Republican Legislators In Oregon Subverting Democracy

A must read piece on Vox shines the light on a very troubling but growing pattern among state GOP lawmakers of crippling state legistature business whenever voters put Democrats in charge. Turns out in Oregon, where voters have recently given Democrats super majorities in both chambers of the state’s legislature, Republican legislators have resorted to sabotage–literally refusing to show up for work thereby crippling the legislature due to lack of quorum. As the Vox piece correctly points out, these tantrums by Republican legislators beg for mainstream media attention not only because they are patently undemocratic, but also because they are a good reflection of Trump’s GOP tactics.

Republican legislators in Oregon are apparently sabotaging the legislature’s business by not showing up for work because they are opposed to climate change bllls currently being pushed by the majority Democrats. According to the Vox piece, this is the fifth time in the last 10 months that Oregon state Republicans have resorted to this undemocratic sabotage tactic, having employed the same tactic when Democrats, exercising their electoral mandate, were pushing bills related to guns, forestry, the state budget and healthcare.

As the article correctly points out, this is not just a state GOP phenomenon, but rather an accurate depiction of the current state of mind of Trump’s GOP, especially when one looks at it in light of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s conduct.

We have witnessed time and time again where McConnell and other Republicans in Washington ram through partisan bills using the argument “elections matter”. They are currently ramming through partisan/unqualified federal judges using the same rationale. It is interesting how elections matter only when voters put Republicans in charge and are seemingly meaningless when Democrats take over.

Democrats nationwide are looking forward to the elections in November hoping that a Democratic House, Senate and White House will automatically lead to enactment of Democratic Party policies. However, going by this Vox piece, Democrats prevailing in the upcoming November polls may not be enough. Democrats should expect sabotage by Republican minorities in both state legislatures and Washington, and should start seriously calling out these undemocratic sabotage tactics.

Bottomline folks,as the Vox piece correctly points out, this troubling GOP trend begs for more maindtream media attention especially now that we are in an election year. Republicans both at the state level and in Washington, must not be allowed to make elections matter only when they have majorities while rendering them totally meaningless when voters give Democrats the majority. Simply put, this troubling, patently undemocratic sabotage tactic currently employed by the GOP must either end or get seriously called out by the mainstream media.

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UPDATE-What is McConnell Hiding In His Military Records?

You’ll remember back in 3/31/2019, Yours Truly wrote a blog piece titled “What is McConnell hiding in his military records” that has elicited and continues to elicit a lot of reaction on Twitter and other social media platforms. There is no question that grassroots Democrats really want to know the real reason behind Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s military discharge in 1967.

In the blog piece, Yours Truly promised to dig into the real reason behind McConnell’s military discharge, an important election issue that mysteriously remains a mainstream media no-go-zone. Well, after months of pushing and prodding the Army for McConnell’s info via freedom of Information requests(FOIA), and being subjected to countless baits-and-switches by them, we have finally got some information.

FOIA On Mitch McConnell&#39… by Emolclause on Scribd

According to the FOIA response Yours Truly got from the Army on Jan 8 2020, Mitch McConnell served from March 21, 1967 to August 15, 1967(page 2). Virtually all of the personal information fields are populated by “N/A”, which I suspect is due to the Army’s privacy policy of requiring a signature before releasing such information. Specifically, the FOIA letter stipulates in part, “This record contains sensitive personal information which, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy to the veteran……..If additional information is needed, the Privacy Act of 1974 requires the written consent (signature) of the individual to whom the record pertains.”(see page 1 of attached document). In essence, one would need McConnell’s written consent before getting details about his salary, source of commission, military education etc, which is pretty understandable especially given the fact that Yours Truly is big on privacy.

The sticky point however is in regards to the “Transcript of Court-Martial Trial” field. As you can see from the FOIA response(page 2), it is not populated by “N/A” like the other fields. The field is instead populated by “Not on File”. This raises a whole host of questions because it does not address the dispositive question Yours Truly set out to address with the FOIA request–whether McConnell’s discharge was due to a Court Martial? Remember, allegations/rumors have been flying around for decades that McConnell’s discharge from the military had something to do with a sexual incident between him and another officer and that this incident was the subject of a court martial. To prove or disprove this rumor one has to ascertain whether McConnell was indeed the subject of a Court Martial. The FOIA response offers no answer whatsoever to this crucial question.

Yours Truly took up this burning question with the FOIA Public Liaison officer listed on page 3 of the document, one Kevin Pratt. Specifically, Yours Truly inquired as to whether the “Not on File” listed on the FOIA response meant a court martial was held but the information has been redacted, or whether there was none with respect to Mitch McConnell?

According to Army’s Kevin Pratt, a FOIA request cannot answer the question as to whether one was court-martialed or not. He instead directed me to file a request in writing to another Army office for such information. I then asked him whether the FOIA Ombudsman’s office listed on the FOIA response (page 3) would have information related to court martials to which he replied that they don’t. It’s not clear whether these complications are McConnell-specific or are the norm when it comes to FOIA requests regarding the military. Reasonable people will agree that it should not be this complicated for the military to either deny or confirm whether Mitch McConnell, one of the most powerful politicians in the country and who’s up for reelection, was ever the subject of a court martial. There can be reasonable disagreements however as to whether the details of such court martial proceedings should be kept private or be made available to the general public.

It cannot be left unsaid that the secrecy surrounding McConnell’s military record is patently unfair to his Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, also a veteran . McGrath’s military record unlike McConnell’s, is an open book which allows McConnell’s campaign to dig for campaign dirt while robbing her campaign of a similar opportunity. This glaring political bias should be enough cause for the Army to forego all the procedural technicalities surrounding information requests for veterans and release McConnell’s full military record in the interest of Kentucky voters.

Bottom line folks, no politician should ever be allowed to serve consecutive terms in the U.S. Congress while hiding crucial information from the public. The circumstances surrounding Mitch McConnell’s military discharge have been a valid campaign ever since he first ran for the U.S. Senate. There is absolutely no excuse why the mainstream media, which readily digs into the backgrounds of Democrats, continues to allow McConnell’s military discharge to be a non-story, even as he runs for his 7th consecutive term in the U.S. Senate.

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Decorated Veteran Amy Or MoscowMitch?

As the 2020 U.S. Senate campaigns are heating up all over the country, Kentucky voters are confronted with one of the starkest choices we’ve ever seen in modern political history–whether to send to the U.S. Senate a relatively young decorated military vet Amy McGrath, or stick with their 5 term Senator Mitch McConnell who’s not only associated with everything that is broken in Washington, but whose very loyalty to the United States is up for debate (hence the name MoscowMitch).

The battle between McGrath and McConnell for the Kentucky U.S. Senate seat is arguably the biggest 2020 senate fight. A lot of mainstream media coverage has already been dedicated to this great political battle so it will be an exercise in redundancy to relitigate the strengths and weaknesses of either candidate. Yours Truly will however reiterate what he has said all along that even with Kentucky’s long history of voting for Republicans statewide and the benefits of incumbency that accrue to McConnell, Democrat Amy McGrath is an excellent candidate who has a real shot at taking down Mitch McConnell–Kentucky’s Beto if you will. Remember folks, Yours Truly was a believer in Beto way back when he was trailing Ted Cruz by 20 points and the media was calling the race a lost cause.

There is no doubt in my mind that given the excellent campaign TeamMcGrath is running and the general fatigue people have with MoscowMitch’s hyperpartisan style of politics, Kentuckians in 2020 will settle for Dem Amy McGrath as their Senator.

It cannot also be left unsaid that there is an outside chance that Amy McGrath will end up winning by default–Yes, that McConnell will stare at the prospect of a defeat and decide to call it a career before the 2020 elections. Simply put folks, the MoscowMitch tag has really rattled McConnell and he’s very worried about losing because of that because that would become his legacy. He’d be better off bowing out thus giving himself room to reshape his legacy.

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Gillibrand Slams McConnell For Harming SCOTUS “Almost Irreparably”

At a town hall in New Hampshire, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying by blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland, McConnell had harmed the U.S. Supreme Court “almost irreparably”

Senator Gillibrand addressed a whole host of issues at the New Hampshire town hall (which Yours Truly strongly recommends that any Democrat watch) most notably her long record in Congress for fighting corruption/getting money out of politics. However it was her answer as to how she would handle the U.S. Supreme Court if elected President that caught Yours Truly’s attention the most.

When asked by the town hall moderator whether she would be in favor of term limits for federal Supreme Court justices, Sen Gillibrand emphatically said “Yes” adding;“I think what has happened by this President[Trump] and Mitch McConnell is the extreme politicization of the court. I’ve never seen it worse than it is today and the fact that Mitch McConnell denied the vote and the hearing on Merrick Garland is outrageous and I don’t think we’ve recovered from it….It was a stolen justice….. I think they[Trump and McConnell] have harmed our courts almost irreparably.”

It cannot be left unsaid that even though Senator Gillibrand came into the 2020 Dem presidential nomination contest as one of the top contenders, her campaign has not lived up to its billing. As a matter of fact most Democrats will agree that she has seriously under-performed especially given the fact that she almost failed to make the cut for the recent debate. There is a divergence of opinions among cable TV pundits as to why Sen Gillibrand’s campaign has not caught fire yet. As for Yours Truly, the answer to that is very simple. For Sen Gillibrand to become a top-tier presidential candidate, her campaign should tone down a little on the uber-feminist message and instead focus on her real and provable congressional record of fighting corruption in Washington. Simply put, if Senator Gillibrand becomes the anti-corruption candidate— going after lobbyists, lamenting the swamp, and even going after Trump’s elusive tax returns–the future is bright for her presidential campaign.

Bottom line, even though she gets very little credit from grassroots Democrats (especially post-Al Franken), Sen Gillibrand has been a Dem stalwart with a stellar congressional record to prove it. Yours Truly strongly believes that in the coming months, especially if she keeps touting her anti-corruption record, she will become a top-tier presidential candidate. And while you are at it Sen Gillibrand, keep slamming Mitch McConnell over his Supreme Court chicanery. McConnell bashing is an absolute win win among grassroots Democrats.

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McConnell Blocking Floor Debate On Election Security Bill

In case you missed it, Dem Senator Mark Warner(VA) said on CBS Face The Nation that even after all the press coverage about Russia meddling in our elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is yet to schedule a floor debate on an election security bill. As Senator Warner correctly pointed out, this is the “height of irresponsibility.”

Sen Warner told host Margaret Brennan, “I would argue there are three things we can do this week when we come back. First we have to go ahead and pass bipartisan election security legislation to make sure for example that there is a paper ballot trail after every vote.” Host Margaret Brennan then interjected, “There’s been no floor time allowed” to which Sen Warner responded, “There’s been no floor time allowed.” It is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who decides which bills come to the Senate floor for debate.

Ever since the 2016 elections, this has been one of those troubling but recurring themes–the reluctance by both President Trump and Congressional Republicans to effectively address the well documented efforts by Russia to interfere in our elections. It is by far one of the most perplexing topics of modern American politics. Nobody in their right mind could ever have envisioned that we would come to a point where sitting members of Congress would have to be dragged/forced to act to prevent an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power. Sadly, this is exactly where we find ourselves today and Mitch McConnell’s inaction on a much needed election security legislation serves as exhibit A.

Bottom line, Mitch McConnell is up for reelection in 2020 and both Congressional Democrats and the mainstream media have a duty to confront him about his reluctance to have a floor debate on a desperately needed election security bill. Is Mitch McConnell/GOP counting on help from Russia in the 2020 elections? People should no longer shy away from confronting McConnell and other Congressional Republicans with these types of questions. Yours Truly has been doing just that for some time now.

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Austrian Video Reignites TrumpRussia Questions

In case you missed it, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow recently veered into a story about Austrian politics that even by her own admission, appeared awkwardly off topic. However a few minutes into the Austria segment, it quickly became apparent as to how the story was 100% relevant to the current situation in American politics especially as it relates to the ongoing TrumpRussia controversy.

Maddow featured a bombshell video that is reportedly making rounds in Europe showing details of how the Kremlin helped install an ex-Nazi political party to power in Austria. The video which is apparently seven hours long, shows a meeting between an Austrian politician and a Russian woman, the niece of a Russian Oligarch, scheming on how the Kremlin will install the politician’s party(Freedom Party) to power in return for lucrative government construction/infrastructure contracts. In other words, the Russians help the Austrian get elected and once he is in office, he swings Austrian government contracts to companies run by the Russian Oligarch. The full Maddow segment is available here but relevant clip is below.

Maddow summed up the bombshell video thus; “The blonde lady who you see there whose face is pixellated, she is posing in this interaction as the niece of a Russian Oligarch who would like to support the Freedom Party. That’s who these Freedom Party guys think she is. She is visiting from Russia with a whole bunch of money to spend to help them out. In this video which stretches for seven hours, the Vice Chancellor of Austria, the guy in the front of the screen here, head of the Freedom Party….a group founded by ex-Nazis, who they[Russians] elevated to the number two person in that government, he chats with this young woman about what he wants from her uncle, what he wants from a Kremlin-connected Russian Oligarch to support his party and to support his political aspirations. He tells this woman that this Russian Oligarch should use Russian money to take control of the biggest tabloid newspaper in Austria, turn that tabloid into a mouthpiece for the Freedom Party, help them get elected. Once they get control of the government, the Russian Oligarch should then form a construction company and then this guy who would then be running the government would make sure that all the road building contracts, all the big infrastructure contracts in Austria would then go to the new construction company secretly set up for that purpose and run by the Russian Oligarch who spent all that money to get the ex-Nazi party in charge. So you pay for us to get in power, we will pay you. You infiltrate our country and our press on behalf of Russia. You install a Kremlin-friendly far right political party in Austria and once we are in there we will pay you back in cash with public contracts. Win win win!”

Millions of Americans followed closely Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into TrumpRussia. Any one of them presented with the details of this video of the Kremlin’s operation in Austria would immediately be struck by the shocking similarities this video has to the Russian influence in our 2016 elections. The first image that comes to mind when watching this Austrian video is the infamous Trump Tower meeting where Don Jr and other senior members of the Trump campaign met with now confessed Russian agent Maria Butina. Was a similar deal struck–help us get elected and we will pay you back with government contracts?

Fox News and The National Enquirer also come to mind. The Austrian politician is seen begging the Russians to buy an Austrian tabloid newspaper and turn it into his political party’s mouthpiece to help him get elected. Was Fox News, The National Enquirer, or both of them influenced by Russia to help Trump get elected in 2016? Are they still being influenced by Russia for Trump’s benefit as we head into 2020?

The proposed $200 million investment in Senator Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky by a formerly sanctioned Oligarch who was a key TrumpRussia suspect also comes to mind. Is Oligarch Deripaska getting “paid” by Mitch McConnell for helping Republicans win the White House in 2016? Remember Sen Mitch McConnell was one of the Senators who voted down efforts to keep sanctions on Derpaska’s businesses. If the U.S. Senate had left the sanctions intact, Deripaska’s company Rusal would not have been able to invest $200 million in Kentucky.

Maddow also points out the troubling role of Steve Bannon in Russia’s global quest for political dominance. Bannon who was part of the Trump campaign and helped craft Trump’s far right nativist, even xenophobic message, is apparently now based in Europe helping nativist political parties like the one featured in this Austrian video, gain political power in Europe. There is no question that Putin’s Russia is behind Bannon’s efforts in Europe, just like they were during our 2016 elections.

Bottom line folks, this Austrian video is yet another stark reminder that despite Trump’s constant dismissal of the TrumpRussia conspiracy as a hoax, the Russian global political operation is alive and well. Yours Truly sincerely hopes that this seven hour video depicting Russian election meddling in Austria will be carefully perused by the relevant U.S. law enforcement agencies as a blueprint of how Putin’s global election meddling scheme works. Importantly, U.S. law enforcement agencies should look at the implications of this Austrian story to our current political climate. Americans for example would like to know why a formerly sanction Russian Oligarch with deep ties to the Kremlin is all of a sudden making a significant investment in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Isn’t this exactly the kind of pay-for-play scheme we see in the Austrian story? This video should also be cause for further inquiry into the infamous Trump Tower meeting featuring Natalya Veselnitskaya. Lastly but not least, there should be more light shed on the troubling actions of Republican Party operative Steve Bannon who is seemingly helping Russia install nativist, xenophobic governments in Europe. Does that help or hurt the U.S.?

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Mitch McConnell Rewards Lobbyist’s Wife With Federal Judgeship

A bombshell segment on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expedited the confirmation of U.S. District Judge Wendy Vitter as payback for the work her lobbyist husband David Vitter did to land an aluminium plant linked to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska in Kentucky. David Vitter, a former Republican U.S. Senator from Louisiana is now a lobbyist for Rusal, the Russian firm tied to Oligarch Oleg Deripaska and previously sanctioned by the U.S. government. It is Rusal that has committed $200 million to build an aluminium plant in Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky.

According to the Maddow segment, the confirmation of Wendy Vitter as a federal judge had stalled because a lot of Republicans did not feel she was qualified for the job. However according to Maddow, five weeks after her lobbyist husband David Vitter called McConnell confirming that Rusal will invest in Kentucky, McConnell used his position as Senate Majority Leader to expedite Wendy Vitters confirmation–a clear cut case of pay-for-play corruption and abuse of power.

Maddow specifically said, “Within five weeks of David Vitter calling Mitch McConnell to tell him that Rusal was going to put this plant in Kentucky, Rusal was going to dump hundreds of millions of dollars into Mitch McConnell’s home state, within five weeks of that call, the nomination of David Vitter’s wife to be a federal judge, a nomination that had been languishing for a year and a half because she was so humiliatingly and embarrassingly and obviously unqualified for the job, whose confirmation hearing went so badly it went viral and got her nomination buried, turns out within five weeks of Mitch McConnell getting that call from David Vitter saying hey I got an aluminium plant we are going to put in your home state thanks from Oleg, within five weeks of that call, Wendy Vitter’s nomination got pulled off the trash heap by McConnell and Mitch McConnell expedited it, put it on top of the list and now she’s a federal judge for life. Must be nice.”

Bottom line, there are already a lot of questions surrounding Mitch McConnell and Russia that warrant an investigation. This new pay-for-play twist involving a federal judge should definitely be explored further both by Democrats and the mainstream media. Simply put, McConnell should not be allowed to abuse his position as Senate Majority Leader to push bills in the Senate that seemingly benefit him personally. More importantly, McConnell should not be allowed to continue ruining the credibility of federal courts with pay-for-play confirmation of federal judges. McConnell has already done enough damage to the credibility of federal courts with the Kavanaugh incident.

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Mitch McConnell’s Disgusting Hypocrisy On Obstruction Of Justice

A stunning video from Now This News shows Mitch McConnell some 20 years ago severely criticizing the Clinton administration for what he considered obstruction of the Ken Starr investigation into the president. Shockingly, some of the same obstructive tactics Mitch McConnell lamented 20 years ago, he now fully supports under current Republican President Trump–disgusting hypocrisy.

Mitch McConnell said this on the floor of the U.S. Senate 20 years ago regarding obstruction of justice; “Mr President I rise today to call attention to a serious and deeply troubling crisis in our country. This is a crisis of confidence, of credibility, and of integrity. Our nation is indeed at a crossroads. Will we pursue the search for truth, or will we dodge, weave and evade the truth? I am of course referring to the investigation into serious allegations of illegal conduct by the President of the United States. That the President has engaged in a persistent pattern and practice of obstruction of justice. The allegations are grave, the investigation is legitimate, and ascertaining the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the unqualified, unevasive truth is absolutely critical. The search for truth is being led by a highly capable former Solicitor General of the United States and a former judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Kenneth Starr. Mr President, I am deeply troubled today because judge Starr’s pursuit of the truth is being undermined every step of the way, every single day in the press by those whose sole mission is to attack and impune the court-appointed independent prosecutor and the congressionally-created process. And these attackers are not the journalists or the broadcasters. Mr President what troubles me the most here is that these reckless attacks, these ruthless onslaughts, are being carried out by the closest advisers to the President of the United States. The smear campaign is being orchestrated by the White House.”

Think about that folks, 20 years after his speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell now fully supports all the smear campaigns and obstruction of congress orchestrated by the Trump White House.

Bottom line folks, America has had it’s fair share of despicable politicians. Reasonable people will agree however that Senator Mitch McConnell is the most despicable U.S. politician ever and the video above is Exhibit A.

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Trump And McConnell “Whitening” Federal Courts

OutfrontCNN recently did a segment about a sitting federal judge in mississippi rebuking Trump’s attacks on the federal judges, especially judges of color, and likening such attacks to racial attacks by the Ku Klux KLan. The judge raised several issues of concern but the one that caught Yours Truly’s attention was his assertion that a staggering 90% of Trump’s judicial picks are White. This is a shocking statistic that we rarely hear from the mainstream media and should certainly be explored further especially as Trump’s enforcer in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, continues to bend the rules to push through Trump’s judicial picks. The full OutFrontCNN segment is available here but the relevant clip is below

There are already a lot of complaints about how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is bending U.S. Senate rules to pack federal courts with right wing judges. This troubling revelation that Sen McConnell and Trump are essentially “Whitening” the federal courts instead of making them more reflective the country’s current racial makeup should concern everybody. As Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson, the guest in the OutFrontCNN segment correctly pointed out, “We need a federal judiciary that looks like the populace.”

Bottom line, Mitch McConnell bending Senate rules to pack the federal courts with right wing judges is in itself, very detrimental to the judiciary’s image because people lose respect for a court that is viewed to be rigged/biased. With this new revelation that there’s a racial element to Trump/MitchMcConnell’s court-packing, everyone should be calling for an immediate pause to the judicial selection process until such a time as a respectable bipartisan mechanism for filling judicial vacancies can be put in place. Simply put, McConnell and Trump packing the courts with 90% White right wing damages is doing irreparable damage to the federal judiciary and must be stopped for the court’s sake. This is not a partisan issue

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The 22 GOP Senators Up For Reelection In 2020

22 GOP U.S. Senators are up for reelection in 2020. This gives a tremendous advantage to Democrats who only have to defend 12 Senate seats, especially given the concerns a lot of Americans have about the Trump presidency in battleground states. Below is a Handy List of the 22 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020

As it currently stands the U.S. Senate comprises 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats with 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats, so technically 52-48. To take over the U.S. Senate in 2020, Democrats will need a net gain of 3 Senate seats–a very achievable goal.

Of the 12 Senate Democrats up for reelection, Doug Jones of Alabama is the most vulnerable. The other 11 are in states that typically lean Democratic.

On the Republican side the most vulnerable Senators are Susan Collins(ME), Cory Gardner(CO) and Martha McSally(AZ) plus there are two open seats in Kansas and Tennessee where the incumbent Republicans have chosen not to run in 2020.

It’s also worth pointing out that even though Texas has traditionally voted Republican in Presidential cycles, the recent cliffhanger between Beto O’Rouke and Republican senator Ted Cruz means incumbent Senator John Cornyn’s seat is not a sure bet for Republicans in 2020. This means Dems have a very good shot at flipping 4-5 GOP senate seats in 2020

Bottom line, 2020 presents Democrats with a great opportunity to recapture the U.S. Senate. Dems however must not be complacent but instead contest every U.S. Senate seat to get as close as possible to the magic 60 number.

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