Dems forced to measure margins- POLITICO – Politico – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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With help from Andrew Desiderio

WHERE GRAHAM STANDS — Last week we looked at three Senate Republicans to watch with the pending Supreme Court nomination, but this week Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is setting himself apart as a vocal proponent of one short-lister: Judge J. Michelle Childs of the U.S. District Court for South Carolina.

Graham is backing Childs, touting her public state school education as a departure from the elite institutions that have always dominated the highest court. He’s less all-in on other names on the short list, focusing squarely on Childs. He called her “the kind of person I think I could support” and predicted that her profile could “do well with Republicans.” Burgess digs in: Why Lindsey Graham is going all-in on Biden SCOTUS pick

Graham is a master of the pivot. From vocal Trump critic to big defender, from Biden pal to calling for investigations into his son, sometimes supporter of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election… to possibly being Biden’s best GOP ally on a critical Supreme Court fight. He is the third-most supportive GOP senator of Biden’s judicial nominees over the past year, after moderate Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

He is condemning some fellow Republicans’ idea of obstructing a committee vote on a Biden nominee to prevent the nomination from moving forward: “I just don’t think it’s good for the process.” If he does back Biden’s pick in the Judiciary Committee, there are real procedural benefits. His vote would allow the nominee to get reported to the floor directly, skipping procedural votes required if there was a tie at the committee level. A bipartisan committee vote also lends that ever-toutable legitimacy that lawmakers love.

TRADE TALK — Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is set to join House Democrats at their caucus meeting this morning, to discuss the China competition bill that is on the floor this week. At the same caucus meeting, the Democrats’ messaging arm will tout that Dems have hosted more than 1,100 infrastructure-focused events. They’ll applaud infrastructure-messaging leaders including Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash), Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich) who hosted more than 50 infrastructure events — each.

GOOD MORNING! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Wednesday, February 2, where the date is 2/2/22.

NOT OUT OF THE WOODS — Democrats have made redistricting gains that even just a few months ago were in serious doubt, but there’s still trepidation over if that will be enough to help the party in the midterm elections.

“We’re doing a hell of a lot better than pundits thought we would,” DCCC Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in an interview Tuesday, adding that his team’s own internal projections put Democrats up “five to eight seats” better than they expected.

“Many Democrats privately acknowledge that it’s probably not enough to save their majority, and certainly not without a drastic shift in headwinds. Maloney himself admits, with an optimistic spin, that the party will be the ‘underdogs’ in their fight to hang o

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