Dem’s Trump-Russia Publicity Stunt

The Briefing, Vol. VI, Issue 17

This week:

  • Democrats file a lawsuit over Trump-Russia; it’s a publicity stunt
  • Has Ted Cruz got a real race on his hands? Maybe.
  • Romney falls short in Utah’s GOP convention, forcing a primary


Russia lawsuit: Democrats’ new lawsuit against the Russian Federation, WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign, filed on Friday, appears to be nothing more than a publicity stunt. What’s more debatable is whether it is intended to keep the Trump-Russia-collusion issue alive even after the Mueller investigation fails to find anything tying Trump to an election conspiracy involving a foreign power.

The day of Mueller closing his investigation may come very soon, and it will probably dash the hopes of millions of Democrats. But that doesn’t mean Trump is out of the woods. The probe into Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels, and his alleged attempt to pay her off through an attorney, is a much more promising avenue for finding dirt on Trump.

To reiterate, this is the one to watch — the Russia story was never going anywhere in the first place.

Senate 2018

Montana: A poll by the Club for Growth suggests that State Auditor Matt Rosendale is the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Jon Tester, D, in the primary June 5.

Texas: There’s still good reason for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to run scared this year. Despite having announced his support for President Trump’s impeachment, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D, comes within three points of Cruz in the latest Quinnipiac poll.

Of course, Quinnipiac has very little experience polling in Texas, and that could account for what looks like a very odd result. What’s especially odd about the poll is that it shows this topline result despite also showing Cruz much more popular than one might expect (47 to 45 percent approval rating, 46 to 44 percent favorable) and well ahead of O’Rourke on most key issues. It could just be a blip, or a result of inexperience polling the state. Or it could be a sign that Trump — who didn’t do especially well in Texas — means  trouble for Republicans there.

Don’t forget, there was a lot of excitement and buzz around Wendy Davis, whose bottom-of-the-barrel candidacy ultimately showed where the Democratic floor in the state is.

Utah: Delegates at the Republican convention forced Mitt Romney into a primary against state Rep. Mike Kennedy for the seat that longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch is vacating. Romney should be heavily favored in the June 26 primary, but it’s worth noting that there was enough resentment by insider delegates over his carpetbagging attempt (or maybe his previous animosity toward President Trump, take your pick) that he just barely finished second (51 to 49 percent) in this fight for GOP insiders’ support.

Governor 2018

Ohio: The Cleveland Plain Dealer just endorsed former Rep.  Dennis Kucinich in the May 8 Democratic primary, even arguing that by supporting the 71-year-old radical they would “vote for their futures.” It is truly an incredible development, considering that former CFBP director Richard Cordray  has been the prohibitive and establishment-backed frontrunner in this race ever since he got in, and that Kucinich was at one point regarded as a no-hope fringe candidate. That certainly isn’t the case now.

Kucinich’s last great achievement as an executive was the city of Cleveland’s debt default when he was mayor. Just imagine how many daggers went into the Plain Dealer editors’ decision to write this of Cordray: “[I]f he’s passionate about leading Ohio or has a vision for its future, he hid it well during the endorsement interview.”
Ouch — that has to be one of the worst no-confidence votes in the history of local endorsements. Kucinich who backed the idea of setting up rainbow farms in western Iowa during his 2008 presidential run, could win a general election in a very strong Democratic year, but he probably isn’t the party’s strongest foot to put forward.

Republicans are likely to nominate a very plausible candidate, Attorney General Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who made an impression by aggressively processing old rape kits and prosecuting old cases based on them that brought a number of career criminals to justice.

House 2018

Arizona-8: Republicans are freaking out over the possibility that Democrats will take over the seat left behind by former Rep. Trent Franks, R, in Tuesday’s special election. The Republican candidate in this heavily Republican district, Debbie Lesko, is supposedly in a dead heat with Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, a doctor driven out of the profession after a malpractice case. That this is even remotely close is a huge warning sign for Republicans, who still don’t seem to be taking seriously the dire  position in which they now stand.

Minnesota-1: Republican Jim Hagedorn, a former  Treasury Department official who came within a hair of defeating Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in 2016, received his party’s endorsement and will now vie for the seat Walz is leaving open as he runs for governor. He still faces a primary against Carla Nelson, though. He is favored to win the nomination and face Dan Feehan, who won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor endorsement.

This seat is one of the few in which Republicans have a good House takeover possibility, but a bad year or a bad candidate could help Democrats keep their lock on it.