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Situational awareness - August 12, 2019

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City

This is Utah's must-read daily political news rundown. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for our emails.

Here are the stories you need to pay attention to this morning:

  • President Trump's unpopularity could hurt Republican chances of knocking off Rep. Ben McAdams in 2020.
  • Allegations fly after Jeffrey Epstein commits suicide.
  • Protesters shut down the Hong Kong airport.
  • Democratic candidates flood Iowa over the weekend.

Back from vacation

I'm back from a much-needed trip to northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. A big thanks to LaVarr and Dave Webb and Bob Bernick for holding down the fort while I was gone. 

While on holiday, we trekked to Monterey Bay to do a little whale watching. We were extremely fortunate as an extraordinary number of humpback whales were feeding on anchovies in the bay. There were at least 20 whales, maybe more, around the boat. There was so much activity it was difficult to know where to look at any given time.

My son snapped this picture of one humpback diving maybe 15 feet away from us.


Photo credit: Eli Schott


I've been whale watching several times in the past, but the number of whales and the amount of activity we saw was remarkable. Even our guide said it was an exceptional afternoon

Conversation BubbleSend me your feedback, tips.

I love hearing from you! Send your news tips or feedback to me at bschott@utahpolicy.com. or you can message me on Twitter.

The UtahPolicy.com daily newsletter gets you up to speed on the top local and national news about politics and public policy. Our news is curated by Managing Editor Bryan Schott, along with help from Golden Webb. ((Click here to subscribe))

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Today is the 224th day of the year. There are 141 days remaining in 2019.

The 2019 Utah primary elections are tomorrow (8/13/2019)

85 days to the 2019 municipal elections (11/5/2019)

143 days until candidates can begin to gather signatures to get on the 2020 ballot (1/2/2020)

168 days to the first day of the 2020 Utah Legislature (1/27/2020)

175 days to the 2020 Iowa Caucuses (2/3/2020)

204 days to the 2020 Utah presidential primary (3/3/2020)

213 days to the final day of the 2020 Utah Legislature (3/12/2020)

214 days to the opening of candidate filing for the 2020 election (3/13/2020)

316 days to the 2020 Utah primary elections (6/23/2020)

336 days to the 2020 Democratic national convention in Milwaukee (7/13/2020)

378 days to the 2020 Republican national convention in Charlotte (8/24/2020)

449 days to the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Today At Utah Policy

images/1000px_Mugs/Donald_Trump_01.jpgAnalysis: Trump's unpopularity in Utah's 4th District could spell trouble for GOP next year
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
President Donald TrumpJust how different politically is Utah's 4th U.S. House district?In some instances, not much.
images/1000px_Mugs/Jack_Hedge_01.jpgWith new CEO, Inland Port Authority transitions from organizational to operational
By Gaylen Webb
Jack Hedge"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with global implications." That's how Jack Hedge, the Utah Inland Port Authority's new CEO and executive director, describes the challenge of transitioning Utah's inland port from a lofty proposition to a working operation.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20190811_Utah_Econ_Outlook_01.jpgZions Bank August 2019 economic snapshot
By Robert Spendlove, Zions Bank
Utah's labor market remains one of the best in the nation despite the moderation in employment growth in recent months.
images/1000px_Article_Photos/20190812_GOED.jpgUtah's growing aerospace and defense industry
By GOED team
Utah's Aerospace and Defense industry is big business. The state's aerospace industry accounts for approximately 944 establishments and 31,390 jobs and is projected to grow by 2 percent per year over the next decade.
images/1000px_Mugs/Brad_Daw_01.jpgGuest opinion: A patient-friendly fix for surprise billing
By Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem
 Rep. Brad Daw Surprise medical billing has become too pervasive of an issue for Congress to ignore it anymore.
images/1000px_Mugs/Bernick_Mug_01.jpgBob Bernick's notebook: Huntsman is popular, but will have questions to answer
By Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
 As expected, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman resigned this week as U.S. ambassador to Russia and is returning to Utah with his wife, Mary Kaye, in early October.Most local politicos believe Huntsman will, at a later date, announce he's running for governor, again, in 2020.Huntsman was a popular governor, winning two four-year terms, in 2004 and 2008.
images/mugs-300/LaVarr_Webb.jpgTrump risks re-election with tough - but correct - stance on China
By LaVarr Webb, Publisher
Donald Trump is the subject of ferocious opposition and his re-election is clearly in danger. So why does he continue to take major actions that are obviously not in his best political and re-election interests?Most politicians protect their re-election chances by avoiding anything that might hurt. On a number of issues, Trump has done the opposite.
Talent Ready Utah Board unveils plan to expand access to computer science education
By Press release
The executive board of Talent Ready Utah has released the Utah Computer Science Master Plan, a comprehensive four-year plan designed to meet Gov. Herbert's goal to ensure every public K-12 student in Utah has the opportunity to learn computer science (CS) by 2022.
Former legislator and community advocate seek to strengthen initiatives in Utah
By Editor
Christine Stenquist, lead patient advocate in the push for medical cannabis in Utah, and former Utah Senator Steve Urquhart have announced The Utah Initiative Protection Act (Utah IPA), to safeguard the constitutional right of Utah citizens. 

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Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune



Frightening. The New York Times digs into how the screed posted online by the man who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso echoed extreme anti-immigrant language used by Fox News and other conservative media [NYT].

Gun debate. Lawmakers are pushing for Congress to pass gun control measures in the aftermath of slaughters in Texas, Ohio and California. But, that's easier said than done [The Hill].

Jeffrey Epstein aftermath. The financier and sex offender committed suicide on Saturday morning while in federal custody. Corrections officers reportedly had not checked on Epstein "for several hours" before he was found hanging in his cell [WaPo].

  • Guards at the understaffed jail were working "extreme overtime" the morning of Epstein's death [AP].
  • President Donald Trump promoted a baseless conspiracy theory that implicated the Clinton's in Epstein's death on his Twitter account over the weekend [CNN].

Hong Kong. Protesters brought the Hong Kong airport to a standstill on Monday. The airport is one of the busiest in the world [Bloomberg].


  • Democratic candidates hit Iowa over the weekend to make their pitch to potential caucus-goers [AP]. 
  • The Democratic field is scrambling to qualify for the September debate ahead of the deadline to meet polling and fundraising benchmarks ahead of a late-August deadline. So far, nine candidates have seemingly reached the threshold for inclusion [The Hill].
  • Democrats are starting to panic that the field of 20+ candidates has not begun to shrink [Daily Beast].
  • The Joe Biden gaffe machine returns. Biden misdated the Parkland shooting, claiming he was vice president when the attack happened [Bloomberg].
  • Biden is still the frontrunner in the Democratic pack, but rivals say he's showing vulnerability [AP].
  • Texas Republicans are fearful they're going to get hammered at the polls next year after several high-profile retirements and a changing electorate [Politico].

Israel. President Trump reportedly told his advisers that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use that country's anti-boycott law to bar Democratic Rep.s Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country [Axios].

North Korea. President Trump said over the weekend he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un soon. Trump added Kim apologized for a flurry of short-range missile tests that rattled U.S. allies in the region [AP].

China. American farmers are supportive of President Trump's trade war with China even though the tariffs are having a detrimental effect on their businesses [NBC News].

Russia. American intelligence officials believe a mysterious explosion that released a cloud of radiation in Northern Russia last week was caused by an accident during the test of a new type of nuclear missile. Russian officials claim a small nuclear reactor explosion is responsible for the incident [NYT].

The Mooch! Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci engaged in a war of words with President Donald Trump over the weekend. On Sunday, Scaramucci said Republicans might need to replace Trump on the ballot next year if the chaos and controversies enveloping his presidency continue [Axios].

  • Scaramucci blasted Trump saying he will "eventually" turn on everyone surrounding him, then the "entire country" [CNN].

Whoa! The Waltons, the family behind Walmart, gets $4 million richer every single hour. The 25 wealthiest families on the planet control $1.4 trillion [Bloomberg].

Movie news. Universal Pictures cancels the release of "The Hunt" movie after backlash. The film featured a group of "elites" hunting Trump supporters for sport [CNN].


1492 - Christopher Columbus arrives in the Canary Islands on his first voyage to the new world.

1851 - Isaac Singer is granted a patent for his sewing machine.

1898 - A peace protocol was signed, ending the Spanish-American War. The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, and annexed Hawaii.

1914 - World War I: The United Kingdom declares war on Austria-Hungary.

1939 - The Wizard of Oz had its world premiere in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

1964 - South Africa is banned from the Olympic Games due to the country's racist policies

1966 - John Lennon apologized for saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ.

1981 - IBM introduced the first personal computer.

1992 - Canada, Mexico and the United States announce the completion of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

1994 - Major League Baseball players go on strike, forcing the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

Policy News

images/1000px_Logos/Cycling_Utah_Logo.pngSalt Lake City 2019 mayoral candidate survey on transportation and bicycling released
Cycling Utah, a bicycling news organization, has released a survey of the views of the candidates for Salt Lake City Mayor on transportation and bicycling.
Governor appoints Chelsea Koch to the Third District Court
Gov. Gary R. Herbert has appointed Chelsea Koch as a judge for the Third District Court. 
Salt Lake City Compliance is hiring crossing guards
With the school year fast approaching, Salt Lake City's Compliance Division is looking to hire part-time school crossing guards. 
Utah Attorney General Reyes: The T-Mobile/Sprint merger will benefit rural Utah
Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement regarding the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint:
images/articles/tax-reform-441-video.jpgHouse Democrats' report on tax reform town halls
In the 2019 session, H.B. 441, the effort to overhaul Utah's tax system by expanding sales taxes on services and removing certain exemptions, did not pass because of a failure to educate Utahns about our state's financial situation and a lack of public input. House Democrats wanted to explain why the legislature was talking about tax reform and listen to what Utahns wanted on this important issue. We hosted seven town halls in Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Ogden, Provo, Sandy, Holladay, and Heber City. 
Silicon Slopes town hall: Tax reform
What's the future of tax reform in Utah? We know our industry is doing well, and we know our population is booming, but what's the right way to tackle tax reform to ensure our economy continues to boom? Come to this Silicon Slopes Town Hall event to hear from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and other experts and leaders on this important issue.It will be held Aug. 13, 10 a.m., at Silicon Slopes offices, 2600 W. Executive Parkway, Lehi. Register here.

More National Headlines

Wise Words


"Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal." Aristotle

Lighter Side


"Think about how much of a narcissist you have to be to tweet about how much better you are for TV ratings on the day when you're supposed to be consoling victims of a tragedy," [Seth]Meyers said. "It's like if you crashed a car while driving and your first thought was, 'Oh my God, I'm gonna be on Cops!'"

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