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Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 midterm elections

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By Carrie Dann, Mark Murray and Chuck Todd

WASHINGTON — Every two years, the NBC News Political Unit produces a document that we affectionately call “The Book.”

It’s a compilation of everything you need to know about the upcoming midterm elections: The big picture, the historical background, the races to watch and the trends that have defined the cycle.

In it, you will find descriptions of every major race as well as our behind-the-scenes rundown of what to watch on Election Night, hour by hour.

The political battleground this cycle is bigger than ever, with well more than 100 competitive federal races — not to mention some extremely close gubernatorial contests. History will be made in races around the country. The electorate may be in the process of a major realignment. And, as we learned well in 2016, surprises often happen.

So this year, instead of just circulating The Book to our colleagues at NBC News, we’re sharing it with you so that you can follow along with us, race-by-race, on Election Night.



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O’Rourke says he gave more to charity than tax returns show

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By Associated Press

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — Beto O’Rourke said on Wednesday that his family donated more to charity than reported on past tax returns because it wasn’t interested in taking deductions, as the Democratic presidential candidate continues to face questions about his relatively meager giving to such organizations.

Speaking to reporters after addressing hundreds at a crowded coffee shop in Fredericksburg, about 50 miles south of Washington, O’Rourke said, “We’re trying to go back to some of these organizations to see if they can share with us, over the last 10 years, how much we have donated.”

“We’ve made donations to so many organizations in small amounts, in the hundreds of dollars, in larger amounts, in the thousands of dollars. This is beyond what’s itemized and reflected in our taxes,” the former Texas congressman said, adding his family “just didn’t report it because it wasn’t important for us to take the deduction. Never thought it would be an issue, because I didn’t expect to release my taxes cause I never thought that I’d be running for president.”

Charitable donations can usually be deducted from taxable income, meaning the O’Rourkes had financial incentives to fully report their giving.

O’Rourke released a decade’s worth of federal tax returns through 2017 on Monday showing that he and his wife, Amy, donated about 0.7 percent of their income overall to charity. That included just $1,166 donated on a total adjusted income of $370,412 in 2017 — or about 0.3%. An Associated Press analysis of seven Democratic presidential hopefuls who have released their past tax returns — including Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — shows that O’Rourke’s charitable donations were the lowest.

O’Rourke’s totals nonetheless included a spike to $12,900 in 2013, when he donated his congressional salary to a veterans’ charity during the weeks of a partial government shutdown — following the lead of many lawmakers from both parties. Asked Wednesday if he made donations to similar groups when the government wasn’t shuttered, O’Rourke said that he had, but he wasn’t sure how much money that entailed.

He also noted that he, his wife and three small children have donated their time to charitable organizations, including to a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande from O’Rourke’s native El Paso, Texas, which takes in Central American immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. He said that last Christmas Eve the family helped mobilize volunteers to aid a large group of immigrants whom U.S. immigration officials released at the El Paso bus station.

“In addition to the dollar amount, our time,” he said of charitable giving. “We’ve donated time on the boards of nonprofits and certainly in public service and public life.”

Reporters aren’t the only ones asking about this issue.

When an attendee of an O’Rourke town hall on Tuesday in Charlottesville, Virginia, asked about his family’s small amount of charitable giving, the candidate suggested that running for president could count as donating his time.

“I’m doing everything I can right now, spending time with you, not our kiddos, not back in El Paso,” he said “because I want to sacrifice everything to make sure that we meet this moment of truth with everything that I’ve got.”

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Anti-gay hecklers follow Pete Buttigieg across Iowa

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By Tim Fitzsimons

In the two days since kicking off a campaign swing through Iowa, presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has faced anti-gay heckling at several stops.

On Tuesday morning, he was interrupted in Fort Dodge by protesters who shouted, “Mayor Pete, you betrayed your baptism, your holy baptism” and made anti-abortion remarks. Later that day, at a large rally in Des Moines, hecklers shouted “remember Sodom and Gomorrah.”

In response, Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, quipped to the Des Moines crowd: “The good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.”

The hecklers, Gary Boisclair and the anti-abortion activist Randal Terry, spoke to NBC News later that same day. The two men said they had also heckled another Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. Boisclair and Terry said they plan to appear at Buttigieg events to protest his sexual orientation and his support for abortion rights.



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GOP lawmaker withdraws invite for AOC to visit Kentucky mine

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By Dartunorro Clark

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is firing back at her Republican colleagues after one of them rescinded an invitation to visit a coal mine in Kentucky.

“GOP’s getting scared that up close, their constituents will realize I’m fighting harder for their healthcare than their own Reps,” she goaded them on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez’s taunt comes after GOP Rep. James Comer offered an alternative reason why his fellow Kentucky Republican, Rep. Andy Barr, might want to rescind his coal mine invite — and it isn’t because of Barr’s stated rationale that she had gotten into a Twitter spat with another GOP member.

Lawmakers in his party are “making a mistake picking on” the New York freshman over issues such as nonrenewable energy because of her smarts, policy preparation and massive millennial following, Comer said Monday on the Lexington NBC affiliate’s sports and news program “Hey Kentucky!

“I don’t see any upside to bringing Ocasio-Cortez in,” Comer said, adding that it’s “not likely” that a visit would change her views about coal in part because, he thinks, “she’s pretty set in her ways.”

“But Ocasio-Cortez has a movement of millennials that follow her,” Comer said. “Ocasio-Cortez is a lot more prepared when she comes to committee meetings. … She is smart, and I think that we need to be very prepared when we debate her on issues that we’re having a hard time with. There’s still a future for coal, but we need to make sure that we’re debating the right people on that issue.”

Comer was answering a question about Barr’s decision to take back the invitation he extended to Ocasio-Cortez last month to visit his home state in order to learn how her Green New Deal proposal would affect coal miners and their families.

Despite his own caution the day before to his GOP colleagues, Comer tweeted Tuesday in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s remark, “Lol, my constituents know that your Socialist policies like #MedicareForAll and #GreenNewDeal will not work.”



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