Ex-Biden Adviser Cedric Richmond Escapes Citation, Sobriety Test Following Car Crash; NOPD’s Decision Raises Questions

Former senior adviser to President Joe Biden and ex-congressman Cedric Richmond was not issued a traffic citation or tested for intoxication following a car accident in New Orleans, despite his disoriented behavior and slurred speech. According to a police report, Richmond and his young son, who were both in the vehicle when it crashed into an oak tree, were transported to the hospital for potential injuries. The New Orleans Police Department stated that no citations were issued due to the single-vehicle nature of the crash and the medical condition of the driver. However, the absence of another vehicle in footage from the crash site has raised questions, with former NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas calling for an internal investigation.

Read More on The Daily Wire.

Ukraine is not top of mind for Republican primary voters

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 23

  • Importantly, no one is calling for Kevin McCarthy’s head
  • A ray of hope for Kentucky Republicans
  • NRSC thinks Tammy Baldwin could be beaten this year in WI-SEN 


Debt ceiling wrap-up: Yes, many conservatives are unhappy with the final product of the debt ceiling debate. Yet one fact about the aftermath says it all: no one is trying to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his position. This is the subtle clue that McCarthy played his cards right, and that even those unhappy with the final deal recognize that it was about as good as they were going to get for now, given Biden’s presidency and the composition of Congress.

In the end, the U.S. Senate passed, 63-36, the debt-ceiling deal struck between McCarthy and President Joe Biden (D). Despite justifiable howls of protestation from many conservatives — after all, the idea of returning to pre-COVID spending levels remains almost as distant as ever — we had noted that this negotiation not only produced good results for fiscal conservatives, but also created a modern precedent for adopting spending constraints as a condition for raising the debt-limit.

This is a debate that Republicans need to learn from, because it represented a rare case of conservatives winning the messaging wars. 

And again, this required a certain degree of cooperation within the Republican Party. Because the GOP-controlled House actually passed a debt-ceiling bill whereas Democrats could not, House Republicans had the upper hand both legislatively and in the battle for public opinion.

And surprisingly, unlike in previous iterations of this debate (specifically in 2013), the public simply disregarded the Democrats’ narrative that the GOP was holding the economy hostage. This was in part because all of the Republicans’ original asks in their own debt ceiling bill were extremely reasonable. 

They were not using the debt ceiling for unrelated or far-fetched goals — say, threatening to allow a national default unless Democrats repeal Obamacare or reform Social Security. Rather they were quite reasonably trying to impose fiscal controls in exchange for future fiscal latitude. And in the future, if they play their cards right, they will have larger congressional majorities and find themselves in a position to make more substantial fiscal demands. 

Kevin McCarthy: McCarthy’s role in all this is especially interesting. Somehow, he earned conservatives’ trust and got their buy-in to pass an initial debt-ceiling bill that the White House believed could never pass in the first place. From there, it was easy to force an unwilling Biden to the negotiating table and to make him agree to a deal.

The telltale sign that conservative objections are being overstated — perhaps for sound tactical reasons — is the fact that no one is attempting to remove McCarthy from the Speaker’s chair. House conservatives could easily force a vote to remove McCarthy if they wanted to — recall that the House rules for this session of Congress provide for a relatively simple process for removing a Speaker. Only one member has to bring the privileged motion, and the entire House must then vote on it.

Yet somehow, in a frequently rambunctious and unruly caucus such as that of the House GOP, no one with any influence has even gone so far as to discuss the possibility.

President 2024

Haley: While current frontrunner Donald Trump and runner-up Ron DeSantis were battling it out rhetorically in the press, CNN held a town hall event for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley over the weekend. One attack on the frontrunners that fell particularly flat pertained to their insufficient enthusiasm for Ukrainian victory in the current war. 

Trump, recall, had said he simply wanted the killing to stop, conceding beyond that only that he believes Russia’s invasion to be a “big mistake.” DeSantis has called for a settlement and characterized the coming conflict with China as far more consequential to American interests. Haley, in contrast, is embracing the early 20th Century neoconservative view of American foreign policy. ““This is bigger than Ukraine,” she said. “This is a war about freedom and it’s one we have to win.”

The problem here is that most Republicans and most Americans have been losing patience with the war effort since last fall, as the liberal Brookings Institution recently found in a survey last month. And as for the Republican primary electorate specifically, a narrow majority of Republicans want to keep helping Ukraine for another year or two. Support falls off for anything longer than that. 

In short, although Ukraine offers a contrast between Haley and the top-tier candidates, the issue just isn’t the silver bullet that’s going to give her traction.

Governor 2023

Kentucky: A new poll should give Republicans a bit more reason for optimism than they have had so far in this race. The survey, by Cygnal, has Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) tied with incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D), 47 percent to 47 percent. President Biden is viewed unfavorably by an astounding 94 percent of swing voters — something Republicans will surely try to exploit by nationalizing the race. 

Their biggest obstacle, however, is that those same swing voters have an 81 percent favorable view of Beshear. Although Cameron’s favorables are comparably high, it is difficult to defeat any incumbent who is so well-liked. 

Senate 2024

Arizona: Former news broadcaster and losing 2022 gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake won’t announce her intentions as to whether she will be running for the seat held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) until the fall. This is a luxury she has because of Arizona’s late primary calendar and because, despite her poor performance in 2022, she would be in a dominant position were she to enter the race.

Wisconsin: A new poll commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee has Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) looking more vulnerable than she has at any point since her 2012 accession to the Senate. She leads Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), who represents Green Bay and northeastern Wisconsin, 47 percent to 46 percent. Other Republicans reportedly considering the race, such as northwestern Wisconsin Rep. Tom Tiffany (R), businessmen Eric Hovde and Scott Mayer, were not polled, or at least the results were not released by Fabrizio, Lee and Asssociates. 

Senate Republicans have been especially eager to get Gallagher into the race, an important factor considering the NRSC’s newfound willingness to take sides in GOP primaries after last cycle’s debacles.

West Virginia: The Biden Justice Department has suddenly decided it’s a good idea to bring a civil case against the son of Gov. Jim Justice (R) for his coal mining company’s various outstanding fines. The elder Justice just recently announced he is running for Senate, and every poll has him crushing incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin

For his part, Manchin on Sunday would not rule out the possibility of running for president as a third-party candidate. He has said he will not announce whether he is running for re-election until at least this fall. 

Many conservatives will vote against the deal, but it sets a new precedent

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 22

  • Spending deal is a win for conservatives, even the ones who will vote against it Wednesday
  • Ron DeSantis has an imperfect launch, but generates interest and big bucks
  • Cruz leads, but the poll bnumbers look terrible for him anyway


Debt ceiling deal: Conservatives are frowning and complaining about the debt ceiling deal that speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) struck with President Joe Biden over the holiday weekend. But they have to be smiling, at least a little bit, on the inside.

Although many conservatives will vociferously oppose it, and even more will vote no, no one can deny that McCarthy accomplished something here. For the first time in anyone’s memory, managed to turn the debate over the debt limit against the Democrats, and he used that to gain concessions on spending for the next two years. That’s more than any Republican leader or group of Republicans has ever accomplished in the past.

The deal raises the debt ceiling for two years instead of just one (a concession by Republicans), but it also caps spending for this year and next year (a Democratic concession). It throws out the pause on student loan repayments which Biden (illegally) instituted, claws back $28 billion in unused COVID funds, rescinds $1.4 billion for new IRS agents, and imposes work requirements for welfare recipients — all of which were Republican demands.

Are the concessions too modest? Yes, probably they are. McCarthy’s initial ask was for much more. Conservatives generally want to see much bigger limitations on spending, especially after the massive run-up in annual spending that occurred under COVID.

But by merely forcing a completely unwilling Biden to the table and then making him agree to a deal with provisions he obviously hates, McCarthy has created a new precedent. From now on, debt ceiling rises are occasions to demand at least modest spending reforms.

This is why the Left is so infuriated. As Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) put it in a tweet, “It can’t be overstated just how dangerous this kind of hostage taking of our nation’s credit is to our economy and standing around the world.” 

In other words, Democrats don’t want there to be any deals that involve limiting spending in order to get an increase on the nation’s credit limit — they just want a license to spend unlimited money, forever. 

Now, many of them will be forced to vote for this bill or pressured to vote for it by the Biden administration,even though it restricts spending in ways to which they strongly object. In fact, even as she railed against the idea, Murray importantly did not pledge to vote against the deal, instead promising to read it over.

The case for tying debt ceiling increases to spending reforms has always been a good one, but Republicans have never managed to sell it until now. Raising the debt ceiling is not about paying bills already incurred. Rather, it is about borrowing to spend even more money without actually having to pay any outstanding bills in the long run. This is how federal government borrowing works — each new issue of bonds, larger than the last one, is used to pay off the bonds coming due. This goes on perpetually, such that the failure to borrow more would cause the entire scheme to collapse.  

But Republicans have lost these battles in the past, again and again, because they have been too inflexible in their demands with such showdowns in the past. The difference this time was that, by passing a debt ceiling bill, they won the moral high ground from the very beginning.

Even if this deal passes — which it probably will with Republican and Democratic support — the U.S. will be far from spending within its means. 

But this deal is still good news because it means that more such deals can be made in the future. It has also disarmed the Democrats’ dramatic arguments. These negotiations occurred and, would you believe it,  no hostages were killed. When the deal passes, the economy will have survived. And it will also work out next time, when another such deal is struck.

And conservatives — even the ones who vote against it — helped make it happen simply by helping pass a debt ceiling increase, and then pulling as hard as they could to the right throughout the entire process.

President 2024

Ron DeSantis: The Florida governor’s presidential launch was definitely less than perfect. In fact, it could be viewed as something of a technical disaster.

But that doesn’t mean too much for his campaign. Aside from Trump’s 2015 escalator launch — memorable mostly because people in the media thought it so absurd at the time — most people could not describe any campaign launches of the past.

The more important fact is probably that DeSantis generated enough interest to draw 700,000 simultaneous viewers, which apparently was enough to cause the technical problems, and raised over $8 million in the first 24 hours of his candidacy

This is at least evidence that he has been doing the work necessary to get a real campaign going, and at this moment he is the only serious alternative to former President Donald Trump. DeSantis is definitely trailing Trump in the polls, but Trump is facing a number of obstacles that DeSantis and other Republican candidates do not face. 

This fact is worth considering, as adverse judicial rulings could still seriously damage Trump’s candidacy.

DeSantis will reportedly be in Iowa this weekend for a campaign event hosted by conservative Sen. Joni Ernst (R), who is also up for re-election.

Senate 2024

Arizona: Karrin Taylor Robson (R), the establishment Republican who lost the 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary to Kari Lake, will not run for Senate.

Lake could still get into this race, but the only major Republican to enter so far is Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R).

Pennsylvania: To the relief of Republicans in the state, Doug Mastriano (R) has decided not to run for Senate. This leaves David McCormick (R), still unannounced, as the early frontrunner for the nomination to face Sen. Bob Casey (D).

Texas: a new poll from the University of Texas at Tyler shows incumbent Ted Cruz (R) leading Rep. Colin Allred (D), 42% to 37%. Although he leads, this is very bad news for Cruz, as a result in the low 40s for any incumbent is considered extremely weak. Cruz barely squeaked by to victory in 2018, 51% to 48%, against former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D).

One of Cruz’s weaknesses in that race was his lack of support among Soth Texas Hispanics, who are mostly of Mexican ancestry whereas he is Cuban. That dynamic could change in 2024, given the gradual shift of Texas Hispanic voters to the Republican Party, but it will be a hard-earned transformation if Cruz is able to make it happen.

Cruz lost a lot of popularity during his 2016 presidential run. Since then, he also has been and will be savagely attacked for leaving the state for a trip to Mexico with his family during the ice storms that hit the state in February 2021.

Governor 2026

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton has been impeached, with possibly very big long-term ramifications for Texas politics. The story even has a presidential angle. 

Texas State House of Representatives has just overwhelmingly imipeached Paxton by a lopsided, bipartisan 121-23 vote. Paxton, who has faced a bevy of ethics charges since he was first elected, insists this is just political persecution. He will face a trial in the state Senate in late August. He is accused of taking bribes, retaliating against whistleblowers, and securing multiple personal gifts from a donor, worth tens of thousands of dollars, plus a job for his alleged mistress.

The reason this story has nationwide importance is that, in the interim and possible for the long run, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will have a chance to elevate someone else to his position, which might have consequences for the state’s politics going forward. One possibility, perhaps  not the most popular, would be to tap George P. Bush, whom Paxton soundly defeated in the 2022 party primary runoff, even though he had won only a 43% plurality in the first round. 

Donald Trump also inserted himself into this battle, attempting to save Paxton, a political ally. He is currently attacking Abbott for not speaking up in Paxton’s defense. This means that Trump has given himself some skin in the game if Paxton is indeed removed from office.

Biden Administration to Restart Federal Student Loan Payments Following Debt Ceiling Deal

The Biden administration, as per a deal with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, plans to restart federal student loan payments, along with the accumulation of interest, by the end of summer. This agreement, a part of the decision to raise the country’s debt ceiling, will conclude the current pause on interest and monthly payments after August 30th. The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the potential cancellation of student debt, limiting the administration’s response options if the court halts the debt cancellation plan. Payments are expected to commence 60 days after a court ruling or on June 30th, according to the Education Department. The House GOP debt ceiling package includes provisions to permanently limit the Education Department’s ability to modify or cancel student loans.

Read More on One America News.

Ron DeSantis gets into the presidential race

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 21

  • McCarthy is quietly winning the debt ceiling debate over Biden
  • Ron DeSantis to announce for president this week
  • Daniel Cameron finishes with a strong blowout win


Amid all of the typical political rancor of the presidential election cycle and the spring legislative session in Congress, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has accomplished something possibly unprecedented in modern political history. He is actually winning a debt ceiling fight against a Democratic president.

No Republican in modern memory has ever succeeded in this before. It may never have happened in the 106-year history of the federal debt limit.

Although it is not the only indication, the ABC News poll out last week tells the story quite well. It shows that only 19% believe the debt limit should be increased without conditions. In contrast, 63% believe that deficit reduction should be a condition of any debt limit increase.

In other words, by a very wide margin, the public is buying the narrative that it’s appropriate to demand spending cuts in exchange for a debt limit increase. People are not buying the typical Democratic narrative that such demands are the equivalent of taking the economy hostage.

This is what has finally brought President Joe Biden to the table on the debt ceiling — the fact that he is losing the debate in real time, and by a very wide margin.

How did this happen? Simple. House Republicans stuck together and passed a debt ceiling increase. This would not have been possible with the rancorous and unruly Republican Party of the last decade. The key here was a willingness to work together toward an incremental goal — modest spending cuts that most conservatives would consider less than ideal but still good, in exchange for a debt limit increase.

The reason Republicans have the high ground this time, whereas they clearly lost the debate in 2013, was that they actually passed a debt limit increase, whereas Democrats in the Senate, who are forced to work on a more collaborative basis with the other party, cannot even agree among themselves on the debt limit.

It would be premature to declare victory at this point. But whatever Congress and Biden settle on, remember that Biden spent months refusing to act or negotiate at all. He was demanding an unconditional surrender on raising the debt limit of the nation’s credit card without any conditions at all. And now, with the very real alternative on the table of forcing a bit of discipline upon the Treasury, it turns out that most people like the idea. Most people think that giving Biden a mandate to borrow unlimited amounts of money unconditionally is a pretty stupid idea.

Again, this should be a lesson for conservatives. Yes, there are times to be rowdy and uncontrollable, to resist whatever the leadership is calling for. But there are also times when working together is a party accomplishes much more. This could turn out to be one of those times.

President 2024

Ron DeSantis: The Florida governor will be announcing his candidacy this week. It is widely believed at this point that he is the only Republican potentially capable of defeating Donald Trump for the nomination, if even he can do it. He trails Trump in every recent national poll and most state polls as well.

But don’t get too stuck in this way of thinking. At this point in the 2016 Republican primary, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was the only candidate who could stop former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Obviously, things didn’t work out that way for either of the two, did they?

Now that he is openly running for president, the expectations on DeSantis will be much greater, and the haranguing from TrumpWorld, already deafening at this point, will become significantly louder. DeSantis faces a task similar to that of Barack Obama in 2008, who at first faced overwhelming odds in taking on the clear establishment favorite of his party, Hillary Clinton.

At the moment, all of the inertia in the Republican Party points to a Trump coronation — a race that is over almost before it starts.. The burden is on DeSantis to make the case two voters and Republican politicians, build his own momentum, and win in early states that can help propel him to the nomination.

Meanwhile, DeSantis fans (and Trump fans also) can get a good laugh out of this piece on what is supposedly Biden’s strategy in the event that he has to run against DeSantis. The idea is to show the entire nation how terrible Florida has turned out under his governance. 

Governor 2023 

Kentucky: Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) cruised to victory last Tuesday with a surprisingly strong 48 percent of the vote. Almost as significantly, Kelly Craft fell flat into third place, with 17 percent, behind Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles‘ 22 percent.

The big winners here are Cameron’s endorsers, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. Ted Cruz and Ron DeSantis had been supporting Craft.

Cameron faces and uphill climb taking on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, But it is a positive sign for him that more than 300,000 Kentuckians voted in the Republican primary, compared to just under 200,000 in the Democratic primary. This is no longer the conservative but solidly Democratic Kentucky of Andy’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D).

Governor 2024

North Carolina: Last week, Republicans overrode term-limited Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto on their 12-week abortion ban. This highlights the incongruity of how a swing state like North Carolina, which appears to be trending rightward, has had Democratic governors for 26 out of the last 30 years.

Former Rep. Mark Walker (R) has announced that he is running for governor. Walker was essentially redistricted out of the House by the then-Democrat-controlled State Supreme Court during the last election cycle, and so he opted to run for Senate. He finished in a distant third place for that nomination after President Trump intervened to endorse then-Rep. (now Senator) Ted Budd in the contentious three-way primary. Trump’s primary goal had not been to stop Walker, but to prevent former Gov. Patrick McCrory, a two-time loser in statewide elections, from winning the nomination, given the likelihood that he would have lost the Senate race last November.

Walker, a conservative, will face Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who is more conservative or at least more stridently so, as well as second-term state treasurer Dale Follwell in the GOP primary.

Senate 2024

Nevada: National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines (R-Mont) is reportedly recruiting Sam Brown to run for Senate against incumbent Democrat Jacky Rosen. Brown, a retired Army Captain disfigured by severe burns from combat in Afghanistan, won just over 34 percent of the vote in the 2022 Republican primary, which former Attorney General Adam Laxalt won.

Daines apparently wants to avoid the nomination of former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, the only Republican to have announced for the race at this point, due to his stolen election conspiracy theories about the 2022 race that he lost for secretary of State.

On CNN, Trump reminds everyone why he won in 2016

May 15, 2023

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 20

  • Trump reminds everyone why he won in 2016
  • DeSantis scores Iowa endorsements
  • Kentucky governor primary tomorrow

President 2024

Donald Trump: Sometimes, you can almost forget just how talented and effective Donald Trump is as a politician. Then there are incidents like CNN’s town hall last week to remind you.

Trump, having just lost a civil lawsuit over an alleged assault years ago, apparently understood the need to go on the offensive. During the town hall event in New Hampshire, he crushed the moderator, Kaitlan Collins, who mistakenly felt she could bring balance to the program by badgering Trump while he was trying to answer questions. The Republican voters in the room, who of course have no respect for CNN as a news organization, howled with laughter as Trump imputed the sanity of the woman who had just sued him and called Collins “a very nasty person.”

Trump also took the bull by the horns when it came to the many other issues raised. 

He made news and also struck a middle-ground position when asked whether he wanted Ukraine to win its war against Russia: “I want everyone to stop dying,” he said. “Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying.” Trump also refused to label Vladimir Putin a “war criminal,” noting quite reasonably that he might later have to negotiate an end to the war and such incendiary language will make it More difficult. Trump did say of Putin, meanwhile, that he “made a tremendous mistake…a bad mistake” invading.

These Ukraine remarks have apparently cost him the support of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) And possibly also Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.). On the other hand, Trump is probably still taking a smart position here in the long run. The Ukrainian cause is currently a popular one on both sides of the aisle, mostly because Russia is the aggressor in the war. Conscientious people view it as a necessary evil to fight against the aggressive power. But if the Ukraine War is still dragging on into Fall 2024, American voters are very likely to have lost their taste for keeping it going by then, and with good reason. By the time Trump or any president will have been inaugurated in January 2025, a negotiated settlement will surely be an imperative. 

On the other hand, if the war is over much sooner than that — say, by this fall — then It becomes a non-issue anyway.

Trump came off so well in this town hall event that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper felt a need to do some hand-wringing later, figuratively scourging himself and his network in an on-air monologue. But this illustrates the bind in which Trump could put a very hostile media if he does indeed win the nomination. They cannot ignore him if he is the Republican candidate for president. The era when they could simply ban him from all social media in order to silence him has probably passed for good. Many Republican voters are frustrated at the idea that Trump might be their nominee again, but most of them would vote for him in a contest between him and Joe Biden.

All in all, the CNN event was a big win for Trump, proving to a possibly more skeptical Republican electorate that yes, he still has it.

Ron DeSantis: Trump is trying very hard to strangle the Florida governor’s campaign in the crib, before it even launches. A super PAC supporting him is telling donors that any money they give to Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, or any other Republican candidate might as well be a donation to Joe Biden himself. Moreover, Trump is the frontrunner, leading in every major national poll and many state polls. 

However, DeSantis’s advisors expressed confidence to Politico’s Jonathan Martin that once in the race, DeSantis will successfully exploit the desire among many Republicans, just under the surface, to move on from the Trump era. 

They believe that DeSantis’s superior favorability numbers in the early voting states (results from their own internal polls) will allow him to overcome the former president after a vigorous campaign. They also expect major Republican donors — as many as “85 percent” of them — to abandon Trump and side with him once he has jumped into the race.

DeSantis just came away from a relatively successful Iowa trip (Trump’s planned visit was interrupted by a tornado), during which he secured the endorsements of the state House and Senate Republican leaders and 35 other state legislators.

Sure, endorsements don’t necessarily mean that much to voters. But the decision to endorse anyone except Trump, in today’s GOP, is a significant one. 

For now, DeSantis just has to stay part of the conversation and survive Trump’s early attempts to destroy him before he announces. Next, DeSantis has to make sure he is true to his core brand as the statesman with a record of conservative policy and electoral victories, even if he is less entertaining than Trump on CNN. Then he has to spend the next seven or so months raising money and campaigning with everything he’s got.

Nikki Haley: The former South Carolina governor’s comments on abortion over the weekend we’re not well received by pro-life activists. Haley said that national restrictions on abortion were “not realistic.” As campaigners from the Susan B. Anthony list argued in response, over 70% of Americans oppose abortion being legal after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Governor 2023

Kentucky: Voters go to the polls tomorrow to choose the Republican nominee for governor. As we noted last week, the race is a close contest between Attorney General Daniel Cameron and former UN ambassador Kelly Craft, with state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in third place. 

A last-minute Emerson poll for a local television station suggests that Cameron, who enjoys a 63% favorability rating among the Bluegrass State’s Republican voters is leading for the nomination by double digits. Craft may live to regret her decision not to participate in the recent May 9 debate.

Cameron was a prohibitive favorite in this race at its inception, but Craft built a credible campaign, leveraging her massive financial advantage to close the gap — she just sank another $2 million into her own campaign, which brings her total self-funding alone to $9 million. She is supported by such national political figures as House Oversight Chairman Jim Comer (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Donald Trump are both backing Cameron, who was once considered a potential Supreme Court appointee for Trump.

State Legislature 2023

Pennsylvania State House: We don’t usually go into such fine detail about local races, but this one will at least be consequential. Tomorrow’s special state legislative election, caused when a Democrat was forced to resign over multiple sexual harassment allegations, could change control of the state legislature. Such a result is considered unlikely due to the composition of the district, but not impossible. In what could be an indication of their 2024 strategy, Democrats are leaning heavily on scare tactics over the abortion issue. An ad featuring Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) himself is alleging that if Republicans gain a state legislative majority, they will amend the state Constitution to ban abortion — something that would take years and be nearly impossible even if they did win.

Senate 2024

New York: Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) is considering a run against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who is unpopular enough that he might at least be able to make it a race. He would still be running against the overall trend of a heavily anti-Trump vote at the top of the ticket.

West Virginia: A late April poll shows that Gov. Jim Justice (R) is in a very good position to win the Senate primary and perhaps even chase Sen. Joe Manchin (D) into retirement. Co/Efficient found Justice leading his GOP primary opponent, Rep. Alex Mooney, 45% to 17%. His lead over Manchin is even more astounding, 43% to 29% — not so much for its margin, but for the fact that it puts an incumbent senator below 30%. This suggests either that there is something wrong with the poll or that Manchin will very soon see the writing on the wall in his own internal polling and announce either his retirement or some kind of quixotic presidential bid. 

Manchin hasn’t given up hope yet. So far this election cycle, he has been aggressively tacking to the right, suddenly speaking up against the Biden administration and aligning himself with Republicans on more and more issues. This is a clear sign that he knows he’s in trouble but still thinks he can get out of it.

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Biden trails both Trump and DeSantis by 7, loses black support

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 19

  • Biden’s polling is a disaster for Democrats, a big plus for Trump
  • Trump leads the GOP race, but his legal problems could change the landscape at any moment
  • Ted Cruz gets a credible Democratic opponent

President 2024

Joe Biden: Last week, we observed that President Joe Biden (D) was at his low point just as he was announcing for president, based on Gallup polling. But it’s a bit worse than that, according to a new ABC/Washington Post poll.

This poll has Biden losing to former President Donald Trump (D) by seven points, 49 percent to 42 percent. The fact that Biden trails Trump is perhaps less of a problem for him than the fact that he is an incumbent president polling at only 42 percent. Incumbents who draw less than 45 percent tend to lose — for example, Trump polled below that level in November 2019.

The internal numbers are even more devastating for Biden, however. Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults do not believe that Biden has the “mental sharpness” to serve effectively as president. Whatever that means for his prospects, it certainly rules out the possibility of another campaign like the one in 2020, which he mostly spent in his own basement.  Biden has to prove to everyone not only that he’s the best candidate or the one with the right positions, but also that he is still mentally fit for the job.

And here is perhaps the unkindest cut of all: the new poll shows Biden’s support among blacks to have plummeted from 82% at the time of his inauguration to just 52%. Black voters are the backbone of the Democratic Party. If Trump were actually to win 27% of black voters, as this poll suggests he would, Democrats would face a rout unlike anything seen since 2014.

When polling subgroups, there’s always a danger that small sample size will cause distortions in the results. However, the finding that such a large percentage of black voters might actually back Trump over Biden is shocking. Yes. such a result must be taken with a grain of salt, but note that even 20% of blacks voting for Trump would guarantee a loss for Biden and possibly a Republican landslide up and down the ticket.

It is less surprising but equally dangerous for Biden and his campaign team that 43% of Hispanic voters said that they would either definitely or probably vote for Trump over Biden in a hypothetical matchup. This realignment, although it did not burst forth as clearly as we expected in the 2022 election, is gradually continuing nonetheless, thanks in large part to Democratic aggression in the culture wars and the Biden administration’s role in it.

This poll must be panic-inducting for Democrats. That does not necessarily mean that anyone will actually move to prevent Biden from running for re-election — Democrats’ unity is often their strength, but political unity can easily devolve into timidity and groupthink. But it provides one more argument for someone else — perhaps the ambitious California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) — to change his mind from his earlier decision and reconsider a presidential bid.

Ron DeSantis: Note that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in this same poll, beats Biden 48% to 41%. These two matchups, then — Biden-Trump and Biden-DeSantis — are statistically identical. However, the lack of a genderal election advantage over Trump undercuts what we believe to be a crucial argument for DeSantis to be able to make — that he can beat Biden whereas Trump cannot. 

DeSantis trails Trump in most polls and 25% to 51% among the Republican voters in this poll. In order to close this gap, he needs to persuade a lot of voters that he is the candidate more likely to defeat Biden, that he is the more conservative candidate, and that he is the candidate capable of serving a full eight-year term and having a bigger impact on federal policy if he wins. Those three arguments are listed in order of importance for him. 

Yes, there are state polls showing DeSantis to be the stronger candidate against Biden. But either way, this one gives Trump more ammunition to argue that he is just as electable as anyone else against a failing president like Biden. It could be that, as in 2016, the Republican — even a very unconventional Republican with consistently low favorability ratings — is heavily favored simply due to the political tides and the nature of the Democratic candidate.

Donald Trump: Trump leads in the Post poll despite having a Then again, the problem with early polls like the one discussed above is that things change very quickly in politics.

This could be more true of Trump and his campaign this year than it usually is for most candidates and most campaigns. This is because, unlike most presidential candidates in history, Trump faces a very rocky road ahead in the form of multiple criminal and civil court cases. 

Although the charges brought against him by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg have been largely dismissed as insubstantial and unlikely to succeed, one cannot rule out what a Manhattan jury might do. 

Currently, there is also the rape and defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll. Although her tale of being raped by Trump in a department store changing room may seem fanciful and impossible to believe, one never knows what a New York City jury is going to do. She produced two witnesses who testified that Trump had attacked them in precisely the same way. Trump’s legal team, meanwhile, has chosen not to present any witness testimony or to have Trump himself testify. 

If the jury finds against him — the decision could come any day — Trump’s image could be tarnished badly, whether or not he appeals and whether or not he ultimately wins later on appeal.

Moreover, there could be less frivolous criminal charges in Georgia (related to election tampering) or at the federal level (related to Trump’s handling of classified documents). 

Without saying anything more about the actual merits of these cases, they represent an incentive for DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and everyone else to get into or stay in this year’s presidential race. 

Yes, Trump is the frontrunner. But until his legal problems clear up, he is an unstable frontrunner who at any moment could be severely damaged or even upended completely by events entirely unrelated to the campaign. The other candidates would be foolish not to put themselves in a position to take advantage if that happens.

Governor 2023

Kentucky: The race for the Republican nomination still appears to be a very close one between Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) and former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft (R). The last poll was almost a month ago, and it showed only a six-point difference between the two, with Craft seemingly closing the gap against Cameron.

Craft has garnered a great deal of national support, including from House Oversight Chairman James Comer and Sen. Ted Cruz. Both Donald Trump and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are behind Cameron. The primary is next Tuesday, May 16.

Despite Kentucky’s increasingly heavy Republican lean, incumbent gov. Andy Beshear is favored to win re-election this fall.

Senate 2024

Texas: Dallas-area Rep. Colin Allred (D), a former NFL linebacker, finally announced his Senate bid against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and almost immediately raised $2 million. So Democrats are still willing to spend heavily on the dream of turning Texas Blue, but are unlikely to get as much support in 2024 as they did when former Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised $80 million to lose narrowly in 2018. 

Allred may yet face a primary against state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D).

Cruz has raised and spent more than $30 million this cycle, but currently has only $3.3 million in cash on hand. He could yet be vulnerable, and it bears reminding that Texas has never been an especially strong state for Donald Trump, who may be heading the Republican ticket next year. He won it in 2016 by just nine points, and in 2020 by only six points, far less than the losing Mitt Romney (16 points) and John McCain (12 points.)

Allred’s candidacy comes just as Cruz has managed to improve his image and his job approval rating from negative to a net-positive 45%-41% approve-disapprove

McCarthy has put Biden into a bind

This Week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 18

  • McCarthy has put Biden in a bind
  • Biden hits an all-time polling low
  • N.C. could get a much more Republican-friendly House map for 2024


Debt ceiling: typically, the media can be counted on to take Democrats’ side whenever there’s a dispute over the debt ceiling. It has happened again and again.

However, this time, it will be a little bit harder to carry out this deception. The reason is that the Republican House, against all expectations, managed to pass a debt ceiling bill that makes reasonable demands for spending limits of the Biden administration and also raises the borrowing limit. The Democrat-controlled Senate, meanwhile, seems unlikely to pass any debt ceiling increase of its own.

Why does the debt limit need to be increased? The short answer is, because of decades of completely irresponsible government borrowing. The U.S. government borrows money constantly. The proceeds from each new round of bond sales is used to pay the interest on the last round. At this rate, if the borrowing ever stops, then so does the repayment.

This is why, paradoxically, a failure to raise the debt limit and borrow even more money would create a crisis. It could possibly cause a sovereign default.

On the one hand, this possibility gives fiscal conservatives a bit of leverage every time the debt ceiling has to be raised. On the other hand, any attempt to use that leverage creates a high-stakes standoff, potentially leading to a world economic disaster. Metaphors involving “hostage-taking” tend to crop up when this happens.

House Republicans have now passed a debt ceiling bill that makes specific demands for spending limitations going forward. Nearly all house Republicans were ultimately willing to go along, even if it wasn’t ideal, and this was politically wise because it puts the ball squarely in President Joe Biden’s court. It also testifies to the leadership of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).  

So far, Biden is refusing even to talk to McCarthy about the issue. He is demanding unconditional surrender, but he is doing so from a position of weakness.

It is very difficult to look at this situation, even from the perspective of a Democratic partisan, without realizing that Biden, by refusing talks, is playing a legislative game of Chicken.

If Democrats had an alternative bill that the House could pass — for example, if the Senate were able to pass a clean debt ceiling bill — then Biden would have a much stronger claim on the moral high ground. But no such bill is likely to pass. For once, House and Senate Republicans also seem to be on the same page.

As for the politics of the situation, at heart, Biden isn’t just risking the broader economic well-being by refusing to negotiate. He is actually risking his own presidency and his own legacy. He is up for reelection next year, after all. Any crisis that occurs as a result of his refusal to negotiate crashes on him, not on a bunch of obscure congressional Republicans that most people can’t even name.

And it is a safe bet that Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, or some other Republican nominee will spend 2024 hammering Biden if his refusal to negotiate on the debt ceiling brings negative consequences for the broader economy.

Biden unpopular: Whatever potential crisis comes up, it will come just as Biden is hitting his all-time low in polling, according to the Gallup organization. Biden hit 37% approval in late April, according to Gallup. 

Is this fatal to his reelection prospects? Not necessarily. As Gallup points out, President Ronald Reagan had similar numbers at this point in 1983. However, there are a few key differences. First of all, Reagan was dealing with an unemployment rate north of 10%. He was also dealing with mortgage interest rates more than twice as high as today’s. By the time of the 1984 election, these situations had improved enough that his landslide reelection was possible.

Biden, on the other hand, has these low ratings despite enjoying a very low unemployment rate (3.5%) and interest rates which, although certainly higher than a couple of years ago, are fairly reasonable. It would be difficult for Biden or for anyone else to improve these two key metrics, let alone do so significantly before November 2024. Indeed, most people expect the economic situation to become either modestly or considerably worse.

What if, although voters did not take it out on Democratic candidates in 2022 as harshly as they could have, they continue to feel economically insecure? And what if they continue to blame Biden? 

Another important fact to remember about Biden when you see national polls between him and Republican opponents: he could win the popular vote and still lose the election. Biden very nearly lost in 2020 to Trump despite winning the popular vote by 4.5 points. 

DeSantis: The Florida governor will be able to sign a bill that clarfies that he does not need to resign the governorship in order to run for president.

Senate 2024

Pennsylvania: The 2022 gubernatorial loser, Doug Mastriano (R), says he has made a decision about whether to run for Senate, but is not releasing it yet. Republicans are hoping his decision is a big No, and that now includes his 2022 endorser, Donald Trump. Last year, Trump defied party leaders in the state by endorsing Mastriano, who went on to lose in an epic blowout against now-Gov. Josh Shapiro (D). This time, he considers Mastriano a loser.

West Virginia: Gov. Jim Justice (R) has jumped into the Senate race against incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D). Justice is extremely popular in the Mountain State, and pulls show he begins as the favorite both in the primary and in the general election. In the primary, he will face Rep. Alex Mooney (R), The preferred candidate of the conservative Club for Growth. 

For his own part, Manchin has not committed to running for reelection. The closest he has come so far is to say that he would win whatever race he got into — a logical conditional statement which would necessarily be true if he did not run for anything. 

Governor 2024

North Carolina: As expected, proud culture warrior Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has announced his candidacy for the open governor’s seat. Robinson is characterized in the liberal media based on his supposedly controversial comments about how children shouldn’t learn about “homosexuality or any of that filth.” That could actually be an asset, depending on how the issue of pornography in public school libraries plays out in 2024. It could certainly be an asset in a Republican primary. This issue certainly hasn’t hurt Ron DeSantis in Florida, although he hasn’t put it quite the same way.

House 2024

North Carolina: as expected, the newly elected conservative majority on the state supreme court has reversed key rulings, including one about the Tar Heel State’s congressional map. This offers Republicans a better chance of holding their majority in 2024, as it holds forth the possibility of adding as many as four additional Republican seats.

The previous Democratic majority on the state court threw out the map that had been created by the Republican legislature and imposed a map that resulted in a 7-7 House delegation. The map that was originally thrown out had 10 safe Republican seats, three safe Democratic seats, and one true toss-up seat.

Republicans in North Carolina now enjoy a veto-proof majority in both houses of the state legislature, thanks to a recent Democratic defection in the state House, so they should have free rein to pass any redistricting legislation they need to.

When the Spending Circus Ends…

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