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Abortion set to shake up battleground Wisconsin

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Supreme Court Hears Mississippi Abortion Case
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on Dec. 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday ... President Biden heads to Hamilton, Ohio to discuss manufacturing and jobs. ... First Lady Jill Biden arrives in Romania. ... The U.S. economy adds 428,000 jobs in April. ... Trump set to appear with Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. ... David McCormick raises “national security concerns” about Oz. ... NBC’s Natasha Korecki reports on the states seeking to hold early Democratic 2024 nominating contests. ... And the White House has a new press secretary.

But first: Wisconsin is already arguably the nation's most polarized state.

And it's destined to get even more polarized in the fallout over the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Just consider:

  • Wisconsin already has an abortion ban on the books — passed in 1849 — that’s been inactive since the Roe decision a half-century ago. But as reports, the law will likely take effect if the leaked Supreme Court decision stands, suddenly creating a near-total ban with no exceptions for rape or incest and criminal penalties for providers.
  • It’s a closely divided state with an electorate that leans towards abortion rights. Charles Franklin, Director of the Marquette Law School Poll, noted on Tuesday that roughly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters have consistently said in surveys that they prefer the procedure to be legal in “all” or “most” cases.
  • Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who’s up for re-election, supports abortion rights and would veto legislation further restricting abortion access.
  • Wisconsin’s state legislature is solidly Republican — and gerrymandered to stay that way — making it unlikely it could find consensus with Evers on abortion.
  • Evers’ most likely GOP opponent in 2022, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, celebrated news of the leaked draft along with her rivals Kevin Nicholson and Tim Michels.
  • Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, has said he will not enforce the 173-year old law, setting up a contrast with his potential Republican opponents. Some county district attorneys have said they would not enforce the ban as well.
  • Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is up for re-election and facing attacks from his potential Democratic opponents on the issue. With Roe gone, congressional debates over whether to codify its protections into federal law or, conversely, impose a new federal ban on abortion, are likely to get far more attention.

Add it all up, and abortion is set to be the be-all, end-all issue in maybe the be-all, end-all battleground state.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 2

That’s how many Democratic presidential candidates lost Iowa and New Hampshire, but still won their party’s nomination. Both, Joe Biden and Bill Clinton, became president.

NBC’s Natasha Korecki reports that Friday is the Democratic National Committee’s deadline for states and territories petitioning to be one of the first presidential nominating states. And when the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee met yesterday to start the discussion about the changes, numbers like these were on their mind.

At the meeting, former Clinton White House official and veteran Democratic campaigner Craig Smith argued for “having multiple small states go first” to get a more representative slice of the country, Korecki reports.

Another stat from Smith: Six of the eight nominees in “jump ball” years (when the party had no president or vice president running) won some combination of Iowa and New Hampshire. But just two became president.

Other numbers you need to know today:

39: That’s how many percentage points Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is ahead of Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary, per a new Franklin and Marshall poll. Read more about the poll on the MTP Blog.

8: That’s how many feet high the new fencing will be outside of the Supreme Court.

$25 million: That’s how much more money hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin is committing to Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s GOP bid for governor in Illinois, on top of the $20 million he’s already sunk, per the Chicago Tribune.

$45,000: That will be the new minimum salary set by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for House staffers on Capitol Hill, according to a letter she sent to members this morning.

19: The number of House Democrats who wrote a letter asking Pelosi to vote on legislation to increase police funding.

50 percent: The increase in the two-week average of daily Covid cases, per NBC News.

30 percent: The increase in the two-week average of daily Covid deaths, per NBC News.

Midterm roundup: Trump touches down in the land of Oz

Tonight, former President Donald Trump is bringing the road show to Pennsylvania, where he’s holding a rally for Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz.

It’s the home stretch for Oz, who is hoping that he can extend the streak of Trump-endorsed candidate victories after J.D. Vance’s big win on Tuesday (Vance is speaking at the rally, as is Trump’s pick for next week’s primary in West Virginia’s 2nd District, Rep. Alex Mooney).

Like Vance, Oz has faced criticism from his rivals about a lack of conservative bona fides. But unlike Vance, Oz’s alliance with Trump goes back years (Trump joined his show during the 2016 campaign to talk about his health), so he hasn’t been faced with the same questions about his loyalty to Trump.

Meanwhile, David McCormick’s campaign says it’s holding a press briefing this morning — featuring former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — “on significant national security concerns and unanswered questions on Mehmet Oz’s close ties to the Turkish government and military,” per NBC’s Dasha Burns.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Arizona Senate: Controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., endorsed Blake Masters in Arizona’s GOP Senate primary. Like J.D. Vance, who Greene endorsed in Ohio’s Senate race, Masters is also backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, who is also Masters’ employer.

North Carolina Senate: Democrat Cheri Beasley raised more from April 1-27 than the entire GOP field combined, per WRAL’s Bryan Anderson.

Club for Growth Action, which is backing GOP Rep. Ted Budd in the Senate primary, is up with a new ad painting former Gov. Pat McCrory as a “Mitt Romney Republican.”

Georgia Governor: Former GOP Sen. David Perdue is seizing on the leaked Supreme Court draft decision on Roe. v. Wade to try and push Gov. Brian Kemp to the right on abortion ahead of their primary race on May 24, per the New York Times.

Georgia-06: Trump endorsed Republican attorney Jake Evans in the open 6th District race in Georgia, snubbing 2020 nominee Rich McCormick, who had Trump’s endorsement in the last election cycle.

West Virginia-02: GOP Rep. Alex Mooney touts Trump’s endorsement in his latest ad ahead of the May 10 primary where he faces fellow GOP Rep. David McKinley.

Ad watch: On the air in Minnesota special election

Jennifer Carnahan is out with her first ad in the race to fill her late-husband’s congressional seat. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., passed away in February and a special election to fill his seat has been set for August, with a special primary set for May 24.

In the ad, Carnahan cites her and Hagedorn’s support for President Trump. “Under President Trump, our economy was strong, we had energy independence, the largest tax reform in a generation and important trade deals like USMCA,” Carnahan says in the ad.

“But now look at America. My name is Jennifer Carnahan, and I am running for Congress to fight for southern Minnesota and protect our rural way of life,” she adds.

Nine other Republicans have also filed to run in the special primary.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

U.S. intelligence contributed to Ukraine’s sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

A new bill making its way through the Louisiana state House (it passed out of subcommittee this week) would classify abortion as homicide.

Karine Jean-Pierre will replace Jen Psaki as the new White House press secretary, and Anita Dunn is returning to the White House as a senior adviser and assistant to the president.

The possibility of a “rogue governor” refusing to accept the presidential results has complicated the push by a bipartisan group of senators looking to overhaul the Electoral Count Act.

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says then-President Trump asked him if America could “shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs” and deny any responsibility.