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Trump faces a political test in Ohio as five states cast votes

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President Donald Trump faces a test of his political influence on Tuesday in a special congressional election in Ohio that has become a referendum on his leadership and a last chance to gauge Democratic strength ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The Ohio race for a U.S. House of Representatives seat headlines a day of voting across the country that also features primaries in four other states. Other key contests include a Democratic battle for governor in Michigan between a progressive and a mainstream candidate and a high-profile conservative challenge to the incumbent Republican governor in Kansas.

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Trump charged into the Ohio race, the final special election before November. He visited the reliably Republican 12th Congressional District over the weekend to try to head off an upset after polls showed a tightening battle between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor.

The district, split between suburban Columbus and rural areas, has been represented by a Republican since the early 1980s. Trump carried it by 11 percentage points in the 2016 presidential race.

But O’Connor has wiped out most or all of Balderson’s lead in polls, and a Democratic win would set off alarm bells for Republicans already worried by a series of strong performances in special elections by Democrats in the Trump era.

“A month ago this race was flying under the radar, but it has become nationalized and become more of a referendum on Trump, which really generates Democratic enthusiasm,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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A Monmouth poll last week showed the race was essentially a dead heat, down from a double-digit advantage for Balderson a month ago. In addition to more Democrats expressing high interest in the race, Murray said the shift was driven by independents unhappy with the status quo under Trump.

Democrats must pick up 23 seats in the House and two seats in the U.S. Senate to gain control of those chambers and put a brake on Trump’s agenda. All 435 House seats, 35 of 100 Senate seats and 36 of 50 governors’ offices are up for grabs in the Nov. 6 midterms.

Other well-known Republicans also trekked to Ohio, including Vice President Mike Pence. A Republican advocacy group aired an ad featuring praise for Balderson, a state lawmaker, from Ohio Governor John Kasich, a frequent critic of Trump.

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Republicans have tried to paint O’Connor, a local county official, as a liberal who would follow House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. But O’Connor has walked a more moderate line, saying he wants new party leadership in Congress and would work with Republicans, while also criticizing the Trump tax cut.

Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Washington also hold primaries on Tuesday.

The Democratic race for governor in Michigan offers the next test of the electoral power of the party’s progressive wing, with health director Abdul El-Sayed vying to become the country’s first Muslim governor against a more moderate Democrat, former state Senate leader Gretchen Whitmer.

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El-Sayed was endorsed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and campaigned recently with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young democratic socialist whose shocking New York primary upset in June made her a movement star.

In Kansas, prominent conservative Kris Kobach, a national leader in the movement to restrict illegal immigration and pass more restrictive voting laws, is challenging Governor Jeff Colyer for the Republican gubernatorial nomination on Tuesday.

Trump endorsed Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, on Monday. Kobach was an immigration adviser to Trump’s campaign in 2016 and was vice chairman of Trump’s commission to investigate voting fraud before the panel collapsed.

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Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Internet rains hell on Trump for comparing his impeachment to a ‘lynching’: ‘How dare you’

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump furiously took time Twitter, blasting the effort to impeach him over the Ukraine scandal as a "lynching" and threatening that a future Republican Congress will cook up charges against a Democratic president.

Trump's outburst did not impress many commenters on social media, who quickly dogpiled him in criticism and mockery:

You are seriously comparing your impeachment to hate crimes against African-Americans?

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Corrupt Ukraine oligarch has enlisted Trump allies to help with defense

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A Ukrainian oligarch fighting extradition to the U.S. has aligned his legal strategy to match President Donald Trump's, and even hired two attorneys associated with the president and Rudy Giuliani.

Dmytro Firtash is wanted in the United States on bribery and related charges, and he hired pro-Trump attorneys Joseph DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to help paint his prosecution as part of a global conspiracy involving Joe Biden, reported the Wall Street Journal.

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Entire staff in Trump’s chaotic White House ‘on thin ice’: NYT’s Haberman

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Appearing on CNN's "New Day," New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman addressed Donald Trump's threat to "terminate" the Times and revealed that White House aides are under the gun as the president's impeachment grows nearer.

Speaking with hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, Haberman a was asked about Trump's Monday threat to terminate the New York Times -- believed to mean the White House would be canceling its subscription -- and deadpanned that the venerable newspaper would probably survive the economic hit.

Host Camerota then asked about the status of embattled acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney who suffered a rough week after a disastrous press conference appearance and an equally disastrous Fox News interview.

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