DEMS BARNSTORM THEIR STATES DURING RECESS. While we’ve heard report, after report, after report of Republicans’ contentious and raucous recess, Senate Democrats have spent the last two weeks traveling around their states, meeting with constituents and listening to their concerns. 

WDRB: Indiana U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly visits southern Indiana business
Tribune Star: U.S. Sen. Donnelly visits Saint Mary-of-the-Woods – Donnelly says visits all over Indiana keep him grounded and focused
NWI Times: Editorial: High-level visits offer hope in lead crisis 

St Louis CBS: Mo. Democrat Sen. McCaskill Greeted By Support at Town Hall
KCUR: Appealing To “Ruby Red” Missouri, McCaskill Speaks Her Mind
KSHB: Senator Claire McCaskill holds public town halls across Missouri, makes stop in Parkville

Canton Rep: Brown discusses Stark’s infrastructure needs
Toledo Blade: Brown hears autoworkers’ NAFTA ideas
Richland Source: Sherrod Brown encourages local Dems at Jefferson-Jackson Dinner 

Washington Post: Tim Kaine is back at his old Senate job. It’s never seemed more important.
Danville Register & Bee: Kaine speaks with manufacturing, education leaders in Dan River Region tour
Roanoke Times: Sen. Tim Kaine visits Roanoke area to discuss education, veterans’ issues

The contrast couldn’t be clearer. And while voters across the country turned out to ask their Republican officials why they want to raise the cost of care, the GOP doesn’t seemed to have learned its lesson: Republicans will attempt to revive their disastrous plan next week.

HELLER’S “HORNET’S NEST” TOWN HALL & PLANNED PARENTHOOD FLIP-FLOP. Dean Heller walked into what Reno’s KTVN news called “a hornet’s nest” as constituents took him to task for his votes to deny women and families access to healthcare and to allow companies to sell voters’ personal browsing data for a profit. Heller had been dreading this town hall – complaining last week that it was just “one of those boxes you gotta check” and he even brought Rep. Amodei to do all the talking. It turns out Heller had reason to be nervous.

“Dean Heller’s Town Hall Troubles”

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Heller told the crowd this: “no problem with federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” a complete falsehood considering Heller cast the deciding vote in the Senate to get rid of Title X funds. Then, after facing backlash from conservatives, Heller’s office issued a ‘clarification’ to appease the far right of his party. It’s the latest example of why you can’t trust Dean.

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY: Not to be outdone, Senator Jeff Flake also faced a “brutal” crowd at his own town hall just last week. Watch our highlight reel.   

MORE GOP RECESS CHAOS. It’s not just Senate Republicans taking the heat this week. Potential Senate challengers got in on the action too.

Republicans are becoming anxious that Cramer’s penchant for making outrageous and offensive statements could hurt his chances if he challenges Heitkamp in 2018. Cramer’s not worried, but maybe he should be.
The Hill: Report: GOP pressuring House rep to stay out of race against Heitkamp
CNN: Nervous about GOP congressman, Republicans woo new North Dakota Senate candidate
Inforum: Letter: National stories about North Dakota used to be positive. What happened?
Grand Forks Herald: Kevin Cramer defends Sean Spicer over Hitler, chemical weapons remarks
CNN: North Dakota congressman: Spicer Hitler comment ‘not without some validity’

Yet another dark money group is backing Mandel. Surprise, surprise. Citizens United PAC endorses Josh Mandel in 2018 Ohio Senate race
AP: Dark money group backs pro-Mandel super PAC
Columbus Dispatch: $300,000 in ‘dark money’ raised to help Josh Mandel in 2018 US Senate race
USA Today: Josh Mandel deal with FreedomWorks raises question of allegiance

While Scott fled to DC this week for a photo-op with President Trump, he left behind a state that doesn’t have the resources to effectively deal with its opioid crisis. Despite repeated calls from political leaders and advocates to declare a state of emergency for the epidemic, Scott has refused – but he’s made sure to exploit the crisis for a PR tour of the state, and advocates weren’t buying it.
Palm Beach Post: Governor’s opioid listening tour generates skepticism, concerns
Tampa Bay Times: No state of emergency, but Rick Scott announces workshops to address opioid crisis
Palm Beach Post: Aronberg wants to speak with Scott about opioid emergency
Saint Peters Blog: Dave Aronberg takes a number and gets in line
Sun Sentinel: Unlike Zika, people are dying. So where’s the governor? | Opinion
Orlando Sentinel: Major issues get little attention as Scott, lawmakers feud 

SHOT: Dems show surprising strength at start of brutal 2018 midterm [Politico]
“The Democratic senators’ blockbuster first-quarter numbers — buoyed by liberal grass-roots opposition to Trump — are giving them an early shot of momentum heading into the midterms. Strategists also hope the numbers will scare off potential GOP challengers at a time when Republicans are struggling to recruit candidates.”

CHASER: Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups [The Hill]
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and conservative groups are headed toward a showdown over GOP primaries in 2018.[…] Republicans’ hopes of winning the Senate majority in 2010 and 2012 were thwarted in part by some weak candidates who defeated rivals from the GOP establishment in party primaries.”

LIME: Slow Pace of 2018 Senate Bids a Growing GOP Concern [RealClear Politics]
“Facing a turbulent political environment and seasoned Democrats who have won tough races before, some Republicans are growing concerned about their recruitment progress, anxious that potential GOP challengers aren’t stepping up to run in top-tier races… More troubling for the potential Republicans candidates may simply be the senators they have to challenge. Even in the deep red states — Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri and West Virginia — the Democratic incumbents won tough elections despite President Obama losing at the top of the ticket. It’s extremely difficult to knock off incumbent senators even in favorable environments, and Republicans acknowledge they’re challenging proven winners. ‘These are senators that have been through it and know how to ride against the sentiment in their state and carve out their own brand,’ said a GOP operative with experience in high-profile Senate races.”

**Breadstick break: finally, tweetstorm we can all get behind about Olive Garden and what happens when the breadsticks come to an end**

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DONNELLY’S BIG FAN. Joe Donnelly has a fan in Congressman Todd Rokita – who has been rumored to challenge him for the Senate in 2018. In an interview with Howey Politics, Rokita praised Donnelly, saying “”He works the state real hard. I see him on the airplane with me every weekend. That’s why we need a candidate who comes back to the state, lives in the state, raises his family in the state. It keeps me connected, just like Joe Donnelly, who is fairly connected to voters in this state.” Congressman, we couldn’t agree more.

BALDWIN’S ‘BUY AMERICAN’ PROPOSAL GETS GOP BACKING. Tammy Baldwin’s Buy American proposal, which would require that American-made steel be used for water infrastructure projects, has received GOP backing. Maybe the Republicans who dismissed the legislation should call their offices.

WATCH: Chairman Van Hollen on Morning Joe: Democratic Senators are fighting for their states DSCC fighting to seize opportunities.

CT – Monroe Courier: Sen. Murphy launches grassroots campaign
FL – Florida Politics: Bill Nelson presses Tom Price on Florida’s opioid crisis, Medicaid’s ability to fight it
IN – Chicago Tribune: Hoosier women’s activist group shares their perspective with Sen. Joe Donnelly
MORE IN – Indiana Public Media: Senator Donnelly meets with farmers in Vincennes
MO – The Joplin Globe: Democrats praise McCaskill’s town hall
ND – KVRR: Sen. Heitkamp Talks Health Care During Tame Town Hall Meeting
OH – BuzzFeed: Can Sherrod Brown Make Democrats Working Class Again?
MORE OH – WTOL 11: Sen. Sherrod Brown gets input on NAFTA renegotiations from local UAW workers
PA – The Daily Item: Casey talks job creation, opioid epidemic across the state at town hall
VA – The Franklin News-Post: Kaine listens to Ferrum College


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