Situational awareness – March 21, 2018

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

The Utah GOP loses another court battle over SB54. Utahns want Republicans to keep control of Congress in November. The suspect in a series of bombings in Austin, Texas is dead.

Happy birthday Twitter! The social media platform was founded on this day in 2006. 

Tick Tock

  • 25 days until the signature-gathering deadline for statewide ballot initiatives (4/15/2018)
  • 31 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 38 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 97 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 230 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 313 days until the first day of the 2019 Utah Legislature (1/28/2019)
  • 959 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].

If you have friends or colleagues who would enjoy receiving this daily news rundown, tell them they can subscribe to our newsletter here.

Here’s what’s driving the day

Utahns aren’t fond of the job Congress is doing, but they want Republicans to remain in control

Our new poll finds that 2/3rds of Utahns don’t think Congress is doing a very good job, but more than half want the GOP to keep their majority in the 2018 midterm elections [Utah Policy].

The Utah GOP loses another court battle over SB54

The 10th Circuit in Denver ruled against the Utah GOP’s appeal in their lawsuit to strike down the signature gathering path for candidates [Utah Policy].

Romney’s opportunity

Former Congressman Ernest Istook writes that Mitt Romney should rise above the culture of personal attacks and set an example for civility if he wins election to the Senate in November [Utah Policy].

Utah political bracket update

Homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson continues her Cinderella run through our political tournament bracket with another big upset. Check out the updated bracket here [Utah Policy].

Vote on today’s matchups here [Utah Policy].

Other Utah Headlines

  • Utah Republicans and Democrats hit their neighborhood caucus meetings on Tuesday night. Attendance in Utah county was lower than usual [Daily Herald, Deseret NewsTribune].
  • A new lawsuit alleges Rep. John Curtis when he was mayor of Provo, and other city officials were aware of, and ignored sexual misconduct complaints against former Provo police chief John King [Deseret News, Tribune].
  • The Salt Lake City Council voted to delay development agreements in the northwest quadrant due to the bill passed by the legislature in the final days of the 2018 session [Deseret News].
  • The LDS Church donated a now-closed landfill in northwest Salt Lake City to the state [Tribune].
  • Gov. Gary Herbert signs a number of bills, including allowing restaurants to take down their “not a bar” signs and another to restrict when fireworks can be used [Associated Press, Deseret News, Fox 13Tribune].
  • The Alliance for a Better Utah once again demands that embattled Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves resign [Daily Herald].

National headlines

  • A suspect in a series of bombings in Austin, Texas is dead. He killed himself with an explosive device at a hotel in Round Rock, Texas as a SWAT team closed in [Austin American-Statesman].
  • Congress is struggling to find consensus on an omnibus $1.3 trillion spending bill before a government shutdown on Saturday. Republican leaders are now floating a short-term spending bill to prevent a shutdown [The Hill].
  • President Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection. In fact, written on his briefing materials in all-capital letters was “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” Trump went ahead and congratulated Putin anyway [Washington Post].
  • A former employee of controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica says Steve Bannon oversaw the firms collection of data from Facebook [Washington Post].
  • Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee warned about Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections, suggesting a switching to voting machines that produce paper ballots [New York Times].
  • Global economic leaders warn of a trade war in response to President Trump’s plan to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum [New York Times].
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $105,000 on first-class flights during his first year in office. He also spent another $58,000 on charter and military flights [Politico].
  • Housing and urban development secretary Ben Carson defended the purchase of a $31,000 dining room set for his office saying his wife and staff made the ultimate decision to spend the exorbitant sum [New York Times].
  • A Fox News contributor who once said President Obama had been “date raped” by Russian President Vladimir Putin has quit the network, saying it has become a “propaganda machine” for the Trump administration [BuzzFeed].
  • Right-wing news site Breitbart’s readership has nosedived since Steve Bannon was ousted as the head of the organization [Politico].

On this day in history

  • 1617 – Pocahontas died in England at about age 22. Three years earlier, she converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca and married Englishman John Rolfe.
  • 1790 – Thomas Jefferson of Virginia became the first secretary of state.
  • 1925 – The Butler Act prohibits the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee.
  • 1952 – Alan Freed presents the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first rock and roll concert, in Clevel and, Ohio.
  • 1963 – Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary closes.
  • 1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces a United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics to protest the Soviet-Afghan War.
  • 2006 – Twitter is founded.