Abortion, Islamophobia and more

Welcome to summer!

Before I jump into what I’ve been up to, wanted to put in a mention for my friend Ryan Grim’s book. Grim — who worked with me for years at HuffPost and is now at The Intercept — is out with We’ve Got People, which is a deep look at the progressive movement and what happens when that energy collides with Washington.

An adapted excerpt is out on HuffPost today, with details about how instrumental Harry Reid was in getting DADT repeal to the Senate floor. Buy the book here.

Also in book news, check out my former ThinkProgress colleague’s new book Guns Down, trying to shift the rather limited discussion about gun policy reform to be broader and more ambitious.

Lately, I’ve been working on a piece about what effect Muslim candidates have seen since Trump started attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar. I talked to five people running for office in Virginia, and some said they’ve seen a rise in death threats. Check out the piece below.

And here’s a puppy.


Muslim Candidates Feel The Effect Of Trump Attacks On Ilhan Omar

Some Muslim Americans running for office in Virginia have seen a rise in death threats since the controversy.

By Amanda Terkel

Rep. Ilhan Omar faced an uptick in death threats after President Donald Trump increased his rhetorical attacks against her.

President Donald Trump’s decision to vilify Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has had real, harmful effects not just on the first-year congresswoman, but on Muslim candidates running for public office at the state and local levels as well. 

In March, Omar faced significant criticism ― including from members of her own party ― for comments about Israel, which they said played into anti-Semitic tropes. She apologized, but Trump and his allies used the dust-up to further paint her and the Democratic Party as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. In April, Trump tweeted a video that dishonestly purported to show Omar downplaying 9/11. He also continued to characterize her as anti-Semitic in tweets and speeches.

Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, saw a rise in death threats following all the Trump attacks. Her office said she “receives daily death threats ― almost all of them threatening to kill her because of her religion.”

The fallout didn’t just end there. HuffPost spoke to five Muslim Americans running for office in Virginia, which has state elections this year. Some of them saw an increase in death threats after the Trump attacks on Omar, underscoring the point made by many of Omar’s allies that the uproar was never really just about her ― it always had far more to do with her religion.

Others expressed disappointment that members of their own Democratic Party didn’t stand by the congresswoman more forcefully.

“When you look at [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and how everyone responded and didn’t stand by [Omar] ― and in some ways kind of propagated or pushed for the critiques against her ― it really begs the question of whether minorities belong in either party,” said Abrar Omeish, who is running for the Democratic nomination for an at-large seat on the Fairfax County School Board. 

Qasim Rashid, a Virginia state Senate candidate, said the attacks don't deter him from running for office. "In fact, [they] e

Qasim Rashid, who’s running in the Democratic primary for Virginia Senate District 28, has received several death threats that he said the FBI is investigating. Most of them came by email before the Trump-Omar controversy, but he also received ones afterward that were clearly related to Trump’s comments.

“The rhetoric from the right, unfortunately, is empowering some very unhinged people to make some really nasty threats,” Rashid said. “I’m experiencing that, and I know it’s still probably a fraction” of what Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the other Muslim woman elected to Congress in 2018, are receiving.

Ibrahim Moiz, a Democratic candidate for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, said that while he hadn’t received any death threats, his wife had a hateful run-in after the Trump attacks on Omar when someone accosted her at a local shop. 

“She went by, and someone just started yelling at her because she wears a headscarf,” Moiz said. “She engaged with them back because she’s a fighter. But thankfully, it stopped there.” 

Ibrahim Moiz, a candidate for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, said his wife was accosted at a local shop by someone

Discrimination against Muslim candidates didn’t start with Trump. For years, facing the rise of an Islamophobic movement on the right, Muslim Americans have braced themselves to be smeared as a terrorist, an anti-Semite or a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Even aside from the threats of violence, Muslim candidates and politicians have to deal with harmful and discriminatory assumptions and microaggressions.

Omeish has found herself having to field questions about her views on Middle East politics ― even though the topic has little to do with the position she seeks on the Fairfax County School Board. She said someone once told her they were glad she wasn’t one of “those” Muslims who has to pray on time ― even though she actually does ― as if there’s something inconsistent with being a devout Muslim and a modern liberal woman.

She said that while she had expected the Muslim Brotherhood smears, “I definitely didn’t anticipate the ignorance and animosity that are baseless. I underestimated how much diversity and being a minority for me has shaped how I think about others. So it surprised me to see how shameless people can be in how they behave or express themselves against me.”

In an incident that made national news, Ibraheem Samirah, who won a special election this year to the Virginia House, was greeted by anti-Muslim protesters at his first town hall meeting and was asked how he would implement Sharia law. 

“I do think it’s unfair and unfortunate and unacceptable that it’s 2019 and when Muslims run for office or immigrants run for office, that we essentially all go through the same things,” said Yasmine Taeb, a Democratic candidate for Virginia Senate District 35 who received death threats for the first time after the Trump rhetoric against Omar. 

“It’s so frustrating every single Muslim candidate that runs for office ― their opponent will just peg them as this anti-Semitic, anti-Israel person,” she added.

Yet Taeb, like every other candidate who spoke with HuffPost, said they feel more energized than ever to run for office. 

“These are exactly the kind of attacks that make me realize that this is why Muslim candidates need to step up and be able to make sure our voice is heard too,” said Hassan Ahmad, a Democratic candidate running in Virginia House District 87. As an immigration lawyer, Ahmad rushed to Dulles International Airport in 2017 to help people affected by Trump’s travel ban targeting people from Muslim-majority nations.

Wa’el Alzayat is the CEO of Emgage PAC, an organization that supports Muslim civic engagement and has endorsed all five of the candidates who spoke with HuffPost. He said he’s seen an increased interest in running for office after 2018, and he also believes that the president’s attacks are motivating people to get involved. 

“Anecdotally, I think what’s happening is the more she’s being attacked, the more Rashida gets attacked, and others like them, it pushes the community to double down and say, ‘No, this is our space. We’re going to be in it, we’re going to run, we’re going to get out and vote. We’re going to be involved,’” Alzayat said. “If anything, it’s getting people even more motivated.” 

“It’s my generation’s responsibility ― second-generation Americans ― to make sure we’re getting out there,” Moiz said, “and bridging that gap of ignorance, of not knowing about who Muslims are, what they believe in, what they value ― and then breaking that barrier down just by being around everywhere.”

What does electability even look like?

Every 2020 Democrat wants to be the electable candidate. What's that mean?

I know it’s been forever since I sent out a newsletter!

My colleague Kevin Robillard and I are out with a new story looking at this issue of electability. Everyone says they’re looking for the most electable candidate in 2020… but what does that even mean?

We talked to someone who has 7 theories on electability, and we have some new polling that shows that yes, the concept may put women and people of color at a disadvantage. Would love for you to take a look at it, below.

I’m also working on a new story about the state of resistance groups as 2020 heats up. If you’re involved (or were involved — past tense) in your local resistance group, would love to hear from you about what it’s like these days. Drop me a line!



Every 2020 Democrat Wants To Be The Electable Candidate

But what does that even mean?

By Kevin Robillard and Amanda Terkel

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa ― Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack is better positioned than almost anyone in America to figure out how his party can defeat President Donald Trump. Loebsack is in his seventh term representing Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, which went for Barack Obama twice before Trump won a plurality there in 2016. Before that, he spent two decades as a political science professor and was a go-to pundit on Iowa politics.

Loebsack plans to meet with every Democratic candidate running for president and make a decision on how to endorse by Labor Day. His No. 1 criteria for an endorsement?

“For me, it’s all about who can win the next election and beat Donald Trump,” he told reporters after an event for 2020 candidate and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. 

That electability-first stance puts Loebsack firmly in the mainstream of his party. More than half of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters thought it was more important to nominate the candidate most likely to win, with only 36% placing more importance on ideology, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll from late March. That broadly matches other public polling, though the results can change depending on how the question is worded.

The perception of which candidates stand the best chance of toppling Trump will play a major role in deciding who ultimately wins the Democratic Party’s nomination, according to polling and interviews with campaigns, operatives and rank-and-file voters across the early primary states.

But many of those perceptions and theories ― Joe Biden can win back the Rust Belt! Isn’t Elizabeth Warren a bit like Hillary Clinton? Bernie Sanders can win West Virginia! ― are based on flimsy evidence. And unlike the simple question of whom voters like the most, the question of electability involves evaluating what other people might like. And that’s something voters ― and even political operatives ― aren’t great at.

“We don’t know yet” what electability looks like, said Loebsack, who announced last week he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2020. “The political landscape in America is really fluid right now.”

If the former pundit with a doctorate in political science who represents an Obama-Trump district in Congress can’t predict the best candidate to defeat Trump, how can anyone?

7 Theories Of Electability

Joe Biden's backers have been pitching the former vice president as the most electable candidate for 2020.

The major candidates for the Democratic nomination are going out of their way to emphasize their ability to win elections and thump Republicans. Klobuchar hypes her own history of winning in rural areas in blue-tinted but still swingy Minnesota. Sanders famously hates talking about the horse race, but his senior campaign staff held a conference call for reporters to walk through his path to victory. Aides to California Sen. Kamala Harris note her toughness and ability to hold the Trump administration accountable with viral moments.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s sudden surge in polling and fundraising is due in no small part to the idea that his Midwestern roots can connect him to voters there. And on March 27, Warren emailed supporters a 1,600-word memo from her campaign manager aiming to combat questions about her ability to win.

On March 27, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign emailed supporters about the electability issue.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and his supporters openly argue he can re-create the same coalition that powered Obama to back-to-back wins. And during a swing through Iowa last month, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke highlighted how his near-miss against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 helped scores of down-ballot candidates.

These cases rely on a handful of theories. Lanae Erickson, who runs the political operations at the centrist Democratic group Third Way, broke down the seven theories you’re most likely to hear from Democratic elected officials and operatives:

  • Mobilizing to win: Democrats should focus on young people and voters of color and focus more on flipping diverse Sun Belt states like Arizona, Georgia and Florida to get to 270 electoral votes.

  • The kitchen table theory: Where the candidate is on the ideological spectrum isn’t as important as a narrow focus on economic issues and avoiding divisive “culture war” fights.

  • The populist theory: Explicitly class-based and focuses on economic inequality. The most ambitious versions of this theory suggest Democrats could make extensive gains in rural areas and put deep-red states like Montana, Kansas and West Virginia in play.

  • Focusing on moderates: Win back voters in the aforementioned Rust Belt states who dislike the more ideological parts of both parties by emphasizing “country over party” and unity.

  • Fighting: Trump was able to run roughshod over the GOP primary field and eventual Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 because no candidate was willing to fight as hard, or as dirty, as he was. If Democrats go punch-for-punch with Trump, they’ll win.

  • Purity: Democrats need to be bold and unapologetic about liberalism and progressivism, showing Americans how government can make their lives better. Voters will respond.

  • A broad path: Beating Trump will require focusing on parts of the Democratic platform and belief system with appeal to both the party’s base and to persuadable independent voters in order to win by a more substantial margin.

A candidate’s case for why he or she can beat Trump goes well beyond a simple progressive vs. establishment vs. moderate ideological contrast ― it goes into demographics, personal style and political strategy.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), for instance, is an avowed moderate who said the party’s “single-minded obsession” needs to be defeating Trump. But that doesn’t mean she’s lining up behind a centrist like former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“You cast it in terms of left and right. I think you need to think about it in terms of what matters to the average person,” said Raimondo, who is chairing the Democratic Governors Association, listing off a slew of economic issues: school construction, health care costs, low wages. When a reporter noted left-leaning candidates like Warren and Sanders are mostly focused on economics, Raimondo nodded: “I agree with that.”

High-quality public polling of general election matchups remains nearly nonexistent, making it difficult to evaluate any of these arguments.

Early surveys by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA have found minimal differences in how the different Democratic candidates perform among key voting blocs, said Guy Cecil, who runs the group. Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania remain the decisive states in Priorities’ modeling, regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. (Priorities USA backed eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, but is remaining neutral in the 2020 primary.)

“We see very little change in a lot of our work when we do head-to-heads against Trump,” Cecil told reporters last month. “We don’t see seismic changes based on whether the candidate is one person on another.”

With no real data to rely on, the candidates have started pointing to their past electoral performances for evidence of their strength. Klobuchar notes her strength in rural areas of Minnesota, which have helped her win statewide elections by margins of 24, 35 and 21 percentage points.

In its memo, the Warren campaign deployed its own version of this argument.

“Elizabeth Warren is the only candidate in this race who has defeated an incumbent Republican statewide in the last 25 years,” campaign manager Roger Lau wrote.

It’s the truth. Only seven candidates or potential candidates ― Warren, Hickenlooper, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Biden, O’Rourke and Buttigieg ― have ever run in a truly competitive race against a Republican. Two of them failed ― O’Rourke lost to Cruz, and Buttigieg lost by nearly 25 percentage points to his Republican opponent in a race for Indiana secretary of state.

Others have had more luck, but all come with caveats ― showing how any election result is rarely due solely to the quality of the Democratic candidate.

Biden’s narrow win over a Republican for his first Senate term came in 1972. Gillibrand defeated an incumbent Republican for an upstate New York U.S. House district ― but did so as a pro-gun, anti-illegal immigration moderate, and has since moved to the left.

Warren’s win came in Massachusetts, and she ran about 7 percentage points behind Barack Obama. She and Klobuchar ran for Senate and for reelection during Democratic wave years: 2006, 2012 and 2018. Klobuchar’s last two Senate opponents each spent less than $1 million on their campaigns, a paltry amount for a statewide contest.

Hickenlooper won in GOP-leaning years in 2010 and 2014, but the first win was aided by a conservative third-party candidate splitting Republican votes. Unlike most governors, Bullock runs in presidential years, which are more friendly to Democrats.

‘A Dog Whistle For Maintaining The Status Quo’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has faced questions about her electability.

Warren is the candidate who, anecdotally at least, seems most plagued by questions of electability. Voters in early states regularly say they like Warren ― but they’re not sure she can win.

Adam Green runs the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and is supporting Warren. He says he hears this sort of response from what he calls the “pundit voter” ― the type of person who jumps around looking at candidates and whether they can win: Harris attracted tens of thousands of people at a rally? Maybe it’s her! Buttigieg did a fantastic job at a CNN town hall? Maybe it’s him now!

“They’re people who are all over the place, but trying to be pundits as opposed to voting for their own values,” Green said.

Many Democrats questioned Warren’s political judgment after her decision to publicize the results of a DNA test that revealed she may have had a Native American ancestor approximately eight generations ago. Although Democratic voters in early states have told reporters they don’t care about the DNA test, it comes up over and over again in discussions about her viability against Trump. She had a chance to go toe to toe with Trump, and she faltered. 

“People need to realize, she’s not just a joke, she’s not just a punchline,” said Leif Erickson, an attorney who went to a Warren event in Sioux City, Iowa, describing the candidate’s challenge of overcoming Trump’s taunts. “She’s a serious person.”

There are also questions about whether Warren is simply too liberal, something Sanders faced in 2016 as well. But polling shows that some of the senator’s big ideas ― a wealth tax, for example ― are popular with voters across ideological lines.

“The big structural challenge against progressives in this primary is this kind of ... media narrative that pits electability against bold transformational ideas, when in fact the polling shows they’re one and the same,” Green said.

Warren’s third challenge is the comparisons to Clinton, which she faced even before she announced her candidacy: If one smart, blonde, older woman couldn’t win against Trump, is there any chance a completely different one could?

Warren may be facing some of these comparisons because she is the most well-known female candidate, according to Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

“She has been out there battling Donald Trump, and these other women have not,” Lawless said. “So a lot of the criticisms that people had about Hillary Clinton apply to Warren too. People are more familiar with her and are more familiar with her style and her policy positions.”

HuffPost’s polling backed up the idea that Warren faces an electability hurdle. Biden, who has yet to announce his candidacy, is the only contender the majority of Democratic voters named as capable of winning the presidential election ― 69% believe he can beat Trump. Sanders comes in a distant second at 49%, followed by O’Rourke at 43% and Harris at 37%. 

Only a third of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters think Warren can win; she’s followed by Booker at 25%. All the other candidates in the field ranked even lower than Booker.

Like any other early campaign poll, the question functions at least partially as a test of candidates’ name recognition and general familiarity ― voters are less likely to have confidence in a candidate they’ve heard little about.

To the extent that these voters are considering demographics, they’re more likely than not to think candidates who veer from the standard-issue white male politician are at a disadvantage.

Three in 10 Democratic voters think that most of the electorate would be less likely to vote for a female candidate because of her gender, compared to just 4% who think a male candidate would face a similar disadvantage. Similarly, 28% think a nonwhite candidate would face more difficulty with voters.

Few Democratic voters think a female candidate would have an electoral advantage.

There’s also concern about age: 35% say they suspect the electorate would penalize a candidate over age 70, a group that, by Election Day, will include Sanders, Biden and Warren. (Trump will be 74.)

“Electability feels like a real dog whistle for maintaining the status quo and putting the mainstream candidate to the front,” said Evan Hanlon, 32, a New York City voter who attended a fundraiser for Buttigieg this month. “If ‘electability’ is really just a code word for ‘Joe Biden,’ then I really don’t have much use for the concept.”

Although the sample sizes for subgroups are small, there appear to be modest intraparty differences. Democratic women are 10 points likelier than their male counterparts to suspect that a male candidate’s gender would give him an edge in electability; white voters, however, are 10 points likelier than nonwhite voters in the party to think a racial minority would fare worse.

“Unfortunately, I don’t really believe that a woman can win the general presidential election. Hillary sort of proved that for me. She was so qualified, but people didn’t like her,” said Chloe Levin, a 19-year-old engineering student at Stanford University who is registered to vote in her home state of New York.

While Levin identifies as a feminist, she said she feels resigned to supporting a male candidate: “My rights are better safeguarded by someone who can beat Trump even if that is a male candidate, and I think a male candidate is more likely to beat Trump.”

These types of assumptions, which are baked into the electorate and sometimes reinforced by pundits, infuriate supporters of the female candidates and the candidates of color.

There’s a consensus that Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida are the key states on the electoral map. And there’s only one demographic group key to Democratic hopes in all four of these states: black voters. It was low turnout in Detroit, which is 82% black, that ultimately doomed Clinton’s campaign in Michigan ― not her failure to hold on to white working-class voters.

So as progressives and moderates bicker over whether Biden or Sanders or Buttigieg is better positioned to win back white working-class voters, voters of color are regularly left out of the electability conversation.

“As a black woman, I’m deeply offended,” said Yvette Alexander, the president of the progressive group Democracy for America. “Who are these people who get to determine this? And what are their backgrounds and what is their lens? I think for a long, long time people have convinced themselves and others that in order to win in certain places or to win at all you have to be a white guy, and the reality is that can’t be further from the truth.”

Mistaken Electability Bets

Remember Jeb Bush? He was supposed to be super electable!

Right now, Democratic voters see Biden as the most electable. And Biden’s team sees it that way too. The New York Times reported in January that the former vice president “has told allies he is skeptical the other Democrats eyeing the White House can defeat President Trump” and win back the critical states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

But this isn’t the first time the party consensus has assumed a member of the establishment was best positioned to win back white voters who had fled the party in recent years ― an assumption that has often been wrong.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, for instance, endorsed Hillary Clinton in August 2015, arguing she was best-positioned to win back his home state for Democrats.

Clinton lost every county in the state to Trump, winning 26% of the statewide vote. It was the worst-ever performance by a Democrat in West Virginia.

The assumption that Clinton could win, while Sanders could not, was part of what drove the party’s elected officials ― who will play a much smaller role in the 2020 nomination ― to overwhelmingly back her, even as polling began to show Sanders performing slightly better against Trump than Clinton did.

Biden backers argue his electability comes from both his own popularity with white working-class voters ― which remains untested ― and his link to Obama, which they say would provide a boost with black voters. (Hence why Biden referred to himself as an “Obama-Biden Democrat” when talking to reporters earlier this month.)

But progressives argue that theory ignores Biden’s own weaknesses with the Democratic base. Sean McElwee, the ubiquitous Twitter pundit who runs the left-wing Data for Progress, wrote a memo last week trying to debunk the idea of Biden’s electability, citing polling showing statements about Biden’s record ― ranging from his support for a law that made it harder for families to file for bankruptcy to his vote in favor of the Iraq War ― would discourage women, millennials and people of color from voting for him.

Sanders, this time around, is making a more proactive case for his electability. Compared to the other candidates, the Vermont senator’s campaign is more actively targeting Trump and the key general election swing states. Ahead of a swing through the Midwest over the weekend, Sanders’ team released a memo to reporters outlining his strengths in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

And other steps Sanders has taken ― including attacking Trump on trade and even appearing on Fox News ― show an early focus on winning in November 2020 instead of on the winter and spring.  

Ben Tulchin, the pollster Sanders somewhat reluctantly hired in 2016 and who now works for his 2020 bid, pointed to three groups Sanders excels with as evidence of his electability: millennials, independents and older men. Increasing turnout among the first group is key to Democratic victories everywhere, while winning over the latter two groups will be necessary to win back previously blue states that went for Trump in 2016.

“The thing about Bernie is his appeal is based on economic messaging, and he’s able to break the mold. He’s able to appeal to working-class voters in a way a conventional Democrat cannot,” Tulchin said. “I’m not saying we’re going to win 48 states here. But Bernie does provide a lot of unique offerings as a candidate.”

Sanders supporters, at their most optimistic, will talk about winning back deep-red states with heavy amounts of white voters. Tulchin said he’s conducted polls showing Sanders performing well against in Trump in red states like Kansas and West Virginia, but repeatedly returned to the candidate’s strength in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as why he’d be the best choice to battle Trump. 

Of course, not every theory of the “Bernie Would Have Won” crowd totally adds up either. Not a single candidate endorsed by Justice Democrats or Our Revolution, left-leaning groups backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sanders, flipped a GOP-held House district in 2018. A number of left-wing candidates who raised large sums and generated progressive excitement to run in deep-red areas ended up losing by double-digit margins.

And despite the excitement generated by leftist winners like freshman Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), establishment Democrats dominated most contested House primaries.

History is littered with failed candidates who were supposed to be electable: Clinton, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney to name just a few. And then there’s the man currently in the White House, who wasn’t supposed to ever have a shot.

Ariel Edwards-Levy, Daniel Marans and Maxwell Strachan contributed to this report.

What happened last night?

Catching you up on the elections if you went to sleep.

Fun election night!

Here are quick links about the some of biggest stories last night in case you went to sleep and didn’t have time to stay up and watch the results:

  • Perhaps the biggest story last night was that Missouri voters overturned the state’s new right-to-work law, an embarrassing defeat for GOP legislators. It was 2-1 in favor of overturning.

  • It was a big night for women. They broke records! 2018 has the most women running for governor and U.S. House as major party nominees ever. And Michigan Democrats will have an all-female ticket running statewide.

  • Sharice Davids won the Democratic nomination in Kansas’ 3rd congressional district — and she comes with an incredible bio. She went from community college to Cornell Law School to a White House fellowship, all while mastering martial arts and participating in two MMA fights. If elected, she’ll be one of the only female Native American members of Congress and one of the few lesbians. One of her opponents was Brent Welder, who had the backing of Bernie Sanders.

  • That big Ohio special election is still too close to call, although Republicans are declaring victory. Here’s a great piece by my colleagues, Daniel Marans and Kevin Robillard, on the race.

  • Gretchen Whitmer won the Democratic nomination for governor in Michigan yesterday, beating out millionaire and self-funder Shri Thanedar and Abdul El-Sayed, a former Detroit health director who was a progressive favorite. Marans did incredible work covering this race, and he had a big piece looking at Thanedar that’s worth a read.

  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of House GOP leadership, is facing a real race this fall — and could lose her seat. Washington state has a top-two primary system, meaning the top-two vote-getters in a primary, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Rodgers got the most votes last night, but she barely beat the Democrat.

  • Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary still up in the air. Kris Kobach is leading, but not by much.

Like what you’re reading? Tell your friends to sign up for Piping Hot Truth here.

Finally sending this thing out

I really need to send this thing out more regularly, huh?

Few things going on:

1. Kirsten Gillibrand

I've been spending quite a bit of time talking to Democratic donors and activists about their thoughts on 2020 -- particularly whether they think Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has been hurt because she called for Al Franken to resign after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. I found that the anger against Gillibrand still runs deep -- and there are donors out there who say they won't support her because of what she did. Billionaire George Soros is the most notable one, but I talked to others who agreed with his view. Gillibrand responded to Soros in a statement to me -- the first time she's commented on what he said: 

If standing up for women who have been wronged makes George Soros mad, that’s on him. But I won’t hesitate to always do what I think is right. For nearly a year, we have seen countless acts of courage as women and men have spoken hard truths about sexual assault and sexual harassment and demanded accountability.

I stand with them in this new watershed moment of important change in our society on what we deem as acceptable,” she added. “It is clear that we must put our morals and the valuing of women ahead of party loyalty. When someone does something wrong, you have to speak up and be counted, whether it’s President Trump, or a Democratic colleague.

That statement is significant -- you don't usually see Democratic lawmakers standing up to one of the party's biggest donors. I also talked to plenty of folks who see a fair amount of sexism in the attacks Gillibrand is facing and are standing by her even more. 

Would love if it you'd check out my whole piece here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kirsten-gillibrand-al-franken-2020_us_5b58994ae4b0b15aba945e79

2. Netroots Nation

I just got back from Netroots Nation in New Orleans. I haven't been there in years but it felt like a good year to go back. And I was right! Some 2020 prospects were in attendance, and I moderated a discussion with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. If you're interested in watching, the full video is here: https://www.facebook.com/NetrootsNation/videos/10156392917539827/

3. New newsletter!

My former colleague, Judd Legum (he founded ThinkProgress.org) has started a great new newsletter, and you should check it out -- Popular Information. Popular Information is different from most political newsletters in that it's not designed for the DC elite -- it tailored for anyone and everyone who gives a damn about the future of the country.  It comes out four days a week, first thing in the morning. The content is stellar and you should really give it a try. You can sign up at https://popular.info

4. Something to buy

Since I have a baby now, I'm making lots of scrambled eggs. (Kids love scrambled eggs!) But I hate cleaning the pan after them. This pan is amazing though -- the egg comes right out. And it cooks other things well too. I know this sounds like an ad, but it's not. I just appreciate this pan. (Bon Appetit loves it too.)

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