Democrats sweep in Virginia, New Jersey – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)Democrats have won key races in Virginia and New Jersey, CNN projects, their first major wins during the tenure of President Donald Trump and a boost heading into the 2018 midterms, when control of US House and Senate will be up for grabs.

The blue wave along the East Coast saw Ralph Northam winning the governor’s race in Virginia and Phil Murphy victorious in New Jersey. Democrats are also on pace to capture control of the Virginia General Assembly, and several liberals, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio won their mayoral elections.

Virginia’s gubernatorial contest was the first major test of Democrats’ ability to rebound after Trump’s victory. The fundamentals of the state were in their favor: Under Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, unemployment is lower than the national average, and voters have generally told pollsters that they see the commonwealth as on the right track while the nation is on the wrong track.

Northam’s victory over GOP lobbyist and former George W. Bush aide Ed Gillespie — clinched much earlier than nervous Democrats had expected — left party leaders jubilant about their chances in the 2018 midterm elections, particularly in heavily suburban, Republican-held House districts that look much like the northern Virginia suburbs.

Gillespie distanced himself from Trump personally, but embraced much of the President’s agenda, including a focus on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. Gillespie also echoed Trump’s calls to keep Confederate monuments in place and invoked NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

But Trump immediately disavowed the GOP candidate Tuesday night even as votes were still being counted.

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!” Trump tweeted.

Democrats also made significant down-ballot gains in Virginia. Justin Fairfax won the lieutenant governor’s against Republican Jill Holtzman Vogel, a state senator known for her sponsorship of a 2012 bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo vaginal ultrasounds. Social issues were prominent in another statewide race, where Democratic attorney general Mark Herring defeated Republican challenger John Adams, who has hit Herring for his refusal to defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

And Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was the Virginia TV reporter killed on live television in 2015, won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Around the country

Murphy’s Garden State win will return the state to Democratic control after eight years under the leadership Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Murphy defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in a state where Christie’s unpopularity — with approval ratings in the teens, making him the least-liked governor in the country — proved too much to overcome.

Elsewhere in the country, New York City, Atlanta and other cities are electing mayors. And in Utah, CNN projects voters picked Republican John Curtis to be a replacement for the retired former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, also a Republican.

In New York City, de Blasio — who campaigned with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and has fashioned himself as a leading progressive voice — easily won a second term.

Across the country in Washington, a state senate match-up will decide whether Democrats take control of the chamber — and therefore land the “trifecta” of control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office.

Gillespie, Northam appealed to base voters

Gillespie leaned hard into the cultural battle in the race’s final days.

His campaign’s closing message was that Democrats had gone too far and portrayed all Republicans as racists — pointing to a Latino Victory Fund ad that showed four minority children being chased through the streets by a white man driving a pick-up truck with a Confederate flag and a Gillespie bumper sticker. The group spent just $30,000 to air the ad and pulled it almost immediately, but Gillespie’s campaign still seized on it.

Despite the ad strategy designed to turn out Trump voters, Gillespie and Trump never campaigned together, despite Trump spending 15 days at his Virginia golf course between Gillespie’s primary win and the general election. Trump recorded a robocall on Gillespie’s behalf that went to some voters Monday night and Tuesday, and tweeted urging voters to back Gillespie.

Gillespie had mimicked Trump’s tactics — attacking Northam over sanctuary cities while saying he would not remove Confederate Civil War monuments. A Gillespie mailer also referenced the controversy over protests by NFL players. “You’d never take a knee … so take a stand on Election Day,” the mailer reads.

But he has kept personal distance from Trump: The two didn’t campaign together at all, despite Trump visiting his own golf course in Virginia 15 times after Gillespie won the Republican nomination.

Republicans nationally were closely watching to see if Gillespie’s approach works or whether he got too close to Trump for suburban voters’ comfort, or strayed too far away from the President to win over his rural, white base.

Northam, meanwhile, has struggled to motivate the black voters who make up the Democratic base. Former President Barack Obama urged Democrats not to get “complacent” in non-presidential elections during an October rally with Northam in Richmond.

Preliminary exit polls found that Gillespie’s focus on keeping Confederate monuments in place could be popular with Virginia voters — particularly Republicans and independents. Ninety-five percent of Republicans said the monuments should remain in place, and nearly eight in 10 independents agreed. Meanwhile, about seven in 10 Democrats said the statues should be removed.

Helping Northam, though, could be Trump’s 43% approval rating among those who voted, according to the preliminary exit polls. Fifty-five percent of Virginia voters said they disapprove of how Trump is handling his job.

The Virginia race carries national importance as a gauge of how voters are reacting to Trump a year into his presidency — and also because the state is a proving ground for both parties’ approaches in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats hope to take control of the House and Republicans seek to expand their 52-48 Senate majority.

The election takes place with Trump overseas on a 13-day Asia trip. The President had thrown his political capital heavily behind Sen. Luther Strange in an Alabama Republican Senate primary in September — but Strange lost to former judge Roy Moore, and Trump has been much less involved in subsequent races, although he continues to tweet to help Gillespie.

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Chris Christie won’t be charged in ‘Bridgegate’ scandal

New York (CNN)New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will not be charged with misconduct in the so called “Bridgegate” scandal, Bergen County prosecutors said Friday.

The prosecutor’s office said it didn’t believe it could show the charge in court.
    A statement from a governor’s spokesman thanked Gurbir S. Grewal’s staff for termination “this baseless fiasco.”
      “It is right and appropriate that this injustice against the governor is finally over,” spokesman Brian Murray said.
      A probable cause hearing on a criminal summons was scheduled for next Thursday in municipal court. The New Jersey resident who filed the charge and summons considers the hearing will be held.
      Two individuals are convicted on the lane closures in the scandal.
      Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York were convicted in November of fraud, conspiracy and civil rights violations.
      Brennan’s charge was filed in the their trial on the heels of testimony.
      Christie has denied knowing regarding the closures.

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      Categories CNN

      Skeletal government: As Trump takes over, hundreds of jobs will be unfilled

      (CNN)Senate Democrats are stimulating a mad racket in Washington nowadays, questioning the certifications of Donald Trump’s Cabinet candidates and threatening to postpone verifications up until they get more responses. As has actually typically occurred in previous presidencies, a few candidates might quickly decrease to beat. However, Republicans keep the advantage and needs to dominate in many cases, maybe pin down posts in nationwide security by this weekend.

      But in the middle of this furor, there is a quieter, concealed story that might end up being a lot more crucial: the significantly apparent truth that even when his Cabinet is authorized, Trump will still have just a shell of a group to assist him lead the greatest, most complicated, and crucial federal government on the planet.
          Whether or not you like Trump, this is a bad method to run a nation and is extremely harmful for America’s wellness. The world today is teetering on condition; unpredictability has actually sneaked into financial circles, too. From Day One, choice makers here and abroad will be wanting to Trump and his group to see where they wish to go and how they wish to arrive. He cannot do this alone. Many of his Cabinet and his senior personnel have actually never ever served in federal government, much less the White House.
          When difficulty strikes, he and his leading therapists will frantically require experienced pros at the sub-Cabinet level to offer guidance and to perform the policies of the President. That foundation will not be there anytime quickly.
          Consider these numbers published Wednesday by The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service. By their numeration, President Trump has 690 “essential positions” to fill that need Senate verification. Since 48 hours prior to the inauguration, Trump had actually called just 28 of the 690, less than 4%. That suggests that when the Trump group goes to deal with Friday afternoon, some 96% of their crucial workplaces will be empty.

          Traditionally, the 4 most vital departments for running the federal government are Defense, State, Treasury and Justice. Here are the number of those crucial positions at each the Trump group should fill:
          Defense – 53
          State – 263
          Treasury – 27
          Justice – 27
          How numerous elections have been revealed for each of these departments? Valuable couple of– just the Cabinet member in each case other than for State, where the UN ambassador has actually likewise been revealed. In all 4 of these crucial departments, not a single deputy secretary, nor undersecretary, nor assistant secretary has actually been revealed.
          To be sure, much of those positions at State are for ambassadors to little nations, and those tasks are frequently uninhabited for stretches of time. It has actually likewise been assuring to hear that Robert Kimmitt seems the leading option for deputy secretary of state: He is premium and has deep experience in diplomacy.

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          Even so, Cabinet secretaries in almost every department will be house alone for weeks and maybe months. Where will they rely on discover relied on confidantes to draw and think about up complicated options to public law issues? Who will exist to handle the huge armies of civil servants who desire and require crisp, clear management?
          Who will they send out to Europe and Asia to relax tense nerves about Trump? Who will go to possible peace talks on Syria? Or to make sure that our homeland is secured versus brand-new risks? Or to affirm to many congressional committees requiring responses about difficult issues?
          Yet, let’s be clear: The Trump group should have criticism, too, having actually made the recruitment procedure a lot more extended and troublesome. He wisely selected a shift group throughout the fall project– a should nowadays– however then, inexplicably, fired his shift chief, Chris Christie, and basically beheaded the Christie group. That was a substantial blow to the procedure. Due to the fact that they were so uncertain of winning, it didn’t assist that numerous on the Trump group likewise invested little effort in the shift procedure. As an outcome, the group lagged in the shift from the start and has actually never ever completely recuperated.
          Numerous reports have actually emerged of how gradually the Trump management has actually sent out shift groups to consult with Obama’s designated shift leaders. Those who have actually gone to have actually frequently appeared less thinking about how the Obama folks have actually run things than how the Trump folks can alter them. Like Trump himself, they see themselves as disrupters.
          One may have believed that Trump, as a CEO of a stretching business, would have comprehended how important strong management would remain in federal government and he would have studied the most effective Republican shift in contemporary times– that of Ronald Reagan.

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          After 8 years as guv of California, Reagan really understood rather a lot about arranging a federal government. In the middle of the 1980 project, Reagan asked among the nation’s finest headhunters, Pendleton James, to produce a little group to start recognizing potential customers, gathering resumes and making initial background checks. The procedure was so extensive that throughout his shift, when Reagan would reveal a Cabinet choice, Pen would appear on the doorstep of the candidate the next day with a thick note pad listing 3 prospective options for each sub-Cabinet position. The candidate might ask or make the call for more names. Reagan struck the ground running.
          By contrast, the Trump group ought to likewise have actually studied the case of President George W. Bush. Coming off the long recount in Florida, Bush had actually a truncated shift. He rallied and had an unexpected variety of Cabinet officers validated by the time of his inauguration. Then the procedure slowed to a more conventional rate.
          We will never ever understand if the attacks of 9/11 might have been prevented if they had actually happened later on in his administration when he had a complete group on the field. We do understand this from a research study by Paul Light at the Brookings Institution: Seven weeks after the terrorist attacks, “half of the 164 positions included in the war were still uninhabited (22%) or filled by somebody who had actually shown up after July 1. These essential positions consisted of the undersecretaries of the Air Force and Army, the assistant to the secretary of defense for nuclear, biological and chemical defense programs, the director of the National Institutes of Health, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, the deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and the deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
          Bottom line: Putting together a federal government has actually ended up being an extremely long procedure in this nation. It is definitely one of the most immediate duties now for our brand-new leaders on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

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        Scott Walker says building Canada border wall is a ‘legitimate issue’ – Trending Stuff

        Scott Walker says building Canada border wall is a ‘legitimate issue’ – Trending Stuff

        The GOP candidate said voters have raised concerns to him about terrorists entering US from north, as immigration has become hot-button Republican topic

        The Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said on Sunday that building a wall on the US northern border with Canada was a legitimate issue for us to look at.

        Asked in an interview on NBC if he wanted to build a wall on the Canadian border, the Wisconsin governor cited his experience talking to voters including some law enforcement folks in New Hampshire, an early voting state in the Republican primaries. Such people, he said, were concerned about terrorists potentially crossing over from Canada.

        They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago, Walker said. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at.

        In recent months, with the rise of Donald Trump in polls concerning the Republican presidential field, political debate in the US has focused on illegal immigration and the desirability and feasibility of building a wall on the southern border, with Mexico.

        However, concerns about the border with Canada, a country that has witnessed two attacks by Islamist terrorists in the past year, have so far gone unaddressed.

        Immigration and border security remains a live issue in the Republican primary. Another candidate trailing Trump in the polls, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, on Saturday told an audience in New Hampshire he would ask the chief executive of FedEx to devise a system to track illegal immigrants like packages.

        Walker has come under scrutiny on immigration, recently for holding apparently shifting positions on whether to amend the constitution in order to end birthright citizenship. On Sunday, he repeatedly said that was not an issue he considered a priority.

        Whether its talking about the 14th amendment or anything else, until we secure the border and enforce the laws, we shouldnt be talking about any other issue out there, he said.

        Walker did not only address border security and immigration. He also discussed issues including the incarceration rate for African Americans in Wisconsin, which is the highest in the nation, and the states last place in rankings concerning opportunity for African American children.

        Walker dodged any blame for such statistics, pointing a finger instead at politicians in Wisconsins largest city.

        Part of it is, I think, some of the poor policies in the city of Milwaukee, he said.

        Walker went on to tout his efforts in pushing charter schools and fighting against union control in Milwaukee.

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