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Republican Gov. Matt Bevin aims to make Kentucky history with this year’s re-election bid

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Republican Gov. Matt Bevin aims to make Kentucky history with this year’s re-election bid

Matt Bevin is Kentucky’s third Republican governor in the last half-century – and if he’s re-elected this year, he’d be the first in party history to win a second term to that office.

It likely won’t be easy.

BEVIN BLASTS TEACHER SICKOUTS

Bevin gained national repute as a conservative reformer, but made an enemy of the state’s powerful teachers’ union. He’s the least popular governor in the United States, according to a Morning Consult poll in January. Also, the most recent head-to-head poll found Bevin trailing two Democrats vying for their party’s nomination in the May 21 primary.

“Bevin’s trouble comes largely because he has a reckless mouth,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and veteran political reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal. “He goes after teachers in a sometimes outrageous way. A lot of teachers are Republicans, and a lot of Republicans are teachers. Teachers are still well thought in rural Kentucky. If not for teachers, Bevin would be a prohibitive favorite for re-election.”

But despite the historical headwinds and friction with the teachers’ union, Bevin has some significant things going for him as Kentucky joins Louisiana and Mississippi for off-year gubernatorial contests in November.

“The biggest asset Bevin has, other than a pretty good economy, is Donald Trump,” Cross told Fox News.

The Trump administration’s first foray in 2019 politics was in Kentucky, as Vice President Pence and the first daughter Ivanka Trump made separate appearances in the state with Bevin.

Their policies also align. Bevin signed bills making Kentucky a right-to-work state, enacting criminal justice reform to give convicted felons work experience while still incarcerated, banning abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, expanding charter schools and protecting religious liberty at public schools and colleges.

AL ROKER SLAMS BEVIN

“With record-breaking economic growth and tens of thousands of new jobs created since Governor Bevin took office, his results-driven policies have reinvigorated Kentucky’s economy and are having a real, positive impact on citizens’ everyday lives,” Republican Governors Association spokeswoman Amelia Chassé Alcivar told Fox News.

While Kentucky has gone Republican in every presidential election since 2000, Democrats and the GOP have evenly split the four governors’ races since that time. Meanwhile, both of the state’s two-term governors have been Democrats – ever since a state constitutional change in 1992 lifted a prohibition on serving consecutive terms.

Further, the leading Democrat in next month’s primary is state Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of Bevin’s two-term Democratic predecessor Steve Beshear.

‘The biggest asset Bevin has, other than a pretty good economy, is Donald Trump.’

— Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky

In the Democratic primary, the younger Beshear is fending off House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, a 30-year veteran of the legislature, and former state Auditor Adam Edelen, who is spending heavily.

Beshear is bypassing his Democratic opponents, while defending his father’s Medicaid expansion against Bevin who seeks work requirements. Cross said almost one-third of the state has benefitted from the elder Beshear’s Medicaid expansion—which could be a problem for Bevin.

In the GOP primary, a February poll found Beshear with a commanding lead over his opponents. The aforementioned December poll showed Beshear beating Bevin 48 percent to 40 percent, while Adkins narrowly edged out the governor 42 percent to 41 percent in head-to-head match-ups.

“Governor Bevin is deeply unpopular, to the point that a sizable portion of Republicans view him unfavorably,” David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, told Fox News. “… His self-serving ways are going to come back to bite him in November and we feel confident in our chances of flipping this seat from red to blue.”

Bevin isn’t escaping the primary heat either. State Rep. Robert Goforth has played up being a native Kentuckian and taken aim at the New Hampshire-born Bevin, stating, “Our commonwealth needs a chief executive who is a conservative molded not by New England and Wall Street, but by Kentucky and Main Street.”

Bevin buttressed the New Englander image in January, when school districts were closing because of sub-zero temperatures, and he joked: “C’mon now, There’s no ice going with it or any snow. I mean, what happened to America? We’re getting soft.” In another national controversy, Bevin said in March he intentionally exposed his children to chickenpox.

On a policy level, Bevin has tried to rein in the debt-strapped state pension system with $43 billion in unfunded liabilities and clashed with the Kentucky Education Association. This prompted the union to lead mass “sick outs.” Teachers called in sick to protest at the state Capitol and numerous school districts across the state had to shut down for days.

Bevin chided some Republican lawmakers for lacking the “intestinal fortitude” to push his pension reform.

“Republicans in the legislature do not always get along with Bevin, but prefer him to a Democratic governor and they passed several bills that the governor can take credit for,” said Cross, of the University of Kentucky.

Despite the incumbent’s troubles, the state leans Republican this year, said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, which scores political races across the country.

“You have to acknowledge Matt Bevin’s approval rating is really weak, but Bevin won the first time by a bigger than expected margin, and he was an underdog,” Kondik told Fox News regarding 2015, when Bevin carried 106 out of 120 counties.

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He also suggested the election could be an “indicator” for whether Democrats can mount a challenge against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., next year: “If they can’t win this race, they likely won’t have much of a chance against the Senate majority leader.”

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Rashida Tlaib’s removal from committees urged by Zionist Organization of America

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Rashida Tlaib claims Dem leadership uses party’s minority members as tokens of diversity

One of America’s oldest Jewish organizations called Wednesday for U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., to be removed from congressional committees and from the Democratic Party.

In an editorial posted on its website, the Zionist Organization of America, which dates to 1897, pointed to what it described as Tlaib’s “anti-Israel record,” and accused the freshman congresswoman of associating with “terrorists, anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists.”

“Rashida Tlaib’s anti-Israel record was already well-known before she was elected in last year’s midterm elections,” the ZOA article asserts. “She calls Israel a ‘racist country’ on the basis of the lie that Israel discriminates against those ‘darker skinned,’ supports the destruction of Israel in favor of an Arab-dominated state (“It has to be one state”), ‘absolutely’ backs withholding U.S. aid from Israel, and openly supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is committed to international ostracism and weakening of Israel with a view to its eventual elimination.”

FRESHMAN REP. RASHIDA TLAIB INTRODUCES RESOLUTION URGING TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

The ZOA supports its assertions with links to news stories that quote the 42-year-old Palestinian-American lawmaker from Detroit.

The same article includes a list of people with whom Tlaib has been photographed, or about whom Tlaib has posted social media messages, and includes information about their alleged links to bombings or other crimes.

“It is perfectly clear that Rashida Tlaib is not in the smallest degree ashamed, and has not the slightest inhibition about, being publicly being associated with these anti-Semites, terrorists and glorifiers of Jew-murderers,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Chairman Mark Levenson said in a joint statement.

JEWISH GROUPS CONDEMN RASHIDA TLAIB OVER TIES TO RADICAL PRO-HEZBOLLAH, ANTI-ISRAEL ACTIVIST

“The Democratic Party must do the only honorable thing,” they continued, “which is to expel her from the party and remove her from Congressional committees.”

Since taking office in January, Tlaib has been a lightning rod for criticism from Republicans as well as from members of her own party.

She quickly drew national attention just hours after being sworn in, when she used a profanity in calling for the impeachment of President Trump.

“We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf—er,’” she told a crowd of supporters, referring to Trump.

In March, Tlaib denounced anti-Semitism in an interview with the Detroit News.

“I’m always pushing back against it,” Tlaib said of anti-Semitism. “But this is going to continue happening because I’m Palestinian.”

She claimed that an important distinction needed to be made between anti-Semitism and her criticisms of the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“When I criticize Netanyahu’s discrimination, inequality, human rights violations, saying you have to do better and we have to look at real equality and even desegregating certain communities,” Tlaib told the News, “that, to me, does not make me charging toward the Jewish faith at all. And I’m very conscientious of that.”

In April, Tlaib quickly came to the defense of another progressive Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, after Omar referred to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as “some people did something.”

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Tlaib claimed that critics had taken Omar’s words out of context.

“My sister Ilhan Omar, what she was talking about, was uplifting people by supporting their civil liberties and civil rights,” Tlaib said in a television interview. “She has always, always condemned any strategy, especially of a person directly impacted by being a refugee herself.”

More recently, Tlaib asked her supporters last week to join her in a hunger strike in protest of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), arguing that the federal agency that enforces U.S. immigration laws should be shut down.

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Hundreds of decks of playing cards arrive for Washington state lawmaker who criticized nurses

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Washington state lawmaker riles nurses by saying that some spend 'considerable' time playing cards

The Washington state senator who suggested that some nurses “play cards” during a “considerable” portion of their shifts received more than 600 packages of playing cards Tuesday as backlash over her remarks continued to grow.

The United Parcel Service location in Tumwater, Wash., said that it received 667 packages of playing cards addressed to state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, after an open letter criticizing her remarks circulated on Facebook last week and included Walsh’s P.O. box address, Seattle’s KOMO-TV reported.

“You said that not all nurses deserve breaks as they just sit around playing cards while on shift anyway,” the letter read. “I know nurses who can go all night without food or a bathroom break. I know nurses with nerve damage and back pain from doing whatever it takes to take care of patients. I know nurses who cry in their cars. Do you think that’s where they play cards, Senator Walsh?”

WASHINGTON STATE LAWMAKER RILES NURSES BY SAYING SOME SPEND ‘CONSIDERABLE’ TIME PLAYING CARDS

Washington state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in rural hospitals. (Associated Press)

Washington state Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, angered nurses by commenting in a speech that some nurses may spend a lot of time playing cards in rural hospitals. (Associated Press)

The letter went on to predict that after the next election cycle Walsh may find herself with “plenty of time to play cards and plenty of cards to play with.”

Walsh first drew criticism from nursing professionals while debating a bill last week that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses and would also provide mandatory overtime protections for them.

She pushed for an amendment that would exclude hospitals with fewer than 25 beds from the provision, arguing that such small facilities struggle to provide 24-hour care as it is.

“I would submit to you that those (small hospital) nurses probably do get breaks,” Walsh said. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.”

Despite the bill being passed with Walsh’s amendment, her ill-received comments sparked a flurry of social media posts mocking her.

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Walsh addressed the issue Monday, apologizing to those who were offended and saying she would spend a day shadowing a nurse throughout his or her 12-hour shift.

“I want to offer my heartfelt apologies to those I offended with my comments on the Senate floor last Tuesday. I was tired, and in the heat of argument on the Senate floor, I said some things about nurses that were taken out of context – but still they crossed the line.”

In 2012, some comments by Walsh on a different subject also went viral, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported. That year Walsh bucked most other members of the state GOP by speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. The state’s House subsequently backed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Bernie Sanders wrong about prisoners and voting, ex-con released under Trump reform law says

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Bernie Sanders wrong about prisoners and voting, ex-con released under Trump reform law says

The first man released from prison under President Trump’s criminal justice reform law reacted to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., saying that prisoners should be permitted to vote by noting the “logistical” problems of allowing prisoners serving a sentence to vote and backing prisoners who served their time to have their rights restored.

“I do know while you’re incarcerated you do lose some of your liberties. But my thing is, once a person has been completely released and they paid their debt to society and they are back in society actually functioning, paying taxes, then they should have their rights restored to vote,” Matthew Charles, who was released from prison under the First Step Act, said on Fox News’  “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

KAMALA HARRIS BACKTRACKS, NOW SAYS CRIMINALS LIKE BOSTON BOMBER ‘SHOULD BE DEPRIVED’ OF RIGHT TO VOTE

“But during the period they’re incarcerated, it’s going to be like a complex issue because of the logistics. You got people incarcerated in states that they actually are not from.”

Sanders opened himself to scrutiny this week after saying that not only should incarcerated prisoners be permitted to vote but that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should also be permitted to vote.

“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they will be punished. But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people,” Sanders said Monday on a CNN Town Hall.

Trump’s re-election campaign called out Sanders Wednesday, describing his idea “deeply offensive.”

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“The extremity and radicalism of the 2020 Democrats knows no bounds,” Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News.

“Giving imprisoned terrorists, sex offenders, and murderers the right to vote is an outrageous proposal that is deeply offensive to innocent victims across this country, some of whom lost their lives and are forever disenfranchised by the very killers that 2020 Democrats seek to empower,” she said.

Fox News’ Sally Persons and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

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