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The Trailer: The pandemic planner, the crypto billionaire and a bunch of indignant Democrats


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In this version: The crypto money that is turned an Oregon marketing campaign the other way up, a bitter GOP conference in Minnesota, and stop-the-steal battles form celebration nominations in Utah and Minnesota.

I am unable to imagine we now stay in a world the place billionaires personal media corporations, however that is nonetheless The Trailer.

TUALATIN, Ore. — Carrick Flynn cannot bear in mind what he was consuming, however he remembers why he spilled it.

“We were watching a YouTube video together, a tutorial about something,” mentioned Flynn, sitting together with his spouse, Kathryn Mecrow-Flynn, after a U.S. Chamber of Commerce breakfast final week, the place he and different Democratic congressional candidates heard a presentation on suburban crime.

“All of a sudden, we hear a voice say ‘CARRICK FLYNN!’” remembered Mecrow-Flynn.

“And I had water in my hand,” mentioned Flynn.

Mecrow-Flynn corrected him. “Mountain Dew,” she mentioned.

“It would have been Diet Mountain Dew,” Flynn mentioned, extra confidently.

The voice was coming from an advert, one of many very first from Protect Our Future, a PAC funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. In the weeks because it ran, the PAC has poured roughly $7 million into the race, one other new PAC was based to assist elect Flynn to Congress, and the House Democrats’ personal tremendous PAC, to the horror of the opposite Democrats operating on this new seat, had endorsed Flynn, a 35-year lawyer and coverage analyst with no political expertise.

The relentless spending has reworked the May 17 Democratic main for Oregon’s sixth Congressional District into one of the vital costly races within the nation — not what Democrats anticipated after they drew the strains. A district that stretches from suburban Portland into Salem, and which a Democratic nominee is more likely to win, attracted a various subject of candidates, together with two Latina state legislators and a veteran pouring his personal crypto wealth into an outsider marketing campaign. 

“This election is a referendum on our democracy, our values, and whether or not this district can be bought,” mentioned Matt West, a scientist operating for the seat, at a candidate discussion board final week.

“Nobody really knows who’s funding this,” mentioned state Rep. Andrea Salinas (D), who picked up endorsements from Gov. Kate Brown, Planned Parenthood, and quite a few labor unions earlier than the heavy spending began boosting Flynn. “Nobody really knows what their motivation is.”

Not each donor has been recognized, however Flynn and different Democrats have a good suggestion of what Bankman-Fried desires. In January, Protect Our Future launched with a brief listing of endorsements — not together with Flynn — and an preliminary $10 million funding in candidates who centered on pandemic preparedness. 

The purpose, mentioned PAC president Michael Sadowsky, was electing members of Congress who’d “give our nation the best shot at ensuring the devastation that has occurred as a result of the covid-19 pandemic never happens again.” Bankman-Fried was a believer in “effective altruism,” maximizing the advantages of philanthropy by cautious evaluation and directed donations.

“We need a champion for pandemic prevention in Congress, and we believe Carrick can be that leader,” Sadowsky instructed The Trailer in a press release. “Carrick’s candidacy and story are clearly resonating with voters — recent polling has found Carrick leading in this race.”

Protect Our Future’s first endorsements went to a mixture of challengers and incumbents, together with Rep. Shontel M. Brown (D-Ohio), who was going through a rematch with left-wing challenger and former state lawmaker Nina Turner, and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), who has no opponent in any respect. None bought as a lot assist as Flynn. Born within the district and educated at Yale Law School, Flynn had spent years finding out the dangers of synthetic intelligence and pandemics, culminating with a 2021 paper that, he says, helped form the White House’s pandemic response.

“We got this message, saying: Carrick, this is urgent, can you answer this question about supply chains?” Flynn recalled. “Like six hours later, Biden’s citing my paper, and I think: Oh, they did need it urgently.” He determined to run for Congress, he says, after concepts that he says made sense to the White House by no means made it right into a pandemic preparedness invoice, and after “15 or 20 people I respected” instructed him to go for it.

“People care about this,” Flynn mentioned. “I know that people with money care about this. I didn’t know this one in particular; I’d heard of Sam Bankman-Fried, but I’d never met him or talked to him.”

Flynn’s opponents do not buy it. As was first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mecrow-Flynn labored on the Center for Effective Altruism when Bankman-Fried was its growth director; the candidate instructed OPB that “if she’s met him she hasn’t said anything.” 

The variety of donors who had maxed out to Flynn, and had not given to different candidates, additionally shocked his opponents — most of whom had substantial political profiles within the district. But the donations began coming earlier than the remainder of the sphere realized precisely what was occurring. On Feb. 5, a grant-maker at Open Philanthropy named Andrew Snyder-Beattie posted on the Effective Altruism Forum, telling like-minded altruists that there was a “rare opportunity for smaller donors to make a large impact,” by giving the utmost — $2900 for the first, $2900 for the final — to Flynn, who he knew, had labored with, and trusted.

“As a conservative lower bound, I think instantly hitting the fundraising target would free up over 250 hours of work from Carrick, and I think those 250 hours would increase the chances of him winning the election by more than 2 percent,” Snyder-Beattie wrote. “Roughly speaking, you should donate if you think Carrick winning the election would produce more good things in the world than $50 million worth of donations.”

None of the Democrats operating for the brand new seat anticipated this, and none constructed their campaigns anticipating hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to movement to somebody they’d by no means heard of. Video adverts and unsolicited mail launched Flynn as a hometown child made good. It did not emphasize pandemic preparedness as a lot because it highlighted Social Security — a better-polling Democratic challenge. 

“It’s been irritating, to say the least,” mentioned Kathleen Harder, a doctor and the chair of the state medical board, who entered the race a number of months earlier than Flynn did. “I still haven’t heard exactly what his stance is on pandemic preparedness. I would love to see that, and I haven’t in the stuff that he’s put out.”

The cash stored coming. A month in the past, in Washington, paperwork was filed to create Justice Unites Us PAC, which referred to as itself a “data-driven organization that uses research to drive grass-roots engagement in the Asian American community” — and shared few different particulars, with no additional disclosure required till three days after the first. Once once more, mentioned Flynn, the assistance appeared to come back out of nowhere.

“We were in the process of setting up a ground operation,” Flynn recalled. “And then we see this newspaper article: Justice Unites Us going to spend $800,000 on a ground game. So we’re like: Uh, do we still do our ground game? We were thinking of spending, like a hundred thousand.”

For Flynn’s rivals, the ultimate straw was the announcement, this month, that the House Majority PAC would spend almost $1 million to assist him win the first. “Flynn is a strong, forward looking son of Oregon who is dedicated to delivering for families in the 6th District,” HMP spokesman C.J. Warnke instructed The Trailer final week. Most of the opposite Democrats within the race got here collectively for a information convention, organized by one of many candidates, West, with every candidate studying a bit of a press release condemning the D.C. tremendous PAC.

“I think it’s disrespectful, and it’s wrong,” mentioned Loretta Smith, a former Multnomah County commissioner who can be the state’s first Black member of Congress if elected.

“Who was behind it? Why was this decision made?” requested Salinas. “We have a wealth of candidates, four of whom are women, three women of color.”

None of them had been able to compete with hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in spending. Cody Reynolds, a veteran who had run for a distinct House seat 10 years in the past, had spent the intervening decade executing a plan. He would elevate as a lot cash because it took to self-fund a marketing campaign. He would file for different races as a third-party candidate, ensuring his positions had been despatched on official mail to voters. It labored, and Reynolds made sufficient cash within the cryptocurrency business to outspend the sphere — till Flynn confirmed up.

“I had at least $2 million to spend, so I did it,” mentioned Reynolds, after a tour of an area bioscience facility. “By the end of this race, our opponent will have spent at least $10 million, when you add up the PACs. I didn’t know that was coming. The whole point of me running and me self-funding was not being beholden to these interests.”

Flynn mentioned that he, too, felt conflicted about what occurred after the efficient altruists began writing checks. Some of the contenders, like Reynolds, had thought for years about how you can run and win; some had labored by means by native politics, passing payments and assembly numerous voters. Flynn had voted in simply two federal elections in Oregon, in 2008 and 2016, and was way more snug speaking about constructing a well being system sturdy sufficient to rapidly smother a brand new outbreak than he was concerning the competitors. 

“I think that overall, I’m the best candidate,” Flynn mentioned. “But there’s going to be a part of me that’s not thrilled to have beaten out two Latina candidates and a Black candidate if I win.”

They weren’t notably thrilled, both. Last week’s candidate discussion board was carried out over Zoom, with every candidate staying in place for 2 hours, and a number of other taking time to sentence the PAC cash that had so dramatically altered the race. At the midway level, the candidates participated in a lightning spherical, with slightly time to write down their solutions on paper. What was Oregon’s state chook? How many Oregonians had been affected by housing insecurity? 

Flynn answered all of them, even breaking down the housing insecurity reply into subcategories. But when the candidates had been requested the place they voted in 2020, his digital camera went darkish. When the spherical was over, the sunshine got here again on. Flynn’s opponents did not use their time to speak about what had occurred, however they’d observed.

“Oregonians are so nice and forgiving,” Salinas mentioned the subsequent morning. “We see through [it].”

“GOP texts cast renewed spotlight on post-2020 election efforts,” by Jacqueline Alemany and Felicia Sonmez

Raw ideas from the times round Jan. 6, 2021.

“Some Republicans fear party overreach on LGBT measures,” by Annie Linskey and Casey Parks

The Lia Thomas/”Don’t Say Gay” election.

“California Dems are eyeing Feinstein’s seat — but they’re not talking about it,” by Jeremy B. White

“A top GOP prosecutor said Trump lost. Running for Senate, he has a new message, by Hannah Knowles

Primary voters and the stop-the-steal litmus test.

“A crusade to challenge the 2020 election, blessed by church leaders,” by Charles Homans

Who stole the second coming?

“A candidate gave a speech while in labor — then had to withdraw from the race to give birth,” by Amy B Wang

It sounds enjoyable, till you learn it.

“Amid turmoil over his comments on Trump, McCarthy warns of ‘attacks’ on Republicans,” by Seema Mehta

How the GOP leader is spinning his on-tape mistake.

Republicans in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District opted not to endorse a special election candidate on Saturday, gaveling out their convention after seven rounds of voting and a decent amount of backbiting.

“I am happy to see our party avoid creating a self-inflicted disaster by endorsing a general election candidate before the primary,” said ex-party chair Jennifer Carnahan, after being knocked out of contention by the third ballot.

State Rep. Jeremy Munson got the most support in each round, while the 300-odd delegates revealed some antipathy toward Carnahan – the widow of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), whose death prompted the special election. Carnahan left her party role last year after a friend and party donor was charged with crimes related to federal sex trafficking.

“Jennifer created a toxic work environment at the party, which doesn’t bode well in a general election,” Munson told the Trailer before the convention. “She doesn’t have a voting record. She doesn’t have conservative credentials.”

Seven Republican candidates made it to the vote in Mankato, Minn. – Munson, Carnahan, state Rep. Nels Pierson, ex-state Rep. Brad Finstad, USMC veteran Kevin Kocina, activist Ken Navitsky, and attorney Matt Benda. Pierson was eliminated quickly, announcing that he’d simply run in the May 24 primary instead, and the choice quickly came down to Munson, Benda, and Carnahan, with the former chair telling delegates that she’d been smeared.

“Look what the Democrats, the liberal press, and so-called Republicans did to President Trump,” Carnahan said. “And he won an election that nobody thought he could.”

Carnahan’s support hovered between 14 and 16 percent, however, and she was eliminated from the last rounds of voting, as a rump of delegates continued to pick “no endorsement” over either Munson or Benda.

“As the clear leader on each ballot, last night’s process was a win for my campaign,” Munson said in a statement on Sunday, after hours of voting – and $300 charges to the party committee, for each hour they went over their reserved time. “The delegates left energized and ready to keep our district in conservative hands.”

The Democrats running for the seat, which Gov. Tim Walz (D) held until Hagedorn won it four years ago, will meet at a forum on Sunday.

(Video of the convention was uploaded by reporter Rebecca Brannon.)

Citizens for Josh Mandel, “Ted.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) stars in one of the final ads for Josh Mandel’s U.S. Senate Republican primary campaign in Ohio. With a Trump endorsement off the table, it returns to a selling point from Mandel’s two previous Senate campaigns — his work as state treasurer, and how he made information collected by his office easily accessible online. In 2022, Cruz argues that this mind-set can help tackle “Biden’s inflation.”

National Republican Senate Committee, “Against Arizona.” The GOP’s Senate campaign arm has a lot of ground to make up in Arizona — Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) is one of the best fundraisers in politics, and the Republicans running to challenge him are not. That’s the story behind this seven-figure buy, some in English and some in Spanish, which displays photos of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and says that Kelly voted for measure after measure to make an immigration crisis happen, including his votes against GOP poison pill amendments that are designed … well, designed to create material for ads like this.

Perdue for Governor, “Soros.” There’s not a whole lot in the campaign messaging of ex-Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) beyond criticism of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for how he handled the 2020 election. This spot, which went into rotation weeks ago, links Kemp directly to George Soros, not through the billionaire’s funding of election reform but through a deal that brought an electric car company to Georgia. Soros is an investor in the company; therefore, “Kemp’s crooked deal cost Georgians but made Soros even richer.”

McSwain for Governor, “Bill McSwain Will Oppose All Mandates.” To stop Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) from capturing Trump voters and winning the GOP primary, his opponents have been hitting him from the right — mostly on his vote to expand mail voting. Bill McSwain, a former U.S. Attorney, takes another tack here, reminding Republicans that Mastriano favored lifting HIPAA regulations to make it easier for people to find out who’d contracted the coronavirus. 

Chuck Edwards for Congress, “Instagram.” Ad by ad, North Carolina state Sen. Chuck Edwards (R) has gotten more direct and sarcastic with his mockery of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.). Edwards didn’t mention Cawthorn by name in his first spot, but he does here, flipping through blown-up Instagram images of Cawthorn partying and working out. “While they post online, America falls apart,” says Edwards. Like a number of recent ads, it uses imagery of riots in 2020 to portray the country in turmoil in 2022.

Results for NC, “Madison Cawthorn’s Lies.” First, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) endorsed Edwards over Cawthorn. Next, a super PAC aligned with Tillis started running this spot, which goes after Cawthorn’s main vulnerability — his habit of telling lies that make him look good and other Republicans look like crooked sellouts. This spot invokes Cawthorn’s claim that he was invited to drug and sex parties with respected Washington leaders, and reminds voters that the congressman, in his 2020 campaign, falsely said that his dream of attending the U.S. Naval Academy was ended by the car accident that partially paralyzed him. (Cawthorn had been rejected before the accident.) “In perpetual support of celebrity, Cawthorn will lie about anything,” a narrator says.

Arkansas Patriots Fund, “Sabine.” Mothers of people killed by undocumented immigrants have been appearing in a number of GOP ads, in multiple states. This one features Sabine Durden, who has talked about the killing of her son everywhere from committee hearings to the 2016 Republican National Convention, saying that Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) doesn’t really care about border enforcement — when he does, he mouths “empty words to get him reelected.”

Dave McCormick for Senate, “Oz Loves Masks.” The campaign to knock the post-Trump-endorsement shine off TV personality Mehmet Oz continues, with this supercut of clips that show the Republican U.S. Senate candidate talking about the protective value of face masks. That’s it — the entire ad is just out-of-context moments of Oz, before he left his TV gigs, talking about masks.

Lombardo for Governor, “Keyboard Cowboys.” Clark County, Nev., Sheriff Joe Lombardo has competition for the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination, and he wants you to know that it’s pathetic. “They talk tough about immigration, but none of them have locked up or deported a single violent criminal,” Lombardo says, after images of ex-Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee play on a laptop. “Not one. I’ve deported thousands.”

“If the Democratic primary for the U.S.House of Representatives were held today, who would you support for the Democratic nomination?” (Green Mountain Poll, April 14-18, 278 likely Democratic primary voters)

Becca Balint: 28%
Molly Gray: 21% 
Kesha Ram Hinsdale: 19%
Don’t know/undecided: 31%

The left flank of the Democratic Party gained ground in 2018 and 2020, replacing or unseating more moderate Democrats in safe seats. Vermont’s sole House seat hasn’t been held by a Republican since 1990, and every Democrat now in the race leads any Republican nominee by a 2-1 margin. But Balint’s positioned herself as the most left-wing candidate, and her coalition looks the most like the one built by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Either Gray or Hinsdale, if elected, would be Vermont’s first millennial member of Congress; Balint, a Generation X-er, laps the field with voters under 35 and voters who have a high school education or less.

Who will you support in the GOP primary for governor of Georgia? (AJC/UGA, April 10-22, 886 likely Republican primary voters)

Brian Kemp: 53% (+5 since March)
David Perdue: 27% (-10)
Kandiss Taylor: 4% (+2)
Catherine Davis: 1% (-)

The Perdue campaign was willed into existence by Donald Trump, who urged the ex-senator to challenge Kemp and unseat him over his inability to reverse Joe Biden’s 2020 Georgia victory. Perdue has taken every chance he’s gotten to pin Kemp down on that issue. This is the latest of a few polls that finds Kemp moving ahead anyway, even as other Trump-endorsed candidates down the ballot coast (like U.S. Senate challenger Herschel Walker) or prepare to force a runoff (like Secretary of State candidate Jody Hice). One big problem for Perdue is that he’s simply less-well-liked after months of attacks from Kemp; just 57 percent of likely GOP voters view the senator favorably, while 71 percent view Kemp favorably. Voters who say a Trump endorsement would make them “more likely” to support a candidate break for Perdue, but only by 25 points. A full 30 percent of Republicans who say they can be moved by Trump also say he’s not doing it for them in this race.

The last state gerrymandering battles of the 2022 cycle are heading where they were destined to end up – to court.

Days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) approved a map he’d sent to the Republican-led legislature, Florida’s Secretary of State moved to dismiss a March lawsuit from Common Cause and other voting rights groups, arguing that it was now moot, as their concerns about representation were based on a non-existent map. In Ohio, the League of Women Voters asked the Ohio Supreme Court to hold Republican members of the redistricting commission in contempt, arguing that they had “repeatedly flouted this court’s express orders.”

Michigan. Trump-backed candidates who insist that the ex-president won the 2020 election triumphed over the weekend, as Republicans in Grand Rapids, Mich., endorsed attorney Matthew DePerno for attorney general and activist Kristina Karamo for secretary of state. Most of their defeated opponents — Republicans with elected experience, but no support from Trump — left the convention unready to endorse them. 

“I’m disappointed that Jocelyn Benson will be the Secretary of State for the next four years,” state Rep. Beau LaFave (R) told Bridge Michigan’s Jonathan Oosting. “She’s terrible, and she just got reelected today.” State Rep. Ryan Berman (R), one of the candidates who lost to DePerno, said that he would remain in the race to be ready if an ongoing investigation into DePerno’s effort to overturn the 2020 election ends with the suspension of his law license.

Democrats condemned results that gave them, as LaFave suggested, improved chances of victory in a rough year for their party. “It doesn’t seem to matter how many fines he has to pay or the threat of losing his law license, if Trump asks DePerno to jump, he asks how high,” said Michigan Democratic Party chair Lavora Barnes in a statement. “And this man wants to be the top law enforcement officer in Michigan.”

Utah. Democrats won’t have a nominee of their own for U.S. Senate, and they couldn’t be happier about it. On Saturday, after a rowdy state convention, 57 percent of party delegates opted not to endorse a challenger to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), supporting the independent coalition that former Republican Evan McMullin is trying to build. His pitch: A democracy-focused nonpartisan campaign could compete with Lee, especially after the revelation, by the Jan. 6 committee, of text messages he wrote about challenging the 2020 election.

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or an independent or a Republican or a member of the United Utah Party,” McMullin told Democratic delegates near Salt Lake City. “Our right to hold our leaders accountable and to vote for or against them and have a peaceful transition of power is essential for liberty and justice in America.”

Every public poll has shown Lee well ahead of McMullin, but most recent polls included Democrat Kael Weston, who kept running for the nomination even as some party leaders rejected him in favor of the independent. Republicans, who also met over the weekend, set up two intraparty challenges — primaries in the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts, forced by conservative candidates who got enough convention votes to get on the ballot.

Texas. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) will head to Texas next week to rally with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), who’ll face challenger Jessica Cisneros in a May 24 runoff.

… seven days till primaries in Indiana and Ohio
… 14 days till primaries in Nebraska and West Virginia
… 21 days till primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, North Carolina and Pennsylvania
… 28 days till Texas runoffs and the particular main in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District
… 46 days till the particular House main in Alaska
… 63 days till the particular election in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District
… 79 days till the particular election in Texas’s thirty fourth Congressional District
… 190 days till the midterm elections


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