Florida races get tight, tight, tight

On the roster: Florida races get tight, tight, tight - Kemp resigns as recount heats up - The Judge’s Ruling:  What will Dems do with the house? - Grand Theft Auto II

Tampa Bay Times: “As the Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson appears headed to a statewide recount, both candidates are mobilizing teams of lawyers and legal skirmishes are well underway. Thursday dawned with Scott leading Nelson by just more than one-fourth of a percentage point. The candidates for agriculture commissioner are much closer, divided by 0.06 points, and in the contest for governor, Ron DeSantis' advantage of 0.52 over Andrew Gillum was close to the threshold for a mandatory machine recount. In a fierce scramble for votes that's expected to soon intensify, thousands of provisional ballots cast by people who didn't have IDs, or who voted at the wrong precinct, are already the focus of both sides in the Senate race. Both campaigns made demands Wednesday for the names of voters who cast provisional ballots Tuesday. Those demands were swiftly rejected by county election supervisors, who said that the requests by both candidates violated state law and the Florida Constitution.”

Despite concession, Gillum could face recount against Desantis - Orlando Sentinel: “Andrew Gillum conceded that he lost the governor’s race Tuesday night, but the election could be headed for a state-mandated recount anyway. Additional votes counted on Wednesday afternoon had cut Republican Ron DeSantis’ lead over the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee to 0.62 percent. An automatic recount would be done if the margin of victory falls below 0.5 percent. The notice for a recount would come from Secretary of State Ken Detzner, an appointee of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who also faces a recount in his campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. DeSantis claimed victory in the hard-fought campaign against Gillum on Tuesday night.

Reuters: “Arizona voters may have to wait a week or more to learn whether their U.S. senator is Republican Martha McSally or Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, as some 600,000 ballots remained uncounted as of Wednesday afternoon. With one out of every four ballots remaining to be counted, McSally led by about 15,000 votes, less than one percentage point. Neither candidate was ready to concede, though the outcome was unlikely to tip the balance of power in the U.S. Senate after Republicans flipped three seats in their favor, extending their majority. The delayed result is a familiar feature of Arizona politics, when candidates can wait for days or weeks to learn final results. That is because of a state law that gives voters the choice of mailing in early ballots or dropping them off at polling places as late as Election Day, requiring time to be hand-processed.”

Republicans sue to block ballots - AZ Central: “With the U.S. Senate seat hanging in the balance, the Yuma, Navajo, Apache and Maricopa County Republican parties filed a lawsuit against all Arizona county recorders and the Secretary of State late Wednesday. The Republican groups are challenging the way counties verify signatures on mail-in ballots that are dropped off at the polls on Election Day, according to the complaint obtained by The Arizona Republic. At stake is an unknown number of ballots that could tip the result of the U.S. Senate race. Just 17,000 votes separated Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema as of Wednesday evening, a cliffhanger that could take days, if not weeks, to call. The lawsuit seemed to signal Republicans' anxiety over Thursday's expected posting of additional results from Maricopa County, the most populous area of the state, where Sinema has dominated so far.”

Yahoo: “Republican Brian Kemp resigned Thursday as Georgia's secretary of state, a day after his campaign said he's captured enough votes to become Georgia governor, even though his election rival is conceding nothing in one of the nation's marquee midterm races. As the state's top election official, Kemp oversaw the race, and his resignation Thursday morningcame as a hearing began for a lawsuit in which five voters asked that he be barred from exercising his duties in any future management of his own election tally. Democratic rival Stacey Abrams' campaign made concerns that Kemp supervised his own election a central issue in the contest. Kemp's resignation takes effect just before noon Thursday.”

Georgians claim disenfranchisement - WaPo: “Republican Brian Kemp’s campaign declared victory in the race for Georgia governor on Wednesday, even as election officials continued counting thousands of absentee and provisional ballots, narrowing his lead and prompting Democrat Stacey Abrams to insist she could have the votes to force a runoff election. As the vote-counting continued, voting rights advocates accused Kemp — who as secretary of state is Georgia’s top election officer — and local officials of disenfranchising thousands of voters on Election Day. Hundreds of complaints flooded in about hours-long lines brought on by broken equipment, a shortage of voting machines and insufficient quantities of printed provisional ballots.”

Roll Call: “Two days after Election Day, three Senate races and 14 House races remain unresolved. A runoff later this month will determine the winner of the Senate race in Mississippi. House Democrats have already passed the threshold for a majority by winning 225 seats so far, wresting control of a chamber they haven’t held since 2010. Based on current projections, they could obtain as many as 234 seats — good for a 33-seat majority — though it is more likely they’ll land somewhere around 228 seats for a still-significant 21-seat margin. In the Senate, the GOP not only held the line, but managed to flip Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri, each states that President Donald Trump won by double digits in 2016.”

“The choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the GREATER, not the PERFECT, good.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 41

NPR: “The fossils of giant swimming reptiles called mosasaurs have been found in the rocky cliffs of Angola, overlooking the Atlantic. It's not a country known for fossils. Few scientists have looked there — half a century of civil war made it too dangerous. But geologically, Angola is special. About 200 million years ago, Africa was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. Then, about 135 million years ago, that continent started unzipping down the middle. Among the remnants were Africa and South America, which slowly drifted apart. The South Atlantic Ocean filled in the gap between them. It was a time of oceanic turmoil: huge changes in sea level and temperature. It was a brand new habitat, and sea creatures fought to own it. The mosasaurs won that fight and held on for more than 30 million years.”

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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -11.8 points
Change from one week ago: down .8 points 
[Average includes: Gallup: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; CNN: 55% approve - 39% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; ABC/WaPo: 40% approve – 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 40% approve – 50% disapprove.]

This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the results of the midterm elections and the importance of Laffy Taffy before lack of sleep overtakes them both. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

NYT: “The midterm elections on Tuesday laid bare the growing chasm between urban and rural America, leaving Republicans deeply concerned about their declining fortunes in the metropolitan areas that extinguished their House majority and Democrats just as alarmed about their own struggles to win over voters in states that strengthened the G.O.P.’s grip on the Senate. For both parties, the election represented an acceleration of dizzying realignment along cultural lines. Districts that once represented the beating heart of the Republican Party rejected President Trump’s avowed nationalism as a form of bigotry, while Democrats further retrenched from the agricultural and industrial communities where they once dominated.”

Conservative groups call for new era of leadership in House minority - The Hill: “Conservative groups called on Republicans to replace their entire House leadership lineup with fresh faces on Wednesday, a day after the GOP lost control of the lower chamber for the first time in eight years. With Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) retiring, conservative leaders said they wanted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) to step aside and make room for new, more conservative leadership. The groups endorsed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, over McCarthy for minority leader, the top GOP post in the House next year.”

Blue state republicans blame lack of NRCC support for losses - The Hill: “Top Republicans went into Tuesday’s election anticipating they would lose seats in the House, but a number of people within the party say they feel more could have been done to save vulnerable districts. Critics argue a combination of poorly run campaigns and spending decisions by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and outside groups resulted in unnecessary losses. ‘I think overall the entire NRCC operation this cycle is a tremendous disappointment. They did not keep retirements low, they had the lowest spending on IE [independent expenditures] in the last five cycles, they misused resources and spent in places that we had no chance of winning, for example, Colorado 6 and Virginia 10,’ one former NRCC aide told The Hill.”

Senate Democrats brace for 2020 showdown - Politico: “The biggest 2020 campaign stage isn’t Iowa or New Hampshire. It’s the United States Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer just endured a brutal midterm election, but now he’s in for an equally challenging task: managing the half-dozen or more presidential hopefuls in his caucus jockeying for position. That group of liberal White House aspirants is on track to be the caucus’ most closely watched, and potentially influential, bloc. From household names like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to lesser-known progressives such as Jeff Merkley, Democratic senators eyeing the White House will spend the next two years doing everything they can to market themselves as the party’s best hope for salvation from Donald Trump.”

NYT: “Matthew G. Whitaker, the attorney general’s chief of staff, jockeyed over the last two months to replace his boss by forging a close relationship with the White House, where he was seen as a reliable political ally. On Wednesday, President Trump fired Jeff Sessions and named Mr. Whitaker acting attorney general, rewarding his loyalty. Inside the Justice Department, senior officials, including Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, have viewed Mr. Whitaker with intense suspicion. Before his current job at the Justice Department, Mr. Whitaker, a former college football tight end, was openly hostile on television and social media toward the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and was seen by department officials as a partisan and a White House spy. The special counsel is leading the investigation into whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates conspired with Russia during 2016 election and whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry. Now Mr. Whitaker will oversee Mr. Mueller’s investigation, prompting concerns that he could move swiftly to shut it down or hobble it, despite serious questions about his own potential conflicts in supervising it.”

Dems pounce - Fox News: “Top Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the ranking members on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, sounded the alarm after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' abrupt resignation on Wednesday, and demanded that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker recuse himself from overseeing the inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. ‘This is a break-the-glass moment,’ Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement. Sessions' departure, at President Trump's request, came less than two years after he angered Trump by recusing himself from the probe, and any involvement in the Justice Department's Russia investigations, after reports contradicted his claims that he had not met with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. Sessions had been advised to recuse himself by career ethics officials at the DOJ.”

After DOJ departure, Sessions eyes old Senate seat - Politico: “Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering running for his old Alabama Senate seat in 2020, according to two people familiar with his thinking. Sessions was fired as attorney general Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. President Donald Trump had publicly savaged Sessions throughout his tenure, and his dismissal had long been expected. After Sessions left the Senate in 2017, his vacated seat was won by Democrat Doug Jones in a special election upset. Jones is up for a full term in 2020, and he is widely viewed as the most vulnerable incumbent senator facing reelection given Alabama’s conservative tilt. Republicans are certain to contest the seat aggressively as they look to protect their majority. Former Republican Sen. Luther Strange, who was temporarily appointed to Sessions’ former seat, took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to encourage a comeback bid. ‘Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2020!’ Strange wrote.”

WaPo: “White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday night shared a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta that appeared to have been altered to make his actions at a news conference look more aggressive toward a White House intern. The edited video looks authentic: Acosta appeared to swiftly chop down on the arm of an aide as he held onto a microphone while questioning President Trump. But in the original video, Acosta’s arm appears to move only as a response to a tussle for the microphone. His statement, ‘Pardon me, ma’am,’ is not included in the video Sanders shared. Critics said that video — which sped up the movement of Acosta’s arms in a way that dramatically changed the journalist’s response — was deceptively edited to score political points. That edited video was first shared by Paul Joseph Watson, known for his conspiracy-theory videos on the far-right website Infowars.”

This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano writes: “The Democratic Party has won control of the House of Representatives. Its members effectively will be able to block all legislation that the Senate passes and the president wants. They also will be able to unleash their subpoena power mercilessly on the executive branch. Will the members of the new majority view their victory primarily as an opportunity to legislate or as a chance to investigate?” More here.

Way to go, America: Voter turnout reaches highest mark for midterms since 1966 - NPR

Maryland’s GOP governor points finger at Trump for downballot losses WaPo

Lucy McBath prevails in Georgia’s 6th, where Jon Ossoff could not WSB-TV

Beto poised for 2020 run after close call in Texas - Politico

Trump to sign order restricting asylum system WSJ

New Ways and Means chair vows to seek Trump’s tax returns - MassLive

“If that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing, and government comes to a halt. And I would blame them.” – President Trump at a press conference Wednesday, when asked how he might respond to a litany of investigations by House Democrats.

“Lived in Texas all my life and I’d never lived anywhere else. I’ve got family out toward Abilene and I’m a lot like them and I could never even imagine voting blue in my life. But I tell you what out here in Austin you would think Beto O’Rourke was Donald Trump with all the signs and people making a big deal about him. I didn’t really think he had a prayer but to see him even come close to beating Ted Cruz was a pretty big shock. Thank God he lost, but it worries me about the future here. If he can do that, does it mean Texas is going to be blue in a few years? Seems like it would be hard for Republicans to win a presidential election if we started voting for Democrats.” – Carson Holly, Round Rock, Texas.

[Ed. note: Well, what ever happens, don’t worry. As my old daddy used to say: “You can worry or you can pray, but you can’t do both at the same time.” And further, Texas becoming a swing state will hardly be the end of the world for Republicans. You’re in store for the same future already occupied by Florida and North Carolina. You’ll stop by Tennessee and Indiana along the way. The truth is a lot of Americans want to live in your wonderful state, but as they migrate there in massive numbers, they bring their politics and attitudes with them. Yes, Texas will likely one day be as swingy as Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. But it won’t hurt as much as you think and it will happen over the span of many years.]

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Cleveland.com: “A Cleveland boy led police on his second high-speed chase with police in 13 months … The 11-year-old boy stole his mother’s 2013 Dodge Durango about 10:45 p.m. Sunday after they got into an argument about his mother taking away his PlayStation, according to police reports. … The boy was arrested after the crash and is being housed in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. Formal charges have not yet been filed. … Sunday’s incident marks the second time the boy stole his mom’s car and led police on a lengthy pursuit. The first happened Oct. 26, 2017. In that case, the boy was waiting for his sister to take him to school when he stole his mother’s car and sped away.”

“If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what’s left of the law?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Aug. 15, 2013. 

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Dave Sweet contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.