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DSCC FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS – GOP “HEADACHES KEEP MOUNTING” – HAWLEY “COURTS” BANNON – FLAKE “NOT STARTING FROM POSITION OF STRENGTH” – REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE SABOTAGE CONTINUES– WHITE SUPREMACISTS LAUNCH SUPER PAC FOR MANDEL

MUST READ: GOP “HEADACHES KEEP MOUNTING.” A fresh look from the New York Times on how “Republican leaders in Congress are under attack from all sides of their own party, battered by voters from the right and left, spurned by frustrated donors and even threatened by the Trump White House for ineffective leadership and insufficient loyalty.” Some highlights:

  • Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are making no attempt to mask their fear… For the first time, some senators are contemplating whether their advantages on the electoral map next year could crumble amid a wave of primary challenges and other departures, putting their two-seat majority in jeopardy next year.”
  • Republicans are increasingly mystified by their own grass roots, an electorate they thought they knew, and distressed that a wave of turnover in their ranks could fundamentally change the character of Congress. They fear that the inchoate populism that Mr. Trump personifies, and which Mr. Bannon is attempting to weaponize against incumbents, is on the march.”
  • Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has taken aim at Mr. Trump, appears so weakened with Republican voters that there is increasingly talk of contingency planning should he not run again or seek re-election as an independent. If he remains in the race, Mr. Flake, who currently faces one opponent on the right, appears likely to draw additional challengers… Mr. Flake has already drawn a formidable Democratic opponent in Representative Kyrsten Sinema.”
  • “The uncertain prospects of Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who is facing a Trump-inspired primary challenger from the right, could endanger the Senate majority or at least offset any gains Republicans make in the conservative states where Democrats are facing re-election next year.”

INTRAPARTY BRAWLS “ROIL” GOP. Intraparty brawls in Republican Senate primaries have continued to grow since Roy Moore’s insurgent victory in Alabama last week which “roiled” the GOP. Between establishment versus anti-establishment fights across the map and dueling donors, this week has seen races across the country turn more divisive.

IN – AP: GOP Primary Draws “National Attention Due to a Bitter Feud.”

  • “The primary isn’t until May, but it has already drawn national attention due to a bitter feud between Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer. The two personally attacked each other before either officially entered the race. At different points each has accused the other of being ‘unhinged.’
  • “Some Republicans worry that if it continues, the two will inflict so much damage that neither would have a good chance of defeating Donnelly.”

WV – McClatchy: Top Trump donors jump into next nasty GOP primary fight.

  • “Several of Donald Trump’s most generous and influential donors are wading into West Virginia’s increasingly nasty Senate GOP primary, according to new financial disclosures that reveal that the powerful Mercer family has donated to Rep. Evan Jenkins’ Senate campaign… even as Breitbart head Steve Bannon–who is generally very close to the Mercers—has so far appeared aligned with Jenkins’ chief rival in the race, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
  • The race between Jenkins and Morrisey is one of several divisive Republican primaries taking shape around the country, races that are intensifying after the contentious Alabama Senate primary runoff last week.”

WI – Associated Press: Divided Wisconsin Republicans picking sides in Senate race.

  • Wisconsin Republicans are increasingly picking sides in the U.S. Senate primary fight pitting a former Marine and Democrat who casts himself as a political outsider against a longtime elected official with deep ties to Gov. Scott Walker.”
  • Both candidates are also scrambling to show allegiance to President Donald Trump… while [they] struggle — mostly in private — to win over wealthy donors and influential insiders 10 months before the primary. And the field may grow, with at least one more Republican still mulling a bid.”

SIREN – “ESTABLISHMENT” CANDIDATE JOSH HAWLEY “COURTS” BANNON IN #MOSEN. The Kansas City Star reports that Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley “is courting” Bannon in the wake of reports that the former Trump advisor would not support the establishment’s pick. Hawley’s got good reason to fear Bannon:

The “courting” is a sign that Hawley is worried about his base and a larger signal that traditional Republicans doubt the strength of McConnell and the millions of dollars he promises in the face of Bannon’s growing strength in the party. The question is: will Bannon risk his kingmaker status to back a candidate so entrenched in the establishment? 

GOP FACES FURIOUS DONORS AS INSURGENCY CONTINUES. The fury from the Republican insurgency is nearly matched by the anger of their donors. From Politico: “Republicans are confronting a growing revolt from their top donors, who are cutting off the party in protest over its inability to get anything done.” Making matters worse, insurgent candidates have become “emboldened” to challenge Republican establishment candidates. These dynamics will continue to haunt them heading into the midterms.

FLAKE “NOT STARTING FROM POSITION OF STRENGTH.” That’s what Nathan Gonzales had to say about Flake’s campaign. His reelection outlook has continued to darken” after “first-tier Democratic candidate” Representative Kyrsten Sinema launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate, causing Cook Political Report and Inside Elections to move the race in Democrats’ favor to a “Toss Up” seat.

NEW REPORTS DETAIL GOP SABOTAGE OF HEALTH CARE. Three new reports detail how Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration are purposefully sabotaging America’s health insurance system by sowing chaos and confusion as part of a “broad campaign… to undermine the 2010 health care law.” From the reports: 

New York Times: “Health insurers are aggressively increasing prices next year for individual policies sold under the federal health care law, with some raising premiums by more than 50 percent…After the latest Senate effort to repeal the health law collapsed, insurers still have no commitment about whether the government will continue to allocate millions of dollars in critical financing. The changing circumstances and inaction by Congress have forced insurers to raise rates and experiment with different plans for those who are not eligible for federal assistance.”

Protect Our Care: “Blame for the increase was squarely placed on the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress injecting uncertainty into the marketplace by threatening to default on cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments that help lower out-of-pocket costs in some way, shape or form.”

Washington Post: “Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to changes sought by conservative states as part of a broader campaign by his administration to undermine the 2010 health-care law. In addition to trying to cut funding for the ACA, the Trump administration also is hampering state efforts to control premiums. In the case of Iowa, that involved a highly unusual intervention by the president himself… Advocates say the Health and Human Services Department has done more to suppress the number of people signing up than to boost it.”

GOP SENATE CANDIDATES VOTE FOR TOXIC BUDGET PLAN. A slew of Senate candidates voted for a budget that would spike health care costs, slash coverage, and end Medicare as we know it. At every turn, these politicians have pushed reckless and harmful policies for the sake of their own self-serving political agenda, while hardworking Americans pay the price. Here’s the list: Congressmen Messer and Rokita of Indiana, Barletta of Pennsylvania, Jenkins of West Virginia, and Congresswoman Blackburn of Tennessee. Two other potential primary challengers – Congressmen Upton of Michigan and Cramer of North Dakota – also voted for the fringe budget. 

ICYMI: VP BIDEN CAMPAIGNS WITH #ALSEN CANDIDATE DOUG JONES.

WHITE SUPREMACISTS LAUNCH SUPER PAC FOR MANDEL. Another reminder that “for Josh Mandel, no gutter is too deep”: after standing with the white supremacist conspiracy theorists who do not believe in rape, Mandel now stands to benefit from them. A new super PAC will financially back Mandel’s Senate ambitions. It’s classic Mandel – he went out of his way to defend dangerous conspiracy theorists and now they’re ready to pour millions into his race. 

IT’S MANDEL, SO OF COURSE IT GETS WORSE. Mandel has refused to answer a single question about the support he’ll receive from this hateful group and, when asked about this week, his staffer struck back – literally.
Cleveland.com: Josh Mandel aide accused of shoving video camera to stop a Democrat from filming the candidate
Roll Call: Mandel Staffer Accused of Getting Physical With Tracker 

NOT THE HEADLINE YOU WANT #MTSEN. A judge who claims to be “exploring” a run for Senate – while raising money, talking about issues, and building support – got some well-deserved scrutiny from the largest paper in the state: We should be asking the judge… Bottom line: “Be a judge or be a senatorial candidate. But I am not sure you can be both, your honor.”

IN THE STATES.
AL – AL.com: Joe Biden highlights Doug Jones’ ‘character’ during Birmingham campaign stop
FL – Florida Politics: Bill Nelson sponsors bill to ban bump stocks for assault weapons
MA – HuffPost: Elizabeth Warren Scorches Former Equifax CEO For Profiting From Data Breaches
MI – Holland Sentinel: Stabenow, Peters introduce small business legislation
MO – Bloomberg: McCaskill Blasts Trump for Saying Tax Plan Won’t Benefit Him
ND – KVRR: Sen. Heitkamp Introduces “Savanna’s Act” for Protection of Native American Women
PA – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sen. Casey pushes for ban on ‘bump stock’ firearms attachments
WI – National Journal: In a Shifting State, Baldwin Stays Left

TWEET OF THE WEEK.
The last few weeks have shown the importance of service and giving. Here’s how you can help:

Lauren Passalacqua
@laurenvpass

Ben Ray
@BenRay

David Bergstein
@DavidABergstein

Courtney Rice
@Court_Rice

Justin Lavoie
@je_lavoie

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