With help from Eleni Courea
SHOOTING PUTS PRITZKER IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was supposed to be marching in a parade on Chicago’s South Side yesterday but instead found himself on the national stage in the middle of another gun tragedy.
A mass shooting 30 miles north in suburban Highland Park had Pritzker speaking to a community stunned and shaken by the assault on a July 4 parade. Seven people were killed and more than 30 reported injured after more than 70 rounds from an AR-15-style gun sprayed the crowd.
“If you are angry today, I’m here to tell you to be angry. I’m furious. I’m furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence,” Pritzker said at a news conference while authorities searched for the shooter. “While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly — yes, weekly — American tradition.”
Democrats see this type of passion and energy as the response needed to galvanize voters for the midterms and in 2024 as questions continue to percolate about whether President Joe Biden can channel the angst and anger coursing through his party.
It’s not what Pritzker, a first-term Democratic governor and billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel chain, had anticipated his job would be when he was elected in 2018. The governor had an idea he’d be carrying the flag on policy, not consoling constituents in crisis.
As with handling daily press conferences during the pandemic, Pritzker has learned to “manage for the moment.” It’s a phrase his staff uses. It goes beyond policy and politics and requires transparency in facing the public about the crisis at hand.
Before Monday’s shooting, Pritzker found himself managing the uproar over the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The governor talked about marching with his mother in abortion rights protests.
The cynics will say it’s all a dance leading up to Biden one day stepping away from the ballroom floor of politics. Pritzker says he’s only concerned about his reelection in November, but it was hard to ignore the speech he gave to New Hampshire Democrats last month.
Though Pritzker’s Republican opponent in November will say otherwise, the governor to a great extent hasn’t fumbled his first term and will be remembered for managing the moments of the pandemic, promoting abortion rights and, now, calling for tighter gun control measures.
Pritzker’s challenge is managing Illinois while trying to bring the rest of the country along with him.
During the pandemic, Illinois was an island of low Covid-19 cases surrounded by states with skyrocketing infections. The Land of Lincoln is a haven in the Midwest for those seeking abortions after state lawmakers codified it.
Even the gun debate has Illinois virtually on its own in the Midwest. But for all the laws the state has enacted — banning ghost guns and expanding background checks, most recently — they do little when residents can skip over to Indiana to buy all the guns they need.
So Pritzker is working to take his fight national, as the 2024 whispers grow louder and Democrats look for other up-and-coming politicians to articulate their energy and anger about the state of the country.
“JB’s been what Democrats desperately needed in this moment both tactically and message-wise — playing hardball in the Republican primary and turning guns and abortion back on the extremists,” says Eric Adelstein, a Chicago-based political strategist who has consulted for former President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Democratic National Committee. “He’s showing a blueprint Democrats would be wise to follow this fall and in ‘24.”
“Forget Donald Trump versus Joe Biden. The biggest prelude to 2024 might just be the escalating back-and-forth between Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis.
“The governors for California and Florida have hurled insults about each other’s leadership and policies during most of the Covid-19 pandemic. But now Newsom has ratcheted up the conflict by taking almost daily pot-shots at his Republican foils such as DeSantis and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Most recently, Newsom dropped more than $100,000 on a new ad airing on Fox News that tweaked DeSantis in his home state.
“Fox-watching Floridians won’t likely switch their voter registration or move to California after seeing a TV spot in which Newsom warned them ‘freedom is under attack in your state.’ But the ad is producing a frenzy of national coverage that boosts Newsom’s profile while allowing DeSantis to sharpen his attacks on Democrats ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid.
“The fight highlights how two young governors have captured the attention of their respective parties: On one side is Newsom, a progressive and telegenic leader who survived an attempted recall. On the other is DeSantis, who is often heralded as a more disciplined Trump but who also has a penchant for populism and a refusal to back down from a fight.”
Check out POLITICO’s homepage first thing tomorrow morning for the rest of the story.
BORIS ON THE BRINK — Prime Minister Boris Johnson was left fighting for his political life after two senior Cabinet ministers, including his chancellor, quit today. Nightly spoke with POLITICO EU’s London Playbook author Eleni Courea to break it down. This interview has been edited.
For those who haven’t been following U.K. politics closely, what’s going on with the U.K. government right now? Why are top officials resigning?
For months Boris Johnson’s government has been in a state of crisis, rocked by scandal after scandal. Now it finally looks like it’s in its death throes. Two of Johnson’s most senior ministers, his chancellor and heath secretary, have resigned today with a blast at his integrity.
This is not an isolated scandal, but the final straw has proven to be No.10 Downing Street’s handling of a scandal surrounding one of its chief enforcers, Chris Pincher. Pincher resigned last week after being accused of groping two men after a night of heavy drinking at a private club. POLITICO London Playbook reported on Friday that Johnson had been aware of longstanding sexual misconduct allegations against Pincher when he appointed him to a senior role overseeing party discipline in February.
How has Johnson been responding to all of this? How is the public responding?
Johnson has already replaced his chancellor and health secretary and appears determined to fight on for as long as he possibly can, despite a slew of resignations and calls from previously-loyal MPs for him to quit. An overnight snap survey by YouGov suggested that seven in 10 members of the British public, and more than 5 in 10 voters who backed the Conservatives in 2019, now believe he should resign.
What does this mean for Johnson’s political life?
If he continues to refuse to resign of his own accord, there are mechanisms his own MPs are looking at to oust him. Pretty much everyone in British politics, including many of Johnson’s own allies, believes we are approaching the end of his days in power.
If you want to learn all the insider details from our United Kingdom colleagues, sign up for Eleni’s London Playbook.
BLOW TO GLOBAL COVID FIGHT — The World Health Organization program for the fast-tracking and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics is likely to close in its current form in the fall, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.
The program, known as the ACT-Accelerator, is a collaboration among the WHO, governments and global health organizations that works to ensure equitable access to Covid tools. It faced significant obstacles to get vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, but it eventually succeeded in shipping over one billion shots. As Covid cases have declined from the height of the pandemic, ACT-A has struggled to secure funding with only Germany, Norway, Sweden and Canada promising the requested financing this year, write Erin Banco and Ashleigh Furlong.
The most well-known ACT-A initiative is the vaccines pillar COVAX, which aims to ensure shots are distributed around the world, particularly in countries that can’t afford them. An end to the current project raises questions about how the global health community, including the WHO, will continue to fund the fight against Covid.
— Supreme Court decision prompts Maryland governor to lower gun license barriers: Gov. Larry Hogan announced today he has directed the State Police to suspend its “good and substantial reason” standards for the issuance of licenses to wear and carry firearms. Hogan, a Republican, said his decision was the result of a Supreme Court ruling last month striking down a century-old law in New York that gave the state broad authority to deny access to permits allowing residents to carry a gun outside the home.
— Judge won’t block law banning most Mississippi abortions: As attorneys argued about abortion laws across the South today, a Mississippi judge rejected a request by the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a law that would ban most abortions. Without other developments in the Mississippi lawsuit, Jackson Women’s Health Organization will close at the end of business Wednesday and the state law will take effect Thursday.
— Griner’s wife says Biden hasn’t responded to letter: “I still have not heard from him. And honestly, it’s very disheartening,” Cherelle Griner told “CBS Mornings” in an interview. Brittney Griner wrote to Biden on July 4, “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.” The WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist has been detained in Russia since February on cannabis possession charges.
— New Jan. 6 Trump documentary footage revealed: POLITICO has exclusively obtained a trailer for Alex Holder’s “Unprecedented,” the British filmmaker’s upcoming Discovery+ docuseries about the Trump family. The new video highlights the Holder’s unique access to the former president and his family, and includes unseen footage of Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, each of whom is shown in outtakes from their sitdown interviews.
— Georgia grand jury subpoenas Graham, others close to Trump: The Fulton County special grand jury is looking into possible criminal interference in the state following the 2020 elections. According to the subpoena, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made two calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the weeks following the 2020 election in which he asked about “reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” It says Graham would be “required” to appear July 12. Others subpoenaed include Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman.
— NBC pundit, public health expert Vin Gupta in line for top Biden administration spot: The pulmonologist and frequent NBC and MSNBC guest is the leading candidate to become the FDA’s principal medical adviser. The search for a top adviser comes as the FDA has taken a central role in efforts to battle the pandemic, ease a shortage of infant formula and protect abortion access. But the agency has stumbled repeatedly in its messaging on those issues to the public and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
— Biden prepares action to reshape Trump’s tariffs on China: The administration is likely to announce action to lift a narrow set of tariffs on Chinese imports this month, said three industry officials and former federal officials with knowledge of administration plans. The decision comes as the White House continues to seek ways to tame historically high inflation outside of actions by the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates.
OUT OF OFFICE — Thom Tillis and Chris Murphy’s work on a once-in-a-generation gun safety bill began thousands of miles away from the Capitol, in the Western Balkans.
The North Carolina Republican and the Connecticut Democrat barely knew each other at the time and had no predetermined reason to link up, especially on an issue as vexing as gun violence. They don’t sit on the same Senate committees. They’re from different regions. And less than two years ago, Murphy was even fundraising on behalf of Tillis’ Democratic opponent.
Their swing through Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo in April changed all of that, writes Andrew Desiderio.
Known as a congressional delegation and abbreviated in Hill-speak to CODEL, the trip took Tillis and Murphy away from the Capitol’s often vicious partisan culture and built them a relationship that proved, as the Republican explained, pivotal to the gun deal.
On CODELs, “we’re working 12- and 14-hour days, we’re sometimes traveling two or three hours from country to country,” Tillis said in an interview from Spain’s capital, the site of another overseas delegation to this year’s NATO summit. “And that just gets you into a position where … you build that trust and you build that familiarity, [and] that serves as a basis for getting accomplished what we did.”
Many facets of official Washington can look impenetrably bureaucratic to the voters who send lawmakers there, and in some ways CODELs are no exception. But there’s a reason the trips are referred to as a “secret weapon” in a gridlocked capital: For more than a half-century, visits intended to reassure allies about goings-on in the U.S. have also helped members of Congress foster rare human connections that can shape future policy — even on issues unrelated to foreign affairs.
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July 5, 2022 at 09:19PM