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Governors' Races in NJ and VA

5 things to watch in the Virginia and New Jersey governors races. Politico: "The premier election of 2017 could steel Democrats’ spines Tuesday night — or break their hearts. A win in the tight, closely watched Virginia governor’s race between Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie would reassure the party that it can win big campaigns again and give it momentum heading into the 2018 midterms. But a defeat — especially after Northam led public polling throughout the campaign in a state President Donald Trump lost last year — would be a huge psychological blow to a Democratic Party still reeling from the 2016 presidential election. As an extra gut punch, a Gillespie win would likely put a whopping 27th state government under Republican control. Democrats are overwhelmingly favored to take back the governorship in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie is wildly unpopular and has dragged down Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in her race against Democrat Phil Murphy. The polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern in Virginia and 8 p.m. in New Jersey."

Maine Votes On Medicaid Expansion

Maine Voters Will Decide If They Want More Access To Medicaid. NPR: "Maine is one of 19 states that rejected Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. But on Tuesday, it could be the first to approve it at the ballot box. Question 2 asks Maine voters if they want to provide roughly 70,000 Mainers with health care coverage by expanding eligibility of Medicaid, known as MaineCare. It provides health coverage for people living at or near the poverty line. The national battle over Medicaid expansion began with a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that conservatives originally hoped would hobble the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature legislative achievement. But instead of repealing the law's individual mandate requiring that most Americans obtain health insurance, the court upheld it. The court then struck down a provision requiring all states to expand eligibility of Medicaid. That surprise 2012 court ruling shifted the political battle. While the GOP-led House of Representatives would go on to take over 50 symbolic ACA repeal votes, progressive and conservative activists descended on state legislatures to fight over Medicaid expansion."

How Democrats Are Winning In Oklahoma

Democrats in OK are doing something unusual: Winning their elections. WaPo: "A month before, he was a middle school geography teacher driving a Chrysler PT Cruiser with no air conditioning, knocking on doors at the end of a hot Oklahoma summer. Now, he is the poster boy for a national party desperate to rebuild its bench. Rosecrants is a Democrat who won in a district that is 60 percent Republican. He is one of three Democrats who have won GOP legislative districts in Oklahoma special elections in the months since President Trump won 65 percent of the vote in one of the country’s most conservative states. National Democratic Party leaders have rejoiced over these victories — along with five other recent wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida in districts that had voted for Trump — as evidence that the chaotic presidency may be creating opportunities for Democrats to capture more seats in next year’s state and congressional elections. 'A beacon of hope,' said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the party’s strategy arm for legislative races."

Trump Rejects 'Extreme Vetting' For Gun Sales

Trump dismisses question on extreme vetting for gun ownership. CNN: "President Donald Trump said Tuesday 'there would have been no difference three days ago" in the deadly Texas shooting if an extreme vetting policy for gun ownership had been in place... Trump has called for 'extreme vetting' of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries in response to terrorist incidents. But he has resisted any action on gun laws in response to the deadly mass shootings that have occurred during his time in office."

How Closing Public Schools Undermines Democracy

How closing public schools undermines democracy. Alternet: "Chicago shuttered some 50 schools in 2013. Since then, voter turnout and support for Democrats in the affected neighborhoods has plunged. What's the connection? We’re basically finding that support among the African American community for the Democratic Party, specifically in areas where closures occurred, decreased in a really substantial way. You actually see lower levels of participation, higher levels of negative attitudes toward people who are in the same parties in which most of these people identify, which is the Democratic Party. Beyond that, you see these communities are further losing population. There’s less will, or less faith, in the traditional public school system across this population, because they are afraid they’re going to be betrayed again, they’re going to have to move schools again, and that’s a very volatile situation. Then there is the economic piece, and the fact that the number of African American teachers in Chicago has declined by 40%."

Woman Who Gave Trump The Bird Gets Fired

She flipped off President Trump — and got fired from her government contracting job. WaPo: "It was the middle-finger salute seen around the world. Juli Briskman’s protest aimed at the presidential motorcade that roared past her while she was on her cycling path in Northern Virginia late last month became an instantly viral photo. Turns out it has now cost the 50-year-old marketing executive her job. On Halloween, after Briskman gave her bosses at Akima, a government contracting firm, a heads-up that she was the unidentified cyclist in the photo, they took her into a room and fired her, she said, escorting her out of the building with a box of her things."

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