Lee Jin-man / AP

A group of technologists who worked under President Obama have formed an organization—Higher Ground Labs—to fund and mentor early-stage startups focused on politics. The goal is to help make the type of tech tools found in national political campaigns available off-season to left-leaning candidates in local and state elections, co-founder Betsy Hoover told Recode.

The group already has $1 million in committed funds from undisclosed investors, and has backed a forecasting startup named Deck.

Why it matters: With Republicans currently controlling both the legislative and executive branches, it's particularly important for Democrats and other progressives to work to shift that balance both at local levels and at the next mid-term elections. What's more, local elections can have a bigger direct impact on people's lives, as Voter CEO Hunter Scarborough, who recently joined another voter-focused app, Brigade, told Axios in January.

A-list team: Hoover's co-founders are Shomik Dutta, who served on Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns and advised the FCC, and Andrew McLaughlin, a former deputy CTO for Obama who's also worked at Google, Medium, and Tumblr. Higher Ground Labs' board of advisers includes Jeremy Bird (Obama's 2012 field director), Jon Favreau (Obama's speechwriter, now Crooked Media co-founder), Michael Slaby (CTO for Obama's 2008 campaign), Raffi Krikorian (formerly at Uber and Twitter), and Dan Pupius (an entrepreneur formerly at Medium and Google).

Go deeper

4 mins ago - Health

Top business leaders urge White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines

A man walks past a Ramen restaurant in Los Angeles, California on July 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

8 mins ago - Podcasts

Lots of jobs, lots of questions

America added 4.8 million jobs in June, easily exceeding economist expectations, while the unemployment rate fell from 13.3% to 11.1%. But the jobs picture remains very murky, particularly as some states pause or roll back economy reopenings.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the jobs picture right now and where it's headed, with The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 10,763,604 — Total deaths: 517,667 — Total recoveries — 5,522,094Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,715,124 — Total deaths: 128,439 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Public health: What we know about the immune response to coronavirus and what it means for a vaccine.
  4. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases — 5 states saw 27% spike in heart-related deaths in first 3 months of coronavirus pandemic.