Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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New polls:  
Dem pickups vs. 2020 Senate: PA
GOP pickups vs. 2020 Senate : (None)
Political Wire logo Trump Embraces Extremism as He Seeks to Reclaim Office
Raphael Warnock Holds Lead in Senate Runoff
Trump Expresses Solidarity with Capitol Rioters
GOP Tension Builds Over House Speaker Race
What Will Democrats Do with Trump’s Tax Returns?
Pennsylvania Republicans Reconsider Mail Voting

House Democrats Elect Hakeem Jeffries as Their Leader

Easy peasy. No drama, no blackmail, no outrageous demands. The Democrats just picked Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as their leader in waiting. Given the total lack of drama, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is jealous as all hell. The #2 person in the new leadership is Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA). The #3 is Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA). This is a whole new generation: Jeffries is 52, Clark is 59, and Aguilar is 43. They are replacing a team of octogenarians.

The new team is not exactly overflowing with old white men. Jeffries is Black, Clark is a woman, and Aguilar is a Latino. Jeffries is the first Black person to lead any party in either chamber of Congress. The one holdover from the old team, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), is old, but not white. On the other hand, he might not survive on the team. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is planning to challenge him for the #4 slot. Clyburn is 82. Cicilline, who is white, is 61. If Cicilline wins, the top four leaders will all have been replaced by much younger people. (V)

Richard Neal 1, Donald Trump 0

After a long and arduous court fight, House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) got an early Christmas present yesterday: 6 years' worth of Donald Trump's tax returns. The former president used up all of his appeals, and now whatever secrets he was hiding will be known to the members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Exactly what happens next is... something of a mystery. When speaking to reporters yesterday, Neal refused to say whether he'd yet seen the returns, or whether he was planning to release any of them. He explained that the first step is for him to meet with his colleagues to discuss the situation. Whatever Neal is going to do, he'll have to do it pretty quickly, since he won't be chairing Ways and Means after Jan. 3, and the new Republican leadership is not terribly likely to be interested in investigating Trump.

The 1924 law that Neal used to acquire the returns also allows the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, currently Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to have them. So, one option for Neal would be to hand over his prize to the Senator, who would then have 2 years to work with them, as opposed to 4 weeks. We'll see what Neal decides, and whether a copy of the returns somehow finds its way into the hands of Maggie Haberman at The New York Times. (Z)

Negative Ads Are Blanketing Georgia

The campaign between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Herschel Walker has gotten really nasty in the final week before next Tuesday's runoff. Both campaigns are flooding the airwaves with bitter attack ads. If you live in Georgia, turn off the TV and go find a book to read until next Wednesday. In one ad, Warnock, with his beloved beagle, says that it feels like we've been here before—with Walker telling the same old lies as he did during the main campaign and trying to distract people from seeing him for who he really is. Walker countered with an ad calling Warnock a coward for refusing to stand up for female athletes (who don't want to have to play sports against biological males).

Outside groups are running attack ads as well. One pro-Warnock ad says Walker has decades of violence against women including threatening violence against a girlfriend unless she had an abortion. Of course, that one could cut both ways. Some Democrats might interpret that one as saying: "Yeah, Walker is a sleazebag but deep down he is actually pro-choice." A pro-Walker ad says that a low-income apartment building tied to Warnock is evicting residents.

But some of Warnock's ad's mirror ads run by Sen.-elect John Fetterman (D-PA). Instead of being venal, they are funny, like this one:

Total ad spending on the runoff is expected to exceed $57 million, with Democrats spending $37 million and Republicans $20 million. That's about $2 million a day for 28 days. It is hard to imagine after so much advertising for 6 months, another week is going to matter much. The reality is that turnout and the ground game is what is going to matter.

Speaking of turnout, it is surging, breaking record after record. As of Tuesday evening, 830,000 votes have been cast, including 300,000 on Tuesday alone. Gabrielle Stern, the #2 official in the Georgia secretary of state's office, said: "We're the belle of the ball." Stern said that younger voters have made up a quarter of the early vote and those over 50 made up another quarter. Historically, more Democrats than Republicans vote early, though, so early voting numbers can be misleading. (V)

The Eight Most Vulnerable Senate Democrats in 2024

The Hill has an article on the eight most vulnerable Senate Democrats, ranked from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. Here is how they have it:

  • Joe Manchin (WV): Even though Manchin has done his best to irritate the Democrats, he has to run in a state that went for Donald Trump by nearly 40 points. That's going to be his biggest challenge ever. Nevertheless, he has won six statewide elections in the past, including one for secretary of state, two for governor, and three for senator. Everybody in West Virginia knows who he is. His biggest argument is that he now has a lot of seniority and can bring home the bacon. A newly elected Republican, would be at the bottom of the totem pole. Term-limited Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV), a coal billionaire and the richest man in West Virginia, has said he is considering challenging Manchin. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) has already announced, but Justice could bulldoze him easily. If it is Manchin vs. Justice, another argument Manchin has is: "What does that guy know about life for ordinary people in this state?" He will probably forget to mention that while he doesn't have Justice-type money, he is also a millionaire who lives on a yacht when he's in Washington. This is probably the Republicans' biggest pickup opportunity simply because the state is so red.

  • Kyrsten Sinema (AZ): Sinema has a double problem. First she has to get the Democratic nomination. Then she has to win the general election in a purple state. She is the only Democrat who is likely to face a fierce primary on account of her voting like a Republican all the time. Everyone is looking at Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who just won his Phoenix-based seat with 75% of the vote. He is a Marine Corps veteran (who fought in Iraq) in a state full of veterans, a Latino in a state full of Latinos, and for the benefit of those much-desired college-educated women, he has a B.A. in international relations from Harvard. He is also lefty enough that he'd probably raise $10 million the day he announces. He would be a formidable primary opponent for Sinema. Republicans have a strong bench in Arizona, including Gov. Doug Ducey and AG Mark Brnovich. However, Democrats won the Senate, gubernatorial, and secretary of state races this year and possibly the AG race as well. In 2024, the turnout will favor the Democrats more, so Gallego would stand a strong chance. We are assuming that if he runs, he would beat Sinema because Democrats despise her. Of course, other Democrats might realize that as well, leading to a nasty multiway primary that Sinema could win.

  • Sherrod Brown (OH): Brown is the only statewide elected Democrat in an increasingly red state. We looked at his race last week and won't repeat that material here. Suffice it to say that he is well-known and popular, but Ohio has become not very swingy, making this a potential pickup for the Republicans.

  • Job Tester (MT): Montana is a strange state. In presidential elections, it is very red. But otherwise, less so. Democrats held the governor's mansion from 2005 to 2021 and have sent 14 Democrats to the Senate since 1900, compared to only five Republicans. So the right Democrat can definitely win here. Tester, in particular, has won three Senate elections, most recently in 2018 by 3½ points. He is well-known and will raise tons of money from out of state. Nevertheless, he has his work cut out for him.

  • Jacky Rosen (NV): Now it starts to get better for the Democrats. Nevada is a bluish-purple state, not a deep-red state. It hasn't cast its electoral votes for a Republican since 2004 and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) was just reelected to the Senate. On the other hand, Joe Lombardo (R) was elected governor. But that could have been because crime is a big issue and he is sheriff of Clark County (Las Vegas). In a recent poll, Rosen's approval is at 38%, her disapproval is at 33% and 29% don't have an opinion of her. That gives her room to grow. Incumbents are hard to dislodge unless they are very unpopular and she is not. Also, presidential years tend to be good for the Democrats. As to who might challenge her, the new attorney general and secretary of state are Democrats, but outgoing Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is a Republican. She hasn't indicated if she is interested. Former Nevada AG Adam Laxalt, who just lost to Masto, could try again. Otherwise it could be Nevada's sole Republican member of Congress, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), or some state senator.

  • Bob Casey (PA): Casey is a three-term incumbent and son of a former Pennsylvania governor. The Democrats did very well in Pennsylvania on Nov. 8, which bodes well for Casey. Of course, if the Republicans can find a candidate who: (1) actually lives in Pennsylvania and (2) is not a puppy-killing quack, they stand a better chance. Casey used to be pro-life buy now he is pro-choice, so that will help him with Democrats.

  • Tammy Baldwin (WI): Baldwin has won two statewide elections in Wisconsin, both by very narrow margins. The state is really on knife's edge. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was reelected, but so was Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI). Her approval rating is 46% and her disapproval rating is 37%. If the Republicans can come up with a really strong candidate, that could make a real horse race of it. But if they can't, Baldwin is the favorite simply because it is tough to beat an incumbent.

  • Debbie Stabenow (MI): We're not sure why Stabenow made this list. She has been elected to the Senate four time already and Democrats did just fine in Michigan in 2022. Yes, Michigan is a swing state and could swing the other way in 2024, but the Republicans will have to come up with a very strong candidate to take down a long-term incumbent Democrat in a presidential year.

Are there any other Democratic senators in any danger? We don't think so unless there is a very unexpected red wave. (V)

Democrats' Plans for the Lame-Duck Session Have Changed

There will be a lame-duck session of Congress lasting for a few weeks. It will certainly be over before Christmas so members get a week off before returning for stunts and photo ops (but not legislating) on Jan. 3. Now that the Democrats have captured the Senate no matter what happens in the Georgia runoff, the agenda for the lame-duck session has changed radically.

If the Democrats had lost the Senate, the lame-duck session would have primarily focused on getting as many judges as possible confirmed. The Democrats will now be able to confirm judges up until Jan. 2, 2025, so there is no hurry. That takes a lot of pressure off them. In fact, there is now no reason to confirm a single judge until next year because the Republican takeover of the House will not block them in April or October or any other month. Nevertheless, if Herschel Walker wins in Georgia, the Democrats will be only one death away from losing their majority, so getting to work on judges soon after Jan. 3 would be wise. If Raphael Warnock is reelected, the Democrats will still hold the majority (with the help of President of the Senate Kamala Harris) even if a member passes away.

The Democrats' priorities for the lame-duck session are now these four things:

  • First: They have to deal with funding the government. This can either be a new bill or a continuing resolution. Having government spending expire on Dec. 16 will give a large number of people lumps of coal for Christmas. The simplest solution is to kick the can down the road and pass a continuing resolution to continue to fund the government at current levels for a couple of months. But sooner or later a real bill will be needed and it will have to pass the Republican-controlled House if it comes after Jan. 3 of next year, so now is better than later.

  • Second: They need to raise the debt ceiling. The Republicans have already made clear they are fully prepared to crash the world economy and end the United States' central position in it if the Democrats aren't willing to repeal most of the laws they passed this year and gut Social Security and Medicare. The only way to defang this is to raise the debt ceiling by such a large amount that it won't be hit for several years, hopefully not during Biden's term. If Democrats have the guts, they could raise it to 100 quintillion (1020) dollars, or some other absurd figure, so it never comes up again, ever.

  • Third: They need to fund the war in Ukraine indefinitely. Many Republicans have decided they love Russia and have come to acknowledge that godless Communism is the way of the future. So, they want to cut off aid to Ukraine. The Democrats can handle this by passing a bill that authorizes the president to spend up to a trillion dollars on aid and gives him the authority to determine how much to actually use, in what form, and when.

  • Fourth: Congress needs to provide funding for the special prosecutor, Jack Smith, so House Republicans can't make "defund the prosecutor" their new slogan. There have been special prosecutors before so it should be possible to figure out how much is needed—and then double it—with the provision that unspent funds at the end go back to the treasury.

If the Democrats get all these things done, it will be much harder for the House Republicans to blackmail the country next year. They will no doubt try, but holding up a normal appropriations bill will generate a lot of blowback from the people who will be cut off, so that is risky. Do Republicans really want to cut off veterans, farmers, etc.? Probably not.

The lame-duck session will also see the passage of a few bills with bipartisan support. One is the Respect for Marriage Bill, which will codify the right to same-sex marriage and interracial marriage in federal law. The latter throws down the gauntlet and dares Justice Clarence Thomas to rule that it is unconstitutional. The bill does not require all states to allow same-sex marriages to be peformed in their state. What it does do is require all states to recognize a valid marriage performed in another state. Making the states honor each other's laws is something the federal government can do. Thus, a gay couple in, say, Tennessee, could scoot over to Illinois and get legally married there and Tennessee would have to honor the marriage. This can even be done online, so that the gay couple doesn't even have to leave their home state. The bill also has some provisions for allowing people and organizations to discriminate against same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. Democrats had to swallow that to get enough votes to have any bill at all.

A bill to clarify the Electoral Count Act is also likely to pass because Republicans don't want Kamala Harris to be tossing out electoral votes she doesn't like on Jan. 6, 2025. (V)

A Record Number of Women Will Serve in the Next Congress

When the next Congress convenes on Jan. 3, there will be 124 women in the House and 25 in the Senate for a record-breaking total of 149. That is 28% of the entire Congress. There are also records in various subcategories as well.

In the House, more than half the class of 22 new women will be women of color. There will be record numbers of Black women (27) and Latinas (18) in the new House. Clearly, women of color are moving up. The situation in the Senate is different, though. Minority women didn't make a breakthrough there. In fact, the only new senators, John Fetterman (D-PA), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Eric Schmitt (R-MO) are all white men. That will change, by one, if Herschel Walker is elected. But replacing one Black man by a different Black man won't change the racial balance, of course.

As we get down into the weeds, a number of women are firsts for their state. Yadira Caraveo (D) will be the first Latina from Colorado and only the second female doctor in Congress. Mary Peltola (D) will be the first Native Alaskan to win a full term in the House. Becca Balint (D) will be the first woman and first openly gay person to represent Vermont in the House. Oregon has never had a Latina represent it in the House, but now it has two, Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R) and Andrea Salinas (D). Pennsylvania has its first Black congresswoman, Summer Lee (D-PA). Illinois will get its first Latina, Delia Ramirez (D). Michigan will get an Indian-American woman, Shri Thanedar (D), for the first time. As you can see, most of these are Democrats. Probably just chance, right?

Ethnic diversity isn't the only area where records are being broken. The new House freshman class is the youngest in history with an average age of 46. Seventeen members aren't even 40 yet. (V)

Democrats May Flip the Triplex in Arizona

The trifecta (control of both chambers of the legislature and the chief executive position) is well known. Somewhat less well known is the triplex in state government, in which one party has the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. In most states, these are the top three elected state positions, although in a few states the governor appoints the secretary of state. Nominally a lieutenant governor should count for something, but if the vice presidency of the United States isn't worth a bucket of warm p**s, what could the lieutenant governor position be worth? Maybe a Dixie cup of warm p**s. When one party holds the triplex, that is an indication of how strong that party is, especially when the party also holds both of the Senate seats.

Arizona is an emerging purple state and it looks like the Democrats have a strong shot at winning the triplex there, which is amazing since the Republicans held it before the midterms. Gov-elect Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) definitely won, even though Sore-Loser-not-elect Kari Lake (R) refuses to admit it. Adrian Fontes (D) beat election denier Mark Finchem (R) by nearly 5 points and will be the new secretary of state, succeeding the departing Hobbs. The attorney general race is close, but the final results put Kris Mayes (D) 510 votes ahead of Abraham Hamadeh (R). There will be an automatic recount, but Hamadeh would need a very large dose of good luck to pick up a net of 511 votes. How come the Democrats probably flipped the triplex? Unusually pleasant weather on Election Day? Or the fact Donald Trump picked and supported all three losing Republicans (and the losing Senate candidate, as well)? Beats us.

If Mayes hangs on, the Democrats will have flipped the state from a Republican triplex to a Democratic triplex—and won both Senate seats as well. No other state flipped as enormously as Arizona in 2022. Only the Arizona AG race was close, so at this point Arizona is definitely no longer the red state it was when Barry Goldwater or John McCain were the leading politicians. All of this means Arizona will be one of the biggest battlegrounds in 2024. Since the Democrats control the levers of power concerning elections (secretary of state and governor), Republicans will have no ability to interfere with a fair election there in 2024. Well, not at the state level, at least. Who knows what the nutters in Cochise County will come up with.

For completeness sake, underscoring the purple nature of Arizona, the biggest vote getter in the state this year was Kimberly Yee (R), the state treasurer, who won reelection easily. Tom Horne (R) beat Kathy Hoffman (D) by 0.4% for superintendent of public instruction, and Paul Marsh (R) was easily reelected as Arizona State Mine Inspector—because no Democrat bothered to file to run against him. However, the three positions the Democrats won are much higher profile and much more important than the three (largely technocratic) positions the Republicans won.

In three other states, the triplex status changed in 2022 as a result of the midterms, but all of them went from split control to one-party control. None flipped from a red triplex to a blue triplex or vice versa, like Arizona seems to be headed for. Iowa became a Republican triplex while Maryland and Massachusetts became Democratic triplexes. As of January, after the new officers are sworn in, the Democrats will have the triplex in 21 states and Republicans will have it in 24 states. These five states have split control: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, and Vermont. This goes to show that states are increasingly blue or red up and down the line. Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana are deep red states where the Republicans have put up terrible candidates recently that allowed a Democrat to be elected governor. Vermont is a deep blue state with a governor (Phil Scott) who is the prototype of a RINO and personally very popular. One of us (V) met him and talked to him one-on-one for a while a few years ago and can attest that Ron DeSantis he is not. (V)

Mike Braun Will Not Run for Reelection in 2024

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) has announced that he will not seek reelection to the Senate in 2024. Instead, he will run for governor. Senators are not term-limited, so there was no reason for him to look for a new job. As a general rule, being governor of a big state (e.g., California or Texas) is a more powerful job than being senator from that state but being senator from a small state (e.g., North Dakota or Maine) is a more powerful job than being governor. Indiana is a medium-sized state, so it is kind of a wash. Before he was a senator, Braun was CEO of a distribution company, so he is used to making decisions and getting things done rather than making speeches and having nothing happen. Maybe that's why he's looking for a change of pace.

Braun's decision will set up a feeding frenzy in both parties. Since Indiana is a red state, lots of Republicans will be interested in the seat. Two representatives, Victoria Spartz (R-IN) and Jim Banks (R-IN), have already expressed interest. More candidates are sure to join in.

For Democrats, it is an uphill climb but not hopeless, especially since it is an open seat. Joe Donnelly (D) served from 2013 to 2019 and Evan Bayh (D), son of long-time Democratic senator Birch Bayh, served from 1999 to 2011. But to seriously compete, the Democrats need to find a stellar candidate. Note that the candidate will not be Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, though. He's moved from Indiana to his husband's home state of Michigan. (V)

Ranked Choice Voting Changes Everything

Ranked choice voting was introduced in Alaska and Maine because it is very cold there, and making people go vote in a runoff in the dead of winter would have been inhumane. Or... wait.... maybe it was to prevent fringe candidates from acting as spoilers. We'll have to check with the staff meteorologist.

However, in practice it seems to be having an unexpected effect. This was clearly demonstrated in the recent Alaska races, especially the one for Alaska's at-large House seat. In that race, two high-profile Republicans, Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, ran as Republicans against incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), who won a special election in August to fill out the term of the late Don Young. During the campaign for the full term beginning in Jan. 2023, Palin and Begich ran extremely negative campaigns, each throwing barrels of mud slush mixed with sled-dog poop at each other.

This was counterproductive for the Republican Party, as everyone knew that the final round of RCV would be Peltola against one of them. They should have been friendlier to each other and run more positive campaigns, each one claiming he or she could do more for Alaska than the other one and urging voters to mark the other one as the second choice. They didn't do that. Worse yet, Palin told her supporters to vote for her for first choice and not mark anyone for second choice. If she had come in third, her supporters who did that would have been eliminated rather than voting for the other Republican, Begich. Not very collegial, although very Palinish.

Peltola understood the need for second-places votes much better than Palin did. She didn't attack Palin at all. She campaigned largely on local issues, like the collapse of the salmon population. In fact, she was downright positive about Palin, saying that they bonded when both were in state government and both were pregnant at the same time. Peltola was being nice to Palin so the former governor's supporters would not hate her and be willing to mark her as the second choice after Palin. As it turned out, it didn't matter, because Begich was eliminated before Palin so it was the second-choice votes of Begich's supporters that made the difference. It would have been difficult for Peltola to cozy up to Begich because she had nothing in common with him. With Palin, Peltola could say "support a woman, even my opponent, if it comes to that."

Going forward, RCV seems to be slowly gaining momentum, so the issue of being nice to your main opponent in order to gain second-place votes may become more common, which would be a relief from the constant negative ads in most races. What is also noteworthy is that Peltola and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also endorsed each other. They were in different races so they weren't competing with each other, but we would be hard pressed to find any Democratic House candidate anywhere else in the country who endorsed a Republican running for the Senate in his or her state (or vice versa). This could have been a ploy on Peltola's part to make Palin's female supporters see electing women as the top issue, but maybe not. Maybe she just likes Murkowski and vice versa. From outward appearances they seem very compatible. In any event, RCV could change elections in surprising ways. (V)

RNC Will Conduct Another Autopsy

Looks like it's déjà vu all over again. After their disappointing 2012 election results, the RNC commissioned a report on what happened and how to fix it. The report said that the party was far too fixated on its own base and was not getting anywhere with voters outside right-wing circles. So how did they fix it? By nominating Donald Trump, of course.

Now the Republicans have had another disappointing election and sure enough, there will be another autopsy report. RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has created the panel and stacked it with election experts like Kellyanne Conway, evangelical leader Tony Perkins, and Blake Masters. It will be led by Henry Barbour, nephew of former RNC Chair Haley Barbour. The panel will start work next week after the Georgia runoff. It is expected to report back before the summer.

We don't know what will be in the report, of course. But we do know what should be in it: Don't run whackadoodle candidates and try to appeal to voters outside the farthest right portion of the Republican base. We didn't even need to work until the summer to come up with that. Of course, in the unlikely event the panel comes to this conclusion, the autopsy will be completely ignored, even demonized. When McDaniel made an effort to reach out to gay voters, commission member Perkins attacked her for it. He doesn't want gay people to vote Republican. He doesn't even want them to exist. After McDaniel's announcement, Perkins said: "Americans of faith are the heartbeat of the Republican vote." That doesn't sound to us like he is trying to expand the base much. (V)

Senate Democrats Are Arguing about Rules and Power

The Republicans aren't the only party in town trying to figure out what's next. For the Democrats, the issues are different, however. One big one is power. Who knew? Specifically, with the Senate Democrats, a lot of power is concentrated at the top. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), for example, is not only #2 in the leadership, he is also chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are also members of the leadership who chair important committees.

Some senators, most notably Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), think that with 50 Democratic senators, they should divide the power up better and that members of the leadership should not also chair committees. One or the other. Members of the leadership aren't so keen on that. Durbin had some choice words for Whitehouse: "He did this two years ago to me. Now he's put Amy and Debbie in the boat with me."

This is one area where the Republicans are arguably more democratic than the Democrats. Republicans don't allow their caucus leaders to chair committees and also have term limits for all jobs except the top one (minority/majority leader). Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said: "I don't know that we want to become the Republican caucus, but I think it would make sense for us to give a little bit more thought to how we more evenly distribute power." (V)

Do You Want to Have a Beer with Ron DeSantis?

Many pundits, not to mention The New York Post, see Ron DeSantis as DeFUTURE. He is young, looks good on television (if you mute it), and owns the libs like no one else. Nevertheless, Mark Leibovich has written a piece in The Atlantic that points out that while DeSantis is flying high with people who don't know him at all, among people who know him well, his future is more DeBATABLE.

One thing that shouldn't matter in a presidential race, but does, is personality. People want to vote for someone they could have a beer with. In that department, DeSantis is the second coming of Mitt Romney (or, worse yet, Al Gore), not of George W. Bush. A presidential candidate can hide his personality only so much. At some point, it comes out. Barbara Comstock, who served in the House with DeSantis, says: "He was standoffish in general." Media consultant Rick Wilson says he is "a strange no-eye-contact oddball." Tallahassee lobbyist Mac Stipanovich says: "I'd rather have teeth pulled without anesthetic than be on a boat with Ron DeSantis." He also said DeSantis is "dour and doesn't improvise particularly well." In short, he's not a fun guy. Being mean and venal and owning the libs will get you only so far with college-educated suburban women. Maybe not far enough.

Then there is the little matter of the primary against Donald Trump. Merely owning the libs won't do the job there at all because Donald Tump has perfected that. Trump has a kind of feral charisma that DeSantis lacks. Being really nasty but not coming over as really nasty is something Trump excels at. DeSantis, not so much. When he is nasty, he looks and feels nasty. How is that going to go over with Republican primary voters? In a debate, the ability to think fast on your feet is important. Trump has had plenty of practice and is good at it. DeSantis is not and this is not something you can easily learn.

None of this is to say that DeSantis couldn't beat Trump and then Joe Biden, but the current euphoria among some Republicans that he is their savior may be short-lived when DeSantis actually launches his campaign and Trump launches missile after missile in his direction. The longer the campaign goes on, the more time DeSantis has to fumble. But he knows this and probably won't announce for at least 6 months, shortening the campaign by a lot. He can raise money from billionaires instantly, so there is no need to launch early just to raise money. He already has a campaign team in place so that won't take too much time, although he will need more people with experience outside Florida. And remember that candidates who looked good before it all started, like Beto O'Rourke and Rudy Giuliani, often collapse when it actually starts. DeSantis might just be added to that collection in the end. (V)

A December to Rhymember

Remember last year, when we ran reader-written poems throughout the month of December? Well, at the end of that, we asked readers if they felt we should make it an annual tradition. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of "yes," and so we are now welcoming submissions for the second annual December to Rhymember.

Generally speaking, limericks like this one seem to work best for purposes of amusing and clever political commentary:

There once was a man name of Trump
Who really was a rather big chump
He huffed and he puffed
And at golf he just duffed
For Christmas he got a big lump

That said, we will certainly run some haikus and other non-limerick forms of verse. The festivities will begin next week. We look forward to seeing what readers come up with. (V & Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov30 Sedition! Sedition!
Nov30 The Lawsuits Are Flying in Cochise
Nov30 Progressives Have Their 2024 Presidential Candidate
Nov30 Walker Campaign A Soap Opera 'Til the End
Nov30 Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill
Nov30 The Word Cup, Part III: Reform
Nov30 Reports from the Front Lines, Part III
Nov29 Biden, Democrats May Play Strikebreaker
Nov29 Arizona, Pennsylvania Counties Offer Potential 2024 Preview
Nov29 Trump Criticism Still Verboten...
Nov29 ...But It's OK to Go After Ronna Romney McDaniel
Nov29 McCarthy Warns Republican Conference about "Playing Games"
Nov29 Rep. Donald McEachin Dead at 61
Nov29 The World Cup: U.S.-Iran Matchup Has Much Ugliness
Nov29 Today's Senate Polls
Nov28 Republican Nomination Process Examined
Nov28 Democrats Are Arguing over Their Nomination Process as Well
Nov28 Trump Dined with Holocaust Denier Nick Fuentes Last Week
Nov28 Asian Americans Are Getting Lots of Love in Georgia
Nov28 Early Voting in Georgia Has Already Started
Nov28 Manchin's Friends Stab Him in the Back
Nov28 Musk Would Support DeSantis
Nov28 Newsom Will Wait His Turn
Nov28 E. Jean Carroll Sues Donald Trump
Nov28 What Might Legitimate Investigations of the Executive Branch Look Like?
Nov27 Sunday Mailbag
Nov26 Saturday Q&A
Nov25 Welcome Back to Twitter, Mr. Duke
Nov25 Politics Killed over a Quarter Million Americans
Nov25 Will Sherrod Brown Meet Tim Ryan's Fate in 2024?
Nov25 Trump Organization Trial Won't Even Begin for a Year
Nov25 The Word Cup, Part II: Presidential Campaigns, Pre-Civil War
Nov25 Happy Thanksgiving?, Part II
Nov25 This Week in Schadenfreude: An Unwanted Erection
Nov25 This Week in Freudenfreude: Dragged Down
Nov24 The Midterms Contained Warnings for the Democrats
Nov24 Alaska Results Are Called
Nov24 Walker Picks Up Some More Baggage
Nov24 The 2024 Presidential Battle Could Be Fought in Fewer States Than Ever Before
Nov24 What Are the Republicans Going to Do about the Religious Right?
Nov24 Could We Have a Constitutional Crisis in 2024?
Nov24 Information about Donald Trump's Taxes Is Starting to Come Out
Nov24 The Word Cup, Part I: The Martial Spirit
Nov24 Happy Thanksgiving?, Part I
Nov23 You Win Some, You Lose Some--Unless You're Donald Trump, Apparently
Nov23 Florida Legislature Set to Change Resign-to-Run Law
Nov23 McCarthy Has a Math Problem
Nov23 Biden Extends Student Loan Moratorium
Nov23 Court Upholds Saturday Voting in Georgia
Nov23 March... Sadness, Part XXI: We Have a Winner (a Loser?)