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In Tuesday’s Arizona election, keep an eye on the margin



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WASHINGTON — Don’t bet on Democrats continuing their streak of special-election victories in districts/states Trump carried when Republican Debbie Lesko faces off against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni on Tuesday in the race to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

After all, more than 150,000 Arizonans have already cast ballots in early voting, and those voters are disproportionately older (the median age is 67) and Republican (49 percent vs. 28 percent Democrat) — so hardly a good sign if you’re a Dem.

But maybe the bigger story tomorrow, at least when it comes to judging if the political winds are still blowing at the Democrats’ backs, will be looking at the ultimate margin of Lesko vs. Tipirneni in this district Trump carried by 21 points in 2016. In the eight major contests of 2017 and 2018, Democrats have outperformed Hillary Clinton’s margin in these same districts/states by, on average, about 12 points (see below for the results).

So Democrats keeping the race to single digits would match that average over-performance. More importantly, the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman says the margin could offer clues about Arizona’s key Senate race in November. “Really anything above ~41% in #AZ08 (R+13 PVI) would be consistent w/ Dems on track to win the House or a statewide AZ race,” he tweeted.

Here are the margins of the eight major contests of 2017/2018:

  • KS-4 in 2016: Mike Pompeo 61%, Daniel Giroux 30% (R+31)
  • KS-4 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 60%, Clinton 33% (R+27)
  • KS-4 in 2017: Ron Estes 53%, James Thompson 46% (R+7)
  • GA-6 in 2016: Tom Price 62%, Rodney Stooksbury 38% (R+24)
  • GA-6 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 48%, Clinton 47% (R+1)
  • GA-6 in 2017 (initial round): Jon Ossoff 48%, Karen Handel 20%, Bob Gray 11%, Dan Moody 9%, Judson Hill 9%.
  • GA-6 in 2017 (runoff): Handel 52%, Ossoff 48% (R+4)
  • MT-AL in 2016: Ryan Zinke 56%, Denise Juneau 40% (R+16)
  • MT in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 57%, Clinton 36% (R+21)
  • MT-AL in 2017: Greg Gianforte 50%, Rob Quist 44% (R+6)
  • SC-5 in 2016: Mick Mulvaney 59%, Fran Person 39% (R+20)
  • SC-5 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 57%, Clinton 39% (R+18)
  • SC-5 in 2017: Ralph Norman 51%, Archie Parnell 48% (R+3)
  • NJ GOV in 2013: Chris Christie 60%, Barbara Buono 38% (R+22)
  • NJ GOV in 2016 (presidential results): Clinton 55%, Trump 41% (D+14)
  • NJ GOV in 2017: Phil Murphy 56%, Kim Guadagno 42% (D+14)
  • VA GOV in 2013: Terry McAuliffe 48%, Ken Cuccinelli 45% (D+3)
  • VA in 2016 (presidential results): Clinton 50%, Trump 44% (D+6)
  • VA GOV in 2017: Ralph Northam 54%, Ed Gillespie 45% (D+9)
  • AL SEN in 2016: Shelby 64%, Crumpton 36% (R+28)
  • AL in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 62%, Clinton 34% (R+28)
  • AL SEN in 2017: Doug Jones 50%, Roy Moore 48% (D+2)
  • PA-18 in 2016: Tim Murphy (R) unopposed
  • PA-18 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 58%, Clinton 38% (R+20)
  • PA-18 in 2018: Conor Lamb 49.9%, Rick Saccone 49.5% (D+0.4)

No, North Korea hasn’t denuclearized — and experts doubt it ever will

Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted that North Korea agreed to denuclearize.

And on “Meet the Press” yesterday, top White House legislative aide Marc Short said that denuclearization means no longer possessing nuclear weapons.

CHUCK TODD: Denuclearization – what does that mean to the president, and what do you think that means to the North Koreans? Do you think you guys agree on what that word even means?MARC SHORT: I think there has to have a sit-down conversation to get to that point. But I think from our perspective, it means full denuclearization. No longer having nuclear weapons that can be used in warfare against any of our allies.

However, North Korea hasn’t said it will denuclearize, as the AP writes. “North Korea said Friday it would suspend nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches ahead of summits with the U.S. and South Korea. Kim also said a nuclear test site would be closed and ‘dismantled’ now that the country has learned how to make nuclear weapons and mount warheads on ballistic rockets. But the North has stopped short of saying it has any intention of abandoning its nuclear arsenal, with Kim making clear that nukes remain a ‘treasured sword.’”

And Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told ABC that he doubts Kim Jong-Un would give up his country’s nuclear weapons. “[H]e views having deliverable nuclear weapons as his ticket to dying as an old man in his bed. He saw what happened with Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s a dead man now because he gave up his nuclear weapons. And so to think that somebody’s going to go in and charm him out of that is not realistic. Is there some progress that can be made? I hope so.”

Macron, Merkel to begin “tag-team effort” to convince Trump to stay in Iran deal

Here’s another wrinkle to consider on North Korea: Would it be willing to restrict its nuclear program — let alone denuclearize — if it sees Trump rip up the Iran nuclear deal? Well, France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel are visiting the White House this week to convince Trump to remain in the Iran deal.

“French President Emmanuel Macron’s arrival in the U.S. kicks off a crucial week for European leaders in an uphill battle to convince Donald Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal,” per Bloomberg News. “Macron’s visit Monday and Tuesday — the first formal state visit of the Trump administration — will be quickly followed by Merkel’s working visit to the White House on Friday… ‘This will be a tag-team effort,’ said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, who spent the days ahead of Macron’s U.S. visit in Brussels consulting with European officials about the deal. ‘It’s very crucial.’”

By the way, the April NBC/WSJ poll found 38 percent of Americans supporting the Iran deal, 11 percent opposing it and 50 percent who said they didn’t know enough. Then asked if Trump withdraws from the deal, 26 percent said they’d back his decision, and 32 percent said they’d oppose it.

It’s a big week for Mike Pompeo’s rocky road to Senate confirmation

NBC’s Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp: “CIA Director Mike Pompeo starts off a crucial week in his journey to Senate confirmation as secretary of state facing a Monday committee vote that’s likely to be an unfavorable one, and a razor-thin margin of support in the full chamber. All Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as committee member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., have announced their opposition to Pompeo’s nomination. If all stick to that position at Monday’s 5 p.m. ET vote, the nomination will not have enough support to be reported favorably to the full Senate.”

More: “Despite that lack of support at the committee level, Republican and Democratic leadership aides say that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can still bring up his nomination for a floor vote and is expected to do so later in the week — regardless of the committee vote — after jumping over some procedural hurdles. The last Cabinet-level nominee to be reported unfavorably by a committee and still confirmed by the full Senate, according to the Senate Historian’s Office, was Henry Wallace, who was confirmed in 1945 to serve as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s commerce secretary.”

The ‘Invisible Primary’ watch for 2020

NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald looks at how potential 2020 Democratic hopefuls are racking up political chits by stumping for candidates this midterm season. “The 2020 pole position may belong to former Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged as his party’s ‘Everywhere Man’ — the rare national Democrat who can comfortably campaign in even the most conservative parts of the country. He began building up good will when he stumped for successful candidates like Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race and Conor Lamb in the Pennsylvania House contest, even as both candidates kept the rest of their party at arm’s length.”

“Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was snubbed by all but one senator and a handful of congressmen during his 2016 primary run against Clinton, is working harder than ever, both for his adoptive Democratic Party, to sweep more ‘Berniecrats’ into office, and perhaps to [rack] up some IOUs that he could collect should he decide to run again.”

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Biden compares Justice Department to Trump’s ‘private law firm’



Joe Biden criticized President Trump and Attorney General William Barr for their handling of the Department of Justice during an event with Black small business owners in North Carolina. Biden compared the DOJ to Trump’s “private law firm.”

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Political leaders sound off about charges against one of three officers involved in Breonna Taylor case



Notable reactions from across the political spectrum poured in after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said charges will be filed against one of three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician whom police shot during a raid this year.

Former detective Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were not indicted. Cosgrove fired the shot that killed Taylor, Cameron said, but the grand jury considered his shooting justifiable.

Several Democratic leaders quickly expressed disappointment that only one of the officers was charged.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said, “I haven’t read it fully yet, but there’s no question that Breonna Taylor and her family deserve justice yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a former Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted: “Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. This result is a disgrace and an abdication of justice. Our criminal justice system is racist. The time for fundamental change is now.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has stayed relatively quiet about Taylor’s death, expressed sorrow but said he trusted in the decision.

“Breonna Taylor’s life was tragically cut short. Our city and the country continue to grieve her loss. Elaine and I pray for healing for Breonna’s mother and her family throughout this process. I have called for a fair and thorough investigation into Breonna’s killing,” he said. (McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, is the secretary of transportation.)

“Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron led a complete inquiry to find the truth and pursue justice. I have total confidence he followed the facts and the legal process and his decision,” McConnell said.

Kentucky’s other senator, Rand Paul, a Republican, echoed the sentiment. “I think that the rule of law is an important thing, and I hope that people will accept that,” he said.

When asked about the decision Wednesday, President Donald Trump answered, “I don’t know enough about it.”

He had called Taylor’s death, as well as the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a “tragic event” during a town hall gathering with ABC News this month.

“Well, I think they were tragic events, and I do feel that we have to also take into consideration that if you look at our police, they do a phenomenal job,” he said at the time.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., tweeted: “It shouldn’t have taken this long to bring charges against the officer responsible for the murder of #BreonnaTaylor, but this indictment is still a long way from justice. All officers involved must be held fully accountable for her death.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in a tweet, “Black lives will not matter until we hold police accountable for Black deaths, invest more in our communities than in criminalization, and dismantle the structures of racial oppression in our country and ensure all people are truly equal in the eyes of the law.”

He added: “Police murdered Breonna Taylor while she was asleep in her own home. Today, our justice system decided that these officers will not be held accountable. This is a grave and shameful injustice.”

Shortly after the indictment, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called on Cameron to release all “information, evidence, and facts” without affecting the three felony counts. “I believe that the public deserves this information,” he said. “I trust Kentuckians. They deserve to see the facts.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters: “It’s just weighing really heavy on my heart, and because we know that her death is not just the result of one person but the system, structure and department that failed their entire community. And you know, we know this fight to prevent deaths like hers is going to be so much broader in terms of the systemic change, the political change.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has made many calls for justice in Taylor’s death, also vowed to keep fighting.

“Once again, the law says that property is more valuable than Black life. We cannot let up in our fight for justice for Breonna Taylor and every Black and brown person murdered at the hands of police. We will fight to end qualified immunity,” Omar tweeted.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., posted: “Did I hear that correctly? Only one officer is being held remotely accountable, and it’s not for killing Breonna Taylor but instead for shooting apartments? It’s never been clearer this country considers property more valuable than human life.”

Taylor’s death sparked widespread outrage and protests, with thousands of people demanding justice and accountability from the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Taylor, 26, was killed shortly after midnight on March 13 when officers raided her apartment under a “no knock” warrant as part of a drug investigation involving Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer.

Glover listed Taylor’s apartment as his address and used it to receive packages, authorities said. Taylor had no criminal record, and no drugs or money were recovered during the raid, according to the search warrant inventory document obtained by NBC News.

Officers said they were fired upon as they entered the home. Taylor’s family has said that Walker believed the home was being broken into and that he fired his legally owned gun to defend himself.

The city reached a $12 million settlement last week in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family. The settlement does not require the city to admit any wrongdoing

“It is just an acknowledgment of the need for reform and the need for a settlement to take place,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in announcing the terms of the settlement.

Fischer signed an executive order Tuesday that placed the city under a state of emergency as Louisville braced for the grand jury’s decision.

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and wife test positive for coronavirus



Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa Parson, both tested positive for coronavirus and have cancelled events as they isolate, his office said Wednesday.

The couple were tested earlier in the day after Teresa Parson began to exhibit mild symptoms, though the governor “feels healthy and is displaying no symptoms,” according to a statement. Mike Parson, who is seeking re-election this fall, has cancelled his forthcoming campaign events.

“All official and campaign events have been canceled until further notice,” the governor’s statement said. “As a precautionary measure, the Governor’s staff has been tested and is awaiting results.”

Both Parsons posted videos to their official Twitter accounts Wednesday to offer details on their conditions. Teresa Parson said she was fine and assured residents that she was isolating.

“I did get up with a few cold-like symptoms and decided maybe because we are among the public so much, I should be tested,” she said.

Mike Parsons told Missouri residents in his Twitter update that it had been “quite a day,” but that the couple was doing well. The governor said his preliminary results came back positive and they were beginning the process of quarantining as he awaits confirmation.

He added that he and his wife may have to isolate separately but that he plans on continuing with his duties.

“My concern is the first lady, her health, to make sure that she is OK,” the governor said.

Missouri has faced scrutiny in recent days as the state’s Lake of the Ozarks region hosted a large motorcycle rally last weekend, despite social distancing concerns. A similar rally that drew hundreds of thousands of bikers in South Dakota has been linked to more than 200 coronavirus cases and at least one death.

The 14th annual Bikefest Lake of the Ozarks started Wednesday, Sept. 16 and ran through Sunday, Sept. 20. Previous rallies drew over 100,000 to the area, NBC affiliate KSDK reported.

The event featured vending areas, more than 50 live shows, over 300 “biker-friendly” bars, restaurants and hotels, and a Harley Davidson giveaway, according to its website. Videos posted online of the event showed few masks were worn by attendees.

Another Missouri event that seemed to flout coronavirus guidelines was a crowded Memorial Day party, also at Lake of the Ozarks, where a viral video showed little social distancing. Health officials urged attendees to self-isolate following the event to prevent community spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic.

Missouri has 116,946 confirmed coronavirus and 1,947 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, based on the state’s health dashboard. The governor has not imposed a statewide mandate that would require residents to wear masks in public, despite recommendations from the White House’s coronavirus task force.

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