The TAKE with Rick Klein
It's as if two stars of a previous season are angling to come back to the show -- in a changed country, though not really a changed Republican Party.
Both say they're loyal to President Donald Trump. Trump doesn't quite feel the same way about one of them -- and while the president is a big factor in both races, Trump and Trumpism aren't necessarily aligned in either of them.
Tuesday is primary runoff day in Alabama, where Trump's former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is vying to get his old job in the Senate back. It's also runoff day in Texas, where former White House physician Ronny Jackson is looking to win an open House seat to start a new career in Congress.
In one of the reddest states and one of the reddest House districts, both men are Republicans campaigning on loyalty to Trump.
So, though, are their primary opponents. Notwithstanding Trump's polling slide, it remains hard to find a Republican candidate anywhere who sees a political upside to putting daylight between himself and the president.
But Jackson is running with Trump's endorsement: “He’s loyal. He’s brave. He’s a leader, and he’ll never let the people of Texas down,” Trump said in a call with Texas supporters Monday night.
Sessions very much is not.
Trump has seemed focused on seeing to it that his former attorney general -- whom he blames for the Robert Mueller probe and all that stemmed from it -- does not return to Washington. The president has repeatedly questioned his intelligence, and tweeted over the weekend that he is a "disaster who has let us all down."
Sessions calls the insults "childish." Yet he continues to hew more closely -- and pledge more fealty -- to the president than the Trump-endorsed candidate, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Like Tuberville, Jackson has never before run for public office. His campaign is built on his relationship with Trump, which was enhanced when he famously vouched for the health of a man whom he said "might live to be 200" with a healthier diet.
Still, Jackson's rival, Josh Winegarner, is hoping Panhandle interests around agricultural expertise prevail, and has sought to turn Jackson's Washington ties into a liability.
Both Sessions and Jackson are defined politically by their time alongside Trump. But factors beyond the president's control could dictate whether either man has a political future.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The White House is apparently banking on Americans being OK with less information about COVID-19 and the government's response, instead of more.
Monday the White House gave reporters a list of quotes from Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, that it claimed to demonstrate times Fauci turned out to be wrong. It was an extraordinary move -- going negative on the one of the president's advisers as if he were a political opponent. Though the press secretary denied it was opposition research, the effort was an attempt by the White House to tell the press corps and the country not to trust one of its own.
So, who does the White House want Americans to trust and turn to for information? Demoting and dissing Fauci has only made the vacuum of information more obvious and at a time when the pandemic within U.S. borders feels nearly out of control.
On Monday, California reversed some early measure to "open-up" and put in place more stringent lockdown orders again.
Long gone are the days of any White House briefings specifically on the coronavirus, though large states continue to set new records on confirmed cases and hospitalizations.
The president and the White House in the past have suggested Americans should turn to local governors and mayors for information and guidance, but there have been huge inconsistencies there too. Take the urgent and pending questions about school openings in the fall. On that, the administration wants to dictate terms.
The TIP with Kendall Karson
Dueling endorsements between the two Democratic Senate rivals in Texas reflect the party's own inner conflict between putting forward candidates anointed by the establishment, or ones who fit the political moment brought on by upheaval over race.
Months before Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were killed and thousands of protesters took to the streets, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed M.J. Hegar, signaling she was the preferred pick of the national party to take on GOP Sen. John Cornyn. She's also earned the backing of progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, Planned Parenthood, EMILY's List and Giffords, the gun control organization, which her campaign often points to as a sign of her grassroots support.
But some top allies of former Vice President Joe Biden, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who helped rescue Biden's faltering bid, and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., a national co-chair of the presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign, lined up behind state Sen. Royce West. The longtime lawmaker believes he is better suited to meet the moment, telling ABC News, "We can make history by electing me as the next United States senator from the state of Texas. And not just because I'm African American, but because I've readied myself for this time in history to represent the Democratic Party in Washington."
Just last month, Democrats faced a similar dilemma in Kentucky, but ultimately the establishment won out. On Tuesday, another Democratic primary further south will again test which path the party chooses to take at a similar crossroads.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News' Anne Flaherty who discuss the White House campaign to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci and how the administration is handling the latest surge of COVID-19 cases. Then, ABC News Senior Investigative Reporter Aaron Katersky tells us what we've learned about Ghislaine Maxwell's arrest ahead of her bail hearing Tuesday. And, John Keim from our partners at ESPN explains what comes next now that Washington's NFL franchise says it will change its racist name and logo. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. In this week’s FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, FiveThirtyEight senior writer Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux joins Galen Druke to look back at a U.S. Supreme Court term full of consequential cases. https://53eig.ht/3ed1Fw7
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