Who is Joe Walsh?

Joe Walsh explains how he was pranked by Sasha Baron Cohen

The Story:

Joe Walsh, a former US Congressman from Illinois, now a radio talk show host, is running for the Republican nomination for President, against incumbent Donald Trump. On ABC’s news-talk program Sunday morning, Walsh said, “Somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum.”

The Background:

Throughout the Trump presidency, there has been an anti-Trump faction within the Republican Party, which sometimes uses the moniker “NeverTrump.” Yet whether that faction is going to be in a position to mount a credible challenge to President Trump’s renomination is an open question.

Whether, even if NeverTrump sentiment is sufficient for such a challenge, Walsh is the best available vessel for it, is another open question.

Walsh supported Trump in 2016. He seems to have been disenchanted, though, by the President’s chumminess with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at the notorious joint press conference the two men held in Helsinki in July 2018.

The Thing to Know:

George Conway, the husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, supports Walsh’s effort. “I think Walsh’s plan to attack Trump for his dishonesty, amorality, instability, and incompetence is absolutely the right approach, and I’ll do whatever I can to help,” Conway said in a statement.

Maine Democrats Are Eager to Take On Susan Collins

Live: Susan Collins announces her decision on Kavanaugh vote

The Story:

Ever since Senator Susan Collins (R- ME) voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice to the US Supreme Court, it has been clear that she would attract high profile and well-funded Democratic opponents to her reelection to the Senate in 2020. At least three potential opponents have now made that intention known.

Background:

Successful Republican politicians in New England often have an ideological center of gravity to the left of the national party. Indeed, one might say that the Bush family abandoned the region and moved its base to Texas precisely to signal that it was more in tune with the national Republican Party than its Connecticut roots or the family compound in Maine would suggest.

Although Collins has opposed Trump on some important matters, she has generally supported his judicial nominees, most controversially Judge Brett Kavanaugh, elevated to the US Supreme Court despite an accusation regarding a sexual assault. Kavanaugh won confirmation by a vote of 50 – 48 in October 2018.

The Thing to Know:

The single most prominent of the Democratic candidates who now profess a desire to run against Collins for the Senate seat is Sara Gideon, the state’s House Speaker. Gideon has said that she would seek to “elevate the voices of people who deserve and demand to be heard.”

An Open US Senate Seat in New Mexico

Bill and Hillary Clinton announce new speaking tour

The Story:

Next year the people of New Mexico (a state that voted for Hillary Clinton for President) will elect a new US Senator to replace Tom Udall (D), who will finish up his second term and who is not running for a third. This means that the Republican Party has a chance to pick up a seat to defend or pad its existing narrow majority in the chamber.

Declared Candidates:

A former Trump administration Interior Department official, Gavin Clarkson, is the only individual yet to have declared that he is running for the Republican Party’s nomination for this seat. Others are expected in due course to jump into the race.

On the Democratic side, there are three declared candidates: Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Ben Ray Lujan, and Giovanni Alexander Haqani. Oliver, New Mexico’s Secretary of State, successfully pressed for campaign finance reform in the state. She boasts that she “took on the Koch brothers and won” on that issue.

The Thing to Know: 

Not only did New Mexico vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, it voted for Barack Obama twice before that. It is seen as a ‘blue’ state. Its retiring Senator, Udall, stands out for (distinctively “progressive”) views on both gun control and conservation.

 

A Wyoming Senate Seat Will be Open in 2020

The Story

Senator Michael Enzi (R – WY) announced over the weekend that he will not run for re-election next year. This means there will be a Senate campaign in Wyoming 2020 without an incumbent, which affects the arithmetic for the struggle to control the Senate as of January 2021.

Every Seat is Important: 

Enzi was first elected to the Senate in 1996, when he successfully ran to replace Alan Simpson. Enzi’s victory in ’96 was not arithmetically overwhelming: he defeated Democratic candidate Kathy Karpan, getting 54% of the vote.

But Enzi’s three re-elections (2002, 2008, 2014) have been by much more impressive margins. He received more than 70% of the vote each time.

At present, the Republican Party controls 53 seats in the US Senate. Even if they retain the Presidency, and thus the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President, after the election of 2020, a net loss of four Senate seats will lose them control of the chamber.

The Thing to Know: 

On the Democratic side, one of the more likely candidates for the open seat is David Freudenthal, who was the Governor of Wyoming for two terms (2003-2011). Freudenthal has a reputation as a moderate, having angered environmental groups during his tenure as Governor.

On Politics: Inside the Obama-Biden Relationship

Good Monday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today.

_____________________

What started out as a Felix-and-Oscar odd couple — a no-drama intellectual and a gregarious, shoulder-squeezing pol — evolved into a surprisingly close friendship unlike any between a president and vice president in modern times. This is the story behind the relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Despite doubts about his candidacy, Mr. Biden begins the race with substantial support from three key constituencies in his native state of Pennsylvania: suburban moderates defecting from the Republican Party under President Trump, black voters who were underwhelmed by Hillary Clinton, and working-class white voters.

Attorney General William P. Barr and congressional Democrats clashed on Sunday over his scheduled testimony before the House Judiciary Committee this week, with Mr. Barr threatening to skip the session and the panel’s chairman threatening to subpoena him.

As House Democrats return to Washington after a two-week recess, they will find a Capitol consumed by the Mueller report. But rank-and-file Democrats are not being propelled by their constituents into impeaching the…

Longtime Congressman a ‘titan’ of NM politics

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Manuel Lujan Jr., a New Mexico native son who rose to lofty political heights as a longtime Republican congressman and U.S. Interior secretary, died late Thursday at age 90.

Lujan Jr., who came from a prominent Santa Fe political family, held New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District seat for 20 years – from 1969 through 1988. He was the first Hispanic Republican to join the Congressional Hispanic Congress and focused largely on constituent needs during his time in Washington D.C.

Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, who was state GOP chairman while Lujan Jr. was still in office, described the former congressman on Friday as a “titan” of New Mexico politics.

Specifically, he said Lujan Jr. had a knack for giving short speeches, in both Spanish and English, and recalled his nightly ritual of personally calling back New Mexico residents who had left messages with his congressional office.

“If you want to be in this business, you have to be like Manuel Lujan Jr.,” Carruthers told the Journal. “He just seemed to be a level above the rest of us.”

Lujan Jr. was appointed interior secretary by then-President George H.W. Bush in 1989 – becoming just the second New Mexican to hold the post – and remained in the position for nearly four years, a time span that included the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska.

He faced scrutiny in the high-profile Cabinet position, including criticism from some groups for challenging the Endangered Species Act, and said after leaving the office in 1993 that “no one is satisfied.”

“If you do something that’s pro-development, you get the environmental groups against you, and if you do something that’s pro-environmental, you get the industry groups after you,” Lujan Jr. told the Associated Press at the time. “What I tried to do – and I think I was successful in doing – was to bring a balance between the use of resources on public lands and environmental concerns.”

His brother, Edward Lujan, said Friday that Manuel Lujan Jr. had not been in good health in recent months and had broken his hip in a fall several months ago.

But he said Manuel Lujan Jr. had remained active and…

Trump Challenger Bill Weld talks 2020 strategy and plans for Washington

Trump Challenger Bill Weld talks 2020 strategy and plans for Washington

2020 Republican presidential hopeful Bill Weld says he is not ‘in love’ with the job being done in Washington.

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As Democrats Agonize, G.O.P. Is at Peace With Doing Nothing on Mueller’s Findings

Erin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans see the special counsel’s report — with its stark evidence that President Trump repeatedly impeded the investigation into Russian election interference — as a summons for collective inaction.

Republicans in the upper chamber, who would serve as Mr. Trump’s jury if House Democrats were to impeach him, reacted to the report’s release with a range of tsk-tsk adjectives like “brash,” “inappropriate” or “unflattering.” Only Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, called out the president’s behavior as “sickening.”

Yet no Republican, not even Mr. Romney, a political brand-name who does not face his state’s voters until 2022, has pressed for even a cursory inquiry into the findings by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that the president pressured senior officials, including the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II and the former attorney general Jeff Sessions, to scuttle his investigation. Where Democrats see a road map to impeachment, Republicans see a dead end.

“I consider this to be, basically, the end of the road,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, who once tried to thwart Mr. Trump’s presidential nomination and now serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has the authority to investigate Mr. Mueller’s findings.

“There is no question that some of these revelations are unflattering,” Mr. Lee said in an interview on Wednesday. “But there is a difference between unflattering and something that can and should be prosecuted.”

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, has been as critical in private of Mr. Trump’s actions as Mr. Romney has been in public, but he, too, said it was time to move on.

“While the report documents a number of actions taken by the president or his associates that were inappropriate, the special counsel reached no conclusion on obstruction of justice,” Mr. Portman said in a statement.

That is factually accurate; in releasing his findings a week ago, Mr. Mueller laid out about a dozen instances in which the president may have obstructed justice, but he left it to Congress to reach that conclusion, counseling “that Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority.” House Democrats responded by ramping up committee investigations, kicking off what is likely to be a long, rending intraparty debate over impeachment.

Senate Republicans saw Mr. Mueller’s invitation in far more cynical terms, as a quintessential Washington punt of responsibility, according to aides and political consultants. One senior aide to a Senate Republican put it this way: If the most respected law enforcement official of his generation did not have the temerity to accuse Mr. Trump of obstructing justice, why should they?

“The Republican Party, and the Senate, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Donald Trump,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist based in Florida who has been a sharp critic of Mr. Trump’s. “Occasionally, a few guys in the Senate will furrow their brows, but it will never be backed up by action. They wake up every day and pray, ‘Please, God, don’t let Trump be mean to me on Twitter.’”

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, urged the Republicans on the panel to investigate…

Is There a Political Reason Twitter Won’t Do More to Combat White Supremacy?

REX/Shutterstock; Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Since President Trump took office, Republicans have accused social media platforms of bias against conservative users. But according to a new report from Motherboard, Twitter has avoided censoring white supremacists out of fear that it could impact the accounts of Republican politicians.

The report cites a March 22nd meeting at Twitter during which it was explained to attendees that accounts like those of Arabic language broadcasters may inadvertently be flagged in the course of the platform ridding itself of ISIS propaganda. Twitter hasn’t made the same commitment to rid itself of white supremacist content, the speaker later said in another conversation confirmed by Motherboard, because it could have a similar effect on the accounts of Republican politicians.

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Man oh man. https://t.co/J0vRneDzfP pic.twitter.com/jTo2nXheQi

— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) April 25, 2019

Twitter responded by noting to Motherboard that the report “is not [an] accurate characterization of our policies or enforcement — on any level.” The company later disputed the report in a statement. “The information cited from the ‘sources’ in this story has absolutely no basis in fact,” it read. “The characterization of the exchange at the meeting of March 22nd is also completely factually inaccurate. There are no simple algorithms that find all abusive content on the Internet and we certainly wouldn’t avoid turning them on for political reasons.”

As the report explains, Twitter took a broad, mostly algorithmic approach to eradicating ISIS-related content. To do so for white supremacist content would inevitably impact Republican accounts because of the extent to which white supremacist and white nationalist rhetoric has bled into American political discourse. “Cracking down on white nationalists will therefore involve removing a lot of people who identify to a greater or lesser extent as Trump supporters, and some people in Trump circles and pro-Trump media will certainly seize on this to complain they are being persecuted,” extremism expert and author JM Berger told Motherboard. “There’s going to be controversy here that we didn’t see with ISIS, because there are more white nationalists than there are ISIS supporters, and white nationalists are closer to the levers of political power in the U.S. and…

Bronx Republican preparing 2020 run against ‘Bolshevik’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Fed up constituent announces she's running to oust Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Fed up constituent announces she’s running to oust Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

She’s a medical journalist and former publicist with no political background, but Bronx native Ruth Papazian, 61, sees it as her duty – however much a long shot – to swipe the seat of 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 2020 congressional elections.

“It became clear that if I didn’t step up to fight for our district, we’d end up with yet another passive Republican candidate who didn’t bother to campaign,” Papazian told Fox News. “And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t lived in the district since early childhood. Those of us who stuck it out, and actually live here, care about our future, and need representation.”

Ocasio-Cortez used her deceased father’s Bronx condo on her voter registration since 2012, but has since denied reports that she doesn’t live in the Manhattan borough.

Meanwhile, Papazian – the daughter of Egyptian immigrants who currently lives with her widowed mother – has accused the headline-making freshman representative of never responding to concerned people in the district “who have serious questions about her unrealistic and unworkable policies,” and claims that she “has a mostly unstaffed office in Queens, and when constituents call her office in DC to ask for help, they get phone recordings with full message boxes.”

But for this Bronx Republican, it is the incumbent’s economic policies that are the driving force behind her own political aspirations.

“It has been galling listening to Ocasio-Cortez push really hackneyed big government ideas that have failed around the world. These include her Green New Deal and Medicare for all,” Papazian said. “This district is home to first and second-generation immigrants. It is a middle-class district, because our families came here, worked hard, bought houses, and flourished. Many of us come from families that escaped socialism. No one wants it here.”

Netflix releasing documentary following AOC, other progressive women running for Congress in 2018

And as Papazian fears, some U.S. businesses also view the Ocasio-Cortez-led socialist economic plug as a possibility rather than a delusional fantasy.

Independent retailer Metals.com last month surveyed more than 100,000 of its members across the country to gather insights on the attitudes and behaviors of U.S. retirees aged 60…