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Without a presidential primary, Democrats will battle in blue states in 2024

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.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., presides over a hearing on Capitol Hill on Dec. 13, 2022.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., presides over a hearing on Capitol Hill on Dec. 13, 2022.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

If it’s TUESDAY… Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearing on Supreme Court ethics reform at 10:00 am ET… Treasury Department says U.S. will default on debt as early as June 1 if debt ceiling isn’t raised… Speaker McCarthy accepts President Biden’s invitation to discuss the debt ceiling on May 9 with other leaders, NBC’s Ryan Nobles reports… Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s camp cleans up presidential answer… And the Hollywood writers go on strike.

But FIRST... Democrats don’t appear to have a competitive presidential primary in 2024.

Which is why Maryland and Washington — along with California — will be among the must-watch states to follow to see how the Democratic Party is navigating its ideological and campaign waters next year.

In Maryland, three-term Sen. Ben Cardin announced he won’t seek re-election in 2024, triggering what could be a super-crowded Democratic primary in this blue state (especially in presidential years).

In 2022, 10 different Democrats ended up running for Maryland’s open governorship, including eventual winner Wes Moore, as well as former DNC Chair Tom Perez, former state Comptroller Peter Franchot and former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

The 2024 Dem race to succeed Cardin could be as large — or even larger — with a field that could also include the likes of Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin and David Trone, as well as current Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks..

In Washington state, three-term Gov. Jay Inslee also announced he won’t seek re-election next year, opening up a governorship without term limits in yet another blue state.

And then you already have the open Senate race in California to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., where Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee are battling it in the state’s Top 2 Senate primary system.

So if Democratic primary action is what you’re looking for in 2024, you’re going to have to look to California, Maryland and Washington.

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is ... 30

That’s the number of days until the U.S. could default on its debts, which is sooner than expected, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced Monday. Yellen said the so-called “X date,” when the U.S. can no longer pay its bills through “extraordinary measures,” could come as early as June 1 (the Treasury Department had previously said the deadline was June 5), NBC News’ Sahil Kapur reports. 

The new date comes as lawmakers and the White House attempt to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. On Monday President Joe Biden invited the top four congressional leaders — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries — to a May 9 meeting at the White House to discuss how to raise the debt limit, per NBC’s Kapur, Mike Memoli, Liz Brown-Kaiser and Ali Vitali. 

But with Democrats pushing a clean debt limit increase and Republicans calling for additional spending cuts, the path forward to an agreement remains murky. 

Other numbers you need to know today

20,000: The number of Russians killed in its invasion of Ukraine (with Russia suffering 100,000 casualties overall), according to a new U.S. intelligence estimate

10: The number of Americans killed while helping fight in Ukraine since the war began in February of last year, NBC News’ Abigail Williams reports.

At least 10: The number of GOP public figures who could still announce their campaigns for president. 

15: How many years between the last Hollywood writers’ strike and the new one that began Tuesday amid a dispute over streaming compensation. 

6: The number of cases, out of 20, that were dismissed after defendants were arrested by Florida’s election police force, the Washington Post reports. Five others resulted in no jail time. 

5: The number of groups suing the Federal Aviation Administration over a SpaceX launch that blew up a launch pad on April 20, spewing debris in nearby areas.

39: How many years it’s been since the landmark ruling in Chevron v. NRDC, which has fundamentally shaped the federal bureaucracy. NBC News’ Lawrence Hurley reports the Supreme Court is taking a new case that could prompt justices to further weaken, or overturn, the ruling. 

6: The number of people who died in car accidents during a blinding dust storm in rural Illinois on Monday.

Eyes on 2024: Youngkin camp cleans up presidential answer

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin finally appeared to offer some clarity about his White House aspirations during a Milken Institute event Monday, where he responded “no” when asked if he’d be “getting out on the presidential campaign trail later this year.”

Asked a follow up question (“You’re not running?”) moments later, Youngkin noted, “I haven’t written a book, and I’m not in Iowa. I’m spending time representing Virginia this year.” 

End of story? Not so fast. 

Hours later, NBC News’ Gary Grumbach and Zoë Richards reported that multiple Youngkin aides sought to tamp down the idea the governor was swearing off a bid, focusing on the part of the question centered on “this year” and emphasizing the governor’s commitment to helping Republicans in this year’s Virginia state elections. 

As fast as the speculation appeared to be put to rest, it appears to be back on again. 

That said, there’s not much time between Election Day 2023 and the Iowa caucuses, even if Youngkin (or his aides) want to keep the presidential door open.

In other campaign news … 

Dismissed: A Florida ethics panel dismissed a complaint from a pro-Trump super PAC that alleged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis broke state ethics laws in accepting gifts from his own political committee and outside groups, per NBC News’ Matt Dixon. 

More Disney vs. DeSantis: The feud between DeSantis and Disney escalated Monday with the local board that oversees Walt Disney World voting to sue Disney shortly after the company sued the board and DeSantis, Dixon reports. 

DeSantis on the death penalty: DeSantis signed another bill expanding the death penalty, approving a measure allowing the death penalty to be imposed on people convicted of “sexual battery against children younger than 12,” per Axios.

Trump town hall: Former President Donald Trump will participate in a CNN town hall in New Hampshire next Wednesday, which NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard notes will be among his first high-profile interviews with a non-right leaning outlet since the 2020 election. 

Cross examination: Trump’s defense attorneys questioned writer E. Jean Carroll on the stand on Monday in the trial litigating Carroll’s allegations that Trump raped her in the 1990s. They asked about her old social media posts where she claimed to be a “massive fan” of Trump’s show, “The Apprentice.” 

Trump talk: In a separate case where Trump faces charges in alleged hush-money scheme, Trump’s attorneys argued that the former president shouldn’t be barred from discussing evidence and witnesses in that case, suggesting it “could unfairly affect his presidential campaign,” NBC News’ Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian write. 

Not Cruz-ing to re-election: Texas Democratic Rep. Colin Allred is planning to run against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and could announce a campaign as soon as this week, Politico reports.

Bluegrass battle: The GOP candidates for governor met for a debate Monday night, nearly two weeks before the primary. Meanwhile, state attorney General Daniel Cameron doubled down on his endorsement from Trump. And the New York Times delves into the race, writing that in some ways the race mirrors some of the early GOP presidential primary. 

Crickets: House Republicans in competitive districts and those known for working across the aisle tell CNN they haven’t seen much outreach from the White House

Raising the (cheese)steaks: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other high-profile progressives have taken sides in Phildalphia’s mayoral race ahead of the May 16 election, backing former city council member Helen Gym, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world?

Oklahoma became the latest state to prohibit gender-affirming medical care for minors.  

Covid vaccine requirements for federal employees and international air travelers will end on May 11, the White House announced Monday.  

Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, appeared in court in Arkansas for a paternity hearing on Monday.