The TAKE with Rick Klein
Once again, this time while the nation's attention was rightly focused elsewhere, former President Donald Trump won some and lost some -- whiffing on a big one on Tuesday with his effort to oust Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp falling embarrassingly short.
Also once again, Trump's losses may be less than meets the eye. Even when Trump-backed candidates are getting embarrassed, MAGA messaging and machinations continue to roll through GOP primaries in ways that will reverberate in November and possibly beyond.
Kemp trounced former Sen. David Perdue, who trumpeted Trump's false claims about the last election and won Trump's noisy backing. Kemp withstood intense pressure from Trump in the election's aftermath, but he held on in the primary race by hewing close to Trump.
He also signed a restrictive new voting law that could make it easier to swing the outcome of the next election. At a primary debate, he boasted about championing that bill because he was "frustrated" with how his party fared in 2020.
In Texas on Tuesday, Trump stayed behind Attorney General Ken Paxton despite a series of indictments and following spectacle of his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Paxton blew past George P. Bush, the scion of the preeminent Republican dynasty of the last 40 years, even though Bush broke with much of his family to embrace Trumpism.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will again be the nominee in her deep-red House district in northwest Georgia. Herschel Walker shredded his competition for the Senate nomination in the state after being recruited by Trump -- a friend of Walker's for more than 35 years -- and refusing to debate his GOP opponents.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump's former White House press secretary, cruised to the GOP nomination for Arkansas governor, the job her father held for more than a decade before falling to Trump in the 2016 primary.
Even Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., is headed to a runoff election against retiring Sen. Richard Shelby's former Chief of Staff Katie Britt despite Trump's move to revoke his endorsement for Senate. Brooks ignored that and campaigned as if he still had Trump's backing while simultaneously resisting inquiries from the Jan. 6 committee.
The latest election returns rolled in against the wrenching backdrop of a school shooting in Texas that, in a head-spinning coincidence, occurred just three days before a scheduled NRA gathering in Houston that's slated to include speeches from Trump and other prominent Republicans.
Trump-skeptical Republicans will take Tuesday's results as a sign that Republican voters won't just take the former president's direction, with a range of his endorsed candidates getting a third of the GOP vote or less.
It all might also be another sign, though, that Trumpism is stronger than Trump.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
As President Joe Biden confronts yet another mass shooting without any prospects of a legislative answer, he will also address police reform, another area where his administration has struggled to make headway.
"As a nation we have to ask, 'When in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?'" said Biden in his address to the nation on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults.
The answer to Biden's question is simple: when there are enough votes to pass reforms. The support isn't there to forge ahead with gun reform. Even in the face of horrific tragedy, Republicans remain ardently opposed.
"I don't know what kind of laws [could have prevented the shooting] unless you simply go to gun registration and confiscating guns and that is not what Texans will be supportive of," Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said in an interview on ABC News Live on Tuesday.
The Biden administration finds itself in the same predicament on police reform. Wednesday marks the second anniversary of George Floyd's killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. In observance of Floyd's killing, Biden plans to sign an executive order that will create a national database to track disciplinary actions against officers and ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants. The catch is that this limited action will only apply to federal law enforcement -- a fraction of the country's 800,000 officers. Bipartisan negotiations on further-reaching police reform weren't revived after they fell apart last year
As midterms loom, so does the possibility that Democrats lose their narrow grip on both chambers of Congress. Without the political will from Republicans to engage on either issue, federal gun and police reforms could both be beyond reach.
The TIP with Brittany Shepherd
Voters turned out in historic numbers for Georgia's primary elections, despite Democratic nerves surrounding a more restrictive voting law. According to the secretary of state, 859,984 voted absentee and early voting in person as of Monday night. As of this morning, just under 1.9 million people voted in the Georgia primary according to ABC Vote. The office has yet to disclose the firm and final count. Still, the most up-to-date numbers show a stunning uptick in turnout -- nearly three times as much as the same point in the 2018 election.
There were very few mishaps at polling places, and the long lines that plagued Georgia elections of yore are no longer.
Some Republicans are using this figure to point to the effectiveness of Georgia's election system, though Democrats warn that the impact of Georgia's new voting law -- which altered the process of absentee voting, limited the availability and accessibility of drop boxes and eliminated the ability to apply for an absentee ballot online -- has yet to be seen.
"We know that increased turnout has nothing to do with suppression; suppression is about whether or not you make it difficult for voters to access the ballot," Democrat candidate for governor Stacey Abrams said at a press conference Tuesday morning.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
7. That's the number of non-incumbents running for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general in Georgia that former President Donald Trump endorsed. And, as we wrote on the FiveThirtyEight live blog, Trump's preferred candidates only cleared the field in one of those races: the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, where former NFL player Herschel Walker will face Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in the fall. Trump's most high-profile loss was in the gubernatorial primary as Gov. Brian Kemp easily cruised to renomination against Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Wednesday morning with the latest on the Texas elementary school shooting from the scene with ABC's Mireya Villarreal. Then, Parkland shooting survivor and activist Sari Kaufman gives her perspective on enduring shooting violence at a young age. Then, ABC contributors Brad Garrett and John Cohen discuss the warning signs of mass shooters. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- At 4 p.m., President Joe Biden signs an executive order to advance effective, accountable policing and strengthen public safety
- FBI Director Chris Wray testifies at a budget hearing held by the Senate Committee on Appropriations at 2 p.m.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.