Senate Will Narrow Income Limits For Stimulus Checks

The U.S. Capitol building (via senate.gov)

Senate Democrats have agreed to narrow the income limits for those who would receive stimulus checks in order to draw in more support from moderate Senators.

From the New York Times:

Like the House bill, the proposal under discussion would send $1,400 checks to people earning up to $75,000 and households earning up to $150,000, with those earning more receiving smaller payments.

But the Senate proposal would end the checks altogether for those making $80,000 or couples earning $160,000, while the House measure had a higher cap of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for households.

But Senate Democrats have agreed to the House-passed proposal to provide a $400 weekly federal unemployment payment through the end of August, rejecting a bid by some moderate senators to keep the weekly benefit at the current amount of $300 per week.

Read the full article.

This morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement saying he has confidence Democrats have the votes to pass the measure.

Senate Votes 57-43 Against Trump Falling Short Of Two-Thirds Majority To Convict

The US Senate voted 57-43 to convict Donald Trump falling 10 votes short of the 2/3s majority needed to prevent him from holding office again.
The US Senate voted 57-43 to convict Donald Trump falling 10 votes short of the 2/3s majority needed to prevent him from holding office again.
The US Senate falls short of the 2/3s majority needed to find Donald Trump guilty

And…that’s a wrap.

The U.S. Senate voted 57-43 against Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. The final tally was 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to find Trump guilty.

Seven Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats to convict, the most bipartisan support for conviction in any of the four impeachments in U.S. history according to the New York Times.

The 7 Republicans were: Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

This was the first time a U.S. president was impeached twice, the first Senate impeachment trial of a former president and the shortest impeachment trial in U.S. history.

One of the most bizarre moments of the day came when Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell gave his closing remarks. McConnell hinted that he would’ve considered a guilty vote but is resting on the constitutional argument that Trump is a private citizen. “The question is moot because former President Donald Trump is not eligible”

But the fact of the matter is Trump was in office when the House voted to impeach him, but it was McConnell (while still Majority Leader) who refused to allow the trial to begin until Trump was no longer president.

Newsom Picks CA Sec Of State Alex Padilla For Kamala Harris Senate Seat

Secretary of State Alex Padilla will succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate (photo via FB)

The Los Angeles Times reports that California Gov. Gavin Newsom will choose his state’s current secretary of state Alex Padilla to fill the remaining two years of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s U.S. Senate term.

Harris will be resigning from the Senate next month prior to being sworn in as the country’s first female Vice President.

Harris’s departure will mean there will be no Black women serving in the chamber. Padilla will be the first Latino from California to serve in the Senate.

From the LA Times:

At age 26, Padilla won a seat on the Los Angeles City Council during the anti-immigrant tumult of the 1990s after California voters approved measures requiring “English-only” public schools and banning immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally from government assistance and services.

Padilla, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, went on to become the city’s youngest council president, a state senator and California’s current, two-term secretary of state.

Newsom will now turn to choosing who will replace Padilla as secretary of state.

Who Will Replace Kamala Harris As U.S. Senator?

Sen. Kamala Harris suspends her presidential campaign
Sen. Kamala Harris suspends her presidential campaign
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (via campaign Instagram)

With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris projected to be the next President and Vice President of the U.S., many are looking to who might be tapped by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to take Sen. Harris’s seat in the U.S.Senate.

Politico reports that those inside Newsom’s inner circle say he would like to make a historic choice, and there are multiple contenders being mentioned who could become the first openly LGBTQ senator from the Golden State.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, is reportedly on the shortlist of those being considered for the Senate seat. Garcia would be the first openly gay and first Latino senator from California.

In a recent poll by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, Garcia received the highest response (57%) when voters were asked about individual possible candidates.

According to that survey, almost half of voters (48%) would prefer someone without experience in Washington, D.C., or in Sacramento. Thirty-one percent said they would like to see Newsom pick the state’s first Latino U.S. senator and 24% hoped for the state’s first LGBTQ U.S. Senator.

The first woman and openly LGBTQ person to lead the state Senate, State Senate pro Tempore Toni Atkins of San Diego, is also among those being floated to be the next senator from California. In the aforementioned survey, Atkins received 40% support.

The Victory Fund, which supports more representation of queer Americans in public office, adds to those possibilities California Assemblymember Evan Low, U.S. Representative Mark Takano, and California Senator Scott Wiener.

Newsom could still make history with a non-LGBTQ choice like Secretary of State Alex Padilla or state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Either would be the first Latino senator in California history, plus choosing a statewide officer for the seat would allow the governor to name both the next senator and a powerful state officeholder’s replacement as well.

Many in political circles say the replacement should, like Harris, be a woman of color making Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) of Los Angeles a strong contender. Bass was long reported as a possible choice for running mate for Biden and garnered 53% support in the Schwarzenegger Institute poll.

Also in the mix are Rep. Barbara Lee from Oakland who had 51% approval in the Institute’s survey,  and freshman Rep. Katie Porter, who has shown to have strong support among younger voters.

One small snag for Porter could be that she’s the first Democrat to represent California’s 45th District. A traditionally red district, if she were to take Harris’s seat, her House seat could possibly flip back to Republican.

Newsom has told the press he won’t begin the formal process of vetting candidates until after the election results were certified.

(source: Politico, Schwarzenegger Institute)

Poll: Sen. Susan Collins Trails Democratic Challenger By 12

L-R Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sara Gideon (images via campaigns)

Quinnipiac University Polling released a new poll today showing 4-term Republican Senator Susan Collins trailing her Democratic challenger Sara Gideon by a whopping 12 points (54-42).

From the latest survey:

• 89% of likely voters who selected a candidate in the Senate matchup say their minds are made up; 10% say they might change their minds before the election

• Collins has a negative favorability rating (43% approve, 51% disapprove) while Gideon garners a positive 49% favorability rating versus 37% unfavorable

• Asked if the candidates care about average people, 60% of voters say that Gideon cares and while say 51% believes that Collins cares

• 53% of voters say that they would want to see the Democratic Party win control of the United States Senate

Collins won her last election with nearly 70% of the vote.

The same poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 21 points (59% to 38%).

Poll: Biden Leads Trump By 9 Points In Senate Battleground States

L-R Former Vice President Joe Biden, Donald Trump

A new poll of voters in six states where Republican senators up for reelection this year are facing some tough races shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 9 points.

Hart Research Associates surveyed voters in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Montana, and North Carolina, and found support for Biden at 50% while Trump garnered 41% support.

Of the six states, Trump scored 2016 wins in Arizona, Iowa, Montana and North Carolina.

Democrats will need to win in four of those states to win a majority in the Senate. The poll showed the Republican incumbents lagging the Democratic challengers by five points – 41 to 46 respectively.

The GOP incumbents are Sens. Marth McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Susan Collins (Maine), Steve Daines (Mont.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.).

The poll also asked voters about their feelings on mail-in ballots this fall in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Voters in the six battleground states overwhelmingly support the idea with 85% saying a mail option should be available.

Arizona: Democrats Lead In Presidential & Senate Races By 9 Points

Mark Kelly (image via campaign website)

Good news from Arizona as a new survey by the Phoenix-based nonpartisan polling firm OH Predictive Insights shows retired astronaut Mark Kelly leading Sen. Martha McSally (R) by a 51 percent to 42 percent margin.

In Maricopa County, the largest population center in the state, Kelly leads by 10 points. Additionally, more than two-thirds of Independent voters indicate they would support Kelly in the fall election.

The same firm’s polling in March saw Kelly leading by a 7-point margin, 49 percent to 42 percent.

McSally lost her Senate race in 2018 but was later appointed to serve the last two years of John McCain’s term after his passing.

Arizona is probably the Democrats’ best bet to flipping a seat in the Senate to blue.

The polling also portends good things for former Vice President Joe Biden.

The survey found Biden leading Donald Trump among Arizona voters by a 52 percent to 43 percent margin. Should Biden win Arizona in November, he would be the first Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton to score Arizona’s electoral votes.

Montana Governor Poised To Run For US Senate

Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana

Two-term Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana appears ready to reverse himself on previous statements and announce a run for the U.S. Senate for his state.

From the New York Times:

For months, even when he was still a presidential candidate, Mr. Bullock has faced questions about whether he would take on Mr. Daines. And when he dropped out of the presidential race in December — after a spirited but underfunded campaign — he again said that he would not run for the Senate.

But Mr. Bullock, who is barred by term limits from running for re-election this year, has faced one of the most sustained lobbying campaigns of any would-be Senate candidate — a reflection both of his potential as a candidate and how badly Democrats need to put another seat in play.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, flew to visit him in Montana last month. And when Mr. Bullock was in Washington last month for the meeting of the National Governors Association, he also met with former President Barack Obama, as was reported by Politico.

More quietly, a handful of union officials have reached out to Mr. Bullock to assure him he would have all the resources he needs in a state that still retains a strong labor tradition, according to one of the party officials, who was familiar with the conversations.

Florida: Judge Orders Injunction To Allow Voters To Validate Their Ballots

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (L) and Gov. Rick Scott (R)

A federal judge has ordered an injunction to allow voters whose signatures don’t appear to match on their ballots in the hotly-contested Florida race for US Senate to correct their ballots.

From FirstCoastNews:

U.S. Chief Judge Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction this morning in a lawsuit filed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson over ballots thrown out because of mismatched signatures — declaring a state law unconstitutional and offering a middle path to give voters a few days to correct their ballots.

“The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures — with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection — passes constitutional muster,” Walker said. “The answer is simple. It does not.”

The ruling is a victory for Nelson as he tries to narrow the almost 13,000 vote margin between him and Gov. Rick Scott in a razor-thin Senate race that is currently the subject of multiple lawsuits and is undergoing a machine recount, which will likely progress to a hand recount.

After Walker’s order was filed, the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a notice of appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Election officials have identified 3,688 vote-by-mail ballots and 93 provisional ballots in 45 counties that were not tabulated because of signature mismatches.

Based on 2016 results, the total could be as high as 5,000.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema Wins Arizona Senate Seat

The Cook Political Report is projecting that Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema will win her US Senate race in Arizona.
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

UPDATE: Republican Martha McSally has conceded the US Senate race to replace retiring Jeff Flake. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema will be the next Senator from Arizona.

She is the first female to represent the Grand Canyon state in the Senate as well as the first openly bisexual US Senator.

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The Cook Political Report is projecting that Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema will win her US Senate race in Arizona.

According to the latest counts, Sinema has expanded her lead over Republican Martha McSally to 1.5%.

McSally lead on election night with partial returns being counted, but the next day many ballots were still uncounted in Democratic leaning areas of the state.

Sinema will be the first female senator from Arizona, and the first Democratic senator since Sen. Dennis DeConcini left office in 1995.

She will also be the first openly bisexual US Senator.

The folks at ThinkProgress point out that Democratic House candidates are on track to win the national popular vote by as much as 7 points, yet Republicans gained seats in the Senate.

There are still two outstanding Senate races: one in Florida which is heading to a recount, and one in Mississippi which will hold a runoff later this month.