National Politics

NATO chief hails 'historic moment' as Finland, Sweden apply

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that Finland and Sweden have applied for membership amid concerns over Russia’s war on Ukraine. Stoltenberg says NATO allies agree "that this is an historic moment which we must seize.” The applications submitted Wednesday must now be weighed by the 30 member countries. That process is expected to take about two weeks. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining. The two could officially become members once their accession protocols are ratified if Erdogan's objections are overcome, That could take a few months. The process usually takes eight to 12 months. But NATO wants to move quickly given the threat from Russia hanging over the Nordic countries’ heads.

Printing errors mar mailed ballots in Oregon, Pennsylvania

Printing mistakes will force local election officials in Pennsylvania and Oregon to redo thousands of mailed ballots, a laborious process that could delay results for some closely contested races in Tuesday’s primaries. In Pennsylvania, where GOP primaries for governor and U.S. Senate are drawing national attention, officials in Republican-leaning Lancaster County said the company that printed its mailed ballots included the wrong ID code. That is preventing scanning machines from being able to read them. In Clackamas County, Oregon, about half the ballots sent to voters included a blurry bar code that cannot be read by ballot-scanning machines. Oregon and Pennsylvania are among five states holding primaries this week.

Ballot counting issues delay results in OR House primary

Issues with counting ballots in Oregon’s third-largest county could delay for days a definitive result in a key U.S. House primary where Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader was facing a strong challenge from a progressive candidate. Schrader was trailing in early returns Tuesday in the 5th District race against Jamie McLeod-Skinner. The race was too close to call in part because of a printing issue with ballots in Clackamas County. Meanwhile a cryptocurrency billionaire-backed political newcomer conceded to a longtime state lawmaker in Oregon’s now 6th District, which was one of the nation’s most expensive Democratic congressional primaries. 

Kotek wins Democratic nod in Oregon governor's race

Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek has won the Democratic gubernatorial primary governor, beating state Treasurer Tobias Read in a victory for the party’s progressive wing. Current Gov. Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, cannot run for the position again due to term limits. The Portland-based Kotek has collected endorsements from a third of Oregon lawmakers, nationally elected leaders, unions and organizations. But as someone who held power during a tumultuous time in Oregon, Kotek must convince voters she can improve the state while avoiding blame for its problems.

Midterm updates | Idaho Gov. Little defeats Trump-backed foe

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has survived a Republican primary challenge from his lieutenant governor, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor in Idaho run on separate tickets, so the two were not aligned when they won their races in 2018. Little had a long string of endorsements, including from the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police. Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin had feuded frequently over coronavirus precautions and the role of government. Last year, McGeachin twice attempted a power grab when Little was out of state on business. She has also promoted Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud.

5-term Idaho attorney general in tough GOP primary battle

Idaho's five-term Republican attorney general has handled the state's legal questions with a strategy he describes as calling legal “balls and strikes.” He's facing two primary challengers who see a more activist role for the office. Lawrence Wasden, a former prosecutor backed by establishment Republicans, is likely in the toughest primary race of his career against former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Art Macomber, a political newcomer who has never held public office. Labrador lost to Republican Gov. Brad Little in the 2018 Republican primary. The attorney general post could be a stepping stone for another gubernatorial run in 2026.  Wasden was ahead in early returns Tuesday night but most of Idaho's counties had yet to tally their votes. 

Controversies sink reelection bid of GOP Rep. Cawthorn

Madison Cawthorn's unexpected victory in 2020 made him the youngest member of the House and a rising Republican star — until the scandals started piling up. On Tuesday, the 26-year-old conservative North Carolina firebrand left his election night party early, and a spokesperson told reporters he was conceding the race to state Sen. Chuck Edwards. Cawthorn faced a slew of problems as he sought a second term — many of his own creation. On Monday, former President Donald Trump had urged voters to give him a second chance.

Court weighs clash on online publication of voting records

A conservative-backed foundation that posts voting registration records online is urging a federal judge to override objections by New Mexico election regulators who say the initiative violates state law and would discourage voter participation. At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Browning peppered attorneys with questions but took no immediate action. The VoteRef.com website does not list details of how people voted regarding candidates or initiatives. The Voter Reference Foundation has posted voter rolls from at least 20 states that can be searched by names or addresses to verify where people live and view whether they voted in various past elections.

House incumbent trailing in Oregon's 5th District primary

A challenger from the progressive wing of the Democratic party was leading Tuesday in a closely watched Oregon race against a moderate incumbent, while a cryptocurrency billionaire-backed political newcomer conceded to a longtime state lawmaker in one of the nation’s most expensive Democratic congressional primaries. The primaries for the 5th U.S. House district was too close to call in part because of a printing issue with ballots in Oregon’s third-largest county. Blurry barcodes made vote-counting machines reject a large number of ballots in Clackamas County and elections workers were transferring the votes by hand to fresh ballots for tallying.

Idaho Gov. Little turns back Trump-backed challenger

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has won the GOP gubernatorial primary, beating a Trump-backed challenger. Tuesday's intraparty contest between Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin was an example of the choice GOP voters face nationwide between established candidates and insurgents endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Little and McGeachin frequently feuded over coronavirus precautions and the role of government. Last year, McGeachin twice attempted a power grab when Little was out of state on business. Republicans are almost guaranteed of winning in the general election as Democrats haven’t held the governor’s office since 1995 or statewide office since 2007.

Beasley, Budd win as NC voters pare down primary candidates

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley have won their respective Senate primaries in North Carolina. Budd on Tuesday won the 14-candidate Republican primary over the likes of former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. Mark Walker. Beasley was the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, which 11 people sought. Beasley and Budd will compete in November to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Burr. Voters are whittling down candidates seeking to serve on Capitol Hill, in the General Assembly and on the judicial bench. Primaries were held in 13 of the 14 North Carolina U.S. House districts. 

Parties pick state lawmakers to be lieutenant gov candidates

Voters in both parties are chosing Pennsylvania state representatives to be their nominees for lieutenant governor this fall. Republicans are electing state Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso to run in November with their choice for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano. Democrats are giving their nominee for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, his choice for second-in-command, Rep. Austin Davis. As votes were being counted late Tuesday, some prominent GOP leaders in the General Assembly found themselves in tight races. Sen. Pat Browne of Lehigh County and state Rep. Stan Saylor of York County, who chair the powerful Appropriations Committees, were both in competitive primaries.

Edwards ousts North Carolina Rep. Cawthorn in GOP primary

First-term U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn has lost to North Carolina state Sen. Chuck Edwards in the Republican congressional primary. Luke Ball, a spokesperson for Cawthorn’s campaign, told The Associated Press late Tuesday that Cawthorn had conceded the race before the AP called it for Edwards. A fast-food franchise owner, Edwards' victory advances him to the November election against Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara. Several GOP leaders had turned away from the 26-year-old, pro-Donald Trump congressman, with some citing a series of unforced errors. 

Alaska House, Senate negotiators reach tentative budget deal

Alaska lawmakers tasked with negotiating a budget deal have reached a tentative agreement that would pay residents more than $3,000 this year. The final amount would depend on whether the Legislature can muster the votes needed to access a key savings account. The tentative agreement calls for a dividend in the range of $2,500 this year plus a $1,300 “energy relief” check. However, half the funding for the energy check would come from a reserve account that requires three-fourths support in each the House and Senate to access. Payments could be around $3,200 or they could be around $3,850 depending on whether the vote threshold is reached.

Trump-backed Mastriano wins GOP Pennsylvania governor nod

Doug Mastriano has won the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania. Mastriano beat eight other candidates in Tuesday's primary election and a party establishment that had tried to head off his coming victory over fears that he is too extreme to win fall’s general election in the presidential battleground. Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel and state senator since 2019 who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, will face Democrat Josh Shapiro in the November election. Mastriano and Shapiro are vying for the right to succeed Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is constitutionally term-limited Mastriano was well on his way to victory when Trump endorsed him on Saturday.

Watchdog: US troop pullout was key factor in Afghan collapse

A new report says decisions by Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan were the key factors in the collapse of that nation’s military, leading to the Taliban takeover last year. The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction mirrors assertions made by senior Pentagon and military leaders. Those contentions came in the aftermath of the U.S. troop withdrawal that ended last August in the chaotic evacuation of Americans and other civilians from the embattled country. Military leaders have said they recommended leaving about 2,500 U.S. troops in the country, but that plan was not approved.

Jill Biden heads to Latin America before hemispheric summit

The White House says Jill Biden will visit Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica this week as the United States finalizes plans for a hemisphere-wide summit to be held in Los Angeles in June. The first lady will meet during the trip with the presidents and first ladies of all three countries on her itinerary. Biden’s trip is meant to serve as a warm up sorts for a gathering of leaders from Latin American and the Caribbean being held June 6-10 in Los Angeles. During the trip she will highlight U.S. support for programs that help children, women and young people across the countries on her itinerary.

Candidate who survived shooting wins Louisville mayor nod

Businessman Craig Greenberg has won the Democratic primary for mayor of Louisville, months after surviving a shooting attempt at a campaign office. Greenberg beat out a crowd of eight candidates Tuesday and will be buoyed in November by the Democrats having a heavy numerical advantage over Republicans in Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city. The Louisville businessman was not harmed in the Feb. 14 shooting, though a bullet grazed his sweater. His opponent will be Bill Dieruf, the mayor of the Louisville suburb of Jeffersontown, who secured the Republican nomination. 

Democrat McGarvey wins Louisville-area congressional primary

Morgan McGarvey has won the Democratic nomination in the Louisville-area U.S. House district. The ranking Democrat in the GOP-led state Senate defeated state Rep. Attica Scott in Tuesday’s 3rd District primary. McGarvey has the endorsement of the district's retiring congressman, John Yarmuth. Kentucky’s five Republican U.S. House incumbents also secured the GOP nomination in their bids for reelection. U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie, Hal Rogers and Andy Barr defeated primary opponents Tuesday. James Comer, the GOP incumbent in the 1st District, was unopposed.

How will approval ratings affect the midterm elections?

History proves the president's party is traditionally hit with voter dissatisfaction come midterms and 2022 is proving no exception for President Joe Biden and the Democrats. The biggest issue politically for the Biden administration is inflation with Americans feeling the pain at the pump and the grocery checkout.

Paul-Booker fall matchup set in Kentucky Senate race

Kentucky voters have set up a November matchup between Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Democrat Charles Booker. Each won his party’s Senate nomination in Tuesday's primary. Paul is seeking a third Senate term. The fall campaign will feature contrasting agendas. Paul supports limited government while Booker backs sweeping health care and anti-poverty programs. The Bluegrass State hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since Wendell Ford in 1992. The libertarian-leaning Paul coasted to victory over five Republican challengers in his pursuit of another term. Booker defeated three opponents in the Democratic primary.

N. Korea's Kim faces 'huge dilemma' on aid as virus surges

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made “self-reliance” his governing lynchpin during his decade in power and shunned international help for his people. But a massive outbreak of suspected COVID-19 has left Kim at a critical crossroads. Does he swallow his pride and accept help or does he go it alone even though a huge number of fatalities could undermine his leadership? The outbreak is likely several times worse than the North's official media says, since COVID-19 tests and medicine are in short supply. Some analysts say North Korea would not accept help from rival South Korea or the U.S. They say it would more likely accept quiet, unofficial shipments from its ally China.

New Mexico fires prompt forest closures; governor seeks aid

Three of New Mexico’s five national forests will be off limits to the public starting this week due to active wildfires and extreme fire danger. The announcement came Tuesday as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the damage from a record-setting fire burning in northern New Mexico will be significant with estimates of burned structures likely to range between 1,000 and 1,500 as more assessments are done. The governor stressed that was a rough estimate. The fire has charred more than 468 square miles over the last 42 days and evacuation orders remain in place for some surrounding villages. Wildfires also are burning elsewhere in New Mexico as hot and dry conditions persist.