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First Read’s Morning Clips: Blue wave warnings



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MIDTERM MADNESS: How to stave off a blue wave in November

“The House GOP’s campaign arm is facing tough choices about where to shift precious resources in the midterm elections, as Republicans desperately try to stave off a potential blue wave this November,”The Hill reports.

AZ-SEN: The Washington Post reports on the private concerns among the GOP that Sen. McCain will not return to the Senate, and the party will be forced to defend two seats in Arizona.

AZ-8: Doug Jones, Conor Lamb, and ….Hiral Tipirneni? The Democrat running for the seat vacated by GOP Rep. Trent Franks is hoping to become the party’s next special election victor.

FL-GOV: GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis said Trump is heading south to campaign for him soon, though he declined to discuss any details, Politico reports.

FL-26: GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, an outspoken critic of EPA head Scott Pruitt, called on the embattled agency head to resign.

MS-SEN: Jason Shelton, the Democratic mayor of Tupelo, Miss., became the fourth candidate to enter the race for former Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat in November.

TX-SEN: Democrat Beto O’Rourke raised a whopping $6.7 million the first quarter of his campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz.

WI-GOV: GOP Gov. ScottWalker is warning of a blue wave in Wisconsin after liberal judge Rebecca Dallet’s convincing victory.

TRUMP AGENDA: Begun the trade war has

China announced tariffs on 106 more U.S. products, CNBC reports.

Stocks are on course for a steep drop, the Wall Street Journal writes.

The Washington Post: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III informed President Trump’s attorneys last month that he is continuing to investigate the president but does not consider him a criminal target at this point, according to three people familiar with the discussions.”

Mueller’s probe scored its first prison sentence Tuesday; a lawyer who lied to investigators received 30 days in prison.

From the New York Times:“Far from learning on the job or modifying his views to fit the imperatives of America’s global role — as did so many of his predecessors — Mr. Trump is falling back on the familiar mix of belligerence and isolationism that fueled his “America First” campaign.”

“President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wanted to get out of Syria and bring U.S. troops back home — only moments after his top advisers said publicly that the fight against ISIS was not finished,” NBC’s Abigail Williams reports.

The president now wants to send the National Guard to the southern border.

Embattled EPA Administrator Pruitt told the Washington Examiner his critics will “resort to anything” to stop the Trump agenda.

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BBC QT: Michelle Dewberry clashes with Lisa Nandy over Brexit – ‘Who do you represent?’



LABOUR’s Lisa Nandy and former Brexit party politician Michelle Dewberry clashed during BBC Question Time on Thursday.

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Arizona Senate Republicans sign lease to continue vote audit



PHOENIX — Republicans in the Arizona Senate have signed a lease to continue their slow-moving audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County through the end of June.

The state Senate and its contractors had rented the Veterans Memorial Coliseum through Friday, when they must vacate the old basketball arena because it is booked for high school graduations next week.

Republicans have hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based cybersecurity firm, to oversee an unprecedented, partisan review of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county. They are conducting a hand recount of all 2.1 million ballots and looking into baseless conspiracy theories suggesting there were problems with the election, which have grown popular with supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Under the new lease signed Wednesday, the ballots, computers, tables and related equipment will be stored elsewhere at the state fairgrounds next week. The Senate will regain access to the coliseum on May 23 and have it through the end of June.

The effort has gone far slower than expected, and only a fraction of the ballots have been counted. The audit was to stop Thursday evening, then packing would begin and continue into Friday, said Ken Bennett, a former Republican secretary of state who is serving as the Senate’s liaison to the auditors.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the state’s top election official, has asked the Senate to detail its plans for keeping ballots secure while they are in storage.

Meanwhile, Senate President Karen Fann sent a letter Wednesday to Jack Sellers, chairman of the Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, requesting that county officials publicly answer questions at the Senate on Tuesday, but she stopped short of her threat to issue subpoenas.

Fann repeated the Senate’s demand for access to administrative passwords for vote-counting machines and internet routers. County officials say they have turned over all the passwords they have and have refused to give up the routers, saying it would compromise sensitive data, including classified law enforcement information held by the sheriff’s office.

Fann proposed allowing its contractor to view data from the routers at county facilities under supervision of the sheriff’s office. “The Senate has no interest in viewing or taking possession of any information that is unrelated to the administration of the 2020 general election,” she wrote.

The county says the passwords the Senate is seeking are maintained by Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which makes the vote-counting machines and leases them to the county. The company said in a statement Thursday that it cooperates with auditors certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and did so for two prior audits of 2020 results in Maricopa County, but won’t work with Cyber Ninjas.

“Releasing Dominion’s intellectual property to an unaccredited, biased, and plainly unreliable actor such as Cyber Ninjas would be reckless, causing irreparable damage to the commercial interests of the company and the election security interests of the country,” Dominion’s statement said. “No company should be compelled to participate in such an irresponsible act.”

Fann’s letter also questions the county’s records that document the chain of custody of the ballots and accuses county officials of deleting data.

In a statement, Trump called it “a devastating letter” and said “the Fake News and Lamestream Media is doing everything they can not to cover this major story.”

The Board of Supervisors met in private late Thursday, after which Sellers issued a blistering statement denying that any data was deleted, calling Fann’s allegations “false and ill-informed” and demanding a retraction.

“It’s clearer by the day: the people hired by the Senate are in way over their heads,” Sellers said. “This is not funny; this is dangerous.”

He did not directly respond to Fann’s request for county officials to answer questions at the Senate on Tuesday, but said the county will hold its own public meeting the day before “to refute lies and lay out facts about these issues.”

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Eight candidates spar on policing, recovery in virtual NYC mayoral debate



The eight Democratic candidates running for New York City mayor squared off Thursday evening on numerous issues, but their focus was largely on policing and economic recovery.

This was the first debate before the June 22 primary in which the candidates could explain their visions to voters. Whoever wins that contest is likely to win in the Nov. 2 general election, given the city’s large Democratic voter base. However, turnout tends to be low in New York City primaries. Roughly 700,000 New Yorkers voted in the 2013 primaries, which is about 20 percent of registered voters. For the first time, the city will use ranked-choice in a primary, giving voters the option to select as many as five candidates in order of preference.

A recent poll by Change Research placed Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams slightly ahead of former 2020 presidential contender Andrew Yang, a businessman, 19 percent to 16 percent. Former city comptroller Scott Stringer, who has faced and denied sexual assault allegations, is at 9 percent. The remaining candidates — civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former Obama Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and businessman Raymond McGuire are tied at 7 percent. Former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales is at 5 percent. The poll also found 22 percent of voters remain undecided.

However, another poll put Yang ahead with 21 percent and Adams at 17 percent. Stringer and Maya received 10 percent. Garcia received 8 percent, while Donovan and McGuire each won support from 6 percent of voters surveyed. Morales received 4 percent.

Adams, a former NYPD captain, took most of the jabs from his competitors on policing in the city, particularly from Wiley and Morales over his deep ties to the department and the size of the city’s police force. Morales also slammed Adams for dismissing young, Black political organizers who are working on police reform.

“Safety is not synonymous with policing,” said Morales, adding that the city has one of the largest police departments in the country. “Our communities are over-policed and under-resourced.”

Wiley, a former aide to New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and ex-head of the city’s police misconduct board, excoriated Adams for suggesting bringing back the city’s controversial anti-crime unit and for his support for using stop and frisk, a program that was halted by a federal judge after data revealed racial inequities, as a policing tool.

“As a civil rights lawyer, all I can say is that there was nothing OK about [stop and frisk],” Wiley said.

Adams then said her questions show “your failure of understanding of police enforcement.”

Wiley said she “certainly” understands misconduct, citing her experience heading the NYPD misconduct board. Adams shot back: “I certainly know how much of a failure it was under you.”

“I told you all at the beginning of this race, when candidates start getting desperate, it’s going to get very nasty,” Adams added.

Yang, who has been consistently seen as the front-runner, took jabs in the two-hour.

McGuire pressed Yang about his reported comments that Black applicants may not be “the best fit” for his business venture, but Yang refused to apologize and said he did not remember making the remark.

“My administration would reflect the incredible diversity of our city,” Yang said. Moderators also leaned on Yang about his long absence from city politics. But the businessman demurred, saying he built a life with his wife in the city.

Stringer was queried on a sexual misconduct allegation against him made by a former aide. He denied the assertion but said women should have their claims heard.

“This is an allegation that is not true,” he said. “I hope the voters will listen to me.”

The candidates also discussed affordable housing, homelessness and public education. In February, the number of single adults sleeping each night in New York City shelters reached a record of 20,822, according to an April report from the Coalition of the Homeless, a local nonprofit. The single adult shelter population also reached records in 10 of the 12 months during 2020, the organization found.

Nearly every candidate agreed that decreasing homelessness was a priority with slight distinction to solve the issue, including the need for increased mental health services in the city. Yang, for instance, called for expanding supportive housing and building or preserving 250,000 affordable units. Morales called for converting office space to create space for the homeless, Garcia called for increasing the number of housing vouchers to get individuals out of shelters.

Wiley said she would shift $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget and invest in trauma-informed care in schools to help communities that grapple with violence. Also, Adams and Stringer were the only candidates to raise their hand when asked whether they would keep all-virtual school as an option in the fall for the city’s more than 1 million students.

The candidates themselves were asked to pick their second choices, however, only four answered. Garcia, who was endorsed by the New York Times Editorial Board, appeared to be the favorite. Donovan picked Wiley, Yang and McGuire picked Garcia and Wiley picked Morales.

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