Conservatives lash out at Liz Cheney over Trump criticism

Conservatives lash out at Liz Cheney over Trump criticism

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In this Dec. 17, 2019, file photo, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) more >

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By MARY CLARE JALONICK and ALAN FRAM

Associated Press

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) – House Republicans facing electoral uncertainty in November turned on one another in a private meeting on Tuesday, as a small group of conservative lawmakers confronted House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney over what they said was disloyalty to President Donald Trump.

The lawmakers called out Cheney for her support of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, and for supporting a primary challenger to Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., according to people familiar with the closed-door meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio noted Cheney’s criticism of Trump on defense and foreign policy and accused her of not supporting the president on his coronavirus response.

Leading the criticism was Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who recounted the confrontation on his podcast, “Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz,” shortly after it happened. He also tweeted about Cheney, who is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and said she should step down from her post as head of the GOP conference.

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Liz Cheney has worked behind the scenes (and now in public) against @realDonaldTrump and his agenda,” Gaetz tweeted. “House Republicans deserve better as our Conference Chair. Liz Cheney should step down or be removed. #MAGA.”

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Gaetz’s message and wrote, “We already have one Mitt Romney, we don’t need another… we also don’t need the endless wars she advocates for.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has been one of the only Senate Republicans to regularly separate himself from Trump and voted to convict him on one article of impeachment earlier this year.

The confrontation comes as the president has struggled with a response to the coronavirus pandemic and Republicans in Congress have been somewhat split on his handling of the crisis. As Trump has pushed to quickly reopen the economy and played down the importance of coronavirus testing, some have indicated they disagree with him on those points. Others such as Gaetz and Jordan have rushed to defend him.

Cheney, R-Wyo., didn’t back down in the meeting and did not apologize for breaking with Trump, according to one of the people familiar with the exchange. At a GOP news conference later in the day, she told reporters that she “absolutely” still supports Fauci, who she said she has known for many years. She also noted that Trump Jr. is “not a member of the Republican conference.”

She said she takes her position seriously and had a “great conversation” with Massie after the conference meeting.

“I think the beauty of our system, and frankly the magnificence of this country and one of the things that the founders fought for, and that so many throughout history have died for, is our freedom of speech and the right for all of us to have this kind of healthy exchange and debate,” Cheney said.

Cheney has shot up to the No. 3 GOP leadership spot since she was elected in 2016. While she has voted mostly in step with the president, she has sometimes differed with him on foreign policy as he and his allies have argued against “endless wars.” She has rarely criticized Trump by name but has separated from him on that issue and others, including the pandemic.

In a June tweet, for example, Cheney alluded to Trump’s frequent refusal to wear a mask by featuring a photo of her masked father. “Dick Cheney says WEAR A MASK. #realmenwearmasks,” she wrote.

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy stood alongside Cheney at the afternoon news conference and said he was honored to have her as conference chair. “She does an amazing job,” he said.

In addition to Gaetz and Jordan, Cheney’s critics at the meeting included Texas Reps. Chip Roy and Louie Gohmert, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and Massie himself. Cheney had donated money to Massie’s primary opponent, Todd McMurtry. Massie won that primary in June.

Roy specifically criticized Cheney for her support of Fauci and asked her “to consider the full breadth of research out there on the coronavirus,” according to a person close to Roy. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

All the members who criticized Cheney are members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus that often clashed with leadership when Republicans were in the majority.

Can Trump’s anti-mail-voting crusade hurt him in key states?

Can Trump’s anti-mail-voting crusade hurt him in key states?

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FILE – In this May 28, 2020 file photo, Dave Turnier processes mail-in ballots at at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa., prior to the primary election. President Donald Trump’s campaign and allies have blocked efforts … more >

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By THOMAS BEAUMONT

Associated Press

Friday, July 3, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – President Donald Trump’s campaign and allies have blocked efforts to expand mail-in voting, forcing an awkward confrontation with top GOP election officials who are promoting the opposite in their states.

The rare dissonance between Trump and other Republican elected officials also reflects another reality the president will not concede: Many in his party believe expanding mail-in voting could ultimately help him.

Trump’s campaign has intervened directly in Ohio, while allies have fired warning shots in Iowa and Georgia, aimed at blunting Republican secretaries of state in places that could be competitive in November.

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“There is a dimension to legislatures underfunding or undercutting election officials that could ironically backfire and hurt Republicans,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor and director of the nonpartisan United States Election Project.

Action by these three secretaries of state, who are the top election officials in their states, was designed to make ballot access easier during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has repeatedly made the unfounded claim that voting by mail could lead to fraud so extensive it could undermine the integrity of the presidential election.

In Ohio last month, senior Trump campaign adviser Bob Paduchik weighed in on Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s proposal, insisting to GOP legislative leaders that they drop a provision to allow voters to file absentee ballot applications online, according to Republican officials involved in the discussions. The GOP officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal communications regarding the legislation.

Ohio already allows the secretary of state to send absentee ballot requests to every registered voter. The provision was aimed at allowing a faster processing option, while making mail-in application processing available.

Paduchik, Trump’s 2016 Iowa campaign director, insisted there be no substantive changes ahead of the November election in Ohio, which Trump won in 2016 by 8 percentage points under the existing rules, according to the GOP officials.

Trump campaign aides did not respond to requests for comment.

“This bill didn’t do everything I wanted it to do. In fact, there’s several things I wanted to get done that are not included in this bill,” LaRose said in a video statement this month, promising to try ”to get some of those other changes made in the future.”

Trump has railed against expanding vote by mail, arguing without evidence that the practice, despite being the primary voting method in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah, is ripe for widespread fraud.

On Sunday, he renewed the criticism, tweeting “Mail-In Voting, on the other hand, will lead to the most corrupt Election is USA history. Bad things happen with Mail-Ins.”

That claim is part of a pattern. He also has incorrectly equated a secretary of state widely distributing absentee ballot requests with the ballots themselves in Michigan.

Last week, after Iowa voters broke a 26-year-old statewide primary election turnout record, the Iowa Senate’s GOP majority pressed to bar Secretary of State Paul Pate from sending absentee ballots to all 2 million registered voters this fall, as he did before the June 3 primary.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Trump ally, last week signed compromise legislation requiring Pate and his successors to seek approval from a partisan legislative council for similar future actions. The GOP-controlled council unanimously rejected Pate’s request to widely send absentee ballot applications this fall.

“My goal was to protect Iowa voters and poll workers while finding ways to conduct a clean and fair election,” Pate said last month. “I stand by my decisions.”

His Georgia counterpart, Brad Raffensperger, faced a similar fate after he, too, sent absentee ballot applications to nearly 7 million registered voters ahead of the state’s June primary. Although Raffensperger objected to proposed limits being put on his authority, legislation to do that died when the legislature adjourned and after he said he would not repeat the move this fall.

Trump carried Georgia, Iowa and Ohio comfortably in 2016. To win again, he would likely need to match his sizable winning margins in their rural counties, home to many in his older, white base.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has backed mail-in voting, saying it would make it easier for people to vote this November amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some longtime GOP activists say expanded vote by mail is essential for older voters who are accustomed to voting in person but hesitant to during the pandemic and who are unfamiliar with the process.

Ann Trimble Ray, a veteran Iowa GOP activist, voted in June by mail and says Pate made the right call, especially for the many older voters in her rural home in Sac County, which Trump carried with 72% of the 2016 vote.

“Reducing their exposure by voting absentee, we think, was a considerate thing to do,” she said. “I was grateful for Secretary of State Pate’s mailing and encouragement for absentee voting.”

Consolidation of rural polling places, shrunken election staff and long lines may deter rural voters vital to Trump, said University of California Irvine professor Richard Hasen, chair of a committee of U.S. scholars that has recommended changes ahead of the 2020 elections.

“The voters Trump is hurting are likely his own when he’s making these comments against mail-in balloting,” said Hasen, “because it’s a safe and generally effective way to cast a ballot, especially in the midst of a pandemic.”

The check on ballot request steps in Iowa and Georgia also could threaten rural votes from being counted, based on McDonald’s study.

Though Ohio counts all mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, a number of absentee ballots came in late for the March 17 primary, including 4,000 in Greene County in southeast Ohio, a county where Trump won 60% of the vote.

Understaffed election offices and longer processing time between rural areas and metro postal centers could leave some rural voters unable to mail their ballots on time, McDonald said.

“I’m pretty convinced that ballot request step is hurting rural voters,” McDonald said.

___

Associated Press writers Ben Nadler in Atlanta, David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

UN says Afghan army mistakenly fired mortars that killed 23

UN says Afghan army mistakenly fired mortars that killed 23

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The body of a man who was killed during a deadly attack is moved on a gurney, in the southern Helmand province, Monday, June 29, 2020. A car bombing and mortar shells fired at a busy market in Helmand province … more >

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By TAMEEM AKHGAR

Associated Press

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said its findings indicate the Afghan military had mistakenly fired the mortars this week at a busy market in southern Helmand province that inflicted heavy civilian casualties.

According to a statement from the office of the Helmand provincial governor, Gen. Mohammad Yasin, a car bombing and mortar shells struck the market in Sangin district on Monday, killing 23 people, including children. Both the Taliban and the Afghan military blamed each other for the attack.

A series of tweets late Tuesday from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, said that “multiple credible sources” have asserted that the Afghan army fired the “mortars in response to Taliban fire, missing (the) intended target.”

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The tweet made no mention of any car bomb but it indicated that there was a battle between the Taliban and Afghan forces at the time of the attack. The U.N. did not elaborate on how its mission reached those findings.

The tweets said both parties in the war in Afghanistan “must stop fighting in civilian-populated areas” as such fighting has caused thousands of civilian casualties. UNAMA also urged the Afghan government “to set up independent investigation team for Monday’s incident” and offered its assistance.

The Afghan government has insisted there was no military activity in the Taliban-controlled area at the time of the attack. The Defense Ministry responded on Wednesday to the U.N. tweets by repeating that statement, adding that Afghan mortars cannot reach the Sangin market from their checkpoints.

Civilians are often caught in the crossfire of the fighting – even as Afghan forces say they are targeting the insurgents, not civilians, in anti-militant operations. A U.N. report in May blamed the Taliban for killing or wounding a total of 208 civilians in April and also said that operations carried out by Afghan forces had killed or wounded 172 civilians.

The attack in Helmand came as Washington’s special peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, is again touring the region to try and push the peace process forward. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a Monday video conference with the Taliban pressed the insurgents to reduce violence in Afghanistan.

There have been expectations that talks between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban could possibly start this month in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

Louisiana’s presidential primary early voting opens Saturday

Louisiana’s presidential primary early voting opens Saturday

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Friday, June 19, 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Early voting for Louisiana’s July 11 presidential primary election begins Saturday, with extra days and extra precautions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Voters can cast their ballots in advance of the election through July 4, six days longer than normal to give people more time to avoid crowds amid the pandemic.

Early voting runs daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Sundays, at parish registrar of voters’ offices and other locations. Voters can find their early voting site online through Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office or through its GeauxVote mobile app.

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Ardoin’s office said workers at polling locations will regularly sanitize voting areas and wipe down voting machines. Hand sanitizer will be offered to voters, and masks are recommended.

President Donald Trump is expected to easily win Louisiana’s GOP primary. Four other Republicans are on the state’s ballot seeking the Republican nomination. Meanwhile, though former Vice President Joe Biden has clinched the Democratic nomination for president, he’ll be one of 14 Democrats on Louisiana’s ballot.

Louisiana’s presidential primary is one of the latest in the nation this cycle, after being postponed twice because of the virus outbreak. It is a rare closed party primary in Louisiana, a state that generally allows all of its candidates regardless of party to run against each other at one time.

That means only registered Republicans can vote on the July ballot to determine who will win the state’s GOP presidential nomination, while only registered Democrats can choose among the contenders for the state’s Democratic presidential nomination.

But voters in 24 parishes, regardless of party, have other local elections on their ballot that don’t involve closed primaries.

Those 24 parishes, according to the Secretary of State’s office, are: Bienville, Caddo, Calcasieu, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, Richland, Sabine, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington and West Feliciana.

Nevada set to hold primary with shift to mail-in balloting

Nevada set to hold primary with shift to mail-in balloting

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FILE – In this Feb. 15, 2020 file photo, people wait in line at an early voting location at the culinary workers union hall in Las Vegas. Nevada is attempting a high-wire act of holding its first-ever election almost entirely … more >

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By MICHELLE L. PRICE

Associated Press

Monday, June 8, 2020

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nevada is attempting a high-wire act of holding its first-ever election almost entirely by mail while accommodating a new law allowing voters to register at the polls and trying to keep people safe amid the pandemic.

Nevada shifted its Tuesday primary election away from in-person voting, where long lines and shared surfaces present risks of spreading the coronavirus. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske limited the number of polling places and instead sent absentee ballots to voters that can be mailed back or dropped off – a break from the practice of most Nevada voters who prefer to show up in person at the polls, typically during two weeks of early voting.

Despite the disruption, the change doesn’t appear to be making a big dent in turnout. As of Monday morning, more than 341,000 ballots had been cast, which represents about 21% turnout. Two years ago, 23% of active voters participated in the primary and in 2016, turnout was 18.5%.

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The top-ticket races include Nevada’s four U.S. House seats, where the incumbents – three Democrats and one Republican- are all expected to sail through the primary challenges. The biggest question will be who their opponents will be in November.

Two Democratic-held U.S. House seats, Nevada’s 3rd and 4th Districts, could flip to Republicans in the November general election. That’s drawn a number of GOP candidates to face off in the primary.

In Nevada’s 3rd District, encompassing southwest Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Laughlin, Republicans have six candidates to choose from. They include former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer and former state treasurer Dan Schwartz.

Democrat Rep. Susie Lee is facing two challengers in the primary, but she’s considered a heavy favorite.

Nevada’s 4th District, held by Democrat Steven Horsford, has drawn eight Republicans to the race, including former state lawmaker Jim Marchant and business owner and former Miss Nevada Lisa Song Sutton, who recently acknowledged she hasn’t voted in 12 years.

Horsford’s performance in the primary will be watched closely after he acknowledged having a years-long extramarital affair, but he’s not expected to face any serious challenge.

In northern Nevada, Republican Mark Amodei is expected to easily fend off two challengers to his 2nd District seat. Though Amodei is expected to win reelection in the Republican-heavy district in November, Democrats hoping to improve their numbers are lining up to challenge him.

Seven Democrats will vie to become their party’s nominee and take on Amodei, including retired mountaineer and actress Patricia Ackerman, former journalist Ed Cohen and former Obama administration official Clint Koble.

In Nevada’s 1st District, encompassing the casino-lined Las Vegas Strip, incumbent Democrat Dina Titus is expected to fend off two poorly funded challengers. On the other side of the aisle, four Republicans are seeking the seat, but only one has filed a campaign finance report and it disclosed little fundraising. Whoever wins the GOP primary will face a likely insurmountable challenge against Titus in the Democrat-heavy district.

Voters also will settle inter-party contests in nearly 30 state Senate and Assembly races and narrow the field in non-partisan races for two state Supreme Court seats, nearly two dozen family and district court judgeships, three university regent races and three Board of Education contests.

Cegavske’s office sent absentee ballots to all “active” registered voters, which includes those who have voted in one of the past two federal elections, updated their registration or had some other contact with election officials.

“Inactive” voters in Clark County, the state’s biggest, were automatically mailed ballots after a legal challenge from the Nevada State Democratic Party. In other counties, inactive voters who didn’t request a ballot must show up at their polling place. Those who aren’t registered or want to change parties must now do that in person Tuesday.

GOP lawmakers to unveil bill banning investments in defense firms linked to the Chinese military

GOP lawmakers to unveil bill banning investments in defense firms linked to the Chinese military

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A security officer wearing a face mask to protect against the COVID-19 coronavirus stands guard as plainclothes personnel march in formation outside the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing, Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference … more >

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By Lauren Meier

The Washington Times

Monday, June 1, 2020

A group of Republican lawmakers is gearing up to announce legislation this week that would prohibit Americans from investing in overseas defense companies that have ties to the Chinese military.

The legislation will be unveiled by Republican Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Jim Banks of Indiana and Doug LaMalfa of California, according to a document seen by Reuters, and will require Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin to conduct a congressionally mandated report of foreign defense companies that have “substantial contracts with, ties to, or support from” China’s military.

“On one hand, Congress is asking taxpayers to help grow our military so we can compete with China. On the other hand, large U.S. investment funds are dumping U.S. dollars into China’s military industrial base,” Mr. Banks told the publication in a statement. “We need to end our cognitive dissonance and stop funding the rise of our chief global adversary.”

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The measure would also mandate that American companies divest from the Chinese firms they are involved with within six months of the legislation’s passage.

The move comes amid soaring tensions between Beijing and Washington with the Trump administration accusing Beijing of mismanaging and lying about the coronavirus crisis after it originated in China. U.S. officials say Beijing has engaged in a disinformation campaign aimed at blaming the virus on Washington in a bid to undermine America’s image around the world.

President Trump on Friday stepped up his administration’s pushback to China and announced he is preparing to impose sanctions on Beijing over its announcement of a new state security law aimed at crushing dissent and democracy in Hong Kong.

The president made the announcement after the State Department declared that Washington officially assesses that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the legal and economic freedoms China promised it would tolerate when Great Britain gave the territory back to Beijing back in 1997.

Ted Cruz wants a federal investigation of Twitter for allegedly violating Iran sanctions

Sen. Ted Cruz wants a federal investigation of Twitter for allegedly violating Iran sanctions

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In this Jan. 21, 2020, file photo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File) ** FILE ** more >

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By Ryan Lovelace

The Washington Times

Friday, May 29, 2020

Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday requested that the Justice Department investigate Twitter for violating sanctions on Iran.

The Texas Republican wrote to Attorney General William P. Barr and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin to investigate Twitter’s providing accounts and services to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.

Mr. Cruz wrote that Twitter has told him that the company’s corporate values require it to provide a platform for the Iranian accounts.

SEE ALSO: Trump’s feud with Twitter escalates after platform tags his tweet on riots for ‘glorifying violence’

“The position cannot be aligned with Iranian policy as it actually exists or with how designated Iranian officials use Twitter. Iranian officials ban Iranian citizens from accessing Twitter,” Mr. Cruz wrote. “In early April, Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information. They use their accounts provided by Twitter to threaten and taunt their enemies real and imagined.”

Mr. Cruz previously corresponded with Twitter in February to learn its approach to sanctions issues, and Twitter replied in April to Mr. Cruz and three of his GOP colleagues, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida. Twitter told the senators that the public conversation on the platform was critically important during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We consider official government voices on Twitter an important element of the service,” Twitter’s legal, public policy & trust and safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, wrote to the GOP senators. “The power of a uniquely open service during a public health emergency is clear. The speed and borderless nature of Twitter presents an extraordinary opportunity to get the word out and ensure people have access to the latest information from expert sources around the world.”

Mr. Cruz’s Friday letter said he thinks Twitter has blatantly and willfully violated the International Emergency and Economic Powers Act and sanctionable activities outlined in Executive Order 13876.

“The cohesion and legitimacy of our laws rest on their equal application to all citizens and entities, no matter how large or how powerful,” Mr. Cruz wrote. “The Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice should investigate what appears to be Twitter’s blatant and willful violation of IEEPA and E.O. 13876 by providing services to Khamenei, Zarif, and other designated Iranian entities, and, to the extent appropriate, enforce any violation through sanctions and by seeking civil and criminal penalties.”

The request for a federal investigation of Twitter comes as the social media platform’s confrontation with President Trump reached new heights on Friday. After Twitter tagged a pair of Mr. Trump’s tweets with labels regarding misinformation, Mr. Trump issued an executive order aimed at removing liability protections for social media companies that behave in a manner similar to Twitter.

On Friday, Twitter placed another warning on a tweet from Mr. Trump, saying the tweet about rioting in Minneapolis violated Twitter’s rules against “glorifying violence.”

GOP questions eligibility of insurance commissioner hopeful

GOP questions eligibility of insurance commissioner hopeful

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By

Associated Press

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The North Dakota Republican Party is questioning the eligibility of the Democratic candidate for state insurance commissioner, alleging she hasn’t lived in the state long enough to run for statewide office.

In a letter to the Secretary of State’s office Wednesday, the GOP said Travisia Martin appears to have voted in Nevada in November 2016 and was a resident of that state then.

Martin, of Bismarck, said she moved to North Dakota in 2015 and worked as a traveling critical care respiratory specialist. She said she also owned a home in Nevada at the time and considered herself a resident of both states.

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Martin said she did vote in Nevada in 2016 but not in North Dakota. She said she claims only North Dakota residency now.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger declined to comment on the GOP’s letter.

The North Dakota Constitution requires statewide officials to be a resident of the state for five years prior to an election for statewide office.

Democrats endorsed Martin in March to run against Jon Godfread, who is seeking a second term. He was elected to the position in 2016, defeating Democrat Ruth Buffalo by a 2-to-1 margin.

A Democrat hasn’t headed North Dakota’s Insurance Department since 2000, and only three have served in the office since statehood.

Democrat tops GOP hopefuls in Kansas US Senate fundraising

Democrat tops GOP hopefuls in Kansas US Senate fundraising

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By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH

Associated Press

Friday, April 24, 2020

MISSION, Kan. (AP) – Republicans looking to protect their majority in the U.S. Senate have been unable to match the fundraising prowess of a party-switching Democratic state lawmaker in normally reliably red Kansas.

It’s unclear how much it matters that state Sen. Barbara Bollier raised $2.35 million during the first three months of 2020 given that the potential GOP frontrunner to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is prominent conservative Kris Kobach.

While the more than $242,000 he raised for the quarter was a little more than a tenth of Bollier’s total, Kobach is known as a hard-right immigration policy advocate who served as Kansas secretary of state before losing the Kansas governor’s race in 2018.

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“He has some of the highest name recognition among candidates in modern Kansas history,” said Bob Beatty, a Washburn University of Topeka political scientist, who also noted that Kobach is skilled at getting free media. “When they is the case you don’t need as much money as other candidates.”

Another top GOP candidate is U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall of western Kansas who entered the race with a big bank roll but isn’t posting the same kind of numbers as Bollier. He raised $377,00 for the quarter and has $1.95 million cash on hand, thanks to a large balance brought over from his U.S. House campaign.

Marshall is blaming the coronavirus. His spokesman Eric Pahls said Marshall, a physician who is volunteering to treat COVID-19 patients, has been focused on the virus since January and canceled “all major fundraising events in March due to health and safety concerns.”

Democrats’ best hope, though, comes from running not against Marshall, but Kobach because Kobach is “net unpopular with Kansas voters,” said Patrick Miller, a University of Kansas political scientist. He said that means a lot of voters who would “vote for whatever generic Republican is on the ballot won’t vote for him.” Still, Kobach could make it on the ballot if he can woe primary voters, who tend to be more conservative.

“Democrats sense an opportunity, no matter how uphill it is, if Kobach is the nominee,” Miller said.

That has Republicans concerned because they don’t want a tough race in Kansas complicating their efforts to protect their 53-47 majority in the U.S. Senate. A Democrat hasn’t won a Senate race in the state since 1932.

GOP officials had hoped that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would enter the race and settle the confusion. But Pompeo said in January he was remaining as the nation’s top diplomat.

Kris Kobach is uniquely toxic in a way that puts the Kansas race on the national radar,” Miller said, in explaining the amount of money Bollier is raising. “I think that is what is different.”

Bollier, a retired Kansas City-area anesthesiologist from the affluent Kansas City suburb of Mission Hills, also blew away her competitors in the fourth quarter of 2019. Even after spending $1 million of her take, she has $2.34 million cash on hand, a sizeable sum in a low-cost media state like Kansas.

Beatty said her strong showing means that Democrats consider her “viable.”

Bollier was elected to the Legislature as a moderate Republican but switched parties at the end of 2018. Bollier campaign spokeswoman Alexandra De Luca said voters are drawn to her “fierce independent streak.” It has helped her that the suburbs of Kansas City have turned more purple following President Donald Trump’s election, as have many across the country.

Kobach has never had a a reputation as a strong fundraiser. He also struggled to raise money in the governor’s race, relying heavily on the money of his running mate, Wichita oil magnate Wink Hartman.

He said in an interview earlier this month that his brand of politics – he called it “grassroots conservatism” – relies on live events that have been canceled in favor of virtual ones. But Kobach, who had President Donald Trump’s backing in his failed gubernatorial bid, added in a statement that he was confident that the party ultimately would “choose the right nominee” and that “the Republican-nominee, standing alongside President Trump, will win again in 2020.”

Kansas GOP chair Mike Kuckelman noted the poor fundraising of two other candidates — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, who raised $100,918 for the quarter, and former Kansas City Chiefs player Dave Lindstrom, who raised $79,374 – in asking them to drop out in a letter Thursday. The GOP field also includes plumbing company founder Bob Hamilton, who raised $156,050 in two days after launching his campaign in the final week of March and loaned himself $2 million.

____

John Hanna in Topeka contributed to this report.

Huntsman becomes third to qualify for GOP primary ballot

Huntsman becomes third to qualify for GOP primary ballot

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By LINDSAY WHITEHURST

Associated Press

Monday, April 13, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. qualified for the Republican primary ballot on Monday, joining Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and ex-GOP chair Thomas Wright.

Huntsman made the cut hours before the deadline after the coronavirus crisis ended the typical strategy of knocking on doors to gather signatures. Gov. Gary Herbert, who is not running again, allowed candidates to gather signatures remotely through a fairly lengthy process aimed at ensuring integrity of the system.

Campaign spokeswoman Abby Huntsman said in a statement the situation showed the need for reforms to allow for voter participation in the election process. Huntsman will now pivot to swaying undecided voters with a plan to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak as he works to campaign to reclaim the post he left in 2009.

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Republican voters will have more than three choices on the primary ballot, though. Candidates can also qualify by convincing party delegates at the GOP convention later this month. Ex-House Speaker Greg Hughes, businessman Jeff Burningham and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton are among the candidates also vying for the Republican nomination.