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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Jacksonville being considered for Republican convention

Just one week after the president announced his party had been "forced" to seek a new location for its convention, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Jacksonville, Florida has emerged as a new city of interest, following reports that the political gathering could take place there in August. According to an RNC convention official, several cities are still being considered and convention officials are touring multiple other cities this week including Phoenix, Savannah, and Dallas, political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson reports.

Republican officials have told CBS News that the party's official convention business will remain in North Carolina but the president's acceptance speech will be held in a different state. As previously reported by campaign reporter Nicole Sganga, Mitchell and Watson, this decision came on the heels of an ongoing dispute between North Carolina's governor and the GOP over the convention format and safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sganga reports that Trump campaign officials have repeatedly said that the president desires a "traditional" and "normal campaign rally" with thousands of attendees in tow despite the ongoing pandemic recovery. President Trump said Wednesday the new location for his nomination speech will be announced "soon," likely in Georgia or Florida. "We wanted to stay in North Carolina very badly," Trump remarked. "We love it. It's a great state – a state I won. Many, many friends, many relatives frankly that live there."

Florida Republican Party chairman Joe Gruters tweeted Wednesday that "Jacksonville is a front runner" as the RNC makes a final decision. And in a statement provided to Mitchell, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' office says the choice rests with the RNC, but the governor "has been pretty clear that Florida is open for business" and welcomes the opportunity to host the GOP convention. During a presser Wednesday, Duval County Republican Party Chairman Dean Black told reporters his team is expecting to get confirmation "somewhere between hours and days" on whether Jacksonville will be the new host city. If selected, Black added the city would have to take what would normally be "about a two-year planning phase" and  "concentrate it down" within roughly 75 days. 

Asked whether there were safety concerns for Jacksonville to potentially host the convention amid the coronavirus pandemic, Black said there are "absolutely" concerns but he's confident that Jacksonville officials will handle responsibly and plan carefully to ensure safety for attendees.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden continues to use this moment of national reflection over race to recommend ways to reform criminal justice in America, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. As he described in an op-ed in USA Today, Biden backs a New York proposal to enhance penalties for making a false 9-1-1 call based on race, gender or religion. He also supports the concrete step taken by congressional Democrats to ban police choke holds. 

On a broader level, Biden also backs more transparency within law enforcement. Currently there is no standardized process for local police departments to report use of force statistics so the federal government is left with a mismatched set of data for use of force throughout the country. Biden hopes to change this reporting feature to see what issues are currently at hand. 

After the protests over George Floyd's death, Biden told anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News" Norah O'Donnell on Monday that his mindset for picking a running mate has not changed, though others have said they believe the protests and spotlight on racial justice increases the need for a racially diverse ticket. Asked about his VP thinking, senior adviser Symone Sanders told "The View" on Wednesday Biden "hears" the calls for him to pick a woman of color or a LGBTQ+ American. Sanders added, "I will have to tell you that if you were to ask Joe Biden today, he would say he doesn't know who he's going to pick."

PRESIDENT TRUMP

President Trump is poised to kick off his first campaign rally since March 3 next week, after a three month hiatus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. The president announced Wednesday his next campaign event is slated for Friday, June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma at "a beautiful new venue – brand new." 

The rally will take place on Juneteenth, a nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Following the Oklahoma kick-off rally, the president said his campaign will do a "big one" in Florida and Texas, followed by Arizona. Deliberations by campaign aides do take into account new coronavirus cases, according to a senior campaign official, though it is unclear exactly what safety and health requirements will be put in place for attendees before they enter the venue. As more Americans venture out to socialize or protest, 22 states are seeing higher rates of new coronavirus cases.

President Trump rejected any renaming of Army installations commemorating Confederate leaders, one day after an Army spokesperson said Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy were "open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic." In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump argued the Army posts bearing the names of Confederate generals "have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom." 

Mr. Trump's statement was printed and distributed to reporters during Wednesday's White House briefing. "To suggest that these forts were somehow inherently racist and their names need to be changed is a complete disrespect to the men and women who the last bit of American land they saw before they went overseas and lost their lives were these forts," Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, adding the bases are "known for the heroes within it, that trained there, that deployed from there." 

Retired General David Petraeus argued in favor of renaming the bases in an op-ed Tuesday, writing the "irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention."

VEEPSTAKES

STACEY ABRAMS

Stacey Abrams appeared on "CBS This Morning" and responded to the polling headaches in Georgia on Tuesday, reports CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte. She said the troubles were a sign of "incompetence and malfeasance". She added that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was "solely" to blame, even when asked why these problems have persisted in the state for so long. 

According to Abrams, the GOP's desire to obstruct voting for Democratic areas of Georgia has backfired and seeped into all areas of the state. She also spoke about her own troubles with absentee voting. Abrams said she received a damaged return envelope and was forced to vote in person.  Even though the issues she faced had nothing to do with scale or resources, Abrams asserted that large-scale vote-by-mail would work in November. 

Finally, Abrams was asked about her standing in veepstakes. Recall that before today she was vocal about her interest in being Joe Biden's running mate; however, today she was uncharacteristically mum about the job when asked by CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King. Abrams would not say if she has been in talks with the Biden team, instead choosing to say that she's been focused on promoting her new book. 

ELIZABETH WARREN

Senator Elizabeth Warren is asking a federal bank regulator to undo his predecessor's update to anti-redlining regulations and to recuse himself from all future changes to them, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak

"This new rule would make it easier for banks to ignore and discriminate against minorities and the communities in which they live, and the rewrite was panned by community advocates, regulators, and bankers themselves," Warren wrote in a letter to Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks June 7 that her office released Wednesday. 

At issue was former Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting's March final rule on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which focused his office's evaluations of banks on dollar volumes lent rather than on the banks' physical presence in low-to-moderate income and minority communities. Warren wrote that the rule-making of Otting, who resigned a day after releasing the rule, was "tainted" by conflicts of interest because he had served as CEO of OneWest Bank, which in 2017 was sued for discrimination over the locations and closures of retail branches. Warren said Brooks, who also worked at OneWest, should recuse himself from all future rule-making. 

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

PARTY PLANNING

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez indicated the party's national convention will still happen in Milwaukee in some capacity during a press call with reporters and Wisconsin leaders on Wednesday, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster

Perez told the leaders on the call that he looks forward to seeing them in August "when we descend on Milwaukee to celebrate our party." Perez said the convention will be "safe and effective" to highlight former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee, and his "historic choice of a running mate." Perez, however, wouldn't say how many people Democrats will be bringing to Milwaukee for the event. 

"While I can't answer the question of exactly how many people will be there, because I don't know precisely what the public health situation will be on the ground, I'm confident we will be there," Perez said. He accused President Trump of "abandoning Charlotte" by looking for another city to hold at least part of the convention. "We will follow the science and we will not abandon Milwaukee," Perez said.

STATE-BY-STATE

NEVADA

Lines stretched for hours in Nevada overnight as some voters waited more than eight hours to cast ballots in the state's primary elections on Tuesday, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. A group observing the polls said the last voter in Nevada cast their ballot after 3 a.m PST, almost a full 24 hours after poll workers started their shift early Tuesday morning. 

Turnout for the contest was the highest of any primary for at least a decade in Nevada, despite myriad obstacles triggered by the pandemic: election officials consolidating hundreds of polling locations into a mere handful of sites, a shift to a vote-by-mail contest fraught with court battles, concerns over voters incorrectly filling out their mail ballots, a location being temporarily shuttered over a worker testing positive for the virus ahead of election day, and COVID-19 precautions further slowing the process on Tuesday. Democrats blamed Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, the state's sole statewide elected Republican, for the long lines, the party's chairman saying in a statement on Wednesday: "These problems were entirely avoidable by the Secretary of State."

NORTH CAROLINA

The North Carolina State Board of Elections announced Wednesday that a Washington, D.C-based voter advocacy group mailed 80,000 absentee ballot request forms to North Carolina voters that were invalid because the forms were pre-filled with voters' information. The NCSBE stated in a press release Wednesday that the Center for Voter Information (CVI) advocacy group discontinued mailing the invalid forms after learning they were in violation of a state law that prohibits anyone other than a voter, a voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian from completing written absentee ballot requests. 

The law was passed in 2019 after North Carolina was involved in an absentee ballot harvesting scandal that grabbed national headlines in 2018. Bob Hall, who was the former executive director of Democracy North Carolina for more than a decade, says that it would have been "much more helpful" if CVI had sent blank absentee ballot request forms with instructions on how to fill them out correctly. Instead, Hall told CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell that the group bombarded the state with mailers before researching the state's laws. 

The NCSBE said that county boards of elections that receive invalid absentee request forms will send a letter to the voter that informs them of the issue and includes a blank request form for the voter to return. "It is confusing and just a lot of headache in a time when [election] officials need to be doing other things," said Hall, who added that the state's election laws also need reform. "Our law does need to change to make voting more accessible and fair in this environment..."

CVI complained that the state law is "poorly worded" and said, "CVI believed that it was complying with the new law, and had received written assurances from the state regarding its mailing." The group said it had, "as a convenience," filled in the names and addresses of the 80,000 North Carolina residents, "as is common and legal in most states." It announced in a statement Wednesday that it is now "mailing blank absentee-ballot request forms to 80,000 North Carolina residents" to replace the invalid forms. 

WISCONSIN

A federal Judge in Wisconsin rejected a Republican request to dismiss a Democratic National Committee lawsuit seeking to change the state's elections in August and November, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. This is a continuation of a case that was initially filed before the April election in Wisconsin with an updated complaint. 

Democrats are asking for some changes to those elections, including extending deadlines for registering to vote, changing the deadline for when ballots need to be received and scrapping photo ID and witness signature requirements for some voters. 

Judge William Conley, who handled the case leading up to the April election and allowed absentee ballots to be returned until 6 days after the election, set a hearing date for June 29 and indicated he wants a quick decision. "As was amply demonstrated in the fire drill leading up to the April election, the longer this court delays, the less likely constitutional relief to voters is going to be effective and the more likely that  relief may cause voter confusion and burden election officials charged with its administration," Conley wrote. 

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

GEORGIA

Two of the most vulnerable and highly targeted freshman Democrats have their opponents after Tuesday night's primaries, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. In Georgia's 6th, Republican Karen Handel is set for a rematch with incumbent Democrat Lucy McBath. Handel held the seat for 18 months after a 2017 special election, but McBath defeated her by 1 point the next year. While Handel was seen as the front runner going into Tuesday, her win also marked another Republican female candidate making it past the primaries. 

There are only 11 women House Republicans running for re-election, and the Republican House campaign arm and groups like Representative Elise Stefanik's leadership PAC, E-PAC, have been looking to add to those ranks. E-PAC said Tuesday that 11 of their 12 endorsed candidates made it past their primaries. Nearby in Georgia's 7th, Democrat Carolyn Bordeaux and Republican Dr. Richard McCormick will face off in the general. This district had problems with voting machines at precincts in Gwinnett County, the more diverse and Democrat-friendly part of the district. 

Bourdeaux called for the resignation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday and also asked for Governor Brian Kemp to create a non-partisan commission to rebuild the state's voting infrastructure.  "While the Democratic turnout was a highlight of election day, we also witnessed yet another tragic example of our state's failure to administer safe, fair and efficient elections. There is no excuse for this," she said.  

SOUTH CAROLINA

In South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, incumbent Joe Cunningham, a Democrat, will be facing Republican state representative Nancy Mace. Mace blew past her primary with more than 57% of the vote, and will try to flip this Lowcountry seat that President Trump won by double digits in 2016 and Cunningham flipped by 2 points in 2018. 

Republicans and Mace will look to label Cunningham as a "phony" that has voted consistently with the Democratic leadership. "Nancy Mace will expose Cunningham as the fraud that he is and end his fake moderate façade for good," Congressional Leadership Fund president Dan Conston said in a statement. Cunningham has a huge fundraising advantage, and Democrats will look to his work with banning offshore drilling and his ranking as the most bipartisan freshman by the Lugar Center.

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, an African American woman who represents Milwaukee, said Wednesday it would be "excellent" for Biden to pick an African American woman as his running mate, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster

"Having an African American woman be nominated for Vice President would be excellent, as long as it's not me," Moore told reporters on Wednesday. "I think that a vice presidential candidate, not just an African-American, but a woman, is going to stimulate those bases that that will bring out the vote. And African-American women are the most loyal parts of the African-American base. And I think we're also the workers in the party. So we'll work to get the vote out." Moore noted that African American turnout surged during the Obama years and said she thinks the women who are reportedly being vetted for vice president would be "really stimulating and exciting" for people.

IN THE SENATE

In addition to the presidential primary, Democrats in Georgia voted in the Senate primary for a candidate to take on Republican Senator David Perdue in November. Jon Ossoff has a considerable lead, but none of the candidates have received more than 50% of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. The top two candidates, Ossoff and Teresa Tomlinson, could compete in a runoff in August. 

In other states, Senator Lindsey Graham won the GOP primary in South Carolina and will face Democrat Jaime Harrison in November. In West Virginia, Paula Jean Swearengin won the Democratic primary to advance to the general election against incumbent Republican Senator Shelly Moore-Capito. CBS News Capitol Hill producer Alan He reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met with President Trump Wednesday morning to discuss Senate races.

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