Apr 27, 2019

Axios AM

Happy Saturday!

Bulletin: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Oliver North says he will not serve a second term as president of the National Rifle Association. Details on the infighting below.

Situational awareness ... Support for impeachment hits a new low (37%) in WashPost-ABC; 56% oppose.

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1 big thing: Diversity isn't driving Dems

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

White, male candidates continue to lead the 2020 polls, despite the most diverse primary field in history, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes from Houston.

  • Why it matters: The country is having real conversations about race and gender. Yet those factors aren't necessarily decisive for Democratic voters.

So after all this, Democrats could end up with a white guy as their nominee.

  • With a choice that includes six people of color, six women and one gay man, Democrats' ultimate goal is to defeat President Trump.

By the numbers: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have consistently held the top two spots in every national 2020 poll so far. Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have held the third and fourth spots at different times.

  • FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver ranks Kamala Harris as a top-tier candidate, along with Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg. O'Rourke is second tier.
  • A Monmouth University poll found that 87% of Democratic voters say the candidate's race doesn't matter; 77% said the same of a candidate's gender.

On the ground: She the People's presidential forum in Houston this week was hosted by women of color and focused on issues facing communities of color.

  • "The excitement for the white men is frustrating," said Diana Hwang, founder of the Asian-American Women's Political Initiative.
  • Biden's entry added to some of the frustration for some women of color. “I know that we have been cultured to feel that only the white man can save us, I just don’t feel like Biden is our answer,” one attendee told AP.

The bottom line: There's plenty of time for things to change. But don't be shocked if the most diverse primary in history ends ironically.

2. Why big investors love big losers

"Investors Don’t Care That Snap and Lyft Are Hemorrhaging Money," Wall Street Journal columnist John Stoll writes (subscription):

  • "Wall Street rewards a compelling growth story, and investors are willing to bet on the promise of ‘profitability ... someday.'"
  • Why it matters: "The lesson here is one that has been with us since the Dutch invented the public company 400 years ago: Growth sells."
3. 2020 warning: "The big show" for Russia

FBI Director Chris Wray warned anew about Russia's continued meddling in U.S. elections, calling it a "significant counterintelligence threat," the N.Y. Times' Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman report:

  • A senior FBI official says the bureau "has shifted additional agents and analysts to shore up defenses against foreign interference."

Wray told CFR President Richard Haass:

  • "I think we recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game. And so we’re very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020."
Bonus: Street art du jour
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Officials in London are trying to determine if a stenciled mural that appeared at a climate-protest base camp was created by the street artist Banksy, AP reports:

  • The mural is on a wall where Extinction Rebellion camped for 10 days.
  • The group disrupted transportation with daily, non-violent protests.
  • The artwork shows a child holding an Extinction Rebellion sign.

Banksy began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world's best-known artists through works tinged with satire.

  • There was no mention of the work on Banksy's website or Instagram account, where he typically confirms authorship.
4. Existential threats to NRA
Erik Mattly sets up the Rock River Arms booth at the NRA convention. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

"Turmoil racking the National Rifle Association is threatening to turn the group's annual convention [in Indianapolis this weekend] into outright civil war, as insurgents maneuver to oust Wayne LaPierre, the foremost voice of the American gun rights movement," the N.Y. Times' Danny Hakim reports.

  • Why it matters: "The dispute represents the N.R.A.’s deepest internal crisis since ... the late 1990s."

LaPierre, the group's CEO, told the board he is being extorted and pressured to resign by NRA President Oliver North over allegations of financial impropriety, The Wall Street Journal's Mark Maremont scooped (subscription).

  • North replied by saying a crisis committee will examine the group's finances.
  • Then this morning, he said he won't serve a second term.

The context: The infighting follows a devastating exposé in The New Yorker.

  • Fundraising and membership are down, and a lawsuit threatens the NRA's nonprofit status.

Be smart: Anti-gun forces had the best election in a long time, and those groups are rising in power and influence.

5. Radical plan to curb California wildfires
Paradise, Calif., on Feb. 11, after the Camp Fire (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PG&E can’t prevent power lines from sparking California wildfires, so the utility plans to "pull the plug on a giant swath of the population" when dangerous winds arise, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January amid billions in claims after wildfires.
  • The San Francisco-based utility says it "could knock out power to as much as an eighth of the state’s population for as long as five days."
  • "Communities likely to get shut off worry PG&E will [endanger] the sick and elderly, and cause financial losses with slim hope of compensation."

Why it matters: "No U.S. utility has ever blacked out so many people on purpose."

6. 🍕 1 food thing

A new nuisance in schools ... Many high-schoolers now order lunch from apps like Grubhub and UberEats, with deliveries becoming so frequent and disruptive that many schools have banned them, the Detroit Free Press reports.

  • Some schools cite the safety concern of having strangers delivering bags.

It's elementary pupils, too: Some kids order pizza for lunch.

  • And some parents! Jeff Hueter of Jet's Pizza in West Bloomfield Township, Mich., said: "The parents will call and say my kid's lunch is at noon, can you deliver a pizza to the office and maybe throw in a bottle of water?"

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