Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was one of three senators who “voted against the” bipartisan immigration measure that failed in the Senate on Thursday, “mainly out of a concern that its border security provisions went too far. Eight Republicans—those who were part of the bipartisan accord—voted in favor.” (Los Angeles Times)
“[T]hat small number did not reflect the hard feelings within the conference. Weeks earlier, Democratic leaders had relented in a fight over the budget after” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “promised a vote on immigration — and this was hardly the result rank-and-file members envisioned. Asked whether he was pleased with how caucus leaders handled the debate,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said: “I’m not going to Monday-morning quarterback anybody’s efforts. Everybody was trying to get something done here.”
“Harris’ ‘no’ vote caused the most apparent drama on the Democratic side. As senators announced their vote on the bipartisan plan, the potential 2020 presidential candidate and” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “spoke tensely on the Senate floor. Harris then departed to the Democratic cloakroom. A few minutes later, she emerged and announced her ‘no’ vote to audible gasps.
“Some Democrats were furious.”
A Democratic staffer, whose boss pushed for the bill: “If Sen. Harris tries to use this no vote to get to the left of her colleagues in Iowa … she’ll be rightly and roundly pummeled for it. Some Democrats fought for Dreamers today, others fought for themselves.”
Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams, in response: “Sen. Harris voted her conscience on an issue she’s worked on for years, and that impacts California more than any other state in the country. Dreamers have been and remain her No. 1 priority.” (Politico)
NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL. The second 2020 New Hampshire Granite State Poll (Jan.28-Feb.10; 523 likely Democratic primary voters; +/-4.3%) by the University of New Hampshire, reported first by Hotline, indicates a change in the current Democratic presidential front-runner, with former Vice President Joe Biden taking 35%, up from 24% in the first survey conducted in October. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who won the state’s primary in 2016 by a landslide over Hillary Clinton, fell to second place, coming in at 24%, compared to 31% in the initial poll.
The survey’s pollster Andrew Smith advised against reading too much into the results too soon, saying, the “biggest story is that–surprise–voters aren’t even thinking about 2020 yet!!! Even in NH!” (release)
CASTRO. On Friday, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro’s “prime event for the day will be as the featured speaker at the New Hampshire Young Democrats’ annual Granite Slate Awards fundraiser. Among those honored will be U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is not seeking re-election and will leave office at the end of the year. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
“Earlier, Castro will speak to Saint Anselm College students at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. A NHIOP spokesman told WMUR that Castro will arrive at 1:30 p.m. for a roundtable discussion with 30 students.” (WMUR)
BUTTIGIEG. In a term-and-a-half, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg “has overseen an economic and psychological resurgence in South Bend that few were predicting. In 2014, he served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan with the U.S. Naval Reserves, helping disrupt flows of funding to terrorist groups while monitoring South Bend business over sketchy internet connections. Before his 2015 reelection, he came out publicly as gay, writing in a local newspaper that ‘it took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am.’ (In December, he and his partner, middle-school teacher Chasten Glezman, got engaged.)
“Through it all, Buttigieg established himself as a Democrat worth tracking, at a time when the party was desperate for fresh faces, particularly between the coasts. Howard Dean has called him ‘the face of the first global generation.’ Frank Bruni, the New York Times columnist, wondered after a 2016 South Bend visit whether he had just met the country’s first gay president. And speaking to the New Yorker three weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Barack Obama name-checked four gifted pols he trusted to lead Democrats into the suddenly terrifying future. Three were U.S. senators, all in their 50s. Then there was Buttigieg, a boyish municipal servant with a Maltese last name nobody can quite pronounce. (It’s Boot-edge-edge, though South Bend residents just call him Mayor Pete.)
“There is one glaring problem: The routes to higher office that are available to Buttigieg, as a progressive hailing from a state trending in the opposite direction, are winding and pockmarked. He could dither in Congress, if he could win a seat at all in his Republican-leaning home district. He could risk his political hide running statewide in Indiana, even though Trump bested Hillary Clinton there by 19 points. Maybe Buttigieg angles for a Cabinet post in the next Democratic administration? That’s three years away, at minimum. Last winter, he sought to lead the Democratic National Committee, earning endorsements from five former party chairs, but he ultimately ceded to contenders with higher name recognition.”(Politico)
MCAULIFFE. “Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, says he plans to barnstorm 20 states this year to help Democrats win greater control of state legislative maps.
“‘The 2018 elections are going to determine who controls those maps in 2021,’ McAuliffe said in an interview Thursday. ‘I would encourage every Democrat not to talk about 2020. Our future is on the line, literally.’”(Washington Post)
OPRAH. Oprah Winfrey on 2020 speculation: “I was just trying to give a good speech,” she says about her Golden Globes speech. “I was looking for a way to express what was going on in this moment in terms of gender and class and race. I cared about landing that speech in the room.”
“Outside the room, Winfrey says campaign financiers took notice. ‘I had a lot of wealthy men calling, telling me that they would run my campaign and raise $1 billion for me,’ Winfrey says. ‘I think that when you have that many people whose opinions you value coming at you, it’s worthy of thinking about.’
“But Winfrey told Overtime that she has not heard the call to higher office: ‘And wouldn’t I know? Because if God actually wanted me to run, wouldn’t God kinda tell me? And I haven’t heard that,’ she says.” (CBS)
SANDERS. Sanders “will join progressive groups in Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan next week as part of a nationwide campaign to drum up grassroots opposition against the new Republican-backed tax law ahead of the midterm elections.
“The Vermont independent will take direct aim at Trump-era Republicans’ signature legislative achievement in those three key states, two of which, Michigan and Wisconsin, were instrumental in the President’s 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton.
“Sanders, who already announced plans to stump for Pete D’Alessandro, a 2016 aide now running for Congress, on February 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, is scheduled to headline an event in Cedar Rapids that evening, before leading rallies the next two days in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Lansing, Michigan. He will also host a rally for Democrat Randy Bryce, who is running in Wisconsin’s first congressional district, home to House Speaker Paul Ryan, during his time in the state.” (CNN)
STEYER. Mega-donor Tom Steyer has “tapped brand-name professional talent for counsel as he’s extended his political portfolio. John Anzalone, of the Clinton and Obama presidential campaigns, has done polling; veteran admaker Mark Putnam is producing his TV spots; Bruce Reed, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, lends policy advice. Chris Lehane, the press secretary for Al Gore’s presidential campaign, helped Steyer launch his NextGen organization back in 2013 and remains a friend and confidante. NextGen Climate – the pro-environment political action committee dedicated to thwarting climate change – morphed into NextGen America last year, reflecting Steyer’s expanding ambitions.” (U.S. News & World Report)
DNC. The DNC sent a release on Thursday soliciting money after the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., writing, “We’re counting on you to help take on the gun lobby and elect Democrats who have the courage to address the epidemic of gun violence. Chip in now.” (release)
AMERICAN BRIDGE. Liberal group American Bridge “on Thursday ramped up its push for the Federal Election Commission to investigate a $130,000 payment Donald Trump’s personal lawyer made in 2016 to an adult film actress who says she once had an affair with the president.”
“‘Unless funded by Mr. Trump directly, [the payment] was a clear illegal in-kind contribution,’ American Bridge wrote in the supplemental complaint filed Thursday.”(Politico)
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"White House chief of staff John Kelly has tapped Chris Liddell, a senior White House aide and former executive at Microsoft and General Motors, as his deputy." Prior to his appointment, Kelly had just one deputy: "Joe Hagin, who focuses on the day-to-day operations" in the White House. "Up until now, the White House had not named a deputy chief of staff for policy, though several aides, including [DHS Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen, had informally played that role."
The Supreme Court on Monday "rejected a plea to undertake a historic reassessment of the constitutionality of the death penalty nationwide. The court denied certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona, which challenged the constitutionality of that state’s death penalty statute but also attacked capital punishment generally 'in light of contemporary standards of decency.'" The Court did not act on another case, Evans v. Mississippi, which would have prompted a broader review of the death penalty. "Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan issued a separate statement agreeing that the Hidalgo case should be denied because the record in the case was not fully developed, but hoping a future case would be a better platform for reviewing capital punishment."
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman begins his two-week visit to the U.S. this week, meeting with "political and business leaders in Washington, New York, Silicon Valley and elsewhere" in an effort to shore up financial support for his government and rehabilitate its image abroad. "The crown prince employed a similar public relations strategy on a three-day visit to the UK," where he met with "an array of British business and defense leaders." Bin Salman has been widely criticized for his alleged political chicanery in the Gulf, and for Saudi Arabia's devastating air campaign in neighboring Yemen.
A fourth package bomb injured two people in Austin on Sunday evening, "which the police chief says was caused by a tripwire and showed 'a different level of skill' than the package bombs used in the three prior attacks." The police are still searching for the perpetrator, and have warned residents to not pick up or approach suspicious packages. Previous explosions, which the police believe are connected, have killed two and wounded several others.
White House Lawyer Ty Cobb said that President Trump not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Speculation swirled after Trump attacked the investigation on Twitter, and called out Mueller directly for the first time. “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration," Cobb said, "...the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller." Several members of Congress, "including some top Republicans, warned Trump to not even think about terminating Mueller."