Up to Speed
- Congress averted a shutdown of the federal government, and throughout the holiday season, approving a short-term continuing resolution that will keep the lights on through next year. The “laddered” legislation, drawn up by House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, slates some government agencies to exhaust funding in January, while others won’t need to be refunded until February. President Joe Biden has signed the bill.
- Scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos will not seek reelection in 2024, he said Thursday. The New York Republican made the announcement on the heels of the release of a scathing report from the House Ethics Committee alleging he misused campaign funds and committed other serious crimes during his 2022 bid for the 3rd Congressional District. (That report is worth paging through, detailing as it does a level of financial lawbreaking shameless enough to wow even those who have followed the Santos affair closely so far.)
- The release of the report has renewed calls by some House Republicans for Santos to be expelled from Congress. Although such a vote failed in the House earlier this month, sources tell The Dispatch that its proponents are hopeful the balance has shifted: Many Republicans (and some Democrats) had been uneasy about the due-process precedent of preempting the ethics investigation. Emblematic of that shift is the fact that it was Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest, rather than Santos’s New York GOP detractors as before, who filed the motion of expulsion Friday morning. It would require approval of two-thirds of the House to pass.
- The New Hampshire “first in the nation” presidential primary has been set for January 23, eight days following the GOP’s Iowa caucuses, Secretary of State David Scanlan announced this week. On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden will not be on the ballot, although supporters are mounting a write-in campaign. The president did not file for the primary, honoring rules changes to the Democratic Party’s early state schedule that elevated South Carolina and pushed back New Hampshire.
- Chicago voters are unhappy with their newest mayor, Brandon Johnson, according to a poll from the Republican firm Echelon Insights. The Democrat, elected in April, has an abysmal 28 percent job approval rating, with 50 percent giving him negative marks and 22 percent saying they are unsure. Quality of life issues seem to be the culprit, as large majorities disapprove of his handling of “crime and public safety,” “housing and homelessness,” and the influx of illegal immigrants transported to the city from Texas. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
- Army veteran Yevgeny Vindman is running for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, the seat being vacated by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat who is retiring from the House to run for governor. Vindman may look and sound familiar. He is the twin brother of Alexander Vindman, the onetime White House aide turned whistleblower who revealed then-President Donald Trump’s attempt to hold U.S. military assistance to Ukraine hostage unless Kyiv offered up dirt on future President Joe Biden. The episode led to Trump’s first impeachment, although he was acquitted in the Senate.
Team DeSantis Stakes Hopes on Iowa Turnout Apparatus
Ron DeSantis has a mountain to climb in Iowa. With the January 15 caucuses less than 60 days out, the Florida governor trails former President Donald Trump in the state by more than 30 percentage points. But if DeSantis manages to close the gap, he has a weapon at the ready capable of deciding the race: infrastructure.
Infrastructure is political jargon for “voter turnout operation.” And for all of the DeSantis campaign’s many challenges, fielding a well-functioning, adequately funded (in Iowa, at least) voter turnout operation is not among them. Perhaps that’s because the task was long ago farmed out to Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting the governor’s 2024 presidential campaign, and seeded with tens of millions of dollars of unused cash from his 2022 gubernatorial reelection.
Either way, sources familiar with Never Back Down’s program to turn out voters for DeSantis in the Iowa caucuses shared some key aspects of the effort with The Dispatch.