Morning must reads for Thursday, August 3, 2017

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. Today is the 215th day of the year. There are 150 days remaining in 2017.

How much more liberal is Salt Lake County than Utah as a whole? The United Utah Party wins a court battle to get on November’s ballot. Another health insurance company pulls out of the Utah ACA exchanges.

The clock:

  • 12 days until the 2017 Utah primary election (8/15/2017)
  • 96 days until the 2017 election (11/7/2017)
  • 172 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 217 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 460 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,188 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Today’s political TL; DR –

  • Everyone knows Salt Lake County is more liberal than the rest of Utah, but just how much more? Our Bob Bernick digs into the numbers [Utah Policy].
  • The number of Republicans who want to replace retired Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott could climb to more than 10 when the Salt Lake County GOP holds their election on August 17 [Utah Policy].
  • A judge rules that United Utah Party candidate Jim Bennett will be on the November ballot in the special congressional election in Utah’s 3rd District [Utah Policy, Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Molina Healthcare announces they will no longer be a part of Utah’s health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Interim Salt Lake County Recorder Julie Dole is wasting little time making staffing changes to that office, but some on the Salt Lake County Council question whether the moves are appropriate since Dole may not hold on to her position after the Salt Lake County GOP picks a replacement on August 17 [Tribune].
  • Utah elections officials demonstrate new voting equipment to the public, but the price tag for buying the new machines could be on counties [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch‘s bill allowing rapid testing of DNA in criminal cases is on the way to President Trump’s desk [Deseret News].
  • Former Provo Police Chief John King was forced out from the Baltimore Police Department after he was accused of groping a female staffer. Provo officials say they were unaware of the allegations in Baltimore when they hired King. King resigned earlier this year following allegations of sexual assault [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City Airport officials are moving to make emergency price caps on what taxis can charge passengers permanent [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • President Donald Trump is frustrated with his advisers who are crafted with coming up with a new Afghanistan strategy. Trump reportedly suggested Defense Secretary James Mattis should become commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan because the current commander is not winning the war [NBC News].
  • The Dow climbed past 22,000 for the first time as Wall Street is ignoring the drama coming out of Washington, D.C. [New York Times].
  • A CNN reporter clashed with White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller during a press briefing on a new immigration policy to dramatically cut immigration into the United States. The proposal would institute a skills-based system of immigration instead of the current family-based system [CNN].
  • The plan to cut legal immigration in half is not going over well with tech companies [Recode].
  • During the exchange on immigration, Miller was asked if the new immigration policy was in keeping with the famous poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Miller said that poem was added to the statue later, so it does not reflect attitudes toward immigration, which just happens to be a favorite talking point of white nationalist groups [Think Progress].
  • Congressional Republicans are bracing for a bruising fight over the debt ceiling, which must be raised by September 29 in order to avoid a government default [Politico].
  • A bipartisan pair of Senators will introduce legislation on Thursday that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired [Associated Press].
  • New White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is cracking down on the flow of information to President Donald Trump, which will help keep bad information out of the president’s hands [Politico].
  • Despite a series of recent attacks and threats toward him from President Donald Trump, Kelly has assured Attorney General Jeff Sessions his job is safe [Associated Press].
  • Ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci had penned an expansive communications plan he wanted to implement for the Trump administration, which included a mandate to focus on the economy [BuzzFeed].
  • President Donald Trump’s approval rating drops to 38% according to the Republican-friendly Rasmussen poll [Rasmussen]. Trump’s average approval rating now sits at 38.4% [Real Clear Politics].
  • For the first time in history, the incoming freshman class at Harvard University is a majority of non-white students [Boston Globe].
  • Health insurers are requesting premium hikes as much as 81% next year in Idaho [Fox News].

On this day in history:

  • 1492 – Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, on a voyage that would take him to the present-day Americas.
  • 1914 – Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, on a voyage that would take him to the present-day Americas.
  • 1923 – Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the 30th president of the United States, one day after President Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack.
  • 1981 – U.S. air traffic controllers went on strike, despite a warning from President Ronald Reagan that they would be fired.
  • 1987 – The Iran-Contra congressional hearings ended with none of the 29 witnesses tying President Ronald Reagan directly to the diversion of arms-sales profits to Nicaraguan rebels.