Primaries in four states test limits of Dem surge

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On the roster: Primaries in four states test limits of Dem surge - Time Out: Reading music  - Trump staffers reverse denials on racial slur - Manafort closing arguments set for Wednesday - Sure, officers: ‘Marked for safekeeping’ 

PRIMARIES IN FOUR STATES TEST LIMITS OF DEM SURGE
Wisconsin Dems face crowded race to try to beat Walker - Politico: “Wisconsin Democrats on Tuesday will choose from a field that once swelled to over a dozen candidates … to realize their long-elusive goal of defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker. But the clear frontrunner is state education superintendent Tony Evers, a 66-year-old white man who stands out in a year when Democrats have put forward high numbers of women, young people and first-time candidates for office. What Evers lacks in sizzle, Democrats are hoping he compensates for with a record of clashes with Walker over education… After years of doing battle with unions and pushing conservative legislation, Walker may be the one Republican who gets Wisconsin Democrats as agitated as President Donald Trump does. And that, say some Democratic officials in the state, might be enough in a year like this. … While talk of rolling back Walker’s accomplishments has dominated the Democratic primary, Republicans have already sought to define the terms of the campaign. The Republican Party of Wisconsin has already focused attack ads on four candidates: Evers, former Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Matt Flynn, former state Rep. Kelda Roys, and Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell.”

The race to replace Paul Ryan is on - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “It's a packed race to replace Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is stepping down. University of Wisconsin System Regent Bryan Steil is the frontrunner in the Republican primary but he'll face five other candidates on the ballot. They are: liberal Jeremy Ryan, U.S. Army veteran Nick Polce, psychologist Brad Boivin, businessman Kevin Adam Steen and Paul Nehlen. In the Democratic primary, Janesville ironworker and union member Randy Bryce faces Janesville School Board member and former teacher Cathy Myers. … [In] District 7 U.S. Navy and Minnesota Air National Guard veteran Margaret Engebretson and Marshfield doctor Brian Ewert are facing in next week's Democratic primary. The winner will challenge incumbent Republican Sean Duffy.”

Two Trump loyalists compete to take on Baldwin - AP: “Former U.S. Marine Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir are running in the Republican primary, with the winner advancing to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Nicholson, a former Democrat, is running as the outsider while Vukmir, a 15-year veteran of the Legislature, argues she's the proven conservative. Vukmir, who won the endorsement of the Wisconsin Republican Party, will have that apparatus to help drive turnout. It's unclear what Nicholson's get-out-the-vote effort consists of, but he's benefited from millions of dollars in television advertising by outside groups funded by Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein.”

Scandals on the minds of Minnesota voters - 
MinnPost: “Allegations against two DFL candidates in contested primaries for major statewide offices — Keith Ellison and Lori Swanson— became public after thousands of Minnesotans had already voted during the state’s no-excuse absentee and early voting period. And though Minnesota allows voters to ‘claw-back’ their ballots to recast them, the window for doing so expired a week before the election, last Tuesday, which means there may be some regret among the 100,000 or so voters who took advantage of the early voting process. The most recent of the allegations focused on U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. … The Ellison accusation became public just as DFLers were absorbing an earlier series of reports — first in the website The Intercept and then confirmed and expanded upon by the Star Tribune  and others — that Attorney General Lori Swanson had regularly used her office and staff for political purposes. … Republicans have been taking some pleasure in the allegations against the pair of prominent DFLers, but especially those against Ellison.”

What to know in Minnesota House primary elections - [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “In a very rare occurrence, both of Minnesota’s U.S. senators are on the ballot this year. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election, while the resignation of Sen. Al Franken amid sexual misconduct allegations in January set up a November special election and another, regularly scheduled election in 2020. Dayton appointed then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace Franken, and she faces a primary challenge from University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, a former Republican and White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration. On the Republican side, state Sen. Karin Housley won the party endorsement and is the clear front-runner. No big surprises are expected in Klobuchar’s race. State Rep. Jim Newberger is likely to pick up the GOP nomination to challenge her in the fall.”

Pawlenty hopes to be the comeback kid - AP: “Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is hoping to regain his winning touch and restart his political career seven years after his presidential aspirations fizzled. And it’s for a familiar position. Pawlenty is the biggest name in both parties running in Tuesday’s primary for Minnesota governor. Pawlenty faces 2014 nominee and County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Democrats are choosing among U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, state Rep. Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson. It’s a high-stakes race in Minnesota. Democrats hope to retain their blockade over a GOP Legislature, while Republicans see a chance at complete government control. Pawlenty has held a massive fundraising advantage over Johnson since entering the race in April, but he has struggled to reintegrate in a party that has changed drastically since he left office in 2011.

Dems at risk of losing another New England seat in Conn. - Fox News: “In deep-blue Connecticut, which went for Hillary Clinton by double-digits in the 2016 presidential campaign, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim and wealthy businessman Ned Lamont are competing for the Democratic nomination to succeed deeply unpopular Gov. Dan Malloy. Malloy, who decided not to seek a third term, was shown by some polls to be the least popular governor in the nation, with critics citing the state's high taxes and major budget woes. That's left an opening for Republicans, who are looking to continue to encroach on governorships in the traditionally liberal New England. The GOP currently holds the governorships of four out of six states in the region, including Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. … Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, former First Selectman Tim Herbst, businessman Steve Obsitnik, former investment banker Bob Stefanowski and former hedge fund manager David Stemerman are the candidates for the GOP nomination in Connecticut's governor race, and they've also cited an additional factor: widespread unhappiness with state Democratic leadership. … However, the Republican candidates have disagreed on what to do with the state's income tax. Stefanowski and Boughton have said they want to eliminate it entirely, while Stemerman and Obsitnik have balked at the idea.”

Will Vermont’s Phil Scott hold on to his seat? - 
Burlington Free Press: “Voting is underway in Vermont's major party primary elections. … Gov. Phil Scott has encountered unexpected turbulence on the road to a second two-year term and faces a challenger from his own party. In February, the arrest of an 18-year-old accused of planning a high school shooting shook Scott into relenting on his longtime opposition to gun regulation. Scott's decision to sign a package of gun restrictions opened a new rift in the Vermont Republican Party, which had already been divided over President Donald Trump, immigration law enforcement and health care. The governor's primary opponent Keith Stern, a wholesale grocer and political newcomer from North Springfield, has benefited from an energized gun-rights base that accuses Scott of betrayal. … On the Democratic side, four gubernatorial hopefuls are vying for the nomination. None of the four Democrats has previously held statewide elected office, forcing each to emphasize his or her business or community leadership. The field includes a former utility executive, Christine Hallquist; a water quality activist, James Ehlers; a dance festival organizer, Brenda Siegel; and a rising high school freshman, Ethan Sonneborn. (A write-in campaign supports a fifth candidate, John Rodgers, who is a sitting state senator from the Essex-Orleans district.)”

THE RULEBOOK: EASY, PEASY 
“It would be easy to show, if it were necessary, that no important power, delegated by the articles of Confederation, has been or can be executed by Congress, without recurring more or less to the doctrine of CONSTRUCTION or IMPLICATION.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 44

TIME OUT: READING MUSIC 
The Atlantic: “Alfred Brendel, one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, is also a great writer. You can often detect a good-natured smirk behind his words, but right there with it is a genuinely humane seriousness. His writing, always engaging, strikes a balance between solemn reflection and undeniable wit. A perfect example of this balance can be found in his 1985 essay ‘A Mozart Player Gives Himself Advice,’ where Brendel urges the reader to reject the idea of Mozart as sugar-sweet and precious. He writes that ‘the cute Mozart, the perfumed Mozart, the permanently ecstatic Mozart, the ‘touch-me-not’ Mozart, the sentimentally bloated Mozart must all be avoided.’ Brendel doesn’t dawdle in getting to the point, and when he does, the point is sharp. Now retired from the concert stage, Brendel, 87… The essays and lectures of each of those books (plus several previously uncollected works) are gathered in Music, Sense, and Nonsense: Collected Essays and Lectures…”
 
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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 41.4 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: -11.2 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.6 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 56% disapprove; IBD: 41% approve - 50% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average:
 41.4 percent
Democratic average: 48 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 6.6 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 1.2 points   
[Average includes: IBD: 45% Dems - 45% GOP; 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.]

TRUMP STAFFERS REVERSE DENIALS ON RACIAL SLUR 
WaPo: “The allegation that a tape exists of President Trump saying the n-word began as a baseless claim put forward by a former White House aide with credibility problems and a pretty unquenchable taste for notoriety. It’s no longer so baseless. A recording released by Omarosa Manigault Newman to CBS News on Tuesday morning purportedly features her and two other black Trump campaign staffers talking about the alleged existence of the tape. At one point, a person she identifies as spokeswoman Katrina Pierson says clearly, ‘He said it. He said it. He’s embarrassed.’ The purported recording appears to confirm that Trump campaign staffers believed the tape might exist and, notably, that his black staffers believed Trump would actually use the word. Although the recording has not been authenticated, the staffers seemed to confirm it Tuesday, and it utterly contradicts the denials they offered in Trump’s defense in recent days.”

President calls accuser a ‘lowlife’ and a ‘dog’ - Fox News: “President Trump blasted Omarosa Manigault-Newman as a ‘crazed, crying lowlife’ on Tuesday morning and went so far as to call her a ‘dog,’ rapidly escalating the already heated battle between the president and the reality TV star who made her name on his show.  ‘When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by [White House Chief of Staff John Kelly] for quickly firing that dog!’ Trump tweeted.”

Campaign takes legal action to silence - Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump’s campaign accused former aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman on Tuesday of violating a non-disclosure agreement after she released a new book about her time in the White House. The campaign is pursuing a claim against her with a private arbitrator for breaching the agreement, according to a campaign official who asked not to be identified. Non-disclosure agreements frequently allow pursuit of damages through arbitration rather than a lawsuit.”

Q Poll: 31 percent like Trump, most think he disrespects non-whites - Quinnipiac University: “Only 31 percent of American voters like President Donald Trump as a person, while 59 percent dislike him, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. … By a smaller 54 - 43 percent margin, American voters dislike President Trump's policies. … President Trump does not treat people of color with the same amount of respect he affords white people, American voters say 54 - 39 percent.”

MANAFORT CLOSING ARGUMENTS SET FOR WEDNESDAY 
WSJ: “Paul Manafort’s legal team said Tuesday it wouldn’t call witnesses or present further evidence in the former Trump campaign chairman’s defense, setting the stage for closing arguments in the case Wednesday. Prosecutors resting the government’s case against Mr. Manafort on Monday, after 10 days of testimony alleging Mr. Manafort didn’t pay taxes on at least $16 million in income from political consulting work in Ukraine and later misled U.S. banks when he obtained millions of dollars in loans in 2016, including during his time running Donald Trump’s campaign.”

Poll: Mueller rebounds with voters as Trump escalates attacks -
 CNN: “Two-thirds of Americans, including majorities across party lines, would like to see special counsel Robert Mueller try to finish the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election before voters go to the polls to elect a new Congress this November. That result, from a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, comes amid rebounding approval ratings for both President Donald Trump and Mueller for their handling of the investigation, and a growing share of voters who say the investigation will matter to their vote this fall.”

Strzok admirers donate bigly to fired anti-Trump agent - USA Today: “Who says sending anti-Trump texts to your girlfriend doesn't pay? Sure, such texts cost Peter Strzok his 22-year career with the FBI, but they also seem to have garnered the disgraced former agent a lot of support – enough to raise more than $250,000 for his legal expenses in one day on a GoFundMe page.  The page, launched Monday … initially sought $150,000 to be ‘put into a trust dedicated to covering Pete’s hefty – and growing – legal costs and his lost income.’ But that sum was reached so quickly, the target amount was later raised to $350,000."

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Maryland Gov. Hogan opens general election campaign against challenger Jealous with big lead Baltimore Sun

Nelson underwhelms in Democratic poll of Florida Latino voters - Orlando Sentinel

Trump ally MacArthur in tight re-election race for N.J. House seat - Monmouth University 

AUDIBLE: SO LONG FOR NOW 

“We’ve told a lot of women, ‘Don’t run this year.’ We’ve told them, ‘You’re a great candidate, if it were any other year you would win.’ We don’t want these women, who have such potential, to lose and get down and get out of politics.” – Meghan Milloy, the co-founder of Republican Women for Progress, talking to the NYT about Republican women who are running for office in the Trump era.

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SURE, OFFICERS: ‘MARKED FOR SAFEKEEPING’ 
The Smoking Gun: “Meet Willie Edwards. The 18-year-old appeared ready to repel all manner of foes when recently arrested for driving an unregistered vehicle. Before being booked into the Manatee County jail, an incident report notes, the Florida man’s ‘purse was searched’ and yielded two cans of pepper spray and two cans of fart spray. The incident report does not indicate why Edwards needed all those noxious sprays (or why just one fart spray would not suffice). Pictured above, Edwards, a Bradenton resident, was relieved of his array of sprays, which police ‘marked for safekeeping.’ Free on $120 bond, Edwards is scheduled for an August 22 court appearance on the misdemeanor charge.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“But the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. It is civil society, those elements of the collectivity that lie outside government: family, neighborhood, church, Rotary club, PTA, the voluntary associations that [Alexis deTocqueville understood to be the genius of America and source of its energy and freedom.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in the National Review, July 20, 2012.  

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.