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Here’s why it will still be hard to beat Chris Collins — even though he might be going to jail for fraud

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Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) on Wednesday got arrested by FBI agents on securities fraud charges related to alleged insider trading of shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company where Collins himself is the largest majority shareholder.

Despite this, however, a Democratic pickup in Collins’ district will be very difficult to pull off, even though Collins is facing a likely prison sentence if he is ultimately convicted of fraud.

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In the first place, Collins’ district — New York’s 27th — has a strong Republican lean. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index, NY-27 rates as an R+11 district, which means a Republican running against a Democrat in the district starts out with a natural 11-point advantage.

Voters in NY-27 have also voted for Republicans in each of the last three presidential elections by 10 points or more — including backing President Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a margin of 25 points.

Added to this, Collins’ Democratic rival, Nate McMurray, is being badly outraised by his GOP counterpart so far this year. The Niagara Gazette reported last month that “McMurray’s campaign reported having $81,772 on hand — falling well below the $1.34 million campaign war chest reported by the Collins campaign in its report to the FEC.”

All the same, the battle against Collins isn’t completely hopeless.

In the first place, Democrats in 2018 have been significantly outperforming relative to what they’ve done in past congressional elections. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), for instance, overcame the odds and won an election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, which also has a partisan lean of R+11. And on Tuesday, Ohio Democrat Danny O’Connor came within one point of defeating a Republican in OH-12, which has a partisan lean of R+7.

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These Democratic candidates over-performed, for what it’s worth, against candidates who were not facing major scandals as Collins is right now.

Additionally, NY-27 was represented by a Democrat as recently as 2012, when Collins barely eked out a victory against incumbent Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul.

So while Collins would typically be a favorite to hold onto his seat even in a Democratic wave year, the securities fraud scandal might be enough to put his seat within reach.

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Six other Republicans have been linked to the same scandal as Collins.


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Former right-wing presidential candidate scamming Americans with toxic bleach cure

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Former diplomat and Reagan adviser Alan Keyes is a well-known gadfly who has run multiple times for president and for Senate, most famously against future President Barack Obama in 2004.

But lately, according to The Daily Beast, he has been involved in a different pursuit: the promotion of a dangerous pseudoscience scam known as the "Miracle Mineral Solution," or MMS.

The substance, which is actually just the powerful bleach chlorine dioxide, is supposedly a cure for everything from viral infections to infertility, and there was even a cultlike church known as the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, that promoted it as a gift from God. MMS has particularly taken root in developing countries like Uganda, but it also has a following in the United States, and many autistic children have been forced to drink it. Versions of this scam have even been promoted on Amazon.

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American exceptionalism is killing the planet

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Ever since 2007, when I first started writing for TomDispatch, I’ve been arguing against America’s forever wars, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that, despite my more than 60 articles, American blood is still being spilled in war after war across the Greater Middle East and Africa, even as foreign peoples pay a far higher price in lives lost and cities ruined. And I keep asking myself: Why, in this century, is the distinctive feature of America's wars that they never end? Why do our leaders persist in such repetitive folly and the seemingly eternal disasters that go with it?

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Joni Ernst accused of involvement in ‘dark money’ re-election scheme: report

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According to a report from the Associated Press, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has been accused of illegally working with an outside group to help her re-election prospects in a tough 2020 fight with Donald Trump on the ballot.

According to AP: "An outside group founded by top political aides to Sen. Joni Ernst has worked closely with the Iowa Republican to raise money and boost her reelection prospects, a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law."

"Iowa Values, a political nonprofit that is supposed to be run independently, was co-founded in 2017 by Ernst’s longtime consultant, Jon Kohan. It shares a fundraiser, Claire Holloway Avella, with the Ernst campaign," the report continued. "And a condo owned by a former aide — who was recently hired to lead the group — was used as Iowa Values’ address at a time when he worked for her."

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