With President Trump hitting the campaign trail again Monday sporting a new low Gallup approval rating and with a House vote on his health care overhaul expected Thursday, national Democrats focused on down-ballot races are starting the process of harnessing and coordinating the grassroots energy created in reaction to the new administration.
On Tuesday, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is convening the first of regular meetings with new progressive organizations interested in finding and recruiting Democrats to run for state legislative offices. Many of these groups also met with the DLCC on Friday to get a better understanding of how each can fit together without overlapping efforts.
One such group, Run for Something, announced Monday it is expanding the scope of its objectives, no longer limiting its 2017 state legislative candidate recruitment, mentoring, and donations to just five-to-10 races in Virginia.
The DLCC, which kicked off its candidate training in Richmond over the weekend, hopes to emerge this November having cut deeply in to the GOP’s Virginia state House majority and with control of the Washington state Senate. From there, a much busier and more crowded 2018 awaits.
— Kyle Trygstad
“FBI Director James Comey is set to face probing questions Monday about Russia’s involvement in the presidential election at a highly anticipated public appearance before the House Intelligence Committee.” (Politico) “Comey confirmed Monday the FBI is investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, including possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee at a hearing that the bureau normally does not comment on the existence of counterintelligence investigations, but that he was authorized to do so in this case because of the extraordinary public interest.” (Politico)
OTHER RUSSIA UPDATES. Roger Stone “an informal adviser to President Trump, has been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to preserve any records he may have in connection to a broader inquiry into Russian attempts to interfere with United States elections.” (New York Times)
“Ukrainian prosecutors want to question” Trump’s former Campaign Manager “Paul Manafort in connection with a corruption investigation and have made repeated requests for assistance from US authorities” (CNN)
“A Reuters review found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida.” (Reuters)
The Democratic super PAC American Bridge is running new web ads highlighting Trump’s ties to Russia. (Politico)
WEEK IN REVIEW. Last week, President Donald Trump’s “agenda was subsumed by problems of his own making, his message undercut by a seemingly endless stream of controversy he cannot seem to stop himself from feeding. The health care measure appears on track for a House vote this week, and the president, who planned a weekend of relaxation at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., club, is likely to receive a large measure of the credit. But it has also become clear that…Trump, an agitator incapable of responding proportionately to any slight, appears hellbent on squandering his honeymoon.” (New York Times)
Trump’s approval rating dropped down to 37% in Gallup’s tracking poll.
STAFF ISSUES. Trump’s New York City friends and advisors are the subject of suspicion and mistrust among more conservative members in the White House and in D.C. (Washington Post) “Seebastian Gorka, President Trump’s top counter-terrorism adviser, is a formal member of a Hungarian far-right group that is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been ‘under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany’ during World War II.” (Forward)
TRAVEL BAN. “The Trump administration filed court papers Friday hoping to salvage its second version of a travel ban after two judges in separate cases this week found that it probably violated the Constitution.” (Washington Post) “A federal judge in Hawaii who issued a temporary restraining order against key parts of…Trump’s revised travel ban last week has turned down a Justice Department request to narrow the injunction.” (Politico)
BHARARA WAS PROBING PRICE. “Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.” (ProPublica)
TAX RETURNS. “Facing a jeering crowd of demonstrators and left-leaning voters,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) “said that…Trump should release his tax returns.” (Politico)
After push back from progressives that the new DNC transition advisory committee didn’t include enough liberals, “Sanders campaign veteran Melissa Byrne, who ran for DNC vice chair,” was asked to join. “And an updated press release reported that Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb, a Sanders supporter and Ellison supporter, was added to the committee.” (Washington Post)
2018 PRIMARIES. Earlier this year, Cenk Uygur, the host of lefty web series The Young Turks “launched ‘Justice Democrats,’ a project designed to replace ‘corporate’ incumbents with primary challengers.” (Washington Post)
“Justice Democrats’ unusual approach lets anyone nominate potential candidates online. They say they’ve received 8,300 nominations so far and raised $1 million with virtually no marketing. And they claim a large group of volunteers with experience on campaigns who will help coordinate a central political infrastructure to support their entire slate.” (NBC News)
BRAZILE ADMISSION. In an op-ed in TIME about Russia’s hack of the Democratic National Committee, former chairwoman Donna Brazile said she did send Hillary Clinton CNN town hall questions in advance. Brazile wrote: “My job was to make all our Democratic candidates look good, and I worked closely with both campaigns to make that happen. But sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret.” (TIME)
“Hillary Clinton said she was ‘ready to come out of the woods’ during a St. Patrick’s Day speech on Friday night in Pennsylvania in front of an overflow crowd — an indication that she plans to shed the low profile she has kept since the election.” (New York Times)
2020 WATCH. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been holding more press availabilities lately, signaling a change of heart after being notoriously press averse. Over the years Warren’s media avoidance has allowed her to avoid questions such as who she voted for in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. (Politico)
“Trump said in an interview Saturday night” with Fox News “that he would gladly run against Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2020, calling that scenario ‘a dream come true.’” (Washington Examiner)
“Montana Democrats brought in” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), “one of their national party’s rising stars to headline their annual” fundraising dinner this weekend, “but the hundreds who gathered Saturday wanted to hear more from one of their own: musician Rob Quist, who must convince fellow Democrats that he can win back the state’s only congressional seat and help national Democrats push back against the Republican tide.” (AP)
Booker’s appearance in Montana was a reminder that some of the Democratic Party’s center of gravity is in the west these days, with leaders including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) leading efforts to oppose President Donald Trump. (Politico)
PRIORITIES USA IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. Priorities USA “has begun a paid digital ad campaign focusing on key New Hampshire Senate supporters of legislation to substantially tighten the state’s voter ID and registration process.” The super PAC “is launching ads on social media sites Twitter and Facebook urging voters to tell the Republican-controlled state Legislature to defeat Senate Bill 3, which it views as a restrictive ‘voter suppression’ bill.” (WMUR-TV)
STATE PARTY LEADERSHIP. Arkansas Democrats will elect a new state party chair this week. “The front-runners in the race for party chairman are House Minority Leader Michael John Gray, an Augusta farmer, and Denise Garner of Fayetteville, an executive at a nonprofit. Each says the future of the party will rely on empowering a base of county offices.” (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
In Indiana, “John Zody was re-elected Saturday as the Indiana Democratic Party chairman, staving off challenges from two other candidates.” (Northwest Indiana Times)
VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS. “Eric Holder, who served as U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama and who is taking a lead role in a national Democratic redistricting effort, will headline the state Democratic party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in June.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
In Montana and North Dakota, where Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) are up for reelection, “more than 99.5 percent of all media money spent on the Supreme Court confirmation fight has gone toward supporting” Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
“Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, said her group, including radio and digital advertising, has already spent $4 million and intends to spend much more if it’s necessary.” (Washington Post)
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is guiding Gorsuch’s meetings on the Hill, said several red-state Democrats, including Heitkamp, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), “appear ‘open-minded’ in private meetings” on Gorsuch’s nomination. (Washington Examiner)
“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) seemed to indicate Friday that she expects President … Trump may disqualify himself from office over potential constitutional breaches and conflicts of interest. Surrounded by a group of mostly liberal protesters outside a Los Angeles fundraiser, Feinstein fielded a slew of questions on her feelings about what the left has alleged are Trump’s constitutional breaches.”
“How are we going to get him out?” the questioner asked.
Feinstein replied, “I think he’s gonna get himself out.”
On whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses, Feinstein said, “I can’t answer that right now.” (Politico)
GORUSCH FIGHT. Ahead of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, Feinstein “is labeling him an extremist on such issues as worker protections and reproductive rights.”
“As a federal appeals court judge, Gorsuch ‘has consistently sided with employers and corporate interests,” Feinstein said, marking “her first critical comments on President Trump’s selection.” Feinstein is the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (SF Gate)
Gov. Rick Scott (R), a potential challenger to Sen. Bill Nelson (D), appeared Saturday with Vice President Pence at an event with business owners in Jacksonville, FL, to discuss health care. (Florida Times-Union)
At Sen. Joe Donnelly’s (D) town hall Sunday, “references to supporting Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood and public schools drew enthusiastic applause from the audience; a question about whether Donnelly would ‘do your duty and vote for (Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil) Gorsuch’ prompted a flurry of boos.”
“Donnelly did not commit to how he would vote ahead of the [Gorsuch] confirmation hearings that start Monday, noting “I want to see what he has to say.” (Muncie Star Press)
GOP SIDE. Freshman Rep. Jim Banks (R-03) said he is not thinking about a bid against Donnelly but did not rule it out completely. “He says he expects to talk with his family about 2018 after everyone’s had a few months to adjust to his commute back and forth to Washington.” (WIBC)
In “an effort to shore up her 2018 re-election effort,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) “hired Kristen Orthman, a well-respected communications staffer who previously worked for former Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).” (Politico)
JUMPING IN. Sheriff Joshua Ford (I) announced he will run for Warren’s seat.
“Upset by what he calls a corrupt two-party system bought and paid for by corporations, Ford … said he felt he had to step up to make a change because he felt no one else would.”
Ford supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during the presidential race. (Wicked Local)
“After spending months on the campaign trail last year railing against Obamacare,” Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), a potential challenger to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), “is staying tight-lipped about his party’s plan to replace it. … Hawley has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the controversial GOP-backed health care plan that has been pending in Congress for more than a week.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Democracy in the United States is being tested right now, … Sen. Jon Tester (D) said during a town hall in Helena Friday, as he encouraged constituents to contact elected officials on issues of importance including public lands, health care and the federal budget. Tester took questions for more than an hour at a town hall geared toward public land issues but including topics from the U.S. Supreme Court to the upcoming special election for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat. In what was a majority pro-Tester crowd, including multiple compliments and thanks for his in-person appearance, the civil tenor of the discussion was a far cry from some of the heated GOP town halls held across the country in recent weeks.” (Missoulian)
SPECIAL ELECTION. “Tester dismissed the notion that” that the Montana at-large special election, in which Democrats nominated musician Rob Quist (D) “would be a referendum on national Democrats.” (AP)
Sen. Dean Heller (R) “joined Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) Friday in opposition to a Republican bill that would kill much of former President Barack Obama’s health care law.”
“I agree with Governor Sandoval,” Heller said in a statement. “I do not support the House bill in its current form.”
“Heller’s statement came on the heels of Sandoval’s move, with three other moderate Republican governors, to send a letter of opposition to congressional leaders.” (Las Vegas Sun)
“The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will not hear an appeal by” Sen. Bob Menendez (D) “potentially clearing the way for his trial on bribery and other charges to begin in September in Newark. … Menendez is accused of receiving nearly $1 million in bribes, including flights on a private jet, and lodging in Paris and at a Caribbean resort, and contributions to political committees that boosted his re-election efforts in 2012.”
Amid speculation that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) may retire in 2020, “Alexander insisted he has made no decision about his political future.”
“I’m doing all of the things a person would normally do to be in a position” to run again, Alexander said. “But I have the luxury of not having to think about that every two years.”
Asked about rumors that Peyton Manning could succeed him, he said, “Everybody likes Peyton Manning, including me.” (Nashville Tennessean)
Christian Archer, a former strategist for Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-20), is likely to assist with Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-16) potential Senate bid.
“I’m truly inspired by the guy,” Archer said. “He is a really cool dude. There is a level of coolness to him that’s Kennedy-esque. I know people keep saying he looks like Bobby Kennedy. You know what? He’s got this aura around him. It’s neat, because he can talk about anything.”
“Archer gave early evidence of his support for O’Rourke last week, when he set up a meet-and-greet for the congressman at the Pearl with about 75 local power players, including Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and former Mayor Phil Hardberger.”
“In 2013, Archer and the Castro brothers parted ways, and, by all accounts, Archer has had minimal contact with the Castros since then. Archer says he wouldn’t find it awkward to be working against Joaquin Castro in a Senate primary race.”
“If there’s a window for (O’Rourke) to win, and I can be helpful, I would want to help that guy,” Archer said. “He would be worth it.” (San Antonio Express-News)
A CLOSER LOOK. O’Rourke “has shown a gift for nimble political timing, insinuating himself into the state and national consciousness on the spur of the moment, at just the right time and in a way that defined him not as a polarizing partisan, but as the exact opposite.” His recent road trip with Rep. Will Hurd (R-23) “almost instantly took on the endearing quality of a classic buddy movie, albeit with a lot more conversations on national policy — from opioid addiction to the federal budget freeze — than the genre usually allows.”
Former George W. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd confirmed he is still considering running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) as an independent.
Dowd added, “[I]n my view, if it’s Beto O’Rourke against Cruz, Cruz wins and probably wins by double digits. If it’s Joaquín Castro vs. Ted Cruz, it’s basically the same thing, and instead of losing by 14 points, he might lose by 10 points.”
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said that even the possibility of an O’Rourke-Castro contest does not distress him.”
“Truthfully, after so many years having a difficult time getting strong candidates to run for the U.S. Senate, it’s a great problem to have,” Hinojosa said. (Austin American-Statesman)
Former presidential candidate Evan McMullin “says he may mount a 2018 challenge against either” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) or Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-03).
McMullin: “It is possible that I will challenge Chaffetz or Senator Hatch, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision. One of the primary factors is what the people of Utah want.”
McMullin added, “he probably will run for elected office again, but not necessarily next year.”
“It is likely that I will seek public office again,” he said. “That might be in 2018 or it might be sometime down the road, perhaps very far down the road.” (The Hill)
The Senate Leadership Fund launched a digital ad Saturday targeting Sen. Joe Manchin (D) for his past support of Hillary Clinton. The spot, the group’s first of the cycle, will run for nine days, and is backed by a five-figure buy.
The ad splices together clips of Manchin speaking positively about Clinton and says, “Don’t be fooled by Joe Manchin.” (release)
Tomah VA whistleblower Ryan Honl, who in last year’s Senate race sharply criticized former Sen. Russ Feingold’s (R) oversight of the center, “says he’s gunning for” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) now.
“My unfinished business is seeing Tammy Baldwin … head to the private sector like Russ Feingold,” Honl said.
“Republicans have found a uniquely potent ally in Honl, who said he’s not yet sure what role he might play in the campaign. In 2016 he spoke out in interviews and cut an anti-Feingold ad for Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Koch Brothers-funded super PAC that helped” Sen. Ron Johnson (R) win reelection. (Wisconsin State Journal)
Two more moderate Republicans have abandoned the American Health Care Act. Reps. John Katko (R-NY 24) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA 08) announced this weekend they couldn’t support the bill when it comes to a vote this week because of the adverse effect it would have on their respective districts.
Katko said he doesn’t believe “this proposal provides an adequate market-based option for insurance access, nor does it address out-of-control costs,” and that it would hurt hospitals throughout his district. (Syracuse Post Standard)
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick said in a Facebook post he worries about the bill’s “impact on the single most important issue plaguing Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and the issue that I have made my priority in Congress: opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery.” (Allentown Morning Call)
“Republicans on the Ways and Means and on the Energy and Commerce committees already have cast votes for the America Health Care Act. … Strangely, those who supported it don’t seem all that keen about their votes.” Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ 07), Pat Meehan (R-PA-07) and Peter Roskam (R-IL 06) have all expressed hesitation about the bill despite sending it to the House floor. (Washington Post)
Other Republicans are still on the fence ahead of the vote, which will likely take place Thursday.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), “one of the few Florida Republicans not to comment on the Obamacare replacement plan this week, said Friday that it raises ‘serious concerns.’” He said he’s “been working with colleagues in both chambers to strengthen and improve this legislation.” (Miami Herald)
Rep. Rod Blum (IA-01) also weighed in: “I didn’t have a preconceived idea if I’m voting yes or no. … I’m keeping an open mind about the bill, and we’ll see what it ends up being.” (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)
Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN 02) wrote an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune defending his committee vote to send the AHCA to the House floor.
IN THE FIELD. The Congressional Leadership Fund launched Friday a “national field operation that will run in key competitive Republican and Democratic congressional districts from now until 2018. CLF’s field operation will encompass 20 districts in over a dozen states by the end of the year, and add 10 more districts by November 2018. … The program will focus on identifying and engaging low propensity Republican and Independent voters early to build relationships and have ongoing, meaningful conversations during a midterm cycle when voter turnout is generally low.” (release)
CLIMATE MATTERS. “Eleven of the 17 Republicans who joined” a resolution urging Congress to address climate change “are targets of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee next year — and two others were targets last cycle. Two other Democratic targets in 2016 and 2018,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (NY-01) and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49), “didn’t sign onto the resolution but are part of the caucus.” (Roll Call)
Meanwhile, 18 members of the Florida delegation, led by Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL 18) and Charlie Crist (D-FL 13) sent a bipartisan letter “urging President Donald Trump to ‘join our efforts to expedite and energize the federal government’s role’ in restoring the Everglades. (release)
Former Los Angeles City Council staffer Sara Hernandez (D) released her second ad on Friday. The 30-second spot casts her as the classroom teacher who will stand up to the Trump administration by fighting for universal health care, public school funding, and stop deportations. (release)
TWITTER WAR. David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan mocked labor activist Wendy Carrillo’s new web ad last week in a tweet, writing “Wendy plays the part of a ‘person of color’ masterfully, doesn’t she?” Other Twitter users tweeted that he inspired them to donate to her campaign to combat racism. (Los Angeles Times)
A new survey from zpolitics and Clout Research found former congressional staffer Jon Ossoff (D) leading the field with 41% of the vote, an increase from the 32% the same group found supporting him last month (March 15-16; 625 LVs; +/- 3.8%). Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) and Johns Creek City Councilman Bob Gray (R) each took 16%.
GRAY CAMPAIGN. Gray’s campaign released a digital ad where he talks about his views on abortion. (release)
The campaign also “hired the staffers who quit” the campaign of tea party activist Amy Kremer “en masse after complaining she couldn’t pay their campaign bills, the latest move in an increasingly bitter race.” (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R), son of state GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, confirmed he’s considering challenging Rep. Dave Loebsack (D) in 2018. “I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m not ready launch an exploratory committee,” he said.
“Among others considered as potential candidates are Jeff Kaufmann,” state Sens. Roby Smith and Mark Lofgren “and Gov. Terry Branstad’s chief of staff Michael Bousselot.” (Quad-City Times)
Tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte (R) has already spent more than $100,000 on ads. That combined with the $700,000 the Congressional Leadership Fund has dropped to attack musician Rob Quist (D) means the race has already attracted more than $800,000 in spending in just two weeks. (AP)
UNDER FIRE. Gianforte has pledge not to accept PAC money is coming into question after he and Sen. Steve Daines (R) are set to “headline a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday in Washington, D.C., for the Montana Republican Party. The fundraiser invites PACs to the event with a suggested admission price of $1,000.”
“On Thursday, the Gianforte campaign said it would decline money from the state GOP to avoid any appearance that PAC money could be funneled into the campaign through contributions from Republican Party committees.” (Great Falls Tribune)
FULL SUPPORT. Sen. Jon Tester (D) mentioned Quist at a town hall meeting on Friday: “This may be just a shock to all of you, but I happen to like Rob Quist a lot. I think he is somebody that is honest, that is straight-forward and will absolutely work his tail off to do the right thing for the people of the state of Montana.” (Great Falls Tribune)
GIVING BACK. Gianforte’s “family foundation … is donating $1.1 million to an affordable housing project in Billings which will bear the family’s name.” (AP)
Rep. Don Bacon (R) “sat down with seven members of Indivisible Nebraskans on Saturday to discuss health care legislation. The meeting came after the group went to his office last week asking for the chance to talk. … The Indivisible Nebraskans representatives urged Bacon to vote against” the American Health Care Act. “Bacon called the meeting ‘cordial’ and ‘candid’ and said he will take back to Washington some of the group’s concerns, namely on elderly populations dependent on Medicaid.” (Omaha World-Herald)
OUTSIDE GROUPS. Congressional Leadership Fund “is spending $30,000 a month” on digital ads for Bacon’s reelection. Bacon discovered the ads when he “stole a look at Facebook on his iPhone” while “sitting in church.” CLF opened a field office in Omaha last month. The office has a staff of three, which “has recruited 50 high-school social-studies students who spend hours knocking on doors and making phone calls” in order to “find people who voted for Mr. Trump but typically skip midterm elections.” A list of 112,000 likely Republicans “will hear from a CLF volunteer on the phone or at their door at least once a month this year once a week beginning next spring and every day as Election Day 2018 draws near,” CLF said. (Wall Street Journal)
“In his first public comments regarding a possible” bid to challenge Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R) “said ‘I’m being encouraged at a level that I’ve never seen to consider stepping up for a run for the CD-1.’ … But the four-term state senator quickly added that ‘right now I’m really focusing all my efforts on what’s happening in the state Senate.’” (NH1)
“More than 60 people gathered outside the offices of” Rep. John Faso (R) “on Friday afternoon to protest his Thursday vote that helped advance the Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Their protest of the proposed repeal of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, marked the largest ‘Faso Friday’ yet organized by the grassroots advocacy group Citizen Action of New York’s Hudson Valley chapter.” (Middletown Times Herald-Record)
SAVE THE DATE. Faso will host a televised town hall on April 13. It will be broadcast live on WMHT and WSKG in Binghamton and on wmht.org, nynow.org and WMHT’s Facebook page. The online livestream will feature an extra 15 minutes of Q&A time.” (Albany Times-Union)
Rep. Will Hurd (R) said in an interview with ABC News that “he has seen no evidence to support President Trump’s claim of former President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower” and urged the president to apologize.
Hurd, a member of the House Intelligence Committee: “To quote my 85-year-old father … ‘It never hurts to say you’re sorry.’ And it’s not just sorry to [Obama] but sorry to the [United Kingdom] for the claims — or the intimation — that the U.K. was involved in this as well.” (ABC News)
The congressman also went on NPR this weekend to discuss, among other things, his road trip with Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX 16). “Well, I was going through separation anxiety. And after it was over it was — you know, it was weird not knowing where he was,” Hurd said describing how he felt after completing the trip. (NPR)
Rep. Pete Sessions (R) “faced a raucous town hall Saturday as he sought to defend the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, among other issues that have spawned fierce opposition under President Donald Trump. Addressing over 2,000 people, Sessions was frequently drowned out by boos and angry outbursts from the audience. Many of his answers were not entirely audible due to the crowd’s reaction as he began to speak.”
At one point Sessions told the crowd: “I know why you’re so frustrated: You don’t know how to listen.”
“For Sessions, there are additional political considerations. … Hillary Clinton won his district last year, and Democrats are already gearing up to try to unseat him in 2018.” (Texas Tribune)
“No congressional district in Wisconsin delivered a bigger victory margin for Donald Trump last fall (20 points) than the rural northern one represented by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI 07). But by one key measure, no district in Wisconsin would lose more health care aid under the GOP plan to replace Obamacare.”
“Wisconsin is part of a national pattern in which the Obamacare enrollees who appear to be hit the hardest by the Republican plan fit the demographic and geographic profile of Trump’s political base. … In the legislation, the biggest losses in tax credits in Wisconsin would occur in two mostly rural congressional districts, the northern seat held by Duffy and the western seat held by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI 03), whose district also backed Trump. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Former Circuit Judge Henry Davis (D) filed to run for governor last week.
He said in an interview on Monday he planned to run on a platform of helping the poor, partially by backing “universal school vouchers.”
Davis: “The current governor and the state legislature seem to be focused on everything except the interests of poor people.”
He said he’ll launch a website later this week in hopes of building support for his campaign.
Davis: “I’m not wealthy. I can’t self-finance a campaign.” (Hotline reporting)
“Davis is a former administrative judge for the Juvenile Division of the Fourth Circuit Court in Florida. He was appointed … by” former Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) “in 1992. He did not file for re-election in 2016 and retired at the end of the year.” (Ballotpedia)
MONEY TALKS. State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s (R) Florida Grown committee “raised more than $300,000 during the first 10 days of March, according to the committee’s website.” (News4Jax)
GILLUM TALKS. “In his first appearance in Tampa since officially declaring his candidacy for Governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) said the Democratic Party can win back the Governor’s Mansion next year if it convinces the voters of Florida that it can make an impact in changing their lives for the better. … [H]e spoke to the progressive caucus’ language by saying that the Democrats wouldn’t win in 2018 by being ‘Republican lite.’”
Gillum: “When our issues on the ballot, absent the candidate’s name, people agree with us! They stand with us! So what is the disconnect? … I believe we can win by leaning into our values and not running away from them.” (Florida Politics)
State Sen. Daniel Biss (D) on Monday announced he would run for the nomination to challenge Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in 2018, lambasting “bilionaires” and “special interests.”
Biss on Facebook: “I’m running for governor of Illinois because it’s time to start solving problems.” (release)
“Last year, Biss headed a federal super political action committee called Leading Illinois for Tomorrow. It made about $10 million in independent expenditures, largely for TV ads that sought to link Rauner to Trump, who was then the GOP presidential nominee.” (Chicago Tribune)
ACCOUNTING. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17) reported last week spending $50,000 from her reelection account on exploring a bid for governor, which she has since abandoned. (Hotline reporting)
“Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D), one of the state’s highest-ranking female elected officials and a close adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton (D), will not run for governor in 2018, throwing the race wide open for fellow DFLers. … She said her main reasons … were personal. She pledged to be active on the stump for DFLers during the race and she declined to endorse a candidate.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“A DFL source said” Rep. Tim Walz (D) “is telling people he is running. Expect an announcement soon.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Comedian Joe Piscopo “has decided he will not run for New Jersey governor as a Republican and instead is planning to declare he will jump into the race … as an independent candidate. … Piscopo made his decision because he did not begin the process of running early enough to run as a Republican. … Piscopo was also unwilling to give up hosting his morning radio show … during the primary season. … Because the filing deadline for independents isn’t until June 6, Piscopo would buy himself an extra eight weeks on the show.”
“Opinions differ among Republican county chairs as to which major party candidate he would hurt the most. … At a meeting last December, Bergen County GOP chairman Paul DiGaetano and longtime Piscopo friend said he warned him against running outside the two-party system,” which would “‘likely cause the Democrat to win.’ But other GOP county chairs aren’t so sure about that. Hudson County Republican chairman Jose Arango notes that as a former Democrat, Piscopo would likely over-perform in areas where Democrats tend to do better, hurting the eventual Democratic nominee.” (NJ Advance Media)
“Piscopo predicted doom for any Republican nominee in the fall contest.”
Piscopo: “A Republican, even if it was me, probably won’t win the election. … There is no way a Republican can win in New Jersey. I think an independent has a better chance to win.’’ (Bergen Record)
MON(MOUTH)UMENTAL. “The Monmouth County Republican Party voted at their convention Saturday to endorse” Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R). “Guadagno, who lives in Monmouth Beach and served as Monmouth County’s first female sheriff from 2008-2010, now has the official Republican Party line or slogan in three of the four most Republican counties in New Jersey.” (release)
“The full Burlington County Republican Committee won’t decide which GOP gubernatorial candidate it will award its coveted ‘party line’ ballot spot until Monday, but Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) appears to have the inside track.” (Burlington County Times)
UPDATED TALLY. Former Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D) “has donated at least $1.15 million to state and local Democratic organizations and candidates since 2001. … More than 40 percent of that money — about $466,000 — was shelled out over the past three years.” (NJ Advance Media)
HOW ABOUT (GUADAG)NO. The Newark Star-Ledger wrote an editorial blasting Guadagno’s proposal for an elected attorney general.
The editorial: “Far from becoming a check on corruption, electing Attorneys General makes them subject to the same forces that corrupt politicians. There’s no evidence that this deters bad behavior. From what we’ve seen, it only further incentivizes it.” (NJ Advance Media)
Rep. Jim Renacci (R) “entered the 2018 race for governor Monday and quickly signaled he will brand himself as an Ohio version of Donald Trump. The Wadsworth Republican’s new website — OhioFirst.com — that mimics the ‘America First’ pitch Trump made in his successful presidential bid last year.”
“‘Give me a choice between a name and somebody’s who’s gotten the job done, I’ll take the guy that gets the job done,’ says a man who appears in the Renacci campaign’s introductory video, which also features Renacci riding a motorcycle. The ‘name’ line could apply to three better-established Republicans who also are angling to succeed term-limited Gov. John Kasich (R) next year.” (cleveland.com)
“A new super PAC called Ohio First has formed to support … Renacci’s … bid.” (Issue One)
ALL (C)IN(CINNATI). Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) “is expected to announce any day now. … Whaley is likely to have an ally in” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D). “Cranley and Whaley are good friends and political allies. People close to Cranley tell WVXU that there is no doubt that Cranley – who had been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate himself - will endorse her if she runs.” (WVXU)
MARK YOUR CALENDARS. “In what will be the first official event to feature Ohio Democrats’ announced candidates for governor, the Ohio Democratic Party will hold its 2017 Legacy Dinner … on … April 22, at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus.” (release)
Gov. Henry McMaster (R) “is standing by his longtime political strategist, Richard Quinn, despite the powerful Republican consultant being implicated in newly released indictments and facing questions for allegedly manipulating a state political party election as part of an ongoing Statehouse corruption probe.” (Charleston Post & Courier)
RING A BEL? State Rep. James Smith (D) “hasn’t committed to running for … governor yet, but he is researching how a Democrat can run and win in the Deep South. … Before he commits, Smith says he wants to be sure he sees a path forward to victory. To that end, Smith” has “sought advice from” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and former Gov. Jim Hodges (D). (Columbia State)
“Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman Susan Richardson Williams” said Friday that state Speaker Beth Harwell (R) will run for governor in 2018.
Williams on Facebook: “Just got a call from Speaker Beth Harwell to let me know she is running for Governor next year too!”
“Harwell has more than $1 million in a campaign account she can draw on to run for governor. She has openly stated she’s looking at a race, and many expect her to run.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press)
ALL-STAR. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (D) “has named the top members of his campaign team,” including Courtney Wheeler as campaign manager, Fred Yang as pollster, Mark Putnam for advertising, Democratic fundraiser Charles Robert Bone as finance chairman, and Calvin Anderson as campaign treasurer. (Nashville Post)
NEW RECRUIT. State Sen. Mark Green (R) “met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday during his trip to a rally in Nashville where they” agreed to his nomination to become secretary of the Army. “A source close to Green said that he’s currently filling out intensive background checks that the White House personnel office and FBI will review.” (Politico)
“Though he cannot comment directly on his potential cabinet nomination, he said he would be humbled to take on the job.” (WATE)
John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chair, endorsed former Rep. Tom Perriello (D) over Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday.
Podesta: Both are strong candidates for Virginia governor, but Perriello is the better choice for the party’s future during a Trump presidency.” (Washington Post)
FIRE IN THE BELLY. Northam at a fundraiser for Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) gave “fiery remarks that sometimes bordered on shouting. … Northam’s newfound aggression may be paying early dividends. He crushed Perriello in the event’s straw poll.”
Northam: “As people get to know me a little bit better, they see I’ve got a lot of fire in my belly and have been in tremendous fights all my life.” (Washington Post)
CHANGE OF PACE. “With a ravenous appetite for rhetorical bombast, Stewart is campaigning as an unapologetic disciple of President Trump, echoing the president’s populist diatribes against the Republican establishment, undocumented immigrants, political correctness and the media. Yet in purple Virginia, the only Southern state that Trump lost to … Hillary Clinton, Stewart is struggling to captivate voters.”
Conservative radio host John Fredericks: “He may own the Trump style, but he doesn’t own the Trump brand. The Trump people don’t like him.”
“Stewart … has won election as chairman four times in campaigns fueled by contributions from developers and other establishment types. He said that qualifies him as ‘part of the Prince William establishment but not the Virginia establishment.’”
“At various points in his political career in Prince William, Stewart told reporters he did not want to be known as the ‘immigration man’ and said he hoped to build ties to Latinos and other minorities. To win in Northern Virginia, Republicans needed to be inclusive and emulate his minority outreach, he said two years ago.” (Washington Post)
GETTING READY FOR GAMETIME. The DGA gave $10,250 to the state Democratic Party on Feb. 23, according to an FEC report filed last week. (Hotline reporting)
" This is one of those circumstances. " FBI Director James Comey, on confirming the existence of an investigation when it’s in the public interest, New York Times, 3/20.
More former Supreme Court justices were born in other countries (six) than in the western region of the United States (five), the Pew Research Center reports. If confirmed, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was born in Colorado, would close the gap.