The Note: Arizona's special election a test for GOP

Nothing comes easy in the Trump era.

April 24, 2018, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Nothing comes easy in the Trump era, as officeholders and strategists in both parties can attest.

So it is that Tuesday’s special election for a House seat in Maricopa County, Ariz. – Joe Arpaio, Trump-by-20, and retiree-heavy territory – has made Republicans worry just a little bit more than they’d like.

If the GOP holds the seat previously held by former Rep. Trent Franks, the race may be little remembered in the wake of Democratic upsets by Sen. Doug Jones and Rep. Conor Lamb.

Yet it could provide a dose of stability for a GOP that’s looking for hopeful signs. Democrat Hiral Tiperneni, a doctor, isn’t running away from the national party; neither is Republican Debbie Lesko, making for a race with clear contrasts on immigration, health care, and questions of how to handle President Donald Trump and his agenda.

The biggest question in a district like this is likely to be – and should be – how much the Republican wins by. But if there’s a Democrat on top at the end of the night, the GOP’s floor for November will look lower than ever.

PHOTO: First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife first lady Brigitte Macron arrive at Mount Vernon, the estate of the first US President George Washington, in Mount Vernon, Va., April 23, 2018.
First lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife first lady Brigitte Macron arrive at Mount Vernon, the estate of the first US President George Washington, in Mount Vernon, Va., April 23, 2018.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

It’s all fun and bromance, except an Iran deal is on the line.

And North Korea, Syria, tariffs and climate change.

There may be cherry blossoms and a cream and gold color scheme at the ready for the Trumps’ first state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, but beyond the pomp will be tough negotiating, too. The circumstances are too serious for anything else.

Trump and Macron say they share a special bond. They enjoy each other’s company. That doesn’t mean their relationship is not still transactional. In politics, most have to be, and when folks are dealing with President Trump that's even more likely.

While there have been big smiles, long handshakes and memorable Parisian diners between the two heads of state, the last 15 months included plenty of tension between the two nations, too, as President Trump yanked the country out of international agreements and threatened to overturn others.

Macron and his wife spent Monday looking at monuments on the National Mall, perhaps remembering the storied past between the two countries and wondering if the future includes a partnership - or not.

PHOTO: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) (L), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks as ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) (R) listens during a committee meeting April 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) (L), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks as ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) (R) listens during a committee meeting April 23, 2018 on Capitol Hill. The committee has approved to the nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The TIP with Mariam Khan and Mary Bruce

It was a moment to remember.

For Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, it came down to honor and friendship.

For Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, it made him cry.

CIA director Mike Pompeo's Foreign Relations Committee recommendation for secretary of state was hanging in the balance - the vote was dead even at 10-10.

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia had been forced to miss the vote - he was delivering a eulogy at his best friend's funeral. He wouldn't make it back to Capitol Hill until midnight. The entire committee would have to stay late.

But then Coons changed his vote from "nay" to "present," allowing Pompeo's nomination to proceed with a favorable report.

"Johnny had an exceptionally difficult day," Coons said afterwards. He said Isakson had called him and asked him to vote "present."

"He is someone I deeply respect and admire. We have very different views but we work well together," Coons said. "I was happy to do that for a friend."

"I particularly want to thank Senator Coons for displaying statesmanship," Corker said, his voice shaking with emotion.

"I'm proud of him. I'm proud of our committee. I'm happy for the American people, he said. "I think it shows that senators, at the right time, can do outstanding things."


  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in the arrival ceremony of French President Emmanuel Macron and first lady Brigitte Macron at 10 a.m. Following bilateral meetings, the president hosts a joint press conference with President Macron in the Rose Garden at 11:45 a.m.
  • Today marks the seventh special election for the House since Trump’s inauguration — this time in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. Polls will be open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. EDT. Check here for updates.
  • The president will host his first state dinner this evening. He and first lady Melania Trump welcome President Emmanuel Macron of France and his wife, Brigitte.
  • Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie is on Capitol Hill today for a closed-door session with Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joins students at Georgetown University for a townhall-style conversation on Democrats’ economic strategy at 11 a.m.

    “Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State.” — Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, whose last-minute switch to "yes" gave CIA director Mike Pompeo enough votes to get a favorable recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday.


    What's for dinner? Details of the first Trump state dinner. Pomp and circumstance arrive at the White House in grand style Tuesday for the first state dinner of the Donald Trump presidency in honor of French President Emanuel Macron. (Jordyn Phelps)

    Arizona special election another test for GOP in Trump country. Voters will head to the polls today in Arizona's 8th Congressional District, a deep red district where a solid performance by the Democrat would be yet another sign of the party's growing strength ahead of a contentious and competitive election in November. (Emily Goodin, John Verhovek and Soo Rin Kim)

    Conservatives, bitter battles cause headaches for GOP in key Senate primaries. Mitt Romney's loss at the Utah state party convention on Saturday is the latest example of an even bigger problem for Republicans – the conservative influence in key Senate primaries and the nasty fights that could hamper GOP attempts to have a strong majority in the upper chamber next year. (Emily Goodin)

    President George H.W. Bush hospitalized with blood infection. Former President George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized just a week after his wife, Barbara Bush, died.

    WH press secretary fields questions about what Trump meant with 'breeding' tweet. Several reporters asked what Trump meant by “breeding concept” in relation to sanctuary cities, which limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement efforts. (Ali Rogin and Alexander Mallin)

    Rand Paul's last-minute switch gives Pompeo favorable committee vote. Pompeo, who is still facing unprecedented opposition to his becoming the nation's top diplomat, will get a vote before the full Senate as soon as this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday. (Mariam Khan)

    Macron, Merkel expected to push Trump on keeping US in Iran nuclear deal. The French president and the German chancellor are making back-to-back visits with Trump this week in a last-minute lobbying push to prevent the president from potentially sabotaging the Iran nuclear deal. (Alexander Mallin)

    Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to argue case before the Supreme Court. While it is unusual for top officials at the DOJ to argue cases before the court, it's not unprecedented. (Geneva Sands)

    Porn star says Stormy Daniels telling the truth about alleged Trump threat. Jessica Drake, an adult-film star, says Stormy Daniels told her she was threatened by someone to stay silent about Daniels' alleged sexual tryst with Trump. (Tom Llamas)

    US trade rep racked up bill as he flip-flopped on purchase of pricey office desk. President Donald Trump’s trade representative racked up a hefty bill on the purchase and subsequent return of a new desk for his office, emails reviewed by ABC News show. (Lucien Bruggeman)

    Cambridge researcher behind Facebook data breach speaks out. Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher who collected information on millions of Americans through Facebook, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to lawmakers on Capitol Hill was "misleading." (Ali Dukakis)

    Keeping up with the cosmetics: The Hill reports that Kourtney Kardashian will be on Capitol Hill Tuesday to talk about reforms in the makeup industry.

    The New York Times reports on spending in the Wisconsin Senate race ahead of the 2018 midterms, predicting it may be “the most expensive Wisconsin Senate race ever.”

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