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Post Politics Now: On Tax Day, the White House takes aim at GOP Sen. Rick Scott’s tax plan

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 4/18/2022 John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden appear during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post President Biden and first lady Jill Biden appear during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday.

Today, the White House is taking aim at a tax plan unveiled by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that would result in an increase in federal income taxes for roughly half of Americans. In a “fact sheet” released early Monday morning to coincide with Tax Day, the White House sought to use Scott’s proposal — which his GOP colleagues have hardly embraced — as a contrast with President Biden’s plans for the middle class.

Biden, meanwhile, presided Monday over the return of the White House Easter Egg Roll after a two-year hiatus due to the covid pandemic. He’s scheduled to hit the road again later this week to try to make the case that he and fellow Democrats are getting things done in Washington. Congress remains in recess this week.

Welcome to Post Politics Now, a new live experience from The Washington Post that puts the day’s political headlines into context. Each weekday, we’ll guide you through the news with assists from some of the best political reporters in the business providing insights and analysis.

Your daily dashboard

  • 10:15 a.m. Eastern: Biden delivered remarks at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Watch coverage here.
  • 4 p.m. Eastern: White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed reporters. Watch coverage here.
  • 5:15 p.m. Pacific: Vice President Harris delivered remarks while visiting Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Got a question about politics? Submit it here. At 3 p.m. weekdays, return to this space and we’ll address what’s on the mind of readers.

8:00 PM: On our radar: Biden to speak with allies about Ukraine before visiting New Hampshire

President Biden waves as he walks to speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport, in Des Moines on Tuesday. © Carolyn Kaster/AP President Biden waves as he walks to speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport, in Des Moines on Tuesday.

Biden will have a busy Tuesday: He is scheduled to meet virtually with allies to discuss the war in Ukraine before flying to New Hampshire to promote his administration’s infrastructure plans. Don’t expect much news coming out of Congress. Lawmakers are still out on recess and won’t be back in the Capitol for votes until next Monday.

Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye out for on Tuesday:

  • Biden will convene virtually with allies to discuss support for Ukraine. The meeting, which will be closed to journalists, comes a day after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States will impose more sanctions on Russia.
  • The president will then travel to Portsmouth, N.H. There, he will visit the New Hampshire Port Authority at Portsmouth Harbor, where he will deliver remarks on what the bipartisan infrastructure deal has accomplished.
  • The Florida legislature starts a special session to finalize a controversial congressional map. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was given control over the redrawing of the state’s congressional map after vetoing the version that the Republican-led legislature gave him.

7:33 PM: This just in: White House says agencies are ‘reviewing’ judge’s decision on public-transit masking order

An afternoon ruling from a Florida judge struck down the extension of the public-transit mask mandate. © Saul Martinez/Bloomberg News An afternoon ruling from a Florida judge struck down the extension of the public-transit mask mandate.

A Biden administration official said Monday that an order to wear masks on planes, on public transit and in transportation hubs is no longer in effect after a federal judge struck it down.

U.S. agencies are “reviewing” the judge’s decision, said the official, who shared the guidance with reporters on the condition of anonymity.

A federal judge on Monday struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order, which kept Americans masked on planes, on public transit and in transportation hubs.

“The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps,” the official said. “In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time.”

The Transportation Security Administration, the official said, “will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time.”

Earlier Monday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida struck down the rule, arguing that the mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority, reports our colleague Michael Laris.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the decision “disappointing” during her briefing.

The judge’s decision means millions of fliers in airports around the nation can fly maskless starting Monday, even as coronavirus cases rise in some areas.

The administration official pointed out that the CDC still recommends that people continue wearing masks “in indoor public transportation settings.”

5:52 PM: The latest: More U.S. sanctions against Russia are coming

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday to expect more sanctions on Russia. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday to expect more sanctions on Russia.

More U.S. sanctions on Russia are coming, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

As our colleague Amy B Wang reports, Psaki did not specify what those sanctions will be but said the administration is “continuing to review” its options and will probably have more information in the coming days.

Psaki also reiterated that Biden has no plans to visit Ukraine, despite calls from President Volodymyr Zelensky for Biden to do so.

From Amy:

Psaki also noted that the chairwoman of the Russian central bank had recently warned that the sanctions would “begin to increasingly affect the real sectors of the economy” in Russia and that “the period during which the [Russian] economy can live on reserves is finite.”
Comments such as those are signs that the sanctions are “really having the squeeze” that President Biden and his administration have conveyed, Psaki said.

5:07 PM: The latest: Trump-appointed judge overturns CDC mask mandate on planes, transit

Passengers wear masks at the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in California on April 13. (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) Passengers wear masks at the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in California on April 13. (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

A federal judge appointed by former president Donald Trump overturned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate for planes, airports, public transportation and other transport hubs Monday.

The move came not even a week after the CDC extended the mandate until May 3.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida argued that the mandate exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority, our colleague Michael Laris reports.

From Laris:

“Wearing a mask cleans nothing. At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance,” Mizelle wrote [in her decision]. …
The Biden administration has faced growing pressure to lift the mask requirement for air travel and public transit. Earlier this month, Republican leaders on the House and Senate transportation committees reiterated their call for President Biden to “rescind or decline to extend the mask mandate.” ...
The ruling comes as airlines are seeing a surge in spring travel — one the industry anticipates will extend through the summer and beyond. Transportation Security Administration officials have reported an increase in the number of people screened at airport checkpoints.

Mizelle drew attention online soon after her decision was published because of the circumstances of her 2020 nomination to the Middle District of Florida.

When Trump named her to the seat, Mizelle, then 33, had only worked as a practicing lawyer for eight years and had never tried a case as a lead attorney or co-counsel. Because of this limited experience, the American Bar Association gave her a “not qualified” rating during her confirmation process. The ABA committee that rates attorneys for judicial positions has a 12-year minimum experience benchmark.

Mizelle, who had clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was confirmed after Trump lost the election in November 2020 as the Republican-led Senate still had the majority. No Democrat voted for her confirmation.

Read more about her decision to strike down the CDC’s mask mandate here.

5:02 PM: Take a look: Democrats leading the number of House members retiring

With the midterms about seven months away, 30 Democrats have announced their retirements compared with 17 Republicans. Two Republicans announced their retirement this month, but the GOP’s total is still outpaced by Democrats by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Pulled together by our colleagues Daniela Santamariña and Dave Clarke, here are the past election cycles showing the total departures which produced an open seat in a November election, by month. The graphic also shows the numbers for this November’s election.

© Provided by The Washington Post © Provided by The Washington Post

You can read more here.

4:17 PM: Noted: Greene’s Democratic challenger outraised her. It probably won’t make a difference.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), was outraised by her Democratic opponent last quarter. © Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), was outraised by her Democratic opponent last quarter.

Lately, controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has not pulled the same enormous fundraising totals she previously has, even as one of her Democratic challengers netted large totals over the past three months.

None of that is likely to hurt her chances in November.

Per Federal Election Commission numbers, Greene raised $1.1 million in the first three months of 2022, a paltry sum compared with the $2.4 million that Marcus Flowers, a Democrat running for her seat, raised in that period.

When compared with Greene’s 2021 records — she raised a staggering $3.2 million during the first quarter of that year, her first three months in office — these totals signal how her fundraising prowess has diminished.

This can be tied to Greene’s constant brushes with her own party, given that her views — including suggestions that Ukraine instigated the Russian invasion and multiple antisemitic statements — have drawn GOP criticism and rebuke.

These differences have encouraged some of her GOP opponents. Still, other Republicans remain outraised by Greene, who reported more than $3 million in hand.

Though Flowers’s fundraising may be a feat to highlight, it is unlikely to make a difference in November. Greene and Donald Trump won their races in Georgia’s 14th District in 2020 with about 75 percent of the vote. Flowers’s fundraising is, perhaps, just a sign of Democrats’ hope to oust Greene.

It seems, so far, that neither a Republican or a Democratic candidate will be able to do so.

3:24 PM: Take a look: How Biden’s comments on Ukraine diverge from U.S. policy

President Biden has, over the past few months, veered from or contradicted his administration’s official policy toward Russia and Ukraine.

The Post’s video team has kept track. Take a look:

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3:10 PM: Your questions answered: Why is marijuana still illegal at the federal level?

Marijuana seized by the D.C. police's narcotics unit in 2019. © Marvin Joseph/WASHINGTON POST Marijuana seized by the D.C. police's narcotics unit in 2019.

Given what we know about the benefits of marijuana, and the fact that many states are allowing its use, why is it still illegal federally? asks a reader from Florida.

You are correct — 37 states and D.C. have legalized medical marijuana, while 18 and D.C. allow nonmedical use. We know a lot about many of the plant’s benefits, whether it be its job creation power or its medical effects.

Still, the drug remains illegal at the federal level, and it will probably remain that way, not because a majority of politicians in Washington don’t recognize the benefits of legalizing it but because a minority remains opposed.

Decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level wouldn’t end the vast majority of cannabis-use prosecutions, which occur in state courts. That’s why it is key that marijuana legislation is introduced state by state. Still, federal legislation would end conflicts between state and federal law for those states that have loosened restrictions.

The latest move to legalize marijuana in Congress came earlier this month, when the House passed a bill that would remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances, as our colleagues Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis reported.

Republicans opposed to this bill called the legalization a “waste of time,” per Felicia and Mike:

“The left will not let the Democrats do what needs to be done to help the inflation problem, the energy problem, the illegal immigration problem on our southern border, so what do they do? They legalize drugs. Wow. Wow. This is wrong and everybody knows it. … Let’s focus on the things that matter,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said.

The bill moved to the Senate in a largely party-line vote, with three Republicans voting in favor. And while the legislation’s chances in the Senate don’t look great, given the chamber’s 50-to-50 split, some Democrats there are planning to release marijuana legislation later this month.

2:41 PM: Noted: The long history of rolling eggs on the White House lawn

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on Monday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post President Biden and first lady Jill Biden read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on Monday.

It has been said (here, among other places) that the return of the Easter Egg Roll brought a bit of normalcy back to the White House.

In her coverage of the event, The Post’s Petula Dvorak offers a sense of just how normal it had become before being interrupted by the pandemic for two years. Petula writes:

Kids have been rolling eggs on the South Lawn since 1878, when President Rutherford B. Hayes invited them over after Congress kicked them off the Capitol lawn.
The event was paused for World War II, then for conservation after the war, and then because of construction around the White House. It returned after 11 years under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Bad weather shut it down five times since then.

A little drizzle did not impede this year’s festivities, which included appearances by the likes of Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”

You can read Petula’s full piece here:

1:39 PM: Noted: Cawthorn said Republicans engaged in orgy, drug use. Now he falsely claims ‘the left’ and media said it.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who is facing a tight reelection primary, falsely claimed that “the left” and the media were behind accusations he made in March that older Republicans in Congress had invited him to participate in an “orgy,” and that he had witnessed members of his party using cocaine.

Cawthorn tried to shift the blame for his comments in a fundraising appeal to constituents.

“My comments on a recent podcast appearance calling out corruption in DC have been used by the left and the media to disparage my Republican colleagues and falsely insinuate their involvement in illicit activities,” Cawthorn wrote.

But the only member of Congress who has disparaged his GOP colleagues by accusing them of participating in illicit activities is Cawthorn himself.

Cawthorn earned the scorn and rejection of Republicans led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who accused him of lying and who said there was “no evidence” of Republicans engaging in the illicit activities that Cawthorn described.

North Carolina’s two senators have rebuked Cawthorn: Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called him an “embarrassment” and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said he has “not done much” for his district.

Cawthorn probably needs all the GOP support he can get for reelection after putting his congressional career at risk by running in a new North Carolina district that Republicans drew as a safely red seat before the state Supreme Court threw out that map. When Cawthorn returned to run in the district he represents, two Republican challengers had already built solid campaigns accusing him of failing to meet his potential.

1:08 PM: Noted: Pelosi backs Crist for Fla. governor, siding with a former Republican

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has weighed in on the Florida governor’s race, offering her endorsement to Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), a former Republican who is now serving his sixth year in Congress.

Pelosi’s backing should help Crist with fundraising, among other things, and comes at the expense of two other Democrats in the primary, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who represents a Miami-area district.

“He’ll be a champion for women’s reproductive rights, create opportunities for small-business owners and also show empathy and compassion for our working families,” Pelosi said of Crist in a video distributed by his campaign.

“It’s a stark contrast to the current governor. Florida, you deserve better,” Pelosi added, taking a dig at Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), whom Crist is seeking to replace.

Before joining Congress, Crist served as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011, when he was a Republican.

12:40 PM: The latest: Scott tries to push back on Biden’s tax claims

A spokesman for Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sought Monday to push back on the White House assertion in an early morning fact sheet that Scott is seeking to raise taxes, claiming Biden was “lying” about Scott’s plan and should instead be “addressing the myriad crises he’s created.”

“The fact sheet claims that Senator Scott is proposing a tax increase. That’s a lie,” Scott communications director McKinley Lewis asserted in an email.

Amid the brouhaha that followed the release of his plan in February, Scott tried to clarify that it would apply to a smaller number of people than the plain text suggests. But there are still some Americans who would see their taxes increase, even under the latest of explanations.

The plain text of Scott’s plan says this: “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

Democrats pounced on the language — and Republicans distanced themselves from Scott’s proposal. Democrats pointed out that taken literally, it would result in a tax increase for about half of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes.

In an op-ed for the Daily Caller that attempted to clarify his plan, Scott said there are “two categories of folks in America who do need to pay their fair share.” According to Scott, those are “a sizeable class of people in the country who live off government handouts, even though they could be working” and “some very wealthy people who can hire an army of lobbyists, lawyers and accountants to avoid paying their fair share.”

11:44 AM: On our radar: Libraries emerge as conservative target for book content

Public libraries are emerging as the latest battleground over book content, with conservative activists teaming with like-minded politicians to seek to remove books and gut library boards.

Reporting from Llano, Tex., the site of one such censorship battle, The Post’s Annie Gowen writes:

With these actions, Llano joins a growing number of communities across America where conservatives have mounted challenges to books and other content related to race, sex, gender and other subjects they deem inappropriate.
A movement that started in schools has rapidly expanded to public libraries, accounting for 37 percent of book challenges last year, according to the American Library Association. Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana and Louisiana, have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.

You can read Annie’s full story here

11:04 AM: Analysis from Paul Kane, Senior congressional correspondent and columnist

What’s being spent to defend Murkowski — There’s a fascinating number buried inside the new outline of midterm ad spending from the super PAC trying to secure a GOP Senate majority: $7.4 million. That’s the amount reserved for advertising to defend Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as she seeks to win a fourth full term after years of bucking a new GOP establishment that has hitched its wagon to former president Donald Trump.

The number, first reported Monday morning by Politico, is considered an initial investment and will probably grow as the race draws closer — but it is already larger than the $6.4 million the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) spent in 2020 to defend Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) in what was considered a more competitive race.

Most of this SLF money will probably go toward helping Murkowski fend off her Trump-endorsed opponent, Kelly Tshibaka, a little-known former state official. This puts Trump and his allies on notice over how expensive it will be to take out the incumbent senator, who made a public break with Trump in June 2020 after federal security officials cleared out protesters from Lafayette Square before the then-president marched over for a photo op with a Bible outside a church.

Murkowski wrote in another candidate in her November 2020 presidential ballot, then voted to convict Trump in the February 2021 impeachment trial. She has voted for most of Biden’s Cabinet picks as well as Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

10:40 AM: Noted: Return of White House Easter Egg Roll offers a bit of normalcy

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Thousands of families streamed onto the White House lawn Monday morning, braving a little light rain, for the return of the annual Easter Egg Roll after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event felt almost like normal times for President Biden, providing a respite from the fallout of the war in Ukraine, persistent inflation and the remnants of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We weren’t able to host this Easter Egg Roll last year because of the pandemic,” Biden said in brief remarks. “But this year, this year, we’re finally getting together again. And it’s so special.”

“EGGucation” is the theme of this year’s event, which was also drew first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

The South Lawn was set up to look like a school community, “full of fun educational activities for children to enjoy in addition to the traditional rolling and hunting eggs,” according to a White House advisory.

On Friday, a limited schedule of White House tours for the public also resumed.

10:19 AM: On our radar: Senate campaign committee also seeking to highlight Scott tax plan

It’s not just the White House that is trying to make hay on Tax Day of a plan by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that would raise the federal income taxes of about half of Americans.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Monday that it has bought billboard space in Florida and Wisconsin to promote the claim that Senate Republicans plan to raise taxes.

In truth, most of Scott’s GOP colleagues immediately sought to distance themselves from the plan he released in February that said everyone should have some “skin in the game” when it comes to federal income taxes. As Scott’s plan noted, about half of Americans do not pay federal income taxes because they do not earn enough to have income tax liability and because many receive tax credits.

The DSCC said its billboards are near the Florida offices of Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Another billboard has been purchased in Wisconsin near the office of Sen. Ron Johnson (R), the DSCC said.

9:51 AM: Analysis from Aaron Blake, Senior political reporter, writing for The Fix

Cuomo would be in good company if he attempts comeback — Former New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) on Monday sent one of his strongest signals to date that he might run for the office he resigned in August amid sexual harassment allegations. And if he were to run, he would have some company among recent governors who resigned during controversies.

Cuomo’s New York Daily News op-ed is titled “There’s a better way forward for New York State.” Though he doesn’t allude to his own plans, the headline pretty much says it all. Cuomo’s main point is that Democrats need to take “dramatic action” to halt “the New York City crime spree” — an issue Cuomo could surely make the centerpiece of a campaign.

And if he were to run, it would make him the third former governor to resign amid controversy — out of the last five — to run for statewide office in 2022.

Former Missouri governor Eric Greitens (R) is running for Senate just four years after resigning during a political and personal scandal, the latter of which involved alleged unwanted sexual contact with his hairdresser.

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) announced this month that she would run for the state’s at-large House seat. She resigned in 2009 for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, but she faced a number of ethics investigations.

Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer (D), who resigned amid a prostitution scandal in 2008, tried to run for New York City comptroller in 2013 but lost a primary.

Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) did not resign in 2009 amid his admitted sex scandal, serving out his term. He was later elected to the House.

9:23 AM: Take a look: Ads from candidates who wanted Trump’s endorsement but didn’t get it

A formula has emerged for statewide candidates backed by Donald Trump: Wrap yourself in the former president’s endorsement and heavily feature him in your television ads. Exhibit A was Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue, who let Trump do all the talking in his first spot.

But what to do if you angled for Trump’s endorsement and didn’t get it? Recently released ads — one in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania — provide some test cases.

In Ohio, Republican Senate hopeful Josh Mandel instead features a testimonial from his biggest backer, Sen. Ted Cruz. The senator from Texas touts Mandel’s economic stewardship while treasurer of his state. Trump has endorsed “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance in Ohio’s crowded GOP primary.

In Pennsylvania, Senate hopeful Dave McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, can’t tap Trump, but some of Trump’s campaign flags are prominently featured near the end of his ad. Trump sided with the celebrity retired physician Mehmet Oz in that race.

9:00 AM: Analysis from Tyler Pager, White House reporter

The week ahead at the White House — President Biden will head to the West Coast later this week for only the second time during his presidency, as he continues an accelerated pace of domestic travel.

The president will begin his week by participating in the annual Easter Egg Roll, during which thousands of children are expected to descend on the South Lawn. The event comes as the White House is starting to reopen its grounds to the general public after visitors have largely been prohibited from the president’s home for more than two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the president will travel to Portsmouth, N.H., to tout the bipartisan infrastructure law. His trip will take him to the district of Rep. Chris Pappas (N.H.), one of the most vulnerable House Democrats, and to the state of Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), who is up for reelection in what is expected to be a tightly contested race.

Biden will meet with U.S. military leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at the White House on Wednesday and then host the leaders and their spouses for dinner.

On Thursday, Biden will fly to Portland, Ore., for another infrastructure-related event. He will then head to Seattle to celebrate Earth Day and discuss his administration’s work to combat climate change.

The hectic schedule follows last week’s trips to Iowa and North Carolina, which came after Biden went nearly a month without any domestic travel outside of weekend trips to Delaware.

8:30 AM: Noted: Bucking trend, Fetterman makes a show of visiting Pa.’s red counties

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) speaks to supporters at a campaign stop on April 3 in Gettysburg. © Jeff Swensen for The Washington Post Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) speaks to supporters at a campaign stop on April 3 in Gettysburg.

As rural counties grow redder and redder, some Democrats have focused on winning over suburban swing voters turned off by former president Donald Trump and trying to maximize turnout in Democrat-heavy cities.

The Post’s Paul Schwartzman takes a look at one Democrat not ready to give up on less populated areas: John Fetterman, who is the apparent Democratic front-runner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey in Pennsylvania. Paul writes:

Fetterman campaigned in these areas in 2016, when he ran for the Senate as a pro-Bernie Sanders candidate and finished second in the primary. After a similar strategy helped him become Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor two years later, he visited all 67 counties during a listening tour about legalizing pot. “This is old hat for us,” he says.

You can read Paul’s full dispatch from Gettysburg, Pa., here.

7:44 AM: Analysis: Senate’s four most vulnerable Democrats have sizable campaign accounts

Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) makes remarks reporters on a voting rights bill on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 18. © Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) makes remarks reporters on a voting rights bill on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 18.

The prospect of Republicans taking over the House is getting far more attention, but there are some vulnerable Democrats in the evenly divided Senate as well whose races are being closely watched.

Writing in The Early 202, The Post’s Theodoric Meyer and Jacqueline Alemany note that the four Democratic senators facing the toughest reelection races this year — two of whom have been in the Senate for barely a year — have all built up massive campaign accounts. They write:

Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) had $25.6 million on hand on March 31, Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) had $23.3 million, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) had $11.1 million and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) has $7.6 million.
None of those states have held primaries yet, but there are strong front-runners in the Republican primaries in Georgia and Nevada.

You can read the full analysis here, which also includes insights on other recently filed campaign reports, including that of the super PAC Make America Great Again, Again.

7:01 AM: On our radar: Rick Scott’s tax plan draws notice from the White House

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) walks to a news conference on Capitol Hill on March 15. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) walks to a news conference on Capitol Hill on March 15.

It was clear from the moment Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) released a plan in February that included a tax increase on roughly half of Americans that it would be a big fat target for Democrats during a midterm election year.

The latest to take aim: the White House.

In an early morning “fact sheet,” the White House uses the plan released by Scott, who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to argue that Biden is seeking to cut taxes for the middle class while Republicans want to raise them.

“Republicans complain that middle-class Americans don’t have ‘skin in the game’ and don’t pay enough in taxes,” the White House says. “But the truth is that middle-class Americans are the back bone of our economy, pay plenty in federal, state, and local taxes, and in many cases pay a higher rate than the super-wealthy.”

The “fact sheet” makes no mention of the fact that Scott’s Senate colleagues, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), immediately distanced themselves from Scott’s plan.

Scott has argued that Democrats are mischaracterizing it, but the plan clearly states: “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

It’s true that roughly 50 percent of Americans do not pay federal income taxes because they do not earn enough to have income tax liability and because many receive tax credits.

Scott’s tenure as NRSC chairman, meanwhile, is examined in a new story by The Post’s Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey in which Scott argues that he owes his detractors nothing:

“My whole life has been people telling me that, you know, you’re doing it the wrong way. You can’t, you shouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “I’ve been up here for three years. Do you know how many people have come to me and asked me, before they vote, what my opinion is on something and whether it’s good for my state? That would be zero.”

You can read the full story here.

6:58 AM: Take a look: Zelensky says he thinks Biden will come to Ukraine

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The Sunday news talk shows featured interviews with several top Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, who said he thinks Biden should come to the war zone to witness firsthand the destruction caused by Russia. “I think he will,” Zelensky said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Take a look at the highlights pulled together by The Post’s JM Rieger.

6:57 AM: Analysis: If not Biden, who carries the torch for the Democrats?

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks on infrastructure at the White House recently, while Vice President Harris addresses reporters in Paris Friday. © From left, Demetrius Freeman; Sarahbeth Maney/From left, The Washington Post; pool photo Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks on infrastructure at the White House recently, while Vice President Harris addresses reporters in Paris Friday.

As soon as this year’s midterms wrap, attention will rapidly pivot to the 2024 presidential contests for both parties.

The Post’s Aaron Blake assesses the landscape on the Democratic side, noting the possibility that even if President Biden seeks a second term, he might not have the field to himself. Aaron writes:

We’ve seen some evidence that Democrats aren’t sold on nominating Biden for a second term, including a poll in November showing a majority of Democrats didn’t want him to run again. But lots of Republicans say the same about a repeat run for Donald Trump in 2024 — yet he’s the clear front-runner when you pit him against actual would-be opponents.

Aaron ranks the 10 most likely Democratic nominees, with some familiar names and some less so. Spoiler alert: Both Vice President Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are in the mix. You can read Aaron’s full assessment here.

6:55 AM: Noted: Highest-profile Democratic challenger to Grassley back on Iowa ballot

Democrat Abby Finkenauer leaves the Iowa Supreme Court building with her husband, Daniel Wasta, on Wednesday. © Charlie Neibergall/AP Democrat Abby Finkenauer leaves the Iowa Supreme Court building with her husband, Daniel Wasta, on Wednesday.

Democrat Abby Finkenauer, the highest-profile Democrat seeking to topple Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R), is back on the ballot in Iowa, thanks to a state Supreme Court ruling.

If Finkenauer, a former congresswoman, wins the June 7 Democratic primary, she’ll face off in November with Grassley, who at 88 is the oldest member of the Senate.

The decision, issued Friday, overturns a county judge’s ruling that Finkenauer had failed to meet a state law that requires candidates to submit at least 100 signatures from at least 19 counties to qualify for the ballot.

The Post’s Felicia Sonmez has details:

“The GOP’s attempts to undermine ballot access and our election process were pathetic and desperate,” Finkenauer said in a statement posted to her Twitter feed. “Today they lost. With a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court, we’re still in this fight and we WILL beat Chuck Grassley in November. It’s a good day for our democracy.”
Two other candidates — retired Navy vice admiral Mike Franken and doctor Glenn Hurst — are also running in the Democratic primary.

You can read Felicia’s full story here.

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