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At the Races: Dem divisions get violent

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Wednesday evening’s protest over the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza outside the offices of the DNC that led to injuries for Capitol Police officers was a stark reminder of the foreign policy fissures within the Democratic coalition. 

Chris Marquette and Mark Satter reported for Roll Call that the police said there were a half-dozen officers injured in the response, with protesters supporting the Palestinians allegedly pepper-spraying and punching officers.

“Last night, I was evacuated from an event in Washington, D.C. when all of the building’s entrances and exits were blocked by protestors, trapping us inside. I want to express my overwhelming gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police officers — some of whom were protecting the Capitol on January 6 — who kept Members, visitors and staff safe during the incident, and then safely evacuated us from the building,” Rep. Hillary Scholten, D-Mich., said in a statement Thursday.

Representatives for the activists said in their own statement, “Wielding pepper spray and pellet guns, the police rushed members of the interfaith vigil without warning.” A recent poll from the Jewish Electorate Institute found 74 percent of Democrats supportive of President Joe Biden’s handling of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, even as large numbers of Americans are calling for a cease-fire. Biden has called for humanitarian pauses but not a cease-fire.

It cuts both ways. Tanvi Misra, reporting for Politico from Michigan, wrote last week that Arab Americans in Dearborn and elsewhere are saying Biden has lost their support over his embrace of the actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in prosecuting the campaign against Hamas.

But leading Democrats in the House and Senate have been consistent and strident supporters of Israel — even as Netanyahu has been criticized for the scope of his government’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks.

“Even in its darkest days, the United States has always stood with Israel, and we will do everything to see that that never ever changes,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said at the large pro-Israel rally Tuesday on the National Mall.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Schumer stood alongside Speaker Mike Johnson, Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a fellow New York Democrat, at Tuesday’s rally.

“There are few issues in Washington that can so easily bring together leaders of both parties and both chambers, but the survival of the state of Israel … unites all Americans,” Johnson said.

Starting gate

Santosmania: A House Ethics Committee report says that after investigating indicted New York Rep. George Santos, the panel found his “conduct warrants public condemnation, is beneath the dignity of the office, and brought severe discredit upon the House,” Marquette reports. Along with referring additional charges to federal prosecutors, we can expect another vote to expel Santos, this one sponsored by the Ethics Committee’s chairman, Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest. An expulsion resolution sponsored by Democrats in May was tabled, and one sponsored by fellow New York Republicans on Nov. 1 was defeated. Santos has resisted calls to resign, but he did say Thursday that he won’t run for reelection, which may not be surprising considering he raised a negative $17,000 during the third quarter.

Outta here: Before the House passed a short-term spending bill and left town for the Thanksgiving holiday and the Senate followed suit, a half-dozen lawmakers said they won’t be running for reelection next year. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III started the exodus about the time this newsletter hit your inboxes last week, and Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, joined him later that day. Over the weekend, Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York said he would resign in February, and Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger said on Monday morning that running for governor of Virginia in 2025 would prevent her from seeking another term in the House next year. Texas GOP Rep. Michael Burgess then announced his retirement, and it appeared fellow Texas Republican Pat Fallon was going to jump back to the state Legislature, but he later changed his mind.

Also going: Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee joined the parade Thursday morning, saying he also decided “the time has come for me to step back from public office.”

Coming back: South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, but the message he took away from voters about his bid was “not now,” an indication the 58-year-old who just won a second six-year term may run again. Scott didn’t seem to return to that job immediately, though. He didn’t vote Wednesday on measures to assign conferees to the annual defense authorization bill and to keep the government open, both of which passed without him, or on a bill to overturn a Biden student loan program, which was defeated in a 49-50 vote.

Still running: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently returned from Israel, where he saw the damage wrought by Hamas. He praised President Biden for making the same trip last month and accused his fellow Republican presidential candidates of a “fundamental lack of intellectual curiosity” for not traveling to the region. Christie’s remarks came during a foreign policy address at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.


CA-SEN: Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s campaign for California’s open Senate seat picked up the support of two of his Democratic colleagues in the Golden State’s delegation, Reps. Linda T. Sánchez and Nanette Barragán. Meanwhile, Rep. Barbara Lee, one of Schiff’s Democratic competitors in the Senate race, was endorsed by Reproductive Freedom for All, the abortion rights group formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Next act: After saying he wouldn’t run again for his seat, Manchin told NBC News he “absolutely” would consider running for president, but first he has to explore whether voters want a candidate like him. He also parried the presidential question on CNN, where he said he could leave the Democratic Party.

New targets: Swing Left, which works to elect Democrats in competitive races, announced 10 additional House districts that it is seeking to flip in 2024. The new target districts are: Arizona’s 1st and 6th, California’s 22nd and 45th, Colorado’s 3rd, Nebraska’s 2nd, New Jersey’s 7th, New York’s 19th and 22nd and Pennsylvania’s 1st.

Vindman in Virginia: Eugene Vindman has announced he’s running as a Democrat for the newly open seat in Virginia’s 7th District now represented by Spanberger. Vindman, a former Army colonel, is the twin brother of Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the first impeachment of President Donald Trump.

‘Shaman’ for Congress: The latest entrant into the open-seat race for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District served about 27 months in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt, as NBC News reports.

Alaska at-large: Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dalhstrom will run for Congress, seeking to oust Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola. Dahlstrom joins fellow Republican Nick Begich III on the campaign trail. Begich lost to Peltola in 2022, the state’s first year of using ranked choice voting, with former GOP Gov. Sarah Palin also on the ballot.

Physician backed: Their Future PAC, which supports candidates who back efforts to address climate change, gun violence prevention and strengthening democracy, has endorsed Texas Democrat Brian Williams. He’s a trauma surgeon running in the open 32nd District, which is currently held by Democratic Rep. Colin Allred, who is running for Senate.

What we’re reading

Stu says: One of these days, someone is going to get a political endorsement that Stu Rothenberg thinks is a game-changer. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ endorsement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential race was not it.

Risky rhetoric: Columnist Mary C. Curtis takes umbrage with DeSantis, during the third GOP presidential primary debate, dubbing President Joe Biden’s efforts to tamp down any discrimination “so-called Islamophobia.” Chris Christie set himself apart from DeSantis and the other three candidates by backing Israel and speaking against anti-Muslim sentiments, she writes, adding: Christie dared to sound like a leader of all Americans.

Numbers game: Columnist David Winston dives into polling data to note that while Biden’s numbers are bleak, Republicans have some problems of their own. For instance, the party, one year from Election Day, is underwater on its favorability rating by a significant margin — only 34 percent of the electorate had a favorable view of Republicans, while 60 percent had an unfavorable view, according to polling by his own firm, the Winston Group.

Utah way: Brad Wilson, a Republican who resigned as speaker of the Utah House to focus on his campaign for the Senate seat that’s opening with Sen. Mitt Romney’s pending retirement, wrote an opinion piece for the Deseret News just before giving up his gavel.

The count: 61%

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is well ahead of primary opponent Rep. Alex X. Mooney in what now appears to be the real contest for the Senate seat being vacated by Manchin’s retirement. Hoppy Kercheval, the MetroNews radio host who has served as a frequent Manchin whisperer, reports that Justice has 61 percent support in a recent GOP primary poll, with Mooney at 28 percent and another 11 percent undecided.

Nathan’s notes

Nothing to read from Nathan this week, but if you missed him and our At the Races team discussing what the elections earlier this month mean heading into 2024, let’s go to the video recording.

Key race: NJ Senate

New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy launched her campaign for Senate this week, joining Rep. Andy Kim in hoping to succeed Sen. Bob Menendez, who hasn’t yet said if he’ll seek reelection after pleading not guilty to federal bribery charges.

Murphy, who is married to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, focused in a launch video on her work to improve maternal mortality rates in the state. She also discussed work on climate change, including an effort to include climate education in New Jersey public school curricula. 

Hours after announcing her campaign, Murphy secured support from the Hudson County Democratic Organization. That is a major blow to Menendez in what was his home county, should he decide to run again, according to Politico. In New Jersey, support from county parties is crucial as it can lead to placement on the so-called “county line,” which gives candidates preferential placement on the ballot.

While New Jersey’s Senate race isn’t expected to be competitive next November, the June primary could be, even if Murphy is expected to earn much of the state’s Democratic establishment support.

Kim, a Democrat in his third term in the House, touted a Public Policy Polling poll that found he led Likely Democratic primary voters with 40 percent to Murphy’s 21 percent and Menendez’s 5 percent. 

Kim has earned support from some outside groups and is campaigning as a “battle-tested” candidate seeking change. In his own video this week, Kim said he flipped a congressional seat in 2018 and won a district that former President Donald Trump won twice. 

Mendham Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner is running on the Republican side. In a statement Wednesday, she said that Murphy “couldn’t possibly relate to the struggles that New Jersey families face daily in this Biden-Murphy economy.”

A federal judge has set a May 6 trial date for Menendez, a month before New Jersey’s primary election. The three-term senator has maintained his innocence.

Coming up

As our way of giving thanks to you readers (and let our team reacquaint themselves with their families), there won’t be an At the Races newsletter next week. We will be back on Nov. 30, at which time Utah should know its next member of Congress since the special election is Nov. 28 to fill former Rep. Chris Stewart’s seat. A former Stewart aide, Celeste Maloy, is favored to win after her victory in the special primary in September.

Photo finish

It’s just an accident, really, that the writing on the electric school bus was cut off this way as Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer walked to a news conference on infrastructure investment Wednesday. What, you think the photographer planned it that way? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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