Situational awareness – March 20, 2018

Good Tuesday morning from Salt Lake City. It’s caucus day in Utah! Welcome to Utah’s must-read daily political news roundup. 

Mitt Romney talks caucuses. Hatch says firing Mueller would be the “stupidest thing” Trump could do. Congress closing in on a $1.3 trillion spending bill.

Here’s a scoop! Gov. Mitt Romney is an aficionado of pancakes. We discussed some of his favorite flapjack places before our interview got rolling (you can listen to the podcast below). Bonus scoop: Ann Romney often makes pancakes from scratch, and her secret ingredient is whipped egg whites. That’s the kind of hard-hitting reporting you expect from

Happy 164th birthday GOP! On this day in 1854, the Republican Party was organized in Ripon, Wisconsin. You don’t look a day over 155!

Tick Tock

  • The statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats are tonight (3/20/2018)
  • 26 days until the signature-gathering deadline for statewide ballot initiatives (4/15/2018)
  • 32 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 39 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 98 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 231 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 314 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 960 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Do you like podcasts? Give us a download! Listen to our interviews with Utah political newsmakers and “Bernick and Schott on politics” while you’re on the go. Hosts Bryan Schott and Bob Bernick have more than 60 years combined experience covering Utah politics, so they bring you knowledge and insight that’s unprecedented. You can subscribe using iTunesGoogle Play, and Stitcher.

Got a tip or story idea? Send me an email at [email protected].

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Here’s what’s driving the day

Romney speaks

Gov. Mitt Romney discusses his campaign and how he’s using a grassroots approach to caucus night [Utah Policy].

Here’s the podcast of our interview with Romney wherein we discuss campaigning, Russia, tax cuts and whether he plans to term limit himself if he wins in November [Utah Policy].

Clearing the air

Rep. Steve Handy runs down the work lawmakers did to improve air quality during the 2018 Utah Legislature [Utah Policy].

Heading to the Sweet 16

Here are four more “Political Power” matchups for you to vote on. The most intriguing matchup today is Gov. Gary Herbert vs. his former Lt. Governor Greg Bell. Hit the link and vote [Utah Policy].

Here are Monday’s results, including a nailbiter of a matchup that saw Gail Miller squeak past John Dougall a single percentage point [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines

  • Political caucus meetings happen tonight across the state [Deseret News].
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch says if President Trump were to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, it would be the “stupidest thing” Trump could do [Mediaite].
  • Mitt Romney is running for re-election to Marriott International’s board of directors, a position he’ll have to give up if he wins the Utah Senate race in November [Associated Press].
  • A super PAC aligned with Democrat Nancy Pelosi is spending more than $40 million on TV ads to help Democratic candidates this year, but the group is not yet assisting Ben McAdams in his 4th District race [Associated Press].
  • Sen. Mike Lee says Congress should not include a “bailout” for the Affordable Care Act in the $1.3 trillion spending bill they’re racing to approve before Friday [Deseret News].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert signs 71 bills from the 2018 session, including one to protect mothers who breastfeed in public [Tribune].
  • The Utah County Commission is considering adding a non-discrimination clause to the contract for their sponsorship of the annual Freedom Festival in Provo. Last year an LGBT group was excluded from the parade at the last minute [Daily Herald].
  • Salt Lake Police release photos of a suspect they say was stealing political yard signs in the Avenues, then flashed a gun at someone who confronted him [Fox 13].

National headlines

  • Congress is getting closer to passing a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill before a possible government shutdown on Friday [Politico].
  • President Trump’s lawyers have turned over some documents to special counsel Robert Mueller in the hope they can limit the scope of a potential interview with the president. For his part, President Trump is reportedly “champing at the bit” to sit for an interview with Mueller [Washington Post].
  • President Trump is reportedly preparing to hit China hard with tariffs. The tariff package, which is set to be unveiled on Friday, reportedly would total $60 billion annually [Washington Post].
  • Executives for Cambridge Analytica, the big data firm tied to the Trump campaign, were caught on hidden camera bragging to a potential client that they could entrap political rivals through bribery or using prostitutes [New York Times].
  • Facebook’s chief information security officer announces he’s leaving the compnay after clashing with other executives on whether to disclose details about Russian activity on the social media platform [New York Times].
  • Facebook’s stock lost $36 billion in value on Monday following the revelations about how they did not stop improper access to user data by Cambridge Analytica [Wall Street Journal].
  • The Supreme Court refused to block new congressional maps in Pennsylvania, which could give Democrats a big boost in their quest to retake control of the House in November [Washington Post].
  • Republican leaders in the House are starting to get behind the idea of a second special counsel to investigate claims of bias at the FBI [The Hill].
  • Mississippi’s governor signs the nation’s toughest abortion ban into law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks. A lawsuit was filed to block the law less than an hour later [Washington Post].
  • Police in Austin, Texas believe they are dealing with a serial bomber after several packages have exploded in that city. Early Tuesday morning a package believed to be heading to Austin exploded at a FedEx facility in San Antonio [Washington Post].

On this day in history

  • 1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published.
  • 1915 – Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity.
  • 1933 – Giuseppe Zangara is executed in Florida for fatally shooting Anton Cermak in an assassination attempt against President-Elect Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • 2003 – In the early hours of the morning, the United States and three other countries begin military operations in Iraq.