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Democrats face a dilemma if the party scraps Iowa caucuses in 2024 | #socialmedia | #hacking | #aihp

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday … President Biden visits Poland for the last leg of European trip. … U.S. to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. … The Jan. 6 panel has Clarence Thomas’ wife’s text messages. … GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., is convicted of lying to federal authorities. … Outside group hits Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia Senate. … And “Meet the Press Reports” returns.

But first: There’s a counterargument to the real possibility that the Democratic National Committee might scrap the Iowa caucuses as the party’s first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest in 2024.

No matter what Democrats decide, Republicans will be starting their nominating race in the Hawkeye State, and do Democrats really want to boycott a state they carried in 2012’s general election?

“The Republican national party is going to caucus first here in Iowa,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn told us in a recent interview. “You the media are going to cover that caucus.”

Wilburn argues that the Hawkeye State tests candidates’ ability to organize and appeal to rural, working-class voters. But Iowa also has a lot going against it in Democrats’ eyes.

The 2020 caucuses were a disaster. The caucus process is messy, and the more transparent and open you try to make it, the messier it becomes. And the 2020 general election was a bloodbath for Democrats — they lost every House race but one, they lost the competitive U.S. Senate race, and Biden lost the state by 8 percentage points.

But what happens if Iowa has already built a contest, and Republicans come?

And Democrats don’t?

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Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 29

The number of text messages exchanged between then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Ginni Thomas, who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, that Meadows handed over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The committee has not spoken with or engaged Thomas, NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Dareh Gregorian report.

In the messages obtained by the Washington Post and CBS, Ginni Thomas and Meadows reportedly discussed Trump remaining in office after the 2020 election. Thomas encouraged Meadows to implore Trump not to concede to Biden. 

“Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition,” she said in one text, per the Washington Post. 

Our two cents here: The court has been radically politicized in recent years. And these text messages only take that politicization to a new level.

Other numbers you need to know today

$1 billion: The amount of humanitarian assistance the U.S. is offering to Ukraine. 

100,000: The number of Ukrainian refugees the U.S. will allow into the country. 

71 percent: The percentage of Republicans surveyed in the latest Pew Research Center poll who said their vote for Congress in 2022 is a vote “against Biden.”

45 percent: Biden’s approval rating in the new Fox News poll of registered voters (with 54 percent disapproving). 

80,125,659: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 85,619 more than yesterday morning.)

980,672: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,156 more than yesterday morning.)

Midterm roundup: Fortenberry found guilty

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., was found guilty on all three felony charges of lying to the FBI regarding a contribution from a foreign billionaire. The trial took place in Los Angeles, the site of the fundraiser where the alleged contribution was made.

“This appeal starts immediately,” the nine-term congressman said after the verdict. Asked if he would continue to run for re-election, Fortenberry said, “We’re going to spend some time as a family and that’s what we’re doing right now.” 

Fortenberry is locked in a competitive primary fight against state Sen. Mike Flood, who has outspent the congressman on the airwaves. Flood has used Fortenberry’s legal troubles against him, referencing the felony charges in one TV ad. The primary is set for May 10.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Texas 34: Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela already announced he isn’t running for re-election, but now he’s heading for the exit early. Vela is planning to resign in the next few weeks to take a job at a law firm, which would trigger a special election to fill his seat for the rest of the term.  

Ohio Senate: The GOP Senate primary has gotten even messier as the candidates have faced off in debates, NBC’s Henry Gomez reports.   

Nevada Senate: Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign is reserving a whopping $10 million in TV ads from Labor Day to Election Day, per the Nevada Independent. 

Oklahoma 05: Democrat Abby Broyles dropped out of her House race to focus on her mental health. She attempted suicide after she made headlines for being accused of becoming intoxicated and insulting girls at a sleepover. “I checked myself into rehab a couple weeks ago and am already making dramatic progress,” Broyles wrote.

Georgia: Marc Caputo and Allan Smith take a look at how Georgia’s Republican primaries are all serving as referendums on Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. 

*** Ad watch: Outside group hits Warnock: A new ad in Georgia is tying high gas prices in the state to Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. In the ad, which was funded by the outside group Restoration PAC, a narrator claims, “High gas prices, Joe Biden did that. And with his support for Biden’s policies, Raphael Warnock did that, too.”

The PAC has long been on the receiving end of some big checks from GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, and has played in a variety of races at the presidential and congressional level, all to boost Republicans. 

The group has only spent $166,000 on anti-Warnock ads this cycle so far, but has already booked over $400,000 worth of additional time on the airwaves, according to AdImpact. (This race is going to draw tens of millions in outside spending on both sides before November’s election) 

Warnock, on the other hand, has already spent over $5 million on ads supporting his reelection bid in the state, per AdImpact. His ads focus on empathizing with his electorate, promising to work to lower gas prices and inflation.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Biden said Russia should be expelled from G-20.

Arizona legislators passed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The bill now heads to GOP Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. 

The European Union has agreed on new rules on big tech companies, including one that would force message applications like Facebook Messenger and iMessage to work with other messaging platforms.

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