Politics

You Can’t Beat Pelosi With a Nobody

By Lindsey McPherson
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Politics

Three States Get Ready to Vote on Abortion

By Sandhya Raman
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Heard on the Hill

They Channel Out-of-Town Outrage

By Alex Gangitano
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President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to signal he will not nominate his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to be the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

He used a tweet to say it is “nice” that “everyone” wants his daughter to be the U.S. envoy to the global body. But then he added this: “She would be incredible, but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism!”

So nice, everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador. She would be incredible, but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism! We have great people that want the job.

Trump also wrote that he has other “great people that want the job” that will be vacated at the end of the year when Nikki Haley officially resigns.

Dina Powell, a former deputy national security adviser in the Trump White House, was considered the frontrunner to replace Haley. But she reportedly has withdrawn her name from consideration.

For her part, Ivanka Trump tweeted about speculation earlier this week that he is interested in the UN job.

She called it an “honor to serve in the White House alongside so many great colleagues,” adding of Haley’s successor: “That replacement will not be me.”

Watch: Trump Discusses Potential UN Ambassador Replacements

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A California man has been charged with threatening to kill Sen. Dianne Feinstein amid the pitched partisan battle over the confirmation process of new associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Craig Steven Shaver, 47, of Lancaster, California, with a felony count of attempted criminal threats and possession of a firearm by a felon.

He was arraigned Thursday. His bail was $50,000.

Shaver allegedly emailed Feinstein's office on Sept. 30 threatening to kill her. The charging authorities declined to offer more information on the contents or circumstances of the threat.

Feinstein, 85, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee that was tasked with scrutinizing Kavanaugh through his confirmation process, is one of the most senior members of the chamber, first elected in 1992.

If convicted, Shaver faces up to three years in state prison.

In 1991, Shaver was convicted of grand theft, which by California state law permanently barred him from owning a firearm. It's unclear when investigators discovered the revolver he had in his possession that was part of his charge Thursday.

Kavanaugh was confirmed after a week-long delay on his final confirmation vote on the Senate floor after a small cadre of GOP senators led by Jeff Flake of Arizona reached a compromise with Democrats to allow for the FBI to slap together a “supplemental” background investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted multiple women when he was in high school and college.

The Democrats’ insistence that Kavanaugh’s alleged actions face a bureau probe could have negative ramifications for many of their candidates this fall, Republican leaders and operatives have predicted.

Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have depicted the hordes of protesters that descended upon the Capitol and organized in senators’ home states to protest Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an “angry [Democratic] mob,” hoping to whip up support from the party’s conservative base before Election Day on Nov. 6.

Watch: Democrats on FBI Kavanaugh Report: ‘Why Shouldn’t All of America See the Facts?’

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Shawn Zeller recaps the results of CQ's Capitol Insiders Survey, a poll of congressional staffers about the midterms and other topics, with expert analysis from two former aides to top congressional leaders, Lisa Camooso Miller, who was a spokeswoman for former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, and Brendan Daly, a onetime spokesman for Nancy Pelosi when she was Speaker from 2007-2011.

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Outside groups are descending on Illinois’ 6th District just weeks before the midterm elections — and bringing their money with them —  as six-term GOP Rep. Peter Roskam tries to stave off a bid from Democratic environmental entrepreneur Sean Casten.

The Chicago Tribune first reported these figures.

The independent spending arm of the environmentalist League of Conservation Voters political action group is dropping $291,000 to run negative advertisements against Roskam on digital platforms throughout the district.

Naral Pro-Choice America, another national liberal organization, will shell out $148,000 over the coming weeks on digital advertising opposing the incumbent. The group is also mobilizing its supporters this weekend to canvass for Casten.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Casten, is pouring another $109,000 into the district against Roskam.

But Democratic and progressive groups aren’t the only ones spending big in the swing district, which Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Tilts Democratic.

The independent expenditure arm of the Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity is injecting $55,700 into the district to support Roskam with advertising and canvassing.

And the House GOP’s campaign committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, is adding a cool $1.5 million to its budget for the district over the next several weeks, Roskam told the Tribune.

Roskam’s campaign and the NRCC shared the $687,500 bill to run an ad on TV linking Casten to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan as the state government there languishes in chronic debt and underfunded programming.

Democrats have long had their eyes on the suburban 6th District as a potential crossover district this cycle after Hillary Clinton cruised past Trump there by 7 points in 2016.

Roskam easily defeated his Democratic opponent, Amanda Howland, by 18 points last cycle.

Watch: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Health Care Ahead of the 2018 Midterms

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New York Rep. Chris Collins, who faces insider trading charges stemming from his investment in an Australian biotech company, will get his day in court on Feb. 3, 2020.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Hartman repeatedly asked to move up the trial date, stating there is a “strong public interest in seeing this case resolved in 2019,” CNN reported.

Federal prosecutors say the congressman received insider information that Innate Immunotherapeutics’ only drug failed a crucial clinical trial while he was attending the White House Congressional picnic in June 2017.

“Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???” Collins replied in an email to the company’s chief executive, according to the indictment.

Federal prosecutors say Collins then tipped his son, Cameron Collins, who unloaded enough shares in the next two days to skate $570,900 in losses. Cameron Collins then told four people, including his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s father, who told two others.

After a public announcement of the trial failure, the stock plunged to a nickel. Rep. Collins suffered a loss of $17 million for his investment.

Collins was arrested in August, and pleaded not guilty.

Collins was the company’s largest shareholder and a board member, and convinced some of his congressional colleagues to invest in the company, including former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

In addition to the criminal charges, Collins’ investment has raised a thicket of ethical questions — about whether Collins sponsored legislation to boost Innate, why a clinical trial for the drug was being conducted at a cancer clinic in his district, and why Collins lent a top aide who invested in Innate stock as much as $500,000.

Collins, an ally of President Donald Trump, faces a re-election challenge from Nate McMurray in November. Despite the charges against him, Collins is likely to secure his seat in a district Trump carried by nearly 25 points in 2016.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for the 27th District as Lean Republican.

Should Collins be re-elected then convicted of a felony, he would have to sit out floor votes, Congressional ethics experts say.

Watch: U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Collins

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The Tennessee Senate race is now national news following pop musician Taylor Swift's endorsement of Democratic Senate nominee Phil Bredesen. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Bredesen discussed a wide range of issues including the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, the 2010 health care law, the U.S., Mexico and Canada trade deal and border security in their second and final debate Oct. 10. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Republican but Swift's comments generated a voter registration surge in the state.

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It’s been almost 10 years since Kanye West and Taylor Swift began to bicker. Remember? Beyoncé had just made one of the best music videos. OF. ALL. TIME. Here’s the timeline from then until now — the moment the Swift-Kanye conflict broke the fourth wall and entered DUH, DUH, DUH!

The Political Theater.

In case you missed it, this week Swift endorsed two Tennessee Democrats, caused a bump in voter registration, and made 4chan and r/the_donald do backflips off the internet cliffs all with a single Insta post. Then she doubled down while accepting an American Music Award, removing any doubt that maybe, just maybe, her account was hacked and she still secretly held an official #MAGA membership card.

West meanwhile went H.A.M. on Donald Trump’s desk, currently the Resolute Desk situated in the Oval Office.

Will #MAGA forces prevail in 2020? Will Kanye ever make another good album? Song? Can Donald J. Trump even name a single Taylor Swift number? This and so much more, next time on “Swift Winds From the West.”

Onward!

By George LeVines

“The Front Runner” is not going to tell you how to feel about politics. The new film, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by him, Matt Bai and Jay Carson, tells the story of the short-lived 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart, who went from being the presumptive favorite to win the presidency to political oblivion within the span of a few days, felled by the Colorado Democrat’s extramarital affair scandal. “You could see the seeds of politics we’re dealing with now,” says Carson, a former Capitol Hill staffer.

The central tenet of the film is that few people — the candidate, his staff and family, journalists, etc. — were prepared for what happened to Hart, and they made the best decisions they could at the time, helping to define the electoral and political process for years to come. “We’ve created a process that rewards a bit of shamelessness, that both attracts and rewards candidates that who will do anything to get or hold office,” Bai adds. Listen to our full conversation, including a partial interview with Reitman, on this week’s Political Theater podcast:

Capitol-Ink-10-10-18

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The 2018 primary season has seen a drastic decline of white men running for office in congressional and state races, as more women and minorities have joined the fray, according to report released Thursday.

There has been a 13 percent drop in white, male Congressional candidates since 2012, and a 12 percent drop in legislative races, the report from the Reflective Democracy Campaign found. 

“This is clearly a story largely about women running and winning primaries at a much greater rate than ever before,” said Brenda Choresi Carter, director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign. “But this is not only a story of increased numbers of women running and winning. Another way of flipping it is a historic decrease in white men.”

During the same period, the number of women of color running for Congress increased by 75 percent, the number of white women increased by 36 percent, and the number of women running overall increased by 42 percent in Senate and 39 percent in House races.

The report found an increase of female candidates across the political spectrum in congressional races. Female Democratic candidates increased by 46 percent and female Republican candidates increased by 22 percent.

The center has been tracking the numbers of women and minorities running for office since 2012. The first two years, the rates remained largely unchanged.

From 2012 to 2016, white men, who represented only 32 percent of the population, were 65 percent of all candidates and 65 percent of all elected officeholders at the local, state, and federal level, it found.

State legislative races have seen similar increases in representation of female and minority candidates, it found. There, women of color increased by 75 percent, and white women increased by 14 percent.

In gubernatorial races, women of all races and men of color increased as a share of Democratic candidates. But men of color decreased as a share of Republican gubernatorial candidates, leaving the Republican candidate pool almost exclusively white and male at 86 percent.

The report, A Rising Tide? The Changing Demographics on our Ballots, aggregated data from more than 40,000 general election candidates from 2012 to 2018, tracking the race and gender makeup of House and Senate races in 43 states with available data and 34 states holding gubernatorial elections in 2018.

For the race and gender of state legislature candidates, it focused on a sample of 15 states: eight states whose officeholders best reflect America’s demographics according to the center’s National Representation Index and seven states at the bottom of the NRI where white men most dominate the political system.

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Fresh off a divisive Supreme Court battle, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has a complicated decision to make next month that has the business world watching with keen interest: whether to make the jump over to the Finance Committee chairmanship in the 116th Congress.

“Ask me Nov. 7,” was all the Iowa Republican would say earlier this week on the topic. But the allure of returning to the helm of perhaps the most powerful committee in Congress, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade and health care policy, can’t be lost on Grassley, who was Finance chairman for part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.

Under Senate GOP rules, Grassley could go back for another two years; but in that scenario he’d have to give up the reins at Judiciary, which could yet see substantial action over the next two years — particularly if another Supreme Court slot opens up.

The leadership of Finance and other key committees has remained as cloudy as it was last January when the current Finance chairman, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, announced his retirement.

[Grassley Wants to Raise $3 Million for Collins Amid Kavanaugh Backlash]

Grassley’s decision is the linchpin to cascading possibilities: a move to Finance would likely lead to Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina becoming Judiciary chairman. But if Grassley stays put, it would pave the way for the next most senior Republican on Finance, Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, to take the gavel. That would likely lead to Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania ascending to the chairmanship of Senate Banking, which Crapo now leads.

Crapo and Toomey deferred to Grassley, who will turn 86 next week, on where they might end up come January. “I’m not going to speculate about it until we see what the outcome of the election is what Sen. Grassley’s choices are,” Crapo said. Added Toomey: “It’s not in my hands.”

The uncertainty over the influential panel’s leadership has industry groups from the health care sector to financial services on edge, observers say.

“I suspect many people are watching closely, especially given the influence this committee will have on tax reform 2.0,” Norbert Michel, a senior fellow in the study of financial services at Heritage Foundation, wrote in an email. Michel watches Senate Banking closely and is a fan of Toomey becoming chairman of that committee where “he would be a great one from conservatives’ viewpoint.”

Weighing into the decision process could be the outlook for major activity in these respective committees. Judiciary moved two Supreme Court nominees this Congress and was key to a record number of federal appeals court judges being confirmed in 2017. It also could continue to be a focus if another Supreme Court nomination happens or if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s emphasis on moving judicial nominations continues.

Meanwhile, last year Senate Finance helped write the biggest tax code overhaul in more than 30 years. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to fix things in the law and take on other topics, such as retirement savings.

“I would imagine a member takes several things into consideration when determining which committee they want to move to — what has happened last Congress, what’s sort of on the docket for the next Congress,” said James Ballentine, executive vice president of congressional affairs at the American Bankers Association.

If Republicans lose control of the Senate, then the speculation over whether Grassley or Crapo will lead Finance is moot. Though it would take only a gain of two seats for Democrats to take control, Republicans are defending fewer seats this election and more Democrats than Republicans are in toss-up races.

[House Committee Leadership Is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs]

If Republicans retain control of both chambers, the Finance panel might be the more attractive choice, offering a greater opportunity to shape major tax, health and trade policies with a cooperative House Ways and Means chairman. Even if Democrats re-take control of the House, which Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales forecasts is the most likely outcome, prospective Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusett, is viewed positively by the business community and regarded as someone Republicans can work with.

Still, Grassley’s decision won’t be dominated by what happens on the other side of the Capitol on Nov. 6.

“I don’t know if Grassley would necessarily say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be Neal if the Democrats take over, he and I can work well together,’” Ballentine said, arguing the bigger consideration would be, “I’m in the Senate, this is what I want to accomplish.”

As Midterms Enter Final Stretch, Senators Ready Their Rallying Cries

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The Trump political machine is out in full force in Texas’ 32nd District to boost GOP Rep. Pete Sessions as his race against Democratic challenger Colin Allred tightens.

First, Vice President Mike Pence stumped for Sessions there on Monday. Then, the top Trump-aligned super PAC shelled out millions of dollars on airtime for a new ad attacking Allred. And on Wednesday, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., announced he will host a fundraiser in the district for Sessions later this month.

Pence did not mince words in a speech he delivered earlier this week on the importance of keeping Sessions’ seat in Republican hands.

“He’s in a competitive race,” the vice president said of Sessions. “The balance of Congress may be decided in Texas in this district.”

America First Action, the super PAC promoting candidates who support the president’s agenda, dropped a cool $2.1 million for airtime on local broadcast and cable channels in the district for a new advertisement painting Allred as a puppet of Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles E. Schumer.

The ad ties Allred to former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” health care plan and notes the infusion of campaign funds he has received from Pelosi, a pariah among conservatives in southern states such as Texas.

“Something is all wrong with Allred,” the narrator says in the ad. “Maybe it is because he supports Bernie Sanders’ government-run health care scheme, which could take away your healthcare, costing us trillions.”

The ad hit the airwaves Wednesday and will continue to play in the coming weeks.

Trump Jr., the president’s oldest and most politically active son, is making a trip down to the Dallas suburbs to host an Oct. 18 fundraiser for Sessions with tickets ranging from $2,700 to $10,000, CNBC reported.

Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, will co-host the event.

Sessions’ campaign is welcoming Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle with open arms.

“As conservative leaders who believe in defending our Constitutional rights and working to expand freedom and opportunity, we welcome them to Texas and thank them for supporting Congressman Sessions,” a representative for the Sessions campaign told CNBC.

Republicans aren’t the only ones going on the attack in the district, though.

Allred’s campaign released an advertisement of its own criticizing Sessions for supporting a health care plan that Allred has said would have stripped away protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Sessions rejected that characterization of the House GOP’s proposed health care act, which was shot down in the Senate by a one-vote margin last year.

A New York Times/Sienna College poll from late September showed Sessions with a one-point lead over Allred, well within the survey’s margin of error.

Hillary Clinton carried the district by 2 points over Trump in 2016, a figure Democrats hope they can capitalize on to flip the seat on Nov. 6.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Tossup.

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Watch: Kanye Steals the Show

By Nathan Ouellette
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Politics

At the Races: You Only Raised $1 Million?

By Bridget Bowman
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