It's Don v. Don in West Virginia

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On the roster: It’s Don v. Don in West Virginia - The Rulebook: Values based - Ohio will be Dems' first test for a blue wave - Congress returns to a nomination filled agenda - The case of the contemptuous kitty

IT’S DON V. DON IN WEST VIRGINIA
Revolutions, as it turns out, are a great deal harder to get stopped than they are to get started.

President Trump is again trying to intervene on behalf of the Republican establishment in a Senate primary. This time it is in West Virginia, where Republican voters are threatening to send Washington a message by picking Don Blakenship, former energy executive and federal inmate, to take on Joe Manchin this fall.

Trump invoked his previous effort in this regard in his announced opposition to Blankenship’s candidacy today saying, “To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State...No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. [Evan Jenkins] or A.G. [Patrick Morrisey]!”

We do remember Alabama. That was where the state’s voters rejected Trump’s even more ardent pleas that they reject former Judge Roy Moore, who had been accused of multiple improprieties with teenage girls during his time as a prosecutor. And, as Trump warned in that case, Republicans did lose an easy-to-hold-seat in a special election.

Comparing Blankenship to Moore is more than a little unfair, and not just because of the very different nature of the charges against him, Alabama and West Virginia are not alike when it comes to politics, their strong preferences for Republican presidential candidates aside.

First of all, Republicans are running against an incumbent Democrat who has won elections statewide four times since 2004 and who holds a seat that has been in Democratic hands since 1959. This is not throwing away a safe seat for the sake of nominating a guy who used to try to pick up chicks outside of abuse and neglect court. This is a race against one of the best-liked and most-entrenched red state Democrats in the country.

Moreover, who could say which of the three of the Republican candidates would be best situated to defeat Manchin. Having listened to the vicious attacks that Morrisey and Jenkins leveled at each other in the Fox News Channel debate last week, we feel pretty confident that Manchin would not lack content for attacks ads against whoever the Republicans pick.

The irony for Trump is that his presidency is the very reason that voters in places like West Virginia and Alabama are so circumspect about warnings like the ones Trump has offered.

Everything that Trump and the Republican establishment are saying about Blankenship was said of Trump himself in 2016, only at higher volume and with deeper anxiety.

After Trump won his party’s nomination, outlasting more than a dozen rivals for the honor, he proceeded to shock the world by beating the best-funded, best-equipped Democratic nominee in recent memory. So when Trump tells Alabamians or West Virginians to not choose the candidate they want but rather make a pragmatic choice, it tends to ring a little hollow.

That hollowness is made more poignant that Trump is doing to Blankenship what so many of Trump’s detractors did to him in 2016. The Republican establishment took a simple position about the 2016 nominating process: Anybody but Trump.

In the end, this helped Trump since endorsements and support were spread out over the rest of the entire field and not concentrated on a single rival. When Blankenship joked today that he was “Trumpier than Trump,” maybe he has a point.

You would still have to call Jenkins the favorite in this race. But do not underestimate the penchant of West Virginia voters for doing exactly the opposite of whatever they are told.

Why do you think they love Trump so much, anyway?

THE RULEBOOK: VALUES BASED
“Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty, ought to have it ever before his eyes, that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America, and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 41

TIME OUT: BURIED TREASURES
NYT: “Nestled in centuries of dirt and debris, several well-preserved ships and artifacts have been unearthed that offer a glimpse of life at what was once one of the busiest ports in the North American colonies. At the site for Robinson Landing … [in Old Town Alexandria, Va.], excavations have uncovered the protruding, curved wooden bones of the ships. Three ships were scuttled and buried here centuries ago as Alexandria sought to expand its land into the deeper waters of the river. ‘It tells us a lot about the resourcefulness of our predecessors, how pragmatic they were,’ said Dan Lee, the city historian in the Office of Historic Alexandria. … The three ships, buried just feet from each other, were an unusual find in a neighborhood where residents have fought for decades to preserve the remains of everyday artifacts unearthed in construction since the 1960s. In 2015, the remains of a ship were found a block away in the construction site for a hotel, but archaeologists were shocked earlier this year to find the three ships so close to one another.”
 
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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
42.4 percent 
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent 
Net Score: 
-10 points
Change from one week ago: up 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Pew Research Center: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 45% approve - 48% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 39% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 41.2 percent
Democratic average: 47.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: Pew Research Center: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Monmouth University: 49% Dems - 41% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% Dems - 39% GOP; ABC News/WaPo: 47% Dems - 43% GOP.]

OHIO WILL BE DEMS' FIRST TEST FOR A BLUE WAVE
Politico: “Democrats are looking to November for an opportunity to restake their claim to the Midwest after President Donald Trump painted it red in 2016. But first, they need to figure out who — and what — they want to put forward. Ohio’s primary on Tuesday is the party’s first test along that road, with former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich brandishing different brands of populism before Democratic voters, as well as different theories about how to win the swing state, where GOP Gov. John Kasich is term-limited. Cordray has plenty of establishment backing, but his consumer-watchdog brand and support from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appeal to the party’s progressive wing. But Kucinich, backed by the Bernie Sanders-aligned nonprofit Our Revolution and several key 2016 allies of Sanders (though not Sanders himself), is betting his longtime support for single-payer health care and other progressive priorities can galvanize not only primary voters but an unsettled general electorate featuring a swath of Democratic-turned-Trump voters.”

Pelosi says Dems will win House by ‘small margins’ - AP: “House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that House Democrats have the fundraising, the issues and the political atmosphere on their side to win back the majority in November. These factors, and an activated party base that’s helped Democrats win in special elections across the country this year are the “small droplets of water” that create a wave, Pelosi said headlining a county Democratic Party banquet in Des Moines. ‘This is not going to be big margins,’ she said. ‘It is going to be small margins in many places.’ Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to flip the majority. A stream of Republican House retirements, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the GOP-passed tax cut’s shaky popularity, underscored by President Trump’s low approval, are fueling increased Democratic hopes of retaking the House for the first time since 2010.”

Flynn bailed on campaign appearance for Tester’s opponent -
WashEx: “Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pulled out of a campaign event that was supposed to be held Sunday in support of Troy Downing, a Republican candidate contesting the U.S. Senate seat for Montana. ‘Unfortunately, @GenFlynn will no longer be able to come to Billings due to a family emergency. We are going to cancel the rally scheduled for tomorrow, Sun., May 6,’ Downing, a businessman and U.S. Air Force veteran, wrote on Twitter Saturday. ‘@GenFlynn supports our campaign, he knows I have the best chance to defeat Jon Tester!’ he continued, referring to the Democratic incumbent.”

Obama backs Feinstein for re-election - San Francisco Chronicle: “Former President Barack Obama announced his support Friday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election bid, calling her a partner in his work and an effective champion for progress. … Obama’s ‘effective’ comment is exactly the message Feinstein is trying to get out to combat complaints from progressives that she is too moderate and too willing to compromise with President Trump and other Republicans. Los Angeles state Sen. Kevin de León, a fellow Democrat who is challenging Feinstein, has argued that all-out resistance is the only way to deal with Trump and that the 84-year-old former San Francisco mayor is out of touch with a younger, more liberal California.”

Trump team makes midterms about Trump -
Politico: “Trump has increasingly cautioned his party against allowing the House, and even the Senate, to fall into Democratic control, voicing fears about his certain impeachment if that happens. … Trump appears to believe victory in the November midterms depends on turning the contests into a referendum on his leadership, rather than risking a district-by-district slog over conventional messaging about the Republican tax overhaul and the upbeat economy. It’s an approach favored by an architect of his 2016 victory. Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign chairman and White House chief strategist, told POLITICO that to retain Congress, Republicans need to make 2018 about keeping Trump in office. It’ll turn out the base, he argued, in a way tax reform or parochial issues simply can’t do.”

CONGRESS RETURNS TO A NOMINATION FILLED AGENDA

Roll Call: “As Congress returns this week for a work period that stretches to Memorial Day, the legislative agenda on the floors faces long odds of enactment even as broader issues surrounding the president’s judicial and executive nominees, as well as the annual Pentagon policy bill, compete for attention. Senators arrive in Washington on Monday evening for a three-week run highlighted by yet another batch of federal appeals court nominations. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, keeping up his effort to prioritize lifetime appointments to the federal courts, moved to break off potential filibusters of six more circuit court nominations before leaving for last week’s recess. As McConnell made clear in an interview last week, this practice will continue, likely even past the midterm elections in November. ‘We’re going to continue to confirm judges all year. You know, the Congress doesn’t stop with the elections,’ McConnell said.”

GOP senators debate changing rules for Trump’s nominations -
The Hill: “Senate Republicans are battling over whether to use the so-called nuclear option to speed up consideration of President Trump’s nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is under pressure from conservative colleagues and outside groups to change the Senate’s rules to ensure a quicker pace on Trump’s court picks. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) all want to change the rules to a simple majority vote — a tactic known as the ‘nuclear option’ because it is so controversial. But moderates such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) aren’t comfortable with using the maneuver because it will further inflame partisan passions in the chamber. ‘If we’re going to change the rules, I want to be able to change the rules in the right way,’ she told The Hill, expressing her preference for a bipartisan vote.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
House Dems to release Russian-linked Facebook ads - WSJ

States report better tax revenues from tax bill - WSJ

AUDIBLE: OH, BOTHER

“We’ve made a deal this weekend: He stays focused on North Korea, Iran and China, and we stay focused on the case and we’ll bother him when we have to.” – Rudy Giuliani discussing his meeting with the president at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., in an interview with the WaPo.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Curious why you never mention the following: traditionally the party with the White House loses seats in the off year election in good part because marginal candidates, often in marginal districts, are swept in with the President but lack the campaign ability and/or district fit to win on their own? In 2016 Trump actually had no coat tails.  He actually lost seats compared to 2014 and ran behind his Congressional candidate in a good many R districts. So Trump not being on the ballot might not be a handicap to many. However Hillary was as unpopular as Trump, and she won't be there either.” – Daniel Scott Palter, Pelican Rapids, Minn.

[Ed. note: I see what you’re saying, Mr. Palter, and why that would be an appealing point of view for a Republican this year. But unfortunately, it doesn’t align with history. While it is true that presidents Obama and Reagan experienced some of what you are describing as their parties gave back seats one in the presidential cycle two years before, it doesn’t match up with what happened to Bill Clinton. In 1992, Democrats actually lost seats in the House but still managed to lose many more in 1994. And in Obama’s case, midterm House losses far exceeded the modest gains that came with his coattails.]

“Dear Chris, though I do love to read your writings and also make a point to listen to you on TV, I am disappointed when you do not assure accuracy in what you state as fact, note: 5/3/2018 Half Time Report ‘Trump has now admitted to lying about the hush money’ is a half-truth.  Trump admitted that the payment was made through a retainer fee that was paid to his attorney to take care of any business affairs that needed to be addressed without the attorney having to get the client’s approval for payments. This arrangement is very common among wealthy persons and this article does not make that clear: a half-truth and a negative bias in the report! This lack of clarity does not do your image justice. Please correct and take more care in the future.” – David Kramer, Wesley Chapel, Fla.

[Ed. note: As Rudy Giuliani has learned, it is probably not a good idea to make too many assumptions about any arrangements involving the president, his lawyer and any sex workers. Trump, the White House, his legal team and his defenders have now been on every side of this issue imaginable. It has been an absolute cavalcade of double talk, reversals and misdirections. Now, speaking for myself, I do not care even a wit with whom Trump frolicked in his many years as a professional playboy. It’s none of my affair. But I will tell you this, all of this shoddy dissembling can add up to real jeopardy, both legal and political. I don’t think Americans care about the president and women who appear in pornographic movies, certainly not with this president and certainly not from a decade ago. They had better figure out their story and stick with it.]

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THE CASE OF THE CONTEMPTUOUS KITTY

McClatchy: “A neighbor’s cat wouldn’t stop peeing on a Washington judge’s back porch — so he filed a restraining order against the rogue pet, according to the judge’s lawyer. ‘It got to the point where the Price family couldn’t go outside and enjoy themselves because of the smell,’ Bob Dunn, an attorney for Judge Michael Price and his wife, Claire, told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Dunn said the entire matter is ‘a silly dispute between neighbors.’ But more is at stake than a Spokane superior court judge’s right to a urine-free porch, according to one legal expert: Price successfully got the court files on the now-resolved case sealed, which shields the resolution of the dispute from public eyes. That raises legal concerns given the fact that court files are supposed to be open and accessible to the public under the First Amendment — not to mention under Washington state’s constitution…”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.