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South Carolina representative joins Republican group that wants to defeat President Trump – Greenville News

Posted: May 20, 2020 at 9:47 am

Republican state Rep. Gary Clary of Clemson has accepted a position with a GOP group that opposes President Donald Trump.

Clary, a former judge who is not running for reelection, will serve as legislative outreach chairman for National Republicans. On its Twitter page, the group describes itself as "Reagan-Bush Republicans, working for Trump's defeat."

In an interview Tuesday, Clary said he will try to help Republican candidates who are worried about associating themselves with Trump.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick emailed a statement Tuesday afternoon about Clary's move.

This is less surprising than the sun coming up in the morning," McKissick said. "Its the kind of antics you see from someone on the way out the door when they don't have to stand before primary voters anymore.

Clary said he supported former Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the 2016 GOP primaries that ended withTrump's nomination. Clary said he did not back Trump because of how hetreated women, the press, minorities, the disabled.

Rep. Gary Clary R-Pickens, during a press conference introducing a civil asset forfeiture reform bill at the Statehouse on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.(Photo: JOSH MORGAN/Staff)

Clary said he hoped that Trump would "truly be a leader" after winning the general election, but he said that has not happened.

I have just been disappointed in his antics and his actions," Clary said. "It is hard for me to look at the party that we all built in this state and see that it has just been hijacked by someone who cares more about personal power than for anything else.

National Republicans was founded by former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr and political strategist Andy Nilsson, who is a North Carolina native. Clary said Orr and Nilsson approached him a few weeks ago about accepting a volunteer post with the group.

In an interview Monday with Charlotte radio station WFAE, Orr said that he and a growing number of Republicanshave concluded that Trump "should not be reelected."

"He is a danger to the county," Orr said.

"People are coming out of the woodwork because they understand in so many ways the abject failure that Trump's administration has been," said Orr, adding that the White House "ignored the pandemic warnings and the country is paying the price both health-wise and economically."

Clary said he sees the National Republican group as "a way for other voices to be heard."

Follow Kirk Brown on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM

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Republican voter suppression failed in Wisconsin, according to new data – Vox.com

Posted: at 9:47 am

Wisconsins April 7 election could have been a disaster for voting rights. Election officials received four or five times more absentee ballot requests than they normally do in a spring election. Milwaukee closed all but five of its 180 polling locations, in large part because it struggled to find poll workers during a pandemic.

And, on top of all that, Republicans in the state legislature, on the state Supreme Court, and on the Supreme Court of the United States all thwarted efforts to make sure voters would not be disenfranchised by the unique challenges presented by an election held when most voters were stuck at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Yet a report by the Wisconsin Elections Commission suggests the election went much better than it could have. The overwhelming majority of voters who wanted to vote absentee were able to do so. And it is likely that only a small percentage of voters were disenfranchised by a US Supreme Court decision backing the Republican Partys effort to make it harder to cast a ballot.

The report, in other words, suggests that a sophisticated and multi-front effort by Republicans to prevent many Wisconsinites from casting a ballot achieved very limited results.

Thats not a reason for voting rights advocates to relax. Turnout is likely to be much higher in the November general election than it was in Wisconsins spring election, so election officials could still be overwhelmed by ballot requests in November. Republicans also have a $20 million legal war chest that they can use to obtain court orders limiting the franchise.

But it does appear that the specific playbook Republicans ran in Wisconsins April election did not deliver much in the way of results. Notably, the most consequential race on the ballot in April was a contest between conservative state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, and liberal challenger Jill Karofsky and Karofsky won that election by nearly 11 points.

It is unclear whether Karofsky won such a commanding victory because this election took place the same day as a Democratic presidential primary, because Wisconsin Democrats rose up in anger against the GOPs voter suppression tactics, or for some combination of reasons. But, at the very least, the Wisconsin Election Commission report suggests that the GOPs tactics did not give Kelly a significant advantage in the April race.

The weeks leading up to Wisconsins April 7 election were marred by partisan fights over when the election would be held, what rules would apply, and which ballots would be counted.

As the election drew nigh, election officials feared theyd be overwhelmed by the approximately 1.3 million requests for absentee ballots they received. Meanwhile, the state was so starved for people willing to work the polls during a pandemic that, at one point, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers decided to use members of the National Guard to staff the polls.

To relieve the pressure on voters and election workers, Evers proposed legislation that would automatically mail a ballot to every registered voter in the state, but this proposal was dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled legislature. On the eve of the election, Evers also attempted to reschedule it to a later date, but the Republican-controlled state Supreme Court struck down this effort as well.

Several federal lawsuits also sought to relieve the pressure on the state election system. Less than a week before the April 7 election, Judge William Conley, an Obama appointee, handed down an order protecting absentee voters who may not receive a ballot soon enough to return it before Election Day. Though a state law required all absentee ballots to be received by the state by 8 pm on April 7, Conley extended this deadline to 4 pm on April 13.

But that order did not last long. The Republican National Committee went to the US Supreme Court and asked that Conleys order be modified so that ballots must be postmarked by April 7 in order to be counted, even if they arrived before the new April 13 deadline. On a party-line vote, the Republican Supreme Court gave the GOP what it asked for in Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee.

The upshot of the Wisconsin Election Commissions report, however, is that the Supreme Courts decision in Republican National Committee probably mattered fairly little. Of the more than 1.3 million absentee ballots sent by the state, nearly 89 percent were returned by voters and counted by the state. Of these, just over 79,000 were received between April 8 and April 13 but were counted because they had the required postmark.

Moreover, while a small percentage of ballots were rejected by the state, and a larger percentage of ballots were mailed to voters but never returned, the percentage of rejected and unreturned ballots in Aprils election was consistent with past spring elections.

Despite the unusual challenges facing voters during the April election, state election officials weathered these challenges fairly well. A normal percentage of absentee ballots were rejected, and a normal percentage of mailed ballots were not returned. The Supreme Court decision requiring some absentee ballots to be tossed out does not appear to have had a significant impact on the race.

Indeed, there is some evidence that the particular tactic the Republican Party used in Wisconsins April election targeting absentee voters who submit their ballots late in the election cycle may have benefited Democrats. According to Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, data from Ohios recent primary election suggest that conservative, rural voters are especially likely to return absentee ballots late.

There is still good reason to fear that many voters will be disenfranchised in November.

For one thing, turnout is likely to be much higher in November than it was in a spring election. Just over 1.5 million ballots were cast in the April race between outgoing Justice Kelly and Justice-elect Karofsky. By contrast, as the Wisconsin Election Commission notes, the last three presidential general elections all saw more than 3 million ballots cast.

So Wisconsin election officials may have to deal with twice as many ballot requests in November as they received in April. And every other state could receive a similar crush of absentee ballot requests. That could easily overwhelm state elections officials, who may struggle to mail out all of these ballots soon enough for voters to return them by Election Day.

Moreover, just because the specific tactics the Republican Party deployed in Wisconsin appear to have achieved very little, that does not mean that the GOP nationally wont find other ways to suppress the vote. The GOP has a massive legal war chest and is no longer subject to a 1982 court order that discouraged voter intimidation in the past but was lifted in early 2018. That means that 2020 will be the first presidential election (but not the first midterm election) in nearly four decades without a court order restricting voter intimidation by the national Republican Party.

On a similar note, Texass Republican attorney general has threatened criminal prosecutions against voting rights activists who encourage younger voters to cast absentee ballots. And Georgias Republican secretary of state formed a task force, which includes law enforcement officers and prosecutors, that purports to investigate any allegations or instances of potential voter fraud.

Actual voter fraud is so rare that, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud.

Some states also have absentee voting laws, moreover, which could disenfranchise millions during a pandemic. Texass law, for example, permits voters over the age of 65 to obtain absentee ballots fairly easily, but it makes it much harder for younger voters to obtain such ballots. And Texass Republican attorney general is fighting hard in court to prevent younger voters from gaining greater access to absentee ballots most likely because older voters have tended to favor Republicans.

And, of course, the question of whether voters are able to cast ballots in November is separate from the question of whether voters can safely do so. A quarter of Wisconsin voters cast an in-person ballot on April 7. Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders has partnered with a liberal advocacy group to study whether these in-person voters spread the coronavirus while they were at the polls.

One study suggests that a 10% increase in the number of voters per polling place corresponded to a roughly 17% higher rate of positive coronavirus tests in that county two and three weeks later, after the coronavirus incubation period had passed, although other researchers disagree with this conclusion.

All of which is a long way of saying that the Wisconsin Election Commissions report is less a reason for voting rights advocates to relax than a reason for them to heave a sigh of relief and then continue working.

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Are These Scandals Going To Hurt Republican Chances Of Holding On To The Senate? – FiveThirtyEight

Posted: at 9:47 am

Two senators have come under fire for suspiciously timed stock market trades that came right as the market tumbled in February amid the deepening coronavirus crisis: Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia.

Both Burr and Loeffler have been accused of insider trading, and scandals such as this can have electoral repercussions, particularly if either is forced to resign. But what are the odds this might actually harm Republican chances of holding on to the Senate in November?

The GOP holds a 53-47 edge over the Democrats in the Senate, and while Democrats have a path to a majority, it is a narrow one. Assuming Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is unable to retain his seat in deeply Republican Alabama, Democrats will need to win four seats and also win the vice presidency to take back control. GOP incumbents facing reelection in at least four states Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina (the other seat, not Burrs) look to be in some danger, so Democrats might be able to thread the needle, especially if they can also win a seat in a state like Iowa or Montana. But it would certainly help Democratic chances if more Republican-held seats came into serious contention, which is where Burr and Loeffler might come in.

Lets start with Burr. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was privy to daily briefings on the coronavirus before it seriously hit the U.S. On Feb. 13, the senator sold off a huge share of his portfolio just before the stock market crashed. The Justice Department is now investigating Burr, and last Wednesday, the FBI seized a cellphone owned by the senator. On Thursday, Burr announced he was temporarily stepping aside as chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the ongoing investigation.

The question now is, will Burr resign? Burrs seat isnt up until 2022, but he could be forced out of office because of the scandal, and if he were, the timing of his departure could definitely affect the 2020 election.

Namely, if Burr resigned before Sept. 4, there would be a special election for the seat this November, which would add another battleground contest to the Senate map. North Carolinas other seat held by Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is already shaping up to be an expensive, hard-fought contest, so another special election in the Tar Heel State could mean double trouble for Republicans. Its no wonder Tillis has tried to separate himself from the embattled Burr, saying in April that Burr owes everybody an explanation for the stock sales. And public opinion is against Burr, too, at least based on polling from a couple of left-leaning firms. In two March surveys of North Carolina from Data for Progress and Public Policy Polling, half of the respondents said Burr should resign while only about a quarter said he shouldnt.

However, even if some Republicans might want him gone, it seems unlikely Burr would leave office soon enough to necessitate a special election this November, as Republicans really dont want another swing seat in play this year. But if Burrs position were to become untenable and he was forced to resign before Sept. 4, a Republican would still be appointed in his place even though North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is a Democrat. North Carolina law requires the governor to appoint a replacement from a list of three candidates named by the incumbent party. (Regardless of when a resignation occurred, Cooper would have to appoint a Republican. But if the resignation happened after Sept. 4, the seat wouldnt be up for election until 2022.)

As for Loeffler, she was already up for election in Georgia this November, so a stock trading scandal could hit her hard. Loeffler has said that third-party account managers handle her portfolio, so she had no input in the trades, but the same day she attended a classified briefing about the coronavirus, she and her husband started selling millions of dollars worth of stock and invested in companies positioned to do well during the pandemic. Loeffler hasnt said whether the FBI has contacted her, but she provided records of the stock trades to the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee.

Loeffler already appears to be quite vulnerable in her special election, too, which will be the first time she faces voters since Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her to the Senate in January. A late April GOP internal poll conducted by Cygnal found that only 20 percent of voters had a favorable view of Loeffler compared to 47 percent who had an unfavorable impression. The survey also found her with just 11 percent support, well behind Republican Rep. Doug Collinss 29 percent. (If that seems especially low, remember the special election is a jungle primary in which all candidates run regardless of party.)

Granted, the Cygnal polls sponsor is allied to Collins, but even a survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of a group backing Loeffler ally Kemp found her polling at only 18 percent in the special election, about tied with Collins, who had 19 percent. For his part, Collins has been only too happy to try to connect Burrs case to Loeffler and attack Loeffler over her own stock dealings.

Its unclear, though, just how much Loefflers problems would harm the GOPs chances of retaining the seat. That is, just because Loeffler may be in trouble, it doesnt mean itll be easy for Democrats to take over the seat. After all, Georgia still leans toward the GOP and although former state Rep. Stacey Abrams came close to defeating Kemp in 2018, the last time a Democrat won a statewide election was in 2006. At this point, major election handicappers still think Republicans will hold the seat.

That said, with six Republicans and eight Democrats on the ballot in the jungle primary (plus six third-party or independent candidates), its also pretty unlikely that one candidate will win an outright majority in November, which means its likely headed to a runoff in January 2021 anyway. Based on early polling, Collins may be the most likely Republican to advance to a runoff, and he might be as good a bet or a better one given Loefflers troubles for Republicans to hold on to the seat, especially as Georgia Democrats have historically struggled in general election runoffs. In fact, with eight Democrats running, theres even a chance that it will be Collins and Loeffler who advance to the runoff, ensuring continued Republican control of the seat.

Its worth noting Burr and Loeffler arent the only senators who have come under scrutiny for their stock trades. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California recently spoke with FBI investigators regarding deals made by her husband, and suspiciously timed stock moves made by Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma have also received attention. However, both the California and Oklahoma seats would be very unlikely to switch parties California being very Democratic, Oklahoma being very Republican so even if Feinstein or Inhofe got into trouble, their problems would be very unlikely to affect the makeup of the Senate. Thats not necessarily the case for Burr and Loeffler especially Burr if he were to resign before Sept. 4. Nonetheless, its still a longshot that likely wont alter the Senate election math in 2020, either.

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Contrary to what you keep hearing, the COVID-19 policies of Republican officials have worked – Des Moines Register

Posted: at 9:47 am

Donald W. Bohlken, Iowa View contributor Published 9:23 a.m. CT May 19, 2020

During the May 18, 2020, daily COVID-19 news conference, Gov. Reynolds announces the move to real-time reporting of testing data. Des Moines Register

The Registerpublisheda seriesof guestessays promoting two biases:(a) that undisputed science requires a continuing stay-at-home "lockdown" to fight the pandemic and (b) that only Republican leaders ignore this "science," with bad results.

There is real scientific debate about the pandemic.There are, for example, five wildly divergent models predicting coronavirus deaths, varying from 1,200 to 3,700 deaths per day, for a date when actual deaths were 2,000. The most accurate model was "loudly and publicly" criticized by epidemiologists.

One would never know from the essays that scientists have advocated for less restrictive, non-lockdown measures. Dr. Scott Atlas recommends: "Strictly protect the known vulnerable, self-isolate the mildly sick, andopen most workplaces and small businesses with some prudent large-group precautions."

The Swedish model, allowing many businesses to remain open, while practicing limited social distancing, has been praised by Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization's executive director for health emergencies.

Britain's National Institute for Health Research concluded that stay-at-home orders and closing of all non-essential businesses are ineffective anti-pandemic measures.The Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institute concluded: "Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic."

The proposition that Republicans have ignored science is preposterous.Dr. Anthony Fauci concluded Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds was doing a "very good job."He confirmed that President Donald Trump approved his two recommendations to enact and prolong strong mitigation measures.Fauci agreed that Trump's ban of travel from China and elsewhere saved lives.

Reynolds did not follow the"science" that prompted Democratic New York Gov. AndrewCuomo to order nursing homes to admit patients with the coronavirus or Democratic Michigan Gov. GretchenWhitmer to outlaw commerical lawn careand motorboating.

The primary goal of mitigation measures was to ensure that our healthcare system was not overwhelmed.It was not overwhelmed.

Trump dispatched hospital ships, set up new hospitals, distributed and increased production of ventilators and personal protective equipment. No person died because he was denied a ventilator. Cuomo and California's Gavin Newsom, another Democrat, both praised the president's actions.

As of May 14, there is no region of Iowa with less than 37% of hospital beds, 73% of ICU beds, and 76% of ventilators available. Iowa's healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

The Iowa trend of new COVID-19 cases per week has been decreasing dramatically, from 3,911 for May 1 to 7 to 2,616 for May 8 to 14.New cases per week decreased nationally, from 185,594 for May 1 to 7 to 164,081 for May 8 to 14.

The COVID-19 Rt value is trending down, according to rt.live.The value estimates how many persons an infected person is likely to infect at a given time.If the number is over 1.0, we can expect COVID-19 to spread.If it is maintained under 1.0, we can expect the epidemic to slow. Forty-eight states states now have an Rt below 1.0.Six weeks ago, only 14 states had an Rt below 1.0.Iowa's Rt score is now 0.88.Six weeks ago it was 1.21.

The policies of Republican leaders worked.

Donald W. Bohlken(Photo: Special to the Register)

Donald W. Bohlken of Indianola is an attorney and a retired administrative law judge with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

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Swing-state Republicans warn Trump’s reelection is on shaky ground – POLITICO

Posted: at 9:47 am

Polling information is very concerning, just as it was in 2016 when Trump ultimately won Michigan, said Jase Bolger, a former state House speaker. But, he added, 2020 is anything but normal. So, yeah, I dont like what I see in polling now. But, polling now wont decide the election in the fall.

Recent surveys have also shown Trump behind in Pennsylvania, where Republicans suffered across-the-board losses in 2018. State House Speaker Mike Turzai, however, argued the presidents populist approach would play well in industrial and manufacturing-heavy parts of the state and that voters would respond well to a message of economic recovery.

He thinks Trump can reverse the suburban losses Republicans suffered in the 2018 midterms, but urged the president to stick to an uplifting pitch.

The president has to stay positive in his economic message, Turzai said. I think if he does that he can be quite successful, and I think hell win Pennsylvania.

Others see reason for worry. Former Pennsylvania Rep. Phil English said the states Democratic governor would face backlash for his management of the coronavirus but that voters would likely focus any frustrations toward national Republicans in power.

I think there is too much blame-mongering going on, but that is predictable and I think that is going to complicate the political landscape for Republicans in Pennsylvania because theyre the party with the White House, so all negatives are going to first be set at their direction, said English.

Trump was the first GOP candidate to win Wisconsin since 1984. He prevailed by less than 1 percentage point, making it perhaps the most competitive of the Rust Belt states. The president has taken a keen interest in Wisconsin and campaigned aggressively for the GOP candidate in last weeks special election for a Republican-leaning congressional seat.

Tommy Thompson, who was Wisconsins longest-serving governor, said Trump would need to visit the state frequently. He urged Trump to focus on winning over female voters whom he's long struggled with, and to winning back the slice of senior voters who've soured on him during the pandemic.

Trump has got to come into Wisconsin and spend some quality time here, and more than once, said Thompson.

Trump campaign officials say their battleground polling has seen an uptick since the president scaled back his rambling daily briefings. They point to a recent CNN survey of 15 key states showing the president with an advantage. Trump was briefed last week on what advisers described as improving numbers.

The reelection campaign is engaging in a massive effort to take down Biden. It recently launched a TV and digital offensive centered largely around the former vice presidents dealings with China, where the virus originated. Trump's political operation has also been making calls to battleground voters making the case that Biden is soft on the authoritarian country.

Trump is also stepping up his public appearances, with trips to Arizona and Pennsylvania the past few weeks.

In our own data, President Trump is in solid shape in all our key states. We have only just begun to define Joe Biden using his own record, particularly on his softness on China, and its working, said Trump 2020 spokesman Tim Murtaugh. There is tremendous enthusiasm behind the president and he has built an unstoppable juggernaut of a campaign.

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Republican legislators say Wolf not listening to the people – Bradford Era

Posted: at 9:47 am

State legislators are again criticizing Gov. Tom Wolf for not listening to the people after he vetoed a series of bills that would have reopened the state far more quickly than his phased approach does.

On Tuesday, Republican leaders in the state Senate and House said Wolfs approach is arbitrary and isnt what Pennsylvanians want.

The criticism was aimed at the veto of Senate Bill 327, which would given county governments the power to decide when to reopen; House Bill 2388, which would have given waivers for the operation of businesses like car dealers, hair salons and manufacturing operations; and House Bill 2412, which would have allowed legal services and real estate activities to resume.

Its disappointing, said state Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, It shows the governor is not listening to the people of Pennsylvania.

The legislature is working hard to get the state reopened safely and in a timely manner, Causer said, but Wolf wont consider any approach except his own. Counties deserve the right to be heard in their own best interests, the representative said.

The state is so diverse, Causer said. Our area is so different from southeast Pennsylvania. Just giving the counties some input would be so valuable.

The representative voiced some disbelief at certain aspects of Wolfs plan.

Theres a lot of politics in it, Causer said, explaining the legislature had approved a bill Tuesday morning to allow real estate to be sold. Wolf vetoed the bill, and then later in the day modified his executive order to allow for real estate to be sold.

Hes not communicating with the legislature, the representative said of Wolf. He should be working with the peoples representatives. I think we all see public safety as our number one issue. We all want to work together to tackle this pandemic.

Yet that isnt what he is seeing from Wolf.

So far the governor is making all the decisions, Causer said. Hes not including the legislature and thats a problem.

Causer said the legislature is trying to inject some common sense into the process.

Governor Wolf just flat out says no. Its just not reasonable.

Rep. Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, the House Republican leader, said the bills were passed with bipartisan support.

While millions of Pennsylvanians watch their livelihoods evaporate, the governor continues to arbitrarily choose who can thrive and who will fail. Wolf has determined and proved that he alone shall have the ultimate power over our states future, Cutler said.

Republican leadership in the state senate had similar condemnation for Wolfs veto.

The bills, recently approved by the General Assembly and formally sent to the governor Monday, would have brought back more than 200,000 jobs across Pennsylvania, according to the Republican leadership.

The governor continues to focus efforts on what we cannot and should not do instead of what we can do to get our economy moving again, said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte. Its unfortunate that he does not trust that employers can follow safety guidelines that will protect their workers and the public, who want these businesses open again.

With his veto pen, Gov. Wolf has struck down much-needed clarity and consistency that allows communities to continue to reopen safely within the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Department of Health to protect lives and livelihoods, read the statement from the senate leaders.

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New poll shows Sen. Martha McSally losing ground to Mark Kelly and that’s not even the bad news – AZCentral

Posted: at 9:47 am

Arizona candidates for Senate: Republican Sen. Martha McSally (left) and Democrat Mark Kelly.(Photo: The Republic, Arizona Daily Star)

From the Republican uh-oh department: Arizona Sen. Martha McSally is sliding in the polls, dropping four percentage points in a month.

McSally now trails Democrat Mark Kelly by 13 points, according to the latest tracking poll by OH Predictive Insights.

While the April poll of 600 likely voters favored Kelly 51% to McSallys 42%, in May its now 51%-38%.

The poll shows independents breaking more than 2-1 for Kelly.

McSally is doing terribly, pollster Mike Noble told me on Monday. Theres no way to find a bright spot on that one.

And thats not even the bad news for McSally.

The bad news comes from Maricopa County, where Republicans rule.

At least, they did rule, until Democrat Kyrsten Sinema defeated McSally there in 2018 -- stealing 88 mostly-suburban precincts that normally would go to the Republican nominee.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally has lost ground to Democrat Mark Kelly, according to the latest tracking poll from OH Predictive Insights.(Photo: OH Predictive Insights)

McSally's declining supportlies within the 4 percent margin of error inthe May tracking poll, a blend of live and automated calls made betweenMay 9 to May 11.Buther Maricopa County numbers are a disaster.

In May 2019, this same tracking poll showed Kelly up over McSally, 46%-41%, among likely voters in Maricopa County.

In May 2020, Kelly has climbed to 54% in Maricopa County while McSally has dropped to 36%.

Just think about that for a moment. Kelly has gone from a five-point advantage in Maricopa County to an 18-point cruise.

Polling shows Arizona Sen. Martha McSally is getting killed in the one place she must win.(Photo: OH Predictive Insights)

Thats a stunnerwhen you consider that Maricopa County in recent years always hasgonefor Republicans (well, except for now-ex-state Superintendent Diane Douglas and McSally).

Morestunning still: the fact that the state's most populous countyis the one place that McSally must win if she wants to hang onto that Senate seat yet she has done nothing to appeal to the independents and moderate Republican voters who likely will decide this race.

"Maricopa County is the key for Republicans winning," Noble said. "It'sthekey to Trumps re-election but its also key for the Senate seat. Maricopa County is where the battle is at and right now its not going well for McSally."

Ive never understood McSallys strategy why she decided to become a Donald Trump pocket pal when it was obvious she lost in 2018 because she campaignedas a Donald Trump pocket pal.

Now shes facing a campaign thatwill be solely a referendum on Trump.

Whose approval rating, by the way, now stands at 45% in Arizona, according to the poll.

Of course, the four-point drop in McSallys numbers over the last month could be attributable to the campaign ads that are pummeling her.

The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump conservative super PAC run in part by George Conway, began running attack ads against McSally two days before this poll went into the field. Democratic groups have been beating her up on the airwaves since last fall.

Republicans, meanwhile, have beenmostly silent on the campaign front. The Senate Leadership Fund, run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, plansto spend $9.2 million to try to boost McSally but not until the fall.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, faced with possible loss of the Senate, recently pushed the panic button,announcingplans tomove ahead in June with a $5.7 million ad campaign to try to save the appointed senator who nowtrails by double digits.

Me? I'm wondering what took them so long.

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com.

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Republicans hoping to oust Trump launch ad in Iowa – The Gazette

Posted: at 9:47 am

Putting a twist on Ronald Reagans iconic and optimistic political ad, Morning in America, Republicans who hope to block President Donald Trumps reelection will begin airing an ad highlighting what they say is his inept response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 60-second Mourning in America from the Lincoln Project highlights what it calls Trumps failure and how hes left states including Iowa weaker, sicker and teetering on the verge of economic turmoil.

In a time of deep suffering and loss, Donald Trump continues with his failed leadership and his inability to put the country before himself, said Jennifer Horn, co-founder of the Lincoln Project.

The ad will begin airing Wednesday in the Sioux City television market.

The Washington, D.C.-based Lincoln Project describes its mission as defeating both Trump and Trumpism. While the group has many policy differences with Democrats, the Lincoln Project argues that electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.

Its advisers include several GOP consultants as well as George Conway, the husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

The ad contrasts Reagans 1984 Morning in America commercial that highlighted what his campaign saw as the positive impact of his first term and presented his optimistic vision of an America that was prosperous and peaceful.

Trumps dangerous incompetence has directly hurt the people of Iowa, Horn said. Across the country, too many Americans are mourning the loss of people they love the most. Millions have lost their livelihood and their security. Trump and his administration failed at every turn to take the response to COVID-19 seriously until it was too late; now we face a collective mourning for the America we once knew.

In Iowa, there have been more than 15,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and 367 deaths.

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However, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Preya Samsundar pushed back, saying that Democrats and Republicans alike have praised President Trump for his continued work to combat the coronavirus.

Whether its providing relief for Iowa families, farmers, or small business owners, President Trumps bold leadership is a reminder to the Hawkeye State that their safety and economic security is his number one priority, she said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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Republicans say they dont want to target wasteful states, but what are they going to do with red states on that list? – MarketWatch

Posted: at 9:47 am

Cash-hemorrhaging U.S. states hoping for help from Washington face a daunting hurdle: Republican party opposition to bailing out states they say were profligate before the coronavirus crisis. And many of those states have voted Democratic in election years.

But a look at data on state budget balances and rainy day funds shows those at the top and at the bottom of the rankings were a mix of both red and blue electoral states.

And while the states with the most under-funded pensions were indeed more likely to be Democratic-led ones, the nations most shaky pension system belongs to Kentucky, home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

I actually dont think it is red state-blue state thing, as much as it might be politically convenient to frame it that way. Its really a question of moral hazard, said Rohit Kumar, U.S. tax policy services leader with audit and consulting firm PWC. Kumar worked for McConnell for 11 years and served as his domestic policy director.

But President Trump, in an April 27 Tweet, was less diplomatic. Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?

See: Coronavirus update: New outbreaks reported in states that plan to reopen soon as Trump says testing overrated

The call from states for money, though, has actually been bipartisan.

A May 13 letter from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, asked for $500 billion in aid. And data from the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trust shows many states were headed into the recession in decent budget shape.

According to a Pew analysis of National State Budget Officers data, 34 states had higher rainy day reserve funds at the end of 2019 than they had before the last recession. The median amount of those funds was enough to pay for 27.9 days worth of state operations, Pew said.

States had total reserves, not just rainy day funds, totaling about 13% of annual spending, up from 11% before the last recession, said Michael Leachman, vice president for state fiscal policy with the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Its hard to argue states werent prepared or overspending, if you look at that data, he said.

The biggest rainy day funds were those states with oil or mineral production, like Wyoming, with almost 400 days of reserves, Alaska and North Dakota. The other two in the top five were New Mexico and Texas.

At the other end of the spectrum, Kansas and Illinois had zero days of reserves, the lowest of the 50 states. They were followed by Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Kentucky.

Kumar said Republicans worry any money sent to states will be used, either directly or indirectly, to prop up under-funded state employee pension plans. That view was echoed by Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican and former governor.

We sit here and live within our means, and then New York, Illinois and California and other states dont, and were supposed to go bail them out? Thats not right, he told reporters last week.

Pew data released in 2019 for pensions in 2017 actually had New York with the fourth-best funded pension, at a funded ratio of 94.5%. The funded ratio is the amount of assets on hand in proportion total projected liabilities. Floridas funded ratio in 2017 was 15th among the states.

Wisconsin had the highest ratio, at 102.6%, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New York and Idaho. In descending order, the least funded state pensions belonged to Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and Kentucky. Kentuckys funded ratio was just 33.9%, while Illinois was 38.4%.

Kumar said the focus on pensions shows their concern is less about how individual states vote.

The Kentucky data, to me, is a proving point for that premise, he said.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Leachman said pensions should not be part of the debate over state aid. States have short-term needs that will require cash, like responding to the coronavirus epidemic and avoiding layoffs of critical employees, while the pension issue is a long-term one.

We can talk about some of the pension long-term liability issues that some states have, but its a distraction from what has caused the fiscal crisis that states face in funding their basic public services right now, which is why the states need the fiscal relief, he said.

Only 4.7% of state general funds are used to make states required contributions to their pension plans, he said.

See: States reopen after coronavirus lockdowns: New Jersey, Delaware beaches to reopen for holiday weekend

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Republicans say they dont want to target wasteful states, but what are they going to do with red states on that list? - MarketWatch

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Hebron Republican endorsed to challenge Osten – News from southeastern Connecticut – theday.com

Posted: at 9:47 am

A remote access 19th state Senate District Republican convention Monday endorsed Hebron candidate Steve Weir in his bid to unseat four-term incumbent Democrat Cathy Osten.

Weir, owner of American Integrity Restoration, a disaster cleaning and restoration business, and a former Glastonbury police officer, secured the partys endorsement over Kelley Peck, a Columbia estate and probate attorney. The 19th State Senate District consists of10 eastern Connecticut towns along the Route 2 corridor, spanning Marlborough to Ledyard.

Weir was born and raised in Glastonbury and has lived in Hebron for the past 20 years. He and his wife, Allegra, have three daughters ages 11, 15 and 18.

I entered this race because I believe in Connecticut, its promise and its people, Weir said in a press release announcing the endorsement. For years, our state government has been plagued by mismanagement, fiscal irresponsibility, and a lack of accountable leadership that has caused declining opportunities and dwindling confidence in Connecticut.

Peck said Tuesday she does not plan to petition for a primary.

I fully support the partys nomination, she said.

Weir was nominated by State Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, citing Weirs drive and determination to succeed, his experience and leadership.

Amy Lounsbury of Sprague called attention to Ostens defeat in the Sprague first selectman race last November and called on the party to unite behind Weir to defeat Osten in this falls election.

Steve knows hard decisions will needto be made in Hartford in order for us to recover, and he will be an ally of the hardworking men and women of eastern Connecticut through and through, Lounsbury said in the press release.

The 19th state Senate District covers Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich, and Sprague.

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