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Anxiety is growing among Republicans that Trump-aligned candidates who failed to cross the finish line last year could come back to haunt them in 2024, costing the GOP another chance at winning back power in Washington.

Kari Lake, who ran for Arizona governor in November and lost to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), is weighing a bid for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) seat, while Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) is considering a run against Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) after costing the GOP the governor’s mansion last year. 

The list goes on: Republican Joe Kent is gunning for a rematch against Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) after he was narrowly defeated in 2022; J.R. Majewski, who’s House campaign imploded last year after it was revealed that he misrepresented his military service, has floated another challenge to Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio); and Bo Hines has already filed paperwork to run again for a North Carolina House seat he lost in November.

The growing list of Trump loyalists weighing congressional runs has Republicans now warning against writing them off as possible GOP nominees once again.

“There are people out there that just won’t go away,” one Republican strategist familiar with Senate campaigns said. “All the folks out there that want to say, ‘Oh, they’re nobodies, they don’t matter’ — they need a reality check. Kari Lake doesn’t speak for the whole party, but she’s loud; she knows how to get attention. And, at least to an extent, it holds the rest of the party back.”

Lake, Mastriano and other candidates are among a cohort of Trump-aligned Republicans who have questioned or espoused baseless claims about the 2020 election. While they prevailed in their respective primaries, their candidacies ultimately cost the party key races in the general election in swing states like Arizona and Pennsylvania in a midterm year that was assumed to favor Republicans. 

Concerns over the Republican Party’s candidate quality was brought to the fore ahead of the November midterms by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who cited that as reason for his bearish stance on the GOP’s chances of retaking the upper chamber. But it came too late after many of the party’s primaries had already wrapped up. 

Those same concerns remain as the GOP now stares down the possibility of many of those same candidates running again. Some Republicans warn it would be a mistake for them to mount new campaigns.

“Some of these people are just a glutton for punishment,” said Arizona-based GOP strategist Barrett Marson. 

“The only thing worse about being a loser is being a two-time loser. And people like Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano did not resonate with a broad swath of voters, and there’s nothing in the months since the election where they have changed or recognized their shortcoming and altered their strategy or message,” he continued. 

In Pennsylvania, Republican strategist Vince Galko noted that GOP members in the state have also expressed anxiety about a possible Mastriano Senate bid.

There’s “certainly a lot of hand-wringing going on amongst party leaders and donors and the political establishment with the thought of Doug Mastriano running for U.S. Senate” because he starts off “with solid name I.D. and a very strong base and if he should be on the same ticket as former President Trump, that would possibly give him a leg up as well,” he said.

“I think I, like many Republicans — you have to get to the point where you want to win, right?” Galko added.

The split-screen between Trump-aligned candidates and more establishment Republicans has not only become apparent at a national level but also on a state and local level. Last month, Kristina Karamo, another Trump-aligned candidate who has questioned the 2020 election results and lost her secretary of state race in Michigan last cycle, was elected the Michigan GOP chair last month.

Over in Colorado, former state Rep. Dave Williams — an election denier who tried to get the anti-Biden phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” as part of his name on the ballot and lost his GOP House primary against Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) – was elected Colorado GOP chair earlier this month. 

While Republicans believe that national groups can opt to work around state parties in key races, some acknowledge having pro-Trump populists as state party chairs can offer unnecessary headaches for viable candidates.

“The fact that the chairmen of some of these parties can get on TV and say crazy things and then force candidates to respond to those crazy things, well, that’s detrimental,” said a GOP consultant based in the West who requested anonymity to speak candidly. 

Heading into 2024, both Senate and House GOP campaign arms have signaled that they’re handling their Republican primaries differently, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) already notably wading into the Indiana GOP Senate primary while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is signaling it’ll stay out of the primaries. 

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), has also agreed to stay out of safe Republican districts that have an open-seat primary after reaching a deal with the conservative Club for Growth amid McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker earlier this year.

“Chairman Daines has been clear he’s willing to do whatever it takes to nominate candidates who can win both a primary and a general election,” said NRSC communications director Mike Berg.

Some Republicans say they’d like the House campaign arm to get involved in some of the House primaries.

“Of course they will be on offense in a lot of districts around the nation in addition to trying to retain incumbents, but I do think that they should … consider getting involved in some primaries, maybe not all of them,” said Dick Wadhams, a former Colorado GOP chairman. “But there are some that do make a big difference obviously.”

Wadhams worried that a repeat of pro-Trump candidates who lost their midterm races last year could “potentially deny Republican majorities from being elected in both the House and the Senate.”

But other Republicans believe some of those concerns can be addressed at a candidate-recruitment level.  Six key players to watch in the banking crisis House Financial Services Committee schedules first hearing on collapse of SVB, Signature Bank

“There’s no use losing sleep over this. We just got to put our head down and focus on recruiting diverse and exciting candidates who can outrun the top of the ticket and unite the party,” said one Republican House strategist, using Reps. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) and John James (R-Mich.) as examples. 

Overall, many Republicans are signaling that the party and its candidates need to offer a forward-looking vision to voters and not focus on past elections. 

“Elections are always about the future,” said Dallas Woodhouse, a longtime Republican operative and executive director of the conservative South Carolina Policy Council. “And I think the people that put forward a forward-looking, optimistic vision for the future are going to be in a lot better shape. Voters are craving that, I think, without question.”

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PayPal Expands Contactless Payment Options for Small Businesses with New iPhone Feature




PayPal Holdings, IncPYPL has introduced Tap to Pay onApple IncAAPL iPhone for Venmo business profile and PayPal Zettle users in the U.S., allowing users to accept contactless payments directly on their iPhones withoutextra cost or hardware.

This initiative is part of PayPals commitment to helping small businesses expand their sales, grow their operations, and improve their financial management.

With consumers increasing preference for cashless transactions, Tap to Pay on iPhone offers small businesses a quick, easy, and affordable solution to adapt to this change.

Also Read:PayPal Cuts 9% of Staff in Efficiency Drive

Nitin Prabhu, VP at PayPal, emphasizes this services flexibility and convenience to small businesses, enabling them to accept various payment methods anywhere.

This new feature streamlines transaction processes, including tax addition, tipping, receipt sending, and refund issuing, and expedites fund settlement into Venmo or PayPal Zettle accounts.

Additionally, it broadens the customer base for Venmo business profile users by accepting payments from non-Venmo users and managing transactions within the Venmo app.

In February, PayPal reportedfourth-quarter revenueof $8.03 billion, above the consensus of $7.87 billion. EPS of $1.48, beat estimates of $1.36. Total payment volumes increased 15% year-over-year to $409.8 billion in the quarter.

Investors can gain exposure to the stock viaAmplify ETF Trust Amplify Mobile Payments ETFIPAY andGlobal X FinTech ETFFINX .

Price Action:PYPL shares traded higher by 1.55% at $59.02 on the last check Thursday.

Also Read:PayPal Stock Dives After Q4 Earnings: Management Set A Low Bar For 2024, Says Analyst

Disclaimer:This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Photo courtesy of PayPal

2024 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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5 Technologies That Could Be Worth $220 Trillion By 2030, Cathie Wood's ARK Predicts: 'The Time Is Now'




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ARK Investment Management LLC predicts that five disruptive technologies could reach a total market value of $220 trillion by 2030.

According to the latest white paper, Platforms Of Innovation How Converging Technologies Should Propel A Step Change In Economic Growth, the Cathie Wood-led investment company explores the ascendance of five critical technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Energy Storage, Robotics, Multiomics, and Public Blockchains.

These innovations are not merely advancing in isolation. Instead, they are converging, setting the stage for an explosive increase in productivity and economic development.

Our technological forecasts suggest that the time is now that a new era of accelerating macroeconomic growth will begin this decade, says ARK chief futurist Brett Winton, who authored the report. Five Catalysts Of Economic Transformation Artificial Intelligence (AI): Now seamlessly integrated into various sectors, AI is set to turbocharge productivity worldwide. The growth in the AI industry is captured by ARKs flagship fund, ARK Innovation ETF ARKK . Energy Storage: Innovations have leveled the playing field for electric vehicles, making them as economical as traditional gas-powered cars. Robotics: The proliferation of technologies from reusable rockets to autonomous delivery bots marks a new era in automation. This market is monitored through the ARK Autonomous Technology & Robotics ETF ARKQ Multiomics: Advancements in this field are revealing new dimensions of life and health, promising breakthroughs in biology and medicine. These innovations are tracked by the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF ARKG Public Blockchains: Led by the widespread adoption of Bitcoin BTC/USD , blockchain technology challenges the conventional financial order, poised to redefine finance.

Wintons analysis predicts that the convergence of these technological platforms will catalyze a step change in market value and economic growth.

By 2030, the market value of these disruptive innovations could soar to an estimated $220 trillion, up from the current $19 trillion, marking an average annual growth rate of 42%.Loading… Loading… Projected Annual Growth Rates (2023-2030) AI: 37% Energy Storage: 50% Public Blockchains: 48% Robotics: 78% Multiomic Sequencing: 39%

Drawing parallels with Teslas ascent to a $600 billion market cap, the white paper highlights the potential of innovative companies.

Currently, only a small fraction of S&P 500 companies (less than 2%), representing more than 35% of its market cap, exceed this valuation.

Looking ahead, ARK Investment expects these technological advancements to push real GDP to $170 trillion by 2030 and further to $470 trillion by 2040.Cryptocurrency: Beyond A Digital Asset

The white paper also sheds light on cryptocurrencies as potential stabilizers for renewable energy grids.

According to Winton, bitcoin mining should foster the economic installation of large-scale renewable energy and battery systems, which, in a virtuous cycle, should increase the security of the Bitcoin blockchain.

By 2030, the valuation tied to Public Blockchain innovations is expected to reach around $40 trillion.

Cryptocurrenciesand, to a lesser extent, smart contract protocolsare likely to compete with fiat currencies, ARK stated.

Read Now: Gold Investors Should Own These ETFs, Says Bank Of America: Why Analysts Expect Gold Spike To $2,600

Image created with photos from Ark and Shutterstock.Loading… Loading…

2024 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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Companies looking to offer psychedelic drug therapy coverage for employees: report




A growing number of companies are exploring the possibility of offering psychedelic drug therapy for their employees as a cost-saving and effective means of mental health treatment, according to a report.

Recent research has shown that well-known party-drugs like MDMA [ecstasy], psilocybin [magic mushrooms] and ketamine which has been legalized for medicinal use are useful alternatives to treating a slew of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Jorge Yant, founder of Plexis Healthcare Systems, told The Wall Street Journal that he has started offering psychedelic-assisted therapy coverage to his employees through benefits startup Enthea.

Ive experimented with psychedelics myself, and I could see how it could be helpful to people, Yant told the paper.

The businessman said he first began to consider covering psychedelic therapies after an anonymous summary report of prescription drug use at the company revealed how many on his staff were prescribed medications for their mental health.

The use of antidepressants among my employees and their families was off the charts, he said.

Yant said he believes the US healthcare system overly emphasizes prescription drugs and believes his workers could benefit from the alternative therapy. 

It will save money over time compared to expensive, traditional therapy sessions and will make his employees happier and more productive, he told WSJ.

Enthea offers its clients ketamine-assisted therapy coverage, and, in the coming months, will be able to cover psilocybin if they are based out of or willing to go to Oregon where it is now legal for medical use. 

The company said if MDMA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, they will add it to their list.

Sherry Rais, Entheas CEO, said just this past year more than a dozen companies signed up for the therapy coverage and another 50 have signed letters of intent.

Psychedelic therapy is increasingly viewed as a legitimate treatment for mental health as it becomes more and more mainstream, especially among elites in Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

Elon Musk, among the wealthiest individuals in the world, has been candid about his ketamine use for health reasons going as far to say his use of the drug is beneficial to his investors and said the drug helps him manage a negative chemical state in his heated interview with Don Lemon last month.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has said hes used psilocybin, while the late Steve Jobs was a vocal advocate of LSD.

Billionaire Peter Thiel dumped millions into ATAI Life Science, a firm that aims to use hallucinogens in medicine and last year, Mets owner Steve Cohen donated $5 million to MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelics Studies.

Last year, 17% of employers reported that they were investing into psychedelic-therapy solutions for their workers mental health, according to a survey conducted by benefits consulting firm NFP, cited by WSJ.

While many of Entheas new clients are excited to see how their employees respond, there remain concerns among companies about the risk of their workers using the drugs in a non-clinical setting.

Many doctors who arent trained as psychiatrists are now adding ketamine to their arsenal for patients to use at home, David Feifel, a psychiatrist and medical director of Kadima Neuropsychiatry Institute in La Jolla, Calif., told the paper.

Deb Smolensky, the head of well-being and engagement with NFP, said that mental health has emerged as the single biggest concern among clients over the past three years.

The burnout rates are enormous, she told the Wall Street Journal.

The incredibly high cost of mental health medication is also burdensome for workers.

While ketamine is not FDA-approved to treat depression, doctors offer patients off-label alternatives like Johnson&Johnson’s nasal spray Spravato a chemically similar drug that has agency approval for adults with depression and is covered by some insurance companies, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Spravato reported full-year sales of $689 million in 2023, up 84% from $374 million the year before, according to a company spokeswoman.

Larger insurance companies are beginning to realize it’s more financially savvy to make an exception and agreeing to cover ketamine for off-label use.  

Smolensky predicted a wider movement towards covering psychedelic-assisted therapies.

Its going to come. We see the writing on the wall,” she said.

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