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Morning Reads: Democratic Debate in Brooklyn Turns Sour; 41% of Super PAC Money Comes from 50 People

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Morning Reads: Democratic Debate in Brooklyn Turns Sour

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders shake hands before the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on April 14, 2016. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Brooklyn donnybrook –> This election, Democratic debates largely have been characterized by a respectful if strained cordiality between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. That collegiality slipped away at last night’s debate in Brooklyn. “The highly contentious and spirited debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard turned into an old-fashioned donnybrook with each candidate going after the other aggressively as they jockeyed for positioning just days before the state’s April 19 primary,” writes Adam Edelman for The New York Daily News. At The Guardian, Tom McCarthy provides a roundup of things we learned about the candidates, and, at Rolling Stone, Tessa Stuart managed to come up with a list of the “34 testiest moments.”

Climate action possible –> Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer foresees a carbon tax on the Senate’s agenda, should Hillary Clinton win back the White House and Democrats win back the Senate — in which case Schumer would become majority leader. His reasoning hinges on Republicans, following a major loss, being more willing to compromise on ways of raising government revenue. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, Ben Adler at Grist writes, “These are exciting times for climate hawks. After years of having their issue relegated to second-tier status in presidential campaigns, they’re now seeing the Democratic candidates fighting hard over who will be more aggressive in combating climate change and reining in oil, gas, and coal production. Thursday’s Democratic debate in New York featured a long, feisty dispute in which Bernie Sanders asked Hillary Clinton whether she supports a carbon tax (she ducked) and Clinton knocked Sanders for not giving President Obama props for the Paris Agreement.”

Problem is, this kind of discussion is only happening among the Democrats; Republicans hardly touch the issue at all. “Between 2000 and 2015, the percentage of Republicans saying they were worried about climate change dropped from 29 percent to just 13 percent,” Adler notes. “Meanwhile, Democratic voters have become significantly more concerned about climate change. Last year, 74 percent of Democrats said increased temperatures are due to human activity. This year, 85 percent said so.”

Preventing the next Deepwater Horizon –> Timothy Cama at The Hill: “The Obama administration issued a suite of offshore drilling safety standards Thursday meant to prevent disasters like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill from occurring in the future. The regulation comes nearly six years after the disaster on a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and caused an 87-day spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history whose effects are still being felt. The rule focuses on blowout preventers, as well as other equipment and practices designed to prevent major oil and natural well disasters and mitigate the ones that do happen.” The oil lobby and environmental groups both blasted the new rule as a giveaway to the other.

“The new Gilded Age” –> Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy report for The Washington Post: “A small core of super-rich individuals are responsible for the record sums cascading into the coffers of super PACs for the 2016 elections, a dynamic that harks back to the financing of presidential campaigns in the Gilded Age. Close to half of the money — 41 percent — raised by the groups by the end of February came from just 50 mega-donors and their relatives, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance reports.”

And Jake Sherman reports for Politico that as the Republican presidential election chugs disastrously along, Paul Ryan brought in “a massive $17 million” in the first quarter of 2016. His fundraising was “fueled by some of the nation’s richest people and large corporate political action committees, which cut five- and six-figure checks to the speaker’s burgeoning political operation, according to an election filing made public Wednesday. More than $9 million of Ryan’s take in the first quarter of 2016 was from donors and PACs who cut checks larger than $50,000, according to a POLITICO analysis of the Team Ryan Federal Election Commission filing.”

Taking Arizona to task –> Eugene Scott for CNN: “The Democratic National Committee, along with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns, are suing the state of Arizona following complaints of voter suppression during the Arizona primary last month. Voters endured long waits to use one of Maricopa County’s 60 polling stations last month. There were at least 200 polling stations in 2012, but Republican officials said they decreased the number to save money.”

And, at The American Prospect, Eliza Newlin Carney writes that the chaos some states have seen so far in the primaries indicate bigger issues in store for the general election: “The nation’s persistent voting problems reflect a failure of democracy on multiple levels — administrative, legislative, judicial, and political. Federal and state officials have shortchanged budgets for running elections.”

Challenging Bushmaster –> Families of the victims of the 2012 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are suing Freedom Group, the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms. On Thursday, a Connecticut judge decided that their suit can more forward. CBS News reports that the judge ruled that “a federal law protecting gun-makers from lawsuits does not prevent lawyers for the families of Sandy Hook victims from arguing that the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle is a military weapon and should not have been sold to civilians.” An AR-15 was used in the school murders.

Magical thinking –> The New York Post endorsed Donald Trump, betting on the candidate to become more palatable in the general election. “Here’s how we see it,” the conservative tabloid’s editors write. “Should he win the nomination, we expect Trump to pivot — not just on the issues, but in his manner. The post-pivot Trump needs to be more presidential: better informed on policy, more self-disciplined and less thin-skinned.”

Morning Reads was written by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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