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GreyhoundFan

2019/2020 Non-Presidential Elections 2

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GreyhoundFan

Here's a place to discuss the many consequential elections coming up for offices other than President. Continued from here:

 

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GreyhoundFan

"The top 10 House races of 2020"

Spoiler

House Democrats had a great election last year. They picked up 40 seats from Republicans and won the majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in nearly a decade.

The question now is: Was last year indicative of a changed political landscape that, finally, favors Democrats? Or was 2018 a unique blue wave, and will 2020 return things to the equilibrium that has recently favored Republicans?

Right now, both sides say data points to them having a strong election. Democrats’ House campaign arm is outraising Republicans’, and a key indicator of which party will control the majority, the generic ballot question, favors Democrats. Democrats also say they see signs of enthusiasm right now that mirror the ones that preceded the 2018 election. They think they can add to their majority. At the very least, it’s an uphill battle for Republicans to try to take it back.

But Republicans are intent on taking back seats they think should be rightfully theirs, in districts that Trump won by double digits. It’s those seats that make up the bulk of our list of House races most likely to flip parties in 2020. There are at least a dozen more competitive races across the country, and things could change because there are so many unknowns in the current political landscape.

Here are The Fix’s first rankings of which seats are most likely to change hands in 2020. No. 1 is the most likely to flip.

10. Georgia’s 7th (Republican held but will be OPEN in 2020). This seat outside Atlanta is ground zero for Democrats’ attempts to own suburban America. The once-conservative district is no longer majority-white, and even though it voted for Trump in 2016, a Democrat nearly won it last year — and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams did win there. After that close encounter, Rep. Rob Woodall (R) is retiring. His 2018 challenger, Carolyn Bourdeaux, has the most name recognition so far in a crowded Democratic primary.

9. Illinois’ 14th (Democratic held). Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D) reelection is shaping up to be a test case for whether supporting an impeachment inquiry will cost vulnerable Democrats their jobs. She ran an impressive race to oust a long-term Republican congressman last year in this conservative-leaning suburban Chicago district. Now she is just one of two Democrats representing a district that voted for Trump to support the House’s impeachment inquiry. Half a dozen Republicans are running for the nomination to challenge her, so we’ll keep an eye on how this field shapes up.

8. New York’s 11th (Democratic held). There’s no question that Rep. Max Rose (D), an Afghanistan War veteran, is a talented campaigner, having unseated a Republican last year in a district Trump won by 10 points. Now he’s dropping the f-word in media interviews (which Democrats say is very Staten Island) and raising a lot of money, expecting a strong challenger himself. Leading that field — and with national Republicans cheering her on — is GOP Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, though big questions loom over that candidacy: How much of a hang-up is it that she said she regrets voting for Trump? And could felon and former GOP congressman Michael Grimm run, again? This race may come down to: Four years later, how do the blue-collar voters of Staten Island feel about the president?

7. Pennsylvania’s 10th (Republican held). Rep. Scott Perry (R) is on this list in large part because of redistricting, which moved the House Freedom Caucus member into a slightly more moderate district (though it still leans Republican). He narrowly won reelection last year. Democrats say they have a uniquely strong candidate, Eugene DePasquale, who proved he can win statewide (and in this district) in his successful 2016 campaign for state auditor.

6. Texas’s 23rd (Republican held but will be OPEN). Democrats’ top pickup opportunity comes in a seat they’ve long desired, this vast border district in Texas. They haven’t been able to knock out Rep. Will Hurd (R), but now they won’t have to. Hurd recently surprised everyone in politics by announcing his retirement, citing in part Trump’s racist tweets. This majority-Hispanic district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It’s one of three remaining that Democrats haven’t picked up since. Among the three open seats in Texas that Democrats are trying to flip thanks to GOP retirements, this is by far their best chance. Iraq War veteran Gina Ortiz Jones, who came close to beating Hurd last year, is the bold name in the primary.

5. New Mexico’s 2nd (Democratic held). Now we get to the group of newly Democratic-held seats that Republicans feel they should be able to wrest back. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) won last year by meeting the rural district where it is (for example, airing an ad of her firing her gun). This is shaping up to be a rematch of 2018, with state Rep. Yvette Herrell running again — but with a potential twist: A former congressman who held this seat, Stevan Pearce, could get in, reports Cook Political.

4. New York’s 22nd (Democratic held). Was Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s (D) 2018 win, in a district Trump won by 15.5 points, a fluke or the manifestation of the realignment of political power in Upstate New York toward Democrats? The answer may come in 2020. Brindisi outperformed the Democratic governor here to knock off a Republican, but some argue it was in part because he was up against a weak incumbent. If that former congresswoman, Claudia Tenney, is the GOP nominee again, this seat could get less competitive, but for now it’s a top Republican pickup opportunity.

3. South Carolina’s 1st (Democratic held). Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) became the first Democrat to win this Charleston district in nearly 30 years by running on local issues. Also helpful to him was a nasty Republican primary in which, after a tweet from Trump, GOP voters ousted Rep. Mark Sanford in favor of a more pro-Trump choice. Republicans are excited about two Republicans running, state Rep. Nancy Mace and a local councilwoman, Kathy Landing. Trump won this district by 13 points, but like all the Democrats on this list, Cunningham is doing what he needs to make it a fight for Republicans. He’s raised $1.3 million so far.

2. Oklahoma’s 5th (Democratic held). Political analysts say Rep. Kendra Horn’s (D) win in this Oklahoma City district was the one of the biggest surprises for Democrats in all of 2018. She is just the third woman Oklahoma has sent to Congress, ever. This is another district that Trump won by double digits (13.5 points) and another case in which Republicans like their potential nominees, such as state Sen. Stephanie Bice and entrepreneur Terry Neese.

1. Utah’s 4th (Democratic held). It’s a sign of what a good election Democrats had last year that Rep. Ben McAdams (D) won this seat in Utah, one of the most Republican states in the nation. The former mayor of Salt Lake City barely beat out former GOP congresswoman Mia Love in this suburban district Trump won by seven points. The Republican field is still shaping up to challenge him, but suffice it to say Republicans are putting a priority on recruiting candidates to take back this red district next year.

 

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GreyhoundFan

Thoughts and prayers...

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Sen. Johnny Isakson says he will resign at the end of the year, citing health problems"

Spoiler

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said Wednesday that he will resign at the end of 2019 due to health problems, setting the stage for two competitive Senate races in Georgia in a presidential election year.

Isakson, who was reelected to a third term in 2016, said in a statement that he has informed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of his decision, effective Dec. 31.

“I am leaving a job I love because my health challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff. My Parkinson’s has been progressing, and I am continuing physical therapy to recover from a fall in July. In addition, this week I had surgery to remove a growth on my kidney,” the senator said.

Isakson was hospitalized last month with four fractured ribs and a torn rotator cuff after a fall at his Washington apartment. On Monday, he had surgery at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Ga., to remove a two-centimeter renal cell carcinoma from one of his kidneys, his office said.

Kemp is expected to tap a Republican to replace Isakson next year. His retirement means Georgia voters will be asked to choose two U.S. senators next year, as Sen. David Perdue (R) is seeking a second term.

In a statement, Kemp thanked Isakson for his years of service and said he will appoint a successor “at the appropriate time.”

“Senator Isakson’s list of accomplishments on behalf of the state that he loves is long and revered, but what Georgia should be most thankful for is the high standard that Johnny held as a true gentleman, a fighter for his constituents, a trusted advocate for our nation’s veterans, and one of the greatest statesmen to ever answer the call of service to our country,” Kemp said.

Isakson’s departure immediately shifted attention to Democrat Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the governor’s race in 2018. Abrams said in a statement she will not seek the seat, but she is likely to face continued pleas from Democrats to run.

“Our thoughts are with Senator Isakson and his family,” Abrams spokesman Seth Bringman said. “Leader Abrams’ focus will not change: she will lead voter protection efforts in key states across the country, and make sure Democrats are successful in Georgia in 2020. While she will not be a candidate herself, she is committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year.”

Democrats had previously courted Abrams to challenge Perdue, but she turned them down and has focused on building a national voter protection program.

In a statement issued after his release from the hospital last month, Isakson’s office said that symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease could lengthen the recovery process. Isakson revealed in 2015 that he had received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s two years earlier, saying that he experienced stiffness in his left arm and a slower gait as a result of the condition.

Isakson is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

Isakson was set to serve through the 2022 election. Under Georgia law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Kemp will make an appointment to replace Isakson pending a special election to be held concurrently with the 2020 general election.

Possible Republican replacements include Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who served as chief of staff to Isakson; Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan; and Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.)

The winner of the 2020 election will serve the remaining two years of Isakson’s term, and the winner of the 2022 election will serve a full six-year term.

Isaskson is the fifth senator to announce plans to retire. Three other GOP committee chairmen — Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) — have said they will not seek reelection next year, depriving the Senate of some of the more powerful pragmatic conservatives who have worked closely with Democrats to advance bipartisan legislation.

Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.) is the lone Democrat not seeking another term.

Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that Isakson’s seat is “yet another seat Republicans will need to defend next year in an increasingly competitive battleground where the president’s approval has plunged by double digits since taking office.”

News of Isakson’s retirement prompted praise for the senator from those on both sides of the aisle.

“One of the many fine adjectives to describe Johnny Isakson is a word not used enough in the halls of Congress these days: kind,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Not only is Johnny a diligent and successful legislator, he is one of the kindest, most thoughtful senators. Independent of any party or politics, everyone will miss Johnny.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Isakson “not only a first-rate legislator, but also a man of the highest integrity.”

“His humor, humility, and enduring faith have made him a role model to all of us who have had the pleasure to work with him,” McConnell said.

And Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Isakson “a steadfast conservative leader who has served Georgians with the highest integrity and distinction in the U.S. Senate.”

“He will be missed, but we look forward to the men and women of Georgia electing another strong Republican leader in 2020 alongside David Perdue,” he said.

With Isakson’s retirement, Democrats now must field two Senate candidates in Georgia, a state that has been trending slowly in their direction but so far has remained out of grasp in statewide races.

The dynamics were inverted last year in Minnesota, where Republicans had to field candidates against Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, a two-term incumbent, and Tina Smith, who had been appointed to replace Al Franken after his resignation. The GOP poured the bulk of its resources into the race against Smith, who was seen as the far weaker candidate. Smith ultimately won by 10 points, while Klobuchar won by 24 points.

It’s unclear whether Democrats, who have viewed Perdue as vulnerable to a strong challenge, would engage in a similar game of triage. Five Democrats have declared campaigns to challenge Perdue; so far only Teresa Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus, Ga., has raised a significant amount of money indicating a credible campaign.

Other candidates include Clarkston mayor Ted Terry, who appeared last year in an episode of the Netflix reality show “Queer Eye,” and Sarah Riggs Amico, a business executive who ran for lieutenant governor last year. Both Terry and Amico signaled Wednesday that they would stay in the race against Perdue.

Another potential candidate is Jon Ossoff, who was a liberal political star in 2017 when he made a strong but unsuccessful bid in a special election for the 6th Congressional District race in suburban Atlanta.

Nikema Williams, chairman of Georgia Democratic Party, said in a statement: “We thank Senator Isakson for his years of service to his state and country, and wish him all the best for his future.”

“With now two Senate seats up for election in 2020, it has never been clearer that the path for Democratic victory runs through Georgia,” Williams added. “We are the battleground state, and Georgia Democrats are ready to fight and deliver both the Senate and the presidency for Democrats across the country in 2020.”

Before entering politics, Isakson worked for a real estate firm, Northside Realty, that his father helped to found. Isakson became its president in 1979 and led the company for two decades, during which time it grew to become one of the country’s largest independent real estate brokerages.

Isakson’s political career began with his election to the Georgia House in 1976. He is the only person in Georgia’s history ever to have been elected to the state House and U.S. House and Senate.

“In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first,” Isakson said in his statement. “With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have concluded that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve.”

“It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term,” he added, “but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state.”

 

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GreyhoundFan

And another bites the dust: "Rep. Shimkus won’t seek reelection, joins growing list of Republicans heading for the exit"

Spoiler

Rep. John Shimkus on Friday joined the growing list of Republicans leaving Congress, announcing that he would not seek reelection in 2020.

The lawmaker from Illinois, who is in his 12th term, said on a local radio program that he would retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

“It has a been an honor of my lifetime to be asked by the people of Illinois to represent them in our nation’s capital,” Shimkus said on the Mark Reardon Show on KMOX-AM (1120). 

Shimkus is the 14th Republican to announce that he will not run next year, will resign or will seek a different office. Over the six-week congressional recess, a group of Republicans in increasingly competitive districts — including three Texans who won reelection by fewer than five percentage points in 2018 — decided to retire rather than face difficult contests.

Shimkus, however, won reelection by a landslide last year and hails from a GOP stronghold. His seat is expected to stay in Republican hands.

Shimkus was first elected in 1996, taking the former seat of Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who moved from the House to the Senate. He attended the U.S. Military Academy, served in the U.S. Army and worked as a high school teacher before running for Congress.

Shimkus, 61, served on the Energy and Commerce Committee for much of his congressional career, launching two unsuccessful bids to become the panel’s chairman in 2016.

While he has had a reputation as an ardent conservative, he was perhaps known most among his colleagues for his almost legendary Capitol Hill house. His place became the Washington home for three additional top GOP lawmakers turned best friends: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Rep. Kevin Brady (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, and then-Rep. Erik Paulsen (Minn.), who were often seen together joking and pulling pranks.

It is unclear where the remaining roommates will go with their landlord and friend departing. 

 

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fraurosena

Rats, every single one of them. Rats, leaving the sinking ship while they still can do so relatively unscathed.

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fraurosena

How is this even considered democratic?

Please vote for the Dems in this thread and get these anti-democracy GOP'ers out.

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GreyhoundFan

Two more down: "Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner won't seek reelection next year"

Spoiler

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the second-longest serving member of the House, announced Wednesday he won’t seek reelection next year.

Sensenbrenner, who was first elected in the 1978 midterms, joins more than a dozen other House Republicans who have already announced their retirements. He was the third member from either party on Wednesday alone to say they wouldn’t run again in 2020, joining Reps. Bill Flores (R-Texas) and Susan Davis (D-Calif.).

And while Sensenbrenner’s Milwaukee-area district leans heavily Republican — President Donald Trump won 57 percent of the vote there in the 2016 presidential election — it’s yet another sign that Republicans are pessimistic about their chances to win back the House majority next year.

Sensenbrenner won reelection in 2018 with 62 percent of the vote. In his congressional career, he never won less than 60 percent of the vote in a general election.

“When I began my public service in 1968, I said I would know when it was time to step back,” said Sensenbrenner, who was a member of the state Legislature before running for Congress. “After careful consideration, I have determined at the completion of this term, my 21st term in Congress, it will be that time.”

Sensenbrenner is best-known on Capitol Hill for his work on the Judiciary Committee. He was one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial of Bill Clinton. As chairman of the committee in the next decade, he helped pass the Patriot Act, George W. Bush’s effort to bulk up U.S. law enforcement’s surveillance capabilities to combat terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He is the second Wisconsin Republican to say in recent weeks that he would leave Congress. GOP Rep. Sean Duffy announced he would resign from the House later this month because he and his wife are expecting a child with a heart condition and other health problems.

Sensenbrenner is one of only two members whose service in the House stretches back to the 1970s. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the dean of the House, was first elected in 1973. According to Sensenbrenner’s office, at the completion of his term he will be the longest-serving member in his state’s history.

“I think I am leaving this district, our Republican Party, and most important, our country, in a better place than when I began my service,” Sensenbrenner said.

 

"Texas Rep. Flores says he won't seek reelection"

Spoiler

Texas Rep. Bill Flores will not seek reelection in 2020, becoming the latest Republican to retire from the increasingly competitive state.

Flores, who rode the 2010 tea party wave to Congress, serves on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

“When I originally announced that I was running for Congress in 2009, I was firm in my commitment that I would run for six or fewer terms,” Flores, 65, announced in a statement on Wednesday. “After much prayer over the past few days and following conversations with my wife, Gina, during that time, I have decided that my current term will be my last.”

His solidly Republican district includes Waco and the northern Austin suburbs and is home to two major universities: Texas A&M and Baylor. While Flores beat his Democratic opponent by 15 percentage points last year, changing demographics in the state — and especially in the suburbs — have made a number of races in Texas more competitive.

Flores joins a growing list of Texas Republicans who have decided to head for the exits instead of duking it out for another term. GOP Reps. Will Hurd, Pete Olson and Kenny Marchant, who were facing some of the toughest reelection battles in the state, have all called it quits.

And veteran Rep. Mike Conaway, who is term-limited in leading Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee, announced his retirement earlier this summer. While he represents a ruby-red district in central Texas and could have easily won reelection, Republicans — who have been relegated to the minority for the first time in eight years — likely face an uphill climb in winning back the House.

More GOP lawmakers could announce their retirements after the August recess, during which members have spent the past few weeks at home with their families and constituents.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees Texas as especially ripe for pickups. The DCCC opened an office in Austin in April and put six Republicans in the state on its 2020 target list, though Flores is not one of them.

Flores said he intends to spend more time with his family and “resume business activities in the private sector” after he leaves Congress. Prior to being elected to the House, Flores worked for a top accounting firm and spent 30 years in the oil and gas business, including serving as president and CEO of Phoenix Exploration Co.

 

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GreyhoundFan

Seriously? "Arizona GOP says it will stop Democrat Mark Kelly, husband of shooting survivor Gabrielle Giffords, ‘dead in his tracks’"

Spoiler

Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, said in a fundraising email Friday that the GOP would stop Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly “dead in his tracks.”

Ward’s choice wording stands out not only because Kelly is an ardent gun control advocate, but because he took up the cause after his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, survived an assassination attempt in which a gunman killed six people and left Giffords with traumatic brain injuries.

“Support the Republican Party of Arizona today and, together, we’ll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks,” Ward wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post. Bloomberg News first reported the email.

“This dangerous rhetoric has absolutely no place in Arizona and is what’s wrong with our politics,” said Jacob Peters, communications director for the Kelly campaign. “Mark Kelly is running for Senate to overcome this type of nasty divisiveness that does nothing for Arizonans.”

Kelly, a former astronaut, is running for the U.S. Senate on a gun control platform, looking to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in a state that Democrats hope they can pick up in 2020. Recent polling suggests McSally is trailing slightly in the race. McSally was beaten once by a Democrat in 2018 but was then appointed to another open Senate seat left by the late John McCain.

Ward, who is an ally of President Trump, is a twice-failed Senate candidate who lost Republican primary contests to McCain in 2016 and McSally in 2018.

Ward’s press team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Giffords was shot in the head during a constituent meet-and-greet in 2011. Two years later, the couple started Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee that advocates for stricter gun-control laws.

The Arizona GOP highlighted in the email an interview Kelly gave in 2015 where he said, “Where there are more guns, people are less safe.”

Echoing Trump’s Twitter style, the state party added in a post about Kelly: “He falls in line with the radical Left on gun control every single time. Sad!”

 

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"‘We either clean house, or Democrats take those seats’"

Spoiler

Party officials normally hate primary challenges and all the messy drama that comes with a family feud. But this cycle, Republicans see an opportunity to clean out the dregs of the GOP.

Candidates are lining up to challenge the House’s most embattled Republicans — lawmakers who have been indicted, who have made racist comments, who have faced whisper campaigns in their home states.

While GOP leaders typically stay out of primary contests, these members are getting snubbed or facing outright opposition from the party establishment. At least one member of GOP leadership — retiring Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan — has decided to back a primary opponent to hard-line conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was kicked off his committees for making racist remarks earlier this year.

King’s comments “reflect negatively upon Republicans and, as a result, I will contribute to his primary opponent,” Mitchell, the sophomore class representative, said in a statement.

Mitchell’s stance underscores a broader feeling in the GOP conference, where many Republicans would be relieved to see fresh faces with less baggage emerge victorious in some of these primary races. Otherwise, the GOP will continue to take the reputational hit that comes with these lawmakers serving in office — or worse, the party could lose those seats in the general election.

“You have a lot of people who have been concerned for many, many months now about finding some way of getting rid of some of these guys,” said Liz Mair, a GOP strategist. “There is a sense that we either clean House, or Democrats take those seats.”

Freshman Rep. Steve Watkins of Kansas, who has recently faced rumors that he’s poised to resign amid scandal, became the latest Republican to draw a primary challenge this week. State Treasurer Jake LaTurner decided to jump into the race (and abandon his Senate bid) after receiving public encouragement from Republican former Gov. Jeff Colyer, a rare primary intervention that fueled buzz in GOP circles.

A pile of Republican candidates is also vying to take on King, who has continued to kick up controversy all year, as well as indicted Rep. Chris Collins of New York, who was arrested on insider trading charges in August 2018.

And last week, former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced he was exploring whether to challenge his old colleague Rep. Duncan Hunter, who will go to trial early next year for allegedly misusing $250,000 in campaign funds to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Outside groups are also itching to get involved, hoping to better position the party as Republicans try to claw their way back to power next year. The conservative Club for Growth is actively interviewing primary candidates for the Collins and Hunter races and keeping an eye on King’s district as well.

“I’ve told Republican leaders: We reserve the right to be in primaries, including in challenger races,” David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, said in an interview. “There is a lot of tension. They don’t want us to do that.”

But, he added, “We also recognize that we need to make sure the Republican majority is sustained.”

King, who has been condemned by both parties for racist and inflammatory remarks, set off alarm bells in the GOP last year when he nearly lost to a Democratic challenger, despite representing a Republican stronghold in the heart of Trump country. Now, King is in the political fight of his life, as four Republican candidates — led by state Sen. Randy Feenstra — have mounted a challenge against the embattled nine-term incumbent.

While the top GOP leaders don’t formally play in primaries, they certainly haven’t done King any favors. Not only did they strip him of his committee assignments for defending white supremacy and white nationalism in an interview with the New York Times, but Rep. Liz Cheney — the No. 3 Republican in the House — has called on King to resign.

“As I’ve said before, it’s time for him to go. The people of Iowa’s 4th congressional district deserve better,” the Wyoming Republican tweeted last month, after King’s latest instance of eyebrow-raising rhetoric: suggesting humanity wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for rape and incest.

King also wasn’t allowed to fly aboard Air Force One this summer when Trump flew to Iowa for a state GOP event — another sign of King’s pariah status in the party.

The mix of snubs, demands for his resignation and lost committee assignments has left King struggling to raise money and complaining that the party is trying to tip the scales against him.

As a longstanding policy, the National Republican Congressional Committee does not spend in primaries. But the House GOP campaign’s arm did condemn King last cycle for a separate set of inflammatory comments and pulled support for him shortly before Election Day.

“If I were sitting there as NRCC chair, I would want to dump these guys, all three of them, in the trash,” Mair said, referring to King, Collins and Hunter.

Hunter and Collins created headaches for the GOP last summer when they were both indicted, tarnishing the party’s “drain the swamp” message and sparking fears that their once-safe seats would turn competitive. Both lawmakers, however, refused to step down and narrowly defeated their Democratic challengers.

Hunter has been accused by federal prosecutors of misusing campaign cash, including to pursue extramarital affairs with congressional aides and lobbyists. With Hunter at risk of facing serious jail time, Republican San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio has already announced a primary bid. Meanwhile, Issa — who still has friends in the House GOP after serving there nearly 20 years — is also considering jumping into the race.

Rank-and-file members, like leadership, tend to stay out of ugly primary fights involving their colleagues. But Issa’s entrance into the race could complicate the equation for some of the GOP’s California delegation, who already saw their ranks dwindle after the last election.

“It wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see a few — I wouldn’t say a ton — but a few members of the California delegation come out for Issa,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye.

Collins, meanwhile, will go on trial in February for insider trading charges. His spokeswoman said he will “decide on re-election over the next few months,” but argued the New York Republican “remains effective in representing his constituents” and maintains “a close relationship with the White House.”

Local GOP candidates see an opening and are rushing to challenge Collins, warning Republican voters that the seat could flip if Collins stays on the ticket.

Like King, both Collins and Hunter have been booted from their committee assignments, handing even more ammo to their opponents who have questioned their value in Congress.

“The only way this district is lost is if Chris Collins is on the ballot,” state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo), who declared his bid against Collins in May, told POLITICO.

A bitter battle is also brewing in Kansas, where Watkins is facing a primary challenge from LaTurner after being dogged by resignation rumors appearing in local media. Watkins has dismissed any suggestion that he would leave office, and his chief of staff has slammed the chatter as a "whisper campaign coming from political operatives in Kansas.”

But concern is growing in Kansas GOP circles about Watkins’ viability as a candidate next year, according to multiple sources. Before narrowly winning his election in 2018, Watkins came under fire for reports of sexual misconduct and for inaccurately claiming he started and expanded a private contracting company in the Middle East.

LaTurner said he has not had conversations with House GOP leaders or anyone at the NRCC, but said he expected to at some point in the future.

“At the end of the day we don’t want to see another congressional seat be turned over to the Democrats in Kansas,” LaTurner told POLITICO, accusing Watkins of poor coalition building and lackluster fundraising. “Congressman Watkins, without question, puts this seat in jeopardy this cycle.”

Watkins’ camp is already firing back, in a preview of the intraparty feud to come.

“Jake LaTurner’s entire career has been political ladder-climbing — and that climb ends in August,” said Bryan Piligra, a spokesman for Watkins.

Some strategists argue that tough primary fights aren’t entirely bad for the party. The winner can emerge battle-tested and better prepared to absorb attacks from Democratic opponents.

But if Republicans rip each other apart in a nasty primary, it could also bruise the nominee while straining relationships inside the party.

“Primaries pit families against each other. ... You will have accusations of backstabbing and being a traitor,” said Heye. “And that’s why they can become especially negative and do so very quickly.”

 

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fraurosena

One to watch next Tuesday.

North Carolina's special House election heads to nail-biter finish

Quote

Voters in one of the most economically and socially diverse districts in the country head to the polls Tuesday to elect a new member of Congress in a high-stakes contest that will offer a tantalizing hint about the state of the political landscape a year before the presidential election.

Both parties have poured millions into the race to represent North Carolina’s 9th District, a sprawling melange of urban, suburban and rural enclaves from the core of wealthy Charlotte to the more impoverished Cotton Belt.

Through the end of the week, the two sides have spent more than $14 million on television, according to sources watching the advertising market.

For all that money, there is little clarity. Both sides agree that state Sen. Dan Bishop (R) and Dan McCready (D), a solar company executive and Iraq war veteran, are running neck and neck.

The district has been open since the beginning of the new Congress, when North Carolina officials vacated the 2018 results that showed pastor Mark Harris (R) beating McCready by fewer than a thousand votes.

The state nullified that result after an illegal ballot-harvesting scheme came to light. Harris, the beneficiary of the scheme, decided not to run again.

Past election results and voter registration statistics show a deeply divided district, wrought by political undercurrents at play across the rest of the country.

image.png.e0cb4cb66c042a35c4435dc3d9a4fb84.png

 

Wealthy urban and suburban voters who once favored Republican candidates are turning their backs on President Trump. Rural farmers who historically backed Democrats are now solidly in the Republican camp.

McCready’s campaign has spent most of its advertising dollars in the Charlotte media market, where he needs to replicate his overperformance in the 2018 race.

In Mecklenburg County, McCready won almost 54 percent of the vote in 2018, outperforming Hillary Clinton’s vote share there by 8 percentage points. McCready actually won more votes in Mecklenburg County than Clinton did — 49,200 to 46,700 — even though he ran in a midterm election year.

McCready won the urban precincts in Mecklenburg County by a 16-point margin. He narrowly carried the suburban precincts by a 3-point margin, an area where Clinton ran almost nine points behind President Trump.

But Bishop has an added advantage: He represents part of Mecklenburg County in the state Senate.

“The battle will be between Mecklenburg, with McCready’s established strength to Bishop’s state senate district, and Union, as to whether McCready can chip away at the 60-40 split from 2018, especially in precincts close to the Mecklenburg County line,” said Michael Bitzer, who chairs the political science department at Catawba College. 

Bishop’s campaign will hope for strong turnout in neighboring Union County, full of poultry farms and precincts dominated by white voters. Trump took 64 percent of the vote in Union County in 2016, while Harris won with 59 percent there in 2018.

Farther east, Democrats have poured money into three rural counties where African American voters represent a significant portion of the population. Many of those voters did not turn out in the 2016 presidential contest, when Trump won Anson, Richmond and Scotland counties by a combined 11-point margin. 

In 2018, McCready’s campaign got those voters to the polls — he won 3,000 more votes than did Clinton — and he won those counties by a combined 9 percentage points. 

Bishop’s campaign has its own turnout machine revving up in Bladen and Cumberland counties, home of the other major city in the district, Fayetteville. Bishop’s campaign has spent a little more than a third of his advertising budget in the media market that covers Fayetteville and about half his budget in the Charlotte market.

President Trump plans a rally in Fayetteville on Bishop’s behalf the day before Tuesday’s special election, though some Republicans are worried that fallout from Hurricane Dorian, which has lashed eastern North Carolina, could threaten the rally. On Friday, the Trump campaign announced the president would appear at the Crown Expo Center rather than at the airport.

The North Carolina Board of Elections on Friday ordered additional early voting hours in Bladen and Cumberland counties after Dorian, along with additional hours in Robeson and Scotland counties.

Farmland in Bladen and Cumberland is dominated by whites, historically Democratic voters who have turned sharply to the GOP in recent years. Trump and Harris both won about 62 percent of the vote in rural parts of those two counties, while Clinton and McCready won 58 percent and 57 percent in the urban Fayetteville precincts.

Perhaps the most consequential vote up for grabs on Tuesday comes in Robeson County, home of many members of the Lumbee Tribe and the most diverse county in the district. Just six of the 39 precincts in Robeson County are majority-white, and six are majority-African American. Sixteen precincts have Native American majorities.

The Lumbee have a long history of carving out their own political power in the state and of defending themselves when the need arises. In 1958, harassed by the Ku Klux Klan, the Lumbee fought off a rally of white supremacists who had gathered to threaten their residents.

“There is not a more conservative ethnic group than the Lumbee,” said Jim Blaine, a longtime North Carolina Republican strategist working for Bishop this year.

In 2016, President Trump won Robeson County with 56 percent of the vote. But two years later, McCready won 56 percent of the vote there — and more than 5,000 more raw votes than President Trump won.

This year, Democratic efforts to turn out voters in rural areas will prove crucial. In one early sign, turnout in Robeson County, especially, is growing among absentee voters, Bitzer said. 

 

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GreyhoundFan

I hope he prevails: "Jon Ossoff became an unlikely Democratic star in Georgia. Now, he’s running for Senate."

Spoiler

Months after President Trump’s victory in November 2016, Jon Ossoff mounted a long-shot congressional campaign in a historically red Georgia district — and unexpectedly became a symbol of hope for demoralized Democrats as he racked up millions from small donors. When he narrowly lost one of the most expensive House races in history in June 2017, Ossoff promised to return.

“I launched this campaign believing that America can become stronger, more prosperous and more secure only if we stay true to the values that unite us,” Ossoff wrote in The Washington Post days after his loss. “I still believe that, and I’m not done fighting.”

On Monday night, Ossoff stayed true to that vow, announcing a Senate bid that, if successful, would make him the first Georgia Democrat elected to the position in almost two decades. Ossoff, now 32, will formally launch his campaign Tuesday, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he plans to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), whom he called “a caricature of Washington corruption.”

“What I care about is trying to make a difference in people’s lives,” Ossoff said. “Trying to end this appalling corruption that has infected our political system and fighting the abuse of power … We need warriors for the people in the United States Senate.”

Perdue, who has not commented on Ossoff’s announcement, did not return a message early Tuesday.

In 2020, Georgia will have two spots in Senate up for grabs, giving Democrats an opportunity to make gains in a red state where demographic changes are beginning to alter the political landscape. Perdue, a first-term senator and former businessman with close ties to Trump, is up for reelection and fellow Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson announced in August that he is retiring at the end of the year.

The fourth Democrat to set sights on Perdue’s seat, Ossoff is the biggest name to enter the race so far and has secured an endorsement from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). The longtime politician and civil rights leader pledged to “work tirelessly to elect” Ossoff, noting that his 2017 congressional campaign “sparked a flame that is burning brighter than ever, in Georgia and across the country.”

“Georgia and America need Jon,” Lewis said in a statement.

Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and former congressional aide, rose to unlikely national prominence when his candidacy for Georgia’s conservative 6th District turned into an expensive and hard-fought campaign that even got the attention of Trump.

For his supporters, Ossoff’s campaign, which focused on civility and grass-roots organizing, suggested a new way to defeat Republicans and offered a stark contrast to Trump’s bruising tactics. And for a while, it seemed to be working.

Polls ahead of the June 2017 special election had Ossoff and Republican challenger, Karen Handel, neck-and-neck in a district where the previous Democratic candidate had lost by 23 points. Ossoff managed to raise about $30 million, much of which came from “hundreds of thousands of small-dollar donors,” he later wrote in The Post.

“From the beginning I believed that to compete in this district we had to run a different kind of campaign — a campaign that put grass-roots organizing and personal contact with voters above all else,” Ossoff wrote.

But Republicans found success by portraying Ossoff as a “puppet,” whose “strings are being pulled by the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi.” He was labeled an “outsider” — “Not one of us,” declared Handel’s ads, which noted that Ossoff lived just outside a district covering counties north of Atlanta’s metro area, according to Vox. The two candidates poured $60 million into the race with prominent figures such as Trump, Vice President Pence and then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) coming to the state to stump for the GOP, AJC reported.

On June 20, 2017, Ossoff lost to Handel by four points.

[Ossoff chose civility and it didn’t work. How do Democrats beat Trump?]

“This is not the outcome any of us were hoping for, but this is the beginning of something much bigger than us,” Ossoff said in his concession speech. While Ossoff did not run again in 2018, Handel was unseated by Democrat and political newcomer Lucy McBath. Experts have credited Ossoff with laying the groundwork for McBath to capitalize on the state’s grass roots movement, HuffPost reported.

Ossoff told AJC on Monday that he plans to build on his 2017 campaign during his Senate run, also citing Democrat Stacey Abrams’ historic bid for Georgia governor last year as inspiration. Abrams, who became the first African American woman in any state to receive a gubernatorial nomination from a major party, lost to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) by fewer than 1.4 percentage points. She has ruled out running for Senate.

Ossoff said he was motivated to join the Senate race by a national “crisis of political corruption” and Georgia’s strict new abortion restrictions. He supports banning the sale of assault weapons, legalizing marijuana and universal health care, AJC reported.

In a Monday interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Ossoff said he has learned from his failure in 2017.

“I will never be intimidated from telling my own story and touting my own accomplishments because of the inevitable partisan smears that come down from Washington,” he said. “We have to be bold and direct and clear in the face of that kind of intimidation.”

Ossoff faces what will likely be another grueling campaign. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by nearly six percentage points in Georgia, and Republicans continue to dominate at the state level. According to AJC, Perdue’s campaign has raised nearly $5 million so far.

 

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fraurosena

I'd vote for her!

 

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GreyhoundFan

"He deleted his offensive tweets. But his political opponent found them anyway."

Spoiler

Virginia Republican John Gray figured he was being smart. He paid $30 to delete some offensive and inflammatory tweets as part of his bid to become chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

But after Gray’s campaign disclosed two $15 payments to a service that scrubbed his Twitter account, the line-item entry attracted attention from his chief opponent, Democrat Ann Wheeler, whose team easily dug up the deleted posts and shared them with The Washington Post.

The thousands of tweets reflected Gray’s often-confrontational and incendiary worldview. Some used stereotypes to mock violence and political protest in African American communities, exhibit religious intolerance against non-Christians and denigrate people with opposing political opinions.

Now, as Gray seeks the highest office in the rapidly diversifying county of 456,000 people, he finds himself doing exactly what he had hoped to avoid:

Explaining why, in 2016, he tweeted the falsehood that Islam sanctions domestic abuse; why he wrote “a funny tweet” that same year that said African Americans would stop “rioting” and take a knee if someone played the national anthem; and why, in 2017, he called former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson “a moron” for wishing Indians a happy Diwali.

Wheeler, who is vying with Gray to fill the seat being vacated by longtime board chairman and Republican firebrand Corey A. Stewart (At Large), said the attempts to hide the posts show Gray is unfit to lead Virginia’s second-largest jurisdiction.

“I don’t hide who I am,” Wheeler said Monday. “The bottom line is, he deleted those tweets because he believed they’re too extreme for Twitter. If they’re too extreme for Twitter, they’re too extreme for Prince William County, and he has no business running Prince William County.”

Gray owned up to some of the tweets, adding that a few of the more offensive ones — including crude comments about Hillary Clinton — were posted to his Twitter account by a campaign consultant whom he has since fired.

“I agree that some of them were completely inappropriate,” Gray said, adding that he decided to delete the tweets to avoid giving his opponents something to ­criticize.

“I’ll be sure to call my campaign consultant and ask: ‘Can you refund my $30?’ ” he said in jest. “Obviously, it didn’t work.”

Political candidates have occasionally stumbled into controversy over what they’ve posted on social media, including President Trump. Last year, when Stewart was trying to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), his campaign posted a statement on Twitter calling a Muslim candidate for governor in Michigan “an ISIS commie.” Stewart had that post deleted and blamed it on a consultant he also fired.

Gray admits to not having much of a social media filter before he announced his candidacy in March — and even in the months that followed.

In July, he posted a suggestion that Muslim hookah-bar owners should be forced to sell alcohol, even though doing so would be against their religion. Gray later said he regretted that tweet, which was intended as a reference to a legal battle involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs.

His campaign launched the cleanup effort about the same time he posted that tweet.

Gray was less apologetic about some of the other deleted tweets, including one in 2017 that said the “bong and dildo holders” who tried to impeach Trump would be met with “300 million weapons and an estimated 2 billion rounds of ammo” in the conservative uprising that would be sure to follow.

“It’s not inciting violence,” Gray said Monday, explaining that the tweet was in reply to somebody else’s tweeted prediction of an uprising.

He also defended a 2016 tweet about Muslim men and domestic abuse, posted in reply to a Washington Post article that included an account of domestic abuse suffered by the wife of Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando in 2016.

“Well, what did you expect? Being Islamic you knew he had the right to beat you,” Gray posted. Gray said the comment was based on his understanding of Sharia law.

Rafi Ahmed, president of the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center in Prince William, said Gray may have been referring to a common mischaracterization of a section in the Koran about domestic relations, which, Ahmed said, sanctions light forms of spousal discipline but nothing physical.

“Striking is not an option,” Ahmed said. “If Mr. Gray has that perception, I would be more than willing to sit down with him and talk on this subject in detail.”

Donald Scoggins, an independent also running for the chairman’s seat, said Gray’s tweets are inexcusable: “Such an individual does not deserve to be an elected official in Prince William County.”

Muneer Baig, another independent seeking the office, said he did not want to criticize Gray. “I prefer to focus on what’s good,” he said. “We’ve all got skeletons in our closet.”

Gray said he plans to cut down on social media. “Twitter: I used to love it,” he said. “I barely look at it now.”

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Can liberals unseat Susan Collins? It’s a test of something bigger."

Spoiler

It has long been treated as a given in our politics that, as an issue, the makeup of the Supreme Court can be counted on to energize the conservative base. Indeed, this is one reason Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to schedule hearings for President Barack Obama’s pick to fill a seat in early 2016: leaving it open would have predictably given conservative voters a reason to turn out in that year’s elections.

But the battle in Maine to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins is being seen by some progressives as a test of an opposing proposition: That a confluence of conditions will ensure that the makeup of the court energizes the progressive base in kind — perhaps even enough to prevail in hard-fought Senate races.

Demand Justice, a group of progressives committed to Supreme Court reform, is launching a new digital ad campaign against Collins that seeks to road-test this notion. Backed by $100,000, the ad is entirely about Collins’ role in helping Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh get confirmed last year, and about the dangers posed by the court’s shift to the right, which Kavanaugh’s confirmation helped cement.

“So much is at risk now because of her vote for Kavanaugh,” says the woman featured in the ad, who describes herself as a “Mainer, a mom, and a veteran.” She also says: “I used to support Susan Collins, but I feel that she isn’t a moderate voice anymore.”

“Senator Collins needs to know: She let us down,” the ad concludes, flashing imagery of an angry Kavanaugh ranting at that now-infamous hearing, followed by Collins and Kavanaugh shaking hands.

Collins’ support for Kavanaugh appears to be a key reason she is seriously at risk in 2020. FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich recently pointed to a poll showing that Collins’ approval ratings in Maine are underwater, and that her disapproval is one of the highest in the Senate. As Rakich summarized:

In the aftermath of her vote on Kavanaugh, progressive groups collectively have raised $4.7 million for [Collins’s] eventual Democratic opponent. And in recent weeks, multiple Democrats announced they would run for her seat, most prominently state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who was quickly endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and raised $1.1 million in her first week. Together with this poll, these latest developments in the race support the idea that Collins may turn out to be [one] of the most vulnerable senators up in 2020.

While there are multiple reasons for Collins’ vulnerability, this may loom as a test of something bigger when it comes to the politics of the Supreme Court’s makeup, in particular.

Demand Justice, the group behind the ad and the strategy, also commissioned some new polling by YouGov Blue to gauge public opinion on the court. It found that 47 percent of registered voters nationally believe that the court is “mainly motivated by politics,” while only 34 percent believe it is “mainly motivated by the law.”

It’s often observed that the Supreme Court is facing legitimacy problems. But the key question for activists focused on the Collins race is whether that sentiment can be harnessed to mobilize the progressive base in the context of electoral politics, and beyond this, for Supreme Court reforms such as expanding the court.

The reason the ground might be fertile for this is a confluence of factors: McConnell holding a seat; the intense passions that surrounded the Kavanaugh confirmation fight; and recent decisions such as the court’s punt on policing gerrymandering, which fed into suspicions among some progressives that the court is basically enabling GOP counter-majoritarian tactics and harming our democracy in the process.

Add to this the fact that the court is set to hear a host of other controversial cases — such as on the fate of the “dreamers,” on abortion rights, and gun regulations — and it could mean a fusillade of decisions that fuel anger and energy on the left heading into the 2020 election.

"Voters are already losing confidence in the Supreme Court as an institution, and the more the conservative majority presses forward this term on hot-button cases like abortion, immigration and guns, the more of a progressive backlash we are likely to see in 2020,” Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, told me. “Republicans like Susan Collins are likely to bear the brunt of the Court’s partisan overreach.”

It remains to be seen, of course, what the electoral impact of all of this will be. But if these factors do energize the Democratic base to the degree activists are aiming for — and if more rank-and-file progressives understand that some of their most basic values are staked on the Supreme Court’s makeup, just as many conservatives do — it could begin to shift our understanding of how the court impacts our politics.

 

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apple1

Amy McGrath, the likely Democratic challenger to Mitch McConnell, raised $10.7 million in 3 months.

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Nervous
Audrey2

That's my other grand dream- vote Mitch out! (Besides vote Trump out.) Let the taint of the orange push him into an involuntary retirement, where he can still do nothing.

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GreyhoundFan

"Trump and Pence plan 11th-hour mission to save Kentucky governor"

Spoiler

The White House is planning an 11th-hour push to stave off an embarrassing defeat for the Republican governor of Kentucky, with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence expected to make separate trips to the state in the runup to the Nov. 5 election.

Trump is expected to travel to the state to stump for Gov. Matt Bevin the day before Election Day, according to two people familiar with the planning for the event. Pence, meanwhile, is slated to appear in the state on Nov. 1. Final details for the rallies are still being worked out.

White House spokespersons did not respond to a request for comment.

Bevin is likely to make Trump a central part of his closing argument, and Trump has made last-minute trips to heavily Republican areas a staple of his campaign arsenal for GOP allies. Bevin has portrayed himself as a staunch White House ally and has aired TV ads which prominently feature the president. Trump won Kentucky by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016.

The offensive comes amid Republican concerns over Bevin’s standing. Bevin has consistently ranked as one of the least popular governors in the country, and he faces a formidable Democratic opponent in state Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of a popular former governor.

Bevin recently orchestrated a shakeup of his senior campaign staff. Republican operative Michael Antonopoulos, who has been advising the governor throughout the race, has taken over operational control from campaign manager Davis Paine. The move, according to two people familiar with the matter, was at least partly related to the handling of a poorly attended summer rally that Donald Trump Jr. held for Bevin.

But Republican officials are increasingly expressing optimism about the Kentucky contest. Recently-completed voter modeling conducted by the Republican National Committee showed Bevin leading by 3 percentage points. The results, according to one person familiar with the data, represented a marked improvement for Bevin compared to the committee’s previous findings in the race.

Democrats, however, insist they have the upper hand. The Democratic Governors Association's modeling shows Beshear up 4 percentage points, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Kentucky is one of three conservative states holding gubernatorial races this fall, and a loss in any of the three contests would likely set off Republican alarm bells. Trump is scheduled to hold a Friday evening rally in Louisiana, where the party is trying to ensure that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is forced into a November runoff.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members of the Kentucky congressional delegation are scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Bevin next week in Washington, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. McConnell, who is up for reelection next year, fended off Bevin in a bitter 2014 Senate primary but has put aside the past rivalry and instructed his team to help the governor.

I so hope Bevin loses.

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GreyhoundFan

"Louisiana’s Democratic governor forced into a runoff, a boost for Republicans and President Trump"

Spoiler

The Louisiana governor’s race will be decided in a runoff next month after Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards failed to win an outright majority in Saturday’s primary, a boost for President Trump and Republicans who have been eager for a one-on-one matchup.

Edwards, who is seeking a second term, needed to win more than 50 percent of the vote against five other candidates in the bipartisan primary. Edwards fell short by gaining just under 47 percent with nearly all the votes counted. He will face second-place finisher, conservative businessman Eddie Rispone, in a Nov. 16 runoff.

Rispone, a 70-year-old millionaire construction contractor, campaigned as an ardent Trump supporter and vowed to crack down on illegal immigration while bolstering the influence of Christian values.

Rispone, who poured more than $10 million of his own money into the race, narrowly edged past U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R) to claim his spot on the ballot, winning just over 27 percent of the vote with nearly all the votes counted. The outcome was good news for Trump and national Republicans, who had feared just weeks ago that Edwards could win the election outright.

Trump did not endorse any of the Republican candidates, but the president traveled to Louisiana on Friday night to urge Republicans to vote for Abraham or Rispone in the race. Trump also fired off more than a half-dozen tweets over the past week attacking Edwards, who is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.

On Saturday night, Trump fired the first shots of the runoff election.

“The Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, has done a poor job. NOW HE IS IN A RUNOFF WITH A GREAT REPUBLICAN, @EddieRispone. Thank you,” Trump tweeted, asserting that Edwards had fallen sharply “after I explained what a bad job the Governor was doing.”

Edwards, who is pro-gun and opposes abortion, has been relatively popular throughout his term as he’s worked to balance the budget. But Republicans believe he’s vulnerable in the runoff as white voters continue to flee the Democratic Party in Louisiana, a state Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016.

During the final days of the campaign, Rispone argued he was the “outsider” in the race as he overwhelmed Abraham with television ads. Although much of the GOP establishment in the state was backing Abraham, Rispone won over the state’s grass-roots conservative movement, including securing an endorsement from “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson.

Edwards, a prolific fundraiser, is expected to attack Rispone as being too partisan and divisive for the state.

The so-called jungle primary included six candidates, but Edwards was always considered the front-runner, while Abraham and Rispone were the leading GOP challengers.

Edwards, 53, was elected governor in 2015 after he easily defeated Republican David Vitter, who at the time was a U.S. senator marred in scandal. Edwards campaigned this year on a record of bipartisan work with the Republican-controlled legislature to balance the budget, expand Medicaid and reduce the prison population.

“Medicaid expansion is still the easiest big decision I’ve ever made as governor,” Edwards said during the final debate of the campaign, noting he was able to extend health insurance to nearly half a million people.

But Edwards, a devout Catholic, had a rocky relationship with abortion rights supporters. In June, Edwards outraged activists and Democratic leaders when he signed a bill that outlawed abortion when a “fetal heartbeat” was detected. The legislation, which advocates said could outlaw abortion as early as the sixth week of a pregnancy, did not include an exception for rape or incest.

In the fight for GOP voters between Abraham and Rispone, both sought to link themselves to Trump as they campaigned as staunch conservatives.

Abraham, a practicing physician and two-term congressman who represents the northeastern part of the state, had the support of many party leaders. In Congress, Abraham, 65, was a reliable vote for GOP leadership but generally maintained a low-key presence on Capitol Hill.

Rispone, owner of a large contracting business in Baton Rouge, tried to position himself as the outsider in the race. He spent more than $10 million of his own money to flood airwaves with ads highlighting his Christian faith, his opposition to abortion and support for Trump’s policies.

“Donald Trump ran on cleaning up the swamp in Washington,” Rispone, 70, said in a campaign ad. “Of course, we have that in Louisiana today. We have people who make a living off government.”

At times, though, Rispone struggled to answer questions about some of Trump’s controversial actions. During the debate, a moderator pressed Rispone about how he can campaign on moral values while staying quiet about Trump’s behavior.

“I don’t judge other people,” Rispone finally said. “I just don’t do that. It’s not up to me to judge someone else’s moral character.”

Some Republicans also criticized the tone of Rispone’s campaign, including an ad that accused Abraham of voting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) hundreds of times. Abraham noted it’s common for some congressional votes, such as “naming of a post office,” to be bipartisan and nearly unanimous.

But Abraham and Rispone spent much of the campaign teaming up to attack Edwards’s record.

Although neither Abraham nor Rispone vowed to reverse the expansion of Medicaid, they accused the governor of mismanaging its rollout. They also vowed to fully rescind the 1 percent sales tax increase for which Edwards fought to help balance the budget.

Trump began taking a heightened interest in the contest about a month ago as polls showed that Edwards could win the primary outright.

Republicans are hoping to rebound after losing seven governorships in the 2018 midterm election, including in Wisconsin and Michigan, two states that are expected to be critical to the president’s reelection hopes.

Mississippi and Kentucky are also holding gubernatorial elections this year. Trump easily won all three states in 2016, but Democrats believe they have a shot at winning the gubernatorial races.

In Kentucky, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is locked in a close contest against incumbent Matt Bevin (R) in the Nov. 5 general election. Bevin is deeply unpopular and has also been trying to link himself to Trump, who is expected to campaign for him before the election.

Mississippi voters will also choose their next governor that day after Gov. Phil Bryant (R) was term-limited. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the GOP nominee, is running against Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. Mississippi hasn’t elected a Democratic governor in two decades, but Hood has easily won his four prior statewide races for attorney general.

 

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fraurosena

And another one decides he doesn't want to be part of the Cover-up for Trump party anymore. It's either that, or he was pushed out.

Republican congressman open to impeaching Trump announces retirement

Quote

Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney said Saturday he would not run for reelection, after suggesting he could be open to impeaching President Donald Trump.

"I've done what I came to do," Rooney told Fox News. He said he ran for Congress to "get the money for the Everglades projects that had been languishing for many years, and to try to get this offshore drilling ban passed to protect Florida."

Rooney, who won his first election in 2016, said he initially thought his goals would take three terms, "but I think I've done it in less than two."

Asked by Fox News if he needed or wanted to pursue a third term in office, Rooney said, "I don't really think I do, and I don't really think I want one."

The congressman said he wanted to be a "model for term limits," and added: "People need to realize ... this is public service not public life."

Rooney -- a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump -- said Friday he had not yet come to a conclusion on whether the President committed a crime that compels his removal from office. His statement was a striking one among House Republicans defensive of Trump.

The congressman said Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, confirmed Thursday what Trump had denied -- that the President engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Rooney also said he was eager to learn from the witnesses coming in next week.

Mulvaney told reporters the Trump administration "held up the money" for Ukraine because Trump wanted to investigate "corruption" in Ukraine related to a conspiracy theory involving the whereabouts of the Democratic National Committee's computer server hacked by Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. When pressed on whether the President sought an exchange of favors, Mulvaney said, "We do that all the time with foreign policy."

Rooney said some Republicans might be afraid of being rebuked by the party if they expressed skepticism about the President, saying, "It might be the end of things for me...depending on how things go."

But, he said, "I didn't take this job to keep it."

 

 

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fraurosena

Now here's some news to make you happy on a dreary Sunday.

Red Flags All Over for Senate Republicans

Quote

Buried in the Washington drama of impeachment, corruption, and foreign policy chaos this past week was a ground-shaking bit of news: New polling and fundraising figures show that Mitch McConnell’s hold on the Senate majority is looking awfully precarious. Indeed, the pathway for a narrow Democratic takeover of the upper chamber is looking clearer than ever.

Four Republican senators were outraised by their Democratic challengers in the third fundraising quarter, with three of them representing battleground states (Iowa, Maine, and Arizona) that Republicans will need to win to maintain power. And in North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis raised only $1.2 million, an underwhelming sum for a senator facing a credible primary threat and an expensive general election ahead. All four swing-state senators also are viewed unfavorably by their constituents according to new quarterly Morning Consult polling, underscoring the sudden shift in support away from Republicans.

In Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst failed even to hit the million-dollar mark in fundraising, a financial baseline of sorts for senators running for reelection. She was outraised by a Democratic outsider, businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, who raised $1.1 million despite facing a contested Democratic primary and refusing donations from corporate PACs.

As her fundraising has slowed, Ernst’s support back home has also declined. The Morning Consult tracking poll found Ernst with an underwater job-approval rating of 39/43, with more independents viewing her unfavorably than favorably. That’s a shift from her net-positive job approval over the spring, which stood at 42/38.

Donald Trump comfortably carried her state in 2016, but since then, Iowa farmers have taken a serious hit from the president’s trade war. Both Gallup and Morning Consult have found his support sinking in the state, with a March Des Moines Register poll showing even 28 percent of Iowa Republicans believing the tariffs have hurt the state’s agribusiness.

These are all major red flags suggesting Iowa is a much bigger battleground than Republicans anticipated at the beginning of the year.

The GOP’s outlook in Arizona and North Carolina is also looking gloomier. Both Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina are facing nuisance primary challengers, which makes it harder for the incumbents to consolidate their base. But the more they try to protect their right flank, the tougher it becomes to win over the suburban moderates who decide races in these swing states.

McSally, who lost last year’s election before being appointed to her seat, trailed Democratic challenger Mark Kelly by 5 points, 46 to 41 percent, in a poll taken in August. She’s been outraised in all three of the fundraising quarters by significant margins—an unusual disadvantage for a sitting senator. She already lags Kelly in campaign cash by nearly $4 million.

Tillis holds the lowest approval rating (33 percent) of any sitting senator, according to the Morning Consult survey. A Democratic poll conducted in September found him trailing his little-known Democratic opponent Cal Cunningham, 45 to 43 percent. But before he even faces Cunningham, he’ll have to get past self-funded businessman Garland Tucker in the primary. Tucker has poured $1.2 million of his own money into the campaign—around the same amount Tillis raised in the last three months. Tucker has already been using that money on anti-Tillis campaign ads, forcing the senator to respond in kind.

Cunningham wasn’t the Democrats’ top recruit, but this race is turning more into a referendum on Tillis. If Cunningham wins the nomination and runs a competent race, Tillis will face major hurdles in winning a second term.

In Maine, a race that Republicans consider the nation’s biggest bellwether, Sen. Susan Collins is suddenly facing a real fight. State House Speaker Sara Gideon raised a whopping $3.2 million in the third quarter, outpacing Collins by more than $1 million. More significantly, Collins’ once-golden image back home has continued to slip, according to the Morning Consult numbers. Her popularity has hit an all-time low in the tracking survey, down to 43/49 job approval.

Collins has already gone up with an early advertisement, a sign that her team recognizes this race will be the toughest campaign that the senator has faced.

Here’s the big picture: If Trump doesn’t win a second term, Democrats need to net only three seats to win back the majority. Assuming they can’t hang onto Sen. Doug Jones’ seat in ruby-red Alabama (but hold Sen. Gary Peters’ seat in traditionally blue Michigan), the magic number is four. And when you add Sen. Cory Gardner’s tough race in Colorado to the toss-up list, they’ve got five promising opportunities to defeat Republican senators.

In a normal political environment, Republicans would have good reason to be confident they could win some of these hotly contested races. But given the trajectory of Trump’s presidency and the trend lines in the battlegrounds, Republicans don’t have much room for error. Right now, control of the Senate past 2020 looks awfully close to a toss-up with over a year until the election.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Mark Kelly raises astronomical sum in bid to snag Senate seat from GOP"

Spoiler

Mark Kelly has more money in his Senate election war chest than Joe Biden does running for president.

The former astronaut, gun control activist and husband of Gabrielle Giffords has established a veritable cash gusher in Arizona, raising nearly $14 million this year, including $5.6 million in the last three months alone. Combined with his compelling biography, Kelly, a Democrat running for elected office for the first time, has laid the groundwork for a serious bid to unseat GOP Sen. Martha McSally in a critical battleground for Senate control.

McSally, who was appointed to the Senate after losing the race for the state’s other seat in 2018, has posted impressive fundraising in the off year, too, outraising all but two Republican senators in the most recent fundraising period. But Kelly has nonetheless stretched his advantage, with $9.5 million in the bank as of Sept. 30, compared with $5.6 million for McSally.

"I think those numbers speak for themselves. Good grief," said Jim Pederson, a former state Democratic Party chair who ran for Senate in 2006.

“The guy is a very personable, sharp guy. And he's made a lot of friends nationwide, and I think he's tapped into that network,” Pederson said, adding that Arizonans were "wrapped up into his enthusiasm."

Republicans have taken notice as well.

"It’s not necessarily that Sen. McSally is doing poorly. It is that Mark Kelly is doing spectacularly,” said Paul Bentz, a Republican strategist in Arizona. “He's doing above and beyond, I think, what anybody would have anticipated when it comes to fundraising.

“She has the power of incumbency, but he has definitely caught up on many, if not all, other campaign metrics,” Bentz added.

Arizona is a critical state in next year's elections, with the presidency and Senate majority up for grabs. Democrats won their first Senate race in three decades in the emerging swing state last year, when Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat McSally to capture the seat held by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, a conservative Trump opponent who retired as he drew the president's ire.

After her defeat, Doug Ducey, the state's Republican governor, appointed McSally to fill a vacancy for the state's other Senate seat, which was held by Republican John McCain until his death last year. McSally is running again to complete the remaining two years on McCain's unexpired term for 2021 and 2022.

Several advantages have helped Kelly stockpile cash. Kelly was the first major Senate candidate to announce a bid, joining the race in February with built-in name ID and connections to donors through his work with a gun control organization he founded with Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot in 2011. The national party has rallied behind Kelly, and he’s avoided even a whiff of a primary challenge.

Kelly has also invested in building a campaign to last. He has spent more than $700,000 on Facebook ads this year, which helps build a list of small-dollar donors that will benefit him down the road, according to data compiled by ACRONYM, a progressive digital organization. Last quarter, Kelly spent $1.9 million, with $420,000 of that earmarked for digital advertising and more than $640,000 for direct mail services, both designed to help raise new money.

In the third quarter, more than half of his money raised — $2.9 million — came in unitemized donations that are less than $200. He also raised nearly $1.3 million from donors who gave more than $1,000, including more than $667,000 from max-out donors.

“This campaign is powered by grassroots supporters who are chipping in what they can, when they can because they support Mark’s mission to be an independent voice for Arizona," said Jacob Peters, a spokesperson for Kelly's campaign.

The online money, in particular, is what has set Kelly apart early in the cycle.

“I think they've smartly rejected the dumb conventional wisdom out there that only super progressives can raise small dollars online,” said Andy Barr, a Democratic strategist who worked on the 2012 Arizona Senate race.

Republicans acknowledge Kelly’s fundraising prowess but say they are not caught off guard by it. The party expected him to raise significant sums after being recruited to join the race and praise McSally’s efforts to keep pace — especially for someone in the unique position of preparing for reelection while also adjusting to her first nine months in the Senate.

“She's doing great, doing the things a candidate and incumbent need to do,” said Barrett Marson, a veteran Republican strategist who heads a super PAC that backs McSally. “Obviously, Mark Kelly is raising a lot of money. She can't control that. She can only control what she does, and Sen. McSally is doing the right things.”

McSally has also proven to be a strong online fundraiser, despite the party’s broader struggles keeping pace in small dollars. She raised $1.2 million in unitemized donations under $200, and her campaign said nearly 100,000 donors have given $100 or less. McSally spent nearly $350,000 on online fundraising, plus another $60,000 in fundraising list rentals, in the third quarter of the year, a larger investment than most other Republicans. Her campaign has lagged on Facebook, however, and has spent only $35,000 on the platform, according to the data from ACRONYM.

“Martha’s consistently strong fundraising numbers prove that Arizonans are unified in their support for her to keep fighting for them in the U.S. Senate,” said her general consultant, Terry Nelson, in a statement.

Dan Eberhart, a major GOP donor, warned that McSally would likely be outspent without “major support” from outside groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with GOP leadership. But Republican groups recognize McSally is critical to a GOP majority and are planning to play big in Arizona.

“We think Martha McSally is one of the most compelling leaders in America today, which is why Arizona was one of our largest investments in 2018 — and we expect it will be the same in 2020,” said Jack Pandol, spokesperson for the Senate Leadership Fund.

 

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GreyhoundFan

WTAF? "‘Terrifying’: Virginia GOP Candidate Proposes ‘Ankle Bracelets’ to Curb Abortion"

Spoiler

A Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, a hotly contested chamber in next month’s state elections, compared gun control to forcing pregnant people to wear “ankle bracelets” to prevent abortions.

“How about this, contrarian? I’m going to impose common-sense restrictions on the constitutional right to an abortion? How about ankle bracelets? I don’t think very many people would agree with that,” said Bill Drennan, a Republican running in the state’s 87th district. Drennan’s comments, first reported on Monday by Lowell Feld at the progressive political blog Blue Virginia, were made at an October 16 forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County and the Loudoun Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

Drennan is firmly opposed to abortion rights, conflating a proposed expansion of abortion access in Virginia to “legalized infanticide” on his campaign website—a rhetorical flourish in line with how the state GOP smeared a pro-choice bill put forward by state Democrats in January.

Suhas Subramanyam, a pro-choice Democrat running for the open 87th district seat, told Rewire.News he was shaken by Drennan’s comments. “My wife is pregnant with our first child … and the thought of her having to wear an ankle monitor is terrifying to me,” he said. “I hope Mr. Drennan will reconsider his position and understand why protecting the right to choose is so important.”

Subramanyam said door knocking and campaigning in Prince William and Loudoun counties have shown him that “the vast majority” of voters “understand the importance of reproductive justice.”

Drennan was responding to a question about gun violence prevention when he made the comparison to abortion. “The number of abortions in Virginia in 2017 was 17,210. The number of gun deaths, the misuse of guns, was 1,041. That’s a ratio of 16.5 to 1,” Dennan said.

Drennan’s comments were similar to those of Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R), who in a speech on the state house floor in January compared the number of abortions in the United States to the number of “men and women that have been lost to war in this country.”

Republicans hold slim majorities in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, despite Democratic gains in 2017. All 140 seats in the state legislature will be up for grabs on November 5, and if Democrats take both the state house and senate, they would have a legislative trifecta in Virginia for the first time since the early 1990s. Democrats, with control of the governorship and both legislative chambers, would be able to pass progressive legislation that has been stymied by Republicans, including gun safety bills and measures to increase access to abortion care.

Democrats and allied organizations have invested heavily in Virginia’s 2019 election. Democrats have raised more than $30 million this year—more than double what they raised in 2015, the last time the entire legislature was up for reelection, the Washington Post reported.

Abortion access has long been a contentious issue in Virginia. It reemerged as a key issue in the Virginia legislature earlier this year when Democrats introduced a measure that would have loosened state restrictions on later abortion care. Anti-choice lawmakers, as they did in New York and Illinois when Democrats secured and expanded reproductive rights, equated the legislation with legalized murder.

“Over the past few election cycles, reproductive rights have polled in the top three issues voters support,” Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told Rewire.News in February. “Candidates that run on reproductive rights win.”

Campaign finance filings show Drennan at a massive fundraising disadvantage in the 87th district race. As of September 30, Subramanyam had raised nearly $300,000 to Drennan’s $16,470. 

Neither the Drennan campaign nor the Virginia Republican Party responded to questions from Rewire.News.

 

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fraurosena
9 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

WTAF? "‘Terrifying’: Virginia GOP Candidate Proposes ‘Ankle Bracelets’ to Curb Abortion"

  Hide contents

A Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, a hotly contested chamber in next month’s state elections, compared gun control to forcing pregnant people to wear “ankle bracelets” to prevent abortions.

“How about this, contrarian? I’m going to impose common-sense restrictions on the constitutional right to an abortion? How about ankle bracelets? I don’t think very many people would agree with that,” said Bill Drennan, a Republican running in the state’s 87th district. Drennan’s comments, first reported on Monday by Lowell Feld at the progressive political blog Blue Virginia, were made at an October 16 forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County and the Loudoun Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

Drennan is firmly opposed to abortion rights, conflating a proposed expansion of abortion access in Virginia to “legalized infanticide” on his campaign website—a rhetorical flourish in line with how the state GOP smeared a pro-choice bill put forward by state Democrats in January.

Suhas Subramanyam, a pro-choice Democrat running for the open 87th district seat, told Rewire.News he was shaken by Drennan’s comments. “My wife is pregnant with our first child … and the thought of her having to wear an ankle monitor is terrifying to me,” he said. “I hope Mr. Drennan will reconsider his position and understand why protecting the right to choose is so important.”

Subramanyam said door knocking and campaigning in Prince William and Loudoun counties have shown him that “the vast majority” of voters “understand the importance of reproductive justice.”

Drennan was responding to a question about gun violence prevention when he made the comparison to abortion. “The number of abortions in Virginia in 2017 was 17,210. The number of gun deaths, the misuse of guns, was 1,041. That’s a ratio of 16.5 to 1,” Dennan said.

Drennan’s comments were similar to those of Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R), who in a speech on the state house floor in January compared the number of abortions in the United States to the number of “men and women that have been lost to war in this country.”

Republicans hold slim majorities in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, despite Democratic gains in 2017. All 140 seats in the state legislature will be up for grabs on November 5, and if Democrats take both the state house and senate, they would have a legislative trifecta in Virginia for the first time since the early 1990s. Democrats, with control of the governorship and both legislative chambers, would be able to pass progressive legislation that has been stymied by Republicans, including gun safety bills and measures to increase access to abortion care.

Democrats and allied organizations have invested heavily in Virginia’s 2019 election. Democrats have raised more than $30 million this year—more than double what they raised in 2015, the last time the entire legislature was up for reelection, the Washington Post reported.

Abortion access has long been a contentious issue in Virginia. It reemerged as a key issue in the Virginia legislature earlier this year when Democrats introduced a measure that would have loosened state restrictions on later abortion care. Anti-choice lawmakers, as they did in New York and Illinois when Democrats secured and expanded reproductive rights, equated the legislation with legalized murder.

“Over the past few election cycles, reproductive rights have polled in the top three issues voters support,” Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told Rewire.News in February. “Candidates that run on reproductive rights win.”

Campaign finance filings show Drennan at a massive fundraising disadvantage in the 87th district race. As of September 30, Subramanyam had raised nearly $300,000 to Drennan’s $16,470. 

Neither the Drennan campaign nor the Virginia Republican Party responded to questions from Rewire.News.

 

This just goes to show that for repugs, the love they have for guns is at least equal to or greater than the love they have for unborn children.

In other words, they love the instruments of death just as much, or even more than the promise of life -- with the proviso that this life should be in utero, of course. After exiting said uteri, those lives are just so much fodder for their weapons of destruction.

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