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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► Today is Better Than Average Tuesday, with voters in 6 states casting ballots to help determine the Democratic Presidential nominee. The big prize is Michigan and its 125 delegates; Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here in 2016, but a loss to Joe Biden tonight could be a fatal blow to his nomination hopes. Sanders probably needs to put up fairly big numbers in Michigan — winning the state in a squeaker won’t be enough — because Biden is likely to get the lion’s share of delegates in Mississippi and Missouri. As The Associated Press explains:
Sanders has scoffed at suggestions he could drop out if he doesn’t win Michigan, but his travel schedule underscores its importance. He canceled a trip to Mississippi and instead made five campaign stops across Michigan since Friday…
…Sanders is optimistic about Washington state on Tuesday, and Idaho and North Dakota, both states Sanders won in 2016, go to the polls Tuesday as well, though the lack of polling in both states has made them difficult to predict.
But the senator’s team acknowledges he will struggle in next week’s Florida primary, where the senator’s past defense of Fidel Castro looms large. He also could face long odds in Ohio and Illinois — especially if he underperforms in Michigan. Both of those states also vote March 17.
Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will also cast ballots today. Based on limited polling, the former Vice President seems to have momentum in Idaho and in North Dakota, though Sanders won both states in 2016. As of now, Washington looks like it could be a nail-biter. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown from Reuters.
Chris Cillizza of CNN runs through three potential scenarios on Better Than Average Tuesday.
Meanwhile, two recent national polls show Biden surging ahead of Sanders. A CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide found that respondents prefer Biden to Sanders 52-36. Polling from Quinnipiac University found similar numbers, with Biden leading Sanders 54-35.
► Governor Jared Polis officially declared a “state of emergency” in Colorado because of the Coronavirus outbreak. There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, with another 14 cases pending test results. Polis is earning strong marks for his calm response to the coronavirus outbreak.
► While Gov. Polis is doing a good job managing the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump continues to struggle. As The Washington Post explains:
President Trump confronted one of the most perilous days of his presidency Monday by first erupting in a barrage of commentary that failed to calm the cratering financial markets, struggling to inspire confidence that his administration could stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But by the time the sun set in Washington, Trump sounded momentarily chastened by the turbulence and previewed a raft of emergency measures to shore up the economy…
…Trump’s overall handling of the converging crises — while spreading misinformation and blaming others — has unsettled many of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and even inside the White House, where some aides acknowledged that the president is compounding problems with his grievances and conspiratorial mind-set.
The coronavirus and the market meltdown present Trump with a challenge unlike any he has faced as president, and one for which he has no ready solution. At a moment when anxious citizens are turning to the government for facts and assurance, Trump is playing down risks and immersing himself in feuds with Democrats, the media and other perceived enemies.
Trump spent much of the day Monday in Florida — where he was golfing over the weekend — and shook hands/bumped fists at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Don’t worry about Trump’s health, however; the White House Press Secretary has been boasting that Trump works 15-16 hour days and never sleeps.
Trump is hearing from advisers about a host of potential actions that the federal government might take, including promoting paid sick leave.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► It’s a fairly common argument that the Trump administration’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters to Grand Junction was done in hopes of weakening the federal agency in general. A new report from the Government Accountability Office backs up this idea. From the Associated Press:
A U.S. government watchdog agency said Friday that 81 Bureau of Land Management employees have declined to relocate to Western states or left their positions as the Trump administration pursues a broad reorganization of the bureau’s headquarters staff.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report that faulted the administration for failing to follow key reform practices such as involving employees and stakeholders in its plans…
…Out of 170 bureau staff who received relocation notices, 90 accepted, 81 declined or left their positions and eight fell into other categories, the GAO found.
► Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is running for U.S. Senate after a long courtship by Democratic leaders. As Chris Cillizza notes for CNN, this tells you a lot about how confident Democrats are feeling in 2020.
► As The Denver Post reports, Colorado schools and universities are making preparations to potentially expand online learning options in case schools must be closed for quarantine reasons. Some major universities around the country are already making the decision to close down classrooms for a few weeks.
► Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was in Aurora on Monday to support Democrat John Hickenlooper’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
► The New York Times reports on the upcoming rollout of new health care legislation tied to the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is preparing to unveil a sweeping plan to lower the cost of health care, moving to address the top concern of voters while giving moderate Democrats who face tough re-election races a way to distance themselves from the Medicare for All plan embraced by the progressive left and derided by Republicans as socialism.
The legislation, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, is part of a major push by Democrats to position themselves as the party of health care before the 2020 elections. Former President Barack Obama will support the effort, appearing with Ms. Pelosi at American University in Washington on March 23, 10 years to the day he signed the Affordable Care Act into law.
While the measure has little chance of survival in the Republican-controlled Senate, it is the latest evidence that Democratic leaders, determined to protect their House majority and the moderate lawmakers who helped them to power, are looking for ways to distinguish their rank and file from the party’s presidential nominees.
► Democrats in the state legislature are pushing two new gun safety measures that have Republicans scrambling to come up with a coherent opposition response.
► The State House of Representatives approved a proposal to raise the minimum age for smoking tobacco from 18 to 21.
► Republican Kevin Priola probably saved Republicans from losing control of the State Senate in 2016. Naturally, some Republicans are now threatening a recall election and plotting to find a Primary opponent for Priola.
► Maybe now isn’t the best time to be trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, eh?
► The coronavirus outbreak is known to be particular dangerous for senior citizens. This could be problematic in a U.S. Senate full of really old people.
Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
► Once again, The Onion wins the Internet:
► In case of emergency, look at these kittens for awhile. You’re welcome.