If you think what's missing from Congress is a member of the Cheney family, you'll be pleased with yesterday's primary results out of Wyoming.
Liz Cheney has won Wyoming's Republican primary for U.S. House. Cheney beat seven challengers for a chance at the job her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, first won 40 years ago.
Her campaign focused on national security and rolling back federal regulations affecting Wyoming's beleaguered coal industry.
Incumbent Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), who has served as Wyoming's sole representative for the last eight years, is stepping down at the end of this Congress. There was a large GOP primary field, which Cheney ended up leading with relative ease.
Yesterday's results don't guarantee Cheney's place in Congress, but given Wyoming's status as a ruby-red state, it's widely assumed that the winner of the Republican primary is well positioned to win the U.S. House seat in the fall.
What's especially notable about Cheney's victory is the degree to which the former Fox News pundit and State Department official had to undo the damage done by her last congressional bid.
In April, in the face of broad criticisms about his campaign's direction, Donald Trump shook up his leadership team and implemented a "massive restructuring." Two months later, in June, the Republican presidential candidate made another major staffing change, ousting campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign's leadership amid flagging poll numbers, NBC News has learned.
Kellyanne Conway -- already a senior adviser to the campaign -- told NBC News she has been promoted to the role of campaign manager. She confirmed that Paul Manafort will stay on as campaign chair but said Stephen Bannon, the co-founder of conservative Breitbart News, will come on board as campaign CEO.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the staffing changes, said Manafort will stay on, though his power will clearly be diminished. The Washington Post's report added, "Trump's stunning decision effectively ended the months-long push by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump's presentation and pitch for the general election."
And just when it seemed things couldn't get much worse for Manafort, the Associated Press reported this morning that the Republican lobbyist "helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy."
If accurate, a report like this will raise questions anew about why Manafort is maintaining any kind of leadership role in the Republican nominee's presidential campaign.
Rachel Maddow looks back at Roger Ailes' history as a Republican strategist before he became the guiding Republican force shaping Fox News, and notes reports that he is now working with the Trump campaign. watch
* Louisiana flooding: "The death toll for the Louisiana Flood of 2016 climbed to 10 Tuesday (Aug. 16) and eight more parishes were declared federal disaster areas. Roads are still closed across the state and at least 11,000 people are in shelters after a slow-moving weather system dumped as much as two feet of rain in 48 hours on parts of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Helena parishes."
* Following up on the report from last night's show: "Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was convicted Monday of perjury and other crimes, announced she will resign Wednesday."
* New York: "Two days after an imam and his assistant were gunned down after afternoon prayers in Queens, the police said late Monday that a man they had in custody had been charged in the killings."
* Discouraging ACA news: "Aetna, the nation's third largest health insurer, announced Monday night the most significant departure yet from the marketplaces set up by President Obama's signature health care law. The company, citing $430 million in losses selling insurance to individuals since January of 2014, will slash its participation from 15 states to four next year."
* Climate crisis: "Earth just broiled to its hottest month in recorded history, according to NASA. Even after the fading of a strong El Nino, which spikes global temperatures on top of man-made climate change, July burst global temperature records."
* FBI: "Responding to requests from House Republicans, the FBI sent members of Congress the notes from its July interview with Hillary Clinton about her private email server on Tuesday."
* Worth watching: "Russian bombers flying from an Iranian air base struck rebel targets across Syria on Tuesday, Russian and Iranian officials said, dramatically underscoring the two countries' growing military ties and highlighting Russia's ambitions for greater influence in a turbulent Middle East."
In presidential elections, Utah is such a Republican stronghold, it's practically the basis for clichés. The state has backed the GOP candidate in 12 of the past 12 campaign cycles. Over the last half-century, the closest any Democrat has come to winning Utah was in 1992, when Bill Clinton lost by 19 points.
And Clinton finished third in Utah that year, trailing Ross Perot.
But this is an odd year for all sorts of reasons, and Utah suddenly finds itself receiving far more attention than state voters are accustomed to. Polls show Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in the state, but by modest margins, and state GOP officials have been quite candid in their warnings that Clinton has a credible chance of winning Utah's six electoral votes.
As The New Republicnoted the other day, the unusual circumstances have not escaped the attention of the GOP candidate.
The Republican nominee spoke Thursday in Florida to a right-wing evangelical Christian group, the American Renewal Project, and couldn't help but take a dig at another state and a demographic of voters with whom he's slipping.
"You've gotta get your people out to vote. And especially in those states where we're represented," Trump said. "I'm having a tremendous problem in Utah. Utah's a different place. I don't know -- is anybody here from Utah?" [Silence.] "I mean, it's -- I didn't think so."
His rival seems aware of the opportunity. In fact, Trump's "tremendous problem in Utah" comments came a day after Hillary Clinton published an op-ed in Utah's Deseret News, a project of the Church of Latter Day Saints. In it, the Democratic nominee emphasized Mitt Romney's condemnations of Trump, Clinton's record in support of religious freedom, and the parallels between her vision and Mormon traditions.
"Generations of LDS leaders, from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to Gordon Hinckley and Thomas Monson, have noted the infinite blessings we have received from the Constitution of the United States," Clinton wrote. "The next president will swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend that document for successive generations. And if you give me the honor to serve as your president, I will fight every day to carry out that sacred responsibility."
Yesterday, Trump had an op-ed of his own in the same church newspaper, reinforcing the perception that he's having to focus attention on a state that most Republican presidential candidates feel free to overlook.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In Virginia, which is supposed to be a battleground state, a new Washington Postpoll shows Hillary Clinton with a pretty healthy lead over Donald Trump among likely voters, 51% to 43%.
* The latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll shows Clinton with a nine-point advantage over Trump nationally, 50% to 41%. At least for now, the Democrat's post-convention bounce hasn't faded.
* The presidential election, by the way, is 12 weeks from today.
* President Obama headlined a Massachusetts fundraiser yesterday, and urged Democrats not to be complacent in the face of positive polls. "If we are not running scared until the day after the election, we are going to be making a grave mistake," the president said.
* Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), the only sitting senator in New England who supports the Republicans' presidential nominee, wants voters to perceive a "big distinction" between endorsing Trump and her stating publicly that she intends to vote for Trump.
* In North Carolina, the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll found Deborah Ross (D) leading incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) in their match-up, 46% to 44%, while Roy Cooper (D) leads incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory (R) by an even wider margin, 51% to 44%.
* In Colorado, the same poll showed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) with a comfortable, double-digit lead over challenger Darryl Glenn (R), 53% to 38%.
* The news was better for Republicans in Florida, where the poll found Sen. Marco Rubio (R) with a growing lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), 49% to 43%.
* Will Georgia become a 2016 battleground? It's worth noting that the Clinton campaign is staffing up in the Peach State, which probably isn't what Republicans wanted to see.
In March 2015, Oregon became the first state in the nation to embrace automatic voter registration, California adopted the same idea soon after. This year, West Virginia, Vermont, and Connecticut joined the small-but-growing club.
The AVR road, however, is not without roadblocks. A bill passed in New Jersey, for example, only to be vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie (R). Late last week, as the Chicago Tribunereported, Illinois' Republican governor also balked, at least for now.
Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill aimed at making voter registration automatic in Illinois, citing concerns about potential voting fraud and conflicts with federal law.
The first-term Republican governor said he wanted to continue negotiations with supporters to work out those issues, but groups backing the measure accused him of playing politics with his veto and said they would seek an override.
Note, automatic voter registration faced little resistance in Illinois' Democratic-led state legislature. AVR passed the state House 86 to 30, in the state Senate, it was even more lopsided, 50 to 7.
Given those totals, state lawmakers will likely have the support necessary to make the legislation law anyway, overriding the GOP governor's veto.
That said, Rauner insists he remains open to the idea, his veto notwithstanding, and in a statement, he said he intends to "continue working" on the idea.
The latest revelations surrounding Donald Trump's presidential campaign team and ties to pro-Putin forces abroad have sparked plenty of interest. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, yesterday urged the Republican nominee to "immediately disclose any payments by pro-Putin groups to his campaign chairman or other key staff, and assure the American public that these payments have not influenced his campaign proposals or any action he might take in the White House.”
Schiff isn't the only one looking for answers. CNN's Jake Tapper asked Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) yesterday about the allegations surrounding Paul Manafort and his financial ties to pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. The Republican congressman responded:
"Yes, look, I think Donald Trump ought to really investigate this and where his chief adviser, what his association with the Russians are. [...]
"[W]e do know that there was a push for some reason at the RNC to take offensive weapons out of our platform. That wasn't anything anybody was talking about it. It just happened. That has been this affection in the campaign for Russia and Vladimir Putin.
"In my thought, I have concerns for the chief adviser of Donald Trump, you know, having done work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine, and, then, all of a sudden, there is this real affection for Russia in the campaign."
This morning, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) also appeared on CNN and said, "I want to know what money [Manafort] got from a pro-Russian organization in the Ukraine."
It's a safe bet that you have a pretty clear preference in this year's presidential race. In fact, it's also likely that nearly everyone you know -- at least those who intend to cast a ballot -- already has a good idea about who'll they'll support. The number of true undecided voters, folks who just aren't sure which candidate to back, is fairly small.
But these Americans still exist. In fact, we can even find them on Capitol Hill.
Take Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), for example. The Republican senator, facing a tough re-election fight in a blue state, announced his support for Donald Trump's candidacy several months ago, but in June, Kirk became the first and only GOP senator to withdraw that endorsement and declare he wouldn't support his party's nominee after all.
Soon after, the Illinois senator said he'd write in former CIA Director David Petraeus' name rather than support Trump.
Last week, Kirk changed his mind again, announcing he'll instead write in former Secretary of State Colin Powell's name on his presidential ballot. As the Chicago Tribunereported, this didn't turn out well.
Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who has unendorsed Donald Trump, said Wednesday he "can't support" Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or anyone for president who backs the Iran nuclear agreement.
But Kirk's stated choice as a write-in candidate for president, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, also supported the U.S.-led multinational agreement aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program.
In a CNN interview, Kirk specifically said, in reference to the international nuclear agreement with Iran, "Hillary Clinton was for the Iran agreement. And I can't support someone who is for the Iran agreement." (Powell, whom Kirk had just endorsed, is a rather enthusiastic proponent of the Iran agreement.)
Which means it's time for the Republican senator to come up with his fourth presidential preference in the last three months. And who might that be?
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.