Politico United States of America
Political news about Congress, the White House, campaigns, lobbyists and issues.
Facebook missteps stoke fears of long political ad blackout online - POLITICO
Campaigns and groups worry they won't be able to run ads on Google or Facebook for post-Nov. 3 runoff elections, and possibly beyond.
Democrats, in particular, are concerned that the undefined timeline for restarting online ads could hamper efforts to raise money and voter awareness around potential Senate runoffs in Georgia and Mississippi in January. Others noted that the policies will make it more difficult for campaigns to raise legal funds for recounts. One Democratic operative affiliated with a Georgia Senate campaign reached out to Googles representative for advice on budgeting advertising for the expected January runoff in the state, but Google advised that they should not budget for that spending at all setting off alarm bells inside the party that the ban may extend well into 2021, according to a person familiar with the exchange. They went from implying it would be a week or so, and [now] theyve stopped implying that and they are using the words like indefinitely, said Maddie Kriger, director of digital media at Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC that had nearly 600 pre-approved ads taken down by Facebook this week. Its super concerning that there [could] be elections happening that we cant communicate to voters around. An official with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also said that the tech giants have been intentionally vague about when they would start running new political ads again, after initially giving the committee the impression that the bans would be short-term. "Were deeply concerned that at this late date, its still unknown when and how political ads will resume, Scott Fairchild, the DSCC executive director, said in a statement shared with POLITICO. It is their responsibility to share this information with candidates, campaigns and their users, and we expect immediate answers. Representatives of Facebook and Google said that their political ad bans were temporary. Our intention is to block political and issue ads only for a short period of time, a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement. As part of our efforts to protect the integrity of this election, we are temporarily blocking the creation of any new political and issue ads during the final week of the election and all political and issue ads in the elections immediate aftermath." In early October, Sarah Schiff, a Facebook product manager, told reporters that after all social issue, electoral and political ads are paused after the polls close on Nov. 3, advertisers can expect this to last for a week, so this is subject to change and we will notify advertisers when this policy is lifted, noting that they are temporarily stopping these ads after the election to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse. For Google, its sensitive events policy which will begin after polls close on Election Day and prevent advertisers from being able to run ads referencing candidates or the election was also deployed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, initially blocking Covid-related ads to prevent misinformation and price gouging. Eventually, Google allowed ads around coronavirus to start running. Given the likelihood of delayed election results this year, when polls close on November 3, we will pause ads referencing the 2020 election, the candidates, or its outcome, said Charlotte Smith, a spokeswoman for Google. This is a temporary measure, and well notify advertisers when this policy is lifted. But without a firm end date, some digital consultants are now privately speculating that the tech giants may be looking to get out of the political ad game, as they confront a public relations headache and concerns about online misinformation. A Senate hearing Wednesday illustrated how deep anger with big tech companies runs in both parties, with Sen. Ted Cruz pressing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on whether his platform had the ability to influence elections. When Dorsey said no, Cruz shot back: Why do you block anything? A Democratic digital strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly, said theres an extreme level of concern that political ads are going to be banned outright. Another Republican digital consultant said hes surprised they havent already banned political ads to avoid the headache, but if they do, Congress will probably be more willing to regulate them. A total ban on political advertising by Facebook and Google would be catastrophic, said Eric Wilson, a GOP digital consultant who worked on Marco Rubios 2016 presidential campaign. Together, they account for the vast majority of online advertising. This would shut off candidates, PACs, and issue advocacy groups from reaching voters. But Wilson, echoing others, noted that just looking at the revenue Facebook has generated from political ads this year, itd be gross malpractice on behalf of shareholders if they shut that off. Ultimately, I think Facebook likes to make money and theres lots of money in politics, said Ryan Alexander, a Democratic digital strategist. Facebook drew sharp criticism from political groups and operatives this week after initiating its pre-election ad blackout. The process arbitrarily removed pre-approved ads from its platform, cutting off key messaging to voters in the crucial final days before the election. We are aware that a subset of ads may show as paused, read a statement Facebook sent to advertisers on Tuesday, which was shared with POLITICO. Any ads that met the criteria to run during the final campaign will be eligible to run once we've resolved any data lags. We apologize for any inconvenience. But Facebook has not yet given advertisers any clarity about what caused the removals, acknowledging to them that it was a technical glitch, consultants said. Rob Leathern, Facebooks director of product management, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the platform was investigating issues into ads being paused incorrectly and that they were working quickly on these fixes. But several consultants and groups said they were still facing challenges in returning their ads to the platform well into Wednesday. Facebook noted, however, that while some ads may have been pulled because of technical issues, still others may have been pulled down because of user error and not complying with their policy. Campaigns and outside groups scrambled to upload ads into Facebooks system before the ban on new ads began. Some of them tried to anticipate the future so they could run closer to the election, including ads from President Donald Trump about GDP numbers set to be released on Thursday, or ads from groups like the ACLU encouraging voters to stay in line after polls close. Nevertheless, many of those pre-loaded ads were among those that got removed. This is a clusterfuck, said Annie Levene, a Democratic digital consultant. Weve been communicating with a group of the electorate for persuasion or for [get-out-the-vote] for weeks, millions of dollars have been sunk into it, and when those ads disappear, we lose the ability to communicate with those people, and were losing precious hours, potentially days. A DSCC official said that just one week out from Election Day, the DSCC, along with several of its most competitive campaigns in Montana, North Carolina and Texas were blocked from running ads, issues that still hadnt been resolved as of Wednesday afternoon. The official also noted that the poorly defined policy has implications for both fundraising and voter outreach after Nov. 3. The effects of Facebooks pre-election policy are running all the way down the ballot, from both presidential campaigns to state legislative races. In a state legislative race that only has 30,000 voters in a media market of more than a million, you can micro-target [on Facebook], so to lose that is problematic, said David Tackett, a Republican consultant who works on a slate of state legislative races in Oklahoma and saw some of his pre-approved ads pulled. And to find out a week before the election that 15 to 20 percent of your budget cant be spent on what you planned? Thats extremely frustrating. This is a site-wide issue thats affecting everyone, said one Republican working with a major outside group. Facebook, meanwhile, is going dark on people, the person said. Both the Biden and the Trump campaigns confirmed that they had pre-approved ads removed during Facebooks policy implementation. But the Trump campaign also created new ads after the ban was supposed to go into effect on Oct. 27, HuffPost reported. The campaign was able to create ads saying Election Day is today, which cut against Facebooks recommendations that advertisers only say Vote on November 3 instead of Vote Today. Facebook removed most of the new ads after being contacted by HuffPost, the site reported. The political digital ad ecosystem has already faced massive upheaval over the last two years. Google limited the targeting options political advertisers have on its platform at the end of 2019. Facebook declined to take the same step earlier this year, but over the summer, Facebook gave individual users the option to opt out of seeing political ads altogether. Twitter, a smaller player in the digital ad space, outright banned political ads toward the end of 2019, and Adobe followed suit on its ad platform over the summer. At the time, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that hed also considered banning political ads altogether, but chose not to, noting that his platform would err on the side of greater expression. Digital strategists were united in their calls for more clarity from the tech platforms. For the sake of both parties, lay down the ground rules and then keep those in place through the general election, said Tim Cameron, a GOP consultant who also dealt with several ad disruptions. Youd think they'd have been able to tell us something in the first quarter of this year about how theyd handle this. Theyre trying to address issues from 2016, and its 2020, Cameron said. Steven Overly contributed reporting.
'Who the hell elected you?': Cruz blasts Twitter CEO - POLITICO
Ted Cruz accused Twitter of forcing users, including media outlets, to “genuflect and obey your dictates if they wish to communicate with the American people.”
"Who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?" Cruz asked Dorsey, asserting that Twitter was functioning as "a Democratic super PAC." While he focused most of his ire on Twitter, whose conduct he said has been by far the most egregious, Cruz declared that he views all three companies represented at the hearing which alsoincluded the heads of Facebook and Google as the single greatest threat to free speech in America and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections. Cruz slammed Twitter for initially blocking users from posting links to the New York Post story, a move Twitter reversed within 24 hours and which Dorsey insisted he thought was a mistake. Twitter's action resulted in the suspension of high-profile Twitter accounts, including that of President Donald Trump's campaign and the Post itself. The senator noted that the Posts Twitter account is still suspended, though Dorsey said the paper canunlock its account and tweet the same story out as long as it deleted its initial tweets.
Senate Democrat to accuse Republicans of 'bullying' tech CEOs to help Trump - POLITICO
“What is happening here is a disgrace,” Sen. Brian Schatz plans to say, foregoing questions in what he considers a sham hearing.
The Democratic lawmaker will forgo asking tech CEOs questions given what he calls a disgrace and sham of a proceeding. Instead he will explain at length what he sees as GOP coordination to intimidate the tech industry over the last six months, singling out President Donald Trump (for his May executive order aimed at cracking down on social media and tweets about repealing techs liability shield); the Justice Department (for offering a legislative plan to narrow online liability protections and suing Google over antitrust violations); Hill Republicans (for trumpeting GOP-only bills targeting techs statutory safeguards); and the Federal Communications Commission (where Trump killed the nomination of a GOP commissioner who questioned whether the government should police online speech and FCC Chair Ajit Pai is planning a rulemaking to target the tech industry, which the administration requested). Schatz will also argue that the attacks are effective, causing the tech companies to have bent over backwards trying to disprove allegations of anti-conservative bias by hiring GOP operatives and courting GOP leaders. Those actions have influenced how they treat right-wing and progressive voices online, hell argue, in ways that favor the former and hurt the latter. Simply put, the Republicans have been successful at working the refs, Schatz will say. And so, during one of the most consequential elections in American politics, my colleagues are trying to run this play again. And its BS. The tech companies have said they do not make calls based on the political bent of content and independent analysts have found no evidence of systemic bias on the platforms.
MAGA scrambles to repair the Hunter Biden narrative - POLITICO
Instead of publishing the more salacious allegations, conservative media has been more focused on covering alleged suppression of the story.
When Breitbart did touch on new revelations, it preemptively distanced itself, carefully framing a fresh trove of emails as an independent investigation by Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, the 2015 look into the Clinton familys extensive foreign financial ties that made several overstated or inaccurate claims. So the story has gone elsewhere. Videos apparently showing Hunter Biden in compromising positions, allegedly obtained from the laptop, have been uploaded to a Chinese website owned partially by Steve Bannon, the former Trump aide who has been helping Giuliani. The explicit photos ended up on Gateway Pundit, a site known for promoting conspiracy theories about various Democratic figures. An email allegedly tying Hunter Biden to a Kazakh oligarch ended up in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, with only a passing mention of Biden. Other details have been published by outlets connected to prominent conservative super PACs. Ultimately, the bulk of fresh allegations have been reduced to public statements from Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Bidens former business partner, who found a willing partner in Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night. Bobulinski got an extensive, 45-minute segment to lay out his case to Carlsons millions of viewers. Yet elsewhere, Giuliani has groused on his podcast, Common Sense, that the public can only find out the truth from him, because I'm not allowed on main television to tell you these things. Its not the way Trumpworld would have wanted it. As much disdain as the presidents supporters have for the media, their ultimate goal was to place a story in a well-known, conservative-leaning outlet that conclusively showed Biden profiting off his sons business deals. Doing so would simultaneously establish the conservative medias journalistic prowess and bolster MAGA claims of mainstream media bias. But no A-list conservative outlet has published anything living up to those claims. Instead, these outlets have turned their firepower toward other reliable topics: social media bias; deep state plots; and the medias failure to cover a story they themselves have backed away from, leaving Giuliani and Bobulinski to sell the story to the fringe. I think we're seeing a tactic of something like flooding the zone, said Chris Loofte, the senior editor of First Draft, a nonprofit that works to combat disinformation. And it could be backfiring, in that all of these leads are circulating, but none of them are really getting all the attention that would be required for an outlet like The Wall Street Journal to give them any attention. A group of Trump allies initially tried to give the story to The Wall Street Journal in the hopes of an exposé, according to The New York Times. But as the Journal reviewed the Hunter Biden documents, Giuliani and Bobulinski started to push every part of the story everywhere first in the New York Post, then across OAN, Newsmax and whatever outlet would take their content. Then a second trove of emails dropped, given to Schweizer and published on Breitbart. But with bits and pieces of the entire Hunter Biden narrative floating across the conservative mediasphere, few people on the right have been able to explain who, exactly, did what, on behalf of whom. Last week, Sebastian Gorka, a former White House official and conservative radio host, asked Bannon on his radio show, when the bombshell was coming. Steve, I implore you, we are 15 days out from the election. When is the big shoe drop going to drop? he asked. At that point, though, the majority of the Hunter story had, in fact, already dropped. Even the president himself has had a hard time citing the convoluted storyline, making arcane references during the last debate, randomly bringing up pieces of the story during his rallies, and referring, frequently, to the laptop from hell but not explaining whats actually on the device. You know the laptop? You know what its called? I said it last night in Wisconsin. Its called the laptop from hell. Right? Trump declared Sunday night at a rally in Manchester, N.H. That laptop. That laptop is not good. Angelo Carusone, a longtime monitor of conservative media and president of the progressive group Media Matters for America, said the situation has all the ingredients of a scandal, but that no one can agree on exactly what the scandal is. They have this diary, but it doesn't actually say anything. They have these videos, but they don't really demonstrate anything about Joe Biden, so most mainstream outlets aren't going to pick it up, Carusone said. But in order to scandalize it, you would need Fox News and the rest of the right-wing echo chamber to sing from that page, and they're not. There is, Loofte argued, a straightforward problem with it. There hasn't been evidence in those emails that any of these deals actually happened, or that Hunters relationship with Joe was the deciding factor, Loofte said. I'm not commenting on the story itself. I'm just talking about the sourcing. I mean, it's just these emails. But the insinuation of the story, and its promotion by the president, is enough to keep the emotional core of the narrative alive. Stories about the Hunter story keep popping up on lesser right-wing blogs, and coverage about the elites alleged censorship of the story dominates the conservative news cycle. That's a side effect of a broader trait of media consumption online, which is that recommendation algorithms tend to direct people to material that's already familiar to them, Loofte said. The timeline is certainly working against Trumps allies, though. About 70 million Americans have already cast their votes. And with less than a week left before the election, the window for conservatives to center around a singular narrative about Hunter Bidens alleged crimes and how they actually connect with Joe Biden is closing by the day. On Tuesday night, Bobulinski made his final pitch to America. Appearing on Tucker Carlsons Fox News show, he laid out his claims about the Biden familys business dealings with China in 2017, flashing emails, texts and documents. It was his attempt to paint a coherent narrative: Joe Biden and the Biden family are compromised, he told Carlson. The appearance brought immediate gratification to the conservative world, ranging from calls to investigate Biden to calls for the story to break out of the right-wing echo chamber. One rule should govern: However news organizations dealt w/ allegations of Russian collusion w/ @realDonaldTrump , it should deal w/these, tweeted prominent conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. Still, over on the Fox Business Network, Giuliani was storming off the set of Lisa Kennedy Montgomerys show mid-interview, after the host compared his allegations to the mostly unverified Russian dossier. You are now repeating lying propaganda, he shouted, tearing off his microphone and flapping his hands in anger. I think our interview is now over!
Zeta cuts short early voting in Florida Republican strongholds - POLITICO
Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties will have truncated hours.
Walton County, another GOP stronghold, has not yet cut early voting hours, but is monitoring the situation, said state Rep. Brad Drake, a Republican who represents the county. In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, early voting sites will close at 3 p.m. Wednesday and reopen at 11 a.m. Thursday at the earliest, depending on the storms damage. Normal early voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., meaning there will be eight fewer hours of early voting in the counties. Early voting in Okaloosa county will close two hours early Wednesday and open two hours later than normal Thursday, county Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux said. Its an abundance of caution for us, Lux said in an interview. Hurricane Sally just in September weakened a bunch of trees and power lines, so we need to be careful, but I do think we will get back up and running quickly. It is not the regions first time dealing with a hurricane during election season. In 2018, Hurricane Michael, which reached Category 5 strength, hammered the Florida Panhandle just a month before Election Day, but voters still turned out in large numbers. If we know anything after Hurricane Michael its that northwest Florida is so patriotic [its] residents will vote no matter what, said state Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola). Im just worried that a storm will hit a community still reeling from Sally, wildfires and Covid shutdowns. In Hurricane Michael's aftermath then-Gov. Rick Scott extended early voting hours, allowing polls to open earlier and stay open through Election Day. Gov. Ron DeSantis spokesperson Fred Piccolo did not immediately respond to questions about whether the governor is considering any changes. The storm could complicate the GOPs emphasis this cycle on early in-person voting, a practice the party traditionally has dominated, but which has fallen off drastically amid persistent criticism from Trump that it is a vehicle for voter fraud. Democrats have cast 614,547 more mail ballots than Republicans, but the GOP has outpaced Democrats by 315,526 votes since in-person early voting began Oct. 20.
Meet the senators who will be in charge if Dems win the Senate - POLITICO
These 10 senators are poised to lead committees if Republicans lose control of the Senate.
Potential committee chairs include 79-year-old Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at Budget; 80-year-old Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at Appropriations; 87-year-old Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) at Judiciary; Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) at Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Mark Warner (D-Va.) at Intelligence; and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) at Foreign Relations. The disparate group shows how seniority pays off in the Senate, where if you last long enough, you can end up with a gavel. Democrats will tackle a wide array of issues if they control the chamber come January. For starters, they are expected to begin rolling back many of the Trump administrations actions on everything from climate change to immigration, health care and taxes. And Democrats, likely with a fellow party member in the Oval Office, would push their own progressive agenda, including oversight of tech giants, infrastructure, energy and environmental programs. Heres who would have critical roles in a Democratic-controlled Senate. Robert Menendez Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., gives his opening statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. | Susan Walsh/AP Often an antagonist of the progressive left when it comes to foreign policy, Menendez would reclaim the Foreign Relations Committees gavel, which he held from 2013-15. The New Jersey Democrat was acquitted on federal corruption charges two years ago, and he has challenged the Trump administration on an array of national security crises that have arisen over the past four years, including the presidents decision to pull U.S. forces out of northern Syria. In an interview, Menendez said he wants to restore the centrality of the committee and its importance in foreign policy the panel has largely taken a back seat in recent years and will prioritize a rebuilding of the State Department, which has seen its budget reduced. Ron Wyden Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., pauses while speaking on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. | Alex Brandon/AP In a Democratic Senate, the Oregon senator would take the reins of the Finance Committee, a powerful panel that had a critical role in shepherding the GOP tax cuts through the chamber. Under a President Biden, Democrats would roll back many of those tax cuts and Wyden will play a pivotal role in making that happen. Wyden said in an interview that he has discussed the subject with Bidens team. He also wants to focus on pandemic relief, which remains stalled. Were going to make sure that the lesson of the Great Recession is learned you dont take your foot off the gas in the middle of an economic recovery, Wyden said of his potential chairmanship. Dianne Feinstein Sen. Dianne Feinstein listens as Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2020. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Pool/Getty Images Whether Feinstein is chair of the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress is still an open question, although it seems unlikely at this point after her performance during the past several weeks. The California Democrat infuriated progressive outside groups during the panelsSupreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett for being civil and deferential to the nominee and Republicans when the left furious over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnells rush to fill the seat before Election Day wanted the exact opposite. There remains speculation about whether Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)will replace Feinstein atop the committee, or whether she will step down of her own volition. Feinsteins retirement is another possibility. Neither Feinstein nor her office would comment about her future on the panel. If Feinstein does leave, Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is next in line, although Democratic Caucus rules may prevent him from serving in leadership and as a committee chair simultaneously. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney, is third in line. Bernie Sanders Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivers an address on threats to American democracy at George Washington University on September 24, 2020. | Win McNamee/Getty Images This is a fascinating scenario. The most liberal senator and former White House hopeful, a lawmaker who has long espoused the dramatic expansion of the federal governments role in average Americans lives, is set to take over the Budget Committee gavel. Yet the federal deficit topped $3 trillion this year and is the largest since World War II, and the U.S. economy remains in tatters due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sanders wants to reshape the focus of the Budget panel. Wed create a budget that works for working families, and not the billionaire class, Sanders said in a brief interview when asked about his agenda if he took over as chair. And if Schumer and the Democrats dont get rid of the filibuster, Sanders committee would be involved in crafting reconciliation bills, allowing a potential Biden administration to push tax and spending bills through the Senate on a simple-majority vote. However, if Biden wins, Sanders might not be in the Senate for long. POLITICO reported that Sanders has expressed interest in becoming Labor secretary in a possible Biden administration. But thats far from certain, especially because Vermonts Republican governor, Phil Scott, would be able to appoint a temporary replacement to Sanders seat. Mark Warner Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) returns to the Senate floor following a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 30, 2020. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images As vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has maintained strong relationships across the aisle with the previous chair, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and the current acting chair, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Even as the Intelligence Committee has been the epicenter of several Trump-related controversies over the past four years most notably stemming from Russias interference in the 2016 election Warner has avoided the partisan jabs that have defined the panels counterpart across the Capitol, the House Intelligence Committee. If he becomes chair, the Virginia Democrat will play a critical role in shepherding national security nominees through the Senate including a director of national intelligence and CIA director who are not loyal to a political party or a president. Maria Cantwell Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) speaks at a hearing examining safety certification of jetliners on June 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. | Graeme Jennings, Pool/Getty Images The former tech industry executive, now in her fourth term, is in line to take over the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee if Democrats are victorious. Cantwell, of Washington state, is cautious about efforts to rein in Big Tech, or break up Google, Amazon or Facebook, and she wants to hear more on antitrust concerns surrounding the tech giants. I dont care whos in charge next time, Im going to be talking about how we realize that were in an information age and we prepare for the future, Cantwell said in an interview. We have a president that basically is ignoring the fact, just like along with the pandemic, instead of realizing were in a global economy and an information age and we need to make some adjustments to make sure there are rules in the marketplace and that you invest in job training and education and disruption techniques smoothing out disruptions. Cantwell added: But Im a believer we live in this age, not that you can deny it or put your head in the sand. So I dont care whos in charge, were going to focus on that. Cantwell and Commerce Democrats are releasing a report soon analyzing the impact the tech giants have had on local journalism. Hundreds of local and regional newspapers have disappeared as ad revenue has dried up, while Google and Facebook dominate the online ad market. This issue has become a major concern for those worried that the death of local papers is a threat to democracy. Sherrod Brown Sen. Sherrod Brown leaves the Senate floor during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 27, 2020. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images Brown is an old-school blue-collar Democrat who has spent most of his life in public office. But its clear the financial services industry may not love Brown as chair of the Banking panel. In 2014, when it looked like the Ohio Democrat may become chair, industry officials called it frightening. Six years later, it may be just as scary to them, although progressive Democrats would love it. Brown, who has made a focus of his career pushing for more affordable housing for the middle class, has called for dramatically ramping up rental assistance during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And hes been outspoken on efforts by the Trump administration to weaken fair housing protections. Look for Brown to push both issues if he gets the gavel. First thing: We do a major emergency rental assistance. I mean its all about housing. The word housing has essentially been left out of that committee the last three or four years. So its all about that, he said. Brown clashed with Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and moderate Banking Committee Democrats in 2018 over efforts to weaken Dodd-Frank, the landmark financial regulatory bill. Brown lost that fight, but he wont lose many more as chair. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on August 5, 2020. | Carolyn Kaster, Pool/Getty Images Another old-school politician, Leahy has been serving in the Senate since 1975. If Democrats retake the majority, Leahy would become yet again the Senates president pro tempore the senior-most member of the majority party, a position that puts him third in line to the presidency behind the speaker of the House and vice president. Perhaps most important, though, Leahy would become chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He and his counterpart, fellow octogenarian Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), have a productive working relationship and have shown that they can cut bipartisan deals together. Leahys ascension to the helm of the Appropriations panel also underscores the role of seniority in the Senate. With Leahy atop Appropriations and Sanders chairing Budget, a small state like Vermont would have an outsize impact on federal spending, and it would almost certainly guarantee additional funds for the state. Patty Murray WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 25: U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks as Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) listens during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol February 25, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats held the weekly luncheon to discuss Democratic agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) | Alex Wong/Getty Images Murray, a member of Senate Democratic leadership, would take control of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the principal health care panel in the Senate. With the issue dominating recent elections including this years cycle the Washington state Democrat would be the face of the partys efforts to protect and expand on the Affordable Care Act, which has come under assault from the Trump administration. If Biden wins the White House, the Justice Department will likely drop its effort to invalidate the 2010 law in court, and Biden will work with Senate Democrats to develop a plan that vastly expands Obamacare, including the likely addition of a public option. Gary Peters Sen. Gary Peters speaks during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, September 24, 2020. | Tom Williams, Pool/Getty Images Facing his own reelection fight, the Michigan Democrats ascension to the chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is not yet certain. But Peters goals for the committee, if he becomes chair, are simple: restore bipartisanship. The committee, the Senates chief bipartisan oversight body, has devolved into chaos and distrust over Chair Ron Johnsons (R-Wis.) efforts to investigate Trumps political enemies, including the Biden family and former top Obama administration officials. Peters tends to lay low in the Senate and tout his bipartisan credentials, but he has been forced to take on a role of pushing back against Johnsons investigations, which he says are politically motivated and intended to boost Trumps prospects in the election. I take great pride in finding ways to work in a bipartisan way, Peters said in a brief interview. And the committee has traditionally always worked that way. Burgess Everett contributed to this report.
Twitter labels Trump post about mail ballots as 'disputed' and 'misleading' - POLITICO
The president claimed, without evidence, there were “problems and discrepancies” with mail-in ballots “all over the USA.”
The presidents tweet came as the Supreme Court rejected a six-day extension for absentee ballots in Wisconsin amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the court siding with Republicans and splitting 5-3 along ideological lines. The courts order came just minutes before the Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Trumps third nominee to the high court. Trumps misleading claim on Monday added to his continued assault on mail-in voting. While mail-in ballots have proved to be secure and are already used broadly in several states, the president has issued false and misleading information about the process. In the first presidential debate last month, the president challenged the security of the November election, claiming mail ballots might be manipulated. This is going to be fraud like youve never seen, the president said of the expansion of mail voting during the pandemic, without offering any evidence to support such a broad assertion.
Minnesota GOP Senate candidate undergoing emergency surgery - POLITICO
Former Rep. Jason Lewis is suffering from "a severe internal hernia," according to his campaign.
Former Rep. Jason Lewis makes his concession speech, Nov.. 6, 2018. | Andy Clayton-King/ AP Photo Minnesota Republican Jason Lewis, the party's nominee for Senate, was rushed into emergency surgery Monday to fix a severe internal hernia, his campaign announced in a statement. Lewis, a former one-term congressman, is running against Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, who is running for a full term after winning a special election in 2018. Lewis' campaign manager said in a statement Monday morning that Lewis was rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pain, and doctors determined it required immediate surgery. "Following tests and examination, doctors determined that he is suffering from a severe internal hernia, a diagnosis which they indicated is life-threatening if not treated quickly," said Tom Szymanski, Lewis' campaign manager. "As such, Congressman Lewis was rushed into emergency surgery which he is now undergoing.
Poll: Biden, Trump virtually tied in Georgia - POLITICO
The state’s pair of Senate races are also toss-ups.
Bidens 1-point advantage over the president falls within the surveys margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The previous version of the poll, conducted last month, showed both Biden and Trump with 47 percent support among the states likely voters. According to a RealClearPolitics average of Georgia surveys conducted from Oct. 8-23, Biden is 0.7 percentage points ahead of Trump in general election polling. Trump won Georgias 16 Electoral College votes by 5.7 percentage points in 2016. Republican presidential candidates have carried Georgia in every election since 1992, when Democrat Bill Clinton was victorious there. The latest AJC poll, conducted by the University of Georgias School of Public and International Affairs, also shows that the race for incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdues seat is essentially a toss-up. Democrat Jon Ossoff is supported by 46 percent of likely voters, while 45 percent support Perdue, one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking reelection. Another 4 percent of likely voters support Libertarian Shane Hazel, and 5 percent are undecided. In the special election for incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loefflers seat, a plurality of likely voters surveyed 34 percent support Democrat Raphael Warnock. Republican challenger Doug Collins has the support of 21 percent of likely voters, and 20 percent support Loeffler. An additional 3 percent of likely voters support Libertarian Brian Slowinski, and 14 percent are undecided. The race for Loefflers seat is a special, jungle-style election with a total of 21 candidates on the ballot. If no single candidate wins a majority on Election Day, the races top two vote-getters will face one another in a runoff on Jan. 5, 2021. The AJC poll was conducted Oct. 14-23, surveying 1,145 Georgia likely voters.
GOP Senate majority besieged on multiple fronts - POLITICO
Entering the final week before the election, Democrats are on offense in a broad array of states.
Republicans have poured money into Alaska, Georgia, Kansas and South Carolina in October to shore up their red wall, while races in more expected battlegrounds like Iowa, North Carolina, Maine and Arizona are continuing to see record-shattering spending. Republicans concede Democrats have more paths back to power given the sheer number of competitive states, but the GOP still has a relatively straightforward, if challenging, path to hanging on. Republicans faced bleak polling in early October, with President Donald Trumps poor performance in the first debate and Covid-19 hospitalization depressing GOP voters. Trumps dip, combined with massive Democratic fundraising, led to widespread concerns about a wipeout. But a flood of outside money from big GOP donors and some stabilization in red-leaning states has GOP officials more optimistic about holding the line. Josh Holmes, a top adviser to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Republicans could win in more places than people expect. But, he added, the low-water mark is potentially catastrophic. What was a significant downturn for most Republican candidates over the last couple weeks has sort of rebounded a bit, Holmes said. All of these competitive races are within the margin of error, and you could have a whole bunch of scenarios play out on Election Day. The options are basically endless. Democrats pulled money out of Colorado earlier this month in a sign of confidence in flipping that seat, and Republicans remain heavily favored to regain Alabama. Democrats maintain a clear edge in Arizona, even as some Republicans say their polls show a closer race. Maine is a challenge for Republicans, since Joe Biden is expected to win statewide by a large margin. Democrat Cal Cunningham still holds a slight edge in North Carolina, despite revelations of his extramarital affair, which gave GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and Republicans new life in a race that had been trending against them. GOP Sen. Joni Ernst and Democrat Theresa Greenfield are locked in a dead heat in Iowa, which is the second-most expensive state. Republicans are pressing their case in Michigan, their only other chance besided Alabama to flip a seat, and Democrats are still spending heavily on defense there, even as public polls show them with a lead. The map is very tight. It is on a knife's edge, said one Republican strategist working on Senate races, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. Democrats expansion of the map came thanks to strong recruiting in a handful of unexpected places, incredible fundraising across the board and a nosedive in Trumps numbers over the summer and into the fall. In states like Kansas, Alaska, Montana and South Carolina, Democrats fielded candidates that put races that would otherwise be afterthoughts into play, though recent public polling shows Republicans narrowly leading in all four. I think we have a good shot to take the majority back. Theres more opportunity and more pathways to get there. I think the map has broadened, and that's bad for Republicans, said J.B. Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC, Democrats top super PAC focused on the chamber. The big difference now is you have more competitive races, but they're still competitive. And we expect them to stay close right through Election Day. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo Democratic campaigns have spending advantages over Republicans in 12 of the 13 most competitive states, according to a POLITICO review of data from Advertising Analytics. That candidate spending edge is thanks to the massive small-dollar fundraising that continued into October. But Senate Leadership Fund and its allies mounted a late surge to counter the disparity. As GOP donors honed in on the Senate, SLF raised $142 million from the beginning of September through mid-October, flooding the battlegrounds with new outside spending. Senate Leadership Fund is spending in 11 states, only one of which, Michigan, is an offensive target. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is spending in seven states and recently added a nearly $500,000 coordinated campaign expenditure to boost GOP Sen. John Cornyn in Texas, the committees first spending there. As liberal donors flood races across the map with a green tsunami of cash, were working furiously to keep Republicans heads above water in the battle to hold the Senate majority, Steven Law, president of Senate Leadership Fund, said in a statement. Senate Majority PAC is spending on 10 offensive targets, while also continuing to spend heavily in Michigan to defend Sen. Gary Peters against Republican John James. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been more targeted,running independent-expenditure TV ads in four states: Arizona, Iowa, Montana and North Carolina. Strong candidates have run smart, disciplined campaigns, expanding the map into deep red states Democrats rarely compete in and forcing Republicans on defense across the country, said Lauren Passalacqua, a DSCC spokesperson. She added that the races were in tough states and highlighted the GOPs increased outside spending, saying the party was relying on grassroots donors to keep pace. The late spending is similar to 2016, when a massive influx of GOP money in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania helped Republicans preserve their narrow majority. Democrats are better funded across the map this cycle, however, and Trump is polling well below Democrat Joe Biden. Jesse Hunt, a spokesperson for the NRSC, said in a statement Republicans were positioned to close strong despite Democrats having thrown an unprecedented amount of money at us this cycle, accusing Democrats of having personal scandals and failed records that would keep the GOP competitive. Republicans continue to hammer Cunningham in North Carolina over the revelation of an extramarital affair, with Tillis campaign and outside groups running constant ads on it. Cunningham is set to double Tillis TV spending between now and Election Day, however, and Democrats have more airtime booked in the state overall. Since a virtual press conference a week after the scandal broke, the closest Cunningham has come to addressing it was in a new ad that began airing this weekend, in which he says Tillis is desperately attacking my personal life because he doesnt want to talk about his own record on health care. Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for Tillis campaign, called it a desperate response ad to try and stop the bleeding. Maine is extremely close, within the margin of error, according to operatives in both parties. But the states ranked-choice voting system represents a concern for Republicans: There are two third-party candidates, and those candidates voters would move to their secondary choices until someone receives 50 percent. Both GOP Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sara Gideon agreed during a debate Thursday night not to challenge the election if they lost under the system. In Michigan, Republicans remain hopeful about flipping the seat, and a recent internal GOP poll showed James tied with Peters, according to multiple officials familiar with the survey. But public and private Democratic polling shows a safer race for Peters. The first-term senator and his allies have a spending edge in the state through Election Day, and Peters doubled James' fundraising in the first two weeks of October after a surge in small-dollar donations. A decisive Biden victory in Michigan would be difficult for James to overcome. But hes showing some effort to separate from the top of the ticket. He released a new ad promising to fight back against any president and mocking Democrats assertions that a 39-year-old Black guy from Detroit is Donald Trump. Absent a surprise upset,nearly every competitive race has to go Republicans' way to hold the majority. Lose in North Carolina or Iowa, or drop even one of the red-state races, and Democrats are favorites to retake the chamber. People are realists about the possibility, but nobody has given up, said Mike DuHaime, a veteran GOP strategist. They don't have to quite run the table. But close.