Does GOP infighting matter?

 

Republicans in Washington are eating their own.

US Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, on their way out the door, have unleashed themselves to attack President Trump and his penchant for name-calling and whipping the base into a mouth-foaming frenzy. Sen. John McCain, trying to be more elder statesmanny, skews the president without naming names but his arrows hit bone (spurs).

Trump, in his usual fashion, lashes out 140 characters at a time, labeling Corker “Liddle’ Bob Corker” while saying the Tennessee lawmaker “couldn’t be elected dog catcher.” Flake, the Arizona senator whose poll numbers have nosedived in his home state, is, of course “Flake Jeff Flake.” And Trump continues to lambast GOP leaders for failing to repeal and replace Obamacare and threatening them if they can’t pass his “beautiful” tax proposal.

It all makes Democrats and Never Trumpers giddy with delight amid dreams of taking over the Senate majority, possibly even the House, in next year’s mid-terms and setting the stage for winning the White House in 2020.

They forgot one thing, though: The math still works against them and no matter how discombobulated things look on Capitol Hill, it doesn’t seem to have a huge effect outside the beltway.

Despite his constant self-congratulations on Twitter, Trump isn’t the closer he thinks he is. But it doesn’t matter because Democrats don’t seem to have one, either. Since the 2016 presidential election, there have been five special House elections and none have changed party, with four Republicans capturing GOP-held seats and one Democrat winning the country’s bluest congressional seat in California.

The Democrats have been declaring moral victories for coming close in Republican strongholds in Georgia and South Carolina. But coming close still means the same thing – they lost.

All eyes are now on Alabama where controversial former judge Roy Moore is neck-and-neck with Democrat Doug Jones for the former seat held by Jeff Sessions. Or maybe not. Moore handily beat out interim Sen. Luther Strange, who was endorsed by Trump. But you wouldn’t know it, since Trump deleted nearly all his tweets predicting victory. Most of those who voted for Moore also said they voted for Trump and still stand by their presidential vote but the election was also a referendum on the Republican establishment and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They want to send a bomb thrower like Moore to shake things up, not necessarily a Democrat who doesn’t share their priorities.

While Flake is being lauded for not holding back in his floor speech announcing his decision to step down when his term ends, many are pointing out it’s too little, too late. He was falling far behind challenger Kelli Ward, a die-hard Trump fan, and had little hope of winning reelection. So much of his high-minded sounding rhetoric comes off as sour grapes.

National Democrats are gleeful at Flake’s withdrawal – as well as the manner in which he did it – because Ward trails or is barely even with the Democratic frontrunner US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. But with Flake out, it’s likely more conventional and electable Republicans join the race.

The death of interparty comity, let alone intraparty bonhomie, may be manna from heaven for Democrats, but the fact is there’s nothing that’s happened outside of the noise to say this is the end for the red tide. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker’s secretary of public safety and security said the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board did not “lose” 1,769 offenders. (State House News)

Dr. Mindy Hull has been named the state’s new chief medical examiner, the first woman to hold the post of the office that investigates violent, suspicious, unexplained, or unattended deaths. (State House News Service)

Sen. Eric Lesser buses supporters of a study of a Springfield-to-Boston rail link to the State House to make the case that rail service has the potential to level the economic playing field in Massachusetts. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

After a series of shootings Monday night, Lawrence police move to enforce an already-on-the-books sundown curfew in public parks and spaces. (Eagle-Tribune)

The developer of CitySquare in Worcester prepares to put a key parcel on the market with enough room for an eight-story building. “We’re no longer selling the dream,” said an official. “We’re now selling a destination.” (Telegram & Gazette)

Milton becomes the latest community to institute a ban on the sale, cultivation, and manufacturing of retail recreational marijuana in the town. (Patriot Ledger)

An organizer of the August “free speech” rally on Boston Common is suing Mayor Marty Walsh for $100 million, alleging the mayor defamed the organizers as neo-Nazis and cost him his job. (Boston Herald)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the explosive dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump, which was first financed by unnamed Republican opponents. (New York Times)

Scott Brown, the US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, revealed he was investigated and counseled about comments he made at a Peace Corps dinner in which he called female guests “beautiful” and told one woman serving food she could “make hundreds of dollars” a night working as a waitress in America. (New York Times)

Vice President Mike Pence casts the tie-breaking vote on legislation that would bar banks and credit card companies from imposing arbitration on customers in disputes. (Politico)

The Interior Department is proposing raising entry fees at 17 of the country’s most popular national parks in an effort to raise revenue and reduce a backlog of maintenance projects. (Associated Press)

The Federal Communications Commission ends a decades-old practice designed to keep TV and radio stations under local control. (Washington Post)

A Globe editorial supports opening up the remaining classified documents related to the JFK assassination.

Howie Carr has a field day with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s evolving story of an episode of sexual harassment she was subjected to several decades ago. (Boston Herald)

ELECTIONS

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and challenger Tito Jackson go at it in the only televised debate of the campaign, with Jackson on the attack over what he calls the incumbent’s “timid” leadership. (Boston Herald) WGBH’s Adam Reilly and Peter Kadzis give the debate to Jackson on points with no knockout blows or damaging body punches by either.

James Aloisi laments Boston’s embrace of political predictability. (CommonWealth)

The Herald editorial page, which four years ago said voters should choose anyone but Marty Walsh in the open race for mayor of Boston, says it was wrong to fear he would be a narrow-minded union champion and endorses him for reelection.

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research into ties between Donald Trump and Russia. (Washington Post) The key finding is that Republicans funded the initial research during the race for the GOP nomination and then the Democrats took over when Trump moved on to the general election. (Talking Points Memo)

EDUCATION

Scot Lehigh applauds Springfield’s “empowerment zone” that gives more autonomy to a set of underperforming middle schools, and decries the Massachusetts Teachers Association opposition to legislation that would let other districts adopt the model. (Boston Globe)

The state’s school building assistance authority will put off any decision on a funding request for Lowell’s proposed new $340 million high school until after a November 7 nonbinding city referendum on whether to build a new school on the outskirts of the city or downtown, a debate that has roiled the city for months. (Boston Herald)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Mass. General Hospital is the first US hospital to use a new hand-held device for carrying out mammograms that is much less painful that the standard machine that many women dread. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The Boston area bikeshare company Hubway is facing Uber-like competition from an upstart Chinese company that deploys dockless bikes. (Boston Globe)

LAZ Parking is still reeling from employee thefts at MBTA parking lots, as Pasadena takes a pass on the parking lot operator largely because of its problems at the T. (Pasadena Now)

The NAACP warns black passengers about traveling on American Airlines. (CNN)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Haverhill has saved a lot of money by increasing recycling and reducing trash disposal, so officials are now considering weekly recycling pickups. (Eagle-Tribune)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A lawsuit alleges that drunk driving convictions in Methuen should be erased because the town used a Spanish Breathalyzer rights form that was full of inaccuracies. (Eagle-Tribune)