Manhattan DA reportedly to arrest Trump

March 20, 2023

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 12

  • Candidate Biden stares down and unwelcome economic crisis
  • Trump’s impending indictment both helps and hurts him for 2024
  • Pennsylvania Republicans face another Mastriano problem in the 2024 Senate race

President 2024

Joe Biden: The sudden collapse of a handful of regional banks contains within a great peril for President Joe Biden (D) as he prepares to launch his re-election campaign. Biden is already deeply unpopular — a survey last week by Quinnipiac found him at 55% disapproval, versus just 39% approval among registered voters. He has a lot of ground to cover to regain popularity in the next 17 months. An economic crisis is the last thing he needs at the moment. 

So Biden’s political life is hanging in the balance as regulators and bankers try to save the entire system — otherwise, Biden will only be remembered for bailing out the depositors of Silicon Valley Bank well beyond what FDIC insurance would normally allow.

Meanwhile, the fact that Democrats are well and truly stuck with Biden for a second election cycle has not changed.

Donald Trump: The former president announced on Truth Social, in all caps, that he expects to be arrested this week. The charge really does look like a political witch hunt, given that the supposed offense — a payment of hush money over an alleged affair — has been public knowledge for several years now. Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has never met a criminal he wasn’t willing to let off the hook, until now. His involvement should immediately raise suspicion, given his political nature. 

Will this impending indictment result in a Trump landslide victory, as Elon Musk has suggested? Probably not. But it will help Trump by reinforcing the victim narrative that has served him so well since he first launched his presidential campaign in 2015. Unless there are some huge surprises in the criminal complaint showing unexpected perfidy on his part, this will make him look more sympathetic, because it really does appear that he’s being railroaded.

On the other hand, any indictment, along with the lawsuit he is currently fighting over allegations of rape and defamation, make a Trump nomination much messier, at least. They make him a difficult person to nominate for president. Not that that stopped him in 2016…

Mike Pence: Speaking of difficult, it is difficult to see a path to victory for former vice president Mike Pence (R). The events of January 6 and the time since have created a massive rift between him and the party base. His accusations on Saturday, that former President Donald Trump was responsible for the rioting and lawlessness at the Capitol, set Pence up as the anti-Trump candidate, for good or for ill. 

“President Trump was wrong,” he said. “I had no right to overturn the election, and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

The problem is, most Republican voters are not anti-Trump, including many of the ones who have gotten over him and would rather vote for someone else. Neither Nikki Haley nor Tim Scott nor Ron DeSantis, nor any of the other potential Republican hopefuls, have been going at Trump quite like this. Yes, they are setting themselves up as alternatives to Trump, but not as his nemesis..

Pence, in contrast, is already framing his expected campaign as the one designed for the anti-Trump Republican vote. The market for this kind of candidate within the GOP primary will be limited.

Ron DeSantis: DeSantis received the endorsement of Rep. Chip Roy (R) this week — his first so far from a sitting member of Congress and his third recent endorsement from someone who might have been expected to back Trump. For him, that’s not bad, considering that he isn’t actually in the race yet.

Meanwhile, just as he used his book tour to his utmost advantage, DeSantis is now using the Florida legislative session to his utmost advantage as well. Yes, he is obviously running a shadow presidential campaign, but it is subtle enough that the ethics complaint filed against him by a Trump-backed super PAC will go nowhere.

Florida’s legislature is currently working on a new “heartbeat bill” restricting abortion, a long-desired tort reform bill, and a universal expansion of school vouchers. The legislative session is supposed to end May 5, at which point DeSantis is expected to announce for president. 

Governor 2023

Mississippi: in contrast to the recent poll showing Gov. Tate Reeves (R) losing to Brandon Presley (D), a new survey by Mason-Dixon has Reeves leading by seven points.

Even so, Presley has relatively low name recognition, with 37% saying they do not know who he is. With Reeves at only 46% support, there is at least a chance that the Democrat could grow his following. Reeves, in contrast, has universal name recognition. His approval rating in this poll is low but not fatally so at 39% (versus 34% who disapprove).

Governor 2024

West Virginia: Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) would hold a narrow lead in a crowded field, or he to jump into the open race for governor. He is reportedly considering doing so. The current governor, Jim Justice (R), is term-limited but widely expected to run for Senate against Sen. Joe Manchin (D), who won’t be making up his mind about running again until December.

Senate 2024

Pennsylvania: Former state Sen. Kathy Barnette (R), who stirred up the 2022 Republican Senate primary but finished third for the nomination, is sitting it out in 2024. Perhaps inspired by a recent poll showing her in third place against potential GOP candidates Dave McCormick and Doug Mastriano, She has chosen to bow out. 

However, It must be noted that Republicans have a big problem on their hands in the Keystone State, with or without Barnette in the race. Mastriano was badly blown out last year and would be almost certain to lose again in a statewide race against Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D). Yet the primary poll showed Mastriano leading McCormick, 42 to 28 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

With Barnette in the race, he would lead McCormick by even more — 39 to 21 percent. In the event that Mastriano does run, Democrats can be counted on to help him to the nomination, the way Gov. Josh Shapiro did in 2022.

House 2024

DCCC scandal: The DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats, has come under fire for its role in the illegal access of military service records of several Republican candidates in 2022. 

The House Judiciary Committee is now investigating this illegal breach, at the request of two of the victims — incumbent U.S. Reps. Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.).

Most infamously, Democrats were illegally given access to the records of candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green (R-Ind.), which indicated that she had been sexually assaulted while in the Air Force. Flouting long-standing norms of journalistic ethics, Politico exposed her as a possible victim after the information was leaked to that publication.

Other unsuccessful Republican candidates also had their military files illegally accessed by Democratic operatives.

Republicans are eager to make Democrats’ weaponization of the bureaucracy an issue in 2024. This little scandal puts that on a silver platter for them. They may also find another example in the major leak of personal tax information to the leftist activist group Pro Publica.

Democrats view ‘No Labels’ as a threat to Biden

March 13, 2023

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 11

  • Trump’s “Thunder” and “Lightning” abandon him
  • “No Labels” Party has Democrats worried
  • Newly aggressive NRSC shaping Senate races in Montana, West Virginia

President 2024

Pennsylvania: Two of Donald Trump’s earliest and biggest supporters from 2016 have turned against him. The reason? His endorsements in 2022 gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and Senate candidate Mehmet Oz. These — especially the former — led to a statewide disaster for Republicans in what was supposed to be a promising Republican year. And in the case of Mastriano, who still might run for Senate this year, Trump was endorsing him over one of his own former allies, former Rep. Lou Barletta.  

Both Oz and Mastriano lost, reportedly causing Trump to go into a rage over the advice he had received to endorse them. Assuming the account relating that is true, he wasn’t the only one angry.

Barletta and former Rep. Tom Marino — the men whom Trump had referred to as “lightning” and “thunder” for their tireless campaigning on his behalf during his 2016 campaign — they both just endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for president, even though DeSantis isn’t even officially running yet.

Barletta and Marino aren’t big national figures. This isn’t necessarily going to turn the tide against Trump. But the fact that such devoted early Trumpers would change sides does have some deep significance. Although Trump retains most of his support from before, there are small cracks developing in the facade. His nomination is not guaranteed. The polls show a race he is clearly leading, but also a race close enough that things could get very interesting in 2024.

No Labels: The “No Labels” party has now succeeded in making the ballot in Oregon, Arizona, and Colorado, and intends to make the ballot in at least 20 other states. This has Democrats nervous about the presidential race, since such a third-way minor party would be far more likely to peel off moderate Democrats disaffected with Biden, of whom there are evidently many, than it would be to win over Republican voters. 

As the Democratic group Third Way put it, “Their candidate cannot win the presidency [and] such a candidate ‘will succeed in electing Trump.’”

Such a party could also help Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) win re-election in a three way race against Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and a Republican.

Senate 2024

Indiana: On the Republican side, Rep. Jim Banks is considered a conservative, anti-establishment candidate, which is reflected by his early endorsement by the Club for Growth. But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell himself is now scheduled to attend a fundraiser for Banks, a clear sign that the party establishment will not or cannot put up any serious resistance. Trump already endorsed Banks last month, so there just isn’t much chance of anyone stopping him or even trying.

On the Democratic side, there is no bench to speak of and no interest yet from anyone credible. Democrats’ desperation became evident from the fact that former Rep. Baron Hill (D) has been trying unsuccessfully to convince former White House chief of staff Ron Klain (D) to run for the seat. The idea that a top-ranked Biden official would run well in Indiana is rather far-fetched. Biden’s approval rating was 35% in Indiana just after the 2022 election. Indiana isn’t the competitive state it was in 2008, when Barack Obama snuck in a last-minute victory

The most optimistic scenario for them would involve recruiting former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), who is currently serving as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. The only other candidate mentioned so far is Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (D), who has run unsuccessful statewide races twice. But Hogsett is already committed to running for re-election in November 2023. This would put him on a challenging (although not impossible) timeline in terms of raising the money and making other preparations needed for a Senate race the following year. Then again, his re-election would lower the stakes by ensuring he still has a prominent political role 

Montana: In contrast to Indiana, Democrats got a huge boost when Sen. Jon Tester (D) announced that he would run for reelection once again. Republicans, who have now come up just barely short twice against him, are determined not to let that history repeat itself.

NRSC Chairman Steve Daines, who is also the junior senator from Montana, is recruiting retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy (R) to run against Tester. Sheehy’s candidacy would mark a departure from the usual and apparently losing formula in Montana of elected Republican officials (former Rep. Dennis Rehberg in 2012 and then current Rep. Matt Rosendale in 2018) running against Tester. 

Sheehy, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, founded an aerospace company. A political outsider, he is a multi-millionaire with huge self-funding potential. He has reportedly spoken to Donald Trump about running in the hope of receiving the former president’s endorsement. According to Axios, Trump was impressed.

It is already evident that Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) would move aside for Sheehy if he decides to run. So would Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), who polls against Testerbetter than anyone else already in politics against Tester. But Rosendale, a favorite of the Club for Growth, might challenge Sheehy in a primary anyway.

This is one case where Trump’s endorsement might end up aligning with the main line Republican Party. 

New York: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is telling donors that disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is going to try to make a political comeback by running against her. Is her fear real, or is it just a scare tactic to raise money? Cuomo probably cannot use any of his $9 million in state campaign funds to run for a federal office, so at least on that score it seems unlikely. Nor has Cuomo himself said anything about it, and his spokesman has denied planting the original story about this in the Daily Beast.

On the Republican side, former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) would be most Republicans’ favorite candidate after his impressive performance for governor in 2022. He already launched some sharp attacks at Gillibrand in his appearance at CPAC, calling her “one of the laziest, most forgettable, unaccomplished senators in the country.”

West Virginia: Daines has also been at work in the Mountain State, recruiting Gov. Jim Justice (R) to run against his former political ally, Joe Manchin (D). A recent poll showed Justice defeating Manchin, whereas Manchin led his other prospective opponents by wide margins. 

West Virginia could be a test of the new NRSC policy of choosing favorites and making early endorsements.

As for Manchin, he has said he will not announce his decision on whether to run for reelection until December. That gives  a very long time to wait, but it’s not as if there are any other Democrats waiting in the wings who could hold his seat in his absence.

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Lightfoot’s crushing defeat shows that Democrats are vulnerable

March 6, 2023

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 10

  • Lori Lightfoot’s crushing defeat in Chicago shows crime is a live issue
  • Trump dominates CPAC as others cede the field
  • No Democrats step forward yet to challenge Rick Scott


Crime: Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot just got destroyed in last week’s primary election. With only 17%, the incumbent received roughly the same share of the vote as President Trump had in the city of Chicago — and for the record, Trump didn’t do that well within Chicago’s city limits.

The issue that killed Lightfoot was crime. Joe Trippi, the consultant who famously helped Howard Dean launch to the top of the Democratic field in 2004, recognized the potential of the crime issue and helped first place finisher Paul Vallas crush her using it. Vallas, who finished with nearly 34%, faces the second-place finisher, a defund-the-police leftist and former teachers union organizer, Brandon Johnson, who got only 20%. Vallas, who has the backing of the police union, is the favorite in the second round.

Crime is the very issue that Republicans intend to use against Democrats in 2024 — an issue they used with some success in 2022 in some states, particularly New York. The reasoning is that if this issue can help San Franciscans oust their district attorney, and help Chicagoans oust their mayor, why can’t it help Republicans win more broadly? 

In combination with other issues, crime is indeed potent. It should also resonate, as large American cities get worse and worse. Liberals, unwilling to blame their own preferred policies and records, are already starting to say things people were saying in the early 1980s — that big cities are ungovernable. But that isn’t true. Rudy Giuliani was one of the first to show that it wasn’t true when he took the nation’s biggest city and made it governable again.

And of course, it doesn’t even take a Republican mayor to learn those lessons. Many U.S. cities with Democratic mayors likewise became significantly safer through aggressive policing and longer prison sentences for habitual and violent offenders.

Washington D.C. had leaders earlier this century, such as Mayors Anthony Williams (D) and Adrian Fenty (D), who managed to bring the crime rate down to reasonable levels. But currently, D.C. has seen carjackings quadruple since 2019. Homicides were up last year by 25% over 2019 levels and more than 100% over 2012 levels. So far this year, they’re up another 33%. 

The situation in D.C. is bad enough that President Biden backed down last week from his pledge to veto the Congress’s bill overturning the District Council’s soft-on-crime rewrite of its criminal code. Ultra-woke D.C. council members, over the veto of the current mayor, are attempting to reduce penalties for robbery, burglary, and carjacking in the middle of a crime wave. If Biden is backing off so easily, especially after promising a veto earlier, then Democrats are clearly scared of this issue. At the very least, Biden just made the 173 House Democrats who voted against the measure walk the plank for nothing.

Republicans need to find a way to get a handle on this issue. Although they cannot count on winning majorities in big cities, they must do more to appeal to city residents on issues of public safety in order to blunt Democratic margins. In some states, with strong suburban and rural performances, a better-than-usual urban vote tally could be enough for a statewide victory.

President 2024

Donald Trump: At CPAC, Trump easily won the straw poll with 62 percent as his chief rival stayed away in order to avoid being upstaged. Trump’s performance put him 42 points ahead of DeSantis — a much bigger lead than he enjoys nationally, and also a clear reflection of how he has come to dominate the CPAC event since he was first laughed at during his appearances early last decade. He has come a long way.

Trump’s speech went for nearly two hours, which is long even for him. He laid down markers for some of the attacks he plans to launch this year against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). This includes DeSantis’s past support for either raising the retirement age or creating private accounts in Social Security. It is already clear that Trump has DeSantis on his mind, as no other candidate — including Nikki Haley — poses any sort of real threat to his possession of the nomination.

Trump also savaged the Republican Party of the Bush era and raised further doubts about whether he had actually lost the 2020 election, as opposed to having it stolen from him fraudulently.

Ron DeSantis: Meanwhile, Trump’s likely chief rival was promoting his book in a series of interviews and media appearances that will end when Florida’s new legislative session begins later this month. 

Again, DeSantis trails Trump. There is no question that Trump is the front-runner in this race. However, as an incumbent effectively taking a second shot at reelection, one would expect him to lead this early in the game.

DeSantis is definitely running, to Trump’s chagrin. There is definitely a real race here, as a relatively small double digit gap between the two candidates persists in many states. For example, DeSantis trails Trump by 11 points in Virginia, 16 points in Arizona, and actually leads him by eight points in California, all before even announcing his run or giving a single campaign speech. 

Primary elections are always much more fluid than general elections. The similarity of the views of DeSantis and Trump makes it much easier for voters to switch between one and the other, depending upon circumstances.

Although it is just a footnote for this past week, the decision by former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) not to run means that at least the anti-Trump vote will not be split quite as badly as it would be otherwise. That a very tiny plus for DeSantis at this point, assuming he actually runs.

RFK, Jr.: In addition to Marianne Williamson, Biden will have as a nuisance challenge the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Given recent events, Democrats seem unlikely to back him, but he might provide an outlet for those upset to see Biden renominated.

Senate 2024

Arizona: Kari Lake, the 2022 gubernatorial loser, claimed at CPAC that she had been offered a bribe to stay out of politics for two years. She did not name names, Even though she really has to if she wants people to believe such a thing.

Florida: The Hotline has a piece out this week on the reluctance of high-profile Democrats to take on Sen. Rick Scott (R). Despite his potential vulnerabilities — his personal feud with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, his potentially exploitable legislative proposals that Democrats have attacked — Scott is the wealthiest U.S. senator. He is capable of spending a large eight-figure amount of money from his own personal funds in 2024, just like he did in 2018. He is also reasonably popular and an excellent campaigner, having won three close statewide elections in eight years, and having knocked off an extremely popular Democratic senator in the Democratic wave year of 2018.

Given the extremely poor showing of former Rep. Val Demings (D) against Sen. Marco Rubio (R) last year, and the general implosion of the state’s Democratic Party in 2022, Scott finds himself standing alone, a formidable incumbent whom no serious Democrat wants to take on. 

The one saving grace for Democrats is that Florida’s primary is very late — August 20 — and this means that there is a whole year for some credible Democrat to step forward and take the plunge.

Nevada: Rep. Mark Amodei (R) has ruled out a Senate run against Sen. Jackie Rosen (D). Republicans are still searching for a credible candidate in this race. 

In the meantime, Democrats easily managed to oust their much-criticized socialist party chairwoman, ending a brief period in which democratic socialists seized control of the state party. This may help improve their party’s performance this cycle after they lost the governorship in 2022. Mainstream Democrats had circumvented the socialist leadership by forming a shadow organization, Nevada Democratic Victory, and transferring party funds to it on their way out the door. Now they have control of the party machinery once again.

“Perry Who?” Perry Johnson Delivers Major Speech, Announces 2024 Presidential Campaign At CPAC

Perry Johnson Delivers A Major Speech At CPAC

Reports have called him a Presidential longshot, but Perry Johnson stole the show on the first day of CPAC, giving the best speech of anyone to take the stage.

The Johnson team brought noticeable energy to the conference, with a large, organized group of supporters visible throughout the convention hall, culminating in a packed reception where Johnson officially announced his run for President of the United States. 

The biggest buzz of the conference so far has been, “just who is Perry Johnson?”

Johnson answered that question after his CPAC speech earned him a standing ovation, and thunderous applause from conference attendees Thursday afternoon. 

Perry Johnson, the respected Michigan businessman from the Detroit area, walked attendees through this “Two-Cents Plan to Save America,” which will bring down inflation, and finally rein in D.C. spending by reducing just 2 pennies off nearly every dollar in the federal budget. 

“I am pro-life, I am pro-second amendment, I am pro-family, I am pro-freedom, I am anti-china,” Johnson started off his speech, to booming applause. 

Johnson then spent much of his speech outlining his background as a “Quality Guru,” having revolutionized quality standards for American auto parts in the 1980’s, bringing the American automotive industry back from the brink, after almost being destroyed. 

Johnson outlined the specifics of his two-cents plan.

“The Two-Cents Plan is very simple, cut two cents off of every dollar of discretionary spending out of the federal budget,” Johnson said. “We have to get inflation under control and bring down costs. This plan is both realistic, attainable and will actually solve the problem,” Johnson said

The detailed version of his plan was passed out by his surprisingly large group of supporters on hand in National Harbor, just outside the White House Johnson hopes to be moving into in January of 2025.. 

Johnson, who was traveling with Former Detroit Chief of Police James Craig, as well as Former House Intelligence Chair and Trump Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has been the surprise hit of the conference so far, attracting large crowds, and garnering significant media attention.

Perry Johnson and Chief James Craig, front, Scott Greenlee, Meshawn Maddock, and Chuck Yob, back

Though Johnson’s campaign had launched a $600,000 Super Bowl ad campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, he made his official announcement for President in a packed reception Thursday evening.

“They tell me, it’s impossible to fix our federal government. Well I say, this country was built on people doing the impossible,” Johnson said. “We are going to implement the two cents plan, we are going to get inflation under control so people can live again and we are going to ensure we preserve the American Dream. That is why I am running for President of the United States.”

Whispers of a contested national convention have also permeated through the halls of CPAC, making Johnson’s wildcard candidacy even more interesting.

His consultant, presidential campaign veteran, John Yob, literally wrote the book on a potential contested convention, releasing “Chaos” in 2016.

“Chaos” outlines the scenarios for exactly how a contested convention might unfold at the Republican National Convention.

The Johnson campaign has yet to release details of his upcoming schedule, but has said he plans to be in both Iowa and New Hampshire in March. 

Michigan Conservatives Campaign With Perry Johnson At CPAC

Perry Johnson and Chief James Craig, front, Scott Greenlee, Meshawn Maddock, and Chuck Yob, back

Prominent Conservatives from Michigan are attending the Conservative Political Action Conference with Perry Johnson.

Johnson, the “Quality Guru” and Constitutionally Conservative, Trump Republican who helped revolutionize America’s auto industry in the 80’s, recently announced he is considering running for President—and he just opened a campaign office in Iowa after launching a major Super Bowl ad campaign in the Hawkeye State.

On Thursday morning, Johnson was seen flying to CPAC with former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, former Michigan Republican Party Co Chair Meshawn Maddock, as well as legendary Michigan Republican power broker Chuck Yob, and consultant Scott Greenlee.

The conference, which takes place just outside Washington DC, is the nation’s biggest annual gathering of conservative activists, politicians, and candidates.

Johnson will address attendees Thursday afternoon.

Perry Johnson and Chief Craig

Trump’s triumphant return to Ohio

February 27, 2023

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 9

  • Trump at last rediscovers his winning ways
  • Further proof DeSantis is indeed running
  • Mike Braun’s path to the Indiana governor nomination remains straightforward

President 2024

Trump: Former President Donald Trump’s appearance in East Palestine, Ohio was brilliant for a number of reasons. Obviously, he showed that he cares about the dangerous chemical spill that has polluted and fouled the water of the entire area at a time when the Biden administration is clearly falling short and addressing a major regional disaster. 

Where Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a putative future presidential contender, was too busy taking “personal time,” Trump showed up, with pallets of water and cleaning supplies in tow. He bought McDonald’s meals for residents and first responders, and told the people there what they all knew in their hearts: “They were doing nothing for you. They were intending to do nothing for you.”

And this wasn’t just for show. If Trump hadn’t gone, then Biden’s administration really would have done nothing for them. Buttigieg would probably not have even visited the site.

It was refreshing to see Trump reappear with the everyman, working class persona that won him the presidency in 2016. Lately, all anyone has seen of Trump has been the embittered election loser who can’t get over 2020 — the version of Trump who is certain to lose.

In the time since his announcement of his 2024 presidential bid, Trump has done very little that anyone could call impressive. But this was something different — this was the Trump who carried Eastern Ohio in a landslide. (And who just further shored up Ohio as a Red state for at least a generation.)

The liberal elites can mock all they want. This Trump — the one who showed up in East Palestine — is the one who needs to start showing up on the campaign trail. As soon as Trump starts looking forward like this on a consistent basis, and stops looking backward, he can reclaim control of the narrative in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

DeSantis: In case you are doubting whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to run for president, he just released this video over the weekend that can only be teasing a presidential run. 

The script begins: “When the world lost its mind…when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue…Florida was a refuge of sanity, a citadel of freedom for our fellow Americans, and even for people around the world.” 

Florida is undeniably a huge success story that contrasts with declining states such as New York, California, and Illinois, which are now all losing population in absolute terms. DeSantis can claim to be part but not all of the reason for Florida’s success, as other factors include warm weather and uninterrupted Republican rule in the state for the last 25 years. Even so, his best chance at the presidency is to run heavily on his record, and even to point out that President Trump, his chief rival, chose to switch his residency to Florida, and that even Democrats such as AOC choose to vacation there, mask-free, during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, he keeps adding long-standing conservative ideas to that record, many of which have never been tried in a state so large. He is currently proposing mandatory use of the E-Verify system — in other words, citizenship verification — in hiring for all employers. The largest states doing so for all employers up to now have been Georgia and North Carolina, followed by Alabama and Tennessee. Currently, Florida law only requires E-Verify for hires by the state and by state contractors. 

DeSantis’s current plans include another week or so of touring to promote his new book — something all presidential candidates do — until the state legislature reconvenes early next month. He will likely announce after the legislature adjourns in May.

Ramaswamy: The Republican race now has an entrepreneur-outsider candidate. Think of Vivek Ramaswamy as the Republican version of Democrat Andrew Yang. Ramaswamy, who previously voted for and supported Trump, won’t get the Republican nomination, but learn how to say his name, because you’re going to be hearing it a few more times this year. 

Governor 2024

Indiana: The path for Sen. Mike Braun (R) to the governor’s office got a bit clearer last week as Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) announced his intention to run for reelection rather than for governor or Senate. So far, Braun faces Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (R) and former president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation Eric Doden (R).

Incidentally, this also eases the path for Rep. Jim Banks (R) to run for the resulting open Senate seat without any serious Republican opposition. There is still an establishment effort to find an opponent to banks in the primary, even though the NRSC has already endorsed him.

Whatever happens in other states, Indiana will be a success story for the NRSC’s decision to take sides in primaries this year. But Note that it could end quite badly in some other states.

Washington: The Dispatch reports that former Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R), who lost her seat last year to a Trump-backed candidate (who lost in the general election), is reportedly considering a run for governor of Washington. There aren’t many credible Republican candidates for anything in Washington nowadays, so her chances of advancing from the state’s top-two primary as an underdog against a Democrat will be good if she runs.

Senate 2024

California: It’s not quite what we expected, but it turns out that the Russiagate hoax is at least working out for someone.

A new Los Angeles Times poll shows Rep. Adam Schiff (D) leading the pack in the run for the Senate seat finally officially being vacated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D). Schiff, who has been endorsed by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and is sitting on more than $20 million in cash, has 22 percent to Rep. Katie Porter’s 20 percent. Rep. Barbara Lee (D) languishes far behind in single digits at 6 percent, and Rep. Ro Khanna (D)  (who has not officially announced) has 4 percent.

Breaking: America First Conservative Perry Johnson Opens Presidential Campaign Office In Iowa

Perry Johnson, the “Quality Guru” and Constitutionally Conservative, Trump Republican who helped revolutionize America’s auto industry in the 80’s, is considering running for President—and he just opened a campaign office in Iowa.

Watch Perry’s Announcement Below:

Johnson is the first Republican candidate to open an office in Iowa ahead of the 2024 caucus.

Johnson recently aired a major $200,000  Super Bowl ad campaign there, and even attended the Iowa State basketball game last week.

Johnson says he’s looking forward to doing a bus tour of the Hawkeye State soon as well.

The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 8

February 21, 2023

This Week:

  • Consequential statewide election in Wisconsin today
  • Trump scores a small victory in DeSantis’s backyard
  • Tim Scott prepares to enter the presidential race


Today’s primary election in Wisconsin for an open Supreme Court seat may be the most important race of 2023. This race, which will be decided in April, will determine the court’s lean, as one of the four conservative justices is retiring.

Today’s race is a top two primary with four candidates — former Justice Dan Kelly and Waukesha County judge Jennifer Dorow on the right, and two left-wing judges, Janet Protasiewicz and Everett Mitchell. The top two finishers, from whichever side, will face off in April. This will likely be one liberal and one conservative, but such a result is not guaranteed.

Kelly, who had been appointed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) in 2016, lost the race to keep his seat in spring 2020. He may also be damaged in this race by late revelations that he was involved in advising national Republicans on seating alternate electors to vote for Donald Trump after the 2020 presidential election.

Dorow, who like Kelly studied law at Regent University, was the judge in the high-profile trial of the Waukesha Christmas parade massacre.

If liberals retake the state Supreme Court in April, Republicans in Wisconsin could see a lot of the gains they have been fighting for since the Walker era, in both political and policy terms, threatened. Liberal supreme courts across the country — in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, for example — have shown a rather lawless approach on some issues that they would not have tried even ten years ago. This includes, for example, aiding Democrats with partisan redistricting by concocting new legal theories out of thin air, as they tried in North Carolina (this will likely be reversed soon) and pulled off successfully in Pennsylvania. But a liberal court could even try to find an excuse to strike down Act 10, the state law that made Walker famous and limited the scope of public employees’ collective bargaining.

President 2024

Donald Trump: Former President Donal Trump scored a victory of sorts in the backyard of his chief putative opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. His candidate for state party chairman, Christian Ziegler, defeated a candidate aligned with DeSantis. Party leaders, however, have projected an air of unity since his selection — something that can be believed of what is arguably the nation’s most successful state party. 

Meanwhile, a recent Harvard-Harris poll is one of the best primary polls for Trump in some time, showing him at 46 percent, well ahead Desantis’s 23 percent. Both men currently lead President Joe Biden, who polls at a miserable (for an incumbent) 41 percent.

Since some fans of both candidates have brought it up, it should be noted that Trump and DeSantis cannot run as a ticket unless one of the two renounces his Florida residency — something DeSantis cannot do as governor, and which Trump is unlikely to do. Under the Constitution, the president and vice president must be from different states.

Ron DeSantis: On the other hand, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Trump leading DeSantis by only six points nationally, 42 to 36 percent — quite a different result. This poll shows Trump’s favorability rating upside down by 20 points — 37 percent favorable, 57 percent unfavorable, which is worse than Biden. DeSantis clocks in at 37 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable.

So far, Trump has been very focused on DeSantis as a potential opponent, and extremely upset that his former ally would dare run. He has quite a few insults to throw at him. 

But rather than engage him, Desantis continues his policy quest to be the most based governor in America. In recent days, he has traveled to Democratic states such as New York and Illinois to deliver speeches about how bad their crime problems are. He told a crowd of police union members in Illinois that they will be more welcome in Florida — that they will receive a $5,000 signing bonus, and they won’t have to put up with prosecutors who let violent and career criminals out of jail after they’re arrested.

This isn’t presidential campaigning, technically. (Or at least don’t tell his non-profit that it is.) But as we have noted previously, it is the best sort of presidential campaigning that DeSantis could possibly do. It helps him to avoid a mud-wrestling match with Trump, which never worked out for any of the other 2016 candidates, but it also keeps him in the spotlight with conservatives in a positive way.

Tim Scott: Although he would not be not the first black conservative to run for president on the Republican side, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C) will be the best-credentialed, if he does indeed pull the trigger after putting out the word that he is preparing a run for president.

Unlike Ben Carson, Herman Cain, and Alan Keyes, Scott is actually an incumbent officeholder. What’s more, he is the most popular incumbent officeholder in his state, which happens to be one of the more important presidential primary states.

Scott’s run complicates life for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), who announced her run just days earlier. Then again, she needs some kind of miracle just to overcome Trump, whose continued strength in her home state we noted previously.

Although Scott begins as a clear underdog against the big two candidates — namely, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis — he is a genuinely conservative and smart man who could catch on with voters given the right set of circumstances. If he brings out unconventional voters to take part in the presidential primary, he could also change the makeup of the race.

Senate 2024

Arizona: Yet another poll — and this time a poll independent of the candidate himself — shows left-wing Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego leading in a three-way race against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and all Republicans tested. 

Gallego also leads in all head-to-head matchups with a Republican. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and former Arizona State regent Karrin Taylor-Robson each trail Gallego by just four points, whereas Blake Masters and Kari Lake trail by double digits. For her part, Sinema has a net negative rating of seven points.

Lake, the only major Republican so far showing true signs of interest in the race (although there are other potential candidates), has an astounding 22-point net negative rating among Arizona registered voters. But Masters, who lost the Senate race last year, has an even worse 24-point net negative rating. 

Montana: Sen. Jon Tester (D) has never had an easy statewide election in Montana. But this time, if he chooses to run for reelection, the strongest Republican candidate against him appears to be Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) Gianforte, who enjoys a 61% approval rating, runs even with Tester at 45% each. In contrast, both Reps. Ryan Zinke (R) and Tester’s unsuccessful 2018 opponent, Rep. Matt Rosendale ® run six and five points behind, respectively. Tester still has not committed to running again.

Texas: We had previously pointed out some potential ambiguity, but now Sen. Ted Cruz (R) appears to be genuinely running only for reelection and not for president in 2024.

West Virginia: A poll out of West Virginia by Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund shows Gov. Jim Justice (R) crushing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, 52-42 percent. The poll is a bit strange however, as it shows Manchin above 50% and crushing the other two Republican candidates — Rep. Alex Mooney (who has already announced his candidacy) and his 2018 opponent, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. It is extremely uncommon for an incumbent senator to poll so badly against one candidate and then back up above 50% against others. The creation of this poll suggests that Republicans in Washington already have a favorite candidate, and it is not outlandish to think that the NRSC, which is now taking sides in primaries, might officially help justice once he announces.

House 2024

House Democrats’ campaign arm, the DCCC, is facing a minor scandal over its operatives using false pretenses to gain illegal access to the military records of at least two and as many as ten Republican candidates. The investigation into this activity began after the odious leak of Indiana congressional candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green’s service record, which outed her as a victim of sexual assault during her time in the Air Force. Although it is unclear how much of a role this disclosure played, Green narrowly lost her 2022 race against incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan in a heavily Democratic district in northwest Indiana.

Breaking: America First Conservative Perry Johnson Calls Out Joe Biden For Covering Up Toxic Train Derailment In Ohio

Perry Johnson

Perry Johnson, the “Quality Guru” and Constitutionally Conservative, Trump Republican who helped revolutionize America’s auto industry in the 80’s, wants to know what President Biden is covering up after the recent derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in Ohio.

The train derailment crisis in Ohio is not only a disaster impacting the country, but an abject failure of government,” Johnson said Friday. “As a toxic cloud mushrooms above the community, Joe Biden has claimed it’s not a disaster, even turning down a request for federal assistance! What is he trying to cover up?”

Watch Perry’s statement on the crisis in Ohio below:

Johnson, who recently announced he is considering running for President with a major Super Bowl ad campaign in Iowa, attended an Iowa State basketball game earlier this week.

Perry Johnson at the Iowa State Basketball game

Johnson says he will be doing a bus tour the Hawkeye State soon, and just opened an office there.