What to Watch in Washington This Summer


Here are a few people, places, and things you might not see on the landing page of your news feed but that could be big news before Labor Day.  

Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL):  Demings might be Vice President mostly because she represents where presidents are chosen—the heart of the I-4 corridor in Orlando.  She was a long shot to be Joe Biden’s VP pick a few months ago.  Now her experiences as the first black female police chief of Orlando and leadership in the Trump impeachment may bolster her chances. 

The Dems’ virtual convention: Broadcasting from “satellite” locations added excitement to the NFL draft, but what about a political convention for a candidate who has a lot going for him except public enthusiasm?  The Democrats were scheduled to meet in Milwaukee in July; now Biden will accept the nomination there in August but to a crowd of 1000 while delegates cheer virtually.  

Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT):  Can two octogenarians fund the government?  Why do I ask this every year?  No.  They can’t.  Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on.  The Senate Appropriations Committee, led by Shelby and Leahy, was moving along well given the COVID crisis—negotiating how to fund the dozen spending bills.  Democrats now want to include pandemic spending and “social justice reforms” funding and Shelby says this is “hijacking” the process.  Stay tuned for the stop gap funding measures called “continuing resolutions.”   

Kris Kobach of Kansas:  You know how the Republicans have a special talent at nominating the one person in the state who can’t win a winnable Senate seat?  Establishment Republicans fear Kobach is the heir to Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharon Angle, and Roy Moore – all of whom lost Republicans a Senate seat because of radical, offensive, or just crazy statements and behavior.  Kobach already lost the Kansas governorship two years ago.  His track record on immigration and voting rights (among other issues) was so unpalatable that two former Senators and a Governor – all Republicans – endorsed his gubernatorial opponent.  The primary among at least three Republicans seeking to replace retiring Senator Pat Roberts is August 4. 

Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon:  Gideon raised $7.1 million in the first quarter of the year from Mainers and out-of-staters wishing to deny Senator Susan Collins a fifth term.  Collins’ political idol, Margaret Chase Smith, lost her shot at a fifth term in 1972. 

These are just five items to keep an eye on, but all could change the course of the House, Senate, and the White House in about six months’ time.