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Wake Up To Politics - September 2, 2020

It’s Wednesday, September 2, 2020. Election Day is 62 days away. The first presidential debate is 27 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Markey fends off Kennedy primary challenge

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey overcame a Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Joe Kennedy III on Tuesday, marking a victory for the party’s left flank and an unprecedented loss for one of the nation’s most storied political dynasties.

Markey currently leads Kennedy by double digits, 55.5% to 44.5%, with about 88% of the expected vote in. It is the first time a member of the Kennedy family has lost an election in Massachusetts, ending a decades-long streak initiated by the congressman’s great-uncles John F. and Ted, and continued by his father Joe II.

When Kennedy announced his primary challenge last year, he was viewed as the odds-on favorite to win the seat. But Markey slowly gained the upper hand, winning a key endorsement from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and rebranding himself into a progressive hero after his co-authorship of the Green New Deal.

“The genius of Markey’s campaign was that it took his biggest vulnerability and used it as an opportunity,” wrote Russell Berman of The Atlantic last night. “The senator didn’t have much of a political identity in Massachusetts, so his supporters created one for him.”

Despite their relative ages and tenures — Kennedy, 39, has served in Congress for almost eight years; Markey, 74, has done so for nearly 45 — Markey became an unlikely favorite among young voters, who opted for a more liberal voice over a closer generational peer.  

“Tonight is more than just a celebration of a movement,” Markey declared in his victory speech, shortly after Kennedy called him to concede. “It is a reaffirmation of the need to have a movement, a progressive movement, of young people demanding radical change, demanding justice. A movement giving voice and power to young people when for far too long they were ignored.”

While the Senate results were a significant victory for Ocasio-Cortez and her faction of the party — another proxy win against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had endorsed Kennedy — progressives faltered in another closely-watched Bay State congressional race.

Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, a longtime incumbent and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, defeated a primary challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, a younger, more liberal rival. Neal is a close ally of Pelosi’s, while Morse was backed by the Justice Democrats, the same outfit that powered Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 victory and successful primary challengers like Cori Bush in Missouri this year.

The Rundown

— In a speech in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, President Donald Trump sought to blame Democratic rival Joe Biden and “far-left politicians” for the violence that has erupted in the city since the police shooting of Jacob Blake. He made a series of false and misleading claims during the visit, including promoting a baseless conspiracy theory about a plane of “looters,” “anarchists,” and “rioters” attempting to disrupt the Republican National Convention last week.

— The Trump administration announced a four-month moratorium on evictions, providing protection for Americans who are struggling to pay their rent amid the coroanvirus pandemic. The order, which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), will apply to individuals who earn less than $99,000 a year and will aid the nearly 40 million Americans currently at risk of eviction.

— The Department of Homeland Security withheld publication in July of an intelligence bulletin warning of a Russian scheme to promote false “allegations about the poor mental health” of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Bide, ABC News reported this morning. The analysis, which would have been distributed to law enforcement agencies but not released publicly, was shelved around the same time President Trump was making similar claims about Biden’s mental acuity.  

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke on the phone Tuesday, attempting to reignite stalled negotiations over another coronavirus relief package. The two sides remain about $1 trillion apart in their proposals. As the stimulus talks drag on, Congress is also facing an approaching deadline for another key piece of legislation: September 30, when government funding expires unless a new spending package is approved.


— “U.S. says it won’t join WHO-linked effort to develop, distribute coronavirus vaccine” (Washington Post)

— “Russia again targeting Americans with disinformation, Facebook and Twitters say” (New York Times)

— “Trump blows past the intelligence to accuse China of backing Biden” (Politico)

— “Melania Trump used private email accounts while in the White House, says former colleague and friend” (Washington Post)

— “Court temporarily blocks New York prosecutor from obtaining Trump tax returns” (NBC News)


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will travel to Wilmington, North Carolina. He will deliver remarks at 2 p.m. on designating Wilmington as the first World War II Heritage City in the United States.

The House and Senate are on recess.

The Supreme Court is on summer recess.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will receive a briefing from education leaders and experts in Wilmington, Delaware. Then, at 1:15 p.m., he will deliver remarks in Wilmington on his plan to reopen schools.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will attend a virtual roundtable event targeting Minnesota voters, featuring Sen. Tina Smith, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, and other politicians in the state.

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