The Golden Apple – January 7, 2022

 

Happy New Year 
Or maybe, Happy New Year? Washington got back to work slowly this week after a sudden, massive snowstorm on Monday. Washington, DC offices of the federal government were closed altogether on Monday and today.  The city’s also been hit hard by the Omicron variant, so we hope everyone’s staying warm and healthy.
 
We note with sorrow the death of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on December 28, and extend our sympathies to his family, friends, and colleagues. Reid will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda next Wednesday, January 12, with viewing limited to invited guests only.

FinCEN seeks comment on modernizing AML/CFT rules 
Before everyone left town for the holidays, Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network published a request for information to gather comments on how best to update, streamline, and modernize the regulations implementing the Bank Secrecy Act. The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 required a formal review of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules. FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das said they want to take a more risk-based approach to AML/CFT compliance. Based on comments from stakeholders, FinCEN will report its findings to Congress and make recommendations for legislative and regulatory changes. Comments are due to FinCEN by February 14.

McWilliams to leave FDIC on February 4
Last week FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams submitted her resignation letter to President Joe Biden, effective February 4. Under her direction, she said, the FDIC had taken swift action to maintain stability and flexibility within the banking system during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The core of our financial system not only weathered the storm, but was a tangible source of strength for the American economy.” McWilliams’s resignation will leave Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra as the only formally confirmed member of the FDIC Board of Directors. The FDIC currently does not have a Vice Chair. Director and former Chairman Martin J. Greenberg’s term officially expired in 2017, and Michael Hsu serves on the Board as Acting Comptroller of the Currency. 

CFPB says credit bureaus are unresponsive to consumers
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s annual report of consumer and credit reporting complaints, published Wednesday, says that the three major credit bureaus reported relief to only 2% of consumer complaints in 2021, down from nearly 25% of consumer complaints in 2019. Specifically, the Bureau said, since early 2020, Experian and TransUnion have not been replying to consumer complaints if they believed a third party was involved in submitting the complaint, although consumers are allowed to authorize third parties to make complaints on their behalf. 
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
President Biden has nominated Ventris C. Gibson to be Director of the Mint; she currently serves as Deputy and Acting Director.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) will retire at the end of this, her fourth term in Congress. Lawrence, a career US Postal Service employee, serves on the House Appropriations Committee as well as on the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) announced that she will not run for a fourth term. Murphy is a chief deputy whip of the Democratic Caucus and co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), who has served in the House of Representatives since 1993, will not seek reelection. She is the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, and currently chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who was also elected to the House in 1992, will retire at the end of this year. Rush chairs the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy.

Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), the only Cuban-American Democrat in the House of Representatives, will not seek a tenth term. He chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade.
The Week Ahead
January 11 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing on the nomination of Jerome H. Powell to another term as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
 
January 11 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions holds a hearing on “Addressing New Variants: A Federal Perspective on the COVID-19 Response,” with testimony from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, and Assistant HHS Secretary Dawn O’Connell.  
 
January 12 at 10:00 a.m. House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment holds a hearing on “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2022: Administration Priorities.”
 
January 13 at 9:30 a.m. Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing on “Financial Literacy: Addressing the Unique Just-in-Time Decisions Older Americans with Disabilities Face.”
 
January 13 at 10:00 a.m. Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on the nominations of Lael Brainard to be Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Sandra Thompson to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. 
The Ellis Insight – Jim Ellis on political news
SENATE 
Missouri:  Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D), who may well have been the Democrats’ strongest available open seat US Senate candidate, said this week that he will seek re-election later this year instead of venturing into the statewide campaign. 

At this point, the Democrats’ leading candidate appears to be former St. Louis area state Senator Scott Sifton. The major battle looms in the Republican primary, as former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, US Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/ Columbia) and Billy Long (R-Springfield), and state Senate President Dave Schatz are preparing for a tough GOP primary campaign. Two-term incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R) is retiring.
 
Pennsylvania: In late December, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick of Pittsburgh announced he was forming a US Senate exploratory committee and would launch his effort with a major statewide media blitz. While he did run spots throughout the state around the holiday season that were part well-wishing and part biography, the disclaimer didn’t even mention the US Senate race. It’s unusual that a candidate would invest over $1 million in a statewide media promotion within the busy and expensive holiday advertising season and not indicate the ad’s purpose or contain an action request.

HOUSE    
Arizona Redistricting:  The Grand Canyon State was one of several places to complete their redistricting maps as the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission approved a congressional plan and new state legislative districts. In Arizona, a multi-member legislative district elects one Senator and two Representatives.
 
The congressional map will likely prove to be one of the nation’s most competitive, as the swing could move all the way from 6D-3R to 3D-6R depending upon a particular election year’s political winds. Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona), David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills), and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) have the most challenging re-election districts, while the Tucson open seat of retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) moves from a lean D to a toss-up rating.
 
CA-5:  Northern California Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) announced that he will seek re-election in the state’s new 5th District, a seat that stretches from the Sacramento area to Fresno. The new 5th contains about 40% of Mr. McClintock’s current 4th District constituency. The new 3rd CD houses just short of 60% of the Congressman’s current constituents, but the 5th is much more Republican. 

State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay), who had already announced for the 3rd District in anticipation of McClintock choosing the 5th, will be the early front runner for that seat. Had he remained in Congress, former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) would have likely run for re-election in the new 5th.
 
CA-47:  Though former Rep. Harley Rouda (D) had announced for a re-match with freshman Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) after losing the 2020 election, the new redistricting map changed the fortunes of both potential 2022 political combatants. Rep. Steel is now seeking re-election in the new 45th CD, which is a more Republican friendly district, while Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) is running in the more Democratic 47th District. This leaves Mr. Rouda with no reasonable place to run, hence the decision to end his 2022 campaign.
 
CA-49:  Under the new California congressional redistricting plan, the state’s 49th District of Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) that stretches from Orange into San Diego County becomes slightly more competitive. Therefore, a stronger Republican contender has entered the race. Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett this week declared her congressional candidacy. 

Rep. Levin scored an original 56% victory in 2018, but saw his percentage drop to 53% in the most recent election. The new district confines suggest an even closer electoral district. San Juan Capistrano Councilman Brian Maryott (R), who held Rep. Levin to his smaller 2020 re-election percentage, is also running again.
 
IL-1:  Fifteen-term veteran Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) announced that the will retire. Prior to serving 30 years in the US House, Mr. Rush was a member of the Chicago City Council for ten years. Anticipating Rep. Rush’s decision, seven Democrats had already announced their congressional candidacies, but none are elected officials. With the open seat now official, we can expect several Democratic Chicago pols to run. 

In addition to serving 15 terms, Mr. Rush’s claim to national fame was defeating then-state Senator Barack Obama in a 2000 Democratic congressional primary. Like former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Mr. Obama had lost a bid for the House of Representatives all early in their respective careers.
 
IL-15:  Freshman Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland), whose district was torn apart in the Democratic congressional map re-draw thus forcing her into a paired situation with another Republican incumbent, announced that she will challenge Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) in the new 15th District. 

Rep. Miller’s other choice would have been to oppose Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) in the southern Illinois seat. Ms. Miller represents more of the new 15th District constituency than Rep. Davis, a five-term US House veteran. The district is safely Republican, so whichever member wins the Republican primary will have an easy ride in the general election.
 
MI-12:  The 25th Democratic House member to leave Congress came to the forefront during the week as four-term Michigan Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) announced that she will retire when the current congressional session concludes at the end of this year. Ms. Lawrence currently represents the 14th District and has had easy re-election runs since her original victory in 2014. She was placed in the new 12th District under the adopted redistricting plan, but her Southfield political base remained intact within the altered boundaries.

Upon the Lawrence retirement announcement, neighboring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) immediately said that she will now run in the 12th CD instead of the downtown Detroit 13th. This leaves the latter seat open, and we can expect a major Democratic primary battle as the precursor to winning the seat in November.
 
Michigan Redistricting:  The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission completed work on the congressional map, a plan that pairs two sets of incumbents and creates at least three highly competitive districts.
 
Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) are paired in a new 4th District that includes the Democratic cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, while in the Detroit suburbs, Democratic Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills/Livonia) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) are paired in a new safe Democratic 11th CD. Reps. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids), Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) and Dan Kildee (D-Flint) also get competitive seats. The most likely scenario is Republicans dropping a net one seat and possibly two, the former due to reapportionment reducing the state delegation from 14 seats to 13.
 
Several current and former African American Detroit state legislators announced they are suing the Michigan Redistricting Commission members for what they say are Voting Rights Act violations against African American voters in the city of Detroit. The legislators claim the boundaries the commissioners drew for the congressional, state Senate, and state House of Representative maps are illegal. The court officials will assign the case once the documentation is officially filed.
 
Mississippi Redistricting:  The Republican-controlled Mississippi House of Representatives passed a new congressional map that will likely lock in the state’s 3R-1D party division delegation split. The state Senate will vote on the plan next week, and it is expected to be adopted. Democrats complained that the Delta area’s 2nd District, which now stretches through almost the state’s entire western border, drifted too far south. But, needing an additional 65,829 people, the map drawers had little option but to expand the 2nd District borders.
 
NV-4:  Now that the Nevada congressional lines are complete and the three Clark County seats are all competitive but lean toward the Democrats, a new candidate has joined the growing 4th District field to challenge three-term Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas). State Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite) this week announced her congressional candidacy, becoming the first elected official to enter the Republican primary. Already in the race are former NBA professional basketball player Tony Lane, retired pro boxer Jesse Vargas, and insurance agency owner and 2020 congressional candidate Sam Peters.
 
New Hampshire Redistricting:  The New Hampshire state House of Representatives passed a new congressional map through to the state Senate that would give Republicans a much stronger chance of converting the swing 1st District, a seat that has defeated more incumbents than any other CD in the country since 2004. Moving the Democratic cities of Portsmouth and Durham to the 2nd District and adding stronger Republican areas along the eastern Massachusetts border will make the 1st more Republican friendly while sealing Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord) into a secure Democratic seat.
 
OH-1:  With the new Ohio map giving Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) a 50-48% Biden district (R+3 according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization analysis, a decrease of five Republican points from the current CD), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has successfully recruited Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman (D) to challenge the 13-term incumbent. The 1st District has typically been a swing seat, and the 2021 redistricting map makes the domain even more competitive. This campaign will likely evolve into a toss-up race.
 
Virginia:  The court-approved congressional redistricting map is significantly different than the special masters’ first version. The state Supreme Court changed both the 7th and 10th Districts in favor of the Democratic incumbents, who fared poorly under the original draw. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) now gets a much safer Democratic 10th District, and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) can run here as the final District 7 version includes three counties that she currently represents. 

The new 7th, however, is no longer as safe a Democratic seat as it became under the first special masters’ version. The most vulnerable incumbent remains Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) in a Tidewater-region 2nd District that now leans Republican.
 
WY-AL:  Former Pavillion Mayor Marissa Joy Selvig announced that she is leaving the Republican primary battle against at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson), but will compete in the general election on the Constitution Party ballot line. Ms. Selvig is now the fourth GOP primary contender to leave the race after former President Donald Trump endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman (R). Remaining in the contest are GOP state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie) and retired Army Colonel Denton Knapp. The open Wyoming primary is scheduled for August 16th.

GOVERNOR 
California; Maryland:  Two prominent state Republicans who were expected to run for Governor in their respective domains will not. Former Maryland Lt. Governor and ex-Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele and commentator and 2021 California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder (R) both say they will not run for Governor in 2022. The Elder announcement is a surprise, since he announced after the failed recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that he would return with a new campaign in 2022.
 
Oregon:  Saying that former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof “does not meet the constitutional requirements to serve,” Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D) disqualified him from obtaining a ballot position in the upcoming open Governor’s election. Oregon has a three-year residency requirement before running for statewide office, a mandate that Kristof, who voted in New York’s 2020 elections, did not meet. 

Saying that a “failing political establishment in Oregon has chosen to protect itself, rather than give voters a choice,” Kristof vowed to file a legal challenge against the residency law.