The House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief package over the weekend on a mostly party line vote, 219 to 212. Every single Republican voted against the bill, along with two Democrats from conservative districts.
But here’s the thing: This bill is very popular among American voters. A new Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 76% of voters approved, including 60% of Republicans. A CBS News/YouGov poll finds 83% of Americans favor passage. An ABC News/Ipsos poll finds 67% support for the measure.
The bill is also popular among Republican mayors and governors, whose budgets have been decimated by the pandemic. In fact, the bill is so popular that even former President Donald Trump muted his criticism of it in an otherwise bombastic speech over the weekend.
“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will release 10 new digital ads targeting vulnerable Republicans who voted against President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package,” Axios reports.
Vice President Kamala Harris is favorite to win the next presidential election with 22% implied probability, ahead of Joe Biden at 20% and Donald Trump at 14%, according to betting odds from British bookmaker Ladbrokes, Reuters reports.
A new Civiqs poll finds that Americans of all ages, education levels, genders, races and political parties say they’re more likely than not to get the coronavirus vaccine — except Republicans.
Los Angeles Times: “Frustrated by GOP lawmakers who broke with him over his months-long, falsehood-filled campaign to overturn an election, he expressed particular contempt for the 17 Republican lawmakers who joined Democrats voting to impeach and convict him for his role in inciting a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 to stop the counting of electoral votes. Five people, including a police officer, died in the insurrection.”
“Trump did not speak to the crowd of 1,400 activists about the riot or mention those who partook in it. He focused instead on punishing Republicans who he believes betrayed him in the aftermath, making it clear he would be supporting efforts by more pro-Trump candidates to oust them next year in primaries.”
Said Trump: “Get rid of them all.”
New York Times: “Just as striking was what wasn’t said at the event. There was vanishingly little discussion of why Republicans lost the presidency, the House and the Senate over the last four years, nor much debate about what agenda they should pursue to rebuild the party.”
“The absence of soul-searching owes in part to the Republicans’ surprise gains in the House and the denialism of many activists that they lost the White House at all, a false claim perpetuated with trollish gusto by former President Donald Trump himself on Sunday, to the delight of the crowd.”
Charlie Sykes: “There was no introspection down in Orlando; no sense that conservatives needed to look an the mirror and ask themselves hard questions about violence, sedition, white supremacy, or cults of personality.”
“Less than two months after the insurrection at the Capitol, the event was scarcely mentioned. Even after the deaths of a half million Americans during the pandemic, there was no sense that the GOP needed to re-think its values.”
“In fact, there was remarkably little focus on policy at all — it was all culture war all the time. And, of course, Trump.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-AK) committed that Senate Republicans will support Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) reelection bid in 2022 despite former President Donald Trump advocating that the GOP “get rid of” the 17 Republicans in Congress who voted against him during his second impeachment, CNN reports.
ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR — Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — one of former President Trump’s most vocal supporters in Congress and chair of the House Freedom Caucus — told The Hill he is weighing a run for Senate in Arizona in 2022.
Said Biggs: “I’m kicking the tires, we’re looking at it, talking to people, seeing what it would look like, talking about how much it would be and trying to gauge how much support I might have.”
OHIO U.S. SENATOR / GOVERNOR — Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) said that he is considering running for either Ohio governor or U.S. senator in 2022, as he harshly criticized incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R), Fox News reports.
Almost a month after the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin reported that Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan would launch a Senate bid in early March, the congressman not only pushed back against that timeline but said he hadn’t even committed to a campaign yet. “We’ll make a decision here, I guess, in the coming weeks,” he told Spectrum News on Friday, saying of a March kickoff, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Meanwhile, “Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically,” Axios reports. “The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.”
“House Democrats will be on the defensive in the midterm cycle after narrowly holding onto their majority and losing many of their most vulnerable members in November,” Roll Call reports. “They marked the terrain they’re going to work hardest to protect in that fight Monday with the release of 32 incumbents who will receive extra resources and support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”
From the document: “In 2020, all 15 of the seats Republicans flipped were won by a woman, a minority or a veteran. Continuing to recruit similar candidates is a foundational building block to the majority in 2022.” However, the memo sounds the alarm about insufficient Republican candidate fundraising, calling it the “single biggest threat to Republicans taking back the majority.”
NEW YORK GOVERNOR — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s always behaved as though he’s politically invincible, is finally experiencing some genuine vulnerability thanks to a trio of burgeoning scandals: a federal investigation into his efforts to conceal the true scope of nursing home deaths due to COVID, deepening outrage over his abusive treatment of fellow Democrats, and allegations of sexual harassment from a former aide. The question, though, is whether any rivals are positioned to seize the opportunity Cuomo’s self-inflicted wounds have created—and have the courage to actually take him on in next year’s Democratic primary.
At the top of the list is state Attorney General Tish James, the first Black woman to hold a statewide post in New York. The New York Times reports, however, that unnamed operatives, while viewing her as “formidable,” think she’s “risk-averse” and unlikely to challenge the governor.
James, who previously served as New York City’s public advocate, could make serious inroads with Black voters, who’ve long been one of Cuomo’s most important bases of support, though she may be reluctant to cross the man whose support helped her win the 2018 primary for her current job. Then again, as Politico notes, James’ own investigation into the nursing home crisis is what broke the scandal open. A James spokesperson “declined to comment” about the attorney general’s potential interest to the Times.
One person who’s been a little more voluble is James’ successor as public advocate (a sort of ombudsman who’s first in line to the mayor), Jumaane Williams. Williams, who is also Black, told Politico that Cuomo “appears he’s earned himself a primary,” though he added “I am not focused on that.” He does, however, have experience going up against the Cuomo machine: In 2018, he primaried Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, and lost by a surprisingly close 53-47 margin (Cuomo turned back a challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon by a much wider 66-34 spread that same day).
It’s possible Williams could target either of the two top jobs in 2022: Glueck says that he “has spoken with allies about the possibility of running for governor or lieutenant governor.” (Hochul has yet to say if she’ll seek a third term.)
A couple of other pols also haven’t foreclosed the idea of opposing Cuomo but neither sound likely to do it. State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi echoed Williams and said, “Any elected official that does not respond to the mandate of the people deserves a primary, myself included,” though when asked if she’s considering the race, she responded, “No, not today.”
Fellow state Sen. Jessica Ramos offered remarks in a similar vein, saying, “We definitely need a true progressive governor, and I would love to see working people in New York coalesce around one candidate,” but noted that fundraising would be “a very serious challenge” against Cuomo, who has a $16.8 million war chest.
Both Ramos and Biaggi have taken on entrenched politicians in primaries before. In 2018 they both unseated turncoat Democrats who were members of the “IDC” faction that for years kept Republicans in control of the state Senate, including junta leader Jeff Klein, who fell to Biaggi.
TEXAS 6TH CD — On Friday, Republican state Rep. Jake Ellzey announced that he would compete in the May 1 all-party primary to succeed his former intra-party rival, the late Rep. Ron Wright.
Ellzey, who is a former Navy pilot, sought this seat in the Fort Worth area when it was last open in 2018. He looked very much like the underdog after he trailed Wright by a wide 45-22 in the first round of the primary, but Ellzey dramatically narrowed the gap in the runoff and lost just 52-48.
That close showing seems to have largely been the result of developments outside of either candidate’s control: The Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy explained afterward that there were several competitive local races in rural Ellis and Navarro Counties that helped boost turnout in Ellzey’s strongest areas, while turnout in Wright’s Tarrant County base was poor. Two years later, Ellzey decisively won the primary for a safely red state House seat.
Fellow Republican Brian Harrison, a former official at the Trump-era Department of Health and Human Services, also filed paperwork with the FEC Friday ahead of the March 3 candidate filing deadline. However, Fort Worth Police Officers Association head Manny Ramirez announced that day that he would not run.
Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist who served as a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and as top adviser on his failed re-election bid, is also planning to file to run, The Hill reports. Pierson is expected to receive Trump’s backing when she enters the race.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR — When asked on Thursday if he might run in a possible gubernatorial recall election, Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, did not quite rule out the possibility, saying, “In the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years … the last thing anyone should be thinking about, and the last thing I’m thinking about, is politics.”
However, many other California Democrats have taken a very different approach, stressing that uniting behind Gov. Gavin Newsom is their foremost goal. State Treasurer Fiona Ma, for instance, recently told Politico, “I’m flattered—but absolutely not. If the recall makes it, I will not put my name on the recall ballot. I play on Team Gavin, all the way.”
The idea is to avoid the debacle that wrecked Democrats in 2003, when the party awkwardly pressed the slogan, “No on recall, Yes on Bustamante” in a dissonant effort to exhort Californians to vote against the recall of Gov. Gray Davis on the first question on their ballots but support Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as a fallback option on the second question.
But the very existence of Bustamante’s campaign—he was the only notable Democrat to run—made it harder for Democrats to rally around opposition to the recall in the first place, a task that was made even more difficult when Bustamante himself started to criticize Davis in the evident hope that the recall would succeed and he’d reap the rewards. (He didn’t, of course: The prize went to Arnold Schwarzenegger.) So far, no Democrats have broken ranks this time, but of course, that could change at any moment.
Stephen Wolf has a good run-down of the most important state Supreme Court elections and scheduled appointments happening this cycle.
“Progressives have the chance to flip Ohio’s Supreme Court, gain a more solid majority in Montana, and make inroads that could set them up to flip conservative-heavy courts in Georgia, Texas, and Virginia later this decade. Meanwhile, Republicans could take control of Democratic-leaning courts in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina.”
FiveThirtyEight: “It’s not uncommon for politicians to face repercussions for a lackluster disaster response, but in Texas, Republicans control all levels of the state’s government, meaning Democrats definitely have their work cut out for them. And at this point, it’s more likely that Cruz and Abbott — or even embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton — will suffer a minor, but recoverable, blip in the polls than Democrats sweep Texas in 2022.”
Playbook: “A trio of ex-Sanders aides… is launching a group aimed at exciting young people about H.R. 1, the Democrats’ big voting rights and campaign finance reform bill. The plot twist? Un-PAC, a 501(c)(4) and 527 organization, isn’t solely focused on progressives — it’s looking to rally millennials and Gen Zers of all political persuasions, including those on the right. It is even planning to hire conservative student organizers.”
J. Miles Coleman published a detailed map last week outlining the shift in presidential votes in Texas from 2016 to 2020. The story told here matches up with other 2020 election data: Team Biden did its job to swing major metropolitan areas as a whole blue, while Team Trump did surprisingly well among minority voters, including Texas’s Latino-dominated towns and inside many big cities.
The hard part comes trying to figure out why this happened exactly. Was it Republicans putting considerable time and money into minority outreach? Did grievance politics finally win over these voters? Were voters basing their decision on the COVID-19 pandemic, with many wanting government to push reopening over safety? Did the constant refrains of socialism actually work? We’ll never truly know.
But whatever the case, it’s a powerful reminder that demographics are not destiny.
Associated Press: “Amid bipartisan calls to dial back extreme partisanship following the insurrection, the intentional misuse of ‘Democrat’ as an adjective remains in nearly universal use among Republicans. Propelled by conservative media, it also has caught on with far-right elements that were energized by the Trump presidency.”
“Academics and partisans disagree on the significance of the word play. Is it a harmless political tactic intended to annoy Republicans’ opponents, or a maliciously subtle vilification of one of America’s two major political parties that further divides the nation?”