In many ways, Kansas’s primary was a good example of the cycle as a whole. Incumbents like Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) struggled badly but still managed to win. Don’t be too surprised to see the same phenomenon up and down Tennessee‘s ballot on Thursday — but we could see another incumbent (or even two) bite the dust.
— Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) in TN-04 is the Volunteer State’s most endangered incumbent, but there’s still a chance he finds his way to renomination this week, based on three factors. DesJarlais’s scandal broke at exactly the right time (nearly two years ago, between the 2012 primary and general) to give it time to fade in people’s minds; he’s been aggressive about making amends; and outside anti-abortion and other conservative groups haven’t gotten involved. That said, much of the Tennessee GOP establishment lined up behind state Sen. Jim Tracy (R), a big help to him despite DesJarlais’s “career politician” attacks.
— As TN-04 has gotten late attention, TN-03 has gone under the radar a bit. But as we’ve written before, second-term Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R) has never consolidated the GOP base, winning just 39% in the 2012 GOP primary. Weston Wamp (R) has real flaws, but he’s been reasonably well-funded and solid on the trail, and Fleischmann’s negative closing campaign hitting Wamp on health care and immigration (including a photoshopped mailer showing Wamp burning a passport) speaks for itself.
— Then there’s the big fish: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), who has never trailed in polls or faced well-funded attacks this year and, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and others before him, successfully dissuaded any tier-one challengers from testing him. Still, Graham, Roberts, and others have gotten dragged under 60% (or in Roberts’s case, 50%) by flawed challengers this year — though Alexander’s in-state favorability has been better than most, too.
Thursday will be the second of three primary days this week, and incumbents have tough battles in all of them.— Scott Bland
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Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
"President Trump informed Mexican President Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday afternoon that he will not pull the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite reports earlier in the day that he had considered doing so. ... The three leaders agreed to proceed quickly with renegotiation plans as the initial review process comes to a close."
"A new bill to revive a permanent nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nev., fails to address the concerns of Nevada lawmakers, suggesting the latest attempt may not resolve a 20-year impasse over the issue." The state's congressional delegation "shared their opposition to the nuclear waste policy amendment during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing focused on the legislation," and promised that Gov. Brian Sandoval would oppose it at every turn. "The new bill aims to finally use some $31 billion that has accumulated in the Nuclear Waste Fund, set aside in 1982 to collect specifically for a permanent repository."