Situational awareness – January 10, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

Congratulations to Brian Zehnder and Adam Robertson. They were selected by Republican delegates to fill open seats in the Utah Senate and House. Zehnder replaces Brian Shiozawa in the Senate and Robertson replaces Dean Sanpei in the House.

Tick Tock:

  • 12 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 57 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 58 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 64 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 69 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 101 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 108 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 167 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 300 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,028 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Welcome to our daily rundown of the important news stories you need to know. I’m always available at [email protected] for you to send your story tips, complaints, or rants. I’d love to hear from you.

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Scoop! Group files ballot initiative to repeal SB54

A group calling itself “Keep My Voice” has filed a ballot initiative to repeal SB54, which would eliminate the signature-gathering path to the ballot for candidates. That means a return to the caucus/convention system as the only route to a party’s nomination. Organizers reportedly plan to use the March caucus meetings as a mechanism for getting the 113,000 signatures they need to get on the ballot [Utah Policy].

Report: Romney didn’t know Hatch was going to retire

Mitt Romney was reportedly caught off guard by Sen. Orrin Hatch’s decision to retire last week. Romney’s camp thought Hatch was going to heed President Donald Trump’s urging to run for an eighth term. Now that Hatch is out, Romney’s wife, Ann, is encouraging him to run [Utah Policy].

McAdams’s good start

Democrat Ben McAdams announces he raised more than $500,000 in the first few months after he announced his bid for Congress in Utah’s 4th CD. McAdams’s campaign says most of that money came from small, individual donations and Utah donors [Utah Policy].

Huntsman’s stark warning to Congress

Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman warns members of Congress that Russia is preparing to interfere with the 2018 and 2020 elections. “Putin has never been stronger,” he reportedly said [Utah Policy].

Some western states are on pace to get more seats in Congress, but not Utah

Population trends show that Colorado, Arizona, Montana, and Oregon are on pace gain seats in Congress after the 2020 Census. Northeastern and Sun Belt states are poised to lose seats [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • Gov. Gary Herbert voices support for Rep. John Curtis’s bill to allow tribal members to manage the new Shash Jaa’ National Monument created by President Donald Trump [Tribune, Deseret News].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert says he’d like to see Mitt Romney run for Senate this year [Tribune]. Jon Huntsman Sr. agrees [Tribune].
  • 54% of Massachusetts voters say they think it’s a good idea for Mitt Romney to run for Senate from Utah [].
  • The House Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop, is using its social media channels to attack Patagonia over the company’s opposition to the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument. Some are wondering if that’s proper [Tribune].
  • Aimee Winder Newton is selected to be the new chair of the Salt Lake County Council. She’s the first woman to lead that group [Deseret News].
  • Nathan Evershed announces he’s running against Sim Gill, his boss, for the Salt Lake District Attorney job this November [Deseret News].
  • Rep. Bruce Cutler wants to ban smoking on the Utah Capitol complex [Deseret News]. 
  • The Salt Lake County Council passes a resolution calling for tougher hate crimes legislation [Tribune].
  • The Army announces they plan to keep an Apache helicopter battalion in Utah, saving National Guard jobs in the state [Deseret News].
  • A new study suggests short-term exposure to Utah’s inversions may be making elderly Utahns sick, or even killing them, year-round [Tribune].
  • Provo has the best performing economy among large U.S. metro areas according to a new study [USA Today].

National headlines:

  • Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein defied Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee and made public the transcript of testimony from the founders of a research firm behind a dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians. The testimony contains claims that the FBI started investigating Russian ties to the Trump campaign before the dossier entered the picture [Washington Post].
  • A new report from congressional Democrats details increasing Russian interference throughout Europe and warns that the U.S. should take aggressive countermeasures to stop it from happening in the U.S. [Associated Press].
  • Early on in the Trump administration, a senior National Security Council official proposed reducing the number of U.S. forces in Europe and a friendly overture to Russian President Vladimir Putin [Daily Beast].
  • President Donald Trump and Congress have reached a deal to negotiate a legislative fix for the DACA program as well as increase border security [NBC News].
  • A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from ending protections for thousands of young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents [New York Times].
  • Former White House strategist Steve Bannon steps down from his post at Breitbart News. Bannon was forced out by financial backers after he was unable to quell conservative outrage about comments attributed to him in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury book [New York Times].
  • A federal court strikes down North Carolina’s congressional map, declaring it unconstitutional because it was drawn specifically to advantage Republicans. They’ve given legislators there until January 24 to draw a new map for the 2018 midterm elections [New York Times].
  • Controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio announces he is running for Senate [Washington Examiner].
  • President Donald Trump says he would beat Oprah Winfrey in the 2020 presidential race if she decides to run [CNN].
  • Officials in the Trump White House are telling aides to decide before the end of the month whether they are going to leave the administration or stay on through the 2018 midterm elections. National security adviser H.R. McMaster and White House Counsel Don McGahn are said to be readying their departure [CNN].
  • A new poll finds most Americans think President Donald Trump will be exonerated by special counsel Robert Mueller this year [Politico].
  • Mudslides following massive wildfires in California have killed 13 people so far [New York Times].

On this day in history:

  • 1776 – Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense.
  • 1789 – The first nationwide U.S. presidential election was conducted. Electors unanimously chose George Washington as president and John Adams as vice president.
  • 1861 – Florida becomes the third state to secede from the Union.
  • 1878 – A constitutional amendment that would give women the right to vote was introduced in the U.S. Senate. It wasn’t enacted until 42 years later.
  • 1946 – The U.S. Army Signal Corps successfully conducts Project Diana, bouncing radio waves off the Moon.