2020 elections
October 21, 2020

Russia and Iran have obtained voter registration information and Iran is using it to send disinformation to voters, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced during a Wednesday night news conference.

Ratcliffe said these "actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries," while Wray stated Americans "should be confident that your vote counts. Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism."

Democratic voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, and at least two other battleground states have reported receiving emails claiming to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group. The intimidating emails tell recipients if they don't vote for President Trump, "we will come after you."

Ratcliffe, a Trump appointee, said Iran was behind some threatening emails sent to Americans, and while he did not give any specific details, he did say they were "designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump." This immediately received pushback from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who tweeted, "Actually, [Department of Homeland Security] officials say that Iran sent spoofed emails to intimidate voters FOR Donald Trump. Are you being fully honest with the American people?"

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner tweeted a copy of an email his friend received, purportedly from the Proud Boys, and he said "by its very terms, it's designed to HURT Biden!" Ratcliffe, Kirschner added, shared "disinformation" in an attempt to "energize Trump's base." Catherine Garcia

October 12, 2020

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Monday sent the state's Republican Party a cease and desist letter, saying they needed to immediately stop accepting ballots in unauthorized drop boxes.

Becerra and Padilla also requested a list of voters who used the unofficial drop off boxes, so they can make sure the ballots were put in the containers with their permission, the Los Angeles Times reports. The California Republican Party has until Thursday to turn over these names.

Over the weekend, a state GOP official in Orange County shared a photo on social media showing him dropping off a ballot in a private container that was marked "official ballot drop off box," and similar collection boxes were also spotted in the Los Angeles and Fresno areas.

Padilla told reporters on Monday that "unofficial, unauthorized ballot drop boxes are not permitted by state law. Political parties and campaigns can engage in get-out-the-vote efforts, but they cannot violate state law." On Sunday, the head of the secretary of state's enforcement division sent a memo to county officials saying they are the only ones who have "the authority to designate the location, hours of operation, and number of drop boxes in the county."

California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas said on Monday that the box in Orange County was purchased by the party, but he would not say how many others are out there. The state GOP is rejecting the assertion that these boxes are illegal, arguing that they are acceptable under a 2016 law that allows voters to turn their ballots over to someone else to drop off. Read more at the Los Angeles Times. Catherine Garcia

August 11, 2020

Marjorie Taylor Greene, an adherent of the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory who has previously expressed racist views in videos, won Tuesday's Republican primary runoff in Georgia's 14th Congressional District.

Greene, the owner of a construction company, defeated John Cowan, a neurosurgeon. She will face off against Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal, an IT specialist, in November. The district is considered a Republican stronghold.

In June, Politico reported that Greene uploaded videos to her Facebook page in which she made derogatory comments about Black people, Muslims, and the Jewish philanthropist and investor George Soros. Her remarks were condemned by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), but he did not take sides in the House race. Catherine Garcia

August 4, 2020

Five states are holding primaries on Tuesday — Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Michigan, and Washington — and the most-watched race is the Republican primary for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Eleven Republicans are vying for a shot to face likely Democratic nominee state Sen. Barbara Bollier, but the race is a dead heat between Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race, and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). Senate Republicans are backing Marshall, warning that a Kobach victory could lead to the state's first Democratic senator in nearly 100 years. Several conservative groups are backing Kobach. A Democratic group has attacked Marshall, effectively helping Kobach. President Trump has not endorsed either candidate.

In Kansas' 2nd Congressional District, newly indicted Rep. Steve Watkins (R) faces a serious primary challenge from state Treasurer Jake LaTurner, with the winner facing Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla (D). In Michigan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) has a tough rematch against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones; Tlaib beat Jones in the 2018 primary, but Jones held the seat for a few months after besting Tlaib in a concurrent special election to fill the vacant seat. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) faces a potentially serious challenge in Missouri's 1st District from Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush, backed by the democratic-socialist group Justice Democrats.

Both parties are targeting the Michigan seat being vacated by Rep. Justin Amash (I), with Democrat Hillary Scholten running unopposed and two Republicans — supermarket heir Peter Meijer and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis — battling each other and three trailing candidates. In Arizona, Democrats are trying to oust Rep. David Schweikert (R), and will likely nominate former emergency room doctor Hiral Tipirneni, and Republicans are aiming to unseat Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D), in a primary pitting farmer and lawyer Tiffany Shedd against lawyer Nolan Reidhead. Peter Weber

August 3, 2020

Former President Barack Obama unveiled his first round of 2020 endorsements on Monday, and he's got his eyes on Texas, at least at the local level.

Obama is endorsing 27 Democratic candidates in Texas, including 19 for the state House, where Democrats need to win nine seats to grab the majority. The focus seems to make sense for Obama, The New York Times notes, because Texas districts will be redrawn after the 2020 census, and Democrats want to gain a foothold before that happens. The former president has made it a priority to back candidates whom the National Democratic Redistricting Committee has labeled key to the redistricting process.

He decided to stay out of Texas' Senate race between incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and his Democratic challenger MJ Hegar, however. Obama similarly avoided other key Senate races in Republican states, including Montana, Kentucky, and Georgia, where his public support may not provide a boost, or could even prove harmful.

In races at the national level, Obama endorsed 52 Democratic House candidates and five for the Senate in battleground states, and he's set to announce a second wave of endorsements for states who have yet to hold their primaries. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

July 15, 2020

Former White House physician Ronny Jackson won Tuesday's Republican primary in Texas' deep-red 13th Congressional District, beating agricultural lobbyist Josh Winegarner and almost certainly punching his ticket to Congress. Winegarner was endorsed by outgoing Rep. Mac Thornberry (R), but President Trump had thrown his support behind Jackson, who served as the White House physician from 2006 to 2018.

Trump had nominated Jackson to be head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, but he withdrew his name and left the White House amid allegations of professional misconduct, including being drunk on the job, overprescribing medication, and creating a hostile work environment.

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R), who represented the 32nd District in the Dallas area from 1996 until his loss in 2018, won his primary race against Renee Swann in the Waco-based 17th District, 100 miles south. He is also expected to win in November.

In Austin, lawyer Mike Siegel won the Democratic primary to face off against Rep. Michael McCaul (R) in the 10th District, setting up a repeat of 2018's close election. The district, which stretches from Austin to Houston, was gerrymandered for Republicans but the area is trending more liberal. In the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs, Candace Valenzuela won the Democratic primary to fight Republican former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne for the open 24th District seat.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls won the Republican primary in the Houston-area 2nd District and will face former foreign service officer Sri Kulkarni, who lost to outgoing Rep. Pete Olson (R) in 2018. The Republican primary in the 23rd District, reprinted by retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R), is too close to call between Tony Gonzales, backed by Trump, and Raul Reyes, supported by Sen. Ted Cruz (R). The winner will face Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who almost unseated Hurd in 2018. Peter Weber

July 15, 2020

Mary "MJ" Hegar, an Air Force veteran, beat longtime Texas state Sen. Royce West (D) in Tuesday's Texas Democratic Senate primary runoff, and she'll face Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November. Hegar, who narrowly to lost Rep. John Carter (R) in 2018, was long considered the likely winner of the primary, but West, who is Black, gained momentum in the final weeks as racial justice gained prominence as an issue.

"As a working mom who's lived many of the challenges facing working families across the state, I'm so proud to lead the effort to take back our state from politicians like John Cornyn who are more D.C. than Texas," Hegar said in a victory statement. Cornyn, evidently considering Hegar the riskier opponent, "launched a late advertisement designed to look like he was attacking West's liberal positions," The Washington Post reports. "Instead, the ad aimed to boost West." The Cook Political Report rates the race Likely Republican.

President Trump won Texas by 9 percentage points, and Republicans feel safer about Cornyn's chances than those of Sen. Ted Cruz (R) when he narrowly won re-election in 2018. But Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are neck-and-neck in Texas polls this year, and Biden even started airing a Texas-specific ad in the state on Tuesday.

"Trump's campaign on Tuesday laughed off the small new investment, and even some Democrats were skeptical of Biden's chances in Texas," The Associated Press notes. "Yet Biden's modest step into a state that hasn't backed a Democrat for president in 44 years reflected the extent to which the pandemic threatens to scramble the electoral map this fall." Peter Weber

July 8, 2020

Amy Kennedy, a former school teacher, won New Jersey's hard-fought 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary Tuesday, setting up a contest against Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), a first-term congressman who left the Democratic Party after the House impeached President Trump, offering Trump his "undying support." The state's primary election, held almost entirely by mail, had originally been scheduled for June 3.

"My message to Jeff Van Drew tonight is we have had enough and we demand better," Kennedy said. "We have had enough division and hate and selfishness. We have had enough of being abandoned and mistreated and forgotten. We have had enough of you and Donald Trump."

Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and daughter-in-law of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison, a college professor and political commentator backed by South New Jersey Democratic party boss George Norcross, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D), Sens. Cory Booker (D) and Bob Menendez (D), and six of the district's eight counties. Gov. Phil Murphy (D), progressive groups, and the district's Atlantic City Democrats supported Kennedy.

"State officials had said they could not recall Norcross' operatives losing a primary in this part of New Jersey," The Washington Post reports. "Candidates backed by Norcross and Sweeney don't typically suffer losses on their South Jersey turf," Politico confirms. Harrison and Norcross both quickly offered their support for Kennedy against Van Drew, a former Norcross protégé.

The race is expected to be highly competitive. Before the 2018 elections, New Jersey's congressional delegation was split evenly between six Democrats and six Republicans; after the election, only one Republican was left standing, until Van Drew switched parties. Peter Weber

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