6 min read

Wake Up To Politics - June 15, 2020

Good Monday morning. It’s June 14, 2020. 141 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

The latest episode of the Wake Up To Politics Podcast is out now. The episode features interviews with Protocol reporter Issie Lapowsky and Georgetown Free Speech Project director Sanford Ungar about Section 230, social media regulation, and the future of America’s long-running debate over the First Amendment. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

Coronavirus cases rebound in several states

Just weeks after much of the U.S. began to reopen, new coronavirus cases are increasing in 23 states, including California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona, according to the New York Times database.

Does the new rise in infections constitute a “second wave” of the virus? No, Harvard global health professor Dr. Ashish Jha told NPR. In fact, he said, “We really never quite finished the first wave. And it doesn't look like we are going to anytime soon.”

According to NPR, “Since peaking at around 31,000 average new daily cases on April 10, new daily cases [in the U.S.] dropped to around 22,000 on average by mid-May and have stayed almost steady over the last four weeks. Nationwide more than 800 people continue to die day after day.”

Officials in many states and cities are considering new lockdowns to address the rebound of new infections. In New York, where new cases are dropping but the total caseload still outpaces any other state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he may be forced to return to earlier lockdown measures.

Cuomo said the state had received 25,000 complaints about businesses violating existing restrictions. “There is a very real possibility that we would roll back the reopening in those areas,” he threatened.

Meanwhile, mass political activity continues to take place despite the virus’s resurgence: tens of thousands have marched for racial equality throughout the country, while President Donald Trump plans to return to the campaign trail this weekend.

Trump will hold his first campaign rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday; he postponed the event from Friday to avoid conflicting with Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S. However, the city’s top health official said he  would prefer that the president not hold the rally at all.

“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dr. Bruce Dart, the director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, told the Tulsa World. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that more than 800,000 tickets have already been requested for the rally, many times more than the BOK Center’s capacity; prospective attendees were required to agree that they wouldn’t sue the president’s re-election campaign if they contract coronavirus at the event.

The Rundown

Atlanta police chief resigns after fatal shooting: “An Atlanta police officer who fatally shot a black man in his back Friday night was fired, officials said Sunday, as the Georgia man’s death sparked a fresh wave of anger over police departments’ use of deadly force in interactions with black people.”

“Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told CNN on Sunday that the former officer, Garrett Rolfe, could face a murder charge, and a decision on whether to bring charges could come as early as this week. Atlanta’s police chief, Erika Shields, resigned on Saturday.”

“The killing in a Wendy’s parking lot added a rallying cry to protests demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism that have fanned out nationwide and internationally from Minneapolis since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in that city. Over the weekend, protests coincided with Pride Month for the LGBTQ community as demonstrators rallied in support of black transgender rights in Brooklyn, while several streets in Los Angeles closed down for a demonstration that combined racial-injustice protests with the city’s annual pride march for gay and transgender rights.” (Wall Street Journal)

--- Washington Post: “Senate Republicans are planning to release a police reform proposal on Wednesday that addresses officer misconduct, training and tactics, and a system for local departments to better report cases in which officers’ actions result in serious injury or death, two of the legislation’s authors said Sunday.”

“Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who have been working on the GOP’s answer to a bill released by House Democrats last week, both endorsed a ban on chokeholds Sunday. But while Scott stressed on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that both chambers of Congress and the White House ‘want to tackle the issue,’ it is not clear whether such a ban will appear in the GOP bill.”

. . . “In a bid to hold individual officers more accountable for their actions, the House Democrats’ proposal includes a provision to change the doctrine of ‘qualified immunity,’ making it easier to sue officers who ‘recklessly’ violate civil rights, whether or not they did so with intent. Scott called that provision a ‘poison pill’ during a Sunday interview on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation.’”

Trump, Senate Republicans trail in polls: “A months-long precipitous slide in the polls, an unfocused message, and deepening doubts about his ability to soothe a nation wracked by a trio of crises have suddenly recast President Donald Trump as an undisputed underdog in the 2020 campaign.”

“It’s even raised the possibility that if conditions don’t improve, Trump could lose decisively to Joe Biden in an election less than five months away, according to more than a dozen interviews with leading GOP and Democratic officials and strategists — potentially upending long-held expectations that the White House race would be determined by razor-thin margins in a small handful of states.” (McClatchy)

--- Des Moines Register: “Fresh off a four-way primary race that drew millions in outside spending, Democrat Theresa Greenfield leads Republican Sen. Joni Ernst by 3 percentage points in Iowa’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows.”

“According to the poll, 46% of likely voters say they would back Greenfield if the election were held today, and 43% say they would back Ernst.”

Why it matters: If Ernst is trailing a political newcomer in a state Trump won by 9% in 2016, it spells bad news for others GOP incumbents in states markedly less favorable to Republicans, including Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Susan Collins in Maine.

Virginia congressman defeated at GOP convention: “Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), who became a target of conservatives after officiating a same-sex wedding last year, was ousted Saturday by GOP voters in a drive-thru district convention.”

“Convention-goers picked Bob Good, a former county supervisor who ran to Riggleman’s right, especially on social issues, to be the party’s nominee in the general election. Good won the support of 58 percent of delegates who voted on Saturday, the district GOP chairman, Melvin Adams, said.”

. . . “Riggleman decried the convention, which was delayed from earlier this spring because of the coronavirus, as a corrupt process that disenfranchised GOP voters in the district. As a safety precaution, some 3,500 delegates were asked to drive outside the church in Lynchburg to cast votes between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.”

--- Riggleman is the third House incumbent to be denied renomination so far this cycle, joining Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Steve King (R-IA). The next potential ouster to watch is in New York, where longtime Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel faces a primary challenge from progressive middle school principal Jamaal Bowman on June 23.


*All times Eastern

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will have lunch together at 12:30 p.m. and will participate in a roundtable on “fighting for America’s seniors” at 2:30 p.m.

Vice President Pence will also lead a video teleconference with governors on “COVID-19 response and recovery” at 4 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. and continue consideration of the Great American Outdoors Act, which would create a $9.5 billion fund to be used over the next five years for the maintenance of national parks and other public lands. The bill would also provide $900 million annually for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, ensuring permanent funding for the program.

The House will meet at 3 p.m. for a pro forma session.

The Supreme Court will release orders at 9:3 a.m. and opinions at 10 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will attend a virtual fundraiser. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is also slated to attend as a special guest.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, please consider donating to support me and my work, listening to my podcast with St. Louis Public Radio, and spreading the word about the newsletter to your friends and family. If this newsletter was forwarded to you, go to wakeuptopolitics.com to subscribe and learn more.