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Voting havoc and a momentous funeral: It’s Wednesday, and this is your politics tip sheet.
Where things stand
Georgia is quickly becoming a purple state — but only as quickly as its voters can get access to the ballot. And especially in the past few years, including the primary elections held yesterday, that has not always been a simple story. Scores of new state-ordered voting machines either malfunctioned or were simply nowhere to be found yesterday.
Voters stubbornly waited in lines for hours to cast their ballots, but that did little to quell the anxieties of Democratic officials. They have been eyeing Georgia as a soon-to-be swing state for years, but the 2018 governor’s election — in which the Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost — was marred by widespread accusations of voter suppression, and the coronavirus has sown fresh doubts about whether all voters will be able to participate come November.
Georgia was one of five states holding primaries yesterday. Results were slow to come in last night, but early this morning, Jon Ossoff, the young moderate Democrat who lost a hotly contested House election in 2017, was handily leading the party’s Democratic primary race for Senate, but was short of the 50 percent vote threshold needed to avoid a runoff.
Fifteen fast-moving days after George Floyd died at the hands of the Minneapolis police, he was laid to rest after a large funeral yesterday, with Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy and Joe Biden offering virtual remarks.
“This was not just a tragedy,” Sharpton declared. “It was a crime.” Responding to the business leaders and politicians who have taken pains to express their support for protesters, Sharpton brandished a sharp tone. “Don’t apologize — give Colin Kaepernick a job back,” he said. “Don’t come with some empty apology. Take a man’s livelihood, strip a man down of his talents, and four years later, when the whole world is marching, you all of a sudden, you go and do a FaceTime.”
In the category of such apologies: At the moment Floyd’s funeral began, the New York Stock Exchange fell silent for 8 minutes 46 seconds, the length of time an officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck. A spokesman said it was the longest moment of silence in the 228-year history of the exchange’s trading floor (where, it bears noting, the securities that helped Southern plantations expand were once sold).
Early in his remarks, Biden spoke directly to Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, mentioning his visit with the family on Monday. “You’re so brave. Daddy’s looking down and he’s so proud of you,” Biden said. “I know you have a lot of questions, honey. No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations: ‘Why? Why is daddy gone?’” he added, drawing applause.
Biden has expressed support for the police-overhaul package proposed by House Democrats this week, but at the funeral he didn’t go into detail on policy. He struck a broader, more inspirational tone, while espousing change. “We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul, from systemic abuse that still plagues American life,” he said. “When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America. And then, as you said, Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.”
A number of Republican senators have stepped forward to support changes to the police, including Mitt Romney of Utah and Tim Scott of South Carolina, who have committed to leading the effort to draft an overhaul bill, as well as John Cornyn of Texas and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. It remains unlikely that the Senate will take up the House’s bill without serious alterations.
Republicans have indicated that they could be willing to consider measures banning police chokeholds, classifying lynching as a federal crime, strengthening national oversight of the police, adding officer training requirements and trimming liability protections for officers, Politico reported.
When it comes to another round of stimulus legislation in response to the coronavirus, the Senate’s Republican leadership is less bullish. The House passed a huge $3 trillion bill last month, but G.O.P. senators have vowed that it’ll go nowhere. They say the soonest we’ll see new stimulus legislation is July.
The World Health Organization issued a mea culpa on Tuesday — and so, in fact, must we, since we reported on the now-retracted information in yesterday’s newsletter. A W.H.O. epidemiologist had said Monday that new research suggested it was “very rare” for any consistently asymptomatic person to spread the coronavirus. That, the organization now says, is not true.
Photo of the day
Voters waited in long lines to cast their ballots in Atlanta.
Biden is under new pressure to choose a black woman as his running mate.
By Katie Glueck
Last month, about a dozen leading black activists and Democratic political strategists made the case to Joe Biden that he should select an African-American running mate.
The group outlined how such a choice would help him energize African-American voters and persuade more of them to turn out, according to people who were on the private call.
Biden spoke generally about what he was looking for in a vice president and didn’t make any commitment. But participants came away believing they’d opened a substantive line of communication with him.
A month later, with the country going through a reckoning over racism and police brutality, the subject of that private discussion has taken on new public urgency — at every level of the Democratic Party.
Longtime lawmakers and young liberal activists, state party officials and Biden loyalists have all been increasingly vocal about their view that given the current moment, Biden must give deeper consideration to placing a black woman on the ticket.
“His campaign got revived because of the African-American community,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “I just think it would be the right thing to do.”