Today is 7/17/17. Seems like a good date. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.
TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► President Trump is consistent in one regard: His approval ratings are reliably awful. As the Washington Post reports:
President Trump is not Teflon, and the conventional wisdom that “nothing matters” is wrong.
It also highlights a growing intensity gap. Support for the president is more tepid, but opposition is increasingly inflamed.
The president’s overall approval rating has slipped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April. For context, George W. Bush and Barack Obama both held 59 percent approval ratings in Post/ABC polls conducted around their six-month anniversaries.
Media coverage often focuses on how rank-and-file Republicans, as well as elected officials, continue to stand behind Trump. While true, a close examination of the results suggests that no more than 1 in 4 Americans believe passionately in him or his presidency at this juncture.
Trump’s Russia problems are also breaking through to a broader populace; just 3 in 10 voters still don’t think the Russian government tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Overall, Trump’s disapproval rating has risen to 58%.
► Campaign finance reports for the second quarter fundraising period should all be available today (barring technical difficulties, which tends to happen with the FEC). We’ll have a separate story later breaking down all of the fundraising winners and losers from Q2.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday that the Senate will delay consideration of the Republican health care bill while Sen. John McCain recovers from surgery for a blood clot.
McConnell tweeted that the Senate will work on other legislative issues and nominations next week and “will defer consideration of the Better Care Act” while McCain is recovering. McCain’s absence would have imperiled the bill, which needs the support of 50 of 52 GOP senators to advance.
Two Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky — have already said they will not support a motion to proceed to floor debate on the legislation.
McCain is in Arizona recovering from surgery and has been advised by doctors to rest at home for the entire week. As Politico explains, there is no good estimate for when Trumpcare may be back on the agenda:
Privately, Republicans said the delay could be as little as a week as McCain recovers in Arizona, though others worried it could stretch for several weeks and jeopardize the entire repeal effort. Clouding the timetable further, a new Congressional Budget Office estimate for the bill that was expected on Monday has also been delayed, Republicans said. It could come as early as Tuesday.
Whether the bill would advance even if McCain were in Washington is another question altogether, as the Arizona senator is one of more than half a dozen undecided Republicans, any one of whom could tank the bill.
Notably, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is still opposing the GOP healthcare legislation…which is a strong indication that Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would be the third “no vote” should a vote be held anytime soon.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► The Trump administration appears to be searching for primary opponents to take out Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who is up for re-election in 2018. As Politico reports:
The White House has met with at least three actual or prospective primary challengers to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake in recent weeks, a reflection of Donald Trump’s strained relations with the senator and the latest sign of the president’s willingness to play hardball with lawmakers who cross him — even Republican incumbents.
Flake, a longtime Trump critic who refused to endorse the president during the 2016 campaign, is one of a handful of undecided Republican votes on the Obamacare repeal effort. He’s also one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2018.
Since taking office, Trump has spoken with Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a top official on his 2016 campaign, on at least two occasions, according to two sources familiar with the talks. More recently, since June, White House officials have also had discussions with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has announced her bid, and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, who like DeWit is exploring a campaign.
At a Republican National Committee meeting outside of San Diego in May, David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager and the president of the influential conservative outside group Citizens United, told Graham that either he or DeWit would likely get substantial backing from conservatives should either enter the contest, according to three people familiar with the conversation.
That sound you hear is the rumbling indigestion of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is in charge of GOP efforts to maintain their majority in the U.S. Senate as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
► A potential retrial for the Shirtless Sheriff carries all sorts of negative political implications for Colorado Republicans. As Lance Benzel writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:
In failing to resolve the criminal case against ex-El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, a District Court jury forced a dilemma on a candidate for governor.
A veteran political observer says the decision on whether to retry the embattled lawman on four remaining counts could have political costs for Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler, who leads the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case.
If Brauchler’s office decides to drop Maketa’s charges, Brauchler could be accused of letting a fellow Republican skate on sweeping allegations of corruption.
If his office pushes for a new trial, he could alienate parts of the Republican base in El Paso County, where Maketa has his sympathizers.
“It’s a media disaster,” said Bob Loevy, a retired Colorado College political science professor and longtime political analyst in El Paso County. “To have this stretch into the gubernatorial primary and then possibly the general election in 2018, the Republican Party doesn’t need that at all, not in its most significant county.”
Last week prosecutors from the 18th Judicial District — where George Brauchler serves as district attorney — were widely panned for failing to get a conviction on any of the seven charges facing former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. The lead prosecutor on the Maketa case, Mark Hurlbert, says that Brauchler will be personally involved in the decision on whether to retry the Shirtless Sheriff.
► The American Legislative Exchange Council — better known under their acronym, ALEC — hosts its annual meeting in Denver this week. Colorado Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund have released a report on everything you need to know about the shadowy right-wing group and its policy goals.
► Fundraising for three Democrats running to succeed Rep. Ed Perlmutter in CD-7 got off to a slow start in large part because all three candidates are sitting legislators.
► The Denver Post examines the ridiculous amount of money being spent by the oil and gas industry on Colorado elections:
The oil and gas industry in the past four years has poured more than $80 million into Colorado to shape public opinion and influence campaigns and ballot initiatives, creating a political force that has had broad implications throughout the state.
Environmentalists and industry officials alike call the effort one of the best-financed operations advocating for drilling in any state. Just two months ago, that political muscle came into play when the industry successfully lobbied Republican legislators to kill legislation tightening regulation in the wake of a fatal home explosion in Firestone that investigators have blamed on a severed gas pipeline.
Energy interests also have helped elect local city council candidates more favorable to allowing drilling near housing and blunted efforts across the Front Range to restrict drilling rights. Last year, industry forces played a role in keeping the state Senate in Republican hands. They spent heavily last year to convince voters across the state to make it harder to amend the state constitution, dealing a blow to anti-fracking activists’ hopes to curtail drilling through a statewide ballot initiative.
► Darryl Glenn is officially a candidate in CD-5, despite the fact that incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) has long been able to hold off challengers from either party. State Sen. Owen Hill is also seeking the GOP nomination.
► Six of the Republican candidates for Governor in Colorado got together to talk about…stuff. Jesse Paul of the Denver Post reports on a gathering at Pinehurst Country Club in which none of the candidates seemed to say much of anything.
► Officials in Greeley are trying to figure out where they are going to find the water to accommodate a growing population.
► There is some concern that Sen. John McCain’s recent surgery may be more serious than initially thought.
► President Trump continues to lash out about allegations regarding campaign collusion with Russia, even as more and more reporting points to probably collusion with Russia. Trump is not hiding his anxiety well.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough thinks Donald Trump is killing the Republican Party…if it isn’t dead already.
► Ann Coulter makes a fool of herself on social media.
► If the U.S. Senate is broken, it is because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing everything he can to destroy the institution.