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James and Kathryn Murdoch, Sept. 20, 2018. Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic

Kathryn Murdoch, the wife of Rupert Murdoch's son James, saw last week's elections as a field test of what she hopes will become a $100 million-plus effort to reform electoral politics in America.

Two things happened last Tuesday that encouraged Murdoch to double down on her efforts.

  1. Candidates her group supported in Virginia primaries earlier this year won their elections.
  2. A ballot measure she supported succeeded in New York City, as it became the biggest city to adopt ranked-choice voting, which lets voters rank their favorite candidates instead of choosing only one. Advocates say this encourages candidates to reach out to a wider section of voters.

The big picture: Murdoch and Unite America, the political reform group to which she's attached, say they are trying to reduce the hyper-partisanship and gridlock that define U.S. politics.

  • They're promoting changes like open primaries, independent redistricting commissions and ranked-choice voting. And they're intervening in primaries to fight off "partisan flamethrowers" and support candidates they view as pragmatists who will back these political reforms.

Why it matters: Murdoch brings a vast net worth and network to these efforts. She saw last week's elections as a small test of what's to come. Some observers, meanwhile, have voiced skepticism that her group's efforts — no matter how well-funded — can do anything more than tinker around the margins of hyper-polarized politics that have existed in America for decades.

  • Tuesday's elections were "a really exciting proof point of our theories," Murdoch told me. "We think that this is going to get stronger and stronger."

As the New York Times reported in a long profile of Murdoch's political efforts, she and her husband James "are claiming their independence from the more conservative arm of the family."

Go deeper

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The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

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Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.