FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Rep. LIZ CHENEY has set another personal fundraising record.
The Wyoming Republican is fighting off a serious challenge from HARRIET HAGEMAN, a Cheyenne attorney, and the Aug. 16 primary has turned into the most important and closely watched contest between the MAGA and traditional wings of the GOP.
DONALD TRUMP, KEVIN MCCARTHY, PETER THIEL and dozens of House Republicans, who kicked Cheney out of House GOP leadership, are backing Hageman. GEORGE W. BUSH, MITCH MCCONNELL, MITT ROMNEY and PAUL RYAN are backing Cheney.
Normally, being booted out of leadership might put a crimp in a member’s fundraising. But this quarter, Cheney actually outraised Rep. ELISE STEFANIK of New York, who replaced her as House GOP Conference chair. Stefanik reported Thursday that she raised “over $2 million” in the first fundraising quarter of 2022.
Now, the Cheney camp is prepared to announce that it raised an eye-popping $2.94 million in Q1 of 2022, bringing her total haul for the cycle to more than $10 million. With four months left to go in the primary campaign, Cheney has $6.8 million on hand.
In previous cycles, it was common for Cheney to raise a few hundred thousand dollars in a quarter, mostly from Wyoming residents. With the national attention her race has received, money has poured in from across the country. At the end of the first quarter of 2021, Cheney set a personal fundraising record: $1.5 million. And she set new records in two of the next three quarters — $1.9 million in Q2 of 2021, $1.7 million in Q3, $2 million in Q4. Now, she’s shattered her Q4 record.
The first quarter of 2022 saw some notable developments in the race.
- In February, Cheney was censured by the RNC in a statement that defended Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse.” Cheney responded at the time by declaring, “I’m a constitutional conservative, and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump.”
- In March, despite a major push from Trump, the Wyoming legislature declined to end same-day party registration for primaries, so Cheney will be able to take advantage of Democrats registering as Republicans to vote for her on Aug. 16. The legislature’s decision pointed to a divide within Wyoming Republican politics: The state party, which censured her shortly after she voted to impeach Trump last year, is dominated by Trump loyalists. (The current party chair is reportedly a member of the Oath Keepers militia who attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington and who once flirted with Wyoming secession during a podcast interview with STEVE BANNON.) But elected Republicans have so far refrained from passing any laws that were promoted to screw Cheney in the primary.
The quarter also saw two high-profile fundraisers that pitted leaders of the two wings of the GOP against each other. In mid-March, a Romney fundraiser banked $500,000 for Cheney. A couple of weeks later, a McCarthy fundraiser brought in just $215,000 for Hageman.
Cheney’s first-quarter total is more than double what Hageman raised last quarter. And that brings us to a final wrinkle in the race that hasn’t received much attention as Hageman has been feted by McCarthy in D.C. and Thiel in Miami:
Trump’s endorsement of Hageman didn’t clear the field.
In fact, there’s still a more Trumpy candidate in the race. ANTHONY BOUCHARD, a state senator, arguably has more of a claim to the Trump mantle than Hageman, who was once a Never-Trump Republican and called then-candidate Trump “racist and xenophobic.” Bouchard, meanwhile, has been a Trump diehard since the 2016 primaries. He has some major vulnerabilities as a candidate — when he was 18, he “had a relationship with and impregnated a 14-year-old girl,” the Casper Star-Tribune has reported. His colleagues in the legislature kicked him off of his committees last month.
But some Wyoming observers are comparing the dynamic to the Alabama GOP Senate primary in 2017, when Trump endorsed the seemingly more electable LUTHER STRANGE over the seemingly toxic ROY MOORE, who still ended up winning the MAGA vote (and the primary).
If Hageman and Bouchard split the Trump vote, Cheney could squeak by with a plurality coalition of traditional Republicans and Democrats who switch parties to vote for her on primary day.
She certainly has the money now to execute that plan. And if she beats Trumpism in Wyoming, she will immediately be able to leverage her new national fundraising network into a potential 2024 primary showdown against the man himself. After all, she said last May, “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Good Monday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza.
SHUT UP IN ORDER TO PUT UP — The fate of President JOE BIDEN’s domestic agenda may hinge on his administration’s ability to do one simple thing: shut up.
Adam Cancryn and Eugene report that the White House is taking a final shot at reupping the social spending bill formerly known as Build Back Better (a new official name has yet to be revealed), and this time they’re switching things up by keeping their ambitions vague, staying away from deadlines and (mostly) not talking about it at all.
What’s different now? Months after Sen. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) killed the BBB bill, the senator is signaling he is ready to get back to it if a new version meets his conditions — more on that in a second — and Dems are essentially ready to hand him the reins so they can get something passed before the midterms.
But the advantages of that approach aren’t so clear-cut. A deferential approach to Manchin may make it more likely that a social-spending bill gets passed — giving Dems a big win to campaign on. But it also puts Biden and his top advisers in the awkward position of minimizing talk about their top policy priority in an election year, even as they hope voters will ultimately reward them for it in November.
It also makes for complicated intra-party politics. The waiting game has fed angst among vulnerable Dems, who feel the administration is giving them too little to run on that’s genuinely new, and ticked off lawmakers and progressive advocates, who feel left out of the discussions and unsure what Manchin wants.
What does Manchin want? The West Virginian has made clear he wants a smaller bill focused chiefly on (1) climate programs, (2) prescription drug reform and (3) undoing the Trump-era tax cuts. “Senator Manchin is always willing to engage in discussions about the best way to move our country forward,” said SAMANTHA RUNYON, Manchin’s communications director. “He remains seriously concerned about the financial status of our country and believes fighting inflation by restoring fairness to our tax system and paying down our national debt must be our first priority.”
White House spokesperson ANDREW BATES defended the administration’s approach, and sought to reframe the social-spending bill as central to Biden’s efforts to “cut some of the biggest costs families face, fight inflation, and keep reducing the deficit at an historic pace.”
— 8:55 a.m.: The president will depart New Castle, Del., arriving back at the White House at 9:50 a.m.
— 10 a.m.: Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief.
— 11 a.m.: Biden will meet virtually with Indian PM NARENDRA MODI, with a pool spray at the top. (WSJ’s Vivian Salama got frank regarding what this is really about.)
— 2:15 p.m.: Biden will announce new action on gun crime from the Rose Garden, with VP KAMALA HARRIS and Deputy A.G. LISA MONACO also speaking.
HARRIS’ MONDAY — The VP will also announce new action on relieving medical debt at 4:15 p.m., joined by a parade of other administration officials.
Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1 p.m.
THE HOUSE and THE SENATE are out.
BIDEN’S WEEK AHEAD:
— Tuesday: The president will head to Menlo, Iowa, for an event focused on fighting inflation, the bipartisan infrastructure law and the administration’s rural agenda.
— Thursday: Biden will go to Greensboro, N.C., to tout domestic manufacturing, supply chains and reducing costs.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
THE DARK MONEY RISES — At least a dozen potential 2024 presidential candidates already have active dark money groups working to boost them — hiring staff, building small-donor lists, running ads and developing policy to lay the groundwork for national campaigns — all of it funded by secret donors, reports Scott Bland.
— Who are we talking about here? Biden, Trump, MIKE PENCE, MIKE POMPEO, PETE BUTTIGIEG, NIKKI HALEY, Sens. BEN SASSE (R-Neb.), TOM COTTON (R-Ark.), TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.), MARCO RUBIO (R-Fla.), Govs. LARRY HOGAN (R-Md.) and PHIL MURPHY (D-N.J.).
— The big picture: “It’s the latest escalation in a fundraising arms race that has seen personal benefactors, super PACs and now secret money become common building blocks of presidential campaigns.” True, candidates must disclose their campaign fundraising once they officially declare. “But in the meantime, and in the absence of new legislation or an enforcement crackdown from tax or campaign-finance regulators, prospective presidents can use nonprofits to shield their donors — and much about their preparations — from the public eye.”
A SIGH OF RELIEF FROM MAR-A-LAGO — After floundering for months in North Carolina’s Republican Senate primary, the Trump-endorsed candidate, Rep. TED BUDD, has found his mojo and now has a “commanding advantage” in polls, Natalie Allison reports. After seeing one of his endorsed Senate candidates drop out in Pennsylvania and pulling his support from another in Alabama, “North Carolina’s May 17 GOP primary will serve as one of the year’s first major tests of [Trump’s] clout within the party.”
MAKING GREG ABBOTT — Texas Monthly’s Mimi Swartz has an insightful read up on Texas Gov. GREG ABBOTT, who is facing down a race against BETO O’ROURKE later this year. The story dives deep on how Abbott morphed from “a somewhat patrician Republican to an eager, far-right competitor to Florida governor RON DESANTIS in the race to inherit the Trump mantle.”
CUOMO’S COMEBACK — As former New York Gov. ANDREW CUOMO attempts a comeback tour and decries “cancel culture,” two of the former aides who said that Cuomo sexually harassed them offered their first substantial public comments about their attempts to reimagine “their shattered personal and professional lives, as Cuomo attempts to put back together the pieces of his old identity,” reports Anna Gronewold.
— This one stuck with us: “I’ve thought to myself, what would I ever say if I ever ran into him in person? Or if I ever had an opportunity to say something,” said BRITTANY COMMISSO. “And honestly, I just have pity. It must be really sad to be him.”
THE ART OF THE DEAL — NYT’s David Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly have a juicy read on JARED KUSHNER’s Saudi business ties. The details: “Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince … despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal. A panel that screens investments for the main Saudi sovereign wealth fund cited concerns about the proposed deal with Mr. Kushner’s newly formed private equity firm, Affinity Partners, previously undisclosed documents show.
“Those objections included: ‘the inexperience of the Affinity Fund management’; the possibility that the kingdom would be responsible for ‘the bulk of the investment and risk’; due diligence on the fledgling firm’s operations that found them ‘unsatisfactory in all aspects’; a proposed asset management fee that ‘seems excessive’; and ‘public relations risks’ from Mr. Kushner’s prior role as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, former President Donald J. Trump, according to minutes of the panel’s meeting last June 30. But days later the full board of the $620 billion Public Investment Fund — led by Crown Prince MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and a beneficiary of Mr. Kushner’s support when he worked as a White House adviser — overruled the panel.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
BIDEN MAKES HIS MOVE ON GUNS — Today, Biden is set to officially announce two major moves related to gun violence.
— First: a new policy on “ghost guns.” Today, the administration will unveil a new rule to try and curb so-called ghost guns, untraceable firearms that lack serial numbers and are made from kits purchased online. The new rule isn’t a ban, but a change in how the government treats the kits, forcing buyers to “go through the same process they would have to go through to purchase a commercially made firearm,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call Sunday night. A.G. MERRICK GARLAND pens an op-ed for USA Today, posted this morning: “Ghost guns are real guns. And we’ll regulate them to save lives”
— Second: a new nominee to head the ATF. This afternoon, the president is expected to nominate STEVE DETTELBACK as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Biden’s last nominee to lead ATF, DAVID CHIPMAN, was forced to withdraw amid opposition from moderate and conservative Dems (and Republicans) who took issue with his advocacy of gun control. If confirmed, Dettelback, a former U.S. attorney in Ohio, would be the first permanent director of the ATF since 2015.
You heard it here first: Laura Barrón-López and Christopher Cadelago got the jump on Dettelback’s nomination last week, and LBL reported Friday that the ghost gun rule change was imminent.
AMERICA AND THE WORLD
MACRON AND LE PEN HEAD TO RUNOFF — “NATO and the European Union face a nervous two weeks” as French President EMMANUEL MACRON and far-right leader MARINE LE PEN are headed for a contentious runoff election April 24, our colleague Clea Caulcutt reports in Paris. “Projections by polling firm Ipsos suggest the French president won 28.4 percent of the vote at the end of the first round of voting. His rival Le Pen, a longtime admirer of Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN, garnered 23.4 percent of the vote, according to the same projections.”
— The implications: “[A]ll eyes, both in Europe and in Washington, will be on the twists and turns … as allies seek to weigh up whether Paris will remain a reliable partner in the war against Putin’s forces in Ukraine. … When it comes to NATO, Le Pen has triggered alarm by stating her desire to pull the EU’s only nuclear power out of the alliance’s integrated command structure.”
WAR IN UKRAINE
“Russian forces attacked civilian areas in eastern Ukraine on Sunday as terrified residents joined an exodus of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing westward, heeding warnings by authorities that Russian troops were massing for a major assault,” NYT’s Cora Engelbrecht, David Zucchino and Jane Arraf report.
— From Ukraine: “Ukrainian President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY warned Sunday in his nightly address to the nation that the coming week would be as crucial as any in the war, saying ‘Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state,’” AP’s Adam Schreck and Cara Anna report. … David Cohen has more on Zelenskyy’s “60 Minutes” interview
— The global response: “European governments, having decided last week to phase out purchases of coal from Russia, are set to begin a debate this week about a more ambitious target: weaning themselves off Russian oil,” WSJ’s Laurence Norman writes.
— The ripple effect: Russia’s shelling of “a region known as Europe’s breadbasket,” has paralyzed harvests, destroyed granaries and crops, and “is creating a global food crisis ‘beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II,’ the chief of the United Nations World Food Program has warned,” the NYT reports.
NEWS THE WHITE HOUSE WILL LIKE — “As politicians spar over who’s to blame for recent increases in gas prices, a large majority of Americans say oil companies and Russian President Vladimir Putin are major culprits,” ABC’s Meredith Deliso writes of a new ABC News/Ipsos poll. White House chief of staff RON KLAIN tweeted a link to the story, saying: “Americans agree: it is Putin’s price hike at the pump.”
BEYOND THE BELTWAY
CRYPTO FOCUSES ON THE STATES — There’s been plenty of focus on the crypto industry’s efforts to influence Washington. But even as discussions happen in D.C., the industry has already infiltrated state capitals across the country — “part of an emerging national strategy by the crypto industry, in the absence so far of comprehensive federal regulatory demands, to work state by state to engineer a more friendly legal system,” NYT’s Eric Lipton and David Yaffe-Bellany report.
Eric Adams tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. (He was in attendance at last weekend’s Gridiron Club dinner/superspreader event.)
The White House Correspondents’ Association announced it’s adding a vaccine requirement for the big WHCD.
Elon Musk will not be joining Twitter’s board after all, Parag Agrawal announced late Sunday night.
Over the weekend, Musk and Jeff Bezos, the world’s two wealthiest people, suggested that Twitter should make at least part of its corporate headquarters into a shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
Chasten Buttigieg posted a cute baby pic on his Instagram story.
OUT AND ABOUT — Kevin Bacon was at Dacha Navy Yard on Sunday afternoon, playing a surprise pop-up concert with his band the Bacon Brothers that raised over $6,000 for the Ukrainian people. They played original music, a Bob Dylan cover and a finale of “Footloose.” Pic … SPOTTED: Stacy Huston, D.C. shadow senator Paul Strauss, Mike Lucier, John Arundel, Kelly Collis, Jordan Hellmuth, Phil Beshara and Brendan Kownacki.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Darin Miller is now comms director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He previously was comms director for Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and is a Donald Trump, Mike Pence and House Freedom Caucus alum.
— Dan McCarthy is now assistant USTR for congressional affairs. He previously was legislative director for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and is a Frank Lautenberg alum.
WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Timothy White is now a press assistant at OMB. He previously was a public affairs associate at SKDK.
STAFFING UP — The Pentagon public affairs shop is moving Carlie Waibel to principal deputy assistant to the secretary for public affairs and adding Sabrina Singh as director of integrated public affairs campaigns and Usha Sahay as a speechwriter in the secretary’s office. Singh previously was deputy press secretary for VP Kamala Harris. Sahay previously was a senior editor at POLITICO Magazine.
— Julia Hurley is now a policy adviser at USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning, working with the policy formulation and implementation team. She previously was a policy adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
TRANSITIONS — Rob Glenn will be VP of global resilience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He previously was director of FEMA’s Office of Business, Industry, and Infrastructure Integration. … Tom Borck is now director of U.S. federal government affairs at EMD Serono. He previously was director of federal government relations and public policy at McKesson and the U.S. Oncology Network. … Allie Polaski is now press secretary and digital director for the House Rules Committee under Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). She previously was press secretary for Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). …
… Chad Tenpenny is retiring after almost 24 years of working for Kansas senators, most recently as general counsel for Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). He “plans to build a law practice that focuses on federal, state and local government affairs, general counsel services and political consulting.” … Christina Freundlich has launched Pod 3 Strategies, a strategic comms and political consulting firm. She most recently was a senior adviser on Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign, and is an Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Obama and DNC alum.
WEEKEND WEDDING — Ryan Bender, an associate at Arnold & Porter, and Margaret Ross, a senior manager at KPMG, got married Saturday at the Baltimore Museum of Art. They originally met at a D.C. party with many folks from NYU Law, where Ryan attended with Margaret’s sister. Pic, including the Maryland crab-themed groom’s cake
— Daniella Propati, a Direct Persuasion digital operative and a Trump 2020 alum, and Mac McKee, a JD candidate at GWU Law School and an NRCC alum, got married on Saturday at the Willard. SPOTTED: Daria Grastara, Alex Lange and Matt VanHyfte. Pic
— Taylor McCarty, comms director for the House Agriculture Committee Republicans, and Logan Hoover, director of legislative affairs for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, got married on Saturday at District Winery. Pic
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Curt Devine, senior producer with CNN Investigates, and Lauren Devine, child trafficking prevention and protection coordinator at HHS’ Office on Trafficking In Persons, welcomed Haven James Devine on March 30. Pic
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) … SKDK’s Mariel Sáez and Rae Robinson Trotman … Ethel Kennedy (94) … Alex Phillips … Don Graves … David Wofford … Cogent Strategies’ Missi Tessier … RIAA’s Michele Ballantyne … Peacock’s Raelyn Johnson … Marcia Hale … Hayley Richard … Chris Malagisi of Hillsdale College … Nina Verghese … Marc Ross of Strategic Elements … Aaron Bennett … Nick O’Boyle of Rep. Ron Estes’ (R-Kan.) office … Manuel Ortiz … Kate Warren … Citi’s Ed Skyler … Google’s Amanda Golden … Benjamin Bryant … Purple Strategies’ Jason Bargnes … J.D. Harrison … Amazon’s Kevin O’Neill … Linda Lipsen of the American Association of Justice … Julie Tarallo … Beth Osborne … former Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) … Holly Geffs … Netflix’s Erika Masonhall … Janet Montesi … Meghan McCann … Andrew Meyer … CNN’s Jonathan Auerbach … Calla Wickenhauser … Bryan Wells of Shalom Baranes Associates (35)
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