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National Govt & Politics
The Road to Election 2018 - primaries for Congress start today in Texas
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The Road to Election 2018 - primaries for Congress start today in Texas

The Road to Election 2018 - primaries for Congress start today in Texas
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

The Road to Election 2018 - primaries for Congress start today in Texas

The road to the new Congress begins today in the state of Texas, where voters are going to the polls to cast ballots in the first 2018 primaries for the U.S. House and Senate which will be seated in 2019, as even before today, a number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill had opted to hang up their legislative cleats, and leave their jobs in the U.S. Capitol.

While no members of Congress Texas seem to have a life-or-death primary fight on their hands today, this voting is officially the beginning of what Democrats hope will result in enough wins to carry them back to majority status in at least the U.S. House, as they look to capitalize on their party's backlash to President Donald Trump's election in 2016.

The primary calendar starts today in Texas, and stretches into September, when New Hampshire and Rhode Island wrap up voting with their primaries for the Congress.

So, what might we see in the months ahead?

1. In Texas, some familiar warnings signs for GOP. We have seen it play out in a number of special elections for the U.S. House and Senate since Donald Trump became President - Democrats have had a big edge in enthusiasm about voting. That was true in a number of House races, and was certainly true as the Democrats won an upset in a Senate race in Alabama last December. So far in the Lone Star State, some of the same clues are appearing, as the Democrats are more excited about voting. Think back to the 2010 Tea Party wave, and it was the exact opposite back then, when GOP voters were the ones who would walk over broken glass to get to the polls.

2. Primaries usually don't cause much turnover. While voters go to the polls today in Texas, it would be surprising for the voters to knock off incumbents from either party. In the last seven election years for the Congress, the average number of lawmakers who lose a primary is just five - and that's skewed because of a large number - 13 - who lost in the 2010 Tea Party wave year. Much of what's going on in Texas right now seems to be more about setting up races for November, rather than booting out someone who is already in office. And President Trump has been trying to convince GOP voters that is their best course as well.

3. Change in the House is already taking place. I know I sound like a broken record about this stuff, but there has been a rather constant turnover in Congress in recent years, which I think most people don't think is happening. As of today, 52 House members won't be back in January of 2019 - that's already a 12 percent turnover in the House, and this is the first day of primary voting. The House is averaging a 14 percent turnover since 2004 - that's a lot of new people and a lot of new faces cycling in and out of the Congress on a regular basis. And right now, Democrats think they will be able to defeat a number of GOP lawmakers in November to increase those turnover numbers even more. Here is my current breakdown of where we stand in terms of change in the Congress:

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

4. Some key special elections also on the horizon. The Texas primaries are just a palate cleanser for the big battle that will take place next week in Pennsylvania, with a special election for a U.S. House seat that was held by the GOP. Recent polls have shown a very tight race - and that enthusiasm gap as discussed above - could play a big role in the outcome of this race in the 18th district of Pennsylvania. President Trump will hold a rally in the Pittsburgh area on Saturday, a reminder of just how important these elections are for his administration. The GOP candidate there is not running away from him, but the Democrat seems to have a lot of momentum. That's next week.

5. Senate turnover much smaller - for now. If you notice one thing from the graphic above, while the House is already assured of a number of new faces in 2019, that's not guaranteed for the Senate, where only three Senators have decided not to run for re-election. There was news about change on Monday, as veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced that he would resign in coming weeks, because of health problems that have obviously plagued him in recent months. That will set up dual Senate races in two states this year - Minnesota and Mississippi - where voters will vote for both a full 6-year Senate term, and then for someone to fill out the rest of an unexpired term. If there is going to be change in the Senate, it will most likely come in November.

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News

  • The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials are investigating an outbreak of salmonella cases in several states. >> Read more trending news  The CDC has linked the infections to contact with backyard poultry, namely chickens and ducklings. So far, 52 people in 21 states have been infected, the CDC announced. Of those 52, 28% are children younger than 5. Five people have been hospitalized, the CDC said. So far, infections have been found in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.  >> Related: CDC warns consumers not to wash raw chicken In interviews, people said they got their chicks and ducklings from agricultural stores, websites and hatcheries. This is not the first time a salmonella outbreak has been linked to our feathered friends. In July 2018, the CDC discovered 212 salmonella cases in 44 states linked to backyard poultry. >> Related: More people infected with Salmonella from pet hedgehogs, CDC warns There are many ways people can be infected by fowl.  Poultry might have salmonella germs in their droppings, and on their feathers, feet and beaks, even when they appear healthy and clean, the CDC states on its website. The germs can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants, and soil. Germs also can get on the hands, shoes and clothes of people who handle or care for poultry. >> Related: E. coli outbreak sickens dozens in 5 states, CDC says Infection can be prevented, however. The CDC recommends the following safety tips: Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise handwashing by young children. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored. Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house. Children younger than 5, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry. Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam. Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth. Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers. For a complete list of recommendations, visit the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website section on backyard poultry.
  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson mixed up his real estate terms at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, mistaking “real estate owned,” a foreclosure term, for Oreo, as in the cookie.  >> Read more trending news  Representative Katie Porter, (D-CA), was asking Carson about the high REO rates. Porter said the Federal Housing Administration has more properties that become real estate owned than other loans. >> Trending: 14-year-old boy dies after severe beating as baby; ‘Carl’s life was nothing but pain’ Here’s the exchange: “I would also like to ask you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what a REO is?” Porter asked. “An Oreo?” Carson replied. “R, no not an Oreo. An R-E-O,” Porter responded. “Real estate?” Carson asked. “What does the O stand for?” Porter asked Carson. “E organization?” he responded. Porter went on to explain that when a property goes into foreclosure, it’s called an REO. After the hearing, Carson made light of the mix-up, posting a photo of himself with a package of Oreo cookies to social media and tagging Porter. >> Trending: Former White House counsel Don McGahn ignores subpoena, skips Congressional hearing “Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!” he wrote on Twitter. Oreo got in on the action by Tuesday afternoon, posting a response on social media. “REO stands for ‘Really Excellent OREO (cookie).’ Everyone knows that,” the brand posted.
  • If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, apparently you’re not alone. No less an authority than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says people frequently confuse the two holidays. >> Read more trending news Make no mistake about it: Both are incredibly important holidays, with their common focus on Americans who’ve served in the military. The key distinction: Memorial Day “is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle,” the VA says. While Veterans Day also honors the dead, it is “the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.” Here’s a guide to each holiday: Memorial Day When it is: This year, it is on May 27. Its original name: Decoration Day. Initially, it honored only those soldiers who’d died during the Civil War. In 1868, a veteran of the Union Army, Gen. John A. Logan, decided to formalize a growing tradition of towns decorating veterans’ graves with flowers by organizing a nationwide day of remembrance on May 30 Logan also served in Congress from Illinois and in 1884, unsuccessfully ran for vice president on the Republican ticket. During World War I, the holiday’s focus expanded to honoring those lost during all U.S. wars. When it became official: In 1968, Congress officially established Memorial Day, as it had gradually come to be known, as a federal holiday that always takes place on the last Monday in May. Its unofficial designation: Memorial Day is still a solemn day of remembrance everywhere from Arlington National Cemetery to metro Atlanta, where a number of ceremonies and events will take place on Monday. On a lighter note, though, many people view the arrival of the three-day weekend each year as the start of summer. One more thing to know: In 2000, Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance. It asks all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day each year to remember the dead. Veterans Day When it is: Nov. 11 every year.  Its original name: Armistice Day. The armistice or agreement signed between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I called for the cessation of all hostilities to take effect at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year in 1918. One year later, on Nov. 11, 1919, the first Armistice Day was celebrated in the U.S.  When it became official: In 1938, a congressional act established Armistice Day as an annual legal holiday. In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks first proposed the idea of expanding the holiday to one honoring veterans of all U.S. wars. In 1954, the holiday legally became known as Veterans Day. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan presented Alabama resident Weeks with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in recognition of his efforts in creating Veterans Day. Its temporary relocation: In 1968, the same congressional act that established Memorial Day moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October every year. That law took effect in 1971; just four years later, in 1975, President Gerald Ford -- citing the original date’s “historic and patriotic significance,” signed a bill that redesignated Nov. 11 as Veterans Day every year. One more thing to know: Despite much confusion over the spelling, it’s Veterans Day, plural, and without any apostrophes. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which explains on its website: “Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”    
  • Authorities were called to a church in Bridgeton, New Jersey, after reports of a man throwing rocks through stained-glass windows, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news  The incident happened at Immaculate Conception Holy Cross Church on Saturday, NJ.com reported. Witnesses called police and described the suspect, reporting that the man had thrown two large rocks through two stained-glass windows at the church. Police said they arrested a suspect identified as Norris Glass III, 40, at a nearby gas station, according to NJ.com. Glass is facing criminal mischief charges after police said he caused $4,000 in damage to the church. >> Trending: Horrified mother watches son, boyfriend drown as powerful rip current drags them out to sea Glass is no stranger to authorities. He was convicted of criminal trespassing in 2013 and pleaded guilty to obstructing the administration of law in 2017, the news outlet reported.  
  • Memorial Day -- it is a holiday many Americans celebrate by spending time with loved ones and enjoying the May weather.  >> Read more trending news But how might some of the more than 21 million U.S. veterans view and celebrate one the country's most somber holidays, which was created to remember the men and women who died fighting for their country? Retired U.S. Army Gen. Bob Drolet told WHNT, 'We're engaged in conflict today in the Middle East and there are people who are giving their lives almost on a daily basis. So you have to have a day where you remember the sacrifices.'  And there are many sacrifices to remember. According to findings from the Pew Research Center, since Sept. 11, 2001, about half of U.S. vets have served alongside a comrade who was killed, with that number rising for men and women in combat.   And because of those firsthand horrors experienced in battle, many soldiers and veterans spend Memorial Day a bit differently than the average American might.   Take Capt. David Danelo, the author of 'The Return' and a Marine Corps infantry officer who served in Iraq. 'I'm proud to be a civilian and I'm proud to be a Marine,' he said.  In honor of Memorial Day, Danelo talked to Legacy.com and said that on Memorial Day, he not only remembers his fallen comrades, but goes to visit the graves of those who may have been forgotten. 'There's one cemetery in Philadelphia that has a Civil War veteran who I'll go see. He’s long been forgotten and nobody thinks about him. I just walk around there and pay my respects to (his) memory.'  The 'Flags In' ceremony is another way a lot of soldiers commemorate Memorial Day: placing flags on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery.  'It's kind of an emotional process to know, 'cause I feel connected to each one of these soldiers that served before me. So it's kind of like a brotherhood thing. We just want to take care of our brothers and sisters, make sure they look good,' Pfc. Michael Samuel told USA Today.  But still, at least for wounded retired Army Staff Sgt. Luke Murphy, there is a feeling that civilians could make more of an effort to pay respects to fallen soldiers.  In a CNN op-ed piece Murphy gave an emotional account of losing his friend and fellow service member Sgt. 1st Class Jason Bishop while serving in Iraq.  Murphy wrote, in part, 'When soldiers die, they don't just roll over and quit like in the movies. They fight like hell. ... And sometimes they lose. The biggest loser is the family, though. ... The next biggest losers are the guys who were with the soldier. Many times they've got survivor's guilt. ... So, what do nonfamily members and nonveterans think about on Memorial Day? Sometimes I think they just don't give a damn.' Murphy suggests that people who want to show respect for members of the military make a donation to organizations such as Homes for Our Troops. That's the program that built Murphy and his family a new home that is accessible for someone with his injuries.   So however you choose to spend Memorial Day, whether by the pool or at a parade, try to remember why the holiday exists. 
  • An Oxford, Mississippi, police officer has been charged with the murder of a north Mississippi mother. >> Read more trending news The shooting happened Sunday afternoon in the 1000 block of Suncrest Drive. Officers arrived to the scene to find an “unresponsive person” who was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was identified as Dominique Lashelle Clayton, 32. She was the mother of four, according to neighbors. Friends told WHBQ-TV that Clayton was shot in the back of the head during a domestic situation. Her 8-year-old son found her after being dropped off at the house by a family member on Sunday. Interim Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen said the department learned on Sunday that Matthew Paul Kinne, an Oxford police officer, was possibly 'involved' with Clayton. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation took over the case, and Kinne was developed as a suspect. Dominiques Clayton's sister, Shyjuan, said Kinne and Dominique Clayton had been having an affair. Kinne was arrested Monday night and is being held in the Panola County jail. He is charged with murder. “We will not hide behind our badge,' McCutchen said. 'Dominque was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a member of our community. This day is about her.” Kinne has been a police officer with the Oxford Police Department for four years.