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Mitch McConnell

Cornyn’s colleagues cool to him as FBI Director

Boy, with friends like these

Big John Cornyn

There is a growing obstacle standing in the way of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, becoming the next director of the FBI — his own Republican colleagues.

Led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, a chorus of GOP senators has signaled that they would prefer President Trump to nominate somebody other than the second-ranking ­Republican senator, despite his status as a well-liked and influential figure on Capitol Hill.

Their message: It’s nothing personal. But if Trump were to nominate Cornyn, who has shown interest in the job, it would trigger a raft of consequences that could be detrimental to McConnell and the broader GOP agenda.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, offered a response that was common among Republican senators Monday, praising Cornyn’s qualifications before adding: “I’d hate to lose him.”

“My own selfish thing would be to say, ‘Oh, he’s a terrible person — don’t do it,’ ” Tillis quipped.

Senate Republicans are hoping Trump takes their concerns into consideration as he zeros in on his choice. The president said Monday that his search was “moving rapidly.” McConnell predicted that Trump would make an appointment “in a week or so.”

[…]

Among other concerns, some fear that nominating a top political leader would roil a confirmation process in which Democrats are already emboldened to cry foul over former director James B. Comey’s abrupt firing. Since Trump’s inauguration, Cornyn has been a loyal defender of the president — including on the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees, which have been looking at the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

“I told him I thought he’d be a good FBI director under normal circumstances,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in an interview. “But I think the politics of this is just — he gets it. He’d be an outstanding FBI director. But I just, quite frankly, think that last week made it tough.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, said there is a need now for “someone who can lead us in the direction we need to go, and that doesn’t eliminate partisan folks, but there’s no question that the country seems to be — to find more confidence and credibility in someone who’s probably not involved in partisan politics.”

See here and here for the background. Can’t imagine why the Republicans might be a wee bit concerned about the politics of this, but I’m sure they’ll figure out what their story is. In a sense, it doesn’t matter who Trump picks. Left to his own devices, he will either pick a toady or someone who will be forced to tarnish his own reputation in the service of his new lord and master. (And yes, it will be a dude. Donald Trump does not put the ladies into positions of real power.) In addition, whoever Trump picks will and should cause Senate Democrats to shut the place down until he pledges to continue the Russia investigation that Comey started, with the increase in resources that Comey had asked for just before getting canned. Basically, there’s no acceptable candidates that Trump himself might be willing to appoint. (No, Merrick Garland doesn’t count – the only reason he’s being mentioned is one part troll job, and one part to get a vacancy on the DC Court of Appeals. No thanks.)

So anyway, I get where the Republicans are coming from on this, and that’s before factoring into the equation the possibility, no matter how slim, that a Democrat could win the seat in a special election. There’s no upside here. If I were advising someone with a role in this, I’d say just elevate the top deputy director, who is now serving as the acting director, and be done with it. Which Trump won’t do because the guy won’t swear personal loyalty to the toddler king, but that’s their problem. Have fun with it, fellas.

Eva Longoria

She’s much more than an actor.

At a panel discussion on achieving economic and social mobility at the Clinton Global Initiative

Over the past five years of the Obama presidency, the 38-year-old Corpus Christi native who rocketed to fame in Hollywood has slowly but surely made her mark in Washington as a serious student of issues, a formidable fundraiser for Democratic causes and a spokeswoman for the emerging, increasingly empowered young generation of Latinos.

Longoria has become such an ascendant star in Democratic circles that the party’s national finance chairman, Henry Muñoz of San Antonio, says donors are sometimes disappointed when he shows up alone.

“I get that everywhere I go these days: Why isn’t Eva Longoria here?” jokes Muñoz, CEO of the architecture firm Muñoz & Co.

The answer is simple: There’s only so much politicking the actress can do while pursuing her day job in Hollywood and running her charitable foundations.

In addition to Eva’s Heroes, a charity that aids developmentally disabled children, she launched the Eva Longoria Foundation last year to promote college access and support business startups among young Latinas. The foundation’s first big move, announced in April, involves doling out $2 million in microloans to Latina business owners in Texas and California, stemming from a partnership with Warren Buffett’s son, Howard. Her efforts landed Longoria a seat alongside former President Bill Clinton to talk economic empowerment at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting Thursday in Chicago.

In Washington, she has appeared on Capitol Hill at hearings and news conferences, shining a spotlight on child-labor abuses in agriculture, the struggles of the learning impaired, the need for better schools to boost young Latinos out of poverty, the dearth of Small Business Administration programs for Latino entrepreneurs, and, of course, immigration reform.

Beyond the world of legislation, she’s put her clout behind efforts in the nation’s capital to create an American Latino museum on the National Mall, a Latino heritage fund for the National Parks and management training for Latino arts groups.

In her spare time, she received a master’s degree in American Hispanic history from California State University, Northridge, last month with a focus on math and science coursework for Latina students. She earned her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

She’s compiled quite an impressive resume, and is attracting plenty of notice for her political activities as well. Longoria was co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign and his inauguration. Those aren’t things you get to do just by being a pretty face. This being Texas, and Longoria being a star Democrat in a state that could use all the Democratic star power it can get, speculation is inevitable.

Some wistful Democrats see Longoria as a 21st century Ronald Reagan – a dynamic communicator with the potential to alter the partisan landscape in Texas and appeal across economic and social lines nationwide.

“It would appear that for many Texas Democrats, Longoria has now replaced Tommy Lee Jones as their fantasy celebrity candidate for public office,” said Mark P. Jones, chairman of the political science department at Rice University.

Jones warned, however, that fantasies about Longoria the politician may never be fulfilled.

“While many celebrities are effective at advancing specific causes, a much smaller number have been able to move to the next level and become effective actors within the political system,” he said.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard anyone mention Longoria as a potential candidate for anything, wistfully or otherwise. As I recall, the ultimately short-lived Ashley Judd for Senate boomlet got started when Judd was shown to be a potentially competitive candidate in a race against Sen. Mitch McConnell. The lesson I would draw from that, if I were interested in initiating a similar phenomenon here, would be to convince a respectable pollster to do some hypothetical matchups for Sen. John Cornyn, with Eva Longoria of course being one of the hypothetical opponents, and see what happens. You never know, right?

On a side note, this article was written before the Wendy Davis filibuster and its fallout. Out of curiosity, I checked to see if Longoria commented on that on either her Twitter or Facebook accounts; as far as I can tell, the answer is No. No one is required to say anything about anything, it was just one of those things that occur to me now and again, so make of that what you will.

Perry’s poll

For your reading pleasure, a poll of Republican primary voters (PDF) by Rick Perry’s pollster Mike Baselice that shows a 45-39 lead by Kay Bailey Hutchison. You can read a poll memo to supporters that spins the results, but the points I’ll make are as follows.

1. The basic result feels about right to me. I think KBH is a favorite, but never underestimate Rick Perry in a nasty political campaign. As I’ve observed before, Perry has had all the initiative in this fight so far. I keep waiting for KBH to show up and try to set the terms of the debate on turf more favorable to her. I’m sure she has a strategy that goes beyond simply being herself, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. Perry’s strategy may not be one that will appeal to all that many people, but at least he has an identifiable plan.

2. Having said that, isn’t it a bit odd for a two-term incumbent to tout a poll that shows him trailing? The basic message here is “We’re not losing by as much as y’all think we are.” Seems like a strange thing to brag about.

3. I’m fascinated by the lopsided amount of blame being put on “Washington Republicans” as opposed to “Texas Republicans” for the GOP being on the wrong track. One wonders who they mean by that – John Boehner? Mitch McConnell? Michael Steele? George W. Bush? I’d argue that almost all of their problems can be laid at the feet of the latter, but given the amount of fealty he still commands from the rump of the party, it’s hard to imagine that’s who they mean. And will they feel that way about Big John “Chair of the NRSC” Cornyn in the event the Senate GOP caucus gets reduced again in 2010?

4. I continue to wonder what a poll that also included Debra Medina and Leo Berman might look like. I doubt they’d grab more than a few points, but in a close race that could matter, and I don’t really know who’d give up more of their share to them. I’ll be very interested to see the June finance reports to see if either of them has raised any real money.

5. What do you suppose KBH’s pollster’s numbers look like? Perhaps they’ll feel compelled to leak their own results so we can compare. Here’s a non-poll response from him, for what it’s worth.

UPDATE: Via Texas Politics, a new Rasmussen poll shows Perry with a 42-38 lead. Still not great numbers for an incumbent, but it beats being behind. This bit is my favorite:

Perry leads by 15 percentage points among conservative voters but Hutchison leads by 35 points among the moderates.

Which should give you some idea of the ratio of “conservatives” to “moderates” in the sample. Good luck courting the base, Kay.