Election Day is here, with a split verdict expected in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races. But even though Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D) are heavy favorites, respectively, there are many unanswered questions we’ll be tracking.
— New Jersey: Will Christie hit the magic 60% mark? He’s above it in two public polls released this week, below it in two others. If he does, it would provide the governor with a powerful talking point looking ahead to 2016. As important: Will Christie top 40% among Hispanic voters, a key voting bloc in New Jersey, and a high-water benchmark for George W. Bush‘s 2004 presidential campaign? Finally, will New Jersey Republicans pick up the five state Senate seats necessary to take over the upper chamber? It’s a long-shot, but read GovBeat’s Reid Wilson for the five races to watch — where the GOP needs a clean sweep.
— Virginia: McAuliffe is leading, but will he sweep the suburban strongholds? Pay close attention to Prince William, Loudoun Cos. (NoVa), Henrico and Chesterfield Cos. (Richmond) and Virginia Beach City and Chesapeake City (Tidewater). Now-Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) won all of these counties by double-digit margins; Ken Cuccinelli (R) could lose all of them, except Chesterfield (where Cuccinelli’s margins will be a telling bellwether). If that happened, it would signal how off-kilter Cuccinelli’s message was to middle-of-the-road voters. Meanwhile, pay close attention to the AG race. If Mark Herring (D) defeats Mark Obenshain (R), Dems should hold every statewide office for the first time since the Nixon administration in what was recently a GOP-friendly state.
Other races to watch: Will the business community be able to help one of their own, Bradley Byrne (R), against an underfunded socially-conservative activist Dean Young (R) in the AL-01 runoff? How will Wall Street react to an anticipated Bill de Blasio romp in NYC? In the Boston mayoral race, will a coalition of labor and minority support propel Marty Walsh (D) to a come-from-behind victory over more-moderate John Connolly (D)? And in Washington state, millions of dollars are being poured into a bellwether state Senate special election — which could offer clues about the national environment, and affect the balance of power in a divided state legislature.
Christie Stumps in Enemy Territory on Campaign’s Final Day
Outside Democratic groups investing their money downballot.
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"An emerging theory among U.S. military investigators is that the Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed in Niger were set up by terrorists, who were tipped off in advance about a meeting in a village sympathetic to local ISIS affiliates...The group of American Green Berets and support soldiers had requested a meeting with elders of a village that was seen as supportive of the Islamic State, and they attended the meeting at around 11 a.m. local time Oct. 4...Such meetings are a routine part of the Green Beret mission, but it wasn't clear whether this meeting was part of the unit's plan."
"The long-awaited sentencing of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was delayed Monday after a legal battle erupted over the word 'but' in President Donald Trump's most recent remarks about the case. Bergdahl's defense team argued that their client could not get a fair shake from the court because Trump, during a Rose Garden appearance on Oct. 16, at first said he couldn't talk about the case and then added: 'But I think people have heard my comments in the past.'" Trump has called him a traitor and suggested he should be executed.
"The Trump administration is coming under increased pressure from Congress to kill a landmark deal between Boeing and an Iranian airline known for engaging in terrorism over concerns the Western airline company would enable Tehran's transfer of militant fighters across the region, according to multiple sources, who told the Washington Free Beacon the administration is likely to nix the multi-billion dollar deal. The Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran paved the way for U.S. aerospace corporation Boeing to ink a deal with Iran's state-controlled airline, Iran Air, which was recently caught using its commercial planes to ferry Iranian militants to regional hotspots."
"Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort."