The campaign began “its first full test-run this weekend as parties [kicked] off local caucuses. … At the caucuses, which begin for both parties Saturday at elementary schools, libraries and town halls throughout the state, tens of thousands of activists will hear from the campaigns officially for the first time. It’s the initial step in selecting delegates who will endorse the party’s preferred candidate or, in some cases, determine who will be on the primary ballot later this year.
For “Democrats, in particular, the gatherings of town and ward committees … serve as the initial organizational shake-down for the three candidates for governor.”
Gov. Charlie Baker (R) “is expected to easily sweep much of the Republican caucuses, despite pockets of conservative resistance to his candidacy. The only question is whether he can so heavily dominate the delegate selection that he can avoid a primary race” against minister Scott Lively (R). “But that goal could be a challenge for Baker, as the makeup of the convention delegates has over the years become increasingly conservative, with many of them upset over what they see are his moderate and liberal policies and his close ties to some Democratic political figures.” (Boston Globe)
THANKS FOR NOTHING, SUNUNU. Baker’s “pick for a project to increase the amount of renewable energy used in the state — announced just last week — was dealt what could be a dire setback Thursday, when New Hampshire officials denied a key permit to build 192 miles of transmission lines. Also Thursday, the state agency that oversees health benefits for hundreds of thousands of public employees, retirees, and their families—over which Baker has considerable control—reversed course. … Democratic opponents of Baker, who is seeking a second term this year, piled on.” (Boston Globe)
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS. State Sen. Cindy Friedman (D) endorsed former state budget director Jay Gonzalez (D). (release) Brockton City Councilor Jean Bradley Derenoncourt endorsed former Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D). (release)
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE. Gonzalez called for state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D), who until recently was the state Senate president, “to step down from the Legislature. Rosenberg has been laid low by allegations of sexual assault against his husband, Bryon Hefner, and damaged politically by a report that Hefner involved himself in Senate affairs after Rosenberg had promised a ‘firewall’ between his personal life and legislative business.” (Boston Globe)
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"As President Trump builds his team for 2020, he has asked Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel to serve a second term, according to a source familiar with the conversation. The source said Trump praised McDaniel's work on behalf of the America First Agenda, effective management of the party infrastructure, and record grassroots engagement and fundraising."
"President Trump said he plans to call Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump spoke on Saturday during an appearance in the Oval Office with Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was recently released by the Turkish government."
Asked by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, President Trump said he thought he treated Dr. Christine Blasey Ford fairly, even as he was accused of poking fun of her at a rally. He then declined to address the issue further, saying "I'm not going to get into it, because we won. It doesn't matter. We won."
"The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials. The recordings show that a Saudi security team ... killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said." Late Thursday, Turkey agreed to form a joint committee with Saudi Arabia to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance, signaling Saudi Arabia's likely intent to preempt sanctions from the United States. Members of Congress have asked President Trump curb weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.