Election rules designed to benefit conservatives have played an unheralded role in pushing the party rightward, while also costing them at the ballot box. The most notable: The party’s practice, in several states, of holding conventions instead of primaries to choose nominees. Those conventions typically draw an unrepresentative cross-section of single-issue activists.
— In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli‘s allies bypassed the primary process to blunt intraparty opposition, a move that’s contributed to his problems unifying the party. Ironically, the outspoken conservative is belatedly trying to rally the base, something that would have been much easier had he engaged the broader GOP electorate in a primary campaign. The convention also nominated scandal-plagued pastor E.W. Jackson as their LG nominee, thanks to his red-meat convention speech. Assuming he loses, the party lost out on grooming a future GOP gubernatorial candidate for 2017.
— Republicans are facing their next looming crisis in Iowa, for the state’s very-winnable open seat Senate race. A crowded cast of candidates is vying for the GOP nomination, but party rules guarantee a convention if no one hits 35% of the vote. That possibility is growing, with party leaders doing nothing to avert the outcome. A convention would start the process over, raising the likelihood of a weak candidate emerging.
— Republicans won’t have trouble holding a Senate seat in Utah, but Sen. Mike Lee‘s political challenges back home also showcase the party’s concerns over conventions. He benefited from the state’s unique system, where Republicans hold a convention to winnow down candidates before a potential primary. Utah Republican leaders (led by former Gov. Leavitt) are already rallying to shift to an open primary nominating process.
The convention problem only impacts Republicans in a few states, but it’s endemic of the party’s problems nominating electable candidates. And the consequences of election rules benefiting grassroots activists will play a much greater role in the run-up to 2016.
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"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."
The government alleges the company put eight “software-based features” on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years, which allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during EPA lab tests than during normal driving conditions.
Rep. Tom MacArthur resigned Tuesday from his position as co-chair of the Tuesday Group, the House caucus of more moderate GOP members. MacArthur was one of the key engineers in getting an Obamacare replacement plan passed through the House of Representatives, which has caused a rift within the Tuesday Group. "You can't lead people where they don't want to go," MacArthur told POLITICO New Jersey. "I think some people in the group just have a different view of what governing is."
The budget proposal would raise $500 million in fiscal year 2018 and as much as $16.6 billion in oil sales over the next decade. However, selling half of the reserve would risk taking it below the legally required minimum of 450 million barrels.