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Happy Thursday morning.
Some GOP news: Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 ranking House Republican, is going to run again for the leadership, a source familiar with her plans tells us.
There are two slots that Stefanik is considering if Republicans take the majority. The fourth-term lawmaker currently serves as House Republican Conference chair, and she could run for re-election to that post if the GOP takes the majority. Or Stefanik is considering running for majority whip, the No. 3 job if Republicans win the House.
There was some chatter that Stefanik would bow out of the leadership and run for Education and Labor Committee chair in a potential GOP majority, but she’s now going to stay in the leadership, sources told us. This will impact a whole host of lawmakers who are going to be waiting for Stefanik’s decision to make a move.
The dynamics here are interesting. Stefanik should win the conference chair job in a walk. She currently holds the position and has gotten high marks from her colleagues since ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from the post last year. She’s also a close ally of former President Donald Trump, who remains the most popular figure among House Republicans. There are other GOP lawmakers who have expressed interest in the job, including Reps. Byron Donalds (Fla.), Mike Johnson (La.) and Ashley Hinson (Iowa), but we can’t imagine a serious challenge to Stefanik, which is why we think she’ll take this path.
The whip race is already quite crowded – and somewhat frozen while Stefanik makes her decision. Reps. Tom Emmer (Minn.), Drew Ferguson (Ga.) and Jim Banks (Ind.) are all considering a bid. Ferguson, currently House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s chief deputy, has hired Annie Wolf, a high-profile longtime leadership staffer as his chief of staff. Ferguson also hired Tyler Daniel, a former Scalise political director, for the same role. This was seen as a sign of an increased commitment to the leadership ladder.
Banks, of course, has tried to play up his Trump ties. The Republican Study Committee chair brought a group of members to have dinner with Trump the day after the Aug. 8 FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago.
The most interesting figure to us here is Emmer, the current NRCC chair. Emmer has spent two cycles atop the party committee and has a lot of support inside the conference. If Republicans were to win the House – making it the second straight successful cycle for Emmer – it would be hard to keep him out of the leadership. And whip seems like a logical job for Emmer to land given his personality and ties to a wide swath of members.
This is an especially interesting political dynamic. If House Republicans win the majority, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise are pretty sure bets for the No. 1 and No. 2 positions – if their margin of victory is large enough. But everything else is in a bit of flux.
Much of this, as we noted, depends on what Stefanik does.
If House Republicans fail to take the majority given all the advantages they have, it’s probably lights out for much of this leadership team.
– Jake Sherman
Inside the ‘chaotic’ Florida primary pitting a Gen Z activist against Alan Grayson
Maxwell Alejandro Frost boasts the support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other prominent figures on the left. It’s an impressive showing for a Gen Z political activist running his first campaign in the race to fill Rep. Val Demings’ (D-Fla.) Orlando-area seat.
But top Democrats are growing worried that despite Frost’s overwhelming endorsement advantage, his main Democratic competitor — controversial former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) — could find his way back to Congress.
Thanks to a fractured 10-person field — which includes convicted felon and former Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), state Sen. Randolph Bracy and even Demings’ pastor, Terence Gray — a candidate could advance from the Tuesday primary with just over one quarter of the vote.
Increasingly, Democrats fear that candidate could be Grayson. The pugnacious pol earned a reputation for cursing out reporters, fellow Democrats and congressional Republicans alike during a tumultuous career that began 16 years ago.
The differences between the two candidates are stark. Frost is a 25-year-old Afro-Cuban first-time office seeker. Frost got involved in organizing for gun control measures following the 2018 Parkland school shooting and, if elected, would become the first Gen Z member of Congress. The 64-year-old Grayson, on the other hand, has served three non-consecutive terms in the House and mounted two unsuccessful Senate campaigns. He’s pretty much been running for some office since 2006.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), chair of CHC BOLD PAC, said he’s “concerned” about Grayson’s candidacy.
“We know that polling is really tight, but we also know that Maxwell has got a lot of momentum on his side,” Gallego said. “You gotta remember [Frost] started with zero name ID, and now the last polling has him all tied.”
While the Congressional Black Caucus PAC hasn’t endorsed in the race, its chair — House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) — is warning Democratic voters against electing Grayson:
“Our country is made better by having representatives who reflect our rich diversity. … Floridians deserve a representative who will fight for them and not just someone who wants to use their wealth to gain power.”
Grayson’s significant personal resources and high name ID may allow him to squeak through in the primary. The former member is centering his campaign on “lower tolls, lower taxes and lower rent.” Grayson mailers and yard signs are omnipresent in the district, according to people familiar with the race.
In response to Frost’s endorsement advantage, the Grayson campaign is sending mailers featuring glowing tributes from top Democrats like President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and more. None of these luminaries, however, have endorsed Grayson this cycle. And a quote from Speaker Nancy Pelosi is particularly roiling Frost backers.
“I love Alan Grayson,” the mailer reports Pelosi saying.
But omitted from the mailer is the context of a 2018 interview the speaker gave to the Tampa Bay Times. In that interview, Pelosi urges Grayson not to primary Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.)
“The speaker has not endorsed this race,” Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said.
“It is incredibly deceptive. If you can only try to win by lying to your future constituents, it’s kind of sad, right?” senior CPC member Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) added. “And I just wish that Alan would not think about Alan for a change… unfortunately, some people are just very selfish.”
We asked Grayson about the use of these quotes in his campaign.
“Has [Pelosi] ever said that about Mark Pocan?” Grayson said, rejecting claims that the mailer is misleading. “I think that Pelosi chooses her words very carefully… I was in the trenches with Nancy Pelosi for six years. What has Maxwell Frost or any other candidate done that’s comparable to that?”
While Frost plays up a number of prominent local endorsements — including rising Democratic star state Rep. Anna Eskamani — other Florida Democrats are staying out of the 10th District primary.
“It’s a chaotic race. That’s all I have to say,” said Soto, who Grayson unsuccessfully primaried in 2018.
“I know just about every person on the Democratic side in that race,” Demings added. “My pastor is in that race, state senator [is] in that race, former members of Congress. So may the best man or woman win the primary and then it’s on to victory during the general.”
“We have the momentum,” Frost campaign manager Kevin Lata said.
Grayson, for his part, is unimpressed by Frost’s endorsement record.
“[Frost] regards that as being important because he recognizes that he needs to validate himself in some way, shape or form since he is 25 years old, and without any practical experience whatsoever in public office or even campaigning.”
— Max Cohen
NEWS: House Dems eye strengthening SCOTUS disclosure rules
Top House Democrats are weighing whether to beef up financial disclosure requirements for Supreme Court justices in legislation they plan to unveil next month.
The SCOTUS provisions could be included in Democrats’ proposal to ban lawmakers from trading stocks, according to sources close to the issue.
House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who is leading the effort, is circulating a framework of the bill to other House Democrats right now. Democrats still hope to release the framework later this month with plans to vote on the bill in September.
As we scooped in July, the bill would require lawmakers, their spouses and senior staff to choose between divesting their investment portfolios or putting their assets in a qualified blind trust. The proposed legislation would allow members, spouses and senior staff to hold mutual funds.
Stock trading by members has long been a politically charged issue on the Hill. But lawmakers have also taken an interest in strengthening judicial branch disclosures this year, particularly after a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed more than 150 judges unlawfully ruled in cases in which they had a financial interest.
President Joe Biden signed a bill into law in May bringing the financial disclosure requirements for federal judges in line with what’s required for lawmakers under the 2012 STOCK Act. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) co-authored the bill, which also creates an online, searchable database for financial disclosures.
Now House Democrats are weighing whether to take that a step further by strengthening financial reporting requirements for the Supreme Court. Currently the justices are required to file annual financial disclosures. But they’re not as detailed as those required by lawmakers and they often can be cumbersome for the public to obtain.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she thinks any stock ban should be “government-wide” and include the Supreme Court. Pelosi has also called for a stronger SCOTUS “code of ethics” after revelations that Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife was involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Thomas was the lone justice to dissent to the court’s decision to allow the Jan. 6 committee to access former President Donald Trump’s White House records. Thomas has also been an outspoken dissenting vote in cases involving Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
— Heather Caygle
→ Former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) retired from Congress March 31, but he’s already lobbying. Vela, who works for Akin Gump, has registered to lobby for Missouri Cobalt on “[f]unding regarding development and processing of critical minerals essential to electric vehicle battery manufacturing.”
Vela is banned from lobbying his former congressional colleagues for one year. But Vela can lobby the administration.
Cook Political Report with Amy Walter shifts Pennsylvania Senate race to Lean Democrat
We have a sneak peek of a major ratings shift from the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter: The open Pennsylvania Senate race is shifting from Toss Up to Lean Democrat.
This high-profile ratings change reflects that Democrat John Fetterman is emerging as the favorite over Republican Mehmet Oz.
Here’s more from our friends at the Cook Political Report:
“If you had asked us before primaries began in earnest in early May, we put the odds that Republicans would flip the Senate at more than 60 percent, with a gain of as many as four seats possible. Right now, the range we see is between Democrats picking up one seat and Republicans gaining three. However, the most probable for now may be a net change of zero or a GOP pickup of one to two.”
If Senate Democrats were to pick up Pennsylvania, currently held by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, this means they could lose in Georgia or Nevada or Arizona and still retain control of the Senate, provided their other incumbents hold on. That would be an enormous boost for President Joe Biden’s agenda and potentially go a long way to countering a likely GOP takeover of the House.
→ In less rosy news for Democrats, the Colorado Senate race is moving from Likely Democrat to Lean Democrat. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is facing businessman Joe O’Dea in November.
— Max Cohen and John Bresnahan
→ New: The DSCC is airing a new 15-second digital ad that continues the Democratic group’s strategy of portraying Arizona Republican candidate Blake Masters as “too out there.”
The ad highlights Masters’ questionable social media posts and past comments, including his praise for the Unabomber as a “thinker that’s underrated” and his descriptions of Americans as “security craving sheep.”
“That guy who can’t stop posting weird stuff? That’s Blake Masters,” the ad’s narrator says.
Masters emerged from the GOP primary thanks to financial backing from his former boss, billionaire Peter Thiel, and former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Masters now faces Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), one of the chamber’s most endangered incumbents, in November.
→ New: Frontline Rep. Dan Kildee’s (D-Mich.) campaign is continuing to blanket the airwaves. Kildee released another new ad today drawing a contrast between Kildee’s legislative accomplishments and his opponent Paul Junge’s objections.
The spot plays up Kildee’s support for the bipartisan infrastructure law and the newly passed Inflation Reduction Act. The narrator points out Junge was against both measures.
Just like in the Kildee ad we reported yesterday, the campaign points out the Inflation Reduction Act allows Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. Kildee’s seat is rated a Toss Up by the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
→ Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes is leading Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) 51%-44%, according to a new poll from Marquette University. This is a great poll for Barnes. Johnson, of course, has outrun polling deficits in his past Senate campaigns, including this particular poll.
A notable datapoint from the same poll: 40% of voters approve of President Joe Biden’s job performance and 55% disapprove. We’ve been seeing this trend a lot in positive polling for Senate Democratic candidates. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) ran neck-in-neck with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in a recent poll that found Biden’s favorability was 17 points underwater.
Democrats say this shows that Biden’s unpopularity isn’t extending to their party’s candidates. While voters may be fed up with the president, polling shows that in high-profile races, the animosity doesn’t equal overwhelming GOP support.
→ John Fetterman, the Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate, is labeled as “weak on crime” and “far-left” in an ad from conservative group American Leadership Action.
The attack ad claims Fetterman supports the release of criminals from prison and opposes life sentences for convicted murderers.
→ Carl Paladino, the controversial House GOP candidate in upstate New York, has a new ad in which he flashes a photo of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell when asking if people are tired of corrupt politicians. This spot is running in Buffalo and Elmira.
— Max Cohen and Jake Sherman
President Joe Biden is in Delaware and Vice President Kamala Harris is in Hawaii. Neither have events scheduled.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold a news conference today in San Francisco on the CHIPS bill. This event will be at The Exploratorium at 10 a.m. California time, 1 p.m. in D.C.
→ “Jan. 6 Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed White House Documents,” by Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater
→ “After Loss, Cheney Begins Difficult Mission of Thwarting Trump,” by Jonathan Martin in Jackson, Wyo.
→ “Walensky, Citing Botched Pandemic Response, Calls for C.D.C. Reorganization,” by Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland
→ “Giuliani appears before Georgia grand jury in election probe,” by Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger in Atlanta
→ “Trump rakes in millions off FBI search at Mar-a-Lago,” by Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger
→ “U.S. Veterans Race to Train Ukrainians as Marines; ‘Time Is Not on Their Side’,” by Yaroslav Trofimov in Mykolaiv, Ukraine
→ “China Attacks US Chip Handouts While Warning of Market Slowdown,” by Edwin Chan and Yuan Gao
→ “Post-Roe differences surface in GOP over new abortion rules,” by Hannah Fingerhut in D.C. and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis.
→ “US congressional delegation in Kenya amid election crisis,” by Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya
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