Ben Sasse (R) swept aside his challengers to take the Republican Senate nomination in Nebraska and Pete Ricketts (R) eked out the gubernatorial nomination, heralding change in the state’s top offices. Another primary result may have foreshadowed more change in the future: Rep. Lee Terry (R) is not looking secure in NE-02.
— Terry took just 53% in the GOP primary Tuesday night, running head-to-head against under-funded, little-noticed challenger Dan Frei (R). It’s the third successive primary Terry’s vote share has dipped. Over the last few terms, his congressional voting scores from a few groups like the Club for Growth and the American Conservative Union have also declined, though Terry’s standing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, has remained steady.
— Meanwhile, Democrats are closing in on his other side. Terry’s district has gotten more competitive in general elections, as President Obama highlighted by narrowly winning NE-02’s electoral vote in 2008. After winning his first four races with 60% or more, Terry has cleared 55% once in the last four generals, and he won by less than 2 percentage points in 2012.
— Present weakness begets future trouble. Some of the candidates and strategists watching anti-GOP incumbent challenges in ID-02 and TX-04 this year had been eyeing Rep. Mike Simpson‘s (R) and Rep. Ralph Hall‘s (R) primary underperformance for some time before making better-organized challenges in 2014. And while Democrats had some well-publicized recruiting issues in NE-02 last year, the next presidential year could be an enticing draw for a new challenger — assuming Terry’s fortunes don’t continue falling this November.
As Terry said last night, he won, and “that’s the major issue.” But his margins don’t have much more room to decline in victory, and they may be attracting future opponents.
— Scott Bland
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."