Situational awareness – March 16, 2018

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

An avalanche of candidates to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch. Salt Lake City turns up the heat over the inland port bill. More turnover in the Trump administration ahead.

Tick Tock

  • 4 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 36 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 43 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 102 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 235 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 318 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 964 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

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Here’s what’s driving the day

Everybody’s gunning for Mitt Romney

There are an incredible 19 candidates to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, including 12 Republicans. We also run down some of the other news and notes from filing day at the link [Utah Policy].

Return of mainstream Republicans

Bob Bernick argues Mitt Romney’s candidacy could lead to the return of mainstream Republicans, as well as political sanity, to the GOP [Utah Policy].

What a week!

Candidate filings, ending Utah GOP nuttiness, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump wants to create a space army. Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott scroll through the news from a crazy political week [Utah Policy].

Here’s a podcast version if you prefer [Utah Policy].

Town hall on gun violence and suicide

After thousands of Utah schoolkids walked out on Wednesday to protest gun violence, a group of GOP lawmakers plan to hold a series of town hall meetings to discuss the problem [Utah Policy].

“Political Power” bracket rolls on

It’s the last day of the first round of our “Political Power” bracket. Make your votes now [Utah Policy].

Here are the results from day 3 of the voting. Our only upset saw Rep. Brad Wilson knock off former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Rep. Rob Bishop is proposing legislation to count overseas Mormon missionaries in the 2020 census [Deseret News].
  • Outgoing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake hopes Mitt Romney will become a critic of President Trump if he wins election to the Senate next year [Tribune].
  • Salt Lake City residents join the chorus of those pushing Gov. Gary Herbert to veto the inland port bill passed by the legislature last week [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The Moab City Council is considering delegating some duties, such as appointing department heads, to the city manager [Moab Times-Independent].

National headlines

  • President Donald Trump has decided to remove national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Trump reportedly is leaning toward naming former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to the post. He’s also considering replacing other key members of his administration, including chief of staff John Kelly [Washington Post].
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization, asking them to turn over documents related to business dealings in Russia [New York Times].
  • The Department of Homeland Security is warning that Russian hackers are behind a series of cyberattacks targeting American power plants that could shut down or sabotage them at will [New York Times].
  • The Trump administration hit a series of Russian organizations with sanctions in retaliation for interfering in the 2016 election as well as other cyberattacks [New York Times].
  • A group of GOP senators is calling on the Department of Justice to name a special counsel to probe the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Russian election interference [The Hill].
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is under fire for “juvenile and flippant” comments he made during a hearing about proposed cuts to a program that focuses on the history of Japanese-Americans. In response to a question from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Zinke replied, “Oh, Konnichiwa” [The Hill].
  • President Trump taps Larry Kudlow to head the National Economic Council [New York Times].
  • Democrats in Congress may block President Trump’s new Cabinet nominees, which could lead to a series of bruising confirmation fights ahead of the 2018 midterms [Politico].
  • The Trump administration is finalizing a plan to fight the opioid crisis that includes calling for the death penalty for some drug dealers [Politico].
  • President Trump is considering tapping a Fox News host to take over Veterans Affairs [Washington Post].
  • CBS is planning on airing their interview with adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who is alleging she had an affair with Donald Trump, on March 25 [Washington Post].

On this day in history

  • 1802 – The Army Corps of Engineers is established to found and operate the United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • 1916 – The 7th and 10th US cavalry regiments under John J. Pershing cross the US-Mexico border to join the hunt for Pancho Villa.
  • 1935 – Adolf Hitler orders Germany to rearm in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Conscription is reintroduced to form the Wehrmacht.
  • 1958 – The Ford Motor Company produces its 50 millionth automobile, the Thunderbird, averaging almost a million cars a year since the company’s founding.
  • 1969 – My Lai Massacre occurs: between 347 and 500 Vietnamese villagers are killed by American troops.
  • 1988 – Iran-Contra Affair: Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter are indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
  • 1995 – Mississippi formally ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment was officially ratified in 1865.