Biden is now open to taking money from a Super PAC

First up today, Joe Biden has opened the door to taking money from a Super PAC. This is a reversal from his previous position, and actually a rather long-held position. Reading from an article in The Washington Post by Matt Viser:

“Biden wrote in his 2017 book that he would have rejected outside money if he had run in 2016.
“It was tempting to play the game because we would be getting such a late start. And for the first time in all my years of campaigning, I knew there was big money out there for me,” Biden wrote. “But I also knew people were sick of it all. ‘We the People’ didn’t ring so true anymore. It was more like ‘We the Donors.’”

And reading again from the Post:

“Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that Biden will reform campaign finance if he is president, but in the meantime, he will open the door to outside money.
“As president, Joe Biden will push to remove private money from our federal elections. He will advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs,” Bedingfield wrote. “Until we have these badly needed reforms, we will see more than a billion dollars in spending by Trump and his allies to re-elect this corrupt president.””

According to the Post, work is now underway to create a Super PAC that will support the Biden campaign. Now, here’s a quick refresher. Donors giving directly to a candidate are capped at $2,800 dollars per person, per candidate, per election. Because Biden has a lot of high-dollar donors, it’s likely he has a pool of people who want to give him more money, but can’t, because they’ve hit that limit. The creation of a Super PAC would allow those donors to give money to the Super PAC, which would then in turn donate it to the Biden campaign, and, well, that’s why so many people want campaign finance reform.

Now, also, you might ask why Biden needs money, when he’s doing so well in the polls? Well, he is in fourth place in terms of fundraising among Democrats in Q3, and his cash on hand is below that of several of his rivals. If he makes it to the general election, he would face Trump, who has an incredible amount of money in the bank.

So Biden’s best option may be to take this PAC money, take the political hit for it, and then have, you know, a lot of money to keep spending on this campaign.

The Trump Impeachment Stuff in three minutes or less

And now, a new segment limited to three minutes or less. A quick update on the Trump impeachment inquiry, and other election-related stuff in the world of the sitting president. Also, I hope you enjoy this mellow music. Let’s get you up to speed.

On Friday, a federal judge ruled on two key issues. One, the House Judiciary Committee can have access to the unredacted Mueller Report. And two, there really is an impeachment proceeding going on right now despite no floor vote in the House. The latter is a procedural thing where Republicans had insisted that a floor vote was necessary to begin an impeachment. The judge said it is not.

At the same time, the judge ordered the Justice Department to comply with House requests by October 30th to produce not just the unredacted report, but ALSO the underlying interviews and other material collected by Mueller and his team. Now, will all of this stuff magically appear on Wednesday in a big set of boxes carried by interns? No. The Justice Department has already filed an appeal AND filed a second motion requesting a stay of the judge’s order to hand over the Mueller materials.

The Republican National Committee held a vote of support for Donald Trump in the face of the impeachment proceeding. While this is purely a symbolic move, it does show that the Republican establishment is firmly standing by the president. The vote was held by phone, and the vote was unanimous in support of President Trump.

The House committees overseeing impeachment issued subpoenas for two White House budget officials who have not agreed to testify voluntarily. They are from the Office of Management and Budget. Meanwhile, today Charles Kupperman, who was the deputy national security adviser working under former National Security Adviser John Bolton, refused to comply with his own Congressional subpoena. Instead, his lawyer said his client would wait for a judge to rule on the matter. Kupperman’s hearing in Congress was scheduled for today, but he didn’t show up. House investigators warned Kupperman that his refusal to appear could lead to holding him in contempt of Congress. Weirdly, that may not even matter much, because former National Security Adviser John Bolton himself may sit for a deposition anyway, and he was Kupperman’s boss.

In The Washington Post, lawyers for the whistleblower who got this whole thing started argued that their client’s anonymity was vital, and that the content of the whistleblower’s complaint was now corroborated by other evidence. Plus, the whistleblower doesn’t know anything else, so it’s not like having that person testify would help. Here’s the key line.

“Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.”

And finally, Trump tweeted his opinion about the removal of the Home button from recent iPhones. This might indicate that, I don’t know, Trump got a new iPhone maybe? He doesn’t like the thing where you swipe up from the bottom instead of pressing the button to unlock the phone. To be fair, I happen to agree on this one. I really liked the button. It was clicky, and I liked that. I miss the button too. End of segment.

Sanders gets a third endorsement from The Squad

Here’s a quick one. On Sunday, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for president. That means three out of the four members of “The Squad,” a group of first-term women in Congress, have now endorsed Sanders.

The announcement came at a rally in Detroit with an estimated 4,700 people in attendance. So this raises the question, will Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts endorse Sanders or somebody else? I’ll keep you posted.

More details emerge on the November DNC debate

Next up, we have a little more on the November DNC debate. The rumors were correct, it will be held in Atlanta. But more specifically, it will happen at Tyler Perry’s studio. Reading from an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jim Galloway:

“The newly opened $250 million [dollar] studio is the only major film studio in the nation owned by an African American. The debate is certain to point to a crowning achievement for a once-struggling playwright who, more than 20 years ago, had been kicked out of his apartment and was living out of a car.
That’s a message sure to be celebrated by Democrats who will be depending on a strong turn-out by African-Americans […]”

So, we have the date—November 20th—we have the all-women moderator lineup, and now we have the location. This should be a good one, folks.

And more details emerge on the December DNC debate

Okay, not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we also have a bit more on the December DNC debate, including some news that will really bother a chunk of y’all: It will happen on the same night that the new Star Wars movie opens. Oh, it is not wise to upset a Wookiee.

Aside from that, we now know the media partners. They will be PBS and Politico. Yes, that’s right, the Public Broadcasting System is getting the final debate of 2019. So that will mean broadcast TV everywhere you look. Mark that date on your calendars, too—that is December 19th, which is a Thursday.

While we’re at it, we have some minor updates on donor numbers for that debate. According to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s campaign, she has passed the required 200,000 donor mark. But, Senator Cory Booker estimated his number at around 178,000. So, as I reported last week, the donor numbers shouldn’t be a huge factor for December, but the polling definitely will be.

Hill’s resignation sets up an unexpected special election in California

Next up, California Representative Katie Hill has announced she will resign her office after admitting to having a consensual affair with a campaign staffer. It’s currently unclear what the precise date of her resignation will be, but it’s looking like the first of November.

The electoral consequences of this resignation are, of course, unexpected. Hill was a well-funded incumbent in California’s 25th district, which was seen as basically safe up until she resigned. In the last election, she beat Republican Steve Knight by about 9%, and currently has more than $1.5 million dollars in her campaign fund that now isn’t gonna get used. Now that she won’t be running again, Democrats need to find a viable replacement—and soon. They first need a primary, then a general election for that seat. And by the way, the primary is an all-party primary, with the top two finishers going to the special general election. Point being, Democrats better have somebody good.

I’m going to read some pretty weird calendar math, but I think this is a great example of the complexity local officials face when trying to fill a seat like this. They have to follow state law, which is often complicated.

Reading from a Politico article by Zach Montellaro:

“California Gov[ernor] Gavin Newsom has 14 days from Hill’s resignation to set the date for the special election. From then, the special election needs to be between 126 and 140 days from the proclamation (or up to 180 days if either the primary or general election is timed to an already-scheduled election). The primary takes place nine Tuesdays before the general election.
One potential date to watch is Super Tuesday, March 3[rd]. A potential scenario laid out by California Target Book’s Rob Pyers: Newsom could wait until next week to issue the proclamation and have the [California 25th] primary on the same day as the presidential primary, with the special general election on May 5[th].”

So, this has unexpectedly become a race to watch, as it is likely the ONLY competitive special election between now and November 2020. The Cook Political Report has now moved that race to “Lean Democratic,” meaning that is NOT a safe seat, but Democrats have a slight edge.

A summary of the unofficial Republican debate over the weekend

Over the weekend, there was an unofficial debate between the three Republican primary challengers to Donald Trump. It happened at Politicon in Nashville. Unfortunately, I could not find a video of the event. But there is a summary available, so I’ll give you a few tidbits from that. The article is by Natalie Allison, writing for the Nashville Tennessean, and there’s a link in the show notes to the whole thing, including a photo gallery.

Apparently the only substantial issue on which the candidates disagreed was impeachment. Both Walsh and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld said that they believed Trump should be impeached and removed from office. But former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disagreed, saying that the impeachment effort could solidify voter support behind Trump. So there’s that.

The other notable item here is an idea to increase the voter base in the Republican primary itself, so that at least these candidates can make some noise.

Reading from the Tennessean:

“Weld's strategy is to win primaries in New Hampshire and Super Tuesday states, declaring he wanted to "expand the electorate of people voting in the Republican primary."
He has taken out advertisements in New Hampshire newspapers, for example, urging independents to vote in the Republican primary and asking Democrats to consider re-registering to unaffiliated.”

Do Democratic primary voters want a new candidate?

And last up today, at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver wrote about whether Democratic primary voters are looking for yet another candidate to join the field. It’s technically not too late, and people have done this kind of thing in the past, though they tend to fail.

The setup here is that last week The New York Times ran an item saying that Democratic donors were urging a variety of high-profile Democrats to jump into the race at the last minute. The names that floated around then were Hillary Clinton, Sherrod Brown, John Kerry, and Michael Bloomberg. Well, as I reported last week, the polling said, LAST WEEK, that Democratic primary voters were really quite satisfied with the field they already have. And then a new poll came out. Silver writes:

“…[T]he numbers may have only improved since then — a YouGov poll conducted last week found 83 percent of Democrats were satisfied with their choices.”

That’s an even higher number than I talked about last week. Also within that poll, only 8% were dissatisfied and 3% said they were “upset” about the options available. The remaining few had no opinion or refused to answer.

So let’s wrap this up with one more bit from the article:

“...In all, I’d be very surprised if Clinton, Kerry, Bloomberg or any other big-name Democrat became a major factor in this race, let alone won the nomination. It’s a little more feasible that donors dissatisfied with the front-runners will line up behind one of the candidates who is already running, such as Cory Booker or Amy Klobuchar.
In the end, though, I think this talk of Clinton or Bloomberg is a sign of two things: First, the media getting bored with the race and searching for a new storyline. And second, the establishment’s influence is declining as candidates like Warren and Sanders are succeeding without taking their money. Some big donors might simply want back in on the action.”