FOR THE RECORD. Wagner’s campaign countered that its purported 109 missed votes “is a comparably lower 99 votes,” and that 83 “of those votes took place when Wagner was attending a three-day conference.” (PennLive)
LOOKING AHEAD. “For the four Republicans who hope to challenge” Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) reelection “bid next year, the first playoff game before the May 15 primary election will be the state party’s endorsement. That endorsement vote, scheduled for Feb. 10, could determine who stays in the primary race and who gets to brag that they won the endorsement while drawing upon the financial benefits of the party’s backing. Should the party be unable or unwilling to endorse, it would be the first time in 40 years.”
“A looming four-way contest puts the 347 state Republican Party committee members in the sticky position of choosing between two people — … Wagner and state House Speaker Mike Turzai (R) … — who have played outsized roles in helping elect Republican lawmakers.”
“Starting Jan. 6, the state party’s regional caucuses will begin meeting with the candidates and holding straw votes ahead of a formal state committee vote. Regional caucus meetings will wrap up Feb. 3, a week before committee members meet in Hershey to decide party endorsements.” (AP)
CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED. The Human Rights Campaign “released new polling data conducted by Hart Research Associates, … showing that likely voters across Pennsylvania overwhelmingly support LGBTQ-inclusive policies and are less likely to vote for a candidate who does not.” (release)
THE OTHER CLINTONS. Clinton County Commissioners Jeff Snyder and Pete Smeltz are backing former health care consultant Paul Mango (R). (Lock Haven Express)
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"US President Donald Trump will visit the UK in mid-July, according to Sky sources," with a formal announcement expected soon. "Mr Trump was due to open the new US Embassy in London in February but cancelled the trip saying the building was too expensive and tweeting that he was not a 'big fan' of the decision to move its location."
"North Korea’s underground nuclear test site has become unusable after a large part of it collapsed," say experts from the University of Science and Technology of China. "Their evidence comes just one week after a surprise announcement from leader Kim Jong Un that North Korea would stop nuclear tests." The finding contradicts the Trump Administration's claim that the closure was a major concession by North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, who is set to meet with him for talks with President Trump in May.
"Republicans on Wednesday will begin a push to change Senate rules in a way that would allow the faster confirmation of President Trump's nominees, after months of complaints that Democrats are dragging out the process. The Senate Rules Committee will meet in the afternoon to consider a resolution that would reduce post-cloture debate for most Executive Branch nominees from 30 hours to just 8 hours. The goal is to prevent Democrats from stretching out debate over several days."
Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko won a special election to fill the deep red seat Trent Franks retired from earlier this year. Unofficial balloting had her up 52.9% to 47.2%. This victory is a bit close for comfort, considering Donald Trump's 21-point victory there in 2016. This victory will do very little to calm GOP nerves five months before Election Day.
Apple CEO Tim Cook will meet with President Trump today, "at a time of heightened trade tensions between the U.S. and China with technology caught up in the spat. Both countries have proposed import tariffs on each others' products, but the U.S. has been tough on Chinese technology firms." China is an important market for Apple, and Cook is expected to bring up the worsening trade relationship.