Biden Endorses Four Secretary of State Candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed four down ballot candidates running for Secretary of State in key states for the midterm and presidential election cycles. He made the announcement in an email sent out to supporters of American Possibilities, his political action committee. He cited protection of voting rights as his reason for the endorsements, writing that one of the best ways to accomplish this goal was “by electing strong Secretaries of State, the folks responsible for overseeing elections, all across the country.”

Biden has maintained his public profile by endorsing several state and congressional candidates across the country in the past several months, fueling speculation about whether he is considering another White House run. Biden told the Washington Post that he did not know what he was going to do.

The four candidates to receive Biden’s endorsement were attorney Jena Griswold in Colorado, former Wayne State University Law School dean Jocelyn Benson in Michigan, Assemblyman Nelson Araujo in Nevada, and State Rep. Kathleen Clyde in Ohio.  All four states have open races for governor because of term-limited incumbents. Only Colorado does not have a Senate race in the current cycle. All four are competitive swing states in presidential elections.

The significance of the secretaries of state who are elected in this cycle is that they will become the top elections officials in their respective states for the 2020 presidential cycle, which will make them responsible for managing primaries, protecting the integrity of the election systems and process, and certifying the results.

Griswold won her party’s nomination in the Colorado primary this evening.

Jay Inslee Headlining Florida Democratic Party Gala

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) has been announced as the keynote speaker for the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue Gala, scheduled for this weekend in Hollywood, Fla.  Also scheduled to speak at the event are House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and incumbent senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is running for re-election this fall.

The event is scheduled one week after Inslee traveled to Iowa to campaign on behalf of Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell, who is running for governor.  As was the case in Iowa last week, Inslee is attending the event in Florida in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, although it will also raise eyebrows about his possible 2020 presidential ambitions.

Also scheduled to speak at the event are Democratic state legislators and candidates, including the five candidates running for the party’s nomination in the governor’s race this fall: Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Chris King and Philip Levine, as well as Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher Kat Posada. Democrats are trying to win the state’s chief executive position for the first time in 24 years.

Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report both project the Florida governor’s race as a toss-up. The state’s primary is scheduled for August 28.

Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban

By a 5-4 split on ideological lines, the high court ruled in favor of the administration. Read the opinion here.

Update: Read the analysis from SCOTUSblog here.

Update II:

Update III:

Update IV:
Statement from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood:

“​President Trump’s travel bans are a stain on American history that were rooted in deep anti-Muslim animus and unleashed chaos on families, businesses, institutions, and communities throughout New York. Despite today’s ruling, New York will continue to serve as a beacon to the world, welcoming people of all faiths, races, nationalities, and backgrounds.

I’m proud of our work to successfully beat back President Trump’s first two discriminatory bans. My office won’t hesitate to act to protect New York’s families and ensure that we live up to the values on which this state and this nation were built.”​

Update V:
Statement from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez:

“Discrimination is not a national security strategy, and prejudice is not patriotism. Let’s call this ban for what it is: an outright attack on the Muslim community that violates our nation’s commitment to liberty and justice for all. But this ban does more than just violate our values – it also makes us less safe and threatens our place as a beacon of freedom for the world.

“Of course, this is part of a larger assault by President Trump and congressional Republicans on our nation’s values of inclusion and opportunity for all people — no matter who they are, where they come from, who they love, or how they pray. From the Muslim ban to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, Donald Trump has made tearing families apart a hallmark of his administration and the Republican Party.

“As a nation, our diversity is our greatest strength. We cannot allow this administration’s prejudice to shut the doors of progress. And Democrats will continue to fight back every step of the way.”

Update VI:

Update VII:
Statement from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra:

“The Supreme Court got this one wrong. One day, this nation and Court will look back and regret this ruling that legalized discrimination. We will continue to fight actions that unlawfully target people based on their background or faith.”

Update VIII:
Statement from Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today the arc of justice just got longer. The Supreme Court ruling marks this as another painful day in our country’s history. The Court’s decision ignores and empowers this administration’s bigotry and serves as a tacit approval of religious and ethnic discrimination that runs counter to the inclusionary principles that our country aspires to. President Trump’s Muslim ban has already caused immeasurable suffering to families and communities and is part of the administration’s overall strategy of attacking and separating immigrant and refugee families.

“The Supreme Court has been wrong before. Today, the Roberts Court joins the shameful legacy left by Court majorities that sanctioned the unjust imprisonment of Japanese Americans (Korematsu) and the perpetuation of slavery in the U.S. (Dred Scott).

“The fights for religious freedom and justice for all immigrant families do not end here. The right to live in peace and be treated with dignity and justice no matter one’s race, ethnicity, or religion is too important to let one person, one president destroy. In November, we must elect a Congress that will hold this administration accountable. We continue to stand proudly with our plaintiffs, refugees, and the American Muslim community and will fight in the courtroom, in the halls of Congress, at the ballot box, and alongside our communities until there is no Muslim ban ever.”

Sinema Leads in Arizona Senate Race Polls

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema leads in hypothetical matchups for Arizona’s Senate race against all three potential Republican opponents, according to two new polls which illustrate the challenge that state and national Republicans will have in holding this Senate seat in the November general election.

According to a CBS News/YouGov poll, Sinema leads former State Sen. Kelli Ward 43-35, Rep. Martha McSally 41-34, and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio 45-28.  The same poll gives President Donald Trump a 47-53 approval rating

A second poll by Emerson College has Sinema leading Ward 43-26, McSally 40-32, and Arpaio 54-30. Sinema has a commanding 51 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, with no other candidate getting more than 8 percent. Republican primary voters are more divided, with McSally leading with 32 percent, Ward in second with 19 percent, Arpaio close behind with 18 percent, and 23 percent of voters still undecided.

The Emerson poll also has incumbent Republican governor Doug Ducey with a 31 percent approval rating, lower than President Trump’s 43 percent approval rating in the state.  Ducey leads his opponent, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett 44-22 in the Republican gubernatorial primary, with 35 percent of voters undecided. Former college professor David Garcia leads among Democratic primary voters, with 30 percent of the vote. State Sen. Steve Farley is in second place with 13 percent, and Kelly Fryer in third with 9 percent of the vote.  However, 48 percent of voters are undecided.

Defending the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake is one of Republicans’ biggest challenges in an otherwise mostly favorable 2018 Senate cycle. According to the Prew Research Center, Arizona has the sixth highest Hispanic population in the country – roughly 2.1 million Hispanics who account for 31 percent of the state population, and approximately 3.7 percent of all Hispanics in the United States. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overperformed in Arizona in 2016 compared to previous Democratic presidential candidates, losing the state by only 3.5 percent of the vote. State Democrats may be even more energized to turn out and vote because of President Trump’s decision to pardon Sheriff Arpaio in August of 2017. There has been no polling of Arizona voters about the Trump administration’s family separation policy, but a recent Battleground Tracker poll by CBS News and YouGov found that the policy only has 27 percent support.

The primary election is scheduled for August 28. Both Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report project the Arizona Senate race as a tossup.

UPDATE: NBC News released the results of its Arizona Senate race poll this afternoon. Sinema leads all three Republican candidates by double digits: Ward 48-38, McSally 49-38, Arpaio 57-32.

DNC Chairman Heading to Texas Border

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez is heading to Brownsville, Texas to participate in a rally protesting against the Trump administration’s family separation policy.  The rally will take place on Thursday, June 28 outside of a federal courthouse where many of the separated immigrants were prosecuted.

Update: The DNC announced this morning that Perez and Vice Chair Michael Blake will be visiting a school in the Bronx where migrant children are being held on Tuesday, June 26. Perez and Blake will then join with the National Action Network and local organizations in a protest against the administration’s family separation policy.

Jason Kander Running for Mayor of Kansas City in 2019

Jason Kander, the rising Democratic star who nearly defeated incumbent Republican senator Roy Blunt in the 2016 election, will run for mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Kansas City Star. The newspaper also reports that Kander hasn’t formally made an announcement, but he could launch his campaign as early as next week.

In the 18 months since the 2016 election, Kander has maintained his national profile through speeches, appearances in early presidential states of Iowa and New Hampshire, founding the voting rights nonprofit organization Let America Vote, and as host of the Majority 54 podcast on Crooked Media.

Kander’s decision to run for mayor next year effectively takes him out of consideration for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.  There are currently eight candidates who have declared for the election, five of which current members of the city council. The primary is scheduled for April of 2019.

The Next Potential Democratic Litmus Test: Abolishing ICE

In light of the national uproar over President Donald Trump’s family separation policy, at least two incumbent House Democrats (Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Rep.  Jim McGovern of Massachusetts) a gubernatorial candidate (Cynthia Nixon in New York) and one possible presidential contender (Kamala Harris in California) has floated the idea of reforming, de-funding or shutting down Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Even the libertarian publication Reason has gotten behind this idea. The most serious move on this issue so far has come from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), who announced this morning that he would be introducing legislation in the House to abolish ICE.

The agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has come under new scrutiny for its role and actions in implementing President Trump’s policy, as have its architects.  Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller were heckled by protesters while eating out in Washington DC restaurants last week.

The Republican National Committee hasn’t made much of an issue out of it yet beyond a blog post, although expect that to change if President Trump enters the fray, particularly in close House and Senate races which could make or break the Republican majorities for next year.

The Barack Obama Post-White House Era: Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind

One of the best looks at Barack Obama’s post-presidency so far was published over the weekend courtesy of New York’s Gabriel Debenedetti.  The story touches on everything from Obama’s decision to largely stay out of the political fray, his lucrative post-presidential business opportunities, writing his presidential memoir, and his behind-the-scenes efforts to save Obamacare. The whole thing is well worth reading.

Democrats Ahead in New West Virginia Poll, as Blankenship Tries to Get on the Ballot

Democratic senator Joe Manchin is ahead of Republican attorney general Patrick Morrisey by 9 points in the West Virginia Senate race, according to a new poll by Monmouth University.  This poll also shows former mining executive Don Blankenship receiving four percent of the vote as a third party candidate.  In a head-to-head matchup, Manchin still leads Morrisey 49-42.  In the race for the Third Congressional District, Democratic candidate Richard Ojeda is slightly ahead of Republican State Representative Carol Miller 43-41. The fact that this race is close in a district that Donald Trump won by 50 points should alarm Republicans, even though the underlying political demographics favor Democrats.

A possible wildcard to keep an eye on in the Senate race is Don Blankenship, who lost the Republican primary and is trying to run on the Constitution Party ticket or as a write-in candidate. However, in order to get on the ballot he would have to go to court to challenge the state’s “sore loser” election law which prevents a losing primary candidate from running in the general election. If Blankenship qualifies for the ballot and the spread between Manchin and Morrisey tightens, Blankenship could potentially play a spoiler role on Election Day.

Manchin and Ojeda are leading in this poll despite President Donald Trump’s 67 percent approval rating in the state, one of his highest of anywhere in the country. Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report both project the Senate race as a tossup, and the Third Congressional District race as Leans Republican.

Poll: Trump Leads Holder 37-21

President Donald Trump leads former attorney general Eric Holder 37-21 in a hypothetical matchup, with 41 percent of voters undecided, according to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.  Holder underperforms a generic Democrat who, in another poll, is ahead of President Trump 44-36, with 20 percent undecided.

Democrats are divided about the former attorney general as a prospective presidential candidate. Fifty-two percent of Democrats were undecided when asked about a Trump-Holder matchup, compared to 42 percent who said they would support Holder.

Holder said he was considering a presidential run during an interview with MSNBC last April. He also traveled to New Hampshire in May, during which he spoke and took questions at “Politics and Eggs” at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics – a traditional stop for presidential aspirants.  Holder has said he remains focused on his work with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.