The Golden Apple – September 17, 2021

Deadlines met, deadlines pending
All 13 House committees charged with marking up pieces of the budget reconciliation package have finished that work, voting out spending bills along party lines, with no Republicans voting in the affirmative. But the end of the fiscal year—September 30—looms, as does the debt ceiling.
 
The White House sent a memo to state and local governments today warning them about the consequences of hitting the debt ceiling, which could include a halt to funding for disaster relief, Medicaid, and supplemental nutrition programs. Yesterday President Biden met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to discuss next steps, which include votes to raise the debt ceiling and approve a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running. The promised deadline for a vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is also coming up on September 27.
 
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has told House Democrats that they will vote on the debt ceiling and a continuing resolution next week, and the House Rules Committee will meet on Monday to vote on a rule for floor action on a CR. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), however, has said that Republicans will vote unanimously against any spending measure that raises the debt ceiling.
 
“Any suggestion by Republicans that they will shirk their responsibility is indefensible,” President Biden said yesterday.
 
Cryptocurrencies are “a highly speculative asset class,” says Gensler 
Cryptocurrencies were a major topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but no consensus emerged on policies to address them. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), the Committee’s ranking member, expressed frustration about the SEC’s lack of guidance on which cryptocurrencies are securities and which are not, and asked SEC Chair Gary Gensler to publish the agency’s standards for applying the Howey test to these instruments. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that small investors are too vulnerable in cryptocurrency markets, and that regulators need to provide recourse for customers who are defrauded or harmed by outages like those that befell some crypto exchanges last week. Gensler called cryptocurrencies “a highly speculative asset class,” and said that he considered almost all cryptocurrencies to fall within the legal definition of securities. He asked for additional funding to hire more personnel in this area, and called for better coordination among market regulators and with the banking regulators.
 
Toomey, Cruz hold Treasury nominations while calling for pipeline sanctions  
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in a letter this week that they would continue to block actions on two senior Treasury nominees unless President Biden sanctions the Nord Stream 2 (NS2 AG) pipeline. Senators Toomey and Cruz said they would consent to floor votes on the nominations of Brian Nelson and Elizabeth Rosenberg if the President applied these sanctions. Nelson and Rosenberg are among 10 Treasury nominees whose status is still pending in the Senate, and among 17 senior vacancies at the Department. The Senate has confirmed only the nominations of Secretary Janet Yellen, Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, and Undersecretary J. Nellie Liang. Career staff are running the Treasury’s day-to-day operations, and one of the vacancies that remains open, with no nominee, is that of Treasurer, the office that signs US currency. The nominees awaiting action are:Lily Lawrence Batchelder, nominated on April 15 to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and placed on the Senate calendar for a vote on June 10Jonathan Davidson, nominated on April 15 to be Deputy Undersecretary of the Treasury and placed on the Senate calendar for a vote on June 10Benjamin Harris, nominated on April 22 to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and placed on the Senate calendar for a vote on June 10Brian Eddie Nelson, nominated on May 27 to be Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on June 22Elizabeth Rosenberg, nominated on May 27 to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on June 22Neil Harvey MacBride, nominated on June 8 to be General Counsel of the Treasury and awaiting a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance CommitteeGraham Scott Steele, nominated on July 22 to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee next weekAlexia Marie Gabrielle Latortue, nominated on August 10 to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee next weekBrent Neiman, nominated on August 10 to be a Deputy Under Secretary of the Treasury and awaiting a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance CommitteeJoshua Frost, nominated on September 13 to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and awaiting a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee “Whether NS2 AG is sanctioned under CAATSA is not simply a matter of policy preference; it is the law,” Senators Toomey and Cruz wrote. “We are hopeful that the president will follow the law and sanction NS2 AG as soon as possible, clearing a path to confirmation for nominees.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) announced yesterday that he will not seek a third term in office. Gonzalez, a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, was one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump in January.

President Biden nominated Joshua Frost to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
The Week Ahead
September 21 at 10:00 a.m.  House Financial Services Task Force on Financial Technology holds a hearing on “Preserving the Right of Consumers to Access Personal Financial Data.”
 
September 21 at 10:00 a.m.  Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing on the nominations of Alan F. Estevez to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, Thea D. Rozman to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Alexia Marie Gabrielle Latortue to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and Graham S. Steele to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.
 
September 21 at 2:30 p.m.  Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights holds a hearing on “Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers.”
 
September 21 at 3:00 p.m.  Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion holds a hearing to examine legislative solutions to revive travel and tourism and create jobs.
 
September 22 at 9:00 a.m.  House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation holds a public briefing on “Administration Engagement in East Asia.”
 
September 22 at 10:00 a.m.  House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets holds a hearing on “Taking Stock of ‘China, Inc.’: Examining Risks to Investors and the US Posed by Foreign Issuers in US Markets.
 
September 22 at 2:00 p.m.  The Federal Open Market Committee holds a press conference to discuss the proceedings of its September 21-22 meeting.
 
September 23 at 10:00 a.m.  House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy holds a hearing on “Lending in a Crisis: Reviewing the Federal Reserve’s Emergency Landing Powers During the Pandemic and Examining Proposals to Address Future Economic Crises.”
 
September 23 at 10:00 a.m.  House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law holds a hearing on “Reviving Competition, Part 4: 21st Century Antitrust Reforms and the American Worker.”
 
September 24 at 10:00 a.m.  The Federal Reserve board hosts a virtual “Fed Listens” event to hear from investors, entrepreneurs, government officials and others about the pandemic’s effects.
The Ellis Insight – Jim Ellis on political news
SENATE  
Missouri:  The Remington Research Group released their latest Missouri Senate Republican primary polling results, and for the first time, Attorney General Eric Schmitt has crept into the lead. According to the survey (9/8-9; 800 MO likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system), Mr. Schmitt holds a slight 28-27-17-8-5% advantage over former Gov. Eric Greitens, US Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) and Billy Long (R-Springfield), with St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey trailing the pack.
 
North Carolina:  Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke has ended his 2022 Senate bid and threw his support behind US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance). Though the Republican field remains large with eleven announced candidates, the most serious contenders are Rep. Budd, who carries former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, former Gov. Pat McCrory, and ex-US Rep. Mark Walker. 

The Democrats feature ten announced candidates, but that contest looks to be a battle between former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte). Sen. Richard Burr (R) is not seeking a fourth term.

HOUSE 
CA-4:  Physician and retired Navy surgeon Kermit Jones (D) announced his candidacy against Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) in the district that stretches from Sacramento all the way to Yosemite. Rep. McClintock has faced serious challenges in the last two elections, but won with an average of 55% after facing a combined $6.7 million in the last two campaigns. Assuming redistricting doesn’t change this seat in a major way, Rep. McClintock will again be favored for re-election.
 
Colorado:  The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission’s (congressional) staff amended their first map after analyzing further public comments. The latest iteration undoes the pairing of Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) and Lauren Boebert (R-Silt), and restores the traditional western slope seat’s configuration that stretches from Wyoming to New Mexico along the Utah border.

The new draw appears to cut three Democratic and three Republican seats, with two relatively competitive districts, including a new 8th CD north of Denver, that would lean Democratic. The most probable outcome, should this be the adopted map, would net the Democrats one seat, thus yielding a 5D-3R Colorado congressional delegation.
 
FL-27:  Healthcare consultant and former congressional aide Janelle Perez (D) has withdrawn from her announced challenge to freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami) and instead will run for the state Senate. Among the potential Democratic post-redistricting candidates are defeated one-term House members Donna Shalala, who was also the former Health & Human Services Secretary and ex-University of Miami president, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell who represented the adjacent 26th District until losing to current Rep. Carlos Gimenez (D-Miami).
 
Iowa:  The Hawkeye State’s unique redistricting system began with the legislative staff producing a formulaic four-district congressional map. Under this plan, freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) would see her district turn to a D+7 with the addition of the Davenport and Iowa City areas to augment Democratic Cedar Rapids. 

On the other hand, two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) would find her district becoming more Republican after she twice won with only plurality support. The new map may position the Democrats to gain a net one seat. The state legislature has the authority to reject the map, so this map is merely the opening point of discussion.
 
IA-3:  Staying in Iowa, state Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Altoona) released his internal Moore Information poll (9/9; 1,000 IA-3 likely voters; undisclosed number of Republican primary voters) that finds him leading his 3rd Congressional District Republican primary opponents. The ballot test projects Sen. Nunn topping former state Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa and financial planner Nicole Hasso, 24-13-3%, respectively. 

The general election ballot test gave incumbent Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) a 46-42% edge over Sen. Nunn. If the released redistricting map becomes the final plan, however, Rep. Axne’s small edge could easily be wiped away.
 
NH-2:  New Hampshire state Representative and retired Naval officer Jeffrey Greeson (R-Wentworth) filed a congressional committee with the Federal Elections Commission to explore his chances of unseating Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord). Since the Republicans are going to make the 1st District much more Republican in redistricting, by default District 2 would become much more Democratic. Therefore, Mr. Greeson and other 2nd District Republican hopefuls may be drawn out of a chance to run a competitive campaign in the state’s western district.
 
NM-2:  Freshman New Mexico State Senator Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Silver City) confirmed this week that she is considering challenging freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) in a re-drawn 2nd District, while Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) announced that he will run. Rumors are flying that the state Democratic leadership will try to push the redistricting envelope and draw three Democratic congressional seats. 

Whether the ploy will work may be another question, but it appears Sen. Hemphill, who won her election by only 386 votes, is waiting in the wings to see what unfolds and Councilman Vasquez is running full speed ahead. The current New Mexico delegation stands at 2D-1R, but a shift of only 22,528 people statewide is necessary to bring the current districts into balance.
 
WY-AL: At the end of last week, former Republican National Committeewoman and ex-gubernatorial candidate Harriet Hageman announced her congressional candidacy and immediately drew former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. With multiple Republican opponents challenging at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson), the ballot set-up favors the embattled incumbent since her adversarial vote would be split many different ways.
 
Understanding this, three of the candidates, St. Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper), who through self-funding had more money than any of the primary challengers at the June 30th candidate finance reporting deadline, US Air Force veteran Bryan Miller and attorney Darin Smith, announced they are withdrawing. Several of the others pledged to continue. With six remaining opponents, the odds still favor Rep. Cheney being able to win an open August 16th primary with only plurality support.

GOVERNOR 
California:  Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) easily survived his recall election, posting 64% of the vote. To keep Newsom in office, the people had to choose the NO option on the recall question. Though the replacement election is now moot, conservative commentator Larry Elder (R) easily placed first with just under 47% of the vote in a field of 46 candidates. The next closest finisher, Los Angeles realtor Kevin Paffrath (D), posted only 10%. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) finished third with 9%, and 2018 gubernatorial election finalist John Cox (R) dropped all the way to 4.4%.
 
Mr. Elder confirmed in a media interview that he will likely run in the regular 2022 election. Though he would be a considerable underdog in this most Democratic of states, the conservative commentator now has proven fundraising ability – approximately $18 million for the recall race – and attracted approximately 3 million votes. No other Republican has such current political credentials.
 
Maine:  Survey USA recently tested the Maine electorate (8/24-31; 1,425 ME adults; 1,242 ME registered voters; 501 ME Democratic primary voters; live interview and online panel) and found Gov. Janet Mills (D) in a somewhat vulnerable position as she prepares to run for a second term. Against former Gov. Paul LePage (R), who has returned to the state after moving to Florida and is reportedly planning to run though he has made no formal announcement, Gov. Mills records only a 46-41% advantage.
 
Nevada:  Former US Senator, Representative, and Secretary of State Dean Heller (R) is scheduled to announce his gubernatorial bid early next week. He will join Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee as major Republican candidates. The winner challenges first-term Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) in what promises to be a competitive general election race.
 
New York:  Attorney General Tish James, who brought the charges against then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) that led to his resignation, is reportedly considering a Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Lt. Governor who ascended to the top position after Mr. Cuomo’s departure. Also considering entering the primary are former New York City Council President Christine Quinn, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. 

US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) is already the officially endorsed Republican and Conservative party candidate, though he has announced opposition in the GOP primary.
 
Pennsylvania:  Former US Attorney Bill McSwain joined the Republican field in the open Pennsylvania Governor’s yesterday, becoming the tenth contender to do so. Mr. McSwain was a Trump appointee to his US Attorney’s position, and found himself in a feud with former Attorney General Bill Barr after the election regarding the Pennsylvania voter fraud issue. 

Among those announced GOP candidates are former US Representative and 2018 US Senate nominee Lou Barletta, state Senators Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) and Scott Martin (R-Strasburg), and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale. The Democrats have no announced candidates in an open race to succeed term-limited Gov. Tom Wolf (D), but they appear to be forming a consensus around Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).
 
Rhode Island:  Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced he will challenge Gov. Dan McKee in next year’s Democratic primary. Already in the race is Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D). On the other end of the spectrum, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (D), saying he cannot fulfill his current duties and simultaneously campaign statewide, announced that he will not enter the gubernatorial primary.
 
Virginia:  After a poll last week projected Republican Glenn Youngkin leading former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), Emerson College (9/13-14; 778 VA likely voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, and online) returned to the Virginia field and found the Democrat re-claiming a slight advantage. The Emerson sampling universe found a close 49-45% McAuliffe lead, again consistent with other polling. A total of 13 polls have been released in the Virginia Governor cycle, and ten of them returned results with both candidates posting support numbers in the 40s. 

LOCALITIES
Boston:  Though the Boston City Clerk’s office was slow in counting the election day mayoral ballots, final totals have now been recorded. As expected, City Councilor at-large Michelle Wu (D) captured first place with 34% of the vote. City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George (D) held onto second place with 22%, edging Councilor Andrea Campbell (D) and Acting Mayor Kim Janey (D). The latter pair garnered 20 and 19%, respectively. The general election runoff, scheduled for November 2nd, will now officially feature Councilors Wu and Essaibi George.
 
Cleveland:  Former Congressman and ex-Mayor Dennis Kucinich (D) failed in his comeback to reclaim the job in which he was first elected in 1977 this week as he recorded 17% in the 2021 Cleveland mayoral primary. Non-profit organization director Justin Bibb (D) finished first and will face City Council President Kevin Kelley (D) in the November 2nd runoff election. The unofficial returns find Mr. Kucinich finishing just two percentage points behind Mr. Kelley, but is eliminated from further competition.