The Note: Decision time for diminished GOP in House

House Republicans gather Wednesday to choose a minority leader.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The instability of the Trump presidency, and of the era of Republican politics that he dominates, are about to get some new marking points.

That’s part of the backdrop against which a Trumpier Republican conference chooses between Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan to lead its ranks in the House. Trump has stayed out of the contest publicly, but many of the outside groups that help power the Trump agenda have taken sides, even as McCarthy remains the odds-on favorite for the post.

Before Republicans surrender their majority, Trump could test his allies on Capitol Hill with a possible government shutdown over border-wall funding.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Democrats have felt better since Election Day, which is why, perhaps, they are willing to start rumbling about 2020 already, just one week after voters went to the polls.

Priorities USA, a powerful, Washington, Democrat Super PAC held a briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon to spin and chart out their initial plans for the next, upcoming election cycle already.

West Virginia State Sen. Richard Ojeda, a Democrat, flew to the nation’s capital this week to formally announce his presidential run. And Congressman John Delaney had a big New York Times spread.

With the list of potential Democratic presidential contenders rapidly expanding, prognosticators will be leery about positing early who might catch fire.

Former independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told The Associated Press he is now a Democrat for good and would be deciding before February whether he might run.

Sen. Bernie Sanders had his former campaign manager out Tuesday speaking on behalf of his wife and trying to shut down a potential controversy surrounding her previous work.

On the Republican side, far from just a side note, outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich circulated a schedule of events he was attending in New Hampshire this week as he meets “with old and new supporters.”

So, in case there was any question, 2020 started ... yesterday.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

While Republicans in a number of outstanding House races are teetering on the edge of defeat, Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, isn't going down without a fight.

Poliquin filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday arguing that because he received the most votes in Maine's 2nd Congressional District last week, he should be declared the winner.

It seems simple enough until you remember that Maine -- following a drawn-out battle involving two statewide referenda -- utilizes ranked-choice voting in its federal races. Because Polquin didn't receive a 50 percent-plus-one majority, he did not win and the votes of the election's non-competitive independent candidates will now be transferred to their supporters' second and third choices in the race until the threshold is surpassed.

Standing to benefit is Poliquin's Democratic challenger Jared Golden, who only trails the Republican by about 2,000 votes and who it is widely assumed is the major party candidate preferred by most independent voters, hence Poliquin's lawsuit.

Challenges to the system have failed in the past and the will of Mainers clearly sides with ranked-choice, so it is unclear if Poliquin has a chance to cut the vote off at one round. For its part, the Maine secretary of state’s office -- named as the defendant in the lawsuit -- is continuing to scan and certify ballots as if the second-round tabulation will continue.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday’s morning episode features ABC News White House Correspondent Tara Palmeri, who talks to us about some potential impending departures from the Trump administration. And did cities across the U.S. get played by Amazon in the HQ2 contest? ABC News Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis tells us Amazon just "played the system."


  • The president has no public events scheduled today. He will meet and have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo behind closed doors at 12:30 p.m.
  • Republican members of the House of Representatives hold leadership elections at 1 p.m.
  • Secretary of Defense James Mattis visits the Donna Base Camp in McAllen, Texas, at noon EDT where he’ll meet with service members deployed to the border. He then travels to Cheyenne, Wyoming to deliver remarks at a Veterans Remembrance ceremony at the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base at 5 p.m.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a photo/video availability with newly elected Republican senators on Capitol Hill at 9 a.m.
  • Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., delivers keynote remarks at the 74th Annual Radio and Television Congressional Correspondents’ Association Dinner at 7 p.m.
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