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At the Races: Shutdown? Shhh …

The threat of a partial government shutdown, and its potential political impacts, may not resonate unless it actually happens.

At the start of the month, 61 percent of likely Republican primary voters had either heard nothing or heard very little about the prospects of a government shutdown, according to a recent survey from Echelon Insights. The poll was conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 4 by Republican Main Street Partnership and Women2Women.

And the polling firm Navigator Research found similar results in a new survey of registered voters conducted within the last week, according to pollster Bryan Bennett.

“Only about 11 percent of Americans have even heard a lot about the government shutdown. Fewer than half, 47 percent, have heard some about a government shutdown,” he said on a call hosted by the group House Accountability War Room.

That awareness level has likely changed in recent days, with Congress returning and shutdown-related concerns getting more headlines and time on cable news networks. Biden is set to speak about the stakes of upcoming fiscal policy and budget debates Thursday afternoon in Prince George’s County, Md., outside Washington.

“With the House now back from August recess — and with fiscal and budget debates poised to take center stage in the weeks ahead — the president will deliver another major economic address today laying out the next chapter of the Bidenomics vs. MAGAnomics contrast: what’s at stake for the American people in debates about the federal budget,” senior White House adviser Anita Dunn wrote in a memo to supporters.

The president, who was fundraising in McLean, Va., Wednesday night, speaking of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement that House Republicans would start a formal impeachment inquiry against him, said that “best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government.”

McCarthy is once again struggling with the demands of a fractious House GOP conference, with leadership on Wednesday pulling from the floor schedule debate on the fiscal 2024 Pentagon spending bill, typically a GOP priority, when it became clear they didn’t even have the votes for a rule to tee up the debate.

Starting gate

Romney bows out: Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, announced Wednesday he will not seek a second term. In a statement, the 76-year-old Romney called for both political parties to move beyond President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Romney rarely held back when he saw a need to criticize Trump, putting him out of step with most GOP voters. Check out our full report here.

Middle lane to victory: Celeste Maloy is a strong conservative from Utah; Gabe Amo is a mainstream Democrat from Rhode Island. Both candidates stood in stark contrast to their more ideologically polarizing opponents, and both won primaries for open House seats last week. Their success suggests a winning path for middle-of-the-road candidates in 2024, as reported with K. Sophie Will.

Alabama ask: An Alabama official asked the Supreme Court on Monday to halt a lower court’s order for a special master to draw a new congressional map before the 2024 election. The application, from Secretary of State Wes Allen, comes just three months after the justices ruled the state’s first map likely violated the Voting Rights Act because it has only a single district where Black voters would have the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, CQ Roll Call’s Michael Macagnone reported.

Trump Show: The policymaking body of the federal courts indicated Tuesday that it hasn’t considered a change in rules to allow livestreaming of criminal trials such as those of former President Donald Trump, Macagnone reported. Last month, several dozen Democratic lawmakers pushed for the courts to change their policy to allow the broadcast of proceedings against Trump, who faces federal criminal charges in Florida and Washington. He also is the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Pelosi 2024: Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced late last week that she will seek a 20th term, putting to rest speculation about her retirement as Democrats fight to regain control of the House. “Now more than ever our city needs us to advance San Francisco values and further our recovery,” Pelosi posted on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. A victory next November would keep a top Democratic fundraiser in Congress and allow her to continue as a top critic of Republicans and senior adviser to House Democratic leaders.

Political Theater: If it’s September, it’s government meltdown time. Jason Dick, CQ Roll Call’s editor-in-chief, and CQ Roll Call’s elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, also Inside Elections’ editor and publisher, break down all the political ramifications of the latest shutdown threat and House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden in the latest Political Theater podcast.

ICYMI

Returning to run: Mark Harris, a North Carolina pastor whose 2018 election was overturned because of an election fraud scandal that triggered a new election, said he will run again for Congress. Harris filed to run in the 8th District, a seat currently held by GOP Rep. Dan Bishop, who is running for state attorney general.

Not running: Sarah Hughes, the Olympic figure skating champion who had filed to run in New York’s 4th District, said she won’t try to unseat GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito. In Ohio, Jane Timken, a former state GOP party chair who lost a Senate primary last year, said she won’t run in the 13th District.

#MISEN: John Tuttle, the vice chair of the New York Stock Exchange, will not run for Michigan’s open Senate seat after an effort by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to recruit him. Former Rep. Mike Rogers entered the race last week, while former Rep. Peter Meijer is one of the potential GOP candidates who could get in.

Morse running again in California: Jessica Morse, a Democrat who made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2018, announced a bid to unseat Republican Rep. Kevin Kiley in California’s 3rd District. Morse is a former deputy secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency and served in a civilian capacity in Iraq.

Justice league: Moore Capito, a Republican candidate for governor of West Virginia who is the son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, endorsed outgoing Gov. Jim Justice for Senate on Wednesday.

Ad watch: The Congressional Integrity Project launched a digital ad campaign targeting the 18 House Republicans who represent districts won by Biden in 2020 and urging them to oppose impeachment.

Setting limits: Lexi Reese, a former tech executive running for Senate in California, is calling for term limits for all members of Congress. Reese, a Democrat, wants terms in both the House and Senate capped at 12 years. “Forty million Californians aren’t well served by politicians who stay in their roles for decades,” Reese said. She is vying to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is 90 and was first elected in 1992.

Only the young: An online poll conducted by Change Research found that Gen Z and millennial voters have a bleak view of how things are going in the United States. Just 4 percent think the nation is on the right track and only 8 percent think the national economy is excellent or good, according to the survey of 1,033 voters between ages 18 and 34.

Lee grills Gavin: Rep. Barbara Lee, among the California Democrats running for retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, on Sunday slammed Gov. Gavin Newsom for comments he made about potentially appointing a Black woman to the post if the 90-year-old incumbent senator cannot finish her term. “I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks. The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election,” Lee wrote on X, formerly Twitter. She was responding to Newsom, during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” reiterating his stance about only naming a Black woman to the seat. He never used the term “caretaker” Sunday, although outgoing moderator Chuck Todd did.

What we’re reading

‘Pro-baby policies’: A Republican strategist aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently presented GOP senators polling data that suggests the party should pivot away from the term “pro-life” when discussing abortion, NBC News reported. The polling data from Stephen Law, a prominent super PAC leader, showed voters are reacting differently to terms like “pro-choice” and “pro-life” after the Supreme Court last year overturned Roe vs. Wade, which had granted all Americans the right to an abortion. Several senators described the closed-door meeting to NBC, including Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who said the meeting was focused on “pro-baby policies.” The Roe decision was among the issues that helped Democrats prevent a predicted “red wave” during the 2022 midterms.

A new party?: McKay Coppins’ upcoming Romney biography, excerpted in The Atlantic, contains many interesting details — such as Romney tucking the salmon fillets given to him by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, into a hamburger bun and smothering them with ketchup. Yum? One of the most revealing nuggets relates to conversations Romney had with Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, about creating a new political party. “They’d talked about the prospect before, but it was always hypothetical,” Coppins writes. “Now Romney wanted to make it real. His goal for the yet-unnamed party — working slogan: “Stop the stupid” — would be to promote the kind of centrist policies he’d worked on with Manchin in the Senate.”

Redistricting boosts Dems: Democrats are increasingly confident about potentially taking back the House in 2024, hopes boosted by redistricting. A dozen seats could be redrawn across at least a half-dozen states, Politico reported. And Democrats might get an extra seat in a number of states, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and maybe New York. On the flip side, the GOP could net up to four seats in North Carolina. Republicans now have a five-seat majority in the House.

Cornyn cash: With McConnell recently freezing twice while addressing reporters, scuttlebutt about who might be the next GOP Senate leader has heated up once again. Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota, currently McConnell’s top deputy, are considered the front-runners. The so-called “Three Johns” are respected among their GOP colleagues, but Joe Morton of The Dallas Morning News reported that Cornyn’s fundraising prowess might help his chances. The Cornyn Victory Committee, a joint fundraising entity, raked in $11 million during the 2022 cycle, monies the tall Texan has learned to spread around to his fellow Republicans, the paper noted, and another $9 million via other fundraising efforts.

The count: 29

That’s the point differential by which registered voters between the ages of 18 and 44 would like to see a viable third-party candidate run for president in 2024, according to a poll taken Aug. 16 through Aug. 20 for FreedomWorks by the Bullfinch Group. The poll of 800 registered voters found that 54 percent wanted to see a third-party candidate, while 25 percent did not.

Nathan’s notes

One day you’re a member of Congress, only to be ousted due to redistricting. The next day, you’re the front-runner to become one of 50 governors. That’s the case for Louisiana Republican Jeff Landry. Nathan highlights how in gubernatorial races from sea to shining sea, there are plenty of Capitol Hill connections.

Shop talk: Maxwell Nunes

Nunes recently started as executive vice president and head of paid digital at SKDK, a Democratic consulting firm.

Starting out: Nunes said he got the political bug quite early in life. “My very first memories of politics were around election night in 2000 and watching towards the beginning of the recount and all of the things that followed from that. I really got passionate and indignant as a little fourth grader about the Electoral College and how we were electing presidents and knew I wanted to get involved,” he said. A Massachusetts native, he made phone calls for then-Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004 and then knocked on doors in neighboring New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton’s and then Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2008. He attended George Washington University, where a class piqued his interest in working on the digital side of campaigns.

Most unforgettable campaign moment: “Election nights are always sort of, for better or worse — you always hope for better, but … — are sort of indelible moments in memory that stick out,” he said. “The one that stands out most is the night of the 2020 Iowa caucuses and the following week.” Nunes was the director of paid media for Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, and Buttigieg was declared the winner of the caucuses after the reporting process delayed the results. “Over that week, I think he was declared the winner something like five or six times,” Nunes said. “I felt confident, but it was sort of an excruciating process to relive over many days. … So obviously proud and excited about that, but it was a pretty tough week, I think, for really all of the campaigns.”

Biggest campaign regret: “The first thing that transparently comes to mind is the diet and lack of exercise that always is inevitable on these campaigns,” Nunes said. But he added that how quickly campaigns can come to an end can be surprising, especially with how fast a campaign’s infrastructure can come apart. “So like cataloging and thinking back and saving all of the work,” he said. “You obviously want to have examples of your work and things that you are proud of and learned from lessons and mistakes you made, but it all goes away so quickly.”

Unconventional wisdom: “I try to talk to and listen to as many people as I can about politics who are outside of my immediate bubble,” he said. “I think it’s obviously quite easy living in D.C. to fall into the echo chamber from Twitter and cable news conversations, which are all obviously important and have their place, but like having real conversations with people who, you know, don’t live and breathe this stuff every single day is really important.”

Coming up

Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will be debating Monday, Sept. 18, as part of The Senate Project debate series, a joint venture of the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. EDT at The George Washington University.

Photo finish

Now-Sen. Mitt Romney, right, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, and then-Rep. Paul D. Ryan, his running mate, wave to the crowd after Romney addressed the Republican National Convention in August of that year in Tampa, Fla. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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