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Wake Up To Politics - June 15, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Trump’s revenge campaign scores a win
Wake Up To Politics - June 15, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 146 days away. Election Day 2024 is 874 days away.

Election Night takeaways: Trump’s revenge campaign scores a victory

Here are the top results you need to know from last night’s elections:

President Trump’s campaign to oust Republican impeachment backers scored its first victory. Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) lost to a Trump-endorsed primary challenger, state Rep. Russell Fry. The results were a blowout: Fry took 51% of the vote, to Rice’s 25%.

Rice was the first of the 10 Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment last year to face a primary challenger backed by the former president; his loss is a win for Trump’s revenge campaign and a warning sign for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and the three other GOP impeachment backers who face heated primary challenges soon. (Four of the other pro-impeachment Republicans retired rather than face primary fights; one other did not face a Trump-backed challenge.)

However, Trump stumbled in another South Carolina race: Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) was renominated, despite the ex-president backing a primary challenge by former state Rep. Katie Arrington. Mace did not support impeachment, but she angered the former president by criticizing his actions on January 6 and supporting the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the Capitol riot.

Mace still won the GOP nod on Tuesday, with 53% of the vote to Arrington’s 45%. Mace had been backed by former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, giving the Trump-era UN ambassador a victory against her onetime boss as they both mull presidential runs in 2024.

Rep. Tom Rice (left) beat back a Trump-endorsed primary challenger on Tuesday. (Rice’s office)

Republicans flipped a Democratic-held House seat in south Texas. In a special election to succeed Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), who resigned in March to become a lobbyist, Republican respiratory care practitioner Mayra Flores triumphed over Democratic former county commissioner Dan Sanchez. The GOP win came in a district that President Biden won by four percentage points in 2020.

The results will have little long-lasting impact: Flores will have to run again in November to win a full term, and by then, new redistricting lines will be in place which will make the district much more Democratic territory. But her victory — with 51% of the vote to Sanchez’s 43% — is a sure sign of GOP strength and enthusiasm heading into the midterms, especially among Hispanics (who make up more than 80% of the district).

Flores will be the first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress.

A leading 2020 election denier got one stop closer to overseeing elections in Nevada. Secretary of state races are normally fairly sleepy. But after the 2020 election and former President Trump’s false claims of fraud, they are some of the most consequential races on the ballot this year, since they are often the officials who have control over election administration (and certification) in their states.

In Nevada, a battleground state which Biden barely won in 2020, Republicans nominated former state assemblyman Jim Marchant as their secretary of state nominee on Tuesday. Marchant was a key figure in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 results, even serving as a member of the pro-Trump “alternate slate” of electors put forward in Nevada.

Marchant, who previously spoke at a conference hosted by leaders of the QAnon conspiracy movement, said he would not have certified Biden’s 2020 win if he had been secretary of state at the time. He is also the leader of a nationwide group of Trump-allied secretary of state candidates seeking to win election posts across the country.

Republican Mayra Flores won a House special election on Tuesday. (Flores campaign)

More results to know:

  • Trump-endorsed former state attorney general Adam Laxalt, the son and grandson of senators, won the Republican nomination to face Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in the fall. It will be one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.
  • Clark county sheriff Joe Lombardo, also a Trump endorsee, won the GOP nod to run against Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV), another marquee race in the Nevada battleground.
  • Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) easily fended off a primary challenge from activist Amy Vilela, whose campaign ahd been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and other leading progressives. Titus dispatched her rival, 82% to 18%.
  • Former Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) will be the Democratic candidate running against Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC), a race less likely to be competitive.

More news you should know

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed the bipartisan gun safety agreement. “For myself, I’m comfortable with the framework and if the legislation ends up reflecting what the framework indicates, I’ll be supportive,” the GOP leader said at a press conference on Tuesday.

McConnell’s endorsement is a major boost to the deal, which already has the support of 10 Senate Republicans — and will likely pick up even more with the leader’s support. The deal’s negotiators are racing to turn it into legislative text in the coming days, to allow the bill to be brought to a vote next week.

The House approved a bill providing security to the families of Supreme Court justices. The measure was approved in a 396-27 vote, with the only opposition coming from Democrats. After passing the Senate unanimously last month, the bill now heads to President Biden’s desk.

The January 6 committee was scheduled to hold a hearing today, but canceled it. Members of the panel said the session, which had been slated to focus on former President Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election, was postponed to give staffers more time to prepare video presentations. The committee is now scheduled to meet next on Thursday.

  • Related: Per Punchbowl News, the committee has footage showing that a man who received a tour of the Capitol complex by a GOP lawmaker on January 5 was outside the Capitol threatening lawmakers on January 6. The Capitol Police said this week that the tour was innocent and did not enter the Capitol itself.
Mitch McConnell endorsed a gun control compromise on Tuesday. (Gage Skidmore)

What you’re saying

From time to time, I like to include smart responses — and pushback — to the newsletter that I receives from readers.

This email (which I’ve lightly edited) came in response to Tuesday’s newsletter, which discussed the question of whether former President Trump truly believes his false claims about the 2020 election. As I wrote, that question could be central to possibly charging Trump under some criminal statues — but this reader (an attorney, if you couldn’t tell) argues that for other statutes, his own beliefs don’t make a difference:

It really should not matter, as far as alleged criminal conduct goes, whether Trump believed the Big Lie, that is, that the election was stolen. There appears to be enough evidence for an indictment that he participated in a conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) and (k), which criminalizes “corruptly obstructing or impeding—or attempting to obstruct or impede—an official proceeding,” here, the certification of electors’ votes on January 6, 2021.

“Even had he somehow genuinely believed he won,” this Brookings Instituion report notes, “it would still be improper for Trump to attempt to stop the congressional count if he knew all legitimate and lawful means to contest the election had been tried and had failed.”

The January 6 Committee has offered evidence that Trump knew he’d lost 60 times in court and in individual key-state recounts. Yet he still pushed supporters, and Pence, to thwart the official certification of electors’ votes.

Of course, even though the evidence appears plenty strong enough to support charging Trump with one or more federal crimes, political pressure and fear of his most devoted supporters engaging in more violence might trump indicting him.

What’s going on in government today

All times Eastern. You can watch an event by clicking on the time.

President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am), have lunch with Vice President Harris (12:15 pm), and host and deliver remarks at a reception for Pride Month (4 pm).

First Lady Biden will also attend the Pride Month event, along with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

Vice President Harris will join Biden for lunch (12:15 pm), meet with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to commemorate the program’s 10th anniversary (2 pm), and attend the Pride Month reception along with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff (4 pm).

DACA is an Obama-era program that protects “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as minors — from deportation. As the program turns 10, it faces a number of persistent legal challengers.

— White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her daily press briefing (3 pm).

— The Senate will convene (10 am) and hold a cloture vote (11:45 am) to advance H.R. 3967, the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The bipartisan bill, known as the Honoring our PACT Act, would offer health care access and benefits to veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service.

Later, the chamber will hold a procedural vote on S.Con.Res. 41 (5:15 pm), a resolution by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) which would cut six pennies for every dollar of federal spending in order to balance the federal budget in five years. The measure is unlikely to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

After voting on the resolution, the Senate will vote to confirm Democratic megadonor Alan Leventhal as the U.S. ambassador to Denmark.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is the first openly gay Cabinet secretary. (Gage Skidmore)

— The House will convene (10 am) and then debate and vote on H.R. 2543, the Federal Reserve Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Economic Justice Act.

The bill would require the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank, to “carry out its duties in a manner that supports the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in employment, income, wealth, and access to affordable credit.”

— Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference (2:30 pm) after the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FMOC), a group of Federal Reserve officials who oversee key facets of American monetary policy.

Powell is expected to announce that the FMOC has decided to rise interest rates again, in a bid to combat rising inflation. Per the Wall Street Journal, the rate hike might be the Fed’s largest since 1994.

— The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee will meet (8:30 am) to discuss and vote on Moderna’s request for its Covid-19 vaccine to be authorized for use by children between 6 months and 5 years of age.

The panel’s recommendations do not represent the FDA’s final decision on an authorization, but the agency generally follows its advice. Just yesterday, the panel recommended that Moderna’s vaccine be made available to children between 6 and 17 years of age.

— Congressional committee hearings include sessions on protecting children from gun violence (10 am), reducing gun violence generally (11:30 am), and the impact of corporate consolidation on the baby formula shortage (2:30 pm).

— The Supreme Court will release opinions in cases they heard earlier in the term (10 am). The justices have yet to publish opinions in a slew of consequential cases on abortion, guns, and other issues. They generally rule in all the cases from a term by the end of June.

Before I go...

RIP Internet Explorer. Once the dominant browser at the dawn of the Internet age, “the 27-year-old application now joins BlackBerry phones, dial-up modems and Palm Pilots in the dustbin of tech history,” the Associated Press writes.

Today is the browser’s last day before being shut down by Microsoft.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the relic of the early Internet still had some users — who are now mourning the loss of the familiar browser they have used for decades. If you’re reading this newsletter on Internet Explorer: I’m sorry for your loss.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe