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Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

Just weeks ago, Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) told TPM that he thought two Republicans would make it into the runoff election for his seat, locking out Democrats and costing them one of their top pickup opportunities. But this week, he said he thinks that isn’t going to happen.

“The Democratic turnout is exceeding Republican in the absentee [mail vote],” Issa, who is retiring at the end of this term, told TPM on Tuesday. “The Democrats have a machine turning out Democratic votes and that’s probably going to make a difference on June 5 … what they’re doing is designed to make what would otherwise be a failure into a success.”

According to new early vote numbers, Issa is right that that’s less likely to happen in his district. But the numbers suggest Democrats may be in a precarious spot in a few other California districts they’ve been worried about.

Those numbers are compiled by data guru Paul Mitchell, whose team reaches out to each county to get daily vote updates. He said the early data suggested that the electorate is looking a lot more like a normal midterm electorate in the state than one where Democrats are flocking to the polls — a sign that it might be harder to flip these traditionally Republican but Democratic-trending seats in the fall than some Democrats have hoped.

It’s all bad signs,” he said. “I don’t think these early vote numbers suggest a big blue wave in the primary.”

California’s “jungle” primary system allows the top two vote-winners to advance to the general election, regardless of party. That’s led to concerns among Democrats that their candidates could split the Democratic vote, allowing Republicans to finish in the top two spots in some congressional races.

In Issa’s seat, where four serious Democratic candidates are vying against three Republicans, Democrats are outpacing Republicans in early mail ballots returned — a big factor in the race as California strategists say at least two thirds of the election’s votes will be cast by mail. Registered Democrats make up 32 percent of the district’s vote-by-mail population but have returned 36 percent of its votes, while Republicans’ returned ballots have matched their 37 percent share of the electorate.

That’s not the case in another key race where Democrats are concerned they might get shut out — a Democratic-leaning district held by retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) where three Democrats including two front-runners are squaring off against a trio of Republicans. And while Democratic strategists who have seen internal polling say this district isn’t at the top of their worry list, the numbers suggest there’s reason for concern here as well, as Republicans are voting at faster numbers than Democrats.

In Royce’s district, registered Democrats make up 34 percent of the vote-by-mail population, the same percentage that have returned ballots. But Republicans, who make up 37 percent of the vote-by-mail population, have returned 46 percent of the ballots received so far.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s GOP-leaning seat more closely mirrors the registered vote population. Democrats make up 30 percent of vote-by-mail registrants and 35 percent of those ballots returned, while Republicans make up for 42 percent of the district’s mail voters and 46 percent of those who have returned ballots.

It’s still relatively early in the election — ballots were sent out in early May, voters have until the June 5 primary to return them. Since there are more competitive Democratic than Republican primaries (including all-party races for governor and senator) Democrats may be more likely to sit on ballots for longer. Different campaigns have different vote-gathering strategies as well, so one shouldn’t over-read these results. But they can be instructive.

Mitchell is a Democrat but his clients include both the California Democratic and Republican parties. He thinks the likelihood of Democrats getting locked out in any particular district remains low — but says there’s a good chance they’ll blow one race, a costly mistake in a year where every seat counts as Democrats try to win back the House majority.

I believe it’s an unlikely event for this to happen in any one district but if you take five unlikely events you end up with one fairly likely event,” he told TPM.

Democrats are doing everything they can to avoid that situation, pouring millions of dollars into a number of districts to tear down some Republicans and boost some Democrats. Republicans have been surprisingly quiet in those races, considering how with some effort now they could guarantee victory in a few key House battles — as well as save themselves a lot of money down the line (though there have been some last-minute efforts by GOP outside groups).

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A Republican super PAC is launching a last-minute effort to boost a handful of House GOP candidates in southern California. The goal is to block Democrats from getting a candidate into the general election in some key House races.

The American Future Fund, an Iowa-based GOP group, has dropped almost $700,000 to boost four GOP candidates in three districts, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.

Their goals are to elevate some flagging Republicans and try to help them make the November ballot in districts that are key to Democrats’ hopes of winning the House this fall.

California’s “jungle” primary system allows the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election, regardless of party. That’s led to concerns among Democrats that their candidates could split the Democratic vote, allowing Republicans to finish in the top two spots in some congressional races and immediately costing them chances at a handful of winnable seats in the state.

National Democrats have been spending heavily to try to avoid that scenario.

Republicans had been surprisingly quiet in their response, considering how with some effort now they could guarantee victory in a few key House battles — as well as save themselves a lot of money in November in the expensive districts. But this buy suggests things may be starting to shift.

The GOP super-PAC’s buy includes almost $500,000 on advertising, direct mail and door-to-door voter outreach to boost Rocky Chavez and Diane Harkey, a pair of Republican candidates running for the seat currently held by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is retiring. That race is one in which both parties worry they might get shut out and fail to get a candidate through to the November election, though Democrats are more alarmed at the prospect.

The group is also spending $100,000 to boost Scott Baugh, a Republican running against controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). That district is the one where Democratic concerns about being shut out, given their own crowded field, are most acute.

The GOP group is also chipping in about $100,000 to boost Young Kim, the GOP front-runner in the crowded race to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA).

The efforts for Kim and Harkey began last week, but this is the first evidence that the group’s push is to block Democrats out in some of these districts, rather than help out particular GOP candidates. The group didn’t respond to requests for an explanation of their strategy.

Republicans had expressed growing frustration that their party wasn’t doing more to meddle in these primaries to ensure the best results. Democrats already have spent millions on the races.

Issa told TPM on Tuesday, before these ads had become public, that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats were doing a better job organizing in the state, even in traditionally conservative enclaves like his district.

“Pelosi naturally gets us better. That’s not to say anything against Steve,” Issa said, referring to National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH). “It’s just that the observation in my district is the Democrats are playing a game that could well get one of their candidates in that otherwise wouldn’t if both sides were playing.”

Other Republicans have also griped about the lack of national intervention to help them.

“You wish the party would recognize this opportunity and lift us up,” GOP strategist John Thomas, who’s working with candidate Shawn Nelson in Royce’s district, told TPM. “They just don’t understand the top-two dynamic.”

Democrats have been spending heavily against Nelson and Bob Huff to avoid them getting into the runoff with Kim, the GOP front-runner, and Republicans still have done little in response to help them.

But the American Future Fund’s late intervention could help move the ball back in Republicans’ direction in these key seats.

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An anti-establishment progressive who emerged as a bête noire of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has fallen far short in her runoff bid for Congress.

Democratic activist and writer Laura Moser has lost her primary runoff in a key House district in suburban Houston, Texas to attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D). Fletcher led Moser by 68 percent to 32 percent with 63 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called the race.

Moser drew national headlines when she was the target of aggressive attacks from the DCCC, who before the March primary highlighted controversial statements she’d made about her home state.

The attack is the only time the committee has taken a public swipe at one of their own candidates this election cycle — and in any recent cycle — and it seemed to backfire, helping Moser pull in some big dollars from national Democratic groups and possibly cementing her position in the runoff.

Tuesday’s results let national Democrats breathe a sigh of relief; groups like the DCCC had made clear that they saw Moser as a fatally flawed candidate who would have taken a winnable race against Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) off the map. Culberson’s district is historically very Republican but Hillary Clinton narrowly won it last election cycle, and Democrats are hopeful they can beat him with the more moderate Fletcher as their nominee.

“Born and raised in Houston, Lizzie Fletcher has dedicated her life to service and protecting economic opportunity for the people of this community,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said in a statement. “Lizzie is in a very strong position for the general election, and her inclusive message will strike a powerful contrast with her Republican opponent’s record of undermining investment in critical infrastructure and disaster preparedness, and raising the cost of health care for thousands of families across Texas.”

Moser essentially conceded the race in a Tuesday night speech, urging her supporters to back Fletcher if the results held.

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This post has been updated.

Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) has won her state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, making her the first black woman to win a major-party gubernatorial nomination in U.S. history as she seeks to become the first black female governor in the U.S.

Abrams led former state Rep. Stacey Evans (D) by 74 percent to 26 percent of the vote with 31 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called the race.

Abrams, a Democratic rising star who’s long been talked up by party leaders, has spent years working to expand Georgia’s electorate by pushing to register more young and minority voters in the quickly diversifying state.

She easily bested Evans in this race after getting heavy support from the pro-choice EMILY’s List as well as a bevy of top surrogates including Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“We proved that an unmuted voice can shake the foundations of an ‘immutable’ status quo. We showed the nation that there is power in our voices, and there is power in our feet,” Abrams said in a Facebook post after her victory was declared, nodding to the historic nature of her campaign. “Tonight’s victory was only the beginning. The road to November will be long and tough, but the next step is one we take together.”

The race pitted two competing visions for the future of the Democratic Party against each other; Abrams called for the Party to lean into a progressive vision and to excite new voters while Evans, who is white, stressed a more moderate message aimed at winning back the state’s long-dead Democratic coalition that was rooted in moderate white voters.

Abrams faces an uphill battle in her race for governor in the Republican-leaning state — but it’s one that national Democrats are excited to see take place.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) led the GOP field by a double-digit margin in the primary but won far below the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff. He will face Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), a hardline Republican who’s run some controversial culture war ads and is a longtime foe of Abrams’ in her battle to expand the voting rolls in the state.

Georgia’s population has trended younger and more diverse in recent decades, and isn’t as solidly Republican as some might think — Hillary Clinton lost it by just five percentage points, the same margin President Obama lost the state by in 2008, and better than his eight-point loss in 2012. But those final five points have proven elusive for Democrats, whose most recent top statewide candidates have been white. It will be interesting to see if Abrams can combine what’s shaping up to be a good year for Democrats and her own appeal to base progressives to make this a tight race in the fall.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Abrams called for a progressive vision, while Evans pitched a more moderate message to voters.

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Marine veteran Amy McGrath (D) has upset Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D) in a key House race primary, becoming the latest female political neophyte to knock off a more established male politician in a Democratic primary this year.

McGrath led Gray by 49 percent to 41 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called the race.

She’ll face Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) in a GOP-leaning district centered on Lexington that national Democrats are bullish about winning this November.

McGrath made a big splash when she jumped into the race with an impressive campaign video highlighting her experience as a fighter pilot that kickstarted her fundraising in a big way. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had long dreamed of convincing the well-liked Gray to run for the seat, and kept recruiting him to run even though McGrath’s campaign was already underway.

The race definitely pitted a more establishment candidate against an outsider — Gray had been his party’s nominee against Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in 2016, and carried the district in that race, while McGrath has never run for office before. But neither candidate ran particularly hard to the left, as has happened in some other establishment-versus-outsider Democratic primaries this year.

And while national Democrats had begun the race preferring Gray, they’d become increasingly impressed with McGrath’s campaign — enough so that the DCCC stayed officially neutral in the race.

“She’s shown she can mount quite a campaign,” Rep. Jim Yarmuth (D-KY), who sources say helped talk Gray into the race, told TPM late last week. “People are taking her a lot more seriously than they did early on.”

Republicans sought to paint her as a hardline progressive in the wake of her victory.

“Despite their best efforts, national Democrats were unable to stop radical liberal Amy McGrath from squeaking her way through the primary,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said in a statement. “When even the DCCC thinks you’re too liberal for the District, that’s an insurmountable problem. The NRCC looks forward to Andy Barr’s reelection.”

But national Democrats were less concerned about her liberal views as her being an untested candidate — a concern she’s allayed in this primary win. And they will likely invest heavily to help her campaign this fall.

“Battle-tested in more ways than one, Amy McGrath ran a tremendous race to win this competitive primary and could not be in a stronger position to win in November,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a Tuesday evening statement. “Amy has built a formidable campaign, and voters across the district have responded to her message of leadership and standing up for affordable health care. With her inspiring record of service and all of the momentum at her back, there is no question that Amy McGrath is ready to flip this key district.”

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House Democrats’ main super PAC is quietly attempting to boost a hardline Republican candidate in a key House race, the latest attempt by national Democrats to avoid disaster in California.

The House Majority PAC has sent out mail pieces to Republican and independent voters in retiring Rep. Ed Royce’s (R-CA) district tying Phil Liberatore to President Trump, a clear move to raise the underfunded Liberatore’s name recognition in the district and try to siphon off votes from other GOP candidates to him. Images of the mail pieces were obtained by TPM from a source in-district.

The mailers advertise that Liberatore and Trump “want a bigger border wall,” oppose sanctuary cities (a major flashpoint in California, where Republicans are outraged Democratic lawmakers have declared it a sanctuary state), and tout his endorsement from controversial former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R), a hero on the anti-immigrant right. While the ad is framed as an attack, it’s clear the goal is to boost him at other Republicans’ expense.

The effort is just one of many efforts from Democrats to avoid the disastrous scenario of failing to get a single candidate into the general election in a state where they have a number of key pickup opportunities.

The Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC’s mail piece on Phil Liberatore.

Because of California’s unusual jungle primary system, the top two candidates in the state’s June 5 primary will advance to the November general election regardless of party. In the past, that’s occasionally led to Democrats being locked out as two Republicans advance in some key races — and it’s an even bigger risk this year given how many competitive races there are and how many Democrats are running for the seats.

In this race, Democrats have six candidates including three spending real money, and are concerned that they’re splitting up the Democratic share of the vote enough that two Republicans could sneak through to the general election, guaranteeing a GOP congressman in a district Hillary Clinton won by nine percentage points in 2016.

“Southern Californians have a right to know the facts about the Republican candidates running in these critical Congressional races particularly given the complicated jungle primaries and crowded fields of candidates,” House Majority PAC spokesman Jeb Fain told TPM. “We’re making sure a broad range of voters know the facts about several Republicans in CA-39, including Phil Liberatore, who is far too conservative for California, and we’re working to ensure people in these important districts have the opportunity to vote for a Democrat in November.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already been spending heavily on TV ads to try to knock down Shawn Nelson and Bob Huff, two of the other Republicans in the race, in order to make sure only GOP front-runner Young Kim makes it through. This HMP mail piece is a further effort to make sure that Huff and Nelson don’t join her in the general election by trying to subtly move voters from them to the lesser-known Liberatore.

Democrats are hopeful they can get one of their candidates through, with self-funding Gil Cisneros (D) and Andy Thorburn (D) leading the pack but in danger of falling behind Huff or Nelson.

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Don Blankenship isn’t done being a thorn in the side of the GOP.

The ex-con former coal baron announced Monday morning that he plans to run as the Constitution Party’s nominee for Senate, a move that could damage his former party’s chances at defeating Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) if he’s able to actually get on the ballot.

That’s a big if, however, as West Virginia has a “sore loser” law that prevents candidates who lose primaries for a race to switch parties and run in the general election for the same seat.

“It is especially appropriate for me to be nominated by the Constitution Party given its staunch and uncompromising commitment to upholding the United States Constitution.  My First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights were violated when I was falsely charged and politically imprisoned following the unfortunate mining accident at Upper Big Branch — a tragedy wholly caused by the actions of the establishment and the federal government,” Blankenship claimed in a statement.

The announcement came after weeks of complaints by Blankenship about his treatment in the West Virginia GOP Senate race, which he finished in third place earlier this month, losing to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).

Blankenship’s bid has been long on braggadocio and short on actual results, as evidenced by his poor showing in the GOP primary. But if he pushes a legal challenge and successfully gets on the ballot this fall — or mounts a write-in bid —  he could cost Morrisey votes from the right and help Manchin stay in office, boosting Democrats’ chances in the battle for the Senate. Getting on the ballot appears to be an uphill fight, but not an impossible one for a man with seemingly unlimited resources and a deep grudge against seemingly everyone in the state political establishment.

He’s kept up his attacks against Morrisey since his loss, while further fueling his feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). And he’s seemed to have added President Trump to his enemies list following Trump’s last-minute intervention into the race to encourage voters to back another candidate.

“This time we won’t get surprised by the lying establishment. We were assured by White House political staff that they would not interfere in the primary election.  Obviously, that turned out not to be true.  Now that we know that the establishment will lie and resort to anything else necessary to defeat me, we are better prepared than before,” he declared.

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has gone public in attacking just one Democratic candidate this election. On Tuesday, they’ll find out if that person will be their nominee in a key congressional race.

The DCCC went hard after former writer and liberal activist Laura Moser earlier this year, publicly blasting her for past writings they argued would disqualify her in the race, including one where she said she’d “rather have my teeth pulled out without anesthesia” than live in her grandparents’ hometown of Paris, a few hundred miles away from the Houston-area district where she’s running.

Those attacks backfired, delivering a fundraising surge for Moser and elevating her in a crowded primary field, which may have helped her make the primary runoff against more centrist attorney Democrat Lizzie Pannill Fletcher.

“If the DCCC hadn’t given Moser that bump, I do not think she would have been in the runoff,” former Harris County Democratic Chairman Lane Lewis, who backed another candidate in the first round and now supports Fletcher, told TPM.

Now the day of reckoning is almost here, with Moser and Fletcher squaring up on Tuesday in their rubber match.

The race is one of a handful of key Tuesday contests for House Democrats. In Kentucky, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D) and Navy veteran Amy McGrath (D) are in a barn-burner of a primary for the right to face Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY).  In Arkansas, a moderate backed by the Blue Dogs is hoping to top 50 percent and avoid a runoff to face Rep. French Hill (R-AR) in a GOP-leaning district. And Democrats will pick their nominee to face Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) in another chance to win Georgia’s 6th race after losing a high-profile special election there last year.

I pay my dues to the DCCC, and I was not happy when I saw a front-page article [in the local paper about their attacks on Moser] — it’s kind of like fighting within the family,” Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) told TPM, saying he confronted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) about the move. Ms. Moser actually got a lot of exposure [from the attacks], and I think that helped her get into the runoff.”

Green said that either candidate would have a tough fight against Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) in the district, which narrowly went for Hillary Clinton but has historically been a lock for the GOP ever since George H.W. Bush represented it in Congress.

“Don’t get your hopes up too much. If you look below John Culberson, every local elected official is a Republican,” he said. “It’s still an uphill battle.”

But he said Moser’s past statements could badly damage the party’s chances in the district.

Moser is clearly to the left of Fletcher. She supports single-payer healthcare and has called for impeaching President Trump, which local Democrats say could be a tough sell in the district. Some unions also take major issue with Fletcher, whose law firm was behind a major anti-union lawsuit — the state AFL-CIO lost $5.3 million in the case, and did an anti-endorsement of her in the primary (her campaign contends she wasn’t involved in the lawsuit).

Both Moser and national Democrats dispute that she made the runoff because of the attacks, saying she was already positioned to do so. But the attacks clearly turned her into a cause célèbre of left-wing groups and activists who were spoiling for a fight with the establishment.

That ugly spat is gone but has not been forgotten by either side. While the DCCC has avoided any more public involvement in the race since accidentally listing Fletcher on its “red-to-blue” endorsement list in a press release before quickly walking it back, party officials stand by their contention that Moser would doom their chances to defeat Culberson in the GOP-leaning district. DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) called her past statements “disqualifying” in a recent TV interview. And Moser told TPM that they’re “still interfering in the race and don’t let anyone tell you they’re not,” while declining to provide evidence.

Most national and local Democrats say Fletcher has the edge heading into Tuesday’s race. Moser’s fundraising boon after the DCCC attacks proved fleeting, and Fletcher has outspent her by a wide margin in the runoff. Fletcher is the only one running broadcast TV ads in the expensive Houston media market. Fletcher out-raised Moser by $175,000 to $131,000 in the homestretch of the campaign, and Moser had just $80,000 left in cash on hand to Fletcher’s $360,000 as of early May.

Remarkably, there hasn’t been a single independent expenditure during the runoff. The DCCC has been notably silent, and the pro-choice EMILY’s List, which sent mail pieces for Fletcher in the primary, has been AWOL in the runoff even as they stand by her, a sign they may think she has the race in hand.

“Lizzie has been running a strong campaign and communicating her message to voters extremely effectively. EMILY’s List endorsed Lizzie because she is a progressive leader with deep ties to her community—and we think those are the same reasons that voters will choose her to advance to the general election to take on John Culberson,” EMILY’s List spokeswoman Julie McClain Downey told TPM.

But in a runoff where strategists expect turnout to be abysmal, it’s hard to game out who will win.

“At this point, you’re looking at campaign fatigue not just by the candidates but the voters,” Lewis said.

Another late-breaking factor is Friday’s school shooting in nearby Santa Fe. While the tragedy happened on the other side of Houston and both candidates strongly support more gun control, it further complicates both candidates’ attempts to break through in a media market where it’s already almost impossible to get voters enthused about a runoff election.

“We have a lot of people phone banking and I just a had a volunteer tell me a voter said, ‘I can’t believe you’re calling right now.’ And I’m like, this is why we’re calling,” Fletcher campaign manager Erin Mincberg told TPM Friday afternoon. “Both candidates have been talking about gun safety this entire race.”

Moser’s reaction to the shooting showed the difference in styles as well as anything else.

I am fucking angry that this stuff keeps happening,” she said, before ripping Culberson for opposing gun control.

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House Republican moderates say they have enough support to force a full House vote on legislation to protect undocumented immigrants brought here as children, as tensions between them and House GOP leaders continued to escalate on Thursday.

A coalition of GOP centrists led by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) are sick and tired of waiting for leaders refusing to move on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. And they’re just four GOP signatories away from being able to force a full House vote on a solution, assuming all House Democrats join them in support.

Denham told reporters Thursday afternoon that the Democrats would be publicly coming onboard before the end of the day — and that more Republicans would be signing on “this week.”

“I have more than enough signatures for the discharge petition,” he said.

The push continued a day after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told members that forcing the votes could cost Republicans the House majority by infuriating the GOP base — and an emergency meeting with centrists convened by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to try to diffuse the push.

In spite of that, the number of GOP signatories to the discharge petition grew to 20 on Wednesday, with a number of Democrats joining them on Thursday.

Republican leaders are livid about the push against their authority after months of foot-dragging on moving on any DACA fix, aided by a lack of urgency from many members since the courts are set to rule on whether Trump’s decision to end the program was constitutional this fall.

But that’s not how many centrist GOP members see it — especially those from swing districts facing tough reelection battles this fall. A number of members from districts with large numbers of Hispanic constituents, like Denham and Curbelo, worry that a failure to move on a DACA fix could further imperil their seat.

And some other GOP members are simply fed up.

I’ve got the speaker’s office going ‘you’ve got to stop this shit, to try to bring a vote,'” an exasperated Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), one of the signatories, told TPM. “Seriously, Mr. Speaker? We’re giving you the ability to write your own bill. … What is your fear for being accountable for a yes-or-no vote on a piece of legislation that was last tuned up three and a half decades ago?”

That Denham is breaking with his close friend and ally McCarthy is particularly notable.

The discharge petition would force a vote on four bills, including a much more conservative plan backed by GOP leadership that would likely fail on the House floor, two versions that could pass the full House with a combination of Democratic and moderate GOP support, and an open one that GOP leaders could fill with their own bill. That wouldn’t happen until early June at the earliest.

Even some members of GOP leadership said Thursday that they thought the party better move quickly on a solution.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee who Democrats plan to target aggressively for defeat this fall in a Hispanic-heavy district, responded “every bit of it’s true” when asked if the issue could have repercussions for the party in November if Republicans don’t figure out a way to unify around a solution, saying that while he doesn’t support the discharge petition it “forces our party to say more forthrightly where we are.”

A national message about where our party is [on DACA] is still, I believe, wanting,” he said. “Leaders lead. And we’re going to have to find a good, succinct answer.”

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Hey there readers, I’m back to answer your Q’s. Keep ’em coming!

Here’s an interesting way to look at the long-fought battle between progressives and moderates about electability, from davewilliamsnj:

What pairs of districts will provide good ‘A/B tests’ between progressive vs. centrist Democrats?

I’m thinking of a situation where there are 2 districts with similar demographics and culture, and similar support for a Republican incumbent, but one district has a more centrist Democrat running while the other has a more progressive one.

Right now we don’t really know whether the conventional view of “electability” still holds, or whether the Berniecrats are right when they say the Dems should move toward progressive populism. But November should offer opportunities for us to start to answer that question, if only we can filter out the various variables and compare apples to apples.

Well, we got one pretty great example in Nebraska earlier this week, where progressive champion and nonprofit executive Kara Eastman defeated moderate former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE) for the chance to face Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) in a slightly GOP-leaning district. National Democrats had backed Ashford in the race and are concerned that Eastman’s support for single-payer health insurance could be especially problematic in the district given how much of Omaha’s economy is driven by medical and insurance companies. She also backs decriminalizing marijuana and tuition-free college. But in her primary win she proved to be the harder-working candidate and the one that excited the Democratic base more.

This will be a good test for progressives’ argument that candidates who champion ardently liberal policy positions can win tough districts (at least in a wave election), and, in particular, a test of whether Medicare-for-all can sell in a more upscale, fiscally conservative district.

A good counterpoint to this race could be the battle to unseat Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in suburban Chicago. The districts aren’t perfect overlaps, but there are a ton of similarities: Both are largely white (roughly three-quarters), well-educated (38 percent of the Omaha district have at least a college degree, 50 percent in the Illinois seat), upper-middle-class suburban-heavy Midwestern districts that lean slightly towards the GOP in most years. President Trump won the Omaha seat by two percentage points and lost the Illinois seat by seven, but Mitt Romney carried Roskam’s district by eight and Bacon’s by seven in 2012. The Cook Political Report gives both an R+2 score on its Partisan Voting Index, meaning normally both would be around two points more Republican than the national vote.

Roskam’s opponent is Sean Casten, who poppped out of a crowded Democratic primary in March that included some more liberal candidates. Casten is a local businessman and scientist who is a more traditional suburban Democrat. He’s run hard on clean energy issues and against President Trump, and also says he supports “universal healthcare” — but his version of it is a lot more incremental than further-left politicians like Bernie Sanders’. He has similar suggestions for making college more affordable without creating free college.

This isn’t a perfect apples-to-apples comparison: Roskam is a battle-tested veteran close to House GOP leaders (which is both a plus and a minus) with a huge campaign war chest in a much more expensive district for TV air time, and he’s much better-known in the community than Bacon, a first-term member and former Air Force general. He’s also a key player in writing the GOP tax law, another plus and minus. But the districts do have enough in common, and the Democrats come from different-enough parts of the party, that this could be a good A/B test.

It’s a bit early to be able to highlight other races since so many primaries haven’t happened yet so we don’t know what candidates will come out, and since most of the true moderate-to-conservative Democrats running strong in primaries this year are in more heavily Republican districts, like the one currently represented by Mia Love (R-UT) in greater Salt Lake City.

But keep an eye on California’s June 5 primary. If moderate Dave Min wins his crowded primary to face Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) against candidates including the more progressive Katie Porter, his could be an interesting race to compare to other more progressive Democrats in nearby Orange County districts that the party hopes to turn blue this fall.

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