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Meet the Press Blog Archive

Catch up with Meet the Press blog posts from past years leading up to May 17, 2022
Image: Illustration of photos depicting voters on line, voting booths, the Capitol, the White House and raised hands.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Look back at our archive of previous Meet the Press blog posts.

For the latest posts from the journalists at NBC News and the NBC News Political Unit, click here.

714d ago / 10:41 PM UTC

Andrew Yang files paperwork for New York City mayoral bid

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WASHINGTON — Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has filed paperwork with New York City to run for mayor, marking the next political chapter for the entrepreneur who mounted an underdog bid for president in 2020. 

Yang, who had been reportedly eyeing a bid for New York City mayor, filed on Wednesday with the city's Campaign Finance Board. An affiliated committee, Yang For New York, which is associated with a top Yang aide, also registered with the city board.

Yang has not yet commented on the filing, but a source close to Yang told NBC that the filing is "just procedural" and that "no decision has been made," but that since Yang was "seriously considering it" that filing "was the necessary next step."

Image: Presidential Candidates Attend Gun Safety Forum In Des Moines
Andrew Yang speaks during a forum on gun safety in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 10, 2019.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images file

With New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio term-limited, the mayoral race is expected to be wide open. 

New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose, who lost his re-election bid this year, is exploring a bid. Other prominent candidates include New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former de Blasio aide and police oversight board head Maya Wiley (a former MSNBC legal analyst), former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Shaun Donovan, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

Yang announced his 2020 presidential campaign in late 2017, far before almost any other major candidate. And while he was initially viewed as a long-shot, his campaign caught a jolt of momentum as he pitched his plan for all Americans to receive monthly $1,000 checks as part of a universal basic income.

He ultimately dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primary and started a nonprofit aimed at advancing his ideas, including universal basic income. He endorsed President-elect Joe Biden in March.

For the first time, New York City will be running the mayoral primary races with ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank a slate of candidates. If no candidate wins a majority vote, the votes for the lowest-finishing candidates will be reallocated to their next preferred candidate, with the process repeating until one candidate hits a majority. 

715d ago / 10:01 PM UTC

DNC will elect new chair at Jan. 21 virtual Winter Meeting

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee will pick its new chair during its virtual Winter Meeting on Jan. 21, NBC News has learned, one day after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated. 

The party informed committee-members today of the date of its Winter Meeting, one of the seasonal gatherings where it conducts party business, a DNC aide told NBC. 

The centerpiece of the Winter Meeting will be the party's officer elections, which will include the election of a new chair. Current DNC Chairman Tom Perez has said he will not serve another four-year term, opening the vacancy at the top of the organization. 

With Biden entering the White House, he'll have significant sway over who leads the party. While there are no official candidates yet, former South Carolina Senate nominee Jaime Harrison has expressed openness to running, telling The Washington Post last month "If that's something that they are interested in me doing, I'll definitely take a good look." 

Harrison proved to be a strong fundraiser during his failed bid for the Senate this past cycle, raising more money in a single fundraising quarter than any candidate in American history. He ultimately lost that race to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham by about 10 points. 

The Democrat has sought to lead the party before — he ran for DNC chair after the 2016 election, and Perez tapped him to be the DNC's associate chairman after that election. Before that, he led the South Carolina Democratic Party. 

And he's close with one of Biden's key allies, South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, after having worked as one of his top aides in the House. 

While other DNC seasonal meetings include various caucus forums and committee work, including the work that helps to shape the party's rules, the party will just focus on electing its new officers during the January session. On top of the chairperson's race, the party will also be electing vice chairs, secretaries, treasurers and national finance chair. 

Image: Tom Perez
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez speaks before the start of the Democratic presidential primary debate on Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C.Patrick Semansky / AP

Perez will leave the party after one term as its leader, in which the party won back both the House and the White House in the 2018 and 2020 elections respectively. The former Labor Secretary during the Obama administration, he inherited a DNC in turmoil after the party's loss in the 2016 presidential election, as well as after hacked emails showing some key party leaders deriding Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders were released. 

Perez faced criticism from some Democrats and DNC members for the party's fundraising in the early years of his tenure. And even as the party won back the White House in November, Democrats lost ground in the House and underperformed its targets in the Senate (control of that body will now be decided in the two runoff Senate elections in Georgia). 

But Perez and top Democrats have pointed to the steps taken to dig the party out of its 2016 hole to help its eventual nominee, Biden, defeat President Trump, including investments in organizing staff and its voter file, emphasizing targeting key constituencies, and helping to fund expansive voting-rights litigation effort across the country. 

715d ago / 5:45 PM UTC

Iowa Democrat Rita Hart files challenge to six-vote defeat in the House

WASHINGTON — Iowa Democrat Rita Hart is officially contesting Iowa's Second Congressional District election, asking the House of Representatives to recount ballots and arguing that she would have won but for lawful votes left uncounted. 

Hart ran against Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks in November's election, and the state's election officials certified the Republican's narrow victory, by just six votes, late last month.

But in an official "notice of contest" filed with the House, Hart's campaign claims it has identified "at least 22 lawful ballots" that were left out of the count (the vast majority of those votes, but not all, were for Hart). The campaign says that if those votes were correctly added to the tally, the Democrat would have won.

The request goes on to request a "hand recount of every ballot" to be sure all votes are captured. 

"We believe that in a democratic system, that it is important that this process be abided by, and that every vote be counted. It is better to get it done right than to simply ignore the fact that voters have been disenfranchised because it might be more convenient," Mark Elias, the Hart campaign's lawyer, said in a briefing with reporters. 

Miller-Meeks and fellow Republicans slammed the decision.

"Every vote has been counted under Iowa law, and recounted under Iowa law. The canvas of votes was approved unanimously by a bipartisan board, and certified by the state of Iowa. I'm proud that a narrow majority of you elected me," Miller-Meeks said in a video statement Tuesday

"Unfortunately, Rita Hart now wants Washington politicians to override the will of Iowa voters and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Iowa voters." 

And in a statement, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Bob Salera called the decision to petition the House a "naked power grab."

The challenge is the latest twist in what's slated to be one of the tightest House races in modern American history. First, the state's unofficial results found Hart 47 votes behind Miller-Meeks, but the margin narrowed to six votes after a recount requested by Hart. 

Ultimately, the House has control over who it decides to seat, so it will be up to the Democratic-controlled body as to whether to investigate and ultimately decide who should be seated. One high-profile example of the process happened in 1984, when the House conducted a recount that ultimately overturned the results in Indiana's 8th Congressional District. 

The request for the House to weigh in comes as Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump for claiming, without evidence, that he is the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election, even despite all votes being certified and electoral votes already cast.

The 176-page challenge from the Hart campaign specifically identifies ballots the campaigns believe should have been counted, and includes affidavits from those involved in the counting process, as well as from voters. The campaign says the votes weren't counted for a variety of reasons, including an error by an election worker, a misplaced signature, and ballots not being sealed properly. 

Asked about the GOP criticism of bringing the challenge to the Democratic-controlled House, Elias said that the move wasn't partisan, but that they were only following the process laid out in federal law to contest federal elections. And he added that while the ballots he identified were not counted for a handful of reasons, he’s not suggesting any animus. 

“Elections are, under the best of circumstances, challenging to administer. In the middle of a pandemic, they are even more challenging,” he said.  

715d ago / 12:59 PM UTC

Larry Hogan celebrates bipartisan Covid relief deal in new 'No Labels' ad

WASHINGTON — Maryland RepublicanGov. Larry Hogan is appearing in a new ad campaign applauding the "bipartisan leadership" that led to Congress passing a Covid-relief deal over months of stalemate, NBC News has learned. 

The new ad campaign is from No Labels, the moderate advocacy group that champions bipartisanship, which named Hogan its national co-chairman earlier this month. 

In the ad — on which No Labels says it will spend $350,000 to run on cable and digital across the country — Hogan pitches a hopeful message about Congress' way forward, calling the agreement "how our government needs to work," by putting partisan "labels aside and put the country first." 

"This is what real, bipartisan leadership looks like. This relief package will save lives, save businesses and save jobs. It's what Americans have been waiting for," Hogan says in the ad. 

"So many people are hurting, and I know it's hard to see our way through this. But if we unite as Americans and work together, I promise you, we can come out of this stronger and better than ever." 

Lawmakers have been struggling to reach a consensus on a new round of relief for months, but broke the logjam over the weekend. But a deal materialized over the last few weeks, and Congress ultimately passed an almost $900 billion relief package late Monday. The deal includes new stimulus checks and an extension of the expanded unemployment benefits, and also provides more funds for areas including the vaccine rollout, for schools and for businesses. 

No Labels supports the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group that has been pushing for compromise in the House on Covid relief and other issues. A handful of the top negotiators in the latest round of Covid relief in the Senate are allies of the group too.  

In a statement to NBC, Ryan Clancy, the chief strategist for No Labels, applauded those allies who "kept working" when "congressional leaders weren't talking, and a deal seemed impossible" because "they knew the stakes and that millions of Americans desperately needed help.

"This deal simply would not have happened if not for the work of this group. So No Labels wanted to highlight this rare and welcome act of bipartisanship but just as important, to let Americans know we can see a lot more of this in 2021 if we demand it," Clancy said. 

The new ad appearance comes in the early weeks of Hogan's term at the helm of the organization. The Maryland Republican has sought to stake out an independent lane in recent years within a GOP dominated by support for President Donald Trump. 

The former head of the National Governor's Association, Hogan has been out-front on his state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and told "Meet the Press" in July that he's a "lifelong Republican who has not been afraid to stand up and disagree with the president on any number of issues."

"I don't know what the future holds in November, but I know that the Republican party is going to be looking at what happens after President Trump and whether that's in four months or in four years. And I think they're going to be looking to, “How do we go about becoming a bigger tent party?” he said at the time. 

716d ago / 5:07 PM UTC

Here's where Joe Biden fell short with critical Hispanic voters

WASHINGTON — In the early days of the 2020 Democratic primaries, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign began polling to learn why their candidate was struggling to gain traction with Hispanic voters, in comparison to primary rivals like Bernie Sanders. Their data found that many Hispanics knew little about Biden — remembering him as Barack Obama’s vice president, and almost nothing else. 

That lack of familiarity spelled trouble once Biden became the Democratic nominee, and left him vulnerable to President Trump and other Republicans' campaign to paint Biden and other Democrats as supporting socialist policies that could hurt Latinos economically.  

Nationally, Biden fell just one percentage point behind 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton among Latinos, 65 to 66 percent respectively per exit polls. But several factors — like varying ideologies, countries of origin and where they live in the U.S. — influence the political leanings of Latinos, especially in key battleground states where Republican investment and communication infrastructure are prominent. 

Among Latino men: Biden won 59 percent, a drop-off of four points from Clinton in 2016. The Trump campaign had prioritized outreach to them after identifying Latino business owners could be persuaded by Trump's economic message.

Image: Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Biden campaigns in Las Vegas, Nevada
Joe Biden speaks about the disproportionate ways coronavirus has impacted Latinos in Nevada during a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Oct. 9, 2020.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

The Biden campaign also did little door-to-door campaigning during the pandemic, which may have also affected his ability to persuade a group that doesn't have a set party affiliation. 

Biden advisers insist the campaign jumped into action when they realized Biden wasn't gaining ground with Hispanic voters. They allotted millions for paid media to micro-target Latino communities. And Biden still won an overwhelming majority of voters against Trump nationally. 

Matt Baretto, whose polling firm Latino Decisions assisted the Biden campaign, said the campaign had done a good job reintroducing the candidate to Hispanic voters by describing his nearly-five decade political record and his commitment to his family and Catholic faith.

But he said the campaign, and the Democratic Party broadly, needed to do much more.

“You can only give the campaign so much criticism and credit. This is something that the party as a whole needs to be engaged with consistently from now on starting the day after inauguration,” Baretto said.

The Biden campaign’s chief strategist Mike Donilon echoed that point in a recent press briefing, noting that the party and Biden’s White House “are focused on and fully intend to strengthen” their outreach to the Latino community.

In Arizona and Nevada, investments and cohesion between Hispanic grassroots groups and state Democratic parties helped put Biden over the top. And Hispanic turnout also jumped in other battleground states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

But Biden saw a concerning dip in Hispanic support in Florida where Republicans worked to convince Miami-Dade County’s Cuban-American community that Biden was sympathetic to socialism. Biden won the county by just 7.3 points, a 23 point swing from Clinton’s total in 2016. And in south Texas, the once heavily Democratic Rio Grande Valley along the border with Mexico saw a steep drop in support for Biden compared to Clinton in 2016. 

Strategists there said Trump's law enforcement message turned many voters in the region away from Biden even as Biden publicly stated that he didn't support the "defund the police" effort.  

“A lot of the border patrol, law enforcement are heavily Latino in the Rio Grande valley. So when you are talking about ‘defunding the police’ and you don’t stand up to those types of rhetoric, then it leaves an opening for Republicans,” Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said during a post-election virtual press conference in November. 

Image: People promote the importance of the Latino vote in Maryvale, Phoenix
Joe Biden's supporters promote the importance of the Latino vote in the majority Hispanic neighbourhood of Maryvale in Phoenix on Oct. 31, 2020.Edgard Garrido / Reuters

Hispanic grassroots operatives and campaign officials told NBC News the campaign and party lacked a firm effort to combat attacks and misinformation spreading about Biden. 

Advisers also saw Biden fall victim to a trend they believe has badly served Democrats for some time: Assuming Latino voters would support them because of Trump and Republicans’ anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

While Trump’s attacks on illegal immigration and his effort to build a border wall with Mexico may have alienated many Hispanic voters, others were attracted to his economic record and warnings that Democrats would slow the economy. Trump’s messages were quickly and repeatedly disseminated through established conservative Spanish language T.V., radio and social media channels, as well as messaging platforms like WhatsApp.

Multiple aides said they pushed Biden to forcefully disassociate himself from socialism, which he did often when pressed in interviews. But he mentioned his record of taking on dictators in Central America just once in a speech in Miami — a missed opportunity, they say, since he gave nine speeches in Florida ahead of Election Day.

Former campaign officials, Hispanic operatives and state party leaders also said Biden needed to convey a much stronger economic message to voters who liked Trump’s record. And Biden’s support for strict regulations to control the pandemic, including the temporary closures of some businesses, left many voters fearing that they would lose their jobs if he were president, strategists said.

“I think it’s deeper than saying Biden needed to do more. It’s that the Democratic Party needs to assess how we can more effectively communicate our answers to misinformation,” Baretto said. “So let’s find that message and have other Latino Democrats communicating and sending the leaders of your party to do that. They should be echoing it.”

720d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

Biden cuts ad with Warnock and Ossoff for Georgia Senate runoffs

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WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Democratic Senate hopefuls Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are out with a new ad featuring none other than President-Elect Joe Biden as they look to give Democrats their second statewide win in a span of a few short months. 

The minute-long ad opens with Biden speaking straight to camera, telling Georgians that while "things are tough right now," that “help is on the way,” outlining his plan to combat COVID, get folks vaccinated, and help business.

But Biden pivots to the Senate race, connecting Democratic success next month to his agenda. 

“Let me be clear, I need Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the United States Senate to get this done," he says, adding: “There are folks in Congress threatening to do everything in their power to block our efforts,” and implorign Georgians to vote for the Democrats in their respective races. Ossoff is running against GOP Sen. David Perdue and Warnock against GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler. 

While former President Barack Obama narrated an ad in support of both candidates, this is Biden's first, and it comes days after the president-elect joined the pair for a rally in Georgia.  

721d ago / 7:45 PM UTC

Inauguration committee announces limited attendance amid Covid-19 pandemic

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration will look more like a State of the Union, with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announcing Tuesday that they'll limit tickets and guests for lawmakers. 

In a statement released Wednesday, Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt noted that the JCCIC has concluded alongside public health and medical experts that they will strictly “limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union” address.

Image: US-POLITICS-INAUGURATION-PREPARATION
Workers construct the stage for the presidential inauguration in Washington on Dec. 1, 2020.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

While the JCCIC traditionally gives out 200,000 tickets for members of Congress to distribute to constituents, the committee will now only distribute tickets to members of the 117th Congress and one guest to see the ceremonies on the Capitol’s West Front. Constituents, however, can still request memorabilia tickets and program packets, but they will not allow for access to the Capitol grounds.

The latest safety protocols follows the Presidential Inaugural Committee announcement Tuesday that they are also planning a largely virtual inauguration and parade to encourage supporters celebrate at home rather than gather in Washington, D.C.

722d ago / 10:50 PM UTC

State Department to receive first Covid vaccines this week

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WASHINGTON — The State Department will be receiving its first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine this week, according to internal agency communications obtained by NBC News. 

The “very limited number,” of the vaccines received by the department in the first tranche will be administered to a small prioritized group of staff undertaking “mission critical” work, according to an email sent to employees Tuesday by Under Secretary of State Brian Bulatao. He did not say how many doses would be immediately available to diplomats, but noted more would arrive “incrementally over the next several months.”

Frontline medical personnel are among those first to receive the vaccine as well as State Department employees serving on the frontlines in Kabul, Afghanistan; Baghdad, Iraq and Mogadishu, Somalia, where poor healthcare systems put them even more at risk. Diplomatic Security agents in Washington, D.C. performing critical operations and coming into close contact with the Secretary of State will also be a priority for vaccinations.  

Image: A vial of Pfizer?EUR(TM)s COVID-19 vaccine that receive emergency use authorization is seen at George Washington University Hospital, in Washington
A vial of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine that receive emergency use authorization is seen at George Washington University Hospital, in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 14, 2020.Jacquelyn Martin / Pool via Reuters

“While we would have preferred to vaccinate our entire Department workforce at once, we will have to do so incrementally based on vaccine availability,” Bulatao said in the State Department-wide email. In the meantime, Bulatao advised employees “to continue to wear face coverings, physically distance, and follow [Department] guidance.”

Bulatao noted the State Department is working closely with Operation Warp Speed, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, and will “deploy the Covid-19 vaccine to the broader workforce as soon as it is made available.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to expand on the timing or logistics of agency’s plan due to “operational sensitivity,” but said vaccine distribution “will allow the Department to advance U.S. national security interests and ensure America’s essential diplomacy continues unimpeded.”

The State Department prioritization comes as officials across the U.S. government, in particular at national security agencies, are working to decide how and when to dole out the vaccine to critical staffers while avoiding the perception that government workers are skipping the line. 

President Donald Trump has said White House staffers should get it “somewhat later in the program” and that he isn’t currently scheduled to do so until “the appropriate time.” Two sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine by week’s end. Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller received the Covid-19 vaccine on camera on Monday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

722d ago / 9:26 PM UTC

Nina Turner announces bid for potential Ohio House special election

WASHINGTON — Former Ohio state senator Nina Turner announced her campaign for Rep. Marcia Fudge's, D-Ohio, seat on Tuesday. Turner was the co-chair of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign. 

Fudge's seat will become vacant if she is confirmed as President-elect Joe Biden's Housing and Urban Development secretary. Biden announced Fudge as his choice to lead HUD on Dec. 8

Turner touched on her Cleveland roots — a large part of Ohio's 11th district — in her announcement video. 

"I am a daughter of Cleveland. I was raised in this community by parents who worked very hard. My mother was a nurse's aid, my father a truck driver. I can relate to people who live in the 11th Congressional District from all walks of life," Turner said. 

The district has been represented by just two representatives since 2000: Fudge and former Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Turner, like Fudge and Jones, is also a woman of color. 

Turner served as a state senator from 2008 to 2014 in the Cleveland area, and was on the Cleveland city council prior to that. She has already amassed support from Sanders campaign alums like California Rep. Ro Khanna and the progressive group, Our Revolution, that was created after Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. 

Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, will call a special election if and when Fudge formally leaves her seat to lead HUD. 

722d ago / 7:32 PM UTC

GOP holds spending edge five weeks into Senate runoffs

WASHINGTON — Republicans hold a narrow TV and radio spending edge in the Georgia Senate runoffs, an edge powered by a big boost from outside groups. 

There's already been about $220 million spent on the airwaves in both races combined, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact, with more than $400 million in total already slated to be spent over the two-month runoff period. 

That type of spending, in such a small period, means that Georgians have already been inundated with TV ads — AdImpact estimates that as of last Thursday, every Georgian adult (aged 35 or above) had seen about 328 Senate runoff ads already. 

Republicans overall have a larger spending advantage in the special runoff, which pits GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock. Republicans have spent $60.9 million through Monday to the Democrats' $50.4 million. 

The GOP spending edge in the race between GOP Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff is smaller — $55.7 million to $53 million. 

Image:
Supporters of Sens. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., wait for the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence at his Defend the Majority Rally on Dec. 10, 2020, in Augusta, Ga.Curtis Compton / AP

Under the hood, both races are following similar trends, with the Democratic candidates the largest individual TV ad spenders in their races, but with Republican outside groups filling the gap, and then some. 

Warnock leads the pack in his race with $37.3 million spent on TV and radio ads, with Loeffler at $25 million. But the GOP-aligned American Crossroads is right behind her at $24.8 million, with the top Democratic outside group Georgia Honor at $11.8 million. 

Ossoff similarly is outpacing Perdue, spending $41.1 million to the Republican's $22.7 million. Senate Leadership Fund, the GOP-aligned group, spent $22.5 million, with the Democrat-aligned Georgia Way spending $10.6 million. 

723d ago / 5:26 PM UTC

In-person early voting in Georgia Senate runoffs begins Monday

WASHINGTON — Voters are voting in person in Georgia's Senate runoff.

Georgians could already vote absentee to choose between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock, as well as GOP Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff. But Monday marked the first day when voters could cast their ballots for the pivotal elections in person. 

Image: Early Voting Starts In Georgia Ahead Of Senate Runoff Elections
Voters line up for the first day of early voting in Atlanta on Dec. 14, 2020.Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Early, in-person voting made up 54 percent of total votes in the Senate races’ first round, so it’s going to be important for the candidates to bank these votes (you can see more of the breakdown at the Secretary of State’s website, they refer to it as “advanced voting”).

For what it’s worth, GOP Sen. David Perdue won those advanced votes in his race by a margin of about 54 percent to 46 percent. In a massive field (reminder: the special election held a jungle primary), GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and GOP Rep. Doug Collins, the two top GOP candidates, won a combined 49 percent, per the Secretary of State’s website, while Warnock, far-and-away the top Democrat in the crowded field, winning 30 percent (the second-place Democrat, Deborah Jackson, had another 7 percent of the early votes). 

Cobb County, the state's most populous county, announced last week it would add two more locations for early voting in response to "concerns" that its initial plan of more limited locations could hamper the ability of minority voters to make have access to the polls. 

726d ago / 9:33 PM UTC

Biden to share staff, financial resources with Warnock and Ossoff

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is sharing both staff and financial resources from his presidential campaign with Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidates ahead of their closely-watched runoff elections on Jan. 5.

The Biden campaign — in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee — has spent roughly $5 million in the runoff races so far and has raised nearly $10 million for Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, two Democratic officials confirmed to NBC News.

Image: Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater, on Dec. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Andrew Harnik / AP

Biden won Georgia by less than a point in the November presidential election, and the runoff races will decide which party controls the Senate.

The Biden campaign is paying for about 50 staffers to continue working in Georgia and has shifted another dozen data analytics and technology staffers to help the Ossoff and Warnock campaigns. The staffers will be led by two senior members of Biden's Georgia effort, and their focus will be on the ground game: organizing Democrats and outreach to critical constituencies and voter contact.

And Biden isn't just lending his team to help Ossoff and Warnock. The president-elect will visit Atlanta on Tuesday to campaign for the candidates. 

726d ago / 6:22 PM UTC

Lamar Alexander criticizes GOP lawsuit aimed at overturning election

WASHINGTON — In an interview with "Meet the Press," retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., dismissed the attempt by a handful of Republican state attorneys general to get the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the election results in four pivotal states that helped President-elect Joe Biden win November's election. 

Alexander, in an excerpted part of the interview released Friday, argued the lawsuit would infringe on states' rights. 

"That doesn't sound like a very Republican argument to me," he said of the challenge led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican.

"I mean, our position, my position, Republicans believe that states are in charge of elections. And Texas is a big state, but I don't know exactly why it has a right to tell four other states how to run their elections. So I'm having a hard time figuring out the basis for that lawsuit."

Paxton's lawsuit, filed this week against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, argues that the Court should allow state legislators to pick the slate of presidential electors because of what he claims was widespread fraud. 

But a bipartisan group of top election officials in those four states pushed back on allegations of fraud, the president and his allies have lost dozens of lawsuits claiming fraud, legal experts have raised serious questions about the lawsuit, and Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse called the case a "PR stunt" in an interview with the Washington Examiner

Tune in to Meet the Press on Sunday for more of the interview with Sen. Alexander, including his response to the president’s attempts to overturn the election results, and his thoughts on the future of the Republican party as he  prepares to retire after decades in politics.

726d ago / 4:48 PM UTC

Outgoing Rep. Max Rose files paperwork for potential NYC mayor run

WASHINGTON — Outgoing Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., filed paperwork on Thursday for a possible run for New York City mayor.

Rose, who lost his House seat to incoming Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., in November, represented New York's 11th district. 

Rose previewed the news in a tweet on Thursday night, after filing the paperwork that will allow him to raise money for a potential run. He hasn't formally announced his candidacy. 

Before losing his re-election bid, Rose said he wouldn't run for mayor if he lost his congressional seat. 

"You think that a short, bald Jewish guy from Brooklyn is gonna get elected mayor? I'm running for reelection and that's the position I want," Rose said at the time. 

But Rose also made criticizing the current mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, a central point in his campaign. Rose cut an ad in September saying, "Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City." He then added, "That’s it guys. Seriously. That’s the whole ad.”

Rose won New York's 11th District in 2018, ousting Republican Rep. Dan Donovan, and was the first Democrat to win the seat in eight years. Malliotakis will now be New York City's only Republican congressperson. 

And another name from 2020 could follow Rose's lead into the mayoral race. Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has reportedly told some New York City leaders that he's considering a run. 

727d ago / 5:09 PM UTC

Doug Emhoff to join Georgetown Law faculty in 2021

WASHINGTON — Georgetown University Law Center announced Thursday that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, will join their faculty in January 2021.

Emhoff will join as a "distinguished visitor from practice" and fellow. Prior to President-elect Joe Biden and Harris' electoral win, Emhoff worked as a media and entertainment attorney in California. Emhoff will teach a two-credit course at Georgetown entitled “Entertainment Law Disputes.”

Emhoff and Biden's wife, Jill Biden, both plan to work during their spouses' term. Biden plans to continue teaching after inauguration, making her the first first lady to hold a job outside of the White House. 

Image: Douglas Emhoff
Senator Kamala Harris and husband Douglas Emhoff smile while standing on stage during the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 19, 2020.Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

“I’ve long wanted to teach and serve the next generation of young lawyers,” Emhoff said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to join the Georgetown community.”

Emhoff has not yet announced what kind, if any, work he'll do as the vice president's husband. 

“This role at Georgetown will be separate and apart from his official role as Second Gentleman, and Mr. Emhoff continues to work with the Biden-Harris transition team to develop the portfolio he will focus on to support the work of the Administration,” a transition spokesperson said.

During the general election, Emhoff repeatedly mentioned interest in working on “access to justice” in his role as second gentleman. And during a stop in Washington D.C. before Thanksgiving with Harris, he mentioned an interest in food insecurity.

728d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

Arizona gov elected chair of Republican Governors Association amid Trump's criticism

WASHINGTON — Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has been elected the chair of the Republican Governors Association despite President Donald Trump's repeated attacks on him for certifying the state's electoral results. 

The association announced Ducey's election in a statement Wednesday confirming Ducey would lead the group and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds would serve as vice chair. Both will serve one-year terms effective immediately. 

Trump publicly turned on Ducey in the last two weeks, tweeting that Ducey has betrayed Arizonans and suggesting that “Republicans will long remember” that Ducey did not fight the state's narrow election results.

Over the weekend, Trump followed in a tweet: “Between Governor @DougDucey of Arizona and Governor @BrianKempGA of Georgia, the Democrat Party could not be happier. They fight harder against us than do the Radical Left Dems. If they were with us, we would have already won both Arizona and Georgia…” 

Image: Doug Ducey, Cara Christ
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question about the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine in Arizona as he holds a news conference regarding the latest Covid-19 information as Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ listens, on Dec. 2, 2020, in Phoenix.Ross D. Franklin / Pool via AP

But despite the push from Trump and his legal team to discredit the state's leaders and its election results, top Republicans in the state, including Ducey, have defended their state's count. 

"I’ve been pretty outspoken about Arizona’s election system, and bragged about it quite a bit, including in the Oval Office. And for good reason," Ducey tweeted last month.

"In Arizona, we have some of the strongest election laws in the country, laws that prioritize accountability and clearly lay out procedures for conducting, canvassing, and even contesting the results of an election."

728d ago / 4:37 PM UTC

Biden's Cabinet picks leave House Democrats with a narrow majority

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Biden's decision to select Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, to be his Housing and Urban Development secretary could have a major impact on the Democrats' House majority.

As of right now, the 2020 elections reduced the Democratic majority to 222 seats. That majority will get even slimmer with Fudge and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., departing for jobs in the Biden administration. With the majority, assuming Fudge is confirmed, down to 220, Democrats will hold just two seats more than a majority of a full House (218).  

Special elections will be held for Fudge and Richmonds' seats, but it could take months for those elections to determine a winner in these heavily Democratic districts. 

And narrow majority could be worrisome for Democrats. 

If Biden picks more House Democrats to serve in his administration, or if other Democrats in the House resign or pass away, the party could potentially lose its majority.  

Image: Nancy Pelosi Holds News Conference After Democratic Leadership Elections
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters after she was re-elected to lead her conference along with Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass., Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., and Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., in Washington on Nov. 18, 2020.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters that he was concerned about the slimming majority and indicated as much to the Biden team.

"I’m certainly concerned by the slimming of the majority. I indicated to the administration very early on that I wanted them to be very careful in terms of the members that they appointed from Congress," Hoyer said.

That means it doesn’t look good for any other House Democrats to get a Cabinet nod — like New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, who’s a contender for Interior Secretary.  

But even if Democrats do retain the House majority, it won't be an effective governable majority. Democrats are bound to need Republican help to pass big-ticket items, because it's likely they'll see defections from either progressives or moderates on any legislation. 

729d ago / 12:37 AM UTC

Terry McAuliffe to announce Virginia governor's bid Wednesday

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe will announce Wednesday morning that he will run again for his former seat, according to aides involved in his emerging campaign.

McAuliffe, who entertained a run for president in 2020, is up against three other Democrats, all of whom are Black: current Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, state senator Jennifer McClellan and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy. Either McCllellan or Foy, if elected, would be the nation’s first Black woman governor.

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe arrives at the election night rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax
Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe arrives at the election night rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia on Nov. 7, 2017.Aaron Bernstein / Reuters file

McAulliffe will announce his candidacy at an elementary school in Richmond to focus on his education plan.

“[McAuliffe’s] plan will call for the largest ever investment in education in the Commonwealth, and will include raising teacher salaries above the national average for the first time in Virginia history,” the campaign says.

Since McAuliffe’s term as governor ended in 2018, he’s stayed heavily involved in engaging and fundraising for Virginia Democrats, particularly in the aftermath of the controversy that engulfed current Gov. Ralph Northam over a picture of him in blackface was found in a medical school yearbook.

McAuliffe’s PAC “Common Good” has raised more than $1.7 million as of July.

McAulliffe will also announce his campaign co-chairs tomorrow, all of whom all Black leaders in the commonwealth, including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. 

Virginia’s gubernatorial race has long been an early bellwether test for both parties ahead of the next midterm elections since it takes place in an otherwise off-year for elective politics. 

Joe Biden won Virginia by more than 10 points, but with more progressive candidates in the primary like Jennifer Caroll Foy, the conversation could shift left.

McAuliffe is also jumping in the race at a moment when Republicans in Virginia have been battling over how to hold their own party’s primary, and on Saturday decided to hold a convention versus a primary vote to choose their nominee. State senator Amanda Chase, who is running on a far right agenda, initially announced her gubernatorial run as a Republican, but now said she would seek the nominee as an independent. 

729d ago / 6:37 PM UTC

Clyburn: Expect Marcia Fudge to be nominated to Biden's Cabinet

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration committee chair, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, said he expects Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge to be nominated for a position in Biden's Cabinet. 

Fudge, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, would be the second Black woman to be nominated to Biden's Cabinet. Biden nominated Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the Ambassador to the United Nations in late November. 

"Marcia Fudge, I look for her to be in the Cabinet. I spoke with her last  night, I have been talking with other people, I don't know that she will be the Secretary of Agriculture, that may not be. But she will be a member of the Cabinet. At least to be nominated for a Cabinet position," Clyburn said Tuesday on "Morning Joe". 

Clyburn, whose influential endorsement helped Biden secure his win in South Carolina, he had been disappointed in the lack of Black Cabinet nominees ahead of of Biden decision to nominate Rt. Gen. Lloyd Austin to head the Department of Defense. 

“From all I hear, Black people have been given fair consideration," Clyburn told a columnist in November. "But there is only one Black woman so far."

On Monday, NBC News confirmed that Biden would nominate Austin, who if confirmed, will be the first Black man to lead the Defense Department. 

And Clyburn applauded the pick on Tuesday. 

"I look for this to be a pretty smooth hearing and confirmation and I like him very much. I think he is going to be a good fit for us," Clyburn said. 

729d ago / 4:13 PM UTC

Talking policy with Benjy: Big fat beautiful checks edition

WASHINGTON — The big bipartisan deal on COVID relief continues to chug along, but there’s some prominent dissent from the left and right — and, unusually, they both have the same complaint.

On Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., urged President Donald Trump to veto any bill that doesn’t include direct payments to Americans along the lines of the $1,200 checks that went out at the start of the pandemic. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. has also said he opposes the emerging deal on those lines. While not yet threatening to vote against a bill, big names on the left in the House are also pushing for more payments, led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

Senate Vote
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the Capitol on June 17, 2020.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Pool file

Trump is also on record calling for more COVID payments in October — his name went out on the previous round of payments — though he has not done much to push for them in the current round of negotiations. Hawley and Sanders also have other concerns, with the former upset over aid to state and local budgets and the latter worried about protections for business against COVID-related lawsuits.

While the coronavirus is the cause of the current debate over payments, it’s part of a broader trend in both parties towards promoting direct cash benefits to families rather than more complicated benefits tied to specific needs. Andrew Yang was the most prominent evangelist with his push for basic income, but Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also made big refundable tax credits her signature domestic policy.

On the GOP side, some Republicans see it as a way to compete with Democrats on populist grounds. Even before the pandemic, Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee were rolling out a bill to expand child tax credits — and notably pay for it by raising taxes on wealthy heirs, a rare break from conservative orthodoxy.

All of this could present a President-elect Joe Biden with some bipartisan opportunities once he takes office. On paper, Hawley and Sanders could easily work out a bipartisan bill on stimulus and maybe even get Trump to endorse it on Twitter. But in practice, Biden knows from experience that it’s hard getting Republicans to back even tax cuts when it means a victory for a Democratic president. This could be an early test of how much has changed since then.

730d ago / 10:08 PM UTC

Mike Pompeo set to deliver speech in Georgia ahead of runoff elections

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will appear in Atlanta on Wednesday for an official speech ahead of next month's Georgia Senate runoff elections, which will determine control of the Senate.

Pompeo’s speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology entitled, “the China challenge to U.S. national security and academic freedom,” will highlight the Trump administration’s tough on China approach including the closing of their consulate in Houston, travel restrictions for communist party officials, and a series of financial sanctions on those responsible for cracking down on Hong Kong.  

But Pompeo's appearance in Georgia could reignite the debate over the traditional non-partisan role of a secretary of state. Pompeo is currently facing two investigations from the Office of the Special Counsel for potentially politicizing his position. 

In September, Pompeo flew to Wisconsin to address Republican lawmakers in a speech to the Madison Senate chamber and to Plano, Texas to address an evangelical church. In October he virtually addressed a conservative Christian organization in Florida.  

Image: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Kuwaiti FM Al-Sabah meet in Washington
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media prior to meeting with Kuwait's Foreign Minister in Washington on Nov. 24, 2020.Saul Loeb / Pool via Reuters

Pompeo's address to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem prompted an investigation by the anti-corruption Office of the Special Counsel. The office said it was investigating a possible violation of the Hatch Act which restricts U.S. officials from mixing electioneering with official government business. 

While Pompeo has said that he was making the speech in his "personal capacity", he had flown to Israel for an official visit as secretary of state.

In October, House Appropriations Committee Chair, Rep. Nita Lower, D-N.Y., and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. released a statement criticizing Pompeo's "brazen" misuse of taxpayer dollars to fund "vehicles for the Administration's, and his own, political ambitions." 

The Office of the Special Counsel opened a second investigation following Pompeo’s pledge to release more of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails ahead of the presidential election.

In 2019, amid talk that Pompeo was considering running for Senate in his home state of Kansas, Pompeo traveled to Kansas on a three-state domestic tour. The secretary of state has also hosted private dinners with potential GOP donors, conservative media hosts and entertainers in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the State Department.

But as Pompeo is slated to speak in Georgia, all political eyes are on the state's two Senate runoffs. President Trump and Vice President Pence have both recently visited Georgia to campaign for Republican Sens. Kelly Loefller and David Perdue.

Since the November election, Pompeo has yet to formally recognize that Joe Biden won the election, or publicly confirm if he's had contact with his likely successor Anthony Blinken, but Pompeo has acknowledged that the transition process at the State Department has begun.

730d ago / 4:14 PM UTC

Clyburn to lead Biden inaugural committee alongside new co-chairs

WASHINGTON — Longtime South Carolina Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, whose key endorsement of now President-elect Joe Biden helped turn the tide in his Democratic primary race, will chair Biden's inaugural committee. 

The Presidential Inaugural Committee made the announcement Monday morning, also unveiling the group's co-chairs: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. 

Clyburn has been a stalwart ally of Biden's who helped him whip support in the pivotal South Carolina Democratic primary. The lawmaker also serves as the House Majority Whip.

Whitmer also served as a key endorser for Biden in the swing-state of Michigan, which he won by about 3 percentage points, and was on his vice-presidential shortlist

Richmond and Rochester are close allies of Biden's who also served as co-chairs of the Biden campaign, along with Whitmer and Garcetti. Richmond is heading to serve in the White House, and Blunt Rochester has long been a friend of the Biden family. 

"These leaders reflect the strength, spirit, and diversity of America and have always held a steadfast commitment to restoring the soul of the nation, building back the middle class, and unifying the country," Biden said in a statement.

"We are proud of their support and know they will help plan an inauguration that will reflect our nation’s shared values."

Mike Memoli contributed

730d ago / 3:12 PM UTC

Top Georgia Republican officials buck Trump's call to push legislators to overturn Biden victory

WASHINGTON — Georgia’s Republican leaders poured cold water on any hopes of convening a special session of the General Assembly to override the state’s election results and select presidential electors in favor of President Trump.

In a Sunday night statement, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) & Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-GA) said such a move is “not an option that is allowed under state or federal law.” 

"The judicial system remains the only viable - and quickest - option in disputing the results of the November 3rd election in Georgia,” their statement added.

 

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr tweeted his support of the governor’s office.

“The election of presidential electors has already taken place in the manner directed by Georgia’s legislature at the time set by Congress,” he wrote Monday morning. “There is no applicable legal avenue for replacing the choice of electors after the election.”

Lt. Gov. Duncan expanded on their statement in an interview with CNN.

“To think I would wake up one day and decide that 2.5 million people’s vote didn’t count just because it wasn’t the way I wanted the election to turn out, that’s certainly not democracy,” he said. “So I personally think it’s a bad idea and oh, by the way, I’ve got the benefit of the law supporting that decision.”

The Georgia officials’ rejection of GOP calls to convene a special session comes two days after President Trump called Kemp, a call in which Trump tried to pressure Kemp into leaning on the legislature to make the extraordinary decision to overrule the voters and elect pro-Trump delegates to the Electoral College. 

On Sunday night, Trump tweeted that both Kemp and Duncan could "easily solve this mess" by re-checking signatures on ballot envelopes and with a "special session," an allusion to the plan he and some allies have floated, which would require state legislatures in key swing states to dismiss the election results.

732d ago / 4:29 PM UTC

Trump campaign pushes challenges in Georgia ahead of president's visit

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SAVANNAH, Ga. — With just one month until the two runoffs here that will determine control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years, President Donald Trump's campaign and the chairman of the state Republican Party filed a lawsuit Friday to block last month’s recertification even as Vice President Mike Pence and other Georgia Republicans are pleading for voters to turn out despite “doubts about the last election.”

The Trump campaign’s latest litigation, filed Friday night in Fulton County superior court, calls for the decertification of the state’s election results, a new presidential election, and injunction and allowing the state legislature to appoint electors.

The lawsuit — filed against GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and multiple county election directors — alleges that, “due to significant systemic misconduct, fraud, and other irregularities occurring during the election process, many thousands of illegal votes were cast, counted, and included in the tabulations.”

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has yet to recertify the election results based on the recount requested by the Trump campaign, which shows President-elect Joe Biden with a margin of victory of 11,769 votes.

As Trump continues to sow distrust in Georgia’s election system, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are trying to harness a Republican electorate whose president explicitly said the runoffs should be “called off” because they will not be fairly administered.

Pence joined in on that message Friday, arguing that a Republican Senate majority could be the party’s “last line of defense” against Democrats in the House and White House.

“I know we've all got our doubts about the last election,” Pence told the crowd of supporters in Savannah as he rallied for the GOP incumbents. “I actually hear some people saying, just don't vote. My fellow Americans. If you don't vote they win.” 

Former Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the state's last federal runoff winner and signatory on a recent letter from 18 Republican leaders in the state calling for the GOP to unify and focus on the Senate runoffs, is concerned about Trump’s arguments when he visits Georgia Saturday.

“I do worry about the president coming down and being focused on something other than and his total unabashed support of the election of Kelly and David on January 5,” he told NBC News. 

“Clearly, Trump has the opportunity to put to rest any theory of ‘this election was stolen from us, and therefore you ought not to get out and vote again because it's already done.’ If he comes down and says, ‘Look, I want everybody here to vote I don't care whether you vote by mail early voting, or voting on January 5, every Republican needs to turn out and vote,’ then I think he puts to rest that undercurrent that's out there. And I hope that's what he does.”

Trump will be addressing his base days after Rudy Giuliani appeared at a state senate committee meeting to share debunked conspiracy theories about the Dominion voting system and “connection” to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

“This is not a machine, you want counting your votes,” he said Thursday at the state capitol. “It does cast doubt on the entire legitimacy of the vote.”

Such rhetoric — echoed by Trump in his White House video statement this week — is what worries Republicans like Chambliss.

“I think you can look at the vote on November 3, and it's pretty easy to reach a conclusion that from a presidential standpoint, that was a referendum on Trump,” Chambliss told NBC News of the tens of thousands of Biden-Perdue voters. 

“I think that we won't have that scenario this time around, it's going to be just people coming up to vote for David, and that gives me confidence. If we can get the turnout, then we're going to be successful on January 5. But if you have these continued distractions, then you just wonder if those folks who did cross over are going to come back again.”

733d ago / 4:57 PM UTC

New campaign filings show Trump's fundraising haul off claims of voter fraud

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WASHINGTON — President Trump's full campaign effort raised $495 million between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, according to new FEC filings, a total that includes the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and other affiliated committees. 

Nearly half of that — $207.5 million — was raised since Election Day (between Nov. 3 and Nov. 23). Much of this haul has come from fundraising appeals that include unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, and it's an enormous amount for the GOP effort to be able to raise after losing an election. The Trump fundraising effort has sent more than 500 fundraising emails since Nov. 4, plus hundreds of text messages soliciting donations. 

Image: President Donald Trump returns from Camp David
President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from Camp David on Nov. 29, 2020.Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Much of the money being raised to help fund election challenges, like donations being solicited through requests to challenge the election outcome, isn't being funneled to a specific group. The campaign is allocating some money for recount efforts, and the same "election defense" rhetoric is being used to direct money to Trump's new political action committee, “Save America”. 

Trump started "Save America" in mid-November to fuel his post-presidency plans. It will allow the president to raise money for potential future travel, rallies or pay political consultants. But this money can't be used for any future campaign, should Trump decide to run for president again in 2024. The group raised about $570,000 through Nov. 23. 

The campaign filings also show more than $4.7 million in legal fees between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23. Legal adviser Jenna Ellis was paid $30,000 in consulting fees over that timeline, and overall the campaign has spent about $8.8 million on fees related to the recount effort in the same timeframe. 

734d ago / 8:53 PM UTC

Tweet the Press: A look into Michael Flynn's firing, and eventual pardon, with Carol E. Lee

WASHINGTON — In case you missed Thursday's Tweet the Press, we spoke with NBC News Correspondent Carol E. Lee about the events that led up to President Trump firing, and then pardoning, his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Lee reported on the timeline from when Flynn was first contacted by the FBI about his phone calls with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, to the moment he was fired, his guilty plea and the once wavering, but now full-throated support, from the White House. 

Click the link here to read the full conversation. 

734d ago / 5:13 PM UTC

Kamala Harris adds to V.P. team with a majority of women of color

WASHINGTON — Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced on Thursday she hired three more women to be on her senior staff. Harris’ chief of staff, domestic policy adviser and national security adviser will all be women, two of whom are women of color.

Harris has a long history of hiring and elevating women of color in her senate office and primary campaign and in the general election, as well.

“Together with the rest of my team, today’s appointees will work to get this virus under control, open our economy responsibly and make sure it lifts up all Americans, and restore and advance our country's leadership around the world,” Harris said in a press release.

Tina Flournoy, who currently serves as former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, will become Harris' chief of staff. Flournoy is a member of "The Colored Girls", a group of Black women who work in public service. Other members include Donna Brazile and Minyon Moore. Harris pointed to Flournoy's "deep experience, public policy expertise and accomplished career in public service" as her reasons for the pick. 

Image: U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris visits the Downtown Holiday Market in Washington
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris talks to reporters in Washington on Nov. 28, 2020.Hannah Mckay / Reuters

Harris' domestic policy adviser will be Rohini Kosoglu. Kosoglu was a senior adviser on Harris' presidential campaign and worked in Harris' office. She previously held positions with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow. 

Nancy McEldowney, who most recently worked as the director of the school of foreign service at Georgetown University, will serve as Harris’ national security adviser. McEldowney worked in the U.S. foreign service for 30 years and is a former ambassador to Bulgaria. 

Harris' announced staff is so far a majority women of color. Symone Sanders, who will serve as Harris' senior adviser and chief spokesperson, and Ashley Etienne, who will be Harris' communications director, are also both Black women. 

735d ago / 6:04 PM UTC

Georgia Secretary of State: Trump's rhetoric causes 'growing threat' to election workers

WASHINGTON — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger doubled down on his condemnation of President Trump's repeated false claims of voter fraud on Wednesday. 

“Even after this office requests that President Trump try and quell the violent rhetoric, being born out of his continuing claims of winning the states where he obviously lost, he tweeted out, ‘expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia’ — this is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of a growing threat environment for election workers who are simply doing their jobs,” Raffensperger said.

In a passionate speech at the state capitol on Tuesday, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling said the rhetoric “has gone too far,” citing violent threats against ex-Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Chris Krebs, Raffensperger and his wife and a young local contractor for a voting system company in Gwinnett County, Ga.

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” Sterling said. “Senators, you've not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up and if you're going to take a position of leadership, show some."

He added, "This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this.”

Raffensperger also tried to lower the temperature on Wednesday.

“I want to extend grace to those that seemingly have hate in their heart,” Raffensperger said. “We've all been through an awful lot. As many of us have said, we wish that our guy would have won the election, but it doesn't look like our guy has won the election, and it looks like Vice President Biden will be carrying Georgia, and he is our president-elect.”

President Trump is set to visit Georgia this Saturday to campaign for both of the state's Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, ahead of their respective runoff elections on Jan. 5.

736d ago / 8:10 PM UTC

Iowa congressional race likely to be one of closest in modern history

WASHINGTON — When Iowa's State Canvassing Board certified its 2020 election results on Monday, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks edged out Democrat Rita Hart in the state's Second Congressional District by just six votes, making it one of the closest U.S. House races in modern history. 

Hart had requested a recount after the Secretary of State's unofficial results found her 47 votes behind the Republican. But while the margin narrowed during the recount, Miller-Meeks remained on top. 

NBC's Decision Desk has not yet projected a winner, and it's possible that the contest may move to the courtroom. 

Such narrow margins were more common in the 18th and 19th Centuries, when the electorate was far smaller than it is today. But over the last half-century, there have still been some House nail-biters almost as close, or in some cases, closer. 

Here's a non-exhaustive look at some of the closest U.S. House races in recent memory:

2014: Arizona Republican Martha McSally defeats Democrat Ron Barber by 161 votes 

After then-Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords resigned months after she was shot, her district director, Barber, won both the 2012 special election and the general election later that year. McSally lost the GOP special election primary, but was the party's nominee that fall and fell short to Barber by just a few thousand votes. 

The 2014 rematch made that tight race look like a breeze — McSally ultimately defeated Barber by 161 votes after a long recount that stretched into December.  

2006: Connecticut Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney defeats Republican Rep Rob Simmons by 83 votes

The 2006 midterms were good for Democrats in the House — the party took back the body's majority for the first time in more than a decade. But Courtney, then a state representative running against Simmons for the second time, eked out a victory after a mandatory recount

2002: Colorado Republican Bob Beauprez defeats Democrat Mike Feeley by 121 votes

Long before his gubernatorial bids, Beauprez (then the state GOP chairman) entered the House after the first-ever election in Colorado's 7th District, which was newly created after redistricting. The tight race forced a recount with Beauprez narrowly ahead, but according to reporting from UPI, the Republican lost a net of just one vote during that recount and was declared the winner. 

1994: Connecticut Democratic Rep. Samuel Gejdenson defeats Republican Edward Munster by 21 votes 

There must be something about Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District, which appears on this list twice. Twelve years before Courtney's narrow victory, Gejednson won a nailbiter of his own. Two years prior, the incumbent edged out Munster by a few thousand votes, and the 1994 race was one of the closest in recent history, needing a 98-page state Supreme Court decision to settle.  

1986: North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble defeats Democrat Robin Britt

Long before the 2000 election came down to "hanging chads," the ballots played a key role in the controversy surrounding this House race. According to the Greensboro News and Record, the Democrat pushed for a full recount after a partial count of ballots accidentally left at two precincts ended up in her picking up a few votes, but that request was denied by the GOP-led county and state election boards. 

1984: Democratic Rep. Frank McCloskey defeats Republican Rick McIntyre by 4 votes

One of the most infamous House elections in modern American history can best be described by two of NBC's biggest election junkies — Steve Kornacki and Chuck Todd. 

736d ago / 4:35 PM UTC

Perdue, Ossoff race slated to be most expensive Senate race in ad spending

WASHINGTON — There's been an enormous amount of money pouring into Georgia ahead of the two pivotal Senate runoffs in the state, with one of the races already slated to shatter Senate advertising spending records. 

More than $293 million has already been spent and booked on TV and radio ads for both runoffs combined, according to Advertising Analytics, just between Nov. 4 and the Jan. 5 election. 

The special runoff, pitting Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock, already has $159 million devoted to it ($95 million from Republicans and $64 million from Democrats). The runoff between Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff has drawn $135 million in spending and bookings ($81 million from Republicans and $54 million from Republicans). 

Image: Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock
Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff hold a campaign rally in Marietta on Nov. 15, 2020.Brynn Anderson / AP

And if all that spending and booked spending is combined with what was already spent in the general elections, both elections begin pushing into the most expensive Senate races in history. In total, there's been $271 million booked and spent on TV and radio ads in the general election matchup between Perdue and Ossoff so far, with $208 million booked and spent on the Loeffler seat. 

That puts the Perdue v. Ossoff race in a position to break the record for most advertising spending across a Senate race, a record set by the North Carolina Senate race this cycle, which drew $251 million in total TV/radio spending and $265 million with digital spending included. 

The totals for these races aren't set in stone, as groups can shuffle around money that's only been booked but not spent. But there's likely to only be more money flooding into the state as both parties dig deep into the piggybank for two races that will decide control of the Senate for the next two years.

736d ago / 11:57 AM UTC

Biden meets, outpaces Trump and Obama's Cabinet nomination timelines

WASHINGTON — Even though President-elect Joe Biden's 2020 victory took a few days longer than usual to determine, that lag time hasn't stopped Biden from outpacing or matching President Trump and former President Obama's timelines for nominating cabinet members. 

Biden has so far announced his picks for Secretary of State, Treasury, Department of Homeland Security, Ambassador to the United Nationals, National Security Adviser, Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. For the nominees that will have to go through the Senate confirmation process, his nominees for State, DHS and DNI were all announced earlier than Obama's first term picks and Trump's picks. 

The president-elect rolled out his national security team first: Announcing Antony Blinken as his Secretary of State nominee on Nov. 23 — 21 days after Election Day. Trump announced Rex Tillerson as his nominee 36 days after Election Day, and Obama named Hillary Clinton 28 days after Election Day. 

Similarly, Biden announced Alejandro Mayorkas would be his pick to lead DHS three weeks after Nov. 3. Trump issued his first DHS pick, Gen. John Kelly, 35 days after Election Day 2016. Obama named Janet Napolitano 28 days after his election in 2008. 

Image: US-VOTE-POLITICS-SECURITY-DIPLOMACY-TEAM
President-elect Joe Biden announces members of his cabinet in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 24, 2020.Chandan Khanna / AFP - Getty Images

Biden outpaced his two most recent predecessors by over a month when it came to picking a Director of National Intelligence. Biden nominated Avril Haines on Nov. 23 — 21 days after Election Day — while Trump and Obama took 59 and 67 days, respectively. 

So far the one office that Trump filled before Biden was the spot for U.N. Ambassador. Trump nominated Nikki Haley just 16 days after the 2016 election, while Biden announced his pick three weeks after Nov. 3. Obama nominated Susan Rice 28 days after the 2008 election. 

Obama outpaced both Trump and Biden when it came to naming who would lead the OMB. Obama announced Peter Orszag 22 days after Election Day, while Trump and Biden took 39 and 27 days to announce their nominees, respectively. 

NBC News confirmed that Janet Yellen would be Biden's Treasury nominee on Nov. 23, however the official announcement from the Biden camp didn't come until Nov. 30. The official call was 28 days after Election Day — Trump nominated Steven Mnuchin 23 days after Election Day 2016, and Obama named Timothy Geithner to the post 21 days after the election in 2008. 

737d ago / 7:00 PM UTC

Bipartisan group of senators seek compromise on a Covid-19 relief package

WASHINGTON — As the stalemate over Covid-19 relief continues between Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress, a bipartisan group of senators have been holding informal discussions about compromise legislation, two sources tell NBC News.

The discussions, which have been taking place over the Thanksgiving recess, could evolve into a new “gang", like the team that put together immigration reform legislation that failed in 2013. But sources warn that the current environment is difficult for success: Covid-19 has kept in-person meetings from happening and leadership has shown little willingness to compromise even if this group does succeed in creating a legislative package.

The lawmakers include Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va.,  Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,  Chris Coons, D-Del., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, according to two sources.  

On Monday, Warner told MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" that “people of good faith are working together to see if we can get a meaningful package.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks at a Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing on Sept. 9, 2020.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., speaks at a Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing on Sept. 9, 2020.Michael Brochstein / Sipa USA via AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have yet to discuss another round of Covid-19 relief with each other, and talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin haven't resumed since Election Day. However, there have been preliminary discussions to include some Covid-19 relief provisions to a must-pass government funding bill. Government funding runs out on December 11. 

Up to 14 million people are set to lose their unemployment benefits right after Christmas because of expiring provisions from the CARES Act. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides unemployment benefits for freelancers and gig workers, as well as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which extended insurance benefits an additional 13 weeks beyond states’ allowance of 26 weeks, are both set to expire.  

In addition, the rent eviction moratorium and student loan deferment programs are set to expire at the end of the year, putting new pressure on Congress to act soon. 

The bipartisan group of senators agree that the small business paycheck protection program, unemployment insurance and money for vaccine distribution should be central to any deal, one Senate aide said. But the major sticking points are the same ones that have plagued earlier leadership negotiations: State and local funding, which Democratic leadership is demanding, and liability protection, which Republican leadership insists upon. 

Pelosi has maintained that the modified HEROES Act, which costs $2.2 trillion is the baseline for negotiations while McConnell is backing the $500 billion package the Senate voted down in October.

737d ago / 12:43 PM UTC

What's at stake if Congress doesn't pass restaurant stimulus

PHILADELPHIA — With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the nation’s economy, Congress will face increasing pressure to pass a new stimulus bill when members return to Washington this week — one that includes targeted relief for the restaurant industry.

Eating establishments across the country have hemorrhaged business since last spring, when the virus forced them to offer limited service or to close outright. With winter coming and the new wave of illness likely to force even tighter restrictions, owners increasingly worry that they’ll have to shut their doors for good. 

Advocates say the RESTAURANTS Act, short for the “Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Need to Survive” Act, could be key to the industry’s survival. The legislation, which boasts bipartisan support, was introduced in the Senate by Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and in the House by Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. 

The legislation proposes a $120 billion dollar grant program focused on independent operators, especially targeting women and minority-owned businesses. The grant would cover a wide range of expenses, including supplies, payroll, rent and personal protective equipment for employees. 

There are some 500,000 independently owned restaurants across the United States, employing millions of people, according to a study by CHD Expert, which analyzes food service and hospitality data.  The average restaurant is still seeing about a 35 percent loss from last year, every day, according to Rally for Restaurants data

Without aid, the Independent Restaurant Coalition — a new organization founded to save small restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19 — estimates that 85 percent of independent restaurants, which annually contribute $760 billion sales to the U.S. economy, could close permanently. 

“I have lived through working during the 1987 stock market crash. I worked through 9/11. I’ve worked through the 2008 recession. I’ve never seen what happened to us in our industry starting March 17 when we were asked to close with about 24 hours notice,” Bobby Stuckey, cofounder of Colorado’s Frasca Hospitality, told NBC News.

The legislation faces an uncertain future — it’s unlikely to pass on its own without being part of a larger deal, and discussions on Capitol Hill over a new broad-based relief package have been at a standstill for weeks. 

President Donald Trump on Friday urged Congress to act, tweeting:

Money granted through the so-called Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) last spring was in the form of a loan, rather than a grant, and for many restaurants it was just a small down payment on a larger crisis. 

“The PPP loans were an eight-week fix to what’s probably an 18-month problem,” Stuckey said. “The restaurant business works on very, very small margins. To make these businesses take on loans to survive this 18 months is punitive; it’s not going to help the survival rate.” 

There were additional frustrations around the paycheck protection loans as restaurant chains like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse cashed in on benefits meant for small businesses. Ruth’s Chris ultimately returned the $20 million loan following public pressure.

The RESTAURANTS act stipulates that the businesses not be publicly traded or part of a chain with 20 or more businesses of the same name. Plus, money awarded through the act would come in the form of a direct grant, rather than a loan. Owners say that’s essential as establishments across the country face closure through the cold winter months. 

“The reality is restaurants do not need more short-term loans right now — restaurants need grants that would help us get through a tough-looking winter,” Leigh Habegger, Executive Director of the Seafood Harvesters of America told NBC News. 

743d ago / 6:02 PM UTC

Some Senate Democrats question Durbin's bid to helm Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON — With a Democratic opening at the top of the Judiciary Committee now that Sen. Dianne Feinstein has stepped aside, some Senate Democrats are questioning whether the heir apparent, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., should ascend to the post and also keep his Senate leadership position, according to two sources familiar with the situation. 

The debate among Democrats is a rare internal personnel dispute that could be resolved by an even rarer vote among the caucus in December if not settled before then. The vote, if necessary, would be to determine if Durbin can both be the party's top member on the committee and also be the second-ranking Democratic leader in the Senate as party whip, according to the two sources who were granted anonymity to speak freely about internal dynamics. 

Feinstein stepped aside from the top post on the committee — which oversees judicial nominations to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and immigration authorities — after progressive groups and some Senate Democrats questioned if she was equipped to handle the partisan nature in the current state of politics. Feinstein's hug with Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at the end of Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings drew ire from Democrats and helped seal her fate. 

Durbin announced his intention to seek the top spot Monday night, pointing to his experience on the committee.

Image:
Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 10, 2020.Jason Andrew / The New York Times via AP, Pool

“I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress. I have served on the Committee for 22 years, and I am its most senior member who does not currently serve atop another Senate Committee,” Durbin wrote in a statement. “We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights."

But some Senate Democrats are concerned that Durbin's other big job, as chief vote counter, will be a critical and time consuming position in a narrowly divided House and Senate. Durbin is also the top Democrat on the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee, which is also adds to the Democrats’ discontent.

His office argues that holding multiple senior positions is not without precedent, noting that Senate Democratic rules that allow it, and that three previous Democratic whips — Alan Cranston, Wendell Ford and Harry Reid — did the same. 

Senate Republican and House Democratic party rules do not allow a top member of leadership to also hold a committee chair. 

One of the last times the Democratic caucus held a vote on a committee leadership issue was in 2008 when the Democratic caucus voted to allow then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., to remain chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee after he campaigned for Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

After Durbin, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., would be next in line for the Judiciary spot. He has not publicly announced that he’d like the position but progressive groups would likely not be opposed.

“In the wake of Ranking Member Feinstein’s announcement, I look forward to the question of succession on the Senate Judiciary Committee being decided by the caucus.  I will abide by the caucus’s decision,” Whitehouse says in a statement Tuesday night. 

Sahil Kapur contributed.

744d ago / 8:20 PM UTC

What House races are still left to call?

WASHINGTON — Election Day may be three weeks in the past, but there are still a handful of competitive House races still left to be called by NBC'S Decision Desk. 

The vast majority are in California and New York, two states that take a while to count ballots. And there's one race in Iowa that appears to be headed to a recount. 

Here's a look at the uncalled races and where they stand (the incumbent or the candidate representing the incumbent party is listed first): 

California-21: Democratic Rep. TJ Cox v. former Republican Rep. David Valadao 

Valadao, who Cox defeated in the 2018 midterm elections, leads Cox by less than 2,000 votes (1 percentage point) in the Decision Desk's count, as final results keep trickling in. 

California-25: Republican Rep. Mike Garcia v. Democrat Christy Smith 

Garcia v. Smith is a rematch of the spring special election, one of the first general elections run in the coronavirus era, when Garcia won by a comfortable margin. Garcia has declared victory, a decision Smith has criticized, with the margin sitting at just 400 votes. 

Iowa-02: Democrat Rita Hart v. Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks

The race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack could turn out to be the closest House race of the cycle. The two candidates were separated by just a few dozen votes, with Hart requesting a recount that's prompted a dust-up between the two candidates. 

New York-02: Republican Andrew Garbarino v. Democrat Jackie Gordon 

These two candidates are running to replace Republican Rep. Peter King, who is retiring at the end of the year. While the election has still not been called yet, the Democrat conceded last week. 

New York-11: Democratic Rep. Max Rose v. Republican Nicole Malliotakis 

This is another race that hasn't been called yet, but where one candidate, Rose, has conceded.  

New York-22: Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi v. former GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney 

This rematch of 2018 is extremely tight, with the election ending up in court.

New York-24: Republican Rep. John Katko v. Democrat Dana Balter 

In another 2018 rematch, Balter has conceded to Katko. 

747d ago / 5:08 PM UTC

Freshman Republicans look to form conservative 'Squad'

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WASHINGTON — There’s a new crew on Capitol Hill — "The Squad" is facing opposition from a record breaking diverse republican class of freshman members. And they are calling themselves "The Force."

“I want to create a force within my freshman class that will have to be reckoned with. A force of reason, a force for freedom, a force for democracy,” Florida Republican Congresswoman-elect Maria Elvira Salazar, a Cuban-American former journalist, told NBC News.

Salazar is part of the most diverse freshman Republican class in history with eight members who identify as a person of color or minority. And they plan to be a counter the progressive “Squad”, led by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with what they say is a message against socialism. 

“When I hear this Democratic socialism that is being presented within the Democratic Party, I can only tell you that only brings misery, oppression and exile. And how do I know? Because I have lived it and I have covered it,” Salazar said.

Newly elected Nicole Malliotakis, a Greek-American and the only Republican New York City will send to Congress, embraced the conservative crew. 

Image: Newly-Elected Members Of Congress Attend Orientation On Capitol Hill
Congresswoman-elect Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., arrives at the Capitol on Nov. 13, 2020.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

“We need to form our own ‘squad.’ We have a group of new Republicans who love America. We value freedom, liberty and opportunity,” Malliotakis told The New York Post last week. 

And Congresswoman-elect Victoria Spartz of Indiana, who grew up in Ukraine, claimed ‘The Squad’ brings a kind of message she didn’t think she’d see in the United States.

“I grew up in a socialistic country, the Socialist Republic of Ukraine. I saw what happens when it runs out of money and it is not pretty,” Spartz told Fox News. “And now we’re building socialism. I’m kind of going full circles. I can tell you what is going to be next. It’s very sad for me to see that.”

In 2018, Democrats elected progressive women who became known for challenging the establishment. The group, which includes Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has more than doubled with young progressives winning districts around the country this year. 

Congressman-elect Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., one of the incoming progressive members, says they disagree on the Republican counter-group’s definition of socialism. 

“I believe that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, when they think of socialism, they think of communism and think of the government controlling everything and people being disempowered within democracy, and I think that's an incorrect definition, that's not how I define it," Bowman said.

He added, “What's going to be important is how we engage the rest of the caucus in these conversations and then the sense of urgency around the issue of climate change, the issue of universal health care, the issue of a federal jobs guarantee and meeting the needs of the American people.”

Congressman Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said the negative connotation used against the progressive faction of the Democratic caucus during the election wasn't successful. 

“It didn’t work, I mean Joe Biden flipped five states against an incumbent president and so I just say that that's ineffective because people see when you have folks in huge wealth generating districts, calling for these policies,” Khanna said. “I don't think that's a very effective attack.” 

“I mean it sounds ridiculous to me. I think they think they’re in high school. We’re in Congress,” Omar said when asked about the new group. 

747d ago / 4:26 PM UTC

Trump camp keeps up torrid pace of fundraising appeals post-election

WASHINGTON — The Trump campaign has sent more than 300 fundraising appeals via email since Nov. 4, the day after the election. Most are seeking donations for an “official election defense fund,” as President Trump continues to question the integrity of the race he lost. But the fine print shows as much as 75 percent of that money can be repurposed for the president’s new leadership political action committee, “Save America.” 

Two weeks ago, the GOP effort was sending as many as 24 emails a day, averaging one per hour. More recently, the campaign — which formally ended as a re-elect operation this week — has been requesting funds around 15 times on any given day. 

In that time, they have also fired off more than 80 text messaging, ranging from personal appeals from the president that falsely claim “the Left will try to STEAL this Election!” to messages from the eldest Trump sons saying “We need to FIGHT BACK!”

747d ago / 2:53 PM UTC

Michigan lawmakers could be treading on thin legal ice with White House meeting

WASHINGTON — Michigan Republican lawmakers slated to meet Friday with President Donald Trump at the White House could be risking legal exposure back home depending on what actions they take in regards to the state's election results.

Trump has falsely claimed he won Michigan, alleging major voter fraud in Detroit while providing no evidence. After a series of failed lawsuits seeking to prevent election officials in the state from certifying the results for President-elect Joe Biden, the president and his allies have sought to ratchet up the political pressure on GOP officials in the state.

Trump allies, including conservative radio host Mark Levin, are advocating for state legislatures in Michigan, Pennsylvania and other swing states to override voters and appoint their states’ electors. And according to the New York Times, Trump has also pressed his own advisers on the matter.

But Michigan law is clear. According to the secretary of state: The state’s 16 representatives to the Electoral College must go to the candidate who won the popular vote. Trump lost the popular vote to Biden by nearly 150,000 votes in Michigan. That discrepancy remains even with a clerical error that involved 367 votes in Detroit remain at issue, Detroit Free Press.

Following a contentious meeting of the Wayne County canvassing board earlier this week where the results there were certified, Trump personally called one GOP board member, who then said she wanted to change her vote to certify, something the secretary of state in Michigan said is not possible. While individual counties have certified their votes, the full state certification has not yet taken place. 

President Donald Trump sits at his desk in the Oval Office on Nov. 13, 2020.
President Donald Trump sits at his desk in the Oval Office on Nov. 13, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

In the latest apparent attempt to exert political pressure on Republicans, Trump has invited the state's Senate leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield — both Republicans — to fly to Washington to meet with him Friday at the White House. Their offices did not return NBC calls seeking comment.

In recent a local news interview prior to the Trump invitation, Shirkey cited Michigan law and said the idea of the GOP-led legislature attempting to seat a Trump-friendly slate of electors is “not going to happen.” 

And Shirkey and Chatfield are well aware of state law awarding Michigan’s electors on a winner-takes-all basis and requiring the appointment of electors from the party of the candidate who wins the popular vote, according to a Republican close to them.

“Shirkey and Chatfield are going to follow Michigan law,” the individual said. 

But the exposure for the two state lawmakers is real, according to legal experts. 

“If I were their lawyer I would think twice about letting them put themselves in that kind of compromised position,” said Richard Primus, a constitutional law professor at the University of Michigan who also wrote an op-ed recommending the pair cancel the meeting.

Under Michigan law, any member of the legislature who “corruptly” accepts a promise of some beneficial act in return for exercising his authority in a certain way is “forever disqualified to hold any public office” and “shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 10 years[.]” Primus said in his op-ed.

“Why, exactly, does President Trump want to see these two men in person, in his office?" wrote Primus. “It isn’t to offer evidence that Michigan’s election was tainted and should therefore be nullified. If he had any such evidence, his lawyers would have presented it in court."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel declined to comment to NBC News and said, "we don’t comment on pending investigations.”

Still, University of Michigan criminal law expert Dave Moran said the meeting itself probably isn’t actionable. 

“It’s one thing to actually meet with somebody and corruptly conspire to do something,” said Moran. “But to just have a meeting with somebody at which various options, some of which might be illegal, are discussed, is not a crime."

He added, “I don’t think he would be so stupid as to nakedly offer a bribe but rather appeal to their duty as ‘good Republicans’ to back him up."

748d ago / 5:08 PM UTC

Georgia can begin sending absentee ballots in pivotal Senate runoffs

WASHINGTON — It's that time again: Voters can start voting soon in Georgia's Senate runoffs. 

Or at least, voters can start voting. 

Wednesday was the first day that Georgia registrars could begin sending out absentee ballots for the two Senate runoffs between GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock, and GOP Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff. 

There were about 1.28 million absentee-by-mail votes cast in the Senate primaries in November, per the unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State's office. (Unlike in many states, Georgia pits congressional candidates against each other in a November primary, with the two top vote-getters moving to a runoff unless one candidate wins a majority). That means total made up more than one-quarter of the total votes cast in the rate.)

With the pandemic to new heights in daily cases and hospitalizations, there are likely to be a significant number of mail-in ballots cast for the Senate runoffs too.

The likely influx of absentee voting provides yet another level of uncertainty to the races, particularly as the president refuses to accept the results across the country and makes unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, zeroing in on mail-in ballots.  

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Peacock TV’s Medhi Hasan that he believes it was Trump’s own discrediting of mail-in ballots that cost him the election in November.

“I believe so because the numbers show that. There were actually 24,000 Republican voters that voted absentee in the June primary, and those same 24,000 voters, did not show up to vote in either absentee or in person on the day of election or the 15 days of early voting we have. So they just disappeared and they were ripe for the picking, they were there in June for the primary and they should have come home and voted for President Trump in the fall. So that’s 24,000 . That's his difference right there,” he said.

And the president is not relenting in his attacks on mail-in voting, particularly in Georgia, where he continues to attack election officials there amid the presidential recount. 

749d ago / 9:47 PM UTC

Obama administration vet Psaki to lead Biden's Senate confirmation team

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WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's transition team is formally unveiling a team put in place to sherpa nominees through Senate confirmation processes.

The team is being led by Jen Psaki, a former top Obama White House and State Department official, who was part of the communications team at the start of the Obama administration and has experience from Obama’s transition. Others on the team include his Senate aides and former 2020 campaign staffers for Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

Psaki is overseeing the nominations team, with Olivia Dalton, a Democratic consultant and former Biden Senate aide who also served in senior Obama administration and campaign roles, running point on communications.

White House Director Of Communications Jen Psaki And U.S. Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Jason Furman Interview
Jen Psaki during an interview in Washington on Dec. 18, 2015.Drew Angerer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Additionally, Stephanie Valencia is handling outreach and Louisa Terrell will run congressional affairs for the transition, helping to support the nominations team. 

Reema Dodin, the floor director for Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, will oversee legislative strategy. Jorge Neri, a former senior advisor to the campaign, will be the deputy outreach director for Confirmations. 

Andrew Bates, the rapid response director from the Biden campaign will also serve in a leadership role, as will Saloni Sharma, who was most recently Warren's deputy communications director, and Sean Savett, formerly press secretary to Illinois Democratic Sen. Senator Tammy Duckworth and rapid response director for Buttigieg. 

The confirmations team will expand over the coming days with additional positions. 

The Biden transition team said that they believe there will be substantial pressure on the Senate, which right now stands to be controlled by Republicans unless Democrats can sweep both Georgia Senate runoffs in early January, to act fast in the midst of the pandemic and concerns about the economy. 

The transition added that they also want to "introduce nominees to the American people," which would mean "throwing away the old playbook dictating that nominees say nothing in public until their hearings." 

In an earlier interview, a senior transition official told NBC News that the team learned from the 2008 transition that it needed to build out an infrastructure to prepare to support nominees similar to the ones built out for a presidential nominee's vice-presidential pick or a president's Supreme Court nomination. 

“We built a more robust apparatus ready to tell the story of our nominees post-election, once we start having nominees in November, in a more robust theory of the case then I think has just been done in prior transitions,” the official said. “You need infrastructure. You need really clear process and infrastructure the way a White House has but a transition doesn't have the benefit of having."

749d ago / 5:21 PM UTC

Here are the two Wisconsin counties where the Trump campaign wants a recount

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's presidential campaign has requested — and paid for — a partial recount in the state of Wisconsin. But rather than a statewide recount, which would have cost the campaign about $7.9 million, they're zeroing in on two vote-rich, heavily Democratic counties: Dane and Milwaukee. (The partial recount still will cost them $3 million.)  

Biden currently leads Wisconsin by 20,565 votes, and the two counties are where the Democrat racked up his biggest leads. As in other states, Biden's huge vote margins in urban and suburban Democratic strongholds offset Trump's strong performances in more rural counties. 

Together, the two counties alone account for about a quarter of the statewide vote cast.

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Kenosha Regional Airport in Kenosha, Wisconsin
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Kenosha, Wis., on Nov. 2, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

Biden won Milwaukee County, 69 percent to 29 percent. (That's 317,270 votes for Biden to Trump’s 134,357.)

Biden won Dane 75 percent to 23 percent. (That's 260,185 votes for Biden to Trump’s 78,800.) 

According to Census data, Milwaukee County is about 51 percent white alone, 27 percent Black, 16 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian.

For Dane County — home to Madison and the University of Wisconsin — it’s 79 percent white alone, 6 percent Black, 7 percent Latino and 6 percent Asian. Dane also has a population of about 51 percent of residents who have bachelor's degrees or more, a rate far higher than the national average. 

750d ago / 11:08 PM UTC

Loeffler, Warnock will debate ahead of Georgia runoff, Perdue and Ossoff will not

ATLANTA — After a debate over having runoff debates, there will be at least one ahead of Georgia’s Senate runoff elections. The Atlanta Press Club told NBC News Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., has agreed to debate Democratic challenger Rev. Raphael Warnock on Dec. 6.

“Georgians need to know who he is and I welcome that chance to debate him as many times as he wants,” Loeffler said during a Fox News interview before her participation was announced.

Image: Sen. Kelly Loeffler R-Ga., arrives for the weekly Senate Republican caucus policy luncheon on Capitol Hill
Sen. Kelly Loeffler R-Ga., arrives for the weekly Senate Republican caucus policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on Nov. 17, 2020.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

GOP Sen. David Perdue declined APC’s invitation to debate Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff. Ossoff will still appear during the debate time slot but will be besides an an empty podium representing Perdue.

Perdue's campaign manager Ben Fry said in a statement, "We've already had two debates in this election," and added, “We’re going to take our message about what’s at stake if Democrats have total control of Congress directly to the people." 

“That is not our preference,” the APC wrote in a release, adding the organization will hopes Perdue changes his mind and will “leave the door open” for him to participate.

“The Atlanta Press Club works hard to provide a platform for all candidates running for public office. We believe it is an essential part of the democratic process for voters to have an opportunity to hear an exchange of ideas from the candidates so they can be better informed when they cast their ballots.”

Ossoff attacked his opponent for refusing to debate ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election.

“If Senator Perdue doesn't want to answer questions in public, or debate his opponent that's fine, he just shouldn't run for re-election to the United States Senate,” Ossoff told reporters on Tuesday.

Ossoff and Perdue debated prior to the Nov. 3 election, but Perdue backed out of the third general election debate against Ossoff in October. 

750d ago / 5:29 PM UTC

Graham denies Georgia Sec. State charge he inquired about tossing ballots

WASHINGTON — South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham denied that he asked the Georgia secretary of state about throwing out mail-in votes in certain Georgia counties, an allegation made by Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger earlier this week. 

Graham told NBC News the allegation was "ridiculous" and said that he called Raffensperger, a top election official in a state Graham doesn't represent, because "the future of the country hangs in the balance." He added he’s spoken to Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey as well as “people in Nevada.”

"That's ridiculous. I talked to him about how you verify signatures. Right now a single person verifies signatures and I suggested as you go forward can you change it to make sure that a bipartisan team verifies signatures and if there is a dispute, come up with an appeals process," Graham said. 

In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Raffensperger sad that Graham had inquired as to whether the election official could toss ballots in counties that had higher-than average rates of ballot signatures that didn’t match the voter signature on file. He told the paper it seemed that Graham was suggesting throwing out legal ballots. 

Raffensperger doubled down on the accusation in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

"Senator Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties who had the highest frequency error of signatures," he said. 

And in an interview with NBC News, he criticized Republicans for making "bold-faced lies" as they seek to discredit the results of the state's presidential election and said he agreed that former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be the president-elect. 

Garrett Haake, Josh Lederman and Julia Jester contributed.

751d ago / 3:41 PM UTC

Small businesses are suffering from the pandemic amid stalemate on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — Amid an ongoing explosion of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, it’s important to remember that some of the damage of the coronavirus is entirely self-inflicted.  

For six months, the White House and leaders of both parties in Congress have failed to reach an agreement on more emergency relief, with each side holding out at various points for a better deal. The political calendar has made things harder — Democrats assumed their leverage would increase post-election with a Biden win, Republicans now have a stronger hand with down-ballot victories — as well as Trump’s chaotic approach.  

There’s a severe human cost to the failure to pass even a nominal emergency package, however, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent in American neighborhoods where beloved small businesses are going bankrupt waiting for relief from Washington.  

New York Continues To Struggle With Coronavirus Spread As Parts Of U.S. Look To Reopen
A man walks past a closed business on May 2, 2020, in New York.Noam Galai / Getty Images file

NBC News viewers submitted over a hundred names of their favorite local establishments that had gone under recently, including beloved barbershop in New York City to a quirky boutique in Lincoln, Nebraska, and their owners were acutely aware that of the congressional inaction. 

“I just sort of saw the writing on the wall, that we weren't going to get any money in the near future,” said Jason Rudofky, who closed his family's Jewish deli in Denver, Zaidy’s, after 35 years. “They cared more about the election and they don't realize what’s happening in America.” 

These dilemmas are also exacerbated by the ongoing lack of aid for jobless Americans, whose emergency unemployment benefits expired months ago, for school districts waiting for long-promised funding to help them function in extreme circumstances, and for health care workers trying to fight the pandemic and prepare for vaccination programs. And because state and local governments can’t deficit-spend the way the federal government does, only Washington can fill in the gaps.

“If we're going to control this virus out in our communities right now, we're going to have to support those who are going to be suffering economically,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and an adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, said on Meet The Press. “You know, you have a choice: do you want to have schools open, or do you want to keep bars and restaurants open?" 

752d ago / 9:26 PM UTC

Biden transition boasts majority-female staff, 40 percent people of color

WILMINGTON, Del. — Women make up the majority of staffers on President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, and people of color are more than 40 percent of the total transition workforce, according to new diversity data obtained by NBC News from the transition. 

Biden has promised that his administration will “look like America,” as well as the broad coalition of voters who boosted him into the White House. The diversity data released Sunday shows similar levels of gender parity and racial diversity on his transition staff as he had on his presidential campaign staff. And it comes as speculation ramps up about Biden’s Cabinet picks and staffing decisions throughout the administration. 

More than half — 52 percent — of Biden’s transition staff are women, with 53 percent of senior staff identifying as female. And the transition's advisory board is also majority female. 

Image: President-Elect Biden Remarks On ACA As Supreme Court Takes On Case
President-elect Joe Biden listens as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris addresses the media about the Trump administration's lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 10, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Five of the thirteen members of Biden's recently-announced COVID task force of public health experts and doctors are women. 

People of color make up 41 percent of transition senior staff, and 46 percent of transition staff overall. They’re also 43 percent of the transition advisory board and nearly 70 percent of the 13 person COVID task force.

The data comes as Biden has promised his administration will reflect the nation's diversity — “from the vice president straight down through Cabinet members to major players within the White House, and the court,” as Biden has said.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris made history upon winning the election, becoming America’s first woman, first Black, and first South Asian person elected to that office.

755d ago / 7:22 PM UTC

Iowa Democratic House candidate calls for recount as she trails by razor-thin margin

WASHINGTON — Iowa Democrat Rita Hart announced Thursday her campaign would seek a "complete recount" of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District race as results show her narrowly trailing Republican state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

The Iowa Secretary of State's unofficial results show Miller-Meeks ahead by just 47 votes (NBC's Decision Desk has the race at virtually the same margin). The Hart campaign pointed to two reporting errors (which local counties and the Secretary of State caught and are fixing) as part of its reasoning to request the broader recount. 

On Monday, Miller-Meeks issued her own statement after counties certified their count, a count that left her narrowly ahead (the state doesn't officially certify until the end of the month). 

If the result holds through the recount, Iowa's 2nd District would be yet another Republican flip in a seat previously held by the Democrats (Rep. Dave Loebsack chose not to run for re-election in 2020). Democrats outspent Republicans on the TV and radio airwaves there, $10.3 million to $8.2 million, according to ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. 

Rita Hart speaks with a reporter at her farm in Wheatland, Iowa, in 2019.
Rita Hart speaks with a reporter at her farm in Wheatland, Iowa, in 2019.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file
756d ago / 7:55 PM UTC

Big money rolling into Georgia ahead of marquee Senate battle

WASHINGTON — Georgia Senate hopefuls have already begun booking millions of dollars on the television airwaves ahead of the likely two runoffs there in early January that could decide the balance of power of the Senate. 

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock are slated for a runoff after neither cleared the 50 percent threshold needed on Election Day to win the race outright.

And in the state's other race, GOP Sen. David Perdue sits at just 49.7 percent to Democrat Jon Ossoff's 48 percent. While NBC News' Decision Desk hasn't yet called the race, the Associated Press and other media outlets have projected it will head to a runoff. 

As of Wednesday, Warnock has $2.6 million booked on the airwaves for the runoff, according to data from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. Loeffler just started booking TV time on Wednesday — about $200,000 with more expected. 

In the other race, Perdue has already booked a whopping $10.6 million to Ossoff's $1.6 million. 

TV spending is not the be-all, end-all — Democrats (or in the case of Alaska, the independent candidate backed by Democrats and his allies) outspent Republicans in Senate races this cycle in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, winning just two of those races.

In Georgia, Republicans significantly outspent Democrats in the race for Loeffler's seat (that race included two high-profile GOP candidates), while Democrats narrowly outspent Republicans in the Perdue race. 

But with more money set to flood the race with the battle of the Senate up for grabs (and Loeffler potentially able to help fund her campaign with millions of her own, like she did in the primary), the runoff (or runoffs, if Perdue falls short of 50 percent) are already shaping up to be quite expensive.

756d ago / 3:09 PM UTC

Newsom in no rush to choose Kamala Harris' Senate successor

NEW YORK — With Kamala Harris’s ascension to the vice presidency on Jan. 20, a coveted California Senate seat is about to open up. And that means all eyes are on the state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, who will choose Harris’ successor. 

But don’t expect an answer anytime soon. 

The timeline to choose a replacement for Harris is “truly fuzzy,” according to one California Democrat with knowledge of Newsom’s thinking. The fact that there is no rush to name a candidate ahead of Jan. 20, along with Newsom’s inclination to be a “careful process person” as this person calls him, means that a decision could take some time.

Newsom also wouldn't entertain much serious talk about naming a replacement for Harris prior to the election, this person added. 

Image: Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses the 2020 election, in Oakland, Calif. on Nov. 3, 2020.Noah Berger / AP

And he bristled a bit Monday when asked by reporters about a timeline, saying the surging coronavirus pandemic in the state was his major concern.

“My weekend was not focused on that. It was focused on seeing these new case rates go up,” Newsom said. 

But even as he takes his time weighing his options, Newsom is facing considerable pressure from competing interest groups about who to select. 

Many Latino activists are pressing Newsom to choose the state’s first Latino senator. Names under consideration are California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose office has tangled frequently with the Trump administration, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, former California Senate president Kevin De Leon, who challenged Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018, Long Beach, Calif. Mayor Robert Garcia. Garcia would be the first openly gay senator from California, and he’s become a visible activist around efforts to contain Covid-19 after losing his mother and stepfather to the virus earlier this year. 

Newsom may also want to replace Harris with another woman, particularly a woman of color. Some of those under consideration include Rep. Karen Bass, whom Biden considered for vice president, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Rep. Barbara Lee and State Controller Betty Yee. Rep. Katie Porter, a progressive favorite and proven fundraiser, may be considered as well. 

The California Democrat with knowledge of the process said Newsom has not yet spoken to Harris about who she’d like to see succeed her.

Newsom is also weighing whether to name a placeholder to fill the seat, leaving others to mount a full-blown campaign in 2022 when Harris would have faced re-election. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown would likely be under consideration in that case.

757d ago / 9:47 PM UTC

Rick Scott to lead GOP Senate campaign arm, as parties elect their leaders

WASHINGTON — While the battle for Senate control remains underway, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer were re-elected unanimously by acclimation to their posts by their respective caucuses on Tuesday.

Republicans kept their party heads the same, re-electing McConnell, Republican Whip South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Conference Chair Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Policy Committee Chair Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt and Conference Vice Chair Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott replaced Indiana Sen. Todd Young as the next National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair — the campaign arm for Senate Republicans.

 

Image: U.S. Senator Scott speaks after the Senate Republican GOP leadership election on Capitol Hill in Washington
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., speaks on Capitol Hill after the Republican Conference held leadership elections on Nov. 10, 2020.Erin Scott / Reuters

“It’s a hard job — I'm going to take it very seriously. I know the job is to make sure we have a Republican majority in the Senate. First, we've got to go win in Georgia and we're going to win in Georgia,” Scott told reporters on Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto were added to Democratic leadership positions on the larger team that includes Schumer, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. 

While Democrats only picked up two Senate seats in the 2020 election cycle so far, senators said the caucus still has faith in Schumer's leadership.

“I know [Schumer] has that personality that can sit down and work with anybody,” Manchin told NBC News. “But as people have pushed him one way or the other, that sometimes gets you off track.”

757d ago / 5:28 PM UTC

Republicans overperforming in House races with more still to be called

WASHINGTON — It's clear the blue wave many Democrats had been hoping for never materialized, and with more than a dozen House races still left uncalled by the NBC News Decision Desk, that has implications for Democratic control of the House.

Heading into the election, Democrats held 235 seats in Congress, compared to 199 for the GOP. And while the party was fresh off a strong 2018 midterm election where it made gains deep into Republican-leaning districts and netted 39 seats, most analysts expected the Democrats to expand their majority.

But with NBC's Decision Desk having called all but 17 House races, Republicans so far have net five seats. And all of the GOP candidates who flipped seats so far are either women or people of color.

Of the 19 NBC-called races characterized before the election by the Cook Political Report as toss-ups, Republicans is projected to win all of them and flipped four seats in the process (IA-01, MN-07, NM-02 and OK-05). 

The GOP also swept all 14 of Cook's "lean Republican" seats and is projected to win three seats rated as "lean Democratic" (FL-26, SC-01, and TX-23). 

Image: Carlos Gimenez
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez speaks during a protest at PortMiami by workers in the cruise ship industry wanting to return to work on Oct. 21, 2020, in Miami.Lynne Sladky / AP file

Republicans appear to have picked off one "likely Democratic" seat held by Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala. The GOP was also able to hold all "likely Republican" seats. 

Democrats, by comparison, haven't won any "toss-up" districts so far. They are projected to flip two GOP seats in North Carolina rated "likely Democratic," and hold the majority of the seats in which they were favored. 

Since several races haven't been called, the landscape is likely to change. A historic amount of mail-in ballots is drawing out the vote tabulation process across the country — in several states, Democrats have outperformed Republicans with those mail-in ballots.

And the majority of "toss-up" seats this year – 17 of 26 – were seats where Republicans were on defense (plus another held by retiring Rep. Justin Amash, who was a Republican before leaving the party this year).  

But even though Democrats may go on to win some of those toss-up districts, Republicans are poised to gain seats in a year they were expected to lose seats. And that reality could have an impact on the Democratic majority's governing power, as well as the midterm math in 2022.