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Ken Buck's surprise announcement forces Lauren Boebert's hand in Colorado

Plus the vice president's historic visit, a one-year celebration and a very special morning routine in this week’s 3-Minute Read from Jen Psaki.
"Inside with Jen Psaki"
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Boebert's big gamble

Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado announced he will leave Congress earlier than expected — at the end of next week. His early exit makes the already-narrow Republican majority in the House even narrower. But what other implications might it have? And what does it have to do with his conservative Colorado peer Lauren Boebert? Mark Murray, NBC News’ senior political editor, is here to help.

Rep. Boebert narrowly won re-election in 2022. But how are her chances looking in 2024?

In 2022, Boebert barely beat Democrat Adam Frisch in CO-3, a Republican-leaning congressional district — but not necessarily a ruby-red one. Frisch decided to run against Boebert again, creating a supercompetitive House race for this November. That was until Boebert opted to run instead in Buck’s soon-to-be available district, CO-4 — a much more Republican-friendly seat. So, Boebert maneuvered herself out of a rematch with Frisch.

Buck’s decision was abrupt and unexpected — especially for Boebert. Why is that? 

Buck’s decision this week to resign — instead of serving out his term through 2024 — triggers a special election in June. This in turn forced Boebert to make a series of tough decisions. Would she run for CO-4 in the special election, earning a leg up as the incumbent there, but also requiring her to resign her current CO-3 seat (and thus reducing the GOP’s House majority even further)? Would she avoid the special election, allowing another Republican to snag incumbent status and possibly putting herself at an electoral disadvantage when she runs for the seat in November?

So what path did Boebert ultimately choose?

Ultimately, Boebert chose the second option: She won’t run in the special election and thus won’t have to give up her CO-3 seat. But that means that in November, she may have to run against whichever Republican wins the June CO-4 special election, assuming that special election winner isn’t simply a caretaker. Bottom line: Boebert’s decision saves House Republicans from having to deal with yet another congressional vacancy right now, with their majority already hanging by a thread. But it could make her return path to Congress more difficult.

A story you should be following: The vice president’s abortion clinic visit

This week, Vice President Kamala Harris became the first vice president (or president) to ever visit an abortion clinic when she visited a Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minnesota — a state that has become a safe haven for abortion rights. Research published in 2023 showed average monthly abortions increased in Minnesota in the 12 months after Roe was overturned, as neighboring states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin) rolled back access.

Harris’ historic visit is a stark contrast to the approach Democrats have taken for many years, and reflects the changing political climate.

Given the energizing power of abortion in the 2022 midterms, as well as in a number of special elections, it’s not surprising that the Biden-Harris campaign has embraced the issue. The campaign is running ads highlighting powerful testimonials from women whose lives have been upended due to strict abortion bans in their states, and drawing attention to Donald Trump’s role in overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Right now in our country, we are facing a very serious health crisis,” Harris said after her Planned Parenthood visit. “It is only right and fair that people have access to the health care they need, and that they have access to health care in an environment where they are treated with dignity and respect.”

Abortion rights is sure to be a central issue in the 2024 election, and keeping it front and center is a smart strategy for Democrats. I’ll be watching to see how else the Biden campaign reminds voters that one candidate is fighting for their rights while the other is still working to take them away.

Celebrate our anniversary! 

This week marks a big anniversary at MSNBC — it’s officially been one year of “Inside with Jen Psaki”! Thank you so much for watching our show and reading this newsletter over the past months. And I wanted to take a moment to just express a huge amount of gratitude for the amazing team I get to work with every week. We wouldn’t have a show without them. So thank you: Alex Lupica, Will Rabbe, Margaret Menefee, Josh Haskins, Kerry Leary, Michelle Hoffner, Seamus O’Toole, Sara Nasser, Natalie Lylo, Gracie Lund, Alice Song, Kathryn Kline and Mia LeJeune.

Tune in Sunday at 12 p.m. ET for a special highlight reel of all of our favorite moments from our first year.

Amy Chozick’s weekend routine

Amy Chozick is the creator and executive producer of the new series “The Girls on the Bus,” an adaption of her book “Chasing Hillary” about the dramatic and unprecedented 2016 presidential campaign. Stay tuned for our conversation on “Inside with Jen Psaki” soon, and you can watch the first few episodes of “The Girls on the Bus” now on Max.

What show are you bingeing right now?

I just binged “One Day” on Netflix — a great choice if you want Leo Woodall (the “nephew” in “White Lotus” Season 2), ’90s nostalgia and a good cry!

What’s the last book you read?

I just finished Griffin Dunne’s breathtaking, page-turning memoir “The Friday Afternoon Club,” about growing up the son of Dominick Dunne and nephew of Joan Didion. And I am currently reading “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. Mark is a brilliant and award-winning novelist, but more importantly, a dad friend at kindergarten drop-off.

What time do you wake up on the weekends?

My 6-year-old determines that. I’m lucky if it’s past 6 a.m.

How do you take your coffee?

Black. I may live in L.A. now, but you’ll never get me on oat, goat, or any of the various milks.