DSCC RECESS REPORT: NASTY PRIMARIES, HEALTH CARE FALLOUT SPOIL GOP’S SUMMER. In our back-to-session memo, we highlight two trends that dominated Republicans’ recess: their primaries grew nastier and health care remained front-and-center. As Politico observed in July: “there isn’t a state on the Senate map where national Republicans are facing their dream candidate scenario,” and “in seven of the eight most competitive states in 2018, either a top candidate has turned them down, two candidates are staring at a potentially messy primary, or both.” Take a look at why “Republicans are terrified” heading into the midterms.
GOP “Disunity Playing Out” In Primaries.
“REPUBLICANS LOWER THEIR SENATE EXPECTATIONS.” With these caustic dynamics, it’s no surprise Republicans are “downgrading their expectations for next year’s midterms” – a result of weak recruiting, crowded primaries, and Trump loyalty litmus tests. The National Journal highlights how the party is “tempering hopes”:
National Journal: Republicans Lower Their Senate Expectations
DOWNGRADING FLAKE’S REELECTION CHANCES. Real Clear Politics delved into Senator Flake’s reelection chances and found that his “odd political calculus may have already trapped him.” Although Flake has been critical of Trump in some areas, he “has a staunchly conservative voting record… one of the most conservative voting records in the chamber.” RCP points out that this “reverse triangulation” means that “Flake gets the worst of both worlds. He loses some staunch Trumpish voters by attacking the president and taking a few unorthodox positions, but votes too conservatively on the whole to bring in many Democratic crossover votes.” It’s one of the reasons why Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball recent Senate rankings have moved Flake’s seat in favor of Democrats.
SIREN: FLAKE VOTES DOWN HARVEY AID. After telling CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday he would support an aid package, Flake was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against the package this week – just as he did for the aid packages for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
HELLER’S HEALTH CARE BILL WOULD INCREASE COSTS. With plans to reintroduce Graham-Cassidy-Heller, here are the quick facts to know about yet another devastating GOP health care bill:
CBPP: Cassidy-Graham Would Deeply Cut and Drastically Redistribute Health Coverage Funding Among States.
OHIO GOP STILL COOL ON MANDEL. A third candidate entered the Ohio GOP Senate primary this week, further proving that Mandel’s penchant for political opportunism has left many Ohio Republicans nervous about his candidacy. From the National Journal’s Kimberly Railey: “Still, the additional challenge to Mandel reflects unease among some in the GOP about his candidacy, on the heels of months of damaging press he received for taxpayer-funded ads.”
MCCASKILL LEADING THE CHARGE AGAINST OPIOID MANUFACTURERS. Staying true to her reputation as a watchdog for her constituents, Senator McCaskill’s investigation into opioid manufacturers released a report this week detailing how one of the companies “faked cancer patients to sell” their drug.
#WISEN GOP PRIMARY GETS A LITTLE MORE CROWDED. Wisconsin Republicans’ fears of a “messy,” “nasty” Senate primary became a reality this week with the entrance of State Senator Leah Vukmir. Vukmir entered the race claiming the mantle of the most conservative candidate – a subtle jab at her primary opponent, Kevin Nicholson. Need to catch up on the crowded primary? Read this.
ICYMI: ANOTHER REPUBLICAN OPTS OUT OF SENATE CAMPAIGN. This morning, Carly Fiorina announced that she would not run for U.S. Senate in Virginia – the latest potential Republican challenger to opt out of running against a strong Democratic incumbent.
IN THE STATES.
IN – Roll Call: For Joe Donnelly, a Long History of Bucking His Party
(MORE) IN – Indy Star: Sen. Joe Donnelly takes Trump administration to task on North Korea
MO – St. Louis Post-Dispatch: McCaskill says one opioid maker lacked policies to prevent overuse of dangerous painkiller
MT – Montana Public Radio: In Senate Speeches Tester, Daines Bring Attention To Montana Fires
ND – The Hill: Trump praises Dem senator during tax speech
OH – Columbus Dispatch: Sherrod Brown in bipartisan effort to keep Americans healthy
PA – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Ending DACA ‘not only wrong and immoral… it’s really bad for our economy,’ Casey says
WI – WIZM: In La Crosse, Sen. Tammy Baldwin talks of Trump’s backing her Buy American plan
TWEET OF THE WEEK.
For everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma, please stay safe! Here’s how you can help: