<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Political News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area https://www.nbcbayarea.com en-usTue, 23 Oct 2018 10:35:47 -0700Tue, 23 Oct 2018 10:35:47 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Turkey Wants to Try Khashoggi Murder Suspects]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 08:29:37 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Turkey-Erdogan-2-CR-154030780139800002.jpg

Turkey's president wants Saudi Arabia to allow 18 suspects that it detained for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be tried in Turkish courts, setting up further complications with the Saudi government.

<![CDATA[Dems Seize on Report That GOP Tax Cuts Match Entitlement Cuts]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 05:34:27 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_17277619001918-Medicare-Tax-Break.jpg

A new report showing that the $2 trillion in Bush- and Trump-era tax cuts match how much Republicans have proposed cutting from programs like Medicare and Social Security could give Democrats a boost before the midterms, NBC News reported.

Congressional Democrats issued the report late last week. It's based on calculations by the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which is nonpartisan but aligned with a group that's criticized tax cuts for decades.

"It is a dollar-for-dollar transfer of benefits to those who need help the least paid for by those who need help the most," said Phil Schiliro, who served as President Barack Obama's legislative director. The report found that the average beneficiary of social safety net programs could lose $1,500 a year under proposed cuts.

Obama is one of the politicians warning voters that Republicans want to cut such programs. Republicans on the House Budget Committee responded by saying that "responsible reforms" would save the programs amid a funding crisis.

Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Is Trump Using the Migrant Caravan as a Political Tool?]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 20:18:48 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Is__Trump_Using_the_Migrant_Caravan_as_a_Political_Tool_.jpg

What do we make of the President Trump’s latest threat to cut off aid to three Central American countries where migrants are fleeing for their lives and headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border? Political analyst Larry Gerston breaks it down.

<![CDATA[Reported Plan Targeting Transgender People Sparks Fury]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 14:24:47 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NA32M_LGBTQ_NEWSER_REDEFINING_GENDER-154024177796000002.jpg

The Trump administration may be considering redefining gender as an unchangeable condition determined solely by a person's biology, according to a leaked memo draft obtained by The New York Times.

<![CDATA[Myths About the Honduran Caravan Debunked]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 12:38:49 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_18295085910904-migrant-caravan-mexico.jpg

NBC News has debunked a handful of allegations that President Donald Trump and others have spread about the caravan of thousands of Honduran migrants that is headed north in the hopes of crossing the U.S. border.

There is no evidence the caravan is being led by anyone other than Hondurans, despite Trump alleging that "a lot of money has been passing to people."

A former senior intelligence official who continues to be briefed on current intelligence told NBC News that there is also no evidence that any Middle Eastern terrorists are hiding in the caravan. That's in contrast to a tweet from the president implying the opposite. The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, is able to gather biometric data as migrants pass between the borders of Central American countries. 

Click here for more by NBC News on five myths about the caravan that are disputed by the facts.

Photo Credit: Moises Castillo/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Why We Vote: Viewers Weigh In On The Midterms]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 09:05:26 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/why-we-vote-thumb.gif

NBC stations around the country asked voters why they are or aren’t inspired to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. We received scores of responses from viewers who said they were of voting age and identified as Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or who preferred not to disclose their party affiliation. Check out an interactive display of the answers below. Responses, which were submitted beginning Oct. 5, 2018, were edited only in obvious cases of typos.

If you have not yet participated in the survey and would like to do so, go here.

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<![CDATA[Lawsuit Alleges Texts From O'Rourke Campaign Are Illegal]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 09:27:41 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/beto-texas-text1.jpg

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke's Senate campaign has been hit with a class action lawsuit, filed in North Texas, over unwanted text messages sent to registered voters in the state.

The suit was filed Friday in the U.S. Northern District of Texas by a Collin County resident.

The plaintiff claims that he was sent at least nine different text messages to two separate cellphones by representatives of Beto for Texas, the campaign for U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D–El Paso) who is running for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.[[498191251,R,350,350]]

A message similar to one the plaintiff describes reads like the message to the right.

The plaintiff claims that the messages are a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which is meant to restrict the use of automated messages.

A spokesperson for the O’Rourke campaign said they have done nothing wrong.

"Our grassroots volunteer program with thousands of Texans canvassing, phone banking, texting, and organizing is the largest this state has seen. It is fully compliant with the law,” the spokesperson noted in a statement to NBC DFW.

The class action lawsuit claims the plaintiff is due $500 for every unwanted message, and requests that the court triple the damages because of the defendant’s “willful and knowing violations.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Suppressing the Vote]]> Sun, 21 Oct 2018 08:46:19 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Suppressing_the_Vote.jpg

NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston details how states discourage some voters and what those changes mean for the 2018 midterm elections.

<![CDATA[Trump May Have Lost His Bet on Saudi Prince MBS]]> Sun, 21 Oct 2018 00:07:25 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/211*120/DonaldBinSalmanBackfire.jpg

On Friday the Saudi government finally admitted that writer Jamal Khashoggi had died inside its Istanbul consulate, saying he had been killed in a fight.

From the outset of his presidency, Trump has offered a warm embrace to Saudi Arabia and its ambitious royal heir, Mohammed bin Salman, believing he could help the U.S. confront Iran in the Middle East.

But the gamble appears to have backfired badly, experts and former officials tell NBC News, with the young prince now implicated in the killing of Khashoggi, who dared to criticize the regime.

Photo Credit: AP/Evan Vucci, File]]>
<![CDATA[Pelosi Confronted by 'Angry Mob' at Fla. Campaign Event]]> Sun, 21 Oct 2018 06:42:56 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_18234750402781-Nancy-Pelosi.jpg

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's spokesman has called on Republicans to condemn "reckless and dangerous rhetoric" after Pelosi was confronted by an "angry mob" of far-right protesters in South Florida.

Pelosi, D-Calif., made an appearance on Wednesday at a Coral Gables campaign event for Donna Shalala, the Democratic candidate who hopes to fill the District 27 U.S. House seat vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

As Pelosi and her team entered the building through a back walkway for the event, a group of protesters approached and began hurling insults at Pelosi – calling her everything from a "piece of s---" to a "f------ communist."

"Open up! It’s the Proud Boys in here," one of the protesters is heard saying in a video posted to YouTube.

The Proud Boys is a men-only, far-right organization founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Proud Boys as an extremist hate group.

A Proud Boys flag was waved during the demonstration in which some protesters were seen wearing Proud Boys gear.

In response on Friday, Drew Hammill, Pelosi's spokesman, blamed President Donald Trump and Republican congress members for stoking the "flames of incivility, intolerance and aggression."

"It is deeply sad but unsurprising that we now see that ugliness rearing its head. It is stunning that Republicans have the gall to call courageous survivors of sexual assault a ‘mob’, at the same time they incite and condone violent actions like this," Hammill said in a statement. "Republicans must condemn this vile and dangerous conduct, and stop the reckless and dangerous rhetoric that encourages it.”

The Washington Post reports that the protest appears to have been organized by Miami-Dade County Republican Party Chairman Nelson Diaz, citing emails posted online.

In a statement, Diaz apologized for letting his "emotions get the best of me" during the demonstration and distanced himself from other protesters who "came with a different agenda."

"I unequivocally denounce their actions. I denounce all hate," Diaz wrote. "I and the Miami-Dade GOP share no affiliation whatsoever with those individuals and believe there is no place in our society for hateful language, or violence against any person or group regardless of their views."

The Florida Democratic Party on Saturday called for Diaz to resign.

"The Proud Boys' hate has no place in our nation, and their violent tactics certainly have no place in our politics," FDP chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement. "It is appalling that the Miami Dade GOP Chairman, Nelson Diaz, would campaign alongside a known hate group and welcome its members within his party. He should resign immediately and take anyone who espouses the Proud Boys' ideas out the door with him."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also denounced the protesters' actions.

"You are not helping the cause of anti-communism if you behave like the repudiation mobs Castro has long used in Cuba. Not sure who was behind this behavior but you should have protested Pelosi campaign stop without borrowing the tactics of left wing mobs," Rubio wrote on Twitter.

Hammill replied to Rubio's Twitter post.

"These weren't anti-communism protestors. These were GOP operatives, including the Chairman of the Republican Party in Miami Dade County, working hand in hand with Proud Boys," Hammill wrote.

Proud Boys members have been arrested in connection to a New York City street brawl after a speech McInnes gave last weekend.

Photo Credit: Eric Risberg/AP, File
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<![CDATA[Thousands of Protestors Call for New Brexit Referendum in London]]> Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:04:45 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_58_01.Still003.jpg

The U.K. is scheduled to leave the E.U. next March.

<![CDATA[Migrants Storm Through Guatemala Border to Mexico]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 13:17:02 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+MIGRANTS+AT+MEXICO+BORDER+101918.00_00_38_06.Still005THUMB.jpg

Thousands of migrants from Central America gathered at the Guatemala-Mexico border Friday. After several broke the Guatemalan fence, the migrants rushed through the entry way to attempt to enter Mexico.

<![CDATA[Paul Manafort, in Wheelchair, Learns Sentencing Date]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 13:08:04 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Manafort181019_wheelschair.jpg

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort rolled into a Virginia federal court Friday in a wheelchair and wearing a green prison uniform instead of his signature tailored suit.

The judge scheduled Manafort to be sentenced Feb. 8 for eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud and dismissed the remaining charges against him, NBC News reported.

Manafort, appearing visibly greyer, was pushed into court in a wheelchair, missing his right shoe.

<![CDATA[Russian Woman Charged With Interfering in 2018 Election]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 11:52:05 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AdobeStock_101979815.jpg

U.S. prosecutors have charged a Russian woman who works for an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin with attempting to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections, NBC News reported.

The charges, filed Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia, accuse Elena A. Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg with using social media platforms to create thousands of social media and e-mail accounts — appearing to be from U.S. persons — to "create and amplify divisive social media and political content."

The content touched on divisive topics like gun control and the NFL anthem debate as well as events like the Las Vegas shooting. The posts adopted several viewpoints, according to the documents, and attacked politicians of both major political parties, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Barack Obama.

The case is being brought separately from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which brought charges against Russians for attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Prosecutors said Khusyaynova is the chief accountant for a Russian umbrella effort called Project Lakhta, funded by a Russian oligarch whose Concord companies were named in the July indictment brought by Mueller involving attempted meddling in the 2016 election. Concord Management is owned by Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, also known as "Putin's chef," who is closely linked to the Russian president. It provides food services at the Kremlin.

Photo Credit: SkyLine]]>
<![CDATA[For Gov. Hopefuls Boosted by Trump in Primary, General Looms]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2018 04:37:06 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GOP-gub-split.jpg

In a video advertisement for his Florida gubernatorial campaign, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis urged his toddler-aged daughter to "build the wall" with colorful toy blocks. DeSantis, who faced off against an establishment Republican, had already gotten President Donald Trump's endorsement the month before. DeSantis would go on to win his primary in a landslide, the race called within minutes of polls closing. 

His path hasn't been so easy since. A late September NBC News/Marist poll has him trailing Democrat Andrew Gillum by 5 points.

Many Republicans pursuing the governor's mansion this cycle face a predicament in the general election: a tie to President Trump may have swayed a primary in their favor, but in closer races, it could impede chances of winning the seat.

The recipe for a possible blue wave in November, a surge in Democratic wins, includes state specific issues but Trump is another main ingredient. This fall's gubernatorial races could be an indicator of sentiment on the president himself, though incumbency and other factors will also play a role, according to political academics.

"In any midterm election, the president’s party tends to pay a price," said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the 2018 election, Trump has an especially low approval rating, he said. "I think that puts Republicans in particular jeopardy this year."

Of the nine governor's seats Democrats hold, the Cook Political Report predicts one race is a tossup and one leans Republican. The rest are rated as leaning or likely blue. But of the 26 seats Republicans hold, nine are tossup races, two lean Democrat and one is likely going Democratic. The upshot: many Republican seats are up for grabs this November.

Nonpartisan Michigan pollster Richard Czuba told The Associated Press that many independents lean Democrat in large part due to "distaste" for the president.

"The national tide towards Democrats is tilting states like Colorado and Minnesota in the Democratic direction," said Stephen Ansolabehere, professor of government at Harvard University. "Those are pretty competitive states, maybe slightly leaning Democratic, but there are national conditions pushing in that direction."

"A lot of Republican candidates in other places couldn’t necessarily [distance themselves from Trump] because that's a good way to lose a primary," said Geoffrey Skelley, who worked at Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball when NBC spoke to him and is now an analyst at FiveThirtyEight. "President Trump remains popular among Republicans nationally."

In Minnesota, GOP nominee Jeff Johnson beat former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the primary, slamming him for being "anti-Trump" in 2016. He later won Trump’s endorsement even though Pawlenty pointed out Johnson had once called Trump a "jackass." Heading into the general election, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party challenger Tim Walz has been leading in the polls.

Similarly, in Florida and Kansas, Ansolabehere noted, Trump-backed candidates are underperforming. DeSantis was behind in September, and Kris Kobach is leading but not by as large a margin as expected for a Republican in Kansas.

And in Georgia, a tossup race in a state that went for Trump in 2016, the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, faces Trump-endorsed state Attorney General Brian Kemp, who has been sued for putting 53,000 voter registrations on hold. Governors and allies in the Republican Governors Association were frustrated by Trump’s decision to endorse Kemp, The New York Times reported in July.

Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee told the Times: "Our focus at the R.G.A. has always been on making certain we can win the general election."

The governors association has since backed Kemp, funding TV ads targeting Abrams.

The majority of the governor's races seen as close contests lean Democrat, according to polls, and are in places where incumbents are not running, such as Florida, Nevada, and Ohio. 

Open seats present the most promising opportunity for Democrats, even when Republicans are the majority in the state, if the outgoing incumbent is unpopular. 

"Governors races can be separated from the federal election environment to some extent," Skelley said. "But at the end of the day, there is still a pretty strong connection there, and a Republican president with a mediocre approval rating [has] also helped."

A comfortable distance from Trump is easier to establish for certain popular incumbent governors. With Congress in Washington and governors more associated with state management issues like infrastructure and education, their races are less bound to presidential approval than federal elections. Moderate first term Republican incumbents Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could win reelection in their blue states. 

"If federal context is the only thing that mattered, Republican governors in Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont would be done for," Skelley said. "They would have no way of surviving. Yet, they are all heavily favored to win reelection."

Ansolabehere noted that a "great" economy also balances the effect of Trump's low popularity. Many Democrats have run on, in part, critiques of Republicans' tax bill and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, measures they say will exacerbate disparities in wealth.

Beyond Trump's influence, 2018 is expected to result in what many midterm elections have seen in the past — a reaction to the party in power. 

"This year we’re seeing a corrective," Ansolabehere said.

Americans voted out the majority party in 2014, as they did in 2010, and in 2006. This round of midterm elections might not be too different, he and others predict.

"Whereas, for the last several election cycles, the Republicans have been particularly strong, picking up governors mansions, this time around they have a lot of territory to defend and they have to defend it in a political environment that is amid a Democratic wave," said Jennifer Lawless, professor of government at American University. She said that the majority of competitive races "are competitive in a way that would allow Democrats to pick up a seat.”

Democrats have been arguing in campaigns that if Trump can nominate another Supreme Court justice, tipping the balance of the court further, some issues might revert to the states to sort out. State legislatures become increasingly important when that occurs. Lawless cited Roe v. Wade as an example — if it is overturned, the party controlling the state legislature "becomes far more important than they have been in the past."

It remains unclear what role Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation fight will have this November in governor's races.

For Republican gubernatorial incumbents, separating their campaigns from their party's national reputation this election cycle can be difficult, Lawless said. 

"If this is a change election, and if this is an election cycle where voters want to move in a new direction, that disproportionately benefits Democrats," she said.

Even incumbents who have been vocal opponents of Trump "are in some ways wearing the national Republican albatross around their neck." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[National Issues Loom Large in Key House Race Near DC]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 08:19:40 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/comstock-wexton-split.jpg

Warner Workman has met his Virginia congresswoman several times at local events and says he's "always dumbfounded when she actually remembers my name."

Rep. Barbara Comstock's social media pages are filled with photos of her thanking local first responders at 9/11 memorials, posing with families at county fairs, attending Boy Scout events and opening new police stations in Virginia's 10th Congressional District.

The Republican congresswoman is "always out there … getting to know people," Workman said.

Her approach worked in 2016, when she won re-election even as the district voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10 percentage points. But the 2018 midterm election could spell the end of Comstock's tenure in Congress and nearly four decades of Republican control of the district, which stretches along Virginia's northern border from the progressive suburbs of Washington, D.C., into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Comstock is running against Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, a former prosecutor from Loudoun County, which experts see as a crucial part of the district. The wealthy and increasingly diverse county has started swinging toward Democrats, as has the state overall. 

Comstock, who lives closer to D.C. in neighboring Fairfax County, faces two strong headwinds: the district's burgeoning Democratic bent and those voters' opposition to the leader of her party, President Donald Trump.

Experts say people are looking beyond the boundaries of their own district to inform how they vote in this election, and that makes Comstock one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election.

After the two contentious years that followed Trump becoming president, "the Trump agenda is very important to voters," George Mason University political science professor Toni-Michelle Travis said.

This article, part 3 in a series, examines one of the key battleground races for control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Carried by grassroots momentum, Democrats must take 23 seats from Republicans to win the balance of power. They are contending with Republicans' experience and organization, and an outspoken but polarizing president.

Comstock has distanced herself from Trump on some key issues like health care — she voted against the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed "Obamacare" — and imposing sanctions on Russia. At a televised roundtable with Trump in February, she told Trump a government shutdown was a bad idea for her constituents, some of whom work for the federal government.

"This election is about results versus the resistance," Comstock said at a late-September debate with Wexton, where she touted her support of the Republican tax cut plan and "a booming economy."

But she's voted in line with Trump's agenda 97.8 percent of the time, putting her among the most consistently pro-Trump members of Congress, according to a tally kept by news outlet FiveThirtyEight. (By contrast, only a few Democrats voted along with Trump 50 percent of the time or more.)

Wexton's campaign has zeroed in on Comstock's voting record, recently running attack ads that call her "Barbara Trumpstock." This week, The Washington Post endorsed Wexton after backing Comstock in 2016, calling the Republican an "often unquestioning foot soldier in the president's ranks of Republican loyalists."

In the debate, Wexton hit back at Comstock's resistance remark, saying the Trump administration "is constantly assaulting many of the values that Americans hold dear."

Travis, the George Mason University professor, said Trump's agenda has been "so disheartening" that many voters don't see a candidate with Comstock's voting record as the best person to represent them in Congress.

"Comstock's cred has just gone down," Travis said.

Comstock campaign manager Susan Falconer argued in an email that Comstock is a bipartisan and independent leader who's deeply engaged in the district and "will stand up for what's right for the district, regardless of party." She pushed back on the reliability of the Trump agenda tracker, contending that 82 percent of votes Comstock took had support from some Democrats.

"She trusts the independent minded men and women of her district who know how important it is to have bipartisan leadership for the region in order to get these important victories," Falconer wrote, referring to the congressional delegation representing the D.C. area — all the others are Democrats.

But public polling indicates that Wexton is running ahead of Comstock. One poll from the Post this month put Wexton's lead at 12 points. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as lean Democrat. Travis argued it would be "very hard" for Comstock to pull ahead, unless something "weird" happens.

"But Wexton needs to still work at it," Travis added, saying the other party "can always win if you underestimate your opponent."

Think Nationally, Act Locally
Tina Stevens-Culbreath, a Democrat from the city of Winchester, west of D.C. in the Shenandoah Valley, is concerned about a "culture of hate" in the country that stems from the 2016 election.

People "feel they are allowed to do and say basically anything that they want without consequence," Stevens-Culbreath said.

She and her husband are looking to Wexton to be a unifier, someone "we're going to need to bring this country together," as Rodney Culbreath put it. The couple founded the I'm Just Me Movement, a mentorship nonprofit that aims to promote diversity and inclusion among kids in the area. 

To win, Wexton may need a strong performance in suburbs like Winchester that are further from D.C., as well as in crucial Loudon County, which is more diverse and more likely to vote Democrat, according to John J. McGlennon, a government and public policy professor at The College of William & Mary.

Voters in the area are especially attuned to national issues, he said, partly because of their proximity to D.C., which affects their livelihood.

Seventeen-year-old Ainsley Rucker said that it's become a "moral obligation" to vote in the midterms to "put the Trump administration on check," even if she can't yet cast her own ballot.

Women's rights, LGBTQ rights and education are among the issues fueling Rucker's political passion. She is the president of the Winchester Young Democrats coalition, which has expanded to every local high school since its inception earlier this year, Rucker said.

"Since we can't have our voices directly heard through voting, we feel like the only thing we can do to make ourselves heard is ... get other people to understand what we think as young people and influence the people around us," Rucker said.

Casey Turben, a longtime Winchester resident and local historian, said that Trump's election has sparked local-level activism, and it will be "the lasting story of 2016."

Rucker also pushed back on the notion that Comstock is deeply involved in the district, saying she was "refusing to answer questions" from her constituents by not holding formal town hall meetings.

Asked by NBC, Comstock's campaign manager didn't say when Comstock last held a town hall meeting. But Falconer said the congresswoman attended a recent forum on the opioid crisis in Loudon County and emphasized her many visits with local civic, religious and ethnic organizations.

Workman, the Comstock supporter, argued she just "does things a little differently" in regards to meeting with her voters, saying "she goes to the people instead of having the people come to her."

Comstock still has support in Winchester, too, a city that was nearly evenly split between Clinton and Trump in 2016.

Robert Starkey, a local electrician, said she "just seems to care for Virginia and supports guns."

And as a small business owner, Starkey said he wants a representative who will help him be successful and keep the economy strong.

"I think Comstock is for helping us with taxes," he said. 

'Common-Sense Gun Laws'
Gun rights is one national issue that animates the supporters of both candidates who spoke to NBC.

Workman, the Comstock supporter, said he's looking to her to protect his Second Amendment rights. A retired CIA technical intelligence officer who owns Minuteman Arms in Lovettsville, in Loudon County, Workman said he respects people who don't want to carry guns or have them on their property.

He said always will "respect the private property rights of others" and leave his gun in his car, for example, if a person or private business doesn't want firearms on their property.

Workman worries that so-called "common-sense gun laws" could lead to it becoming more difficult overall to purchase firearms, a right he deeply believes in and which he depends on to keep his shop running. Workman said he donates his store profits to veterans groups and Little League baseball in the area.

Comstock has an "A" rating from the NRA and is one of the top recipients of the group's political contributions. She has supported bills that address mental illness treatment, which she has said is one of the issues at the heart of gun violence, along with increased funding for school safety and security and strengthening the national gun background check system.

According to her campaign, she also supports banning "bump stocks," a device used in last year's Las Vegas massacre that increases the rate of fire on semi-automatic rifles, and "red flag" laws that provide a way to take weapons from people who are a harm to themselves or others.

Rucker and Winchester Young Democrats vice president Niko Christen, 15, are looking to Wexton for her plans to take on gun violence. They were in high school during a year that saw mass shootings at several U.S. schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people died, and Santa Fe High School in Texas, where 10 died.

The students said they want "common-sense gun laws that could prevent people who shouldn't have them from getting them," which could include "red flag" laws and a slower process for purchasing firearms.

Wexton spokesman Ray Rieling said "common-sense" gun legislation is one of the candidate's top priorities, along with affordable and accessible health care and fighting political corruption.

Wexton most strongly supports universal background checks, a "great first step for tightening up our gun violence prevention measures," Rieling said. The Democrat also supports banning military-style assault weapons and allowing the federal government to study gun violence as a public health issue, according to her campaign website.

"We may not be able to stop all the school shootings, but shouldn't we at least try to stop some?" Wexton asked the state's General Assembly in February.

The district has a large population of the kind of voters who recently have turned away from the NRA — college-educated, white-collar workers — and the issue could be what helps tip the balance for Wexton. According to a recent NBC News poll, Americans in suburbs who had a negative view of the NRA increased from 36 percent in April 2017 to 40 percent after the Parkland shooting.

Can Comstock Come Back?
Comstock's campaign manager said that the Republican "has never lost a race and always overperforms expectations," noting that Comstock's district was rated as a "toss-up" in 2016 before she won by 6 percentage points.

While recent public polls put Wexton in front by at least 6 percentage points, a recent internal poll gives Comstock a slight lead, though within the margin of error.

But Turben, the Winchester historian, said the tides are changing in Virginia's 10th District. He said a Wexton victory would come with "a slump of sure GOP votes in the western boundaries of the district," adding that it would be a "loud and clear" message to Congress that the expectations rural voters have for Washington are shifting.

William & Mary professor McGlennon said that educated, affluent Loudon County represents a political shift happening in suburbs across the country.

"Suburbia has become a lot more diverse, and suburban voters have been moving strongly towards Democrats, and that has the potential to transform not just the politics of Virginia, but much of the country," he said.

While Comstock appears to be "in a very deep hole," McGlennon said, she could still win by finding a way to convince voters that she won't regularly support Trump, that "she will be an independent voice" and more attuned to her voters on social issues than a typical Republican.

"And I think that's a very tall order," he added.

It's an issue that the Wexton campaign is latching on to.

Trump is "certainly part of the conversation about everything," Rieling said, and Wexton's plans for "holding this administration accountable is an enormous issue for voters."

NBC's Sierra Jackson contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Trump Praises Montana Congressman Who Assaulted Reporter]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 13:41:32 -0700 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tru18AP_18292028479284.jpg

President Donald Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., Thursday for physically assaulting a reporter during a House race last year — remarks that come amid calls for Trump to hold Saudi Arabia responsible for the disappearance and apparent killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Never wrestle him," Trump said of Gianforte at a campaign rally in an airplane hangar in Missoula, Montana, NBC News reported. "Any guy that can do a body slam, he's my guy."

Trump doubled down on Friday, calling Gianforte "a tough cookie."

Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault last year after he laid hands on Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger-management counseling and payment of a $385 fine.

The Guardian's U.S. editor, John Mulholland, said in a statement provided after the rally, "to celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it."

Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP]]>