Trump, Republicans Down in Poll of Crucial Midwest States

US Capitol at Night

Because of the constitutional quirks of the Electoral College, Donald Trump was elected president because of approximately 80,000 voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A newly released NBC News/Marist poll of two of those three states does not bode well for the president nearly two years before he runs for re-election.

In Michigan, the president’s approval rating is 36-54.

In Minnesota, the president’s approval rating is 38-51.

In Wisconsin, the president’s approval rating is 36-52.

In contrast, only about one third of voters in all three states say President Trump deserves re-election.

The poll was done mostly after the President’s widely criticized summit and press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on July 16. A majority of voters in all three states were in favor of a Democrat-controlled Congress: 45-36 in Michigan, 48-36 in Minnesota, and 47-39 in Wisconsin. A majority of voters in all three states said the message of their vote in November would be that more Democrats are needed in Congress to act as a check and balance on the president.

Besides House congressional races, all three states also have governor and U.S. Senate races as well.

Minnesota DFL Chairman Elected President of State Chairs Association

ATLANTA – Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, was elected president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, defeating Connecticut Democratic Party chairman Nick Baletto and Democratic Party of Virginia chairwoman Susan Swecker in a race that took three ballots to determine the victor. The Minnesota DFL will have considerable influence within the Democratic National Committee because two of its members – Martin and Rep. Keith Ellison – will hold senior positions in the party.

Swecker dropped out after the first ballot. The second ballot – a head-to-head matchup between Martin and Baletto – ended in a 56-56 tie, prompting the outgoing ASDC president Ray Buckley to quip, “God wants me to remain as president a while longer.” Martin won 62-48 on the third ballot.

In between ballots, Buckley asked South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison and Idaho Democratic Party executive director Sally Boynton Brown to join him at the front of the room to discuss the recent chairman race. He pointed out that all three of them brought the perspective and the issues facing the state parties to the top of the agenda in the race for the chairmanship.

“We traveled across this country to make sure your voice was heard,” Buckley said. “We educated not only the other candidates, but hundreds of thousands of people who watched the debates.” He noted that regardless of the subject of the question, “We went back to talking about state parties.”

Buckley also said that the relationship between the state parties and the DNC would change in a short time, noting that “We’ll be getting back in the winning business.”

Shortly after, the newly elected DNC chairman Tom Perez entered the meeting to a standing ovation from the state party chairs.  “Is Delaware in the house?” he asked, referring to the special election for the state senate seat that took place the same day. Stephanie Hansen won the race 58-41, up from a narrow 51-49 Democratic win in 2014. Perez pointed out that the DNC made a $300,000 investment in the race and said, “That’s the new paradigm.”

“I have an unlimited reservoir of optimism that we can turn this thing around.”

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I followed up with a Democratic Party official to try to verify and get more information about the $300,000 figure cited by Perez. The official said that if Perez said the DNC invested that amount of money in the race, then he misspoke. The official added that they think Perez said that $300,000 was the total amount spent, not the amount the DNC invested.

The official also added that the DNC helped out in the race through other ways – volunteer recruitment, sending out a Get Out The Vote email, and social media.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Rules 3-0 Against Trump Administration

A three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of Washington and Minnesota in their lawsuit against the federal government. (Read the PDF of the decision here) The ruling means the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by Judge James Robart blocking the implementation of President Trump’s travel/immigration ban is still in effect. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called it “a complete and total repudiation of the Trump administration’s legal position in this case.” (Watch the video here)

Toobin also pointed out that the three judges who made this decision were appointed by Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, so there is no political division. In addition, Judge Robart was a George W. Bush appointee, meaning that four federal judges from both parties have ruled unanimously against the administration in two separate decisions.   If the administration appeals to the Supreme Court and the justices split 4-4, the Ninth Circuit opinion would stand, though not with the weight of a Supreme Court ruling decided by a majority of the full court.  Keep in mind there are other lawsuits that have been filed against the administration in other states, so this is not over by any means.

Here is a sampling of reactions to the Ninth Circuit’s decision:

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses to Reinstate Trump Travel Ban

A late night decision (Read the PDF here) from a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came down in the early hours of Sunday morning:

Washington (CNN)A federal appeals court early Sunday morning denied the US government’s emergency request to resume President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has asked for both sides to file legal briefs before the court makes its final decision after a federal judge halted the program on Friday.

What this means is that the ruling by US District Court Judge James Robart, who suspended the ban, will remain in place — for now.

The US Justice Department filed an appeal just after midnight Sunday, asking to pause Robart’s sweeping decision that temporarily halted enforcement of several key provisions of Trump’s executive order.

Lawyers from both sides have until Monday (tomorrow) to make any filings. If the Ninth Circuit upholds Robart’s TRO, expect the Department of Justice to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. If SCOTUS agrees to hear the case with its current 8 justice lineup, that means that if the opinion is a 4-4 partisan split, the Ninth Circuit opinion will stand. If the Supreme Court rules by a 5-3 majority or greater, then its opinion will supersede the Ninth Circuit’s.

Minnesota Joins Washington Lawsuit Against Trump Administration, Hearing Set for Friday

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed an amended complaint to his state’s original lawsuit against the Trump administration, which adds Minnesota – and its attorney general, Lori Swanson – as plaintiffs.

Swanson said in a statement, “It does not pass constitutional muster, is inconsistent with our history as a nation, and undermines our national security… America can keep its people safe without sacrificing bedrock constitutional principles.”

There will be a hearing at a federal court in Seattle tomorrow (Friday) for lawyers representing Washington and the federal government. At issue will be whether or not the federal government should suspend implementation of the administration’s executive order nationwide immediately.  A ruling from Judge James Robart (a George W. Bush appointee) could come as early as 2:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

AFL-CIO Endorses Keith Ellison in DNC Chairman Race

The AFL-CIO released a statement this morning endorsing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The key part of the statement:

“Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “He is a proven leader who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America. Under his leadership, the Democratic Party will embody the values that our members stand for every day.”

UPDATE: NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald points out a key caveat to the AFL-CIO endorsement:

The endorsement comes with an asterisk, critics note, as Ellison’s name was the only one on the AFL-CIO endorsement ballot. Trumka gave voters just three options: Support Ellison, make no endorsement, or abstain.

Harold Schaitberger, the president of the firefighters’ union, blasted the endorsement in a letter to Trumka, calling it a “contemptible…attempt at a coronation.” Schaitberger, whose union less progressive than others, added that the outcome “will not be the ‘unified endorsement’ that you hope to proclaim.”

The other thing to keep in mind is the possibility that the outgoing Secretary of Labor Tom Perez might decide to throw his hat in the ring for DNC chairman, though there are also rumors he is considering a run for the Maryland governor’s race in 2018.

Ellison Will Resign from Congress If Elected DNC Chairman

Following up on this report in the Washington Times yesterday, as well as pressure from other DNC candidates and Democratic Party insiders, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told his hometown newspaper he would commit to being a full-time Democratic National Committee chairman if he is elected to the position:

– U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will vacate his congressional seat if he wins the chairman job at the Democratic National Committee, he told the Star Tribune Wednesday morning.

Ellison conceded Wednesday that a full-time chair is what the party wanted after the losses of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. He said he came to the decision after difficult soul-searching and hearing from the more than 400 voting members of the DNC who said they wouldn’t vote him as long as he was a sitting member of Congress.

The previous chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was a Florida congresswoman.

“Serving my neighbors in Congress and fighting for them has been the best job I’ve ever had,” Ellison said, in an e-mail. “Whether it was for immigration reform, worker’s rights, gender equity, or social justice, we stood side by side so that every person in American … is treated with respect and given every opportunity to succeed. Until the DNC Chair election, I plan to continue doing just that.”

If Ellison wins and vacates his seat, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton – a Democrat – will call for a special election in 2017 to fill the seat, which represents the reliably Democratic stronghold of Minneapolis.  Ultimately, the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives wouldn’t change or be affected much.

By pledging to do so, Ellison takes the issue off the table for the rest of his candidacy. Whether that will lead to more support for his candidacy among committee members – the 447 party insiders who will elect the next chairman – remains to be seen.