RECESS READ: GOP “FAILED TO PRODUCE ANY MAJOR LEGISLATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS.Here’s how the Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan summarized the great disappointment that is the Republican Congress – and it’s about as forgiving as voters will be:

“The Senate left town for the rest of the summer Thursday, bringing a historically unproductive period of governance to a close for Republicans, who failed to produce any major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the White House…

“By their own accounts, Republicans have failed to enact the ambitious agenda they embarked upon when Trump and the GOP majorities swept into power in January… The lack of a signature accomplishment Republican lawmakers can highlight at home this month has given rise to a new level of finger-pointing and soul-searching…

“When it comes to the core policy issues they campaigned on, Republicans foundered.”

Read the full piece here.

HEALTH CARE FALLOUT CONTINUES. Three key storylines emerged in the wake of the GOP’s health care disaster with serious implications for 2018:

1.    After their health care “epic fail,” GOP candidates still have nothing to run on. The Associated Press reports that “the Senate’s failure this past week to pass repeal legislation has outraged the Republican base…The stunning collapse has exposed a party so paralyzed by ideological division that it could not deliver on its top campaign pledge.” McClatchy put it even more bluntly: “Republicans have controlled Washington for seven months. They have virtually nothing to show for it…the paucity of political victories spells danger ahead” of 2018.

2.    With nothing to run on, recruitment has suffered and that’s leading to nasty primaries. First The Washington Post reported “Republicans have struggled to recruit top candidates…which means Republicans could spend the next year in potentially expensive (and, in some cases, divisive) primaries.” Now The Hill details how this trend is developing in Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia (amongst other battlegrounds) as GOP candidates rush to attack each other.

3.    We’ll see this again: GOP infighting explodes. The GOP’s intraparty brawl is playing out vividly in Alabama, where Politico reports how Washington Republicans’ multi-million dollar efforts and shadow campaign aren’t deterring attacks against their favored candidate — and are prompting Brooks to call for Senator McConnell’s resignation. A similar dynamic is already unfolding in Arizona and Nevada, where Senators Heller and Flake are turning off both their own base as well as the moderate and independent voters who will decide elections in their states.

HELLER “COMPLETELY BOTCHED IT.” That’s how one Republican summarized Senator Heller’s massive health care misstep and the reviews don’t get any better:

Politico: Heller under fire over Obamacare gymnastics
“He’s inflamed the left and right throughout the debate on repealing the law. And now the Nevada Republican is handing critics more ammunition by signing onto a new overhaul of Obamacare that has piqued the interest of the White House but nonetheless has little momentum.”

“If his intent is to get reelected, he’s completely botched it,” said Chuck Muth, a conservative activist in Nevada and former executive director of the state GOP. “I think the damage has been done.”

Reno Gazette-Journal: After weeks of waffling, Heller votes ‘yes’ on failed ‘skinny repeal’ of Obamacare
Although he had played a role as a pivotal vote in Republicans’ effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., ultimately cast a vote in favor of the truncated repeal measure. 

NEWS3 Las Vegas: The right is riled-up; do Republicans want to repeal and replace Dean Heller?
“McDonald is the Chairman of the Nevada Republican Party. After his round on the radio, I asked him: Is Nevada’s Republican U.S. senator headed for a primary? “Yes,” McDonald told me, without so much as flinching.”

New York Magazine: Heller’s Hamlet Act on Health Care Bombing Back Home
“According to a new survey from Public Policy Polling, his act bombed decisively with Nevadans. Heller, who will face voters next year, now has an approval rating of 22 percent, with 55 percent disapproving and 23 percent unsure. Only 31 percent of respondents say they would vote for him against a generic (unnamed) Democrat, who would receive 50 percent.” 

“In other words, one of the two most vulnerable GOP senators running next year (the other is Arizona’s Jeff Flake) appears to have fundamentally mishandled the biggest issue of 2017.”

🚨RATINGS CHANGE ALERT: SABATO MOVES #NVSEN TO TOSS-UP. 🚨 Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the Nevada Senate Seat from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-Up”:

“Because of Heller’s health care challenges, Rosen’s recently-announced candidacy, and, most importantly, the perils of being a member of the president’s party in a midterm when that president is, at least at the moment, unpopular.”

This is the second ratings change from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-up” since Jacky Rosen launched her campaign.

ROSEN RELEASES “BLISTERING” AD AGAINST HELLER. The Rosen campaign released a “blistering” new digital ad on Senator Heller’s health care betrayal. WATCH “Repeal:”

ENDORSEMENT ICYMIs: Rosen earned three major endorsements these week: NARAL, the League of Conservation Voters, and End Citizens United.

FLAKE “BUILDING A REALLY STRONG ARGUMENT AGAINST” HIMSELF. Jeff Flake moved into the spotlight this week but the glow didn’t impress the people who matter in his reelection: Arizona Voters. From the Arizona Daily Star: 

Flake also laid the foundation for an argument that can be made against him from the right and the left in 2018. The argument will be that Flake is all talk and no action. And it will likely be used by conservative Republicans challenging him in the primary election, then adapted and reused by Democrats challenging him in the general.

“RAUCOUS START” TO GOP PRIMARIES. SIX stories on two nasty primaries. We’ll let you decide which match up – #insen or #wvsen – is worse:

The Hill: West Virginia Senate primary off to raucous start
“Even before Jenkins launched his campaign in May and Morrisey launched his last month, the Republicans sparred on a nearly daily basis…The crossfire has only escalated in recent weeks.” 

West Virginia Record: Jenkins, Morrisey launch attacks as Trump visits West Virginia again.
“As President Donald Trump makes his second visit to the Mountain State in two weeks, two Republicans fighting for a U.S. Senate seat are taking the opportunity to take jabs at each other.”  

“U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins criticized West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for not supporting Trump until later in the 2016 election cycle…Jenkins’ campaign also launched a digital ad campaign about the issue.”  

Indy Star: Tully: It’s time for Messer and Rokita to grow up
“Memo to Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita: For goodness sakes, guys, it’s a United States Senate seat you’re seeking. Treat it with some respect. Show it some dignity.” 

The Statehouse File, Commentary: When Senate candidates miss their nap times
If the race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat on the ballot next year were a day care, both U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, already would be in time out.”

IndyStar: Senate slugfest: 9 fights so far in Indiana’s bare-knuckle U.S. Senate race.
“Less expected, however, was the vitriol that has already become a hallmark of the Republican primary contest, where Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita have attacked each other early and often with a vigor typically reserved for the final weeks of an election. The jabs started a full year before the May 2018 primary — and well before the Republicans announced their candidacies. (Rokita still hasn’t).

IndyStar: Senate slugfest: Rokita jab against Messer launches battle over who is the worst speller
“Rep. Luke Messer’s campaign started off his official run for a U.S. Senate seat last week by spelling a town within his district wrong… Rokita’s team, though, has had its spelling gaffe — involving the candidate’s own name.” 

HEADLINE: “FOR JOSH MANDEL, NO GUTTER IS TOO DEEP.You’ll want to click through on this one. Here’s a sample of the searing look at the embattled state Treasurer and Senate candidate:

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…  

Mandel may be the most singularly unfit contender for high office from Ohio during the lifetime of anyone reading this column…

He has cemented his reputation for almost unsurpassed intellectual dishonesty…

[Mandel] lacks the moral standing to be [Brown’s] Republican opponent.

BARLETTA MAKES FRONT PAGE OF HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER. The Hazleton Standard-Speaker gave top billing to an ethics complaint filed against Congressman Lou Barletta as he weighs a Senate bid. Read the story here.

QUICK CLIP: MISSOURI AG BREAKING CAMPAIGN PROMISE BY LAUNCHING ANOTHER CAMPAIGN. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley infamously promised not to climb ladders from one office to the next. Local TV news reports on how he’s breaking that promise.

SCOTT-LED SUPER PAC “LOADS UP ON CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SESSION WINNERS.” Politico reports that Scott’s super PAC “received contributions from companies that saw big policy wins during Florida’s 2017 legislative session,” another example that Scott only looks out for himself and his cronies, while hardworking Floridians pay the price.

IN – WBIW: President Trump Signs Legislation Donnelly Helped Shape That Imposes Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea
MO – Douglas County Herald: President Trump Signs McCaskill’s Agro-Terrorism Bill
(MORE) MO – Hannibal Courier-Post: McCaskill opioid investigation expands
(EVEN MORE) MO – Home Press: Veterans Groups & McCaskill Team Up in Renewed Push on Arla Harrell Act
MT – KTVQ: Senate unanimously passes Tester’s bill to tackle massive veterans’ appeals backlog
OH – Ohio Public Radio: Brown Calls For New Approach In Health Care Debate
(MORE) OH – Youngstown Vindicator: US Sherrod Brown bipartisan bill to improve veterans’ appeals process passed by Senate
PA – AP: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Leads Pack in Fundraising in Bid for 3rd Term Representing Pennsylvania
WI – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin visits Tomah VA with parents of Marine veteran Jason Simcakoski
(MORE) WI – WAOW: Senator Baldwin visits Tomah VA to assess opioid progress

TWEET OF THE WEEK. Hats off to this eagle-eyed Missouri observer who “found” Hawley’s office.  


Happy recess!

Lauren Passalacqua

Ben Ray

David Bergstein

Courtney Rice

Justin Lavoie


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