Inside Politics: Primary season heats up

The GOP bolsters its ground game in a battle to keep the House, Democrats split between competing strategies as primaries heat up, President Trump takes a gentler approach to negotiations with China, a fight looms in Congress over criminal justice reform, and the royal wedding sparks a new, more diverse wave of American enthusiasm for British culture.

Posted: May 21, 2018 1:04 PM
Updated: May 21, 2018 1:09 PM

Here are the stories our DC insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. Primaries to watch

Tuesday is another primary day, with elections in Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky, along with a runoff in Texas. Five Thirty Eight's Perry Bacon said he's watching a Democratic House race in Houston and the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Governor.

"They both have the same dynamic," Bacon said. "You have two Democrats running. One Democrat says 'I'm gonna win the general election by going out and mobilizing our base.' The other candidate says 'Hey, there are not enough base voters. We need to win some of those Trump people too.' "

Bacon said it's a decision facing Democrats across the country, and Tuesday will give us an early indicator of which way the party's leaning.

2. Fight over criminal justice reform

President Donald Trump held a bipartisan summit this week on criminal justice reform -- an issue that could be ripe for compromise in Washington. But New York Times Chief Washington Correspondent Carl Hulse reports there are a lot of hurdles ahead.

"There is a bill that's emerged from the House that to people who want a bigger package, only really does half of it," Hulse said. Many lawmakers in both parties who have been pushing this cause for years say it doesn't go far enough -- they want more on sentencing reform in any bill. But Hulse said the White House is behind the less comprehensive version, and it's unclear whether anything will get passed.

3. GOP's shadow campaign army

House Republicans know losing the House in November is a strong possibility -- but they're hoping a tsunami of cash can beat back a big blue wave. Politico's congressional reporter Rachael Bade reports that a super PAC linked to Speaker Paul Ryan has raised tens of millions of dollars and recruited thousands of volunteers to help get out the vote.

"Republicans in their battle to keep the House have basically been building this shadow campaign," Bade said. "And they are able to take unlimited campaign contributions and basically funnel all the money into key districts. So time will tell if it works, but it's certainly interesting what they're doing."

4. Harry & Meghan win new American fans

Hundreds of millions around the world watched Prince Harry wed American Meghan Markle this weekend -- including many in the US who may be knew to royal-watching.

"The wedding sparked a kind of royalism among a new and diverse sector of society, and sparked enthusiasm among the younger generation," CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson said.

The questions now: "When will they visit America, and will they stop by the White House?" Henderson asked. "And what will Meghan Markle, a proud feminist, mean to conversations around inequality? It will all be fascinating to watch."

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