“[M]ore than twice as many people voted early in the Democratic primaries in 2018 as in 2014, while Republican early voting crept up by 15 percent, according to final figures posted Saturday by the Texas Secretary of State’s office” ahead of Tuesday’s primaries. Altogether, 885,574 Texas voted in person or by mail over the 11 days of early voting, which ended Friday.” That “figure is up from 592,153 early votes in the comparable period before the 2014 March primary in the last midterm elections — a nearly 50 percent increase.” (Austin American-Statesman)
GOP PRIMARY TESTS. “In several crowded Texas congressional primaries Tuesday, Republican candidates have decided that the best way to stand out is to stand squarely in Trump’s shadow - a campaign strategy that has been only slightly scrambled last week by the president’s sudden embrace of gun control and protectionist tariffs. With some notable exceptions, candidates in” TX-21 “have been wary of showing any daylight between their position and Trump’s. That has remained true even as Democratic turnout surged in early voting and national Democrats tout a chance to flip the longtime Republican seat.” (Washington Post)
TX-07: The Congressional Leadership Fund revealed a poll Friday that showed activist Laura Moser (D) positioned to secure a spot in the primary runoff to face Rep. John Culberson (R), despite DCCC’s efforts to box her out. Trial lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) took first place with 28 percent in the poll (March 1; 726 LVs; +/- 3.6%) where 25 percent were undecided. Moser came in second with 17 percent, just ahead of physician Jason Westin’s (D) 14 percent and nonprofit executive Alex Triantaphyllis’s 13 percent. More than 60 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the DCCC’s attack on Moser. (release)
DNC Chairman Tom Perez “on Friday questioned the actions of the party’s congressional campaign committee in Houston’s hotly contested 7th Congressional District primary to criticize one of the party’s seven candidates,” activist Laura Moser (D). “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. (Houston Chronicle)
Nonprofit executive Alex Triantaphyllis (D) and trial attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D), “who’ve raised the most money as of the latest campaign finance filings, have larger presences on television. Fletcher is also the beneficiary of direct mail and digital buys by EMILY’s List. … At the same time, a group called the Workers Families Party is hitting her with a small amount of digital advertising. Few will guess who makes the runoff, but insiders predict it will boil down to some pairing of Fletcher, Moser and Triantaphyllis.” (Texas Tribune)
TX-29: “Months ago,” state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D) “appeared poised to easily win this race, but something happened along the way to the nomination: Out of nowhere,” health care executive Tahir Javed (D), “declared his candidacy for the seat and has, so far, raised $1.2 million, most of that his own money. Garcia is widely expected to take first place here on Tuesday, but the operative question is will she win by enough to avoid a runoff?” (Texas Tribune)
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"White House chief of staff John Kelly has tapped Chris Liddell, a senior White House aide and former executive at Microsoft and General Motors, as his deputy." Prior to his appointment, Kelly had just one deputy: "Joe Hagin, who focuses on the day-to-day operations" in the White House. "Up until now, the White House had not named a deputy chief of staff for policy, though several aides, including [DHS Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen, had informally played that role."
The Supreme Court on Monday "rejected a plea to undertake a historic reassessment of the constitutionality of the death penalty nationwide. The court denied certiorari in Hidalgo v. Arizona, which challenged the constitutionality of that state’s death penalty statute but also attacked capital punishment generally 'in light of contemporary standards of decency.'" The Court did not act on another case, Evans v. Mississippi, which would have prompted a broader review of the death penalty. "Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan issued a separate statement agreeing that the Hidalgo case should be denied because the record in the case was not fully developed, but hoping a future case would be a better platform for reviewing capital punishment."
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman begins his two-week visit to the U.S. this week, meeting with "political and business leaders in Washington, New York, Silicon Valley and elsewhere" in an effort to shore up financial support for his government and rehabilitate its image abroad. "The crown prince employed a similar public relations strategy on a three-day visit to the UK," where he met with "an array of British business and defense leaders." Bin Salman has been widely criticized for his alleged political chicanery in the Gulf, and for Saudi Arabia's devastating air campaign in neighboring Yemen.
A fourth package bomb injured two people in Austin on Sunday evening, "which the police chief says was caused by a tripwire and showed 'a different level of skill' than the package bombs used in the three prior attacks." The police are still searching for the perpetrator, and have warned residents to not pick up or approach suspicious packages. Previous explosions, which the police believe are connected, have killed two and wounded several others.
White House Lawyer Ty Cobb said that President Trump not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Speculation swirled after Trump attacked the investigation on Twitter, and called out Mueller directly for the first time. “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration," Cobb said, "...the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller." Several members of Congress, "including some top Republicans, warned Trump to not even think about terminating Mueller."