Virginia GOP challenger confident in close House race that has outspent presidential campaigns

Millions of dollars have been spent so far on three congressional campaigns in hotly contested Virginia districts  — with one surpassing even the 2020 presidential campaigns and another close behind.

Advertising in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District topped $11 million earlier this week, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The 2nd District racked up more than $8 million.

Those races are roughly in the ballpark of the combined costs of advertising for President Trump and Joe Biden, which total more than $9 million.

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“I believe it’s one of the most expensive congressional races in the country already,” Joe Desilets, the campaign manager for the 7th District’s GOP candidate Nick Freitas told Fox News Thursday. “Just on TV and radio, there’s over $13 million between past and future spending in this election, and obviously there’s a ton more in mail, digital, and other campaign spending.”

Recent polls show him neck-and-neck with incumbent Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is serving her first term after flipping the district in 2018.

Freitas’ campaign and supportive PACs have spent more than $4.4 million so far, compared to Spanberger’s $6.6 million. But Freitas is breaking GOP fundraising records, according to Desilets.

“We feel great about where the race is right now, and it’s clear that the Democrats are increasingly worried,” Desilets said. “Every time we turn around, they add another million dollars in attack ads.”

VIRGINIA SENATE RACE SEES UNDERDOG GOP CHALLENGER CONFIDENT DESPITE UPHILL BATTLE

Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement officer and ex-CIA case officer, is the first Democrat to win election in the district since 1968.

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

While at least three congressional races in the state are close, polls show Biden with an advantage in the presidential race. Virginia went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and no Republican has won a statewide election there since 2009.

Still, ads supporting Biden have cost more than $6 million, roughly double what the other side has spent.

That combined total is barely ahead of the $8 million spent in the 2nd District race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria and GOP challenger Scott Taylor. Like Spanberger, Luria is serving her first term. She narrowly won the seat from Taylor two years ago.

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The 5th District race between Dr. Cameron Webb and Bob Good is also tight, with spending at around $4 million between the two camps.

The state’s Democratic Party summed the situation up simply in an email soliciting donations Thursday night.

“We’ve hit our fundraising goals every month this year, but here’s the thing: so have the Republicans.”

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House Democrats to unveil bill to create commission on ‘presidential capacity’

Trump responded to Pelosi’s initial comments on Thursday by tweeting that “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation. They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!”

Pelosi has repeatedly questioned Trump’s mental health and suggested that he needs an “intervention” from family members and White House advisers.

Pelosi suggested again on Thursday that the medications that Trump is taking for COVID-19 are causing mental impairment and erratic behavior.

Two days ago, Trump tweeted that he had instructed his aides to stop negotiating with Pelosi on a pandemic aid package. But then hours later, Trump called on Congress to pass piecemeal measures like aid for the airline industry, an additional round of stimulus checks and additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.

When asked during a Bloomberg TV interview on Thursday if she believed Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump gambles with new stimulus strategy | Trump cannot block grand jury subpoena for his tax returns, court rules | Long-term jobless figures rise, underscoring economic pain Trump works from Oval Office six days after COVID-19 diagnosis Trump gambles with new stimulus strategy MORE had the authority to negotiate a coronavirus relief package on Trump’s behalf, Pelosi said, “The president is, shall we say, in an altered state right now.”

“There are those who say when you are on steroids and, or if you have COVID-19 or both, that there may be some impairment of judgment. But, again, that is for the doctors and the scientists to determine,” Pelosi added.

Trump was hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from Friday to Monday and received numerous therapeutics to treat COVID-19. He was also, at times, placed on supplemental oxygen.

Trump has released numerous videos recently stating that he is feeling better. He said Thursday morning in an interview on Fox Business that “I feel perfect. There’s nothing wrong.”

At least 34 White House staffers and other contacts have been infected with COVID-19 in recent days, including several who attended a White House ceremony announcing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, on Sept. 26.

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Pence, Harris to meet in vice presidential debate as Covid cases surge in the White House

SALT LAKE CITY — Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are set to meet Wednesday night at the University of Utah in the vice presidential debate as both candidates face intensified pressure to demonstrate they are prepared to step in as commander in chief.

The vice presidential debate typically draws little fanfare, Pence and Harris will be examined by voters who are choosing between two senior citizens for president.

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis last week sparked questions over the transferral of the powers of the presidency. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said he sees himself as a “bridge” to the next generation of Democrats, raising speculation as to whether he would seek a second term.

Regardless of who wins, Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, would both set a new record for the oldest president on to take the oath on inauguration day.

The 90-minute debate will be moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page and will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET. It is the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 presidential campaign.

The debate will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each and there will be no commercial breaks. Topics are not being disclosed ahead of time.

Harris will also make history as the first Black woman and the first Asian American to participate in a general election debate as a candidate on a major-party ticket.

While Trump’s diagnosis is expected to hang over the debate hall, Wednesday’s event will also feature a visual reminder of the ongoing pandemic and the nearly 20 people tied to Trump who have tested positive for the virus in the past few days.

Sheets of plexiglass will separate the two candidates on the stage, an extra safety measure that Harris requested because of Pence’s potential exposure to Trump. There was some concern that Trump could have infected Biden during last week’s debate. Biden has consistently tested negative.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the candidates would also be separated by more than 12 feet, an increase from the 7 feet that kept Trump and Biden apart.

Masks are also required by all attendees except for the candidates and the moderator. The CPD has indicated that the mask requirement will be enforced on Wednesday, following last week’s debate when members of the Trump family ignored the rule.

Both Pence and Harris have tested negative for Covid-19 multiple days in a row, according to their campaigns.

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Ex-Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya placed on ‘wanted’ list in Russia, under Union State treaty with Minsk

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in Belarus’ disputed August presidential election, has been placed on the interstate wanted list by Russia’s Interior Ministry. The move follows a request by police in Minsk.

The database on the ministry’s website says that Tikhanovskaya is wanted as part of a criminal case. However it doesn’t specify which article of the criminal code she’s suspected of violating, or the precise crime she’s accused of in her homeland. 

A police source told Moscow news agency TASS that Tikhanovskaya is facing criminal charges in Belarus, but Russian law enforcement is also obliged to look for her, as this is how the interstate wanted list works. They allow for the arrest and extradition of suspects among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members, which includes Russia, Belarus, and seven other former Soviet republics.

The Belarusian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case against Tikhanovskaya over her calls for a seizure of power, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. It began after the 38-year-old initiated the creation of an opposition coordination council, tasked with transferring authority in the country to her from President Alexander Lukashenko.

According to official results, Tikhanovskaya secured ten percent of the vote in the Belarusian presidential election on August 9, which was overwhelmingly won by the country’s longtime leader, Alexander Lukashenko, according to the disputed official count.

The opposition refused to accept the results of the vote, insisting that it was rigged by the government.

Belarus has been gripped by protests since then, with thousands taking to the streets every weekend demanding Lukashenko’s resignation and calling for a new election.  




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Tikhanovskaya, who claims that she’s the rightful president, fled the country for Lithuania several days after the vote over fears of persecution by the authorities in Minsk.

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U.S. vice presidential debate to include plexiglass barrier after White House outbreak

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence and challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by a plexiglass barrier during their debate on Wednesday in an effort to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission, the commission overseeing the event said.

The debate, the only one scheduled between the vice presidential candidates, is scheduled for Salt Lake City, six days after President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the virus.

Both Harris, a Democratic U.S. senator, and Pence, a Republican, have tested negative in recent days, with the vice president working from home over the weekend instead of at the White House. A number of White House staffers and prominent Republicans, including three U.S. senators, have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Commission on Presidential Debates also said the two candidates would be seated more than 12 feet (3.7 m) apart. There will be a limited number of guests at the debate, all of whom will undergo testing, and anyone who does not wear a mask will be “escorted out,” the commission said.

At the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week, several members of Trump’s family did not wear masks while sitting in the audience.

In a statement, Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, said: “If Senator Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it.”

In response, Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Harris, wrote on Twitter: “Interesting that @VPComDir Katie Miller mocks our wanting a plexiglass barrier on the debate stage, when her own boss is supposedly in charge of the COVID-19 task force and should be advocating for this too.”

Miller herself had COVID-19 in the spring.

DEBATE SAFETY

Also on Monday, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the president intends to participate in the next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

Trump left a military hospital here on Monday after three days of treatment, although mixed messages from the White House have prompted uncertainty about how ill he became.

Biden said on Monday he was willing to participate in next week’s scheduled debate with Trump as long as health experts say it would be safe.

The diagnosis has raised questions about the safety of staging the debates for the Nov. 3 election. The first of three scheduled debates took place last week, two days before Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

“If the scientists say that it’s safe and the distances are safe, then I think that’s fine. I’ll do whatever the experts say is the appropriate thing to do,” Biden, who tested negative for COVID-19 over the weekend, told reporters in Delaware before heading to Florida on a campaign trip.

The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the novel coronavirus is 14 days.

Trump has frequently played down the threat of the pandemic that has now infected 7.4 million Americans and killed more than 209,000. Biden has criticized Trump for not taking the health concerns seriously enough.

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White House Staffers Cheer on South Lawn As Trump Departs for Presidential Debate

White House staffers gathered in a line along the White House South Lawn on Tuesday and cheered as President Donald Trump departed for Cleveland, Ohio to attend the first 2020 presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.



a man standing next to a woman: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk to the White House Rose Garden on September 28, 2020.


© Tasos Katopodis/Getty
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk to the White House Rose Garden on September 28, 2020.

A crowd of Trump administration employees stood behind a white rope cheering and waving with flags as the president and first lady Melania Trump walked by ahead of their departure.

In a few hours, Trump is expected to face the most direct challenge of his job performance as president and handling of the coronavirus in the first of three debates against his Democratic opponent.

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Fox News anchor Chris Wallace will moderate the live event to an in-person crowd of around 70 people, a much smaller audience compared to previous debates, due to the pandemic.

A new Monmouth University poll found that 74 percent of voters plan on tuning in to watch the heated showdown. However, an overwhelming majority of those who plan to watch—87 percent—doubt the debate will change their minds about who to vote for on Election Day.

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, topics that will be covered tonight include Trump and Biden’s voting records, the Economy, the Supreme Court and COVID, as well as race and violence in American cities. Candidates will have roughly two minutes to answer their questions, with each segment lasting around 15 minutes.

In recent weeks, the two candidates have taken vastly different approaches to preparing for the debate. With 35 days until November 3, Trump has been grinding out back-to-back in-person campaign rallies and events in key swing states. While earlier reports indicated that he had decided to skip formal debate preparations, Trump on Sunday told reporters that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie have been helping him prepare “a little.”

“President Trump prepares for debates every day by being president and building an excellent record to run on for reelection,” Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh told CNBC.

Biden wound down campaign events last Thursday to ramp up debate preparation. According to the Associated Press, the former vice president has participated in mock debate sessions, with senior campaign adviser Bob Bauer playing the role of Trump. Bauer didn’t dress up as the president, but he has been imitating his unique style and expected strategy by hurling insults and strange digressions at Biden.

Biden laid out his strategy on MSNBC over the weekend, revealing that he will be taking the fight to Trump.

“I’m prepared to go out and make my case as to why I

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Pelosi prepares in case House must decide presidential race

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking extraordinary steps to prepare for the 2020 election, seeking to increase Democrats’ hold on state congressional delegations in the highly unusual scenario that the House is called on to resolve a disputed presidential contest.

“We cannot leave anything to chance,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues, emphasizing the importance of winning House seats for Democrats — not just to expand their majority but to prepare for the possibility that the House must settle the presidential race.

She said she made the planning public after President Donald Trump claimed recently that, if the election ends up in Congress, he has the advantage over Democrat Joe Biden, because Republicans control a few more delegations in the House.

“It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen,” Pelosi said Sunday in the letter.


She said Trump has shown he “will do whatever it takes to remain in power.”

The strategy being put in place by Pelosi is one of several scenarios envisioned ahead of the election as Trump and Biden face off this week in the first presidential debate. Early voting is already underway in several states.

Tensions are high and rather than seeking calm, the president is sowing doubt about the nation’s ability to conduct a legitimate election, even though there is scant evidence of voter fraud. Trump tweeted fresh claims Monday of problems with ballots, but with no actual examples. “Many things are already going very wrong,” he said.

Meanwhile, states are bracing for a surge of mail-in ballots as voters avoid polling places due to potential health risks of gathering in crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. Tabulating the results could drag on for days, leaving the country exposed to foreign interference or other campaigns trying to influence the outcome.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, has said Americans need to treat Election Day as “halftime” while awaiting the full results.

Normally, Americans cast their ballots for president and states certify the results through the Electoral College, which is made up of electors from the states. A joint session of Congress convenes Jan. 6 to tally the Electoral College votes and announce the winner. Typically, the decision has been resolved well in advance, usually on election night.

But if the Electoral College is deadlocked or unable to reach a majority outcome, the question goes to the House as a “contingent election.”

Each state’s congressional delegation, consisting of the newly elected House lawmakers, casts one vote to determine the presidential outcome, according to the House history website. The new president is to be inaugurated Jan. 20.

Democrats are not in serious danger of losing their majority in the House. But as of now, Pelosi explained, Republicans have a “razor thin” margin — 26 of the state delegations, compared with 22 for Democrats. Two states are essentially tied.

“We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans

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Pelosi Prepares in Case House Must Decide Presidential Race | Political News

By LISA MASCARO, AP Congressional Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking extraordinary steps to prepare for the 2020 election, seeking to increase Democrats’ hold on state congressional delegations in the highly unusual scenario that the House is called on to resolve a disputed presidential contest.

“We cannot leave anything to chance,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues, emphasizing the importance of winning House seats for Democrats — not just to expand their majority but to prepare for the possibility that the House must settle the presidential race.

She said she made the planning public after President Donald Trump claimed recently that, if the election ends up in Congress, he has the advantage over Democrat Joe Biden, because Republicans control a few more delegations in the House.

“It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen,” Pelosi said Sunday in the letter.

She said Trump has shown he “will do whatever it takes to remain in power.”

The strategy being put in place by Pelosi is one of several scenarios envisioned ahead of the election as Trump and Biden face off this week in the first presidential debate. Early voting is already underway in several states.

Tensions are high and rather than seeking calm, the president is sowing doubt about the nation’s ability to conduct a legitimate election, even though there is scant evidence of voter fraud. Trump tweeted fresh claims Monday of problems with ballots, but with no actual examples. “Many things are already going very wrong,” he said.

Meanwhile, states are bracing for a surge of mail-in ballots as voters avoid polling places due to potential health risks of gathering in crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. Tabulating the results could drag on for days, leaving the country exposed to foreign interference or other campaigns trying to influence the outcome.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, has said Americans need to treat Election Day as “halftime” while awaiting the full results.

Normally, Americans cast their ballots for president and states certify the results through the Electoral College, which is made up of electors from the states. A joint session of Congress convenes Jan. 6 to tally the Electoral College votes and announce the winner. Typically, the decision has been resolved well in advance, usually on election night.

But if the Electoral College is deadlocked or unable to reach a majority outcome, the question goes to the House as a “contingent election.”

Each state’s congressional delegation, consisting of the newly elected House lawmakers, casts one vote to determine the presidential outcome, according to the House history website. The new president is to be inaugurated Jan. 20.

Democrats are not in serious danger of losing their majority in the House. But as of now, Pelosi explained, Republicans have a “razor thin” margin — 26 of the state delegations, compared with 22 for Democrats. Two states are essentially tied.

“We must achieve that majority

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Pelosi eyes possible U.S. House role in calling presidential election

By David Morgan



Nancy Pelosi wearing a purple shirt: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill


© Reuters/ALEXANDER DRAGO
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rallying Democrats to prepare for a once-in-a-century election scenario requiring Congress to decide the outcome of the presidential race if neither Democrat Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump wins outright.

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In a campaign letter to colleagues, Pelosi told her fellow House Democrats that recent comments by Trump demonstrate that he could ask the House to decide the race if it is not clear which of the two candidates had received the minimum 270 Electoral College votes in the Nov. 3 presidential election needed to gain office.

Trump repeatedly has questioned the security of mail-in ballots, which could take a while to tabulate given the high number of voters likely to use them this year due to the pandemic.

Democrats fear that the president could attempt to have the count of those votes cut short in an attempt to have the election outcome determined by the House. 

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House would vote by state delegation to settle such a contest, with each state casting a single vote. While Democrats control the chamber by 232 seats to 198, Republicans control a majority of 26 state delegations versus 22 for Democrats. Pennsylvania’s delegation is tied, while Michigan has a 7-6 split between Democrats and Republicans and an additional seat held by a Libertarian.

The House has not determined the outcome of a presidential election since 1876.

Pelosi called on Democrats for “an all out effort” to capture additional Republican-held House seats, which they might need if a decision on the presidential election spills over into next year. She also urged Democrats to marshal resources to support the House Majority PAC, a political action committee committed to promoting Democratic candidates for the House.

“Because we cannot leave anything to chance, House Majority PAC is doing everything it can to win more delegations for Democrats,” Pelosi wrote.

Representative Liz Cheney, who leads the House Republican Conference, responded to Pelosi’s letter by saying the speaker was trying to divert attention away from the lack of progress on COVID-19 stimulus legislation.

“It’s a dereliction of her duty as speaker, so it’s no surprise she is trying to get her caucus focused on something else,” Cheney said in a statement to Reuters.

The Democratic-controlled House passed a $3.4 trillion coronavirus aid package in May that went nowhere in the Republican-led Senate. Negotiations between Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and administration officials, aimed at hammering out a bipartisan deal, have been stalled since early August.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; editing by Richard Cowan, Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot)

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Pelosi warns House could be forced to decide presidential election

Washington — With the presidential election just 36 days away, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is outlining a scenario in which the House of Representatives is forced to decide the outcome of the 2020 race for the White House, telling her Democratic caucus that the possibility underscores the need for the party to expand its majority in the House and win control of more state House delegations.



a large building on a cloudy day with United States Capitol in the background: COMBO-US-VOTE-BIDEN-TRUMP


© JIM WATSON
COMBO-US-VOTE-BIDEN-TRUMP

In a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, Pelosi detailed a situation that has not arisen for more than a century, in which neither Joe Biden nor President Trump wins the 270 electoral votes required to win a majority of the 538-vote Electoral College. If that happens, a newly elected House would decide the fate of the presidency in January, with each state casting a single vote, as required by the 12th Amendment.

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“Instead of giving every member of Congress a vote, the 12th Amendment gives each state one vote, which is determined by a vote of the state’s delegation,” Pelosi, of California, said to her fellow House Democrats. “In other words, how many state delegations the Democrats win in this upcoming election could determine who our next president is.”

The Constitution, Pelosi continues, states that a presidential candidate “must receive a majority of the state delegations to win” in the event that the election goes to the House.

“We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so,” she said in her appeal to House Democrats.

Politico was the first to report Pelosi’s efforts to mobilize Democrats.

While Democrats hold a majority of seats in the House, Republicans currently control a slim majority of 26 state House delegations and Democrats control 23. One state, Pennsylvania, has a split delegation, with nine Republican members of the House and nine Democratic members.

According to the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, which analyzed the upcoming House races, 26 House delegations at least lean Republican and 20 at least lean Democratic. Four are toss-ups: Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan.

Pelosi stressed the importance of supporting the political action committee working to elect Democrats to Congress and expand the number of state delegations controlled by the party.

“Simply put, this strategy to protect our democracy and elect Joe Biden will take an all out effort and resources,” she said.

Presidential electors are scheduled to meet and cast their votes in their respective states December 14. On January 6, the Senate and House are set to assemble in a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes and declare the election results.

The 20th Amendment requires the new Congress to convene at noon on January 3, unless the previous Congress passes a law changing the date.

Pelosi is not alone in raising the possibility of the House deciding the result of the presidential election. During a rally in Pennsylvania on

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