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Planned Parenthood announces latest outside spending plan in California congressional races

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Planned Parenthood announces latest outside spending plan in California congressional races

Planned Parenthood of California plans to launch a multimillion-dollar campaign Tuesday to oust Republicans from several California congressional districts, the latest signal of how critical the state’s House races will be in determining which party takes control of the House of Representatives after the November election.

The effort, coordinated by an independent campaign arm of the reproductive rights organization, is a reflection of the role abortion will play in the fall, particularly among suburban women voters, in the aftermath of the 2022 Supreme Court ruling overturning federal protection for abortion rights and subsequent laws passed in several states to sharply limit access to the procedure.

California is expected to be a hotbed of spending by multiple groups on both sides of the aisle because of the number of competitive races in the state.

While Californians in 2022 voted overwhelmingly to enshrine a right to abortion and contraceptive access in the state’s Constitution in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, leaders of Planned Parenthood and other Democratic groups argue that the election of a Republican president and the GOP taking control of the Senate and the House could result in a nationwide ban.

“The road to [reproductive] freedom runs right through California this year,” Jodi Hicks, the leader of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California VOTES, an independent expenditure committee, told The Times. “We have done what we’ve done to protect California and insure that California is a reproductive freedom state.”

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But she said that despite more than two-thirds of voters supporting Proposition 1 in 2022, the state constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights, there is a “disconnect” in terms of understanding that the state’s protection of abortion rights could be eliminated by federal legislative or legal action.

“The only real way to insure California is a reproductive freedom state is making sure we elect a Congress that is committed to protecting those freedoms,” Hicks said. “Every single election we have, politicians can take away those freedoms.”

Hick’s group is the latest Super PAC to announce plans to invest heavily in California’s congressional races.

“This is the state that’s going to decide control of Congress,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at USC, Pepperdine and UC Berkeley.

Candidates often rely on outside groups to buttress their campaigns with television ads and other voter outreach because the state is home to some of the most expensive media markets in the nation and the federal limits on donations they can receive is relatively low.

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Congressional candidates can receive a maximum of $6,600 in contributions from individuals to their committees, per Federal Election Committee rules. But donors can contribute nearly $2 million to party affiliated committees and unlimited amounts to Super PACs, such as the Planned Parenthood effort, which are barred from coordinating with candidates.

The House Majority PAC, a Democratic effort; a GOP group targeting Latino voters funded by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers; a California Donor Table effort called “Battleground California” led by minority leaders in competitive districts; and other groups have also announced plans to spend in California congressional races.

“As one of the wealthiest states in the world, California could be a beacon of progress and possibility in securing a future where every family can get the healthcare they need, where every full-time job provides a livable wage, and safe and affordable housing is provided not as a luxury but a right,” Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, said in a statement. “Battleground California isn’t just about winning elections; it’s about winning a future that gives everyday people hope.”

The independent arms of the Republican and Democratic national congressional committees are also expected to be active in California, as well as the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to Congress that spent around $33 million in the state in the 2022 midterm elections.

“For back-to-back cycles, Republicans have won in California with quality candidates who fit their districts and toxic Democrat policies that have left voters fed up with rising crime and skyrocketing costs,” said Courtney Parella, a spokeswoman for CLF. “California is essential to holding and growing our House Majority, and CLF will invest enormously here.”

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The Club for Growth, a free-market, limited-government group that has endorsed Scott Baugh in an open, highly competitive district in Orange County, could also weigh in.

Political committees don’t always follow through with their announced spending plans, so it remains to be seen how much the PACs will actually spend in California. But unless there is a seismic change in the nation’s politics between now and the November election, the state is expected to be pivotal in determining control of the House, where Republicans hold a razor-thin majority.

California has the largest congressional delegation in the nation, with 52 members, and because of the state’s independent redrawing of districts, 10 are rated as toss-ups, competitive or potentially vulnerable, according to the the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades. That’s the most of any state in the nation.

Half of those districts are represented by Republicans in Congress — Reps. Young Kim of Placentia, Michelle Steel of Seal Beach, John Duarte of Modesto, David Valadao of Hanford and Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita — but were won by President Biden in the 2020 presidential election, according to the nonpartisan California Target Book, which tracks the state’s congressional and legislative races.

“It took a few cycles for the impact of the independent redistricting committee to take effect, but once it has, it has created a much larger number of competitive districts,” Schnur said.

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He added that two of the issues that appear to be the most salient in this election — abortion and immigration — are at the fore in many California communities.

The eight districts Planned Parenthood is targeting — seven represented by Republicans and the tight Orange County district that is open because of Rep. Katie Porter’s unsuccessful Senate run — all voted to support Proposition 1 in 2022.

“There are a lot of pro-choice suburban women in California who wouldn’t mind seeing a wall at the border” and other aggressive efforts to crackdown on illegal immigration, Schnur said. “This election is going to be fought over which of those two issues matters more. The battle for Congress is a battle for the suburbs, and California is the ultimate suburb.”

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New court challenge filed in Pennsylvania to prevent some mail-in ballots from getting thrown out

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New court challenge filed in Pennsylvania to prevent some mail-in ballots from getting thrown out

A new lawsuit filed Tuesday by a constellation of left-leaning groups in Pennsylvania is trying to prevent thousands of mail-in ballots from being thrown out in November’s election in a battleground state that is expected to play a critical role in selecting a new president.

The lawsuit, filed in a state court, is the latest of perhaps a half-dozen cases to challenge a provision in Pennsylvania law that voters must write the date when they sign their mail-in ballot envelope.

PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO MISS BALLOT AFTER LEGISLATIVE DEADLOCK

Voters not understanding that provision has meant that tens of thousands of ballots have been thrown out since Pennsylvania dramatically expanded mail-in voting in a 2019 law.

A new lawsuit filed by left-leaning groups in Pennsylvania is trying to prevent thousands of mail-in ballots from being thrown out in November’s election. (FOX News)

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The latest lawsuit says multiple courts have found that a voter-written date is meaningless in determining whether the ballot arrived on time or whether the voter is eligible. As a result, rejecting someone’s ballot either because it lacks a date or a correct date should violate the Pennsylvania Constitution’s free and equal elections clause, the 68-page lawsuit said.

“This lawsuit is the only one that is squarely addressing the constitutionality of disenfranchising voters under Pennsylvania’s Constitution,” said Marian Schneider, a lawyer in the case and senior policy counsel for voting rights for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Enforcement of the dating provision resulted in at least 10,000 ballots getting thrown out in the 2022 mid-term election alone, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit names Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s top election official, as well as the election boards in Philadelphia and Allegheny County, both heavily Democratic jurisdictions.

However, Democrats have fought to undo the dating requirement, while Republicans in the past have fought in court to ensure that counties can and do throw out mail-in ballots that lack a complete or correct date.

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Roughly three-fourths of mail-in ballots tend to be cast by Democrats in Pennsylvania, possibly the result of former President Donald Trump baselessly claiming that mail-in voting is rife with fraud.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the Black Political Empowerment Project, POWER Interfaith, Make the Road Pennsylvania, OnePA Activists United, New PA Project Education Fund, Casa San José, Pittsburgh United, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Currently, a separate challenge to the date requirement is pending in federal court over whether it violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act or the constitution’s equal protection clause. In March, a divided 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the date requirement does not violate the civil rights law.

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Opinion: What's convincing voters that the economy is worse than it ever was?

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Opinion: What's convincing voters that the economy is worse than it ever was?

One of the worst things about democracy is the way we talk about it.

For instance, politicians love to talk about unity, but our constitutional system was to set up to keep unity at bay, preferring a more adversarial approach, pitting faction against faction. Checks and balances, separation of powers and the divided authorities between the federal and state governments are predicated on the idea that unity will be rare and temporary. The Constitution places our most cherished liberties on a high shelf, hard to reach during moments of unifying populist passion.

The rhetorical mismatch doesn’t just apply to the mechanisms of democracy but also to the culture of democracy. Democratic manners demand that politicians never say the voters are wrong. But competitive elections — essential to any workable definition of democracy — require some voters to be “wrong.” I don’t necessarily mean in their policy preferences (though that’s frequently the case), I just mean elections create winners and losers. And yet, winning politicians, with barely half of the electorate on their side, routinely declare that the “America people have spoken” after every victory.

More to the point, voters are often simply wrong about basic facts going into an election. For instance, the Biden campaign is struggling with an electorate that believes the economy is far worse than it is. To be clear, I didn’t say they the economy is good, though that argument can be made. No, President Biden is struggling to convince the electorate that the economy isn’t the worst ever.

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A recent YouGov survey asked voters to say which decade, starting in the 1930s, had the worst economy. A third (32%) said the 2020s, our current decade, is the worst, worse even than the 1930s or 1970s. Only 23% said the ’30s and a mere 5% named the ’70s as the worst. This is, by any objective measure, wrong, spectacularly wrong.

Now, there’s a lot of partisan bias at work here. Only 19% of Democrats said ours is the worst decade and 24% did say the 1930s were, but 45% of Republicans believe the 2020s are the worst. Still, when nearly 1 in 5 Democrats wrongly believe things are worse than during the Great Depression, Democrats have got a problem.

This is merely one facet of Biden’s “vibes” problem. Large numbers of Americans (42%) think the 2020s are the worst decade for crime, which is just wrong. Twenty-eight percent think the 1940s — World War II, duh — had the “most war.” Only 4% named the 1970s and 6% cited the 2000s — when America fought, respectively, the Vietnam war and invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. But 19% said the current decade had the “most war” — and we’re not at war, though events in Ukraine and Gaza do make the times seem bellicose. From scientific breakthroughs to family unhappiness to racial inequality, lots of Americans just think things have never been worse.

Now, subjectively, there are perfectly valid arguments that things are not going well or that they can or should be going better. But we’re talking about objective judgments here, and objectively huge numbers of Americans are objectively wrong. And in fairness to them, I suspect many people don’t think they’re making objective judgments. When people say, “I’m having the worst day — or decade — ever!” they’re not necessarily being literal. They’re making a vibes declaration.

This is obviously a huge problem for Joe Biden. Thanks in part to the ravages of inflation and high interest rates and in part to his own shortcomings, he can’t change minds about the economy. But the causality works both ways. Economic realities contribute to negative attitudes and negative attitudes shape how the economy is perceived. And on many fronts, particularly race, Biden is fueling those negative attitudes (see his commencement address at Morehouse College).

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But that explanation is insufficient. Democracy depends on the promise of incremental, cumulative, progress. James Madison didn’t want polls to be the measure of the voters’ mood, but elections. Which is why we have them constantly, at every level of government. Democracy, for Madison, isn’t about unity or agreement, but about argument and disagreement, and constant self-correction.

Thanks to that vision, we’ve made enormous strides. But now, both parties wallow in catastrophism and presentism. Donald Trump — who has the historical memory of a goldfish — falsely screeches that things have never been worse. Yet as cartoonish as his rhetoric is, he’s making a right-wing version of a common left-wing argument. Indeed, every four years, partisans insist that this is the “most important election ever” and that catastrophe or salvation is on the ballot. Relentlessly crying wolf has fueled the mess we’ve found ourselves in, and perhaps the mess to come.

After all, when you constantly tell people we’re in an existential crisis, the vibes can create the reality, whether it’s warranted by the facts or not.

@jonahdispatch

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Trump tells NY donors he'll stop college 'radical revolution,' send anti-Israel agitators 'out of the country'

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Trump tells NY donors he'll stop college 'radical revolution,' send anti-Israel agitators 'out of the country'

Former President Trump reportedly told a private gathering of New York donors earlier this month that he will stop the “radical revolution” happening at American college campuses if elected president again. 

The presumptive Republican nominee also vowed that he would throw foreign students protesting against Israel “out of the country,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing donors who spoke on condition of anonymity. The gathering happened on May 14 and included “98 percent of my Jewish friends,” Trump reportedly joked. 

“One thing I do is, any student that protests, I throw them out of the country. You know, there are a lot of foreign students. As soon as they hear that, they’re going to behave,” Trump said, according to the Post. 

When the donors expressed concern that anti-Israel students and professors would one day hold positions of power in the U.S., Trump reportedly said they were part of a “radical revolution.” 

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR WOULD ‘PROBABLY ALREADY BEEN OVER’ IF TRUMP WERE PRESIDENT, SEN. TOM COTTON SAYS
 

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Former President Donald Trump on May 23, 2024, in the Bronx, New York City. (Andrea Renault/Star Max/GC Images)

“It has to be stopped now,” Trump said of the protests, praising the New York Police Department’s handling of the encampment at Columbia University, adding that other cities should follow suit.  

“Well, if you get me elected, and you should really be doing this, if you get me reelected, we’re going to set that movement back 25 or 30 years,” he said, according to the donors who spoke to the Post. 

Trump also reportedly told the wealthy New York donors at the closed-door event that he supports Israel’s right to continue “its war on terror” and praised his White House’s policies on Israel. 

Trump did not, however, mention Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by name. He reportedly hasn’t spoken to Netanyahu in years since the Israeli prime minister recognized President Biden’s 2020 victory. 

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The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has faced pressure from GOP donors in recent months to take a stronger stance in support of Israel and specifically, Netanyahu. 

In April, Trump notably said during an interview with conservative talk show radio host Hugh Hewitt that Israel, regarding its war in Gaza, needs to “get it over with, and let’s get back to peace and stop killing people.” 

Trump shakes Netanyahu's hand in the Oval Office

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in the Oval Office on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.  (Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

NETANYAHU RESPONDS TO STRIKE THAT KILLED HAMAS TERROR LEADERS, CIVILIANS: ‘INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT’

Asked about the donors’ description of the New York event, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, issued a broad statement to the Post. 

“When President Trump is back in the Oval Office, Israel will once again be protected, Iran will go back to being broke, terrorists will be hunted down, and the bloodshed will end,” Leavitt said.

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Trump overlooks Bronx crowd

Former President Donald Trump, center, during a campaign event at Crotona Park in the Bronx, New York, on Thursday, May 23, 2024.  (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

While claiming anti-Israel demonstrations seen across the country get smaller crowds than his rallies, Trump said that “Israel is losing its power” in Washington, D.C., particularly in Congress. 

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“It’s incredible,” Trump added, questioning how Jewish people could vote for Democrats, specifically Biden.

“They always let you down,” he said.

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