• Kobach Advances, Johnson Throws His Hat in the Ring
• White House Staffers Scared Witless of Omarosa's Next Tape
• Trump Doing His Best to Prove that Yes, He Is a Racist Who Used the N-Word
• The Five Most Competitive House Races
• Americans Want Mueller to Finish by Election Day
• Latinos in Florida Prefer Nelson to Scott, but Barely
Voters in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Vermont cast their votes in primaries on Tuesday. It was an unusually momentous day; here are the big storylines:
- Democrats and Diversity: Whether Donald Trump and his base like it or
not, America is not the country that it was in the 1950s. Tuesday's results were a stark
reminder of that, as the Democrats blazed several trails with their nominees. The biggest story of
the night came out of Vermont, where Christine Hallquist crushed her three competitors for the
Democratic nomination for governor (including 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn). She will now face
incumbent Phil Scott (R), which is a tall order, since he's fairly popular. However, Vermont is
pretty blue, and Democratic enthusiasm appears to be up in the Green Mountain State (60,000
Democrats showed up to vote Tuesday, compared to 36,000 Republicans), so Hallquist has a fair chance
of being the first transgender governor in U.S. history.
Other Democratic trailblazers: Jahana Hayes easily triumphed in CT-05, and is likely to become the first black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. And Minnesota State Rep. Ilhan Omar won in deep blue MN-05, and will certainly become the first Somali-American in Congress, while she and Rashida Tlaib (who won in Michigan last week) will likely be the first two Muslim women in Congress.
- Walker Has a Pretty Good Night: Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) easily
secured his party's nomination for another term, trouncing his opponent by 83 points. Further, while
he declined to publicly endorse any GOP nominee for the Senate, he worked behind the scenes to
secure the spot for Leah Vukmir. She won a comfortable victory over Kevin Nicholson, 49% to 43%.
With that said, it was only a pretty good night for the Governor, not a great night. First, because the Democrats chose Tony Evers as his opponent, and Evers has a sizable lead in most polls of the race. Second, because Vukmir is all-but-certain to lose to incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), who was unopposed in her primary contest. Third, because 82,000 more Democrats showed up to vote on Tuesday than did Republicans on Tuesday (538,000 to 456,000).
- Pawlenty Has a Really Bad Night: For former Minnesota governor Tim
Pawlenty (R), by contrast, Tuesday was not "pretty good," it was an unmitigated disaster. He was
easily dispatched by the Trump-loving Jeff Johnson, 53% to 44%. Pawlenty's problem is that he wasn't Trumpy
enough to get Trump's base excited, and his second career as a high-powered lobbyist in Washington
turned off a lot of moderate Republicans and independents. Given that he was also trounced when he
tried to run for president in 2012, it is safe to say that his political career has reached its end.
Johnson, for his part, will face off against Tim Walz, who easily won the Democrats' gubernatorial nomination. Walz is the early favorite in that contest, particularly since—as with Vermont and Wisconsin—Democratic turnout easily outdistanced that of the Republicans (a staggering 581,000 to 320,000).
- Democrats Enmeshed in Scandals go 1-for-2 in Minnesota: Two
high-profile Minnesota Democrats (technically, Democratic Farmer Laborers) managed to get hit with
last-minute scandals this weekend. State attorney general Lori Swanson was the frontrunner for the
blue team's gubernatorial nod, and then
it was reported
that she used her office staff to do campaign work, which is a big no-no. That killed her campaign,
and presumably her career in politics, as she finished a distant third in the voting (with the
aforementioned Walz coming in first).
Also besmirched this weekend was Rep. Keith Ellison, who is trying to succeed Swanson as the state's AG. The son of former girlfriend Karen Monahan claimed this weekend that Ellison was physically abusive toward Monahan, and that video evidence of this exists. Ellison denied it, however, Monahan herself refused to verify the claim, and the video has not—as yet—come to light. So, the Congressman easily won his primary, outdistancing his nearest rival by 30 points. If the video does see the light of day, and assuming it is clear-cut, then the Democrats will be in a bad way, since the only way Ellison can withdraw now according to Minnesota law is if he develops a "catastrophic illness." If this just remains a rumor, then it will certainly create an interesting dynamic. On one hand, quite a few politicians have been crucified in the last year based on the word of a single accuser, and consistency suggests Ellison deserves the same treatment. On the other hand, it's not an actual victim that has accused him. Further, quite a few Democrats are salivating at the thought of one of Donald Trump's most outspoken enemies getting the power to file lawsuits against the President. In short, this is going to be the most-watched state AG race in a long time. On second thought, maybe not. There's a hot race for NY AG in November (with a primary Sept. 13). The NY AG has jurisdiction over crimes committed in New York State, for example, in Trump Tower. Four Democrats are eagerly seeking that job, so keep an eye on that race as well.
- It's Lamont in Connecticut: Ned Lamont's political career has been all
about losing thus far; he was defeated in his 2006 Senate bid by "independent" Joe Lieberman, and he
lost his 2010 bid for the governor's mansion to current governor Dan Malloy (D). However, things
may be turning around for Lamont, as he cruised to the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday,
outdistancing Joseph P. Ganim by 63 points. Polling gives him the edge over the newly-minted
GOP nominee, Bob Stefanowski, as does apparent enthusiasm on the Democratic side of the aisle. As with
the other three states where ballots were cast on Tuesday, the Constitution State saw considerably more
Democrats than Republicans show up to vote (212,000 to 143,000).
Since Democrats tend to vote much less reliably than Republicans in primaries (and in midterms), these turnout numbers have to be worrisome for the GOP. Every single one of the four states had competitive races on both sides of the ticket, so there's nothing artificially depressing the red team's numbers. Maybe the much larger number of blue team voters is not a sign of enthusiasm on that side of the aisle, but it's hard to imagine what the alternative explanation would be.
- The DNC Gets Its Preferred Candidates: There have been some prominent
progressive Democrats who triumphed in this primary season, most notably Alexandria Ocasio Cortez,
but that has almost invariably been in safe Democratic districts. In more closely-contested districts,
the Party has had much success getting more moderate (and likely more electable) candidates
nominated. This is a trend that continued on Tuesday night, including ironworker Randy Bryce in
WI-01 (Speaker Paul Ryan's home district, which he is about to vacate), Iraq War veteran Dan Feehan
in MN-01, and state Rep. Joe Radinovich in MN-08. These gentlemen won't necessarily win their contests,
but they all stand a puncher's chance, and they'll all get generous support from the DCCC and DNC.
- Limited Senate Drama: Although there were some very interesting things
happening in gubernatorial, House, and even AG races, most of Tuesday's Senate races were yawners.
Al Franken's replacement, Sen. Tina Smith (DFL-MN) was supposedly facing a real threat from
Republican-turned-Democrat Richard Painter, but she crushed Painter by 62 points. She will now go on to
defeat Karin Housley (R) in the general election. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) won her primary even
more easily (by 94 points); she will go on to defeat Jim Newberger (R). As noted above, Tammy
Baldwin is set to cruise to re-election in Wisconsin. So too is Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who learned that
Matthew Corey (R), a window washer by trade, is the fellow he will crush in November.
Given that there turned out to be very little drama in these races, it means that pretty much by default, the most interesting thing to happen on the U.S. Senate front was that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won the Democratic nomination for his state's Senate seat. He will turn it down, leaving that spot on the ballot blank, will run as an independent again, and will take a wrecking ball to Brooke Paige (R). Paige may not even have much time to campaign for the Senate, since the Vermont Republican Party doesn't bother to even contest races except governor. And Vermont doesn't have a law forbidding candidates to run for multiple offices. Paige saw his chance and grabbed it, as well as the GOP nominations for Senate, U.S. House, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, and treasurer.
So, there you have it. Undoubtedly there will be many takeaways today, once there's been time to digest everything. And then, two very large and very empty states—Wyoming and Alaska—will hold primaries next Tuesday. Those won't be nearly as interesting as what happened last night, or the contests scheduled for August 28 (Arizona and Florida). (Z)
The four states that held primaries last night were not the only ones to have big election-related news. To start, Gov. Jeff Colyer (R-KS) unexpectedly conceded last week's primary to challenger (and Kansas Secretary of State) Kris Kobach. In the end, only a few hundred votes separated the two men, which generally means a recount. Exactly why Colyer threw in the towel without exploring every last resort has not yet been made clear.
The resolution means that Kobach can formally begin his campaign for the general election, where he will face Democrat Laura Kelly and (very likely) independent candidate Greg Orman. Although Kansas is a very red state, they did have a Democratic governor as recently as 2011 (Mark Parkinson), and Kobach is very vulnerable. First of all, because he's got quite a bit of baggage. Kobach has a history of using his job to promote himself and his runs for higher office, and not actually doing much of the work he was elected to do. He also has a history of stunts that rub some the wrong way, like his campaign jeep with a fake machine gun mounted on it that he likes to ride in parades. And, of course, he's closely associated with (false) claims of massive voter fraud, and with Donald Trump's voter fraud panel.
That leads us to the second reason Kobach is vulnerable: Greg Orman. Orman has been both a Republican and a Democrat in the past, and his positions on the issues (naturally) do not conform to either party's platform. So, in theory, he could siphon votes from both candidates. However, it is probable that, for one or more of the reasons above, there are a fair number of Kansans who do not particularly want to cast a vote for Kobach. If they are the sort who also find the thought of voting for a Democrat odious, then Orman gives them an alternative that does not have a (D) next to his name. So, the likelihood is that Orman will hurt Kobach more than he hurts Kelly. In what is expected to be a close race, that could be decisive.
The other news on Tuesday (outside of the four primary states) is that former New Mexico governor and 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has officially decided to run for New Mexico's U.S. Senate seat, against incumbent Martin Heinrich (D) and GOP challenger Mick Rich. On one hand, Libertarians tend to steal more GOP votes than Democratic votes, so it's possible Johnson's entry is the final nail in Rich's coffin. On the other hand, the seat was all-but-guaranteed to stay in Heinrich's hands, and so anything that introduces uncertainty into the race probably works in the GOP's favor. Further, Johnson's signature issue is legal pot, which could attract some young voters (who tend to be Democrats). Add it up, and Johnson probably won't affect the race, as all of these tendencies cancel each other out. But, it's worth keeping an eye on the polls until that is certain. (Z)
Omarosa Manigault Newman understands how to use the media as well as Donald Trump does, and White House staffers are scared out of their minds about what might come next. Yesterday she dropped another recording. On this one, former spokeswoman Katrina Pierson and another black Trump adviser, Lynne Patton, discuss the possible existence of a tape in which Trump uses the "n-word." Pierson said it exists.
Manigault Newman appears to be willing to embarrass not only Trump, but also her former colleagues. In that way, she's just like Trump, for whom loyalty is a one-way street. The result of Manigault Newman's tape dropping is that everyone who was in her orbit wakes up every day wondering if they are the next victim.
The situation is a little bit like the WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clinton's e-mails. It did a lot of damage, but no smoking gun was ever produced. However, there is a key difference. Once Clinton's e-mails began coming out, Clinton and the Democrats had a pretty good idea of what was in the ones not yet released. White House staffers have no idea which of their conversations and meetings got recorded, which is why so many of them are so anxious. (V)
Omarosa Manigault Newman says that Donald Trump is a racist and that, while he was a reality TV star, he used the n-word on camera. Trump says that he is not, and that he did not. Since both parties in this argument are publicity-seekers who have been known to bend the truth, whom are we to believe? The evidence is getting pretty overwhelming that, in fact, Manigault Newman has the right of it.
To start, as we have seen so many times before (most obviously with collusion), Team Trump's story keeps evolving. Originally, it was "No. Never. Didn't happen." Now, as noted in the item above, some staffers think it did happen. Further, another "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant, magician Penn Jillette, has come out and said that Trump definitely used "racially insensitive language" while on the show. Jillette neither confirmed nor denied the use of the n-word, explaining that his memory of the matter is not precise enough. Still, he's no liberal Democrat (he's a devoted Libertarian), and he has a well-established reputation for straight shooting, so he's not likely making it up. And now, as the original story crumbles, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that she "can't guarantee" the tape doesn't exist and/or that Trump never used the n-word. That is, of course, rather different from, "No. Never. Didn't happen."
On top of that, Trump himself has helped make Manigault Newman's case with three particularly damning tweets. Here are the first two:
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2018
Calling Manigault Newman a dog—as Trump does in the first tweet—is, well, racist. Especially when coming from a man who now has a well-established pattern of slurring non-white people (Mexicans, Muslims) as animals. Needless to say, using racist imagery in a tweet designed to show how non-racist you are is not such a good strategy.
Meanwhile, the folks at the Washington Post have documented a rather troublesome pattern in the Trump tweets where he attacks the target's intelligence:
As you can see, Trump was pretty much an equal opportunity insulter (at least, of people's intelligence) before he became president. Since then, fully two-thirds of his intelligence-related smears have been directed at black people, and almost half of them have been specifically directed at black women. Perhaps it is just a big coincidence, but that is not the explanation favored by Occam's Razor.
The other particularly damning tweet is this one:
.@MarkBurnettTV called to say that there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa. I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have. She made it up. Look at her MANY recent quotes saying....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2018
To illustrate the implications here, consider the fact that V teaches computer science and Z teaches history and communication. Each of us has delivered thousands of lectures. And neither of us would need a phone call to confirm that there is no tape of us using the n-word in class, because we know for certain we've never done it, and that we would not think of doing it. The point is that if Trump truly never used the n-word, he would not require a phone call from Mark Burnett, because he would already know that there's no tape. That Burnett felt the need to call implies one of two things. Either it means there is a tape, but Burnett promised Trump he would not release it. Or it means that Trump said the n-word, but that Burnett assured him that it was not caught on tape. Whatever the case may be, a tweet designed to "prove" that the President never used that word almost certainly proves the opposite.
If the alleged tape does not exist, or if it exists but never sees the light of day, then the status quo probably holds. Those who already believe Trump is a racist will believe it even more strongly. And those who do not believe so, or who don't object to racism, will not care what Manigault Newman has to say. But if, somehow, an actual recording does come to light, well, Dick Nixon knows how that tends to work out. (Z)
Axios has identified the five most competitive House races in the country, the results of which will play a major role in determining which party runs the House in January. Here they are.
|District||Incumbent||Challenger||PVI||Clinton %||Trump %|
|CA-48||Dana Rohrabacher (R)||Harley Rouda (D)||R+4||48%||46%|
|FL-26||Carlos Curbelo (R)||Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D)||D+6||57%||41%|
|IA-03||David Young (R)||Cindy Axne (D)||R+1||45%||48%|
|ME-02||Bruce Poliquin (R)||Jared Golden (D)||R+2||41%||51%|
|TX-23||Will Hurd (R)||Gina Ortiz Jones (D)||R+1||49%||46%|
Axios believes each will be a coin flip, for various reasons. In our view, FL-26 probably leans Democratic, since it is a D+6 district that Hillary Clinton won big time. It is heavily Latino, which is good for Curbelo, but the likely Democrat, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is a Latina, so that cancels out. Still, Curbelo gets points for incumbency and he is well known in the district. The other four are clearly swing districts. (V)
A new CNN/SSRS poll shows that both Donald Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller are getting higher marks since June. About 34% now think that Trump is handling the investigation properly, while 47% think that of Mueller. More interesting is that 66% say Mueller should wrap it up before the midterms, while only 26% are in no hurry. Majorities of both parties want it done sooner rather than later. About 30% say that Mueller's report will be important in determining their vote.
However, there are a couple of problems here. First is that the investigation has gone in so many different directions that Mueller could probably work for another 5 years and not finish everything on his plate. Also, Justice Dept. guidelines say that Justice Dept. officials should not drop bombshells just before an election, and we are getting awfully close. And ultimately, the person making the call about when to announce results will be Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, not Mueller. The timing could be a fateful decision, and Rosenstein surely is keenly aware of that. (V)
Florida Latinos are a key swing group in a key swing state, and one with a fierce Senate race going on. To find out what they are thinking, Politico commissioned a poll to find out.
The top line is that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) leads Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) 44% to 41% among Florida Latinos. Nelson leads among both men (43% to 41%) and women (45% to 42%). He also leads among college graduates (49% to 37%), but Scott leads among non-college graduates (45% to 41%).
Nelson's strength among Latinos is in the North and around Orlando. Scott's strength is in Miami. That's not surprising once you realize that Scott has a big lead among Cuban Americans (57% to 33%) but Nelson is strong with Puerto Ricans (44% to 37%). Most Cuban Americans live in Miami-Dade County, while Puerto Ricans tend to cluster around Orlando.
The top issue for Florida Latinos is immigration in all its aspects, including family separations, dreamers, etc. Nothing else comes close. Beyond that, majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans say that global warming is real and serious. After all, if the oceans rise a few feet, Florida will become an underwater paradise. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug14 Prosecution Rests Its Case in the Manafort Trial
Aug14 Stone Says He Won't Testify Against Trump
Aug14 Omarosa Keeps Dishing
Aug14 Team Trump Decides on a New Flynn Narrative
Aug14 Florida Might Have a Red Tide Instead of a Blue Wave
Aug14 Political Spending at Trump's Properties Is $3.5 Million Since His Inauguration
Aug13 Omarosa: Trump Is a Racist
Aug13 Hawaii Chooses the Democrats Who Will Be Elected in November
Aug13 Four States to Vote on Tuesday
Aug13 A Year Later, What Is the Lesson from Charlottesville?
Aug13 Charlottesville, Part II Fizzles
Aug13 Over 100 Newspapers Will Fight Back on Trump's Attacking the Media
Aug13 The Trump Jr. Follies Continue
Aug12 Omarosa Was Telling the Truth about the Hush Money
Aug12 Charlottesville Back on Deck Today
Aug12 Chris Collins Will End Re-Election Bid
Aug12 Today's Swamp News, Part I: Wilbur Ross the Grifter
Aug12 Today's Swamp News, Part II: Who's Really Running the VA?
Aug12 Realignment Was on Full Display in Ohio Special Election
Aug12 Paul Ryan Nears the End of the Line
Aug11 Sarah Huckabee Sanders Slams Omarosa Manigault-Newman's Not-Yet-Published Book
Aug11 Manafort Trial: Judge's Errors, Mystery Conference
Aug11 Trump Uses Market Pain to Get His Way around the World
Aug11 Unfortunately, Market Pain Doesn't Work with North Korea
Aug11 Judge Holds Roger Stone's Aide in Contempt of Court
Aug11 Trump vs. NFL Enters Year Two
Aug11 National Republicans Want Trump to Endorse Martha McSally
Aug11 Cruz Is Getting Nervous
Aug10 Devin Nunes: GOP Has to Keep the House to Protect Trump
Aug10 Pence Announces "Space Force" Proposal
Aug10 Kobach's Lead Is Cut in Half
Aug10 Morrisey Is Struggling against Manchin
Aug10 Democrats Still Don't Get the White Working Class
Aug10 Time for Pelosi to Go?
Aug10 Bill Nelson Claims that Russians Have Penetrated Florida Voter Registration Systems
Aug10 "Chain Migration" Is Alive and Well
Aug09 Takeaways from Tuesday's Elections
Aug09 Gates' Testimony Concludes, Bank Fraud Likely to Be Next Up in Manafort Trial
Aug09 Michael Cohen Isn't the Only One with a Tape Recorder
Aug09 China Makes Tit-for-Tat Official
Aug09 Trump Administration Hits Russia with More Sanctions
Aug09 As Many as 66 Republican Districts Could Flip
Aug09 Why Trump Wants to Talk to Mueller
Aug09 Republican Congressman Is Charged with Securities Fraud
Aug09 Republicans Are Worried about Losses in State Legislatures
Aug09 Which Trifectas Are Within Reach for the Democrats?
Aug08 Overall, a Solid Night for the Democrats
Aug08 Gates Continues to Dish on Manafort
Aug08 Next Round of Tariffs on Chinese Goods Revealed