The GOP Field Takes Shape

Happy Wednesday! With our interns officially aboard for the summer, The Dispatch’s 2023 softball season begins in earnest tonight. We promise to keep you updated on how it unfolds—unless things are going poorly, in which case we’ll never speak of it again.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories  

  • The Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power plant in southern Ukraine collapsed yesterday, flooding surrounding villages and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Ukrainian and NATO leaders have blamed Russia for the dam’s destruction, while Russia has claimed Ukraine was responsible. Definitive evidence of who is behind the collapse has yet to emerge, but engineering and explosives experts suggest the most plausible explanation for the destruction is an internal explosion at the Russian-controlled dam.
  • The Washington Post reported Tuesday the United States had intelligence of a Ukrainian plan to attack the Nord Stream pipelines months before they were blown up, according to a European intelligence report accessed through the April Discord leaks. The report—sourced from an unidentified individual in Ukraine–was shared with the CIA last June and includes some details on the Ukrainian plan that match European investigators’ conclusions about the identity of the saboteurs.
  • The PGA Tour and LIV Golf—a rival golf league backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund—announced yesterday they have agreed to merge. The news shocked the golf world as critics—including PGA officials and players—have for more than a year been knocking LIV players for their complicity in an effort to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and role in the 9/11 attacks. The agreement will end litigation between the two tours and combine the PGA Tour, LIV, and the DP World Tour under a single, as-of-yet unnamed for-profit entity.
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that arrests along the southern border have dropped by 70 percent since the end of Title 42 last month. Border officials reported record numbers of crossing attempts just before the pandemic-era policy—used to quickly expel most migrants, incentivizing repeat crossing attempts—expired, but the administration replaced it with more restrictions for migrants seeking entry and tougher penalties for illegal border crossings.
  • A group of 11 House Republicans—mostly House Freedom Caucus members—sank a procedural vote to advance several GOP-supported bills on Tuesday, an unusual step designed to express their dissatisfaction with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s handling of the debt ceiling deal. The group—which included Reps. Matt Gaetz, Ken Buck, and Dan Bishop—said McCarthy had violated promises he made to earn his gavel and argued their move demonstrated the power of defectors over the narrow Republican majority.
  • The New York Times first reported Tuesday Mark Meadows, the final chief of staff to former President Donald Trump, has testified before a grand jury hearing evidence in several investigations overseen by special counsel Jack Smith. It was unclear when Meadows testified, and whether he discussed Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election or the former president’s mishandling of classified documents. 

Christie Jumps In

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at an event at Saint Anselm College on June 06, 2023.  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at an event at Saint Anselm College on June 06, 2023. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Some may liken it to a clown car, others, to an overcrowded hot tub. Whatever your comically jam-packed vessel of choice, there’s no denying the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination has ballooned this week.

At a kick-off event in New Hampshire Tuesday night, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he’s officially jumping in the race. Former Vice President Mike Pence signed the paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission formalizing his run Monday and is set to make an official announcement tonight at an event in Iowa, followed by a town hall on CNN. And GOP North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum teased a “big announcement” and officially declared his intention to throw his (cowboy) hat in the ring in a Wall Street Journal op-ed

By the end of the week, there will likely be nine more-or-less serious contenders—depending on how you define “serious”—and several more longer shots. As the field grows, the calculus for the candidates gets more complicated. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s assertion she doesn’t “play for second” notwithstanding, the game could become about deciding what it is candidates are playing for as their respective paths to the nomination narrow with every new entry. 

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