The Briefing, Vol. VI, Issue 12
- Clinton keeps proving she was always Democrats’ worst choice
- Roger Wicker, Dean Heller get a break
- Tim Pawlenty…former and future governor?
Justice Department: We’ve all seen the story about the government official who is caught engaging in misconduct and is then allowed to retire with full pension. If FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe misled investigators, as an upcoming Inspector General report is expected to find, then it’s only natural that he should be fired and lose the full pension that he would have become eligible for had he been allowed to stay on through March 18.
That’s why the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has urged caution and noted that McCabe’s firing two days before he could retire at age 50 “may have been justified.” Schiff has been no shrinking violet when it comes to savaging Trump or attacking Republicans on his committee, so his willingness even to entertain this possibility is a pretty important guidepost for forming opinions on McCabe’s firing.
Of course, it’s always hard to judge what sort of effect President Trump’s aggressive Twitter attacks on McCabe will have. Because it’s Twitter, that effect is almost certainly overrated by journalists. For the average voter, this is just more inside baseball.
But these rants probably don’t help Trump with anyone but his hardest core of support — the pro-Trump base that consumes the absolute highest amount of news and already votes in presidential primaries.
Liberals and some Democrats are naturally seeking to portray the decision as a political hit job on an honest public servant.
Hillary Clinton: If she ceased to exist, Trump would want to reinvent her. Hillary did herself no favors with her assertion in India that Trump voters and Trump-supporting regions were backward, economically unproductive, and voted against her because they were expecting and hoping that his racist policies would lift them out of their troubles.
Her hint that the franchise should perhaps be attached to economic production is intriguing, if impractical. But her rhetoric is just the ticket if Democrats want to spoil an otherwise-promising electoral opportunity in 2018.
Before the 2016 primaries began, we frequently brought up the Democrats’ post-Obama problem. Their former president, a rock-star candidate with a political magnetism and skill rarely found anywhere, gave their extremely weak party a reprieve at a moment when its future looked very uncertain. Would they go back to fielding Al Gores and John Kerrys for president — and lose?
Our view on this had already been mostly vindicated by the 2014 blowout, but the 2016 wipeout of Democrats at every level put a nice exclamation mark to it.
With Obama behind them, the leaders in Democrats’ future seemed pretty hopeless. It was a choice between Clinton, someone very, very old (say, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden), the handful of remaining important Democratic governors (Andrew Cuomo?!), and perhaps a few extreme leftist lawmakers (Bernie Sanders again, or perhaps someone more obscure who embraces “democratic socialism”).
None of these choices were that good in 2016. But in case it matters, we’ve learned since, as Clinton has proven it again and again, that she was always the worst choice by far.
Mississippi: State Sen. Chris McDaniel has switched from running against Sen. Roger Wicker, R, to running for the seat that is opening up with Sen. Thad Cochran’s retirement. Given McDaniel’s history, his wild 2014 run and his refusal to concede when defeated, that helps Wicker avoid a contest that would have at least been very bitter and unpleasant.
McDaniel is now looking for the party to unify behind him, but that won’t happen,
and he doesn’t expect it to. He obviously views his chances as better in a potentially crowded open primary than in a one-on-one race against Wicker. It stands to reason, as Wicker is simply not as moderate as Cochran. With Trump’s support and surely would have been a lot harder to beat.
We have yet to learn how much (if at all) the state’s Republican primary voters have been turned off by McDaniel’s 2014 melodrama.
The primary election is being held June 5.
Nevada: Who says President Trump’s Twitter is purely destructive? He appears to have
persuaded Danny Tarkanian to drop out of the Senate primary against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller, and get into the open fourth district House race, which is being vacated by accused serial sexual harasser Ruben Kihuen.
As much of a disappointment as Heller might be for conservatives, the Senate primary was probably a fight that Republicans can’t afford to have this year. As we have previously observed, Republicans are very likely to lose the House in November, and so the best hope for the Trump administration remaining effective in any sense is to retain the Senate, so that his appointments (including perhaps another Supreme Court appointment) can go through without drama after January 2019.
And Senate retention does seem quite possible at this point, given this year’s Senate map and its Republican-favoring shape. But there’s more: Republicans are basically guaranteed Senate control if the GOP hangs on in Nevada.
A lot of conservatives would want to roll the dice anyway, but this reshuffling of the race probably makes their task of keeping this seat at least a little bit easier.
Utah: State Rep. Mike Kennedy, R, announced a Senate bid last week, making him a longshot against Mitt Romney in the primary.
His chances would probably have been better under the old system, whereby he could wrangle enough support at convention to keep Romney off the ballot. But now that candidates can also make the ballot through petition signatures, it’s highly unlikely that Kennedy will actually stop Romney.
He may, however, raise his name recognition for the future. The primary will be held on June 26.
West Virginia: Maybe this primary isn’t quite what it seemed? Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, R, has released a poll in response to one put out by his opponent, Rep. Evan Jenkins, R. You might not be surprised to learn that each candidate has his opponent sucking fumes in third place. These two, plus just-out-of-jail former coal-mining CEO Don Blankenship are vying for the GOP nomination to face Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. The primary election is being held May 8.
Illinois: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to look very vulnerable as Democrats prepare to select their nominee on Tuesday. The clearest sign is the apparent narrowness of his lead over conservative primary challenger Jeanne Ives, who was just endorsed last week by National Review. The Democratic Governors’ Association has even gotten into the Republican primary, running ads to promote Ives’ conservative positions.
Republicans united in 2014 to elect Rauner, hoping to improve their state’s fiscal situation and at least stop the Democrats from playing too much offense on social issues. But as governor, he has been an extremely aggressive abortion advocate, especially, signing bills attacking pregnancy help centers and expanding state funding for abortion. He has lost the party base, and although he is expected to survive on Tuesday, he will be fatally weakened ahead of November’s election.
J.B. Pritzker is the favorite and the establishment man seeking the Democratic nomination, but progressive leftist candidate Dan Biss is making a late move. He could prove stronger than expected in the year of the #Resistance, given the low turnout that usually characterizes Illinois primaries. Chris Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, is also running.
Minnesota: Former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R, originally planned to run for Senate in 2002. He had to be talked into running for governor instead by Karl Rove.
Evidently, he was happy with the outcome. Because although he hasn’t made any official decisions yet, but he is laying the groundwork for a possible campaign to be governor again. If he runs, he will have to contend with at least one other serious candidate who has already gotten into the race — Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson.
Minnesota Republicans often (though not always) agree to abide by the party endorsement, which will be coming at the state party convention in early June. The primary election takes place August 14.