Georgia's disappointing Democrats

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On the roster:
Georgia’s disappointing Democrats - Texas Dems at a crossroads in runoff today - Immigration, farm bill votes to happen in June - EPA excludes AP, CNN from summit - You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose…

GEORGIA’S DISAPPOINTING DEMOCRATS
We have been watching with interest today’s Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia. This is the race where one candidate brags he has a deportation truck while another candidate does him one better and has a deportation bus.

If Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle can’t come up with a majority today, we assume we will see other vehicles for deportation before the runoff, maybe a deportation Tesla for the suburbs and a deportation Winnebago for UGA home games. 

This kind of primary-season buffoonery is always fascinating to watch, but our interest is inherently limited by the fact that, yet again, Democrats don’t seem to have any way to make what is supposedly the East Coast’s up-and-coming swing state competitive.

We have been hearing for much of the past decade that Georgia is really a purple state in disguise. Certainly the fact that President Trump did worse in the Peach State with just 50 percent of the vote than he did anywhere else in the Deep South argues for Democrats’ claims.

But when we look at election results, we see missed expectations after missed expectations. Jon Ossoff? Whoops. Michelle Nunn? Nope. Jason Carter? Unh-unh. Georgia has not elected a Democrat to its governorship or the Senate in almost 20 years, and that shows little sign of changing this year. 

The Democratic gubernatorial primary today neatly illustrates the state’s Democrats’ problem. On one side is Stacey Abrams, the proudly progressive, African American former House minority leader who represented a majority-black Atlanta district in her decade at the statehouse. On the other side is Stacey Evans, a moderate-sounding white suburbanite who represents a plurality-white district in Cobb County. 

Abrams has made it no secret that she believes the way forward for Georgia’s Democrats is to mobilize disenchanted African American voters who long ago gave up on state politics. Evans has carefully argued that in order to win, Georgia Democrats need to take back suburban districts that voted blue until the turn of the century. 

They’re both right, which is why neither would likely fare well in the general election. 

Exit polls from the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections in Georgia show that the state’s electorate is getting less white, but the white voters are getting more Republican. In 2012, 72 percent of the electorate was white, and 59 percent of white voters chose the Republican candidate. In 2016 the white share of the electorate was 60 percent, but 75 percent voted Republican. 

Certainly, the days when Georgia was governed by a coalition of moderate-leaning Democrats like Sam Nunn with the lock-step support of African American voters are long gone. Candidates like Nunn’s daughter, Michelle, former Gov. Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason, and Evans say that the way forward is to go back to those days. 

That doesn’t sit very well with black leaders like Abrams, who points to Doug Jones’ victory in neighboring Alabama over scandal-ridden Roy Moore as evidence of what happens when the Democratic base is encouraged to get fired up. 

But the larger part for Democrats in Georgia is that their hope for revival is predicated on an unsound theory: That the level of Republican support among a shrinking percentage of white voters was relatively static. As Democrats across the country found out in 2016, white voters may only just be getting started at being Republican. 

And certainly, the same kind of resentments and divisions along racial lines the plagued Democrats in 2016 do the party no favors in Georgia or anywhere else. 

It looks like Abrams is the favorite to win today, maybe even by enough to avoid a runoff. But like Democrats in the ray of the country, demographic trends don’t mean
much for Democrats until they can get over their own racial baggage. 

THE RULEBOOK: NOT BY ACCIDENT
“It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty.” – John Jay, Federalist No. 2

TIME OUT: WILD OUT WEST
Paris Review: Wild Wild Country, the true-crime docuseries directed by the brothers Chapman and Maclain Way, is a sprawling, melodramatic, tricky show that follows the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from his sixties-era ashram in India to a vast ranch in Central Oregon in 1981. It uses miles and miles of sandy, archival, look-at-me footage (and you feel a little dirty, looking), including incredulous televised broadcasters, and pulls you through a heady succession of the scandals provoked as the cult’s new city arose. … Helicopter shots zoom in on the frontier, a mountainous, treeless terrain. … The conflict is further animated by an astounding cast of odd and indelible characters and eerie juxtapositions: long-haired Sannyasins against shaking-their-head townies; beautiful, beaming, blissed-out blondes with outdoor tans versus white-bread government officials. And then there’s Bhagwan himself: otherworldly, fragile saint to his disciples, faux mystical, egotistical charlatan to outsiders, berobed, fishy eyed, a magpie for flashy watches and fancy cars.”
 
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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.2 percent 
Average disapproval: 
54 percent 
Net Score:
 -12.8 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 0.6 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve - 55% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 38% approve - 56% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.8 percent
Democratic average: 48.4 percent
Advantage: 
Democrats plus 6.6 points
Change from one week ago: 
no change 
[Average includes: CNN: 47% Dems - 44% GOP; CBS News: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; Pew Research Center: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP.]

TEXAS DEMS AT A CROSSROADS IN RUNOFF TODAY
 
WaPo: “The big story in Tuesday's primaries across four states, anchored by runoffs in Texas, is that Democrats can't decide what direction to go in the era of Trump. Should they focus on getting out their already energized base by electing candidates that will fire them up? Or should they try to reach out to disenchanted independent and Republican voters with candidates whom those voters will find more amenable? That battle has manifested most clearly in a Democratic congressional primary outside Houston, in one of Texas Democrats' best pickup opportunities of 2018. In the 7th Congressional District, Tuesday will bring a runoff between Lizzie Fletcher, who is trying to appeal to the center, and Laura Moser, an unapologetic liberal. The two outperformed five other candidates in a March primary, but neither got a majority of the vote. The winner of Tuesday's runoff election will try to unseat Rep. John Abney Culberson(R), who won reelection in 2016 despite Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton taking the district by one percentage point.

Ky. Dems scrap over rare House opportunity -
Lexington Herald Leader: “In February 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump's inauguration, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr was booed by a standing room only crowd in the Montgomery County Courthouse Annex in Mt. Sterling. … More than a year later, three candidates made their final push Monday for the chance to challenge Barr in November. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, former fighter pilot Amy McGrath and State Sen. Reggie Thomas have battled for months, at candidate forums, interviews and on the airwaves. Any of the three would be the strongest candidate Barr has faced since he was elected in 2012.”

Son of ousted Rep. Conyers misses cut for Michigan primary - The Hill: “John Conyers III, the son of former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), will not appear on the [Aug. 7] Democratic primary ballot in the race to fill his father’s vacated seat. The Detroit News reported Monday that Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined John Conyers III did not submit enough valid petition signatures to appear on the ballot. He had submitted more than 1,900 signatures to appear on the ballot, but the clerk’s office found more than half were invalid. That left him short of the 1,000 necessary for the petition to be certified. John Conyers III filed for reconsideration last week, but Garrett upheld the original decision on Monday.”

Once a bright spot for SC Dems, Parnell now an embarrassment - The [Palmetto] Post and Courier:Archie Parnell … is resisting pleas to withdraw after his campaign staff discovered that he physically abused his ex-wife in the 1970s. In divorce records obtained by The Post and Courier, Kathleen Parnell said the marriage deteriorated after two years in 1973 because of ‘unwarranted accusations’ from her husband. … The divorce was finalized in early 1974. Confronted with the court records by aides last week, Parnell did not deny the allegations. But even as his staff fled the campaign en masse, he refused to drop out of the race Monday. ‘This campaign has always been about the people of the 5th district, my home, but never about me,’ Parnell said in a statement.”

IMMIGRATION, FARM BILL VOTES TO HAPPEN IN JUNE
Roll Call: “The farm bill, which failed on the House floor Friday, will get a second vote June 22 after a vote on a conservative immigration bill earlier that week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Monday. The immigration bill by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas that leaders have scheduled a vote on includes border wall funding, security and enforcement provisions, cuts to legal immigration and a process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients to obtain three-year renewals of their work permits. ‘We’re looking at moving the farm bill on June 22 and having the Goodlatte-McCaul bill come up the third week of June,’ Scalise told reporters. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who with roughly a dozen members of his conservative caucus sunk the farm bill Friday because they wanted to vote on the immigration bill first, said that the timing Scalise outlined is fine with him so long as the Goodlatte-McCaul bill is brought to the floor under its own rule.”

Milbank: This House is bananas - WaPo: “The House Rules Committee, meeting in its ornate chamber on the third floor of the Capitol on Monday night, sent two bills to the House floor under ‘closed’ rules — that is, legislation that must be rubber stamped in toto, without being amended by so much as a comma. That brings the number of closed rules in this Congress to 84, beating the previous record of 83 set in 2014, according to the Democrats’ tally (a Republican tally counts one fewer). And here’s the truly remarkable part: Republicans have another seven months in this Congress to run up the score.”

EPA EXCLUDES AP, CNN FROM SUMMIT 
USA Today: “The Environmental Protection Agency kept three news organizations from attending a national summit on harmful water contaminants on Tuesday morning, with the agency insisting it did so because the room was full. The Associated Press, CNN and E&E News were prevented from attending the first half of the meeting. Politico said its reporter had been allowed into the event, but would be asked to leave for the afternoon. Following Tuesday morning's reports, EPA announced that the second half of the day would be open to press. AP reported that security guards grabbed its reporter by the shoulders and ‘forcibly’ shoved her out of the EPA building. ‘The Environmental Protection Agency's selective barring of news organizations, including the AP, from covering today's meeting is alarming and a direct threat to the public's right to know about what is happening inside their government,’ AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Stephen F. Hayes
: McCarthy denials about replacing Ryan don’t hold up - Weekly Standard

AUDIBLE: BRO, THAT’S LIKE HIS WHOLE JOB

“Do you want to interpret that for him, so he can hear it? Because you know he’s not hearing what we’re doing here.” – President Trump speaking to the translator for South Korean President Moon Jae-in today.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Mr. S.... I cannot understand in any way when a tragedy (like a school shooting) occurs, why, buried in every print and on-air report...reporters insist on reporting, words to this effect...’this is the largest school shooting since the last school shooting in...Pick a date...’ What is gained by reporting a current cataclysmic event and referencing it's magnitude versus a previous cataclysmic event of the same nature? I am baffled...and hate that sort of reportage.” – Rick Randell, Bradenton, Fla.

[Ed. note: There’s a great deal, Mr. Randell, that seems to be lacking in the overall coverage of school shootings. But it had not occurred to me that comparing these events to prior, similar occasions would be problematic for anyone. I’m not sure which part of it summons this hate in you, but I find it useful to know the scope of a tragedy. I suppose the argument against it would be that keeping score in this way sets benchmarks for the next murderer. My own preference would be that we treat these killers as we in the press used to do with those who commit suicide and withhold their names. It’s not my decision to make but I wish there was a way to deprive the killers of the incentive of publicity.]

“Chris: If Mueller hasn’t found something to bring charges against Trump by now he is either incompetent or there is nothing there. To me he is just another political hack making a fortune off my money. It’s time for him to put up or shut up.” Michael Johnson, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.

[Ed. note: I am afraid that you have been misinformed, Mr. Johnson. I have no idea what salary Mueller is taking in this job, if any. But I do know that he gave up what was likely a multi-million-dollar post at mega-law firm WilmerHale. Since leaving the FBI in 2013, Mueller has also taught at Stanford, conducted the security review of the contracting firm that employed Edward Snowden and oversaw the disbursement of settlement money from faulty Takata airbags. Mueller is 73 and probably quite comfortable already, but gave up big money to take on his current role for the Justice Department. You might also be interested to know that Mueller volunteered for service in Vietnam, where he was awarded a Bronze Star before beginning a career as a prosecutor that stretched from 1986 to 2001. I also think it may help you to know that Mueller and the president’s legal team seem to be in agreement that the major obstacle right now to Mueller finishing his work is the president’s indecision on whether to grant an interview or force Mueller to try to subpoena him.]

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YOU CAN PICK YOUR FRIENDS, YOU CAN PICK YOUR NOSE…

Lexington Herald Leader: “Voters in Martin County can pick a Booger in the primary election Tuesday. That would be Jason ‘Booger’ Jude, a Republican running for jailer. Jude is among dozens of candidates across Kentucky who included nicknames on their ballot listings in order to stand out for voters. It’s been a tradition among candidates in rural areas, where politics is often more personal and some people wouldn’t know a candidate by anything except a nickname. ‘Half the people don’t even know my first name,’ said Jackson County Clerk Donald ‘Duck’ Moore, a Republican running for re-election. There are fairly common nicknames on ballots around the state, including Doc, Bud, Butch, Slim, Red, Curly, Dude, and Jimbo, though James ‘JimBo’ Combs, a Democrat running for judge-executive in Breathitt County, put a twist on his.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.