The old adage “all politics is local” seems to apply less often than ever. But it may make a comeback in gubernatorial races this year, as a few states that don’t have much swing at the national level have highly competitive races on their hands.
— Even as the number of “crossover” districts in Congress has shrunk, governor’s races have always been a little more independent from national politics. At this point, though, most states we think of as Democratic have Democratic governors, the Republican ones have Republican governors, and the swing states, appropriately, have a mix — with a GOP advantage after the 2010 wave election.
— 2014 could scramble the map, though. In addition to a number of highly competitive battleground state campaigns, some of the most likely governorships to change parties this year are in non-traditional locations. Long-unpopular Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), for example, trails in his own party’s polling against Bruce Rauner (R). Quinn’s made comebacks before, but he’s also never faced an opponent as formidable as Rauner. Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) is locked in a tight rematch with Tom Foley (R) — again, according to Democrats’ own polling.
— But Democrats also have good opportunities in a few red states. There hasn’t been a public, live-caller survey in Kansas yet, but almost every robopoll in the past few months has shown state Rep. Paul Davis (D) leading controversial Gov. Sam Brownback (R). And in Georgia, nagging ethics stories continue to weigh down Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in a tough race versus Jimmy Carter‘s grandson, state Sen. Jason Carter (D).
Just a few years back, Democrats held the governorships of Wyoming and Oklahoma, and Republicans held five of six states in New England. We’re not expecting anything quite that dramatic in 2014, but the governor’s map could move back in that direction.
— Scott Bland
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."