Biden's quiet influence over Democrats grows: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It’s not happening with the same kind of flair — or anything approaching the volume — that defined the presidency of his predecessor.

Yet quietly but undeniably, President Joe Biden’s influence over the path of his party has grown, even as he faces a potential inflection point over his governing agenda and a critical month in the battle to end COVID-19.

Bipartisan infrastructure talks, while not going particularly well, are still taking place, with Biden set to speak again with the lead GOP Senate negotiator on Friday. Policing reform conversations are also still ongoing, with the White House’s under-the-radar-screen urging.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks at Veterans Memorial Park near the Delaware Memorial Bridge at an annual Memorial Day Service, May 30, 2021, in New Castle, Del.

A House special-election victory for Democrats in New Mexico calmed nerves about potential ballot-box backlash. Fast-approaching primaries in Virginia and New York City have so far showcased moderate candidates and their messaging, as opposed to “defund-the-police” arguments.

The favorite in next week’s gubernatorial primary in Virginia is a white man in his mid-60s who has been a national political player for some 30 years. Even without a candidate in place, a Democratic outside group is spending money framing the race as a way to boost the Biden agenda.

There are still plenty of reasons to question whether Biden can get big bills through Congress and to assume that Republicans are primed for major wins next year. But Democrats remain notably united these days, with Biden still setting their pace.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

In our nation’s history, no Black woman has ever helmed a state as governor. One woman from rural South Carolina is aiming to change that.

Democratic South Carolina State Rep. Mia McCleod launched her bid to challenge Gov. Henry McMaster Thursday. Two other Democratic candidates are also vying for the chance to replace McMaster.

“Far too often across this state we also share stories of struggle and neglect because politicians have forgotten about all but those who agree with them or fund their campaigns,” said McCleod in her campaign announcement video.

PHOTO: State Sen. Mia McLeod, left, stands in the sanctuary of Shiloh Baptist, her family's church, talking with Rev. Coley Mearite, June 1, 2021, in Bennettsville, S.C.

McCleod framed herself as a challenge to the status quo and a possible change maker who can address health care and education issues in the state.

McCleod isn’t the only Black woman aiming to ascend to a governor’s mansion. Two Black women, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, are competing in the upcoming Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary on June 8, though former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to win. Each of their gubernatorial bids follows Stacey Abrams’ 2018 run for governor in Georgia. Though she was defeated, she was the first Black woman to gain a major party nomination in a governor’s race.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ historic election is arguably spurring efforts for Black women to shatter glass ceilings in other halls of political power.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

The five Democratic candidates for Virginia governor are barnstorming the commonwealth this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s primary to determine who will take on GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin in November.

PHOTO: Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Justin Fairfax, Del. Lee Carter, and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy during the last primary debate in Newport News, Va., June 1, 2021.

As a former governor who was barred from seeking reelection four years ago because of a unique Virginia law, McAuliffe is the presumed front-runner going into Tuesday, taking incoming fire from his competitors and Republicans in the final stretch of the campaign.

Campaign co-chair and state Sen. Louise Lucas highlighted McAuliffe’s experience, electability and “boundless energy” as reasons he’s the best choice. But there’s been a dearth of recent, reputable polling in this race — and his challengers are not ceding to the front-runner narrative.

“Based on what I’m hearing in the field, I don’t think he’s the front-runner,” McClellan told ABC News. “Over 50% of the people we talk to say they’re leaning towards or plan to vote for me.”

“We have the winds to our back,” Carroll Foy said. “This race is going to be a race that breaks late. People are just now paying attention.”

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Friday morning’s episode features ABC News Senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce, who tells us why President Joe Biden may be willing to budge on the corporate tax rate to pass his infrastructure plan. ABC News Chief Business and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis tells us about Ally Financial’s move to eliminate overdraft fees. And NYC Pride co-chair Andre Thomas tells us why his group is banning NYPD officers from attending this year’s Pride Parade. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

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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 Monday for the latest.

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