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ELECTION 2016: Can Democrats Regain Control Of The U.S. Senate?

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Here Are The Races To Watch

This year’s election contests aren’t just going to be a big day for the presidential race; there are numerous state and local officers up for election.

Because we know just how important — perhaps even more so — these down-ballot races can be, The New Civil Rights Movement is breaking down the other races and what initiatives LGBTQ people should be paying attention to as they head to the ballot box on Tuesday.

In Part 1, we looked at the states electing new governors. Now we turn to the U.S. Senate.

There are 34 Senate seats up for election this year, and Democrats need to pick up five seats in order to flip the Senate back to their control. (There are curently 24 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats up for grabs.) Gaining control of the Senate is a particularly big deal this year because the Senate is responsible for confirming Supreme Court and other judges in addition to other nominees for other federal offices. Here are some of the most notable races we’re paying attention to this year:

Illinois: Republican Mark Kirk is one of the few GOP senators to publicly support LGBTQ rights, which originally earned him an endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign, even though his Democratic Opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, has a far better record as an LGBTQ ally. Last week, though, Kirk made a racist comment about his oppenent during a debate and HRC (and many other groups) revoked their endorsement and switched it to Duckworth. Representative Duckworth has been outspoken for years on LGBTQ rights.

Florida: Republican Marco Rubio is trying desperately to hold onto his seat after his failed presidential bid. He’s being challenged by Democrat Patrick Murphy but he’s maintained a slight lead across the state. Murphy could be helped by a large turnout for Hillary Clinton and lots of campaigning from President Obama, but, as has been the case for years now, what will actually happen in Florida is anyone’s guess. It should surprise no one that Senator Rubio is no friend to the LGBTQ community.

North Carolina: Incumbent Senator Richard Burr, a Republican, is facing off with Democractic challenger Deborah Ross, the state ACLU executive director. Burr has gone on record saying that HB2 was “too broad” but also denied its economic impact. But, Senator Burr has a penchant for speaking out of turn and joked last week about shooting Hillary Clinton and vowed that if Clinton became president and he was in office, he’d do everything in his power to ensure that no Supreme Court nominee would be confirmed at all. During her entire term. Simply put: You are the worst, Burr.

Ohio: Republican Senator Rob Portman made news a few years ago when he decided to be a good father and embrace his gay son — and fight for his rights.  But over the past few years, he’s remembered that he’s an establishment Republican and has fought against women’s rights and more. He’s also on the list of politicians who endorsed and then un-endorsed Donald Trump. That move — rescinding his endorsement — has certainly helped him out in the polls against Democratic challenger Ted Strickland. 

New Hampshire: Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, is trying for a new office, challenging Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte, you might remember, has been all over the map on her reactions to and support of Donald Trump. At one point, she called him a “role model.” She said she made a mistake soon after — but she would still vote for him. Now she’s doing her best to link Trump and Bill Clinton, who isn’t currently running for any office and says she won’t vote for Trump. Even with all of that back and forth, the race is still neck-and-neck.

Arizona: The man responsible for unleashing Sarah Palin onto the world (and, by some theories, paving the way for Donald Trump’s absurdist campaign), Republican John McCain, is fighting to hold onto his Senate seat in the face of a challenge from Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick. The race isn’t nearly as competitive as some of the others, but for many it’s a bit of a surprise that the war hero has had this much difficulty getting re-elected, including against a Trump-supporting primary challenger. 

Indiana: Congressman Todd Young, a Republican, and former Senator Evan Bayh, a Democrat, are going head-to-head. Bayh, who also served as governor, had been up substaintially, but that lead has dwindled in recent weeks as his opponent painted him as a Washington insider and part of the establishment. 

Missouri: Democrat Jason Kander might be best known for his campaign ad depicting him assembling an AR-15 assault rifle blindfolded in only 30 seconds while advocating for background checks on gun purchasers. He’s also a military veteran and polling higher than just about anyone expected against Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.

Utah: While the Senate race in Utah is far from competitive, it’s worth noting that the Democratic nominee is Misty Snow, the first transgender nominee to run for US Senate. She’s centered her campaign around traditional Democratic policies like raising the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and has modeled much of her platform off of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Her opponent, Republican incumbent Mike Lee, has an almost 20-point lead, but as Snow told the Salt Lake Tribune, “A lot of people have told me whether I win or lose, I’m already making a difference just by running.”

Kentucky: Openly gay Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is taking on incumbent Republican Rand Paul in hopes of ending over a decade of Republican control. However, the recent polling has him down anywhere from 12 to 16 points. 

There are many other races going on — and plenty could end up being very important, too. Check out all of the races here.

Coming up: A look at local races and certain ballot initiatives across the country.

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Merrick Garland Calls Trump’s Bluff, Strikes Back at MAGA World’s False Claims in Mar-a-Lago Raid

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Attorney General Merrick Garland in an exceptionally rare public statement told the American people Thursday afternoon that he personally approved the search warrant used to enter Mar-a-Lago and confiscate the 10 to 12 cartons of federal government property, which reportedly included classified documents. He also called Donald Trump’s bluff, announcing he has asked a federal court to unseal the search warrant, which will allow the public to know what laws DOJ believes he has violated.

Noting that Donald Trump made public the raid on Mar-a-Lago and the Dept. of Justice did not, Garland cited “the substantial public interest in this matter,” in announcing his move to have the documents unsealed.

“The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search,” Garland stated. “The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening, as is his right. Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president’s counsel, who was on site during the search.”

READ MORE: Nearly Half the Country Supports FBI Mar-a-Lago Search – Only Republicans Are Opposed, New Poll Shows

That statement refutes the false claims made by many on the right that FBI agents refused to hand over the search warrant or inventory list.

“The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause, the property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner,” he added, making clear that a federal judge did agree there was probably cause to execute a search.

“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor, under my watch that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing. All Americans are entitled to the even handed application of the law, to due process of the law and to the presumption of innocence.”

“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” Garland announced, which was largely assumed.

Garland also responded to the growing chorus of far right wing extremists, pundits, and even and GOP lawmakers who are attacking DOJ.

“Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants every day. They protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them. This is all I can say right now.”

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch Live: Attorney General Merrick Garland to Make a Statement This Afternoon

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Attorney General Merrick Garland will deliver a statement Thursday afternoon at 2;30 PM ET, the Dept. of Justice has announced.

The subject of his address was not included. A gunman threatened and attacked an FBI Field Office in Ohio earlier Thursday, and the far right and Republicans have been outraged over the execution of a search warrant by the FBI Monday at Mar-a-Lago, which resulted in the confiscation of classified materials and federal government property.

Watch live below.

DOJ website feed:

PBS News feed:


 

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BREAKING NEWS

Nearly Half the Country Supports FBI Mar-a-Lago Search – Only Republicans Are Opposed, New Poll Shows

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Americans on the right are so outraged the FBI, having probable cause and a federal judge’s signature on a legal and valid search warrant, showed up at Mar-a-Lago Monday to confiscate what we now know were between ten and 12 cartons of federal government property, including classified documents.

Trump supporters upon hearing the news almost immediately began calling for civil war, with right wing media including Fox News and other far right outlets reinforcing those attacks.

But a brand new poll just released finds that, as with most issues, Republicans stand alone in their opposition and outrage.

READ MORE: DOJ Served Trump With Grand Jury Subpoena for Classified Documents Months Before FBI Raid: Report

“Just about half of registered voters approve of the FBI search of Trump’s Florida compound,” reveals Politico’s Morning Consult polling, published Thursday afternoon.

Specifically, 49 percent of registered voters support the raid. 37 percent, slightly more than one-third, oppose it, and 13% don’t know.

But the political breakdown reveals what many would expect.

84% of Democrats support the FBI’s execution of the search warrant on the former president’s home.

READ MORE: Federal Appeals Court Rules House Can Have Trump’s Tax Returns – Committee Expects Them ‘Immediately’

47% of independents also support the raid, with just 33% opposed.

But a whopping 72% of Republicans are opposed to the FBI’s actions, and just 15% are in support.

The Morning Consult poll also finds that a “majority of voters believe Trump either ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ broke the law while he was president.”

That includes 90% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and 24% of Republicans.

 

 

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