Train wreck Georgia primary raises fears for fall

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On the roster: Train wreck Georgia primary raises fears for fall - Jacksonville a top pick for split GOP convention - Former DNC boss: Biden better off ‘in the basement’ - Scott stands up on police legislation - Bet we know what he does in snowbanks, too

TRAIN WRECK GEORGIA PRIMARY RAISES FEARS FOR FALL
AP: “[Georgia] raised the specter of a worst-case November scenario: a decisive state, like Florida and its ‘hanging chads’ and ‘butterfly ballots’ in 2000, remaining in dispute long after polls close. Meanwhile, [Donald] Trump, [Joe] Biden and their supporters could offer competing claims of victory or question the election’s legitimacy, inflaming an already boiling electorate. … At Trump’s campaign headquarters, senior counsel Justin Clark blamed Georgia’s vote-by-mail push amid the COVID-19 pandemic, alluding to the president’s unfounded claims that absentee voting yields widespread fraud. … Rachana Desai Martin, a Biden campaign attorney, called the scenes in Georgia a ‘threat’ to democracy. ‘We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian — and every American — is able to safely exercise their right to vote,’ she said.”

Nevada struggling, too - Politico: “Vote counting stretched late into the night in Georgia and Nevada on Tuesday, after both states grappled with long lines for in-person voting and a surge of mail ballots that slowed the tabulation process. The contests on the ballot included nationally watched races for Senate and House, and Wednesday dawned with many of the top contests unresolved. In both states, voters reported lines in excess of four hours, and several counties in Georgia sought emergency judicial orders to keep their polling places open for hours after the original 7 p.m. closing time because of the lines and technical glitches. The voting issues and delays in reporting results provided a potential preview of the November general election under pandemic rules: polling places closed and consolidated because of a lack of staff, restrictions on occupancy to comply with social distancing rules and multi-fold increases in the number of voters casting absentee ballots that must be verified.”

Ossoff runoff? - AJC: “Jon Ossoff built a commanding lead in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday as polls began to close after a day of voting marred by long lines and faulty equipment, but it was not yet clear whether he would face a runoff. The former congressional candidate had a double-digit edge in the race to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, and results through early Wednesday showed him hovering just below the majority-vote mark he needs to avoid an August runoff. Yet a head-to-head matchup against either one of his well-financed opponents -- executive Sarah Riggs Amico and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson -- remained a possibility as returns trickled in. The primary was plagued by serious problems, with many precincts struggling with missing or malfunctioning voting machines, part of a $104 million system the state purchased after a ballot access fight during the 2018 gubernatorial election.”

THE RULEBOOK: DANKE DEUTSCHLAND
“History gives us a horrid picture of the dissensions and private wars which distracted and desolated Germany prior to the institution of the Imperial Chamber by Maximilian, towards the close of the fifteenth century; and informs us, at the same time, of the vast influence of that institution in appeasing the disorders and establishing the tranquillity of the empire.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 80

TIME OUT: OUT OF THIS WORLD
NPR: “Kathy Sullivan has seen her share of highs and lows. Sullivan, the first U.S. woman to walk in space, a veteran of three shuttle missions and an enshrined member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, took a perilous journey downward this week. She became the first woman to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on Earth, in the South Pacific. On Monday, shortly after completing the expedition in their submersible, Sullivan and her fellow diver Victor Vescovo — who was already one of just a handful of people in the world to reach Challenger Deep — coordinated a call with the International Space Station. ‘As a hybrid oceanographer and astronaut this was an extraordinary day, a once in a lifetime day,’ she said in a statement released by EYOS Expeditions, which supported the expedition. … All told, EYOS Expeditions said that just seven people had reached the point before Sullivan, all of whom were men.”

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SCOREBOARD  
NATIONAL HEAD-TO-HEAD AVERAGE 
Trump: 41.8 percent 
Biden: 50.2 percent 
Size of lead: Biden by 8.4 points
Change from one week ago: First week of average
[Average includes: CNN: Trump 41% - Biden 55%; NBC News/WSJ: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; NPR/PBS/Marist: Trump 43% - Biden 50%; IBD: Trump 42% - Biden 49%; Monmouth University: Trump 41% - Biden 52%.]

BATTLEGROUND POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 40.6 percent
Average disapproval: 55 percent
Net Score: -14.4 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 3 points
[Average includes: CNN: 40% approve - 57% disapprove; NPR/PBS: 42% approve - 55% disapprove; IBD: 42% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 57% disapprove; CBS News: 40% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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JACKSONVILLE A TOP PICK FOR SPLIT GOP CONVENTION
Fox News: “Republican Party officials are looking closely at Jacksonville, Fla., as they scramble to find a new location to host portions of this summer's Republican National Convention, though there's no final decision yet. Multiple GOP officials confirmed to Fox News that the northern Florida city is considered ‘a strong contender.’ But those same Republican Party officials caution that the search is ongoing and remains fluid. Other possibilities include Savannah, Ga.; Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Dallas, Texas. ‘We are still considering several cities and no final decision has been made,’ a Republican source familiar with convention discussions told Fox News on Wednesday. The Washington Post – citing three Republican officials – reported early Wednesday that the party had tentatively settled on Jacksonville to host the convention’s festivities. They added that party officials were in the city and surrounding locations on Monday. Multiple GOP sources told Fox News the report was premature.”

Republicans flee from Trump’s claim of conspiracy in police attack - Politico: “If there was ever a tweet from President Donald Trump that Senate Republicans didn’t want to touch, it’s this one. For four years, Senate Republicans have endured a regular gantlet of reporters’ questions about Trump tweets, ranging from attacks on their own colleagues to telling a handful of congresswomen of color to ‘go back’ to the countries they came from. Trump’s tweet Tuesday morning attacking a 75-year old protester in Buffalo — who was shoved by the police and bled from his head after falling — stunned some in a caucus that’s grown used to the president’s active Twitter feed. After examining a print-out of the tweet, Sen. Lisa Murkowski gasped: ‘oh lord, Ugh.’ … But though the moderate Murkowski was nearly rendered speechless, the missive mostly failed to get a rise out of Senate Republicans. Many know Trump will tweet something else soon they will be asked to respond to, even if the Buffalo tweet seemed a new frontier for Trump’s insult-laden social media persona.”

FORMER DNC BOSS: BIDEN BETTER OFF ‘IN THE BASEMENT’
Fox News: “Top Joe Biden surrogate Terry McAuliffe told a videoconference meeting of Virginia Democrats over the weekend that the former vice president should remain in his basement -- where he has famously campaigned remotely during the coronavirus pandemic -- and that Democratic officials are broadly ‘preferring’ that Biden stay out of the limelight. Fox News has obtained a video of McAuliffe's Norfolk comments, which came after Biden has made a series of gaffes in his already-limited public appearances as he social distanced from home -- including by declaring that African-Americans who support President Trump ‘ain’t black.’ ‘People say all the time, ‘Oh, we got to get the vice president out of the basement,’’ McAuliffe told the ‘monthly breakfast’ of the Norfolk City Democratic Committee. ‘He's fine in the basement. Two people see him a day: his two body people. That's it. Let Trump keep doing what Trump's doing.’”

Dems take edge in Iowa voter rolls - Politico: “Iowa, once a model swing state, fell so hard for Donald Trump four years ago that 2020 seemed like a foregone conclusion. But in a sign of how Trump’s reelection prospects have weakened across the country, even the heartland may be having second thoughts. Since the start of the year, Democrats in Iowa have added about twice as many active voters to their rolls as Republicans, nudging ahead in total registration for the first time in years. The farm economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. And though Trump still holds a small lead in the state, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, he’s now airing TV advertisements there — a tacit acknowledgment that the campaign anticipates a contest. ‘We were approaching ‘done’ status — stick a fork in us,’ Sue Dvorsky, a former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said of the party’s status after the 2016 election. Now, she said, ‘the worm is turning.’”

SCOTT STANDS UP ON POLICE LEGISLATION
Politico: “Congressional Republicans are under pressure for perhaps the first time in decades to make a serious effort at police reform. But don’t expect them to take the plunge without President Donald Trump. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina — the lone black Republican in the Senate — briefed his colleagues Tuesday on ways to improve policing just a few hours after Trump suggested an elderly Buffalo protester injured by the police might be antifa. Scott, who was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to lead the caucus’ effort, then met with senior White House officials including chief of staff Mark Meadows, adviser Jared Kushner and senior aide Ja’Ron Smith. And Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of Trump’s top conservative allies in the House, is aiming to release his own plan to improve police practices by the end of this week. But Scott said he’s on a ‘separate track’ from the White House. And other Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that Trump himself is not yet intimately involved in negotiations on what could become law.”

Republicans find useful wedge with ‘defund police’ - WSJ: “President Trump and Republicans are building a plank of their campaign strategy on the push to ‘defund the police,’ casting it as a dangerous Democratic move that threatens public safety, as likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his allies distance themselves from the movement. Facing sagging poll numbers and following months of crisis, the Trump campaign and congressional Republicans see political opportunity in the calls for defunding police departments coming from activists and some progressive leaders.”

CONCERNS GROW ABOUT CORONA SPIKE FROM PROTESTS
CBS News: “Administration officials on the White House Coronavirus Task Force told governors Monday they are concerned the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in late May could lead to a rise in coronavirus infections. During a conference call with governors, an audio recording of which was obtained by CBS News from a participant, Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said they're closely tracking coronavirus cases in the wake of the large-scale demonstrations. … ‘It's an issue our team is following and there is concern,’ Pence said in response to a question from Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo about outbreaks stemming from the protests. … Birx told governors most major metropolitan areas were experiencing a significant decline in new cases through May and into June. But she said the efficacy of masks worn by shouting demonstrators is unknown and not all protesters were wearing masks, raising cause for concern.”

Administration opposes extending unemployment benefits - WSJ: “U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said he opposed the extension of $600 a week in unemployment benefits that workers are receiving as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, an option lawmakers are debating as they negotiate the next stimulus bill. Mr. Scalia said the enhanced payments, included in a federal stimulus package signed into law at the end of March, will have served their usefulness by the time the current program expires at the end of July.”

Members of National Guard test positive - NY Post: “Some DC National Guard troops deployed to protests in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Tuesday — as top White House coronavirus task force members warned governors of a possible spike in infections tied to the nationwide demonstrations. The service members were among 1,300 DC National Guard members called to assist law enforcement in responding to anti-police brutality protests in the nation’s capital beginning on May 31, a spokeswoman confirmed to McClatchy DC. She would not say how many troops had tested positive for the virus, but US officials told the Associated Press they believe it is not currently a large number.”

Pennsylvania poised for constitutional fight on lockdown - Fox News: “Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf appear to be hurtling toward a constitutional battle over whether lawmakers have the power to override Wolf's coronavirus restrictions and get the state back to business-as-usual. The Pennsylvania House and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, passed a resolution Tuesday purporting to override Wolf's coronavirus disaster declaration and directing the governor to ‘issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency.’ ‘The Senate voted on a resolution to end Governor Wolf's statewide shut down, which has been hurting families and doing irreparable harm to employers,’ Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said Tuesday.”

DEM DIVISIONS THREATEN BID AGAINST MCCONNELL
Fox News: “Just as a new poll showed Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath pulling into a statistical tie in her U.S. Senate election fight against the incumbent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, some other news emerged that could spell trouble for her campaign. McGrath's chief Democratic primary challenger -- state Rep. Charles Booker -- received endorsements Tuesday from two big-name fellow progressives: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. ‘As Louisville has become an epicenter of national tragedy and protests due to the police murders of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee, Charles has shown leadership by showing up on the frontlines,’ Sanders wrote in a statement, according to the Courier Journal of Louisville. ‘He was an endorser of our campaign for president and supports progressive policies such as criminal justice reform, Medicare for All and getting big money out of politics.’”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Former judge finds ‘gross abuse’ of power by Justice Department in Flynn case - NYT

Floyd's brother testifies at House hearing on police brutality - Fox News

Pergram: Unrest, coronavirus show limits to Congress' power - Fox News

AUDIBLE: OOPS
“John’s memory should be used promote common ground and civility not to stoke division.” – Cindy McCain tweeted in response to an ad by Amy McGrath, running for the Dem nomination in Kentucky’s Senate race, touting the late Sen. John McCain’s vote on the repeal of Obamacare in 2017.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I read your report regularly and think highly of it. That your Battleground Power Rankings is not updated frequently is just fine with me. But it should be updated at least once a month, and more often if there has been significant movement. It's been over a month, and there has been significant movement (although I am surprised to note, in only a few states enough to change their status). Opinions will differ on some of the few states where a case can be made for a change in status. But at the very least consider Georgia, which you still classify ‘Leans Republican.’ For a while it has looked more like a ‘Toss-up’ to me, and now several legitimate articles are saying that it is leaning towards the Democrats, and by more than a little. I would still consider it a ‘Toss-up.’” – Marvant Duhon, Bloomington, Ind.

[Ed. note: Democrats most definitely have their eyes on Georgia in a big way, and Georgia may indeed turn out to be competitive. Georgia never has been as Republican as its neighbors South Carolina and Alabama, as evidenced by Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory there. Georgia and Louisiana are the only two Deep South states to have voted for a Democrat since 1980. Like Texas, Georgia seems within reach for Democrats in a big blue year. There’s very little polling to rely on, but what little there is certainly suggests a close contest. But of the three states we have listed as “lean Republican” we would be more likely to move Iowa based primarily on polling than either Texas or Georgia. Iowa swung 12 points from 2012 to 2016, indicating a state with a significant number of persuadable voters. That’s the same reason Ohio looks so competitive this time around despite going so big for Trump in 2016. Iowa and Ohio are swing states in the true sense, while Texas and Georgia are not. Like Minnesota on the Democratic side, these are states where the partisan advantage is not large, but it is consistent. If states like Georgia, Texas and Arizona go blue this time, you can assume that the election has broken substantially for the challenger and that all of the swing states are already in the D column. We will certainly be watching Georgia and Texas closely, but so early in the campaign we still need some convincingAnd I promise we are always reviewing and reconsidering. Keep your eyes peeled for adjustments.]

“Rather than wish people to ‘please keep yourself safe’ would it not be better to wish that people keep themselves informed?  Your comment of the killing of a black man in Ferguson does not address the fact that the officer was attacked which caused the shooting of the unarmed black man.  So said the investigation and the jury. Case and news about same—dropped.” – Kenneth Kercher, Plano, Texas

[Ed. note: I don’t think that it’s an either or question, Mr. Kercher. I don’t know what you’re referring to since I don’t recall talking about the circumstances of the Michael Brown shooting recently. But I do know what the inquest found about Brown’s conduct. I also know what the probe into the department’s practices found. There is always more to learn and more to see. I hope for you that that process never ends and that you also will keep yourself well.]

“Wow, your description of Walter Russell Mead’s WSJ opinion piece on 6/9 was just terrible! His article pointed out that our enemies often foolishly misunderstand what is going on in our country and do so at their peril. Your ‘cliff notes’ portrayal takes one paragraph and puts it forth as though it represents the theme of the entire article. I read and enjoy ‘Halftime’ most need to do better than you did with this today.” – Jim Lientz, Atlanta

[Ed. note: It’s good then that you clicked through and read the whole thing! I hope you know that, especially with opinion columns, the goal is to put forward something provocative from the piece that might spur further reading and thought. You are quite right that Mead expresses hopeful confidence that new efforts to exploit American divisions will be as unsuccessful as those of Napoleon III.]

“I am a white moderate Independent married to a black Republican for over 35 years, and we tried to raise our three children to respect a diversity of opinion. I always look forward to receiving your column in my inbox. In your June 4th column Terribly Shallow, you state as fact that racism is real and as fact that police kill blacks at a lower rate than whites. I don't think your words do justice to what our country needs to face, together. You base the latter statement of fact on one study that examines fatal officer-involved shootings (FOIS) and finds ‘no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities...and, if anything, anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime,’ a little less definitive than your conclusion. It finds anti-White disparities across the different types of shootings but suggests the need for more data for the shooting sub-types, such as ‘unarmed,’ for which other studies found anti-Black disparities, and ‘mental health or suicide-related,’ for which other studies found anti-White disparities. The study does not look at other uses of police force, such as the kind of force used on George Floyd, or deaths in police custody. There are many research papers published in respected peer-reviewed journals and on the pubmed site. Check out this paper or this resource. Thank you for reading this letter.” – Chris Howard, Mesa, Ariz.

[Ed. note: First, thank you for sending the letter and for your readership. Thank you also for passing on the research you have. I don’t want to duck your central critique, but I would point out that in no way are we aiming to be a primary resource on the matter of police brutality or racism in America today. This is a note about politics and elections, which sometimes takes us into the roiled waters of issues like these. That said, you’re quite right that there is much, much more to these subjects than what we whisked by on June 4. Our point in sharing some discomfiting facts was that there are not simple or easy answers here. I wondered whether to include any research on the subject since it could be seen as somehow definitive rather than, as you observe, part of a larger discussion among social scientists. This is not an issue with “sides” because there are no either/or propositions except for among extremists and those who wish to exploit rather than resolve our problems. Our work of living in peace with our fellow Americans and measuring up to the promise of the American Creed has to happen every day, in every community. We just wanted to remind readers that there are no pat answers.]

“I'll readily admit that I haven't done a deep dive into all the different communications sources pontificating on the current state of policing across the country.  But from the large amount of information and political posturing I have seen surrounding the murder of George Floyd, there has been scant mention of the role the local police union played in this atrocity. It is my understanding that the office charged with murder had more than a dozen (17?) complaints against him and in every case the union prevented him from being significantly disciplined or fired. My take on a major part of the reform needed is a streamlining of the disciplinary process for all men and women wearing the badges and a reduction in the power of the police unions across the country to protect the ‘Bad Apples’ we all know exist within the ranks of our amazing officers in blue.  If early on in their careers, those in blue who cross the line could be...at a minimum...significantly disciplined and receive mandatory retraining for their violations without union lawyers interfering, perhaps we could reduce the number of incidents we read about from across the country and relieve some of the pressure building up in our large cities.” – Jim Kinney, Hoschton, Ga.

[Ed. note: We ask a great deal of police in the United States. For salaries often below the national median income, officers are expected to act as counselors, first aid administrators, child advocates and community resources in addition to the dangerous and often deadly work of enforcing the law and keeping the peace. It's understandable that they would want the kinds of protection that a union or a guild can provide in terms of the execution of their duties and the maintenance of standards. But it is also true that union leaders get and maintain power by pleasing their constituents: officers themselves. And police will predictably seek more protections against discipline. Like with our schoolteachers, what it takes to win a union election may be something at odds with the general welfare. In a system based on competing ambitions that might be okay, but in some communities there has been little pushback on such questions allowing police unions to steamroll local governments. This is, by the way, one of the reasons it is so crucial for us to understand this as a local, not federal matter. Every police force is as different as the 15,000 or so communities that they serve. In some communities it may be that unions need to be put in check, while in others it may be that police are unfairly treated by hostile local governments.]

“Where do I get the recipes you talk about on your podcast with Dana? Even better you always talk with such passion about regional foods and recipes- any chance there is a recipe/restaurant book in the works? It seems you not only know how some obscure county will vote but also their favorite food and where to get it! Finally, you and I make our scrambled eggs exactly the same way and every time I make them guests gush over them.” – Elizabeth Stines, Fort Myers, Fla.

[Ed. note: Cheese on cheese scrambled eggs are pure magic! I envy your guests. You’ve convinced me of something: It’s time for a summer cooking event like we once did with my sister Genny’s world-famous lacy mushroom caps. I’m open to suggestions, but I’m thinking maybe my Roquefort dressing or Beemster creamed spinach. Let me know what you’d like to see and I’ll make a video and share the recipe.]

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

BET WE KNOW WHAT HE DOES IN SNOWBANKS, TOO
WMTV: “According to a criminal complaint filed with the Milwaukee County Circuit Court… 40-year-old Keyon Lambert broke into the Brewers’ baseball stadium and got into a tractor, which he used to tear up the turf and dig holes in an attempt to ‘write his name in cursive with the tractor tires.’ …a security guard found Lambert yelling inside the stadium, running down the levels of seats and at one point patting his body and saying that ‘I got a piece for you.’… Lambert says he initially tested the stadium’s doors and was ‘surprised’ to find them open. He reportedly took that as a sign he could enter Miller Park. [He] said that he had never driven [a tractor] with a bucket before, so he got on and attempted to ‘try to write his name in cursive with the tractor tires,’ but the vehicle was too slow for the maneuver, he told prosecutors. He says the then showed off with the vehicle, because people were filming him…”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“This country survived one hundred eighty years with school prayer and twenty without; would a minute of mumbled devotion put children on the road to salvation, as some would have it, or on the road to religious tyranny, as others would?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The New Republic on April 9, 1984.

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.