot, and 2) that nominee, Al Gross, has a name ID of about zero percent. Gross is now up in the air, and that should boost that name ID in this cheap state. Also, Democrats will now learn that he is their guy, and will answer accordingly the next time they’re polled. 

Without strength at the presidential level, this seat isn’t in play, but Alaska has been trending Democratic for several cycles now, and this year may be the year when that vast swath of land is painted in glorious blue. 

12. South Carolina, Lindsey Graham (R)

Pinch me I must be dreaming. Infamous Trump bootlicker Lindsey is vulnerable? Yes. Yes he is. The polling has shown the state tightening at the presidential level, and the pandemic is hitting South Carolina hard, further weakening the state’s dominant Republican Party. Democrats have an awesome candidate in Jaime Harrison. His problem has been that while he’s running even with Graham, most undecideds in the race are conservative voters. It’s a tough hill to overcome. But this is happening: 

Every point Trump falls is a point that could cost him in the presidential election, and every point that presidential race narrows is one point less Harrison needs to overcome to win the Senate seat. The play here isn’t for Biden to win, he doesn’t need South Carolina (as nice as it would be!). We need it close enough to give ourselves a chance down ballot. 

This is a long-shot, by all means, but it’s a real shot. And Harrison has raised record amounts of cash and has the resources to wage a real campaign in this final three-month sprint to Election Day.  

13. Texas, John Cornyn (R)

The big question in Texas is whether it is competitive at the presidential level or not. It’s clear where the state is trending, and no doubt in a cycle or two it will be legitimately purple. But polling is mixed on whether this is the year. And that will inform whether the Senate race is flippable. On its merits, Cornyn should be cruising to reelection. He has none of the baggage Sen. Ted Cruz had in 2018, where he held on to his seat by just 2% of the vote. But if Texas Democrats can get the state’s chronically underperforming Latino vote to activate, then all bets are off—at both the presidential and senate levels. 

CONCLUSION

Of the 13 Senate seats currently in play, 12 of them are held by Republicans. The odds of Democrats picking up 10 or 11 seats are currently low, but the trends just keep getting worse and worse for the GOP. The toll of the pandemic isn’t just worsening nationwide, it’s currently disproportionately affecting some of the very states discussed above, like Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina, and Texas. 

Meanwhile, Trump is doing nothing to reverse his precipitous collapse in his national standing, while also refusing to allow Republicans to distance themselves from him. 

So can we get to a double-digit pickup in the Senate? Not today, we wouldn’t, but Republicans still have three months to fall. 

Guess who’s even more unpopular in Maine than Donald Trump? That’s right, it’s Susan Collins!

The Maine primary is next week, July 14 (delayed a month by coronavirus), when Sen. Susan Collins will finally have an official Democratic opponent. That is almost certainly going to be Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, who's led the field from pretty much the beginning of the cycle. Gideon also continues to lead in the general election, according to the latest Public Policy Polling (PPP) polling in the state.

Back in March, PPP polled the state and found Gideon had a 47-43 advantage. This month Gideon has the same four-point advantage, leading 46-42. That's no movement in four months, with Gideon not being able to fully campaign against Collins, and Collins throwing everything she's got at reelection. Collins is deeply underwater with just 36% of voter approval and 55% disapproval. That leaves her 9% to try to sway to her side against the headwind of the Trump pandemic. In comparison, Gideon is holding at 37-37 approve/disapprove, with 26% of voters still to woo.

Let's make sure her time is up. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!

Collins has lost Democrats and Dem-leaning independents, with just an 8% approval rating from 2016 Clinton voters, down from 32% last year. Impeachment, PPP's polling memo says, "effectively shut off the bipartisan appeal she had for years." She's also tied with Gideon with independents at 44-44. Collins has achieved this fall mostly on her own by deciding she was sticking with Trump. In fact, 46% of voters say Collins is "more a partisan voice for Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell" than "an independent voice for Maine," compared to 42% who say she's looking out more for the state than the party.

More bad news for Collins comes with Trump's numbers, because he's not even as disliked as she is. He has 41% approval to her 36%. But they share the disapproval of 55% of the state's voters. Joe Biden leads Trump by 11 points there, 53-42. Notably, Collins still hasn't said whether she voted for Trump in March's presidential primary in Maine when his was the only Republican name on the ballot. As if she can play coy with that one.

Collins, who famously pledged to serve just two terms in the Senate when she first ran in 1996, is seeking her fifth term. Seems like Maine has decided that's three terms too many since she made her promise.

The worse Trump does, the more pathetic Senate Republicans’ blind fealty to him looks

Republican lawmakers are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to figure out how to save their own hides without attracting the rage and fury of Donald Trump.

Four of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans have already disappeared Trump from their TV ads as if the bloviator in chief doesn't actually exist. In essence: Trump? Yeah, never heard of him, except that one time I voted to clear him of all impeachment charges without ever hearing from a single witness.

That would be Sens. Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Susan Collins of Maine. All of those Republicans, while trying to dodge Trump's ire, have figured out there's no upside to overtly aligning themselves with a guy whose approvals are cratering as he blows it on the nation's two biggest crises. 

But stuck in the middle are GOP senators like Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Cornyn of Texas, and David Perdue of Georgia—who haven't yet reached the point of no return where they realize Trump is clearly dooming them. 

Perdue, for instance, wasn't willing to answer reporter questions on Trump spinning conspiracy theories about a 75-year-old activist who was shoved to the ground by Buffalo police officers. But asked about attacks on Perdue's fealty to Trump, his spokesperson offered: "Bring it on," according to the AP.

Anti-Trumper and GOP strategist Tim Miller calls Republicans "hostages" but is still mystified that they couldn't find the basic resolve to separate themselves from Trump's insane attack on an elderly protester. 

“I’m not asking them to become Twitter trolls,” Miller said. “But I don’t see why they don’t take opportunities to put a little distance between themselves and the president.”

Of course, that's how we arrived here in the first place. Republicans are truly spineless—they haven't shown a lick of integrity or concern for their oaths of office since the day Trump took office. Just reckless acquiescence to a man who is clearly physically and mentally not well. So the idea that they might show a bit of dignity or put country first at risk of drawing a mean tweet from Trump is just unthinkable to them.

What remains to be seen is how many Senate Republicans running for reelection this November are willing to get on a stage with Trump. Remember, the last GOP politicians in tough races to do some high-profile campaigning with Trump were 2019 GOP gubernatorial candidates Matt Bevin in Kentucky and Eddie Rispone in Louisiana. They both lost.