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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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COMMENTARY

Trump’s Weaponization of DOJ Notice to Pick Up His Passports Negates Claim He Will ‘Do Whatever’ to Tamp Down Anger

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One week after the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago mansion Donald Trump on Monday made what appear to be false allegations against the FBI, claiming the Bureau “stole” his passports in “an assault on a political opponent.” That same day he gave an interview to Fox News repeatedly mentioning the “anger” he says stretches across the country over federal agents’ execution of a lawful search warrant and confiscation of 20 cartons of materials that include highly-classified documents, while wrapping that in an offer to “do whatever” to help.

Monday evening Politico reported that FBI agents had taken Trump’s passports – swept them up unintentionally. The passports were found by a “filter team” that goes through everything that was confiscated to ensure items like privileged attorney-client communications are not assessed or included as part of their investigation.

The FBI notified Trump’s attorneys they had the passports, telling them they could pick them up.

RELATED: Rumors Swirl as ‘Flight Risk’ Trump Claims FBI Took His ‘Three Passports’ – He Can Still ‘Ask for Asylum’

“So Trump team now publicizing this email,” from the Dept. of Justice, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports, “which shows: 1) DOJ obtained three passports (two expired, not one, as Trump said) and alerted Trump lawyers 2) They were recovered by a filter team, which weeds out privileged info. 3) Trump publicized this after DOJ offered them back.”

“Wow!” Trump declared on his Truth Social social media platform, after DOJ notified his lawyers and told them to pick up the passports. “In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”

Meanwhile, on Monday in an exclusive Fox News interview, which appeared to be more a transcription of a statement into interview form with no questions asked and no pushback offered, Trump said he was willing to “do whatever” to help tamp down the anger across the country, anger he and his allies have been fueling.

The Dept. of Justice did not publicize the raid on Mar-a-Lago to the press, Trump did. FBI agents did not even wear the usual blue and yellow outerwear and shirts that say “FBI” when executing the search warrant, and we now know they called ahead to notify Secret Service they were coming.

READ MORE: Does Trump Still Have Classified Docs? DOJ May Think So After Asking Judge to Keep Affidavit Sealed Former Fed Says

“Former President Trump said he ‘will do whatever’ he can ‘to help the country,’” Fox News said in its interview Monday, “after the FBI’s raid of his Mar-a-Lago home last week, telling Fox News Digital that the ‘temperature has to be brought down,’ while stressing that the American people are ‘not going to stand for another scam.’”

“The country is in a very dangerous position,” Trump told Fox News. “There is tremendous anger, like I’ve never seen before, over all of the scams, and this new one—years of scams and witch hunts, and now this.”

“There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country—at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Trump repeated. “It is a very dangerous time for our country.”

Fox News also reported that “Trump said he had his representatives reach out to the Justice Department to offer to help amid outrage over the FBI’s unprecedented raid on his private residence last week,” and he “told Fox News that his team ‘has not heard yet’ from the Justice Department on whether they will accept his offer for help.”

“People are so angry at what is taking place,” Trump added again. “Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”

Peter Strzok, former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, notes: “And it all resolves in a nothingburger. Small interesting note, the DOJ email confirms an expected filter team: that filter agents – not the investigative team – seized the passports. More proof FBI/DOJ are taking extra care to avoid privileged material.”

If Trump were interested in doing “whatever” he can do “to help the country,” why falsely claim the FBI “stole my three Passports” and call it an “assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country”?

Civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill answers that question.

“So while saying that the ‘temperature needs to be lowered,’ Trump was elevating the temperature by accusing the DOJ on social media of ‘stealing’ his passports, when in fact DOJ lawyers are the ones who alerted Trump that they had the passports & had already returned them,” Ifill wrote on Twitter. “Awful,” she added.

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BREAKING NEWS

First Lady Jill Biden Tests Positive for COVID

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms, her office announced Tuesday morning. She is being treated with Paxlovid.

“After testing negative for COVID-19 on Monday during her regular testing cadence, the First Lady began to develop cold-like symptoms late in the evening,” Dr. Biden’s Communications Director Elizabeth Alexander said in a statement.

“She tested negative again on a rapid antigen test, but a PC test came back positive. The First Lady is double-vaccinated, twice boosted, and only experiencing mild symptoms. She has been prescribed a course of Paxlovid and, following CDC guidance, will isolate from others for at least five days. Close contacts of the First Lady have been notified. She is currently staying at a private residence in South Carolina and will return home after she receives two consecutive negative COVID tests.”

President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID on July 21, and was also prescribed Paxlovid. He has repeatedly tested negative in recent weeks.

The White House adds Tuesday: “The President tested negative for COVID this morning on an antigen test. Consistent with CDC guidance because he is a close contact of the First Lady, he will mask for 10 days when indoors and in close proximity to others. We will also increase the President’s testing cadence and report those results.”

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

 

Image: Official White House Photo by Erin Scott via Flickr 

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News

‘Toxic’ Trump Could Lose More Fox Hosts After Mar-a-Lago Search Says Morning Joe: Revelations Are ‘Going to Keep Coming’

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Former President Donald Trump appears to be losing one of his top conservative media allies, and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Republicans may finally be willing to cut him loose before he sinks their election chances again.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham said on a recent podcast that Americans are “exhausted” by the former president and may prefer to “turn the page” to another Republican presidential candidate in 2024, and the “Morning Joe” host said they’d be wise to do it sooner rather than later.

“I mean, from my point of view, that would be best for America, but from somebody’s point of view who is interested in the Republican Party defeating Democrats, it would be in the Republican Party’s best interest also if that’s what they did,” Scarborough said. “He has too many negatives. They say it time and again, that guy is not going to ever win back voters he lost in the suburbs of Atlanta or the Philly suburbs or the Detroit suburbs or any of these suburbs. He’s toxic for 55 percent of Americans, and he’s just never going to get those people back, so it does make a lot of sense.”

The former president has been taking on water since the FBI searched his Mar-A-Lago residence as part of an espionage investigation, and Scarborough said his legal problems could sink GOP candidates this fall.

READ MORE: ‘The debt is due for Rudy Giuliani’ — and now he has a big decision to make in Georgia: reporter

“It makes sense to warn other Republicans, some whom have flocked to Donald Trump over the past week because they wanted to show how loyal they were to him, I mean, they’re having trouble even keeping sort of the defense consistent because he keeps changing his story every three or four hours,” Scarborough said. “One story contradicts another story. You know, we’re just at the beginning of this. The news is going to continue to get worse. This is like the first round of Mike Tyson versus Allen, the boxing club champion of Princeton from 1967. It is not going to get better over the next 14 rounds.”

“You know, it doesn’t make sense for Republicans to embrace this guy, then be shocked by one revelation after another revelation after another revelation,” he added. “They’re going to keep coming.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

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