The TAKE with Rick Klein
President Donald Trump took another post-election victory lap. But the Republican Party is back where it started – and still potentially off-track.
This week confirmed that the Trump effect isn’t all the GOP assumed and hoped it would be – not even inside the Republican Party.
Neither is the issue set breaking their way, in a campaign that is about as likely to be about the tax cut as it is the Space Force. Now comes the potential for a tense weekend centering on racial issues – dangerous territory for Trump, for anyone who remembers last year around this time.
None of it means a landslide, or even a wave, is a sure thing. But it has Republicans recalculating their chances, even as the Democrats see their field of challengers fill out in ways their base can coalesce around.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
After this week's primary elections, at least 11 women will be ballots on November in gubernatorial races around the country, having secured nominations from one of the two major parties.
Right now only six of the country’s 50 governors are women, only two of them are Democrats.
So far, Democrats have nominated 8 women this year.
This is historic and particularly interesting right now, when there is a renewed focus on state politics and policies, not to mention attention on the relationship between the states and the federal government.
As the federal government tries to roll back fuel economy standards as it did last week, how will states respond? As the federal government changes health care policy for people with pre-existing conditions, how will states respond? As the federal government ramps up immigration fights over a wall or deportations, how will governors respond? Tariffs, drilling, abortion access, the list goes on and on.
Big picture: Republicans are defending 26 of their 33 governships this year. Nine of the 16 Democratic governors are up for re-election too.
In total, according to the Cook Political Report, nine states have governor’s races that are total toss ups right now.
The TIP with John Verhovek
In Kansas, a battle of two Republican titans is brewing.
Governor Jeff Colyer is trailing in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary by just 121 votes after the discovery of a clerical error by the office of his political opponent, Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
It's another bizarre twist in a race that is headed toward recount territory, a decision Colyer must make next week if he is still trailing after all provisional ballots in the state have been counted, and a process Kobach finally agreed to recuse himself from Thursday evening after pressure from the governor in the form of a letter accusing him of making public statements "inconsistent with Kansas law".
But for Colyer, the risks of a recount might be less perilous than invoking the wrath of Kobach's most powerful political ally, President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Kobach ahead of the primary, and has relished his role as political king-maker throughout this midterm cycle.
And even if Colyer advances after a recount, he must then face an electorate that gave Trump a 21-point victory in the 2016 election, having just crossed an opponent the president called a "strong and early supporter," and a "fantastic guy."
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States." --Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, to the Des Moines Register during a trip to Iowa Thursday.
ABC News’ "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features a conversation with Susan Bro, the mother whose daughter was killed during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, ahead of similar protests planned for Washington, D.C. this weekend. Plus, ABC News’ Lauren Pearle details the long path First Lady Melania Trump’s parents’ took to US citizenship.
NEED TO READ
Trump allies zero in on top DOJ official with ties to firm that researched candidate. President Donald Trump's allies are mounting a fresh line of attack against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian interference probe, zeroing in on ties between a senior Department of Justice official and the Washington research firm Democrats hired to investigate Trump. (James Gordon Meek, Mike Levine and Shannon K. Crawford) https://abcn.ws/2KL6SwM
Kobach, set to oversee possible recount, sees lead shrink in Kansas gubernatorial race. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, leading by just 121 votes in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary, announced tonight he would recuse himself if there were a recount. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2MyqeXx
Pentagon, Vice President Pence tout groundwork for future 'Space Force.' The Pentagon is laying the groundwork for a future Space Force, moving closer to an order from President Trump earlier this summer to create a sixth branch of the armed forces. (Elizabeth McLaughlin, Luis Martinez and Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2vS6tmI
Trump has privately expressed openness to broad criminal justice reform. President Donald Trump has privately expressed openness to supporting broader sentencing reforms beyond the narrower reforms to the nation's prison system that he's previously backed, sources tell ABC News. (Jordyn Phelps and Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2Mewzud
Wikileaks says Senate Intelligence Committee wants to question Julian Assange. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to testify, the website announced in a tweet Wednesday. (Benjamin Siegel and Justin Gordon Meek) https://abcn.ws/2McfOQq
Border Patrol's 1st female chief praises the agency's 'heart.' Minutes after officially becoming the first woman appointed as chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, Carla Provost on Thursday offered a strong defense of the nearly 20,000 agents she is now leading. (Mike Levine) https://abcn.ws/2OmxI0o
First lady Melania Trump's parents granted US citizenship. First lady Melania Trump's parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, were sworn in as U.S. citizens Thursday at a federal immigration court in New York City. (Kendall Karson, Lauren Pearle and Armando Garcia) https://abcn.ws/2AXZcHO
Republicans propose reallocating Coast Guard ship funding to Trump's border wall. Despite urgent warnings of the need to bolster the U.S. Coast Guard's ailing polar icebreaker fleet – now just a single functional 42-year-old vessel – some Republicans in Congress have proposed diverting $750 million planned for a new ship to President Donald Trump's long-promised border wall. (Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2nqkiVs
Federal court says EPA must revoke pesticide connected to health problems in children. A federal court on Thursday ordered the EPA to stop allowing a pesticide to be used that advocates and the agency's own review have said causes health issues in children. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2M9XzvG
The Washington Post takes a close look at the Green Party spoiler candidate from Ohio who once claimed to be descended from space aliens. https://wapo.st/2AXarjB
The Atlantic details why the Manafort trial in Alexandria, Virginia is moving along so fast. https://bit.ly/2vxEXvg
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Check back Monday for the latest.