These are your weekly outside-the-Beltway stories.
The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than Beltway “Senator X Hates Senator Y” stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international importance.
Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. They don’t have to be from this week! The submission link is right under this column. Make sure to say whether I can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, as long as you give a location.
Colorado Springs voters make history
From reader Donna G. in Denver comes word of a political earthquake with the election of Yemi Mobolade’s election as mayor of Colorado Springs, a city that used to be synonymous with conservative politics.
Mobolade, a naturalized citizen from Nigeria who identifies as a political independent is “the city’s first elected Black mayor and the first Colorado Springs mayor who isn’t a registered Republican in the more than four decades since the city began electing mayors directly in 1979,” according to Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
He soundly beat Republican Wayne Williams — by 15 percentage points.
“Running as a business-friendly moderate in the nominally nonpartisan election, Mobolade appears to have energized voters from across the political spectrum, while Williams battled critics from all sides, including fellow Republicans,” Luning reported.
The politics: “None of that would have mattered, however, without the city electorate’s leftward shift,” Luning noted. There’s also the fact the local GOP didn’t come together behind Williams. But what a victory for a non-Republican here.
Houston’s only lesbian bar can’t get insurance
Reader Kat S. in Houston flagged this piece about how that Texas city’s only lesbian bar — “Pearl Bar” — apparently can’t get insurance because it hosts drag shows.
From the Houston Chronicle’s Michael Murney: “Ten years after launching what has become a pillar of queer nightlife in Houston, [Julie] Mabry says the ongoing push by conservative lawmakers to restrict LGBTQ rights in Texas has jeopardized her business: for the first time since its doors opened in 2013, Pearl Bar was denied an insurance policy it needs to continue operations earlier this year, specifically because it hosts drag shows.”
The politics: Republicans nationwide have taken aim at trans and LGBTQ+ Americans more broadly in states the GOP controls. They’ve also gone after corporations that are LGBTQ+-friendly.
‘Quantum leap’ for Vermont child care
Reader Taylor M. in Raleigh, N.C., sent along this news out of my home state of Vermont (making Taylor my favorite reader, sorry everyone else).
“The Vermont House and Senate have officially signed off on a child care bill that is poised to inject more than $120 million annually into the ailing sector — and delivered, preliminarily, on one of the Democrats’ banner priorities for the session,” according to Lola Duffort of VTDigger.com.
The politics: Reliable child care connects for obvious reasons with parents going to work. This is one of many areas struggling with recovering from the pandemic.
Science vs a persistent fentanyl myth
Reader Daryl M. in Lafayette, La., flagged a good corrective to those viral videos of people — frequently police officers — supposedly overdosing on airborne fentanyl or when they merely touch the synthetic opioid, which is behind most of the more than 100,000 deadly overdoses in America each year.
“[M]any experts say these officers aren’t experiencing fentanyl or opioid overdoses,” according to Brian Mann of NPR. “This has never happened,” said Dr. Ryan Marino, a toxicologist and emergency room physician who studies addiction at Case Western Reserve University. ‘There has never been an overdose through skin contact or accidentally inhaling fentanyl.’”
“We couldn’t find a single case of a police officer who reported being poisoned by fentanyl or overdosing after encountering the street drug that was confirmed by toxicology reports,” Mann reported.
The politics: Fentanyl is a monstrous problem in scale and severity. Policymakers are trying to figure out the mix of responses that might stem the deadly tide. But it’s serious enough without the myth-making, which risks overreaction at a time when some lawmakers are calling for military action in Mexico, where the cartels produce the drug.
See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.
Debt ceiling negotiators race to cement final deal before deadline
“With six days until the government may not be able to pay all of its obligations, dealmakers were looking at a deal that would raise the debt ceiling for two years — through the 2024 presidential election — in exchange for two years of new spending limits mostly focused on domestic government programs, three people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect the private talks,” Rachel Siegel, Jeff Stein and Tony Romm report.
- “The Biden administration would also agree as part of the deal to cut some funding for the Internal Revenue Service approved last year — which Republicans were eager to undo — and use the money to offset the spending cuts on domestic programs.”
U.S. judge upholds gun ban for those on probation for misdemeanors
“A federal judge rejected a challenge to the government’s ability to disarm defendants as part of their criminal sentences, one of the first decisions to uphold the constitutionality of a gun ban for people on probation for misdemeanors since a watershed Supreme Court decision last year set a new test to evaluate such limits,” Spencer S. Hsu reports.
JPMorgan kept Epstein as client for years after warnings, deposition shows
“Officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned a private island and gaudy mansion, and attorneys for his victims claim the bank was complicit in funding Epstein’s long history of abuse and child sex trafficking. A complaint filed last month by the U.S. Virgin Islands cites Erdoes’s deposition as evidence that JPMorgan knew of accusations against Epstein years before the bank severed ties with him,” Jacob Bogage and Aaron Gregg report.
Lunchtime reads from The Post
China and Russia have promised to boost trade. Can they?
“Chinese and Russian leaders this week pledged to expand economic cooperation in everything from sports to agriculture and predicted that trade between the two countries would hit a record high this year as Sino-Russian ties are elevated to yet a ‘higher level,’” Lily Kuo and Lyric Li report.
- “Expanding economic ties would cement Beijing’s role as an economic lifeline to an increasingly isolated Moscow as the war in Ukraine continues. Yet despite officials’ lofty ambitions, the scope may be limited, especially beyond energy.”
Anxious federal workers find few answers on debt ceiling
“With the threat of government default looming, the unions representing anxious federal workers have pressed the Biden administration for guidance on what a debt ceiling calamity might mean for their millions of members. So far, the official answer has been consistent: We have nothing to tell you,” Lisa Rein reports.
Meet the ex-food writer advising Tommy Tuberville on national security
“The rise of political novices has, in turn, elevated the importance of the advisers who influence them. And when it comes to Tuberville’s one-man blockade of Pentagon appointees, the Alabama senator may never have known which norm to break without Morgan Murphy, whose past life included a stint at Vanity Fair, a tour in Afghanistan and multiple appearances on the home-shopping network QVC,” Ben Terris reports.
Menendez investigation is said to involve questions about luxury gifts
“Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. are investigating whether Senator Robert Menendez or his wife received unreported gifts of a luxury car and an apartment in Washington from a halal meat company that is also the focus of a criminal inquiry, two people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday,” the New York Times’s Tracey Tully and William K. Rashbaum report.
Treasury’s cash plunges below $50 billion as debt limit fight drags on
“The Treasury’s cash balance fell to just $49.5 billion on Wednesday, according to data published Thursday. That’s down from $76.5 billion a day earlier and $140 billion on May 12. The Treasury’s bank account has been under downward pressure recently because of measures being taken to avoid breaching the $31.4 trillion debt cap. Wednesday’s move was the biggest one-day drop since May 15,” Bloomberg News’s Alex Harris reports.
Mexican president knocks DeSantis, says Hispanic voters shouldn’t give him ‘a single vote’
“Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday, urging Hispanic people in Florida not to back the governor one day after he announced his bid for the White House,” USA Today’s Marina Pitofsky reports.
White House releases national strategy to counter antisemitism
“The White House on Thursday pledged to increase federal efforts to combat rising antisemitism with new initiatives aimed at improving public awareness in places such as schools and college campuses and offering more community training to encourage the reporting of hate crimes,” David Nakamura reports.
CNN Poll: Biden has a lead over Democratic primary challengers, but faces headwinds overall
“Just a third of Americans say that Biden winning in 2024 would be a step forward or a triumph for the country (33%). At the same time, the survey finds a decline in favorable views of Biden over the past six months, from 42% in December to 35% now,” CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports.
- “And results from the same poll released earlier this week showed Biden’s approval rating for handling the presidency at 40%, among the lowest for any first-term president since Dwight Eisenhower at this point in their term.”
On 3rd anniversary of George Floyd’s death, Biden stops GOP-led effort to block DC police reform law
“President Joe Biden on Thursday — the third anniversary of George Floyd’s murder — vetoed an effort led by congressional Republicans to overturn a new District of Columbia law on improving police accountability,” the Associated Press’s Colleen Long reports.
The red-blue hiring gap, visualized
“We ranked the 50 states by their hiring rates and were swiftly struck by a trend so clear that — if it holds up — should be front-page news: Republican-leaning states are hiring faster than blue states,” Andrew Van Dam reports.
- “Of the 17 fastest-hiring states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14 voted for Trump in 2020. The top two Biden-voting states, Georgia and Nevada, are probably best classified as purple (Biden-blue Delaware is the other). The 10 slowest-hiring states all went for Biden.”
Democrats vying to replace Feinstein embrace party’s shift to the left
“Perhaps more than any other 2024 race, the competition to succeed Feinstein will test the potency of the anti-Trump fervor in the Democratic Party against a desire for leadership that reflects a diverse and liberal state. Adding to the suspense in one of next year’s marquee races, there are likely to be two Democratic victors in the state’s top-two primary when the leading vote-getters will advance to the general election regardless of party. California hasn’t elected a White man to the Senate since the late 1980s,” Maeve Reston reports.
“This week, DeSantis signed new regulations into law that prevent banks from denying loans and accounts to people for lawfully owning guns or operating gun businesses. It also bars banks that use social credit scores that factor gun ownership into lending decisions from doing business with the state government. It is the second major gun reform that DeSantis has signed into law this session … That is a remarkable turnaround for a state that had been tightening its gun laws just a few years prior in the wake of the Parkland school shooting,” Stephen Gutowski writes for the Reload.
- “This sets up an obvious argument for DeSantis should he decide to run for president. His electability helped win him re-election by nearly 20 points and put Republicans in firm control of the levers of state government. That let him address the top priorities of the gun-rights movement and the gun industry.”
At 2 p.m., the Bidens and Vice President Harris will host the LSU women’s basketball team, which won the national championship this year.
At 5 p.m., the Bidens will host the UConn Huskies men’s basketball team, which dominated the NCAA Tournament this year.
The Bidens will leave the White House for Camp David at 6:30 p.m.
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Thanks for reading. See you next week.