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Situational awareness - January 18, 2018

Good Thursday morning from Salt Lake City. 

I don't know how much longer we're going to have to do this "will he, won't he" kabuki dance around Mitt Romney's potential run for the U.S. Senate, but until then the media is latching on to every little piece of information we can get. Here's what we know: Everybody around Mitt Romney says he's getting ready to run in some manner, a few of them have come right out and said he's running. We don't know when he'll make it official, and nobody really has any idea when that will happen. The chase continues.

We're inching closer and closer to a government shutdown. Herbert says he's pushing Romney to run. Utahns want stricter background checks for gun purchases but aren't sure stronger gun laws would have prevented mass shootings like what happened in Las Vegas.

Tick Tock:

  • 4 days until the opening day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (1/22/2018)
  • 49 days until the final day of the 2018 Utah Legislature (3/8/2018)
  • 50 days until the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election opens (3/9/2018)
  • 56 days until the filing deadline for the 2018 elections (3/15/2018)
  • 61 days until the statewide caucus meetings for Utah Republicans and Democrats (3/20/2018)
  • 93 days until the Utah GOP State Convention (4/21/2018)
  • 100 days until the Utah Democratic State Convention (4/28/2018)
  • 159 days until the 2018 Primary Election (6/26/2018)
  • 292 days until the 2018 midterm elections (11/6/2018)
  • 1,020 days until the 2020 presidential election (11/3/2020)

Thanks for reading our daily rundown of the political news stories you need to know (and nothing you don't). If you have news tips, story ideas, want to submit an op-ed, or want to talk about why Hall and Oates is the greatest musical group ever, hit me up at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I'm always available.

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Here's what's driving the day:

Herbert says he has personally urged Mitt Romney to run

Gov. Gary Herbert tells UtahPolicy.com he has spoken to Mitt Romney and urged him to run for US Senate, but he won't elaborate on what Romney's reply was [Utah Policy].

Mega-donors getting ready to back Romney's Senate bid

It looks like the deep-pocketed donors who powered Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid are getting ready to throw campaign cash his way again. Romney doesn't need the money, but the growing consensus is he could challenge for, and win, a leadership position in Congress because of his clout and high profile [Utah Policy].

Poll: Utahns have mixed opinions on gun control measures

An overwhelming number of Utahns say they support background checks for all gun sales, but they're not sure that stricter gun laws would have prevented recent mass shootings in Las Vegas and at a Texas church [Utah Policy].

Other Utah headlines:

  • If the government shuts down on Friday, the Interior Department says national parks will stay open [Tribune].

  • Gov. Gary Herbert launches an effort to prevent teen suicide in Utah [Tribune, Deseret News].

  • The LDS Church says it will help local church leaders better address suicide prevention with a new website [Deseret News].

  • Legislative leaders discuss education funding and Medicaid expansion ahead of the 2018 Legislative session [Deseret News].

  • Democratic legislative candidate Kathie Allen ignites a social media firestorm for taking a swipe at Republican Sen. Brian Zehender's religious views [Tribune].

  • Sen. Mike Lee is upset an international court said Costa Rica should legalize same-sex marriage [Deseret News].

  • Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi is expected to announce a new Customer Service Department in the city. She will also appoint Karen Larsen as the city's first female department head [Daily Herald].

  • Delta Airlines wants a longer extension on its lease at Salt Lake City International Airport, which will help pay for the expansion of the airport [Tribune].

National headlines:

  • The government will shut down in less than 24 hours unless Republicans can come up with some sort of short-term funding deal. The GOP is worried that they'll pay the price with voters if that happens [NBC News].

  • The prospects for passage of a short-term spending bill are getting smaller and smaller. Democrats, who want an agreement on a DACA bill, say they won't vote for another funding bill until those concerns are met [Washington Post].

  • White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Democratic members of Congress that some of President Trump's hard-line immigration promises from the campaign trail, like his proposed border wall, were "uninformed." He says the U.S. will not build a wall along the southern border and Mexico won't pay for it [New York Times].

  • The Trump administration says "dreamers" won't be rounded up if lawmakers fail to pass legislation giving them permanent legal status, but some aren't so sure [Washington Post].

  • President Trump rejects a proposed bi-partisan agreement on immigration as "horrible" and "very, very weak" on border security [Reuters].

  • President Trump says Russia is helping North Korea get around economic sanctions imposed on the nation because of their missile program [Reuters].

  • Momentum is building for Congress to reverse the ban on earmarks [The Hill].

  • Sen. Jeff Flake took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to criticize President Donald Trump for attacking the media [CNN].

  • President Donald Trump unveils his "fake news" awards [Fox News].

  • Former White House advisor Steve Bannon made a big slip up during his closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, admitting he had conversations about Don Jr's infamous meeting with Russians in Trump Tower in the summer of 2016 [Axios].

  • The GOP is reeling after losing a legislative seat in Wisconsin they held for nearly 20 years. Trump won the district by 17 points last year, but the Democratic candidate prevailed by 9 points during this week's special election [Politico].

  • Apple is pledging to invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next five years [TechCrunch].

On this day in history:

  • 1535 - Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founds Lima, the capital of Peru.

  • 1778 - James Cook is the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the "Sandwich Islands."

  • 1919 - World leaders gathered in Paris to begin a peace conference after the end of World War I. The event would lead to the creation of the League of Nations.

  • 1990 - Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.