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HIT: Mark Sanford, a former Republican governor and congressman from South Carolina, has almost no chance of becoming his party’s presidential nominee in 2020. Nor does William Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, or Joe Walsh, a former congressman from Illinois. But all three have tossed their hats into the ring next year to challenge President Trump in the GOP presidential primary. Given Trump’s lofty approval ratings among Republicans, the odds that any of them will depose Trump as the Republican standard-bearer are close to nil. But they will provide interesting and necessary voices in a debate about what the Republican Party is today, and what it should be in the future. Should it return to its more centrist roots? Should it place greater emphasis on taming deficits and debt? Is the Trumpified status quo sufficient? This is an argument that Republicans should welcome.

HIT: Last week, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a measure that would allow no-excuse absentee voting, contending it would erode civic engagement. Yeah, right. More likely, it will just reduce the number of voters who participate in electoral process. Fortunately, here in Pennsylvania, the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf is committed to making voting more accessible, and on Monday it was announced that voters will be able to apply online this fall for an absentee ballot. They’ll still have to mail in or hand-deliver their ballots to elections offices, but applying online makes the process faster and easier. In a democracy, making voting easier should be a goal of our elected officials, not something they actively try to scuttle, and Wolf is delivering on that front.

MISS: Students who have to head to campus to take online courses because they can’t get a reliable internet connection at home. Rural businesses with internet service so glacially slow they have to store credit card transactions. These are just a couple of the stories elected officials heard last week at a hearing at Penn State Fayette on the need for high-speed internet access in rural parts of Pennsylvania. The lack of broadband access has slowed the economic progress of more remote parts of the state and country, and underscores the need for the “digital divide” in Pennsylvania to be bridged. It is limiting educational opportunities for young people and business opportunities for their parents and grandparents. As state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Carmichaels, noted, “The reality is, in 2019, you cannot compete if you cannot connect.”

MISS: Not so long ago, vaping was touted as a means for smokers to get the nicotine they crave without the tobacco tar that can cause lung cancer or emphysema. It turns out, however, that urgent questions have been raised about the safety of vaping. Six deaths have occurred across the country that have been linked to vaping, and authorities are looking into more than 400 cases of lung diseases tied to the practice. The Centers for Disease Control has not yet pinpointed the cause, and is suggesting that young people steer clear of vaping entirely, along with older adults who do not already use tobacco. Above all, the agency is urging people not to buy vaping products on the street. That’s sound advice that should be heeded. Lives could depend on it.

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