Former Florida congressmen mull bipartisan gubernatorial run: report

Former Florida Reps. Patrick MurphyPatrick Erin MurphyHillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 5G rivals to Huawei | Amazon, eBay grilled over online counterfeits | Judge tosses Gabbard lawsuit against Google | GOP senator introduces bill banning TikTok on government devices Bipartisan commission to make 75 recommendations to defend against cyberattacks Overnight Health Care: Rival surprise billing fix sails through House panel | Powerful Nevada union warns against Sanders health plan | Cruise ship denied entry over coronavirus fears to dock in Cambodia MORE (D) and David Jolly (R) are mulling a bipartisan gubernatorial run, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The move, which would feature Murphy running for governor as a Democrat with Jolly as lieutenant governor, reportedly depends on polling that was commissioned by Murphy this week. 

The two former Florida lawmakers both suffered elections losses in 2016, with Murphy losing a Senate bid to Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Georgia officials launch investigation after election day chaos | Senate report finds Chinese telecom groups operated in US without proper oversight Republican Senators ask FCC to ‘clearly define’ when social media platforms should receive liability protections Trump’s tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash  MORE (R) and Jolly losing to former Florida Gov. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristGOP sees groundswell of women running in House races The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden’s Tampa rally hits digital snags Biden rise calms Democratic jitters MORE (D) in his reelection bid in the House. 

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Jolly and Murphy have fostered a friendship over the past year, and have traveled across the U.S. on their tour “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis.”

Jolly frequently appears on cable news as a moderate Republican commentator. 

He has challenged the GOP on multiple occasions, recently arguing that Americans must flip the House to a Democratic majority if they want Congress to address gun control. 

“And so if this is the issue that defines your ideology as a voter, there are two things I would suggest tonight. First, flip the House. Flip the House,” Jolly said. “Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting we saw today. But I would also offer to Democrats, work for incremental wins.”

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Kasich privately met with billionaire donor amid possible presidential bid: report

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) privately met with billionaire donor Ron Burkle as he considers possibly running for president in 2020, CNBC reported Thursday.

CNBC reported that sources said that the two men had met in Los Angeles last month. However, it’s unclear what the pair discussed.

The publication also reported that Kasich hosted a speaking event at Burkle’s home. The governor spoke about leadership and police reforms during his talk and a Q&A session, but the donor did not attend the event.

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Burke, who co-founded the investment firm Yucaipa Companies, is well-known for donating to candidates and causes of a variety of political backgrounds.

Kasich, who ran for president in 2016, has not ruled out a primary bid to challenge President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE in 2020.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. In politics I’m still a young man, and I don’t know,” Kasich told CNN.

He is finishing his second term as governor of Ohio, but term limits block him from running again.

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A poll released earlier this month showed Trump leading Kasich by 6 points in a hypothetical 2020 New Hampshire primary.

Seven primaries to watch on Tuesday

Tuesday is one of the biggest primary days of 2018.

In West Virginia, Republicans are wringing their hands over the possibility that Don Blankenship — the former coal executive imprisoned for violating mine safety standards after a mining explosion that killed dozens — will win the Senate primary. Blankenship, who has personally attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Bottom line Democrats to probe Trump’s replacement of top Transportation Dept. watchdog MORE, is seen as putting a winnable race in jeopardy if he emerges victorious on Tuesday.

In Ohio, the high-profile race is on the Democratic side, where former Rep. Dennis Kucinich is seeking a comeback as Ohio’s governor against Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayPoll: Biden, Trump neck and neck in Ohio On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials ‘looking at’ offering coronavirus bonds Ex-CFPB director urges agency to ‘act immediately’ to help consumers during pandemic MORE, the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a key ally of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.).

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Here are seven key races to watch on Tuesday.


GOP primary for West Virginia Senate

Blankenship’s surge over the weekend has scrambled West Virginia’s high-stakes GOP primary in the final days.

Two internal Republican polls showed Blankenship jumping into the lead over his two main rivals, Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Blankenship has spent the bulk of his campaign railing against the establishment and McConnell. The West Virginia Republican ran an ad attacking McConnell as a “swamp captain” who has received money from his “China family.”

Blankenship’s momentum is a political headache for Republicans, who see the race as a top pickup opportunity this fall. Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE is a top target for Republicans after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won the state by more than 40 points in 2016.

Republicans fear that a Blankenship victory on Tuesday would imperil their chances of unseating Manchin and expanding their slim Senate majority. Strategists are comparing the primary to Alabama’s special election, when Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions goes after Tuberville’s coaching record in challenging him to debate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Sessions fires back at Trump over recusal: ‘I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did” MORE won the Republican nomination with an anti-establishment primary campaign, only to blow what should have been a safe GOP seat to Sen. Doug Jones (D) after Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers.

Mountain Families PAC, a super PAC with ties to the national party, poured more than a million dollars into ads meant to soften up Blankenship. But Blankenship rebounded, prompting Trump to make an eleventh-hour plea for voters to reject him in favor of either Jenkins or Morrisey.

Jenkins and Morrisey have largely ignored Blankenship. But in the final days of the race, Morrisey turned up the heat on Blankenship, arguing that he’d cost Republicans a winnable seat in November.

GOP primary for Indiana Senate

Indiana also features a fierce, three-way primary to take on Democratic Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE, one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection.

Unlike in West Virginia, though, Republicans feel good about any of the three leading candidates advancing out of the primary to square off against Donnelly.

The primary was initially a two-person race between Reps. Luke MesserAllen (Luke) Lucas MesserK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Yoder, Messer land on K Street House GOP to force members to give up leadership positions if running for higher office MORE and Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaBottom Line Lobbying world Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE. But wealthy businessman and former state legislator Mike Braun’s entrance into the race upended the primary.

Braun, who has sought to position himself as an outsider, spent $5.4 million of his own money on the race. His self-funding has enabled him to wage a competitive campaign against Rokita and Messer.

Loyalty to Trump has been a huge factor in GOP primaries across the country, and the Hoosier State — which Trump won by 20 points — is no exception. Each of the three candidates has competed to position himself as the most dedicated Trump supporter in the race.

Messer, for example, introduced a resolution calling on Trump to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. And Rokita introduced a resolution to end special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s Russia probe — unless evidence of collusion is produced — within 30 days.

Whoever wins the nomination will likely get Trump’s endorsement. The president plans to hold a campaign rally in Indiana two days after the primary.

GOP primary for Ohio Senate

Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciOhio is suddenly a 2020 battleground Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Medicare for All won’t deliver what Democrats promise MORE is poised to clinch the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Democratic senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE. But there’s been little public polling, making it hard to know where the primary race stands.

Renacci faces a challenge to the right from businessman Mike Gibbons, who has framed himself as the outsider in the race.

Trump, who won Ohio by 8 points in 2016, has endorsed Renacci — a big boost for the congressman.

But Renacci has recently endured a slew of unflattering headlines, including the news that he failed to disclose political donations while registered as a lobbyist.

Whoever wins the GOP nomination, Republicans acknowledge that their nominee will face an uphill fight against Brown, a populist progressive who polls well in his state.

Primaries for Ohio House special election

With Arizona’s unexpectedly close special election in the rearview mirror, both parties are turning their attention to the next high-profile special election: The fight to replace ex-Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiOhio New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress GOP Rep. Balderson holds onto seat in Ohio MORE (R-Ohio).

Democrats believe they can put another GOP stronghold into play, positioning themselves for an upset victory in a Republican district. Ohio’s 12th District — the most affluent and highest educated in the state — encompasses Columbus suburbs, but also extends to rural areas. Trump won the district by 11 points.

The high-stakes race has drawn candidates on both sides.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Troy Balderson has drawn support from the establishment wing — including Tiberi, a close ally of House leadership. Meanwhile, Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan has earned support from leading conservative figures including Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation Tim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week Floyd’s brother urges Congress to take action MORE (Ohio), who founded the House Freedom Caucus.

Other GOP candidates who have the potential to break through in the wide-open race include veteran Tim Kane, Delaware County prosecutor Carol O’Brien and state Sen. Kevin Bacon.

Meanwhile, a few leading candidates have emerged on the Democratic side.

Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor has earned local support and endorsements from Ohio Reps. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanMinnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen Congress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left MORE and Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Trump mobilizes military against ‘angry mob,’ holds controversial photo op The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US States respond with force amid another night of protests MORE. Other candidates include former Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, who’s running as more of a moderate, and progressive activist John Russell.

Primaries for Ohio governor

The most high-profile contest for Democrats on Tuesday is the primary in Ohio’s open-seat race to replace GOP Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited out of office.

Kucinich and Cordray are battling it out in a state that trended red in 2016. Both men have fashioned themselves as progressive populists, with the race pitting prominent progressives against one another.

While Cordray has earned support from more establishment parts of the party, Warren’s endorsement has also given him a big boost among liberals. Warren, who founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has campaigned for Cordray.

Meanwhile, Our Revolution, the outgrowth of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE’s (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign, has gotten behind Kucinich — though Sanders himself has stayed on the sidelines. Kucinich, a former presidential candidate, is trumpeting his support for progressive ideals such as single-payer health care.

On the Republican side, state Attorney General Mike DeWine is running ahead of Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Both Republicans have sought to align closely with Trump, while keeping their distance from Kasich, an outspoken Trump critic.

GOP primary for Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesExperts warn Georgia’s new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions Georgia restores 22,000 voter registrations after purge Stacey Abrams group files emergency motion to stop Georgia voting roll purge MORE’s seat

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a longtime thorn in GOP leadership’s side, is facing a tough primary as he seeks to win one more term before retirement.

Jones has built a career on his willingness to break with the party. But while that independent streak isn’t new, opponent Scott Dacey is trying to frame Jones’s votes as an attack on the president’s agenda.

Dacey has hammered Jones for refusing to vote for the tax-reform bill and ObamaCare repeal — two bills Jones said raised concerns about fiscal responsibility — to try to frame Jones as anti-Trump.

But Jones has struck back by pointing to Dacey’s previous work as a federal lobbyist, questioning the challenger’s own commitment to Trump.

Available polling puts Jones ahead in the race, and he’s expected to win reelection in what he’s said will be his last race. But low-turnout primaries like these are difficult to predict, and the presence of a third candidate adds uncertainty to the race.

GOP primary for Rep. Robert Pittenger’s seat

Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerBottom Line North Carolina reporter says there could be ‘new crop’ of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race MORE (R-N.C.) is facing another primary challenge from Republican Mark Harris, who nearly beat him in 2016. This time, though, the GOP congressman is expected to overcome the challenge more easily.

Harris, a conservative Baptist pastor, nearly defeated Pittenger the last time they faced off, losing by just 134 votes.

But recent polling shows Pittenger with a comfortable double-digit lead over his challenger.

The race has largely hinged on support for Trump, and both Pittenger and Harris have accused the other of disloyalty to the president. Both supported other Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 contest before ultimately backing Trump.

If Pittenger emerges from the primary, though, he’ll have another tough race ahead of him. He’ll likely face Democrat Dan McCready, a veteran and businessman who has outraised him. Democrats are heavily targeting the district, which Trump won by 11 points.

Ben Kamisar contributed.

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Former NFL wide receiver wins GOP primary in Ohio

Former NFL wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez won his GOP congressional primary on Tuesday, a big boost for establishment Republicans who had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help him win in the red-leaning district.

Gonzalez defeated state Rep. Christina Hagan by a 13-point margin in the primary for the Ohio 16th Congressional District. Gonzalez will move on to the general election against Democrat Susan Moran Palmer, with the Republican heavily favored in a district President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won by 17 points in 2016.

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Gonzalez is well known among fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team — his late-game reception against the Michigan Wolverines, the Buckeyes’s bitter rivals, in 2005 helped clinch the game and a spot for Gonzalez in Ohio State lore.

He entered his first congressional race as the favorite, outraising Hagan by an almost 3-to-1 margin during the campaign. And he got a late boost from the Chamber of Commerce, which spent $300,000 on his behalf.

But Hagan ran hard to Gonzalez’s right, framing herself as an ardent supporter of President Trump. Along the way, she won the backing of Trump allies like former White House communications director Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciPresident sinks amid stumbles over protests Sunday shows preview: Protests against George Floyd’s death, police brutality rock the nation for a second week OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Former defense leaders pile on Trump criticism | Esper sends troops called to DC area home | US strikes Taliban in Afghanistan MORE as well as top conservatives like Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week House GOP delays police reform bill White House says Trump may issue executive order on police reform MORE (R-N.C.), Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation Tim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week Floyd’s brother urges Congress to take action MORE (R-Ohio) and the Family Research Council.

Gonzalez will face Palmer in November’s general election for outgoing Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciOhio is suddenly a 2020 battleground Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Medicare for All won’t deliver what Democrats promise MORE’s (R) seat.

Renacci won the Republican primary for Senate on Tuesday and will square off with incumbent Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Democratic senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D) in November. 

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Ready for somebody? Dems lack heir apparent this time

There’s no Ready for Elizabeth super PAC. Nor is there a Prepping for Kamala, Begging for Booker or Salivating for Sanders.

Unlike the run-up to the 2016 campaign, when the Ready for Hillary super PAC served to stoke Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE’s entry into the Democratic presidential race, there are no candidate-specific PACs forming this time around to either lay the groundwork for a campaign or to create a sense of anticipation.

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Is this a problem? That depends on which Democrat you ask.

Some Democrats are surprised and worry it could be a signal the party isn’t completely prepared to do what it takes to defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE in his reelection bid.

Others say it’s just a manifestation of what many believe will be a much more wide-open race than was seen in 2016.

It’s possible that dozens of candidates could enter the 2020 race on the Democratic side.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE are already hinting that they’re considering a run, and Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what ‘policing’ means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan says there will be consequences from fraying US-China relations; WHO walks back claims on asymptomatic spread of virus MORE (D-Md.) is already a confirmed candidate.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.) are among the other possible candidates in the Senate.

Then there’s former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.), former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderTrump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Obama to speak about George Floyd in virtual town hall GOP group launches redistricting site MORE, former Gov. Terry McAulffe (D-Va.) and billionaire donor Tom Steyer.

Candidates from the business world, like retiring Starbucks executive Howard Schultz, and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey may also end up in the mix.

That’s a much different landscape than in 2016, when Democrats, as early as 2014, expected Clinton to enter the race and began to coalesce around her.

“This time four years ago, there was a consensus among millions of Democrats who supported Hillary, and we sought to organize them through Ready for Hillary,” said Seth Bringman, who served as a spokesman for the group. “The lack of similar groups today is a reflection of the wide-openness of the 2020 field as well as a laser focus on the midterms and resisting Donald Trump.”

“It’s almost blasphemy for a Democrat to talk about 2020 today when there’s so much at stake this year, but I have a feeling that will change the day after the midterms,” he added.

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Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, said the biggest factor is the “lack of an heir apparent.”

Jillson also said Democrats are more focused on 2018 than 2020 for the time being.

“I do think there’s a lot of excitement on the Democratic side, but it’s focused on the midterms,” he said.

Midterms aside, Democrats say they have a lot on their plate right now: Along with trying to win back the House and Senate in November, they’re rebuilding a party left in tatters after the stunning 2016 election and they’re focusing on rebutting Trump in a seemingly never-ending news cycle.

The main difference from 2016, Democrats say, is the lack of a dominant candidate — and the lack of opposition to a dominant candidate.

“The star power is much lower and there aren’t the obvious choices to get behind,” said Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University. “There isn’t that equivalent of Hillary Clinton who is being bandied about.”

Adam Parkhomenko, who co-founded Ready for Hillary in 2013, two years before Clinton would announce her candidacy, said he also doesn’t see one particular front-runner.

“There just isn’t the energy and excitement out there for one person,” he said.

Parkhomenko pointed out that there are groups such as Swing Left and Indivisible that are building excitement on the left. But those groups aren’t focused on one candidate.

“They’re targeting Trump and winning in the midterms,” he said.

Some Republicans see this as a weakness.

Alexandra Smith, the executive director for the America Rising super PAC, said she’s “not that surprised by the lack of grass-roots support groups for potential 2020 contenders.”

“The Democrats’ existential crisis is definitely on full display here,” she said. “When you don’t know if you’re fighting for impeachment or single-payer health care, it’s difficult enough to coalesce around a single figure, let alone create a corresponding grass-roots organization.”

Democrats disagree, and aren’t particularly lacking for confidence in 2020.

“We’re up against Donald Trump, and I think there are a number of potential candidates who will be able to take him out,” Parkhomenko said. “We just need to hit the ground running as soon as the midterms are over.”

Ferdinand demands action not ‘fancy hashtag’ of taking a knee

Les Ferdinand has defended QPR’s decision not to take the knee ahead of their match against Coventry, claiming the gesture’s “message has been lost” and is now akin to a “a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge”.

Friday night’s televised Sky Bet Championship fixture was the first live game where players did not kneel before kick-off, a move which had been adopted as support for the Black Lives Matter campaign when football resumed.

QPR said in a statement on Monday the decision had been made jointly with Coventry and the match referee ahead of the game, and was not done “to suggest a lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement”.

There were many other games across the divisions over the weekend where players did not make the gesture.

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Director of Football Ferdinand said: “Taking the knee was very powerful, but we feel that impact has now been diluted.

“In the same way ‘Clap For Carers’ was very emotional for us all, it got to a stage where it had run its natural course and the decision was rightly made to stop it.

“Does that mean we, as a nation, don’t care or appreciate our NHS workers? Of course it doesn’t.

“No one is more passionate than me about this topic. I have spoken on the matter throughout my footballing life.

“I work for one of the most diverse football clubs in this country. A lot of people are being fooled out there.”

Former England forward Ferdinand also had spells at Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham and Leicester before moving into coaching and then football administration with the Hoops.

Ferdinand maintains more must be done in the fight against racism and inequality than simply offer “a nice soundbite when something happens”.

He highlighted the lack of resolution to a complaint made by QPR following the abandonment of a friendly between the club’s under-18s team and Spanish side AD Nervion in August 2019.

“The taking of the knee has reached a point of ‘good PR’, but little more than that,” Ferdinand said.

“The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.

“What are our plans with this? Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next 10 years, but see no actual progress made?

“Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game – actions will.”

Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, issued a statement in support of Ferdinand and QPR in focusing on driving change.

“We know that racial injustice and other forms of discrimination did not end when the last football season ended,” Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari said.

“We encourage the players to continue to protest in whatever form they feel comfortable and to do so free of the risk of sanction, whether that protest is taking a knee, wearing a badge or any other form.

“I know that (chief executive) Lee Hoos and Les Ferdinand at QPR are deeply committed to equality.

“I know how rightfully enraged they were by the treatment of their youth team players last summer and the pitiful response of UEFA and the Spanish FA.

“I agree with them that we need to focus on action that creates real change. We should be talking about solutions, not symbols.”

 

Wolves, Everton and Leicester £23m target wants out this summer

Wolves, Everton and Leicester target Jean-Clair Todibo confirms he wants to leave Barcelona, according to reports in France.

The centre-back signed for Barcelona officially in July 2019. He agreed to join the Spanish giants earlier that year on a free transfer from French side Toulouse.

The 20-year-old made his Toulouse debut when he was just 18-years-old at the start of the 2018/19 Ligue 1 season. He went onto make ten appearances for his boyhood club during that campaign.


Winners & Losers: Premier League winners and losers


Barcelona acted quickly to sign the youngster and he joined their squad at the beginning of the 2019/20 campaign.

First-team opportunities have been hard to come by for Todibo at Barcelona, however. He has only featured in five games in all competitions while at the club so far.

In January 2020, the France U20 international joined Schalke on loan for the remainder of the season. Todibo made 12 appearances for the club in all competitions as the German side finished 12th in the Bundesliga.

According to reports from France Football, Todibo was told by new Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman that he sees him as a rotation player this season, instead of an out and out starter.

As a result, the youngster now sees his future away from the Nou Camp. Barcelona are willing to let him go out on loan again, but the report adds that if an offer of around £23m is submitted, they will be tempted to sell.

This has alerted numerous clubs across Europe. Portuguese side Benfica along with Premier League trio Wolves, Everton and Leicester City are said to be interested in the defender.

Todibo will be keen to play regular first-team football this season, as he hopes to earn a place in the France squad for this summer’s European Championships.

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Carragher picks out two issues with Havertz at Chelsea

Jamie Carragher has questioned where Kai Havertz fits in Frank Lampard’s system at Chelsea following another underwhelming display.

The Blues have spent over £220m on new arrivals this summer. At just shy of their club record, the £71m spent on Havertz is the costliest of their new recruits.

Havertz struggled to make an impact on his debut in last Monday’s 3-1 win at Brighton. And he was the man to make way at half-time when Chelsea slipped to a 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool.


OPINION: 16 Conclusions: Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool


Havertz can perhaps consider himself slightly unlucky, however. His withdrawal came when it did following Andreas Christensen’s red card just before the break for a rugby tackle on Sadio Mane.

How to get the best out of Havertz though remains a conundrum for Lampard. While his withdrawal was as much tactical as anything else, Carragher doesn’t think Lampard knows the player’s best position yet.

“I think of the problem Frank’s got is that he’s new to the job and he’s made all these changes,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.

“It’s difficult to manage change. When you think of the great managers, Klopp hasn’t really managed to do that in some ways at Liverpool.

“Maybe in the next year to 18 months, the team will evolve and the second team of Klopp will come. I’m not even sure Pep Guardiola has had that really in his management career.

“I looked at Chelsea last season as being a 4-3-3 team, and now and again Frank threw a three at the back in tactically in big games. He beat Jose Mourinho twice and he beat Guardiola here.

“He went to 4-2-3-1 at Brighton with Havertz on the right. Today, he played him in a false nine.

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“He’s obviously a quality player, there’s no doubt about that. But I’m already thinking, ‘where does Havertz play?’ even after just two games.”

 

Due to the costs involved in bringing Havertz to the club from Bayer Leverkusen, Carragher insists Lampard will feel obliged to pick Havertz.

But finding a system to suit his game may be tricky and the player himself may need time to adapt.

“He will play as Frank has paid big money for him, but where does he fit into a 4-3-3?” Carragher questioned.

“He almost looks like a No 10 and we don’t see that much in football nowadays.

“He’s either going to have to be part of the front three in a wide position or he’s going to have to be part of a midfield three and be the attacking player from the midfield.

“Certainly where he played today, I don’t think that suited Chelsea.

“It may have suited him having played for Leverkusen in the false nine, but it will be a challenge working out where Chelsea are going to play all these players.”

 

Kepa ‘worst signing’ Chelsea have made in PL era – Sutton

Chris Sutton reckons goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is the “worst value signing” Chelsea have made “in the Premier League era”.

Sadio Mane blocked Kepa’s laboured clearance and tapped home his second goal as 10-man Chelsea succumbed to Jurgen Klopp’s defending Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge.

Andreas Christensen’s red card handed Liverpool an advantage they fully exploited, but Blues boss Frank Lampard conceded Kepa was at fault for the second goal – and is in desperate need of a confidence boost.


OPINION: Premier League winners and losers


Lampard revealed veteran Willy Caballero will start Wednesday’s League Cup clash with Barnsley at Stamford Bridge, but insisted that was always the plan, even before Kepa’s latest costly error.

And Sutton told the Daily Mail: “You can spend a king’s ransom on your attack but if your goalkeeper can’t even catch a cold, then what’s the point?

“Kepa Arrizabalaga cost Chelsea £71.6m in 2018 but has never proven worthy of being the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.

“In committing another clanger he further established himself as Chelsea’s worst value signing in the Premier League era.

“Maybe their worst since I cost them £10m! I moved to Stamford Bridge for big money in 1999. It didn’t work out and a year later I was sold to Celtic for £6m.

“It happens. Sometimes it’s best to move on. You could also name Fernando Torres at £50m (though a few Chelsea fans might say that historic semi-final goal against Barcelona was worth the fee alone). Andriy Shevchenko at £30m, too.

“But Kepa surely beats all of us. Sadio Mane’s goals on Sunday meant he had conceded 11 of the last 16 shots he’s faced.

“In football, you always get a chance to redeem yourself. I got that at Celtic, and Kepa might have to go prove himself elsewhere, too.

“Edouard Mendy cannot arrive from Rennes soon enough for Frank Lampard, who is under big pressure to win a trophy this season.

“Chelsea aren’t the type of club who say: ‘No problem – have another go next season!’ Lampard knows as well as anyone that silverware is a must.”

 

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With FCC's Order Sent to Senate, Internet Defenders Inch Toward Vote to Restore Net Neutrality

Open Internet advocates and lawmakers were urging supporters on Friday to help secure one last vote in the Senate in favor of reversing the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) unpopular net neutrality decision.

The FCC sent its official order to roll back net neutrality protections on Friday, following its vote in December.

With the Republican-led panel’s 3-2 decision along party lines, internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon and Comcast will be free to give preferential treatment to wealthy internet companies that can afford to pay for faster service—essentially creating “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” for the internet.

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