early voting begins, plus mafia whispers – Trending Stuff

In todays politics news: voting under way in three states, a bitter fight in New York, and a tough race for a Bill Clinton ally

early voting begins, plus mafia whispers – Trending Stuff

Good evening, Im Ben Jacobs, and this is the Guardians new-look politics minute. In the run-up to the midterm elections, Ill bring you the latest from Washington and beyond every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. If youre not already receiving this rundown by email, sign up.

It begins

Early voting begins today in three states, Minnesota, South Dakota and Virginia. This means every day until 6 November is election day.

Republican pushes mafia innuendo

Incumbent Republican Claudia Tenney is in a tight race in a swing seat in upstate New York and her campaign is adopting a unique tactic. The bomb-throwing rightwinger is implying that her Democratic opponent Anthony Brindisi has wait for it mafia ties.

  • Wait, what? Tenneys campaign has put out a memo to staffers warning that Brindisis family is thuggish and prone to violence and attacks his father who was once a lawyer for figures with ties to organized crime.

Democrats floundering in seat Clinton won by 20

The South Florida congressional seat being vacated by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was supposed to be a gimme for Democrats. The metro Miami seat is majority Hispanic and Hillary Clinton won 58% of the vote there. But recent polling shows a close race.

Donna Shalala, right, with Madeleine Allbright, Richard Riley and William Daley in 1998, when she was health and human services secretary. Photograph: Joyce Naltchayan/EPA

  • What impact does this have? Even if Shalala pulls out the win, her lackluster campaign might force Democrats to spend money in a district once viewed as a guaranteed pickup. That drains resources from other races, particularly two other competitive Republican held seats in the Miami area.

Poll of the day

In Iowas first congressional district, a traditionally Democratic leaning district that broke heavily for Trump in 2016, Democrat Abby Finkenhauer has a 15-point lead over incumbent Republican Rod Blum in a poll conducted by the New York Times and Siena College.

  • Is this a big deal? Its another key data point that Trumps gains in the midwest in 2016 were illusory. Republican gubernatorial candidates in every swing state that Trump won in 2016 are in tough races and Democrats are favored in most. Without Hillary Clinton on the ballot, the blue-collar Democrats who crossed over in 2016 are coming back to the Democratic fold.

  • So Finkenhauer is going to win? Maybe not. Despite the bad poll for Blum, the two-term congressman has shown a remarkable ability to win elections. His victory in 2014 was an upset and he had been considered a dead man walking for much of 2016 before he pulled off a decisive win that year.

Ad of the day

An ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund, the major Republican Super PAC in House races, hits Kansas Democrat Paul Davis for being at a strip club when a drug bust occurred. The advertisement also attacks Davis for voting against a bill in the state legislature to imposing zoning restrictions on adult businesses.

  • Will it make a difference? It might. The district is Republican leaning and its a toss-up. Even with Republicans split in Kansas between moderate and hard right factions, Democrats have a limited margin for error.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us