Primary day potpourri

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On the roster: Primary day potpourri - SupCo upholds Trump travel ban - McConnell’s PAC jumps into midterms with fall ad buys - Goodlatte presents mandate to immigration bill - If it had been puppies, maybe

It’s not the biggest primary day of the year, but there’s still lots to see today as voters go to the polls in New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Maryland, Utah and South Carolina. With that in mind, how about some nuggets from some of the stories worth watching?

- In politics, loyalty usually comes first. Consider President Trump’s all-in campaign for South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. Insofar as there is any Trump movement beyond the man himself, McMaster would be its antithesis. He’s a complete insider whose swampy ways in Columbia have put him on the other side of reform-minded candidates like Nikki Haley. McMaster got the governorship only after Trump elevated Haley to the United Nations and has been dogged with corruption claims ever since. His rival in today’s runoff, John Warren, on the other hand, is a Marine veteran, business owner and political newcomer. But, as befits our political moment, the president argued that South Carolinians should vote for McMaster because otherwise reporters will say unflattering things about Trump. McMaster should cruise to victory over his little-known challenger even if he hadn’t had Trump’s approval. But voting for the political establishment to own a cable news reporter is about as 2018 as it gets.

Colorado has become a laboratory for the new Democratic Party. Gov. John Hickenlooper is the kind of pro-growth moderate who many in the party would like to see take precedence in the years to come. But however successful Hickenlooper’s tenure, how his fellow Colorado Democrats vote today on his replacement will say a great deal about the viability of moderates in the party. Former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy seems like his obvious heir. She’s facing Rep. Jared Polis and a few other lesser-known candidates. Polis is an outspoken liberal, foe of the state’s powerful oil and gas industry and far out of Hickenlooper’s staid, centrist mold. Democrats have held the governor’s mansion for more than a decade, but Polis would make keeping it more difficult. If Republicans, as expected, give the nod to Treasurer Walker Stapelton, an establishmentarian if there was one, a Polis nomination would be even more dubious-looking for Democrats.

We expect Staten Island Republicans to back former Rep. Michael Grimm in his bid to return from what would have been a career-ending scandal in most places. But before you try to make it about declining standards in American politics, put it in perspective. Grimm, a felon who threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony for asking questions the then-congressman didn’t like, may look like a bad guy to you. But New Yorkers have a long history of embracing ethically compromised candidates. Grimm puts us very much in mind of Charlie Rangel and Adam Clayton Powell. Simply by supporting one of your own who the system has said is unacceptable, you are attacking the system itself. The implicit message: “vote for me because they don’t want you to.” As white voters nationally increasingly behave politically as a minority group, you’ll see more of this.

For those of you wondering where the national debate over legal cannabis is going, keep one eye on Oklahoma tonight. There’s arguably no place that’s more culturally conservative than the Sooner State, but there seems to still be considerable support for a permissive medical marijuana initiative. Oklahomans already voted in 2016 to make all drug possession charges misdemeanor offenses, but anti-pot voices are out in force against Question 788 and spending considerable sums to block the measure.

Why does Mitt Romney want to be in the Senate? We take him at his word that he believes in public service. And he’s rich, healthy and more than qualified, so maybe he even feels obliged to participate in public life at a higher level. But Lord almighty it’s hard to think he’s going to enjoy his first ever posting in Washington. Now, that assumes that he wins today’s Utah Senate primary. But the forecast for heavy to severe Mittness tonight seems pretty promising for his chances. And in the general, well… it’s Utah. But aside from the acrimonious, cynical and self-interested nature of Washington, there’s the fact that the Senate is built on seniority – even if you’re 71 and even if you were your party’s former presidential nominee. Romney’s experience is as an executive, in both public and private life. Joining what is sometimes jokingly called “the world’s most deliberative body” will be an adjustment, to say the least.

Many have expressed concern about the dawn of a new era of celebrity dominated politics. While the potential ascent of a reality-show brothel keeper to the Nevada statehouse would argue for the trend, there’s lots of evidence that voters aren’t any more interested in celebrity politicians as a class than they were before the host of “The Celebrity Apprentice” reached the White House. The Kid Rock era is not, in fact, upon us. The latest evidence is expected to be delivered tonight as Chelsea Manning wraps up her race against Sen. Ben Cardin in Maryland’s Democratic primary. Based on what her supporters have said, the run may have been more stressful than what befitted someone struggling with mental health issues, so this quiet conclusion to a much ballyhooed beginning may be good news for all involved. Though Antonio Sabato Jr. still offers some slim hope for those who seek a more bedazzling political future…

“It is in vain to hope to guard against events too mighty for human foresight or precaution, and it would be idle to object to a government because it could not perform impossibilities.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 16

NatGeo: “It’s probably more difficult than you might imagine to breed American flamingos and raise their young. These iconic birds, which are found throughout the Caribbean region, will not breed if their flock isn’t larger than about 20 in number, or if sex ratios are skewed one way or the other. At the Columbus Zoo, for example, handlers had difficulty getting the animals to reproduce for several years, before increasing the size of their flock. It now numbers 35, and over the past few days the zoo has welcomed the arrival of five new chicks. One chick, the smallest—weighing in at about three ounces—can be seen hatching in a time-lapse video that was filmed over the course of 24 hours on June 19. Kevin Kollar, a zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo, says the organization wants to foster a large breeding population in case wild populations are put in jeopardy. … Of the 25 eggs laid this year, only 12 were fertile and only 5 of those survived the incubation process, which takes nearly one month.”
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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent 
Average disapproval: 
55 percent 
Net Score:
 -10 points
Change from one week ago: 
down 3 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; CNBC: 41% approve - 47% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve - 52% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 43% approve - 51% disapprove; CNN: 41% approve - 54% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.6 percent
Democratic average: 48 percent
Democrats plus 6.4 points
Change from one week ago: 
Democratic advantage down 1.6 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 48% Dems - 43% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk University: 45% Dems - 39% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; CNN: 50% Dems - 42% GOP; Monmouth University: 48% Dems - 41% GOP.]

Fox News: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump’s controversial travel ban affecting several mostly Muslim countries, offering a limited endorsement of the president’s executive authority on immigration in one of the hardest-fought battles of this term. The 5-4 ruling marks the first major high court decision on a Trump administration policy. It upholds the selective travel restrictions, which critics called a discriminatory ‘Muslim ban’ but the administration argued was needed for security reasons. At issue was whether the third and latest version of the administration’s policies affecting visitors from five majority Muslim nations – known as travel ban 3.0 – discriminates on the basis of nationality and religion, in the government’s issuance of immigrant visas. Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the conservative majority opinion, wrote that the order was ‘squarely within the scope of presidential authority’ under federal law. ‘The sole prerequisite set forth in [federal law] is that the president find that the entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The president has undoubtedly fulfilled that requirement here,’ he wrote. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was among the court’s four liberals that wrote a dissent.”


WashEx: “Top allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are diving into the midterm elections with an initial fall television advertising reservation of nearly $25 million. Senate Leadership Fund, financed by wealthy campaign contributors cultivated by the Kentucky Republican, is placing buys in Missouri, Nevada, and North Dakota in a bid to pad the GOP’s thin 51-49 majority. The group plans tens of millions more in advertising to begin after Labor Day, but is delaying to guard its November strategy. President Trump’s job approval ratings, broadly, are low and the political atmosphere for Republicans is challenging. But the president’s numbers are above 50 percent in states where the GOP is on offense in Senate races… Senate Leadership Fund was set to invest $10.5 million in Missouri… The group also was targeting Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota with a $2.3 million purchase… Missouri and North Dakota are part of a healthy list of pickup opportunities afforded to Senate Republicans by a favorable 2018 map…”

New poll shows Kaine leading by double digits - Quinnipiac University: “With a lead among women topping 2-1, Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic incumbent, has an overall lead of 54 - 36 percent over Republican challenger Corey Stewart, chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. Women back Sen. Kaine 61 - 28 percent, while men are divided with 46 percent for Kaine and 45 percent for Stewart, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. White voters go Democratic 49 - 42 percent. Non-white voters go Democratic 66 - 20 percent. Stewart takes Republicans 83 - 7 percent. Kaine leads 94 - 1 percent among Democrats and 54 - 34 percent among independent voters. Virginia voters approve 55 - 36 percent of the job Kaine is doing and give him a 51 - 33 percent favorability rating. Stewart gets a divided 28 - 30 percent favorability, with 39 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion of him.”

Stewart says ‘Civil War wasn’t about slavery’ - The Hill: “Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart said that he doesn’t believe that the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery, arguing that it was mostly about states’ rights. In a Monday interview with Hill TV’s ‘Rising,’ Stewart, who recently won the GOP nomination in the Virginia Senate race, said that not all parts of Virginia’s history are ‘pretty.’ But he said he doesn’t associate slavery with the war. ‘I don’t at all. If you look at the history, that’s not what it meant at all, and I don’t believe that the Civil War was ultimately fought over the issue of slavery,’ Stewart said. When ‘Rising’ co-host Krystal Ball pressed him again if the Civil War was ‘significantly’ fought over slavery, Stewart said some of them talked about slavery, but added that most soldiers never owned slaves and ‘they didn’t fight to preserve the institution of slavery.’”

Vulnerable states won’t have new voting machines for 2018 -
McClatchy: “In three Southern states with some of the nation’s most vulnerable election systems, federal grants designed to help thwart cyberattacks may not provide much protection in time for the mid-term elections as Congress intended. The $380 million in grant funding was supposed to help all states bolster their elections security infrastructure ahead of the 2018 elections after the intelligence community had warned that state voting systems could again be targeted by foreign hackers as they were in 2016. States have until 2023 to spend the grant money, said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, which distributes the grants. But the long procurement process for voting machines makes it hard for states to buy new machines with their grants and get them into service by the 2018 mid-terms…”

Dems still battling over superdelegates -
The Hill: “A battle over the future role of superdelegates within the Democratic Party is overshadowing a more subtle transition that will have a significant impact on the 2020 presidential campaign, as several states move toward dropping their traditional party caucuses in favor of primary elections that would draw tens or hundreds of thousands of new voters. … Colorado, Maine and Minnesota have already passed legislation — either through citizen initiative or in state legislatures — allowing political parties to hold primaries instead of their traditional caucuses. Utah’s legislature added funding for a primary, though a final decision will be made next year. Nebraska Democrats last week voted to advance a resolution that would scrap its caucuses in 2020. The state party will make a final decision in March, when the Democratic National Committee (DNC) issues guidance for how states may operate their nominating contests.”


Politico: “With the House set to vote Wednesday on a GOP immigration reform package, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has offered a proposal to mandate that all new employees in the United States are eligible to work in this country using the E-Verify system. Goodlatte’s proposal would also create a new visa program for foreign workers in the farming and food-processing industries. American companies would be allowed to hire 450,000 foreign workers for three years under the plan, provided no U.S. workers could be found who would do those jobs. Late Monday night, the Virginian Republican filed a 116-page amendment with the Rules Committee to the underlying ‘compromise’ immigration bill. That legislation is slated to be voted on by the full House on Wednesday. The compromise immigration bill was the product of weeks of discussions among GOP moderates, conservatives and party leaders. It was previously scheduled for a vote last Friday.”

GOP imposes new tax law on churches -
Politico: “Republicans have quietly imposed a new tax on churches, synagogues and other nonprofits, a little-noticed and surprising change that could cost some groups tens of thousands of dollars. Their recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on some types of fringe benefits they provide their employees. That could force thousands of groups that have long had little contact with the IRS to suddenly begin filing returns and paying taxes for the first time. Many organizations are stunned to learn of the tax — part of a broader Republican effort to strip the code of tax breaks for employee benefits like parking and meals — and say it will be a significant financial and administrative burden. It also means political peril for lawmakers, many of whom were surely unaware of the provision when they approved the tax plan.”

Senate avoids shutdown, passes funding bill for 2019 -
The Hill: “The Senate on Monday passed its first funding bill for the 2019 fiscal year as lawmakers try to avoid a high-profile shutdown fight heading toward the fall. Senators voted 86-5 to approve a ‘minibus,’ which merged funding for energy and water, the legislative branch and military construction and veterans affairs. The low-drama Senate floor debate marks a stark U-turn from the intense GOP feuding over a mammoth defense policy bill… Lawmakers have until the end of September to fund the government and avoid the third shutdown of the year. But they’re trying to avoid jamming through another omnibus after President Trump in March railed against a similar bill…”


Bloomberg: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians who sought to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions -- and possible indictments -- related to collusion by fall, said the person, who asked not to be identified. He’ll be able to turn his full attention to the issue as he resolves other questions, including deciding soon whether to find that Trump sought to obstruct justice. Mueller’s office declined to comment on his plans. Suspicious contacts between at least 13 people associated with Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians have fueled the debate over collusion. Some of those encounters have been known for months: the Russian ambassador whose conversations forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation and led Michael Flynn to plead guilty to perjury.”

Former NSA contractor pleads guilty -
Fox News: “Reality Winner, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking classified information to journalists, pleaded guilty Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors. Winner, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful retention and dissemination of national defense information. Her plea agreement, signed June 19, says she’s facing a possible sentence of 63 months in jail and three years of supervised release. No date has been set yet for a sentencing hearing. Winner was arrested in June 2017 for allegedly feeding a classified report with information on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election to a news outlet.”

Former president George H.W. Bush welcomes service dog named Sully - Fox News

Rand Paul
files lawsuit against neighbor in assault case - WBKO


“I strongly disagree with those who advocate harassing folks if they don’t agree with you. If you disagree with someone or something, stand up, make your voice heard. If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office, but no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American.” – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in response to Rep. Maxine Waters’ call for supporters to harass members of the Trump administration.

“Chris, I really enjoy the Halftime Report and your take on politics. I was wondering: What’s the approximate lag time on the Trump Job Performance of the Scoreboard? After what I considered a chaotic week the other week, I saw that Trump’s approval rating had gone up. I didn’t understand why, so I was thinking that maybe the data from this poll was collected just after the summit in Singapore. How old is the data you publish when you publish it?” – Bruce Davis, Waldorf, Md.

[Ed. note: Good question, Mr. Davis! One of the reasons that we include a listing of the polls that make up our average is so that you can see when these sorts of lags might occur. If you look at today’s list, you’ll see that there are a couple of recent polls, one from Gallup and one from CNBC, but that there is a lag of about a week to the next newest surveys before those. Individual polls are useful for gauging the effects of discreet developments, which is one reason why we often include write-ups when worthwhile news surveys come out. But we are mostly concerned with the bigger picture about where voters’ heads are as we get closer to November. For those purposes, I think averages are more useful.]

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BBC: “A building firm’s finance boss siphoned off nearly £370,000 in company cash to fund a lavish lifestyle that included buying pedigree kittens, a court heard. Matthew Farrimond, admitted 12 counts of fraud by pretending to pay the cash to charities and also one offence of money laundering. Farrimond, 41, from Buckshaw Village, Chorley, was jailed for four years, at a Bolton Crown Court hearing. Police said he had been the ‘biggest threat’ to the firm’s finances. The Crown Prosecution Service said Farrimond and his partner had lived ‘way beyond their means’ but had been able to put down a £150,000 deposit on a house with the stolen money.”

“True, we have already created machines that can run faster, lift better, see farther than we can. But cars, cranes and telescopes shame only our limbs and our senses, not our essence. Thinking is our specialty, or so we think.” – Charles Krauthammer writing in Time, Feb. 26, 1996.

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.