Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he will not run in November’s special election for Senate.

“I am very interested in public service and service for the common good — there are a lot of different ways to do that — but I’ll tell you today running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,” Pawlenty told Fox Business.

Many Republicans had considered Pawlenty, currently the CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, their best shot to take on newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith in the special election to fill former Sen. Al Franken’s seat.

Pawlenty was the last Republican to win a statewide election. Former Sen. Norm Coleman, who had spoken to Pawlenty about service in the Senate, had called him the “ideal candidate.”

In response to questions about GOP fundraisers urging him to run, Pawlenty said on Fox Business Tuesday he appreciated their encouragement but pointed out the difficulty of running a 10-month campaign.

“It’s going to be a very competitive race in a tough state for a Republican, so you’d have to start very soon,” he said.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race Likely Democratic after Franken announced his resignation.

GOP Rep. Tom Emmer may be interested. Former Rep. Michele Bachmann has said she’s been encouraged to run. State House Speaker Kurt Daudt is another potential contender. State Sen. Karin Housley — the wife of the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres — is already running.

"State Senator Karin Housley is, as they say in racing, in the pole position," Coleman said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

The GOP endorsement will be made at the state party’s June convention. Ballot access will be determined by the primary in August.

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Democrats are unlikely to support a stopgap spending bill this week without protections for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.

“I think it needs to be in the CR,” Hoyer said of protections for Dreamers.

The Maryland Democrat said he’s “hopeful” Congress can pass those protections, needed because of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program effective in March, within the next 72 hours.

Hoyer also said he’s hopeful an agreement on increasing the sequestration spending caps for defense and nondefense spending can be reached this week and said that too should be included in a continuing resolution to extend government funding. He also mentioned disaster aid funding as a Democratic priority.

If those issues are not addressed, Democrats are expected to oppose the CR but Hoyer noted that decision has not been made yet given ongoing negotiations.

“While there are many reasons why we would be opposed to kicking the can down the road, we haven’t made that decision yet,” Hoyer said.

Democrats believe CRs are bad policy, Hoyer said, citing many Republicans who also share that view. However, he also questioned whether GOP leaders want to reach a broader spending deal.

“We think they may just want to fund government by CRs,” the Democratic whip said. “The problem is their guys don’t want to do that.”

Hoyer acknowledged that Democrats “don’t have many tools available” to push their priorities on spending and immigration, which is why they’re leveraging the CR since their votes will be needed, at least in the Senate.

If Republicans fail to put up the needed votes for a CR and all Democrats vote against it, Hoyer said they’d be able to argue “pretty persuasively” that they’re not to blame for a shutdown.

“We don’t have the majority; they have the majority,” he said.

Republicans are expected to include a six-year reauthorization of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program in the CR as a sweetener for Democrats.

While that “may” complicate Democrats’ position in opposing a stopgap absent deals on DACA and spending caps, Hoyer said, “Democrats are not going to be held hostage by bad policies or inaction.”

Complicating the negotiations on DACA are reports that Trump used the term “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries during a White House meeting last week on a Senate proposal that would extend certain protections to immigrants from those areas. Trump opposes the Senate proposal.

Hoyer said Trump’s comments “were certainly racist” and when pushed to say whether he believes the president himself is a racist, the Maryland Democrat confirmed as much.

“What he does is racist. If what you do is racist, you certainly qualify for being a racist,” he said.

Regarding the bipartisan Senate immigration proposal, Hoyer said he has not been fully apprised of the agreement but indicated he could not support any measure that would make changes to extended family visas or the diversity visa lottery program.

“I am not for, at this point in time, dealing with family unification or diversity,” Hoyer said, noting concerns within the Democratic caucus about the racial undertones related to altering those policies. He said those issues should be tabled for later discussion as part of a comprehensive immigration overhaul.

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Analysis: Tough Road Ahead for Ryan in 2018

By Lindsey McPherson
Heard on the Hill

Riding Shotgun: Steve Cohen’s 1986 Cadillac

By Alex Gangitano

Cohen’s Car Stands Out

By Bian Elkhatib

Capitol Ink | POTUS Mouth

By Robert Matson

Podcast: Immigration Imbroglio

By Shawn Zeller

A panel of three federal judges in North Carolina struck down the state’s 2016 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander on Tuesday.

The ruling blocks the state from conducting any elections under the 2016 map and orders the state’s General Assembly to redraw congressional districts by Jan. 24 for the 2018 elections.

The state will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and ask for a stay. The Supreme Court is currently considering two other partisan gerrymandering cases, one about state legislative districts in Wisconsin and one about Maryland’s congressional map.

The filing deadline for congressional candidates in North Carolina is Feb. 28, and the primary is May 8.

The Jan. 24 deadline gives the General Assembly two weeks to come up with a remedial plan. But because it’s the middle of an election year, the court is also appointing a so-called special master to develop a remedial plan in case the the General Assembly fails to deliver a plan or their plan doesn’t remedy the partisan gerrymander.

The fact that North Carolina has a Democratic governor doesn’t give Democrats much control in this situation. The governor does not have power to veto a redistricting plan from the General Assembly, said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center's Democracy Program.

There’s precedent for court-mandated redistricting during an election year in North Carolina. After a three-judge panel in February 2016 ruled that the GOP-legislature relied too heavily on race in 2011 to draw the 1st and 12th Districts, the General Assembly had to approve a new map for the 2016 elections.

The new map maintained Republicans’ partisan advantage in the delegation but shifted some incumbents’ districts, even putting two incumbents in the same district. The adoption of that new 2016 map forced the state to move its House primaries back to June.

Todd Ruger contributed to this report.

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House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper said Wednesday that a measure updating sexual harassment procedures he had planned to introduce this week is still being fine-tuned but that he’s hopeful it will be ready for release early next week.

If he can meet that new due date, a markup on the measure could be held later that week, the Mississippi Republican said.

“The goal is to get it passed out of the House before the end of January,” he added.

Harper said the bill authors are continuing to meet with various stakeholders and members as they finalize the legislation.

“We want to make sure that we don’t have any unintended consequences,” he said.

“We’re focusing, too, on how we encourage prevention so we don’t have to deal with this in the future, but if we do, to deal with it in the right way,” Harper added.

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One year ago, as Donald Trump was preparing to take the oath of office, Democrats were in disarray. Supporters of 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were pointing fingers at each other, the Democratic National Committee was in disgrace, and Democratic voters were demoralized.

Now, Trump has succeeded in doing something extraordinary, something neither Clinton nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi could do — he has united and energized Democrats.

Moreover, if national polls are accurate, the president has taken his own party to the edge of a political cliff, the 2018 midterm elections.

This has occurred in spite of a growing economy, a booming stock market, a shrinking unemployment rate and tax cuts intended to stimulate even more growth.

While economic dislocations and low wage growth certainly played a role in boosting Trump’s presidential run, it was his view of America that mobilized key voters behind his anti-establishment candidacy.

Trump voters were angry about how the country has changed. They saw liberals encouraging diversity (through same-sex marriage, transgender rights and immigration) at the expense of traditional values, roles and institutions (e.g., traditional religious beliefs and organizations).

Even worse, Republicans were unable to roll back or stop the tide of change. Trump’s cultural populism was an important part of his campaign message, and it continues to underlie his appeal to older, less educated, white voters, particularly those in rural areas.

His anti-elitist message resonated with Americans who regarded diversity and political correctness as threats to their traditions and way of life.

His promise to replace “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas” may seem trivial, but it encapsulated an important part of his message and allure, which essentially involved his promise to turn back the clock.

Yes, Trump’s cultural message resonated with people on the political fringe, but it also reflected the views of average Americans, particularly older whites who grew up in a very different time and who miss the values, communities and traditions they once knew and with which they were entirely comfortable. (Not surprisingly, nonwhites generally don’t have such romantic memories of the 1950s.)

But while those themes certainly struck a chord with conservatives and older voters in 2016, they have also — for a very different reason — now energized the young, people of color and more liberal voters, who see Trump’s America as a threat rather than an ideal.

Like Trump, President Barack Obama’s great appeal was not his issue positions — though, of course, liberal Democrats agreed with him about health care, government spending and foreign policy.

Instead, it was Obama’s vision for the country — diversity, equality, fairness and bipartisan cooperation — that made him so attractive, even to nonideological voters.

While many Americans remain outraged by Trump’s judicial appointments, efforts to repeal the 2010 health care law, support for corporate tax cuts and decision to open up drilling off the nation’s coasts, his critics have been most offended by his vision for America.

Trump’s inauguration address, comments after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and insensitivity toward gays and blacks galvanized liberals, immigrants and the young, many of whom were lukewarm about Clinton’s candidacy and failed to vote during the Obama midterms in 2010 and 2014.

This new energy produced an electorate in Virginia in 2017 that looked significantly more like the national electorates of 2008 and 2012 than those of 2010 or 2016.

That is politically dangerous for the GOP, as it was in 2006, when a Democratic electoral wave swept the country.

Trump and congressional Republicans began this election cycle with little room for error heading into the midterms. After all, Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 points in 2016 even though key Democratic demographic groups underperformed.

But since his election, Trump has made little effort, either substantively or symbolically, to reach out to voters outside his political base.

Yes, his base is loyal, but it remains dangerously small.

The trouble for Trump and his party is that last year’s Virginia gubernatorial election saw strong turnout among younger voters (ages 18-29 and 30-44) and nonwhites.

The surge was particularly strong in suburban areas, where white women with a college degree helped Democrat Ralph Northam sweep to an unexpectedly strong victory.

Trump’s voters went to the polls and supported Republican Ed Gillespie, but he was crushed by almost 9 points by a larger-than-expected Democratic turnout.

The outcome in Virginia revealed the long-term problem for Republicans in general and Trump in particular: the America of Donald Trump isn’t one that is inclusive and welcoming.

It is an America tied to cultural values and behaviors of the 1950s, not the 21st century. That has proved appealing to older white voters, evangelicals, the less educated and those living in rural America, but not so to the rest of the country.

Other elections in 2017 and most national polls have also shown greater Democratic energy and opposition to the president, even with the nation’s good economic numbers.

The Democrats don’t have Obama at the top of the ticket, but they have someone almost as good — Donald Trump.

So, while the president can (and inevitably will) brag about some of his accomplishments, perhaps his greatest accomplishment may be his success in reviving and revitalizing the Democratic Party. And for that, Democrats should thank him.

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