NotedDC — Why Democrats are backing election deniers

Some Democrats are warning that the party’s push to boost election-denying candidates in GOP primaries this year risks backfiring on Democrats in November.

Democrats have poured money into multiple primaries across the country to boost candidates that they think they’ll have a better shot at defeating in the fall midterms.

But some see elevating those candidates over more moderate Republicans is too risky, especially at a time when election integrity is front and center in voters’ minds.

“This seems way too dangerous and has a real potential to blow up in our faces,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley told NotedDC.

Democratic strategist Doug Gordon said the party will have a difficult time coming up with a good response if the strategy doesn’t work out according to plan.

“There is no response to that,” Gordon said. “Every bit of available evidence shows that this is a favorable year for Republicans. Why are we giving them a leg up?”

The strategy raised eyebrows on Monday when House Democrats’ campaign arm ran a TV ad for Trump-endorsed House candidate John Gibbs in his race against Rep. Peter Meijer (Mich.), one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.

“The thing that matters the most right now is the threat to our democracy,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said Tuesday on CNN. “When we’re sitting here playing DCCC, you know, DNC politics, ‘let’s promote the crazy,’ and then that person wins, you don’t understand the real threat.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who serves on the Jan. 6 House committee, said in a statement that the strategy to prop up people who are “telling the very lies that caused Jan. 6 and continues to put our democracy in danger, is just mind-blowing.”

Some of Democrats’ successful efforts include primary victories for three GOP gubernatorial candidates who refused to accept the 2020 election results: Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Dan Cox in Maryland and Darren Bailey in Illinois. 

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, defended the ad in the Michigan House race, arguing on MSNBC that “it does make sense” to pick a more beatable opponent in some places.

Welcome to NotedDC: Your guide to politics, policy & people of consequence in D.C.

In today’s issue: Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s expected trip to Taiwan and a key upcoming U.S.-Russia meeting. Plus: A new lobbying firm sets up shop.

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Pelosi preps for possible Taiwan trek

NANCY PELOSI hasn’t said yet whether she plans to travel to Taiwan during the August recess, but several signs indicate that the House Democratic leader is serious about paying the island a visit despite warnings from China.

  • Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of the GOP’s China Task Force, confirmed to The Hill and other outlets Wednesday he was invited to join Pelosi on a Taiwan trip.
  • McCaul declined the invite, citing a scheduling conflict, his spokesperson said. The Texas Republican told NBC News that Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs panel, was also invited on the trip.

High-level officials’ travel plans are typically kept confidential out of security concerns, and Pelosi’s office and the White House haven’t confirmed the plans. 

“We don’t have anything to announce or speak to regarding any potential upcoming travel for the Speaker,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters this week. “The Speaker makes her own decisions about her travel.” 

JUST IN CASE: The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the military is making plans in case a trip happens.

“If there’s a decision made that Speaker Pelosi or anyone else is going to travel and they asked for military support, we will do what is necessary to ensure a safe conduct of their visit,” U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the AP. “And I’ll just leave it at that.” 

China has warned of backlash if Pelosi goes through with the trip, and China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday again stressed the country’s long-standing warning over a possible Pelosi visit.

  • “If the U.S. insists on going its own way and challenging China’s bottom line, it will surely be met with forceful responses,” Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing. “All ensuing consequences shall be borne by the U.S.” 

Taiwan is a self-governing country, but China claims it as a territory and it objects to contact between U.S. and Taiwanese leaders.

  • As the House Speaker and in the immediate line of presidential succession, Pelosi would become the highest-ranking American politician to visit the island in more than two decades.
  • Meanwhile: President Biden is scheduled to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.

SENATE ADVANCES BILL TO COUNTER CHINA

The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday designed to reduce U.S. reliance on Chinese-manufactured semiconductor chips in military hardware and other products. 

  • Why it’s important: The funds allocated to domestic manufacturing will likely ease supply chain issues, lower prices of certain products and enhance competition against China.
  • However, our colleague Karl Evers-Hillstrom reports that the bill excluded some proposals, including ones that would curb U.S. investment in China, counter Beijing’s aggressive trade practices and help trade-impacted workers. 

“Dealing with China is like running a marathon. There are two ways to win: you run faster, or you trip the other guy,” international trade expert William Reinsch told The Hill. “What got dumped mostly deals with tripping the other guy, and taking those tools off the table really doesn’t help us.” 

Read more from our colleague Alex Bolton on the Senate bill.

Blinken, Lavrov set for first meeting since invasion

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the coming days, the pair’s first meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine.

  • The focal point of the meeting will be whether Moscow will agree to release Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, two Americans detained in Russia. 
  • CNN reported Wednesday that the Biden administration will offer the exchange of a convicted Russian arms trafficker for their release.

The war in Ukraine will also loom over the meeting, with Blinken expected to bring up the trade deal between Russia and Ukraine to facilitate grain exports from Ukrainian ports, as The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant reports.

Blinken still had some strong words for Russia ahead of the high-profile meeting when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday, saying the war has “weakened Russia profoundly.”

Read more about what Blinken said.

BIDEN HITS THE GROUND RUNNING AFTER COVID

Someone is ready to get back into the office.

A peppy-looking President Biden left isolation on Wednesday after testing negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning.

  • Biden said he was “feeling great” during a hastily-called Rose Garden address on Wednesday, saying he wanted to return to the Oval Office to work.
  • Biden hasn’t been in Oval in several days while he was recovering, instead working in isolation from the upstairs residence at the White House.

The White House hasn’t disclosed Biden’s specific upcoming travel schedule, but he’s expected to head back out on the road again to tout his priorities, fundraise for Democrats and stump for vulnerable midterm candidates in the coming weeks. 

Before contracting COVID-19, Biden had several trips on his schedule, including to battleground states Pennsylvania and Florida. All of his known events were canceled after he tested positive to allow for his recovery. 

He’s been the headliner at recent Democratic fundraisers in D.C., Maryland, Los Angeles and Chicago, among others heading into a crucial midterm period as Democrats try to hold onto their slim majorities in Congress this fall.

Read more about Biden’s victory lap at the Rose Garden.

State races seize spotlight

FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP is deploying his own strategy to pull out victories for allies in state-level GOP primaries as he pushes to reshape the party.

While state races typically attract far less media coverage, this election cycle is an outlier due to Trump’s aggressive efforts to weigh in at the local level.

  • As our colleague Max Greenwood reports: “Trump’s willingness to intervene in state legislative elections tracks with his repeated assertion that state lawmakers should be able to wield outsized power in determining the outcome of elections, a belief that came to the fore after his 2020 loss to President Biden when he and his allies pressed top state lawmakers to overturn the election results in states that his opponent won.” 

The GOP already controls the majority of state legislatures, but Trump’s eagerness to maintain his grip on the party — while teasing another White House bid — is turning it into a proxy war.

  • An example: In an Arizona state Senate primary, Trump endorsed former state Sen. David Farnsworth (R) against House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R), who testified before the Jan. 6 House select committee about how he rejected pressure from Trump to overturn the state’s election results in 2020.

As the Jan. 6 hearings put a major focus on the importance of state officials’ roles in carrying out elections and certifying the results, Democrats are also paying more attention to election laws at the state level.

What we’re watching: A bipartisan group of senators are attempting to pass a bill before November that makes it harder for lawmakers at the state and federal levels to overturn election results.

WASHINGTON MOVES

In our inbox: A group of longtime staffers on the Hill will form a new lobbying firm in New York called Purple Apple. It aims to “make sense of what policies Congress, and the Biden administration are truly advancing” to their clients.

The founders include Kevin Fogarty, longtime chief of staff to former Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.); Carissa Faña, former senior legislative assistant to Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.); Mike McKay, former policy advisor and counsel to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.); and Chris Berardini, a former chief of staff on the Hill.  

The Hill’s Karl Evers-Hillstrom has a weekly roundup of where people are moving in the lobbying world (and you can send us your professional updates, too!). Here are some highlights:  

  • Amanda Bailey, who previously led fundraising for Vice President Harris’s 2020 campaign, will join Invariant’s communications and public affairs team.
  • Linda Jeng and Brett Quick will head to the Crypto Council for Innovation as chief global regulatory officer and head of government affairs, respectively.
  • Tim Daniels, most recently deputy chief of staff to Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), is headed to Tyson Foods as senior manager of government affairs.

Laughs about town

If you’re looking for a laugh this week (or weekend) head over to the Kennedy Center to see famed Chicago comedy group The Second City.

The group will be wrapping up its Washington run, making fun of the “new normal” of the 24/7 hour news cycle and returning to the office after the pandemic. 

Get your tickets here.

Have some news, juicy gossip, insight or other insider info? Send us tips: Elizabeth Crisp and Kelsey Carolan. And encourage friends to sign up here: thehill.com/noted.

We’ll see you tomorrow!

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