10 Things in Politics: Newsom survives California recall
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Here's what we're talking about:
- Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a recall attempt in California
- The warden of Leavenworth federal prison left following an Insider investigation
- America's top general reportedly went behind Trump's back to warn China
With Phil Rosen.
1. RECALL IT A NIGHT: Gov. Gavin Newsom beat back an effort to boot him from office in California. Many news organizations projected that Newsom defeated the recall effort less than an hour after polls closed because of a strong Democratic turnout combined with a large number of Democratic mail-in votes. The conservative radio host Larry Elder, the top Republican in the race, conceded shortly after 1 a.m. (For what it's worth, former President Donald Trump is once again raising baseless allegations of fraud.)
Top takeaways from the results:
California is still California: Democrats have dominated statewide elections for years, including a 29-point romp by Joe Biden in November. Newsom's approval rating was dinged, but he was never close to the anemic mid-20s that Gov. Gray Davis had before he was ousted by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. As FiveThirtyEight points out, California has grown only more liberal since then.
Don't discount how disastrous Elder was: Republicans had a more establishment-friendly alternative in Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor. Instead, they elevated Elder, who as one would expect from a talk-radio host spent decades producing the kind of inflammatory statements that make opponents giddy.
- Democrats were successful in making the race about Elder and the GOP: Newsom and his allies were all too happy to point out many of his past comments that aged poorly for a blue state. On top of that, Elder faced troubling allegations that he brandished a gun at his ex-fiancée, a claim he denies.
It's still the pandemic: Newsom's own blunder of attending a private dinner maskless at an expensive restaurant provided the spark to a recall effort that had previously floundered. But exit polls indicate that Californians still support some strict pandemic policies. In particular, 70% of respondents supported requiring masks for students in schools and 63% considered getting vaccinated for COVID-19 to be more of a "public-health responsibility" than a "personal choice."
- Key quote: "We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic," Newsom said during his brief victory speech.
Expect more calls to change the recall process: Newsom's victory means the state will have spent $276 million on a failed recall effort just over a year before voters are set to head to the polls for the actual gubernatorial election. Only 19 states, including California, allow recall elections. Rep. Karen Bass on Tuesday advocated making it harder to recall officials in the state.
2. Book says America's top general secretly went behind Trump's back to warn China: Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was said to be so worried about Trump that he called his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, both before and after the 2020 election to assure him the US would not launch an attack, according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Milley, per excerpts obtained by The Washington Post, also moved to make sure top generals were aware any decision to order a nuclear strike would need to involve him. More from the book, including reporting that Milley agreed with Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Trump was "crazy."
- Republicans are furious: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida pressured Biden to fire Milley after the claims in the book became public. Trump denied ever thinking of attacking China and called Milley's actions "treasonous."
Like past Woodward books, there are numerous jaw-dropping details. Here are some of the claims:
- Former Vice President Dan Quayle had to persuade Vice President Mike Pence not to try to overturn the 2020 election: "Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away," the book quotes Quayle as saying with regard to what Pence should do January 6 when Congress certified the results, per CNN.
- Trump said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy "pretended to be my best friend": Trump was said to be furious that McCarthy initially blamed him for the Capitol riot, reportedly telling a group of friends at a dinner: "This guy called me every single day, pretended to be my best friend, and then, he fucked me."
- Biden twisted Sen. Joe Manchin's arm on COVID-19 relief: Biden was said to have told the West Virginia Democrat he needed his support for his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, stressing to Manchin during a phone call, "if you don't come along, you're really fucking me."
3. Warden of Leavenworth federal prison exits following Insider investigation: Donald Hudson left USP Leavenworth earlier this month, according to an email obtained by my colleague. The change comes days after Insider published an investigation on poor conditions prison workers at Leavenworth and other federal facilities said they had faced during the coronavirus pandemic. Several employees at Leavenworth said the investigation was widely circulated among those there. Read the original story for yourself.
4. South Korea conducts major missile test: "South Korea says it has carried out its first underwater-launched missile test, hours after rival North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea," the Associated Press reports. North Korea's test defies UN resolutions and comes as talks with the US over its nuclear program have stalled. More on the increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
5. Department of Justice limits chokeholds, no-knock warrants: The DOJ announced a sweeping new policy for federal officers that nearly bans the use of chokeholds and limits the circumstances of so-called no-knock warrants. More on the new rules.
6. Boston is now guaranteed to be led by a woman of color: The city councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George appear to be the most likely contenders to face off, setting up a clash between two wings of the Democratic Party, The Boston Globe reports. The contest will also usher in a new era for a city The Globe says often "served as a bastion of white male political power" and is "still recovering from the wounds of its racial past." More on what to expect this November.
7. Haitian prosecutor says prime minister is linked to president's assassination: Bedford Claude, Port-au-Prince's chief prosecutor, said that evidence showed that Prime Minister Ariel Henry called a suspect the same morning President Jovenel Moïse was killed inside his home by gunmen, the AP reports. Here's where the investigation stands.
8. Poverty increased last year, but it could have been worse: Without the added boost of stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits, many unemployed Americans could have been in much worse situations, according to census data. The official poverty rate increased by about 1 percentage point, to 11.4%, in 2020. See the full report.
9. AOC defends Met Gala appearance: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York defended her decision to attend after causing a stir on social media for appearing at the glitzy fashion event. Critics were upset she appeared in a designer gown at an event that reportedly costs $30,000 a head. Ocasio-Cortez said she was invited and her "Tax the rich" dress was borrowed.
10. Remembering Norm Macdonald: The comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" star died Tuesday after reportedly dealing with cancer for years while keeping his diagnosis mostly private. He was 61. Macdonald was known for his acerbic style.
- One of his most memorable bits: Macdonald's four-minute setup about a moth going to a podiatrist.
Today's trivia question: Who held the crown before Sen. Dianne Feinstein became California's longest-serving US senator earlier this year? Hint: You can thank this figure for California's recalls. Email your guess and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Yesterday's answer: John DeLorean's private New Jersey estate became Trump's Bedminster golf club. DeLorean, remembered for his namesake car immortalized in "Back to the Future," was not the first owner of the land.
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