Nov. 07

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New Senate: DEM 48             GOP 52

New polls:  
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: (None)

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Today Is Election Day

Even though this is an off-off year, there are still a number of important elections today. Here is a quick run-down of the biggest ones (more here):

There are some other minor elections as well, including legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia. One election that could have been held today but isn't is the senatorial election in Alabama in which Roy Moore is running against Doug Jones. Alabama does things its own way, so that election is Dec. 12 instead of on Election Day. (V)

Retirements Will Shape the New House

Quite a few members of the House have announced they will not run for reelection in 2018. The list includes 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats, excluding those seats for which a special election has already been held or will soon be held. Here is the list, including the reason the member is leaving.

It is still relatively early in the game and more retirements are likely.

Representative Party District Reason
Lou Barletta Republican PA-11 Running for senator
John Delaney Democratic MD-6 Running for president
Charlie Dent Republican PA-15 Retiring from public office
Colleen Hanabusa Democratic HI-01 Running for governor
Jeb Hensarling Republican TX-05 Retiring from public office
John J. Duncan Jr. Republican TN-2 Retiring from public office
Lynn Jenkins Republican KS-2 Retiring from public office
Evan Jenkins Republican WV-3 Running for senator
Sam Johnson Republican TX-3 Retiring from public office
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema Democratic AZ-9 Running for senator
Raul Labrador Republican ID-1 Running for governor
Michelle Lujan Grisham Democratic NM-1 Running for governor
Rep. Marsha Blackburn Republican TN-7 Running for senator
Luke Messer Republican IN-6 Running for senator
Kristi Noem Republican SD-AL Running for governor
Beto O'Rourke Democratic TX-16 Running for senator
Steve Pearce Republican NM-02 Runnign for governor
Jared Polis Democratic CO-2 Running for governor
Dave Reichert Republican WA-9 Retiring from public office
James Renacci Republican OH-16 Running for governor
Todd Rokita Republican IN-4 Running for senator
Jacky Rosen Democratic NV-3 Running for senator
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Republican FL-27 Retiring from public office
Carol Shea-Porter Democratic NH-01 Retiring from public office
Dave Trott Republican MI-11 Retiring from public office
Niki Tsongas Democratic MA-3 Retiring from public office
Tim Walz Democratic MN-1 Running for governor

Over in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) are retiring. Rumor has it that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will also be calling it a day. (V)

GOP Shrugs Off Texas Shooting

On Sunday, 26 Texans were killed in the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Following on the heels of #1 Las Vegas, that means we've got two of the top five in the last 30 days.

Normally, the pro-gun politician's playbook goes something like this: "thoughts and prayers" the day of the shooting, a few days of respectful silence, a day or two of talk about how this is really a mental health issue and that guns don't kill—people do, and then back to business as usual. This time, though, Congressional Republicans have skipped right from step one to step three, completely forgoing the days of respectful silence. The dead aren't even in the ground yet, and already prominent GOP officeholders are declaring that there's nothing to see here, and certainly nothing to be done here. "You know, it's hard to envision a foolproof way to prevent individual outrages by evil people," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). "Do you pass more laws when the laws that are on the books were likely violated? And would that have made a difference?" concurred Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX).

Politico has put together a helpful reference guide that illustrates how much money every member of the House of Representatives gets from the gun lobby (the Senate version is coming soon). From their data, it is clear that while there are certainly some gun-toting Democrats, the GOP is the party that is truly in the pockets of the NRA, et al. Of the 15 members who collected the most money from gun lobbyists during the 2016 election cycle, 15 are Republicans. Similarly, of the 27 members who have netted at least $100,000 from the gun lobby since 1990, 27 are Republicans. We're still double checking the math, but that appears to be 100% in both cases.

So, nothing is going to happen gun-wise while the GOP is running the show in the House. And if there were even the slightest doubt about that, we should recall that no legislation makes its way to the floor without the say-so of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). And who is the member that collected the most money from gun lobbyists during the 2016 cycle? Why, it's Paul Ryan, at $171,977. And who is the member that has collected the most over the course of their entire careers? Guess what, it's Paul Ryan again, at $336,597. Ryan's no fool, and neither are the people who run the NRA, so we can be quite confident that he will adhere to Huey Long's definition of an honest politician: One who, once he's bought, stays bought. Maybe something will be done on this front once the Democrats retake control, but don't hold your breath, because they like money too. (Z)

Was the Tax Bill Written Specifically Tailored to Donald Trump's Needs?

As the details of the Republicans' tax bill are seeping out, it almost looks like Donald Trump's accountant was the primary author of it, as so many provisions work especially well for him. Here is just a sample:

In short, there are numerous provisions in the bill that would save Trump millions of dollars every year if it is enacted, not to mention hundreds of millions when he shuffles off this mortal coil. (V)

Dean: Kushner Is Going Down

Everyone's favorite parlor game in Washington these days—well, outside of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—is trying to guess whom Robert Mueller will indict next. Maybe it's Carter Page, the Trump campaign worker who definitely took a trip to Russia in 2016, and conveniently forgot about his meeting with a government official while there? Or possibly it's one or both of Flynn & Son, who neglected to mention their work as foreign agents, particularly during the time that pops was still active-duty military? How about AG Jeff Sessions, who was awfully cozy with ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and who can't seem to speak to the Senate without people believing he perjured himself?

Former Vermont governor and DNC chair Howard Dean, who's still pretty dialed in, has picked his horse, and it's Jared Kushner. Actually, Dean thinks the Flynns might or might not go down first, but that eventually one of the little fish (Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos, maybe Flynn Jr.) will sing like a canary and give up the goods on members of the Trump family. Kushner's the easiest place to start, since he's the most exposed, and then Mueller can start picking apart the clan from there.

If and when Kushner does get pinched—and he certainly does seem to be in grave danger—it will be very interesting to see how the President responds. On one hand, if a member of his immediate family gets taken down, he could go absolutely ballistic. Take his response to the Manafort indictment and maybe multiply by five or ten. On the other hand, report after report has suggested that The Donald is angry with his son-in-law. It could be that if he gets arrested, Steve Bannon gets on the phone and convinces the President that it's for the best. Either way, though, young Jared should probably be talking to his old man right now for tips on how to survive in the Big House. (Z)

Trump Undermined Bon Jovi NFL Bid

In 2016, Donald Trump was the beneficiary of an underground propaganda campaign, conducted by shadowy individuals who hid their true identities. This weekend, we learned that the presidential race was not the first time that has happened. In 2014, the President and rocker Jon Bon Jovi were in competition to buy ownership of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. Bon Jovi managed to effectively eliminate Trump from consideration, which left The Donald fuming. Shortly thereafter, a group of "fans" called 12th Man Thunder popped up; its primary purpose was to smear the musician and to convince anyone and everyone that he planned to move the football team to Canada. This caused the league's owners to turn against the Bon Jovi-led bid, and in the end the Bills were purchased by Terry and Kim Pegula. All of these things have been known for several years, but now we find out that 12th Man Thunder was a front run by the Trump organization in order to exact revenge for The Donald.

This is not a terribly important story per se, since—as with the cure for the common cold—scientists have yet to identify an actual Buffalo Bills fan. However, it certainly does illustrate, once again, the Machiavellian "ends justifies the means" approach that Trump utilized over and over again in his business career. And his insurance policy, whenever he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, was his ability to use bluster and bravado and hordes of lawyers (along with the occasional bribe) to silence his accusers. It's entirely believable that he would have transferred the same sensibility to his political career, thinking in exactly the same way and encouraging others around him to do so, never quite grasping that politics is an entirely different game, and one where lawyers and bluster can't always secure a person that "get out of jail free" card Trump's always counted upon. This would certainly help explain why the President seems to be so surprised by the various Russiagate developments, and so adamant that he's done nothing wrong, because for the first five decades of his career, his approach to things was kosher. Or, at least, kosher enough. Not so much anymore, though. (Z)

Paul Clips Grass, Neighbor Kicks Ass

Some details about the assault that left Sen. Rand Paul on the sidelines with five cracked ribs became public on Monday. The perpetrator, far from being a random loon, was Rene Boucher—Paul's next-door neighbor and a former colleague, both having worked at the same hospital before the Senator launched his political career. Tensions between the two have been bubbling for years, apparently, as the libertarian Paul does not feel that the local government or the local homeowners association has any right to tell him what to do on his personal property, such as refrain from cutting the grass early in the morning. The Democrat Boucher thinks that they absolutely do have that right. Somehow, that difference of opinion culminated in Boucher blindside-tackling Paul as he got off his lawnmower following an early morning grass-trimming session.

From the narrative that has been presented thus far, it certainly appears that Paul was behaving like a jerk, as he is wont to do, but that he didn't do anything that justified assault. However, it is interesting to note that the Senator's camp is actively downplaying the whole situation, calling it an "unfortunate event." One wonders if Paul did not do more to provoke Boucher than just mow the lawn. Undoubtedly, more details will eventually come out. (Z)

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