GOP HEALTH CARE SABOTAGE STILL TOP OF MIND FOR VOTERS AS FIRST ROUND OF RATE HIKES RELEASED. A new survey from CBS finds that health care remains the top issue for voters and that the GOP’s sabotage of the system has “hurt, not helped” them. From the CBS report:

“Health care tops the list of most important issue for voters, ahead of the economy — and by two to one voters say they’ve been hurt, not helped, by the GOP’s changes to the health care laws.

Few Americans — only 15 percent — feel that the recent changes to health care laws made by Republicans have helped them and their family.”

This comes on the heels of the first round of premium increases and a new report showing the uninsured rate “worsening” thanks to GOP sabotage – both of which are contributing to the “falling” confidence of Americans to pay for their health care. Voters know who is to blame for increasing the cost of their care, and they’ll hold every Republican Senate candidate accountable.

GOP IN #INSEN, #WVSEN, #OHSEN WORSE OFF AFTER PRIMARIES. As we wrote in our pre-primary memo – first reported by NBC News – Republican candidates emerged from their primaries badly bruised and limping into the general election. From the memo:

These intra-party battles have drained resources, exposed the flaws in their nominee, and driven their campaigns out of step with the general electorate. The damage their nominee has sustained will only continue dragging down their campaign and don’t forget – this GOP dynamic is set to repeat itself in Senate race after race in the months ahead.

Now Republicans are left with two lobbyists and a former state representative who raised Hoosiers’ taxes while cutting his own – and Republicans in these states are still struggling to unify their own party. Here’s what you need to know about the Republican candidates:

SELF-DEALING BRAUN. Rep. Braun will be forced to run on his record of self-dealing and using the power of the Statehouse to enrich himself – like when he carved out a tax break for himself while repeatedly raising taxes on Hoosiers. He also has deep party wounds to heal – a result of the nation’s “nastiest primary,” but it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon as Congressman Messer chose to skip Braun’s rally last night.

Associated Press: Braun’s rhetoric, business record don’t line up.
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Braun companies faced suits, discipline on pay.
IndyStar: Senate candidate Braun pushed legislation benefiting his industry as a state lawmaker.
IndyStar: Vote to raise Indiana’s gas tax could haunt GOP lawmakers.
Wall Street Journal: “Republicans took a bigger risk in Indiana by nominating Meyer Distributing CEO Mike Braun over a pair of Indiana Congressmen. Mr. Braun ran as an outsider but will now have every moment of his business career dissected.”

LOBBYIST, “PAIN PILL PAT” MORRISEY. Patrick Morrisey will be forced to defend his lobbyist past and convince Mountaineers that he isn’t beholden to special interests, despite taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from them.

Politico: Morrisey under fire in W.Va. over lobbyist past.
Fox News: Morrisey is from New Jersey and ran for Congress there in 2000. He was repeatedly attacked for his “New Jersey approach” in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary.
Charleston Gazette-Mail: Spokesman: ‘Blankenship will not be supporting Patrick Morrisey.’
Washington Examiner: “Mr. Morrisey faced charges of being a carpetbagger — he ran for Congress in New Jersey — and that he helped fuel the state’s opioid crisis because of his previous work as a Washington lobbyist… his rivals even dubbed him ‘#PainPillPat’ on Twitter.”

RENACCI (R-LOBBYIST). Congressman Jim Renacci has a lot of questions to answer about why he’s always putting himself first ahead of Ohio. He’ll also need to shore up his “weak performance” from the primary where he failed to receive a majority of votes, despite having the backing of President Trump and establishment Republicans.

Cincinnati Enquirer: Jim Renacci may have used ‘straw donor’ scheme to fund state campaign account.
Associated Press: Renacci didn’t report $50K in donations as registered lobbyist.
Associated Press: Renacci remained a registered lobbyist for more than four months while serving in Congress.
Columbus Dispatch: Renacci “stops just short of violating congressional rules” with fundraising tactics. Renacci missed the highest percentage of 2017 congressional votes of any Ohioan.
New York Times: “The trade issue has been difficult for Renacci.”

FROM THE NATIONAL JOURNAL: REPUBLICANS “BLOWING OPPORTUNITIES,” ESPECIALLY IN WEST VIRGINIA.  Here’s a take from the National Journal on how these primary contests are leading to lasting damage to the GOP, especially in West Virginia: “More significantly, strategists from both parties also believe that revelations about Morrisey’s lobbying history will become a major vulnerability in a general election. His wife worked as a lobbyist for Cardinal Health, the state’s leading supplier of prescription painkillers. The issue of opioid addiction ranked at the most important issue for West Virginia Republican voters, according to a recently-conducted Fox News poll. It’s easy to imagine a Democratic attack ad hammering him on this possible conflict of interest.”

HEADLINE: GOP BRACES FOR MORE BRUTAL PRIMARIES. Republican’s first round of divisive, bruising, and expensive primaries may have ended Tuesday (with damaging results to the GOP) but, as Politico notes, their “headaches in 2018 are far from over” with more nasty primaries and intraparty feuds that are leading to “defective, unimpressive, and underfunded” candidates. Here’s a look at some of the drama in these upcoming primaries, just from this week:

MT: “FAGG SPOT SAVAGES ROSENDALE.” “District Court Judge Russ Fagg (R) released a TV ad Monday attacking state Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) as ‘wrong for Montana.’”

AZ: HEADLINE: FACING CHALLENGE FROM THE RIGHT, GOP LAWMAKER PULLS SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRATION BILL. “Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) withdrew her cosponsorship of immigration legislation that would help young undocumented immigrants, as she fends off challenges from the right in her bid for her party’s Senate nomination.”

See also: MCSALLY’S “HISTORY OF FEC PROBLEMS” IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Congresswoman McSally has come under scrutiny following an FEC complaint that she “improperly maintained a campaign fundraising operation for the House of Representatives even after declaring — and raising money for — her Senate run.” This isn’t the first time McSally’s fundraising tactics have raised questions, her “political fundraising efforts have been dogged for years by filing shortfalls and errors.”

WI: NICHOLSON FACING CONTINUED “BACKLASH” OVER VET COMMENTS. It’s been more than a week since Kevin Nicholson “lashed out” at veterans who vote for Democrats, questioning their “cognitive thought process” and arguing that serving in the military is fundamentally conservative, but the backlash against him has only increased. From the Cap Times Editorial Board: “That failure of insight is embarrassing for Nicholson as an individual. It is disqualifying for him as a candidate.” All of this comes as Wisconsin Republicans hold their convention this weekend to endorse a nominee in the primary – an endorsement that Nicholson is expected to lose.

THIS IS WHY THEY DIDN’T WANT HIM TO RUN — CRAMER ACCIDENTALLY REVEALS WHY HE’S RUNNING FOR SENATE: TO HELP HIS CAMPAIGN DONORS. On WDAY this week, Congressman Kevin Cramer finally explained what convinced him to run for Senate – and the answer might surprise you: rather than the desire to serve North Dakotans, “it was a call from oil tycoon Harold Hamm, whose net worth is $18 billion, that finally tipped the scales.” Even conservative columnist Rob Port agreed, “this is not a good look for Cramer.”

HAWLEY STILL NOT DOING HIS JOB. Missourians have come to expect that Attorney General Josh Hawley will let his friend Greitens off the hook in every-and-any investigation that comes across Hawley’s desk. Hawley’s been accused in the past of being “too busy running for the U.S. Senate to stand up to his fellow Republican.” That’s why, when Hawley decided to investigate Greitens over a taxpayer-funded staffer creating content for the governor’s Facebook, the Kansas City Star asked “will the outcome be any different?” Reminder: Hawley has yet to return nearly $50,000 that he received from the governor during his campaign for Attorney General.

FROM THE GUY WHO WENT TO STANFORD AND YALE: HAWLEY ATTACKS ELITIST COLLEGES. Josh Hawley, who attended Stanford and Yale, has begun attacking college education and bashing them for “produc[ing] unemployable graduates indoctrinated into leftist ideology.” This isn’t the first time Hawley has come under fire for controversial remarks. Earlier this year he found himself in hot water for stating that sex trafficking stemmed from the 1960s sexual revolution.

BRUTAL COVERAGE FOR SELF-SERVING SCOTT, “A NEW LOW ON CRONYISM” & FL “IN CRISIS” AS HE PLAYS POLITICS. First, The Tampa Bay Times reported that Scott is abusing his position as governor to help his cronies, writing  “the Florida Department of Revenue has ousted top employees and kept positions vacant for months to make room for many of Gov. Rick Scott’s loyal staffers who will be out of their jobs when he leaves office this year, even though none of them have any experience in that department’s main responsibility: tax administration.” This exposé prompted a Tampa Bay Times editorial: “Scott sinks to new low on cronyism at Revenue Department.” THEN, a second report detailed how Scott is ignoring multiple scandals in his administration as he focuses exclusively on boosting his political campaign. NEW THIS MORNING From Politico FL: Florida’s new top disaster management administrator “has no disaster management experience but has ties to Scott.” This week Scott also faced another election law complaint for continuing to hide his campaign finances and conflicts of interest.

“TESTER’S DUE DILIGENCE PROTECTS U.S. VETERANS.” That’s the takeaway from the Billings Gazette Editorial Board, who say they are “proud of” Tester’s work on the VA Committee. As The Missoulian Editorial Board put it, “Tester’s record of support for veterans and attention to veterans’ issues goes back years, even to before he became the most powerful Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In that position, he has continued to be a voice for veterans, alternately calling out the agency for poor performance, demanding reforms and highlighting improvements.”

AZ: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is out with her latest TV ad, “Affordable,” discussing how we can make quality, affordable health care accessible.
IN: Senator Donnelly literally stands on a bridge to highlight his work in the “Hoosier commonsense middle.”
MO:  Senator McCaskill has traveled across Missouri, holding over 50 town halls to meet with constituents, even the ones who don’t agree with her. In her second TV ad, she reveals her favorite part of these meetings, finding that there is common ground by “Listening.”
MT:Jon’s Got Our Back” – that’s the message from veterans to Senator Tester.
NV: Rep. Jacky Rosen’s latest TV ad highlights Nevadans’ worries over losing their health care.
WI: Senator Baldwin’s deeply personal TV ad recalls her mother’s addiction to opioids and how she’s working to alleviate the crisis.

FL – Sun Sentinel: Sen. Nelson seeks federal funds to fix backlog that could allow mentally ill Floridians to buy guns
(MORE) FL – Space Coast Daily: Sen. Bill Nelson Visits Puerto Rico, Vows To Continue Fight For Puerto Rico Amid Hurricane Devastation
MN – WCCO: Sen. Tina Smith Pushes Back Against Food Stamp Changes
MO – KBIA: Senator McCaskill Meets With Local Health Professionals About Missouri’s Health Care Problems
(MORE) MO – Springfield News-Leader: McCaskill, Blunt tell ‘concerned’ Missouri lawmakers they’ll talk to Trump about tariffs
(EVEN MORE) MO – St. Louis Post Dispatch: McCaskill drafts bill aimed at giving states power to regulate air ambulances
NE – Omaha World-Herald: Farmers join Senate challenger Jane Raybould in criticizing Deb Fischer on tariffs
OH – The Vindicator: Sen. Brown on the mark with concerns about VA
(MORE) OH – Sen. Sherrod Brown asks FTC, Justice Dept. to probe Discovery Tours
WV – Register Herald: Manchin, Capito praised for public lands proposals
WY – Wyoming Public Media: U.S. Senate Candidate Gary Trauner Hopes To Fix Washington


Lauren Passalacqua

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