ACROSS THE MAP, GOP RECRUITING FAILURES GIVING WAY TO NASTY GOP PRIMARIES. Two stories out this week focus on how the Republicans recruitment failures in key Senate battleground states are giving way to nasty and potentially expensive Republican primaries:

The Hill explored how tensions are boiling over between Congressmen Rokita and Messer in Indiana, and Roll Call looked at potential primaries shaping up in West Virginia and Missouri (as well as Indiana).

Additionally, the National Journal looks at how Senator Flake – who’s already facing one primary challenger – may face additional opponents with close ties President Trump.

Meanwhile, Republicans lost another top-tier Senate recruit in Montana when Attorney General Tim Fox declined to challenge Senator Tester, and Mitch McConnell’s SuperPAC is being forced to spend  $2.4 million to protect Luther Strange in Alabama. PS: OUR #ALSEN TAKE: Establishment Republicans are investing a lot of time, energy and money in a race that should be a snooze – this does not portend well for them given the primary line-ups unfolding across the map.

Side note: Republicans mulling a 2018 Senate run can’t be happy with yesterday’s Comey hearing. The ongoing political explosion – and voters’ desire for a check on the President – is bound to be a drag on their campaigns… and their desire to run in the first place.

OH, AND THEY’VE GOT NOTHING TO RUN ON. From the AP: “President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have made it through nearly half their first year in power without a single major legislative achievement.”

Contrast: Senate Democrats are delivering on local issues that matter to their constituents – like Senator Baldwin’s fight for dairy farmers, Senator Stabenow’s advocacy on behalf of the Upper Peninsula, and Sens. Manchin, Kaine, Casey, and Brown’s efforts to fund black lung clinics.

MORNING JOE SPOTLIGHTS DSCC’S “GUT-PUNCH” HEALTHCARE AD. Check out MSNBC’s Morning Joe highlighting the DSCC’s 30-second health care spot, “The Price.” Scarborough discussed how the ad shines a spotlight on the GOP’s broken healthcare promises and the damaging impact their proposal will have on voters.  And check out this new piece from Shareblue: “Democrats have a powerful response to GOP’s new attempt to repeal Obamacare.”


FLAKE & HELLER IN HEALTH CARE HOTSEAT. Senate Republicans are doing all they can to move their toxic healthcare agenda forward – and that’s putting Senators Flake and Heller in the healthcare hot-seat, and it’s only going to get worse for them:   

THEN – On the record endorsing cuts to Medicaid, which would be disastrous for the more than 400,000 Arizonans who rely on the expansion for their coverage.
NOW – Word salad (“‘Ah, well,’ said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) before pausing to consider what to say next. ‘Depends how you phrase it, I guess. I mean, obviously, it’s there. We have to deal with it. We’re doing the best we can.’”)
WHY? – Flake is facing a primary challenger and is considered one of the most vulnerable Senators in 2018. 

THEN – I “want to get to a ‘yes’” on GOP’s toxic healthcare agenda.
NOW –  Heller told reporters on Thursday he supports ending the Medicaid expansion (but keep reading – his spokespeople are determined to make this as painful as possible for him).
WHY? – As The Hill reported, Heller’s “stuck in a bind” on health care — risking turning off both base GOP voters and the moderate, independent voters who will decide the election in Nevada.

A SECRET PLAN TO PASS HEALTH CARE. Speaking of healthcare, here’s what we know so far about what the Senate is pushing for (and what Senators Heller and Flake will have to defend in the halls of Congress and back home in their states).

  1. The Washington Post wrote that Republicans “aren’t even grasping at the pretense of transparency.” Even Republicans like Senators Collins and Graham realize what a bad idea this is, and have warned that a bill like this “should be viewed with caution.”
  2. McConnell plans to hold a vote “one way or the other.”
  3. Their party’s healthcare agenda to spike costs and strip coverage is toxic with voters. More from WaPo’s Health 202: “The process is a political lose-lose for them on many fronts.”


GOP SABOTAGE SPIKING PREMIUMS AND JEOPARDIZING COVERAGE. Trump and Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to destabilize our insurance markets, refusing to commit to funding CSR payments. New stories out this week detailed how insurers are pointing the finger squarely at Republicans as they pull out of markets, and Vox highlights polling showing voters are blaming Republicans for the state of America’s health insurance system.

RELEASE THE TAPES. After reports revealed that Heller announced his support for ending the Medicaid expansion during a Senate working group meeting, his own office refused to confirm what he said. The episode reminds us of Heller’s painful, botched Planned Parenthood flip-flop. Politico Pro Health reporter Rachana Pradhan tweeted that “loads of reporters” have Heller’s comments “on tape.”  Lordy, we hope they release those tapes.

M.I.A. MANDEL. Where was State Treasurer Josh Mandel this week? Not in Ohio where the Republican-controlled legislature has been repeatedly trying to get him to appear before a hearing and explain his shady use of taxpayer funds for self-promotion. Instead, Mandel was in DC at a fundraiser. Again.

HOUSE GOP UNRAVELS WALL STREET REFORM. While you were paying attention to the Comey hearing yesterday, House Republicans voted to unravel key provisions of Wall Street reform, aiming to return to the era of bailouts and ‘too big to fail.’ This is just the latest example of Republicans putting the interests of Wall Street banks above middle-class taxpayers and voters will hold them accountable for this vote in 2018.

FL – Naples Daily News: Bill Nelson zaps White House over cuts to Zika help
MI – WDET: Sen. Debbie Stabenow Slams Trump’s Great Lakes Plan, Russian Links
MO – Missouri Net: McCaskill proposal to fix counties with no insurers on health exchanges gets boost
MT – Valley Journal: Tester: budget cuts would hurt rural America
ND-Grand Forks Herald: Viewpoint: American Health Care Act unaffordable for too many
OH – Share Blue: Sen. Sherrod Brown slams GOP for sabotaging health care and trying to blame Democrats 

Tweet of the Week goes to Rep. Dingell for speaking truth.


Lauren Passalacqua

Ben Ray

David Bergstein

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