With Daniel Lippman
LOBBYISTS PREPARE TO NAVIGATE A DIVIDED SENATE: With Republican Sen. David Perdue’s margin ebbing in Georgia, it appears ever more likely that he’ll face his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, in a January runoff — with control of the Senate hanging the balance as Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her Democratic rival, Raphael Warnock, squaring off in a runoff of their own. If Ossoff and Warnock both win and Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump, Democrats would reclaim control of the Senate by the thinnest of margins, with Kamala Harris as tiebreaker. (The Senate races in Alaska and North Carolina haven’t been called, either, though Democrats’ odds don’t look good in either state.)
— Whether Democrats or Republicans command a bare majority — and Republicans still seem like the better bet right now — the margins are going to be tight. “We’re likely to see a return to the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ offense,” Bruce Mehlman, a veteran of President George W. Bush‘s administration, who’s now a lobbyist at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, wrote in an email to PI. “Slow and steady incremental progress though smaller bipartisan collaboration,” rather than big, ambitious bills such as the Affordable Care Act, the Republican tax law and the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you can keep it off cable,” he added.
— “Progressives may have to temper their expectations,” Invariant, the lobbying firm led by Heather Podesta, wrote in a memo to clients on Wednesday. “The left’s vision of a Biden New Deal, progressive tax reform, aggressive Wall Street regulators, social justice reform including policing, an expanded Supreme Court, and reforms to the Senate’s legislative filibuster may have to wait. A Biden-Harris Administration could face a closely divided but largely intransigent Senate in 2021, one opposed to confirming left-leaning federal judges and liberal political appointees and one bent on again blocking progressive policy proposals that emerge from the House.”
HOW SPACEX IS WINNING MILITARY BUSINESS: “Elon Musk’s SpaceX was dismissed by Pentagon brass during its early years. But now, the billionaire entrepreneur and his company are enjoying more success than ever in snaring Pentagon business,” The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Pasztor reports. “In recent months Mr. Musk’s team has secured deals for everything from launching some of the nation’s premier national-security satellites to improving weather forecasting for the military to building a new generation of small spacecraft intended to track hostile missiles.”
— SpaceX “also has worked with the Air Force and the Army to demonstrate communication links. And weeks ago, it signed a Pentagon agreement to study the feasibility of using SpaceX’s proposed deep-space Starship transport, a giant capsule with built-in rocket engines, eventually to whisk cargo around the globe.” The company “has garnered a reputation as one of the most combative and successful lobbying outfits” in Washington, shelling out nearly $1.9 million on federal lobbying in the first nine months of the year, according to disclosure filings.
HOW CANNABIS BALLOT MEASURE VICTORIES MIGHT RESHAPE WASHINGTON: The new cannabis industries in Montana and South Dakota, which voted on Tuesday to legalize recreational use, “will put pressure on Republican lawmakers from some of their key allies: business owners and the financial sector,” POLITICO’s Natalie Fertig, Paul Demko and Mona Zhang report. “Those business interests could create greater momentum for pro-industry federal legislation.” The two states’ congressional delegations are entirely Republican except for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
— “Some ‘87,000 more people voted for marijuana than voted for our governor,’ said Melissa Mentele, campaign director for pro-cannabis Yes on 26 in South Dakota. Republicans ‘really need to take a look at that and respect the will [of the voters].’
— “It wasn’t until the American Bankers Association and Scotts Miracle-Gro became heavily involved in pushing for cannabis businesses to have access to banking, for example, that the legislation moved through the House with strong bipartisan support and received a hearing before the Senate banking committee. ‘I think smart politicians are going to listen to what their voters want,’ said [Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)], postulating that the red state sweep will reduce some of the controversy or uncertainty that Republican lawmakers face in backing federal cannabis bills.”
ANNALS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE: How much money can President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s campaigns — along with candidates in tight races down the ballot — raise for recounts and related litigation now that Election Day is over? Robert Kelner, Zachary Parks and Brendan Parets of Covington & Burling write that “national party committees, including the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, and their House and Senate campaign committees, may each accept up to $106,500 per year from an individual “to defray expenses incurred with respect to the preparation for and the conduct of election recounts and contests and other legal proceedings.” PACs that back multiple candidates can chip in $45,000 each. “The contribution limits for the legal accounts are separate from the limits applicable to the national party committees’ general accounts.”
— “A state party committee may accept up to $10,000 per year for its account for federal recounts and election contests, separate from the $10,000 per-year limit for its general federal account. For ‘recount activities involving Federal races,’ state parties may use only these recount funds and their other federal funds. Additionally, federal candidates may accept up to $2,800 from an individual and $5,000 from a multicandidate PAC per election cycle for recounts and election contests. This limit is in addition to, and separate from, the contribution limits for the primary and general elections.”
— The American Bankers Association has promoted Thomas Pinder to general counsel. He was previously the trade group’s deputy general counsel. He succeeds Dawn Causey, who’s retiring.
Biden Fight Fund (Biden for President, Democratic National Committee)
Coach PAC (Leadership PAC: Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville)
Reclaim Arizona PAC (Super PAC)
Michael Torrey Associates, LLC: Grupo Navis, LLC
Smart USA Co: Smart USA Co
The Federal Group, Inc.: Young Innovations
Ward and Smith, P.A.: Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation
WP Rivers and Associates: Association of Language Companies
Association of Science and Technology Centers Incorporated: Association Of Science And Technology Centers Incorporated
Capitol Knowledge, LLC: Coalition for Investor Choice, Inc.
Congressional Partners: Paine College
Frinzi & Associates: Gardendale Hospice LLC
Frinzi & Associates: Global Axis Partnership
Liberty Consulting, LLC: American College of Nurse Midwives – NJ Chapter
National Council on Problem Gambling: National Council on Problem Gambling
Prince Global Solutions, LLC: San Gabriel Valley CoG – Ace Project Cmte (FKA Alameda Corridor-East Const Auth)
Tiahrt Enterprises, LLC: National Association for the Employment of Persons who are Blind (NAEPB)
Van Fleet Associates: Esthetic Education