The Briefing, Vol. IX, Issue 24
- Harris’s humiliating performance
- Mo Brooks leads in Ala. despite Shelby’s endorsement
- Brnovich running for Senate in Arizona
Outlook: What an embarrassment!
Vice President Kamala Harris was humiliated on national television in an interview with a not-at-all-hostile journalist — Lester Holt — all because she flatly refused to give a straight answer about whether she had visited or intended to visit the border as part of the role President Biden delegated to her in dealing with the immigration issue.
The most amazing thing about the exchange was that this former prosecutor and state attorney general was unprepared to answer one of the most obvious questions that could have been asked — the focus of nearly all of the Republican criticism.
Just before that, Holt had also stumped her by asking why the “root causes” approach to Central American immigration (mostly large grants to the Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran governments) would work now if it hadn’t worked in the past.
Subsequently, Harris was again put on the spot about visiting the border in a Univision interview. She responded by snapping at the anchor who questioned her about it.
Harris has a long reputation for dishonesty, going back to her behavior during Bret Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings (this was from before any of the lurid allegations were made against him) and beyond. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was only able to dissect her on the debate stage two years ago because of her deep and manifest insincerity on multiple issues, including marijuana legalization and the arrest of parents whose children were truant.
Harris is supposed to be defusing the current immigration crisis for Biden. Instead, she is throwing gasoline on the flame and attracting all kinds of additional negative attention to it.
Infrastructure: If President Biden wants to do something bipartisan in the manner in which he campaigned for president, he now has the chance. A new bipartisan “gang of ten” in the Senate has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure package. Unlike Biden’s own multi-trillion-dollar proposal, this one actually focuses on infrastructure — waterways, roads, etc. — and doesn’t try to redefine infrastructure as “whatever liberals have wanted to throw gobs of money at for decades.” The code word for this is “human infrastructure,” which bizarrely includes not only a rollback of state right-to-work laws, but also helping unions to rob sick and elderly Medicaid patients who receive benefits for their home care.
Although the Biden administration is noncommittal about the Senate bill, and House Democrats are complaining about this package’s lower price tag, the main sticking point actually seems to be the pay-fors. (Biden rejects increasing gas taxes or imposing mileage taxes, which would fall on the electric vehicles he is trying to encourage.)
This means it could actually happen. And it might have to, because Senate Democrats don’t have the votes for a party-line bill without Joe Manchin, who has said he is against that.
So this represents another chance for Biden to show the sort of unifying statesmanship he promised when he took office. He is going to have to bring House Democrats along in order to accomplish this.
Can he do that? Can he be forced to do it? The legislative rubber is finally hitting the road for his administration, and Manchin might finally be leaving him no choice.
Virginia: A new poll by WPA Intelligence shows former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe leading Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin by a very narrow two-point margin to get his old job back– 48 to 46 percent. This is a conservative pollster, but it is worth taking seriously, and McAuliffe is already actively using it to raise money. There might be something to this result — most people view this as a competitive race and Republicans’ best chance in a decade of returning to power in Richmond.
Ohio: Former Rep. Jim Renacci has announced he is challenging Gov. Mike DeWine in the Republican primary. Despite DeWine’s unpopularity on the Right — mostly due to coronavirus restrictions — Ohio Republicans are deeply skeptical of Renacci’s ability to defeat him.
Renacci’s last statewide race — for Senate in 2018, with President Trump’s full support — resulted in a seven-point loss, which would seem to the outsider like not too bad a result against the very popular Sen. Sherrod Brown, D. However, Republican campaigners within the state complain that he could have and should have won that race, if he had only worked at it harder and put in a bit more money. They cite his lack of political connections and work ethic as the main obstacle to his candidacy, and this could well be true.
Despite the fact that former President Trump is upset with DeWine for criticizing his post-election behavior, there are many signs that Trump is hesitant to back someone who did so little with his help last time.
Alabama: On the one hand, departing Sen. Richard Shelby has endorsed his erstwhile chief of staff, Katie Britt, to succeed him when he retires. On the other hand, a new poll for the Club for Growth shows their endorsee, conservative uber-Trump-supporter Rep. Mo Brooks, dominating the Republican primary with 59 percent of the vote. Even taken with a grain of salt, that poll result is neither surprising nor close enough to leave much doubt. What’s more, Britt finished third with single digits.
The last time national Republican leaders intervened to keep Brooks from the GOP Senate nomination, the ultimate result was the election of a Democrat to the Senate in a special election — this is how Roy Moore was nominated.
Alaska: A Democratic poll suggests that Sen. Lisa Murkowski is even more of an underdog than one might expect. In initial results of the state’s new jungle primary system — which was likely intended to help her — she finishes third against a Democrat and a more conservative Republican, state administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka. Then, given a full tally based on Alaska’s new four-way ranked-choice election system, Tshibaka ultimately defeats the Democrat, Al Gross.
Arizona: Attorney General Mark Brnovich, R, has announced his candidacy against Sen. Mark Kelly, D, who after winning his 2020 special election is up for his first full term in 2022.
Brnovich is the highest-profile Republican candidate so far to seek the Senate nomination, but he isn’t guaranteed the nod.
Brnovich could be hurt by his public skepticism about Trump’s post-election behavior and the state legislature’s election audit — in fact, Trump attacked him directly. But the former president is said to have had a favorable meeting with Brnovich recently, who at least supported the legislature’s right to conduct the audit. Brnovich could prove the strongest candidate against Kelly, whose re-election would, in contrast, signify that a recently reliable state is slipping away from Republicans, in part because of what appears to be an increasingly ineffective state party.
Florida: Democrats will at least have a chance against Sen. Marco Rubio, R, now that Rep. Val Demings has jumped into the race. A contest between Rubio and the bomb-throwing leftist former Rep. Alan Grayson would be hilarious. But in addition to his ineffectiveness as a statewide candidate, it will likely be impossible for Grayson to overcome the woke interest in having a black female candidate run who has genuine credibility as a successful former chief of police in Orlando.
Demings is also in a position to roll the dice, as she will have served the five years required to be vested in the congressional health plan and pension. Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty common issue in prompting already-safe House members’ to choose to run statewide.
Rubio is still a strong favorite for a third term, but you can’t win unless you get in the race. Sometimes, it pays to be in the right place at the right time.
Missouri: Although widely expected, the entry by Rep. Vicki Hartzler into the GOP primary for Sen. Roy Blunt’s open seat creates even more of a logjam in a primary that just keeps getting more crowded. So far, the Republican field “only” includes former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and attorney Mark McCloskey (made famous by an incident with a gun), but at least four other members of the state’s U.S. House delegation are still looking at it, including Reps. Billy Long, Jason Smith, Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Ann Wagner.
Bear in mind, the more crowded the clown-car gets, the lower the percentage it will take to win.