Good morning! Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics. I’m Brent Griffiths. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox each day.
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Here’s what you need to know:
1. THE OTHER FLORIDA MAN: Former President Trump’s endorsement skyrocketed Ron DeSantis to Florida’s governorship. The former president’s favor may have created a formidable 2024 challenger. In fact, DeSantis is one of three other Floridians with their eyes on the White House. They just have the small task of getting by Trump first.
To get a sense of the presidential field, Insider has another installment of our exclusive 2024 GOP power rankings.
Here’s a peek at where things stand:
- DeSantis is having a moment, even an adviser to another hopeful concedes that: The Floridian has avoided the chaos that has engulfed much of the field while earning more conservative cred by trolling the press over criticism of his handling of the pandemic. But DeSantis still has to survive a tough re-election next year. And some GOP strategists question his retail politics skills. “He is kinda an a—— who hates people,” one quipped.
- Mike Pence saw the biggest drop (from 3 to 6).
This is still Trump’s party and he’ll do what he wants to.
- Key quote: “Clearly, Trump is the leading contender. That hasn’t changed. The challenge in doing rankings is that (1) no one knows what Trump will do — not just whether he runs, but how he reacts/treats others who run and (2) what other potential candidates do,” Doug Heye, a longtime Republican strategist, wrote in an email.
The top three is 1. Trump 2. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and 3. DeSantis. Check our report for the rest.
2. A third COVID-19 vaccine is a step closer to approval: Federal regulators found Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot to be safe and effective. The vaccine is more effective at preventing severe disease and the worst COVID-19 outcomes, but its overall effectiveness is less than the other two available shots.
- What’s next?: Food and Drug Administration officials will meet Friday to determine their recommendation.
3. The most powerful woman you’ve never heard of will soon decide the fate of the $15 minimum wage: Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s voice is rarely heard, but her power can be felt in many places. Thanks to a budget maneuver known as reconciliation Democrats are using to fast-track their relief package, she will soon decide whether the minimum wage increase can be part of it.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders is optimistic the wage increase will stay in: But the Vermont independent told Chris Hayes last night: “The only way that we are going to raise the minimum wage is through reconciliation or ending the filibuster.”
4. A former Andrew Cuomo aide detailed her sexual harassment allegations against the governor: “Lindsey Boylan, who worked at a senior level in Cuomo’s office until 2018, said that after years of unwanted sexual advances, including inappropriate touching and comments, Cuomo kissed her without her consent in late 2018, leading her to resign.” Cuomo’s office denied her claims.
5. Vice President Harris is making the administration work for her people, too: Former Harris staffers are landing powerful gigs in the White House and throughout the executive branch, expanding her network of allies. But that doesn’t mean everyone is landing a new job. Previous White House aides told Insider it makes sense that Harris went outside her orbit for choosing positions like chief of staff, which went to longtime Democratic strategist Tina Flournoy.
Read our exclusive report for more on how past vice presidents staffed up.
6. Democrats’ stimulus plan is a boon to health insurance companies: President Biden promised to take on insurers, but his $1.9 trillion relief package would pour tens of billions into the industry. One of the largest provisions would send $48 billion to insurance companies through federal subsidies to help temporarily pay for private Obamacare plans. Our exclusive report has more on why critics argue that this is a terrible approach.
7. The top things for your calendar, all times Eastern:
- 10:45 a.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference.
- 12:00 p.m.: Jen Psaki holds the daily news briefing; The Senate holds a confirmation vote on Jennifer Granholm to be Energy secretary.
- Afternoon: The House is expected to vote on the Equality Act.
- 2:30 p.m: Biden and Harris participate in an event commemorating the 50th millionth COVID-19 vaccine shot.
8. Biden plans to warn the Saudi King Salman of coming US Intel saying his son ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi: Candidate Biden slammed Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s royal family. Per The New York Times, on an upcoming call with Salman, Biden plans on warning him that the administration will declassify intelligence about the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. The Times and other reports say it will find that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, ordered Khashoggi’s gory death.
9. Is this The New York Times’ next top editor? “Carolyn Ryan is one of the most influential figures inside The New York Times — a polarizing, hard-driving deputy managing editor now supervising the organization’s most fraught topic: newsroom culture.”
The current top executive editor, Dean Baquet, will pass the mandatory retirement age for the paper in September 2022, leading to a speculative shortlist on who will replace him.
Read more from the in-depth report on Ryan’s rise, from covering small-town Massachusetts to the Times where she’s led critical coverage, including of the 2016 election. If selected, she would be the paper’s first openly gay executive editor.
10. The hidden messages on NASA’s Mars rover are elementary, my dear: The space agency included everything from nods to Sherlock Holmes and a quasi-family car sticker to a tribute to health care workers. Incredibly, even a piece of the red planet itself is embedded in Perseverance. But it’s the hidden code on its parachute that will really wow you.
Perseverance also shot a breathtaking pano: More on that here.
One last thing.
Today’s trivia question: Thursday marks the anniversary of Congress passing the Legal Tender Act in 1862. It led to the creation of President Lincoln’s “greenback,” paving the way for the dollar, dollar bills we all love. We all know Lincoln is on the $5, but just how many state names are on the back? Email your response and a suggested question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.