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Stirewaltisms: Aaaaaand They’re Off …
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Stirewaltisms: Aaaaaand They’re Off …

Did you really think 2024 would get off to a slow start?

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a Republican Jewish Coalition annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas on November 18, 2022. (Photo by Wade Vandervort/AFP/Getty Images.)

Between Mike Pompeo planting a minefield for his fellow members of the GOP 2024 second tier and Mike Pence getting in on the docu-drama, and frontrunners Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump both rolling out made-for-TV policy proposals on culture war issues, I think we can fairly say that the 2024 race really is in full swing.

With 53 weeks before voting is scheduled to begin, yet again the belief that somehow this would be the cycle with a slow start or how certain candidates would be exempt from the normal indignities and vicissitudes of the two-year slog in pursuit of power is revealed as a bunch of hokum.

Like bad plastic surgery, this will be ugly and expensive. It will feature multiple lead changes, boomlets, bustlets, failures to launch, out-of-nowhere surges, scandals, and a million manufactured controversies. I love to watch it, but then again, I also enjoy a liverwurst sandwich from time to time. Whether you like it or not, that’s what’s happening.

With that in mind, let’s get right to a roundup of the latest:   

DeSantis disses McDaniel ahead of RNC vote: Miami Herald: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Republican National Committee should replace current Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, arguing in an interview that the well-funded party apparatus needs a change in leadership after a series of disappointing recent elections. ‘In fact, we even lost ground in the U.S. Senate,’ DeSantis said. ‘And so you know, I think we need a change. I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC.’ The governor then praised Harmeet Dhillon, a former Trump adviser and vice-chairwoman of the California Republican Party who is running against McDaniel, saying her plan to shift RNC operations outside of Washington, D.C., was smart. … Though DeSantis did not formally endorse Dhillon, he predicted the RNC would struggle to raise money from the party’s grassroots donors if it didn’t back a change.”

RNC eyes donor threshold for debates: Axios: “Republican candidates might have to beef up grassroots fundraising operations to qualify for the first 2024 presidential primary debate, Axios has learned. The Republican National Committee is planning to mimic a Democratic tactic in 2020, requiring a certain number of unique individual donors to get a spot on the debate stage, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Discussions are ongoing about the precise number of donors to require, though internal talks have floated 40,000 and 50,000 as potential thresholds and the source said the numbers could change prior to an RNC vote in February. The donor requirement for Democratic presidential candidates — initially 65,000, and rising with each debate — provided a huge boost to the party’s grassroots fundraising operation.”

DeSantis’ black studies flap grows wings: Washington Post: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing mounting backlash regarding his administration’s decision to prohibit an Advanced Placement high school course on African American studies, with Black leaders rallying in the capital, a prominent civil rights lawyer threatening to sue and state lawmakers urging him to reverse the decision. Attorney Ben Crump accused DeSantis of violating the federal and state constitutions Wednesday by refusing to permit the course. His legal team noted that a federal judge found a 2010 law in Arizona that banned a Mexican American studies program from Tucson schools unconstitutional and officials ‘motivated by racial animus.’ The state Department of Education contends that the class is ‘inexplicably contrary to Florida law.’ A new education law championed by DeSantis requires lessons on race be taught in ‘an objective manner’ and ‘not used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view.’”

Trump, Biden both trail in New Hampshire poll: New Hampshire Journal: “The top of the 2020 ticket is stuck in second place in New Hampshire. In both parties. Just days before former President Donald Trump makes his first New Hampshire appearance of the 2024 cycle, a new poll puts Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) well ahead among likely Granite State GOP primary voters. And like Trump, his 2020 opponent President Joe Biden is in second place among New Hampshire Democrats, according to the Granite State Poll, a States of Opinion project, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. DeSantis is at 42 percent, while Trump trails at 30 percent and 8 percent pick former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is tied for fourth place with former Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney at four percent. … Meanwhile, Biden trails his own Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a UNH survey released earlier this week. Biden had the support of just 18 percent of Granite State Democrats — tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — while Buttigieg was backed by 23 percent. And 66 percent of Democrats did not want Biden to run for re-election.”

Holy croakano! We welcome your feedback, so please email us with your tips, corrections, reactions, amplifications, etc. at STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. If you’d like to be considered for publication, please include your real name and hometown. If you don’t want your comments to be made public, please specify.


Biden Job Performance
Average approval: 42.4%
Average disapproval: 52.8%
Net score: -10.4 points 

Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.4 points                        
Change from one month ago: ↓ 0.6 points

[Average includes: CNN: 46% approve-54% disapprove; Emerson: 44% approve-48% disapprove; Quinnipiac: 38% approve-53% disapprove; CBS News: 44% approve-56% disapprove; Reuters/Ipsos: 40% approve-53% disapprove] 

Polling Roulette


Wall Street Journal: “The Columbus Washboard Co., founded before the first electric washing machines put a new spin on laundering in the early 1900s, has dodged extinction for 128 years. As America’s last washboard-maker… four employees churn out roughly 11,000 washboards a year in the basement of a former G.C. Murphy discount variety store. A popular pail-size model sells for $27.49. … Columbus Washboard sold more than a million boards a year in its 1940s heyday. Today, about 40% of company sales go to bluegrass and folk musicians who use the boards as percussion instruments. … The town stages an annual washboard festival in June, and Rebecca Lindsey attends most years. Ms. Lindsey, who has played the washboard since 1988, has a custom model she named Cosmo. It weighs 47½ pounds and has 20 sound effects, including a four-bar xylophone, a duck call and a train whistle …”


Politico: The 2024 Senate map was already daunting for Democrats. Now, some in the party worry that a tangled three-way race in Arizona featuring newly independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Democratic challenger Ruben Gallego could make it even worse. … The congressman thinks fears that the left’s vote will be cannibalized are greatly misplaced. As he sees it, Sinema, who was a Democrat until last month, will instead fracture the vote on the right. … As a progressive in a state where registered Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans and independents alike, he risks being squeezed on both sides in a general election between two other candidates. … ‘I don’t think that there’s going to be a lot of like Democratic ticket splitting,’ [consultant Andy Barr]  said. ‘I think the question is, how close can [Gallego] get to zeroing out Kyrsten’s vote among Democratic voters?’”

GOP to Sinema: Come on over: Bloomberg: “Newly independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is being courted by Senate Republicans … As an independent, she would be spared from having to compete in a Democratic primary. After that, though, she’d have a tough road in a three-way race against a Democratic candidate and a Republican in the narrowly divided swing state. John Thune, the second-ranking Senate Republican, has proposed a way to potentially improve Sinema’s odds. ‘As she knows, because I’ve conveyed this to her many times, we would welcome her in our caucus,’ Thune said. … Many Democratic senators this week declined to say whether they’d support Sinema or Gallego, including fellow Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. … ‘Senator Sinema is an excellent congressmember, Senate member, and she has done a lot of good things here. But it’s much too early to make a decision,’ Schumer said Tuesday when asked what he would do.”

Facing brutal Senate map, Dems fear more retirements: Washington Post: “Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) plans to run for reelection, he says, but Democrats are holding their breath waiting for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) to decide whether they will stick around for reelection battles in red states where they’ve shown surprising staying power. … Both men said this week they were still weighing their decisions. … Democrats attribute some of their surprising success in the midterms last year to their Senate incumbents running for reelection while many Republicans decided to retire. … Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced her retirement earlier this month, setting up a potentially crowded Democratic primary to replace her and putting the seat more within reach for Republicans.”

Slotkin preps for shot at Stabenow’s seat: AP: “In what is quickly emerging as one of the most closely watched Senate races of the 2024 campaign, [Rep. Elissa Slotkin] is aggressively acting on Stabenow’s call for ‘the next generation of leadership.’ The 46-year-old former CIA intelligence officer is taking steps to prepare for a Senate run, including forming a national campaign team. … Slotkin’s potential Democratic rivals include Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Haley Stevens, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and state Sen. Mallory McMorrow.” 

Cable news stalwart Schiff joins fray for California Senate: AP: “Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, said he is running for the Senate seat held by long-serving Democrat Dianne Feinstein. The 2024 race is quickly emerging as a marquee Senate contest, even though the 89-year-old Feinstein, the oldest member of Congress, has yet to announce if she will seek another term, though her retirement is widely expected. Schiff is jumping in two weeks after Rep. Katie Porter became the first candidate to declare her campaign for the safe Democratic seat. Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, made clear he intends to anchor his candidacy to his role as Trump’s chief antagonist in Congress.”

Club for Growth charts 2024 spending spree: Axios: “The conservative Club for Growth is emerging as one of the most consequential groups within Republican politics — and a textbook example of the GOP’s identity crisis in the post-Trump era. … The Club for Growth is now preparing for an all-out war against former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in anticipation of his candidacy for the Senate. It’s endorsed Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), an outspoken Trump defender, and has already spent $16,000 in anti-Daniels advertising to dissuade him from running. … The Club for Growth is a longtime champion of Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), the first Republican to announce a campaign against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). … It is also an ally of Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), who is mulling a campaign against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)”


New York Times: “In 10 weeks, Wisconsin will hold an election that carries bigger policy stakes than any other contest in America in 2023. The April race, for a seat on the state’s evenly divided Supreme Court, will determine the fate of abortion rights, gerrymandered legislative maps and the Wisconsin governor’s appointment powers — and perhaps even influence the state’s 2024 presidential election. … Indeed, the clash for the court is striking because of how nakedly political it is. … Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal county judge from a Milwaukee suburb, is leading the charge… She turned heads this month at a candidate forum when she declared the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps ‘rigged.’ … The top two will advance to an April 4 general election, with the winner joining a court that is otherwise split between three conservative and three liberal justices. In narrowly divided Wisconsin, a one-seat edge is all the majority needs to change the state’s politics.”

New governors a much needed refresh for blue-team bench: Politico: “Both new governors [Wes Moore of Maryland and Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania] reached deep into their states’ past to evoke America’s promise and trumpet their own. … If it all felt like a highly-choreographed preview of future ambitions, campaigns and perhaps swearing-ins, well, I wasn’t the only one with the same premonition. … As Democrats bemoan their political bench there’s a frequent glass-is-half-empty refrain about the most-often mentioned prospects waiting behind the 80-year-old in the White House: Kamala Harris can’t win a general election, Pete Buttigieg can’t win a primary… Just beginning their governorships now, it may be too soon for Shapiro and Moore to run next year, and allies of both suggested to me they would be unlikely to run for president so soon. Yet as I made my way around Harrisburg and Annapolis last week, I was struck by the air of expectations, or really the operating assumption, that both new governors would run for president.”

Prominent Dems ditch Blue Dogs: Politico: “Congress’ influential Blue Dog Coalition is getting chopped nearly in half after an internal blow-up over whether to rebrand the centrist Democratic group. Seven of the 15 members expected to join the Blue Dogs this year, including Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), are departing after a heated disagreement over a potential name change for the moderate bloc. For now that’s left the Blue Dogs with seven, all male members — their smallest roster in nearly three decades of existence. One freshman member remains undecided. At the core of some of the breakaway Blue Dogs’ demands was a rechristening as the Common Sense Coalition that, they argued, would have helped shed the group’s reputation as a socially moderate, Southern ‘boys’ club.’ Blue Dogs have long stood for fiscal responsibility and national security, issues with broad Democratic appeal, but some members felt the name had a negative connotation that kept their colleagues from joining.”

Poll: Georgians say voting is safe, secure, simple: National Review: About a year ago, President Biden gave a speech in Georgia in which he compared Republicans to segregationists and said that Georgia state politicians were implementing ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ through ‘voter suppression and election subversion.’ … And now, there’s a University of Georgia survey of 1,253 Georgia voters that found… 0 percent of black voters in Georgia said they had a poor experience voting. Zero. On the positive side, 72.6 percent of black voters said their voting experience was excellent, almost identical to the 72.7 percent of white voters who said so. … When asked if they faced a problem voting, any problem at all, 99.5 percent of black voters said they had not. That’s slightly more than the 98.7 percent of white voters who said the same.” 


McCarthy to remove Santos only if he broke the law—The Hill

Alaska Republicans launch effort to discard ranked choice voting—Alaska Public Media


“It definitely took up, like, half the day.”—A senior State Department official on discussions about switching the preferred department font to Calibri from Times New Roman. 

You should email us! Write to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM with your tips, kudos, criticisms, insights, rediscovered words, wonderful names, recipes and, always, good jokes. Please include your real name—at least first and last—and hometown. Make sure to let me know in the email if you want to keep your submission private. My colleague, the writerly Nate Moore, and I will look for your emails and then share the most interesting ones and my responses here. Clickety clack!


Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern.  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

I like entries that are on the news and I like conceptual humor, but I love a goofy sight gag executed well. And this week’s winner delivered the goods with just 11 words on the picture of soon-to-be-former New Zealand Prime Minister  Jacinda Ardern


“Does this joint ever restock the paper towels in the restrooms?”—Michael Smith, Georgetown, Kentucky

Winner, Lady of the Rings Division:

“And so I have purchased the ‘Bag End’ property used in the movies, and there I shall diminish, and go into the West, and remain Jacinda.”—Nathan Wurtzel, South Riding, Virginia

Winner, Auckland Boozy Brunch Division:

“…  and furthermore, I am announcing a starring role in the new series Real Housewives of New Zealand”—John Rawls, Castle Pines, Colorado

Winner, Old Dominion Collegiate Munchies Division:

“The first thing I will do is go to Blacksburg, Virginia, and stop by Macados for their Hindenburg sub, it must be THIS BIG!”—Don Bishop, New Castle, Virginia

Winner, Azimuthal Equidistant Projection Division:

“‘We’re on top of the world, eh’, Jacinda Ardern appeals to members that New Zealand should have permanent United Nations status since the country appears at the top of the United Nations logo.”—Michael Johnson, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Send your proposed cutline for the picture that appears at the top of this newsletter to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. We will pick the top entrants and an appropriate reward for the best of this month—even beyond the glory and adulation that will surely follow. Be hilarious, don’t be too dirty, and never be cruel. Include your full name and hometown. Have fun!


Daily Voice: “The mother of a high school student in the region has been arrested for allegedly sneaking into the school dressed as a student so she could watch her daughter fight with another student. … Immediately following the altercation, it was discovered that the mother of one of the students involved in the fight was in the building without prior authorization, said Capt. John Watterson of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office. ‘She allegedly entered the building during arrival disguised as a student,’ Watterson said.An investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the Arlington Central School District has resulted in the arrest of Valerie Albelo, age 33, of Lagrangeville, Watterson said. … Dr. Dave Moyer, Arlington Superintendent of Schools, issued the following statement: ‘I commend our staff and Arlington High School safety personnel who intervened immediately during the altercation and quickly identified the parent who entered the high school without approval.’”

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Broken News, a new book on media and politics. Nate Moore contributed to this report.

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the politics editor for NewsNation, co-host of the Ink Stained Wretches podcast, and author of Broken News, a book on media and politics.