Situational awareness – January 17, 2018

Good Wednesday morning from Salt Lake City. 

While everyone is focused on Mitt Romney, there are other Republicans who are mulling a bid for U.S. Senate, too. One of those is Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton. Multiple Republican lawmakers have told me he has already decided to jump in the race. I asked McCay on Tuesday about those claims and he quipped, “It must be my cologne, which is called ‘Ambition,’ that is confusing them.” McCay did say he’s thinking about it, but he’s more focused on the upcoming legislative session, and will make a final decision when the time is right. I’ll have more of my conversation with McCay later.

The secret opinion on the 3rd CD election is released. Mitt Romney deflected questions about whether he’s running on Tuesday. Most of the candidates gathering signatures to get on the 2018 ballot in Utah are incumbents.

Tick Tock:

  • 5 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 50 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 51 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 57 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 62 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 94 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 101 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 160 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 293 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,021 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Thanks for reading our daily rundown of the political news stories you need to know (and nothing you don’t). If you have news tips, story ideas, want to submit an op-ed, or want to talk about why Hall and Oates is the greatest musical group ever, hit me up at [email protected]. I’m always available.

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

Secret opinion released

Attorney General Sean Reyes released the secret legal opinion on whether Gov. Gary Herbert did anything illegal when he called the special election in Utah’s 3rd CD. Reyes’s opinion said Herbert was in the right when he did not call the legislature into special session. [Utah Policy]. (Bonus, I’m cited as a footnote on the bottom of page 2).

Romney speaks but steers clear of campaign talk

Mitt Romney delivered a much-anticipated speech in Salt Lake City Tuesday. His address was heavy on policy and short on campaign rhetoric [Utah Policy].

When will Romney announce?

Sources close to Romney say any potential campaign announcement (they still won’t confirm he’s running even though everybody assumes he is) will not come in the form of a “traditional” campaign speech [Utah Policy].

Most of the candidates who have decided to gather signatures are incumbents

Rep. Becky Edwards tells she’s not running for another term in 2018. However, there are very few signature-gathering candidates who have decided to challenge sitting incumbents [Utah Policy].

Will the good economic times continue to roll for Utah?

Analysts aren’t sure how the federal tax reform will affect Utah’s economy, but the state has been outperforming the rest of the nation in several categories [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • The LDS Church appointed Russel M. Nelson as its new president on Tuesday [Deseret News, Time].
  • Rep. Mia Love meets with President Donald Trump on immigration issues, but she said she did not bring up his alleged use of a vulgar racial slur to describe Haiti and African nations [Tribune, Deseret News].
  • It’s happened to all of us. Sen. Orrin Hatch tried to remove glasses he wasn’t wearing during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, but his office had a hilarious response [New York Daily News].
  • Sen. Daniel Thatcher is bringing his hate crimes bill back for another try in this year’s legislative session [Fox 13].
  • The Salt Lake City Council approved loans for two more affordable housing projects [Deseret News].
  • Some Salt Lake City parking enforcement officers have been fired for taking kickbacks in exchange for not writing tickets [KUTV].
  • When the Utah Transit Authority offered free fare to riders before Christmas, the number of passengers surged by 23,000 [Tribune].
  • The three finalists for President of the University of Utah are scheduled to meet with campus groups on Wednesday [Deseret News]. 

National headlines:

  • The government will shut down on Friday evening if Republicans can’t cobble together enough votes to pass at least a short-term funding plan. While the odds of a shutdown are rising dramatically, House GOP leaders are pitching a plan that includes funding for a health care program for children and a delay in some Obamacare taxes which they hope will bring some reluctant Democrats on board [Politico].
  • Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Bannon was also subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee after he refused to answer questions during a closed-door interview [Washington Post].
  • Bannon plans to “tell all” to special counsel Robert Mueller when he’s questioned as part of the probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 election [Daily Beast].
  • The Russia probe isn’t going to end anytime soon, and Republicans worry that it could have an effect on the 2018 midterm elections [Politico].
  • President Trump passed a physical and cognitive test with flying colors according to a military doctor who examined the president on Friday [New York Times].
  • The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to review a federal judge’s ruling that blocked the government from dismantling the DACA program [New York Times].
  • A former CIA officer was arrested on Tuesday because he was suspected of spying for China [NBC News].
  • The Pentagon wants to respond to massive cyberattacks on American infrastructure with nuclear weapon strikes according to a new strategy memo [New York Times].
  • 21 states have signed on to a lawsuit challenging the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality [Reuters].

On this day in history:

  • 1773 – Captain James Cook commands the first expedition to sail south of the Antarctic Circle.
  • 1899 – The United States takes possession of Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean.
  • 1912 – Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.
  • 1917 – The United States pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
  • 1946 – The UN Security Council holds its first session.
  • 1961 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the “military-industrial complex.”
  • 1977 – Captial punishment in the United States resumes after a ten-year hiatus, as convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah.
  • 1998 – President Bill Clinton denied in a sworn deposition that he had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.