If there’s such a thing as “Trumpier than Trump,” it appears President Donald Trump can be Trumpiest of all.
(And when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his family get called names, he and Trump can make quite the team.)
Trump and especially McConnell earned the right to celebrate the first major batch of primaries of 2018. They walked away from bloody, expensive, and potentially downright embarrassing primaries with three solid, if less than lights-out sensational, candidates to take on Senate Democrats in states that voted for Trump.
Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia, Mike Braun in Indiana, and Jim Renacci in Ohio join an impressive crop of challengers, stocked with recruiting coups and personal fortunes. They join Rick Scott in Florida and Kevin Cramer in North Dakota to ensure at the very least that Democrats will have to play aggressive and expensive defense in the midst of their quest to gain the majority.
None of this guarantees Republicans anything, or means much at all when it comes to keeping the House.
But six months before Election Day, Republicans are putting together a solid lineup of candidates to go along with a strong economy and potential Trump foreign policy breakthroughs.
Democrats may still sweep the midterms, but they won’t necessarily be able to count on Republicans to do the hard work for them.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Democrats too felt good about the results from last night.
Sure, a few farther-right or more controversial candidates on the other side might have helped their chances more in the fall, but Democrats have known that this year, no matter what, they would have to defend a number of tough Senate seats.
Where there might have been bruising left-on-left races, there weren’t, really. In Ohio, the gubernatorial primary split some Democratic endorsements, but party voters were united. In House districts in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio, party picks emerged well-positioned and unscathed.
In a swath of the country where the party has struggled to define itself, there are now new faces. Veterans, business owners, moderates and first-time candidates secured Democratic Party nominations last night and with these fresh names, Democrats see opportunities to take seats. The strong turnout numbers in West Virginia got them jazzed.
Mostly, the Democrats who did well last night were focused less on the president and more on pocketbook issues. They were safer picks, perhaps, more to the center on issues like guns and health care in a lot of cases, but they will likely be competitive in places where Democrats need to win.
The TIP with Meridith McGraw
Blankenship -- who has said he would not support Morrisey as the Republican Senate candidate -- suggested to ABC News that he might continue to play a role in the race between Morrisey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin – but from the sidelines, wherever that might be.
After the general election, he plans to take a trip to Paris and today heads to the luxury West Virginia resort The Greenbrier to relax and play blackjack.
But at the end of the night, Blankenship, an ex-convict, said he is still a winner-- at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday his parole ended.
Morrisey, however, said in a victory speech to supporters Tuesday's win "is not the end of our journey."
He's already on to his general election fight against Manchin. In his primary night speech, Morrisey started his next round of attacks.
"Sadly, Joe Manchin has become just another rubber stamp for the liberal, Washington elite agenda, the same people who think of us as flyover country," Morrisey said.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Maybe we need a competent nerd to lead the state forward.” - Former Ohio Democratic governor Ted Strickland to ABC’s Arlette Saenz, referring to Richard Cordray, winner of Ohio’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. He’ll face GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine in November.
NEED TO READ
In Trump country primary showdowns, both parties score critical wins. In the broadest slate of primary showdowns thus far this midterm election season, Republicans and Democrats scored critical wins deep in the heart of Trump country — perhaps offering a glimpse of the fierce faceoffs to come November. (Halimah Abdullah and John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2rvOxMj
Challenger Mark Harris stuns U.S. Rep. Pittenger of NC in GOP primary upset. Former Charlotte pastor Mark Harris defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger in Tuesday's primary in North Carolina's 9th District, making him the first incumbent in the country to lose this year. https://bit.ly/2FYsW4k
Firm with ties to Russian oligarch allegedly made payments to Trump's attorney. The publicity savvy attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels on Tuesday released a document that alleges a company associated with a Russian billionaire sent $500,000 in payments to a fund maintained by President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen – the same fund Cohen used to pay a hush agreement with the actress, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford. (Matthew Mosk, James Hill and Tom Llamas) https://abcn.ws/2K2qOuX
Trump announces US withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal. The president said he is removing the U.S from the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and will reimpose economic sanctions on Iran at "the highest level of economic sanction" and target "any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons" with sanctions, too. (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2wqbDd6
Read President Trump's remarks on the Iran nuclear deal: Transcript. (ABC News) https://abcn.ws/2wuGt4u
Former President Obama slams decision to withdraw US from Iran deal. Former President Barack Obama issued a rare public and direct rebuke of President Donald Trump on Tuesday following his announcement withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. (Alexander Mallin) https://abcn.ws/2K3qkEQ
House Ethics may not have jurisdiction to investigate Tony Cárdenas molestation allegations. Cárdenas, a third-term California Democrat, identified himself through an attorney as the subject of a civil suit alleging he molested an unnamed 16-year-old girl. (John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2K3ONtE
Mike Pompeo travels to North Korea to lay ground for Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un. While there, Pompeo says he will raise the plight of the three Americans detained by North Korea, but has no commitments for their release. (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2wqUkIM
White House sends $15.4 billion rescissions proposal to Congress. The White House sent a proposal to Congress Tuesday to recapture $15.4 billion in “unobligated balances,” setting up the next budget battle on Capitol Hill as Democrats decried the cuts, including $7 billion allocated for children’s health. (John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2IlvizJ
EPA memo claims 'lashing out from passengers’ prompted Pruitt's first-class flights. Newly-released documents show that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's first-class flights were prompted by what his security chief called life-endangering "lashing out" from other passengers when he flew coach, but the agency has not completed investigations into any of those incidents. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2IpCTgw
Speaker Ryan and House chaplain look to bury hatchet after reinstatement. Speaker Paul Ryan says he met with House Chaplain Patrick Conroy Tuesday and they will “absolutely” put the controversy over his forced resignation behind them. (John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2wovFon
The New York Times reports on analysis that shows moderate candidates tend to outperform extreme ones. https://nyti.ms/2rxRpZo
The Washington Post suggests Nancy Pelosi may be her own worst enemy in her bid to reclaim her position as speaker. https://wapo.st/2I4ycFC
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.