Dems throw Senate fight for a (Hicken)loop

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On the roster: Dems throw Senate fight for a (Hicken)loop - Warren builds a powerhouse, but voters still nervous - Fox News poll: Huge support for checks, red flags - Trump tries to change the map with N.H. rally - Oh heeeeyyyy…

While the residents of Colorado should certainly feel free to pick whomever they like for Senate next year, we certainly hope that former Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t through with politics, since we really just like saying his name.

Yes, Hickenlooper, who made history as the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to talk about having taken his mom to a porno movie, has finally tired of explaining to Iowans why he is interrupting their breakfasts and is ready to head back to the Rockies.

In his video announcing the end of his trail, Hickenlooper said that he intended to give “serious thought” to the Senate run that his fellow Democrats have for months been pointing at like airport crews directing a plane on the tarmac.

Having now picked up these subtle clues, Hickenlooper can go from impossible presidential longshot to Senate frontrunner. The long-term and short-term trends in Colorado both look tough for freshman Sen. Cory Gardner. The state has been moving away from the GOP for at least a decade and with President Trump creating serious downward pull for the party, Gardner was already the Dems’ number-two target for 2020.

The number-one spot belongs to Sen. Martha McSally, who lost her own bid in 2018 to moderate Democrat Krysten Sinema but got to the Senate anyway when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her to replace the late John McCain. Arizona is on the same trajectory as Colorado, and while less far along, seems to be moving from red to blue with greater evident speed.

If Democrats could flip both Colorado and Arizona and retain all of their other seats (hardly a sure bet), they would be halfway to the four seats they would need to take control of the Senate. 

It’s important at the outset to stipulate that there are far too many variables to get a clear look at what the 2020 Senate battlegrounds will be.

In some places with otherwise safe incumbents, like Texas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Georgia and Michigan, it could probably only be a race if the national climate were at one extreme or the other.

In other races, there’s just no way to be sure. How will the retirements of incumbents in Kansas (Republican Sen. Pat Roberts), Tennessee (Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander) New Mexico (Democratic Sen. Tom Udall) play out? Could Alabama Republicans actually re-nominate Roy Moore?

And it’s also important to bear in mind that in swing states like North Carolina, Iowa and Maine, presidential coattails could very easily decide the outcomes.

All that said, though, the end of Hickenlooper’s presidential campaign is the beginning of a credible Democratic effort to take back the Senate.

Dems ramp up spending on state races ahead of redistricting - WaPo: “For the first time in 20 years, Democrats are entirely on the offensive in state legislative battles just before a redistricting cycle – and just in the nick of time for the future of their party. This is the last election cycle before redistricting could lock them out of power in key states for another decade – and severely hamper their ability to keep their majority in the House. After losing nearly 1,000 seats during the Obama years, Democrats need to win back as many state legislatures as possible by the end of next year before states redraw their state and congressional election districts based on new 2020 census population data. To that end, Democrats’ state legislative campaign arm, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, is racing to pick up as many as eight to 10 chambers to add to the eight they flipped from Republicans in the 2018 election cycle.” 

NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren has built the most formidable campaign organization of any Democratic presidential candidate in the first nominating states, raised an impressive $25 million without holding high-dollar fund-raisers, and has risen steadily in Iowa and New Hampshire polls. … Yet few candidates also inspire as much worry among these voters as Ms. Warren does. Even as she demonstrates why she is a leading candidate for the party’s nomination, Ms. Warren is facing persistent questions and doubts about whether she would be able to defeat President Trump in the general election. The concerns, including from her admirers, reflect the head-versus-heart debate shaping a Democratic contest increasingly being fought over the meaning of electability and how to take on Mr. Trump. … These Democrats worry that her uncompromising liberalism would alienate moderates in battleground states who are otherwise willing to oppose the president.”

Harris’ Iowa charm offensive gains converts - LAT: “Young men in Elizabeth Warren T-shirts gawked and pointed their cameras as Kamala Harris worked the crowd in Iowa. A group wearing black Andrew Yang shirts asked her for a photo. And on the sidelines of the Democratic Wing Ding Dinner, an Iowa political rite of passage, an older woman trying to find her friend for a selfie with the senator got a little help from Harris, who cranked up the goofy warmth she sometimes radiates on the campaign trail. ... Harris must convert Democratic voters’ curiosity into commitment to win this first caucus state, and she recently crossed Iowa on a five-day bus tour to make the case that she is their best shot to beat President Trump. Many here like the former prosecutor’s toughness in debates and Senate hearings and think the nation is ready for a woman of color to be president. In person they often found Harris friendly and empathetic.” 

It’s midnight in Andrew Yang’s America - The Atlantic: “Yang thinks he’s tapped into a new strain of politics. He insists he’s not a fatalist or a nihilist. He figures himself to be an optimist, just one who sees how terrible things are and how much worse they can get, and he believes that the only way to get to the light is to acknowledge the darkness. … But this fatalistic perspective also informs some of Yang’s policy proposals: Why not begin to move ‘our people to higher ground’ because sea-level rise is inevitable, as he said at the Detroit debate last month? … ‘The picture that the data paints is quite clear and dark and dystopian,’ Yang told me. ‘Unfortunately, the dystopia is set to accelerate, because we’re just now having artificial intelligence leave the lab and hitting our big businesses … It’s about to get really hairy and nasty.’”

“In times of insurrection, or invasion, it would be natural and proper that the militia of a neighboring State should be marched into another, to resist a common enemy, or to guard the republic against the violence of faction or sedition.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 29

WSJ: “To recall the list of bands and performers who played the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in 1969 is to revel in rock ’n’ roll glory: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana, The Who, Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. … It’s been said if you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there… other lesser-known musicians were there, but few remember them. ‘If I bring it up, people think I’m joking,’ said Robert Leonard, a respected forensic linguist based at Hofstra University in New York. He is a former member of the ‘50s-themed group Sha Na Na, which performed right before Hendrix closed the musical extravaganza that drew some 450,000 fans to a farm in Bethel, N.Y. Sha Na Na began as a vocal ensemble at Columbia University, and most of its members had their sights on professions other than music. Besides, after Woodstock and all the rest, what’s left for an encore? ‘I played with Jimi Hendrix. I drank with Janis Joplin,’ Mr. Leonard said. ‘Maybe I had done enough.’”

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Trump job performance
Average approval:
41.8 percent
Average disapproval: 54.6 percent
Net Score: -12.8 percent
Change from one week ago: down 1.6 points
[Average includes: Fox News: 43% approve - 56% disapprove; IBD: 40% approve - 56% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 53% disapprove.]

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This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the situation in Hong Kong, the horrors of the speakerphone and why the primary system needs an overhaul. Plus, Chris answers some trivia on female governors. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Fox News: “In the wake of two mass shootings, overwhelming and bipartisan majorities of voters favor background checks on gun buyers and taking guns from people who are a danger to themselves or others, according to the latest Fox News Poll. … On specific measures to reduce gun violence, there’s broad support for requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (90 percent) and passing ‘red flag’ laws that allow police to take guns from people shown to be a danger to themselves or others (81 percent). Fewer, although still a sizable 67 percent majority, favor banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons. That’s up from 60 percent in 2018.  Support includes over half of those living in a gun-owner household (53 percent). Over half of independents (58 percent) and an overwhelming majority of Democrats (86 percent) favor a ban.  Republicans split 46-46 percent, which is a shift from 2018 when it was 41 favor vs. 56 oppose.”

GOP waiting on pollsters - NYT: “[President Trump] and his aides have yet to settle on what he will actually propose. But they have commissioned a poll through his campaign to assess where his supporters are on different gun control measures, and they will have the results by September, when the Senate returns from summer recess, according to three people briefed on the plans. Until that happens, the discussion inside the White House about what, if anything, to do about new gun measures – and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has warned that it will have to be the president who calls Republicans to action – is largely theoretical.”

Collins pushing hard - Politico:Susan Collins has watched countless gun debates stall out over the years. But this time, she says, will be different. The Maine moderate has long been a lonely voice on guns in the GOP. She’s one of just two Republicans left in the Senate who previously supported a bipartisan background checks bill and the only Republican serving who backed an assault weapons ban. Every time she’s gotten close to winning even modest new gun regulations, the effort collapses due to conservative opposition. But with President Donald Trump talking up new gun regulations, Collins is increasingly optimistic and has assumed a central role in the burgeoning effort to find a consensus among Republicans. She’s spoken to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and White House legislative director Eric Ueland about potential gun safety reforms and plans to talk to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week.”

The Judge’s Ruling: Red flag on red flags - This week, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains why the government does not have the right under the Constitution to confiscation of lawfully owned weapons: “When tragedy strikes, as it did in two mass killings this month, there is always the urge to pressure the government do something. Governments are animated by the belief that doing something – any demonstrable overt behavior – will show that they are in control. I understand the natural fears that good folks have that an El Paso or a Dayton episode might happen again, but doing something for the sake of appearance can be dangerous to personal liberty. When the Constitution was written, the idea of owning arms and keeping them in the home was widespread. The colonists had just defeated the armies of King George III. The colonial weapon of choice was the Kentucky long rifle, while British soldiers used their army-issued version of Brown Bessies.” More here.

Boston Herald: “President Trump will hold a re-election campaign rally in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday – his first visit to the Granite State since 2016. The event will be held at the SNHU Arena, the same location of Trump’s rally on the eve of the 2016 election. Hundreds of Democratic activists are signed up to protest outside the venue, according to their organizers. Officials are expecting 11,000 people – roughly the arena’s capacity – to flood the city and are warning attendees to plan ahead for road closures. … Presidential campaigns are also pushing back against Trump’s visit to the Granite State. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign will hold a ‘Stand up to Hate’ event at 6 p.m.”

New Hampshire GOP frets over Lewandowski - Politico: “President Donald Trump’s Thursday evening rally in Manchester, N.H., is ostensibly about ginning up support for his reelection campaign. But the state’s establishment GOP class is worried he’ll use the event to do something else: Talk up Corey Lewandowski’s potential 2020 Senate bid. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has relayed concerns about Trump's controversial former campaign manager to party leadership. Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and a prominent Republican in the state, says he’s ‘not a Corey fan.’ Former GOP Sen. Judd Gregg took to the pages of New Hampshire’s biggest newspaper to deride Lewandowski as a ‘thug.’ And Dave Carney, a longtime New Hampshire-based strategist who’s worked on an array of statewide Republican campaigns, called the idea of a Lewandowski candidacy a ‘joke.’”

Dems to flood Granite State - WMUR: “After President Donald Trump leaves the state following tonight’s rally in Manchester, Democratic presidential candidates will be back at it. As we’ve reported, over the next five days, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former federal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have multi-stop campaign swings planned. For Booker, it will be a key visit on Saturday as he continues his push to establish himself as the leading candidate on combatting gun violence. He’ll be back riding an RV on his visit, as he did in July. … He’ll also continue his call to combat white nationalism two days after Trump’s rally – a rally Booker had called on the president to cancel following the mass shooting by a white nationalist in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people.”

NYT: “Israel on Thursday barred the entry of two American Democratic congresswomen who had planned to visit the West Bank, hours after President Trump had urged the country to block them. Mr. Trump’s intervention was an extraordinary step to influence an allied nation and punish his political opponents at home. The two congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, both freshmen, are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Both are outspoken adversaries of Mr. Trump and have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement. The president has targeted them in speeches and Twitter postings that his critics have called racist and xenophobic. It was reported last week that Mr. Trump was pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to deny entrance to the two women, and Thursday morning he left little doubt.”

Cheney, House GOP Caucus chairwoman, calls for ouster of Rep. Steve King after rape comments - Fox News

“I’m a little grumpy there was no lunch, now I’m realizing there was no need,” – Mayor Pete Buttigieg said at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday.

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WQAD: “A 20-year-old woman called the police saying her car had been stolen, while running from police, in an attempt to trick them into thinking she wasn't the one driving her car during the chase. [A Clinton County, Iowa] deputy clocked an eastbound vehicle on radar exceeding the speed limit. When the deputy attempted to perform a traffic stop on the speeder, the driver sped off and ran a red light… While the pursuit was in progress, Clinton County Communications received a 911 call from a Rachel Thornburg stating that her car had just been stolen from Low Moor. She claimed that she had left the keys in the car which was a 1998 grey Buick Century. This was the same vehicle that the deputy sheriff was pursuing. … Eventually, the Iowa State Patrol was able to successfully deploy Stop Sticks that flattened the tires of the Buick. … The driver was none other than Rachel Thornburg…”

“Winning is great. You get to hoot and holler, hoist the trophy, shower in champagne, ride the open parade car and boycott the White House victory ceremony (choose your cause). But, as most who have engaged in competitive sports know, there’s nothing to match the amplitude of emotion brought by losing.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The Washington Post on June 29, 2017.

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