NotedDC — Why Washington is suddenly talking about Alaska
Alaska’s new voting system is putting its general election on the map as more of a wild card this November, as some see signs that Democrats could perform well in the traditionally red state.
Alaska debuted its ranked-choice voting system on Tuesday in the special election to replace the late Rep. Don Young (R), allowing voters to rank their preferred candidates instead of only voting for one.
Democrat Mary Peltola currently leads the race, where ballots are still being counted. Since no candidate is likely to win a majority, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes will get eliminated and their votes get redistributed and so forth until there is a winner.
Peltola’s success is threatening former GOP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s future in politics as she aims to take over the remainder of Young’s seat and for the two-year term beginning in January, which will be decided in November.
Palin called the new system “crazy” and “convoluted” as she sits in second place for the special election. If the other leading Republican candidate Nick Begich gets eliminated first, then Palin would likely receive more votes from his ballots in a contest against Peltola.
Our colleague Julia Manchester notes that Peltola would be the first Indigenous person from Alaska and the first woman from Alaska to serve in Congress.
It could also signal what’s to come in the fall as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) faces a fight against Trump-endorsed Republican candidate Kelly Tshibaka. Both moved forward from the primary on Tuesday along with two other candidates.
“If you vote Democrat as your first choice, your natural second choice, if out of those four candidates, if two of them are to the right of Murkowski and the Democrat is to the left, your natural second choice is probably Murkowski,” an Alaska political strategist told us.
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Trump’s latest court battles
A federal judge said Thursday he is inclined to unseal parts of the affidavit that provided enough evidence for the FBI to obtain a warrant to search former President Trump’s Florida estate.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) will have to present a redacted affidavit next Thursday to the judge, explaining why certain parts should not be released to the public.
What’s the significance: The affidavit contains more details into DOJ’s broader investigation into Trump, including witnesses and investigative techniques.
As Republicans continue to paint the search as politically motivated, they argue that the affidavit would prove whether the search was justified.
But the FBI argued it would “compromise further investigative steps” if certain details were revealed, since it serves as a “roadmap” to the ongoing investigation.
It’s worth noting that it is highly unusual for an affidavit to be unsealed at this point in an investigation. The search warrant unsealed last week revealed that the FBI suspects Trump of violating the Espionage Act and other laws.
And Trump continues to face trouble in other investigations. The Trump Organization’s ex-Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty on Thursday to tax evasion. It comes a week after Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment in a deposition for the probe.
Meanwhile, in Georga: Ex-Trump legal adviser Rudy Giuliani testified before a special grand jury Wednesday in Fulton County after finding out he was a target of their investigation into attempts by Trump and others to decertify the 2020 election results.
BIDEN MULLS DECISION ON STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS
The pandemic-era moratorium on student loan debt payments will expire at the end of the month, unless leaders act to extend the pause or forgive some level of debt.
It remains unclear which approach they’ll take, even as the clock ticks.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says discussions are happening “daily” on how to move forward, but he wouldn’t commit to an extension during a recent CBS interview.
“Borrowers will know directly and soon from us when a decision is made,” Cardona said.
Advocates have pressed for a full forgiveness of student loan debt, but the Biden administration hasn’t committed to such action.
Payments were paused in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended the economy. The latest extension of the reprieve is set to expire at the end of the month.
President Biden has urged Congress to pass legislation that would cancel student debt, but he’s also asked Cardona to determine whether he has the authority to unilaterally forgive more.
Dems look to weaponize the Inflation Reduction Act
The Hill’s campaign team reports that Democrats’ best chance of clinging to a chamber of Congress this year probably lies in the Senate.
“Part of the problem for Republicans, strategists say, is their lineup of Senate candidates in key battleground states,” Max Greenwood, Julia Manchester and Caroline Vakil write in the latest edition of their campaign report.
The Inflation Reduction Act, the sweeping climate, health care and tax bill that President Biden signed into law this week after Democrats passed the legislation alone after weeks of negotiations, is expected to give the president’s party a boost heading into the midterms.
A new poll from Politico-Morning Consult released this week found that Democrats are leading Republicans by 4 percentage points on a generic congressional ballot. The survey found 46 percent of registered voters would currently choose the Democratic candidate, compared to 42 percent who would choose the Republican.
“Today is part of an extraordinary story that’s being written by this administration and our brave allies in the Congress,” Biden said in a signing ceremony for the legislation.
He and his allies are now expected to push the messaging through the campaign season, with millions expected to boost it in ads airing across the country in the lead up to November.
The point: Midterm elections are notoriously difficult for the party in power and Democrats already hold razor-thin majorities in the House and the Senate.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which Democrats spent months haggling over, could prove to be a boost on the campaign trail.
In our inbox: Omar Farah is joining the national civil rights organization Muslim Advocates as its new executive director, leaving his position at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom has a weekly roundup of where people are moving in the lobbying world (and you can send us your professional updates, too!). Here are some highlights:
- Doug Thornell will be SKDK’s next chief executive officer, formerly serving as a managing editor.
- Linda Lourie joined WestExec Advisors as a senior adviser, most recently serving as assistant director for research and technology at the Biden White House.
- Watson McLeish joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as senior vice president of tax policy, most recently serving as tax counsel at the Tax Executives Institute.
- Jonathan Grella will join the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf as its chief communications officer, previously serving as president of JAG Public Affairs.
A staple removed from CNN
Say goodbye to anchor Brian Stetler at CNN. The network announced Thursday it would cancel his talk show “Reliable Sources,” which examined the media industry.
“It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential,” Stelter told our colleague Dominic Mastrangelo.
Why the shakeup? Stetler’s show was on the chopping block earlier this year, according to Axios, as new CEO Chris Licht revamps the network’s editorial strategy after their streaming service CNN+ failed.