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Happy Wednesday morning.
The fallout from the dramatically redrawn New York congressional map has roiled the entire House Democratic Caucus this week, ensnaring Frontliners, progressives, party leaders, top staffers and political pros across D.C. and New York.
During an hours-long vote series in the House Tuesday night, that new map –and the tough choices it’s forcing on New York Democrats – dominated conversation on the chamber floor.
DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney is in the middle of everything. His decision to jump into a race against a junior Democratic incumbent has some members wondering privately whether he can serve effectively as campaign chair.
Reps. Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman — whose districts were overhauled by a judge-appointed special master — are the other players in the drama. The map is scheduled to be finalized on Friday.
Tensions are running so high that several members have approached Democratic leaders and said they’d call for Maloney to step down if he decides to go ahead and challenge Jones, a 35-year-old progressive. That would be a disaster for Democrats as they head into the heart of what’s going to be a very tough election cycle for them.
And we’re told House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries — the most powerful Democrat in the New York House delegation – and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark even approached Maloney, telling him he needed to address the situation with Jones and Bowman. Some New York Democrats are calling for a state delegation meeting to try to work out a deal.
Maloney’s move made for a very awkward caucus briefing at DCCC headquarters Tuesday, with many members privately fuming and waiting for him to address the “giant elephant in the room as he went all rah-rah about keeping the House,” as one lawmaker described it. We have much more on the DCCC briefing below, but Maloney didn’t discuss his announcement, we’re told.
This situation could get very sticky. Maloney has already exhausted any goodwill he had with many Frontliners, who have long been frustrated with him and feel like he doesn’t protect them from tough votes like previous DCCC chairs did. Now Maloney has several members of his own delegation – as well as progressives and other lawmakers in the broader caucus – fuming too.
We checked in with DCCC and sources close to Maloney. They made clear to us Maloney has no plans to step down as DCCC chair, even if he’s in a member-on-member primary while simultaneously leading Democrats’ efforts to hold onto their endangered majority.
“He has proven he can lead the DCCC without his own race interfering and he will continue to do so,” DCCC spokesman Chris Hayden said.
Maloney – who currently represents NY-18 – preemptively announced shortly after the new map was out on Monday that he would run in NY-17, where his home is located, even though he’s never represented the roughly 75% of the district that Jones currently represents.
Maloney’s decision caught everyone by surprise, including Jones, who was furious. Jones complained to anyone who would listen about the move. It’s especially sensitive because the DCCC chair – who sits at the leadership table – is bigfooting a first-term minority lawmaker.
Defenders of Maloney said Jones would be a better fit for the reworked NY-16, currently represented by Bowman. But if Jones does that, it could cause a huge split among progressives. Bowman – also in his first House term – is a member of the Squad. Jones is often described as “Squad adjacent.” Some Democrats also sent us unsolicited emails backing Maloney.
Jones – who was working the floor during Tuesday’s vote series – declined to comment.
Maloney defended his decision to run in the 17th District and potentially challenge Jones, instead of an open seat in the 18th District that would be slightly more competitive in the general election but has a significant chunk of Maloney’s current constituents.
“Look, I live in the district I’m running in. The voters can figure everything else out,” Maloney told us. “It’s a broken process, and it’s producing, obviously, broken results, but I think you’ll see these issues work themselves through.” Maloney said everyone should “calm down.”
Frontliners across the caucus were upset with Maloney’s handling of the situation, especially the fact that he didn’t inform Jones or Bowman of his decision to run in NY-17 before announcing it, according to Democrats.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are standing behind Maloney. But the leadership has now been drawn into a nasty battle that is deeply dividing the caucus.
“This sort of pointless sniping is detrimental to our efforts to keep the majority,” one senior Democratic aide told us. “We have an extremely capable DCCC chair who has demonstrated he can walk and chew gum.”
This New York controversy comes as House Democrats are having a tough week overall. Party leaders have been unable to get the votes together for a Democratic messaging bill that would prevent oil companies from price gouging. The legislation, designed to blunt the political impact of high gas prices, has been a top request of vulnerable Democrats.
A few of the most high-profile progressive candidates lost during Tuesday primaries following a “tidal wave” of spending wave of spending by AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups, much to the chagrin of the left. And the Democratic plan to address the baby formula crisis is to basically hire some more staff at FDA, which isn’t making members that happy.
New York is a complete mess right now. Jeffries has been drawn out of his district and a host of Black and Hispanic lawmakers from across the city have found themselves with drastically different district lines. Furthermore, veteran Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler – who both chair committees with decades of service in the House – have been drawn into the same Manhattan-based district. That has the prospect of turning ugly as well.
–John Bresnahan, Heather Caygle and Jake Sherman
A new job at Punchbowl News
We have an announcement: We’re hiring. We’re looking for a reporter to cover how financial institutions and big players in finance operate in D.C.
Titans of finance – whether they be in the hedge fund world, cryptocurrency, private equity or big banks – have incredible sway in D.C. They’re increasingly cutting seven- and eight-figure campaign checks. They’re spending millions of dollars on lobbying, trying to shape legislation and public opinion. They have the ear of powerful committees and the Democratic and Republican leadership.
We want someone to cover the Power, People and Politics of this powerful niche.
Check out more details here and please email Jake or Heather if you’re interested – or know a reporter who might be a good fit. Our email address is [first name] [at] [punchbowl] [dot] [news].
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Did you know that only three insurance company pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) control 80% of patients’ medicines? They decide what medicines are covered, what medicines aren’t and what you pay for them, regardless of what your doctor prescribed. Meanwhile, they get tens of billions in rebates and discounts meant for you. PBMs are putting their profits before your medicine. Tell Congress savings belong to patients.
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BAD NEWS BEARS FOR DEMS
DCCC internal poll – House Dems are getting crushed
House Democrats may be in worse political peril than they’ve let on publicly.
During a Thursday luncheon last week with DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney, Frontline Democrats – the party’s most endangered lawmakers – were told that, in battleground districts, the generic Republican is beating the generic Democrat, 47-39, according to lawmakers, multiple party officials and the DCCC.
This is a stunning margin and highlights the incredibly perilous position Democrats find themselves in.
Given that Democrats generally have a three- or four-point built in advantage on the generic ballot, this is a particularly concerning development for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s majority. An eight-point deficit on the generic ballot could be a sign of a wave for House Republicans.
Furthermore, Democrats were told that they should be referring to House Republicans as “MAGA Republicans.” This tactic, Democratic leaders said, would help them improve the political environment by linking every House Republican to former President Donald Trump without mentioning Trump himself.
In a caucus-wide briefing at DCCC headquarters on Tuesday, Democrats were told that Frontliners are outpacing President Joe Biden’s job approval by 21.8 percentage points.
Depending on how you look at it, this is either a commentary on Biden’s low approval ratings or the relative strength of House Democrats – or both.
“Frontline Democrats’ record of delivering for their communities means they head into November ready to defeat extremist MAGA Republicans, who will have to defend their plan to implement a nationwide abortion ban and their embrace of white supremacist ‘great replacement’ theories,” DCCC spokesman Chris Taylor said.
Biden’s deep unpopularity and the political ditch Democrats find themselves in is also evident in private polling conducted by the Congressional Leadership fund, the Kevin McCarthy-linked super PAC.
CLF polled 16 districts that Biden won by an average of eight points. They found that the president’s job approval rating is eight points underwater, and the generic ballot is tied.
In other words, Republicans contend that seats that Biden won by eight points are now “toss-up” districts. Districts polled include seats held by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Kim Schrier (Wash.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Susie Lee (Nev.) and Jahana Hayes (Conn.).
Schrader was being beaten handily on Tuesday night by a progressive challenger, making the seat an even more attractive target for Republicans.
In addition, in these districts, 49% of voters say they want a Republican in Congress to provide a check on Biden, rather than a Democrat to help pass Biden and Pelosi’s agenda – those candidates garner 42%. The average incumbent Democrat was at 44% in these districts with a 38% favorable rating and 25% unfavorable rating.
Democrats counter that it’s only May, and the political environment could shift. They’re counting on the Supreme Court’s looming decision on abortion paying political dividends. But an eight-point deficit on the generic ballot is particularly brutal.
– Jake Sherman, Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
What you need to know about primary night
There are a bunch of primary results from last night that we wanted to run through quickly.
→ Pennsylvania Senate. John Fetterman easily dispatched Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) to win the Democratic nomination for the Senate in the Keystone State. Fetterman got 59% of the vote and Lamb got 26.4%. What an absolute trouncing for Lamb, who ran as a moderate who could defeat any Trump-aligned Republican in a swing state key to controlling the Senate. Malcom Kenyatta, a state representative, got 10.3% of the vote.
On the GOP side, it’s far too close to call. With 94% of the vote reported, Mehmet Oz has 31.3% and Dave McCormick has 31.1%. Pennsylvania has an automatic recount if the result is within .5%. Kathy Barnette came in a distant third at 24.8%.
→ Pennsylvania governor. The best news of the night for Democrats: Doug Mastriano, a state senator who was in D.C. for the Jan. 6 riots, won the GOP nomination. Attorney General Josh Shapiro won the Democratic nomination. Most handicappers have moved the race to Lean Democrat.
→ Incumbents go down. It looks like two incumbents lost last night. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), the Trump-endorsed Republican who had been plagued by scandals over the last few months, lost in the GOP primary to state Sen. Chuck Edwards. Edwards was backed by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Here’s more from the Asheville Citizen Times.
And it seems as if Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the longtime Blue Dog, will lose his race to progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner. There have been some ballot problems in Clackamas County, the most populous part of the district, so the race hasn’t been called yet. But as of 11 p.m. on the West Coast, the Oregonian reported that McLeod-Skinner was beating Schrader 61% to 39%. If McLeod-Skinner wins, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter said he will move the race from Lean Democrat to Toss-up.
→ A big loss for SBF. Oregon State Rep. Andrea Salinas easily beat Carrick Flynn in the Democratic primary for a newly drawn House seat. Salinas had 38% compared to Flynn’s 19% in the crowded field, per the Oregonian. Flynn had the backing of Sam Bankman-Fried, the billionaire founder of FTX, a crypto exchange, whose super PAC dumped $15 million into this race backing Flynn. It looks like Bankman-Fried has some work to do before he’s a serious political player.
→ N.C. Senate. Cheri Beasley easily won the Democratic nomination to fill Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-N.C.) seat. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) topped former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) for the GOP nomination. Budd had former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and won with better than 58% of the vote. McCrory pulled 24.6%, while Walker only got 9%.
→ Idaho Gov. Idaho Gov. Brad Little trounced the Trump-endorsed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, 53.1% to 31.8%.
→More Idaho. Longtime Rep. Mike Simpson easily beat attorney Bryan Smith, 53.3%-31.9%.
– Jake Sherman
→ New: Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ first ad in his Senate campaign aims to distinguish Barnes from the “other millionaires running for Senate” — an implicit dig at both Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Barnes’ Democratic opponent Alex Lasry.
The ad also focuses on rising inflation. Barnes walks through a grocery store in the spot and says most senators don’t know how much milk or beef has increased in price this year.
“I know by bringing manufacturing home, we create jobs and lower costs,” Barnes says.
The state’s lieutenant governor has developed an early polling lead in the primary. But Lasry — an executive for the Milwaukee Bucks and the son of the team’s owner — recently pulled within three percentage points of Barnes in an April Marquette University poll. Wisconsin’s primary is August 9.
— Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY PHRMA
Insurance companies and their PBMs threaten patients’ access to medications to make a profit. Tell Congress those savings belong to patients.
MORE FROM PUNCHBOWL NEWS
From our searchable archive, to our events page, and original content, everything you could want from Punchbowl News is now on our site. Check it out today at punchbowl.news!
The NRCC’s top non-leadership givers
We got our hands on some interesting data: the NRCC’s top donors outside the leadership. This is critical, because it tells us who is up and coming in the party. These numbers are current as of Tuesday night.
→ Rep. Darin Lahood (Ill.): $1,719,555. Lahood wants to be the next NRCC chairman and he’s proven himself to be a prolific fundraiser.
→ Rep. August Pfluger (Texas): $1,663,088. Pfluger is a first-term Republican who represents a deep red district formerly represented by Michael Conaway.
→ Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.): $1,658,496. CMR, as she is known in the House, is a former member of leadership who is in line to be the next chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee if Republicans take the majority.
→ Rep. Mike Rogers (Ala.): $1,575,100. Rogers, a veteran Republican from Alabama, is the top GOP lawmaker on the Armed Services Committee and is in line to be chair.
→ Rep. Tony Gonzales (Texas): $1,547,938. Gonzales is a freshman, so this is a bit surprising. But he is on an “A” committee – Appropriations – and is a favorite of the leadership.
→ Rep. Jason Smith (Mo.): $1,433,366. Smith is the top fundraiser of the three lawmakers vying to be No. 1 Republican on Ways and Means. This is a big cash contest.
→ Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.): $1,417,242. Foxx is the top Republican on Education and Labor. There’s chatter she will seek a waiver to get around being term-limited from serving atop the committee.
→ Rep. Vern Buchanan (Fla.): $1,416,642. Buchanan is also aiming to be the top Republican on Ways and Means. He’s trailing Smith here – but has seniority.
→ Rep. Jodey Arrington (Texas): $1,269,782. The former body man to George W. Bush represents a safe seat in Texas and has a slot on Ways and Means.
→ Rep. Patrick McHenry (N.C.): $1,097,558. McHenry is the top Republican on Financial Services. Plus, raising money for him is easy, as he served in leadership for many years and has long been considered a top candidate for various jobs atop the party.
– Jake Sherman
First look: Ali Vitali’s new book
NBC News’ Ali Vitali has a new book out Aug. 23 on a particularly interesting topic: Why America has never elected a female president.
The book is called “Electable: Why America Hasn’t Put a Woman in the White House . . . Yet.” First of all, you should order it immediately right here. Vitali is a great reporter and a friend of Punchbowl News.
If you need more of a sales job, Vitali interviewed Hillary Clinton, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Carly Fiorina. Vitali was on the trail with many of these women, so she has a unique insight into this.
So, again, order this book.
PRESENTED BY PHRMA
10:45 a.m.: The Covid-19 response team will brief.
11 a.m.: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders will award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Merchant Marines of World War II.
Noon: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and other Senate Republicans will talk about gas prices.
1:15 p.m.: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will leave for Andrews.
1:30 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will brief.
1:45 p.m.: Biden will get a briefing on how the U.S. is preparing for hurricane season.
2:50 p.m.: Biden will leave for the White House, and he’ll arrive at 3 p.m.
→ “Prosecutors Add Details to Foreign Lobbying Charges Against Trump Ally,” by David D. Kirkpatrick and Mark Mazzetti
→ “Florida bans protests outside homes,” by Lindsey Bever
→ “Powell Says Fed Has Resolve to Bring U.S. Inflation Down,” by Nick Timiraos and Michael S. Derby
→ “Steve Wynn Sued by Justice Department,” by Aruna Viswanatha
→ “JPMorgan Shareholders Reject Jamie Dimon’s $50 Million Bonus,” by David Benoit
→ “Finland, Sweden at Turkey’s Whim After Submitting NATO Bids,” by Natalia Drozdiak, John Follain, and Kati Pohjanpalo
→ “Russia Says Nearly 1,000 Ukraine Troops Surrendered at Azovstal,” by Benjamin Harvey
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
PRESENTED BY PHRMA
This may come as a shock, but did you know that only three insurance companies and their pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) control 80% of patients’ medicines? They sure act like it. They use their market power to get tens of billions in rebates and discounts on medicines – rebates and discounts that should be going to patients. They decide what medicines are covered, what medicines aren’t and what you pay for them. Regardless of what your doctor prescribed. That’s too much control, and it leaves you fighting them for your medications, instead of fighting your illness. PBMs are putting their profits before your medicine. It’s time we do better than that for patients. Tell Congress those savings belong to patients.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images
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