GOP TAX SCAM: CLOSED BUSINESSES, LAID OFF WORKERS. Republicans are having a tough time selling their tax scam to the American people – even polling from the Conservative Leadership Fund shows that “a plurality of voters in at least 50 battleground districts believe the GOP tax plan will increase their taxes, not cut them.” And it’s no wonder. In the month since it was signed into law, here’s what we’ve learned: it could reward companies for shipping jobs to other countriesit created a *new* loophole to let corporations dodge taxes, and very few companies are using the savings to boost employee’s wages.

SHUTDOWN STAINS GOP. In the last year, Republicans have shown what their control of Congress means for working families: more expensive health care costs, a tax plan that puts the wealthy and corporations first, and now, an irresponsible and unnecessary shutdown. What voters will remember from this episode is simple: the Republican Congress isn’t working for them.

NEW BATTLES IN “BRUTAL” #WISEN PRIMARY. The battle between Kevin Nicholson and state senator Leah Vukmir grew more contentious this week as the two candidates continued to spar over their conservative credentials. Not exactly the unity Wisconsin Republicans were hoping to project heading into 2018.

PRIEBUS ENDORSES VUKMIR AS CANDIDATES SPAR OVER CONSERVATIVE CREDENTIALS. Reince Priebus endorsed Leah Vukmir, calling her the true conservative in the race while going “out of his way to chide Nicholson for previously being a Democrat.” As the Wisconsin State Journal notes, “Priebus is not the first leading Republican to question the sincerity of Nicholson’s political about-face.” Conservative talk radio hosts have been questioning Nicholson’s conservative bonafides since before he entered the primary. Responding to Priebus’s attack, Nicholson’s spokesman retorted, “Reince must have hit his head pretty hard when Trump kicked him to the curb. Of course insiders are going to protect insiders.”

REMINDER: Less than a month ago Vukmir and Nicholson signed a unity pledge in an attempt to avoid another bruising primary, such as in 2012.

NICHOLSON “DISTANCES” HIMSELF FROM BANNON. Steve Bannon’s endorsement of several Republican Senate candidates “hasn’t aged well,” and Kevin Nicholson knows it. That’s why, in a “neat sleight-of-hand,” Nicholson has started to distance himself from Bannon after touting his endorsement for months. But let’s not forget…

Associated Press: Bannon injects himself into Wisconsin US Senate race
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin GOP Senate contender Kevin Nicholson wins endorsement from super PAC tied to Steve Bannon
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Senate race: Kevin Nicholson doubles down on Steve Bannon endorsement 

SCOTT’S FAILED DRILLING STUNT MAKES HIM “LOSER OF THE WEEK.” Following Governor Scott’s political stunt on offshore drilling, his “inconsistent positions on drilling are under scrutiny as he declines to say whether he supports a permanent ban,” making him the Tampa Bay Times’ “loser of the week.”

An apt cartoon from the Pensacola News Journal’s Andy Marlette:

SCOTT’S CRONYISM CALLED OUT. A Tampa Bay Times column highlights Scott’s penchant for rewarding campaign donors:

“So what, exactly, is Scott looking for when he seeks caretakers for the state’s wildlife or the education of our youngsters? Well, it appears to help if you’re a campaign contributor to Scott or the Republican Party of Florida. That detail seems to come up occasionally in background searches. It also bodes well if you’ve previously worked in the governor’s office in some capacity.”

JUDGE’S MESSAGE TO HAWLEY: “DO YOUR JOB.” A federal judge had to sanction Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley for continually failing to produce documents in several court cases, a delay which cost Missouri taxpayers unnecessary money. But of course Hawley isn’t doing his job. He’s too busy campaigning for the next one.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

  • A federal judge on Tuesday sent a $500 bill to Attorney General Josh Hawley that included a simple and direct message: Do your job.
  • Fleissig sanctioned the attorney general’s office and fined it for “continued and belated” failure to produce documents in the case.
  • For Hawley, the slap on the wrist from the federal judge might not seem like a big deal. Except it’s not an isolated event. On the same day Fleissig was ordering Hawley’s office to get its act together, a state judge was presiding over a hearing with the same goal.
  • In December, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem issued his own order threatening Hawley with sanctions over the failure to produce documents.
  • Hawley is a former law professor who ran for his office as an “outsider” and months into the job announced that he’s running [for Senate.] He might want to spend a bit more time focusing on his day job.

DEPT OF ‘SAY WHAT?!’ IN #PASEN. CNN reported yesterday that Congressman Barletta “came in contact over the years with fringe organizations and individuals with views far outside the mainstream of American politics,” such as granting an interview with a Holocaust-denying publication and speaking at a rally where other speakers promoted conspiracies about the September 11 attacks.

“A HINT OF WHAT WOULD COME.” State Rep. Jim Christiana, who is also vying for the Republican nomination, warned Barletta that the CNN report was “just a hint of what would come.” Sounds like Pennsylvania is about to join other GOP primaries in battling it out for nastiest race of the year.

*ANOTHER* RECRUITMENT FAILURE IN OHIO. The McConnell industrial complex suffered another recruitment setback last week when Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance announced he would not run for Senate in Ohio, after both McConnell and the NRSC urged him to. They just can’t seem to recruit top candidates in any of their races – and that shouldn’t come as a surprise given what Republicans have to run on this year: increased health care costs, higher taxes, and an irresponsible government shutdown, to name a few.

DONNELLY STARTS 2018 WITH OVER $5 MILLION FOR REELECTION. Senator Donnelly began 2018 with $5.3 million cash on hand, having raised $1.2 million in the fourth quarter. More than 22,800 individuals donated to Donnelly in 2017, with 85 percent donating $50 or less.

FL – Florida Politics: Survey: Bill Nelson’s approval best among senators running in swing states
(MORE) FL – WKMG: Sen. Nelson says he’s ready to fight for International Space Station funding
IN – South Bend TribuneIndiana’s Joe Donnelly again lands in national spotlight
(MORE) IN – Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Donnelly’s role in ‘radical reasonable caucus’ to end shutdown
MO – USA TODAY: Flake, McCaskill eat pork to protest congressional pork
(MORE) MO – Kansas City Star: McCaskill worked behind the scenes to end the shutdown.
MT – Montana Public Radio: Tester Joins Bipartisan Group Working On Border Security Deal
PA – Tribune Review: Casey: Health center funding shouldn’t wait for ‘misery on the streets’
WI – Wisconsin Gazette: Baldwin calls on Trump to explain appointees to key drug-policy posts
WV – Metro News: Manchin remains popular as election year begins

TWEET OF THE WEEK. Congratulations to Senator Duckworth!

Lauren Passalacqua

Ben Ray

David Bergstein

Courtney Rice

Justin Lavoie


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