The Virginia governor’s contest is testing the volatile politics of immigration, race, security, and Trumpism’s appeal in a big battleground state – livened up by imagery that’s ranged from torches in Charlottesville to Confederate monuments to athletes taking a knee.
For Democrats in particular, everything seems to be on the line. It’s the kind of race in the kind of state with the kind of candidate that the Democrats simply need to win, both to show that they can and to govern through the next round of redistricting.
While Democrats seem assured of an easy victory today in New Jersey, Virginia has proven problematic for reasons that are achingly familiar to a party still looking to get past the battles that defined the last election cycle.
Democrat Ralph Northam has faced a restless left, worries about minority turnout, and an aggressive rival in Republican Ed Gillespie, who’s trying to thread an establishment needle in the Trump-era. If Northam falls short, it will be said that Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s lieutenant governor ran a Clinton-era playbook and lost.
In terms of motivation for the midterms, this week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll should be a wakeup call for Democrats.
Only 27 percent of Americans say they have confidence in Democrats to make the right decisions for the country.
Trump may have dismally low approval ratings, but his number on that same measure is 34.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
While the reaction from national lawmakers to the tragic mass murder in Sutherland Springs, Texas has sounded rather rote, the terrible shooting perhaps highlights the potential impact of the many state legislature seats also up for grabs today.
With Washington’s growing intransigence on the gun control issue, violence prevention activists have largely turned their attention to local politics and have found some success.
Jessica Post, the executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a national organization that supports state candidates, points to a number of issues, in fact, where Democrats in particular have seen an opening and a reason to rally on the state level in the era of Trump.
“There is increased national focus on state legislative races as people understand that they are obviously very impactful for things like re-districting, climate change, access to birth control, and voting rights. Those are all the things defined in the states,” she told ABC News in an interview. “The first firewall against Trump right now is actually in the states.”
A few local races to watch:
A special election for a state Senate seat in Washington could flip that state’s legislature from red to blue and give Democrats full control of the state’s government.
In Georgia, a special election for a state Senate seat could decide if Republicans hold a super-majority in that state.
And in Virginia, two candidates are vying to perhaps be the state’s first Latina legislators. Danica Roem has gained national attention as an openly transgender candidate in that state.
The TIP with Jack Date
Rick Gates, who is under house arrest following his indictment, has been granted permission to leave his home to vote in today’s Virginia election.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Gates can leave his home as long as he notifies pretrial services of when and where he plans to vote.
If convicted, Gates could lose his right to vote in future elections.
Gates and President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, were indicted on charges including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and working as unregistered foreign agents.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
Join us tonight for Your Voice, Your Vote 2017, our live coverage of the biggest races of the year and a look back on the one year anniversary of Trump’s election. Starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC News will be covering all the races – including the big contests in Virginia and New Jersey – livestreaming on ABCNews.com/LIVE and on ABC News’ Facebook and YouTube pages, plus our OTT platforms including Apple TV and Roku. Join Mary Bruce, Rick Klein, Tom Llamas, Amna Nawraz, Jonathan Karl, Tara Palmeri, Stephanie Ramos, Kenneth Moton, MaryAlice Parks, John Santucci and the rest of the ABC News team, along with ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd and Kristen Soltis Anderson and Margie Omero, co-hosts of “The Pollsters” podcast. We’ll bring you the latest on the exit polls and vote totals, and what it says about the state of the country a year into Trump’s election and ahead of the 2018 mid-terms, with a special behind-the-scenes look at our DC newsroom in action.
All polls are expected to close at 7 p.m. EST in Virginia, 8 p.m. EST in New Jersey and 9 p.m. EST in New York City.
Donna Brazile, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman and author of the new book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House” is a guest on ABC’s “The View” today.
The new miniseries, inspired by the non-fiction book by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, “The Long Road Home” airs tonight on National Geographic at 9 p.m. ET. Read an excerpt of the book and watch the “Good Morning America” interview with Raddatz and the cast.
President Trump wrapped up his South Korea trip today. In a joint-press conference with President Moon Jae-In, Trump urged North Korea to “come to the table and to make a deal” and said extreme vetting for the Texas shooter would have made “no difference.” Trump heads to China next on his 13-day, 5 nation tour of Asia.
The House Ways and Means committee holds its second day of markup on the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act unveiled last week.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Ultimately, it will all work out. It always works out. It has to work out.” — President Trump on the diplomatic crisis with North Korea.
NEED TO READ
Dallas man arrested near White House after allegedly threatening to kill ‘all white police’. A man was arrested Monday near the White House Monday for allegedly threatening to kill “all white police” at the residence. (Paola Chavez) http://abcn.ws/2iCN16D
Pence to visit shooting victims, first responders in Texas Wednesday. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence will travel to Sutherland Springs, Texas, Wednesday, the site of a mass shooting at a church Sunday that left 26 people dead and 20 more injured. (Adam Kelsey) http://abcn.ws/2zo9qPl
Air Force failed to report Texas suspect’s convictions to FBI. The Air Force failed to submit information about Texas church shooting suspect Devin Kelley’s convictions to the FBI, the Air Force said Monday. (Luis Martinez, Jack Date, Trish Turner) http://abcn.ws/2hiaiOO
Trump says extreme vetting for Texas shooter would have made ‘no difference’. President Trump said Tuesday that new gun laws would have made “no difference” in preventing the massacre at a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 people dead. (Alexander Mallin) http://abcn.ws/2zoxNdK
Trump urges North Korea to ‘come to the table’ and ‘make a deal.’ President Trump on Tuesday said he sees progress in the steps his administration has taken on North Korea, suggesting he could “make a deal” with the regime, but would not say whether he still believes direct talks are a waste of time. (Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2m1ATB0
Carter Page told Trump campaign officials about Moscow trip, promised ‘incredible insights and outreach.’ Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he alerted several top Trump campaign officials about a planned trip to Moscow in July of 2016, and notified others when he returned. (Benjamin Siegel) http://abcn.ws/2hPiinA
Mystery deepens over assault on Sen. Rand Paul. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is recovering at his Bowling Green home after being physically assaulted Friday afternoon by a neighbor. The assailant – 59-year-old Rene Boucher – was arrested by Kentucky State Police and charged with fourth-degree assault, authorities said. (Ali Rogin) http://abcn.ws/2AnkTN3
Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross denies knowing of financial links to Russian oligarchs. Ross is one of a number of wealthy individuals and corporations whose use of offshore tax havens as detailed in the “Paradise Papers.” (Jeffrey Cook) http://abcn.ws/2j4GllP
Trump administration is ending protective immigration status for Nicaraguans, delays decision for Hondurans. The Department of Homeland Security has ended Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua, meaning that the 2,500 Nicaraguans living in the U.S. under that special status have 14 months to leave the country. (Conor Finnegan and Geneva Sands) http://abcn.ws/2AfsWL4
McClatchy’s Washington Bureau predicts political spending for the 2018 election cycle will shatter records. http://bit.ly/2Afh1g1
NPR reports that the Washington state Senate contest is drawing hefty donations from across the country. http://n.pr/2hJACyk