The Hill : “Why Trumps Effort to Oust Murkowski Could Hit Hurdles”


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will face off against Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate on Tuesday, a long-awaited showdown that comes more than a year after she voted to convict the former president over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

The primary comes as Trump racks up wins across the country in his quest to rid Congress of Republicans who have crossed him. And polls have showed his pick in the race, Kelly Tshibaka, leading the primary pack.

RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH: Tina Ramirez to turn aim from Congress to state Senate, setting up potential clash with Amanda Chase

Tina Ramirez is turning her aim from the 7th Congressional District to the new 12th state Senate District in Chesterfield County, where she faces a likely primary battle with another conservative Republican who had an eye on Congress, Sen. Amanda Chase.

Ramirez announced Wednesday that she will drop her bid to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, in the dramatically reconfigured congressional district and seek the Republican nomination next year in the new 12th Senate district, which is almost entirely western Chesterfield, with a small slice of Colonial Heights.

“The 12th Senate District is a wholly new district, which is exciting because we need new voices and fresh ideas,” she said. “This is what I bring to the conservative movement. We don’t need the same career politicians who relentlessly spew the same tired talking points, but accomplish nothing.”

“The formation of new lines also highlights a truth that is too often forgotten: this seat belongs to the people, not to any candidate,” she added. “The people will decide who is the best person to represent their conservative values.”

The Senate redistricting map that the Virginia Supreme Court approved recently has upended political calculations throughout Virginia, moving the 7th Congressional District from being anchored in the Richmond suburbs to Prince William County, the Fredericksburg area and part of the rural Piedmont.
As a result, both Chase and now Ramirez have dropped their bids to unseat Spanberger, who lives in western Henrico but now plans to run for a third term in the new district.

The political landscape also has changed dramatically for Senate and House districts in the General Assembly. The 12th Senate District currently is represented by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, but her home has been shifted into the new 16th Senate District, including western Henrico and part of Richmond.

The new map also shifted Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, from the current 10th Senate District – encompassing parts of Chesterfield, Richmond and Powhatan counties – into the 12th, but Hashmi announced this week that she will run in the new 15th District to represent eastern Chesterfield, including Chester, and part of South Richmond.

Ramirez, a Chesterfield businesswoman and founder of a nonprofit foundation to promote religious freedom, is bringing a hefty campaign fund for the congressional campaign to her Senate bid, with almost $343,000 raised through Sept. 30.

Her focus remains on conservative values and issues that are much like those of Chase, a two-term senator who has courted controversy as a self-styled “Trump in heels” on the GOP’s right wing.

Like Chase, Ramirez has voiced concern about alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential election, although she acknowledges Joe Biden as president. Chase is calling for a forensic audit of the election results in Virginia, which Biden won by 10 percentage points.

“I have fought for our freedoms around the world, and I am committed to securing them here at home so my daughter grows up in an America that reflects our values,” she said.

Ramirez is a Powhatan native whose parents were second-generation immigrants from Mexico and what was then Czechoslovakia. She lives in Chesterfield with her daughter, Abigail, and is a former public school teacher who blames Democrats for the shuttering of schools during part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m running because I care about the commonwealth and because I am committed to serving my neighbors and their interests,” she said.

FOX NEWS: AOC invited by Virginia GOP House hopeful to campaign for Dem incumbent Spanberger

Republican Tina Ramirez extended the invite to Ocasio-Cortez after the Squad member suggested it was a ‘mistake’ for moderate Dems to consider their far-left colleagues a ‘liability’

Virginia Republican has invited U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to campaign for the Democratic incumbent who the GOP candidate hopes to unseat next year.

Republican Tina Ramirez – who’s running against second-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger – extended the offer after Ocasio-Cortez recently insisted it was a “mistake” for moderate Democrats to consider their radical fellow party members a “liability.”

“For the past few years, Abigail Spanberger has been been living a double life,” Republican challenger Tina Ramirez wrote in a statement first provided to Fox News on Tuesday, referring to the second-term Democrat.

“In Virginia, she represents herself as a moderate Democrat. But that mask comes off in Washington,” Ramirez continued.

“Having only interacted with Abigail Spanberger in Washington, it’s no wonder why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks a progressive message would be popular in Virginia,” the Republican added. “Especially after Spanberger voted for a multi-trillion dollar wish list masquerading as an infrastructure bill by the most ridiculous and dishonest of definitions.”

“I welcome Alexandria to visit Virginia to show voters who Abigail Spanberger really is when the cameras aren’t on,” Ramirez concluded.

The Republican, who is challenging Spanberger o represent Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, quoted Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks in a New York Times interview published earlier this month.

Ocasio-Cortez, a noted radical in the Democratic caucus who identifies herself as a Democratic socialist, insisted it was a mistake for moderate Democrats to have distanced themselves from radicals like herself.

“Before the Virginia elections, it was very clear that our help and our participation was not wanted or asked for, which is fine,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I’m not here to tell people how to run their races. But at the same time, to consider the members here that have some of the tightest relationships to our political base as just a uniform liability — and not something that can be selectively deployed, or consulted, or anything — I think it’s just sad. I think it was a mistake.”

A recent incident put the difference between the more moderate Spanberger and the more radical Ocasio-Cortez into stark relief.

When House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California issued a blustering speech against Build Back Better, he cited Spanberger, who said that “nobody elected Joe Biden to be FDR,” referring to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Immediately after this statement, a female voice in Congress cried out, “I did.” Reporters later identified that voice as belonging to Ocasio-Cortez.

THE BLAZE: College posts video of student blasting Rittenhouse verdict, accusing him of ‘murdering … two beautiful black lives’ — except Rosenbaum and Huber were white

James Madison University on its official Instagram account shared a video featuring a student not only decrying the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case but also accusing Rittenhouse of “murdering … two beautiful black lives.”

Which is quite a feat considering the pair he fatally shot in self defense amid rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year — Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — were as white as Rittenhouse.

What are the details?

Tina Ramirez — founder of religious freedom nonprofit Hardwired Global and a Republican congressional candidate in Virginia, Fox News said — shared the video from James Madison’s Instagram page on Twitter.

The video as seen on Ramirez’s Twitter page begins with what appears to be an introduction of a student documentary about a “day in the life of Deaquan Nichols.” Nichols, a student, narrates the video.

The clip cuts to Nichols decrying last week’s Rittenhouse verdict — not guilty on all five counts against him.

“All the protesting, everything we went through in 2020, we really think would make a change, but clearly it doesn’t,” Nichols said. “We scream ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but it doesn’t matter enough for these people who are in power — the jury, the judge, anybody — to charge this man with murdering and taking away two beautiful black lives at the ripe ages of 26 and 36. It’s disgusting.”

Nichols doesn’t mention the names of Huber and Rosenbaum, but they were the only two people Rittenhouse fatally shot, and they were 26 and 36, respectively. Rittenhouse also shot and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, who testified he pointed a gun at Rittenhouse’s head before Rittenhouse shot him in the right bicep. Grosskreutz also is white.

Ramirez wrote in her Twitter posts that she received the clip from a JMU alum and that the clip is “now deleted.” She added that JMU “is a publicly funded university that is now pushing political propaganda and misinformation from their social media accounts” and that the school’s “actions are unethical, as Kyle Rittenhouse was found innocent, and dangerous, as the post pushes false info that could lead to violence.”

Ramirez added to Fox News that it was “egregious” of JMU to allow the video which broadcasted “blatant misinformation” on the school’s Instagram platform.

What did James Madison U. have to say?

A JMU spokeswoman told Fox News that the video in question was part of its “student takeovers” on social media platforms that are “an opportunity for our audiences to learn about student activities and research.”

College spokeswoman Mary-Hope Vass added to the cable network that “one of yesterday’s takeovers went into the personal opinion and viewpoints of a student, which are not necessarily reflective of the university. The video expressing this opinion was removed from the university’s social media account.”

Anything else?

The Rittenhouse verdict led to other controversial pronouncements from James Madison University.

The school’s department of chemistry and biochemistry said in a pair of Saturday tweets that “it is hard to focus on science if you are worried you might be legally shot or run over at a protest. It is hard to focus on science if you are worried your loved ones might be killed getting Skittles, or selling cigarettes, or playing with a toy gun, or sitting in their apartment, or jogging, or wearing a hoodie,” referencing the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Martin once more.

“It’s hard to focus on science if you’re worried you might get deported or if your human rights depend on the outcome of an election. The fight for justice *is* a fight for science,” the department added.

“Yes, we are exhausted, but some people do not have the privilege of bowing out,” the department added in another tweet. “So, we must be relentless in our pursuit of a just and equitable society.”

The department also shared a video from Peacock channel host Amber Ruffin in which she claimed the Rittenhouse not guilty verdict shows that “the judicial system [is] blatantly and obviously stacked against people of color,” Fox News added.

Ramirez fired back against the tweets, telling the cable network that “to see that the school’s chemistry department would then double down with more politicized rhetoric is beyond the pale. In their posts they say ‘it’s hard to focus on chemistry,’ but that is literally their job and what parents are paying thousands of dollars in tuition fees expect them to do. This is why I’ve been so adamant that we need to make school about education again. We should be teaching students how to think critically, not what to think politically.”

NPR: As the GOP eyes Virginia swing district, is the Biden agenda enough for Democrats?

At a busy pub in Midlothian, Virginia, a group of voters are gathered at long wooden tables, ordering burgers and pimento cheese fries and talking about the Democrats’ legislative agenda.

“I think universal pre-K is a good idea,” said Lindsay Sherrard, a local physician.

“The [child] tax credit is fantastic,” added Yael Levin, who works on education issues. “I love the tax credit because that gives the choice back to people.”

Both policies are staples of the Democrats’ Build Back Better bill, which passed the House Friday morning.

But this isn’t a Democratic event. It’s a meet and greet for supporters of Tina Ramirez, one of at least seven Republicans vying to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who was first elected in 2018 by a narrow margin.

The pub is located in Chesterfield County, which makes up the largest percentage of Spanberger’s district, Virginia’s 7th. It swung from former President Donald Trump in 2016 to President Biden four years later and most recently to Republican Glenn Youngkin for governor.

Republicans have made gains in recent off-year elections and they want to maintain that momentum. The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting at least 70 incumbent Democrats, eyeing key opportunities to flip suburban districts like Spanberger’s, which used to be GOP strongholds.

Democrats are hoping legislative victories that bring home federal dollars will boost their chances at the polls next year and allow them to retain control of the House.

But the voters gathered for burgers and politics in Midlothian are clear: sure, they may support some of these Democratic policies, but not enough to cast their vote for a Democrat in the 2022 midterm elections.

The economy and cultural issues front and center

Ramirez tells NPR that’s because voters here by and large don’t like the idea of Washington having a blank check for government spending.

“I think there’s a real feeling, in this state in particular, that you have this idea that government knows best or that government’s the answer to everything,” she said. “People are just fed up.”

Ramirez added it’s the issues people “feel every day” — like inflation — that ultimately drive their political decisions.

“People are so frustrated,” she said. “They feel it and this is a result of just bad economic policy.”

It’s an issue that resonates with voters like Levin. She considers herself an independent and has voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past. She is solidly in Ramirez’s camp and said she’s concerned about inflation and the supply chain.

“My momma van is dying and we need to get a new car, and there’s no inventory,” she said. “I can barely afford gas. I can barely afford groceries for two teen athletic boys.”

She likes the child tax credit, but not if it’s wrapped up in a $2 trillion spending package.

“Tax credits are always a good thing,” she said. “But if you lump it in with spending that’s out of control, that’s going to put my great-great-grandchildren in debt, then I’m going to be against it.”

Another issue that nearly every voter at Ramirez’s campaign event brought up was critical race theory — a graduate-level academic approach that looks at institutions through the lens of race and racism. They believe CRT has made its way into K-12 public schools.

“Kids — when they go to school, they want to learn,” said Carmen Williams, a Ramirez supporter who immigrated to the U.S. from Peru. “A white person shouldn’t say, ‘Oh I am white, I am bad.'”

While CRT scholars would take issue with Williams’ characterization, Republican messaging has turned the graduate-level theory into a culture war issue and it’s led to spinoff discussions in school board and PTA meetings about whether to ban various books from curricula and how the existence and history of racism should be taught in schools.

Monica Hutchinson, a community organizer and lifelong Democrat, said the angry debate over how teachers talk about race in schools is frustrating, particularly as a Black mother.

“When I hear suburban white moms say, ‘Well, I think my child is too young to learn about racism,’ I’m like, ‘Hello — the counter to that is simple: my child has to experience racism, right?'” she said. “We don’t get the luxury of saying, ‘Oh, my child’s too young.'”

‘It is easier for suburban white women to flip’

Sherrard, a white mother of two who typically votes Republican, said she thinks pushback against Democratic rhetoric helped fuel Youngkin’s recent win.

“I think Virginia voters just really came against so many woke policies, if you want to call it that — just the constant focus on race and the constant focus on transgender issues,” she listed. “We want to just go back to the basics: basic economic recovery, basic education, a military that can defend us.”

She posits the county’s flip from Trump to Biden wasn’t a rebuke of conservative principles so much as a rebuke of Trump himself.

“I still voted for Trump because I liked his policies better than Biden’s, but the man is crazy,” she said. “And I think a lot of people felt like he was not a dignified leader of our country.”

The retreat of white suburban women who voted for Biden in 2020 back to the GOP in 2021 is a tale Hutchinson has heard before.

“It is easier for suburban white women to flip because they don’t have to live with the consequences of a lot of these issues that are directly impacting families like mine,” Hutchinson told NPR in Henrico County, the blue heart of the 7th district.

She supports the Democratic agenda, but said the party has a major political problem.

“We have always been horrible at messaging,” Hutchinson said. “[Democrats] are fighting so hard, [but] they’re forgetting to come out and let the people know what they’re doing.”

Boosting Democratic messaging

It’s a sentiment that’s widely shared among Democrats in Henrico County.

Lorah Vizdos is a fervent supporter of Spanberger — so much so that she and a group of friends she met volunteering for the congresswoman have dubbed themselves the ‘fan-bergers.’ She’s adamant that Democrats need to go on the offense.

“They’re too busy playing defense and trying to be nice. ‘We go high’ — stop it,” she said, shaking her head. “Because this culture war is not going to end because you refuse to participate. It’s simply going to get worse and worse and worse.”

She’s frustrated Democrats didn’t pass their trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure bill in time for Virginia Democrats to campaign on it.

“[Republicans members are] going to be there at all the ribbon cuttings and taking credit for stuff they didn’t vote for,” she said.

Vizdos wants Democrats to be consistent with their messaging — making sure they “bang the drum” on all the things they’ve voted for that bring resources to their communities.

“Just say, ‘The guy who’s running against me voted against this.’ It’s not hard, it’s not rocket science. You don’t need special words or an interpretive dance or anything — just say it.”

Vizdos may get her wish. Democrats are planning a nationwide public relations blitz with over 1,000 events to tout the legislation they’ve passed.

Rep. Spanberger told NPR a lot of the national Democratic messaging up to this point has obscured the very real deliverables lawmakers are bringing to their districts.

“In the community that I represent, we have had school districts use American Rescue Plan dollars to be able to hire bus drivers. There’s still a bus driver shortage but to be able to use that money is incredibly important,” she gave as an example. That these kinds of real world benefits get lost frustrates the moderate.

Refining a national message is one thing. But perhaps the more challenging task for Democrats like Spanberger is reaching constituents like the voters at the burger joint, who — despite supporting pieces of their policies — say they just won’t vote for a Democrat next year.

“I know that people who see themselves as Republicans see the value in the child tax credit — they see it in their own lives, they see it in their grandchildren’s lives,” Spanberger said. “But sometimes, our political labels in a time of hyper-partisanship can be blinding.”

Whether Democrats can reconcile that divide could be the difference between maintaining control of the House in 2022 or getting washed away in a red wave.