Situational awareness – January 8, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Utahns say the state is on the right path, but the country as a whole is not. Mitt Romney reportedly wants to fill Sen. John McCain’s role as a counterbalance to Trump. Oprah 2020?

Tick Tock:

  • 14 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 59 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 60 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 66 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 71 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 103 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 110 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 169 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 302 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,030 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Utah news highlights

Utahns are not happy with the direction of the country but feel good about Utah’s path

A new survey finds that despite GOP control of Congress and the White House, most Utahns are not happy with the direction of the country. The results reveal a partisan divide: 54% of Utah Republican voters say the U.S. is on the right track, while 86% of Democrats feel the opposite way [Utah Policy].

Mitt Romney reportedly wants to be a counterbalance to Trump

Mitt Romney reportedly told members of Utah’s congressional delegation he wants to follow in the footsteps of John McCain and be a Republican alternative to President Trump. Romney’s imminent entry into Utah’s U.S. Senate race is also apparently frustrating Rep. Chris Stewart, who also wants to run for the seat left open by Hatch’s retirement [Utah Policy]. 

Flake and Shelby want Romney to run

Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Richard Shelby of Alabama want to see Mitt Romney run for the Senate seat being vacated by Orrin Hatch [Utah Policy].

Former Hatch chief of staff Rob Porter may be leaving the White House

Rob Porter, who left Orrin Hatch’s office to take a key slot in the Trump White House, is reportedly being courted by big businesses to join the private sector. Porter is seen as a key staffer in the White House. He has also worked for Sen. Mike Lee [Utah Policy].

Is a Democratic wave forming in 2018? 

Our “Political Insiders” say not so fast. They’re not sure that Democrats are on track to capture control of one, or both, houses of Congress in November [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says Steve Bannon “would get his head handed to him” if he were to get involved in Utah politics [Vox].
  • Rep. Chris Stewart calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down [Deseret News].
  • Utah GOP chair Rob Anderson angered some party members for offering assistance to Republican candidates who take the signature-gathering route to get on the ballot [Tribune].
  • Rep. Michael McKell wants to criminalize assisted suicide, making the act a second-degree felony [Daily Herald].
  • LGBTQ candidates made gains during the 2017 Utah municipal elections [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski gives herself an A- for her first two years in office [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • The speech everyone is talking about: Oprah Winfrey brought down the house Sunday night with her acceptance speech when she was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes [CNN]. The speech immediately fueled speculation that Winfrey is eyeing a run at the White House in 2020 [Los Angeles Times].
  • 13 days until the government shuts down unless Congress can reach a funding deal. One big hurdle is Democratic demands that Congress find a fix for the legal status of young immigrants. However, President Trump says any plan to address immigrant “dreamers” must include funding for his proposed border wall [Washington Post].
  • President Donald Trump’s tweet on Saturday morning that he was a “very stable genius” is prompting open talk about his mental state and fitness for office. However, don’t expect his cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office because experts say the bar for using that extreme measure is exceptionally high [CNN].
  • Steve Bannon is backing away from controversial comments he made in Michael Wolff’s book [New York Times].
  • The White House is readying a crackdown on trade to counter allegedly unfair trade practices by China and other countries [Politico].
  • President Trump says he’s going to delay his “fake news awards” to Wednesday of this week instead of Monday [Politico].
  • According to President Trump’s private schedule, he is starting his day much later than he did earlier in his presidency [Axios].
  • A major Democratic donor is considering withholding campaign contributions for those Senators who urged former Sen. Al Franken to resign following accusations that he sexually harassed several women [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1790 – President George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address in New York City.
  • 1828 – The Democratic Party is organized.
  • 1835 – The United States national debt is zero for the only time.
  • 1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a “War on Poverty.”
  • 1975 – Ella T. Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, the first woman to serve as a Governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband.
  • 1987 – Kay Orr was inaugurated as the nation’s first woman Republican governor.
  • 2002 – President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act.
  • 2011 – Six people were killed and 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, were injured when a gunman opened fire at a political meeting in Tucson.