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National Govt & Politics
Pace quickens with just two weeks left to Election Day
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Pace quickens with just two weeks left to Election Day

Pace quickens with just two weeks left to Election Day
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Pace quickens with just two weeks left to Election Day

In a pitched battle for control of the Congress, President Donald Trump on Monday night again implored GOP voters to get out to vote across the nation to help Republicans keep control of both the House and Senate, even as Democrats expressed more confidence that they will win enough seats to at least take back the House in 2019 - as there are now only 14 days to Election Day.

"The Democrats must be voted out of office, we need more Republican votes," the President said to cheers in Houston, Texas.

"I think the Republicans are going to do very nicely," the President told reporters at the White House.

But that note of optimism was also being repeated by Democrats; earlier on Monday at an event with CNN in New York, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at this point, she definitely believes her party has the advantage, and will win more than the 23 seat gain needed to take back the House.

"If the election were held today, the Democrats would handily win the House,” Pelosi said.

While Election Day is two weeks off, a number of states are already conducting early voting and absentee balloting, as more evidence surfaced Monday of the keen interest in the 2018 mid-term elections.

What do we know two weeks out?

1. President Trump remains the Election Wild Card. While the President has certainly reined in his Twitter habit, no one else on the political scene right now can command the attention that President Trump is able to gain on a moment's notice. With Republicans trying all they can to save their majorities in the House and Senate, can this President find an issue - or issues - to help focus the GOP and their voters? Remember - he won an election in 2016 that few said he would win. He won a nomination in 2016 that few said he could win. Why can't he carry the GOP to victory in 2018? The President has three more rallies this week in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Illinois.

2. Experts see an edge for Democrats in the House. The political know-it-alls in Washington, D.C. don't agree on everything, but the conventional wisdom right now is that Democrats have a much better chance at capturing control of the House than Republicans do in holding on to power. While there was certainly a polling boost for the GOP after the explosive confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that seems to have receded a little for Republicans on the House side, leaving a playing field that many feel is still tilted in favor of the Democrats, with Republicans a long shot to keep the House.

3. Those same experts see a GOP edge in the Senate. Republicans believe - and political experts concur - that the GOP is much firmer ground in the race for control of the U.S. Senate. Part of it is because the battlefield is much more favorable for Republicans this year. But there are definitely some close races which could break either way - for, or against the GOP. Florida is perfect example. Tennessee is another. Let's just put it this way - if the Democrats are winning the seat of Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, then it's going to be a very big night for them in the Senate. Right now, that doesn't seem to be where things are headed.

4. A growing gender and education gap in the polls. Whether it's a statewide Senate race, or a local House race, one thing is obvious from the polling data of recent months - men are much more likely to support President Trump and the GOP candidate, while women skew to the Democrats by a large amount. There's also an obvious difference when it comes to whether voters have a college degree, as those with more education are more likely to back the Democrats. It's these more highly education women voters that Democrats hope can win them a series of more suburban House districts.

5. What will the 2018 electorate look like? This is an important question as you try to figure out what's going to happen on Election Day. In 2010, white men turned out at the polls in larger numbers, spurring the big Tea Party revolt that knocked Democrats from power in the House. In 2014, the electorate was slightly different, but still better for the GOP, as they won more seats in the House and took charge of the Senate. So far, the 2018 electorate is not looking like 2010 or 2014 in terms of its composition. That has many experts thinking there is an edge in there for Democrats.

6. TV ads offer some hints about the state of some races. On opposite ends the country, two Republican members of the House who are facing strong challenges are running very pointed ads. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) - more of a moderate GOP lawmaker - said his Democratic opponent promoted a 'convicted cop killer and domestic terrorist.' In the San Diego area, indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) - a Trump loyalist - says his opponent, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar has 'family ties to terrorism,' and that he is 'working to infiltrate Congress.' Will those type of ads help save GOP seats in November?

7. As the two parties make last minute TV decisions. One of the more entertaining things to watch at this point in the election cycle is which party is giving up on certain candidates, and which party is suddenly pouring money into a specific race, either because they are playing defense, or maybe going on offense. This is what's known as "triage" for candidates, as national parties abandon certain lawmakers, figuring that they are a lost cause. One piece of news that came Monday is that the GOP is now advertising on behalf of Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) in the Atlanta suburbs on both cable and broadcast TV. That money wouldn't be spent by Republicans if they felt like the seat was a lock. It's one of many late decisions the two parties have to make on election resources.

8. What kind of hints from early voting data? About the only thing sure to prompt a more partisan food fight than poll numbers is how people are interpreting early voting numbers. But the evidence seems to be clear from around the country, that people are very engaged for this mid-term election, and in some areas, the early vote numbers are approaching - or even surpassing - what usually happens in a Presidential election year, which has larger turnout than a mid-term, like 2018. Who does that benefit? I'll let others duke it out on that - but the numbers do seem to show that there are a lot of votes being cast early this year. Does it predict anything? Stay tuned.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • They reportedly claimed their 3-month-old was born with a heart condition when deputies were called to the family’s Paulding County, Georgia, home about a year ago. The newborn was unconscious when deputies arrived, and later died at the hospital.  But an autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found a different cause of death, according to Sgt. Ashley Henson with the Paulding Sheriff’s Office. The baby girl, whose name was not released, died from blunt force trauma to the head, the autopsy concluded. Now the child’s parents, Tanya Atkinson, 26, and Jason Andrew Gromer, 37, have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated battery. They were being held without bond late Monday, jail records indicated. >> Read more trending news  Deputies were called to their Hiram home shortly after 7 a.m. May 10, 2018, Henson said. The baby was taken to WellStar Paulding Hospital but did not survive.  “Initially, it was believed that the heart issue was the cause of death,” Henson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The investigation continued, though, concluding with the the autopsy determining the death was a homicide.  In September, Gromer created a GoFundMe page to raise money for an attorney, saying that their other children were removed from his home after the baby’s death. A photo showed a small baby in a pink sleeper.  “I am broken and my family is broken too,” Gromer wrote. “There is no police report or an autopsy. But yet they continue to hold my family in custody. I am never one to ask for help but here I am ... with a broken heart a broken family asking for help.”  Gromer last posted on the page in September. Late Monday, the page had been removed.
  • Brenda Jackson, the mother of Dale Earnhardt Jr. has died at the age of 65. Jackson was the daughter of NASCAR fabricator Robert Gee, who built cars for several drivers including the late Dale Earnhardt.  Jackson married Earnhardt in 1972, had two children. Dale Jr. and his sister Kelley remained with their mother when the couple separated and  Earnhardt chased a career in NASCAR.  Jackson was a staunch supporter of her son's decision to retire from full-time racing because of concussions, and was a  tireless supporter of The Dale Jr. Foundation and other charitable efforts.  She is survived by her husband, two children, a stepdaughter, six grandchildren and two brothers.
  • The wife of a Missouri Ku Klux Klan leader was sentenced to life in prison Friday after admitting she fatally shot her husband two years ago, cleaned up the crime scene with her son’s help and then disposed of the body. Malissa Ann Ancona, 46, of Leadwood, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and abandonment of a corpse in the death of 51-year-old Frank Ancona Jr., according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Frank Ancona was the imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the newspaper reported.  Her son, Paul Jinkerson Jr., 26, of Belgrade, faces the same charges as his mother, the newspaper reported.  “I fired both shots that killed my husband,” Malissa Ancona told the judge, according to the Post-Dispatch.  Eric Barnhart, the attorney representing Jinkerson, told the newspaper he expects Malissa Ancona’s admission to help his client at his trial, set to begin May 6.  >> Read more trending news St. Francois County prosecutor Melissa Gilliam asked Malissa Ancona to clarify her role in her husband’s death, the Post-Dispatch said. She told Gilliam her son was involved in the aftermath -- cleaning blood from the bedroom walls, getting rid of bloody bedding and dumping Frank Ancona’s body about 20 miles away near Belgrade -- but that she acted alone in the shooting.  Malissa Ancona initially reported her husband missing, but later told police her son fatally shot her husband while he slept on Feb. 9, 2017. According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Frank Ancona’s car was found abandoned in a remote part of the county by a U.S. Forest Service employee.   The Riverfront Times reported that a pile of burned clothes was found nearby.  Frank Ancona’s body was found two days after the slaying on the bank of the Big River, the Sheriff’s Office reported. He had been shot twice in the head, once with a 9 mm handgun and once with a shotgun, according to The New York Times.  A family who went to the river on a fishing trip made the gruesome discovery.  Frank Ancona’s father, Frank Ancona Sr., told the judge Friday that he had to identify the body of his only son, who he said had “no face left” after the murder. According to the Post-Dispatch, the defendant’s former father-in-law described her as a “terrible wife” and a “piece of (expletive).” He often asked his son, “Why, why do you stay with her?” the grieving father told the judge. According to Malissa Ancona’s Facebook page, the couple was married since 2010.  Ancona Jr. had decided to leave the marriage prior to his death, authorities said. Malissa Ancona told investigators upon her arrest that her son killed his stepfather after he requested a divorce.  The Riverfront Times reported that investigators found bloody clothes at Jinkerson’s home, as well as blood in his car. Surveillance footage from a gas station near the river and the wooded road where Frank Ancona’s car was found showed mother and son driving by, one driving Frank Ancona’s Ford Fusion and the other, Jinkerson’s Chevy Impala. The camera showed them passing by again a short time later. That time, both were in the Impala, the newspaper reported.  When a search warrant was executed at the Ancona home, investigators found blood on the bedroom ceiling and soaked into the couple’s mattress, the Riverfront Times said.  The guns used in the attack were found in the river near Frank Ancona’s body and in a pond in St. Francois County -- where Malissa Ancona said they would be.  Malissa Ancona maintained that Jinkerson pulled the trigger -- and agreed to testify against her son -- until last September, when she wrote a letter to Judge Wendy Wexler Horn in which she confessed to the slaying. According to the Post-Dispatch, Malissa Ancona wrote that she wanted to “let the court know now that he did not pull the trigger, (I DiD).” She wrote that she was “under the influence” when she spoke to detectives following her husband’s death. The Riverfront Times reported that Malissa Ancona was addicted to prescription pain pills.  Frank Ancona’s ex-wife, Kellie Ancona, described him as “very, very kindhearted” and a good father and grandfather. His daughter, Carolyn Ancona, wept when talking about her father.  “He didn’t deserve this. No one deserves this,” she said, according to the Post-Dispatch.  Before his death, Frank Ancona led a branch of the Ku Klux Klan that the Southern Poverty Law Center has defined as a hate group. As of last year, the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan still had chapters in Florida and South Dakota, the SPLC website says.  The Post-Dispatch reported that a since-suspended Twitter account in Malissa Ancona’s name contained links to the Klan group and described her as a member.  According to a 2014 federal court filing, Frank Ancona described the group as “comprised of white Christian patriots, people who care about their nation and their race.” He and his group had sued the small city of Desloge, Missouri, after city officials tried to keep the group members from handing out leaflets to drivers stopped at intersections. The Klan group was represented by the ACLU of Missouri.  “We do not commit acts of violence, and we believe in perpetuating our race,” Frank Ancona said in his description. “We believe in having children and grandchildren, white ones․ We believe in the Constitution as it was originally written by our forefathers that founded this nation.” Frank Ancona told the New York Times in an interview published a week before he was slain that he had been a Klan member for more than 30 years. He said he formed the Traditionalist American Knights in 2009.  He and his group made news in the days before his death because of fliers the group distributed overnight in neighborhoods in Maine. He told the New York Times he did not understand why anyone was afraid of the Klan.  “If you follow the doctrine of the Klan, it is a positive Christian organization that brings benefits to people,” Frank Ancona told the newspaper. “I don’t focus on the negative history.” During the 2014 protests following the fatal police shooting of Ferguson teen Michael Brown, however, Frank Ancona and his group passed out leaflets in which they vowed to use lethal force against protesters. The fliers, one of which was obtained by MSNBC, read, “Attention: To the terrorists masquerading as ‘peaceful protesters! You have awakened a sleeping giant.” As Missouri awaited a grand jury decision on whether the officer who killed Brown, Darren Wilson, would be criminally charged, Frank Ancona told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that the Klan would not tolerate violence during the protests.  “It’s a bit ironic for you to talk about how bad violence is when you’re telling people that you’re going to arm yourself and shoot,” Hayes responded. “You’re advising people of what the law is for being able to shoot someone. That seems, I think, to everyone seeing this like incitement. It seems like you are attempting to bring about the exact same thing you’re saying that you are against.” Frank Ancona disagreed, saying it was aimed at people making “terroristic threats” and informing them that the people of Missouri have the legal right to protect themselves from attackers.  “It’s basically educating them on that law and letting them know what their options are,” he said. “You know, you don’t have to sit back and let somebody throw a Molotov cocktail at you and just sit there and take it. There’s remedies under the law.” Around that same time frame, Frank Ancona sat down for an interview with a member of the hacker group Anonymous, which later claimed to have hacked Ancona’s Klan group’s files and released what it said was his personal information.  In his New York Times interview the week before he was killed, Frank Ancona said the only part of the Klan doctrine he believed people might see as a negative was the group’s policy against the mixing of races.  “We need to preserve the white race because we are the ones who keep civilization civilized,” he said. 
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn on Monday, The Associated Press and other media outlets reported. >> Read more trending news  The move was an effort by the Democratic-led House to bring in a key member of Donald Trump’s staff who had direct knowledge of President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the Russia probe, CNN reported, citing an anonymous source. Nadler authorized subpoenas earlier this month for McGahn and four other White House officials as part of a probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power charges, according to CNN.  The House Judiciary Chair issued a statement on the subpoena on Twitter Monday evening. “Following the scheduled testimony of Attorney General William Barr on May 2, 2019, and the expected testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which we have requested, the Committee has now asked for documents from Mr. McGahn by May 7, and to hear from him in public on May 21,” the statement said. “Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described int he Mueller report. His testimony will help shed further light on the President’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others to do the same.” The subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee can be read below:
  • Sanford Police arrested a carjacking suspect who tried “hiding” in a lake early Monday morning. On Facebook, the department said at around 1:45 a.m., officers were called about a carjacking near the intersection of Country Club Drive and Jefferson Boulevard. The suspect, later identified as Monterrious Burton, jumped into a truck and tried to drive away.  The owner had been working on the truck and was still inside when Burton jumped in.  Police said Burton tried pulling the owner out the truck.  The two of them started fighting when the owner’s wife tried to help him.  Burton hit her and then ran away. When officers arrived, Burton ran to a lake where the K9 unit tracked him.  His shoes were found in the water.  The K9 Athos then located Burton, who was “hiding” under the water.  He surrendered and was taken into custody without incident. Sanford Police released a video of the K9 tracking Burton to the lake and giving himself up: (Facebook post) (Tweet)

Washington Insider

  • Monday brought yet another annual warning from the trustees in charge of America's major government retirement programs that action is needed by Congress to alter the financial trajectory of Social Security and Medicare, otherwise those programs will face a financial shortfall which could require dramatic cuts in benefits in the future. 'Medicare still faces a substantial financial shortfall that will need to be addressed with further legislation,' the Medicare trustees wrote in their annual report. 'The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes,' the Social Security report states. The bottom line is not new - neither Medicare nor Social Security has enough money to indefinitely keep paying current benefits to the millions of Americans who use those two programs. 'Social Security will pay out more than it takes in next year and every year going forward,' said Michael Peterson, head of the Peterson Foundation, a federal budget watchdog group. 'That’s the definition of unsustainable.' 'Medicare will go insolvent in 2026, Social Security in 2035,' said Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). 'Refusing to address this will cause automatic cuts to these programs.' If Social Security were to reach that point of insolvency - and Congress did nothing about it - then the latest estimate is that benefits would be paid out at only 77 percent, a 23 percent reduction. Medicare and Social Security are not dealt with on a yearly basis by the Congress in terms of the budget - as they are on automatic pilot, unless lawmakers proactively take action to change the amount paid out in benefits, or brought in from revenues. 'Implementing changes sooner rather than later would allow more generations to share in the needed revenue increases or reductions in scheduled benefits,' the Social Security report noted. Like many fiscal situations within the federal budget, there are three fairly basic ways to deal with Medicare and Social Security: 1) Reduce the amount spent by the programs in terms of benefits. 2) Increase the amount of tax revenues brought in for the programs. 3) A combination of 1) and 2). One option which has drawn some attention in recent years on the Social Security side is forcing more wealthy income earners to pay a larger share of payroll taxes into the system, in order to help bring in more revenues. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax ends once an individual earns $132,9000 in 2019 - that amount is indexed, and creeps up each year. One plan would have it phase out at the current level, and then kick back in at a higher level of income, like $500,000 or $1 million, in order to bring in more revenues.. But votes on matters like expanding the payroll tax to bring in more resources to pay benefits - or raising the retirement age, slowing the yearly increase in Social Security benefits, or making some Medicare recipients pay more for health care - those type of proposals are considered politically toxic by many, too easily demagogued by both parties. “This report highlights the need for serious-minded legislators to partner with the Administration on commonsense, bipartisan reforms that will lower costs and eliminate fraud and abuse, preserving the program for future generations,” the White House said in a statement. But while politicians on all sides say the right things, there has not been a serious legislative effort on the matter in years. 'Why wait to until drastic changes are needed to avert insolvency in these programs?' asked Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. 'The time for action is now.