GOP CAN’T SHAKE THEIR PRIMARY PROBLEMS. Reports from the AP and McClatchy detail the “trouble” Republicans find themselves in as “acute tensions with a president many lawmakers distrust only exacerbate the already deep divisions that have plagued the party for years. Now, the disunity is playing out in concrete ways through the GOP primaries.” That dynamic played out in states across the country this week:

NV – KSNV: Heller hits Tark in preview of brutal primary to come.

  • A week after Danny Tarkanian, the son of a Las Vegas basketball legend, announced his sixth run for office and slammed the senator whose job he wants, Dean Heller returned the favor. ‘I will tell you, I think Danny Tarkanian has run for every office conceivable in this state and now he’s on his second time around,’ Heller told me, adding, ‘and there’s two sure things, and one is that Danny’s going to lose, and number two – he’s going to sue whoever he runs against.’”
  • “Heller had been quiet about his presidential vote – and whether or not he exercised his Nevada-only option of ‘none-of-these-candidates.’ This week, however, the Nevada Independent reported Heller had, in fact, voted for Trump.”

IN – POLITICO: The GOP’s Nastiest Primary.

  • “The slugfest underway between Republican Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita… [is] a chance to finally settle the score between two ambitious pols who’ve been vying to outdo one another politically since they graduated from the same small college more than 25 years ago.”
  • “A May Associated Press story revealed that Messer’s wife, a lawyer, was being paid a $240,000-a-year consulting fee from an Indianapolis suburb. The attack struck a particular nerve with Messer, who thought it was prompted by Rokita, according to two people familiar with his thinking. And he didn’t hold back.”
  • “Rokita kept needling Messer in public, about that story and for relocating his family to Virginia. Messer distributed a lengthy email accusing Rokita of “spreading lies and half-truths,” which Rokita’s campaign responded to by calling Messer “unhinged” and a “ticking time bomb.” Soon, as both candidates lashed out at each other in the press, a dozen edits appeared on Messer’s Wikipedia page echoing one of Rokita’s main lines of attack on Messer: his work as a lobbyist.”

MO – Springfield News-Leader: Cast as ‘establishment’ pick, Josh Hawley still faces competition for GOP Senate nomination.

  • “Not everyone is ready to rally around Josh Hawley’s still-tentative bid for the U.S. Senate.”
  • “Two other Republican contenders said they have no intention of following in the footsteps of Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt, who on Tuesday said he would not run for the seat and instead declared his support for Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general. Both Austin Petersen, a Kansas City publisher, and Tony Monetti, a former military pilot from Warrensburg, said they would remain in the GOP primary race. And they each portrayed themselves as outsiders running against the party establishment.”

WI – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Leah Vukmir, Kevin Nicholson land key endorsements in GOP contest for U.S. Senate.

  • It’s game on in the Republican contest to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin next year.”
  • “State Sen. Leah Vukmir of Brookfield, who hasn’t officially entered the race, confirmed that two of the most prominent Republican financial backers in Wisconsin have signed on to her potential campaign. Securing these two deep-pocketed Republicans will allow Vukmir to compete with Delafield businessman and U.S. Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson, the only announced candidate in the GOP race.”

AL – Washington Examiner: Donald Trump’s clout on the line in Alabama runoff.

  • “President Trump boosted Sen. Luther Strange into a September runoff with Roy Moore in Alabama on Tuesday for the right to serve out the remainder of the Senate term Attorney General Jeff Sessions won in 2014. Now we’ll see if Trump has the clout with the Republican base to help Strange go all the way.”
  • Moore’s provocative rhetoric doesn’t fit the mold of a Republican McConnell wants on his roster in 2018… ‘There’s a universal desire to avoid the mistakes of the past when Republicans nominated candidates like Todd Akin, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, who all lost, and we don’t want to do that again,’ a Republican insider said… referring to three nominees who blew winnable general elections — Akin in Missouri in 2012, and Angle in Nevada and O’Donnell in Delaware in 2010. After those experiences, McConnell dropped his hands-off approach to GOP Senate primaries.”

#NVSEN & #AZSEN ARE “2018 SENATE BATTLEGROUND.” Read this New York Times report on the dynamics fueling the bitter GOP Senate primaries in both Nevada and Arizona and what it means for Democrats. 

LATEST FROM CBO: REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE SABOTAGE COSTS AMERICANS $$$. The latest CBO report finds the Republican-led sabotage will drive up premiums by 20 percent. Our take: Voters know the GOP is responsible for making their health care more expensive and jeopardizing their care — and in 2018 they will hold every Republican Senate candidate accountable.

DRIVING DIVA ROKITA. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read about the 8-page memo outlining, in great detail, the requirements for chauffeuring Congressman Todd Rokita. Local news quickly followed up on the Politico scoop:
INDYSTAR: Rokita’s drivers must have toothbrush, coffee, nerve, Politico reports.
WTHR: REPORT: Rokita has 8-page manual on how to chauffeur him while in Indiana. 

Two Key Points:
(1) Reminder from the Indy Star: Rokita “is running for the Senate with the campaign slogan “Defeat the Elite.”
(2) According to Politico: Rokita’s team blamed his “nemesis” Luke Messer for the Politico scoop. [See “Nastiest GOP Primary” Above] 

MANDEL IN THE “MORAL LOW GROUND.” Few inspire editorial board writers and cartoonists like Josh Mandel – take a look at the past few weeks:

Akron Beacon Journal: Ever Mandelian, or public character on a slippery slope.
“Unfortunately, Mandel can’t seem to help himself. 

“Recall the publicly funded television ad touting investment accounts for the disabled. The nearly $2 million spot worked as a political feat for Mandel, lawmakers then erecting a barrier to such maneuvers. Even when he tries to do something public-minded, say, saving taxpayer dollars on travel as treasurer, it winds up as self-serving. His travel record is rich in detail about his ever running for office with far less about the public work he conducted.

“All of it says much about Josh Mandel and his priority: Whatever it takes to win, no matter standing with those who hate and divide.” For Josh Mandel, no gutter is too deep, no shot too cheap.
“Ohio politics has never seen a bottom feeder quite like Josh Mandel. For the two-term state treasurer, no gutter is too deep, no shot too cheap.

“Voters should know this: Mandel may be the most singularly unfit contender for high office from Ohio during the lifetime of anyone reading this column.” Josh Mandel’s political opportunism is showing again.
“Ohioans did not elect state Treasurer Josh Mandel to run seemingly 24-7-365 for another office.

That Mandel’s political ambitions know no bounds is evidenced by his willingness to push the limits of decency and propriety.

Josh Mandel needs to get his priorities straight: He is the Ohio treasurer, not the state’s campaigner-in-chief.” 

Akron Beacon Journal Cartoon:

MISSOURI’S JOSH HAWLEY CLIMBING LADDERS, “RAISING QUESTIONS.” From residency issues, to skirting campaign finance laws, to the dark money financing his soon-to-be campaign, Hawley faces a long list of questions from voters. Take a look:

AP: Hawley’s vote in Boone County raises questions on residency.
“Questions are being raised again about whether Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is violating state law by living in rural Boone County rather than in Jefferson City. 

The issue, which first arose after Hawley took office in January, resurfaced after The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported that Hawley, a Republican in his first term, voted last week in a special election in Boone County. Jefferson City is in Cole County. 

Missouri law says “The attorney general shall reside at the seat of government and keep his office in the supreme court building.” The Missouri Constitution defines the seat of government as Jefferson City.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hawley says he isn’t focused on possible Senate run; his campaign spending hints otherwise.
“Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley hasn’t said whether he’ll seek a U.S. Senate seat next year, but he’s spending money like a candidate — shelling out almost $170,000 in campaign funds for media production, direct mail and other promotional services in the past few months, even though he isn’t formally running for anything. 

None of the campaign-funded material specifically mentions the Senate, but it promotes Hawley. If that’s meant to lay groundwork for a 2018 Senate run, it could raise questions about whether it skirts federal campaign rules, since the money wasn’t raised under federal fundraising limits.

Such spending is routine for candidates running for office, but unusual for newly seated officeholders who don’t face re-election for almost four years.” 

Politico: Sources: Club for Growth raises $10M for Hawley.
“The Club for Growth has raised $10 million to support a Senate run by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, two Republicans with knowledge of the group’s fundraising said.

One major donor pledged to match millions of dollars in donations earmarked for Hawley, and the Club has been collecting donations against that pledge, the two Republican sources said.” 

St. Joseph News-Press: Hawley would have to “overcome” ladder-climbing career politician attacks in Senate run.
“Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who has held public office since Jan. 9, became one name mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for the Senate race.

In seeking the Senate seat, Hawley would have to overcome a TV ad for the attorney general race called ‘Ladders,’ whose script began, ‘Jefferson City is full of career politicians, just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another.’” 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Questions raised about where new Missouri attorney general is living.
“In one of his first acts as Missouri’s new attorney general, Republican Josh Hawley decided he doesn’t have to live in the capital city.

That decision comes despite a law that says the state’s top legal officer “shall reside at the seat of government and keep his office in the Supreme Court building.” The state’s constitution designates Jefferson City as the seat of government.

As attorney general, Hawley is required to defend the state constitution and ensure state laws are followed.” 

BREAKING – CNN: PEDIATRICIANS SAY FLORIDA HURT SICK KIDS TO HELP BIG GOP DONORS. A new report has found that the Florida Department of Health worked to kick thousands of children off the Children’s Medical Services program – a specialized, public health insurance program for chronically sick children –and transfer them to private insurance plans. Experts have “question[ed] whether it was to financially reward insurance companies that had donated millions of dollars to the Republican Party of Florida.”

CAN BARLETTA “RAISE THE MONEY TO TAKE ON” SEN CASEY? The Philadelphia Inquirer delved into the GOP primary in Pennsylvania, noting that Barletta, who is expected to announce his candidacy soon, “has never had to run in a race as expensive or expansive as the one he is likely to enter.” With only $513,000 raised, Barletta will need to prove that “he can come up with the multiple millions of dollars to give him a chance to compete” against his GOP rivals who have twice as much money on hand and Senator Casey who has $5.6 million. 

MI – WWMT: Stabenow announces new legislation to crack down on prescription drug prices
MN – WCCO: Klobuchar, Truckers Teaming Up To Stop Human Trafficking
MT – Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Tester talks technology with local business leaders
ND – Williston Herald: Heitkamp hears about drought woes during listening session in North Dakota
OH – USA Today: Sherrod Brown on NAFTA talks: This time workers must be at the table
(MORE) OH – Fox45: Senator Brown fighting to keep jobs at Wright-Patt
PA – The Citizen’s Voice: Sen. Casey advocates for seniors during Wilkes-Barre stop 

TWEET OF THE WEEK. A late-breaking winner for TOTW inspired by Team Diva Rokita.

Lauren Passalacqua

Ben Ray

David Bergstein

Courtney Rice

Justin Lavoie



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