Anthony Weiner is running out of voting blocs to insult. We might not need the NSA so long as the McConnell campaign has oppo researchers. Republicans are finding unity at last - in beating up on Hillary Clinton and the media, all at once. The only thing less likely than a King running for president is two Kings running for president. And we figure that at least now, President Obama won't feel compelled to one-up Putin when it comes to candid vacation pics.
As the president joins Congress on vacation, Cory Booker moves up, Anthony Weiner moves down, and Wendy Davis is on the move … here's a look at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
1. JERSEY STAR - Chris Christie's getting some company. New Jersey is set to mint a new political star, with the likely Senate nomination of Newark Mayor Cory Booker. He's the runaway favorite in Tuesday's Democratic primary to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat. The other Democrats in the race - Reps. Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver - haven't gotten much traction with attacks on, among other fronts, Booker's ties to Wall Street and his close working relationship with Christie. Assuming Booker takes the primary and goes on to win the general in October (he'll be heavily favored against the most likely GOP candidate, Steve Lonegan), national speculation and ambition will quickly converge for the man who's set to become one of only two African-American senators. And that's assuming he doesn't save any more freezing dogs, or neighbors from burning buildings, before 2016.
2. WHIFF OF TEA - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to co-opt the tea party in his reelection race is starting to stink, after his campaign manager (a Ron Paul son-in-law with close ties to both Pauls) was caught on tape saying he's "holding my nose" in working for the Kentucky senator. McConnell has a tea party challenger already, and tea-tinged candidates are also lining up in Colorado, Alaska, Idaho, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia, just for starters. Only in some of those states would a tea party upset endanger GOP chances in November. But that's the concern inside members of the Republican establishment whose memories date back to 2010 or 2012. The latest tea party wave could have a more immediate impact, too: Activists are pressing McConnell and his caucus in the Senate to threaten a government shutdown over funding for the Obama health care law.
3. CIRCUS BRAWL - The utter insanity that is the New York City mayor's race gets its first hand-to-hand combat Tuesday night, with the kickoff Democratic primary debate featuring Anthony Weiner and four of the other Democrats who would be mayor. (Actually, it's not the first such combat if you count the near fistfight between Weiner and Republican candidate George McDonald, after Weiner called his 69-year-old rival "grandpa" this past week.) At the debate, televised in New York on WABC and the local Univision affiliate, Weiner is expected to play his combative and defiant self. The big question will be whether and how his Democratic rivals seek to pile on a candidate who's fading fast in the polls, or whether they ignore him to try to distinguish themselves from the others in the pack. We can only hope that Weiner is asked to comment on Sydney Leathers', um, dramatic performance in the new video she's already appearing in.
4. AGAINST ALL ENEMIES - When Republicans gather in Boston for the Republican National Committee's summer meeting, they'll find a way to move beyond their differences. That's by identifying a common enemy - several of them, actually. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is pushing an effort to punish TV networks that air Hillary Clinton films by denying them partnerships in GOP presidential debates. Never mind that said debates are two-plus years away, or that candidates tend to show up wherever they feel is worth them to show up, and that Clinton isn't actually a candidate for anything. Priebus has managed to simultaneously beat up on the Clintons, NBC, CNN, and the explosion of primary debates in one move that will be voted on at the meeting. If that's not fun enough, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie will be on hand in Boston, to seek to herd some elephants.
5. RUN, WENDY, RUN? - Her Lone Star stand made her a national figure overnight. Now the big question surrounding Wendy Davis is whether she takes her newfound celebrity and puts it toward what would be a difficult statewide run. Davis, the state senator who singlehandedly - if temporarily - blocked an anti-abortion bill earlier this year, told a gathering in Washington this week that she's considering a run for governor. Texas is shading bluer, but it won't look like a place that's friendly to liberals in time for 2014. A Davis announcement is expected around Labor Day, and national and state-level pressure is being brought to bear on her, under the broad argument that when Democrats have a strong prospect, he or she had better make a run.
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