[INSERT SMALL-TALK BEFORE USUAL POLITICAL DISCUSSION HERE]
Media: Oofta, Donald Trump’s meeting with media executives probably was a nightmare scenario for the latter group. After the media outlets pledged to keep the meeting off the record, a Trump source went to the Trump-friendly New York Post and dropped this description of the meeting.
“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter…
“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said.
“Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate – which was Martha Raddatz who was also in the room.”
Never let the Donald burn you first. Obviously this plays well for Trump’s anti-establishment performance, but I wonder if we’ll see a lot less off-the-record comments from his administration. For a description of the meeting that lionizes Trump less, see here.
Senate, Meet House: Democrats face a tough Senate battlefield next cycle, and Representatives are already lining up to take on incumbents in this Politico Great Mentioner.
- In Montana, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) cruised to reelection this cycle, and he has already met with Senate leadership about a campaign. Plus, his boilerplate criticism of the incumbent sounds tailor-made to prepare the foundation of his Senate campaign against Sen. Jon Tester (D).
- In North Dakota, early Trump endorser Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND-AL) might run against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), despite talk of him being considered for Energy Secretary.
- In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV-3) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey could run against Sen. Joe Manchin (D) for Republicans.
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri could face a number of candidates as the state has moved right, including Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Ann Wagner, or Billy Long (R). Wagner in particular is interesting with her longtime national connections as a former ambassador and RNC Co-Chair.
- Rep. Luke Messer (R) is mentioned as a potential candidate against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D).
All of these mentions come with the usual caveat that most of these are speculative lists (Zinke notwithstanding) and more and different candidates will come out of the woodwork in these different states.
MO-Sen: Despite bragging about buying ads and setting up Republicans to nominate Todd Akin to ruin their chances at her seat, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) has confirmed she will run for reelection. Adding on to our Great Mentioner above, this article also mentions Rep. Sam Graves as a potential candidate (again, none of these potential candidates have confirmed their interest).
AZ-Sen: Sen. John McCain (R) will decide if he will run for a seventh term in three years.
MN-Gov: We may have only had one official announcement, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see many more gubernatorial campaigns launching soon.. Minnesota politicos expect a flood of candidates for Minnesota Governor. The Star Tribune got a number of politicians to confirm they were considering a bid:
- State Chairman Keith Downey
- House Speaker Kurt Daudt
- Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek
- 2014 nominee and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson
- 2014 Senate nominee and business Mike McFadden
- State Sen. Michelle Benson, who recently joined Senate leadership
- State Sen. David Osmek, who has a bit of a libertarian / conservative streak
- State Rep. Matt Dean, who was ousted from leadership a few years back
- Fox News Contributor and 2012 Senate candidate Pete Hegseth, who lost the nod to then-State Rep. Kurt Bills
- Former House Majority Leader Erin Murphy [announced]. Murphy spent the last four cycles working on behalf of legislative candidates either helming House caucus efforts or through her leadership posts, so expect many of those favors from grateful incumbents cashed in.
- Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Gov. Dayton’s former Chief of Staff who has taken over an increasing amount of the day to day business and headlines in the Capitol
- State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who is probably the furthest to the left among Minnesota statewide office-holders
- Attorney General Lori Swanson
- Former Speaker Paul Thissen
- St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
- Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk
A surprising name pulled himself out of contention: former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak, who had some headlines for his battles with the DNC this year. And other big names are still floating around even if not under the active “considering” label. The biggest ones include Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL), who could switch races; Rep. Tom Emmer (R), who has rehabbed much of his image with an inoffensive brief congressional stint; Rep. Tim Walz (DFL), who barely won reelection this cycle and may be too far to the right for his party primary; Rep. Erik Paulsen (R), fresh off another strong win in his otherwise trending-blue seat; and former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R), ostensibly retired from politics but potentially cash-flush with his lobbying gig representing banks in DC. Any of those five running would shake up the primary calculus and probably pare down the barnyard of candidates currently lining up.
HI-2: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) met with Trump yesterday and discussed Syria policy in detail. Folks have previously talked about how she might be in the running for a cabinet post, but I’m surprised how directly she talked about “the drumbeats of war the neocons have been sounding” and “our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government.” Either way, this article pushed back against the notion the meeting was to give her any kind of formal post. Gabbard has a weird history, endorsing Sanders despite a relatively conservative support network- more on that here.
ME-2: Here’s an example of the type of fluff piece that helps congressmen get entrenched. This one focuses on how hard Rep. Bruce Poliquin works, joining the growing number of legislators who sleep in their offices.
State and Local
Wisconsin-Redistricting: A panel of three federal judges found Wisconsin’s legislative redistricting plan is unconstitutional because it constitutes a partisan gerrymander. Normally courts defer to legislatures on this particular criterion (unlike, say, race), so this new ruling is a big deal. In the past, judges have been stymied by the fact Democratic voters self-pack enough that claims of self-sorting on the part of voters were plausible when you squinted your eyes (and again, coupled with deference to the legislative branch of government). However, a new formula called the efficiency gap aims to mathematically measure the amount of wasted votes by comparing the amount of votes each side wins in excess in seats on its way to victory or defeat. The Times explains the math:
The formula divides the difference between the two parties’ “wasted votes” — votes beyond those needed by a winning side, and votes cast by a losing side — by the total number of votes cast. When both parties waste the same number of votes, the result is zero — an ideal solution. But as a winning party wastes fewer and fewer votes than its opponent, its score rises.
A truly efficient gerrymander spreads a winning party’s votes so evenly over districts that very few votes are wasted. A review of four decades of state redistricting plans concluded that any party with an efficiency gap of 7 percent or more was likely to keep its majority during the 10 years before new districts were drawn. In Wisconsin, experts testified, Republicans scored an efficiency gap rating of 11.69 percent to 13 percent in the first election after the maps were redrawn in 2011.
Again, this formula coupled with actually applying partisanship as a criterion for gerrymandering are both big deals that may be settled by the Supreme Court. We’ll see how quickly this moves, because it could remake the redistricting landscape in 2020.
NY-State Senate: From commenter Manhatlibertarian:
The counting of absentee/provisional ballots begins today for two crucial Long Island state senate races that may determine who controls the NY State Senate. It is likely that GOP State Senator Carl Marcellino, who led by 2425 votes in the unofficial count, will prevail in his race, where there are more than 7500 absentee ballots and a smaller number of provisional ballots. If he prevails the GOP will stay in control of the NY State Senate, as Brooklyn DINO State Senator Felder has now announced he will stay with the GOP caucus (no real surprise).
Meanwhile, in the close contest between Dem John Brooks and incumbent GOP State Senator Mike Venditto in the 8th SD, as of Nov 15 (deadline for absentee ballots except military ones) there were about 7400 absentee ballots (mainly from Nassau County) and about 1500 provisional ballots. Those numbers are unlikely to have changed much as there have likely been only a trickle of military ballots since then (they are due today at the latest). Some of the absentee ballots were submitted before Venditto’s father, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, was indicted on Oct 20, which should help Venditto, but it is not clear how many were received before that date. Venditto trailed Brooks by 33 votes in the unofficial returns. If Venditto also wins the GOP will have an absolute majority in the State Senate, so then DINO Felder’s support is only the icing on the cake.
The absentee/provisional ballot counting will go from Monday to Wednesday and then break for Thanksgiving and continue the Monday after Thanksgiving. The ballots will be scrutinized by lawyers from both sides and I would expect there will be a number of challenges to the validity of ballots on various grounds (in one recent contest an absentee ballot got tossed because it has a coffee stain on it).
To make matters more interesting, Harlem State Sen. Bill Perkins will soon leave the chamber to run for an open city council seat (referencing the dysfunction of the Senate, he said he could be “more effective” on local issues). While his Senate seat is safe Democratic, the more important part of this is that Democrats will be a vote short for some time as Republicans maintain a narrow majority. Assembly staffer Troy Outlaw, aligned with Rep. Charlie Rangel, and Marvin Holland, aligned with newly-elected Rep. Espaillat (D), will run for the seat.
NH-State Senate: Last week Republican David French sealed the deal in his race after a recount, giving Republicans a 14-10 majority in that body.
TX-State House: A recount looms in a district 105, a swingy district where Rep. Rodney Anderson (R) leads his challenger by 64 votes after all provisional ballots were counted yesterday. Either way, the Texas House remains blood-red with 95 Republicans in the 150-member chamber after losing three incumbents this cycle (assuming Anderson hangs on as expected).
WI-State Senate: Democrat Jennifer Schilling is 56 votes up on Dan Kapanke in the 32d district, where the race will go to a recount. Despite Kapanke’s likely loss, Republicans retain a 20-13 majority.
St Paul-Mayor: A new group is working to toss out ranked choice voting in St Paul, Minnesota’s local elections. If a court or charter comission won’t throw it out, the group will work to put a referendum on the ballot for November 2017. Former councilman Melvin Carter III (D) and former School Board member and attorney Tom Goldstein (not the one from SCOTUSBlog) have already filed papers to run for mayor as well.
Texas-Voter ID: AG Ken Paxton and the Obama administration are feuding over if Texas’ voter ID law was intentionally discriminatory to racial minorities in dueling filings. Of course, intent is tough to prove in court in these kinds of cases, and it’s hard to see a Sessions DoJ pushing this issue so aggressively.