Bruce Rauner has emerged as the heavy favorite to win this month’s Republican gubernatorial primary, and polling shows him running evenly with Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in a solidly Democratic state. It’s setting up for one of the cycle’s most intriguing gubernatorial contests in President Obama’s old backyard.
— Rauner is a first time candidate, but his success at winning over top donors and conservatives alike prove he’s capable of running a sophisticated campaign. His rhetoric against “government union bosses” in Springfield has spurred comparisons to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, prompting labor to mobilize on Quinn’s behalf. Illinois will be one of many Midwestern gubernatorial battlegrounds where the clout of unions will be tested.
— Quinn lost 98 of the state’s 102 counties in 2010 but his victory margins were significant enough in Cook County to offset deep losses everywhere else. Rauner’s task is to chip away at Quinn’s firewall of support by winning just enough Democrats and independents here to win statewide. The X-factor: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He’s close friends with Rauner and has a frosty relationship with Quinn.
— Former Emanuel adviser Tom Bowen predicted the race will be a “barnburner” with Rauner’s money allowing him to make inroads around Chicago, where Republicans have struggled recently. Rauner’s socially-moderate, fiscally-conservative positioning should play well in the suburbs, but Democrats will work to portray him as the second coming of Mitt Romney.
A Quinn loss would be the second home-state setback for the White House, after Democrats lost the president’s Senate seat to Mark Kirk in the 2010 midterms. Already facing a tough midterm landscape, Obama could see his home-state governorship fall to Republicans — to a friend of his former chief of staff, no less.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."