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Daily Reads: Democrats and the White House Closely Watch Georgia’s 6th; Supreme Court Intervenes In Arkansas’ Assembly-Line Executions

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Democrats and the White House Closely Watch Georgia’s 6th

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff speaks to volunteers at a campaign office as he runs for Georgia's 6th Congressional District in a special election to replace Tom Price, who is now the secretary of Health and Human Services, on April 17, 2017 in Marietta, Georgia. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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A very special special election? –> All eyes are on Georgia’s 6th District, where moderate liberal Jon Ossoff is running a campaign against a handful of Republicans to replace former Rep. Tom Price, who is now in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services. If Ossoff captures more than 50 percent of the vote in today’s “jungle primary,” he will win the congressional seat outright. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will proceed to a runoff election. “I think I can win,” Ossoff told Roll Call Monday. “Whether I do is up to turnout and the voters.”

Democrats have raised huge sums for Ossoff, and the White House is also watching this contest closely: Trump has denounced Ossoff via Twitter, and Steve Bannon reportedly has an aide updating him on the latest press and polls related to it.

Both Trump and liberals seem to be casting this election as a referendum on the new president. As we wrote last week, a loss for Democrats could indicate — falsely — that opposition to Trump is weaker than it appears. On the other hand, a win could suggest to Democrats — also falsely — that taking back the House is an option when, thanks mostly to extremely effective gerrymandering by Republicans, it is a near impossibility in 2018.

Last-minute decision –> “The US Supreme Court has ended a dramatic day of legal tussles over Arkansas’ unprecedented plan to execute eight prisoners in 11 days, declining to allow the state to go ahead with Monday night’s scheduled killings in what amounted to a major victory for the condemned inmates’ lawyers and anti-death penalty campaigners,” Ed Pilkington reported for The Guardian early this morning. Three prisoners have now been spared, but five more executions are planned over an 11-day period, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is rushing to execute as many death row inmates as possible in order to use a batch of the lethal injection drug midazolam before it expires next month.

Another appeal to the Supreme Court relating to these eight prisoners is on its way, Martin Clancy writes for our site. But if the court decides to accept the case, “the decision will be based on the very narrow grounds of this case and these drugs. You can safely place a side bet that the death penalty itself will not be an issue.”

Staring down the communists –> “North Korea would do well not to test [Trump’s] resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Mike Pence threatened after a day spent squinting across the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea. He reminded North Korea (and the world) of America’s recent display of force in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea’s reply: “We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.”

This warmongering is not helpful to our allies in South Korea, Christine Ahn writes for Foreign Policy in Focus. “As hawks call upon President Trump to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs through the use of force, they’re undermining the very reason the US military has allegedly been stationed on the Korean peninsula for seven decades: to protect the South Korean people.”

Not any time soon –> Democrats are uniting around a pledge not to cooperate with Republicans on tax reform until Donald Trump releases his tax returns — which, Sean Spicer reiterated yesterday, he won’t be doing. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Financial Times not to expect anything to happen on tax reform before August.

Rogue Twitter hero discovered –> Days into the Trump administration, it seemed the Badlands National Park was taking a stand. The South Dakota park’s Twitter account sent out a series of facts on climate change and its effects, which were widely interpreted as a rebuke of the new president’s climate change denial. Then the account went silent. But through a Freedom of Information Act Request, Greenwire has obtained an email in which a former employee (whose name was redacted) admitted that he or she was behind the tweets. “Fearing a gag order on climate science I willfully sent a series of tweets on the subject,” he or she wrote in an email, admitting that, at the time, he or she still had access to the park’s social media accounts. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Americans love a good story about someone who walks to work –> Take the story of Patrick Edmund, who walked 12 miles to work at an ice cream shop in Texas. Or Hames Robertson, who walked 21 miles from his home in Detroit to a factory job in another town for 10 years. These stories are regularly picked up by local newspapers and newscasts. But at The Outline, Adrianne Jeffries writes that, “while these stories might come across as heartwarming, indicative of the power of community and the American spirit, they are really indictments of a country that has the world’s largest economy but can’t promise a living wage.”

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.



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