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Wake Up To Politics - July 1, 2020

Good Wednesday morning. It’s July 1, 2020. 125 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Results to know from Tuesday’s primaries

Voters in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah went to the polls on Tuesday. Here are the results to know:

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper easily clinched the Democratic Senate nomination in Colorado. Hickenlooper, who ran for president earlier this year, dispatched a challenger from his left, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff; with 83% of the vote reporting, Hickenlooper is leading Romanoff, 59.6% to 40.4%.

Hickenlooper will face Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, one of the nation’s most vulnerable incumbents, in the fall. Although he faced a number of controversies throughout the primary campaign — including a ruling from a state commission that he violated ethics laws as governor — Hickenlooper is seen as a formidable challenger for Gardner and was a prized recruit for Democrats.

Rep. Scott Tipton, a Colorado Republican, was defeated by a primary challenger in an upset. With 88% of the vote reporting, Tipton trails gun rights activist Lauren Boebert, 45.4% to 54.6%.

Tipton had represented his rural, conservative district since being elected in the Tea Party wave of 2020. He also boasted an endorsement from President Donald Trump, but Boebert was able to win after gaining attention for her refusal to close her gun-themed restaurant in defiance of Colorado’s coronavirus restrictions. (Tipton was the third Trump-backed candidate to lose a GOP primary in June, following Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman and North Carolina candidate Lynda Bennett.)

Boebert is the latest Republican candidate to win a congressional nod after expressing support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that President Trump is battling with an array of “deep state” forces within the government. House Republican leaders have condemned comments from another QAnon backer, Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Oklahoma voters narrowly approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid in the state. The vote makes Oklahoma the fifth Republican-led state where voters have opted to expand Medicaid at the ballot box, despite resistance from GOP lawmakers. At least 200,000 Oklahomans will be newly eligible for Medicaid, which provides health coverage for low-income individuals, as a result.

All but 13 states have now invoked the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, to expand eligibility for Medicaid. Oklahoma is the first to do so by a constitutional amendment; the measure was approved, 50.5% to 49.5%.

Bonus result... Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath was declared the winner of the Democratic Senate nomination in Kentucky on Tuesday, one week after the primary. McGrath fended off a surprisingly strong challenge from state Rep. Charles Booker; along with Hickenlooper, her victory was another win for the Democratic establishment.

Booker’s stock rose amid the nationwide protests over police brutality, fueling endorsements from progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. McGrath only defeated Booker by a slim margin, 45.4% to 42.6%, despite outraising him, $41 million to $800,000. She will now turn her massive war chest towards an uphill campaign to defeat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has represented Kentucky for more than three decades.

The Rundown

The day’s top stories, from coronavirus to the Supreme Court.

The United States on Tuesday exceeded its single-day record for new coronavirus cases for the fourth time in a week. According to the New York Times tally, more than 48,000 new cases were confirmed across the country. Eight states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas — also announced single-day records on Tuesday.

The U.S. is “going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, acknowledged in testimony before Congress. Fauci warned that the U.S. could soon see as many as 100,000 new infections being confirmed a day.

The White House said Tuesday that President Donald Trump has now been briefed on intelligence suggesting Russia had offered bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill U.S. soldiers. Trump and his advisers denied that he had been previously briefed on the matter, despite reporting from multiple news outlets that it had been included in his daily briefing documents.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany maintained that the intelligence had “yet to be verified,” defending the decision not to previously discuss it with the president. The New York Times reported Tuesday that intelligence agencies had been bolstered in their conclusion on the bounties by intercepted electronic data “showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account.”

According to the Times, the intercepted data was not mentioned in a series of briefings for lawmakers on the intelligence. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer declared after his briefing that “nothing...led me to believe it is a hoax,” as President Trump had previously claimed.

  • “Biden accuses Trump of ‘dereliction of duty’ over Russia bounty reports in first press briefing in nearly 3 months” (Fox News)

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that states cannot prevent religious schools from receiving state benefits that are available to other private schools. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the 5-4 ruling, which said the denial of such benefits constituted a violation of the First Amendment protections for freedom of religion.

“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote in his opinion, which was joined by the court’s four other conservative justices.

  • “Trump hoping for Supreme Court vacancy as way to boost a flagging campaign” (CNN)


What’s going on in Washington today. (All times Eastern.)

President Donald Trump will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 1:15 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Phoenix, Arizona. Pence will participate in a COVID-19 briefing with Gov. Doug Ducey at 1:45 p.m. and a press gaggle with Gov. Ducey at 2:35 p.m. The vice president will then return to Washington, D.C.

The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. and resume consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, the $740.5 billion annual defense policy bill.

  • In a tweet on Tuesday night, President Trump threatened to veto the NDAA, which has been signed into law for 59 consecutive years, if an amendment renaming military bases currently honoring Confederate soldiers is included in the package.

The House will convene at 9 a.m. The chamber will vote on passage of the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package with significant investments in clean energy, tonight before adjourning for a two-week recess.

The Supreme Court justices will meet for their weekly conference.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will attend a virtual fundraiser.

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