Provo Mayor John Curtis has won the Republican primary to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz in Utah’s 3rd District.

With 77 percent of precincts reporting, Curtis had 41 percent of the vote, The Associated Press reported. The other two contenders, former state Rep. Chris Herrod and businessman Tanner Ainge, trailed with 31 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Curtis is in a strong position heading into the Nov. 7 general election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.

He will face Democrat Kathie Allen, who was uncontested in her primary. Jim Bennett, the son of the late Utah GOP Sen. Robert F. Bennett, will also be on the general election ballot under his United Utah Party line. The elder Bennett, who served three terms in the Senate, was ousted in a tea party wave in 2010 at a state party convention. Utah voters ultimately replaced him with Mike Lee, currently the state’s junior senator.

As the mayor of of Provo, the largest city in the district, Curtis had been the clear front-runner in the race. Recent polls had shown the race tightening, thanks in part to spending from outside groups that attacked Curtis’ Democratic past and raising taxes as mayor.

Herrod had cast himself as the true conservative in the 3rd District Republican primary. The former state representative helped run Sen. Ted Cruz’s GOP presidential campaign in the state and the Texas Republican backed him in the special election. The Club for Growth’s campaign arm also endorsed Herrod, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads against Curtis and Ainge.

Ainge had entered the race as a political newcomer, though his last name was familiar to Utahns. His father Danny was a star basketball player at Brigham Young University (located in the district) and played 14 seasons in the NBA. He is now the general manager for the Boston Celtics (which recently nabbed the Utah Jazz’s star player).

Despite the outside money funding ads attacking Curtis, he won the primary.

Curtis’ name recognition and his popularity as Provo mayor likely boosted his campaign. He also had some help from Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary R. Herbert, who endorsed Curtis and cut a radio ad for his campaign. Before becoming mayor of Provo, Curtis led Action Target, a company that develops technology for shooting ranges.

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Judge Roy Moore and Sen. Luther Strange will advance to a Republican primary runoff in the Alabama special election Senate race for the remaining term of former Sen. Jeff Sessions’ seat.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Moore led Strange 40 percent to 32 percent, The Associated Press reported. Since neither candidate garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, Moore and Strange, as the top two finishers in the nine-person field, will face off in a Sept. 26 runoff.

The winner will face the Democratic candidate, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones. He won the primary outright Tuesday night, leading a seven-candidate field with 64 percent of the vote with 84 percent of precincts reporting.

GOP Rep. Mo Brooks was in third place in the Republican primary with 20 percent, the AP reported.

Whoever wins the GOP primary runoff will be in a strong position heading into the Dec. 12 general election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Alabama Senate race Solid Republican.

Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, entered the race with high name recognition throughout the state. He was twice removed from the bench over religious freedom issues, including his refusal to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse and his directive to state probate judges to refuse to administer same-sex marriage licenses.

The former judge faces questions heading into the runoff about whether he has reached a ceiling of support, and whether Brooks voters will swing to him now.

Moore has become the latest target of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The group has spent $4 million on the race so far, and has budgeted an additional $4 million for the runoff.

The PAC was all in for Strange, and Moore and Brooks sharply criticized the outside money pouring in. They both used the group’s involvement to portray Strange as a tool of the GOP establishment.

But Strange, who was appointed to the seat in February after Sessions resigned to become attorney general, said he is willing to act independently of party leadership. He’s said he would be the strongest ally for President Donald Trump and got some help making that argument when Trump endorsed him one week before the primary.

Trump reiterated his support with tweets Tuesday encouraging Alabama voters to support the appointed incumbent. The president’s support will likely be key as Strange shifts his focus to the runoff. Trump is popular in the Yellowhammer State and won the GOP presidential primary there last year.

But Strange’s second place could signal that his opponents were successful in tying him to the GOP establishment, especially McConnell. He also faced questions about the circumstances surrounding his appointment to the Senate.

As Alabama’s attorney general last year, Strange reportedly asked a state House committee to stop its probe of Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, while Strange’s own office investigated him. The governor eventually appointed Strange to the vacant Senate seat. Bentley later resigned when he was charged with misusing campaign and government funds to cover up an affair.

Brooks was more overt on the campaign trail in acknowledging the questions about Strange’s appointment. Moore pointed out in an interview earlier this month that he did not bring up the issue since he did not attack his opponents. But faced with attacks from groups backing Strange, Moore could change his mind.

Brooks was also more forceful about tying Strange to McConnell, adopting the “Ditch Mitch” slogan in the final days before the election. But it was not enough to land a spot in the runoff.

The congressman previously said he would seek re-election to his 5th District House seat if he lost the Senate race. He is already facing a primary challenge from Army veteran Clayton Hinchman.

Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Alabama since 1992 when Sen. Richard C. Shelby won a second term. He switched to the GOP two years later.

But Jones could benefit from name recognition in the state. He gained prominence as the former U.S. attorney who helped convict two of the remaining perpetrators of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Jones also nabbed endorsements from prominent Democrats including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and civil rights icon Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis. The only Democrat in Alabama’s congressional delegation, Rep. Terri A. Sewell, also endorsed Jones.

Heading into the Tuesday election, Democrats were facing the possibility of a runoff of their own.

Navy veteran Robert Kennedy, Jr., the so-called mystery candidate, had done well in recent polling. He acknowledged in an interview with the Montgomery Adviser last week that his recognizable last name helped boost his support, though the businessman is not related to the famed political family.

On Tuesday, Kennedy was in second place with 19 percent of the vote when the AP called the race for Jones.

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Rep. Will Hurd called on President Donald Trump to apologize for his latest remarks on recent violence sparked by a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hurd, who is African-American, is also one of the most vulnerable House Republicans.

“Nobody should doubt whether the leader of the free world is against racism, bigotry, neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism,” Hurd said in an interview on CNN Thursday evening.

Violence erupted Saturday in Charlottesville as white nationalists and neo-Nazis clashed with counter-protesters over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. One woman was killed and dozens were injured when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters.

Trump did not specifically condemn the white supremacists until Monday, drawing the ire of Democrats and a number of congressional Republicans.

But on Tuesday, Trump backtracked, saying “both sides” were to blame for the violence. Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke thanked Trump on Twitter for his comments.

“I don’t think anybody should be looking at getting props from a grand dragon of the KKK as any kind of sign of success,” Hurd said.

Asked what his message was for the president, Hurd said, “Apologize. And that racism bigotry, anti-semitism of any form is unacceptable. And the leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”

Hurd also said the country should be talking about why some groups are becoming radicalized, how to prevent that radicalization, why white supremacists feel emboldened, and if law enforcement has enough resources to deal with the issue.

Hurd, a former C.I.A. agent, faces a tough re-election fight in a rated Tossup by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Hillary Clinton won Hurd’s district by roughly 3 points last November, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.

Hurd has criticized Trump in the past, but his comments Tuesday evening were some of the most forceful by a Republican in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.

Fellow Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who’s long been outspoken against Trump, also condemned the president’s remarks.

“POTUS just doesn’t get it,” the Florida congressman tweeted Tuesday evening. “No moral equivalence between manifestations for and against white supremacy. He’s got to stop.”

Like Hurd, Curbleo is among the most vulnerable House Republicans in 2018. His 26th District voted for Hillary Clinton by 16 points. He was among the earliest GOP members of Congress to say he wouldn’t vote for Trump last year, and this year, hasn’t been afraid to bring up the prospect of impeachment.

Minnesota GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen, another vulnerable member in 2018, offered a more subtle rebuke of the president’s remarks. “This is cut-and-dry: White supremacists & neo-Nazis have no place in our society & that should be made unequivocally clear on all levels,” he tweeted.

Paulsen is a top Democratic target in 2018. Hillary Clinton won his 3rd District by 9 points last fall.

This is cut-and-dry: White supremacists & neo-Nazis have no place in our society & that should be made unequivocally clear on all levels

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao weighed in Tuesday on President Donald Trump’s feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell using unexpected choice words:

“I stand by my man. Both of them,” she said.

The comment came shortly after a press conference at Trump Tower in New York to announce an executive order designed to speed up the permitting process for infrastructure projects, according to a White House press pool report.

Chao is married to McConnell and a member of Trump’s cabinet. While not surprising that she would express support for both men — who have exchanged jabs in recent weeks — the words she chose to defend them were.

Her husband ignited the feud with Trump when he told guests at a Rotary Club event in Kentucky last week that the president “had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”

The majority leader said he found the narrative that Republicans haven’t done anything “extremely irritating” and that Trump’s lack of political experience led him to believe key agenda items like repeal of the 2010 health care law could be completed quickly.

After conservatives like Sean Hannity jumped on McConnell’s comments, Trump weighed in via Twitter.

“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?” the president tweeted Wednesday.

Trump continued to pile on the criticism as reporters grilled him about McConnell last week.

Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!

The president even signaled that he could eventually call on McConnell to step down if he fails to get other GOP legislative priorities through the Senate.

“If he doesn’t get repeal and replace done, if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done — infrastructure — if he doesn’t get that done, then you should ask me that question,” Trump said when pool reporters asked Thursday whether McConnell should remain majority leader.

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Heard on the Hill

Word on the Hill: Volunteers for Tiniest Opioid Victims

By Alex Gangitano

A 62-year-old man was arrested Monday in relation to a threatening message for Nevada Sen. Dean Heller over his vote on the Republican health care bill.

Richard Holley was arrested and booked at the Clark County Detention Center on charges related to a July 16 burglary at the senator’s office, where police found a note threatening Heller's life, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The letter criticized Heller in relation to how he would vote on repealing and replacing the 2010 health care law.

“Sen. Heller, I am sick and will die without continued medical care,” the letter said. “If I’m going to die because you voted to repeal or replace with a death bill, I will take you with me. If I’m going to die so are you.”

Heller was critical of the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act bill but also voted for the motion to proceed to allow for debate to begin and voted for the “skinny repeal” bill.

Surveillance video from the office showed a man wearing blue tennis shoes with orange shoelaces, a Raiders baseball cap, and black sunglasses. Holley had previously been arrested in 2009 for petite larceny of a grocery store.

The police investigation found that Holley suffers from Type 2 diabetes and that his wife suffers from osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, blood pressure and eye problems.

He faces charges of burglary, extortion and intimidating a public officer, police reported

Heller’s office declined to comment to the Review-Journal.

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Carper Flies Drone, Rides a Quadski at August Recess Lab Visit

By Alex Gangitano, Bian Elkhatib, Thomas McKinless
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No sitting House member has won an electoral vote for president since 1880, when Ohio’s James A. Garfield captured the White House — and he didn’t even mean to run for the job.

In fact, the Ohio legislature had just voted to appoint Garfield to a Senate term — for which he would have been seated in March 1881 — when the GOP met in Chicago to pick its nominee for the presidency in the summer of 1880.

Garfield supported Treasury Secretary John Sherman, and didn’t become a candidate for the nomination himself until after a deadlocked convention had seen nearly three dozen ballots cast. Garfield was an accidental nominee and an accidental president.

But history be damned. Several current members of the House have visions of Secret Service details dancing in their heads.

John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland, has already declared his candidacy. Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have gained notice from the chattering class.

And Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, the 38-year-old Iraq War vet and aide-de-camp to Gen. David Petraeus, is running for something, even if it’s not president in 2020. Moulton has said publicly that he won’t seek the office in the next election, but Barack Obama said the same thing before he ran in 2008.

On the surface, it’s silly for House members to run for president. Very few House members are household names — and Delaney, Ryan, Gabbard and Moulton all qualify as obscure in the national political discussion. Ryan is the best known, and that’s because he got some attention when he failed to unseat Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader. Even senators, who start with a statewide base and usually have higher national profiles, have trouble winning the office.

But the successive elections of a first-term senator — the first African-American to hold the highest office in the land — and a political neophyte best known as a reality television star have turned conventional wisdom about the path to the presidency on its head.

Both Obama and Donald Trump benefited from running as outsiders with thin political records for opponents to use against them. It is not inconceivable that a little-known House member could catch fire, win a party’s nomination and then benefit enough from a binary choice for the presidency to wind up in the West Wing.

But it’s almost inconceivable. So why run?

It’s low risk and high reward. What value is there in being a member of the House — particularly a member of the minority party — in the modern Congress? You can’t legislate. The old perks have been outlawed. And America hates you, even if your own constituents dislike you a little bit less than the last person who ran against you. A $174,000 salary isn’t bad, but most House members — accurately or mistakenly — believe they could do better on the outside. If you do poorly enough, you can drop out and run for re-election anyway.

There’s a lot to be gained from a presidential candidacy. Even if you fall on your face, you’ll build a bigger network of donors, travel the country on their dimes to increase your name recognition, get yourself on national television programs and maybe last long enough to merit space on a debate stage. And you can bet there will be a lot more than seven dwarves in Democratic debates when the season gets under way. If you do well enough, the eventual nominee might consider you for a Cabinet post, should he or she win in November.

Never mind that the House isn’t exactly a hotbed of national leaders. Former governors and current Reps. Charlie Crist and Mark Sanford notwithstanding, most people who have experience running large organizations have little interest in serving in the House. Representing one of 435 districts with a vote just isn’t the same as directing the federal government. That’s one of the reasons voters have generally preferred candidates with serious executive experience for the presidency.

And it explains why House members who are serious about national ambitions have often gone home to run for statewide executive office first. Vice President Mike Pence, once a rising star in the House, left Washington for Indianapolis several years ago. One of his colleagues, Adam Putnam of Florida, went home to run for agriculture secretary and is now, at 43, well-positioned to win the governorship of the Sunshine State — a huge prize in presidential elections, that has grown in strength with its population boom. If he wins, he’ll get mention as a potential presidential candidate in 2024 or 2028.

They made wise choices. If House members really want to be president, they should go out and get some executive experience first. If not, it’s hard to see them convincing voters they should be given the helm of the United States. So, almost by definition, any House member who runs for president isn’t really trying to win. But then again, neither was Garfield.

Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen is a co-author of “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” and has covered Congress, the White House and elections over the past 16 years.

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Facing a tough re-election campaign next year, Sen. Claire McCaskill said she she plans to hold 25 town hall meetings with constituents this month.

President Donald Trump won Missouri by nearly 20 points, and Republicans are eager to try and flip the seat. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tossup.

“Whether they agree with me or not, every Missourian is my boss, which is why I consider it a must to go to every corner of the state I love, to hear those ideas and concerns directly, and hold myself accountable to Missourians,” the senator said in a statement.

The town hall tour comes at a time when many politicians, especially Republicans, are avoiding open meetings with constituents. Protests and chaotic scenes have greeted many GOP lawmakers who have held town halls in their districts, with many of those who have attended angry over the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and over President Donald Trump’s Russia dealings.

Several Republicans have declared their candidacy or are considering entering the race. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and state Rep. Paul Curtman have shown signs that they’re considering it.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released an ad Thursday meant to coincide with McCaskill’s town hall tour, highlighting her opposition to Trump’s agenda, saying she would “rather cozy up to radical liberals in Washington than make America great again.”

McCaskill is also being challenged by a primary opponent from the left, political novice Angelica Earl. Earl says she has a better shot at winning the general election because of her more progressive positions.

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Merkley’s Mild Town Hall in a Red County

By Nathan L. Gonzales

Phil Roe Says He’s Now Cancer-Free

By Eric Garcia

John Lewis Staffer Under Ethics Inquiry

By Rema Rahman

David Hawkings’ Whiteboard: What Would Impeachment Look Like?

By David Hawkings, D.A. Banks, Thomas McKinless

Mapping Out 2018 in the Senate

By Nathan L. Gonzales












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