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Wake Up To Politics - August 29, 2018

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, August 29, 2018. 69 days until Election Day 2018. 797 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Gillum, DeSantis win Florida gubernatorial primaries

Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum won the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary with Bernie Sanders' backing in an upset on Tuesday, setting up a general election showdown between him and Trump-endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Backed by Sanders and Trump, respectively, Gillum and DeSantis both triumphed over establishment favorites in their primaries. Taking place in the ultimate swing state, the race will now become a referendum on the nationwide tug-of-war for power between left-wing Democrats and Trump-style Republicans, perhaps the clearest distillation of that ideological divide seen in any race in 2018. Both candidates are 39 years old, representing a new generation in each political party.

Gillum won his primary narrowly, besting former Rep. Gwen Graham by just three percentage points, 34.3% to 31.3%. Former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine took 20%. Graham, centrist the daughter of former Florida governor and senator Bob Graham, had been favored to win the primary, boasting support from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and other establishment mainstays. But Gillum, who would be Florida's first African-American governor, was propelled by endorsements from Sanders and a number of progressive groups, basing his campaign on enacting "Medicare for All" and abolishing ICE.

Meanwhile, DeSantis has the president to thank for his decisive primary victory. State agricultural commissioner Adam Putnam, a former congressman, was the establishment favorite, having been long-groomed for higher office. Putnam was considered the frontrunner in the primary — up until June, when Trump endorsed DeSantis (a frequent Fox News guest) and their positions in the polls switched. Putnam never regained his lead; DeSantis won on Tuesday with 56.5% of the vote, to Putnam's 36.6%. DeSantis has established himself as one of Trump's most enthusiastic defenders in Washington, particularly on immigration.

Other key results from Tuesday:

  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott easily won the GOP nomination to face vulnerable Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall, expected to be one of the closest Senate races in the country.
  • Arizona Rep. Martha McSally beat two right-wing challengers, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio, to claim the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic. McSally will face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, in a race Democrats view as one of their few Senate pick-up opportunities this year.
  • Former state education official David Garcia, a progressive, won the Arizona Democratic gubernatorial primary; he will face Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in November.
  • Businessman Kevin Stitt won the Republican gubernatorial runoff in Oklahoma; he'll face former Democratic state attorney general Drew Edmondson in the fall. Both candidates are vying to replace Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who is deeply unpopular.
  • Former Clinton-era HHS Secretary Donna Shalala won the Democratic primary in Florida's 27th district, a Democratic-leaning seat where longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring. Shalala will face former Spanish-language journalist Maria Salazar, the GOP pick.
  • Elsewhere in Florida, several Democratic House members beat back primary challengers, including Reps. Darren Soto (who beat his predecessor, liberal former Rep. Alan Grayson), Al Lawson (who defeated former Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown), and Stephanie Murphy (who beat local ACLU leader Chardo Richardson).

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The Rundown

Trump vs. tech: President Donald Trump accused Google's search results of being biased on Tuesday, claiming claimed in a tweet that the search engine is "RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is bad." Later in the afternoon, he warned tech companies to "be careful," saying that they are "treading on very, very troubled territory." White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow then sparked protests when he said that the Trump Administration is "taking a look" at whether Google search results should be regulated by the federal government.

--- Trump's accusations, which Google denies, seemed to stem from a story on (where else?) Fox News, leading to a Washington Post report on the president's shadow "cable news cabinet."

Trump discussed Sessions firing: President Trump has "privately revived the idea of firing [Attorney General Jeff Sessions] in conversations with his aides and personal lawyers this month," the Washington Post reported. The revelation comes as the Wall Street Journal reported on a group of top Senate Republicans who met with Sessions last week to urge him to remain in office despite Trump's public broadsides.

Trump warns of Democratic violence: Democrats "will overturn everything that we've done and they'll do it quickly and violently" if they win control of Congress this fall, President Trump warned evangelic leaders on Monday, according to audiotape obtained by the New York Times. "They will end everything immediately," Trump said, adding: "These are violent people."

McGahn plans exit: Who will be next to go in the Trump White House? According to Axios, White House counsel Don McGahn plans to step down this fall; his preferred successor would be Emmet Flood, who is currently coordinating the administration's response to the Mueller investigation.  

Effort to rename building for McCain slows: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's proposal to rename the Russell Senate Office Building for the late Sen. John McCain has been stalled, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would form a bipartisan panel to consider ways to honor the Arizonan. As the Associated Press reported, many Republicans were hesitant to remove the name of Sen. Richard Russell, a longtime Georgia Democrat who was known for his opposition to civil rights legislation.

White House schedule

At 11:30am, President Trump receives his intelligence briefing. At 2:30pm, Trump announces a grant to support programs focused on drug-free communities. At 6:45pm, he and First Lady Melania Trump attend a White House Historical Association reception.

Congress schedule

Both houses of Congress are on recess. The Senate left for a shortened summer break Tuesday, after a bipartisan agreement to confirm seven more federal district court judges. According to Bloomberg, the Senate has now confirmed 60 of President Trump's judicial picks, including 33 district court judges, 26 appeals court judges, and Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch.

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court is on its summer recess.

*All times Eastern