Obama-backed committee targeting races in 11 states

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 12:05 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 12:04 AM


            FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2017, file photo, former President Barack Obama address the participants at a summit on climate change involving mayors from around the globe in Chicago. A Democratic group backed by former President Barack Obama plans to invest millions of dollars in state-level elections in a dozen states this year, with its heaviest focus on Ohio. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2017, file photo, former President Barack Obama address the participants at a summit on climate change involving mayors from around the globe in Chicago. A Democratic group backed by former President Barack Obama plans to invest millions of dollars in state-level elections in a dozen states this year, with its heaviest focus on Ohio. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

A Democratic group backed by former President Barack Obama said this week it plans to invest millions of dollars in state-level elections in 11 states this year, with its heaviest focus on Ohio.

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, said this year's election cycle is critical to affecting the congressional redistricting process. It is the first cycle whose winners will participate in drawing congressional maps for the decade starting in 2021.

The push comes amid bipartisan national concern that political gerrymandering, the process of drawing maps that benefit one party over another, has led to partisanship, gridlock and incivility in Washington.

"In 2011, Republicans created gerrymandered districts that locked themselves into power and shut out voters from the electoral process," Holder said in announcing the group's electoral targets on Wednesday. "By focusing on these state and local races, we can ensure Democrats who will fight for fairness have a seat at the table when new maps are drawn in 2021."

The group is targeting races in 11 states, including nine gubernatorial races, 18 legislative chambers, two ballot initiatives and two down-ballot races. Eight more states are on the committee's watch list.

In Ohio, a perennial political battleground, the committee plans to support Democrats for five offices — governor, auditor, secretary of state, Ohio Senate and Ohio House — as well as pushing a redistricting ballot measure.

Other target races include:

— Colorado: Governor, state Senate

— Florida: Governor, state Senate

— Georgia: Governor, state Senate

— Michigan: Governor, state Senate, state House, ballot initiative

— Minnesota: Governor, state Senate, state House

— Nevada: Governor, state Senate, state House

— North Carolina: State Senate, state House

— Pennsylvania: Governor, state Senate, state House

— Texas: State Senate, state House

— Wisconsin: Governor, state Senate

The group also participated in the Virginia House last year, and has targeted both its House and Senate in 2019.

On its watch list are ballot initiatives in Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota and Utah; the governor's and state Senate races in Maine; and the governor's, state Senate and state House races in New Hampshire.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, also has been championing redistricting reforms, including working with fellow Republican, movie star and ex-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminate Gerrymandering Crowdpac.

Ohio lawmakers sent a bipartisan redistricting compromise to the statewide May ballot in a vote this week.

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Thief creates spectacle, robbing bank in dress, purple scarf and hat

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 5:20 PM

Thief Robs Bank Wearing Purple Scarf And Hat, Creates Spectacle

Pittsburgh police are searching for a thief who held up a bank wearing a woman’s dress, a purple scarf and hat and sunglasses.

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Pittsburgh Police released these photos of a suspected bank robber wearing a dress and a purple hat and scarf  during a heist Thursday morning.(Pittsburgh Police Department)

Police say the thief robbed a local bank Thursday morning around 10:30 and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

>> Related: Sheriff on little girl’s murder: ‘This case has weighed on us’

Authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding the suspected thief.

They’re asking anyone with information to call the FBI.

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Armed Stoneman Douglas resource officer 'never went in' during Florida shooting

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 5:35 PM

People sweep the grounds for evidence as law enforcement officials continued to investigate the scene at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 19, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested and charged 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz for the February 14 shooting that killed 17 people.  
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
People sweep the grounds for evidence as law enforcement officials continued to investigate the scene at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 19, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested and charged 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz for the February 14 shooting that killed 17 people. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has resigned, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

[View the story "Stoneman Douglas resource officer resigns after investigation" on Storify]

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Follow along with our live updates as we learn more

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Meatball pizza bowl comes to Olive Garden’s lunch menu

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 12:07 PM

Olive Garden Fast Facts

Olive Garden has added a pizza to its menu -- sort of.

Delish reported the Meatball Pizza Bowl is part of a new Lunch Duos menu, which offers an entree and unlimited soup or salad. The bowl, which is made of pizza dough, has similar toppings to the restaurant’s famous breadsticks. It has three cheeses -- Parmesan, mozzarella and Asiago, according to USA Today.

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The price of the entree, which Thrillist reported is topped with 10 meatballs, starts at $6.99, although prices vary depending on the location.

The Meatball Pizza Bowl is available for lunch Monday through Friday before 3 p.m.

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Who is NRA head Wayne LaPierre and what did he say at the CPAC meeting?

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

WATCH: NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre Talks at CPAC

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre took the opportunity to slam Democrats Thursday during a speech at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference meeting, saying they only “want more restrictions on the law-abiding.”
 

"They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security,” LaPierre said, a week after 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
LaPierre told the audience that the NRA stood ready to provide guidance to schools free of charge on how to protect students. He took another dig at the Democrats and one at the news media saying what the NRA offered was “more” than anyone else has.
 

"We share a goal of safe schools, safe neighborhoods and a safe country," LaPierre said.
 

Later he told the crowd gathered at the annual meeting for conservatives that, "Evil walks among us” when speaking about school shootings.
Just minutes before LaPierre spoke, President Donald Trump tweeted that he supports the NRA and the work LaPierre is doing.
 

"What many people don't understand, or don't want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

Who is Wayne LaPierre? Here are a few things you may not know about him. 
 

  • Wayne Robert LaPierre Jr. was born on Nov. 8, 1949, in Schenectady, New York. His family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, when he was 5 years old.
     
  • He was raised a Roman Catholic.
     
  • He spent a good portion of his career as a lobbyist.
     
  • He volunteered for the 1972 presidential campaign of Democrat George McGovern.
     
  • He earned a master’s degree in government and politics from Boston College.
     
  • He was on the boards of the American Association of Political Consultants, the American Conservative Union, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
  • LaPierre became executive vice president and chief executive officer of the NRA in 1991. The NRA has 5 million members.
     
  • He once told a friend his dream job was to retire from the NRA and open an ice cream stand in Maine.
     
  • He is married. His wife, Susan, is also involved in the NRA.
     
  • He makes nearly $1 million a year in salary.
     
  • He hosts a weekly syndicated television program called “Crime Strike.” In addition, he has a weekly podcast and offers a short broadcast on gun rights every weekday.
    LaPierre says he opposes universal background checks, an assault weapons ban (as it was proposed in 2013) and any limits to access to semi-automatic weapons by law-abiding Americans.
     
  • He says he supports armed security guards in schools, creating a computerized universal mental health registry of those judged to be incompetent and Project Exile, which mandates severe sentences for all gun crimes, especially illegal possession.
    He is an author and has written several books on gun safety and gun rights.

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md., Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)(Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

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