Primary Day: A look at races to watch

**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**

On the roster: Primary Day: A look at races to watch - Time Out: Merit based - W. Va. to allow smartphone voting for service members - Manafort stares daggers at Rick Gates - And the stop signs say ‘whoaaa!’


PRIMARY DAY: A LOOK AT RACES TO WATCH
Tonight we will be waiting on the results of big races in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington state and the special election in Ohio’s 12th District. With these races in mind, we decided it would be helpful to gather some news nuggets on the races we are keeping our eye on.

As a reminder, you can find our Fox News Power Rankings on our website. It is updated regularly and designed to give you a convenient and practical way to sort out this year’s midterms. Every race for House, Senate and governor is placed into one of five categories, from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up” to “Lean Democrat” to “Likely Democrat.” 

Ohio
FiveThirtyEight: “Just like in Georgia’s 6th District and Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Democrats in Ohio’s 12th District picked as their nominee a fresh-faced 30-something: Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor. And just like in Georgia and Pennsylvania, Republicans chose a 50-something veteran of state politics: state Sen. Troy Balderson. Like his Democratic antecedents, O’Connor has outraised his opponent in campaign cash, deploying that advantage early on TV ads burnishing his centrist bona fides: He tied himself to Republican Gov. John Kasich and explicitly promised not to vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. (Although he may have given back some of that yardage on July 24 when he said on MSNBC that he would support ‘whoever the Democratic Party puts forward’ instead of allowing Republican control of the House.) Meanwhile, in keeping with special–election tradition, some Republicans have anonymously complained about their candidate, although others have publicly embraced him: Kasich (albeit after some initial reticence) endorsed Balderson and cut an ad for him, and President Trump flew in Saturday for a rally.”

Kansas

Gubernatorial race - Hays Daily News: “President Donald Trump injected his influence into the Kansas governor’s race Monday, endorsing Kris Kobach in his hotly contested primary challenge a day before the election. Polling shows the secretary of state locked in a virtual tie with Gov. Jeff Colyer as they scramble to woo undecided Republican voters in the final hours of the campaign. Kobach is a close ally who talks regularly with the president and twice welcomed Donald Trump Jr. to stump for him in Kansas. … Bob Beatty, a political science professor at Washburn University, said the endorsement won’t change people’s minds about the candidates in the race, where former state Sen. Jim Barnett and Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer are acting as potential spoilers. The value of the endorsement, Beatty said, is the potential to motivate Trump supporters to show up at polls. … As of Saturday, about 50,000 Republican voters already had cast ballots in advance of Tuesday’s election.”

In the House - CNBC: “Two GOP-held House seats in Kansas could also be competitive in November as Democrats try to flip the 23 GOP seats needed to take a House majority. In the 3rd District, multiple Democratic candidates aim to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder. The race is among a few primaries Tuesday that will test whether Midwestern Democrats prefer candidates who champion progressive policies, or those considered more centrist and better able to compete in a general election for a swing seat. In Kansas’ 2nd District, Democrat Paul Davis runs unopposed as he tries to flip a red seat vacated by GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ retirement. In a crowded Republican field, leading candidates include state Sens. Steve Fitzgerald and Caryn Tyson.”

Michigan
CBS News: “In Michigan, incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is running for re-election. She will run in the general election against former West Point graduate and Iraq veteran John James or businessman Sandy Pensler. In the gubernatorial race, there are three Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination -- Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, and Shri Thanedar. Meanwhile, there are four Republican candidates but the two who have emerged as the frontrunners: State Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley. Mr. Trump endorsed Schuette via tweet saying he will be a ‘fantastic’ governor. Calley rescinded his endorsement of then candidate Trump during the 2016 presidential election after the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape was published. CBS News also rates Michigan’s 8th and 11th congressional districts as ‘very likely’ or ‘probably’ competitive in November’s midterm elections. Hillary Clinton recorded a robocall ahead of Tuesday for Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th, endorsing Stevens’ experience as chief of staff for the auto bailout during the Obama administration.”

Missouri
KCUR: “Tuesday is Missouri voters’ first chance to weigh in on statewide primary races — including choosing which Republican will take on U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in November — as well as a crucial union-related ballot measure. … Establishment Republicans’ chosen candidate is Attorney General Josh Hawley, a 38-year-old who’s been in statewide office for about a year and a half. He has the lead in fundraising, as well as in big-name GOP endorsements, including President Donald Trump, and has campaigned on a populist message. Ten other people are on the GOP primary ballot, and two of them, Austin Petersen and Tony Monetti, may be in line to catch the voters who aren’t enthralled with Hawley. … On the Democrats’ side, incumbent and two-term Sen. Claire McCaskill faces some challengers, but she is expected to win by a large margin. Because of that, she has focused on Hawley…”

Washington
AP: “Washington voters will decide which candidates advance to the November ballot in 10 congressional races, a U.S. Senate seat and dozens of legislative contests in the state’s primary election. As national Democrats eye making gains in the U.S. House, the match that is getting the most attention in Tuesday’s election is the open 8th Congressional District race to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, who is retiring after more than a decade. Among the dozen candidates on the ballot, Republican Dino Rossi, a former state senator who had unsuccessful runs for governor and U.S. Senate, is expected to advance along with one of three Democrats: pediatrician Kim Schrier, attorney Jason Rittereiser, and former federal public-health official Shannon Hader. The other nine U.S. House seats are also contested in the primary, with the incumbents seeking re-election. In the 5th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers is expected to advance to November, along with Democrat Lisa Brown, a former chancellor of Washington State University who previously served as majority leader in the state Senate.”

THE RULEBOOK: ALL ABOUT BALANCE
“By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 10

TIME OUT: MERIT BASED
History: “On this day in 1782, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, creates the ‘Badge for Military Merit,’ a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged with a narrow binding of silver, with the word Merit stitched across the face in silver. The badge was to be presented to soldiers for ‘any singularly meritorious action’ and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree’s name and regiment were also to be inscribed in a ‘Book of Merit.’ Washington’s ‘Purple Heart’ was awarded to only three known soldiers during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell, Jr. The ‘Book of Merit’ was lost, and the decoration was largely forgotten until 1927, when General Charles P. Summerall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to ‘revive the Badge of Military Merit.’ In 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, took up the cause, hoping to reinstate the medal in time for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. On February 22, 1932, Washington’s 200th birthday, the U.S. War Department announced the creation of the ‘Order of the Purple Heart.’”

Flag on the play? -
 Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.2 percent
Average disapproval: 
53 percent
Net Score: 
-11.8 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 0.4 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 50% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 58% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.4 percent
Democratic average: 48.6 percent
Advantage: 
Democrats plus 8.2 points
Change from one week ago: 
no change  
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 47% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 51% Dems - 39% GOP; NBC/WSJ: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; Fox News: 48% Dems - 40% GOP; IBD: 48% Dems - 40% GOP.]

W. VA. TO ALLOW SMARTPHONE VOTING FOR SERVICE MEMBERS
The Hill: “West Virginia plans to allow voters serving overseas in the military to cast their midterm election ballots via a smartphone app this November. The first-ever mobile phone voting app for federal elections uses a person’s registered photo from their government-issued identification and submits a video of their face, CNN reported Monday. Voatz, the Boston-based company that developed the app, uses facial recognition software to compare the government ID with the selfie-style video to ensure it is the same person. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner told the network that the technology has been tested in smaller private elections. Warner said they tested the app in two counties during a primary earlier this year and it was successful. ‘There is nobody that deserves the right to vote any more than the guys that are out there, and the women that are out there, putting their lives on the line for us,’ Warner told CNN. Each county will have the final decision on whether to use the app, said Michael Queen, Warner's deputy chief of staff.”

O’Rourke’s campaign could reshape Texas politics - Texas Tribune: “U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for U.S. Senate has caught so much fire throughout the state that the new favorite betting game in Texas politics is ‘How close can he get to Ted Cruz in November?’ The implication in the question’s phrasing is that O’Rourke’s loss remains a given. Despite the high enthusiasm the El Paso congressman’s campaign has drawn among Democrats, Texas has not elected a Democrat statewide in over 20 years. … Even so, O’Rourke’s 18-month statewide tour could still help significantly rebuild a flagging state party apparatus. The term being thrown around quietly among Democrats is ‘losing forward.’ In that sense, the stakes are much higher for both parties than a single race. How this very strange match up of Cruz, a former GOP presidential runner-up, against O’Rourke, a rank-and-file-congressman-turned-political-sensation shakes out could set the trajectory of the next decade in Texas politics.”

Dem nominee for S.C. governor tried to run under multiple parties -
Fox News: “The Democratic nominee for governor in South Carolina could have jeopardized his campaign by trying to run as a candidate for three other parties as well. State Rep. James Smith, who won the June Democratic primary, tried to become a so-called ‘fusion’ candidate in the gubernatorial election by simultaneously vying to become the nominee of the Green, Libertarian and Working Families parties as well. While it’s technically legal for a candidate to appear on the ballot as the nominee for more than one party, South Carolina does have a ‘sore loser’ law which prohibits a person who lost a party’s nomination from appearing on the ballot, the Charleston Post and Courier reported. After questions were raised about his campaign, Smith ultimately withdrew his candidacy from the other three parties on Friday, saying he wanted to ‘eliminate potential misunderstanding.’”

MANAFORT STARES DAGGERS AT RICK GATES
Fox News: “Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stared coldly at Rick Gates as his business partner-turned-witness testified against him Tuesday in federal court, implicating him in an alleged scheme to commit tax and bank fraud with millions made through political work in Ukraine. Gates, who testified a day earlier that he and Manafort committed fraud together, is considered the star witness in the high-profile case by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Manafort on Tuesday was seen with his arms folded, staring daggers as his former deputy testified, on the stand as part of a plea deal. Manafort only broke his stare to review government exhibits on a small monitor in front of him. Gates, who left the courtroom on Monday without so much as making eye contact with his ex-partner, would only look at the prosecutor during Tuesday’s questioning. Under questioning, Gates said when Manafort did consulting work for Ukrainian politicians, he would send the money he made to accounts in Cyprus. … According to Gates, Manafort also reduced his taxable income by wiring money directly from those accounts in Cyprus to expensive vendors in the states for construction projects and fancy clothes.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Federal prosecutors examine Michael Cohen for tax fraud - WSJ

Kavanaugh confirmation fight puts pressure on Sen. Doug Jones - Fox News

Rand Paul met with Russian lawmakers in Moscow on Monday, invited some to visit Washington - NYT

Trump renews ‘biting sanctions’ against Iran, warns countries doing business with Tehran - Fox News

AUDIBLE: NAME OF THE GAME
“It boomerangs. He goes in the other direction, so that’s not effective. The pissing match doesn’t work.” – Speaker Paul Ryan discussing being too critical of President Trump with the NYT.

Share your color commentary: Email us at 
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

AND THE STOP SIGNS SAY ‘WHOAAA!’

WWMT: “Anyone who has ever taken an Uber ride knows it’s convenient and very popular so one man in St. Joseph County [Michigan] has found a way to make ride sharing more scenic. Timothy Hochstedler calls it Amish Uber. He is adding some horsepower to ride sharing. The newest taxi service in Colon has four wheels, four legs and good gas mileage. Inside his horse and buggy, people share a ride and Hochstedler gets to share some stories. Everyone’s happy. ‘Uber is a cool thing, every single year something new comes in and Uber is hot right now, so we have the Amish Uber. We can deliver people to their front door steps,’ Hochstedler said. So far, people are loving it. … Bruce Jordan and his grandkids took a ride after traveling from Grand Rapids. ‘It was fascinating. It’s not an activity you typically associate with the Amish,’ Jordan said. No car? No problem for Hochstedler. His engine, a horse, has a lot more character.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Today we don’t even bother with the man-machine contest. No human can beat the best software. The ultimate world series is between computer programs. And machines don’t sweat. Or strive, suffer or exult. Humans do.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in the Washington Post, Aug. 11, 2016. 

Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

This article was written by Fox News staff.