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Good Friday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 223rd day of the year. There are 142 days remaining in 2017.

John Curtis still leads the 3rd CD GOP primary race, but his lead is shrinking. The Salt Lake County GOP extends their investigation into Julie Dole. Donald Trump thanks Vladimir Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats.

The clock:

  • 4 days until the 2017 Utah primary election (8/15/2017)
  • 88 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 164 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 209 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 452 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,180 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today's political TL; DR -

  • NEW POLL: John Curtis continues to lead in the 3rd District GOP primary, but Chris Herrod appears to be eating into his lead. Tanner Ainge is way behind in third place, but his campaign says their internal polling shows a much closer race [Utah Policy].

  • The amount of outside money creeping into the 3rd District GOP primary race is inching closer to $1 million [Utah Policy].

  • Bob Bernick bemoans the outside advertising flooding the 3rd District GOP primary, saying these groups from outside of Utah treat voters like they're stupid [Utah Policy].

  • The United Utah Party says the state should stop using taxpayer money to pay for closed party primary elections [Utah Policy].

  • The Salt Lake County GOP says they will extend their investigation into interim County Recorder Julie Dole, who is accused of hiding former Recorder Gary Ott's deteriorating mental condition to protect her job [Deseret News, Tribune]. Dole released an open letter defending herself, claiming the investigation is a smear campaign [Fox 13, KUTV].

  • The plan to crack down on crime in the Rio Grande area in downtown Salt Lake City is changing by the minute as state officials scramble to open up jail beds for offenders [Tribune].

  • The group aiming to put a medical marijuana citizen initiative on the 2018 ballot gets the go-ahead from the state to start gathering signatures [Utah Policy, Deseret News, TribuneKUTV].

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch is rising to the defense of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell following a series of attacks by President Donald Trump over his inability to push the GOP health care bill through the Senate [The Hill].

  • Utah County officials have begun counting mail-in ballots for next week's primary election [Daily Herald].

  • Racist flyers from a purported white nationalist group have popped up on the University of Utah campus [Tribune].

  • Utah Valley University officials confirm they plan to build a campus in Payson [Daily Herald].

National headlines:

  • What?!! President Donald Trump actually thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling more than 750 U.S. diplomats from Russia because it helps the U.S. "cut down our payroll" [Politico].

  • Trump held court with reporters on Thursday for nearly half an hour. During the discussion, he took pot shots at Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said he has not considered firing special counsel Robert Mueller, and claimed his plan to kick transgender troops out of the military is a "great favor" to the armed services [New York Times].

  • President Donald Trump said Thursday that his threat to bring "fire and fury" to North Korea if they continue threatening the United States maybe wasn't strong enough rhetoric [New York Times].

  • China state media said they would remain neutral in any conflict between North Korea and the United States...unless the U.S. strikes first and tries to overthrow Kim Jong Un's regime [Fox News].

  • A national poll shows 82% of Americans are fearful of nuclear conflict with North Korea [Axios].

  • Congressional investigators want to question President Donald Trump's longtime personal secretary as part of the probe into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election [ABC News].

  • Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, one of the central figures in the investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, has hired a new legal team [Reuters].

  • Congressional Republicans are debating whether they should make a proposed tax cut package retroactive, which could give the economy a boost [The Hill].

  • Senate Democrats are upset that President Donald Trump's nominees for the federal bench are only meeting with Republicans before they are up for confirmation to lifetime appointments to the judiciary [Politico].

  • President Donald Trump says the opioid crisis is a national emergency, which would give states and other federal agencies to fight the problem [CNN].

  • A new national poll shows about 80% of Americans say it's time for Congress to end the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare [Associated Press].

  • Boring but important. Four top cyber security officials are leaving the U.S. government, which could hamper efforts to deter hacking of federal computer systems [BuzzFeed].

  • CNN has severed ties with Jeffery Lord, one of President Donald Trump's most vocal supporters after he tweeted the words "Seig Heil!" at a prominent liberal activist [CNN Money].

On this day in history:

  • 1929 - Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs in his career.

  • 1934 - The first federal prisoners arrived at Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.

  • 1965 - Deadly rioting and looting broke out in the predominantly black Watts section of Los Angeles.

  • 1972 - The last United States ground combat unit leaves South Vietnam.

  • 1984 - President Ronald Reagan joked "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." He made the comments while preparing for his weekly radio address.

  • 2006 - The Transportation Security Administration banned all liquids, gels, and aerosols from passenger cabins on airliners one day after a thwarted terrorist attack.