April 18, 2017 Last Updated 7:59 am

UK PM sets election date, June 8; Georgia House election today to test Democratic resistance

Morning Brief: France goes to the polls this Sunday, but many wonder if Russian government meddling will result in a similar upset result as seen in the United States

They really need to stop doing this. The politicians, that is. I can’t wake up and simply check out the west coast scores and complain about the Giants’ bullpen. No, every day. Every single day, the world seems to get a little crazier.

The Brits, likely jealous that everyone else is having an election, will go to the polls on June 8. The prime minister made the surprise announcement today outside No. 10 Downing Street this morning. The idea is that she feels she needs a bigger mandate to handle Brexit – and besides, the Tories are way ahead of Labour in the polls, and likely to stay that way.

In essence, this is a do-over, or at least it could be. Brexit won by a slim margin. But what will the election actually be about, if not Tory control?

Theresa May, prime minister:

I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet, where we agreed that the government should call a general election, to be held on 8 June. I want to explain the reasons for that decision.

At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. Our opponents believe that because the government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.

I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election.

This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your prime minister, or weak and unstable coalition government.

The Scotsman, Tom Peterkin:

Nicola Sturgeon promises to make election about indyref2

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to make the snap General Election about getting voters to back her plans for a second independence referendum. The SNP leader claimed Theresa May had made a “huge political miscalculation” describing her bid for a June 8 vote as “one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history.”

Ms Sturgeon said the Prime Minister was putting the interests of the Conservatives ahead of the country’s…

…Ms Sturgeon said Mrs May was “clearly betting” that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the “utter disarray” in the Labour Party.

The Guardian, Anne Perkins:

This is no general election, it’s a coup – MPs have a duty to stop Theresa

heresa May has turned democracy against itself. She has been seduced by the siren evidence of the 20-point lead in the polls, and she will have a general election, the one she said again and again that she would not call. And it will almost certainly return her with a thumping majority that will allow her to run the Brexit negotiations just as she wants.

There will be no obligation on her to reflect the views of the minority position. She will leave the remainers of England disempowered. She has made a Scottish referendum inevitable, and a border poll in Northern Ireland infinitely more likely. She is resetting politics in a way that will entrench division. We will all rue this day.



The president awoke, grabbed his phone, and immediately went on Twitter to start denouncing the Democratic candidate in today’s House race in Georgia.

“Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO.” Then… “Republicans must get out today and VOTE in Georgia 6. Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes-very bad on crime & 2nd A.”

Whether this is a sign of panic on the part of the president (doubtful), or merely repeating what worked for the Kansas election last week (that’s my bet), it was a sign that Tuesday had arrived and there is another election to cover.

Georgia’s 6th Congressional district is considered ripe for the picking for Democrats. While Tom Price, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, in charge of dismantling Obamacare, won the district rather handily, Donald Trump won it narrowly.

The idea is that if Democrats can come out and vote they may show that they can take back the House.

But I have my doubts. Ossoff is polling way ahead, but below 50 percent. That means a runoff, and if there is a runoff, where the Republicans can unit behind one candidate, its lights out for the Democrats.

Already some liberals are cheering the fact that Ossoff is pretty much guaranteed to get between 40 and 45 percent of the vote. In other words, Democrats are cheering another close defeat. Ossoff needs 50 percent of the vote, plus one… today.

The Washington Post, Amber Phillips:

Why Georgia’s special election is a really big moment for House Democrats

Tuesday’s election to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price could be Democrats’ best opportunity until the 2018 elections to demonstrate that their base’s anti-Trumpmentum can be weaponized to kick Republicans out of office — maybe even to take back the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010.

And Democrats have put it all on the line to make that happen…

…Neil Sroka, spokesman for the progressive Democracy for America, said, “[Tuesday] is going to be an important test of: ‘Are we able to increase voter turnout in a ruby-red district in Georgia just like we saw last week in Kansas?’”

There’s an enthusiasm and willingness among Democrats’ base that the party hasn’t seen in a decade, strategists in both the establishment and progressive community said. And if Democrats can figure out a way to harness it, the payoff could be huge.



Then there is France, where the election is only a Sunday away. Facebook has already taken down thousands of fake accounts that were posting about the French election. Then there is the out and out propaganda of the Russian media websites.

It looks like a replay of the US election – but this time people seem awake. Last summer, it was frustrating to be running a website that looked at politics and the media and daily saw the efforts of bots, trolls and nefarious characters at work. The US media was in denial, and to a certain extent remain that way.

The New York Times, Andrew Higgins:

It’s France’s Turn to Worry About Election Meddling by Russia

“The Return of Fillon to the Head of Opinion Polls,” declared the bold headline, contradicting other French polls suggesting that the onetime favorite had fallen to third or even fourth place as he battled corruption charges.

As it happens, Mr. Fillon’s lead in the polls existed only in a world of alternative facts shared by the French-language service of Sputnik, a state-funded Russian news operation with the motto “Telling the Untold.”

…The broader question as France charges toward the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, however, is what exactly lies behind what looks to many, particularly supporters of the liberal front-runner, Emmanuel Macron, like a replay of Russia’s interference in the presidential election in the United States last year.

Is Moscow meddling covertly, as American intelligence agencies say it did before Donald J. Trump’s victory? Or is it just benefiting from a network of politicians, journalists and others in France who share the Kremlin’s views on politics there, and much else besides?

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