Alexi McCammond

Bernie Sanders to headline the Women's March Convention

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Bernie Sanders, who many view as the leading voice of the grassroots progressive movement, is giving a speech on the opening night of the Women's Convention — even though he's a man.

The basics: The Women's March co-founders are hosting a three-day convention for more than 3,000 women and activists on Oct. 27 to "build political power" ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, said one of the co-founders, Tamika Mallory. The 13 other speakers released to the public are all women, many who are running for or currently hold public office.

Why Sanders: "I think that right now, no one can deny that Bernie Sanders is probably one of the most powerful U.S. senators ... on progressive issues, women's issues, mobilizing Millennials," Mallory told the Detroit Free Press.

Other speakers:
  • U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters
  • Actress and producer Piper Perabo
  • Sally Kohn, CNN political commentator and columnist
  • Nomiki Konst, co-founder and executive director of the Accountability Project
  • Leah Greenberg, co-founder of the Trump resistance group Indivisible
  • Liliana Reyes, a transgender Latina activist
  • Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
  • Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action
  • Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution
  • Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
  • Michigan Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Chang
  • Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda Lopez
  • Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer

Susan Collins will remain in the Senate

Andrew Harnik / AP

Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced this morning she will remain in the U.S. Senate, ending speculation she'd mount a campaign to be Maine's governor.

Why it matters: Collins has been a consistent voice of opposition to Trump's major legislative pushes, most notably voting against his repeal-and-replace efforts every time. By not running for governor, Collins will remain a prominent (and moderate) GOP figure in the Senate.


Meet the Siri-like chatbot that acts as a political advisor

Screengrab: Hope launch video

A Siri-like chatbot called Hope wants to be your personal political advisor, and you can communicate with her directly through your phone starting today. The team at Purpose, a lab for "world-changing ideas and movements," created Hope to deliver personalized ways people can take political action based on breaking news. "Hope's motto is 'don't freak out, act smart,'" said Josh Hendler, Chief Technology Officer at Purpose and product lead for Hope.

How it works: Hope sends breaking news alerts to users via text message or on their phone's internet browser. Soon, it will be available on Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Android and iOS apps. Users can reply to Hope's news alerts by asking things like "How can I help?" which will then prompt Hope to provide information about local protests or gatherings in response to the news. The alerts are "evidence-based recommendations"


Conservative group launches tax ad targeting 42 Republicans

Paul Ryan, Dana Rohrabacher, and Mark Meadows. Photos: AP

American Action Network, a center-right issue advocacy organization focused on tax reform, is launching a $500,000 digital ad arguing the Trump administration's tax plan will result in $1,200 tax cuts for middle class families.

Why it matters: The ad targets 42 Congressional districts represented by Republicans from leadership, key committees, Freedom Caucus, and those in vulnerable seats whose support on tax reform is critical.

The group's Middle Class Growth Initiative is behind the ad, which will run on platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for two weeks in the targeted districts. The middle-class tax cuts highlighted by the ad are based on an independent analysis featured on Forbes.

Some of the key Republicans targeted: House Speaker Paul Ryan, Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Watch the ad.

Go deeper: Republicans agreed to raise the bottom rate and double the standard deduction.


Job Creators Network sends letter to Congress about tax reform

Andrew Harnik / AP

More than 60 organization leaders signed a letter from Job Creators Network, a conservative group, to Congress urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive tax reform.

Some of the leaders on the letter: Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue, Former Senior Economic Adviser to the Trump Campaign, Stephen Moore, President of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, and the Honorary Chairman of Americans for Hope, Growth and Opportunity, Steve Forbes.

Democratic senators giving away their Weinstein donations

Sens. Schumer, Booker, Franken and Warren. (Photos: AP)

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been a major donor to Democratic candidates. Now, the candidates he supported financially are giving away that money to charity after it was revealed Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.

Many of the senators' spokespersons said they learned of Weinstein's behavior yesterday when the news broke.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT): Donating $5600 to the Women's Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation, specifically the Change the Story Initiative.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT): Donating $5400 to Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM): Donating $5400 to Community Against Violence, a non-profit organization in New Mexico.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA): Donating $5000 to Casa Myrna, a non-profit in Boston.

Sen. Corey Booker (NJ): Donating $7800 to the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a nonprofit charity organization.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY): Donating $16,200 to "several charities supporting women," per a Schumer spokesperson.

Sen. Al Franken (MN): Donating $19,600 to Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center.

The Democratic National Committee is donating more than "$30,000 in contributions from Weinstein to EMILY's List, Emerge America and Higher Heights," DNC communications director told The Daily Beast's Scott Bixby.


New Hampshire Dem retiring in Trump district

Democratic candidate for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District Carol Shea-Porter sits on stage during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter announced today she will not seek re-election after serving four terms to spend more time with family.

Why it matters: Shea-Porter represents New Hampshire's First District, which Trump won by a nose. She's also the first Dem to win this seat in 22 years and the first woman New Hampshire has elected to federal office. Democrats need to keep all the seats they have, in addition to picking up more, if they want to gain majority control at the state and federal levels in 2018, so Shea-Porter's departure leaves a vacancy for Republicans to reclaim.


Marsha Blackburn announces Senate run to replace Corker

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., waves after speaking during the final day of the Republican National Convention. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rep. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee announced today she's running for Bob Corker's senate seat, the Tennessean first reported. Corker won't seek re-election because he wants to act "thoughtfully and independently" for the rest of his term, he said last month.

Why it matters: Rep. Blackburn continues a trend of conservative, anti-establishment Republicans hoping to claim a Senate seat.

Roy Moore, the Alabama candidate backed by Breitbart and Steve Bannon, beat incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in last month's special election — even after Trump and Mitch McConnell endorsed him. Blackburn will similarly go after Democrats and establishment Republicans alike. "Too many Senate Republicans act like Democrats. Or worse. And that's what we have to change," she says in her campaign announcement video.


House approves GOP budget resolution

The House of Representatives passed a GOP budget resolution. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a budget resolution today that gets the GOP one step closer to reconciliation and, they hope, to passing tax reform, per CNBC.

What's next: The Senate is expected to vote on Oct. 16, and the Senate Budget Committee is slated to approve a similar budget resolution later today. If both the House and the Senate reach an agreement and approve a final version, the GOP would be able to use budget “reconciliation” rules to pass a tax reform bill with a simple majority (only 51 Senate votes instead of the usual 60).


Democrats’ latest hope for fighting gerrymandering: the Supreme Court

Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

The Wisconsin Democrats who brought the Gill vs. Whitford gerrymandering case to the Supreme Court are the latest example of Dems working at the local level in the hopes of helping the party at every level.

Why it matters: Both parties have taken advantage of drawing districts in their favor, but this case has the potential to fundamentally change how voting maps reflect representative democracy and, ultimately, how each party can gain control of state legislatures or House delegations in the future.

Gerrymandering dates back to the 19th century, but the Supreme Court has never ruled a partisan gerrymander unconstitutional. The court remained divided on the case hearing held today, with Justice Kennedy only asking questions of the lawyers defending the map and conservative Justice Samuel Alito saying, "Gerrymandering is distasteful ... but if we're going to impose a standard on the courts it's going to have to be manageable."

The Gill v. Whitford case started in 2010 after Republicans gained control of Wisconsin's government for the first time in more than two decades. At the beginning of a redistricting cycle local lawmakers drew a State Assembly map that helped Republicans secure legislative majorities. Republicans won 49% of the vote for State Assembly candidates in 2012 after the redistricting, but picked up 60 of the Assembly's 99 seats.

Battle lines

Democrats: The partisan fight over gerrymandering is another way Dems are trying to regain control of districts they've lost to Republicans over the years.

  • David Cohen, co-founder of Forward Majority, said, "Forward Majority is working to unrig the map by investing in the state races that ... right wing special interests have poured millions of dollars into year after year as part of a concerted effort to gerrymander maps across the country."
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder is leading a group that is accusing Georgia of hurting black constituents' voting power with redrawn districts, per NYT. (Note: Racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering are different.)
  • Their recent efforts: Just last week, the national progressive advocacy group Priorities USA quietly worked with the Florida Democratic Party to help a Democrat win a state Senate seat previously held by a Republican.
  • Democratic groups like Forward Majority are working to win back some of the 1,000 state legislature seats Dems lost to Republicans, particularly ahead of the next round of redistricting in 2021.

Republicans: New GOP groups are popping up to counter Dems' organized efforts. And some argue Dems have diminished their voting power because they've concentrated themselves into cities.

  • The National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRRT), which launched last Thursday, will use data and "serve as a central resource" for GOP redistricting efforts.
  • Jason Torchinsky, a senior adviser for the group, argued Democrats are looking to blame their party's loss on gerrymandering because of the "inefficient way their voters are spread around the country in an attempt to maximize votes."
  • "This lawsuit in Wisconsin is nothing more than Democrats being unable to accept that in recent years Republicans have won," said David Avella, chairman of GOPAC, an organization that recruits and trains Republican candidates. "Should former Attorney General Holder and the Democrats prevail, Republicans living in New York, Illinois, Maryland and the handful of states where Democrats draw legislative boundaries should immediately seek the same remedy."

What's next: Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Wisconsin Dems, it'll likely still be many years and several more court cases before it's decided what's fair in drawing districts.