Situational awareness – March 15, 2018

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

Utahns still support Count My Vote in big numbers. Mitt Romney’s campaign gets down to the grassroots. Republicans are getting nervous about November’s midterm elections.

Beware the Ides of March! It’s likely a total coincidence that the end of Utah’s candidate filing period coincides with such an infamous day in history.

Tick Tock:

  • Today is the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 5 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 37 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 44 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 103 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 236 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 319 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 965 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day

Support for Count My Vote ballot initiative remains strong

Our latest poll finds nearly 2/3 of Utahns support the dual path route to the ballot provided for in the initiative [Utah Policy].

Romney goes big on grassroots campaign

Everyone thought Mitt Romney would hire signature gatherers to secure a place on the ballot and not worry too much about the GOP convention. Instead, he’s using volunteers to gather signatures and making a major push to get his supporters elected as delegates in next week’s caucus meetings [Utah Policy].

Niederhauser heads for the exit

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser shocked his colleagues on Wednesday announcing he would retire at the end of the year instead of seeking another term [Utah Policy].

“Political Power” bracket challenge day #3

We’ve got 8 more matchups on tap for you today. Hit the link and get your votes in! [Utah Policy]

The Day #2 results saw our biggest upset to date as homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson knocked off Rep. Chris Stewart. Check out the rest of the results and an updated bracket at the link [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski urged Gov. Gary Herbert to veto an inland port bill passed last week by the legislature. Other groups are joining in asking Herbert to veto the measure [Deseret News].
  • Utah students join a nationwide walkout over gun violence [Deseret News].
  • Utah’s four House members vote in favor of a bill to boost school security and train students and teachers to better identify potential gun violence threats [Tribune].
  • Rep. Mike Kennedy, who announced he would not run for another term in the Utah House, instead will run for U.S. Senate against Mitt Romney [Daily Herald].
  • Utah lawmakers loosened regulations on billboards this past session. Reagan Outdoor Advertising was a big donor to Utah legislators, giving nearly $80,000 in campaign donations [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City gets the go-ahead to participate in bidding to host the 2026 Winter Olympics [Deseret News].

National headlines

  • Democrat Connor Lamb’s stunning win in a solidly Republican district in Pennsylvania has Republicans sounding the alarm ahead of November’s midterm election [New York Times].
  • Lamb famously broke with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during his winning campaign. That will likely embolden other Democratic candidates to disavow Pelosi and raises doubts that she’ll regain the speaker’s gavel if Democrats win control of the House in November [Axios].
  • President Trump’s lawyers are preparing him for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, which they say could happen sooner rather than later [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump says Congressional Republicans are working on a second round of tax cuts this year [Politico].
  • President Donald Trump claims he made up information about the U.S. running a trade deficit with Canada during a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump says he doesn’t know if that assertion is correct or not [Washington Post].
  • The Senate passes a bipartisan bill to roll back some of the reforms enacted following the financial crisis in 2008 [The Hill].
  • New documents tie Donald Trump’s company directly to a $130,000 to a porn actress in an effort to keep her from talking about her affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 election [Wall Street Journal].
  • Former FBI Director James Comey’s forthcoming book is being subjected to the kind of extreme secrecy you’d normally see with a new Harry Potter book [Politico].
  • Toys R Us will close all 800 of its stores in the U.S. following poor sales figures over the Christmas shopping season [Washington Post].

On this day in history

  • 44 BC – Julius Ceasar is stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus, and several other Roman senators on the Ides of March.
  • 1493 – Christopher Columbus returns to Spain after his first trip to the Americas.
  • 1820 – Maine becomes the 23rd state.
  • 1916 – President Woodrow Wilson sends 4,800 U.S. troops over the Mexico border to pursue Pancho Villa.
  • 1985 – The first Internet domain name is registered (
  • 1991 – A grand jury indicted four Los Angeles police officers on felony assault charges for the beating of Rodney King. The officers’ acquittals in 1992 sparked violent riots in the city.