Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to immediately begin a program to provide military training to the moderate opposition in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a senior White House official said.

Unlike already established, secret CIA programs to support the Syrian rebels, this would be an overt program to train the rebels at camps that would be set up in countries in the region that have now agreed to allow the training to take part on their territory, according to the official.

The official would not specify where in the region the training would take place, but pointed to a trip over the weekend by White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The president told congressional leaders he needs authority from Congress to begin this training program, the official said. It will require a vote of Congress. The White House was adamant that the vote must come immediately, the source said.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to immediately begin a program to provide military training to the moderate opposition in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a senior White House official said.

Unlike already established, secret CIA programs to support the Syrian rebels, this would be an overt program to train the rebels at camps that would be set up in countries in the region that have now agreed to allow the training to take part on their territory, according to the official.

The official would not specify where in the region the training would take place, but pointed to a trip over the weekend by White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The president told congressional leaders he needs authority from Congress to begin this training program, the official said. It will require a vote of Congress. The White House was adamant that the vote must come immediately, the source said.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is running for Senate as a Republican in Louisiana, owes him a “big time” apology, after Cassidy accused him of running the Senate “like a plantation.”

“With all the things going on in America today, that’s fairly insensitive. That’s really insensitive, very insensitive and if there were ever a statement that deserved an apology, this is it, big time,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “I mean, has he been taking lessons from Donald Sterling? Where did he get this?”

Cassidy, the Republican front-runner challenging Democratic three-term incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in this year’s midterm election, was quoted comparing Reid to a plantation owner in an article published Tuesday morning by Environment & Energy News.

“So instead of the world’s greatest deliberative body, it is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops,’” Cassidy said of Reid.

Though Cassidy is hardly the first Republican to speak critically of the majority leader, who has become a lightning rod for Republican discontent with the Democratic-controlled Senate, the racial implications behind Cassidy’s comment escalated the rhetoric to a new level.

But Cassidy stood by his accusation against Reid, saying that offense should instead be taken from Reid’s leadership of the Senate.

“I wish there was as much offense taken by Harry Reid running the Senate dictatorially, not allowing any votes which he does not personally approve of and the result of which he does not endorse,” Cassidy told ABC News in a statement. “Any other interpretation of my remarks is a false controversy designed to distract attention from policies which are demonstrably crushing jobs and taking our country in the wrong direction.”

Tea Party candidate Rob Maness, also running against Landrieu and Cassidy in Louisiana’s “jungle primary” this November, called on Cassidy to apologize and called Cassidy’s comment “ignorant.”

“Congressman Cassidy may not realize this but the language he used included a term that is incredibly offensive to many Americans and he should immediately apologize,” Maness said in a statement emailed to reporters. “It’s this type of over-the-top, out-of-bounds ignorance that drives so many people away from the Republican Party. We need to be better than that.”

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A Republican Senate candidate in Oregon is bucking the GOP by embracing gay marriage in a new campaign ad.

The ad from the campaign of Dr. Monica Wehby, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, prominently features a gay couple — Ben West, of Portland, who filed a lawsuit in 2013 with partner Paul Rummell to overturn Oregon’s same sex-marriage ban that went into effect in 2004.

Their case was combined with other Oregon couples who also sought the right to marry after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2012. Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban was later ruled unconstitutional.

Wehby’s ad features photos and videos of West and Rummell on their wedding day and cheering after winning their court case. It closes with a photo of West and Wehby smiling together, where West says Wehby will “fight for every Oregon family, including mine.”

The majority of the Republican Party has opposed gay marriage, making Wehby a maverick in her party.

Along with the ad, West and Rummell also endorsed Wehby in a statement: “Monica is the leader our state needs to create better paying jobs, a stronger economy, and a future that delivers on the promise of building better opportunities for the next generation.”

In her own statement Wehby, who is aiming to broaden her appeal to pro-gay marriage voters in the solid blue state, said that she is “proud and humbled to have the support and Ben and Paul. Their courage to stand up for their family and against inequality is inspiring and embodies the spirit I will serve with as Oregon’s next Senator.”

Wehby is currently the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland. She has also served as a Republican Precinct Committee Person, as president for both the Oregon Medical Association and Portland Medical Society and on the board of directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

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US Senate(WASHINGTON) — The Ray Rice episode is spurring members of Congress to develop new ways to force sports leagues to more aggressively punish domestic violence cases, with rumblings of bipartisan efforts to make sure leagues and franchises don’t minimize such allegations in the future.

In the latest episode of the ESPN-ABC News podcast “Capital Games,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the fact that only “gruesome, gripping footage” of the alleged assault led the NFL to suspend Rice indefinitely suggests that pro sports entities still don’t get the gravity of domestic violence.

Blumenthal, who led the charge in Congress calling for a harsher penalty when the Rice incident first surfaced earlier this year, said he’s planning to huddle with both Democratic and Republican colleagues to react to the fallout. The reaction may include legislation on Capitol Hill, though no plans have been put forward yet, he said.

“I am going to be talking to my colleagues while I’m here, literally, these next days and weeks, in trying to put together a more forceful initiative and more aggressive encouragement, whether it’s in legislation or some other way — so that the NFL and other major sports leagues address this problem more effectively,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said the NFL finally reached the “right result” with the indefinite suspension of Rice and the Baltimore Ravens’ move to terminate his contract. But even the NFL’s new, stiffer penalties for domestic violence aren’t adequate, he said, and the senator added that he hopes the league realizes that before Congress would force further action.

“The NFL should stiffen its penalty [regime],” he said. “Perhaps Congress should intervene and act. But my hope is that the NFL will take the leadership and send the message that this kind of assault and violence is intolerable.”

Blumenthal said he’s also troubled by the way the Ravens were involved “stage-managing” the apology issued by Rice’s wife, who was his fiancée at the time of the alleged assault in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino in February.

“She was put on stage, apologized for her role — in effect aggravating this syndrome of blaming the victim. And so that is really exactly the opposite of the kind of message that advocates and experts on domestic violence want to see shown,” Blumenthal said.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As lawmakers question whether ground forces should be an aspect of the U.S. strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, House Speaker John Boehner refused to enter the growing debate.

Instead, he punted to President Obama ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with congressional leadership at the White House Tuesday afternoon.

“What I’m hoping to hear from the president today is a strategy that goes after ISIS and destroys them,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a news conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

“I’ve been calling for a strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat since January, when ISIS came across the border in Western Iraq,” he stressed. “We have a very serious problem and what we need is a strategy, and until there is a strategy, there is no reason to talk about any of the specifics because I don’t know how they fit into the broader strategy.”

On Jan. 9, Boehner first pressed the White House for a renewed counterterrorism strategy in Iraq, publicly complaining that the United States’ national security gains there were “threatened” and “reversed.”

“The United States has and will continue to have a vital national interest in Iraq,” Boehner said at the time. “We must maintain a long-term commitment to a successful outcome there, and it’s time that the president recognized this and get engaged.”

Obama is expected to detail his strategy during an address to the nation on Wednesday night.

Asked whether Congress should exercise its constitutional prerogative to debate the president’s war powers, Boehner questioned whether the violence in Iraq and Syria even qualifies as a war.

“Is that what we’re talking about?” Boehner wondered aloud. “Until the president…[explains] what his strategy is to deal with this growing terrorist threat and the strategy to defeat it…all we’re doing is speculating.”

On Tuesday, Boehner emphasized he still hopes to hear Obama “outline his strategy for how we’re going to deal with” ISIS.

“We need to be going after the terrorist threat wherever it is,” Boehner said. “Anyone that thinks this is just an Iraq-Syria issue is not paying much attention to what’s happening around the world.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After weeks of primaries and now just 56 days remaining until Election Day, it’s time for the final primer for the last primary day of the season.

The final states to vote before November are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island, with a gubernatorial primary in New York, even though their congressional primaries were earlier in the season.

One former Massachusetts senator is likely to defeat a former New Hampshire senator to be that state’s GOP nominee, there’s a Democratic gubernatorial brawl in Rhode Island, and one on the other side of the aisle in New Hampshire. There’s also a gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts with a familiar name, an 81-year old running for the Senate in Delaware, two openly gay Republicans on ballots in two states, and much more.

Here are ten races to watch this primary day:

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

The race between former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been playing out as a general election face-off for months since Brown moved to the state late last year, but Brown actually has to win his primary on Tuesday first.

WHY IT MATTERS

He’s up against former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith and former New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Rubens. Brown is heavily favored and now that we are hours away, the expectations game is playing out in this general election battle that could determine control of the Senate. New Hampshire’s Union-Leader reported Monday that Brown’s campaign believes he can beat Shaheen in November even if he only wins today with a plurality of the vote. The New Hampshire Democratic Party put out its own release, saying that it is expecting Brown to win by a “massive margin” and calling “anything short of an overwhelming win … an embarrassment.”

Brown’s primary lead and endorsements from Granite State Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and even Mitt Romney has made him the focus since he entered the race. But that hasn’t deterred Smith, who has a 30-year political resume, with several non-traditional stops along the way. Smith served in both the House and Senate, and waged an unsuccessful presidential bid that included leaving the party for a short time. He moved to Florida soon after his 2002 Senate re-election loss and mounted two bids for the GOP Senate nomination from the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2010, both unsuccessfully.

Now that he’s back in New Hampshire, Smith is running as the “true conservative” in the race, but it’s not only the fact that he left the GOP that has undermined his claim to that title: In 2004, just before Election Day, he endorsed John Kerry over George W. Bush. Either way, he said this is the likely end to his 30-year political resume. Rubens has also positioned himself to the right of Brown, but in their final debate last week he said unequivocally that he believes global warming exists and is caused by man, a belief he says makes him the only Republican Senate candidate in the country willing to openly share that view.

NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

The only Democratic female governor is in New Hampshire, and Maggie Hassan only faces token opposition today. However, the Republican fight to take her on is an interesting one. Walt Havenstein, a former Marine and president of BAE Systems, has vastly outspent his 32-year-old opponent Andrew Hemingway, a tea partier and former aide to Newt Gingrich in 2012, overseeing his efforts in the Granite State.

WHY IT MATTERS

Despite how tight the race remains, Havenstein, 64, has not only outspent his young challenger, spending $1.5 million of his own money, but he also has the backing of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s also the chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association. It was a rare foray for Christie into a primary, one that got a lot of attention and speculation this was more about 2016 than 2014.

The race remains tight between the Havenstein and Hemingway and they are appealing to different parts of the party. Hemingway to the more conservative electorate and Havenstein, who is pro-abortion rights, is running more of a moderate campaign trying to paint himself as the only candidate who can beat Hassan. State polls show Hassan leading both possible challengers.

MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

With incumbent Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick opting against seeking a third term, this is an open race with high-profile candidates on both sides of the aisle, which, despite blue Massachusetts, could lead to a competitive general election.

WHY IT MATTERS
On the Democratic side, the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, backed by Emily’s List, has come in first against her two opponents in state polls. She famously lost in 2010 to Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race in the seat that opened up after Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death. Brown then lost to Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and now is running for the Senate again in New Hampshire. (See above.)

Coakley faces off against Donald Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official, and Steve Grossman, the Massachusetts state treasurer, who was endorsed by the state party, as well as the Boston Globe. He has been touting the endorsements as the primary approached.

On the Republican side, Charlie Baker, who won the Republican nomination in 2010, is the former state Secretary of Finance and Administration and the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He’s up against Mark Fisher, a businessman aligned with the Tea Party. Baker is favored, but Fisher is trying to awaken the more conservative members of the party in the Bay State that he believes may be upset at the more moderate GOP in the state. Baker has a more moderate approach, trying to appeal to voters in both parties ahead of the November election. The Democratic and Republican winners will be up against three independent candidates in November.

RHODE ISLAND GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is not seeking a second term, so there’s an open race for Rhode Island’s top office.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s governor is a tight battle pitting state general treasurer Gina Raimondo against Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Clay Pell, the 32-year-old grandson of Claiborne Pell, the late senator who represented Rhode Island for 36 years and for whom the Pell Grant is named.

The former Coast Guard attorney is married to former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, also a draw on the campaign trail. Raimondo has led in the most recent polls, but has remained tight with Taveras through most of the primary, with many undecided voters. If Raimondo — backed by Emily’s List — wins today and goes on to win in November, she would be Rhode Island’s first female governor. Public-sector unions aren’t supportive of Raimondo since she reformed the state’s pension plan, cutting benefits, but unions have split their support between Taveras and Pell.

Spending between the three has been sky high, with spending in the Democratic primary alone topping $10 million. Taveras, who has appealed to Latino and middle-class voters, has hit Raimondo for her support from Wall Street donors. The unions supporting Pell and Taveras could help with their get-out-the-vote operations, while Raimondo has been appealing to more independents and moderates who could boost her today. Pell has trailed in polls despite spending $3.4 million of his own money, but may be able to get support from voters who remember his grandfather. His opponents have portrayed him as a wealthy rookie unable to hold down a job.

The winner will face either Cranston Mayor Allan Fung or businessman Ken Block, who are facing off for the Republican nomination. Fung has been endorsed by Mitt Romney, while Block has been endorsed by John Robitaille, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor. Fung and Block have spent considerably less than their Democratic rivals. Fung has questioned Block’s conservative credentials, since Block voted for the president twice. Fung ran into some trouble in August when it was revealed he shot a campaign ad touting Rhode Island’s as “open for business,” but from an Ohio diner. The lack of polling makes this a complete toss-up. Rhode Island is a blue state and a Democrat is favored to win, but Rhode Island hasn’t elected a Democrat as governor since 1992.

NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PRIMARY

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a Democratic challenge from liberal Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout. Teachout claims Cuomo is too far to the right for New York, despite victories like the legalization of same-sex marriage and the passing of one of the strictest gun control bills in the country, achievements to which Cuomo has pointed.

WHY IT MATTERS

There has been no polling, but Cuomo is heavily favored to win. The race that has gotten more attention is actually the second name on both tickets: the race for lieutenant governor, where there’s more of a possibility for an upset. Cuomo’s pick is Kathy Hochul, a former one-term congresswoman from a conservative district outside Buffalo who is up against Teachout’s choice, Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor.

Hillary Clinton released a robo-call last week backing the ticket, but in the call she primarily focused boosting the little-known Hochul. Hochul has been stressing her progressive stances, but Wu has hit her for her own gun control and environmental records. Hochul is most well-known for winning a special election in one of the state’s most conservative districts in 2011, but she lost her re-election one year later.

The biggest controversy hanging over the race is the Moreland Commission, the anti-corruption panel Cuomo dissolved after it began looking at organizations close to the governor. It prompted a federal investigation after it was revealed in the New York Times. The winning ticket will face Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in November.

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS’ SIXTH DISTRICT

Incumbent nine-term Democratic Rep. John Tierney, 62, has a competitive primary today and if he is victorious he will also have a tight general election on his hands. His Democratic opponents include Harvard-educated former Marine Seth Moulton, 35, who was also a top aide to General David Petraeus.

WHY IT MATTERS

Moulton is considered Tierney’s strongest opponent and while the incumbent has tried to look past him to focus on the general election, Moulton has run an aggressive campaign focusing on voter discontent with Congress. Tierney has tried to paint Moulton as too conservative, running an ad tying him to the National Rifle Association, something Moulton called absurd, according to the New York Times. Moulton has raised almost as much as Tierney, with the incumbent bringing in $1.9 million to Moulton’s $1.6 million. Moulton has been backed by both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, two editorial boards that usually do not agree.

Tierney has the backing of the Democratic establishment, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Marisa DeFranco, a Middleton immigration lawyer, is also running in the Democratic primary. The winner will face the man Tierney beat by just one percentage point in 2012, Republican Richard Tisei. The 2012 race was dominated by a gambling scandal involving Tierney’s wife. Tisei is openly gay and moderate and the possible re-match between Tierney and Tisei is considered a toss-up, even in this blue state. Moulton is thought to have an advantage against Tisei if he is the victor, but with no primary or general election polling this race is impossible to predict, even though there hasn’t been a successful primary against a House incumbent in the Bay State in over 20 years.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S FIRST DISTRICT

Four Republicans are vying to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, in a race considered a November toss-up.

WHY IT MATTERS

Former Rep. Frank Guinta is favored in the race against Dan Innis, a dean at the University of New Hampshire, and former selectman Brendan Kelly. There’s also a fourth lesser-known candidate: Everett Jabour. Shea-Porter was elected in 2006 and 2008, but Guinta beat Shea-Porter in 2010 only to then be ousted in 2012. Guinta is running for the fifth time in nine years and Innis has called Guinta a career politician, but he has much higher name recognition than his opponents. Innis is one of three openly gay Republican candidates running this cycle and is much more moderate.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S SECOND DISTRICT
Marilinda Garcia, named one of the RNC’s rising stars, is attempting to become one of the youngest members of Congress. She’s up against former Marine and state Sen. Gary Lambert and former state Rep. Jim Lawrence to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.

WHY IT MATTERS

With no primary polling, it’s unclear if the 31-year-old Garcia, Lambert, or Lawrence will pull off the primary. Garcia is seen as the more conservative choice and Sen. Ted Cruz hit the campaign trail for her this weekend. The race has gotten nasty with Lambert running ads accusing Garcia of supporting Obamacare and “amnesty.” After their final debate, she declined to shake his hand.

DELAWARE SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

Delaware voters will choose today which Republican will go up against incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Coons in November. Carl Smink, an 81-year-old retired engineer and Air Force veteran, is up against businessman Kevin Wade, who ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2012, and founded his own engineering business when he was 29.

Wade, 62, has visited Israel during his campaign on a trip he called a fact-finding mission to research the Middle East conflict. He also visited the Mexican border to understand the border crisis, according to Delaware’s The News Journal, which also reports both trips abroad were funded by his campaign. Smink, appealing to a more conservative electorate, has said one of his biggest concerns is the implementation of Sharia Law in this country. The winner will face Coons in the general election and he is widely favored to beat either opponent.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS’ NINTH DISTRICT

Four Republicans are vying to go up against Democratic incumbent Rep. William Keating. The favorite is former Romney administration official John Chapman, who has the backing of Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and is on the National Republican Campaign Committee “Young Guns” list. He’s up against Mark Alliegro, a scientist and researcher aligned with the tea party, Daniel Shores, a lawyer, and Vincent Cogliano Jr., a former selectman who operates a family Christmas tree farm. Romney recorded a robo-call on behalf of Chapman and said he will “cut spending, repeal Obamacare, and get rid of the red tape holding back the economy.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After weeks of primaries and now just 56 days remaining until Election Day, it’s time for the final primer for the last primary day of the season.

The final states to vote before November are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island, with a gubernatorial primary in New York, even though their congressional primaries were earlier in the season.

One former Massachusetts senator is likely to defeat a former New Hampshire senator to be that state’s GOP nominee, there’s a Democratic gubernatorial brawl in Rhode Island, and one on the other side of the aisle in New Hampshire. There’s also a gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts with a familiar name, an 81-year old running for the Senate in Delaware, two openly gay Republicans on ballots in two states, and much more.

Here are ten races to watch this primary day:

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

The race between former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been playing out as a general election face-off for months since Brown moved to the state late last year, but Brown actually has to win his primary on Tuesday first.

WHY IT MATTERS

He’s up against former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith and former New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Rubens. Brown is heavily favored and now that we are hours away, the expectations game is playing out in this general election battle that could determine control of the Senate. New Hampshire’s Union-Leader reported Monday that Brown’s campaign believes he can beat Shaheen in November even if he only wins today with a plurality of the vote. The New Hampshire Democratic Party put out its own release, saying that it is expecting Brown to win by a “massive margin” and calling “anything short of an overwhelming win … an embarrassment.”

Brown’s primary lead and endorsements from Granite State Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and even Mitt Romney has made him the focus since he entered the race. But that hasn’t deterred Smith, who has a 30-year political resume, with several non-traditional stops along the way. Smith served in both the House and Senate, and waged an unsuccessful presidential bid that included leaving the party for a short time. He moved to Florida soon after his 2002 Senate re-election loss and mounted two bids for the GOP Senate nomination from the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2010, both unsuccessfully.

Now that he’s back in New Hampshire, Smith is running as the “true conservative” in the race, but it’s not only the fact that he left the GOP that has undermined his claim to that title: In 2004, just before Election Day, he endorsed John Kerry over George W. Bush. Either way, he said this is the likely end to his 30-year political resume. Rubens has also positioned himself to the right of Brown, but in their final debate last week he said unequivocally that he believes global warming exists and is caused by man, a belief he says makes him the only Republican Senate candidate in the country willing to openly share that view.

NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

The only Democratic female governor is in New Hampshire, and Maggie Hassan only faces token opposition today. However, the Republican fight to take her on is an interesting one. Walt Havenstein, a former Marine and president of BAE Systems, has vastly outspent his 32-year-old opponent Andrew Hemingway, a tea partier and former aide to Newt Gingrich in 2012, overseeing his efforts in the Granite State.

WHY IT MATTERS

Despite how tight the race remains, Havenstein, 64, has not only outspent his young challenger, spending $1.5 million of his own money, but he also has the backing of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s also the chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association. It was a rare foray for Christie into a primary, one that got a lot of attention and speculation this was more about 2016 than 2014.

The race remains tight between the Havenstein and Hemingway and they are appealing to different parts of the party. Hemingway to the more conservative electorate and Havenstein, who is pro-abortion rights, is running more of a moderate campaign trying to paint himself as the only candidate who can beat Hassan. State polls show Hassan leading both possible challengers.

MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

With incumbent Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick opting against seeking a third term, this is an open race with high-profile candidates on both sides of the aisle, which, despite blue Massachusetts, could lead to a competitive general election.

WHY IT MATTERS
On the Democratic side, the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, backed by Emily’s List, has come in first against her two opponents in state polls. She famously lost in 2010 to Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race in the seat that opened up after Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death. Brown then lost to Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and now is running for the Senate again in New Hampshire. (See above.)

Coakley faces off against Donald Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official, and Steve Grossman, the Massachusetts state treasurer, who was endorsed by the state party, as well as the Boston Globe. He has been touting the endorsements as the primary approached.

On the Republican side, Charlie Baker, who won the Republican nomination in 2010, is the former state Secretary of Finance and Administration and the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He’s up against Mark Fisher, a businessman aligned with the Tea Party. Baker is favored, but Fisher is trying to awaken the more conservative members of the party in the Bay State that he believes may be upset at the more moderate GOP in the state. Baker has a more moderate approach, trying to appeal to voters in both parties ahead of the November election. The Democratic and Republican winners will be up against three independent candidates in November.

RHODE ISLAND GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is not seeking a second term, so there’s an open race for Rhode Island’s top office.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s governor is a tight battle pitting state general treasurer Gina Raimondo against Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Clay Pell, the 32-year-old grandson of Claiborne Pell, the late senator who represented Rhode Island for 36 years and for whom the Pell Grant is named.

The former Coast Guard attorney is married to former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, also a draw on the campaign trail. Raimondo has led in the most recent polls, but has remained tight with Taveras through most of the primary, with many undecided voters. If Raimondo — backed by Emily’s List — wins today and goes on to win in November, she would be Rhode Island’s first female governor. Public-sector unions aren’t supportive of Raimondo since she reformed the state’s pension plan, cutting benefits, but unions have split their support between Taveras and Pell.

Spending between the three has been sky high, with spending in the Democratic primary alone topping $10 million. Taveras, who has appealed to Latino and middle-class voters, has hit Raimondo for her support from Wall Street donors. The unions supporting Pell and Taveras could help with their get-out-the-vote operations, while Raimondo has been appealing to more independents and moderates who could boost her today. Pell has trailed in polls despite spending $3.4 million of his own money, but may be able to get support from voters who remember his grandfather. His opponents have portrayed him as a wealthy rookie unable to hold down a job.

The winner will face either Cranston Mayor Allan Fung or businessman Ken Block, who are facing off for the Republican nomination. Fung has been endorsed by Mitt Romney, while Block has been endorsed by John Robitaille, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor. Fung and Block have spent considerably less than their Democratic rivals. Fung has questioned Block’s conservative credentials, since Block voted for the president twice. Fung ran into some trouble in August when it was revealed he shot a campaign ad touting Rhode Island’s as “open for business,” but from an Ohio diner. The lack of polling makes this a complete toss-up. Rhode Island is a blue state and a Democrat is favored to win, but Rhode Island hasn’t elected a Democrat as governor since 1992.

NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PRIMARY

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a Democratic challenge from liberal Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout. Teachout claims Cuomo is too far to the right for New York, despite victories like the legalization of same-sex marriage and the passing of one of the strictest gun control bills in the country, achievements to which Cuomo has pointed.

WHY IT MATTERS

There has been no polling, but Cuomo is heavily favored to win. The race that has gotten more attention is actually the second name on both tickets: the race for lieutenant governor, where there’s more of a possibility for an upset. Cuomo’s pick is Kathy Hochul, a former one-term congresswoman from a conservative district outside Buffalo who is up against Teachout’s choice, Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor.

Hillary Clinton released a robo-call last week backing the ticket, but in the call she primarily focused boosting the little-known Hochul. Hochul has been stressing her progressive stances, but Wu has hit her for her own gun control and environmental records. Hochul is most well-known for winning a special election in one of the state’s most conservative districts in 2011, but she lost her re-election one year later.

The biggest controversy hanging over the race is the Moreland Commission, the anti-corruption panel Cuomo dissolved after it began looking at organizations close to the governor. It prompted a federal investigation after it was revealed in the New York Times. The winning ticket will face Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in November.

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS’ SIXTH DISTRICT

Incumbent nine-term Democratic Rep. John Tierney, 62, has a competitive primary today and if he is victorious he will also have a tight general election on his hands. His Democratic opponents include Harvard-educated former Marine Seth Moulton, 35, who was also a top aide to General David Petraeus.

WHY IT MATTERS

Moulton is considered Tierney’s strongest opponent and while the incumbent has tried to look past him to focus on the general election, Moulton has run an aggressive campaign focusing on voter discontent with Congress. Tierney has tried to paint Moulton as too conservative, running an ad tying him to the National Rifle Association, something Moulton called absurd, according to the New York Times. Moulton has raised almost as much as Tierney, with the incumbent bringing in $1.9 million to Moulton’s $1.6 million. Moulton has been backed by both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, two editorial boards that usually do not agree.

Tierney has the backing of the Democratic establishment, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Marisa DeFranco, a Middleton immigration lawyer, is also running in the Democratic primary. The winner will face the man Tierney beat by just one percentage point in 2012, Republican Richard Tisei. The 2012 race was dominated by a gambling scandal involving Tierney’s wife. Tisei is openly gay and moderate and the possible re-match between Tierney and Tisei is considered a toss-up, even in this blue state. Moulton is thought to have an advantage against Tisei if he is the victor, but with no primary or general election polling this race is impossible to predict, even though there hasn’t been a successful primary against a House incumbent in the Bay State in over 20 years.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S FIRST DISTRICT

Four Republicans are vying to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, in a race considered a November toss-up.

WHY IT MATTERS

Former Rep. Frank Guinta is favored in the race against Dan Innis, a dean at the University of New Hampshire, and former selectman Brendan Kelly. There’s also a fourth lesser-known candidate: Everett Jabour. Shea-Porter was elected in 2006 and 2008, but Guinta beat Shea-Porter in 2010 only to then be ousted in 2012. Guinta is running for the fifth time in nine years and Innis has called Guinta a career politician, but he has much higher name recognition than his opponents. Innis is one of three openly gay Republican candidates running this cycle and is much more moderate.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S SECOND DISTRICT
Marilinda Garcia, named one of the RNC’s rising stars, is attempting to become one of the youngest members of Congress. She’s up against former Marine and state Sen. Gary Lambert and former state Rep. Jim Lawrence to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.

WHY IT MATTERS

With no primary polling, it’s unclear if the 31-year-old Garcia, Lambert, or Lawrence will pull off the primary. Garcia is seen as the more conservative choice and Sen. Ted Cruz hit the campaign trail for her this weekend. The race has gotten nasty with Lambert running ads accusing Garcia of supporting Obamacare and “amnesty.” After their final debate, she declined to shake his hand.

DELAWARE SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

Delaware voters will choose today which Republican will go up against incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Coons in November. Carl Smink, an 81-year-old retired engineer and Air Force veteran, is up against businessman Kevin Wade, who ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2012, and founded his own engineering business when he was 29.

Wade, 62, has visited Israel during his campaign on a trip he called a fact-finding mission to research the Middle East conflict. He also visited the Mexican border to understand the border crisis, according to Delaware’s The News Journal, which also reports both trips abroad were funded by his campaign. Smink, appealing to a more conservative electorate, has said one of his biggest concerns is the implementation of Sharia Law in this country. The winner will face Coons in the general election and he is widely favored to beat either opponent.

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS’ NINTH DISTRICT

Four Republicans are vying to go up against Democratic incumbent Rep. William Keating. The favorite is former Romney administration official John Chapman, who has the backing of Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and is on the National Republican Campaign Committee “Young Guns” list. He’s up against Mark Alliegro, a scientist and researcher aligned with the tea party, Daniel Shores, a lawyer, and Vincent Cogliano Jr., a former selectman who operates a family Christmas tree farm. Romney recorded a robo-call on behalf of Chapman and said he will “cut spending, repeal Obamacare, and get rid of the red tape holding back the economy.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s been nearly a year since the partial government shutdown that practically everyone now would like to forget, especially the many federal workers who were furloughed during the 16-day standoff.

However, in what could be termed a silver lining in that dark cloud, a George Washington University poll suggests that the shutdown may have actually improved the public perception of people who work for the government.

Prior to the Oct. 1 stoppage, 61 percent of respondents said they either had “some” or a “lot” of confidence in federal civilian workers.

According to the latest figures released Monday, 73 percent now have “some” or a “lot” of confidence in federal workers.

The researchers believe that a greater appreciation for these workers developed when Americans had to go without certain services.

Meanwhile, the survey of 1,000 adults also found that far more Democrats than Republicans valued those who chose careers in federal service.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama will meet with Congressional leaders on Tuesday to discuss on foreign policy.

The meeting comes one day ahead of an anticipated speech about his selected strategy on how to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and days after he was flamed for saying he had “no strategy yet” for battling the Islamic terror group.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The meeting is expected to take place in the Oval Office at about 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

A senior White House official told ABC News that Obama will use his Wednesday speech to, “speak to the country.” The president is not expected to announce an expansion of U.S. airstrikes into Syria or any other major change from the way the U.S. has been combating ISIS.

He is expected to mention the threat that ISIS poses, provide an update on the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq, and highlight the progress made on the international coalition he has hoped to bring together in the fight against ISIS. Obama may also highlight the importance of the newly formed Iraqi government in the battle against ISIS.

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