This week: The Briefing, Vol. X, Issue 23
- Biden is all-in on gun control
- DeSantis leads Trump in a second straw-poll
- Oz wins a squeaker in Pennsylvania
San Francisco: Democrats are pre-emptively warning that District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s recall tomorrow does not mean the end of criminal justice reform. But nobody thought it did. In reality, it begins the process of rebuilding the issue’s credibility.
Soft-on-crime DAs such as Boudin and Los Angeles’ George Gascon and Philly’s Larry Krasner, among others, have been destroying what was once a bipartisan consensus around the issue. It turns out that, when you habitually reduce or dismiss charges against hardenend, violent career criminals, people stop trusting your reformist intentions. The version of criminal justice reform that people actually believe in — that lengthy incarceration is not the best punishment for non-violent, first-time offenders — can live on, provided that Democrats go back to nominating sensible people to prosecute criminals in the cities they control.
Boudin’s downfall will not signify that San Franciscans are moving rightward — only that there is a limit to how much insanity even they can handle.
In the short-run, the political benefit to Republicans will be that Boudin’s recall will shine a light on how common his practices really are, highlighting the wave of violent crime that progressive district attorneys have been making possible in so many of America’s major cities in recent years.
Gun control: President Biden is continuing his push for gun control like a man who has nothing to lose. And he really has nothing to lose.
Americans believe their country is headed in the wrong direction by a 40 to 50 point margin. They intend to vote for Republicans over his Democratic Party by a margin as large as eight points, according to the latest poll from the economist. And Biden’s own job approval rating is underwater by double digits, with several recent polls placing his approval rating below 40%. To add insult to injury, a new opinion poll from late May showed Biden losing his reelection race to former president Donald Trump.
In the meantime, Biden’s agenda remains quite dead, in spite of his sanguine, last-ditch attempts to woo Senator Joe Manchin and pass some small piece of his abandoned multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better plan. Democratic hopes that Republicans would nominate a large number of unelectable idiots have also so far fallen flat.
Under these circumstances, why shouldn’t Biden push for gun control with everything he has? There is little he could do that would send his poll numbers much lower, but a strong push on guns could at least produce a sort of red meat push on his party’s far Left to get out and support Democratic candidates this fall.
DeSantis v Trump: For the second time, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis beat his erstwhile friend and ally, former president Donald Trump, in a 2024 presidential primary straw poll.
This straw poll, taken at the Western Conservative Summit, allowed participants to vote for multiple candidates. DeSantis came in first, winning votes from 74% of participants. Trump received 71%. All other comers were below 50%.
This could be another milestone, signifying that even pro-Trump voters are ready to move beyond the Trump era to a new generation of leaders.
Then again, this isn’t exactly a head-to-head poll. A presidential primary would pit candidates against each other in situations where voters can only pick one candidate. Would they pick DeSantis over Trump? This remains unclear, but it is evident even now that this is no longer an obvious, settled question. As a new face for Trumpism, DeSantis would have a real shot.
Wisconsin: Former President Trump’s endorsement of Tim Michels has upended this race, which previously seemed almost settled in favor of former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch. But unlike with most of his endorsements so far, Trump has stuck his neck out with this one, as Kleefisch is reasonably popular and still has a decent chance of winning.
Arizona: President Trump finally made it official by endorsing venture capitalist Blake Masters to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Trump has heavily disparaged the early favorite in this race, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, for failing to overturn his own (Trump’s) loss of Arizona in 2020.
Pennsylvania: David McCormick‘s concession brings the Republican Senate primary to an end. Donald Trump’s endorsee, Mehmet Oz, will carry the Republican banner in this fall’s election against lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
As a celebrity candidate with Trump’s backing and a strong political wind at his back, Oz really should win. His biggest problem is up-ticket. If the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Doug Mastriano, bombs badly the way some expect, it could become too difficult for Oz to swim against the tide. Then again, the Republican tide could be strong enough to help both candidates. The jury is out on this one.