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Morning Digest: Check out our new maps showing which House districts got redder or bluer since 2008

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The trends are most starkly in Democrats’ favor across the Sun Belt. California, for instance, saw 45 of its 53 districts yield a larger Democratic margin of victory (or smaller Republican margin) in 2020 than in 2008.

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Similar patterns have emerged in Colorado and Virginia, two states that rapidly evolved from red in the early 2000s to blue now. But perhaps more importantly for Democratic prospects are Georgia and Arizona, the latter of which has moved almost entirely in the Democratic direction, except for the retiree-heavy 4th district.

The flipside of the trend in Arizona, Georgia, and Texas is the pattern in Midwestern states like Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, where the 2008-to-2020 trajectory has mostly been in the red direction. There are two issues at work here: one, these states are whiter than the Sun Belt states and not diversifying as quickly, and two, they have much larger rural or small-town populations than their Sun Belt counterparts, where the bulk of the population is urban or suburban.

For Democrats, the most alarming red-hued state may be Florida, where the 2020 margins were worse almost everywhere, with the exceptions of the Orlando area (the 7th and 10th districts), Jacksonville (the 4th), and central Miami (the 27th). Biden’s performance among Cuban and South American communities, most significantly in the 25th and 26th districts, represented a sharp U-turn from a decade’s worth of progress, and while he did manage to improve over 2016 with the state’s various retirement-oriented areas, it was still insufficient relative to Obama’s earlier performances.

For a deep dive into all of these patterns, complete with maps, check out Jarman’s post.

Senate

GA-Sen: Navy veteran and former Donald Trump aide Latham Saddler launched a campaign for the Senate on Thursday, making him the second notable Republican after businessman Kelvin King to join the race. A whole host of much bigger GOP names are still considering, though, including former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, former Rep. Doug Collins, and former NFL star Herschel Walker.

MO-Sen: Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who has been considering a bid for Missouri’s open Senate seat, says she’ll “probably” announce a decision in June. Hartzler added to Roll Call‘s Bridget Bowman, “We’re looking very positively at it.”

OH-Sen: Venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who last month said he’s “thinking very seriously” about joining the Republican primary for Ohio’s open Senate race, has reportedly told “friends and colleagues” that he’ll run, according to Axios. There’s no word on when he might announce a decision, though.

Governors

MD-Gov: How not to kick off a run for office: Just last week, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced that he’d once again seek the Democratic nomination for governor. “I’m running because I think we can do better,” he told Maryland Matters.

Flash forward to this week, however, when Baker told the Washington Informer’s William J. Ford that he was still considering a bid. Ford reports that Baker “is contemplating running” and “still wavering,” adding that “no official announcement has been made.” For what it’s worth, the “Baker for Governor” Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2018, when Baker last ran, and his website, rushernbaker.com, is unavailable.

Meanwhile, another big name seems to have taken himself out of the running for next year. WAMU’s Tom Sherwood reports that Rep. Anthony Brown, who was the Democrats’ unsuccessful gubernatorial nominee in 2014, says he plans to spend this term “and next” in Congress working on transit and infrastructure.

Turning to the Republican side, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who’d been considering a bid for governor and had also said he might challenge Republican Rep. Andy Harris in next year’s primary, will do neither. Instead, says Glassman, he’ll run for state comptroller, a position that’s open because the incumbent Democrat, Peter Franchot, is seeking the governorship.

But to say that history is against Glassman would be an extreme understatement: The last Republican to win a race for comptroller was Phillips Lee Goldsborough in 1898. In fact, no Maryland Republican has won a downballot statewide office since 1918, when Alexander Armstrong was elected attorney general. Goldsborough did, however, go on to serve as governor and later senator.

NM-Gov: New Mexico reporter Joe Monahan, who’s long published a tipsheet on state politics, says that former Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez “appears to be considering” a run for governor, noting that next week he’ll be a guest speaker at a dinner hosted by the Doña Ana County Republican Party. (Doña Ana, home to Las Cruces, is the second-largest county in the state.) Sanchez ran for governor once before but got crushed 55-39 by Democrat Bill Richardson in 2002.

Given the paucity of GOP options for statewide office in New Mexico, though, Sanchez’s name comes up often. After getting elected lieutenant governor as fellow Republican Susana Martinez’s running-mate during the 2010 red wave, Sanchez tried his hand at a Senate campaign the following cycle but dropped out before the primary. In 2018, he considered bids for governor and senator but passed on both, and he said and did the same thing about last year’s Senate race, too.

OR-Gov: Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam said this week that he’s forming an exploratory committee to consider a bid in next year’s open governor’s race. Willamette Week’s Aaron Mesh describes Sandy, a town of 11,000 people, as “one of Oregon’s fastest-growing cities, although still best known as a gateway to Mount Hood skiing and hiking.” If Pulliam does decide to run, he’d join 2016 nominee Bud Pierce in the Republican primary. A large number of prominent Democrats are also weighing the contest, though none have entered so far.

VA-Gov: Former state Rep. Jennifer Carroll Foy is running her first TV ad ahead of the June 8 Democratic primary, an introductory spot that focuses on healthcare. Carroll Foy says that after her grandmother, who raised her, suffered a stroke, the family was “forced to choose between her mortgage and medicine.”

She contrasts that with her own premature delivery of twins (which, incidentally, happened while she was running her first campaign for state delegate in 2017), saying, “I was grateful to have healthcare—to save their lives and mine.” Carroll Foy concludes by highlighting her efforts to expand Medicaid while in the legislature and says she’s fighting “to bring affordable healthcare to all of us.”

The Republican firm Medium Buying says that so far, Carroll Foy has spent $185,000 on television and radio advertising, though it’s not clear how much is behind this initial spot. The Democratic frontrunner, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, has spent $544,000 on the airwaves to date, per Medium.

House

FL-20: Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who’d been considering running in the special election to replace the late Alcee Hastings, says he will not join the race.

KS-03: Republican state Rep. Chris Croft, who just so happens to chair the House’s redistricting committee, says he’s considering a campaign for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, which a top member of his own party explicitly listed as the GOP’s top gerrymandering target last year. House Speaker Ron Ryckman claims that he was unaware of Croft’s interest in a congressional bid against Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids when Croft was appointed to lead the committee and says he may be removed if he does in fact run.

Of course, setting things up that way would would allow Croft to draw new maps and only later declare himself a candidate—a very obvious conflict that Democrats have pounced on. Croft argues that the same issue affects every sitting lawmaker, since they’ll all be participating in the mapmaking process for their own districts, but that’s an argument for independent redistricting, not piling on further conflicts of interest.

TX-08: A few Republicans are already showing interest in running to succeed Rep. Kevin Brady, who announced his retirement on Wednesday. Former Brady campaign manager Christian Collins tells the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek that he’s “seriously considering” a bid, while state Sen. Brandon Creighton and state Rep. Steve Toth didn’t directly answer whether they’re looking at the race but did not rule out the possibility either. Toth tried to primary Brady in 2016 but lost 53-37.


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The Trump-Cheney schism is scary for the country, but it should be even more frightening for the GOP

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Normal humans feel this thing called guilt when they do awful things to other sentient beings. Sawing our 244-year-old republic off at the knees would certainly qualify as “awful,” but I imagine at this point it’s the only thing that could give him an erection. 

I felt the usual pang of doom while reading this Washington Post story on the simmering internecine battle between a minority GOP contingent led by Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who thinks America is worth saving, and the party’s majority quisling caucus, who seem all too eager to sacrifice our country on the altar of the Dread Blubber Ba’al.

The heartening part of the WaPo story is that it focuses on Cheney’s determination to keep up her fight against Trump and defend her country and party. I can’t stand Cheney’s politics—or much else about her—but she’s doing important work here, and we should support her, at least in this effort. 

What’s frightening, though, is that the story once again points up just how far off the beam “mainstream” Republicans have fallen. The craven capitulation to Trumpism starts at the top, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who traveled to Mar-a-Lago earlier this year to kiss Trump’s ring. He has both publicly and privately rebuked Cheney for her focus on preserving democracy and the rule of law. Cheney is likely to be booted out of her leadership position soon, in favor of Rep. Elise Stefanik, a less ideologically pure Republican who is nevertheless in thrall to our deposed Orange Julius Caesar.

Again, it’s scary shit, because what’s happening right now is a big, party-wide loyalty test in which Republicans are expected to pay unyielding deference to the Big Lie as if it’s the GOP equivalent of the Nicene Creed. 

So, yes, plenty of reasons to be scared out of our wits. But there may be a silver lining to all this, which is that this insistence on turning one major American party into a personality cult could backfire, bigly.

Why? Even a majority of Republicans is a pretty small cohort in the grand scheme of things, and GOP leaders may be fatally overestimating Trump’s post-Jan. 6 appeal.

After all, the guy lost to Joe Biden for a reason, and it’s hard to imagine he’s a plus for the party going forward.

Indeed, buried deep inside the very scary WaPo story was a far more encouraging nugget.

The debate over Trump’s potentially negative impact on swing districts is likely to escalate in the coming months, as vulnerable Republicans try to position themselves for reelection.

The internal NRCC poll partially shared with lawmakers in April found that President Biden was perilously popular in core battleground districts, with 54 percent favorability. Vice President Harris was also more popular than Trump, the poll showed. Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid stimulus plan and his $2.3 trillion jobs and infrastructure package both polled higher than the former president’s favorability, which was at 41 percent, compared to 42 percent in February.

Biden’s job between now and the 2022 midterm is to keep delivering for the American people, so Trump can continue his long, circuitous journey to the sewage treatment plant … and then out to sea. Our job will be to do whatever we possibly can to hold the House, so that any GOP impulse for overturning a free and fair 2024 election in Congress becomes moot. 

We also need to redouble our efforts to challenge unfair voter suppression laws and, even more importantly, get our base out in droves. If the specter of Trump, who is making Republicans less and less popular in the suburbs every day, still hangs over our country in 2022, we might actually be able to hang onto our House seats, or even expand our slim majority. Whether we collapse under the weight of Trumpism or further extricate ourselves from that noxious swamp is up to us.

The time for celebrating Biden’s victory is over. The time for digging in and defending this country against the Big Lie and the Big Doofus has arrived.

Let’s do this.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.


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Teachers shouldn’t have to be superheroes, this week in the war on workers

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Care work was already work before the pandemic, and there was already a crisis. But the coronavirus pandemic made the crisis exponentially worse. Sarah Jaffe takes on the policy and personal roots of that crisis in a searing, rage-filled piece that you really should read, from the parts about motherhood and the men who get let off the hook, to the welfare rights movement, to—especially—the part about teachers during COVID-19 and the way they’ve been scapegoated in debates about in-person education.

This is the crux of it: “Get Covid and die, get written about in glowing terms,” she writes. “Collectively refuse to die (or to spread the virus to your students and their families), and your ‘allies’ will begin to threaten you.”

Teachers, she writes, have been “goddamn superheroes,” and, “If we, collectively, gave a shit about kids’ learning conditions, they would not be attending overcrowded schools with lousy ventilation; ancient, crumbling textbooks; ice-cold water in the sinks; and no nurses. Teachers would not be the ones bargaining for smaller class sizes and counselors in the buildings and green space and recess time. They would not be sharing photos of mold and mouse droppings in their buildings online. Or they would, but they’d have actual support from all the current scolds. They wouldn’t have to be superheroes; they could be human, grieving, depressed, struggling, messy, and mortal like the rest of us.”

That. All of that. Read the whole thing.


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Studies show meeting current agreements won’t be enough to stop melting of Antarctic ice sheets

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The one good thing about isostasy is that it does happen slowly. Not slowly as far as geologists are concerned, but slowly for people who don’t spend every day thinking in terms of “deep time.” For example, if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would likely take 1,000 years for the continent to rebound. 

But even if the pressure between crust and mantle will be adjusted over a millennia, that doesn’t mean that sea level increases won’t be evident until 3021. That Antarctic rock bounce would add about a meter to sea level rise, but that’s just a fraction of the total increase expected.

As a paper from a team of international researchers predicts, melting land ice can be expected to add more than 42cm (1.4’) to sea level in this century—and that’s if all nations meet the obligations under the Paris agreement. If the increase in global warming could be limited to 1.5°C, the increase could be cut by two-thirds, but that would require significant additional changes.

An increase of under two feet may not seem like much, but it’s an enormous change for coastal communities. In fact, it’s over twice as much increase has occurred since 1880. Combined with high tides and storms, it would overwhelm many cities, push saltwater far into many estuaries, ruin aquifers in multiple areas, and mean the loss of millions of acres of low-lying agriculture. 

A second paper also examines the relationship between the commitments under the Paris agreement and the expected rise in sea level. That paper predicts that meltwater from Antarctica will contribute about 0.5cm (0.2”) per year, which also sounds relatively mild—but it’s an order of magnitude greater than previous measures. That paper also provides a mind-boggling number for the total amount of water contained in the Antarctic Ice Sheet, showing it as enough to raise the global sea level by 57.9 meters. That would be 190 feet. Now add in that isostasy, and the resulting change would be more like 250’.

That’s not quite enough to bring on Waterworld, but more than enough to render a map of the coastlines unrecognizable. How big would the change be? These two maps in the Miami Herald max out at just 10 meters (33 feet). In fact, the highest point in Florida is just 197 feet above sea level. 

What both papers show is how exquisitely sensitive to small changes these system are, with differences of a degree causing huge changes in outcomes. In an interview with The Guardian, one of the lead authors of the second study made it clear.

“If the world warms up at a rate dictated by current policies we will see the Antarctic system start to get away from us around 2060,” said Robert DeConto. “Once you put enough heat into the climate system, you are going to lose those ice shelves, and once that is set in motion you can’t reverse it.”

Keep in mind that the numbers being posted here are the “good” scenarios, the ones where the world sticks with climate agreements. Fortunately, current pricing on energy make doing the right thing also the cheap thing as solar power and wind power have moved well below the cost of coal and are competing directly with the price of natural gas. Still, it is not a given that the economics will always favor renewable energy, Anyone who thinks that simply relying on the market to do the right thing … has never watched how the market deals with anything. Preventing trillions of tons of additional carbon from being injected into the atmosphere will take serious, enforceable, itnernational agreements.

Of course, sea level increase is not happening tomorrow. Because it’s happening today. The sea level has already been rising. Now it’s rising faster.


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