Just in case you didn’t hand your Tuesday night over to Fox News, CNN or MSNBC. From the Associated Press:
White House dreams fading, Bernie Sanders added another state to his tally against Hillary Clinton with a win in West Virginia on Tuesday — a victory that will do little to slow the former secretary of state’s steady march toward the Democratic presidential nomination.
Meanwhile, Republican Donald Trump also won there and in Nebraska, a week after he cleared the field of his remaining rivals. They were not victories likely to heal the party’s wounds, as some GOP leaders continue to hold off offering their endorsement of the party’s presumptive nominee.
The result in the West Virginia Democratic primary underscored the awkward position Clinton and the party’s establishment face as they attempt to turn their focus to the general election. Sanders has won 19 states to Clinton’s 23, but she is 94 percent of the way to winning the nomination — just 144 delegates short of the 2,383 required.
This morning, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz had an interesting take on the exit poll results that flowed from West Virginia:
While Bernie attributed Hillary’s success in the South (or the “Deep South” as he referred to the entire region) to its strong conservatism (not true), he has actually won easily in the two states with the most conservative Democratic electorates to date—Oklahoma and West Virginia.
Another fun fact—WV is the only state thus far in which a plurality of Democratic voters said they wanted the next president to be “more conservative” than Obama—41 percent! Guess who carried that group by a wide margin? You guessed it, the only true conservative in the race—Bernie Sanders. Yep, Bernie won by 24 points among Democrats in WV who want the next president to be “more conservative” than Obama.
Now to be fair, he won by an even bigger margin among the smaller group of Democrats (28%) who want the next president to be “more liberal” than Obama. Clinton won by a wide margin among the 26% of WV Democrats who wanted the next president to “continue Obama’s policies.”
What this tells me, though, is that a lot of the Bernie voters in WV, and I suspect this was true in OK as well and will likely be true in KY next week, are using their vote to express their unhappiness with Obama. Clinton is seen as closely tied to Obama. This helps her with Dem voters in most states but not in states like OK, WV and probably KY as well. So what does this imply about the outlook for the big states that will be voting in June—CA and NJ? Nothing.
Don’t you hate it when those audits go on and on forever? Some people don’t. From the Associated Press:
Shifting swiftly to the general election, Donald Trump says he’s narrowed his list of potential running mates to “five or six” people and doesn’t want to accept public money to finance a fall campaign against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But in a break from recent major party nominees, Trump does not plan to invest heavily in a data-driven effort to target voters in the fall campaign. Despite pressure, the billionaire businessman also doesn’t expect to release his tax returns before November, citing an ongoing audit of his finances. He said he will release them after the audit ends.
“There’s nothing to learn from them,” Trump told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday. He also has said he doesn’t believe voters are interested.
In an op-ed piece for the New York Times on Donald Trump and religious conservatives within the GOP, author Sarah Posner has this notable paragraph:
Deliberately or not, Mr. Trump may be the perfect candidate for an evangelical subculture that has increasingly become enamored with the prosperity, or health and wealth, gospel. In trying to build a singular religious faction that agreed on some core issues (like abortion), the Republican Party has courted that subculture, even though many evangelicals consider prosperity theology to be heretical. Mr. Trump acts more like a televangelist than an evangelical.
One of the more careful recalibrations toward Donald Trump has come from Gov. Nathan Deal. The two-term Republican cast an early ballot for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had dropped out of the race by the time Georgia held its March 1 primary. Deal was largely tight-lipped about Trump until he emerged as the party’s presumptive pick.
In an interview this week, though, Deal said he was disappointed by the criticism of Trump by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, past GOP standard-bearers who had to overcome their own concerns from conservative activists. It’s time for Trump’s staunchest critics to give him a second look, Deal added.
“Do I think that he will modify his positions or maybe explain them more completely? Yes, I think he will,” Deal said. “I’m hopeful that the leaders in positions of responsibility in our country will give him the opportunity to do that and to enlighten him when they think he’s misinformed. And I think he’s going to be willing to listen.”
Members of Congress returned to Washington this week for the first time since Donald Trump essentially locked up the GOP nomination for president. Many Republicans found themselves being hounded by reporters asking about whether they’ll back the billionaire. Not everyone was pleased by the attention:
Over at GeorgiaPundit.com, Todd Rehm tells us that the executive committee of the state GOP last night fashioned a 12-day primary to fill the void left by state Rep. Dustin Hightower of Carrollton, a Republican recently appointed to a superior court judgeship. He was the only candidate in the race. Qualifying will be Thursday, May 12. The primary is May 24.
Likely candidates, according to Rehm, include former state lawmaker Tim Bearden and Villa Rica Mayor Jay Collins.
The Brookhaven Republican targeted with an ethics complaint had some harsh words for her accuser. Catherine Bernard told Reporter Newspapers that there’s nothing wrong with her campaign finance reports and called the complaint filed by activist Will Kremer “shamelessly dishonest” and a “huge, annoying distraction.” From the report:
She also accused Kremer of being one of the “smirking, useless frat boys in the Georgia Republican Party” who are damaging the country.
“They have bet on the establishment lasting forever and are now watching it crumble,” she said, pointing to Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the GOP as the party’s presumptive presidential candidate.
The fact she tried to twist an ethics complaint, a situation in which she has broken the law, into a personal attack against me shows her lack of sincerity in being an advocacy for transparency and ethics. Rather than rectify her wrongdoings, she blamed the establishment. My hope is she responds to the ethics complaint with facts, not personal attacks.
Moreover, Kremer said, he was never in a fraternity.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., has been working in recent weeks to build support for his recently veteran’s accountability legislation. His office on Tuesday highlighted positive reception from groups such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. But you can put Sen. John McCain, perhaps the most influential POW from the Vietnam era , in the opposition column. From the Military Times:
Sen. John McCain on Friday panned the massive veterans omnibus legislation pending in the Senate as a “very bad” plan, casting doubt on the future of the already controversial reform measure.
During a radio interview on Arizona’s KFYI-AM, the longtime Arizona senator said he is “deeply concerned” about the plan, particularly its provisions dealing with firing problem employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs and expanding options for veterans seeking health care outside the VA system.
“There’s not the accountability there,” he said. “I’m very concerned. Hopefully we’ll take up some legislation before we go out, but I’m very worried, to tell you the truth.”
Isakson’s House counterparts have also raised questions about whether the bill goes far enough.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland announced Tuesday that he’ll send all of his public service records to the University of West Georgia’s library.
Westmoreland’s office said the haul includes documents from his time in Congress, the Georgia state House and as the vice chairman of the House GOP’s campaign fundraising apparatus. The Coweta County Republican plans to retire from Congress at the end of the year.
A senior Senate Republican is pushing for Facebook to answer questions about how it curates one of its popular news features after a report alleged that the social media site routinely suppressed stories related to conservative interests.
South Dakota Republican John Thune, the Senate’s No. 3 Republican and the chairman of the committee that oversees internet communications, voiced his concerns in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg following a report Monday on the blog Gizmodo that said staffers regularly excluded conservative topics from the site’s “trending news” section.
“Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet,” Thune said in an accompanying statement.
The letter asks Zuckerberg to respond to a series of questions on Facebook’s operating procedures. A senior aide to Harry Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, quickly fired back:
“The Republican Senate refuses to hold hearings on Judge Garland, refuses to fund the President’s request for Zika aid and takes the most days off of any Senate since 1956, but thinks Facebook hearings are a matter of urgent national interest,” said Adam Jentleson. “The taxpayers who pay Republican senators’ salaries probably want their money back.”