20210202 george floyd ap 773 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

George Floyd’s killing started a movement. 9 months later, what’s changed?

George Floyd didn’t live to see Kamala Harris become vice president. Nor was he alive to see an investigation into Breonna Taylor’s death find that her killer’s gunfire was justified.

But his legacy will determine which America his daughter, Gianna — and the next generation of young Americans — will grow up in: the nation in which a record number of voters can elect a Black woman into the White House. Or the country in which Taylor’s killer isn’t going to trial, but the officer who shot her neighbors’ wall is.

After a summer of protests, the coming weeks will show how much has really changed since Floyd’s death — in Washington, D.C., the judicial system, and America itself. Next week, jury selection commences for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was filmed pinning his knee into Floyd’s neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds.

And in Congress this week, Democrats are trying once again to shape Floyd’s legacy by advancing federal legislation to reform policing. The House is expected to vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — again. The bill passed the chamber last summer but was never taken up by the then-Republican-controlled Senate.

“In light of what happened to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, now is the time to get this bill passed and on President Biden’s desk,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The bill would ban chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement and mandate data collection on police encounters. Civil rights leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton are pushing for its passage. But centrist Democrats have their concerns about some provisions of the bill. And it’s not clear how it’ll fare in the Senate.

Which means it’ll be up to cities and states to overhaul the nation’s beleaguered criminal justice system. But so far, results are mixed.

In the wake of Floyd’s death in May, 25 states enacted new policing laws. But even so, some of those new laws have little to do with improved policing or increased accountability. Instead, they focus on lessening bureaucratic hurdles such as easing residency requirements.

Other laws prohibit chokeholds, update training standards and require officers to have body-worn cameras. Other notable policies include laws that increase penalties for falsely summoning officers or making false reports. Whether those reforms represent real change depends on whom you ask.

“If ‘reimagining policing’ is a phrase, if ‘defund the police’ is a phrase, if ‘abolish the police’ is a phrase, how do we move from essentially a hashtag to budget-specific, legislative-specific, regulatory-specific, community-specific solutions in real time?” said Cornell William Brooks, professor of the practice of public leadership and social justice at Harvard University and a former NAACP president.

“It’s one thing to call for a whole-scale transformation,” said Brooks who is working with a team of students to help mayors reimagine what policing looks like in terms of budgets, legislation, regulation and police culture.

But it’s just as necessary, Brooks said, “to figure out, ‘What does that mean at a granular level?’”

‘I can’t breathe’

Floyd’s death nine months ago was unlike any of those before him. It was familiar in the sense that, yet again, an unarmed Black American was killed by a white police officer. And as he begged for oxygen, his cries mirrored the language of Eric Garner nearly six years prior. Garner, a Black man who was put into a fatal chokehold by police, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” while under restraint.

The deaths of Taylor, Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Laquan McDonald, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and so many others like them who were killed by police officers or vigilantes sparked outrage and protests. But the aftermath of Floyd’s death was different.

“It was just disappointing and really heartbreaking to see just how little progress was made to the point where a police officer could kneel on someone for almost nine minutes, with people videotaping — and they could see folks filming them — with the whole world watching and not care,” said Erika Maye, deputy director of criminal justice and democracy campaigns with the racial justice organization Color Of Change.

Footage of Floyd’s fatal encounter reverberated across the globe, uniting people of all races, and igniting worldwide protests for racial justice and against police brutality.

“I never expected it to turn into what it did,” New York state Sen. Brian Benjamin said of the ensuing movement. “This took on a life of its own.”

“That level of interaction and interest across the board is what changed the game here in New York state,” said Benjamin, a candidate for New York City comptroller, who introduced anti-chokehold legislation after Garner’s death. The bill passed in June in “record time,” Benjamin said.

“All of a sudden this became an issue for everybody,” Benjamin said.

Last week, leaders from civil rights groups convened a virtual news conference to demand the passage of the federal police reform bill.

Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, said the bill is just as important as the legislation that came out of the 1960s civil rights movement — the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

“We’ll be going to Minneapolis for the jury selection of the police officer that lynched George Floyd with his knee,” Sharpton told reporters. “The family will have to sit there and relive this.

“I would hope that they would be able to sit there knowing that the laws have changed and that George was not lynched in vain and that the Senate of 2021 has the same backbone and integrity that the Senate had in 1964.”

Reimagining policing

Floyd’s death has opened a new level of conversation about policing in communities across the country. Despite the villainization of the slogan to “defund the police,” policymakers and policy experts say they’re now able to have conversations about reimagining policing and holding police accountable in a way they couldn’t before.

“The defund movement is about taking away resources or shifting resources, which doesn’t do anything for improving accountability and oversight for whatever remains after the defunding or shifting of resources,” said Loren Taylor, an Oakland city council member. “The reality is if you want police to do better, you hold them accountable. If you want them to do less, you take away resources.”

Floyd’s death showed plainly the type of experiences Black people have long had with law enforcement, leading to increased support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the acknowledgment of racism and the role it plays in American society, and conversations about addressing the many inequities African Americans face in housing, health care, education, employment and other areas.

Still, that talk hasn’t led to action everywhere. As the Chauvin trial nears, Dave Bicking, a board member of Minneapolis-based Communities United Against Police Brutality, said the city is already off to a bad start.

Bicking said Minneapolis is creating a false narrative by putting up fences and barbed wire and planning to bring in the National Guard, arguing that police violence is what the city should be concerned about. He also said the city council has fallen short on enacting meaningful, post-Floyd policy changes.

“There has been very little change,” Bicking said. “There’s radical talk but no action to speak of. A few steps backward and a process, I think, designed to lead to nowhere.”

Despite talk of defunding or even abolishing police in Minneapolis, Bicking said, neither outcome looks likely.

“The net effect of it has been virtually nothing has changed,” he added. “The people in our city government don’t act like they realize this is the epicenter of a movement, a huge movement, and something which is history-making and which is for better or worse going to really cause some change here.”

Black Americans are hopeful Chauvin will be convicted. But many have learned not to get their hopes up after disappointing outcomes in high-profile cases that have led to acquittal or no indictment in recent years.

“Black people have been let down a lot, on so many levels, and when it comes to trust, I think as a people we definitely have trust issues. Rightfully so,” said Kamau Marshall, a former spokesperson for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and a former senior congressional staffer. “We all know what the outcome should be, but what we’ve seen in the past with various outcomes in most cases have not gone the best way.”

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that a grand jury voted not to indict any officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was experiencing a psychotic episode when police handcuffed him, put a mesh hood over his head and pinned him to the ground until he was unconscious.

The grand jury’s decision was a disappointment, but not a surprise for Tianna Mañón, CEO of Mañón Media Management and a former journalist who now works with reporters and newsrooms on equity in coverage and storytelling.

“You knew this was coming and yet it still hurts,” Mañón said. “It’s a pain you can’t prepare for because these people are just gonna continue living their lives, and not even just continue living their lives but within this community, so to speak.”

Sakira Cook, senior director of the justice program at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said she hopes the prosecution can prove that Chauvin acted outside the bounds of the law and took Floyd’s life with what he thought was impunity.

“It is not often the case that officers are arrested, indicted and then put on trial for these types of incidents,” she said. “So anytime that does happen, that is a step in the right direction.”

There’s no consensus on what Floyd’s legacy will be. Some say it’s too soon to say, while others envision a future where police departments cease to exist as conversations about rethinking public safety and who should respond to what continue. But perhaps Floyd’s daughter said it best.

“I keep replaying in my mind the clip of his daughter saying, ‘My daddy changed the world,’” Cook said. “And that, for me, sums up beautifully what I hope his legacy will be. I hope we will look at that moment as the spark that ignited a transformation in this country on all fronts but also one that permeated the rest of the globe.”

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Vernon Jordan, activist and former Clinton advisor, dies at 85

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ATLANTA — Vernon Jordan, who rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer, has died, according to a statement from his daughter. He was 85.

Jordan’s daughter, Vickee Jordan Adams, released the statement Tuesday to CBS News.

“My father passed away last night around 10p surrounded by loved ones his wife and daughter by his side,” she said.

After stints as field secretary for the Georgia NAACP and executive director of the United Negro College Fund, he became head of the National Urban League, becoming the face of Black America’s modern struggle for jobs and justice for more than a decade. He was nearly killed by a racist’s bullet in 1980 before transitioning to business and politics.

His friendship with Bill Clinton took them both to the White House. Jordan was an unofficial Clinton aide, drawing him into controversy during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

After growing up in the Jim Crow South and living much of his life in a segregated America, Jordan took a strategic view of race issues.

“My view on all this business about race is never to get angry, no, but to get even,” Jordan said in a July 2000 New York Times interview. “You don’t take it out in anger; you take it out in achievement.”

Jordan was the first lawyer to head the Urban League, which had traditionally been led by social workers. Under Jordan’s leadership, the Urban League added 17 more chapters and its budget swelled to more than $100 million. The organization also broadened its focus to include voter registration drives and conflict resolution between Blacks and law enforcement.

He resigned from the Urban League in 1982 to become a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld.

Jordan was a key campaign adviser to Clinton during his first presidential campaign and co-chaired Clinton’s transition team. He was the first Black to be assigned such a role.

His friendship with Clinton, which began in the 1970s, evolved into a partnership and political alliance. He met Clinton as a young politician in Arkansas, and the two connected over their Southern roots and poor upbringings.

Although Jordan held held no official role in the Clinton White House, he was highly influential and had such labels as the “first friend.” He approached Colin Powell about becoming Secretary of State and encouraged Clinton to pass the NAFTA agreement in 1993. Jordan also secured a job at Revlon for Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern whose sexual encounters with the president spawned a scandal.

Jordan’s actions briefly drew the attention of federal prosecutors investigating Clinton’s actions, but he ultimately was not mentioned in a final report issued by special prosecutor Ken Starr.

Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr., was born in Atlanta on Aug. 15, 1935, the second of Vernon and Mary Belle Jordan’s three sons. Until Jordan was 13, the family lived in public housing. But he was exposed to Atlanta’s elite through his mother, who worked as a caterer for many of the city’s affluent citizens.

Jordan went to DePauw University in Indiana, where he was the only Black in his class and one of five at the college. Distinguishing himself through academics, oratory and athletics, he graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and went on to attend Howard University School of Law in Washington. While there, he married his first wife, Shirley Yarbrough.

The young couple moved to Atlanta after Jordan earned his law degree in 1960, and Jordan became a clerk for civil rights attorney Donald Hollowell, who successfully represented two Black students — Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter — attempting to integrate the University of Georgia. In an iconic photograph, Jordan, an imposing 6 feet, 4 inches, is seen holding at bay the white mob that tried to block Hunter from starting her first day of classes.

In 1961, Jordan became Georgia field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During his two years in the role, Jordan built new chapters, coordinated demonstrations and boycotted businesses that would not employ Blacks.

Jordan moved to Arkansas in 1964 and went into private practice. He also became director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council. During his tenure, millions of new Blacks joined the voter rolls and hundreds of Blacks were elected in the South.

Jordan considered running for Georgia’s fifth congressional district seat in 1970, but was tapped that year to head the United Negro College Fund. Holding the position for just 12 months, Jordan used his fundraising skills to fill the organization’s coffers with $10 million to help students at historically Black colleges and universities.

In 1971, after the death of Whitney Young Jr., Jordan was named the fifth president of the National Urban League, which is dedicated to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.

“I believe that working with the Urban League, the NAACP, PUSH and SCLC is the highest form of service that you can perform for Black people,” Jordan said in a December 1980 interview in Ebony Magazine. “And if you serve Black people you serve the country as well. So if I do a good job here, the Black people are not the only beneficiary; so is the country. The country has a vested interest in Black people doing well.”

The high-profile position landed him in the crosshairs of a racist in May 1980 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Jordan was shot with a hunter’s rifle outside his hotel after returning from dinner following a speaking engagement.

Jordan had five surgeries and was visited by President Jimmy Carter during his 3-month recovery in the hospital.

“I’m not afraid and I won’t quit,” Jordan told Ebony after the shooting.

Joseph Paul Franklin, an avowed white supremacist who targeted Blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980, later admitted to shooting Jordan. He was never prosecuted in Jordan’s case, but was put to death in 2013 for another slaying in Missouri.

Jordan left the organization in 1981, but said his departure was not related to the shooting.

In 2000, Jordan joined the New York investment firm of Lazard Freres & Co. as a senior managing partner. The following year, he released an autobiography, “Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir.” Also in 2001, Jordan was awarded the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor given to a Black American for outstanding achievement.

He has received more than 55 honorary degrees, including ones from both of his alma maters and sat on several boards of directors.

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Navarro penned 15-page memo falsely accusing Coates of being Anonymous

Former President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro penned a 15-page dossier falsely accusing his colleague Victoria Coates of being Anonymous, according to a copy of the document that was obtained by POLITICO and captures the backbiting that was rife in the Trump White House.

The December 2019 memo goes into great detail to make the case that Coates — who was then a deputy national security adviser — was the author of both the New York Times op-ed and a tell-all book that described a resistance force within the administration aiming to undermine President Donald Trump.

Coates, who is not named in the memo but is clearly identified through specific information, was transferred out of the White House to the Department of Energy in February, just weeks after Navarro wrote and circulated the document.

The dossier lists fifteen bullet points as the likely profile of the author, and several of them turned out to be wrong, including that the person was a “Female With Several Children,” a “Middle East Expert, Pro-Israel, Iran Hawk,” an “Experienced Writer” who had ties to former national security adviser John Bolton and who worked at the National Security Council and not at a Cabinet agency.

The Dec. 2, 2019, memo, entitled “Identity of Anonymous” and which has never been published publicly, seems to reverse-engineer the search for Anonymous and cherry-pick clues to pin the blame on Coates.

The memo — which was riddled with incorrect theories — shows how Anonymous set off significant turmoil inside the White House and also how senior officials were eager to go after their colleagues.

Anonymous turned out to be Miles Taylor, who was the chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security and eventually became an outspoken Trump critic before revealing himself as Anonymous in late October of last year.

Besides pushing a populist trade agenda for Trump, Navarro focused heavily on trying to figure out who Anonymous was. Ironically, for a dossier discussing who Anonymous was, the memo is unsigned. But three former Trump administration officials said that Navarro had written it. Two officials said that he gave it to then-White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in January, who never believed Navarro’s findings.

Navarro did not have a comment.

Mulvaney was “irritated” by Navarro’s memo and told Navarro, “I don’t have time for this,” said one of the former officials.

The person said that Navarro had shared that Trump was “aware” of the memo, and another said that “Navarro was pimping the idea that Victoria was Anonymous to the President.”

Mulvaney declined to comment on the record.

Coates told POLITICO that she had heard that the memo was sent to Trump. A spokesperson for Trump had no comment.

“There is no question in my mind that it got Victoria fired,” said one of the former officials.

Asked why Navarro targeted Coates in the first place, another former official said only he had “decided she was a globalist early on.”

Despite telling CNN in February 2020 that the extent of his hunt was just reading and thinking about the book and op-ed, a person familiar with the matter said that Navarro was clearly circulating his theory around town and that he floated the notion that Coates was Anonymous to a reporter at The Washington Post, but the Post was not able to verify Navarro’s claims. A Post spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Asked by CNN last February if he thought Coates was Anonymous, he said: “Suspects are everywhere.” He also called hunting for the author a “vocation.”

“It’s shocking to realize senior administration officials were so easily duped by this garbage,” Coates said in a statement. “President Trump was not well served.”

The report lists six points that Navarro offered as “major corroborating evidence” that Coates was Anonymous, including that she had written under an anonymous pen name before on a blog and had two “indirect” links to the word “lodestar” and the Flight 93 metaphor used in the book’s epilogue.

Part of the memo discusses Navarro’s contention that because the op-ed and book were made up of “short declarative sentences,” that it was likely that they had the person had written previous op-eds or books.

That helped Navarro point to Coates as the likely author, given that she had written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and a 2016 book called “David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art” and helped in the writing of books by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The real author, Taylor, had never written a book before; “A Warning” was his first published book.

The memo also believes that the author is a “Female with Several Children” and points to how Coates dedicated her art history book to her husband and her two kids “who make everything worthwhile.” “A Warning” was dedicated to “My children” even though Taylor currently has no kids. (The book did say: “Certain details have been withheld or modified without changing the facts in order to preserve the anonymity of those involved.”)

The strongest piece of evidence that Navarro seemed to have was Coates’ ties to the two former Rumsfeld aides who started the literary agency that sold Anonymous’ book, Javelin.

“It is an open debate as to whether Javelin is simply a mercenary that will sell anything that will sell or whether it is an agency with a particular Never Trump agenda,” Navarro writes.

While Keith Urbahn and Matt Latimer of Javelin had initially said they would not confirm or deny specific individuals had written “A Warning,” after Coates got on thin ice at the White House because of the Anonymous rumors, they backtracked and publicly denied she was the author.

“To be very clear so there is no chance of any misunderstanding: Dr. Coates is not Anonymous,” Latimer said in a statement last February. “She does not know who Anonymous is. We have never discussed Anonymous or the book, A WARNING, with her prior to its publication. She did not write it, edit it, see it in advance, know anything about it, or as far we know ever read it.”

But that was not enough to save her job, and she was eventually moved to the Department of Energy as the senior policy adviser in late February. (Her boss at the time, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, said in a statement that she had “served the president loyally since the earliest days of the administration” but did not publicly say at the time she wasn’t Anonymous.)

The only “conclusions” listed in the memo appeared to reflect the possibility that Coates wasn’t actually anonymous.

“While there is a reasonable probability that our POI may be Anonymous, our POI may also be innocent,” Navarro wrote. “Extreme care must be taken in any investigation of this matter, and one should presume innocence until actually proven guilty.”

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CPAC designed as a Trump coronation, former head of American Conservative Union says

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The former head of the organization that oversees CPAC on Sunday called this year’s ongoing event a coronation of Donald Trump.

Calling him “the great whiner.” Al Cardenas said on MSNBC of Trump: “He’s going to continue to make sure people understand that he is the de facto leader of the Republican Party, and those that don’t follow his path will have to pay for it.”

Cardenas was the head of the American Conservative Union from 2011 to 2014. The organization runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which began in 1974 with Ronald Reagan as its first keynote speaker. Cardenas was succeeded by Matt Schlapp, who remains the organization’s president.

Trump is to address CPAC on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking on “The Sunday Show With Jonathan Capehart,” Cardenas said that everything at CPAC leading up to Trump’s speech has been “a set-up” to highlight the themes that the former president will hammer home.

Trump is, Cardenas told Capehart, intent on “instilling fear” and “making sure everybody know there is one leader in this party and that’s him.”

190308 meeks ap 773 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

New York City's once-powerful Democratic bosses sit out mayor’s race

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NEW YORK — When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled Queens party boss Joe Crowley in 2018, it marked a new low for the local Democratic machines that once held sway over New York City politics.

Now, the party organizations in the city’s boroughs can’t even get behind a candidate for one of the most important mayoral contests in recent memory.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a leading candidate among more than two dozen people seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, made a hard sell for the Queens party nod. Borough pride be damned, Adams stared into the camera on a recent weeknight and declared himself the “Queens candidate.”

“We have heard reported over and over again that there is not a Queens candidate running for mayor. That is not true. I am the Queens candidate,” Adams, who grew up in Queens, told its Democratic county organization at a virtual forum earlier this month. “This is a borough that is dear to my heart.”

Two weeks later, Rep. Greg Meeks, who runs the Queens Democratic party, announced the organization’s district leaders had not reached consensus around a single candidate and would skip endorsing in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio. His counterparts in Brooklyn and the Bronx are charting a similar path — all three so far declining to get behind any of the contenders four months before the June 22 primary.

The abdication by the county parties — which at one time had viable organizations in three of the city’s five boroughs — marks another demonstration of the local Democratic organizations’ recession from their once-powerful role at the center of New York City politics.

No longer are party leaders able to corral — or dictate, depending on one’s perspective — votes for citywide candidates, leaving them without position in one of the most consequential local elections in modern memory.

“The counties are in a very difficult, if not impossible, position,” said city-based lobbyist George Fontas, who hails from South Brooklyn. With four months to go, the field is too crowded and too uncertain — the unavoidable consequence of a new campaign finance system and ranked-choice voting — to confidently pick a winner, he reasoned.

With a crucial deadline coming up to get on the ballot, the parties are likely to sit out one of their most important roles in the city’s electoral process.

“Time is running out and is of the essence,” said Jason Laidley, chief of staff to Bronx Democratic leader and state Sen. Jamaal Bailey, referring to the March 2 start of collecting signatures to secure a spot on the ballot. The local party has still not gotten behind a candidate.

In Brooklyn, Democrats are mired in a civil war between old-guard allies and left-leaning reformers. The breach has stalled an endorsement of Adams, even as the county party’s lawyer openly supports the borough president’s campaign.

A spokesman for the party, George Arzt, said it is “simply too early for county party leaders to endorse mayoral candidates” and added they are “grappling with the ravages of the pandemic” and too focused on constituent services to endorse until later in the cycle.

Discord in the Brooklyn Democratic party has become so severe it led to a 13-hour virtual showdown in December, captured in video snippets of party elders silencing reformers by automatically muting their mics. The standoff over the party’s byzantine bylaws is now in the hands of the courts.

Meeks, who is reportedly fond of Wall Street executive Ray McGuire in the mayor’s race, is wrestling with several divisions in Queens, including a bloc of support for Adams countered by a growing presence of far-left activists more inclined to back a politically concordant candidate, according to several people familiar with the matter.

“I don’t understand why the parties would not embrace these movements of new blood,” Derek Evers, a district leader in Queens’ Ridgewood and Long Island City neighborhoods, said in an interview.

In the Bronx, Bailey is finding his footing following a leadership shakeup last year. Shortly after Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. dropped out of the mayoral race, party chair Marcos Crespo stepped down and opted not to run for reelection to the state Assembly. Bailey has been calling district leaders and politicians to assess their preferences in the upcoming primary but has found little consensus, Laidley said.

Looming over party leaders is the longstanding cold war between Adams, a mainstay in city Democratic politics whom they might otherwise be inclined to support, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries — a rising star in Washington, whom they are uninclined to cross.

Given the messy landscape, the leaders have decided to focus on other elections this year: Surrogate court contests, City Council faceoffs and the race for comptroller.

“An endorsement of one [mayoral] candidate at this juncture, when they’re all viable candidates, could cause a major fracture in the county parties and they don’t want to do that. So smarter to let things play out,” Fontas said.

In 2013, each party endorsed four months before the primary, allowing them time to assist candidates in gathering signatures and potentially challenging their opponents’ petitions.

There are more than two dozen people running for mayor, and at least eight would appear to have a viable path, given the unpredictable role ranked-choice voting will play in the election. Among those, several candidates have put elbow grease into winning over county leaders, despite their losing track record in the last open mayoral election in 2013.

Frontrunner Andrew Yang held a private, 30-minute Zoom call with Meeks to make a final pitch the weekend before the congressman declined to endorse in the race, according to a campaign aide. Yang, who has skipped many of the nightly forums, made sure to appear at one hosted by the Brooklyn Democratic party earlier this month.

He has made his deepest inroads in the Bronx, where he lunched with the borough president at a famed Italian restaurant this week, toured the Council district of a party loyalist and hired Stanley Schlein, the county organization’s lawyer.

The Brooklyn party has all but endorsed Adams. County leader Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn’s close ally on the City Council, Farah Louis, recently backed the borough president, and county attorney Frank Carone has donated to his campaign. So have Carone’s relatives, as well as 35 other people who live in his neighborhood and contributed a total of $28,930 to Adams’ campaign, according to a POLITICO analysis of donations.

Adams’ pitch that he is the “Queens candidate” may not have earned him Meeks’ backing, but he did clinch a lineup of endorsements from City Council Member and party loyalist Francisco Moya and six district leaders last week.

Standing in his way is McGuire, who donated the maximum contribution to Meeks’ 2020 reelection effort. McGuire set his sights on the prized voting bloc in Southeast Queens early, hiring a political consultant with long ties to the area and dining at Sangria’s in Jamaica with state Sen. Leroy Comrie. During a recent Zoom forum, Comrie rushed to McGuire’s defense when one of Adams’ surrogates lobbed criticisms at him.

Even Maya Wiley — who is pitching herself to liberal, reform-minded voters — signaled her desire for county party support Before she entered the race, the attorney and former de Blasio adviser trekked to the Bronx for Caribbean cuisine with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the former county leader who still holds considerable sway. Wiley also personally called Bichotte Hermelyn to pitch her candidacy, according to a campaign aide.

One leading contender who has no evident path to county support is City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose native Manhattan lacks a strong Democratic organization.

Despite being a career politician, Stringer alienated county leaders by backing Tiffany Cabán’s unsuccessful bid in the 2019 Queens district attorney race against party favorite Melinda Katz. He also supported the winning bids of upstart challengers to incumbent state lawmakers across the city and furthered his rift with Heastie by siding against him on a legislative pay raise committee.

The atrophying of the county organizations’ electoral muscle began long before 2018, when Ocasio-Cortez routed a Queens party boss in an upset.

In 2009, the labor-backed Working Families Party reached into districts that county leaders thought were securely in their grasp and tossed out their favored candidates. City Council members Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer defeated the party’s choices in Queens, and Jumaane Williams, now the city’s public advocate, ousted a party-backed incumbent in Central Brooklyn.

It was a marked disappointment for the once-powerful leaders in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, whose control had previously eclipsed breakaway factions.

The county leaders suffered another series of setbacks in 2013 — first in backing mayoral candidates who lost to de Blasio in the September primary and then failing to secure their pick for speaker of the City Council, Dan Garodnick.

In the intervening years, they have continued winning judgeships and district leader races and returned victorious in backing Corey Johnson in the 2017 Council speaker’s race.

“Sure politics changes, but if that were the case I don’t think we would’ve made a decision on comptroller,” said Antonio Alfonso, political director of the Queens party. “If we were completely irrelevant we wouldn’t have endorsed on a citywide level, but we did. We chose a hometown favorite in David Weprin who is also the best fit for the job.”

The decline of county parties has been hastened by a new generation of reform-minded New Yorkers who eschew the old-school politicking that counties engage in and are more concerned with ideology than party power.

And despite candidates seeking their support this year, campaign aides quietly acknowledge the parties are not as necessary as they once were because Covid-era rules have abbreviated the ballot requirements and for-hire firms are perfectly capable of doing the job.

“If you’re going to run for office you need to have your own organization today,” former Bronx City Council Member Jimmy Vacca said. “You cannot depend on a [political] club or a county party anymore.”

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Charlie Crist is eyeing a run for governor again. Florida Democrats might not care.

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TALLAHASSEE — Rep. Charlie Crist switched parties almost a decade ago — but the party has moved on.

As the former Republican prepares a potential bid to unseat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the 64-year-old Crist must somehow convince skeptical Democrats that he can energize the diverse coalition that now makes up the party.

“I don’t think he excites the part of the base that we need to propel a statewide campaign,” said Thomas Kennedy, a newly-elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida. “I don’t think a former Republican governor — who has lost statewide before and, quite frankly, hasn’t been at the forefront of the battles that have roiled this county in the last four years — is going to be able to take on what’s going to be a really tough race against Ron DeSantis.”

Crist, a two-term congressman who served as the state’s governor more than a decade ago, hasn’t officially jumped into the race. But he’s reached out to political consultants, major donors such as famed attorney John Morgan, long-time friends like Broward Mayor Steve Geller and other politicians about whether he should try to reclaim the job he once held. Along the way, some of his past allies are beginning to work with other potential Democratic candidates.

When asked whether he’s the right candidate for now, Crist retorts: “I got two words: Joe Biden. Look at what happened in our last election.”

Though Biden managed to win the Democratic nomination and presidency, he lost to President Donald Trump in Floridax, and the GOP picked up both congressional and legislative seats in an election that some view as evidence that Florida is losing its reputation as the nation’s largest battleground state.

Crist’s political evolution over the past three decades has shown he is a survivor. As a Republican, he went from state senator to attorney general to winning the governor’s race in 2006. Part of his ascent included a tough-on-crime persona that earned him the nickname “Chain Gang Charlie.” He was seen a rising star and was even mentioned as a possible running mate with John McCain.

But instead of anticipating the anger that triggered the Tea Party movement, Crist made the ill-fated decision to (literally) embrace then-President Barack Obama and praise him for the stimulus package that was pushed through during the Great Recession. Within a few years, Crist became an independent, lost a U.S. Senate race to Marco Rubio and was briefly out of politics before switching parties and running for governor again.

Crist’s pathway to another statewide election is likely to be much different this time around. Instead of a primary where he is challenged by a lone Democratic lawmaker, he could be going up against a line of contenders, including current Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Geller, a former state legislator and someone who has known Crist since they both were at Florida State University, said he worries that Crist and one or two other centrist candidates from the Biden wing of the party would split the vote and allow a progressive to win the primary only to lose the general election.

“I like Nikki (Fried),” Geller said. “If Charlie is not running, I could easily support her. But I think Charlie’s a stronger candidate because he has run for governor before.”

Morgan, who once hired Crist to work at his well-known law firm Morgan & Morgan and remains a close friend, said he has cautioned Crist that it won’t be easy to knock off DeSantis even if he makes it through a Democratic primary. Morgan said by the time the 2022 elections come around, the coronavirus pandemic may be in the “rear view mirror” and criticisms of DeSantis’ handling of the crisis may lose their sting.

“DeSantis is a cold fish and not warm and fuzzy, but do we need warm and fuzzy?” asked Morgan, who recently hosted Crist at his home in Maui. “I made those arguments to Charlie. What would be your rallying cry? When you are running, you are asking the electorate to fire him for doing a bad job.”

Another long-time friend, Watson Haynes, president and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, had no such reservations and cited Crist’s past work at restoring voting rights to felons as just one reason to back him.

“I encouraged him,” said Haynes, who said he called Crist in late January after he began hearing rumblings that he may run. “I told him it would be a great idea.”

Crist cites several factors that he says makes him a viable candidate, including that he lost to incumbent Gov. Rick Scott by just 64,000 votes in 2014. Crist notes the election was razor tight even though Scott substantially outspent him, including infusing nearly $13 million of his own money in the final days.

“We still only lost by one point in a massive election where millions of votes were cast,” Crist said in an interview with POLITICO. “It’s not the most discouraging conclusion. Look if I had lost by 10 or 20 points then — ‘Peace. Out. You are done with this venture.’”

Yet the past accomplishments and narrow loses are still a tough sell, especially to Democrats who recall that he once was a Republican.

Kira Willig, who was a DNC delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders in both 2016 and 2020, said it’s time for Democrats to move on from Crist.

“I don’t know what vision he represents,” Willig said. “He is from the era that some Democrats still cling to where we think Republican will vote for a Republican-lite on the ticket. He already lost to Rick Scott and didn’t bring out the coalition of voters he needed.”

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How Trump hijacked the GOP ‘ideas factory’

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Ronald Reagan, the president who reinvigorated the Republican Party, promoted the GOP as the “party of new ideas” on his way to a landslide reelection in 1984.

In the post-Donald Trump era, judging by the fare inside the Orlando ballroom where the Conservative Political Action Conference unfolded, the GOP has evolved into the party of precisely two ideas: re-litigating Trump’s defeat and seething over the de-platforming of the former president and his supporters.

At the first major gathering of Republicans since Trump left office, conservatives spent the weekend clinging to the false claim that Trump’s presidency was stolen from him and raging over the perceived “cancel culture” of Big Tech and the left.

Nearly four months after the election and one month into Joe Biden’s presidency, the politics of grievance has become the near-singular organizing principle of the post-Trump GOP. And whether at CPAC or in statehouses across the country, policy prescriptions for restoring so-called voter integrity have emerged as the primary focus of the party’s energy.

“There are two things the conservative grassroots care about more than anything else,” Charlie Kirk, a conservative activist and founder of the youth movement Turning Point USA, said at CPAC. “No. 1, restoring election integrity in our country for fair and free elections. And No. 2, it is challenging Big Tech, it is giving us the ability to speak freely on social media.”

Much of the intellectual and legislative thrust of the Republican Party nationally remains grounded in the election and its aftermath — a preoccupation sparked by the former president’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him through voting fraud and other means.

In Georgia, where Democrats not only beat Trump in November but flipped the U.S. Senate in the runoff elections, the Republican-controlled state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill requiring an ID when requesting an absentee ballot. The following day, it was a bonanza across the country. The Iowa House passed a bill designed to limit early voting. In Missouri, the Republican-controlled House passed legislation that would require a photo ID at the polls, while a legislative committee in Wyoming moved forward with a similar bill.

The Brennan Center for Justice is tracking more than 250 bills to restrict voting by lawmakers in 43 states.

Benjamin Ginsberg, an elections lawyer who has represented past Republican presidential nominees, lamented the death of the “ideas factory” in the GOP.

“Tell me what the innovative Republican policies have been of late?” he said. The focus on re-litigating the last election is “probably a sign that the Republican Party is mired in a bit of a policy wasteland and doesn’t know which way to turn to get out.”

Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, said “all Americans should be concerned about election integrity.” But with no evidence of widespread fraud beyond normal irregularities, he said, the focus by some in the GOP on the last election is a “big distraction” from issues that are more pressing to the electorate.

“I think it’s a big distraction,” Gonzales said. “And I worry that it will continue to be a big distraction as long as a certain individual makes statements that it was stolen.”

There is nothing to suggest that Trump, who will speak at the convention on Sunday, is letting go — or that the party’s rank-and-file is prepared to pivot away from his claims that the election was stolen from him, despite more than 60 losses in election lawsuits challenging the presidential election.

It hasn’t always been this way in the Republican Party. Last year, CPAC’s theme was “America vs. socialism.” The year before that, there were no fewer than three panels focusing on the challenges posed by a rising China. This year, CPAC did not go off without an airing of the party’s greatest hits: trade, China, immigration and abortion. And there were shoutouts for Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand. But the fallout from November was the main fixture — in the Republicans’ frustration at de-platforming and the seven-part exploration of “protecting elections.”

In part, the party’s lack of a more forward-looking posture is a function of its sudden dearth of power in Washington. The GOP is settling in as an opposition party — with conservatives constituting what Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas described at CPAC as “the Rebel Alliance.” But there is little room for innovative, policy-focused conservative thought in a party so in thrall to one leader — a leader obsessed with the notion that he lost in a rigged election.

Ken Khachigian, a former aide to Richard Nixon and chief speechwriter for Reagan, said the Republican Party today doesn’t have “a singular voice like they had with Reagan, for example, or Bill Buckley, the movement conservatives who could get up on a stage and move everyone the way Jack Kemp did back in the day.”

“There’s always hope,” Khachigian said, suggesting that “when you have nitwits like AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] on the other side, it’s not hard to come up with somebody.”

But the backward-looking focus on November and its fallout, he said, is “shooting blanks.”

It may come at a cost. As the Republican Party prepares for the midterm elections and the next presidential primary, it’s doing so as a shell of itself, having lost the White House and both houses of Congress in the span of four years. The last time it carried the popular vote in a presidential election was 2004, and America’s shifting demographics are making it increasingly unlikely that it will do so in 2024 — regardless of attempts to raise barriers to voting.

“It is a party that has been fashioned in the mold of Trump — Trump’s message, Trump’s tactics — and it is perfectly comfortable being a party that is defined by what it’s against,” said Kevin Madden, a former Mitt Romney adviser.

The difficulty for the party, Madden said, is “you become almost toxic as a party brand to larger, growing parts of the electorate. … The limitation of a message and a platform that’s just about disagreeing with the opposition is that it doesn’t speak to the broader concerns or anxieties of a big part of the electorate.”

It’s possible that the party’s fixation on election fraud and on the perceived silencing of those who tried to overturn the outcome will fade. Trump’s effort to contest the election postponed the traditional, post-election period of mourning for the losing party. And because a majority of Republicans still approve of Trump and believe the election wasn’t free or fair, there is a political imperative for the party to mollify them.

Sal Russo, a former Reagan aide and Tea Party Express co-founder, said that “sometimes you’ve got to give some deference to where your base wants to go. … Do I think the Republicans have to get over the election process issues? Yes, because you don’t win on ‘we’re going to tighten up absentee ballot eligibility.’ It doesn’t turn out to vote.”

“I think there’s a catharsis that has to happen,” he said, adding that “it’s probably a good thing that CPAC is spending a lot of time” on the subject.

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Noem slams Covid shutdowns, defends South Dakota's record at CPAC

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Potential 2024 presidential hopeful Gov. Kristi Noem defended South Dakota’s record on the coronavirus, railing against lockdowns in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday,

In her lengthy address, Noem argued that government, not the pandemic, “crushed” the reeling U.S. economy.

“The question of why America needs conservatives can be answered by just mentioning one single year, and that year is 2020,” Noem said. “Everybody knows that almost overnight we went from a roaring economy to a tragic, nationwide shutdown.”

Noem has fought against mask mandates and encouraged a large motorcycle rally that saw hundreds of thousands of people attend. South Dakota at times has struggled to contain the pandemic, having seen the most cases and deaths per capita among states in the country, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

Noem is staking herself firmly to the staunch pro-Trump lane among potential 2024 GOP contenders, many of whom have spoken at CPAC. She is meeting with donors in March at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a fundraiser for her reelection bid and the first fundraising event of this cycle hosted by Donald Trump Jr.

In her speech Saturday, Noem often followed the Trump playbook, laying into Dr. Anthony Fauci, a favorite target among MAGA faithful, saying his predictions about South Dakota’s fate with the virus were too dire.

“I don’t know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot,” Noem said to raucous applause. She also called media coverage of her state’s coronavirus response “a lie,” while bashing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has come under fire for his nursing home policies.

Like many other CPAC speakers, Noem leaned heavily into culture wars, arguing there has been an “an organized, coordinated campaign to remove and eliminate all references to our nation’s founding and many other parts of our history.”

“To attempt to cancel the founding generation is an attempt to cancel our own freedoms,” Noem said. “Let’s always remember America is good. Freedom is better than tyranny. We are unique, we are exceptional, and no American should ever, ever apologize for that.”

She also called for a new playbook for conservatism, saying that traditional GOP campaign issues like cutting taxes and regulation “is not good enough anymore.”

“As conservatives, we often forget that stories are much more powerful than facts and statistics,” Noem said. “Our stories need to be told. It is the only way that we will inspire and motivate the American people to preserve this great country.”

In a crowded pack of potential contenders, Noem polled at 1% in a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult survey of voters’ preference for 2024.

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Pompeo leans into pro-Trump lane in fiery CPAC speech

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Mike Pompeo leaned heavily into the pro-Trump lane in a lengthy speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday afternoon, repeatedly touting the “America First” foreign policy agenda he pursued as Secretary of State.

The potential 2024 presidential candidate tossed out plenty of red meat for the base in a wide-ranging speech that rehashed many of the Trump’s administration’s accomplishments and drew some of the biggest applause thus far at CPAC.

“What’s good news today for me is when you’re a diplomat, when you’re the 70th Secretary of State, you have to stay in your lane. I don’t have that. I’m not a diplomat. I’m going to let it rip,” Pompeo said before launching into attacks on China while hailing President Donald Trump’s order to kill Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite paramilitary forces.

In a speech promoted as focusing on the Bill of Rights, Pompeo heavily laid into Democrats, arguing they “pretend they care about jobs in America” and ripped the Biden administration for cutting a key permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. He slammed his predecessor as secretary of state, John Kerry, now Biden’s climate envoy, for suggesting in a January press briefing that fossil fuel workers who lost their jobs can “make … solar panels.”

“You ask the good people in the middle of Texas, Oklahoma, or Kansas, or South Dakota, or Pennsylvania, you think petroleum engineers and rig hands are going to make solar panels? he added.

He also conflated the Trump administration’s economic and immigration records with the administration’s foreign policy.

“’America First’ is right for America,” Pompeo said. “The entire world benefits when America is fearless and bold and strong.”

“[Democrats] want to defund the police while they barricade the Capitol,” Pompeo said. “This is backwards. And canceling our freedom to assemble peacefully while censoring our communications online is completely antithetical to what our founders understood about America.“

The former Kansas lawmaker is among a group of potential populist candidates jostling amid the Republican Party’s reckoning in the post-Trump era — even as the former president remains broadly popular among GOP voters.

Some of those in that lane include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, all of whom have already spoken at CPAC. Trump is set to speak at CPAC on Sunday.

More than half of Republicans said in a recent POLITICO/Morning Consult Poll that they’d vote for the former president if the primary was being held today, with all other contenders well behind. Mike Pence led the secondary group at 12%. Pompeo drew 2%.

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Grenell to discuss potential California governor run with Trump Saturday

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Former acting national intelligence director Ric Grenell is slated to have dinner with former President Donald Trump Saturday evening to discuss his potential run for California governor, among other issues, according to three people familiar with the plans.

The sit-down, which is set to take place at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, comes as Grenell moves closer to launching a campaign in the possible upcoming recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Grenell strongly hinted during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday morning that he was leaning toward a bid, saying that he has “never seen a better case for a recall” than the effort to recall Newsom.

“And of course, if a public official is still failing to deliver on their promises, and if you can’t limit their term or recall them in time, there’s always one other option: You can run against them yourself,” Grenell said at the tail end of his speech.

Neither Grenell nor a Trump spokesman responded to requests for comment.

Trump has yet to publicly weigh in on the recall effort, though many of his staunchest backers have made clear they support Newsom’s removal. Former Trump aide Mercedes Schlapp, the wife of CPAC head Matt Schlapp, remarked onstage Saturday morning that Grenell would “make a great governor of California.”

The 54-year-old Grenell, a Palm Springs, Calif., resident, is close to the former president and is frequently in touch with him. In addition to spending several months as Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, Grenell was also ambassador to Germany in the Trump administration. Grenell campaigned aggressively for Trump’s reelection in 2020 and pushed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud after the vote.

Should he run, Grenell would likely be supported by a substantial fundraising operation. He was a major draw at Trump fundraisers during the 2020 campaign, and many of the former president’s biggest contributors have called on him to enter the contest. But while Grenell’s relationship with Trump is likely to help him with Republican voters, it could be a complicating factor. The former president got just 34 percent of the vote in California in 2020, and Democrats have signaled they’re eager focus a recall campaign on Trump instead of questions about how Newsom has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Grenell is expected to meet Southern California-based high-dollar donors next week, and he has begun to assemble what one person close to him described as an experienced fundraising team.

Recall organizers, who’ve tapped into growing disapproval of Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, say they have collected 1.8 million signatures of Californians who are in support of the recall. They must submit 1.5 million valid signatures to the California secretary of state’s office by March 17 in order to qualify the recall for the ballot. They say they are trying to gather roughly 2 million or more because elections officials are almost certain to deem some signatures invalid.

Should the recall make the ballot, California voters would be asked to vote on two questions — whether to recall Newsom, and which candidate should replace him. The last California gubernatorial recall election was in 2003, when Democrat Gray Davis was booted and replaced by actor and professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.

Grenell would join a growing list of Republican contenders. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has launched a campaign, as has wealthy businessman John Cox, who lost badly to Newsom in 2018. Former Rep. Doug Ose has also said he’s weighing a bid.