Happy Friday! Just 73 days to the Iowa caucuses.
Up to Speed
- An eye-popping poll from Quinnipiac University gauging a hypothetical three-way race between Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. found Kennedy in position to be a massive spoiler, with 39 percent support for the president, 36 percent support for the former president, and 22 percent support for Kennedy Jr. A Politico analysis this week of donors currently maxing out to Kennedy’s campaign found that more had previously given to Trump than to Biden.
- New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu campaigned with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at a pair of Granite State events Thursday, where he joked (or did he?) that he is “getting closer every day” to endorsing her campaign. Sununu offered effusive praise for Haley’s campaign to reporters but said that “we’ll see about the whole endorsement thing down the road.”
- Florida Sen. Rick Scott endorsed Donald Trump for president Thursday, calling on the Republican Party to “unite behind his efforts to win back the White House.” The former president is additionally working to press his advantage against Ron DeSantis with an effort to flip state-level Florida lawmakers who had previously endorsed the Sunshine State governor, NBC News reported Wednesday.
- Texas Rep. Kay Granger, the longest-serving Republican woman in Congress and the powerful chair of the House Appropriations Committee, announced Wednesday she will not seek reelection in 2024.
- In the wake of weeks of open infighting among House Republicans, it’s suddenly Senate Republicans’ turn to pull out the knives. Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, protesting a Biden administration policy that reimburses military personnel for traveling to procure abortions, has for months placed a procedural block on quick Senate approval of military nominations and promotions, causing a logjam that has led to hundreds of stalled appointments. On Wednesday night, a group of Senate Republicans tried for hours to pass a group of top military appointments through, calling for unanimous consent on 61 individual nominees. Tuberville stood by to spike every one.
- Some defense hawks have quietly discussed working with Democrats to change Senate rules and break Tuberville’s procedural blockade. But they’ve met with blistering resistance in conservative media. And a Tuberville staffer spent last week trying to convince anti-abortion groups to threaten to primary any Republican who supported such a resolution. “In my opinion it is imperative for all of the groups to make clear, in some words, that any Republican who votes for this will be primaried,” Tuberville spokesman Steven Stafford wrote in an email obtained by Politico. “They only need nine squishes. And they will get there if we don’t act.”
Santos Survives, for the Moment
Rep. George Santos—under indictment for a heap of financial crimes, embroiled in a monthslong Ethics Committee investigation, facing a boatload of both Democratic and Republican challengers to his blue-leaning seat—is probably not long for Congress.
But the beleaguered Long Island Republican will last at least a little longer: A Wednesday floor vote to expel him from the House failed over precedent concerns and a desire from both Republicans and Democrats to see the legal and committee processes play out. The final tally was 179-213—far short of the two-thirds threshold needed to remove a lawmaker.
The resolution to expel was brought by several of Santos’ New York brethren—fellow freshman Republicans from the New York City ’burbs who have long chafed under their proximity to his scandals. “Mr. Santos is a stain on this institution,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito said from the floor ahead of the vote, “and not fit to serve his constituents in the House of Representatives.”