Playbook PM: Carper clears the runway for Blunt Rochester

Playbook PM: Carper clears the runway for Blunt Rochester

REMINDER — President JOE BIDEN and Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY are meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Oval Office to continue debt limit negotiations. Ahead of the meeting, a White House official tells Playbook that Biden will continue to press for a bipartisan compromise — a prospect that they noted McCarthy agreed with last week.

CARPER DIEM — Sen. TOM CARPER will not seek reelection next year, with the four-term Delaware Democrat’s retirement opening up a safe Senate seat for his party next year.

His legacy: “Carper has been in statewide public office since 1977, serving as Delaware treasurer, congressman, governor and senator. He helped establish Delaware Democrats’ now longstanding ideology of socially liberal but center on economic and fiscal issues,” the Delaware News Journal’s Meredith Newman writes.

The name to know: Rep. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-Del.) will be the immediate odds-on favorite to succeed Carper, our colleague Burgess Everett reports.

During his remarks this morning, Carper said that he’d spoken with Blunt Rochester about his decision: “I said, ‘You’ve been patient, waiting for me to get out of the way, and I’m going to get out of the way.’” If elected, she would be the sole Black woman serving in the chamber. The last Republican to hold a Senate seat in Delaware was WILLIAM V. ROTH JR., whom Carper defeated in 2000.

FWIW: AP’s Seung Min Kim reports that Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER spoke to Blunt Rochester this morning, per a Schumer spox, and that he told her he “believes she could be a really good Senator and he looks forward to sitting down with her soon.”

GREAT SCOTT — Sen. TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.) has officially jumped into the GOP presidential primary, announcing his bid in an event in North Charleston, S.C., earlier today. Despite his position toward the back of the presidential pack, his campaign is “powered by a sizable war chest and a record of electoral success in his home state that suggests he could appeal to both evangelical Christians and traditional conservatives, two significant constituencies in presidential nominating contests,” our colleague Natalie Allison writes.

TOP TALKER — The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood walks through the garden with HARLAN CROW, the conservative megadonor whose cozy friendship with Supreme Court Justice CLARENCE THOMAS has sparked concern and outrage about the outside influences on the court.

The question on everyone’s mind: “I asked if he ever talked about law with Thomas. ‘I have never, nor would I ever, think about talking about matters that relate to the judiciary with Justice Clarence Thomas,’ Crow said. He added that they ‘talk about the kind of things friends talk about,’ such as weather and sports. In an email, he told me that ‘it’s not like we haven’t talked about work-related issues,’ but that those conversations were casual and unrelated to jurisprudence. ‘It’s not realistic [for] two people [to] be friends and not talk about their jobs from time to time.’”

DeSANTIS’ KEY DEMO — With Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS’ entrance into the GOP presidential primary imminent, NYT’s Alexandra Glorioso and Nicholas Nehamas are up with a look at how the 44-year-old Florida governor is trying to win over elderly Republican voters from DONALD TRUMP.

“He has focused especially on his efforts to lower prescription drug costs in Florida, including pushing the federal government for permission to import cheaper drugs from Canada. This month, he signed a bill that he says will bring down costs by regulating drug industry middlemen.” But, they write, he has “sometimes struggled when trying to make the topic tangible for voters.”

ONE TO WATCH — “Texts tie DeSantis closely to Trump insider Lev Parnas in 2018 race,” by Reuters’ Aram Roston and Joseph Tanfani: “DeSantis and [LEV] PARNAS worked more closely together than the Republican governor has disclosed, according to a detailed account of their relationship Parnas provided to Reuters and 63 previously unreported text messages from DeSantis to Parnas between May and October 2018, as DeSantis campaigned for governor. A jury later found Parnas guilty of campaign finance crimes and other charges. …

“The texts also reveal that Parnas served as an intermediary between DeSantis and former New York City Mayor RUDOLPH GIULIANI, who at the time was the personal attorney of then-President Trump. In one case, 10 days before the 2018 election, DeSantis sent Parnas a text with suggested wording for a Giuliani tweet in support of his candidacy, the messages show.”

MEANWHILE, IN THE SUNSHINE STATE — “With all the politics and maneuvering, how is life in Florida changing for its residents?” by the AP

Good Monday afternoon. Thanks for reading Playbook PM. Drop me a line at [email protected].


TESTING TESTER — Sen. JON TESTER has become Montana Republicans’ white whale after their two previous efforts to unseat the Democrat in the red state failed. But next year brings a new opportunity for the GOP, with a reelection race for Tester that could go a long way in deciding the balance of the Senate. NRSC Chair and fellow Montana Sen. STEVE DAINES and his former top aide JASON THIELMAN are “working to recruit a top-flight challenger to Tester and using their expertise to plot his defeat from their perches at the organization,” WaPo’s Liz Goodwin writes.

The GOP view: “They argue the state has changed rapidly since the last time Tester won, and their bet is that Montanans will no longer let their affection for the likable senator with a penchant for salty language override their increasing alienation from the Democratic Party.”

The view from Tester’s camp: “Tester’s campaign manager, SHELBI DANTIC, said Republicans are ‘scared’ of facing Tester and that he defends ‘our Montana way of life every day.’ But Tester’s allies essentially agree that the race will be a test of whether the senator’s authenticity and connection with his home state’s voters can override most Montanans’ inclination to vote Republican.”

VANCE GETS INVOLVED — Sen. J.D. VANCE (R-Ohio) is formally backing BERNIE MORENO in the GOP primary to take on Sen. SHERROD BROWN (D-Ohio) next year, Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser reports. The other declared Republican in the primary is state Sen. MATT DOLAN. Both Moreno and Dolan previously ran for the Senate, only to be bested by the Trump-backed Vance in the 2022 race. After Moreno dropped out, he “raised money and campaigned with Vance across the state and played the role of [Rep. TIM] RYAN in Vance’s debate preparations,” Steinhauser writes.


BUTTERFLY EFFECT — “How California’s wild weather brought the debt-ceiling ‘X date’ closer,” by WaPo’s Julie Zauzmer Weil: “Because of the major storms last year and early this year, the IRS gave almost all California residents an automatic extension on their tax returns, allowing them to file in October rather than April. … Given California’s size and wealth, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that it accounts for 16 percent of all federal tax revenue — meaning the six-month extension has massive consequences: That $100 billion that Californians are paying later could keep the government running for almost six more days.”

AT ARM’S LENGTH — “The technocrats fending off financial catastrophe,” by Zachary Warmbrodt: “The White House is taking a somewhat arms-length approach to how Treasury goes about its work. The two operate closely on messaging, but one White House official said the intention is for Treasury to be seen as having a degree of independence. That’s so [Secretary JANET] YELLEN’s default warnings are taken seriously and so the ‘X-date’ — the projection of when the government will be unable to pay all its bills — doesn’t become politicized.”

INFLATION NATION — “Inflation Hit Americans’ Finances Last Year, Fed Finds,” by WSJ’s Gwynn Guilford


ABORTION FALLOUT — “More women sue Texas, asking court to put emergency block on state’s abortion law,” by AP’s Amanda Seitz: “More than a dozen Texas women in total have joined the Center for Reproductive Rights’ lawsuit against the state’s law, which prohibits abortions unless a mother’s life is at risk — an exception that is not clearly defined. Texas doctors who perform abortions risk life in prison and fines of up to $100,000, leaving many women with providers who are unwilling to even discuss terminating a pregnancy.”

Related read: “As S.C. abortion vote nears, GOP women rebuke the men: ‘It’s always about control,’” by WaPo’s Danielle Paquette

MIFEPRISTONE MINUTE — “A 19th-Century Law Could Help Influence the Abortion Pill’s Future,” by WSJ’s Liz Essley Whyte and Laura Kusisto: “Abortion opponents have mapped out a multipronged legal strategy for combating use of the abortion pill mifepristone by invoking an obscure 1873 law called the Comstock Act that made it illegal to send ‘obscene’ or ‘immoral’ materials through the mail.”


MOVE FAST AND BREAK THINGS — “A record Meta fine ups the pressure on Biden to fix global tech problem,” by Alfred Ng

FOR YOUR RADAR — “U.S. bomb designed to hit targets like Iran underground nuclear sites briefly reappears amid tensions,” by AP’s Jon Gambrell: “The publication of the photographs comes as The Associated Press reported that Iran is making steady progress in constructing a nuclear facility that is likely beyond the range of the GBU-57, which is considered the U.S. military last-ditch weapon to take out underground bunkers.”


BIG IDEA — “To Aid Ukraine in Fight Against Russia, Allies Look to Security Model Like Israel’s,” by WSJ’s Sharon Weinberger, Thomas Grove, Drew Hinshaw and Bojan Pancevski: “An Israeli-style security agreement for Ukraine would give priority to arms transfers and advanced technology, Polish President ANDRZEJ DUDA said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. This security agreement would be linked to a process of moving toward future membership in NATO for Ukraine but stop short of actually making the North Atlantic Treaty Organization a party to any conflict with Russia, according to Western officials familiar with the talks.”


MEET THE NEW BOSS — “NBCUniversal’s New Leader, a Hollywood Outsider, Steps Into the Spotlight,” by NYT’s Benjamin Mullin: “Comcast has not named [MIKE] CAVANAGH as the permanent head of NBCUniversal, a media empire that includes the Universal Pictures movie studio, the NBC broadcast network, NBC News and MSNBC. But Comcast has described his job as a long-term appointment — and he has been acting as if he plans to be in charge for the long run.”


MEDIA MOVE — Rebecca Heilweil is now a technology reporter at FedScoop. She previously was a reporter at Recode/Vox.

TRANSITIONS — Tom Reynolds is now head of public affairs for GE Vernova. He previously was comms director at Meta and is an Obama White House, EPA and DOE alum. … Mike McKiernan will be a speechwriter for Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. He previously was a speechwriter for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). … Ethan Smith is launching his own polling firm, Upswing Research & Strategy. He most recently was VP at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. …

David Penna is now a partner with Davis Polk’s finance practice. He previously was a partner at Latham & Watkins. … Boston Scientific has added Sarah Macchiarola as director of international affairs and Whitney Craig as director of federal affairs. Macchiarola was previously VP of federal policy and government relations at the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. Craig was previously VP of federal affairs at AHIP.

WEEKEND WEDDING — Vicente Garcia, senior director of engagement and external affairs at the Atlantic Council, and Chord Bezerra, lead designer at CareFirst, got married on Friday at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. The couple met in Washington in 2019. Pic Another pic

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