Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) holds a narrow lead over Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in the first reputable poll of the race since they won their respective primaries last week.

Gillum has a 50 percent to 47 percent edge over DeSantis in a new live-caller poll of likely voters released by Quinnipiac University Tuesday,

That’s a narrow margin, within the poll’s 4.3 percentage point margin of error, but a sign that the staunchly progressive Gillum starts off the race in the large swing state in good shape against DeSantis, a hardline conservative and close ally of President Trump.

The race has already taken a nasty turn, with DeSantis beginning the general election by warning Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum — a comment many took as being racist.

Quinnipiac is the most reputable pollster to have surveyed the race since Gillum pulled off a surprise primary win over centrist former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL). But Gravis, a decent robo-pollster, also found Gillum with a narrow lead to begin the race. Their poll, released Tuesday, found Gillum with 47 percent support to 45 percent for DeSantis.

The race will be one of the most consequential gubernatorial battles of the election cycle given Florida’s national importance, its large population and the ideological chasm that separates the two candidates.

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will appoint Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) seat, he announced Tuesday.

“There is no one in Arizona with the stature of Sen. Jon Kyl. He is a man without comparable peer,” Ducey said. “Sen. Kyl is prepared to hit the ground running.”

The decision will put a reliable conservative and former member of Senate GOP leadership in the seat temporarily — though it’s unclear whether it will be just through the end of the year or through 2020.

“People automatically assume that this appointment will serve through 2020 … What I have gotten [from Kyl] is a commitment to serve Arizona through at least this session of Congress, and I hope he serves longer,” Ducey said.

“I’m willing to serve certainly through the end of this session at least in order to make sure the business that is currently ongoing is taken care of but I don’t want to make a commitment beyond that,” Kyl said, before calling McCain his “dear friend.”

Whether Kyl serves for just months or through 2020 he will almost certainly serve as a placeholder, setting up what will likely be a contested race in 2020 in the GOP-leaning but purple-trending state.

If Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) doesn’t win her Senate election this fall against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), that leaves the door open for Ducey to then appoint her for the next two years. An election will be held to fill the final two years of McCain’s term in 2020.

Kyl retired in 2012 after a lengthy career in the Senate. But he didn’t go far — he’s worked as a lobbyist since then. He’s currently working as a top adviser to Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Republicans try to get him confirmed to the Supreme Court, and now will soon get to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Ducey touted this in his announcement, making it the first policy-related point he mentioned in his announcement.

“Now, Sen. Kyl can cast a vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” Ducey said.

Cindy McCain, the senator’s widow, tweeted congratulations to Kyl, a longtime friend of McCain’s, before the announcement was official.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) won’t run for reelection, he announced in a surprise press conference Tuesday morning.

“This has been the job of a lifetime but it is not a job for a lifetime,” he said.

The decision comes after a tumultuous two terms as mayor for the former Democratic congressman and powerhouse operative in which he drew sharp criticism for his handling of race relations, education and policing.

Emanuel faced especially pointed criticism from all sides for his handling of the fatal 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent attempt at a cover-up by the department.

The killing enraged many in the city’s black community who had already been furious over Emanuel’s handling of other police violence in the city as well as his decision to shutter schools in a number of black-majority neighborhoods earlier in his tenure.

His subsequent decision to fire Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy after the attempted cover-up was revealed had subsequently enraged the city’s police union.

A number of recent polls had suggested Emanuel was in for a tough reelection fight next year. McCarthy had already announced he would challenge Emanuel from the right. Lori Lightfoot, who had been appointed by Emanuel to an independent board to review the McDonald shooting, former Chicago Public Schools head Paul Vallas and wealthy businessman Willie Wilson were also already in the race, as are eight other candidates. A number of other politicians were seriously weighing bids against him from the left, and his retirement may further open the floodgates for more candidates ahead of the 2019 election.

Emanuel’s decision to retire may mark the end of a decades-long political career in which he served as a top adviser for President Clinton and later, as a congressman, helped engineer Democrats’ 2006 House takeover, before becoming President Obama’s chief of staff. Emanuel long fought for a pro-business, more moderate Democratic Party that welcomed pro-life and pro-gun candidates — the opposite direction from where the party is headed now.

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Ex-con and former coal baron Don Blankenship has been blocked from running as a Constitution Party candidate for Senate by the West Virginia Supreme Court, ending his year-long push for Congress.

Blankenship lost the GOP nomination to face Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) earlier this year after warring with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), which featured some racially charged attacks from Blankenship against McConnell’s family.

But he refused to bow out, pushing to run as a third-party candidate in an effort that could have further damaged West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) in his uphill fight to unseat Manchin.

That always looked impossible, as the state has a “sore loser” law that prevents anyone who lost a party primary from running for that seat as an independent in the general election.

But it wasn’t official until Wednesday when the state Supreme Court ruled he couldn’t appear on the ballot, ending Blankenship’s last legal venue to circumvent the law.

The news is a minor victory for Senate Republicans, who admit that Manchin is comfortably ahead in the race despite the state’s heavily conservative tilt but still hope Morrisey can make things interesting this fall.

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Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) easily defeated her two right-wing opponents to win her state’s Senate nomination Tuesday, setting up a marquee matchup against fellow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

McSally led former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio by wide margins, with 51 percent of the vote to 29 percent for Ward and 20 percent for Arpaio, when the Associated Press called the race shortly before midnight EST.

McSally’s comfortable win comes after she and her allies spent millions in ads to destroy Ward in the race’s closing weeks, a sign McSally’s campaign wasn’t comfortable with where the race stood until right before Election Day. McSally also bear-hugged President Trump, featuring him in ads, a decision that played well in the primary but may come back to haunt her in the fall in the purple-trending state.

The result is a big relief for establishment Republicans who believed the other two candidates would take the race off the map if Ward or Arpaio won the primary.

McSally’s opponents helped her plenty as well. Arpaio’s decision to run split the hardline anti-immigrant, Trump-aligned and fringe vote, giving McSally a much easier path to the nomination. He didn’t run a real race, never once airing campaign ads. And Ward spent the home stretch of the race insulting the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the final days before his death and warring with staffers she’d fired who then went to work for Arpaio.

While McSally has had to spend months fending off her gadfly challengers, Sinema has spent that time burnishing her centrist credentials with voters.

She kept that up Tuesday night, leading her victory statement by paying homage to McCain and “the lifetime of service and the example he has set for us.”

“It’s up to all of us to follow his lead of always putting country over party,” she said. “Tonight, we look ahead and continue fighting to uphold the values we all share: a fair shot at the American Dream and an unwavering commitment to the Arizona we love.”

McSally, likewise, paid homage to McCain in her victory speech, calling him an “American hero” who “paid an unfathomable price for our freedom.”

Sinema began her career as a much more liberal activist, working for Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign and leading Iraq War protests in the state. While she’s cultivated a centrist voting record since reaching Congress six years ago, it remains to be seen whether her independent bona fides will hold up under an onslaught of ad spending from McSally and her allies.

Strategists in both parties predict a close and expensive race — but both Democrats and Republicans told TPM that they’d rather be Sinema than McSally in recent weeks. Sinema has led McSally by single digits in almost every public and private poll of the race so far. And while McSally will likely consolidate some of the GOP base now that she has the nomination, she’ll have to make sure to keep them happy as she tries to pivot back to her previous centrist image — a tough dance when early voting in the race begins in just over a month.

The race is one of Democrats’ two best pickup opportunities this fall, alongside Nevada, and is a must-win for them if they hope to avoid losing ground in the Senate and keeping their very slim hopes alive of winning Senate control this November.

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Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward (R) isn’t ready to let bygones be bygones with the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Ward, on the eve of her Senate primary and just two days after McCain’s death, made a number of veiled swipes at the man she ran against in 2016.

Ward at first denied during a Monday press conference that she’d called for McCain to step down right after he announced his cancer diagnosis last year (she’d also suggested she get appointed to the seat). When a reporter confronted her with the exact quote, she doubled down on her earlier remarks, saying that McCain should have stepped aside earlier if his disease meant he couldn’t do his job well.

She then compared McCain’s illness to Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) corruption trial, and argued that politicians like them should step aside more often.

“The power of that incumbency is so sweet for them, the millions of dollars in special interest money that flows into those coffers across the board,” she said. “I think must be irresistible for them, because very few, too few, put the country in front of themselves and their ambitions.”

And when she was asked about the new bipartisan Senate push to rename the Senate Russell Office Building after McCain, she shrugged, saying: “I have to fly out of the McCain terminal sometimes here,” and just wanted to be senator.

The comments are the latest swipes against McCain in recent days.

Over the weekend, Ward suggested that McCain announced he was discontinuing his cancer treatment on Friday as a way to undercut her Senate campaign in the closing days of the primary.

She then tweeted this on Monday, though she later denied it was about McCain:

Ward, a conspiracy theorist-loving hardline conservative who lost a primary to McCain in 2016, is running against Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) seat. McSally is expected to win their Tuesday primary comfortably.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has died, snuffing out one of the Senate’s most singular voices and removing one of President Trump’s fiercest Republican critics from the national arena.

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