Clay, the 64-year-old chairman of the House Financial Services housing subcommittee, has represented the St. Louis district for 20 years. His father, Bill Clay, held the seat for 32 years before him. He touted endorsements from high-profile establishment figures, especially Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Bush, 44, talked on the stump about her experiences getting evicted as a single mother of two and tear-gassed in the streets as a protester. She did not get involved in politics until 2014, after a Black teenager had been fatally shot by a White police officer in Ferguson. Bush has been a frequent presence at demonstrations that grew after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day, and she pledged to keep taking to the streets if elected. During the campaign, she contracted covid-19 and spoke of that experience, as well. Bush also secured the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who held virtual events for her.
“We’ve been called radicals [and] terrorists. We’ve been dismissed as an impossible fringe movement. That’s what they called us,” she told supporters Tuesday night. “It is historic that this year, of all years, we’re sending a Black, working-class single mother who has been fighting for Black lives from Ferguson all the way to the halls of Congress.”
Joe Biden, first elected to the Senate in 1972, is in many ways a throwback to a bygone era. He has described himself as a transitional figure who can help build the next generation of Democrats. Biden may be the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, but Clay’s defeat underscores the deeper sea change underway in the party’s activist ranks and foreshadows some of the potential governing challenges facing the former vice president should he win in November.
The vibe inside the House Democratic Caucus has changed dramatically since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled Joe Crowley, then the No. 4 in party leadership, two summers ago in a primary. AOC, as everyone calls her, is a member of the self-described “Squad” of four far-left liberals who won their seats in 2018. Another member of that quartet, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, easily fended off a primary challenge on Tuesday in Michigan from the president of the Detroit city council, who is more aligned with the Democratic establishment and only lost by 900 votes last time.
Clay is the third Democratic incumbent to lose a primary this year. Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, lost to former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman last month in New York. Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.), who chairs a railroads and pipelines subcommittee, lost in March to activist Marie Newman in Chicago largely because of his opposition to abortion rights.
Speaking to supporters in a purple mask, Bush thanked a list of far-left groups for supporting her bid, including the Democratic Socialists of America. “I will never take for granted the movement that got me here,” she said. “An incremental approach isn’t going to work any longer. We’ve decided that we’re not going to wait any longer for change.”
A House Republican also lost a primary on Tuesday night in Kansas, but it was not because of his ideology. Freshman Rep. Steve Watkins, who was charged a few weeks ago with voting illegally in 2019 and then obstructing the inquiry to conceal that he was living with his parents, lost to state Treasurer Jake LaTurner. Watkins, who denies any wrongdoing and promises to fight the three felony charges, is the fourth incumbent Republican to lose a primary this year, along with Reps. Scott Tipton (Colo.), Steve King (Iowa) and Denver Riggleman (Va.).
The bigger story out of the Sunflower State is the Senate GOP primary, in which Rep. Roger Marshall defeated former Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach in the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies feared that Kobach, who blew a winnable governor’s race in 2018, would lose in the general election. The GOP establishment spent seven figures to stop Kobach, and President Trump stayed neutral.
Much is being made in the coverage this morning about this being a triumph for the GOP establishment, which it is, but make no mistake: Marshall transformed himself to become a more Trumpian figure in order to win the primary. Marshall had supported former Ohio governor John Kasich’s presidential bid in 2016. “He questioned the cost of the president’s border wall proposal in 2017 but flipped that position after Roberts announced his plan to retire, creating an open Senate seat. In a final debate last month, Marshall said he ‘will always support the president’s policy on immigration,’” Paul Kane and Colby Itkowitz note. “In an interview, Marshall gave Trump an ‘A-plus’ for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.” Marshall will face state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican who left that party in 2018, but he’s now heavily favored to win.
A Senate primary on Thursday in Tennessee to replace the retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) offers another window into the extent to which Trump dominates today’s GOP. Front-runner Bill Hagerty, a former private equity executive and ambassador to Japan, finds himself in a tight contest with surgeon Manny Sethi. Haggerty was the national finance chair for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2008. “He and Mr. Romney had been friends since the 1980s, when Mr. Hagerty worked for the Boston Consulting Group and Mr. Romney for Bain Capital,” the New York Times notes in a revealing anecdote. The day after Hagerty got in the race, in September, Romney’s Believe in America PAC contributed $5,600, the maximum allowed amount to Hagerty’s campaign.
“Bank records indicate that Mr. Hagerty’s campaign deposited the check,” the Times notes. “But in October, Mr. Hagerty surprised Mr. Romney by quietly returning the donation in full. (Neither the PAC’s contribution nor Mr. Hagerty’s disbursement of the refund appears in the Hagerty campaign’s filings, a potential violation of campaign finance law. A spokesman for the Hagerty campaign said, ‘Once we realized it was deposited, we alerted the bank and we reversed the transaction, because we do not share Senator Romney’s liberal, anti-Trump political positions.’) And when Mr. Sethi, trying to position himself as the more authentic ally of the president, called Mr. Hagerty ‘Mitt Romney’s guy’ and erroneously claimed Mr. Romney had endorsed him, Mr. Hagerty attacked his former friend, calling him ‘indistinguishable from Obama’ and one of the ‘most despised names in Tennessee.’”
In another win for the national GOP establishment in Tuesday’s primaries, Peter Meijer, whose family owns the retail chain of the same name, won the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Justin Amash, an independent who left the GOP last year because of his disgust with Trump. Meijer was the candidate preferred by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Also on Tuesday, Missouri voters narrowly approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid coverage to about 230,000 low income residents – over the strong opposition of the GOP governor. The Show-Me State is the 38th to take advantage of federal funds that have been available under the Affordable Care Act. Oklahoma, another red state, voted earlier this summer to expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, Trump continues his efforts in court to invalidate the law in its entirely. The president has not released his often-promised plan to replace Obamacare.
Quote of the day
Kansas could also elect its first openly transgender lawmaker this fall after Stephanie Byers won the Democratic primary in a left-leaning Wichita district. “For me, being transgender is just another aspect of who I am,” Byers told KAKE. “I am a member of the Chickasaw nation. I ride a motorcycle. I’m a musician.” (Katie Shepherd)
More on the elections
Anxieties over mail-in ballots were on display during this round of primaries, deepening worries about the fall.
“In Michigan, voters complained that they received their ballots just before Tuesday’s vote or not at all, raising fears that political pressure could be affecting the U.S. Postal Service three months before the Nov. 3 presidential election. In Kansas and Missouri, many conservatives chose to cast ballots in person despite the possible health risk, some echoing Trump’s unfounded claims that mail voting leads to widespread fraud,” Elise Viebeck, Annie Gowen and Kayla Ruble report. “At least 77 percent of American voters will be able to cast ballots through the mail in the fall … Yet the dramatic shift has not always been smooth, with local election administrators struggling to meet demand for absentee ballots with what they describe as a lack of sufficient funding and personnel. Recent policy changes at the Postal Service put in place by the new postmaster general, a top Trump donor, have caused days-long backlogs of mail."
Trump reversed himself, announcing that he supports vote-by-mail in Florida. At a White House news conference, Trump suggested that voting by mail in states led by Republicans is safe, while doing so in states led by Democrats is not. “Florida's got a great Republican governor," Trump said. “Florida's different from other states.” He then criticized mail-in voting efforts by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats. (The Trump campaign followed through on a threat today to sue Nevada over a new law that requires election officials to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters.)
Biden’s campaign said it will spend $280 million on ads between now and Election Day.
The campaign said that money will go into 15 states, including Texas, Arizona, and Georgia, but officials declined to share a breakdown so it’s unclear whether those states will see significant spending. “Their campaign advertisements will feature Biden speaking at length about the virus and about how Americans can ensure their right to vote. Some will criticize Trump’s handling of the global pandemic, and how Biden would handle things differently. A large number of the ads will be 60 seconds long, twice the length of traditional ads,” Matt Viser reports. “In addition to traditional battlegrounds that Trump carried four years ago — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida — the Biden campaign is also buying ads in states that Democrats carried, including New Hampshire, Colorado, and Minnesota. … Of the $280 million in ads, about $60 million is being spent on digital platforms, targeting YouTube, ESPN, and Hulu as well as podcasts and online gaming.”
- Biden’s campaign also relaunched its website this morning, borrowing features from several of his primary rivals. (Annie Linskey)
- But the Trump campaign is knocking on a million doors a week, and Biden’s is knocking on none because of coronavirus concerns. “Republicans say their door-knocking dominance could make a difference in November, since in-person conversations have long been considered the most effective type of voter contact," Politico reports.
- Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), a finalist in Biden’s V.P. search, eulogized a Communist Party USA leader in 2017. (Politico)
Trump's campaign is considering using the White House’s South Lawn for his GOP convention speech.
“The decision to stage the most high-profile political event of Trump’s reelection campaign at the national seat of presidential power would be just the latest break by Trump in presidential norms, which have historically drawn clear lines between official business of the president and campaign events,” Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report. “The South Lawn, which can be subject to intense heat and afternoon thunderstorms in late August, is one of several sites under consideration for the week of festivities, including the Trump International Hotel in D.C., which the president leases from the federal government." Brad Parscale, who Trump ousted last month as campaign manager, has been tasked with preparing videos to mix in with live speeches over the four nights from Aug. 24-27.
The Trump administration doubled down on its plan to fully reopen schools.
“White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked Tuesday about the experience of Israel, where some schools that opened have closed because of a surge in coronavirus cases. She replied by quoting Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said last week that children need to return to school, but omitting his cautions about doing so safely,” Anne Gearan reports. "Many large school districts have already announced a delay in on-campus learning, including those in New York and Los Angeles and in the D.C. area. But schools are opening elsewhere, making the country a patchwork of open and closed as many students begin classes in one form or another this month.
“The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 4.7 million, and has recorded more than 153,000 deaths. Tuesday marked the ninth consecutive day in which the country averaged more than 1,000 coronavirus-related fatalities following the recent peak in new cases. … Nearly a third of students in one suburban Atlanta school district were required to return to school for in-person learning over their families’ objections because of a waiting list for the district’s online learning alternative. … Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued broad mask-wearing requirements and delayed the return to school for middle- and high-schoolers. In a reversal of Reeves’s prior stance, all students and staff members must wear masks.”
- The parents of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) received same-day coronavirus testing through the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s system of fast-tracking “VIPs,” according to the Frontier. Stitt was the first governor to test positive for the virus.
- In the absence of a national testing strategy, seven governors – three Republicans and four Democrats – formed a first-of-its-kind purchasing compact that they hope will pressure companies that make rapid-detection tests to quickly ramp up production. The governors said they’ve already begun talks with one of the two companies approved by the FDA to sell point-of care antigen tests that can detect the virus in under 30 minutes. Each state – Virginia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland – would request 500,000 rapid tests, for a total of 3.5 million that could be deployed to address outbreaks. (Erin Cox)
- The Florida Education Association filed an emergency motion seeking an injunction to delay the reopening of schools, accusing the governor of violating a requirement in the state Constitution for safe and secure schools. (Click Orlando)
- In Utah, local health experts warned that the state’s plan to reopen schools could lead to serious outbreaks. Last week, Utah announced a “modified quarantine” policy that would allow children and teachers who’ve been exposed to the virus to continue coming to class as long as they don’t show symptoms and no one in their house tests positive. (Salt Lake Tribune)
The CDC warned of an uncommon, seasonal, polio-like condition that usually affects children.
“Acute flaccid myelitis, which may be caused by any of several viruses, is marked by a sudden weakness or paralysis of the limbs. Since surveillance began in 2014, prevalence of the syndrome has spiked in even-numbered years, often afflicting children about 5 years old,” Lenny Bernstein reports. “The disease is very rare, but a quick response is critical once the weakness sets in; the disease can progress over hours or days and lead to permanent paralysis or respiratory failure, according to a report issued Tuesday by the CDC."
For the unemployed, rising grocery prices are stretching budgets even more.
“Even while some of the sharpest price hikes have eased somewhat, the overall effects are being felt most acutely by the nearly 30 million Americans who saw their $600 enhanced unemployment benefit expire last Friday — exacerbating concerns that the recession’s long tail could worsen food insecurity for years to come,” Rachel Siegel reports. “Overall inflation has not been a pressing concern since the recession touched down in February. … But food prices are the exception. … Nearly every category of food become more expensive at some point since February. … Beef and veal prices saw the steepest spike (20.2 percent), followed by eggs (10.4 percent), poultry (8.6 percent) and pork (8.5 percent).”
For those of us lucky enough to still have jobs, remote work means longer days.
“The average workday lengthened by 48.5 minutes in the [eight] weeks following stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, and the number of meetings increased by 13 percent, a working paper published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed,” Jena McGregor reports. “The study, which examined the anonymous email and calendar data of more than three million users from an unnamed tech provider, also found significant increases in internal email and in meeting sizes.”
- Disney revenue dropped more than $8 billion last quarter. To try to get some of its lost revenue back, the company said it will finally release “Mulan,” the live-action remake of the 1998 classic, via its Disney Plus platform – at a cost of $29.99. (Steven Zeitchik)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the SEC should investigate potential insider trading surrounding Eastman Kodak’s recent announcement that it would receive a $765 million government loan to start producing the chemical ingredients needed to make pharmaceuticals. A day before the loan was announced, more than 1 million shares of Kodak’s stock changed hands, compared with a daily average of 236,479 over the past year. (Renae Merle and Jeanne Whalen)
- The Wilderness Adventurer, the first Alaska cruise of 2020, set sail on Saturday, and it's already on its way back to port due to a coronavirus case on board. (Antonia Farzan)
- A small Texas border hospital battling the coronavirus had no ICU and only one doctor on duty for each shift. Every day, the crew at Starr County Memorial Hospital in the Rio Grande Valley prepares a patient whom doctors are unable to treat, loading them into a helicopter that takes them elsewhere. (NYT)
The White House and Democrats agreed to try for a relief deal on evictions and unemployment by Sunday.
The deal could then be voted on by Congress next week. It's an attempt to jump-start stalled talks in the face of growing unrest, Seung Min Kim, Erica Werner, Carol Leonnig and Jeff Stein report. “The agreement on a timeline came in a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The four have been meeting almost daily for a week. Their agreement Tuesday on a specific timeline to reach an overall deal constituted the most concrete progress yet. It suggests that the White House has backed off efforts to pass a stand-alone extension of unemployment benefits — and will also stand down, at least for now, on more recent threats to act unilaterally through executive orders if no deal can be reached with Congress. … Pelosi and Schumer also pointed to signs of progress … Senate Republicans on Tuesday began to emphasize that they will need to stay in Washington until a fresh round of pandemic relief aid is enacted, worried about facing the wrath of voters if they go home without one."
Nursing home companies accused of misusing federal funds received millions in handouts.
“For-profit nursing home providers that have faced accusations of Medicare fraud and kickbacks, labor violations or widespread failures in patient care received hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘no strings attached’ coronavirus relief aid meant to cover shortfalls and expenses during the pandemic,” Debbie Cenziper, Joel Jacobs and Shawn Mulcahy report. “All told, nursing home companies sued for Medicare fraud in recent years received more than $300 million in relief payments. Millions more went to nursing homes with widely publicized breakdowns during the pandemic. … The money was distributed through the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund, which since April has directed federal stimulus payments to hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care providers. In May, HHS announced a targeted nursing home distribution of $4.9 billion.”
The new world order
The death toll from the explosions in central Beirut has passed 100.
“The blasts came from a warehouse in Beirut's port area which apparently housed massive quantities of explosive materials,” Liz Sly, Sarah Dadouch and Louisa Loveluck report. “George Kittani, head of the Lebanese Red Cross, said that the city's morgues would be accepting bodies directly as hospitals could no longer cope. … The organization said that at least 4,000 people had been wounded. … There are bodies in the rubble and in the waters of the port. … The scene at the port was almost apocalyptic, with smoke hanging above a crater gouged from the land running down to the sea, and only one side of the warehouse still standing. A silo that provided most of Lebanon's wheat supply was ripped open. And in East Beirut, in the residential neighborhoods near the port, so much was shattered. The historical arched facades were now piles of rubble and rebar. …
“There were many indications that the blasts may have been a tragic accident. Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said it appeared that stocks of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used in bombmaking, had ignited. Prime Minister Hassan Diab linked the explosions to 2,700 tons of the dangerous chemical that had been stored at the port since 2014, despite warnings from port officials that the material was not safe. …
But, but, but: “The explosions coincide with mounting tensions between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, which maintains a facility at the port and has long been accused by U.S. officials of using it to smuggle weapons into the country. The incident follows a spate of mysterious blasts at Shiite militia weapon-storage sites in Iraq last year, which Iraqi and Israeli officials have said Israel was responsible for, and more recently a string of explosions at military sites and sensitive locations in Iran, which regional intelligence officials have said Israel, at least in part, was behind. … At a news conference, President Trump called the explosion a ‘terrible attack’ and said U.S. generals seemed to feel that it was the result of a ‘bomb of some kind.’ But military officials said they had yet to make a solid assessment of the explosions." Israeli officials said the country had no role in the explosions. Hezbollah did not apportion blame in a statement offering condolences.
“One thing that was clear is that crisis-stricken Lebanon, with its currency crashing and rising numbers of coronavirus infections, is in little position to cope with another disaster, especially on this scale. At least two hospitals were badly damaged in the explosions, and TV footage showed staff evacuating patients to alternate hospitals that were themselves swamped — in the dark, because the city had no electricity. … Windows were blown out and check-in counters were damaged at Beirut’s airport, several miles from the explosion. Doors were blown open and windows rattled at the U.S. Embassy, more than six miles away.”
- For more than an hour after the explosions, people with blood streaming down their faces and limbs wandered the streets in search of hospitals. Photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli captured the scenes of a city in a state of chaos.
- A New York Times reporter injured in the explosion wrote about her desperate search for help. “After blinking the blood from my eyes, I tried to take in the sight of my apartment turned into a demolition site. My yellow front door had been hurled on top of my dining table. I couldn’t find my passport, or even any sturdy shoes,” writes Vivian Yee. “The Lebanese who would help me in the hours to come had the heartbreaking steadiness that comes from having lived through countless previous disasters. Nearly all of them were strangers, yet they treated me like a friend.”
Taiwan and the U.S. will hold their highest-level meeting since 1979 as tensions with China grow.
“U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will travel this month to Taiwan, the two governments announced Wednesday, setting the stage for a politically charged trip that will showcase closer ties and inject a volatile new element into tense relations with China,” Gerry Shih reports. “In a pointed statement, the Department of Health and Human Services said the rare visit was part of ‘America’s policy of sending high-level U.S. officials to Taiwan to reaffirm the U.S.-Taiwan friendship’ and celebrate shared democratic values ‘in contrast to authoritarian systems.’”
- Saudi Arabia, with China’s help, is expanding its nuclear program. The kingdom built a facility for extracting uranium yellowcake from uranium ore, an advance that would advance its drive to master nuclear technology, Western officials said. (Wall Street Journal)
- Trump’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Germany, frequent Fox News guest Douglas Macgregor, has claimed that Muslim migrants were coming to Europe “with the goal of eventually turning Europe into an Islamic state.” He criticized Germany for giving “millions of unwanted Muslim invaders” welfare benefits. And he has repeatedly advocated for Trump to institute martial law at the U.S.-Mexico border and “shoot people” if necessary. (CNN)
- Alvaro Uribe, a powerful Colombian ex-president, will be placed under house arrest while the country’s Supreme Court advances a witness-tampering investigation against him. (AP)
- Spain’s former king Juan Carlos fled the country, as investigators in Switzerland and prosecutors in Spain are looking into offshore accounts reportedly linked to him over the years, including cash from Saudi Arabia. Spain’s royal palace announced the former king’s departure, but omitted a key detail: Where exactly did he go? Several media outlets reported on Monday that the former king had traveled to the Portuguese town of Cascais. By Tuesday morning, Spanish newspapers said the 82-year-old was in the Dominican Republic. But then the Dominican foreign minister said he had not entered the Caribbean nation. (Rick Noack)
The Department of Homeland Security will change the military-style uniforms seen in Portland.
The department’s No. 2 official, Ken Cuccinelli, made the announcement while testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the federal government’s response to the Portland protests, Nick Miroff reports. Cuccinelli said that the federal forces in Portland all wore insignia identifying them as police, but DHS would seek to provide agents sent to urban environments with more standard-issue green uniforms. The change comes after the sight of federal agents dressed in camouflage fatigues and tactical gear drew wide condemnation from military veterans, lawmakers and others who said their appearance was inappropriate for domestic law enforcement.
- The husband of Los Angeles District attorney Jackie Lacey (D) was charged with pointing a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters five months ago. David Lacey faces three misdemeanor charges, complicating a tough reelection battle for his wife, who is the first woman and African American to hold that job. (Tim Elfrink)
- Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) said the city is working to pair new police officers with “the right individuals” for training following George Floyd’s death, after a higher-level officer dismissed a younger colleague’s question about how Floyd was being restrained. (Emily Wax-Thibodeaux)
- A California couple accused of defacing Black Lives Matter street art entered a not-guilty plea. An attorney for the couple called the misdemeanor charges politically motivated and “outrageous” and defended their right to free speech. Video shows the couple splattering black paint over the mural. (Jessica Wolfrom)
- Baltimore city employees removed artwork aimed at spotlighting the Black Lives Matter movement, even though the community mural project received official approval for public display. Recreation and Parks officials are investigating the removals after two park rangers took down several murals that had been installed last week in a small outdoor ceremony. (Donna Owens)
Social media speed read
The increasing number of prominent Republicans involved in getting Kanye West onto presidential ballots across the country is raising questions about whether this is a coordinated strategy trying to siphon Black voters away from Biden who wouldn't support Trump. The latest sign of this comes from Wisconsin, a state Trump carried in 2016 by 0.77 percent, where the state party's longtime lawyer showed up to file signatures to get the bipolar rapper on the ballot:
Players for the Chicago Sky, a WNBA team, wore shirts supporting the Democratic opponent of Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s before playing against the Atlanta Dream. Loeffler (R-Ga.), who co-owns the Atlanta team, called this display an example of “out of control cancel culture":
Students returned to a school in Georgia, where masks and social distancing are encouraged but not required. This is what happened:
Videos of the day
Jimmy Fallon reviewed Trump's interview with Axios, calling his performance a “disaster”:
Seth Meyers can't believe Norway allowed cruises to operate: