The TAKE with Rick Klein
Democrats' latest midterm messaging is heavy on blame – directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, at Sen. Rick Scott's proposed agenda, at former President Donald Trump's Supreme Court picks and also at what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he might do with a Senate majority.
But the messaging turn hasn't included policy movement to confront the challenges party leaders view as fundamental. Soaring inflation and an expected Supreme Court case eliminating the constitutional right to abortion have Democrats in a familiar place: taking votes, but then also explaining what their current majorities cannot accomplish.
The failed vote to codify a right to abortion in federal law played out exactly as Democratic leaders knew it would, and left them pointing six months down the road for solutions.
"Voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November," President Joe Biden said in a statement after the vote.
"Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide abortion ban," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The president's focus on what he called his "top priority" of inflation featured a sharp turn this week against what he is calling an "ultra-MAGA" GOP agenda, citing the plans advanced by Scott, R-Fla. He said he understands that voters are frustrated, yet may have inadvertently summed up the contradictions Democrats are struggling with.
"You justifiably are right, we control all three branches of government. We don't really," the president said Tuesday.
Pushing their voters to care about the midterms fits with any political strategy of getting voters engaged. That may be more problematic, though, when part of what they're being engaged over proves to be exercises in legislative futility.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Several prominent Republican governors are going all in to support Gov. Brian Kemp, as Georgia's May 24 primary nears.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are all expected to hit the campaign trail with Kemp, who is being challenged from the right by former Sen. David Perdue, who is backed by former President Trump. Each of the governors has leadership ties to the Republican Governors Association.
The dynamic reveals fracturing within the Republican Party, with establishment leaders on one side and Trump on the other. Trump, who has publicly lashed out against Kemp since he refused to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, issued a statement in which he referred to Ducey, Ricketts and Christie as "RINOs," which is shorthand for "Republicans in name only" and an insult in conservative circles.
This isn't the first gubernatorial race in which establishment figures have gone all out against a Trump-endorsed candidate. The latest comes after Tuesday's gubernatorial primary in Rickett's home state.
There, Ricketts and other establishment figures supported businessman Jim Pillen who came out on top over Trump's pick Charles Herbster who had been accused of sexual assault by eight women.
Kemp is the favorite to win his primary, despite Trump's campaign against him.
The TIP with Brittany Shepherd
A federal judge has struck down a portion of Florida's previously approved map drawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his staff that reconfigures the state's 28 districts. It's a turn of bad luck for DeSantis, who has been sailing recently on the headwinds of many political wins and the hint of a good fortune for voting rights activists who are suing over the GOP-friendly redistricting plan.
Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith, a DeSantis appointee, said Wednesday that he will issue a preliminary injunction that keeps a segment of the DeSantis-supported map – which majorly reconstructs Florida's 5th district, where Black voters made up the majority – from taking effect in November's general election because it "diminishes African Americans' ability to elect candidates of their choice." According to FiveThirtyEight, Smith has reinstated the old configuration of FL-05 that stretches from parts of Jacksonville to Tallahassee.
If passed, DeSantis' map could also eliminate Democrats' national redistricting advantage.
DeSantis has said this original configuration is unconstitutional because it is "racially gerrymandered." The district in question, Fl-05, is currently led by Black Democrat Rep. Al Lawson, who said the governor is "wrong for enacting this Republican-leaning map that is in clear violation of the U.S. and state constitutions."
DeSantis' office has made it clear they plan on appealing.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
40. That’s the number of bills that have been introduced since January 2021 that seek to restrict how gender and gender identity are taught at schools, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Jean Yi. And as Jean writes, the current push to restrict trans rights goes far beyond athletics. Republican state lawmakers are also increasingly limiting how gender is talked about in the classroom as part of a broader push to limit what teachers can — and can’t say.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with single mom Opal Foster on how she's managing inflation with a special needs son. Then, ABC's Anne Flaherty explains how abortion pill manufacturers are preparing for the potential end of Roe v. Wade. And, ABC News' Matt Gutman details his reporting on famine in Africa. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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