'Electability' poised for Biden-style comeback in Virginia: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Republicans will select a candidate for governor in New Jersey on Tuesday, in a race that’s played out along now-familiar lines of arguing about who is Trumpiest — or at least close enough to the ideology of the former president.

Democrats will also be choosing a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia on Tuesday. The field includes remarkable diversity, yet the favorite is a longtime insider echoing President Joe Biden’s calls for “results” over a revolution.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to secure the Democratic nomination for his old job. If he does it, he’ll have defeated three Black candidates — two women and one man — all hoping to make their own history.

PHOTO: Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, right, and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, left, greet McAuliffe supporters during a quick rally outside the Office of the General Registrar, in Richmond, Virginia, on  Friday, June 4, 2021.

The race has been dominated by McAuliffe’s Rolodex and also his appeal to the urgency of winning, in a race that most likely represents the GOP’s best hope for a signature victory in 2021.

Electability, in other words, is back. Though his campaign is loath to acknowledge it directly, McAuliffe — a 64-year-old white man who came to national prominence decades ago via his friendships with Bill and Hillary Clinton — has run a Biden-style playbook, avoiding conflicts with opponents while also racking up more endorsements from Black state lawmakers.

Biden’s late comeback to win the presidential nomination last year has sometimes been interpreted as a one-off — a series of lucky breaks, stemming from pragmatism over Democrats’ desperation to win back the presidency.

But Democratic voters still may not be poised to give ground to progressive impulses or rush to break barriers. If McAuliffe wins his party’s nomination on Tuesday, he will have Bidenism in part to thank.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Vice President Kamala Harris’ first trip on foreign soil is underway, continuing her first foray into foreign policy with bilateral meetings with leaders in Guatemala and Mexico.

The vice president, who has been tasked with stemming migration from Northern Triangle nations, will focus her diplomatic efforts on three areas: economic development, climate change and food insecurity, and women and young people.

Harris’ trip isn’t just about how U.S. humanitarian aid can help the lower the number of migrants who flee to present themselves at the U.S. southern border, it’s also about addressing issues of crime and corruption throughout Central America. Harris emphasized the need to give people in Northern Triangle nations “a sense of hope that help is on the way” during her bilateral meeting with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

Vice President Kamala Harris, left, looks toward Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, during a news conference on June 7, 2021, at the National Palace in Guatemala City.

“If we are truly to have and fight for democracies, especially in a world where increasingly they are under attack, one essential ingredient of our priorities must be to fight corruption,” said Harris. “It erodes the confidence that people have in their government and its leaders. It compromises the ability of any country to maximize its natural resources to help and support its citizenry.”

The ideas Harris is expected to share likely won’t have a significant impact on the numbers of migrants presenting themselves at the U.S. southern border in the short-term. The White House would argue that this isn’t a border assignment, but that she is singularly focused on conditions in Central American nations. She’s already garnered the ire of Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who accuse Harris of not doing enough.

Harris often tempers expectations when asked about this assignment, emphasizing that the issues at the border can’t be solved overnight. Still, there hasn’t been much clarity on what success looks like for Harris on this assignment.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

In response to recent Republican efforts to revise state election laws, Texas state Democrats are beginning to map their offensive which centers on a sweeping voter registration campaign.

Although greater voter registration does not automatically guarantee more party wins, organizers told ABC News they identified more than 3 million eligible but unregistered voters in the Lone Star State and predict more than 70% of those voters would back Democratic candidates. The party aims to pilot the registration program over the course of this year before scaling up efforts ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

A visitor leans over a railing in the rotunda at the State Capitol on June 1, 2021, in Austin, Texas. The Texas Legislature closed out its regular session Monday.

Those plans are being laid out against a backdrop of several major unknown factors that could weigh into the state party’s efforts in the near future. Chief among them is the expected jockeying over the addition of congressional seats in the fall during a special session to address redistricting.

Meanwhile, the date of the special session in Texas to address election integrity and other Republican priority issues has yet to be set. It also remains unclear whether Gov. Greg Abbott will follow through on his threat of defunding the state legislature ahead of the June 20 veto deadline.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Zohreen Shah, who tells us about the extreme drought conditions in Western states and how climate change is contributing. ABC News Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton has more on a controversial new drug that was just approved to treat Alzheimer’s. And ABC News’ Alex Mallin explains how the Department of Justice was able to recover millions from the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight’s Politics Podcast. Democrat Melanie Stansbury won a special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District by a 25-point margin on Tuesday, performing better than Democrats did in the district in 2020. It’s tempting to use the special election to gauge the national political environment, but in this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew explains why one election alone isn’t a reliable indicator. The team also debates whether phone or online polling is a better tool for assessing Americans’ views on sensitive topics like the death penalty. And they preview a forthcoming report on how FiveThirtyEight’s forecast models did in 2020. https://53eig.ht/3x5bPsQ

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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