The TAKE with MaryAlice Parks
There is primary voting in four states Tuesday, and both parties are playing some offense.
In Wisconsin, there’s a lot of chatter about whether this may be the year Scott Walker gets beaten, with a gaggle of Democrats running for the chance to take on the controversial two-term governor.
And the head of the Democratic Governors Association, Jay Inslee, told ABC News recently that he thought Walker was in “deep, deep trouble.”
But then again, Democrats have thought that before, too.
In Connecticut, the story is similar but reversed. Republicans have been circling the outgoing and rather unpopular Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy and looking for a pick-up opportunity of their own.
There’s a gubernatorial race in Minnesota, too, this cycle, meaning Tuesday really highlights the number of competitive governors’ races this fall.
The Cook Political Report has rated a whopping 15 GOP-held governorships “toss-up” or only “lean Republican.”
Republicans currently control 33 governors’ mansions, compared to Democrats’ 16, meaning Democrats have more room to improve — and state governments could look very different very soon if it is, in fact, a wave year.
The RUNDOWN with John Verhovek
One would be hard-pressed this midterm cycle to find a state more overlooked in political importance, yet so vital in determining the balance of power in the U.S. House, than Minnesota.
Four of the state’s eight congressional districts are expected to be extremely competitive this cycle and present both parties with major opportunities to flip seats.
Republicans are eyeing the open seat races in the state’s 1st and 8th congressional districts, where timely retirements give the GOP perhaps its best chance this year to flip seats from blue to red. Donald Trump won both districts by more than 15 points and held a rally in Duluth earlier this summer to boost Pete Stauber, one candidate the GOP is particularly high on.
For Democrats, the battle is concentrated in the suburbs in and around the Twin Cities, where GOP congressmen Jason Lewis and Eric Paulsen are expected to face spirited and well-funded challengers. Looming over Lewis’ re-election bid is the string of stories highlighting his controversial comments as the host of a local radio show, including his lamenting the fact that women can no longer be called “sluts.”
While normally thought of as a Democratic stronghold, Minnesota sided with Hillary Clinton by fewer than two points in the 2016 election, and Tuesday will again provide a snapshot of the state’s political identity in the era of Trump.
The TIP with Mariam Khan
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the North Dakota Democrat, is dancing a delicate dance as she tries to hang on to her seat in one of the hottest midterm races this year. She’s running for re-election in a red state Trump owned in the 2016 presidential election, and now she is out with a new ad released by her campaign Tuesday and seen first on ABC News.
“There are too many people who only vote on one side 100 percent of the time. And that’ll never be me,” Heitkamp vows in the new ad.
“We might not agree on everything, but in North Dakota, we always find a way to work things out,” Heitkamp says in the 30-second spot.
Last year, Heitkamp was one of three Senate Democrats to vote for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
All eyes are on Heitkamp this time around in the SCOTUS confirmation battle for Trump’s latest pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
(She plans to meet with Kavanaugh on Wednesday, when the Senate returns from its shortened August recess.)
The incumbent senator has to show she’s willing to support Trump’s Republican agenda if she thinks it’s the right move for her constituents, while also holding on to her Democratic roots.
One thing she’s not willing to do? Promise to vote with the president 100 percent of the time, which her Republican opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, pledged to do on stage during a Trump campaign rally in June.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“General Kelly, John Kelly is running the White House and Donald Trump has no clue what’s going on. He’s being puppeted. That’s very dangerous to this nation.” – Omarosa Manigault Newman, responding to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie when she asked what the title of her book, “Unhinged,” refers to.
ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl discussing the mood inside the White House as Omarosa Manigault-Newman continues to make claims against her former employer. ABC News’ Mike Levine breaks down what the firing of former FBI agent Peter Strzok means for the Mueller investigation. And Maggie Koerth-Baker from our partners at FiveThirtyEight examines how vulnerable our electric grid is to hacking by foreign adversaries.
NEED TO READ
Governors’ races take on an understated but outsize role in 2018 landscape. The wide range of gubernatorial contests has seen Democrats looking to expand the map into red states where they have not been competitive for years. (John Verhovek and Kendall Karson) https://abcn.ws/2vIV89n
Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin head to the polls as primary season continues. A combined 22 U.S. House seats are also at stake in the states voting Tuesday, many of which could factor heavily into the balance of power in Congress’ lower chamber this fall. (John Verhovek and Roey Hadar) https://abcn.ws/2vHxHx9
14-year-old is running to be Vermont’s next governor. Ethan Sonneborn, 14, is on the ballot Tuesday, just a few weeks before he is set to begin his freshman year of high school. (Adia Robinson) https://abcn.ws/2McqtLE
Omarosa says price of silence for ex-Trump aides is $15,000. What do campaign records show? Campaign finance records show several former aides to President Donald Trump have received payments of roughly $15,000 per month from campaign or party accounts, bolstering part of former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s claim that she was offered the same amount to keep quiet about her time in the White House. (Matthew Mosk, John Santucci, Katherine Faulders and Tara Palmeri) https://abcn.ws/2w80wBZ
Trump signs defense authorization bill, doesn’t say John McCain’s name. Celebrating the signing of the 2019 military authorization funding bill at Fort Drum in upstate New York on Monday, President Donald Trump made no mention of the man whose name is attached to the legislation. (Jordyn Phelps and Benjamin Siegel) https://abcn.ws/2MnPpiK
FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts fired. The FBI agent who came under scrutiny for anti-Trump texts he sent from a work phone during the 2016 presidential campaign has now been fired, according to his lawyer. (Meghan Keneally and Mike Levine) https://abcn.ws/2vMKXAH
Special counsel team wraps up in Manafort case. Prosecutors with the team of special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday rested the government’s case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, wrapping up more than two weeks of testimony alleging he hid millions of dollars offshore and failed to pay taxes on that money. (Trish Turner, Katherine Fauders, Allison Pecorin, Soo Rin Kim) https://abcn.ws/2w8inJj
3-star US general pushing Saudis to investigate deadly Yemen strike: Pentagon. The three-star American general dispatched by Defense Secretary James Mattis to look into last week’s deadly Saudi airstrike in Yemen is pushing Riyadh to conduct a “timely and transparent investigation” into the incident, according to a Pentagon spokesperson. (Elizabeth McLaughlin and Lena Masri) https://abcn.ws/2KRAoRn
Trump calls Omarosa ‘wacky’ and ‘vicious’ after she unveils new audio tape of president. Former top White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has released new audio that she says is a recording of Trump’s telephone call to her after Chief of Staff John Kelly fired her. (Alexander Mallin) https://abcn.ws/2vFiexv
Every Aug. 14 primary election you should know about, briefly explained. VOX reports here: https://bit.ly/2P3hpGO
The New York Times reports Trump appears to admit White House aides signed nondisclosure agreements: https://nyti.ms/2vHvqlA
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Check back tomorrow for the latest.