Florida just got a lot hotter

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

On the roster: Florida just got a lot hotter - I’ll Tell You What: A Sunshine State surprise - Menendez fights for political life, Dems spend more - Sessions still on the hot seat - Minnesota too nice

Miami Herald: “Florida voters on Tuesday propelled a Trump-endorsed congressman and the African-American mayor of Tallahassee on toward November’s general election in the race to replace Rick Scott as governor, setting up a clash of ideologies in the nation’s largest swing state. On the right: U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a 39-year-old conservative, Harvard-educated Iraq War veteran who rode presidential tweets and FOX News interviews to a resounding primary win over Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam. And on the left: Andrew Gillum, a 39-year-old liberal who with the help of progressive political organizations surged in the last weeks of his campaign to upset a better-funded field. The surprise matchup figures to be a pure test of partisan strength between a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus and a Democrat who scored his party’s nomination with the help of Democratic-Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. Voters will choose between a candidate in DeSantis who wants to build Trump’s border wall and believes ‘people should have a right to pursue the healthcare that they want,’ and one in Gillum who wants to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement and create a Medicare-for-All system.”

DeSantis tried to clarify ‘monkey this up’ comments - 
Fox News: “Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, the GOP nominee for governor, clarified comments he made earlier Wednesday in which he warned voters not to ‘monkey this up’ by voting for his Democratic opponent, who is black. … ‘The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.’ The remark drew instant fire from Democrats, who accused him of using ‘racist dog whistles,’ considering the Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum is black. ‘It's disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,’ Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo said. Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan told The Tallahassee Democrat that the campaign was leaving it to the party to respond.”

Scott moves on to challenge Nelson in November - WFLA: The current Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. The governor, who is nearing the end of his second term, said his platform is based on changing the direction in Washington, D.C., as he feels he's changed in in Florida. … Governor Scott has already begun to craft policy proposals, including term limits for Congress. He says his desire is to represent Florida as a problem solver who applies logic to create solutions. Scott will challenge longtime incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in November.”

Shalala wins Dem primary to replace Ros-Lehtinen - Fox News:Donna Shalala, a former secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton, was projected to win the Democratic primary for a Florida U.S. House seat seen as key to both parties' chances of taking control of Congress. … She received 32 percent of the vote, while her closest challenger, state Rep. David Richardson, received 28 percent of the vote. On the Republican side, longtime Spanish-language TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar defeated eight other GOP candidates… Shalala and Salazar are competing to succeed retiring Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has represented the district since 2013.”

Fox News: “U.S. Reps. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona won Tuesday's U.S. Senate primaries in the state, and will face off in November to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. Their victories assure that Arizonans will elect their first female U.S. senator in November. In the Republican primary, McSally defeated former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. On the Democratic side, Sinema defeated attorney Deedra Abboud. McSally's victory drew a Twitter message from President Trump early Wednesday. … Meanwhile, the death of longtime U.S. Sen.John McCain, R-Ariz., on Saturday resulted in subdued victory speeches from the winners. McSally began her speech with a moment of silence for McCain. ‘It's difficult to celebrate anything this week,’ she said, before linking her next opponent, Sinema, to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. ‘This is how I see this campaign,’ McSally said. ‘It's a choice between a doer and a talker. Between a patriot and a protester.’”

Ducey draws liberal activist Garcia - The Hill: “Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will face a college professor in November, in a state in which teacher protests scrambled the political landscape earlier this year. David Garcia, an education policy expert who teaches at Arizona State University, won the state’s Democratic primary on Tuesday with 48 percent of the vote, The Associated Press projected with 3 percent of precincts reporting. Ducey, seeking his second term in office, won the Republican nomination with 70 percent of the vote, ahead of former Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R). Garcia is making his second run for public office, after narrowly losing a 2014 bid for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

Tulsa political novice wins GOP primary for Oklahoma governor - Fox News: “Tulsa mortgage company owner and political newcomer Kevin Stitt has won the Republican nomination in the race to become Oklahoma’s next governor. Stitt defeated former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who helped oversee a revitalization of the state’s capital city that included landing an NBA basketball team, in Tuesday’s primary runoff. Stitt touted his experience growing his company, Gateway Mortgage Group, into one of the nation’s largest privately held mortgage companies. … The 45-year-old Stitt is set to face Democrat Drew Edmondson and the winner of the Libertarian runoff. Two-term Republican Gov. Mary Fallincan't run again because of term limits.”

“Ingratitude is a common topic of declamation against human nature; and it must be confessed that instances of it are but too frequent and flagrant, both in public and in private life.” – Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 57

New Yorker: “…Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics… [looks] like any other laid-back young tourist, except for the intense focus—all senses cocked—with which he takes in a new environment. Linguistics is a formidably cerebral discipline. … He is a hyperpolyglot, with a command of twenty-two living languages… No one becomes a hyperpolyglot by osmosis, or without sacrifice—it’s a rare, herculean feat. Rojas-Berscia, who gave up a promising tennis career that interfered with his language studies, reckons that there are ‘about twenty of us in Europe, and we all know, or know of, one another.’ ... Much of the data on hyperpolyglots is still sketchy. But, from a small sample of prodigies who have been tested by neurolinguists, responded to online surveys, or shared their experience in forums, a partial profile has emerged.”
Flag on the play? -
 Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss Tuesday's primaries in Arizona and Florida, some big news out of North Carolina and find out what is in “The Box of Dreams.” LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 42.8 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -10 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.2 points
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.2 percent
Democratic average: 50 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8.8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 2.4 points
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 50% Dems - 42% GOP; Fox News: 49% Dems - 38% GOP; Monmouth University: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 51% Dems - 42% GOP; CNN: 52% Dems - 41% GOP.]

Fox News: “U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who survived a corruption trial last year, is forcing his party to spend big on him as he struggles to fend off a Republican challenger. Bob Hugin, a former U.S. Marine and pharmaceutical executive, has cut Menendez's lead to a mere 6 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week. Back in March, when the race began, Hugin trailed by 17 points and it appeared as if Menendez was on his way to an easy victory. Hugin attacked Menendez over the weekend, saying that if he hadn't decided to run, Menendez would likely have been re-elected without facing any real opposition. ‘My wife and I were just offended that Bob Menendez was going to be reelected without any real opposition. He’s had 35 years of being involved in corruption,’ Hugin said during an interview with New York's WNYM-AM radio, according to the Hill. Democrats have taken notice of Menendez’s struggling campaign, pouring in $117,000 for ads in recent weeks.”

Koch organization to spend $5M on three GOP Senate candidates - The Hill: “A conservative group backed by billionaire activist Charles Koch is launching a new multi-million dollar ad campaign across three states to boost GOP Senate candidates in tough midterm election fights. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is putting nearly $5 million behind ads set to go live on Thursday in Wisconsin, Missouri and Tennessee attacking the Democratic Senate candidates for their records on taxes, spending and health care. ‘Americans can’t afford to continue electing politicians who believe the path to prosperity is through higher taxes, more spending, and bigger government,’ said AFP president Tim Phillips. … The biggest spend is in Missouri, where AFP will put $2.1 million behind a 30-second ad attacking Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) as a ‘career politician’ who voted for ObamaCare.”

Blankenship gets denied ballot access -
W. Va. Metro News:Don Blankenship will not be on the November General Election ballot for U.S. Senate in West Virginia after the state Supreme Court denied his attempt in an order handed down Wednesday afternoon. The order came about three hours after oral arguments had concluded before the Court in which Blankenship’s attorney argued the state’s Sore Loser Law shouldn’t apply to his client’s case because it took effect after Blankenship became a candidate representing the Constitution Party and the law itself violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. … In its one-page order, the Court said it had ‘thoroughly reviewed the appendix record and the arguments set forth in the briefs of the parties. After careful consideration of all filings and oral argument by the parties, the Court is of the opinion that the writ shall be, and it hereby is, denied.’”

Rand Paul snubs GOP in New Mexico Senate race -
 AP: “Former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson picked up the endorsement of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday in his effort to unseat an incumbent Democrat. Paul shunned Republican nominee Mick Rich, an Albuquerque construction contractor and newcomer to politics, in favor of Johnson, who was elected governor of New Mexico twice as a Republican before running for president in 2012 and 2016 on the Libertarian ticket. Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of Albuquerque is seeking a second term in the November election. Johnson and Paul share an enthusiasm for extremely limited government. In a news release, Paul praised Johnson as a ‘true fiscal conservative’ and for his dedication to reducing the size of government and improving services as governor of New Mexico.”

WaPo: “President Trump, who levied extraordinary public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent weeks, has privately revived the idea of firing him in conversations with his aides and personal lawyers this month, according to three people familiar with the discussions. His attorneys concluded that they have persuaded him — for now — not to make such a move while the special-counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign is ongoing, the people said. But there is growing evidence that Senate Republicans, who have long cautioned Trump against firing Sessions, are now resigned to the prospect that he may do so after the November midterm elections — a sign that one of the last remaining walls of opposition to such a move is crumbling. ‘We wish the best for him, but as any administration would show, Cabinet members seldom last the entire administration, and this is clearly not an exception,’ Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in an interview Tuesday.”

But a group of lawmakers have his back - WSJ: “Some top Republican lawmakers are urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resist any pressure to quit following criticism from President Trump, and to stay in the job at least through the midterm elections. The same morning as Mr. Trump was venting his frustration at the Justice Department, five Republican senators met Mr. Sessions this past Thursday for breakfast in his personal dining room on the fifth floor of the department’s headquarters. Their message: Hang in there despite Mr. Trump’s broadsides, according to senators and aides. Mr. Trump has told one Republican lawmaker recently that he wanted to fire Mr. Sessions before the midterm elections, according to a person familiar with the matter, but Republicans say they are convinced that pushback from Capitol Hill and within the White House has persuaded Mr. Trump to stand down for now.”

Trump announces departure of White House counsel McGahn
 -USA Today: “White House counsel Don McGahn, who had extraordinary access to President Donald Trump during some of his most controversial dealings and decisions, will leave his post this fall, the president said Wednesday. Trump announced McGahn's departure on Twitter hours after a report by Axios broke the news that the lawyer planned to leave. Trump thanked McGahn for his service and confirmed his counsel would leave in the fall after the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh, the president's pick for the Supreme Court. ‘White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,’ Trump tweeted. ‘I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!’ McGahn's lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment. In announcing the departure, Trump did not name McGahn's successor.”

Grassley issues Trump a warning on McGahn’s departure - 
Roll Call: “Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley’s Twitter style made some news Wednesday after he appeared to warn President Donald Trump to keep Don McGahn as the top White House lawyer. Nothing to see here, though, according to a top spokesman for the Iowa Republican. … Grassley reacted to the announcement with his own tweet, expressing concern with the coming departure of an attorney who has urged the president to fully cooperate with special counselRobert S. Mueller III’s Russia election meddling probe. … So was it a warning? Not according to Taylor Foy, a Senate Judiciary spokesman, who said people were making too much of the tweet and that the senator was simply lamenting McGahn’s move.”

Senate heads home for August recess - Roll Call

Manafort requests D.C. trial get moved to Roanoke, Va. - The Hill

“Trading this many lifetime positions away for a couple days back home in the dead of August is a metaphor for how myopic the Democrats’ approach has been at this dark moment in history.” – Brian Fallon, former chief spokesperson to Chuck Schumer, on the confirmation of 15 of Trump’s judges.

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


Pioneer Press: “Foreign scammers have been hammering Dakota County, authorities say, preying on the Minnesota Nice culture where folks are too polite to hang up the phone. Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins recently turned the tables on a scammer when he decided to call the number given to him by a constituent who was being harassed. The number appeared to be local, but as Atkins spoke with the man who had threatened to send the sheriff after him if he didn’t pay his taxes, he learned that the man was actually calling from somewhere near Hong Kong. … ‘He said he could make as much in a day scamming people than what he could make in a month working a manufacturing job. He said Minnesotans are easy, because they don’t hang up.’ Atkins started the call playing dumb, asking obvious questions and then trying to get the scammer to send him money for gas so he could get to Walmart to wire the money. At that point the scammer dropped the pretense and spoke plainly about being in a warehouse with about 400 other men who made regular calls to the U.S. every day.”

“One day, we shall all have to account for what we did and what we said in this scoundrel year. For now, we each have our conscience to attend to.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 9, 2016. 

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.