letter to shareholders.

“I’ll venture a rare prediction,” he wrote in February. “BNSF will be a key asset for Berkshire and our country a century from now.”

Peter S. Goodman and Clifford Krauss contributed reporting.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Says FBI Agents Seized His Cellphone

By Associated Press
September 14, 2022

Lindell has been charged in what prosecutors say was a “deceptive scheme” to breach voting system technology used across the country.

MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell said Tuesday that federal agents seized his cellphone and questioned him about a Colorado clerk who has been charged in what prosecutors say was a “deceptive scheme” to breach voting system technology used across the country.

Lindell was approached in the drive-thru of a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant in Mankato, Minnesota, by several FBI agents, he said on his podcast, “The Lindell Report.” The agents questioned him about Dominion Voting Systems, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and his connection to Doug Frank, an Ohio educator who claims voting machines have been manipulated, he said.

The agents then told Lindell they had a warrant to seize his cellphone and ordered him to turn it over, he said. On a video version of his podcast, Lindell displayed a letter signed by an assistant U.S. attorney in Colorado that said prosecutors were conducting an “official criminal investigation of a suspected felony” and noted the use of a federal grand jury.

The circumstances of the investigation were unclear. The Justice Department did not immediately respond Tuesday night to a request for comment about the seizure or investigation.

“Without commenting on this specific matter, I can confirm that the FBI was at that location executing a search warrant authorized by a federal judge,” FBI spokeswoman Vikki Migoya said in an email.

Federal prosecutors have been conducting a parallel investigation alongside local prosecutors in Colorado who have charged Peters with several offenses, including attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation and official misconduct. The Republican was elected in 2018 to oversee elections in Colorado’s Mesa County. A deputy clerk, Belinda Knisley, was also charged in the case, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation.

For more than a year, Peters has appeared onstage with supporters of former President Donald Trump who made false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The charges against Peters and Knisley allege the two were involved in a “deceptive scheme which was designed to influence public servants, breach security protocols, exceed permissible access to voting equipment, and set in motion the eventual distribution of confidential information to unauthorized people.”

State election officials first became aware of a security breach in Mesa County in 2021 when a photo and video of confidential voting system passwords were posted on social media and a conservative website. Because each Colorado county has unique passwords maintained by the state, officials identified them as belonging to Mesa County, a largely rural area on the border with Utah.

Peters appeared onstage in August 2021 at a “cybersymposium” hosted by Lindell, who has sought to prove that voting machines have been manipulated and promised to reveal proof of that during the event.

While no evidence was provided, a copy of Mesa County’s voting system hard drive was distributed and posted online, according to attendees and state officials.

The copy included proprietary software developed by Dominion Voting Systems that is used by election offices around the country. Experts have described the unauthorized release as serious, saying it provided a potential “practice environment” that would allow anyone to probe for vulnerabilities that could be exploited during a future election.

Nearly two years after the 2020 election, no evidence has emerged to suggest widespread fraud or manipulation, while reviews in state after state have upheld the results showing President Joe Biden won.

The Mesa County breach is just one of several around the country that have concerned election security experts. Authorities are investigating whether unauthorized people were allowed to access voting systems in Georgia and Michigan.

Lindell said the federal agents had also questioned him about when he first met Frank, an Ohio math and science educator, who is among a group of people who have been traveling across the U.S. meeting with community groups claiming to have evidence that voting machines were rigged in the 2020 election.

In court records, prosecutors say Frank met with Peters and members of her staff in April 2021 in her office. During the meeting, Frank told Peters that the county’s election management system was vulnerable to outside interference and the group discussed concerns the state was going to “wipe” the machines, according to the court records.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

Source: newsy.com

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Thousands Of Minnesota Nurses Launch 3-Day Strike Over Pay

Some 15,000 nurses in Minneapolis and Duluth are seeking a more than 30% pay increase, while hospitals have offered 10%-12% over three years.

Thousands of nurses in Minnesota launched a three-day strike Monday, pressing for salary increases they say will help improve patient care by resolving understaffing stresses that have worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 15,000 nurses at seven health care systems in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas walked out, a number the union says makes it the largest strike ever by private-sector nurses. The affected hospitals said they have recruited temporary nurses and expected to maintain most services.

Scores of nurses began walking the picket line at 7 a.m. outside Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, one of 15 hospitals affected. Clad in the red T-shirts of the Minnesota Nurses Association and carrying signs with such slogans as, “Something has got to give,” several said their chief concern was patient safety.

Tracey Dittrich, 50, a registered nurse at the hospital for nearly 24 years, said nurses are tired of “hospital administrators and managers that are telling us to do more.” The hospitals need more nurses and more support staff, and higher pay will help, she said.

“There are shifts where you have three critically ill patients, and you have to decide which patient gets the care, when,” Dittrich said. “I work with people all the time that go home every day and feel horrible because one child had to wait longer for medication, or another child needed to wait longer for an IV. Another child maybe had to wait for a breathing treatment because we just couldn’t get to them all fast enough.”

Union spokesman Sam Fettig said the nurses chose a three-day strike, rather than an open-ended walkout, out of concern for patients.

The hospitals have offered a 10%-12% wage increase over three years, but nurses are seeking more than 30%. Hospital leaders called their wage demands unaffordable, noting that Allina and Fairview hospitals have posted operating losses and that the cost of such sharp wage increases would be passed along to patients.

“The union rejected all requests for mediation and held fast to wage demands that were unrealistic, unreasonable and unaffordable,” several of the Twin Cities hospitals under strike said in a joint statement.

The statement said people with emergency issues should continue to call 911 or go to emergency rooms. It said despite staffing hospitals with “experienced nurse managers, trained replacement nurses and some existing traveler nurses” that people may see some delay in being treated.

Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, billed as the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S., said more nurses across the country are pushing back and that most job actions revolve around the same core issues — staffing and pay.

“The pandemic did so many things in pointing out, clarifying and shining a light on what life is like in the hospitals and what nurses are expected to do, which is a lot with very little,” Ross said. “We have to have a bottom line where you just can’t shove any more patients on to that nurse.”

Kathy Misk, another registered nurse at Children’s, works in case management and helps families transition from hospital care to caring for their child at home. Misk said a shortage of nurses has sometimes required keeping “high-tech” children – those who need special equipment to breathe, for example – from going home as soon as they otherwise could. Raising pay could help the hospital keep nurses on staff, she said.

“You don’t retain nurses with low wages,” Misk said. “When you incentivize nurses with pay, what you’re saying to them is they have worth, and they are able to stay in one job.”

When asked about Misk’s statement that some children have not gone home as soon as they might have, Nick Petersen, a spokesman for Children’s, said children are admitted or discharged “based on the expert judgment of the medical professionals who care for them.”

The hospitals affected by the strike are operated by Allina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospital, North Memorial and HealthPartners. In Duluth, it is Essentia and St Luke’s.

Separately, in Wisconsin, a potential three-day strike by nurses at UW Health, one of the state’s largest health systems, that was set to start Tuesday was averted when the nurses and the UW Hospital board reached an agreement. Details weren’t immediately released.

The Minnesota nurses’ strike comes amid an upsurge in union activity nationwide.

A national railroad strike could begin as early as Friday unless Congress steps in to block it. The two largest railroad unions have been demanding that the major freight carriers go beyond a proposed deal recommended by arbitrators appointed by President Joe Biden.

Some high-profile companies, including Starbucks, are among those trying to stifle ongoing unionization efforts. Since late last year, more than 230 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, which Starbucks opposes.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Yankees’ Judge Hits Home Run 55, Nears American League Record

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is on pace to hit 65 home runs, which would surpass the record 61 set by fellow Yankee Roger Maris in 1961.

“61 in ’61” is a phrase that’s held up for more than six decades in Major League Baseball. It signifies the American League record 61 home runs hit by New York Yankees great Roger Maris in 1961. 

A record that may soon be replaced at the hands of Aaron Judge.

The Yankees outfielder homered for a fourth straight game Wednesday afternoon, blasting his 55th of the season in the first game of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins. 

The 374-foot bomb is Judge’s sixth over his last eight games and set the franchise record for the most home runs by a right-handed hitter in team history. Alex Rodriguez finished the season with 54 in 2007.

Judge also now holds the record for most home runs by any Yankee through the team’s first 136 games — outpacing Maris (53 in 1961) and Babe Ruth (54 in 1921).

Despite those records, there’s just one — Maris’ “61 in ’61” — that’s keeping baseball fans on the edge of their seats when Judge steps to the plate.

With just 25 games left in the regular season, Judge is on pace to hit 10 more homers, which would put him at 65 and surpass Maris’ longstanding record.

While Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa each recorded seasons with more than 65 home runs, they came at a time that’s widely been coined the “steroid era” of baseball.  Maris’ 61 still stands as what many refer to as the “real” home run record.

The Yankees round out a four-game series against the Twins Thursday night at 7:05 ET. 

Judge is expected to be in the lineup.

Source: newsy.com

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Some States Could Tax Biden’s Student Loan Debt Relief

Some states tax forgiven debt as income, which means borrowers who are still paying down student loans could owe taxes on money taken off their bill.

President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan could lift crushing debt burdens from millions of borrowers, but the tax man may demand a cut of the relief in some states.

That’s because some states tax forgiven debt as income, which means borrowers who are still paying down student loans could owe taxes on as much as $10,000 or even $20,000 that was taken off their bill. In Mississippi, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas and North Carolina, forgiven student loans will be subject to state income taxes unless they change their laws to conform with a federal tax exemption for student loans, according to a tally by the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

That dismays Cathy Newman, a Louisiana State University graduate who just took a job teaching freshman biology at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. She figures she could end up owing a few hundred dollars of money that she could have kept had she stayed in Louisiana.

Newman said she can come up with the cash because she has a good job, but she knows of a lot of other borrowers who will still be stuck in difficult financial positions even with their loans forgiven.

“If they stay in the state, they could end up with a pretty hefty tax burden if things don’t change,” Newman said. “I won’t be happy if I have to do it. I can do it. But a lot of people can’t.”

More than 40 million Americans could see their student loan debt cut or eliminated under the forgiveness plan President Biden announced late last month. The president is erasing $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individuals with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that earn less than $250,000. He’s canceling an additional $10,000 for those who also used federal Pell Grants to pay for college. But it only applies to those whose loans were paid out before July 1, which leaves out current high school seniors and students who will follow them.

Although having $10,000 or $20,000 in loan payments eliminated will be a boon over the long term to borrowers who qualify, those in the affected states might be required to declare that as income. Depending on a state’s tax rates, the taxpayer’s other income and the deductions and exemptions they’re able to claim, that could add up to several hundred extra tax dollars that they’ll owe.

Spokespeople for tax agencies in several states — including Virginia, Idaho, New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky — told The Associated Press that their states definitely won’t tax student loans forgiven under President Biden’s program. Revenue officials in a few other states said they needed to do more research to know.

Newman, 38, went into debt to pay for graduate school. She had already set herself up for relief under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, though that requires five more years of teaching on top of the five she already taught at the University of Louisiana Monroe. President Biden’s program would cut $10,000 off her debt load when it takes effect, but under existing Mississippi tax law, the relief won’t come free.

“It’s not a huge burden for me, but it could be for a lot of other people, which is what I’m worried about, especially if it’s unexpected, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that,” Newman said.

Any relief in states that would tax the forgiven debt would have to come from their Legislatures. Leaders of the Minnesota Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz have indicated in recent media interviews that there’s broad support for a fix, which could come during the 2023 session, or even earlier on the remote chance of a special session.

In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration plans to propose a fix in the state budget next year, but that would have to be approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. And Evers needs to get reelected in November before he can formally make that request. Republican legislative leaders and Evers’ GOP challenger, Tim Michels, did not reply to messages seeking comment on the student loan tax issue.

However, in Mississippi, the chairman of the state Senate committee in charge of taxes said he’s willing to take a look when the Legislature convenes next year. Republican state Sen. Josh Harkins, of Brandon, said he needs to learn more about what his state’s tax laws say on debt forgiveness.

“I’m sure people will want to look at adjusting that or making some changes in the law, but a lot of factors have to be considered,” Harkins said, noting that Mississippi enacted its biggest-ever tax cut earlier this year and adding that he wants to gauge the impact of inflation before making big tax policy decisions. “This all just hit in the last week.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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This Remote Mine Could Foretell the Future of America’s Electric Car Industry

Hiding a thousand feet below the earth’s surface in this patch of northern Minnesota wetlands are ancient mineral deposits that some view as critical to fueling America’s clean energy future.

poor environmental record in the United States, and an even more checkered footprint globally. While some in the area argue the mine could bring good jobs to a sparsely populated region, others are deeply fearful that it could spoil local lakes and streams that feed into the Mississippi River. There is also concern that it could endanger the livelihoods and culture of Ojibwe tribes whose members live just over a mile from Talon’s land and have gathered wild rice here for generations.

provoked outrage in 2020 by blowing up a 46,000-year-old system of Aboriginal caves in Australia in a search for iron ore.

at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group in the state. Locals say the only Tesla for miles is Talon’s company car.

“Talon and Rio Tinto will come and go — greatly enriched by their mining operation. But we, and the remnants of the Tamarack mine, will be here forever,” Mr. Applegate said.

near tribal land.

approved a plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Indonesia and the Philippines, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide before being refined in Chinese factories powered by coal.

Another source of nickel is a massive mining operation north of the Arctic Circle in Norilsk, Russia, which has produced so much sulfur dioxide that a plume of the toxic gas is big enough to be seen from space. Other minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as lithium and cobalt, appear to have been mined or refined with the use of child or forced labor.

With global demand for electric vehicles projected to grow sixfold by 2030, the dirty origins of this otherwise promising green industry have become a looming crisis. The Democrats’ new tax and climate bill devotes nearly $400 billion to clean energy initiatives over the next decade, including electric vehicle tax credits and financing for companies that manufacture clean cars in the United States.

New domestic high-tech mines and factories could make this supply chain more secure, and potentially less damaging to the global environment. But skeptics say those facilities may still pose a risk to the air, soil and water that surrounds them, and spark a fierce debate about which communities might bear those costs.

can leach out sulfuric acid and heavy metals. More than a dozen former copper mines in the United States are now Superfund sites, contaminated locations where taxpayers can end up on the hook for cleanup.

canceled leases for another copper-nickel mine near a Minnesota wilderness area, saying the Trump administration had improperly renewed them.

Talon Metals insists that it will have no such problems. “We can produce the battery materials that are necessary for the energy transition and also protect the environment,” said Todd Malan, the company’s chief external affairs officer and head of climate strategy. “It’s not a choice.”

The company is using high-tech equipment to map underground flows of water in the area and create a 3-D model of the ore, so it can mine “surgically” while leaving other parts of the earth undisturbed, Mr. Malan said. Talon is also promising to use technology that will safely store the mine’s toxic byproducts and do its mining far underground, in deep bedrock where groundwater doesn’t typically penetrate.

Talon has teamed up with the United Steelworkers union on work force development. And Rio Tinto has won a $2.2 million Department of Energy grant to explore capturing carbon near the site, which may allow the mine to market its products as zero emission.

estimates, the world will need roughly 20 times as much nickel and cobalt by 2040 as it had in 2020 and 40 times as much lithium.

Recycling could play a bigger role in supplying these materials by the end of the decade, and some new car batteries do not use any nickel. Yet nickel is still highly sought after for electric trucks and higher-end cars, because it increases a vehicle’s range.

The infrastructure law passed last year devoted $7 billion to developing the domestic supply chain for critical minerals. The climate and tax law also sets ambitious thresholds for ensuring that electric vehicles that receive tax incentives are partly U.S.-made.

has begged miners to produce more.

is home to deposits of nickel, copper and cobalt, which were formed 1.1 billion years ago from a volcano that spewed out miles of liquid magma.

Talon has leased 31,000 acres of land in the area, covering an 11-mile geological feature deep under the swamp. The company has zealously drilled and examined the underground resources along one of those 11 miles, and discovered several other potential satellite deposits.

In August, the company announced that it had also acquired land in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to explore for more nickel.

Talon will start Minnesota’s environmental review process within a few months, and the company says it anticipates a straightforward review. But legal challenges for proposed mines can regularly stretch to a decade or more, and some living near the project say they will do what they can to fight the mine.

Elizabeth Skinaway and her sister, Jean Skinaway-Lawrence, members of the Sandy Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa, are especially concerned about damage to the wild rice, which Ms. Skinaway has been gathering in lakes several miles from the proposed mine for 43 years.

Ms. Skinaway acknowledges the need to combat climate change, which also threatens the rice. But she sees little justice in using the same kind of profit-driven, extractive industry that she said had long plundered native lands and damaged the global environment.

“The wild rice, the gift from the creator, that’s going to be gone, from the sulfide that’s going to leach into the river and the lakes,” she said. “It’s just a really scary thought.”

“We were here first,” said her sister. “We should be heard.”

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R. Kelly Jury Selection Underway For Trial Fixing Allegations

By Associated Press
August 15, 2022

Jurors acquitted Kelly on all charges in that 2008 trial, some explaining later that they felt they had no choice because the girl did not testify.

Jury selection got underway Monday at R. Kelly’s federal trial in his hometown of Chicago, where the R&B singer faces charges that he rigged his 2008 state child pornography trial by threatening and paying off a girl with whom he allegedly filmed himself having sex when he was around 30 and she was no older than 14.

Jurors acquitted Kelly on all charges in that 2008 trial, some explaining later that they felt they had no choice because the girl did not testify. The woman, now in her 30s and referred to in filings only as “Minor 1,” will be the government’s star witness in the federal trial.

Kelly, 55, was already sentenced by a New York federal judge to a 30-year prison term for a 2021 conviction on charges he used his fame to sexually abuse other young fans.

Kelly, wearing a light gray suit and a tie, sat next to his attorney Jennifer Bonjean as court began Monday. Bonjean introduced herself, Kelly and other attorneys representing him. Kelly wore a mask, as did everyone in court due to coronavirus precautions.

Before at least two dozen potential jurors were brought in, the judge said he hoped to select 12 jurors and six alternates Monday and Tuesday from a pool of 125. Once a jury is chosen, the panel will hear opening statements from prosecutors and the defense before the first witness is called.

Kelly, who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer, faces multiple charges at the federal trial. They include four counts of enticement of minors for sex — one each for four other accusers. They, too, are slated to testify.

Before potential jurors were brought in, Bonjean asked the judge to exclude anyone who watched the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” that revisited old allegations against Kelly and spotlighted new ones. An estimated 12.8 million people watched the six-part series that premiered in January 2019.

The judge denied that motion but said the jurors would be questioned about the program.

Convictions in Chicago could add decades to Kelly’s New York sentence, which he is appealing. With the New York sentence alone, Kelly will be around 80 before qualifying for early release.

Two Kelly associates, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, are co-defendants at the Chicago trial. McDavid is accused of helping Kelly fix the 2008 trial, while Brown is charged with receiving child pornography. Like Kelly, they have also denied any wrongdoing.

Two state cases are also pending. One is a multiple count sex-abuse case out of Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago. The other is a solicitation case in Minnesota. No trial dates are set for either.

Minor 1 is expected to testify that she was on video having sex with Kelly. The recording was at the heart of the monthlong 2008 trial and was played for jurors almost every day.

Minor 1 first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in junior high school. She had tagged along to Kelly’s Chicago recording studio with her aunt, a professional singer working with Kelly. Soon after, Minor 1 told her parents Kelly was going to become her godfather.

Prosecutors say Kelly later threatened and sought to pay off Minor 1 and her parents so they wouldn’t testify at the 2008 trial. None of them did.

Double jeopardy rules bar the prosecution of someone for the same crimes they were acquitted of earlier. That doesn’t apply to the Chicago federal trial because prosecutors are alleging different crimes related to Minor 1, including obstruction of justice.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Voters In 4 States Head To The Polls For Primary Elections

Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut are holding primary elections Tuesday to decide who’s on the ballot for the November midterms.

The Republican matchup in the Wisconsin governor’s race on Tuesday features competing candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump and his estranged vice president, Mike Pence. Democrats are picking a candidate to face two-term GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for control of the closely divided chamber.

Meanwhile, voters in Vermont are choosing a replacement for U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy as the chamber’s longest-serving member retires. In Minnesota, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar faces a Democratic primary challenger who helped defeat a voter referendum to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

What to watch in Tuesday’s primary elections in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut:

WISCONSIN

Construction company co-owner Tim Michels has Trump’s endorsement in the governor’s race and has been spending millions of his own money, touting both the former president’s backing and his years working to build his family’s business into Wisconsin’s largest construction company. Michels casts himself as an outsider, although he previously lost a campaign to oust then-U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold in 2004 and has long been a prominent GOP donor.

Establishment Republicans including Pence and former Gov. Scott Walker have endorsed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who along with Walker, survived a 2012 recall effort. She argues she has the experience and knowledge to pursue conservative priorities, including dismantling the bipartisan commission that runs elections.

With Senate control at stake, Democrats will also make their pick to take on Johnson. Democratic support coalesced around Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes late in the race, when his three top rivals dropped out and threw their support to him. He would become the state’s first Black senator if elected.

Several lesser-known candidates remain in the primary, but Johnson and Republicans have treated Barnes as the nominee, casting him as too liberal for Wisconsin, a state Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020.

Four Democrats are also running in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, a seat that opened up with the retirement of veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind. The district has been trending Republican, and Derrick Van Orden — who narrowly lost to Kind in 2020 and has Trump’s endorsement — is running unopposed.

MINNESOTA

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz faces a little-known opponent as he seeks a second term. His likely challenger is Republican Scott Jensen, a physician and former state lawmaker who has made vaccine skepticism a centerpiece of his campaign and faces token opposition.

Both men have been waging a virtual campaign for months, with Jensen attacking Walz for his management of the pandemic and hammering the governor for rising crime around Minneapolis. Walz has highlighted his own support of abortion rights and suggested that Jensen would be a threat to chip away at the procedure’s legality in Minnesota.

Crime has emerged as the biggest issue in Rep. Omar’s Democratic primary. She faces a challenge from former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who opposes the movement to defund the police and last year helped defeat efforts to replace the city’s police department. Omar, who supported the referendum, has a substantial money advantage and is expected to benefit from a strong grassroots operation.

The most confusing part of Tuesday’s ballot was for the 1st Congressional District seat that was held by U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died earlier this year from cancer. Republican former state Rep. Brad Finstad and Democrat Jeff Ettinger, a former Hormel CEO, are simultaneously competing in primaries to determine the November matchup for the next two-year term representing the southern Minnesota district, as well as a special election to finish the last few months of Hagedorn’s term.

CONNECTICUT

It’s been roughly three decades since Connecticut had a Republican in the U.S. Senate, but the party isn’t giving up.

In the GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the party has endorsed former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides. She’s a social moderate who supports abortion rights and certain gun control measures and says she did not vote for Trump in 2020. Klarides contends her experience and positions can persuade voters to oppose Blumenthal, a two-term senator who in May registered a 45% job approval rating, his lowest in a Quinnipiac poll since taking office.

Klarides is being challenged by conservative attorney Peter Lumaj and Republican National Committee member Leora Levy, whom Trump endorsed last week. Both candidates oppose abortion rights and further gun restrictions, and they back Trump’s policies.

VERMONT

Leahy’s upcoming retirement has opened up two seats in Vermont’s tiny three-person congressional delegation — and the opportunity for the state to send a woman to represent it in Washington for the first time.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, the state’s at-large congressman, quickly launched his Senate bid after Leahy revealed he was stepping down. Leahy, who is president pro tempore of the Senate, has been hospitalized a couple of times over the last two years, including after breaking his hip this summer.

Welch has been endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and is the odds-on favorite to win the seat in November. He faces two other Democrats in the primary: Isaac Evans-Frantz, an activist, and Dr. Niki Thran, an emergency physician.

On the Republican side, former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, retired U.S. Army officer Gerald Malloy and investment banker Myers Mermel are competing for the nomination.

The race to replace Welch has yielded Vermont’s first wide-open U.S. House campaign since 2006.

Two women, including Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, are the top Democratic candidates in the race. Gray, elected in 2020 in her first political bid, is a lawyer and a former assistant state attorney general.

The winner of the Democratic primary will be the heavy favorite to win the general election in the liberal state. In 2018, Vermont became the last state without female representation in Congress when Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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