Georgia heads to finish line in last 2022 race
Georgia’s Senate race is finally coming to a close.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, who have been duking it out in the last battle of the midterms, will get a final verdict from voters on Tuesday night.
Warnock has already shown his ability to win in this situation several times over the past two years, though it’s the first time he’s pushing to secure a full six-year term.
The first Black senator from Georgia, Warnock has been in the temporary seat since 2021. His win handed control of the Senate to Democrats. This year, his seat isn’t tied to majority control, but he would give Democrats a crucial extra vote as they navigate the divided Congress with Republicans taking control of the House.
Warnock narrowly headed off Walker in the general election last month, but he didn’t make it past the 50 percent needed to win — sending the race to this week’s runoff.
A recent poll from Emerson College Polling and The Hill found that 49 percent of very likely voters surveyed said they would back Warnock to 47 percent who said they would vote for Walker. Four percent said they were still undecided.
Nearly 2 million people have already cast their ballots through early and absentee voting, in a state with 7.8 million registered voters.
Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.
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🚓 A medal — and a snub
POLICE OFFICERS who defended the Capitol when a mob of former President Trump’s supporters stormed the building to try to block the certification of the 2020 electoral results were bestowed the Congressional Medal of Freedom on Tuesday.
The event showcased tensions still raw over the Jan. 6, 2021 attack and subsequent response, with family members of slain officer Brian Sicknick snubbing Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) when honorees’ representatives walked down a line shaking hands.
“Thank you for saving our country. Thank you for not only being our friends, but our heroes,” McConnell said at the event Tuesday.
- The medal is Congress’ highest honor — awarded to a select group of people for accomplishments significant to the country.
- A duplicate medal will go on display at the Smithsonian Institution with a plaque featuring the names of law enforcement agencies that defended the Capitol. President Biden said the inclusion of the museum would ensure that “all visitors can understand what happened that day.”
Both the House and the Senate passed resolutions to bestow the medals, but 21 House Republicans voted against the legislation last year. Several Republicans said at the time they voted against the medal presentation because they objected to language calling the attack an “insurrection.”
🇹🇼 Apple’s pivot
PRESIDENT BIDEN is visiting a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) plant under construction in Phoenix this afternoon, where the company plans to announce a second factory and billions more dollars in U.S. chip buildout.
The Taiwan-based company is the largest contract chipmaker in the world and is a major supplier to Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook will be on hand to help unveil the new investments. Cook has reportedly told employees he wants Apple to source chips from the plant under construction in Arizona, which comes online in 2024.
Big picture: Apple is facing rising political and supply chain pressures over its ties to China, where it has long produced its iPhones. A clash last month between police and workers at the largest iPhone factory — and reports that the company limited a key AirDrop function in China, one used in prior pro-democracy demonstrations, just weeks before protests over lockdown measures erupted — have drawn scrutiny.
The company faces consumer warning signs, too. According to a Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action poll obtained by The Hill, more than 7 in 10 voters — Democrats, Independents and Republicans — said they would be less likely to do business with major companies that work with Beijing to censor citizen-led protests.
– Jesse Byrnes
Dems’ new leadership position
HOUSE DEMOCRATS will have a new leadership position next year: Battleground Representative.
- Democrats voted 152-54 last week to create the position, which is charged with representing members from battleground districts.
- “Frontline” Democrats — vulnerable incumbents who receive Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee support for reelection — and new members who flipped GOP-held districts are voting Tuesday to fill the role.
In the running: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who won Virginia’s 7th District by about 4 percentage points, and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), who won reelection by about 2 percentage points in Pennsylvania’s 8th, are competing for the position.
Spanberger told NotedDC in an email on Monday that members like her “who represent swing districts, many diverse communities, constituents of many unique backgrounds, and Americans who hold varying political viewpoints … tend to hear new concerns and feedback first.”
She said the battleground representative “will be able to provide a new and current perspective on timing — building out necessary time to socialize our priorities and for Members to provide evidence of their results on behalf of their constituents — in a way that has not yet been present at the leadership table.”
NotedDC reached out to Cartwright’s office as well.
Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) pitched the new leadership position, arguing battleground members are usually too focused on winning reelection to run for traditional leadership roles.
Spanberger won Virginia’s 7th in 2018, beating incumbent Dave Brat (R), who upset then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the district’s 2014 Republican primary. The district’s boundaries changed substantially during the 2020 redistricting cycle, requiring Spanberger to gain support from many new constituents.
Cartwright, in office since 2013, is one of five Democrats to win a district in November that supported Donald Trump in 2020’s presidential election.
Endorsements: Lee and seven other Frontliners endorsed Spanberger for the position, writing in a letter that Spanberger “has never been shy about voicing concerns, sharing perspectives from on the ground, and suggesting strategy or messaging improvements to Caucus Leadership[.]”
Spanberger criticized talk of defunding the police and use of the word “socialism” by Democrats following House losses in the 2020 election cycle. She’s had a contentious relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and hasn’t supported her Speaker bids.
On Monday, the New Democrat Coalition endorsed Spanberger. The group says its 96 members are “committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.”
Rep.-elect Chris Deluzio (Pa.) told HuffPost that Cartwright, who he’s supporting, won a Trump district running on “standing up for workers and unions, fighting to bring our supply chains back home, calling out corporate power.”
We can expect Democrats’ debate over messaging and priorities to be a major theme through 2024 as they push to reclaim the majority. And we’ll be watching how the new Battleground Representative leverages the position to influence that debate.
SCOTUS WEIGHS ‘INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATURE THEORY’ CASE
The case involves something called the “independent state legislature” theory.
What that is: It starts with the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.”
- The National Conference of State Legislatures explained, “In this case, North Carolina’s current legislative leaders argue that the ‘Times, Places and Manner’ clause ‘forbids state courts from reviewing a congressional districting plan [that] violates the state’s own constitution,’ an argument known as the ‘independent state legislature’ theory.”
- ProPublica posed the Elections Clause question this way: “Does that mean the legislature is subject to the traditional oversight of state courts and the gubernatorial veto? Or does it mean the legislature acting alone, with no such oversight? If it’s the former, then laws setting the rules for federal elections are no different than any other laws. If it’s the latter, things get complicated.”
The North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the congressional district map the state legislature drew after the 2020 census, ruling it was a partisan gerrymander.
Previous case to know: In 2019’s Rucho v. Common Cause decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said that federal courts can’t resolve disputes about partisan gerrymandering, which it left up to state courts, state legislatures and Congress.
Some stakes: In addition to barring state courts from reviewing partisan gerrymander cases, a ruling in favor of legislative leaders could affect how congressional districts are drawn in some states. Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault said it could undo independent redistricting commissions established by ballot initiatives (as opposed to state legislatures), such as Arizona’s.
And the effects could extend to laws governing federal elections more generally.
- University of Iowa College of Law professor Derek T. Muller (who filed an amicus brief saying the court should rule against legislators) said that could go two ways: The ruling could be narrow and “forbid state courts from using vague provisions of state constitutions to unduly restrict the discretion of state legislatures. Or it could issue a broader ruling and say that state legislatures can act free of any substantive constraints of their state constitutions. That could invite a number of state legislatures to rewrite the rules for federal elections.”
- The Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm said the “issue is particularly significant because executive branch officials and state and federal judges issued opinions that altered existing election laws and procedures in various states—using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse—during the 2020 election, without seeking or obtaining the approval of the state legislatures in those states.”
CBS News reported a decision is expected next June.
Learn more about this case at SCOTUSblog.
THE HILL’S PHARMA SUPPLY CHAIN EVENT
The Hill’s contributing editor Steve Scully moderated a discussion Tuesday on the pharmaceutical supply chain, sponsored by Pfizer. Speakers included MADE in America Act co-sponsors Reps. Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and National Association of Manufacturers president Jay Timmons.
Timmons said to stay resilient, “I would say that the No. 1 thing that manufacturers believe we need to protect and perhaps even strengthen are the tax reforms that we were able to get into place in 2017.”
Other policies that Timmons said incentivize manufacturing: “We’ve done a couple of really good things. In a bipartisan way, we passed the infrastructure bill last year. This year, we passed the CHIPS and Science Act. Those were two huge steps forward[.]”
Watch the event here.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) doesn’t want marijuana-related banking language or Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform proposal to be added to the defense bill.
- The Hill’s Mike Lillis gives a rundown of legislative victories Democrats hope to score in a packed lame-duck session before Republicans take control of the House.
- Congress passed legislation last week averting a rail worker strike by enforcing a contract while not passing a separate bill granting paid sick days. Workers could leave the industry.
ONE MORE THING
Kennedy Center honors
The Kennedy Center this weekend celebrated actor George Clooney; singer Amy Grant; singer Gladys Knight; Cuban-born American composer Tania León; and rock band U2 during an Opera House event, which will air Dec. 28 on CBS.
President Biden hailed the group during an event at the White House before attending the awards ceremony.
“Tonight, we celebrate a truly exceptional, and this is not exaggeration, a truly exceptional group of artists,” Biden said.
Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), made his first public appearance after being attacked by an intruder at their home in late October.
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ICYMI: NotedDC recently chatted with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein to get a feel for how things are going on the ground ahead of Tuesday night’s Georgia Senate runoff. Catch up on what he had to say here.
See you tomorrow!