POLITICO Playbook: Who will — and won’t — commit to accepting election results

POLITICO Playbook: Who will — and won’t — commit to accepting election results

Sunday morning reading is this big swing on the precarity of American democracy from NYT’s David Leonhardt, who writes that we face “the most serious challenge to the country’s governing ideals in decades”These are two major threats.

1. “The first threat is acute: a growing movement inside one of the country’s two major parties — the Republican Party — to refuse to accept defeat in an election.”

2. “The second threat to democracy is chronic but also growing: The power to set government policy is becoming increasingly disconnected from public opinion.”

The growing countermajoritarian structural bent American politics is exemplified by conservative Supreme Court cases, gerrymandering, or GEORGE W. BUSH’s And DONALD TRUMP’s Leonhardt argues that the Electoral College wins were achieved while the popular vote was lost. He traces these different threats to a variety of underlying causes — some baked into the design of American government, others arising from long-term economic, social, demographic and technological trends.

“Some experts remain hopeful that the growing attention in the United States to democracy’s problems can help avert a constitutional crisis here,” Leonhardt writes. “Still, many experts point out that it is still not clear how the country will escape a larger crisis, such as an overturned election, at some point in the coming decade.”

The dangers in action NYT’s Reid Epstein reportsSix key Senate and gubernatorial GOP nominees declined to accept the November election results this morning. BLAKE MASTERS Arizona J.D. J.D. in Ohio, Rep. TED BUDD North Carolina KELLY TSHIBAKA in Alaska, TUDOR DIXON Michigan GEOFF DIEHL Massachusetts “The candidates and their aides offered an array of explanations. Some blamed Democratic state election officials or made unsubstantiated claims that their opponents would cheat.”

Several others didn’t respond to Epstein’s questions, though some high-profile Republicans — like MEHMET OZ Pennsylvania HERSCHEL WALKER in Georgia — affirmed they will accept the election results. All democrats he asked also agreed.

“To some degree, the stances by these Republican candidates — which echo Mr. Trump’s comments before the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections — may amount to political posturing,” Epstein writes. “But they do have loud megaphones in a highly polarized media environment, and any unwarranted challenges from the candidates and their allies could fuel anger, confusion and misinformation.”

The Democratic response … or lack thereof: Democrats are “[i]ncreasingly worried that big donors are failing to recognize the scale of the threat to democratic norms,”Heidi Przybyla reports today that top spenders have reverted to the old strategy of spending on the most flashy races. Dems are failing to invest big at the state level. This includes critical secretary-of-state campaigns that could determine who controls the election machinery. Far-right MARK FINCHEM Arizona, for example, has drew in nearly twice as many voters as Democrat ADRIAN FONTTES, who’d raised just $700,000 as of last month.

HOWARD DEAN zinger: “Dean described the party’s tendency to prioritize federal races and political action committees focused on causes such as hunger, gun safety or climate change — instead of state-level candidates and races — as a function of ‘their own fascination with themselves.’”

Related: “President JOE BIDEN is finding it’s easier to call out attacks on democracy than it is to stop them,” AP’s Colleen Long and Zeke Miller reportThis morning.

The rule of law AG MERRICK GARLAND He also had big-picture democracy concerns in his mind during a personal, emotional speech Saturday at the Ellis Island naturalization ceremony. per Yahoo’s Caitlin Dickson. Garland talked about the danger of the country’s “intense polarization”The importance of the rule and law. “We must not allow the fractures between us to fracture our democracy,”He said.

We celebrate the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, Garland also celebrated immigrants by relaying his family’s own story of fleeing persecution to come to the U.S. “This message, and the welcoming scene at Ellis Island, stood in stark contrast to those seen this week on Martha’s Vineyard, and outside Vice President KAMALA HARRIS’s residence,”Dickson notes.

More on the Martha’s Vineyard fallout: “‘Huge mistake’: DeSantis’ migrant transports could undercut support in South Florida,” Gary Fineout in Tallahassee “The move by [Florida Gov. RON] DeSANTIS dominated the radio and television airwaves in South Florida — where large swaths of Hispanic voters live. One Spanish radio host loudly denounced the move and even compared DeSantis’ actions to that of deceased Cuban dictator FIDEL CASTRO, who relocated Cubans in the early ‘60s.”

Good Sunday morning. Thank you for reading Playbook. Drop me a line at [email protected]Or reach out to the rest. Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza.

LATEST POLLING — A new NBC survey out this morning finds the parties tied on the generic congressional ballot at 46% apiece (compared to a 2-point GOP advantage last month) and Biden’s The approval rating has risen from 42% – 45%


— Senate Judiciary Chair DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.) on whether he’d take over the House Jan. 6 investigation if Democrats lose the House, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “If there’s more work to be done and I’m in a position to call for it, you bet I will. … But there’s one key difference. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, in order to issue a subpoena, you need bipartisan agreement to do it. That’s not the case, I understand, in the House. So if the Republicans want to resist this, it’s going to be difficult to continue the investigation. I hope the House gets it done.”

— Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), on his national 15-week-abortion ban bill, “Fox News Sunday”: “I’m pro-life, even in an election year. And to those whose suggest that being pro-life is losing politics, I reject that … To my Republican colleagues: Now’s the time to stand up and be counted. The pro-life movement is counting on you.”

— JOE O’DEA GOP governors busing and flying migrants to other countries, “Meet the Press”: “Ron DeSantis and Gov. [GREG] ABBOTT were right to bring some visibility to this issue. We’ve got fentanyl killing our kids. People call what he did cruel? You know what’s cruel is ignoring this issue. Democrats are ignoring it, doing nothing, while our kids are dying.”

— NYC Mayor ERIC ADAMS on the migrant arrivals in his city, on ABC’s “This Week”: “Let’s coordinate in that fashion like we’ve done with other large communities we have in New York City, where we’re able to coordinate, get sponsors, work with our nongovernmental organizations. That is what crisis calls for — it calls for coordination. There was no coordination at all with Gov. Abbott, and Gov. DeSantis just wanted to use this political ploy instead of understanding these are people, these are families, these are human beings.”

— U.S. Ambassador to U.N. LINDA THOMAS GREENFIELD On the latest evidence of mass gravesAnd atrocities being uncovered in Ukraine, On CNN’s “State of the Union”: “The horrific pictures of those grave sites will always be in our minds as we look at what is happening in Ukraine right now, and [Russia] should expect that it will not be business as usual when they arrive in New York tomorrow. They will be isolated. They will be condemned in the Security Council as well as more broadly in the General Assembly.”

— Former President BILL CLINTON on KEN STARR’s death, on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: “Well, I read the obituary, and I realized that his family loved him, and I think that’s something to be grateful for, and when your life is over that’s all there is to say. But I was taught not to talk about people that I — you know. I have nothing to say. Except I’m glad he died with the love of his family.”

TOP-EDS: A roundup of the week’s must-read opinion pieces.

The White House …

The Supreme Court …

All politics … 

Big ideas …

ANNALS OF DIPLOMACY — Biden is in London where he was originally scheduled for a meeting with the new British PM LIZ TRUSS today. But her office “said Saturday they would skip the weekend hello, opting instead for a meeting in New York at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, though Truss still planned to gather with other world leaders converging on London,” per the AP.


FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — We have an exclusive clip of JAKE TAPPER’s CNN’s new special report “American Coup: The January 6th Investigation,” which airs tonight at 9 p.m. in advance of the House Jan. 6 committee’s forthcoming first report. Vice Chair LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) This document explains the political stakes in this moment for American democracy. “It doesn’t matter what party someone belongs to: If they are running on the basis that they will, for example, refuse to certify legitimate election results in the future, they’ve got to be defeated.” Watch here


1. MAR-A-LAGO TIMING: Trump’s legal team will have to respond by Tuesday at noon to DOJ’s motion seeking a partial stay of the order blocking investigators from reviewing the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago, an appeals court said Saturday evening. Justice Department lawyers had filed Friday to escape from Judge AILEEN CANNON’s Judgement that prohibits investigators from looking at classified documents More from Fox News

2. GAETZ GATE LATEST: JOHNNY MCCENTEE Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.). MARK MEADOWS Trump’s preemptive pardon in the sex-trafficking probe that has been involving him WaPo’s Jackie Alemany and Amy Gardner scooped. McEntee said Gaetz told him he’d done nothing wrong. “The testimony is the first indication that Gaetz was specifically seeking a pardon for his own exposure related to the Justice Department inquiry into whether he violated sex trafficking laws. His public posture in the final months of the Trump administration was much less specific.”

3. THE FINANCIAL FILES House Oversight Chair CAROLYN MALONY (D-N.Y.) told NYT’s Luke Broadwater on Saturday that Mazars USA has given her panel an initial tranche of Trump’s financial records, which Congress has finally now obtained after a drawn-out court fight. Maloney didn’t provide details on the documents, but more are expected to follow, and she said Mazars is cooperating. “Some of the most classified information, we don’t even know where it is,”She spoke. “Right now, we don’t know how much is still out there.”

4. PELOSI ABROAD Taiwan wasn’t the only international kerfuffle into which Speaker NANCY PELOSI I am diving. She arrived in Armenia on Saturday amid clashes with Azerbaijan that killed hundreds of people this week, with plans to meet with the country’s leaders and push for peace. “The trip was seen as a political move by Ms. Pelosi ahead of the midterm elections,” NYT’s Carlotta Gall reportsIt is called “Call it” “Ms. Pelosi’s latest effort to flex the legislative branch’s diplomatic muscle.” Today, Pelosi criticized Azerbaijan’s attacks and called for peace, per the AP.

5. FOR YOUR (LITERAL), RADAR: Major storms are hitting opposite ends the country: In Western Alaska the remnants of a typhoon that battered the coast in the past have left their mark. “causing severe flooding, evacuations, power outages and wind damage,” the Anchorage Daily News’ Annie Berman, Zachariah Hughes and Sean Maguire report. “No fatalities, injuries or missing persons had been reported by Saturday night, but many communities were underwater and without power.”

And in the vicinity of Puerto Rico Tropical Storm Fiona is expected to turn into a hurricane today, with a significant potential impact coming for the island’s coast. Gov. PEDRO PIERLUISI Declared a state of emergency, and urged everyone to take refuge in the place. Details from The Weather Channel Spanish-language latest from El Nuevo Día

6. ABOUT THE LAST NIGHT Trump rallied in Youngstown, Ohio, for Vance’s Saturday night’s Senate campaign taps into his usual themes on crime, immigration, elections the Record-Courier’s Derek Kreider reports. The former president put some distance in between himself and Democratic Rep. TIM RYAN who’s tried to draw policy parallels to win over Republicans. Trump poked fun at Vance before a crowd of more that 6,000. per the L.A. Times’ Freddy Brewster: “J.D. is kissing my ass. Of course he wants my support … The entire MAGA movement is for J.D. Vance.”

7. HOW PAT RYAN WON “New Democratic hero has a message for colleagues: Show voters the fight,” by WaPo’s Paul Kane: “Most instant analysis credits Ryan’s campaign, which he launched days after a leaked draft showed the Supreme Court intended to overturn Roe v. Wade, with capturing the lightning of that moment … But, according to Ryan and other seasoned Democrats, his victory came because he anchored the race in demonstrating to voters how much he would fight for the cause. … Ryan doesn’t dismiss inflation. If candidates sidestep that painful economic issue and just run on protecting abortion rights, he says, those Democrats will fail.”

8. BEHIND THE NEAR RAILROAD STRICKE: Workers getting timeThis isf for medical treatment was one of the key issues at the heart of the railroad strike that almost upended the nation’s economy this week. WaPo’s Lauren Kaori Gurley has the story of AARON HILES a Missouri worker who died of a heart attack in June after putting off a doctor’s visit due to attendance penalties under a new rail carrier policy. His death was a catalyst for advocacy for change. And though a strike didn’t happen, the story isn’t over: “Unless union leaders persuade 115,000 workers across 12 unions to vote to ratify contracts, a nationwide rail strike is still possible — and could snarl much of the nation’s supply-chain just ahead of the midterm elections.”

9. DISINFORMATION DIGEST “How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step,” by NYT’s Ellen Barry: “Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around [LINDA] SARSOUR, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition. … Many people know the story about how the Women’s March movement fractured, leaving lasting scars on the American left. … But there is also a story that has not been told, one that only emerged years later in academic research, of how Russia inserted itself into this moment.”

Mike Lindell Was using a smartphone at Donald Trump’s Ohio rally venue — a replacement for the one he said the FBI seized, per the Daily Mail’s Liz Elkind.

Johnny McEntee And Ryann McEnany’s The Right Stuff is a new dating app that conservatives can use. It is currently in trademark dispute and has difficulty recruiting D.C. women. per The Daily Beast.

WaPo’s Outlook section It is running for the final time todayAs the newspaper moves its Sunday opinions, ideas and books coverage elsewhere,

WHAT PLAYBOOKERS READING:Here’s a roundup of the most clicked links in Playbook over the past week.

1.“The Sordid Saga of Hunter Biden’s Laptop,” by N.Y. Mag’s Andrew Rice and Olivia Nuzzi

2.“Yes, the Polling Warning Signs Are Flashing Again,” by NYT’s Nate Cohn

3.“The Radicalization of Washington’s Most Famous Historian,”Michael Schaffer, POLITICO Magazine

4.Amy Klobuchar’s run-in with some constituents at a sports bar for the Vikings’ opening game.

5.“‘I Thought We Were Going To Cancun’: Man Mocks Ted Cruz During Flight,” HuffPost

IN MEMORIAM — “Ronald Pelton, spy convicted of selling secrets to Soviets, dies at 80,” by WaPo’s Emily Langer

OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTEDAt a party Elliot Ackerman’sNew book “The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan” ($22.49), hosted by Juleanna Glover Saturday night at Kalorama House Josh Dawsey, Matt Gorman, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Michael Hirsh, Adrienne Arsht, Indira Lakshmanan, Suzanne Kianpour, Evelyn Farkas, Leon Wieseltier, Blake Hounshell, Cathy Merrill, Goli Sheikholeslami, Jen AndChris Isham and Ramesh And April Ponnuru, AlexAnder Nazaryan and Tim Mak.

On Saturday night, the Transatlantic Leadership Network hosted an awards ceremony at the National Press Club for its 2022 Freedom of the Media Awards. Gold medals went to Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and the Kyiv Independent’s Olga Rudenko. Other awards were handed out to Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh (posthumously), Rappler’s Maria Ressa, Željko Ivanović Vijesti, Vladislav Davidzon Tablet Magazine and Odessa Review. Special guest Volodymyr HavrylovDeputy defense minister of Ukraine, Yuriy Polakov, also spoke. SPOTTED: Montenegrin PM Dritan Abazović, Diana Riba i Giner, Neemat Frem, Sasha Toperich And Teresa Ribeiro.

— SPOTTED at the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s 15th anniversary celebration at Dock 5 at Union Market on Friday night: Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Ai-jen Poo, Jenn Stowe, Hillary Holley, Christina ColemanAnd Carmen Berkley.

TRANSITION — Abby JagodaShe is returning to ICSC in the role of VP of public policies. She previously was VP and head of government and community affairs at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.

ENGAGED — Isaac Piller,Federal affairs analyst at Salt River Project. Hannah S. Cooke,Scheduler for Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina (R-N.C.), at the Bartholdi Fountain, near the Capitol on Sept. 9. They met while they were serving as political appointees in the Interior Department under the Trump administration.

WEDDING — Lisa Leonard,POLITICO is the home of the head of advocacy, heads of associations and partnerships with states at POLITICO. Adam BortnickSCL Consulting’s COO got married Sept. 10, 2010 at Oaks Waterfront Inn Easton, Md. Pic Another pic

BIRTHWEEK (was Saturday): J.T. FoleyLas Vegas Sands Corp. (4-0).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) … Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) … Scott MacFarlane … former HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBakari Sellers … WaPo’s Griff Witte, Darryl Fears And Desmond ButlerJeff Sadosky of Forbes Tate Partners … Katrina BishopChris LucasJoan Walsh of The Nation … Jackie Calmes of the L.A. Times … Luis NavarroSafiya Ghori-Ahmad of McLarty Associates … Rocketto Jess Morales … POLITICO’s Jala McFadden … E&E News’ Ian BentRachel Irwin of Building Back Together … Dayna CadeDaniel Burnett Erin Buechel Wieczorek of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency … Adam KeiperAngela Flood of Cove Strategies … FDA’s Monica Pampell … former Reps. Steve Watkins (R.-Kan.) John Tierney (D-Mass.) … Edelman’s Andrew ChurchCarrie Hebert … State’s Carly LindgrenPhil Lago Trevor Houser of Rhodium Group … Sara Haines … Cheddar’s Baker Machado

Send Playbookers Tips [email protected]Send us a text at 202-556-3307. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike DeBonisAssisting editor Zack Stanton, digital editor Garrett RossProducers and distributors Setota Hailemariam And Bethany Irvine.

Correction: Friday’s Playbook misspelled Todd Zwillich’s name.

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