IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

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.

583d ago / 2:39 PM UTC

Charlie Crist announces Florida gubernatorial bid

Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., is running for governor, he announced Tuesday, an attempt to return to the state's executive mansion — this time, as a member of the other party.

Crist governed the state from 2007-2011 — while elected as a Republican, he finished out his term without any party affiliation after a failed 2010 Senate bid. He later joined the Democratic Party (after an unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial bid) and is in his third term in Congress. 

Now he wants to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been seen as a rising star on the right and has been trumpeting his state's response to the pandemic. 

Crist's announcement video tries to make a contrast with DeSantis as it runs through Crist and supposed Floridians looking back fondly on his time in the governor's mansion, as well as his work in Congress during the pandemic. 

"Today, Florida has a governor that's only focused on his future, not yours. While COVID took the lives of 35,000 Floridians, DeSantis attacked doctors and scientists," Crist says. 

"DeSantis is stripping away your voting rights, he's against a $15 minimum wage, he doesn't believe in background checks for guns, doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose, doesn't listen, doesn't care, and unless you can write him a campaign check, you don't exist." 

And for the eagle-eyed political junkie, the video also includes praise from former President Barack Obama during a 2009 event on the Great Recession, an event where the then-Republican embraced the Democratic president in an image that helped to sink his career within the GOP

The announcement makes him the first major Democrat to throw their hat into the ring, but he's not expected to be alone. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has repeatedly nodded at the prospect of running, and has been a vocal critic of DeSantis. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., released a social-media bio spot produced by her congressional campaign on Tuesday, shortly after she retweeted a call for Florida's next governor to be a woman. 

DeSantis has become one of the more visible governors during the pandemic, often clashing with reporters and Biden administration public health officials about things like vaccine mandates and public-health restrictions. 

During a press conference on Monday where he signed a bill that prohibited businesses from requiring customers to certify they've been vaccinated for Covid-19 before entering, the Republican took a victory lap on his handling of the pandemic. 

"We focused on lifting people up. We wanted people going back to work, we wanted our kids to be in school," DeSantis said, criticizing liberal cities across the country for implementing new Covid-19 related restrictions. 

"We wanted our economy to be healthy, we wanted our society to be healthy, we wanted people to be happy living in Florida. That was the path that we trodded, it was the road less traveled at the time, but. think we're sitting here now seeing the state is much more prosperous as a result of that." 

584d ago / 8:48 PM UTC

Liberal group launches $12 million TV ad buy to boost Democrats' sweeping elections bill

The liberal group End Citizens United is launching a $12 million TV ad campaign nationally and in key states Tuesday, aimed at getting the Democrats’ sweeping election overhaul bill over the finish line.

The ads, first reported by NBC News, include a national spot and separate ads for five states that include key Democratic senators: Arizona, GeorgiaNew HampshireNevada and West Virginia.

The House has passed the bill and a Senate committee plans to mark up S.1, titled the “For The People Act” on May 11. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated the full chamber will consider the bill.

West Virginia will be a focal point because Sen. Joe Manchin is the only Democrat in the 50-member caucus who hasn’t cosponsored the bill. He said Friday on WV MetroNews Talkline that it is “a far-reaching, 800-page bill which I do not support in its totality,” and has called for bipartisan policies to protect trust in elections. 

The group's West Virginia ad doesn’t mention Manchin by name and appears aimed at creating political space for the centrist Democrat to support the bill. “Now's our moment,” a narrator says. “Together we can give power back to people, limit the influence of corporate special interests, get big money out of our politics.”

Manchin “has talked about how important it is to protect free and fair elections and reduce the influence of money in politics. He has a record of supporting many of the proposals in this bill, which have broad bipartisan support,” said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund.

The other four states are home to Democratic senators who face re-election and are top Republican targets. In Arizona, there are English and Spanish-language ads giving air cover to Sen. Mark Kelly, who comes before voters next fall; and thanking Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat who sometimes breaks with her party, for backing the bill.

"End Citizens United/Let America Vote is ramping up all aspects of our campaign as the bill continues to move closer to a vote on the Senate floor, where we expect it to pass,” Muller said.

“This bill will stop billionaires from buying elections, counteract the wave of voter suppression being carried out across the country, and put in place ironclad ethics laws to make Washington work for everyone.”

Democrats have a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate and no support for the bill among Republicans, who have blasted it as a partisan-power grab. Even if Democrats were to unify their caucus and secure a majority, they would need to eliminate or get around the 60-vote threshold to pass the legislation.

Conservative groups have been vocal about their opposition to the legislation, too. The American Action Network launched digital ads against it in key swing districts back in March, and the Heritage Action announced that month it would spend $10 million on what it dubbed an "election integrity campaign," which includes opposing the Democratic plan. 

588d ago / 6:58 PM UTC

Ossoff is latest tapped for commission on China

WASHINGTON – Amid growing momentum in Congress for comprehensive legislation to confront China, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appointed freshman Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., to a bipartisan commission focused on human rights abuses in the region. 

The Congressional Executive Commission on China, created in 2000, is tasked with “monitoring human rights and development of the rule of law in China” and is required to submit an annual report to the president. 

This past January, the commission on China revealed new evidence in a report accusing China of possibly committing “genocide” in its treatment of minority Muslims, like Uighurs, in the Western province of Xinjiang. 

“The whole world faces a stark choice between government based on the consent of the governed, rule of law, and universal human rights, or totalitarianism and oppression,” Ossoff said in a statement provided to NBC. “I will apply my experience investigating human rights abuses and war crimes to expose and demand accountability for political repression and human rights abuses in China or anywhere on Earth.”

Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., attends the Senate Appropriations Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021.
Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., attends the Senate Appropriations Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021.Evelyn Hockstein / Pool via AFP - Getty Images file

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will serve as the chairman of the commission on China, while Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., will be the co-chairman.

Congressional leaders are responsible for naming the remaining 16 members, with Schumer expected to announce that Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Angus King, I-Maine., will be  joining the commission, according to multiple people familiar with the process. Reps Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., are also expected to be among the members named, according to those familiar with the commission.

588d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Poll: Americans divided over the future of filibuster

As some frustrated Democrats advocate for an end to the Senate filibuster, a new poll from Monmouth University shows the American public divided over the rule — with a significant share still unsure about what it is at all. 

The survey, which was conducted April 8-12, found that Americans are about evenly divided over approval of the filibuster, which the poll defines to respondents as “a procedure used in the Senate to block a bill from being put to a vote until a supermajority of 60 senators agree to end debate on it.” About a third approve (34 percent), a third disapprove (34 percent) and a third have no opinion (33 percent)

But most people may be a little fuzzy on the facts.

Just one in five Americans (19 percent) say they’re very familiar with the filibuster, while 40 percent say they’re only somewhat familiar. An additional 12 percent say they’re not too familiar or not familiar at all with it, and about one in three Americans — 29 percent — say they have never heard of the Senate filibuster.

The poll also shows little enthusiasm nationally for throwing out the filibuster wholesale, although reforms to it are more popular. Only about one in five Americans (19 percent) say they support completely eliminating the filibuster, while 38 percent say it should be kept but with reforms. Another 38 percent say the filibuster should be kept in place as it is. 

The data also show a partisan gap, reflecting Democrats’ recent frustrations with their inability to pass what they believe are popular agenda items — like gun ownership reforms — because a sufficient number of Republicans don’t cross the aisle to support them.  

Two-thirds of Republicans (64 percent) want to keep the filibuster as it is. But despite a push among some progressives to ditch it entirely, the critical mass among Democrats appears to be around reform rather than a wholesale elimination of the filibuster. A third of Democrats (30 percent) want to kill it entirely, while 49 percent support keeping it with changes. 

 

The survey was conducted April 8-12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

589d ago / 2:19 PM UTC

GOP Rep. Budd jumps into North Carolina Senate race with Club for Growth endorsement

Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., announced Wednesday that he's running for Senate in 2022 to fill the seat that will be vacated by the retiring incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

The third-term congressman launched his bid with a three-minute video where he pokes fun at the extravagance of some announcement video, evokes former President Trump with video of Trump praising him at a campaign rally, echoes conservative frustrations about cancel culture and accuses congressional Democrats of "shredding our Constitution."

"I'm a small businessman who was so fed up by the liberals' attacks on our faith, our family and our way of life that I ran for Congress to stand and fight alongside Donald Trump, drain the swamp and take our country back," Budd says. 

"We all know that Joe Biden is a weak leader who won't stand up to the radical left. Today, the U.S. Senate is the last line of defense against having a woke socialist wasteland, and I'm running to stop that, period."

Budd joins a Republican primary field that includes fellow Congressman Mark Walker and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has also said she's interested in running but hasn't decided yet. 

Shortly after Budd's announcement, the conservative Club for Growth PAC backed Budd in statement from its president, former Rep. David McIntosh, R-Ind.

591d ago / 8:22 PM UTC

Trump backs Susan Wright, widow of former congressman, in special election

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Texas Republican Susan Wright in the special election to replace her late husband, former Republican Rep. Ron Wright. 

Trump made the endorsement through an emailed press release — he remains banned from virtually all social media platforms in the wake of the January attack on the Capitol by his supporters — hewing very closely to the boilerplate language he typically uses while backing a candidate. 

"Susan Wright will be a terrific Congresswoman (TX-06) for the Great State of Texas. She is the wife of the late Congressman Ron Wright, who has always been supportive of our America First Policies," Trump said.

"Susan will be strong on the Border, Crime, Pro-Life, our brave Military and Vets, and will ALWAYS protect your Second Amendment."

Wright is running in a crowded race to fill the seat vacated by the death of her husband, who served one term before passing away in February. There are 23 candidates in the special election, which pits every candidate on the same ballot, regardless of party. If no candidate wins a majority on the first ballot, the top two move onto a runoff. 

Loyalty to Trump has been a big theme on the Republican side of the race. One candidate, Michael Wood, has spoken out against Trump. But many of the other Republicans, in a field that includes multiple former Trump administration officials, have tried to hug him tight. One candidate, former WWE wrestler Dan Rodimer, has pointed to his 2020 congressional endorsement from Trump to argue he's "the only one that has ever been endorsed by President Trump." That comment prompted Trump adviser Jason Miller to tweet last week clarifying that Trump hadn't yet weighed on the special election. 

591d ago / 6:24 PM UTC

Former Democratic Rep. Cunningham running for governor of South Carolina

Former Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is running for governor in an underdog bid to become the first Democrat elected governor of South Carolina since 1998. 

After weeks of speculation, the Democrat broke the news on social media, tweeting out a video announcement focused primarily on his family and his own biography. He criticized the South Carolina state government as too extreme for the state, pointing to new restrictions on abortion and voting, as well as the decision to loosen restrictions on the open carry of firearms. 

Cunningham then turned his criticism to Gov. Henry McMaster, the Republican he hopes to defeat next November.

"Gov. McMaster has been cheering them on every step of the way. It's embarrassing. The challenges we face aren't because of our people, they're because of our politicians," he said.

"After 20 years of trying the same thing, it's time for something different, something new, which is why I'm announcing that I'm running for governor of SOuth Carolina because my son, and your kids, deserve something better. We all do."

Cunningham is a one-term congressman who served in Congress from 2019 to 2020 after winning the Charleston-area seat once represented by the state's former GOP Gov. Mark Sanford. Sanford lost his primary in 2018 to Republican Katie Arrington, who Cunningham narrowly beat. He lost two years later to Republican Nancy Mace, who now represents the district in Congress. 

The Democrat has experience winning over a Republican-leaning area — he pointed to his 2018 victory, where he won in a district that voted for then-President Donald Trump by double-digits just two years prior, in his announcement video. But no Democrat has won statewide there since the 2006 election for superintendent of education, according to The Post and Courier

595d ago / 7:21 PM UTC

NRA will spend $2 million on ads opposing Biden's gun policy and ATF nominee

The National Rifle Association is pledging to spend $2 million in digital and television ads, as well as supporter outreach as it looks to rally opposition to President Joe Biden's gun policies and his pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

The efforts include $600,000 in digital advertising across seven states (Maine, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania), $400,000 in television ads in Maine, West Virginia and Montana, and $500,000 in mail pieces sent to supporters in 12 states (Maine, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, Alaska, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana). 

Examples of the digital and television ads shared by the NRA show the opposition centered on Biden's nomination of David Chipman to lead ATF as well as a broad claim that Biden wants to ban "commonly owned firearms and magazines," calling on senators to oppose both Biden and Chipman. 

After a mass shooting in Colorado last month, Biden reiterated his call to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to expand the use of background checks

Last week, Biden took executive action aimed at limiting homemade firearms that don't have traceable serial numbers and to call on the Justice Department to lay out model "red flag" laws for states. These laws allow courts to temporarily block someone from having a firearm if family members believe they are a danger to themself or to others. He also announced Chipman's nomination alongside those actions. 

"Americans should not be forced to live in fear in a political climate in which government leaders are outrightly hostile to a fundamental and guaranteed freedom enshrined in our Bill of Rights," Amy Hunter, an NRA spokeswoman, told NBC. 

“We will fight Chipman’s nomination and the bad bills that now are in the Senate. And, this is just the beginning.”

The NRA has recently been marred by accusations of mismanagement and is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. 

Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that has organized as a counterweight to the NRA's institutional power in the gun arena, launched a seven-figure ad campaign of its own last monthaimed at convincing Congress to pass new background check expansions. 

595d ago / 3:39 PM UTC

EMILY's List endorses Democrat Carroll Foy in VA Gov race

In the crowded Democratic primary for Virginia governor, Jennifer Carroll Foy’s campaign has been adamant that the race has turned into a two-person contest — between her and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Now, EMILY’s List has decided to endorse the former state delegate over state Sen. Jennifer McClellan this morning.

Both Carroll Foy and McClellan are vying to be the state’s first woman — and first Black woman — governor. And Carroll Foy has edged out McClellan in fundraising so far, even as McAuliffe has far more resources. 

But McClellan got a boost of her own this morning as she attempts to frame herself as the non-McAuliffe alternative — CNN is reporting that two prominent Democratic donors in California are asking their network to send money to her. 

Polling in the race has shown McAuliffe with a huge lead over the field ahead of the June 8 primary, with the rest of the field, that also includes Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter, in a pile-up far behind him. 

—Ben Kamisar contributed

595d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Biden administration kicks off social media push on vaccines with celebrity help

The Biden administration on Thursday plans to kick off the next phase of its campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy with a new effort that targets young people through celebrities and their social media platforms, according to administration officials. 

The idea is for doctors, scientists and other health officials to take over the social media platforms of famous people, including Olivia Holt, Eva Longoria, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, for live events about the vaccine aimed at their millions of followers, according to a release detailing the effort. The initiative, called “We Can Do This: Live,” will include Instagram Live questions and answers and other virtual events where followers can ask questions and get information about the vaccine.

The NBA, WNBA, NASCAR, the Recording Academy and others such as Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, political strategist Ana Navarro, Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban are also participating in the events.

The timing of the new phase comes as availability for the vaccine has been expanded to all adults, and the administration is trying to reach some of the core groups that are still hesitant to get vaccinated. “It’s time to pull all the levers we have,” one administration official said.

The goal, according to the release, is to reach Americans, particularly young people, “directly in the places where they already consume content online, including social media, podcasts, YouTube, and more.”

597d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

John Bolton-sponsored poll suggests Trump's grip on GOP is losing steam

new poll of likely Republican voters commissioned by former President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, suggests the intensity of support for Trump within the GOP has been slipping, even as he remains a popular and influential figure within the party. 

The poll, commissioned by Bolton's super PAC, finds that 85 percent of likely Republican general election voters view Trump favorably, compared to 13 percent who view him unfavorably. But under the surface, Bolton argued that enthusiasm for Trump is beginning to wane, pointing to the fact that 58 percent of respondents say they have a “very favorable” view of Trump while 27 percent say they just view him “somewhat” favorably. 

Bolton and his pollster, veteran North Carolina political operative Carter Wrenn, compared the data to polls taken before Election Day in 2020 that found significantly higher numbers of Republicans who viewed Trump strongly or very favorably. 

“I was motivated on this poll in part because in the commentariat and among some politicians, there didn’t seem to be a recognition that things changed on Jan. 20th,  when Trump had gone from sitting in the most powerful office in the world to sitting by a swimming pool at Mar-a-Lago. That’s going to have an effect over time as it is for any incumbent president,” Bolton said in a call with reporters discussing the poll's findings. 

“I hoped and believed, as somebody who had been in Republican politics for a long time that we had not become a cult of personality,” he added, saying he’s encouraged by the poll’s finding that 82 percent of Republicans say they care more about a candidate’s stance on issues than whether they’re loyal to Trump. 

Bolton’s super PAC polled 1,000 likely midterm general election voters by phone (with an oversample of 600 likely Republican general election voters in that larger total) from April 3-7. The Republican section has a margin of error of 4 percent. 

Bolton, who has long been a fixture in GOP politics, joined the Trump administration for a little over a year. He left the administration amid a disagreement whether he resigned or was fired, and both Trump and Bolton have repeatedly criticized each other publicly since.  

Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign aide who continues to advise him, tweeted a criticism of Bolton Tuesday in response to the polling. 

"John Bolton has never recovered from being fired. President Trump used Bolton’s idiocy to the benefit of Americans in negotiating deals with other countries because they knew Bolton was a crazed lunatic," Miller said

Trump won a significant plurality in a hypothetical 2024 GOP presidential primary matchup against six other potential Republican hopefuls — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.  

Forty-four percent of those GOP primary voters backed Trump, but 56 percent were either undecided or backing another candidate. Among those who have a “very favorable” view of Trump, 70 percent said they’d back him in 2024, while 30 percent said they were undecided or backing another candidate. 

Behind Trump in the hypothetical GOP presidential primary matchup were: DeSantis and Haley at 9 percent each; Cruz at 7 percent; Pence at 6 percent; Rubio at 2 percent; Noem at 1 percent; and 21 percent who were undecided.

Views on Trump’s policies and personality also served as a strong proxy for voters’ choice in 2024 — 71 percent of voters who like both Trump’s policies and personality backed him, while 64 percent who liked his policy but disliked his personality were not supporting him. 

And the poll found that for a majority of Republicans, 52 percent, whether Trump personally opposed a candidate made no difference as to a voter’s decision on that candidate (29 percent said they’d be more likely to vote against that candidate while 19 percent it would make them more likely to vote for that candidate). 

Wrenn pointed to those numbers specifically to argue that part of the GOP softening on Trump is related to his personality, and that Trump’s hold on the 2024 field, and the party at large, may not be as strong as some may think. 

“Among Washington consultants, it’s a mantra: If Trump runs, you can’t win. I think that’s a fiction,” he said. 

The poll is not the first to examine the future of the GOP, and not the only one from a principal with a personal connection to the administration. As Axios first reported last month, Fabrizio, Lee & Associates(which polled for Trump’s presidential campaign) found that the plurality of GOP voters, 23 percent, were most concerned about fiscal issues, with 19 percent considered “extremely conservative” and 17 percent focused on individual freedom.

597d ago / 3:17 PM UTC

Here are some initial takeaways from the most recent FEC reports

Friday's first-quarter fundraising deadline gave reporters and the public the first glance at the state of 2021 campaign fundraising during a hectic three months that included the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, objections to the Electoral College, an impeachment vote, serious jockeying for higher office and many other flashpoints. 

Here are some key things we've learned from those filings so far: 

Most corporate PACs appear to have followed through on donation pauses

After the Electoral College objections and the Capitol attack, dozens of corporations put out statements ranging from condemnations to calls to re-evaluate their giving or blanket bans on donations to those who objected to President Joe Biden's victory. And this first, preliminary look, makes clear that most followed through. 

The majority of Republicans who objected to the Electoral College certification saw a decrease in political action committee donations in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the first quarter of 2019 (only counting those who were in Congress during both eras). 

And most of the organizations that spoke out in the wake of the attack didn't donate to these members (note: Many of these corporate PACs file semi-annually, while federal candidates file quarterly).

Only a small group, including companies like Toyota, the National Association of Realtors, JetBlue and Cigna did, giving to a handful of lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election. But those groups issued more broad statements after the Congressional vote, not specifically promising the end to donations to those who objected to the Electoral College.  

Toyota is one good example of how some of those companies are handling the issue. In January, Toyota told E&E that "given recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria." But when asked by NBC News about its donations, a Toyota spokesman said its donations are "based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company."

"We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification. Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions," the spokesperson added, noting that the company generally gives to lawmakers who represent areas where Toyota has operations and that the company gave both to Democrats this quarter, as well as four of the 10 House Republicans who backed former President Donald Trump's impeachment

But many of those who objected raised a lot of small-dollar money 

If the money isn't coming in from corporations, then a candidate has to find new revenue sources. Many of those who objected to the Electoral College got a bump from small-dollar donors (per Politico, a majority of them), particularly some of the most outspoken objectors. 

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who vocally helped to lead the opposition to the Electoral College vote, raised an eye-popping $3 million over the single quarter, almost two-thirds from donations of under $200. In the first quarter of 2019, Hawley raised just $44,000. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., also raised about $3 million, a massive sum for a House member and more than all but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.

And Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., another GOP lawmaker who repeatedly cast doubt on the veracity of the Electoral College (and more recently is facing investigations into sexual misconduct allegations) raised $1.8 million that quarter, more than three-quarters in donations under $200. 

The GOP spent the Trump years trying to leverage Trump's success with small-dollar donors into helping the party as a whole. And it remains clear that if big donors will be slow to donate to those who objected to the Electoral College, these small-dollar donors will only become more important to these members as they look toward re-election or higher office. 

Trump critics raised significant money, some spending big on security  

We didn't just see big quarters from those who backed Trump's attempts to throw out the Electoral College — some of the former president's most vocal Republican critics raked in cash too. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., raised $1.5 million, more than all but 12 House members. And the $1.2 million haul from Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., was good enough to get him into the top 20 of all members last quarter. 

But some of those seen as major Trump critics, either who supported his impeachment or have otherwise spoken out against him, have spent big money on security during the first quarter. Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., spent $69,000 of the $112,000 spent by his campaign all quarter on security services or consulting (Toomey is retiring at the end of 2022). His campaign had previously reported spending a total of $6,600 on security over the last decade. 

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who joined with Toomey to vote to impeach Trump, spent almost $44,000 on security expenses in February — he had spent about $2,000 on security previously out of his campaign account. 

Race for the Senate begins to come into focus

It's still early, but these reports also provided the first glimpse of what resources notable Senate candidates are beginning to amass. 

In the heated Ohio Senate GOP primary, former state GOP chairwoman Jane Timken loaned her campaign $1 million and raised another $1.1 million. Her primary opponent at this point, former state treasurer Josh Mandel, actually lost money in his primary campaign account apparently because his investments took a $130,000 hit. But a spokesman told Cleveland.com his campaign will net about $700,000 through fundraising in his joint fudraising committee.  

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democrat seen to be eying a bid, posted a $1.2 million quarter with nothing from his own personal funds. 

Some incumbents likely to face serious challenges raised big money — for example, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., raised almost $4.4 million; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., raised more than $1.6 million; Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., raised $4.6 million from Jan. 26 through March; Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., raised $2.9 million; and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto raised $2.3 million. 

Others, like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., raised less as they continue to weigh whether they'll run again. 

598d ago / 3:53 PM UTC

Dayton mayor launches Ohio gubernatorial bid presenting herself as antidote to decades of Republican rule

Nan Whaley, the Democratic mayor of Dayton, Ohio, declared her candidacy for governor Monday by characterizing Republican incumbent Mike DeWine as an avatar of complacence and compliance in the face of economic distress and corruption. 

“I think the people of Ohio agree that they deserve better,” Whaley, 45, said in a telephone interview with NBC News. 

“People are working longer and longer hours, sometimes even two jobs, getting paid less, and not being able to provide for their families,” Whaley added. “And we've had three decades with the same corrupt politicians in Columbus, who care more about the extreme interests and lining their personal and political pockets, rather than folks who are trying to provide for their families and want their kids to have actual opportunities in Ohio.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks alongside Democrats from the House of Representatives and Senate at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2019, in Washington.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks alongside Democrats from the House of Representatives and Senate at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2019, in Washington.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file

DeWine, 74, has not been implicated, but a scandal involving other prominent Ohio Republicans and legislation viewed as a bailout for two nuclear power plants has become a potential liability for GOP officials. Larry Householder, the former speaker of the Ohio House, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he orchestrated a $60 million bribery scheme around the legislation.

“What's gonna matter,” Whaley said, “is that people are going to see that the leadership and Columbus has been completely interested in self-dealing, and they're paying for it on their electric bills every month.”

Republicans have held the governor’s chair and most partisan statewide offices in Ohio for all but four years since 1990. DeWine has been a GOP mainstay since the 1980s, serving the state in the U.S. House and Senate and as lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Whaley and DeWine previously had enjoyed a cordial relationship, but the mayor believes the governor’s leadership on the pandemic — once lauded by those on both sides of the aisle as bold and decisive, especially when compared to former President Donald Trump and other Republicans — has worsened the more he fears backlash from his party’s base. Several Republicans, including former Rep. Jim Renacci, are considering challenging DeWine in next year’s primary largely on the basis that they think he’s been too restrictive in his approach to the coronavirus.

“There are actually examples over and over again in the midst of the pandemic where I think he puts his wanting to protect his power over his principle,” Whaley said of DeWine.

In an emailed statement, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik criticized Whaley’s two terms as mayor, noting high crime and poverty rates in the city.

“Now, Nan Whaley wants a promotion. Ohioans deserve leaders who serve to better our communities, not build their own political resumes,” Paduchik said.

Whaley has long been seen as a rising star in Ohio. She briefly ran for governor in 2018 but dropped out once it was clear Democratic establishment leaders were coalescing behind Richard Cordray, the state’s former attorney general and the former head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray lost to DeWine by less than 4 percentage points.

Since 2018, Whaley has elevated her state and national profile, first by leading an unsuccessful effort to draft Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, into the 2020 presidential race and then by becoming a surrogate for Pete Buttigieg’s White House bid. Her leadership of Dayton through several crises — including destructive tornadoes and a mass shooting that left nine dead in August of 2019 — also put her in front of national audiences. When Trump visited after the shooting, Whaley found herself the target of his angry tweets, even though she had said victims and first responders were grateful for his appearance.

“It's true that I am not the same person that ran four years ago,” Whaley said Monday. “And it is not through any fault of Dayton that we were tested so often through these challenges.”

Another Democrat, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, has been raising money for several months as he explores seeking the party's nomination for governor.

Dayton is not among the three metro areas — Cincinnati, along with Cleveland and Columbus — that traditionally produce statewide candidates. Whaley addresses that reality while alluding to the city’s recent challenges in her launch video, which begins by asking: “What does somebody from Dayton know about tough?”

The strength theme continues throughout the video, which hits on the corruption scandals and features footage of DeWine in Dayton after the 2019 shooting as Whaley talks about leaders who are “too weak to do something.” “Do Something” became a rallying cry for gun-safety advocates who chanted the phrase at DeWine during that visit. 

DeWine has at times signaled interest in gun control legislation but has not been able to sell the GOP-controlled General Assembly. After suggesting that he would veto “stand your ground” legislation that removed the duty to retreat before shooting in self-defense, DeWine in January signed the bill.

598d ago / 2:32 PM UTC

Party-switching candidate attacks GOP Gov. Kemp as he launches primary challenge

and

Georgia Republican gubernatorial hopeful Vernon Jones, a former Democratic state representative who backed former President Donald Trump's re-election and ultimately switched parties, blasted the state's current governor during an appearance on Fox Business days after he announced his primary challenge. 

During his TV appearance, Jones criticized Republican Gov. Brian Kemp by accusing him of being responsible for GOP losses in the state in 2020, and arguing he "cannot beat Stacey" Abrams, the Georgia Democrat who may be eying another gubernatorial bid after she lost to Kemp in 2018.

"Our governor failed when we lost two United States Senate seats. He was directly responsible for this," he said on Fox Business. 

"Brian Kemp cannot beat Stacey. He's caved into her one time and we don't want him to cave in again." 

The broadsides on Kemp echo criticism from Trump and his allies, who still hold a grudge against Kemp because they say he didn't do enough to support Trump's unfounded claims of widespread electoral fraud. But other Republicans have said that Trump's repeated calls for states like Georgia to overturn the election results helped cost the GOP both Senate seats in the January runoffs there. 

As Trump has continued to criticize Kemp, the governor has become the face of the state's controversial new voting restrictions, which he signed into law last month

The former president has not yet endorsed in this race, although he did back Republican Rep. Jody Hice's primary bid against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another top Georgia Republican Trump criticized in the wake of his loss. 

602d ago / 7:16 PM UTC

What all the new poll numbers tell us about Biden and his agenda

In the last 24 hours, we’ve seen four major national polls — Monmouth, Quinnipiac, NPR/PBS/Marist and Pew — release findings on President Biden’s first three months in office and the popularity of his legislative priorities.

And despite differing methodologies (Pew is an online poll, the others are live-caller) and differing overall numbers, these polls tell five clear stories about how Americans view the president and his early agenda. 

1. As he nears 100 days in office, Biden’s approval rating remains above water

Biden’s job rating

Monmouth: 54 percent approve, 41 percent disapprove

Quinnipiac: 48 percent approve, 42 percent disapprove

NPR/PBS/Marist: 53 percent approve, 39 percent disapprove

Pew: 59 percent approve, 39 percent disapprove

2. Americans are feeling more optimistic

According to the Monmouth poll, 46 percent of Americans believe the nation is headed in the right direction, versus 50 percent who think it’s on the wrong back. 

A month ago in the same poll, it was 34 percent right track, 61 percent wrong track.

3. Biden’s infrastructure bill is popular, and it pretty much matches his overall job rating 

Quinnipiac: 44 percent support it, 38 percent oppose it

Quinnipiac -- if it raises taxes on corporations: 53 percent support, 39 percent oppose

NPR/PBS/Marist: 56 percent support, 34 percent oppose 

4. Increasing taxes on corporations and those making $400,000 or above is popular

Quinnipiac on raising corporate taxes: 62 percent support, 31 percent oppose

Quinnipiac on raising taxes on those making $400K+: 64 percent support, 31 percent oppose 

NPR/PBS/Marist on $400K+: 65 percent support, 33 percent oppose

5. Biden’s personal ratings are higher than his policy ratings 

In the Pew poll, 46 percent of Americans say they like the Biden conducts himself, while 27 percent disagree and another 27 percent have a mixed opinion.  

That’s compared with a combined 44 percent who say they like all or many of his policies. 

And another 44 percent in the Pew poll say Biden has changed the tone of the political debate for the better; 29 percent say he’s changed it for the worse; and 27 percent say he hasn’t changed it much either way. 

The Monmouth poll was conducted April 8-12, and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.  

The Quinnipiac poll was also conducted April 8-12, and has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.8 percentage points. 

The NPR/PBS/Marist poll was conducted April 7-13, and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. 

And the Pew poll was conducted April 5-11, and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.1 percentage points.

602d ago / 3:08 PM UTC

Poll: Majority of Americans say a "not-guilty" verdict in Chauvin trial would be a negative step for race relations

Six-in-ten Americans say that a verdict of “not guilty” for the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd would be a negative step for race relations in America, according to new poll data from Monmouth University. 

But the country is more divided on whether a conviction for Derek Chauvin would actually improve race relations, with almost half of Americans saying it’s not likely to make much of a difference. 

The survey, which was conducted April 8-12, finds that 63 percent of Americans said it would be a negative step for race relations if Chauvin, who is charged with murder in Floyd’s death last year, is found not guilty.  

But, asked about the possibility that Chauvin is instead found guilty of murder, 46 percent said a guilty verdict won’t make a significant difference for race relations. Thirty-seven percent say a guilty verdict would have a positive effect. 

Chauvin faces second-degree and third-degree murder charges, as well as a manslaughter charge. 

The Hennepin County Government Center on April 14, 2021, in Minneapolis.
The Hennepin County Government Center on April 14, 2021, in Minneapolis.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

The survey finds significant differences between white Republicans and other white partisans on this issue. Among white Republicans, just 13 percent say a guilty verdict would be a good step for race relations. A majority — 56 percent — of white Democrats and independents say the same thing. 

About half of Americans– 49 percent – also said that police officers are more likely to use excessive force against a Black person than against a white person in similar circumstances. That’s down from the 57 percent who said the same last June, but still much higher than in previous surveys.

About a third – 30 percent — of Americans say there’s more racism among police officers than among other groups, while 14 percent say there’s less and 51 percent say there is not more or less racism among police officers compared to the rest of society. 

The survey comes at a time when there is very high awareness of the ongoing Chauvin trial. Almost two-thirds of Americans say they have heard a lot about it, with another 31 percent saying they’ve heard a little. 

The Monmouth survey was conducted April 8-12 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

603d ago / 3:33 PM UTC

Poll: Forty-three percent of Republicans say they will avoid vaccine if possible

A new poll from Monmouth University finds that about one-in-five Americans say they plan to avoid  getting a Covid-19 vaccine if possible, a share that remains virtually unchanged since the beginning of the year.  

The survey, which was conducted April 8-12 — before federal health authorities called for a pause in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to very rare cases of blot clots in some women — found that 21 percent of Americans overall say they likely won’t get the vaccine if they can avoid it. That’s compared to a statistically similar 24 percent in both January and March polls. 

Those shunning the jab include 43 percent of Republicans but just 5 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents. 

Image: Volunteer medical staff administer Covid-19 vaccines to walk-in patients during a pop-up clinic at Western International High School on April 12, 2021 in Detroit, Mich.
Volunteer medical staff administer Covid-19 vaccines to walk-in patients during a pop-up clinic at Western International High School on April 12, 2021 in Detroit, Mich.Matthew Hatcher / Getty Images

But the poll also has some good news for vaccine advocates. The share of Americans who say they want to wait and see how the vaccine rollout goes before getting a shot is down from 21 percent in March to just 12 percent now. 

Overall, 51 percent of Americans say they’ve received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Another 14 percent say they plan to get one as soon as they can. 

The poll also finds President Joe Biden’s approval rating above water, with 54 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving of his performance in office so far. 

That’s compared with a 51 percent approve/42 percent disapprove rating last month. 

The poll of 800 respondents was conducted April 8-12 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

 

603d ago / 2:47 PM UTC

McCrory makes it official, announces N.C. Senate bid

Former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory says he’s in for the 2022 Senate race. 

McCrory made the announcement on his Charlotte-area radio show Wednesday morning, saying he is “simply the best for this job of any of the people talking about running for it.” 

In a separate announcement video, McCrory emphasized the stakes of the next Senate contest, noting the 50/50 split between the parties in the upper chamber and the fact that ties are currently broken by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“It’s time we join together and take back the Senate from Kamala Harris,” he says in the video. “So I’m in.” 

Former GOP Rep. Mark Walker has already announced a bid for the seat, which will be open after the retirement of Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Rep. Ted Budd is also reportedly considering a run.

McCrory enjoys high name recognition in the state from his stint as governor. But former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has also been floated as a candidate whose last name would immediate make her a top-tier contender for the seat.

604d ago / 9:32 PM UTC

Former N.C. Gov. McCrory to run for open Senate seat

The North Carolina Senate race is about to get more crowded. 

Former Republican Governor Pat McCrory plans to announce on Wednesday that he is running for the open seat to replace retiring Sen. Richard Burr, according to two sources familiar with his plans. 

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks in Raleigh on Nov. 9, 2016.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks in Raleigh on Nov. 9, 2016.Jonathan Drake / Reuters file

McCrory, who led the state from 2012 until he lost his re-election in 2016, will enter what is expected to be a crowded Republican primary that already includes former Rep. Mark Walker, who took a shot at McCrory on Monday upon the news of his potential bid. 

Sources say the GOP field could also include Lara Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, and possibly Rep. Ted Budd, D-N.C.

The Democratic primary is expected to get bigger soon, too. Former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley could announce her candidacy as early as this week, three sources tell NBC News. 

Beasley, an African American woman, lost a close re-election in 2020 as the top judge in the state. Her race went to a recount. She would be running against former state Sen. Erica Smith and state Senator Jeff Jackson, who have both already announced their bids. Jackson's campaign said he raised $1.3 million in the first quarter of 2021. 

The outcome of the election in the swing state will be critical in the battle for the Senate, which is currently evenly divided. 

Former President Donald Trump won the state in 2016 and 2020 but voters in those elections also elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper on the same ballot. 

“Arguably North Carolina is the swingiest state in the nation,” Democratic consultant Morgan Jackson said. “It’s the right recipe for a really big Senate race.”

605d ago / 4:07 PM UTC

Progressive Kentucky Democrat explores Senate bid against Rand Paul

Former state Rep. Charles Booker, the progressive Democrat who narrowly lost the party's Democratic Senate primary in 2020, is launching an exploratory committee for a potential bid against Republican Sen. Rand Paul. 

Booker made the announcement in a video posted to social media where he recounted his 2020 campaign's rise amid the backdrop of public outcry after police shootings of Black people, all amid a global pandemic. And he criticized the push by Republican legislators across the country to enact new voting restrictions after former President Donald Trump lost the presidential election. 

"As we made our stand together, I could not have imagined the new world we were about to step into — the height of racial tension, the pandemic, an insurrection. While Kentuckians lost their livelihoods and their homes, a handful of privileged politicians chose to continue criminalizing poverty. While our loved ones were brutalized they chose to do nothing," Booker says in the video. 

"Those folks building walls between us, they're scared now. They saw how close we came to shifting the scales, our forward motion knocking them on their heels. And they'll stop at nothing to drag us backwards." 

Booker fell just three percentage points short of winning the 2020 Senate Democratic primary to former fighter pilot Amy McGrath. McGrath, who massively outraised and outspent Booker, went on to lose to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by almost 20 points.

Booker shares many ideas with the Democratic Party's progressive wing, supporting the Green New Deal and  Medicare for All. He's also been an outspoken advocate for racial justice — he rallied Kentuckians after the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, which happened during the primary campaign. 

While Booker hasn't officially declared a bid, if he decides to challenge Paul, it will be difficult sledding — while Democrats did successfully flip the governor's mansion in 2019, Republicans have held both Senate seats since the turn of the century. Paul first won his seat in the 2010 midterms, winning a second term in 2016 after he dropped out of the presidential race. 

609d ago / 12:32 PM UTC

Virginia Gov. Northam backs Terry McAuliffe's bid to return to governor's mansion

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he is endorsing Terry McAuliffe to be the state's next governor, a move that gives McAuliffe another big backer in his corner as he looks to leverage his experience, deep pockets and relationships with establishment Democrats in the state to help him secure another, non-consecutive term as governor. 

In a statement released by the McAuliffe campaign, Northam pointed to the former governor's experience as a key attribute that can help the state as it claws out of the health and economic crises created by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"The longer-term impacts of this pandemic, however, will be around long after I leave office, and it's critical that our next governor has the plans and experience to continue the fight to rebuild Virginia into a stronger, more equitable future. That's why I am so proud to support Terry McAuliffe to be our next governor," Northam said. 

"When Terry puts his mind to something, he'll move heaven and earth to make it happen. I've worked side-by-side with him for years, and simply put, he always gets the job done. Virginians need and deserve Terry's committed leadership as our next governor to continue to move us forward and build on the incredible progress Democrats have made over the past eight years."

Northam served as McAuliffe's lieutenant governor from 2014-2017 and won McAuliffe's endorsement to succeed him, an endorsement that served particularly helpful in the 2013 Democratic primary. Virginia elects governors to one, four-year term, after which they can't immediately run for re-election. However, they can run for non-consecutive terms, as McAuliffe is attempting to do. 

Image: Ralph Northam
Terry McAuliffe, left, and Ralph Northam, celebrate Northam's win in the Democratic Gubernatorial primary on June 13, 2017 in Crystal City, Va.Cliff Owen / AP file

McAuliffe has been touting his experience as the centerpiece of his bid — he left office well-liked and has remained a fixture in the state's political scene, as well as the national one (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has endorsed him). Mark Bergman, one of Northam's top political advisers, told the Associated Press that the governor was choosing between Northam and two other candidates — former state Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan.

Both Carroll Foy and McClellan are trying to fashion themselves as candidates who represent a new direction for the state, with Carroll Foy specifically criticizing McAuliffe in recent weeks as a return to politics of the past. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has been accused of sexual assault, is also running, as is state Delegate Lee Carter, a marine veteran and socialist. 

While Northam's reputation in the state has rebounded, he faced a smattering of calls to resign in 2019 after a photo emerged from his medical school yearbook page that showed one man posing in blackface and another donning a Ku Klux Klan robe. While denying he was in that photo, he admitted to using shoe polish to darken his face while impersonating Michael Jackson in a dance contest in 1984. McAullife initially called on Northam to step down, Northam never did and the pressure campaign faded away. 

610d ago / 3:40 PM UTC

Pence launches new policy and advocacy group to champion Trump-era policy and oppose Biden agenda

and

Former Vice President Mike Pence has launched his new policy and advocacy group, called Advancing American Freedom, the biggest brick yet in the foundation Pence is building toward a potential future bid for president. 

The group, according to a new statement announcing the launch, will “promote the pro-freedom policies of the last four years that created unprecedented prosperity at home and restored respect for America abroad, to defend those policies from liberal attacks and media distortions, and to prevent the radical Left from enacting its policy agenda that would threaten America’s freedoms.”

Advancing American Freedom is incorporated in Indiana, but will have office space in Washington D.C., according to a source involved with the group. 

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a rally on Dec. 04, 2020, in Savannah, Ga.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a rally on Dec. 04, 2020, in Savannah, Ga.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

The announcement comes as Pence begins to tiptoe back into the public eye after a high-profile break with former President Donald Trump over whether he could overturn the 2020 election results. He's expected to make his first public speech since leaving office later this month in South Carolina. 

Advancing American Freedom's messaging previews the pitch Pence may make to GOP voters during presidential primary season: that he's the person who can carry on the Trump message on behalf of the voters the former president brought into the Republican fold in 2016, while also speaking to more traditional GOP base. 

“Mike Pence is looking to chair this new organization in a direction that continues to fuse those different parts of our movement together because that's a winning formula,” former Pence chief of staff Marc Short, the group's co-chair, said on Fox Business Wednesday morning. 

Along with Short, senior advisor Marty Obst and political strategist Chip Saltsman are also co-chairing the group. The group’s executive director, Paul Teller, worked as one of Pence’s liaisons to Capitol Hill.

Its advisory board includes a handful of former Trump administration officials and top allies, including former Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich, former Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, former Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. 

And the group's announcement makes clear how it views the Biden administration, adding that "In addition to articulating and advancing a policy agenda, Advancing American Freedom will oppose the expansion of government under Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ radical Left policy agenda from Washington, D.C., into communities across the country.

610d ago / 1:35 PM UTC

Trump backs Mo Brooks, key ally in unfounded election fraud push, for Alabama Senate

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed the Senate campaign of Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican and key ally who played a central role in promoting the former president’s unfounded claim that he won the 2020 presidential election and that Congress could overturn the result. 

Trump announced the endorsement in an emailed statement Wednesday, as he remains banned from most social media platforms in the wake of his false claims about the election and the subsequent attack on the Capitol by his supporters. 

“Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks.  Mo is a great Conservative Republican leader, who will stand up for America First no matter what obstacles the Fake News Media, RINOs, or Socialist Democrats may place in his path,” Trump wrote. 

“Mo Brooks has my Complete and Total Endorsement for the U.S. Senate representing the Great State of Alabama.  He will never let you down!”

Brooks is running for the Senate seat that will be vacated by Republican Sen. Richard Shelby’s decision not to run for another term. The president is siding with Brooks over Lynda Blanchard, Trump’s former ambassador to Slovenia. Blanchard has also tried to position herself as a loyal Trump ally, pointing to her work in the administration, and has deep pockets from which to self-fund her race. 

Image: Mo Brooks makes a campaign announcement in Huntsville, Alabama
Mo Brooks announces his campaign for senate during a rally in Huntsville, Ala., on March 22, 2021.Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters file

The congressman repeatedly echoed Trump’s claims of widespread electoral fraud after the 2020 election, helping to spearhead the attempt by over 100 Republican members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results. 

Brooks also spoke, along with Trump, at a Washington D.C. rally that coincided with the vote. Many of those rallygoers then headed to the Capitol, and some attacked police officers as they stormed the building.

Trump won Alabama in 2020 with 62 percent of the vote, his highest vote share of any state. It's not the first time Trump waded into Alabama's Senate race — when Brooks was running in 2017, Trump endorsed sitting Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed to the seat after then-Sen. Jeff Sessions left to become Trump's attorney general. Strange advanced to a runoff against Republican Roy Moore, who defeated Strange but lost the general election after he was accused by multiple women of sexually harassing them when they were teenagers. 

611d ago / 7:48 PM UTC

Ohio doctor who led state's coronavirus response decides against seeking Portman's Senate seat

Dr. Amy Acton, the former Ohio health director who helped navigate the state through the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, said Tuesday that she won't seek the Senate seat being left by retiring Republican Rob Portman next year.

"While I am not entering the race for U.S. Senate, I recognize there is a genuine longing for a fresh approach to leadership that is honest, collaborative, and empowering," Acton, who served under Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and was exploring a run, said in an emailed statement.

"Ohioans — do not accept anything less from your elected officials," Acton added. "Our leaders’ words and actions matter. We must set the bar higher."

Several prominent Democrats had encouraged Acton to run, including Connie Schultz, a nationally syndicated columnist married to the state's other senator, Sherrod Brown.

Image:
Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health Director, discusses the confirmation of Ohio's first three cases of coronavirus, as Gov. Mike DeWine, right, studies an update on the cases provided to him, during a news conference on March 9, 2020, in Columbus. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted is at left.Andrew Welsh-Huggins / AP file

A national group working to draft science, technology, engineering and math professionals to run for office — 314 Action — also tried to get Acton to run. The organization commissioned a poll that measured Acton, who was a daily presence at DeWine's televised coronavirus briefings, with a high favorability rating. The polling also found Acton within the margin of error in a hypothetical primary matchup with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who is expected to launch a Senate bid soon.

Acton resigned as DeWine's health director last June and remained as an adviser until August. Acton, who is Jewish, had been a target of anti-Semitism and other vitriol from those unhappy with the governor's stay-at-home orders and lockdowns in the first months of the pandemic. 

"Let our future honor the dignity of true public service and citizenship," Acton said in her Tuesday statement. "I know many of us are tired of the vitriol and hate. We are weary from the battle. No one has gone untouched and much has been exposed and revealed. Yet as we cautiously re-emerge this spring, we dare to hope that a new way is possible. The opportunity for repairing and reimagining is at hand: a rebirth for ourselves, our relationships, and for the institutions of our civil society."

Ryan announced last week that his campaign account, which can be applied toward a Senate bid, raised $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2021. On the Republican side, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken, and Cleveland-area businessman Bernie Moreno — who launched his candidacy Tuesday — are already running. Others, including Reps. Mike Turner and Steve Stivers and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance, also are considering entering the GOP primary.

611d ago / 5:22 PM UTC

Hastings seat to be filled by special election scheduled by Gov. DeSantis

and

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has broad authority on the timing to schedule a special election to fill the U.S. House vacancy left by Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings' death on Tuesday

State law says a special election "shall be held" when there's a vacancy in Florida's congressional delegation, but the state's governor gets to set the dates for the election.

Unlike in other states, where election laws allow state parties to choose their special-election nominees (like New Mexico) or hold a special election with every candidate of any party on the same ballot (like Lousiana), Florida voters will choose their party's nominees during the special election primaries. 

The current 20th district is far from a competitive one. Hastings, who was first elected in 1992, won 79% of the vote in 2020 and ran unopposed in the 2018 general election. A majority of district residents — 53% — are Black. 

That said, the Republican-controlled legislature will have the chance to redraw congressional district lines through the redistricting process before the 2022 midterms, so the district may look different in future elections.

611d ago / 3:07 PM UTC

With Colorado poised to be new home for MLB All-Star Game, here's a look at its voting laws

After Major League Baseball pulled its July All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of Georgia's new voting restrictions passed into law last week, the game is being relocated to Colorado (ESPN first reported the move, which has since been confirmed by Major League Baseball

With voting laws at the center of the decision to move from Georgia, here's a look at Colorado's rules: 

  • Colorado has had universal mail balloting since 2013.  The state is one of five that allows elections to be conducted by mail (there are also early in-person voting options for those who do not wish to vote by mail, but only about 6% of voters in 2020 chose to do that.) 
  • All active eligible voters are automatically mailed a ballot, which can be returned by mail or at drop boxes. 
  • The state has same-day registration for both in-person voters who choose to vote early or on Election Day. It also has automatic voter registration through the DMV.  
  • Voters who choose to vote in-person must provide an ID. Those voting by mail for the first time may also need to include a photocopy of their ID. 
  • A study from Northern Illinois University in 2020 identified Colorado as the seventh easiest state to vote
A mail-in ballot collection box sits on the floor at Edgewater City Hall on Nov. 3, 2020 in Edgewater, Colo.
A mail-in ballot collection box sits on the floor at Edgewater City Hall on Nov. 3, 2020 in Edgewater, Colo.Marc Piscotty / Getty Images file
612d ago / 7:21 PM UTC

Manchin balks at level of tax increases in Biden infrastructure plan

President Joe Biden is facing opposition from at least one Senate Democrat to a key aspect of his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal — how to pay for it. 

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.V., told West Virginia Radio Host Hoppy Kercheval on Monday he wants the plan rewritten. “As the bill exists today it needs to be changed,” Manchin said pointedly, adding that he doesn’t support tax hikes other than raising the corporate tax rate. “I'm not talking about raising taxes, other than I think corporate should have never been below 25.”

But even then, the Democrats’ key swing vote doesn’t support raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, telling the radio host he won’t back the bill in its current form. 

Asked if Democrats could push the bill through by way of reconciliation, the technical procedure they used to pass the latest Covid-19 relief package with just a majority vote instead of requiring 60 yes votes, Manchin says, “No, they can’t,” citing at least half-dozen Democrats who may feel the same way as him. 

“If I don’t vote to get on it it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here — It's more than just me there are six or seven other Democrats who feel very strongly about this. We have to be competitive and we’re not going to throw caution to the wind," he added. 

Image: Senator Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin speaks during a confirmation hearing for Representative Deb Haaland, in Washington, on Feb. 23, 2021.Jim Watson / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Another Senate Democrat, Mark Warner, D-Va., told the reporters in the Capitol on Monday that he also has some reservations about the package. Warner says he spoke to the White House, but wouldn’t divulge those details. “It was more outreach, it was more heads up than input into the package. I have already expressed some concerns.”

Republicans have so far balked at the tax increases, with Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker telling "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the infrastructure bill was "a tax increase on small businesses, on job creators in the United States." 

Biden, though, stood by his proposal to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, saying he isn’t worried that the hike would further harm the economy. “Not at all,” Biden said when asked. “There’s no evidence of that.”

612d ago / 4:10 PM UTC

Group of former Democratic members of Congress, candidates, starting PAC to defend moderate Dems

Seven Democrats who lost their 2020 congressional bids — including five former House members and two unsuccessful candidates — are teaming up to launch a new Political Action Committee aimed at protecting moderate Democratic incumbents as the party looks to hold onto the House majority in 2022. 

Former Reps. Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Ben McAdams of Utah and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, as well as former candidates Jackie Gordon of New York and Christina Hale of Indiana, announced the creation of the group, called Shield PAC, in an op-ed in USA Today

The group pointed to GOP lines of attack used against them in 2020 — including attempts to frame them as socialists as well as lump them in with progressives who support policies like a ban on fracturing or the "defund the police" movement — to warn Democrats that they will be levied against swing-district Democrats again in 2022. 

"The GOP already has spun up its attack machine to lie about those members, as they did about us. Unless their voters learn more about them, those lies could take hold," they wrote."

"We are teaming up to do something about it. We helped create and now serve as advisers to Shield PAC, a new political action committee to define and shield the most at-risk House moderates from Republican efforts to tie them to socialism and other ideas that are toxic in their districts.

Third-Way, the moderate think-tank, is joining with the Democrats to launch the PAC. 

Brindisi, Cunningham, Horn, McAdams and Torress Small all won their House seats in the 2018 midterm election, when a wave of Democrats won Republican-held seats and delivered their party the House majority. 

But while Democrats had strong success in those 2018 elections, they did not fare nearly as well in 2020. Even though their party won back the White House, Republicans won every single race rated by the Cook Political Report as a "toss-up," leaving Democrats with a very narrow majority. A handful of Democrats specifically pointed to the messaging as one main reason for their losses.  

Since the president's party typically performs poorly in a midterm election, and with the possibility that redistricting could help Republicans shore up some more seats, Republicans have a strong chance at being able to take back control of the House after the 2022 election, and they've been optimistic that their 2020 success, even as their presidential candidate lost, is indicative of their chances in 2022. 

A November memo from the National Republican Congressional Committee trumpeted how Republicans framed the election as "a choice between Republicans’ message of freedom versus Democrats’ radical socialist agenda," and added that "the results speak for themselves."

616d ago / 2:23 PM UTC

New Mexico congressional special election matchups set

Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury will face off against Republican state Sen. Mark Moores in the New Mexico special House election to replace newly-minted Interior Secretary Deb Haaland after both parties selected their nominees over the last week. 

Republicans tapped Moores last week, while Stansbury won a runoff among the New Mexico Democratic Party's State Central Committee on Tuesday, narrowly edging out state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

While Sedillo Lopez finished with a significant lead after the committee's first vote on Tuesday, she fell short of the majority needed to secure the nomination and was forced into a runoff, where Stansbury leapfrogged her. 

The candidates will face off, along with Libertarian Chris Manning, for the right to fill the seat vacated by Haaland. Instead of holding primary elections where voters could choose their party's nominees, in New Mexico, the party committees choose their own nominees instead. 

Image: Deb Haaland
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M. and secretary of the interior nominee, testifies during her confirmation hearing in Washington on Feb. 24, 2021.Leigh Vogel / AFP - Getty Images file

Democrats hold the upper hand in the race — Haaland won re-election in 2020 by more than 16 points, and Democratic presidential nominees won the district by double-digits in each of the last three presidential races (per data from the Daily Kos). But special electorates are notoriously difficult to predict because they are not held during the traditional election cycle. 

617d ago / 3:42 PM UTC

Majority of California voters don't support Newsom recall

A majority of California voters say they want Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to stay on the job, as opponents work to unseat him through the state’s recall process.

A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California finds that 56 percent of likely California voters say they do not support recalling Newsom, while 40 percent want him ousted. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks after touring the newly reopened Ruby Bridges Elementary School on March 16, 2021, in Alameda.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks after touring the newly reopened Ruby Bridges Elementary School on March 16, 2021, in Alameda.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

While verification is still being officially finalized, opponents say they have submitted sufficient signatures to force a recall election in the fall. If that occurs, California voters would receive a ballot with two questions — the first asking if Newsom should be recalled, and the second (valid only if a majority say yes to the first question) offering alternative candidates.

But the poll indicates that Newsom remains in a strong position to beat back that effort, despite rivals’ hopes that pandemic fatigue has weakened the governor politically. 

Newsom’s approval rating stands at 54 percent among all adults, down from a high of 65 percent last spring but stable since the start of 2021.

And nearly three-quarters of Californians said that the worst of pandemic is behind us.

618d ago / 6:10 PM UTC

Kentucky legislature overrides governor's veto, mandating Senate vacancies be filled by member of same party

Kentucky's Republican-majority legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's veto on Monday to enact a new law that requires the governor to temporarily fill a vacant U.S. Senator's seat with an appointee from the same party.

Governors previously had the power to appoint a temporary successor from any party. But the new rules, enacted over Beshear's veto, restrict the governor by mandating a replacement must be chosen from a list of three choices selected by the party of the senator who previously held the seat.  The new law also changed some rules around how a special election would be called to fill any vacant Senate seat. 

While 79-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has given no indication that he is planning to retire, if he were to retire during Beshear's term, McConnell supported the legislature's plan, according to the Associated Press and local news organizations.

The state's other Senate seat is also filled by a Republican, Sen. Rand Paul. 

Image: Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell steps into an elevator following procedural votes on the nomination of Xavier Becerra at the Capitol, on March 11, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite / AP file

In the hypothetical scenario where McConnell retired before the law was changed, Beshear could have filled his seat temporarily with a Democrat until the special election. That would have had serious consequences on the balance of power in Washington — the Senate is currently equally divided among Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. So a shift in the balance of power by just one seat, even temporarily, would have significant ramifications. 

Kentucky is one of 37 states where governors can fill a Senate vacancy. Seven of those states, including Kentucky, restrict the governor's appointments to a member of the same party, according to the National Council of State Legislatures

618d ago / 1:01 PM UTC

Everytown for Gun Safety launches $300k TV and digital ads calling for background check expansion

Everytown for Gun Safety, among the most prominent groups pushing for reforming America's gun laws, is dropping a new, $300,000 television and digital ad buy calling for the Senate to move to expand background checks for gun sales. 

The new ads, shared first with NBC News, call on the Senate to do more than just "thoughts and prayers" after a shooting and pass a background check expansion. 

"Elected leaders owe us more than thoughts and prayers to prevent gun violence. They owe us action," the group's TV ad says, after a super-cut of politicians offering those sentiments after a slew of mass shootings, as well as news coverage of the shootings.

“We’re sending a message to the Senate that we need more than thoughts and prayers –– we need action, and that means passing lifesaving background check legislation,” John Feinblatt, Everytown's president, said in a statement. “We’ll stop at nothing to get legislation through the Senate and onto the President’s desk, and this campaign is just the beginning.”

The buy is part of Everytown's seven-figure ad campaign, which it announced last week and expects to last "several weeks and months." The group added that former New York Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg, a co-founder of Everytown, will triple-match donations to the group during the push. The group is also planning grassroots events aimed at mobilizing supporters alongside the paid media effort. 

“It’s been 25 years since Congress last passed meaningful gun safety laws, and our grassroots volunteer network will be relentless in demanding more than thoughts and prayers, before more lives are lost," Shannon Watts, the founder of the associated Moms Demand Action group, said in a statement. 

There's been a new push by the Democratic-controlled Congress to pass new gun safety legislation in recent weeks, particularly after the high-profile shootings at Atlanta-area spas and a Colorado grocery store. 

Key senators from both sides of the aisle told "Meet the Press" Sunday that they believed compromise on the issue was possible, but said they did not believe the background check expansions passed by the House earlier this month can reach the 60 votes needed to move a bill through the Senate.  

While Everytown has supported the House's background check expansion, the new ads call more broadly for action, keeping the door open for a compromise that could get enough Republican support to ultimately become law. 

While the National Rifle Association has been hamstrung by serious financial issues, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that the group plans to lobby against new gun laws. 

618d ago / 9:16 PM UTC

As Congress weighs new gun laws, what has it done lately on the issue?

Mass shootings in Atlanta, Ga., and Boulder, Co., this month have once again prompted a new round of debate about whether Congress will pass any meaningful changes to gun safety laws.

On Sunday, a special edition of "Meet the Press" looked at how little the country’s gun laws have changed over the past two decades, even as regular mass casualty events at schools, stores and other public spaces have become grimly routine in the news.

There has been congressional movement on the issue, but most changes to the nation’s gun laws have been modifications around the edges, with even modest tightening of regulations only taking place when a Republican has been president. In fact, when it comes to legislation alone, gun rights actually expanded under President Barack Obama due to the expansion of gun possession laws on Amtrak and in national parks.  

Here’s are the major actions Congress has taken since the mid-1990s on gun laws: 

2019 — Congress authorizes $25 million to study gun violence to study gun violence through the CDC and NIH.

2019 — Violence Against Women Act allowed to expire (This month, the House passed a bill renewing the law and included new firearms restrictions for convicted domestic abusers).

2018 – FIX NICS Act, which helped improve enforcement of existing background check laws, passes.

2017 — Measure to prevent Social Security Administration from sharing data w/NICS (Congress overturned a regulation put in place by President Obama).

2013 — Extension of requirements that guns contain enough metal to be detectable in security screenings. 

2013 — VAWA reauthorization, following 2011 expiration — expands to LGBTQ, Native, and additional populations.

2009 — Allowing guns on Amtrak. 

2009 — Allowing guns in national parks.

2008 — NICS Improvement Amendments Act, which encouraged stronger data-sharing with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, passes

2006 — Prohibition on firearm seizures by federal officials during major disaster or emergency. 

2005 — New civil liability protections for firearms manufacturers and dealers. 

2005 — Head of ATF made Senate-confirmable position. 

2005 — Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005.

2004 — Allowance of concealed carry for active and retired law enforcement — superseding state laws. 

2004 — Assault weapons ban expires. 

2004 — Congress cuts direct funding for Bush initiative cracking down on black market gun crimes. 

2003 — New curbs on ATF’s ability to investigate gun crimes & prosecute gun dealers. 

2002 — Reorganization of ATF. 

1999 — New requirements for federal firearms licensees and restrictions on certain gun transfers.

1997 — Prohibition on domestic abusers from possessing guns & ammo.

1996 — Gun Free School Zones Act.

—Carrie Dann contributed. 

619d ago / 8:56 PM UTC

Progressive coalition push Democrats to go fast and go big with trillions at stake

As President Biden weighs his next big legislative package, progressive groups are looking to sell voters on his first one and push Democrats to go keep going big. 

A coalition of progressive and labor groups, Real Recovery Now!, are launching a $1 million advertising campaign and $1 million organizing campaign timed around Biden’s trip to Pittsburgh Wednesday, where he will begin to lay out his infrastructure plan.

The ads, which include digital banners (and real-life airplane ones), credit Democrats in competitive states with securing $1,400 checks and money for schools while naming Republicans who voted against them. They refer to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan as a “down payment” and promote Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan to go further. 

Backers who spoke to NBC News say they hope to whip Democrats to move quickly with a maximalist agenda on investments in clean energy and caregiving jobs as well as a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented or temporary immigrants, rather than slow down to court Republican votes. 

“Our main focus is this needs to be done speedily,” Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn, told NBC News. “The longer this drags out, the more time Republicans have to try to spread lies and rumors — which they will do — to drag down the popularity of an already incredibly popular potential package.” 

The joint effort reflects the high stakes of the next set of legislation in Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan as the White House weighs $3 trillion or more in spending on infrastructure and other economic priorities. Every interest group in the progressive sphere is jockeying to make sure their policies are included, especially given the long odds of passing items outside of the 50-vote reconciliation process. 

“We get once every several generations an opportunity to reset our economy and democracy for the next era,” Ai-Jen Poo, a senior advisor to Care in Action, said. “Oftentimes those moments come on the heels of crises and times when social movements have organized and mobilized. This is a time like that.”

Some of the toughest fights could be over immigration, where there are questions about whether Senate rules will allow Democrats to include significant provisions and some moderates may be wary of loading too much onto an infrastructure bill.

The House recently passed bills that would provide a path to citizenship for DREAMers and farmworkers that Real Recovery Now! Is pushing to include. The coalition is also calling for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are considered essential workers. 

“There is a core belief among advocates in this movement for immigrant justice that there need to be early breakthroughs on immigration,” Lorella Praeli, co-president of Community Change and a longtime immigration activist, said.

619d ago / 7:32 PM UTC

Ohio GOP Rep. eyeing Senate bid raps potential primary foes for courting Trump's support

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who on Monday took a step toward a possible Senate bid in 2022, thinks little of would-be GOP primary rivals who’ve been auditioning for former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

“I think this race should be about Ohio, and I think their focus certainly communicates to the state that Ohio voters come second,” Turner told NBC News when asked about reports that four Republicans running or preparing to run for the seat soon-to-be-vacated by Sen. Rob Portman traveled to Florida last week to have an audience with Trump. 

The side meeting during a Trump-hosted fundraiser for a House candidate in Ohio — described to Politico as a “Hunger Games”-like exercise in political survival — included former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken, and businessmen Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno. Each had a chance to talk up his or her campaign and field questions from Trump, who has not endorsed in the race. Mandel and Timken are the only announced candidates, and both have been strenuously courting Trump and his supporters.

“I think Ohio voters are what's important in this race,” Turner said. “I have a record, and I can understand if people who have no record have to seek other people to validate them.”

Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, questions Gordon Sondland during a House impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill on Nov. 20, 2019.
Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, questions Gordon Sondland during a House impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill on Nov. 20, 2019.Samuel Corum / Pool via AP file

A 10-term congressman from Dayton, Turner will launch a listening tour of Ohio that he said will help him decide whether to launch a full-fledged Senate campaign. He would run as a Trump ally. (He earned a Twitter attaboy from Trump after defending the then-president during the first impeachment hearings.) But fealty to Trump would not be his core argument to win. He said he’s received “pressure” to join the race from other Republicans unhappy with the developing field.

“Obviously my communications with people about this race are very different than the others running, because I actually can talk about what I've done,” said Turner, who plans to emphasize his service on the House Armed Services Committee.

In announcing the tour listening tour Monday, Turner released a 3-minute video with flourishes of the Trump era sprinkled in. One 25-second montage is nothing but footage of cable news hosts and talking heads introducing Turner to their viewers or mentioning him in coverage. Another clip shows Trump praising Turner. And Turner himself, in straight-to-camera remarks, asserts himself as an “America First” lawmaker. 

There also are moments that seem designed to neutralize potential rivals. The video opens with Turner touting his Appalachia and Rust Belt roots, reminiscent of the personal story J.D. Vance — whom GOP mega-donors, including Peter Thiel and the Mercer family, are attempting to lure into the race with more than $10 million in donations to a super PAC — wrote in his bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.” And there are choices that present Turner as an original: a Republican who can win in Democratic Dayton and also has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo.

Turner won re-election last year by nearly 17 points against an upstart candidate with a national fundraising profile. But Democrats have long seen his district as one that could flip under the right circumstances. This year’s redistricting could change the boundaries.

“My congressional district is a swing district,” Turner said. “In order for us to have anybody who wins in November, they have to win all of Ohio, and that means bringing people together and being able to support issues and communicate across the state.”

No Democrat has announced a candidacy for the Senate seat. Rep. Tim Ryan of the Youngstown area, former Ohio health director Amy Acton, and Danny O’Connor, the elected recorder of property deeds in Franklin County, are among those considering the race.

622d ago / 6:09 PM UTC

Colorful GOP ad maker signs on with Josh Mandel's Senate campaign in Ohio

Fred Davis, a Hollywood-based ad maker who specializes in attention-grabbing political commercials, said Friday that he is working with Senate hopeful Josh Mandel in Ohio.

It’s a pairing of two in-your-face Republicans. 

Davis is known for the 2008 “Celeb” ad comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, the bizarre “Demon Sheep” web video on behalf of Carly Fiorina’s California Senate bid in 2010, and Christine O’Donnell’s “not-a-witch” spot from that same year. (O’Donnell, a Senate candidate in Delaware at the time, was trying to walk back past comments that she had dabbled in witchcraft.)

A Marine Corps veteran and former state treasurer now running as a devotee to former President Donald Trump, Mandel is known for his combative presence on Twitter.

Image: Josh Mandel
Josh Mandel speaks to the crowd gathered for the Ohio Republican Party election night event following the announcement of his loss to Democrat Sherrod Brown on Nov. 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.Joel Prince / for The Washington Post via Getty Images file

He frequently trolls one of his GOP rivals, Jane Timken, and Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, whom Mandel has branded as a Joe Biden Democrat. Twitter briefly restricted Mandel’s account last week after he violated the social media site’s rules against hateful conduct. Mandel had posted a poll asking which type of undocumented immigrants — “Muslim terrorists” or “Mexican gangbangers” — will commit more crimes.

Mandel also has criticized Timken for her past support of former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a vocal Trump critic. Davis produced ads for Kasich’s super PAC during the 2016 presidential primaries. One memorable spot depicted other Republican candidates, including a mean-mugging Trump and a water-chugging Marco Rubio, covered in mud. 

The first spots from Mandel are set to debut next week, over Easter weekend. A Mandel representative did not disclose how much the campaign is spending on the opening salvo. But Davis’s more memorable ads have a way of earning free media coverage beyond what campaigns pay for on TV.

623d ago / 12:57 AM UTC

Bipartisan group of 16 senators meets to discuss immigration

A bipartisan group of 16 senators – 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats – met Wednesday to discuss prospects for  immigration legislation, according to two Senate aides. 

The meeting was convened by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and comes as challenges mount for the Biden administration and prospects for passing immigration legislation in the Senate have diminished. 

Durbin has been speaking with senators individually for a couple of months.  The in-person meeting inside the Capitol had no specific policies on the agenda but was an initial discussion to determine whether consensus on any immigration sub-issue exists. 

One Democratic aide described the meeting as a test to determine whether Republicans are serious about wanting to find a solution to immigration problems. 

In addition to Durbin, the Democratic senators in the group are Alex Padilla of California, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Chris Coons of Delaware, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico. The Republicans invited were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota. 

Murkowski and Crapo were unable to attend but sent staff instead, signaling that they want to be part of the conversation. 

The group agreed to meet again, most likely after the two-week recess that starts Friday. 

A group of 19 Republican senators are traveling to the border on Friday, including Graham, Tillis and Collins, who attended the Durbin meeting.  

Republicans have been slamming the Biden administration for the influx of immigrants, including thousands of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. 

“It’s a crisis. It is a crisis that was created by the Biden administration by their own policies as soon as Joe Biden was sworn in as president,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Wednesday. Cruz was not in the Durbin meeting.  

Graham has introduced legislation addressing the asylum system. It would require immigrants to apply for asylum in their country of origin.

624d ago / 8:32 PM UTC

Republican faith in elections dropped quickly as Trump spread unfounded claims of fraud

The debate over voting access and election integrity continued Wednesday, as a key Senate committee debated Democrats’ sweeping legislation to set federal standards for early and mail-in voting.

Democrats describe the bill as a much-needed bulwark against efforts — many coming from GOP-led state legislatures nationwide — to roll back expanded ballot access. Republicans say the legislation is a major federal overreach that would further erode faith in elections and invite fraud. 

With that backdrop, it’s worth taking a look back at what faith in America’s elections looked like leading into the 2020 presidential election — and how it eroded after former President Trump’s loss and subsequent unfounded claims of fraud. 

According to the national exit polls for the general election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in November, few American voters were actually worried that their own vote wouldn’t be counted fairly. 

An overwhelming 86 percent of voters said at the time they were polled that they were very or somewhat confident that the votes in their state would be counted accurately. 

Image: Mail-in ballots are counted in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
Mail-in ballots are counted in Lehigh County, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020.Rachel Wisniewski / Reuters

It’s true that Biden voters were somewhat more confident than their Trump-backing counterparts nationwide; of the 18% of all voters who said they were NOT confident, two-thirds backed Trump. 

But big majorities of both Biden and Trump supporters did NOT have significant qualms about the count in their state as of November, despite the then-president’s warnings that the vote could be “rigged.”

How did the election results, and Trump’s loss, change those attitudes? Georgia offers an interesting test case. 

As of exit polling up to Election Day in November, 84 percent of Georgia voters said they were confident that votes in the state would be counted accurately. In fact, more Georgia Trump voters were confident (89 percent) than Georgia Biden voters (79 percent). 

But the exit polls from the January 5 special runoff election in Georgia showed a different story. 

While overall faith in the vote count remained high, it fell by 10 percentage points — down to 74 percent.  

And while just 10 percent of Trump voters in Georgia in November said they did NOT have faith in the vote count, that was up to 47 percent for backers of Republican Senate candidate Kelly Loeffler and 46 percent for those backing Republican Senate incumbent David Perdue in January. 

624d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Missouri AG jumps into race for Senate while Alabama Dem will skip her state's Senate contest

Two high-profile, potential Senate candidates are making moves in Alabama and Missouri, with one jumping into a marquee Senate race and one deciding to sit one out. 

Missouri Republican Attorney Gen. Eric Schmitt announced his bid for Senate Wednesday morning on Fox News.

"You look around and increasingly it feels like our culture and our country is slipping away. And all the levels of power right now in Washington D.C. are tilted toward the Democrats," he said. 

He went on to frame his role as attorney general as "defending President Trump and the America First agenda and all the prosperity that came with that," saying now he's "spending my time pushing back against Joe Biden as he tries to dismantle that." 

"Washington D.C. needs more fighters, needs more reinforcements to save America. So after a lot of reflection, support from folks back home and on behalf of the people of the great state of Missouri, I'm announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate," he added. 

Schmitt's announcement came two days after former Republican Gov. Eric Greitens announced his own bid on the same channel. The two men are the only high-profile Republicans in the race right now, but the field remains fluid. 

On the Democratic side of the aisle, there was another development in Alabama's 2022 Senate race. Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, who had been actively considering a bid for Senate in the heavy Republican-leaning state, said Wednesday she would not run because she wanted to focus on her work in the House. 

"The unfinished business of my home district, Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, is far too important for me to seek higher office at this time," she said, pointing to her push to get voting rights reforms enacted in Congress and to "expand economic opportunities for my constituents." 

Sewell is the only Democrat representing Alabama in Congress, and had been among the highest-profile Democrats considering a bid. But winning the seat would be difficult for any Democrat, as both former President Donald Trump and future Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville won their November elections by more than 20 points. 

On the GOP side, former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard and Rep. Mo Brooks are running, Brooks having announced his campaign this week. 

625d ago / 11:42 AM UTC

Slim majority of GOP backs gay marriage, highest mark in the poll's history

For the first time, a new annual survey from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that a slim majority of Republicans now support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.  

Data from the sweeping American Values Atlas survey, which was conducted between February and November of 2020, finds that 51 percent of Republicans back legal gay marriage, up from 47 percent support in 2019. 

Overall, about two-thirds of Americans — 67 percent — say that gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry legally, also an all-time high for the poll. The two-thirds majority represents nearly a doubling of support since the late 2000s, when similar studies found only a third of Americans in favor of same-sex marriage. 

Support for same-sex marriage is also at an all-time high for independents, with backing from 72 percent; among Democrats, support stands at 76 percent. 

Majorities among various religious groups also back legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples, a finding that may be particularly notable among Catholics.  

Last week, the Vatican said that the Roman Catholic Church “does not have and cannot have” the power to bless nuptials between same-sex couples. But the poll finds that 75 percent of white Catholics and 71 percent of Hispanic Catholics support such marriages. 

In fact, support for same-sex marriage is the minority position only in one major American faith group: White evangelical Protestants. Just 43 percent favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. 

The poll also finds that, overall, 76 percent of Americans back laws to protect LGBT Americans from discrimination. That’s a slight uptick from previous years, when support for such measures clocked in closer to 70 percent. Just one in five Americans — 19 percent — oppose such nondiscrimination protections.

While 85 percent of Democrats back those anti-discrimination measures, it’s 79 percent for independents and 62 percent of Republicans, although younger Republicans remain notably more supportive of LGBT protections than their older counterparts. 

Six-in-ten Americans — 61 percent — also oppose allowing a small business to refuse service to gay and lesbian people for religious reasons, including 73 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of Republicans. White evangelical Protestants are split, with 49 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.

626d ago / 6:59 PM UTC

Who are the House Democrats representing Trump country?

Last week, we took a look at the House Republicans representing districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020. Now, we'll look at the other side of that coin: Who are the House Democrats representing districts that former President Donald Trump won? 

The number of these "crossover districts" continues to dwindle, and there are just seven currently represented by Democrats, according to the data folks at The Daily Kos. Here's a look at those seven: 

Iowa 3: Rep. Cindy Axne 

Just two years after Democrats held three of the four Iowa congressional seats, Axne is the lone Democrat remaining. Her district narrowly backed Trump by 0.2 percentage points in 2020, down from 3.5 percentage points in 2016, but backed Obama by just under 4 percent in 2012. In recent months, she's sought to play up the Covid relief legislation's effect on her district, as well as other legislation on issues like flood insurance.

Illinois 17: Rep. Cheri Bustos 

After going 17 percentage points for Obama in 2012, Trump won the district narrowly each of the past two presidential elections. But Bustos, who took office after the 2012 election, has bucked the trends. During her tenure in the House, she also ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and been a member of Democratic leadership. 

Maine 2: Rep. Jared Golden 

Representing another district that went for Trump twice after going for Obama in 2012, Golden, a former staffer for Republican Sen. Susan Collins, has repeatedly bucked his party on high-profile votes. He voted against the recent Democratic Covid-relief package (he said it wasn't targeted enough); he voted against gun background-check expansions passed by Democrats earlier this month (he said existing laws need to be enforced more strongly; and he voted against the Democrats' police reform bill (he had concerns with how it handles protections for officers and wanted a bipartisan agreement). 

Michigan 8: Rep. Elissa Slotkin 

Slotkin's district backed Trump by less than 1 point in 2020, after backing him by almost 7 points in 2016 (and Mitt Romney by 2 points in 2012), making her the only one on this list whose district went for the GOP in the three presidential elections over the last decade. Slotkin has leaned into her past experience in the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency and is vocal on foreign policy issues. 

New Jersey 3: Rep. Andy Kim 

While Obama won this seat by about 3.5 points in 2012, Trump won the seat by about 6 points, before Biden narrowed Trump's victory to just 0.2 percentage points. Hes recently promoted a fix for prescription drug costs and has been outspoken about racism against Asian Americans. 

Pennsylvania 8: Rep. Matt Cartwright 

Like many of these members, Cartwright has faced repeated, well-funded attempts to wrest him from his seat, which backed Trump twice after going for Obama in 2012. As Republicans have criticized Democrats over the politics of school reopenings, Cartwright has pointed to the latest round of Covid relief as a way to get kids back into school. 

Wisconsin 3: Rep. Ron Kind 

Kind's district also went from supporting Obama to backing Trump twice. He was one of the only Democrats who didn't back Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for Minority Leader in 2017. Kind joined Golden in voting against a measure to extend the length of time needed for gun background checks in a vote this month.

626d ago / 3:26 PM UTC

White House misses its own 60-day review deadline for border wall construction

President Joe Biden's administration has missed its own, self-imposed, 60-day review into whether border-wall construction projects should be resumed, modified or terminated.

Biden issued a pause on all current border-wall construction on the day he took office, a timeout meant to allow the review to make recommendations for next steps. But the White House says the assessment has not been completed or presented to the president.

“When the Administration took office, funds had been diverted from military construction and other appropriated purposes toward building the wall, and wall construction was being challenged in multiple lawsuits by plaintiffs who alleged that the construction was creating serious environmental and safety issues,” a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget said. “Under those circumstances, Federal agencies are continuing to develop a plan to submit to the President soon.” 

Image: Border wall
A wall under construction along the Texas-Mexico border on March 19, 2021.Julio Cortez / AP

Biden’s Inauguration Day proclamation stipulated that the review should be completed within 60 days, which was this past Sunday.

That order — among the first signed by Biden — also made it U.S. policy that no more taxpayer dollars would be diverted to build the border wall and it revoked the national emergency that former President Trump had declared in order to access funds for construction.   

It's unclear how much longer the White House is taking to complete the review, as officials did not provide a detailed explanation for the delay.

Once the proposal is complete, Defense Sec. Austin and Homeland Security Sec. Mayorkas are expected to deliver it to the president and then “take all appropriate steps to resume, modify, or terminate projects and to otherwise implement the plan.” 

630d ago / 7:03 PM UTC

Fudge's move to HUD will leave House seat vacated until November

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the state will hold the special election to replace newly-minted Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in November, leaving the seat empty for eight months in the process. 

The primary will be on Aug. 3, with the general election to follow on Nov. 2. 

Under state law, special elections are only allowed to be held "on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May, August, or November," and Ohio can't have May special elections except during a presidential primary year, per the Ohio Secretary of State's office

Image: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge speaks at a press briefing at the White House on March 18, 2021.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge speaks at a press briefing at the White House on March 18, 2021.Andrew Harnik / AP

The seat is overwhelmingly favored to be retained by Democrats, as Fudge never won the seat with fewer than three-quarters of the vote.

That's why it's attracted a large group of Democratic congressional hopefuls, including Nina Sanders, the former co-chair for Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential bid, who is backed by a bevy of progressive members of Congress and figures, Cuyahoga County Councilor Shontel Brown, who has the backing of Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and a host of other candidates, including a handful of state lawmakers.

While the seat will remain empty for a significant amount of time, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office pointed out the length of time the seat will remain vacant is similar to the schedule after two republicans, former Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Pat Tiberi, resigned from Congress in the last few years. 

630d ago / 6:24 PM UTC

Who are the House Republicans representing Biden country?

Just 17 members of Congress represent districts that supported the 2020 presidential nominee from the opposing party, according to recent, district-level analysis by the Daily Kos, the liberal-leaning blog that sports a robust data program. 

The number of these "crossover districts" is the lowest in recent memory — there were 35 of those kinds of districts after the 2016 election and 83 after the 2008 election. 

The slim majority (nine) of these districts are currently represented by Republicans, including a majority who won their seats in 2020 (and one who first won in an early 2020 special election). 

Here's a look at those Republican members, and how they've been able to buck their districts' presidential voting trends:

California 21: Rep. David Valadao

Valadao is a familiar face in this district, first winning the seat in 2012 before a loss to Democratic former Rep. TJ Cox in 2018. Valadao regained the seat — which backed President Joe Biden in 2020, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, and former President Barack Obama in 2012 —  after defeating Cox in a 2020 rematch. Valadao was one of the 10 House Republicans who backed impeaching then-President Donald Trump, and said at the time that Trump was "without question, a driving force in the catastrophic events that took place on January 6."  

California 25: Rep. Mike Garcia 

Garcia had a busy 2020, defeating Democrat Christy Smith in a March special election to replace former Rep. Katie Hill and again in November's general election in a district that went for both Biden and Clinton (but narrowly backed 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney). Garcia is one of the two "crossover district" members of Congress who voted to object to Biden's Electoral College certification and so far has focused on issues like school reopening and criticized the Democrats' Covid-19 relief plan as too broad. 

California 39: Rep. Young Kim

Kim's district backed Biden, Clinton and Romney in the last three elections, and has been represented by a Republican since 2012 (except for a two-year gap when Democrat Gil Cisneros served one term). Kim has crossed the aisle in support of a program to help DACA recipients (those brought to America as children illegally), voted with Democrats to strip Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of her committee positions (along with three other "crossover" members) and criticized Trump in 2020 for referring to coronavirus with "hurtful" language that associates it with Asians. Along with California's Michelle Steel, Kim is one of the three women elected in 2020 who became the first Korean-American women in Congress. 

California 48: Rep. Michelle Steel 

Steel's district also backed the same three presidential candidates as Kim's — Biden, Clinton and Romney — but tilts a bit more Republican. She's recently led efforts in the House to condemn hate crimes against Asians, and has spoken about giving DACA recipients "a break," while also coming out against sanctuary cities and for a "physical barrier" on the border. 

Florida 27: Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar 

Salazar represents a district that went for Democrats in each of the last three presidential elections, but has been represented by a Republican in the House for most of the last decade. She's expressed openness to a carbon tax and backs a more moderate immigration plan than most Republicans — on Wednesday, she released a draft of her "Dignity Plan" which increases border security, gives DACA recipients "immediate legal status" with a permanent pathway to legalization, and creates pathways to legal status for many undocumented immigrants. 

Nebraska 2: Rep. Don Bacon

Bacon's district had leaned Republican at the presidential level, backing Trump in 2016 and Romney in 2012, before swinging narrowly to Biden and delivering him its Electoral College vote in 2020. Last cycle, Bacon won the endorsement of former Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, who Bacon beat to win the seat back for the GOP in 2016. Bacon's opponent the last two cycles, Democrat Kara Eastman, was from the party's more progressive wing.The Republican has supported protections for DACA recipients and bucked Trump by working to rename bases named after Confederate leaders.

New York 24: Rep. John Katko 

Katko is another Republican in a district that backed Democrats in the past three presidential races. He, too, voted to impeach Trump in 2021 (the first GOP member to signal support for doing so), and has led the moderate Republican Tuesday Group in the House. 

Pennsylvania 1: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick 

Also representing a district that went for Biden, Clinton and Obama, Fitzpatrick has crossed the aisle on a variety of issues in his career. He's won the backing of the League of Conservation Voters for his climate record, supports DACA protections, defended the special counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and voted with Democrats to expand background checks for firearms (along with Salazar). 

Texas 24: Rep. Beth Van Duyne 

Van Duyne represents one of the two districts on this list that went for Romney and Trump before switching to Biden (Bacon's district is the other). She won her bid after the retirement of longtime former GOP Rep. Kenny Marchant. She's just the second Republican woman to represent Texas in the Senate, and comes from a stint serving as the mayor of Irving, and then working in the Trump administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development. She's been a vocal critic of the Biden administration's border policy and criticized the Covid-19 relief package as not targeted enough.  

631d ago / 8:57 PM UTC

New Mexico sets date for House special election to replace Interior Sec. Haaland

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has set the special House election to replace Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's former seat in the First Congressional District for June 1. 

The major parties will choose their own candidates, instead of holding a more traditional primary. By state law, the parties must declare their nominees by 56 days before the election (in this case, by April 6) — Democrats have already announced their plans to do so on March 30.

Parties will have to choose from a large list of potential nominees, including a handful of state lawmakers, businesspeople and a former top aide to New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Aubrey Dunn Jr. the state's former Public Lands Commissioner, is also running as a Libertarian.  

Democrats have represented the seat for more than a decade, and the district historically backs Democrats at the presidential too, most recently picking President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump by a margin of 60 percent to 37 percent, according to data crunched by the Daily Kos

The New Mexico race is the latest election aimed at replacing a Biden administration official. On Saturday, New Orleans-area voters will decide who will replace former Rep. Cedric Richmond, who left to be one of Biden's senior advisers.

Lousiana's special elections put every candidate on the same ballot, regardless of party, and if no candidate wins the majority, the top-two vote-getters move onto a runoff. The top two Democrats in the race are state Sens. Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson.  

And Ohio is poised to announce the date for the election aimed at replacing Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, who previously represented Ohio's Eleventh Congressional District. The seat is overwhelmingly Democratic, making it likely the party retains the seat.

Current candidates there include Nina Turner, the former co-chair of Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaigns, as well as a handful of state lawmakers.  

631d ago / 4:18 PM UTC

Significant majority of Republicans don’t believe Biden’s win was fair

Almost two-thirds of Republicans believe that President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election, even as more than six-in-ten Americans overall believe he won fair and square, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

The survey, conducted February 25 – March 1, found that 65 percent of Republicans believe that Biden’s win was solely the result of voter fraud. What’s more, 29 percent of Republicans say they will never accept Biden as president. 

The belief in widespread fraud among Republicans persists despite a multitude of probes, intelligence assessments and court rulings that have found no evidence that either domestic fraud nor foreign interference affected the election results. But former President Donald Trump spent months spreading baseless allegations of widespread fraud nonetheless. 

That belief was also echoed by rioters who breached the Capitol on January 6 in the effort to stop the election results from being certified. 

Trump supporters protest  in Phoenix, AZ.
A young boy holds onto a fence as pro-Trump supporters rally to defy the election results hours after Biden was named President-elect, outside the Maricopa County elections building on Nov. 7, 2020 in Phoenix.Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

The Monmouth poll found that a majority —  53 percent of Americans — support an independent commission to look into the Capitol breach. That includes 62 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans.

Another 37 percent of Americans say internal investigations into the breach should suffice. 

Americans broadly support investigating into the failures of Capitol Police preparation for the attack (81 percent), the growth of militant groups (76 percent), the role of white nationalists in the insurrection (70 percent), and allegations of voter fraud (59 percent.) 

Still, a combined 26 percent of Americans — and 40 percent of Republicans — say that the anger that led to the Jan 6. riot was either fully (8 percent) or partially (18 percent) justified.

The poll also showed relatively high awareness of white nationalism and the QAnon conspiracy theory, both of which have been linked to those arrested in connection with the events of January 6. 

About two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans say that white nationalism is a problem in the United States, while 34 percent say it is not a problem at all. 

And two-thirds of Americans have heard of QAnon. Twenty-seven percent have heard a lot, while 38 percent have heard a little. But just two percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the theory.

631d ago / 2:46 PM UTC

Congress gets boost of Covid-19 vaccines for staffers

, , and

As access to Covid-19 vaccines expands across the country, Congress will soon be increasing the number of staff that will receive the vaccine, multiple sources tell NBC News.

8,000 new vaccine doses were expected to be delivered yesterday, a source familiar told NBC News. The doses will be split evenly between the House and Senate, 4,000 each. 

Lawmakers were previously given access to the Covid-19 vaccine in December as an emergency measure for continuity of government purposes. In the personal office of each Senator, five staff members were given access to the vaccine, with two additional staff per Senator given access just last week. In the House, however, only two staffers per congressman were given access to the vaccine.

Image: The U.S. Capitol building exterior is seen at sunset in Washington,
The U.S. Capitol building exterior is seen at sunset in Washington, March 8, 2021.Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

That’s all changing now, after a notice sent to House offices last night by the Capitol physician gave further details on distribution. Each House office is getting 6 doses for staff, and 16 per committee, with additional doses allocated to institutional and support staff, two sources add. 

A Senate aide says the additional doses allocated to the upper chamber continue to be prioritized for restaurant workers, custodians and all the support staff that make the Capitol run.

While most Senators have been vaccinated, NBC News spoke to four that haven’t gotten their shots — yet. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) say they haven’t gotten the vaccines for different reasons.  

Johnson and Paul, who both had Covid-19 in the last year, told reporters they don’t need the vaccine because they’ve already had the virus — something studies show is not a scientifically-sound reason for choosing to ditch the shot. Scott, meanwhile, said he is still consulting with his doctor on whether or not to get the vaccine.

As of early March, 1 in 4 House lawmakers have still not been fully vaccinated despite having access to the vaccine since December, according to a letter from GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

631d ago / 9:02 AM UTC

Biden gets chance to show his Irish roots on St. Patrick's Day

The White House is going green — literally, not figuratively, as President Joe Biden would put it. The presidential mansion's north facade will be illuminated in green Wednesday evening in one of many tributes to Ireland planned on Biden's first St. Patrick's Day as president. 

Recent presidents have all laid claim to at least some Irish ancestry every March 17 — President Barack Obama even joked about the missing apostrophe in his last name — but Biden boasts the most direct claim to the Emerald Isle of any president since John F. Kennedy. 

His great-great-grandfather Owen Finnegan brought his family to New York from County Louth in 1849, and Patrick Blewitt, another great-great grandfather, brought his family from County Mayo two years later. Biden's maternal grandparents, Ambrose Finnegan and Geraldine Blewitt, married each other in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1909.

Image: St. Patrick's Day at the White House
Green water flows in the fountain on the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of St. Patrick's Day on March 17, 2012.Joshua Roberts / Getty Images file

Covid-19 protocols are putting a damper on what would otherwise be a more robust celebration of St. Patrick's Day in the Biden White House. But officials say they're making the most of the holiday nonetheless. In addition to lighting the White House green, they will dye both the North and South Lawn water fountains green, reprising Obama's tradition, which was an homage to Chicago. 

Biden will start the day at home in Wilmington, Delaware, attending a St. Patrick's Day Mass, before he returns to Washington for a virtual bilateral meeting with Ireland's prime minister, Micheál Martin. A White House official said he will be wearing an array of shamrocks sent straight from Ireland on his lapel. The bowl of shamrocks, traditionally presented in person by the taoiseach, as the Irish prime minister is called, was sent ahead to Washington by the Irish government. 

And officials fully expect that Biden will be quoting Irish poets a time or two during the day, including at the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon traditionally held at the U.S. Capitol, which is also going virtual this year. Biden, who is especially fond of Seamus Heaney, often jokes that he quotes Irish poets so often not because he's Irish, "but because they're the best poets."

Biden made a multiday visit to Ireland in his final year as vice president in 2016, touting the resilience and inherent optimism of the Irish and Irish Americans. "I think we Irish are the only people in the world who are actually nostalgic about the future," he said in his keynote address in Dublin. 

Asked in an interview Sunday whether he expected Biden to return now as president, Martin told CBS News: "I invited him  to Ireland, and he just said to me, 'Try and keep me out.'"

633d ago / 5:51 PM UTC

Poll: Majority of Iowans, one-third of Republicans, hope Grassley won't run again in 2022

Fifty-five percent of Iowans, including a significant portion of Iowa Republicans, say they hope Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, decides not to run for what would be his eighth term in the Senate in 2022, a new poll out of the state shows. 

The new survey from the Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, conducted by the prominent Iowa pollster Ann Selzer's Selzer & Co., found that just 28 percent of Iowans hope Grassley will run for another term. Another 17 percent say they are not sure. 

A majority of Democrats and independents (77 percent and 54 percent respectively) say they hope Grassley does not run, a sentiment shared by 35 percent of Republicans. Fifty percent of Republicans, however, say they hope he does decide to run, compared to 11 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents. 

Grassley is currently 87 years old and is the oldest Republican senator serving in the body (Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is just a few months older than him). Grassley's age has prompted questions as to whether he'll run again — he's told reporters he'll decide later this year and has, in the meantime, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to begin fundraising for a possible reelection.

Image: Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, questions Deputy Treasury Secretary nominee Adewale Adeyemo during his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on February 23, 2021 at Capitol Hill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, questions Deputy Treasury Secretary nominee Adewale Adeyemo during his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on February 23, 2021 at Capitol Hill.Greg Nash / Pool via Getty Images file

The poll is a mixed bag for Grassley — while he retains a 48 percent approval rating among Iowan adults (with 38 percent disapproving), it's his lowest Iowa Poll approval rating since 1982, according to the Des Moines Register. 

It also found that the favorable rating for Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has dipped below her disapproval for the first time since the poll began testing her rating in 2015. Forty-three percent of Iowans say they approve of how Ernst, who just won reelection last November, is handling her job, compared to 45 percent who say they disapprove. In February of 2019, the poll found Ernst's approval at 57 percent. 

The Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll surveyed 775 Iowa adults between March 7-10 by telephone (landline and cell phone) in English. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. 

634d ago / 1:50 PM UTC

Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. tells MTP he won't run for Senate in 2022

Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan will not run for Senate in 2022, he told “Meet the Press” on Sunday, saying instead he wants to focus on helping to “rebuild” the GOP after a difficult election that saw Democrats flip both Senate seats and former President Donald Trump raise unfounded accusations of widespread voter fraud in the state.  

One of the top Republicans in the state, Duncan had been seen as a possible candidate to run against Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022. The Democrat won his election to fill the remainder of the term vacated by retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. But Isakson’s term would have ended in 2022, Warnock will be on the ballot again then.  

“My family and I have talked about it, and we’re not going to run for the U.S. Senate seat. We’re going to stay focused on being the lieutenant governor here in Georgia and we are going to focus hard on trying to rebuild this party and refocus GOP 2.0,” Duncan said Sunday.  

Even though Democrats flipped both Senate seats in 2020, next year's election is expected to be one of the marquee Senate races of the cycle. Former Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost to Warnock, has kept the door open to another bid, while other Republicans have been considering it too. Former President Donald Trump recently encouraged Herschel Walker, once a standout football player for the University of Georgia, to run. 

Duncan and other top GOP officials spent much of the past few months defending the state from Trump's unfounded allegations of massive voter fraud, accusations that he said lost Republicans "credibility" in the state. He went onto criticize Trump's tone as "divisive" and add that the former president's "strategy is unwinnable in forward-looking elections." 

Even so, many Georgia Republicans are supporting widespread new restrictions to election laws sparked in part by Trump's baseless allegations. The GOP-led legislature is weighing changes such as ending no-excuse absentee voting and limiting weekend early voting.

Duncan opposes the changes to absentee voting, recently vacating his role presiding over the debate on the issue in protest. He also told "Meet the Press' he was sensitive to concerns that limiting early voting on weekends could primarily hurt black voters since "souls to the polls" drives are popular events at predominately black churches in the south. 

"There’s a lot of solutions in search of a problem. Republicans don’t need election reform to win, we need leadership," he said. 

"I'm one of the Republicans that want more people to vote. I think our ideas help people."