Article was first printed here on the Morning Dispatch. here.
Happy Wednesday! Start your day off with impeccable vibes by watching 22-year-old Cubs prospect Christopher Morel hit a 417-foot home run in his first-ever major league at bat before a roaring Wrigley Field crowd.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon, Idaho, and Kentucky held their primary elections last night ahead of November’s midterms. Some highlights:
- Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman sailed to victory over Rep. Conor Lamb in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. He will face either Dr. Mehmet Oz or Dave McCormick in the general election; the Republican primary was too close to call as of this newsletter and is likely headed to an automatic recount.
- Rep. Ted Budd defeated former Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. He will face former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, in November.
- Also in North Carolina, beleaguered GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn was narrowly defeated by state Sen. Chuck Edwards.
- Trump-backed state Rep. Doug Mastriano easily won Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial primary, and will face Josh Shapiro—currently the state’s Democratic attorney general—in the general election.
- Idaho’s Republican Gov. Brad Little was renominated, fending off a primary challenge from Janice McGeachin, the state’s Trump-backed lieutenant governor.
- Ukrainian forces that had held out in a Mariupol steel plant for months laid down their arms on Tuesday, ending a battle for the city that tied up Russian forces, slowing Russian advances elsewhere. Ukraine hopes to organize a prisoner exchange to return the more than 260 Ukrainian fighters from Russian custody.
- Senior White House officials told reporters on Tuesday the Biden administration is planning to ease some sanctions on Venezuelan oil in an effort to both increase global supply and encourage negotiations between President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the U.S.-backed opposition. The move will potentially allow Chevron to restart operations in the country, and let European companies divert more Venezuelan crude back to Europe.
- The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday it is amending the emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to allow children between the ages of 5 and 11 to receive a booster dose at least five months after their initial shots. A CDC panel will meet later this week to make its formal recommendation.
- Nestlé—the parent company of Gerber baby food—said it will begin flying extra baby formula to the United States from Switzerland and the Netherlands after the FDA announced it would be more “flexible” allowing imports from overseas producers in light of ongoing shortages. The company is prioritizing formula made for children with allergies, but ramping up production across the board.
- The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that U.S. retail sales increased 0.9 percent in April, a drop from the 1.4 percent month-over-month increase in March but the fourth straight month of growth. The statistic is not adjusted for inflation, however, so higher prices likely accounted for much of the increase.
- The Chinese Communist Party’s near-total lockdown of Shanghai appears to be nearing an end, with select stores and manufacturers allowed to resume activity in recent days as local officials report community Omicron transmission has slowed. Hundreds of thousands of people reportedly remain in mandatory isolation—either in facilities or at home—as the country continues to pursue a zero-COVID strategy.
- The Department of Justice is suing businessman and Republican fundraiser Steve Wynn in an effort to force him to register as a foreign agent, alleging he lobbied Trump in 2017—on behalf of the Chinese government—to extradite a businessman who had criticized the Chinese Communist Party.
Pennsylvania Senate Too Close to Call
We’ll have to wait at least one more day—and probably more than that—to update the narrative about former President Donald Trump’s lasting grip on the Republican Party. After helping J.D. Vance win a come-from-behind victory in Ohio last month, Trump’s next big test was in Pennsylvania, where he endorsed TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz over businessman and former Treasury official Dave McCormick and commentator Kathy Barnette to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. As of this writing, the race remained too close to call.
McCormick—an Army veteran who went on to serve in the Bush administration and as CEO of a large hedge fund—led for almost the entire night, blowing his sagging late poll numbers out of the water. But Oz hung around and finally surpassed McCormick around midnight, when more than 90 percent of the vote had come in. When we hit send on this newsletter, Oz led by 0.2 percentage points—about 2,700 votes—with 94 percent of the electorate tabulated.
North Carolina Says Goodbye to Madison, Hello to Ted
In North Carolina, at least, actions may still have consequences. Rep. Madison Cawthorn—the 26-year-old who embarrassed his fellow Republicans with stories about being invited to orgies and witnessing cocaine use, labeled Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelensky a “thug,” was caught trying to carry a loaded gun onto a plane (twice), encouraged activists to “lightly threaten” members of Congress over 2020 election claims, was charged for driving with a revoked license, and faced accusations of insider trading from a GOP colleague and of sexual harassment from multiple women—lost to a primary challenger on Tuesday.
Cawthorn had several built-in advantages as an incumbent, plus support from former President Donald Trump and strong fundraising numbers. But in addition to the aforementioned scandals, Cawthorn earned himself some high-powered Republican enemies—GOPposition, if you will—when he briefly sought to leave his district for another one, before returning to the 11th when redistricting made it what he thought would be an easier win. “He made a self-interested calculation,” J. Michael Bitzer, a politics and history professor at North Carolina’s Catawba College, told The Dispatch. “That, I would have to believe, would leave a sour taste in voters’ mouths.”
While Cawthorn was exploring other options, state Sen. Chuck Edwards entered the race. The more traditional 61-year-old businessman ran primarily on securing the border, balancing the budget, pursuing energy independence, and improving education—and he picked up a few key endorsements in the process. “There’s no one thing that put me in a position to where [for] the first time in my career I’m opposing a sitting Republican,” GOP Sen. Thom Tillis—also of North Carolina—told CNN, explaining his disdain for Cawthorn. “I’ve never done it. But it’s the totality. It’s a lack of seriousness.” Tillis endorsed Edwards, and a super PAC aligned with the senator spent more than $1 million on ads opposing the 26-year-old representative.
The McCormick-Oz race may still be too close to call, but the other high-profile GOP election in Pennsylvania last night very much wasn’t. State Rep. Doug Mastriano—whom Trump endorsed last weekend—ran away with the gubernatorial primary, securing 44 percent of the vote to former Rep. Lou Barletta’s 20 percent and Bill McSwain’s 16 percent.
Audrey was at Mastriano HQ last night, and drove home from Pennsylvania at 1 a.m. to make sure this story was up on the site today.
Mastriano is popular among Republican primary voters, but he may have a … bit of an electability problem come November.
Winning the general election will be no cakewalk for Mastriano in a state that in the past has skewed more purple than red. An ardent supporter of Trump, Mastriano attended the “Save America” march that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol last year, and was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6 for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Both Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report had initially rated the general election race a tossup but changed the race to “leans Democrat” after Mastriano’s victory.
Worth Your Time
- John McWhorter’s latest New York Times column argues we need multiple terms to describe the many different concepts “racism” has come to encompass. “We increasingly apply the term in reference both to violent hate crimes and to the fact that, for example, in the aggregate, Black students don’t perform as well on standardized tests as some of their counterparts,” he writes. “But while we tend to use the term ‘racism’ for both things, it isn’t readily obvious to most how both prejudice and a differential in performance are versions of the same thing, referred to with one word. One of the thorniest aspects of today’s race debate is that we have come to apply that word to a spread of phenomena so vast as to potentially confuse even the best-intended of people.”
- McDonalds’ decision to permanently pull out of Russia is about a lot more than just burgers and fries, Ian Birrell argues at UnHerd. “Removal of the Golden Arches from Moscow spotlights the arrival of another Cold War between democracy and dictatorship,” he writes. “For the moment, it is focused on Russia after Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine. But his allies in China are looking hungrily at Taiwan as they watch this war play out—another reason why this fight is so important. The retrenchment by McDonalds comes after the pandemic focused corporate minds on the pitfalls of long supply chains while exposing how Beijing’s rulers could not be trusted after a global battle broke out against a mysterious new disease that emerged within its borders. Even now, they resist global efforts to discover the truth about Covid’s origins. Russia was already cutting itself off from the West—like China—with a war on foreign media and technology firms to protect the ruling circle of thieves even before the imposition of wartime sanctions and exodus of foreign firms. Now McDonalds is the perfect illustration of how Ukraine’s existential struggle for survival is accelerating the divide between autocracies and liberal democracies.”
Presented Without Comment
Liam Donovan @LPDonovan
Magnanimity is wise when you have another 40+ years left for a comeback https://t.co/vXLQ76j0jy
Also Presented Without Comment
ABC News @ABC
People who protest in front of private residences in Florida can face jail time and fines under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. https://t.co/YCA2uT0sWM
Toeing the Company Line
- In Tuesday’s Uphill, Haley outlines a bill congressional Democrats will attempt to pass in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting. “The legislation would create dedicated domestic terrorism offices in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice, and the FBI,” she notes. “But Republicans and some progressives have raised concerns that new authorities could infringe on Americans’ civil liberties.”
- Political scientist Yascha Mounk returned to The Remnant on Tuesday for a conversation with Jonah about his new book on sustaining diverse democracies. What are the true dangers of tribalism and populism? What does healthy patriotism look like?
- David’s latest French Press (🔒) takes the Heritage Foundation to task for opposing Congress’ latest Ukraine aid package. “The sheer pettiness of the objections—especially in light of the urgency of the tactical and strategic situation—is remarkable,” he argues. “The Ukraine aid represents a whopping .06 percent of federal expenditures. It is relatively immaterial to our national spending crisis. It’s a rounding error in the American budget. But it’s not a rounding error on the battlefield.”
- Steve, Jonah, and Andrew were joined on last night’s Dispatch Live by GOP strategist David Kochel. What have the primaries held thus far told us about the Republican Party? If you missed the discussion—or want to watch it again—Dispatch members can do so here.
- On the site today, Charlotte shares details from Mark Esper’s new book, Eric Edelman explains what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is up to with efforts to oppose Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, and Vlad Kobets and David J. Kramer warn that the West can’t let Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko off the hook.