Ryan faces diciest stretch of his speakership

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UP ON THE HILL — “Ryan faces diciest stretch of his speakership,” by POLITICO’s Rachael Bade in Racine, Wis.: “For all its power and prestige, the speaker of the House is one of the most thankless jobs in Washington — just ask John Boehner. Now, with Congress barreling toward major fiscal fights this fall, Paul Ryan is about to get a taste of the Boehner treatment — and then some. Consider what’s on the immediate horizon for the GOP wunderkind: President Donald Trump is ready to shut down the government over his border wall with Mexico. Breitbart has all but declared a renewed, Steve Bannon-led war on GOP leaders, with Ryan in its crosshairs. And conservative lawmakers are exhorting the speaker to play hardball on raising the debt ceiling — even as the White House demands a no-strings-attached increase to calm nervous creditors. ‘Conservatives aren’t going to roll over when it comes to the debt ceiling,’ said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) in a Tuesday interview. ‘I can tell you: It’s going to be a battle.’” Full story.

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FEC VIOLATIONS — “Major GOP donor admits to campaign finance law violations,” by Campaign Pro’s Kevin Robillard: “A chain of for-profit hospitals owned by a major GOP donor admitted to illegally reimbursing executives for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to political candidates over a decade-long period, according to FEC documents obtained by POLITICO. In the documents, made public Thursday, Cancer Treatment Centers of America admits to paying out $700,000 over a 12-year period ending in 2014 to reimburse donations to 31 different political candidates. The company’s founder, Richard Stephenson, has donated hundreds of thousands to Republican politicians and committees and once served as a top board member of the conservative group FreedomWorks. A spokesman for Stephenson pointed out the FEC found the company’s misbehavior was not ‘knowing and willful.’” Full story.

WILL SHE, WON’T SHE — “Collins weighing decision: stay in Senate or run for governor?” via WLBZ: “Senator Susan Collins says she will decide sometime in September whether to run for Governor. A number of Republicans have been urging Collins to enter the race for the Blaine House, though she says it is a very difficult decision.” Full story.

MEANWHILE — LePage: Collins ‘highly unlikely’ to win GOP gubernatorial primary,” by Campaign Pro’s Daniel Strauss: “Maine Gov. Paul LePage predicted Thursday that Sen. Susan Collins would probably lose a Republican primary in the state if she decides to run for governor. LePage was asked about the possibility that Collins would try to succeed him during an interview with Maine’s WGAN, and he offered his latest round of criticism of his fellow Republican.” Full story.

2020 WATCH — “Donald Trump’s Team Is In 2020 Mode At The RNC’s Summer Meeting,” by Buzzfeed’s Henry J. Gomez: “President Donald Trump is staging extraordinarily early re-election rallies, and his former pollster already is testing his strength against speculative primary challengers. But the most tangible signs that Trump and his allies are dashing into 2020 mode are happening in a much quieter place: the Republican National Committee’s summer meetings here in Nashville. Brad Parscale, a trusted adviser, served as the Trump family’s eyes and ears at a Wednesday budget session. He and Michael Glassner, the head of Trump’s campaign committee, were among the key aides seen chatting up RNC members in the halls and at the bars and restaurants inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.” Full story.

Days until the 2017 election: 74.

Days until the 2018 election: 438.

Thanks for joining us! You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, eschneider@politico.com, krobillard@politico.com, dstrauss@politico.com and mseverns@politico.com.

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: Morning Score will not publish from Aug. 28-Sept. 4. Our next Morning Score newsletter will publish on Sept. 5.

EASY LISTENING — “Nerdcast: No retreat, no surrender,” with POLITICO’s Nancy Cook, Michael Crowley and Josh Dawsey. Listen to the full episode here.

POLLING DATA — “Roy Moore, Luther Strange in statistical dead heat in Senate race,” via AL.com’s Howard Koplowitz: “Incumbent Sen. Luther Strange is gaining ground on former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, with the race in the Republican Senate runoff being a statistical dead heat, according to a survey released Thursday. The poll, commissioned by the Senate Leadership Fund a Mitch McConnell-connected super PAC backing Strange, shows Moore ahead by 4 percentage points — 45 percent to 41 percent with a 4 percent margin of error. The survey shows a much closer race than another poll released earlier this week that had Moore with a 19-point advantage over Strange. Moore led all candidates with 39 percent in last week’s Republican primary; Strange qualified for the September runoff with 33 percent of the vote.” Full story.

— “The Alabama Senate race is a mirror image of the presidential election,” via The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips: “An establishment candidate is running for his political life against a controversial, say-anything figure who the elites despise. And against all political logic, the establishment may very well lose.” Full story.

LOAN GONE BAD — “Are Manchin and Puccio still investors in tanking hotel deal? That’s clear as mud,” via WV Metro News: “Senator Joe Manchin and longtime aide Larry Puccio are listed among the borrowers in the original $15,470,000 loan for Hilton Garden Inn Morgantown at Sun Crest Town Center that is now going bad. A lawsuit filed August 8 on behalf of the original lender continues to list Manchin and Puccio as if they remain investors. But Manchin’s staff and Puccio have said repeatedly that they are not investors in the hotel. So what happened? Was there a mistake on the front end? Did they pull their investments along the way? So far, no one is clearing up that mystery.” Full story.

CHARLOTTESVILLE FALLOUT — “Schumer: After Charlottesville, end Trump’s voter fraud commission,” by POLITICO’s Elana Schor: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday pressed President Donald Trump to shutter the commission investigating Trump’s unfounded theories of massive voter fraud in the 2016 election, linking voter disenfranchisement to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. If Trump does not dismantle the Election Integrity Commission — which has sparked controversy as state officials in both parties refuse to hand over voter information to the administration — Schumer urged Congress to ‘prohibit its operation through one of the must-pass legislative vehicles’ that are set to get considered next month.” Full story.

TECH WATCH — “NGP VAN unveils new iteration of software ahead of midterm cycle,” via Campaigns & Elections: “Call time is about to change for the Democratic fundraisers and candidates using their party’s most popular engagement platform. NGP VAN unveiled the eighth edition of its namesake NGP software this week, and paperless call time is one of its headline features. The update is meant to help streamline one of the most hated parts of campaigning — dialing for dollars — and could help stave off competition from potential rivals.” Full story.

ON THE ROAD — Jolly, Murphy to tour Florida to talk Washington gridlock: Former Republican Rep. David Jolly and former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy will hit the road in Florida this fall to host town halls to talk about the dysfunction in Washington. Four stops are already scheduled, with the first on Sept. 12 in Tampa at the University of South Florida, per a statement from the group.

BLAST FROM THE PAST — “Tom Tancredo, upset about canceled white nationalist event, weighs another run for Colorado governor,” via The Denver Post’s John Frank: “Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is considering a run for Colorado governor in 2018 in a move that he hopes is a shot across the bow at the Republican Party. The conservative firebrand told The Denver Post on Wednesday that he is thinking about another run after two losing bids in 2010 and 2014. ‘I certainly have concerns about the party and the people running,’ he said in an interview.” Full story.

ADMINISTRATION SPEED READ — “Oil and gas allies to Trump: Slow down,” by POLITICO’s Ben Lefebvre: “President Donald Trump’s aggressive drive to roll back environmental regulations is moving too fast even for some in the oil and gas industry. Publicly, petroleum companies and their trade groups are cheering Trump’s efforts to undo former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations, including restrictions on fracking-related pollution, pipeline permits and offshore drilling. But quietly, people in the industry are growing worried that deregulation could backfire on them, according to interviews with a dozen executives, lobbyists, lawyers and analysts. Among their fears: Laxer rules could set the stage for an environmental disaster like 2010’s BP oil spill in the Gulf, which blackened the industry’s reputation and spurred a regulatory clampdown.” Full story.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “2020 is a really long ways away.” — GOP Rep. Will Hurd, declining to confirm to MSNBC if he will support President Trump in his reelection bid, The Washington Examiner reported.

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