North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis will take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in November after pulling together enough support during Tuesday’s Republican primary to avoid a runoff and win the nomination outright, the outcome many national Republicans hoped for.
Tillis, long considered the GOP primary front-runner, earned 46 percent of the vote with 41 percent of precincts reporting when the Associated Press called the race Tuesday night. He needed at least 40 percent support to avoid a runoff.
Tea-party activist and physician Greg Brannon and pastor Mark Harris — Tillis’s two main rivals for the nomination — finished with 27 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Five other Republican candidates divided the remainder.
The business-backed Tillis was the GOP establishment’s answer to tea-party challenges in the Tar Heel State and a victory in their effort to select electable nominees in this year’s battleground Senate contests. By Tuesday’s primary, Tillis had a decisive edge in name recognition over his rivals, thanks in part to an aggressive spending campaign from outside groups working on his behalf. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Karl Rove-backed group American Crossroads both backed Tillis, with Crossroads spending $1.6 million blitz to boost him even as Hagan, who is deeply endangered, tried to soften Tillis’s conservative support with ads using a cut-off quote from the state legislator to make it look like he once supported Obamacare.
Meanwhile, Tillis undercut conservative rivals by securing endorsements from the National Rifle Association and National Right to Life. Brannon and Harris, touted some big-name endorsements: Sen. Rand Paul backed Brannon, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee supported Harris. But as the name-recognition numbers show, both failed to catch on, with one principal reason being a lack of funds. Heading into the final month of the primary, Tillis had outraised them 3-to-1, and the outside spending made the disparity even worse.
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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."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."