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Democratic Mayoral Win in Jacksonville Is a Huge Middle Finger to Ron DeSantis

Donna Deegan will lead Florida’s largest city after her victory.

Donna Deegan
Screenshot courtesy of News4JAX
Donna Deegan became the first female mayor in Jacksonville history.

Jacksonville has only had a Democratic mayor once in the past 30 years. Jacksonville’s county, Duval, has voted for Republicans in every election since 1976—until it narrowly voted for Biden in 2020. And now a Democratic candidate will be leading Florida’s largest city again.

On Tuesday, Jacksonville made history and sent shockwaves across the state and even country in electing the city’s first female mayor in its almost 200-year history: former journalist Donna Deegan. Deegan also beat a DeSantis-endorsed Republican by four points.

Deegan was born and raised in Jacksonville and has been a longtime news anchor for the city, having begun her career as an anchor in 1984. A three-time survivor of breast cancer, Deegan also created the Donna Foundation, which supports local women living with the disease.

Her platform focused on broad topics: “Good Infrastructure,” “Good Health,” and “Good Economy,” but within those buckets, Deegan was not afraid to point to systemic issues that need fixing—from stopping “a handful of well connected people” from benefiting from city contracts, and opening deals up to minority-owned businesses, to fixing crumbling infrastructure in “neglected neighborhoods.”

Notably, Deegan’s victory comes in the aftermath of an election cycle in which Ron DeSantis cruised to reelection by almost 20 points—in Duval County, DeSantis won by 12. And yet, in this election, DeSantis’s own endorsed candidate, Daniel Davis, lost to a Democrat by four. That is a 16-point partisan swing, just since November.

The results are all the more eye-popping when considering that Davis is no political stranger around Jacksonville. From 2003 to 2010, he served on Jacksonville’s City Council, even serving as council president from 2007 to 2008. In 2010, he advanced to represent parts of the county in the Florida state House. While serving in the legislature, he also was appointed president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, a position he has held since.

Up to this point, Jacksonville had been America’s largest city with a Republican mayor; now it becomes yet another city that Republicans are growing to be more and more out of touch with. The Republicans deployed the traditional playbook they’ve grown so used to, and it failed them.

A Davis-approved ad attacked Deegan for saying she attended Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. DeSantis himself also endorsed Davis as “the proven law and order conservative Jacksonville needs to tackle the city’s greatest challenges and seize its biggest opportunities.” And as DeSantis continued to whine about and attack the media, Deegan, a former journalist, cruised to victory.

It seems the assumption that such tactics (whipping up racist fearmongering around police reform; attacking journalists) would impress “conservative Jacksonville” in fact played a part in making it reliably conservative no more.

Meanwhile, DeSantis ended the night 0–2 on his endorsement record, as his preferred candidate for Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, Kelly Craft, also lost her election to Trump-endorsed Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who famously refused to hold the cops who killed Breonna Taylor accountable.

Republicans Make 2024 Stance Clear With Radical Abortion Ban in North Carolina

Republicans overrode a veto to push through the extreme measure.

Allison Joyce/Getty Images
People gather to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24, 2022, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Republicans have made their position for 2024 clear, forcing through an extreme abortion ban overnight in North Carolina that will decimate reproductive health access in the South.

Similar measures are also being considered in the Nebraska and South Carolina Republican-majority legislatures.

North Carolina Republicans voted late Tuesday night to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill banning abortion at 12 weeks. They were able to squeak the restrictions through after Representative Tricia Cotham switched her political affiliation to Republican. She had previously expressed support for abortion rights, but pulled an abrupt about-face in early April that two of her former aides described as a “deeply petty, personal” decision.

The new abortion restrictions, which go into immediate effect, technically ban abortion after 12 weeks, but in reality, the window could be much shorter. People would also only be allowed to get a medication abortion until 10 weeks of pregnancy, and to get one, they would have to go to three separate, in-person appointments that are 72 hours apart.

Under the new law, abortions are technically allowed up to 24 weeks if the fetus has a “life-limiting anomaly,” but the anomaly must be “uniformly diagnosable,” even though such defects are rarely so clear-cut. Doctors also have to tell patients that such anomalies do result in live births with “unpredictable and variable lengths of life,” meaning they will have to try to convince patients to carry the pregnancy to term if there’s a chance the baby will live—even if only for a few moments.

The law also mandates that the legislature would have to appoint a rules commission to overhaul abortion clinic regulations by October. New rules could potentially force clinics to undergo costly (and unnecessary) changes, even permanently shutting them down if they are unable to comply. It would also require health care providers to care for infants “born alive”—which health experts agree rarely occurs and could negatively impact post-birth care—and could restrict access to abortion based on a patient’s reason for wanting one.

Abortion bans are really about control. The ability to control the lives of others. Women did not ask for your oversight. We did not ask for your approval. Women do not need to be protected. Stay out of our exam rooms,” Democratic Representative Julie von Haefen said during the debate.

Representative Diamond Staton-Williams pointed out that “if we genuinely believe in the sanctity of life, we need to recognize our medical professionals as the experts they are. The doctor’s office just isn’t big enough for the entire N.C. House to fit in.”

Chants of “Shame!” broke out after the House voted to override the veto. Cotham made an “I’m watching you” gesture at the protesters as they were escorted out.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, North Carolina became an abortion haven in the South due to its previous law allowing abortion up to 20 weeks. The new law, combined with Florida’s hugely unpopular six-week ban, will devastate abortion access in the region.

South Carolina, which currently allows abortion until 22 weeks, is still debating a six-week ban. Democrats filed 1,000 amendments to the bill to try and block it. In Nebraska, Republicans got just enough votes to add a 12-week abortion ban to a bill banning gender-affirming care. That measure must still go up for a final vote.

The Cyclist Who Heckled White Supremacists in D.C. Wanted to Make Sure They Got the Message

His name is Joe Flood, and he was glad to have delivered the truth about what people in Washington, D.C., think of the white supremacist group.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Flood
Washington, D.C. resident Joe Flood went viral for his heckling of a Patriot Front rally.

When members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front marched on Washington, D.C., on Sunday, they were met by a single, acerbic counterprotester on a bike.

Joe Flood, a Washington-based writer, was out having coffee Sunday morning when he saw on Twitter that Patriot Front was having a rally on the National Mall. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Patriot Front as a “white nationalist hate group” that formed after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Since he wasn’t far away, Flood hopped on a Capital Bikeshare bicycle and pedaled over to the Mall, where he found the rally of about 100 people in front of the Washington Monument.

“They snuck into D.C. a couple times before, and they would march around and do photo shoots and stuff, and I didn’t want them to get away this time without someone counterprotesting them and confronting them,” Flood told The New Republic.

What happened next is possibly the greatest string of insults known to man.

“I wanted them to know that they’re racists and fascists, and D.C. doesn’t like fascists,” Flood said. He called them “losers,” “incels,” “cosplayers,” and “a joke.”

The group leader was wearing a fitted blue jacket with brass buttons, cowboy boots, and a “cavalry-style hat,” so Flood shouted that he looked like “General Custer’s illegitimate son.”

“He just stopped and looked at his shoes,” Flood said, laughing. “I’d really got him with that one.”

When Flood said the group was wearing “Walmart khakis,” even the police officers deployed to the rally laughed.

The Patriot Front members then marched from the Mall to Judiciary Square, flanked by about 50 police officers on bicycles. Flood rode alongside them, leapfrogging ahead to continue shouting at the group. A few other counterprotesters joined him as they reached the end of the Mall. Once they reached Judiciary Square, the Patriot Front members put their signs into two U-Haul trucks and then got on the metro to leave.

He has now gone viral for his heckling skills, but Flood said it’s important to remember: “America is not for one group, it’s for everyone. And that’s what makes this country great. And then the fact that there are white supremacists who think that this country belongs to only one group of people, I just find completely offensive.”

Patriot Front “were a joke, basically, but they’re an evil joke,” Flood told TNR. “As a friend of mine said, ‘It’s funny till it isn’t.’ So that’s why I wanted them to know that what they were doing was not OK, and that people in D.C. hated them.”

Why Is Dianne Feinstein Still in the Senate?

In a new conversation, the California senator seemed completely unaware that she wasn’t in Washington, D.C., for over two months.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Dianne Feinstein seems to think she was never on a leave of absence from her job.

On Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, flanked by a team of staffers, fielded some questions from the press after voting on the Senate floor, reports Slate.

She reported that she was “feeling fine,” though suffering from a nondescript “problem with the leg.”

She was then asked by a reporter what the response from her colleagues has been like since her return back to the Hill.

“No, I haven’t been gone,” Feinstein responded. “You should follow the—I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working,” she continued.

She was then asked if she meant she had been working from home.

“No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she insisted. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”

The comment is curious given the gravity of how consequential Feinstein’s absence—and indeed, lack of voting—has been over the past few months. Feinstein has been absent from the Senate since February 27, having been hospitalized in early March for a case of shingles.

During that time, Democrats were unable to advance court nominees. Her absence has been used by senators like Dick Durbin as justification for why Supreme Court ethics legislation cannot be advanced. Republicans, aided by weak politicians like Joe Manchin, have been able to vote to pass inane resolutions like overturning an Environmental Protection Agency rule to reduce truck pollution.

When Feinstein was asked Tuesday about members who have called for her resignation, she deflected and was apparently wheeled away.

Slate asked Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about whether there was any optimism for Feinstein to return to being a fully functioning, contributing member of the Judiciary Committee.

“I’m gonna leave that to the medics,” he responded.

Here Are the Democrats Who Voted to Let D.C. Cops Use Neck Restraints and Hide Body Cams

A handful of Democratic senators voted with Republicans to reject Washington, D.C.’s police reforms, spitting in the face of its right to self-government.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

On Tuesday, eight Democrats and independents joined Senate Republicans in voting to overturn Washington, D.C.’s police reforms.

Senators Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, Jeanne Shaheen, Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan, Jacky Rosen, Angus King, and Kyrsten Sinema all joined in the effort to overrule time and work that residents and officials have invested to make their city safer.

The new resolution to overturn D.C.’s local rule was introduced by Republicans in March, just hours after Biden and Congress killed a different bill reforming D.C.’s criminal code (that, more than anything else, updated codes that hadn’t been dusted off in over 100 years).

The resolution aims to overturn an array of reforms made in the aftermath of a string of brutal police killings nationwide. Among the reforms are provisions outlawing the use of neck restraints, like that used by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin to kill George Floyd in May 2020.

D.C.’s reforms also call to make body-camera footage of officer-caused deaths, or serious uses of officer force, more accessible to the public. They moreover expand membership and inclusion on governing bodies like the Police Complaints Board and Use of Force Review Board—small asks given how often police departments get away with sweeping misconduct and outright violence under the rug.

The reforms also ban employment of new officers if they were previously determined by other agencies to have been responsible for serious misconduct, or if they were forced out of previous jobs for “disciplinary reasons.” Nothing radical about having baseline standards for what type of person is allowed to be empowered to enforce the law; whatever happened to “with great power comes great responsibility?”

Biden can—and is expected to—veto the Senate vote. Consequently, some shrewd pundits have characterized it all as a “messaging vote,” a low-stakes vote that allows conservative senators to say, “Look, we didn’t support this radical bill,” come election time. After all, Biden will veto it, so what does it matter anyway?

But what is the “message” to be had here, really? What does it tell voters that eight Democratic caucus members joined this farce to overturn D.C.’s democratic will? What does it tell voters that these so-called Democrats found it prudent to bend the knee to bad-faith right-wing attempts to obstruct even moderate checks on unaccountable police forces? If politics is meant to be about making an argument, about convincing people and rallying them to your side, the only message communicated by this cowardly vote is that D.C.’s autonomy is indeed up for debate, that having baseline standards for what the police can and can’t do to the citizenry is somehow an out-of-field demand, and that you as an elected official lack the conviction to stand for anything at all.

So, sure, clever punditry class: Call it a “messaging vote.” Meanwhile, as Democrats continue to allow these right-wing attacks to appear just part of reasonable debate, actual reforms will remain as moderate as this D.C. police reform actually was. In the eyes of the media and political class, the goalposts will remain the same, and the bounds of what change we can actually strive for will continue to narrow. And all of it because a handful of feckless Democrats are allowed, even encouraged, to cower and join out-of-touch attacks on even modest changes to our violent, unaccountable system of justice and power.

We Officially Have a Resolution to Expel George Santos

Democrats are forcing a vote on the New York representative who made up basically his entire life story and was charged on 13 criminal counts.

New York Representative George Santos walks down the stairs as reporters surround him
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democratic Representative Robert Garcia introduced a measure Tuesday to force a floor vote on whether to expel serial fabulist George Santos from the House of Representatives.

Santos was charged in federal court last week with 13 counts of various forms of financial fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to all of them. The embattled New York congressman is still facing investigations by local and state authorities. He also confessed last week to stealing checks in Brazil 15 years ago, in return for prosecutors dropping the criminal case against him.

“George Santos is a fraud and a liar, and he needs to be expelled by the House,” Garcia said in a statement Tuesday. “News that federal prosecutors are filing 13 criminal charges against George Santos should have been the final straw for Kevin McCarthy, but he refuses to act. Republicans now have a chance to demonstrate to Americans that an admitted criminal should not serve in the House of Representatives.”

Garcia’s motion is privileged, so House Republicans must schedule a vote on the resolution by Thursday. They have not given any indication yet of when the vote will take place. The resolution will need a two-thirds majority to pass.

Santos is barely six months into his first congressional term, and he is known only for scandal. He appears to have fabricated the bulk of his professional and educational resume. He claimed his mother survived 9/11 (she was not even in the country) and similarly lied that his grandparents fled the Holocaust and four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. Last week, he was charged for money laundering, wire fraud, and theft of public funds, including claiming Covid-19 unemployment fraud when he wasn’t unemployed.

The resolution to expel him is unlikely to pass, even though the vast majority of his constituents want him gone. Despite a federal indictment for Santos, most Republicans still aren’t calling for his removal from Congress. In fact, Santos has continued to vote on bills and maintains that he will run for reelection.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has so far resisted condemning Santos. The strongest rebuke McCarthy has offered yet was saying last week that he wouldn’t support the freshman congressman’s reelection campaign. But McCarthy and other Republican leaders have avoided saying whether they will force Santos out of Congress, for a very simple reason: They need him.

Republicans hold the House majority by the thinnest of margins, and McCarthy appears to be struggling to get his party to present a united front. He can’t afford to lose a single vote, so if Santos is out, then McCarthy will be in trouble.

John Fetterman Asks Bank Execs if CEOs Who Crash Banks Should Get Work Requirements

The Pennsylvania senator challenged former executives from Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank about the bank collapses.

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman at a congressional hearing
Ting Shen/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman

During a Tuesday hearing on the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman took the banks to task.

“Republicans want to give a work requirement for SNAP, you know, for a hungry family to have these kinds of penalties, or some kinds of working requirements. Shouldn’t you have a working requirement after we bail out your bank?” Fetterman challenged Silicon Valley Bank President Greg Becker. “Because [Republicans] seem to be more preoccupied [with] SNAP requirements for hungry people, but not about protecting the taxpayers that will bail [out the banks].”

Fetterman’s pointed question came in a larger line of questioning that pointed out the contradictions endemic within the American economy.

“Is it an inside joke that no matter how incompetent or how greedy, the government will always bail you out when your bank crashes?” Fetterman inquired. “Everyone has to realize that no matter how bad I behave, no matter how big my raise is, my bonuses and everything, we will come in and bail it,” he continued, asking Becker if he believes it’s all a “running joke in the circles of banking that ‘no matter how bad we have, we are going to be saved.’”

“I don’t believe that’s the case,” Becker responded.

“Really?” Fetterman said, incredulously. “Do you believe that that is not outrageous: that no matter how deplorable your performance is, you are made whole—all by taxpayers.… What if we didn’t come out and bail out your bank, what would’ve happened?”

Becker answered by saying that their shareholders did lose their value, that he believes it was important to protect their clients, and that businesses would have been significantly impacted if they were not bailed out.

“Is it a staggering responsibility that the head of a bank could literally crash our economy?” Fetterman countered. “It’s astonishing.… They also realize that now they have a guaranteed way to be saved,” he continued. “Isn’t it appropriate that this kind of control should be more stricter?”

Fetterman posed more and more questions challenging such a status quo—in which banks can make off just fine no matter their negligence, while taxpayers pay for the life-ring buoys while being subject to stricter requirements for benefits—to no answers.

“Thank you, Senator Fetterman; didn’t see an eagerness on the panel to answer your questions, thank you,” Senator Sherrod Brown concluded.

Florida Passes Bill to Protect Billionaires if Their Exploding Rockets Kill People

Florida lawmakers have some good news for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Veronica G. Cardenas/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The SpaceX South Texas launch site in Boca Chica Village in Brownsville, Texas, on September 26, 2020

Millions throughout America are trying alternative diets: plant-based, paleo, low carb. And now there’s a new group of people whose meals mainly consist of boots: practically the entire Florida legislature.

Florida lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, have sent a bill to Governor Ron DeSantis that would expand legal immunities to protect private space companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin when workers suffer injuries or even die. The Spaceflight Entity Liability Bill broadens when space companies are exempted “from liability for injury to or death of a crew resulting from spaceflight activities.”

Florida’s move to expand liability protections comes as billionaires’ rockets keep exploding and more and more private companies are taking wealthy passengers on interstellar adventures. An analysis by the Florida state Senate admits outright what the entire point of the legislation is: “This bill has the potential to limit the cost of litigation to businesses engaging in spaceflight activities.”

The bill  mandates “crew” and participants alike fill out a waiver that grants legal immunities to space companies in cases of injury or death.

It also expands the definition of “spaceflight entity” to include any entity authorized to conduct spaceflight activities, beyond ones that are solely associated with the United States Federal Aviation Administration. It cuts out language ascribing liability to spaceflight entities for damage caused from “inherent risks” of spaceflight activity; instead, the bill broadens the scope of liability immunity to include all spaceflight activities.

Moreover, the bill amends language that orders entities to be liable for injury if they had actual knowledge, or reasonably should have known, of risks. The new language only orders legal liability for “actual knowledge” of risks, meaning there is no longer any expectation for companies to be responsible for damages from risks they “reasonably should have known” about.

The bill passed the state Senate 39–0 and the state House 107–5. The overwhelmingly bipartisan move to grant special legal protections to bloated companies run by some of the richest people in the world is mirrored by how much these entities donate to politicians of both parties.

Musk’s SpaceX has spent some $8 million in lobbying efforts since 2020 and donated another $1 million to members of both parties during the 2022 election cycle alone. Bezos’s Blue Origin has spent some $6.3 million in lobbying efforts since 2020, while sending just over half a million dollars to members of both parties during 2022.

Three GOP States Are Pushing Radical Abortion Bans on the Same Day

North Carolina, South Carolina, and Nebraska are all desperately trying to pass bans at the last minute, despite recent failures.

Allison Joyce/Getty Images
A protest against the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24, 2022, in Raleigh, North Carolina

Republican-majority legislatures in Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina are all trying Tuesday to ram through extreme abortion bans at the last minute, despite recent failures.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion has been legal in Nebraska until 20 weeks and in South Carolina until 22 weeks, although both states have multiple restrictions, such as a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and biased counseling aimed at running out the clock. Abortion is also currently legal in North Carolina until 20 weeks. If the bills pass, particularly the Carolinas’ measures, they will have wide-ranging negative consequences for abortion access.

The Nebraska legislature failed last month to overcome a filibuster against a six-week abortion ban after two anti-abortion senators voted “present.” Republicans are now pushing a 12-week abortion ban instead, as part of an anti-trans bill restricting gender-affirming care. One of the senators who helped kill the previous ban, Republican Merv Riepe, could once again prove to be the crucial swing vote.

A six-week ban also died in the South Carolina legislature in late April, after all of the female senators, who span the political spectrum, banded together to filibuster the measure. The bill had looked unlikely to make it back to the floor because there weren’t enough days left in the legislative session. But Republican Governor Henry McMaster called lawmakers back for a special session to consider multiple measures, including an abortion ban.

A new six-week ban has now made it through the state Senate and goes Tuesday before the House, where Democrats have filed 1,000 amendments to try and block the measure from reaching a final vote. If an amended bill passes the House, it will need reapproval by the Senate before it goes to McMaster for his signature.

The North Carolina state legislature will also convene Tuesday to vote to override a veto on a 12-week abortion ban. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill over the weekend, cheered on by hundreds of abortion rights supporters.

But state Republicans have just enough votes to override the veto, after Representative Tricia Cotham switched parties. If they succeed, the bill will go into immediate effect. The measure technically bans abortion after 12 weeks, but in reality, the window could be much shorter. People would also only be allowed to get a medication abortion until 10 weeks of pregnancy, and to get one, they would have to go to three separate, in-person appointments that are 72 hours apart.

While any of the bills passing would be a huge blow to reproductive rights, the measures in the Carolinas would absolutely decimate abortion access in the South. North Carolina in particular has become a haven for people seeking out-of-state abortions. Taken in conjunction with Florida’s six-week abortion ban, abortion access could be practically wiped out for a huge swathe of the United States.

Rudy Giuliani Is a Raging Alcoholic and Sexual Predator, Says New Lawsuit

A quick look at how many times times the words “force,” “abuse,” “rape,” and “drunk” come up in the bombshell lawsuit.

Rudy Giuliani
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

According to Rudy Giuliani, “Black guys hit women more than anybody else does … and so do Hispanic guys—it is in their culture,” and “Jews want to go through their freaking Passover all the time, man oh man. Get over the Passover. It was like 3,000 years ago.”

The comments are just the cherry on top of a vile ice cream sundae of allegations about the former New York City mayor and Trump lawyer. A new $10 million lawsuit accuses Giuliani of making these comments, as well as promising to pay a woman a $1 million annual salary to work as his associate, and instead raping and abusing her over the course of two years. The suit adds that Giuliani was constantly drunk, was open about efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and that he plotted to go in with Donald Trump on selling off pardons at $2 million a pop.

The 70-page lawsuit goes to great detail in explaining Giuliani’s alleged behaviors, down to specific dates and locations; the defendant and victim, Noelle Dunphy, reportedly has a trove of recorded conversations to back up her allegations.

From allegedly abusing Dunphy and being constantly drunk to making vile comments about public figures and pretty much every single culture, the lawsuit levels a slate of disturbing accusations against the longtime Trump lackey.

Here’s a taste of the scale and degree of what Giuliani is being accused of in the massive $10 million lawsuit, through word count:

  • Abuse, abused, abusive, abusing: 33
  • Alcohol, alcoholic, alcoholism: 11
  • Drink, drinking, drinks, drinker, drunk: 16
  • Force, forcing, forced, forcible: 21
  • Harass, harassing, harassment, harassed: 47
  • Intoxicated: 9
  • Jew, Jewish: 3
  • Pressure, pressuring: 11
  • Rape: 4
  • Scotch: 4
  • Sex: 35
  • Sexual, sexually, sexualize, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment: 87
  • Wage: 19