State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi to challenge in NY-22 congressional district

New York State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi announced Wednesday that he will seek his party’s nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney next year in the upstate 22nd congressional district.

Tenney is a freshman member of the House, having won election in 2016 after Republican Rep. Richard Hanna chose not to seek reelection. Brindisi, of Utica, has to be considered a serious contender with only an obscure computer science professor challenging him for the Democratic nomination.

“I think it’s about time we have an independent voice representing this congressional district,” Brindisi said in an interview with the USA Today Network’s Albany Bureau. “I have a record of standing up to my own party when I thought they were wrong, and I have a record of reaching across the aisle to work with my Republicans colleagues — and that is something the American people want: a common-sense consensus-builder.”

Tenney won the general election by just over 5 points in 2016. Charlie Cooke, Stu Rothenberg, and Larry Sabato all call the race in 2018 a likely Republican hold, but Brindisi should make things interesting, especially if Trump is drowning with a sub-40 percent approval rating as Election Day approaches.

Daily Kos notes that the NY-22nd is still likely to be a tough district for Dems to flip, “but Tenney’s hard-right image and her support for TrumpCare could give Team Blue an opening.”

Taking back the House will be an uphill battle for Democrats, but if they have any shot, districts like this one will be the key.

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Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller will need to fight like hell to keep his seat

A new poll shows Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller in a virtual tie with Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen in the 2018 Senate race. It may too early for polls to mean much, but it has to give Heller something to think about when contemplating support for the disastrous Senate healthcare bill.

Not surprising, the poll found that the GOP Obamacare repeal is unpopular.

Rosen gets 42 percent of those surveyed to Heller’s 41 percent. Rosen is a relatively obscure rookie congresswoman, and Heller is neither obscure nor new to the game, so this is good news for Democrats.

On the methodology:

The survey was conducted by Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP). It surveyed 648 statewide voters and has a margin of error of just under 4 percent. (Even though PPP’s methodology — robo and web question mix — is often questioned, the demographics look solid, including a 6-point Democratic registration edge and 16 percent of the sample was Hispanic. The widely respected 538 website rates PPP a “B-plus.”)

As I say, early days, but definitely a seat the Democrats need to pick up.

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Campaign News

Boston Globe: Ted Kennedy Jr. not running for governor in Conn. Ohio Republican candidates for governor, U.S. Senate quiet on Obamacare repeal bill

The Nevada IndependentPoll: Heller, Rosen in dead heat in Senate race

Salon: Elizabeth Warren: It’s time for Democrats to run on single-payer health care

New York Times: Trump campaign chief’s firm got $17 million from pro-Russia party

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A pro-Trump group works the refs with a new ad on the Russian probe

The ad attacks special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and generally swipes at the investigation into the “Trump campaign’s possible cooperation with Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

Nut-job conservative talker Tomi Lahren is featured in the ad, called “Witch Hunt,” as she channel’s her inner Trump using the kind of language we have come to expect.

“Only in Washington could a rigged game like this be called independent,” Lahren says, using air quotes in the ad to emphasize her point.

The argument the ad makes is based on ties Mueller’s team of lawyers has to Democrats “because some of the lawyers have given campaign contributions to the party.” And then there is the “relationship between fired FBI Director James B. Comey and Mueller, who was once his boss.”

It’s an idiotic attempt to smear a man no one believes can be touched. Then again, the game probably has more to do with making sure Mueller knows Trump has friends who will be watching. Big deal.

At what point does Trump’s attack on the inside Washington crowd, particularly America’s beloved law enforcement community, start to make Trump’s base nervous?

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Campaign News

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia 2018: Roy Barnes endorses Stacey Evans for governor

The Nevada IndependentDSCC starts Google ads campaign to pressure Heller on health care

The Herald: Parnell: ‘If we do this a little bit better, I’d be getting sworn in on Monday’ (South Carolina 5th CD)

The Denver PostDaVita CEO for governor? Candidacy would trigger a flood of cash and controversy

New York Times: Democrats’ turnout in Georgia blew past typical off-year levels

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Randy Bryce for Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin congressional seat

Is it possible that everything we thought we knew about politics in America is wrong, that the Democratic Party should stop hiding behind the supposed need to promote a slightly left of centre agenda because that’s where, they say, the votes are? Is it possible a newly constituted understanding of the party, under the right leadership, could convince a growing majority of Americans that the best kind of populism is guided by a progressive notion, one that promotes inclusion, generosity, and mutual respect?

After the shock of November 2016 I’m willing to entertain a lot ideas I might otherwise have considered fanciful. This could be one of them.

I started thinking about this in earnest after seeing a new political ad for Democrat Randy Bryce, a Bernie Sanders supporter who has decided to do what is likely impossible, unseat Republican house speaker Paul Ryan.

Mr. Bryce has an interesting resume. He is a veteran, an ironworker, and a union organizer. He supports single-payer healthcare. He possesses a folksy charm that could work very well on the campaign trail. In other words, he comes across as what some people might call a mensch.

The district to be contested is the Wisconsin first congressional and despite being led by a high profile Republican in the House, it can be a hard district to read. George W. Bush won it in 2004, Romney in 2012, and Trump in 2016, but Obama took it in 2008.

I seriously doubt Ryan will break a sweat keeping this seat, but Randy Bryce-ness, the idea of someone like this, should be compelling for Democrats. Whatever else Trump’s victory signals, it surely suggests the usual crew is at a disadvantage. Something different is called for. This is that.

I also don’t know how someone with an organized labour background will play in American politics, but as a union organizer this guy is not new to politics, as labour politics are some of the toughest in the land, and a great school for the political big leagues.

Anyway, this is not really about whether a guy like this can beat Ryan, but more about whether a guy like this can show the Democratic Party a new way to relate to a constituency they need to woo.

Again, a veteran, an iron worker, a union organizer, progressive, and pro-single-payer. More like this please.

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Campaign News

NPR: ‘Bigger than the 6th’: Voters head to polls in Georgia race that’s turned on Trump

USA Today: 5 things you need to know Tuesday

Roll Call: DCCC hits record-breaking fundraising number for May

The Kansas StarFormer state Sen. Jim Barnett set to enter Kansas governor’s race

The Hill: Manchin faces primary challenge from the left

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Supreme Court will hear case on constitutionality of gerrymandering for political advantage

Is there anything in politics more boring than redistricting? Not much. Is there anything more important? Very little.

If congressional districts are allowed to be drawn based on how favourable they might be in delivering seats to one party or another, democracy is not served.

We now hear that The Supreme Court will “hear Wisconsin’s appeal of a lower court ruling that found its 2011 state redistricting plan was unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering,” a move that could have significant consequences on “how far state legislatures can go in drawing up district lines for partisan gain.”

The federal district court for the Western District of Wisconsin invalidated Wisconsin’s plan for the State Assembly. Similar cases are reportedly pending in North Carolina and Maryland.

The case goes as follows:

In 2012, after a new map was put into use, Republicans took 60 seats in the 99-seat state Assembly, with only 48.6 percent of the two-party vote.

Federal courts have previously ruled that maps that employ “racial gerrymandering” are unconstitutional. In racial gerrymandering, lines are drawn to lower the influence of minority voters, sometimes by scattering them across different districts.

The challenge to Wisconsin’s legislative lines are different because the challenge revolves around whether district lines can be drawn for a partisan advantage.

The claim against the Wisconsin redistricting plan is that it disadvantages Democrats in one of two ways. It either draws boundary lines so Democrats are spread out in districts where Republicans tend to have a majority, or Democrats are concentrated in a few districts where they win an overwhelming majority but take far fewer seats than their percentage of the vote state-wide would warrant.

Anyway, it would be good to get a Supreme Court ruling on the inherent unfairness of redistricting for political advantage. Seems like a no-brainer, but who knows?

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Is this what Republicans mean by calming the rhetoric? Disgusting

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Campaign News

New York TimesHigh-stakes referendum on Trump takes shape in a Georgia special election

Washington Post: Democratic win in Georgia would signal that the establishment is alive and kicking

Roll Call: Race Rating: New Jersey Governor Likely Democratic Takeover 

WTOPLessons from Virginia’s primary as gubernatorial race heats up

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A “door knocker” piece Republicans are using in the Georgia 6th to attack Democrat Jon Ossoff – the smell of desparation

This one has it all: “Liberal extremists” are pouring money into the district; he stands with Nancy Pelosi, and not Georgia; and doesn’t represent “our values” because he “doesn’t live in the district” and outside money is supporting him. Apparently he grew up in the district but is currently living a “mile and half down the road” to support his girlfriend who is currently finishing medical school. As for outside money, I doubt corporate donors live in all the districts and states they attempt to buy for the GOP. Good times.

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Georgia 6th special House campaign is in its final days. And it’s going to be close

The vote for the Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is on Tuesday and this one is certainly too close to call.  For Democrats, the crazy-making part is that so much effort has been put into stealing this generally safe Republican seat that a loss would be particularly hard to take.

As we get closer to election day, various pundits are talking about how a Democratic win would have a seismic impact, perhaps causing a mass exodus of House Republicans who might then choose not to run for re-election as they interpret the writing on the wall.

A poll last week had Democrat Jon Ossoff up by 7 points, but a brand new survey has Ossoff up by just a 49.7 to 48 margin over his GOP opponent Karen Handel.

The seat is in the northern suburbs outside of Atlanta. Trump won it by only a hair. Though the House seat has been held by Republicans for a long time, it’s a very well educated and relatively affluent area. If folks like this were seen to be turning on Trump, that could have repercussions for how candidates and pundits begin the frame the midterms.

The WSB-TV story accompanying the poll results notes the obvious that Trump casts a long shadow in this race with “91 percent of Ossoff voters having an unfavorable opinion of President Trump. On the flip side, 78 percent of Handel voters have a favorable opinion.”

So, yes, the election is a referendum on Trump. But whichever side loses, their respective party’s will surely say that local factors played an outside role, but don’t believe them. Trump has consumed all the oxygen that used be shared with regional concerns.

As a registered Democrat and avowed Trump hater, colour me nervous.

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Campaign News

WSB-TV: Ossoff leads Handel by less than 2 points Woodstock attorney, ordained deacon is eighth Democrat to run for Congress in NY-19

Miami Herald: Canova announces rematch against Wasserman Schultz

Daily KosNew lawsuit could invalidate Pennsylvania GOP’s congressional gerrymander

The Hill: RNC reports raising $10.8 million in May

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for President! Why Not?

We want Mitch! We want Mitch! Okay, maybe not yet, but soon.

Amie Parnes at The Hill writes this week that “Democrats looking for new blood to revitalize their party are taking a close look at New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is suddenly being discussed as a dark-horse presidential nominee.”

You’ll recall Mayor Landrieu from his very important speech last month about the removal of Confederate monuments from his city. He did sound great. And let’s not forget that since few outside the city he represents have heard of him, he’s “new,” which seems to be one of the most important characteristics a politician can have these days. New is good.

When asked if he might run, the mayor says he is “focused solely on his current job and his upcoming role heading the Conference of Mayors. He is not thinking about a presidential bid.” At least he knows how to say he’s not running for something he might run for

In no particular order, those who think he might be a credible candidate have said the follow, or things like them:

  • The party needs the right candidate at the right time, and Hillary, the argument goes, was all wrong. Bernie was sort of right, but not entirely.
  • As the party looks to rebuild, “non-establishment” politicians like Landrieu might be just the ticket.
  • His speech on the Confederacy captured the attention of the liberal intelligensia, which I guess is good.
  • A pollster who has known him for years say if there is an opportunity “he’ll definitely see how deep the water is.” (Ya gotta love New Orleans).
  • Landrieu previously served as Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana from 2004 to 2010,“ which led one commentator to say that “having won statewide in a deep red state and citywide among a predominantly black, Democratic electorate, he has some track record in bridging these divides,” and also that “there may be more paths open for him nationally than there are statewide right now.
  • Landrieu has sought to address gun violence in his city, which would appeal to progressives.

Then again, naysayers wonder if he can go from being a mayor to being a president, and then they remember that Donald Trump when from being a moron real estate developer to being a moron president, so realize anything is now possible.

He also clearly has a low profile when so many others who might run for the Democratic nomination are already better known. Okay, but who outside of Vermont had heard of Bernie Sanders before he ran for president? In fact, I recall that the speech at his campaign launch was hilarious. Profiles can be created.

Names, names, and more names. We’ll hear a lots of them. Landrieu is hardly inconceivable as an option.

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Morning Headlines

Washington Post: Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a lawyer

Politico: GOP sirens blaze over Georgia special election

CNN Politics: Washington Post: Mueller investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings

The Hill: Trump allies on the offensive against Mueller

New York Times: Trump transition team orders former aides to preserve Russia-related materials

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News from New Jersey – all bad for Republicans

A new poll by Quinnipiac finds that the race for New Jersey governor may be over before it’s really had a chance to start with Democrat Phil Murphy well ahead of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno by a margin of 55 to 26 percent.

The results carry over more generally where the poll finds New Jersey voters want the Democrats to control the State Legislature by a margin of 57 to 29 percent.

The same poll yields a few other interesting bits of information:

  • Republican Gov. Christie now has the “worst approval rating for any governor in any state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in more than 20 years” as state voters disapprove of him by a margin of 81 to 15 percent. They note that “even Republicans disapprove 58 – 31 percent.”
  • President Donald Trump is also scraping the bottom of the barrel achieving a record low in the Garden State with voters disapproving of the job he is doing by a 66 – 28 percent margin.
  • U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D) does far better with New Jersey voters approving 58 – 28 percent of this performance.
  • And a final finding is that “U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D) gets a 44 – 35 percent approval rating compared to his 41 – 41 percent score in a May 3 Quinnipiac University poll.” Curiously, “voters say 44 – 31 percent that Menendez does not deserve reelection next year.” In other words, “you’re doing okay, but it’s time to go.”
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Morning Headlines

Politico: Washington preaches unity — yet again

CNN Politics: Trump calls House health care bill ‘mean’

Washington Post: Lawmaker Steve Scalise is critically injured in GOP baseball shooting; gunman James T. Hodgkinson is killed by police

New York Times: Mueller seeks to talk to intelligence officials, hinting at inquiry of Trump

The Hill: Poll: Majority thinks Trump tried to meddle in Russia probe

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Fox News drops “fair and balanced”

On a day when most people are thinking and talking about the horrific shooting in Virginia, some lighter news might be welcome.

New York Magazine is reporting today that Fox News is dropping the trademark most thinking people saw as the silliest of sick jokes: the “Fair and Balanced” slogan.

A Fox News spokesperson confirmed to the magazine that the network is no longer using the slogan, but that the decision won’t impacting programming or editorial decisions.

The late Fox founder Roger Ailes was resposible for the catchphrase, in use since its founding in 1996. Good idea to put it to rest now.

The Hill’s report on the story connects the decision to the “institutional scrutiny” the network has been under due to “allegations of sexual harassment forced out Ailes and former host Bill O’Reilly.”

Or maybe their relentless boosterism for Trump has finally created a degree of shame. Probably not.

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Jeff Sessions gets the vapors before the Senate (video)

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Morning Headlines

The Hill: White House: Trump ‘has no intention’ to fire Mueller

CNN Politics: Hill Russia investigators plow forward, Mueller meetings on horizon

Politico: What we learned from the Virginia primary

Washington Post: Jeff Sessions finds a shield in executive privilege — but it might not be a strong one

New  York Times: Jeff Sessions denies collusion, deploring ‘detestable lie’ in Senate testimony

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