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Steve King loses Iowa Republican primary to Randy Feenstra

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republicans in northwest Iowa ousted Rep. Steve King in Tuesday’s primary, deciding they’ve had enough of the conservative lightning rod known for making incendiary comments about immigrants and white supremacy throughout his nearly two decades in Congress. The nine-term congressman, shunned by his party leadership in Washington and many of his longtime…

Steve King loses Iowa Republican primary to Randy Feenstra

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republicans in northwest Iowa ousted Rep. Steve King in Tuesday’s primary, deciding they’ve had enough of the conservative lightning rod known for making incendiary comments about immigrants and white supremacy throughout his nearly two decades in Congress.

The nine-term congressman, shunned by his party leadership in Washington and many of his longtime supporters at home, lost to well-funded state Sen. Randy Feenstra in a five-way GOP primary. The challengers argued that King’s loss of clout, even more than the continuous string of provocative and racially-charged statements over his career, was reason enough for turning on him.

Iowa Democrats also chose a challenger for Republican freshman Sen. Joni Ernst in a race earlier thought to heavily favor Ernst until her approval shrank over the past year. Des Moines businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, who raised the most money and garnered the widest cross-section of the Iowa Democratic coalition of elected officials and labor unions, won the nomination over three others.

But the focus was on the 4th District primary featuring King, the lone Republican in Iowa’s U.S. House delegation.

King was stripped of his committee assignments in 2018 for comments appearing to question the criticism of white nationalism in an era of increased sensitivity among Republicans nationally about the alt-right and white supremacists. The congressman also made controversial remarks through the years about immigrants, Islam and abortion.

“There is a little bit of concern that he’s become tone deaf to some of these issues,” longtime King supporter Ann Trimble Ray said, referring to voters’ concern that King has been marginalized in Congress, though she remains a believer of the congressman.

Establishment Republicans suggested King’s ouster would easily keep the seat in the party’s hands, warning a King primary victory would jeopardize that by setting up a rematch with the Democrat who came within 2 percentage points of beating him two years ago.

King was vastly outspent by Feenstra and conservative groups backing him, including onetime King backer National Right to Life, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group.

Several of King’s former supporters shrugged at the litany of comments that fueled the congressman’s love-hate relationship with national media. However, they drew the line not with the comments in a 2018 New York Times story that seemed to defend white nationalism but with the reaction by House GOP leadership.

King was tossed from the Judiciary Committee, which would have given him a high profile role defending President Donald Trump during the 2019 impeachment hearings. He also lost his seat on the agriculture panel, a blow to the representative whose district produced more agricultural products in raw dollars than any district but Nebraska’s massive 3rd District, according to the most recent federal data.

“I personally feel very let down about some of the things that have happened because we need someone who is strong in agriculture from this area,” said former King supporter, state Sen. Annette Sweeney, who backed Feenstra.

King said during the campaign he had been assured privately by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that he’d support King’s reinstatement on the committees, a claim McCarthy dismissed publicly to reporters last month.

Democrats chose from four relative unknowns to take on Ernst in what has has shaped up to be a more competitive Senate race than expected.

Ernst’s job approval and overall favorable ratings have dropped in the past year as she has sought to balance support for President Donald Trump, who is popular with Republicans but far less so among others in the state.

Greenfield had the edge, in part because of her compelling story of being widowed as a young mother and owing her rebound to Democratic priorities, Social Security and union benefits.

Perhaps most notably, the 55-year-old Greenfield impressed with her fundraising, bringing in more than $7 million since entering the race last year. That’s at least $5 million more than any of her Democratic opponents and reflects the endorsement of the Democrats’ national Senate campaign arm.

While Ernst has lost some of her footing, it’s difficult to say how the Senate race proceeds in light of the continuing pandemic, the uncertain economy and now protests over over police treatment of African Americans, including in Iowa where Trump won by more than 9 percentage points in 2016.

One recent data point, lost on many except Iowa Democratic leaders amid the ongoing crises: Registered Democrats in Iowa edged registered Republicans in March for the first time in more than six years, and now also outnumber voters unaffiliated with either party.

“Anybody who can predict what the state of the economy will be, any sense of community people have, where the partisan tendencies go between now and November, it’s just really hard to say,” said senior Ernst adviser David Kochel.

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Arpaio

Joe Arpaio loses sheriff’s race in 2nd failed comeback bid

PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Arpaio on Friday was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned…

Joe Arpaio loses sheriff’s race in 2nd failed comeback bid

PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Arpaio on Friday was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned criminal conviction.

Arpaio lost by more than 6,200 votes in the Republican primary for Maricopa County sheriff to his former top aide, Jerry Sheridan.

In the Nov. 3 general election, Sheridan will face Democrat Paul Penzone, who unseated Arpaio four years ago.

Arpaio said he believes some supporters who have thanked him in recent years for his service really meant they wanted him to move on from politics.

“What they meant is it’s time to go fishing,” said Arpaio, who isn’t an angler. “I still took a shot at it. I’m not ashamed. I could have won this one.”

The loss marked Arpaio’s second failed attempt to return to politics. He ran an unsuccessful primary campaign for U.S. Senate in 2018, not long after President Donald Trump had pardoned his 2017 criminal contempt of court conviction for disobeying a judge’s order in a racial profiling case.

As metro Phoenix’s sheriff from 1992 through 2016, Arpaio rose to political prominence by creating old-time chain gangs and housing inmates in tents during triple-digit heat. But he is most well-known for launching immigration crackdowns, some of which contributed significantly to his political downfall.

While his defiant streak played well with voters for many years, Arpaio faced heavy criticism for taking on policies that he knew were controversial and racking up $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal bills. His agency also botched the investigations of more than 400 sex-crimes complaints made to his office.

His political fortunes started to decline significantly in 2013 when his officers were found by a federal judge to have racially profiled Latinos in Arpaio’s traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

In his latest campaign, Arpaio got only a fraction of the campaign money he was famous for raising and was criticized for his conviction. Arpaio said many people didn’t know he was running until they saw his name on the ballot.

His platform consisted of his unwavering support for Trump and bringing back practices that the courts have either deemed illegal or his successor has ended, such as immigration crackdowns.

He also was facing a far more moderate electorate than in earlier campaigns.

In the profiling case, both Arpaio and Sheridan were found in civil contempt of court for disobeying a 2011 court order to stop the sheriff’s immigration patrols, leading to Arpaio’s criminal contempt conviction in 2017. Sheridan wasn’t charged with criminal contempt.

Arpaio and Sheridan vigorously dispute the contempt findings. Sheridan, a 38-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who retired after Arpaio was defeated in 2016, said he was unaware of the highly publicized court order and didn’t run the unit that carried out the immigration patrols.

Sheridan said he could help turn around the tarnished law enforcement agency and insisted that he is his own man.

Sheridan didn’t immediately return call seeking comment on his primary victory.

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loses

Jeff Sessions loses in Alabama Senate primary

Former football coach Tommy Tuberville cruised to victory Tuesday night in Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate runoff, apparently spelling the end of the political career of Jeff Sessions, a former senator and U.S. attorney general. Mr. Sessions was trying to regain the seat, but Mr. Tuberville, who once coached the Auburn Tigers and enjoyed the endorsement…

Jeff Sessions loses in Alabama Senate primary

Former football coach Tommy Tuberville cruised to victory Tuesday night in Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate runoff, apparently spelling the end of the political career of Jeff Sessions, a former senator and U.S. attorney general.

Mr. Sessions was trying to regain the seat, but Mr. Tuberville, who once coached the Auburn Tigers and enjoyed the endorsement of President Trump, held a commanding lead throughout the night as the vote poured in.

The Associated Press and other news outlets called the race around 9:15 p.m., with Mr. Tuberville getting 63% of the vote, over Mr. Sessions’ 37%.

Mr. Tuberville predicted a united Republican front come November, saying Mr. Sessions graciously threw his support behind the former coach right away.

“Jeff Sessions and his supporters are going to be behind us,” he told supporters. “This is going to be hard. I haven’t taken anything for granted.”

The results were not held up by mail-in ballots, as more than half of the 43,683 absentee ballots requested were turned in before Tuesday, according to election officials.

Mr. Tuberville, 65, will now try to consolidate support to defeat Sen. Doug Jones, considered the most vulnerable Democratic senator this November. Alabama is a deeply Republican state that President Trump won with more than 73% of the vote in 2016.

Alabama’s GOP had maintained a studied neutrality throughout the runoff, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee congratulated Mr. Tuberville early in the evening.

“As a true political outsider, Tommy Tuberville has what it takes to stand up for the people of Alabama, conservative values and President Trump – and most importantly, defeat Doug Jones,” NRSC Chairman Todd Young said. “I look forward to another victory for Tuberville in November and working with him to build on President Trump’s and our Republican Senate Majority’s record of accomplishment.”

The ensure victory in November, Republican officials said they must increase voter turnout from what they got in the 2017 special senate election to take Mr. Sessions’ seat after he became attorney general. In that race, an estimated 600,000 GOP voters stayed on the sideline as Mr. Jones squeaked past former state supreme court justice Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual misconduct with younger women decades ago.

Mr. Trump has worked hard for Mr. Tuberville since he endorsed the former coach prior to the March primary. On Monday night, in a “telephone town hall” Mr. Trump reiterated his attack against Mr. Sessions, 73, who recused himself almost immediately from the investigation into charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, which proved unfounded.

“I made a mistake when I put him in as attorney general,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Sessions, who had been the first senator to back Mr. Trump’s presidential bid. “He had his chance and he blew it.”

In the closing weeks of the runoff Mr. Tuberville fended off two issues that Democrats will likely revive in the upcoming campaign.

First, he was accused of being unduly soft on disciplining Auburn University football players who had been arrested or charged with crimes and, second, he was a partner in a failed investment fund that led to fraud convictions for other parties.

Investigators cleared Mr. Tuberville of illegal activity with the fund, however, concluding he had been one of its biggest victims and he claims to have lost $2 million.

Mr. Jones is nowhere near as liberal as much of the present Democratic Party leadership but he has cast several votes that put him out of line with many Alabama voters, including voting against confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and for impeaching Mr. Trump.

Money will not be an issue for Mr. Jones, whose biggest sources of the $8.2 million cash he had had at the end of March were employees of Google and the University of Alabama system.

Mr. Tuberville cited judicial appointments in his victory speech, and vowed to protect the Second Amendment.

“In Doug Jones’ Alabama the rule of law is mob rule,” he said. “Doug Jones is running for re-election with the slogan ‘One Alabama.’ Well, make no mistake about it, what Doug really means is one liberal Alabama.”

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economy

US economy loses a record 20.5 million jobs in April

We have never seen anything like this before. The depth and breadth of the damage inflicted on the United States economy by coronavirus lockdown measures came into sharp, painful focus on Friday with government figures showing a record 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April.  Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)…

US economy loses a record 20.5 million jobs in April

We have never seen anything like this before.
The depth and breadth of the damage inflicted on the United States economy by coronavirus lockdown measures came into sharp, painful focus on Friday with government figures showing a record 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April. 
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also showed the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7 percent  last month – the highest since the Great Depression.
Behind all of these numbers are real people whose livelihoods have been brutally and tragically disrupted by the pandemic. 
More:

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Coronavirus recession will hit women harder, experts warn

For millennials, coronavirus economic blow awakens bad memories

The data further confirms the overwhelming consensus that the US economy is in the throes of a sharp recession. But in a sobering reality check, the headline numbers likely understate the true scale of the carnage.
“Although the unemployment rate only climbed to 14.7 percent, slightly below expectations, that was principally because the BLS is still having problems with misclassifying absent workers who should have been recorded as on temporary layoff,” Capital Economics chief US economist Paul Ashworth wrote in a note to clients. “Without that distortion, the unemployment rate would have been close to 20 percent last month.”
Though historic, the data came as no surprise. Some 33.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the seven weeks ending May 2, offering a preview of the monthly damage on tap. 
But the April numbers do provide more details about which workers and which sectors of the economy were hardest hit by stay-at-home orders.
Broken out by race and gender, the unemployment rate hit 13 percent for adult men and 15.5 percent for adult women; 14.2 percent for whites, 16.7 percent for Blacks, 14.5 percent for Asians and 18.9 percent for Hispanics.
All of these groups with the exception of Black people posted record high unemployment rates.
Every major sector of the economy haemorrhaged jobs last month, but losses were particularly acute in leisure and hospitality where employment plummeted by 7.7 million, or 47 percent. Nearly three-quarters of that carnage – some 5.5 million job losses – were borne by food services and drinking places.
Education and health services lost 2.5 million jobs in April, while healthcare shed 1.4 million, led by losses in dentists’ offices.
Employment in professional and businesses services, and retail trade each fell by 2.1 million.
Some 1.3 million manufacturing workers lost their jobs in April, with nearly two-thirds of that total coming from personal and laundry services.
Job losses in construction were just shy of one million last month.
The average work week for all employees ticked up slightly in April to 34.2 hours, but Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner William W Beach urged caution when interpreting that data, noting in a statement that “the majority of the increase in average weekly hours reflects the disproportionate number of workers with shorter work weeks who went off payrolls.”
Beach also urged caution when interpreting the $1.34 rise in average hourly earnings because it reflects the disproportionate loss of low-wage jobs.
When will the labour market recover?
The big question now is when the US jobs market will return to its pre-coronavirus strength. With so many unknowns surrounding the trajectory of the pandemic, forecasts are riddled with uncertainty. But economists are doing their best with the data they have to hand.
A lot is riding on how long it takes consumers to regain their confidence and start spending again on goods and services, because consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of US economic growth.
Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics highlighted this point in a note to clients on Friday,
“We anticipate that the severe income loss, elevated precautionary savings and lingering virus fear will curtail consumer demand well past the lockdowns,” he said, adding that “while we expect some jobs will be recovered over the coming months, we anticipate an unemployment rate well above 10 percentby year-end.”
During the Great Recession and its aftermath, the number of job seekers overwhelmed the number of open positions for years. This extreme “slack” in the labour force depressed average wages and analysts say that could well happen again. 
In a note to clients on Monday, Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius said: “Even under a reasonably optimistic growth forecast, it will take several years to put people back to work and fill empty offices and storefronts,” he wrote, adding “while we expect some jobs will be recovered over the coming months, we anticipate an unemployment rate well above 10 percent by year-end.”
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