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Strong jobs numbers likely to give Democrats a morale boost

BY Domenico Montanaro, Terence Burlij and Simone Pathe  July 3, 2014 at 9:15 AM EST
Wendy Larsen (L) speaks to candidates at a job fair on June 12 in Chicago, Illinois.  Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Wendy Larsen (L) speaks to candidates at a job fair on June 12 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Thursday’s jobs report
  • McDaniel not backing down in Mississippi
  • Georgia’s new gun law takes effect
  • The advantages of incumbency

Jobs numbers: The unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent with 288,000 jobs added in June. That unemployment rate is the lowest since September 2008. The five straight months of job gains of more than 200,000 is the first time that’s happened since September 1999 to January 2000. President Barack Obama was asked in an interview with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal about the headlines of continued good job numbers and the seeming disconnect between that and how people feel. “We had the worst recession since the Great Depression,” the president said. “In some ways the contraction was even sharper than what happened in the late 20s and 30s, so people have still been in recovery mode throughout this period.” He added that some people have “gotten back to square one,” but retirement, college savings and stagnant wages are still major concerns. On wages and income inequality, in particular, “[T]hat’s been a 20- to 30-year trend, and that involves some structural issues that we’ve really got to work on.” But he noted, “[W]hat is indisputable is that the economy is much better now than it was when I took office and than it was the last time we spoke, and that does make a difference.” Expect this to give a morale boost to Democrats in tough races, who will feel a little bit better about leaning into the economic gains and trumpeting them during their campaigns.

Getting messy in Mississippi: It’s been more than a week since Sen. Thad Cochran was declared the winner of the GOP runoff in Mississippi, but tea party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel and his allies are still refusing to throw in the towel. The conservative group True the Vote is filing a lawsuit against the Mississippi secretary of state and the state Republican Party challenging the results of the June 24 contest. The group charges it was denied access to voter rolls to “investigate claims that voters illegally double-voted” in both the Democratic and Republican primary races. McDaniel sent an email to supporters Wednesday asking them to donate to an “Election Challenge Fund” to contest what he dubbed a “sham” election. McDaniel supporters also crashed a conference call Wednesday set up by the Cochran campaign. During the call, Austin Barbour, an adviser to the Cochran campaign, was repeatedly interrupted by an unidentified male who asked about harvesting cotton and black votes and playing clips from Animal House. There is no recount provision in the Magnolia State, and it will be difficult for McDaniel and his backers to find enough votes to make up the 6,700-vote deficit with Cochran. The intra-party feud is unlikely to have long-term repercussions though, as Cochran’s path to re-election appears secure in the deeply red state.

First week of Georgia gun law: Tuesday was the first day of Georgia’s new “open carry” gun law. There was one incident of two hip-holstered gun-carrying men nearly squaring off in a convenience store when the other asked for a permit, which is not allowed (even by police) now in Georgia. One man was arrested — the one who actually called the police after he told them he pulled his gun on the man for asking for a permit. Not everyone is allowing guns in their establishments. Target says don’t go shopping in their stores with one. “This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,” the company’s CEO wrote Wednesday. Guns won’t be allowed in Atlanta Catholic and Episcopal churches either, after the respective local leaders penned letters telling parishioners not to bring them. As we’ve written previously, it will be interesting to see how the law plays out and how Democrats, in particular, deal with it. Democratic gubernatorial challenger Jason Carter, grandson of Jimmy, voted for the bill as a state legislator, and Michelle Nunn, running for the Senate, hasn’t articulated a clear stance.

Access and incumbency: Everyone knows incumbents have a massive advantage in American elections. Their re-election rate is routinely in the 90 percent range. But two doctoral candidates, one from the London School of Economics and one from Harvard, found that first-time elected congressmen who won in competitive races get a $500,000 bump after their first win from mostly “investor donors,” or corporations worried about regulation. The New York Times: “Using elections for the House of Representatives from 1980 to 2006 and for state legislatures from 1990 to 2010, the authors focused on races where either a Republican or a Democrat very narrowly won election. They then looked at the winner’s fund-raising in the next election. On average, a candidate for national office would get a boost of $500,000 in contributions in the next election.” Those corporations aren’t concerned about party the way other donors are. And this money could help ensure access and that these congressmen stick around for a long time and remember who gave them that boost when the time comes.

Happy Birthday, America: In honor of the Fourth of July we will not publish a Morning Line on Friday. Enjoy the grilling and fireworks. We’ll be back on Monday.

LINE ITEMS

  • The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical investigation unit has resigned, the VA announced Wednesday — the fifth high-level VA official to leave in six weeks. His departure comes after the Office of Special Counsel faulted the unit for not investigating delayed care for veterans.

  • Student loan interest rates are going up, and that’s the way Congress wants it.

  • Democrats are aggressively courting single women to hold on to their Senate majority this fall, trying to stem the pattern of that key Democratic bloc in presidential elections (two-thirds of single women who could vote in 2012 did so for Mr. Obama) staying home during the midterms.

  • Hillary Clinton is getting heat for speaking at colleges that have paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees at a time of rising tuition and budget cuts in higher education.

  • Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., will beginning airing a new TV ad July 6 that shows him arguing with Mr. Obama about whether health care premiums will rise at a White House summit in 2010. “Lamar was proven right,” the ad concludes.

  • In Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton are arguing about faith after Cotton said in an interview, “Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings,” when praising the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which Pryor criticized.

  • The Upshot has mapped the Christian right’s geographic strongholds, representing the presence of evangelical Protestant and Mormon church-goers as a share of the population.

  • House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa and 32 Republicans sent a letter to Mr. Obama urging him to end the June 2012 program that halted the deportation of so-called “Dreamers.”

  • In a videotaped speech to the Denver Rotary Club in 2010, Colorado’s GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez says that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes. “I’m guessing that most of you in this room are not in that 47 percent — God bless you — but what that tells me is that we’ve got almost half the population perfectly happy that somebody else is paying the bill, and most of that half is you all.” Beauprez’s campaign is standing by the remarks.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s old law firm, where several members of his administration also worked, has done $7 million in legal work for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey beginning after Christie took office in 2010.

  • Illinois’ GOP gubernatorial nominee, businessman Bruce Rauner, has used his fortune to bankroll his campaign, but the Chicago Tribune reports that he has paid less than half the top federal tax rate by using fee waivers now under investigation by the IRS.

  • Mitt Romney endorsed Scott Brown Wednesday on the New Hampshire farm where he announced his second presidential campaign.

  • 2016 hopefuls, however, are staying away from appearing with Brown in New Hampshire for fear of upsetting conservative GOP activists.

  • The New York Times’ Manny Fernandez caught up with Rocky Carroll, who had been making cowboy boots for Rick Perry. Carroll called the Texas Governor to try and change his mind about giving up the footwear because of back problems.

  • Some followers of Rep. Paul Ryan’s P90X routine have defected for the “Markwayne Mullin.”

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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