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Wake Up To Politics - April 26, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
0 Days Until the CT/DE/MD/PA/RI Primaries
196 Days Until Election Day 2016I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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2016 Central

  • Trump, Clinton Expected to Sweep Five “Acela Primary” Contests The presidential race turns to the Northeast on Tuesday as five states vote in what is being dubbed the “Acela Primary”, and frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton appear poised to sweep Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
  • On the Republican side, Trump leads the polls in all five contests, setting this up as a key day for him. If Trump meets expectations, delivering landslide victories across the board and picking up almost all of the 172 delegates offered, the “Acela Primary” could be the knockout blow that moves Trump from “frontrunner” to “presumptive nominee”.
  • Although some news outlets (including the Associated Press) have already declared both Ted Cruz and John Kasich as mathematically eliminated from clinching a majority of delegates on the first ballot, some networks maintain that Cruz could technically win with unbound delegates. Even that window is expected to close Tuesday, ending all possible routes to the GOP nomination for Trump’s rivals.
  • To Trump’s disadvantage, just one of Tuesday’s states (Delaware) is winner-take-all, while the rest use different hybrids of the statewide, congressional district, and proportional allocation systems. In addition, the Northeast’s largest prize – Pennsylvania’s 71 delegates – will mostly not be allocated until this summer: 54 of the state’s delegates are unbound, and chosen at congressional district conventions where Trump has had difficulty getting his supporters elected in the past.
  • On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton also leads in polls and establishment support across the Northeast, and is likely to sweep all five states and win many of the 384 delegates at stake. Working against Bernie Sanders’ favor? Just one state is holding an open primary Tuesday, meaning the other four only allow registered Democrats to vote. Sanders has performed poorly in closed primaries throughout the cycle.
  • However, Sanders has poured time and money into the “Acela Primary,” holding huge rallies and outspending Clinton in television and radio ads. As a result, Sanders could win Connecticut and/or Rhode Island, and claims to be able to keep a close margin in Pennsylvania: if he does all of this, Sanders could deny Clinton momentum going forward. If he fails to win anywhere and loses by big margins, Clinton could shake him off in the pledged delegate count for good, and seal up the nomination.
  • If Clinton wins about 90% of the delegates offered Tuesday – which is not out of the realm of possibility – she will be less than 100 delegates away from clinching the nomination. All eyes will be on Sanders after the polls close, to see if he signals plans to reconsider his path to the nomination or repeats his vow to continue until California’s primary on June 7.
  • Viewers Guide Polls close in all five states at 8pm Eastern Time. Per the Associated Press, Delaware should have half its vote counted by around 9pm; Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island should have half of their votes in by 10pm; Maryland will follow suit at 10:30pm. Also according to AP, 90% of the vote should be in by 10pm in Delaware, by 11pm in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and around midnight in Connecticut and Maryland.
  • Next Stops After the “Acela Primary” votes are counted, the presidential race will turn to the next contests: Indiana (May 3), Nebraska and West Virginia (May 10), and Kentucky and Oregon (May 17).
  • On the Republican side, Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a “divide and conquer” pact Sunday night to marshal their resources in the upcoming states, a key development in the race as the two challengers recognize their impossible paths forward and instead work together to stop Donald Trump from clinching the nomination.
  • The Cruz/Kasich deal was announced with twin statements from the two campaigns, with Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe announcing that their campaign “will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico” and Kasich chief strategist Jeff Weaver announcing that they “will shift our campaign’s resources West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana…focus[ing] our team and resources in New Mexico and Oregon”.
  • Roe and Weaver’s statements both called on aligned super PACs to maintain similar focuses to the campaign they support (Roe: “we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead”; Weaver: “we would expect independent third-party groups to do the same”) and made clear that the rest of the map will still be three-way contests (“Roe: “for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win”; Weaver: “we expect to compete with both the Trump and Cruz campaigns in the remaining primary states”).
  • Donald Trump has already begun savaging the pact, calling it “very dumb” and a “joke of a deal” that is “falling apart, not being honored and almost dead.” Trump may be right: Kasich has already begun pulling away from the deal slightly, telling reporters that he still hoped his Indiana supporters voted for him, defeating the pact’s purpose.
  • The Democratic race is also not expected to wrap up on Tuesday, with Sanders signaling plans to continue until the Democratic convention. Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Monday that the campaign’s “supporters will stand with us all the way to the end” and told reporters that he “absolutely” expects a contested convention.
  • Upcoming states such as Indiana, Oregon, and West Virginia do look better for Sanders, but by that point: it could already be too late for a campaign comeback.
  • With Presidential Contests Predictable, More Exciting Races Downballot A lack of excitement in the presidential primaries Tuesday, which all look promising for the frontrunners in each party, has caused a new amount of focus to be paid to downballot races in Maryland and Pennsylvania. And while the chaos in the presidential race has been captivated in the Republican primary, it is the Democrats who are divided downballot:
  • Senate: Maryland The Democratic primary to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the longest-serving female member of Congress in history, features two members of the Maryland congressional delegation, in a race that has become very nasty and negative, but is also in a dead heat with no winner assured.
  • Reps. Donna Edward and Chris Van Hollen face off for the Democratic nomination; the winner of the primary is expected to win the general election in deep-blue Maryland. The race has become a proxy battle for the larger camps within the Democratic primary: the Democratic establishment (congressional leadership and the White House) supports Van Hollen (the frontrunner), while much of the Congressional Black Caucus has endorsed their member Edwards.
  • Senate: Pennsylvania Asimilar storyline holds true in Pennsylvania, with three Democrats facing off to challenge Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) in the fall. Once again, the battle line in the race are clear: President Obama and Vice President Biden have endorsed Katie McGinty, who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration and as Chief of Staff to Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA).
  • However, former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) – the party’s nominee for Senate six years ago – is also running again. Sestak, known for his independent streak that brought him opposition from party establishment this year, appears to lead the race against McGinty and a third candidate, progressive Braddock mayor John Fetterman.
  • House: Maryland’s Fourth With Donna Edwards running for Senate, six candidates are running in the Democratic primary to replace her. Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is the highest-profile candidate, but after losing the state’s governorship in 2014, many Democrats are frustrated with him. As a result, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk has captured momentum by way of endorsements from the Washington Post, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and EMILY’s List.
  • House: Maryland’s Eighth The race to succeed Chris Van Hollen has become the most expensive House race of the 2016 cycle so far, with wine magnate David Trone – the highest-spending congressional candidate in U.S. history – facing off against eight rivals, including state Sen. Jamie Raskin and former news anchor Kathleen Matthews, wife of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
  • Mayor: Baltimore Finally, an open race for Baltimore’s mayorship has gained attention in light of the city’s recent racial protests. The crowded Democratic primary includes former Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon, Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesseon, State Sen. Catherine Pugh, City Councilman Carl Stokes, and others.
  • Today on the Trail On the campaign trail Tuesday, many presidential candidates will move past the day’s primaries to kick off their efforts in upcoming races.
  • Hillary Clinton, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz will all hold events in Indiana, ahead of the state’s May 3 primary. Clinton will tour Munster Steel Co. in Hammond and the AM General plant in Mishawaka, to speak about her “Make it in America” manufacturing plan.
  • Kasich will hold a town hall at the Hamilton County Fairground in Noblesville; Cruz will hold a rally at Hoosier Gym in Knightstown.
  • Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders will hold a “Future to Believe In” rally at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, which votes on May 10.
  • In addition, of the candidates who have announced their watch parties for Tuesday night’s primaries: Kasich will speak from the Omni Serverin Hotel in Indianapolis; Clinton will speak from the Pennsylvania Convention Center (one of the sites of July’s Democratic National Convention) in Philadelphia; and Donald Trump will speak from Trump Towers in New York City.
  • Extra, Extra A roundup of the best related stories from the past day:
  • Veepstakes “Cruz, Kasich weigh veep gamble”: a look at the Cruz and Kasich campaigns’ deliberations on the potential of choosing a running mate before the Cleveland convention. Names floated for Cruz include Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina; for Kasich, Susana Martinez or Marco Rubio (The Hill)
  • “Why the 2016 veepstakes could be the most chaotic in decades”: the logistics of this cycle’s vetting process for VP nominees, as the primary races march on and the conventions (earlier than usual) near (Washington Post)
  • Behind the Scenes “Trump rejects new adviser’s push to make him ‘presidential’”: Weeks after influence in the Trump campaigns shifted to convention manager Paul Manafort, who was brought on to expand Trump’s delegate operation and make him more appealing to the Republican establishment, Trump is apparently turning now back to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (Politico)
  • Funny “How the GOP Plans to Stop Trump”: a parody of the Cruz/Kasich pact to “combine inspirational charisma of Ted Cruz with raw sexual magnetism of John Kasich” (The Onion)

White House Watch

  • Following the First Lady At 3pm Eastern Time, First Lady Michelle Obama will host her third annual College Signing Day, an event to “celebrate high school seniors choosing to pursue higher education at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university,” according to the White House.
  • Obama is marking College Signing Day at Harlem Academy in New York City, with over 4,000 local high school students in attendance, in an event hosted by MTV, as part of Viacom’s Get Schooled initiative. Dozens of rappers, actors, athletes, television personalites, and other celebrities will also be on hand, including Common, Melissa McCarthy, Carmelo Anthony, Ted Allen, and Saturday Night Live cast members Aidy Bryant, Jay Pharaoh, Jon Rudnitsky, and Sasheer Zamata.
  • Over 1,000 College Signing Day events will also be held across the country Tuesday, including Education Secretary John King hosting one in Washington, D.C. In past years, the First Lady has held College Signing Day events in Detroit, Michigan (2015) and San Antonio, Texas (2014), to advance her education initiatives Reach Higher and Better Make Room, which both work to encourage students to continue their educations after graduating high school.
  • The President’s Schedule President Barack Obama has no public schedule Tuesday, after returning from Germany on Monday (landing at 7:10pm after a 7½ hour flight).
  • Extra, Extra “Obama, who once stood as party outsider, now works to strengthen Democrats”: the president’s evolution from running against the Democratic establishment to his efforts to restore the party’s bench (Washington Post)

Capitol Hill News

  • Day in the Senate The U.S. Senate opens its meeting Tuesday at 10am, before continuing consideration of H.R. 2028, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016. The measure is the first of twelve appropriations bills to reach the Senate floor, and it is expected to pass before the chamber heads to recess Friday.
  • The package appropriates $37.5 billion in funding for the Department of Energy and other water development programs in fiscal year 2017, a $355 million increase from fiscal year 2016. The measure will increase funding for the Energy Department’s defense-related programs by $1.163 billion, while decreasing nondefense programs by $808 million.
  • Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, the path forward for the bill is unclear. The House cannot bring appropriations bills to the floor until May 15 without passing a budget, and the White House has threatened a veto: “The bill underfunds critical energy research and development activities and fails to put us on an achievable path toward doubling clean energy research and development by FY 2021,” an Office of Management and Budget statement read.
  • At 11am, the Senate will vote on three amendments to the energy appropriation: a proposal offered by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to tack on $95 million for wind energy, an amendment from Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV) to add $50 million for water management at Lake Mead, and a measure by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to decrease spending for Army Corps of Engineers construction by $69 million.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose top priority is to pass all 12 appropriations bills, has said that he hopes to hold a cloture vote on the energy package Wednesday, with passage expected by the week’s end. After dispensing with the energy appropriations, the Senate is expected to turn to the appropriations bills for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs or Commerce, Justice, and Science.
  • Day in the House The House convenes Tuesday at 12pm, with legislative business beginning at 2pm. At 6:30pm, the chamber will hold votes on fifteen bills:
  • Two measures are focused on investment funds: the Investor Clarity and Bank Parity Act (allowing hedge funds and private equity funds to share similar names) and the Fair Access to Investor Research Act (allowing research reports on exchange traded funds).
  • Five bills on conservation: the Great Lakes Restoration Imitative Act (to authorize the EPA initiative for four years), the Foreign Spill Protection Act (setting penalties on damages from foreign offshore oil spills), the National Bison Legacy Act (officially adopting the North American bison as the U.S. national mammal), an amendment to a Senate bill to create a State Department position focused on international cultural property, and an amendment to another Senate bill requiring “competitive awards to address urgent and challenging issues that threaten the economic and ecological well-being of coastal areas,” according to POPVOX.
  • Three on homeland and aviation security: the Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act (requiring the use of terrorist testimonials to counter recruitment), the PREPARE Act (to authorize $901 million for FEMA programs for the next four years), and the Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points and Guarding Airports Through Enhanced Security Act (authorizing a study of security risks at all U.S. airports).
  • Four bills on miscellaneous government operations: the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act (to broaden the National Flood Insurance Program to include the U.S. territories), the Baudette Coast Guard Housing Conveyance Act (to sell federal land in Baudette, Minnesota to the city), the Virgin Islands of the United States Centennial Commission Act (to create a commission marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ becoming a U.S. territory), the Administrative Leave Reform Act (to ban putting federal employees on administrative leave while their conduct is being investigated), and the Official Personnel File Enhancement Act (to ensure a note is placed in the personnel file of a federal employee who resigns before an investigation into their performance is completed).

Question of the Day

  • Answer Time I have been reminded that I left a trivia question from last week unanswered, so I will grant credit where credit is due today.
  • The question…who is the only former U.S. Senator from New York to be elected President?
  • The answer…Martin Van Buren, who served in the Senate from 1821 to 1828 and as President from 1837 to 1841.
  • GREAT JOB…Marlee Millman, John William Simon, Janice Goodman, Joe Bookman, Brad Chotiner, Rick Isserman, Joan Zucker, Tom Alpert, and Lyle Hendricks!
  • You can submit your own political trivia questions to trivia@wakeuptopolitics.com, and it might be featured in “Question of the Day”!
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light