Situational awareness – March 13, 2018

Good Monday morning from Salt Lake City. Welcome to Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. 

Spencer Cox says he won’t kick signature-gathering Republicans off the ballot. So far, not many Democrats have filed to run for office in Utah. House Republicans end their investigation into Russian election interference.

Tick Tock:

  • 2 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 7 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 39 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 46 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 105 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 238 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 321 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 967 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day:

“Political Power” bracket challenge

Who has the most political power in Utah? Your vote will determine who goes on to the next round of our bracket challenge. We have 8 head-to-head matchups. Cast your votes, and we’ll announce the winners tomorrow morning [Utah Policy].

Spencer Cox vs. the Utah GOP Central Committee

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says he will not honor any request from the Utah GOP to revoke the party membership of some signature gathering candidates. This may set up a lawsuit over a controversial (and probably illegal) bylaw change made by the GOP Central Committee [Utah Policy].

Dearth of Democrats

There are still 3 days left in the 2018 candidate filing period, but more than half of the seats in the Utah Legislature up for election do not have a Democratic candidate yet. However, there are a ton of Dems running to unseat Rep. Mia Love [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Salt Lake City leaders are lobbying Gov. Gary Herbert hard to veto the northwest quadrant bill passed by the Utah Legislature, but the governor says he will sign the legislation [Tribune].
  • LDS Church leaders sent a letter urging their members to get engaged in Utah’s political process, but once again reiterated that Mormons don’t have to be Republicans [Tribune].
  • Utah County GOP caucus-goers can now participate in the meetings later this month through a new app [Daily Herald].
  • The Utah GOP is looking for volunteers for their state convention [Deseret News].

National headlines

  • Republicans are scrambling to win today’s special congressional election in Pennsylvania. President Trump won the district in 2016 by 20-points, but polls show the race is a toss-up [Politico].
  • The House Intelligence Committee announced they were ending the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election and found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. However, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues [New York Times].
  • Trump confidant Roger Stone claims he was in contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, who told him the organization was in possession of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democrats before it was widely known [Washington Post].
  • A new book claims former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign told federal investigators that, before the 2016 election, then-candidate Donald Trump encouraged him to pursue a backchannel between the campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin [Yahoo].
  • Senate GOP leaders say they will not block President Trump’s push to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Instead, they’ll try to persuade him to change his mind [Politico].
  • President Trump backs off his vow to push for sweeping gun control measures [New York Times].
  • Adult film actress Stormy Daniels is offering to return the $130,000 payment from President Trump’s lawyer to end the deal to keep her quiet about her claims that she had an affair with Trump [New York Times].
  • President Trump blocks a $117 billion bid by Broadcom to purchase Qualcomm on national security grounds [Washington Post].
  • President Trump heads to California on Tuesday to discuss immigration and view prototypes for his proposed border wall [Reuters].
  • There has been no response yet from North Korea yet to President Trump accepting an invitation to meet with leader Kim Jong Un [Bloomberg].
  • Jared Kushner’s family sold a stake in a real estate project to a company linked to the Japanese government, raising questions about a conflict of interest [Bloomberg].

On this day in history

  • 1862 – The U.S. federal government forbids all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, thus annulling the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • 1865 – The Confederate States of America agree to the use of African-American troops.
  • 1868 – The Senate began impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson. Johnson was later acquitted by one vote.
  • 1933 – Banks in the U.S. begin to re-open after President Franklin D. Roosevelt mandates a “bank holiday.”
  • 1991 – The Department of Justice announces that Exxon has agreed to pay $1 billion for the clean-up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.