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Dems flip Kentucky House seat held by lawmaker who killed himself

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Democrats gained a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives Tuesday after a special election following the suicide of a GOP lawmaker who had faced sexual assault allegations. 

Linda Belcher, a retired teacher and former Democratic state lawmaker, soundly defeated Rebecca Johnson, who was attempting to serve out the remainder of her late husband’s term.

Belcher had lost to Dan Johnson by fewer than 200 votes in 2016.

In December 2017, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an interview with a woman who claimed that Dan Johnson had sexually assaulted her in 2013, when she was 17. The interview was accompanied by pages of police documents. 

Amid bipartisan calls for his resignation, Johnson denied the allegations on Facebook on the night of Dec. 13 before shooting and killing himself hours later.

KENTUCKY STATE REP. DAN JOHNSON COMMITS SUICIDE AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT ACCUSATIONS EMERGE

Rebecca Johnson also denied the allegations against her late husband, claiming he was a victim of “an assault from the left.” She refused to concede defeat Tuesday night, citing “widespread voter fraud.”

“I’ve heard from and about people all day long saying they went to vote for me at the correct polling place and were refused the opportunity to vote,” Johnson said in a news release. “It’s like we’re in a Third World country.”

With friends and family standing behind him, Kentucky State Rep., Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, regarding allegations that he sexually abused a teenager after a New Year's party in 2013, in Louisville, Ky. Johnson says a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2013 has no merit and he will not resign.  (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

State Rep. Dan Johnson committed suicide Dec. 13.

 (AP)

Earlier in the day, county election officials discovered residents in a particular subdivision were incorrectly listed as not living in the district. Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney said the problem was fixed and poll workers were instructed to send affected voters to another precinct. Mooney said if all of the affected voters had voted for Johnson, it would not have changed the outcome.

At her campaign headquarters in downtown Shepherdsville, Belcher said she won the election “fair and square.” It’s the third time voters have elected Belcher, who was first elected in 2008 when she replaced her husband on the ballot after he was killed in a car wreck.

Belcher said it was “hard to say” if sexual assault allegations against Dan Johnson and his death played a part in the election, adding: “I have tried to stay very positive and away from that whole situation.”

Belcher told a reporter Bullitt County “has spoken what it wants.”

She added, “It wants honesty and integrity and a very visible person as their state representative.”

Carol Schneider, 65, called Rebecca Johnson “a die-hard, stand-by-your-man kind of woman.” But she voted for Belcher, she said, because Johnson was “hanging on to a bunch of lies and now that he’s dead he’s like this martyr.”

James Carmony, 47, said he wasn’t sure he believed the sexual assault allegations and said he ultimately voted for Johnson because she is a Republican and he believed she would support the state’s GOP governor. “A lot of things like that come out, sometimes they are true and sometimes they are not.”

Tuesday’s election was also one of the first signs in 2018 that Democrats have momentum heading into the pivotal midterm elections two years into Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said it’s at least the 35th contested seat Democrats have taken from Republicans since Trump was inaugurated. And it may have come in the reddest district to date. Trump won Kentucky’s 49th House district in 2016 with more than 72 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, the Democratic candidate won with more than 68 percent of the vote.

“The results here show that if we can win in this district, we can win anywhere,” said Ben Self, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “I think this shows the entire House, the Kentucky House, is in play.”

Republicans scoffed at that notion, with state GOP spokesman Tres Watson pointing to low turnout and the circumstances of Johnson’s suicide “clouding the outcome.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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U.S. has administered over 309 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, CDC says

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The United States had administered 309,322,545 doses of Covid-19 vaccines and distributed 374,398,105 doses in the country as of Sunday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Those figures were up from the 308,112,728 doses of vaccine that the CDC said had been administered as of Saturday, out of 374,397,205 doses delivered.

The agency said 173,840,483 people in the United States had received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 143,921,222 people were fully vaccinated as of 6 a.m. ET on Sunday.

The CDC tally includes the two-dose vaccines from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc/BioNTech/ as well as Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

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Nigel Farage SHOULD be honoured for 'services to EU exit' – 'He's the man of the Century!'

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DOZENS of influential figures have been rewarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for their services to Brexit – but one former MEP has pointed out that Nigel Farage has been excluded.

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Queen Elizabeth II hosts Bidens at Windsor Castle

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LONDON — They met Friday at the Group of Seven summit, but President Joe Biden and the first lady had an altogether more private meeting with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday, at her home in Windsor Castle.

The monarch, 95, received the Bidens for tea at her historic residence, about 30 miles west of London. On arrival they were greeted with an official Guard of Honor military parade, which gave a royal salute and played the American national anthem.

Biden stood next to the queen in the sunshine, wearing his aviator sunglasses, before inspecting the troops in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle, last seen on television during the somber funeral ceremony of her husband, Prince Philip, who died aged 99 in April.

The queen has stoically continued with her official duties since then and met Biden alongside other world leaders and their spouses on Friday at the G-7 summit, by the seaside in Cornwall, southwest England.

There, she amused leaders when she quipped during a photo-call: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourselves?”

Biden first met the queen in 1982 as a Democratic senator for Delaware but this time he joined her as president. He is the 13th serving president the monarch has met. She has met every serving American president since Dwight Eisenhower — except Lyndon Johnson who did not travel to Britain while in office.

As a 25-year-old princess in 1951, she also stayed with President Harry S. Truman and his family in Washington, D.C.

The queen has hosted four other American presidents at Windsor Castle in recent years, including former-President Donald Trump in 2018, who shocked press and palace pundits when he breached royal protocol by walking ahead of the queen, at times blocking her view and giving her his back.

After a state visit in 2019, Trump told Fox News: “There are those that say they have never seen the queen have a better time.”

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On arrival to England last week, first lady Jill Biden told reporters that meeting the queen was “an exciting part of the visit for us.”

She also undertook a separate engagement with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, when the two visited a school on Friday.

Kate told NBC News during the visit that she was looking forward to meeting her new niece, Lilibet Diana, born in California earlier this month.

Britain’s royal family have had a turbulent year in the public eye following a bombshell interview given by the queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

The couple stunned viewers with allegations of royal racism — denied by the palace — while Meghan also spoke publicly about how royal life and media pressure had taken its toll on her mental health.

After taking private afternoon tea with the queen on Sunday, Biden will then travel to nearby Brussels for a NATO summit, before heading to Switzerland on Wednesday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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