5 things to watch in Alabama's U.S. Senate election

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 1:56 AM

Alabama voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the race for U.S. Senate between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, and the outcome is being closely watched across the nation.

>> Who is Judge Roy Moore?

No Democrat has been elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama since 1992, and President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 30 percentage points. But allegations that Moore pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s have rocked the race. He’s denied the claims.

>> Who is Doug Jones, Democrat facing Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race?

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, has highlighted his opponent’s outspoken conservative views in his bid to energize the state’s Democratic base and flip suburban voters who typically vote for the GOP. Polls show a tight race, though special elections like the one Tuesday are notoriously hard to predict.

>> Read more trending news

Moore is deeply popular with the state’s evangelical voters, a powerful voting bloc that has enthusiastically supported him in past statewide votes. In the closing weeks of the race, he’s had scattered appearances in rural churches while largely relying on supporters to defend him.

What You Need To Know About Roy Moore

Here are five things to watch with Tuesday’s vote to succeed Jeff Sessions, whose seat became open when Trump tapped him to become U.S. attorney general:

>> Trump tweets support for Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race

1. It’s a big deal. Republicans now control 52 seats in the U.S. Senate, including the one held by Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill Sessions’ seat and was soundly defeated by Moore in September. A Democratic win would mean that Republicans could only afford one “no” vote to pass a Senate measure on party lines, since Vice President Mike Pence would break a 50-50 tie. Some Republicans fear a Moore victory could be equally unsettling for the party. Moore has repeatedly called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to step down, and he in turn has withheld his support and funding for the former judge’s campaign. And Democrats would look to tie Moore to a host of GOP candidates seeking office in the midterm elections in 2018, highlighting not only accusations that he’s a sexual predator but also his history of controversial statements.

>> WaPo: Another Roy Moore accuser comes forward with evidence of relationship

2. The bombshell allegations. Allegations against Moore of sexual misconduct involving teenagers while a prosecutor in Etowah County, Alabama, from 1977 to 1982 have threatened to upend the race. Moore has denied the allegations while claiming media outlets and Washington status quo enforcers are trying to derail his campaign. The women have stuck by their stories, and several said they are willing to testify under oath. They have left GOP voters who are concerned by the allegations in a quandary, debating between supporting a candidate accused of being a sexual predator or sending a Democrat to Washington. Some could also stay home on Tuesday or write in a candidate.

Roy Moore Accuser Details Alleged Sexual Assault When She Was 16

3. Alabama’s rural base. The state’s rural Republican base holds outsized sway in Alabama, where grass-roots Republicans have helped ensure that no Democrat has been elected to major statewide office since 2006. But Moore’s margins as a statewide candidate show he has underperformed other Republicans. In 2012, he narrowly won a vote for Supreme Court chief justice even as Mitt Romney carried the state by 22 percentage points. And in his 9-point victory over Strange in the primary, Moore struggled in the affluent, conservative suburbs in Birmingham and Huntsville. Moore has tried to shore up his base by crisscrossing rural areas he hopes to carry by overwhelming victories, and his advisers expect enthusiastic turnout to mark the difference in Tuesday’s vote.

4. The key to a Democratic victory. Jones must rely on a two-pronged strategy to flip the seat. He needs Alabama’s black population – a predominantly Democratic voting bloc that accounts for about 27 percent of the state – to turn out in droves. Jones, who is white, has leaned on African-American supporters, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, to energize black voters in populous areas like Birmingham in the closing days of the race. He has also wooed voters in Republican-leaning suburbs in the outskirts of Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile in hopes of convincing them to vote across party lines – or not cast a ballot at all. Some suburban voters who have never cast Democratic ballots say they’ve proudly posted Jones signs in their yards.

5. How the election will affect the 2018 elections in other states. For example, although Georgia and Alabama are vastly different states, Peach State strategists are closely watching their neighbor for clues about next year’s elections in Georgia. Like in Alabama, Democrats in Georgia hope to flip independent voters in affluent suburbs who have fled to the GOP. And Republicans in both states see a path to victory through maximizing their advantage in rural areas. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, was among the black leaders enlisted to help Jones’ campaign across the state line. And Stacey Evans, a Democratic candidate for governor, has already made clear she intends to weaponize Moore’s campaign. She called on her GOP rivals to disavow Moore’s candidacy. None did so.

Deployed troops unable to watch NFL playoffs due to government shutdown

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 8:42 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

As a result of lawmakers failing to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending, the United States government has been shut down indefinitely – meaning everyone has been affected, including troops overseas.

>> Watch the news report here

There is a lot of fallout from the shutdown. From government employees who aren't being paid, including the Defense Department, to the Armed Forces Network being taken off the air, the effects of a standstill government can be felt across the board.

Since the AFN has been taken off the air, that means many of our troops overseas won't be able to watch the NFL playoffs Sunday

Surely it's not the biggest issue surrounding a government shutdown, but it's a big morale issue. 

>> Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Watching the Patriots on the Armed Forces Network has been a comforting piece of home for army Sgt. Matt Connolly, who's serving in South Korea.

"It's kind of the only thing we can do for fun over here," Connolly told WFXT.

For the first time since he's been stationed in Korea, his family came to visit him for the AFC Championship game.

"I'm actually on leave right now. My family from Boston is here right now and we were looking forward to watching the game," Connolly said.

With no one to run it, AFN is off the air. 

>> John Legend blames Trump for government shutdown, calls him racist

The NFL says it is providing free access to Sunday's Championships via the NFL Game Pass to all USO centers.

"No matter what, I'm going to watch them," Connolly said.

Sen. Ed Markey says he's in a holding pattern right now as he says he and most of his colleagues are preparing to negotiate through the night – but it's still unclear if that will be an option.

Immigration issues are at the center of the shutdown. Many Republicans don't want to negotiate on those issues until a spending bill is passed and the government re-opens.

However, those immigration issues – including the DREAMERS Act – are a priority for many Democrats. 

>> Read more trending news 

Markey told WFXT that he believes everyone needs to continue working to find some sort of compromise, and he wants President Donald Trump to take the lead.

"Bill Belichick is telling the New England Patriots for tomorrow, 'Do your job,' and we are saying to President Trump for tomorrow, 'Do your job, Mr. President. Make sure that the funding is there for our troops. Make sure that our defense is taken care of, but make sure that we also protect child health and the Dreamers,' but thus far he's been unwilling to do his job," Markey said.

Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 9:07 AM

President Trump’s Physical Exam Results Released

A new ad released by President Donald Trump's campaign is claiming that Democrats are “complicit” in killings by undocumented immigrants. The ad was released after Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to keep the government from shutting down.

>> Click here to watch

“President Trump is right — build the wall, deport criminals, stop illegal immigration now,” the ad said, showing clips of top Democrats. “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

>> Trump cancels Florida trip as government shutdown looms

“President Trump will fix our border and keep our families safe,” the ad concluded. The ad was released on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

>> Government shutdown: What closes; will you get your Social Security check; what happens to SNAP, WIC

On Friday, Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to fund the government and keep it from shutting down after Republicans refused to include a provision to protect thousands of immigrants brought here as children.

>> Read more trending news 

President Trump bashed Democrats after the failed vote, saying that they wanted “unchecked illegal immigration.”

“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” he tweeted Saturday morning.

Earlier on Saturday, he again bashed Democratstweeting that they were more “concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border.”

(H/t: The Hill)

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

Photos offer glimpse into former Texas home of parents accused of abusing 13 children

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:58 PM

RIVERSIDE, CA - JANUARY 18: David Allen Turpin, accused of holding their 13 children captive, appears in court for arraignment on January 18, 2018 in Riverside, California. According to Riverside County Sheriffs, David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin held 13 malnourished children ranging in age from 2 to 29 captive in their Perris, California home. Deputies were alerted after a 17-year-old daughter escaped by jumping through a window shortly before dawn on Sunday morning, carrying a de-activated mobile phone from which she was able to call 911 for help. Responding deputies described conditions in the home as foul-smelling with some kids chained to a bed and suffering injuries as a result. Adult children appeared at first to be minors because of their malnourished state. The Turpins were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment.  (Photo by Terry Pierson-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
RIVERSIDE, CA - JANUARY 18: David Allen Turpin, accused of holding their 13 children captive, appears in court for arraignment on January 18, 2018 in Riverside, California. According to Riverside County Sheriffs, David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin held 13 malnourished children ranging in age from 2 to 29 captive in their Perris, California home. Deputies were alerted after a 17-year-old daughter escaped by jumping through a window shortly before dawn on Sunday morning, carrying a de-activated mobile phone from which she was able to call 911 for help. Responding deputies described conditions in the home as foul-smelling with some kids chained to a bed and suffering injuries as a result. Adult children appeared at first to be minors because of their malnourished state. The Turpins were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. (Photo by Terry Pierson-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

David and Louise Turpin, the California couple who were charged with torture and child abuse after authorities accused them of holding their 13 children captive in dire conditions, previously lived in Texas, several news outlets have reported.

>> Read more trending news

ABC News reported Thursday that it had acquired pictures from inside the family’s former Texas home, near Fort Worth. The pictures were submitted by the home’s current owner, who took the pictures after he bought the foreclosed property about 18 years ago.

The pictures, which can be seen here, show stained carpets and walls. The current owner told ABC it required an “extensive cleanup” and that he and his wife “believed that the previous occupants destroyed the house because it was being foreclosed on.”

The anonymous owner also told ABC that feces were smeared all over the walls of every room at the time that he bought the home.

The Associated Press reported Friday that a prosecutor in the case said the Turpins limited their children to one shower a year and one meal a day. 

Boy, 12, dies from flu-like symptoms in Michigan

Published: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 11:34 PM

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 file photo, Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle. This year's U.S. flu season got off to an early start, and it's been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths than other common flu bugs. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren/AP
FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 file photo, Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle. This year's U.S. flu season got off to an early start, and it's been driven by a nasty type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths than other common flu bugs. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)(Ted S. Warren/AP)

A 12-year-old boy from Michigan who vomited during dinner one night, went to an urgent care facility the next night and had a flu test come back negative tragically died the very next morning.

>> Read more trending news

Michael Messenger’s family can’t believe how quickly their world was turned upside-down, losing a son and a brother who had been so full of life in just a matter of days.

The timeline of Messenger’s symptoms, evaluation and death has his mother Jessica Decent-Doll urging other parents not to wait if they see signs of flu.

“Don’t wait, it’s all I can say. This flu or whatever is going around this year is unbelievably dangerous,” she told the Times Herald.

Messenger vomited during dinner Jan. 9, was taken to an urgent care the next evening where he was cleared for flu and administered anti-nausea medication and was found unresponsive at home in bed the morning of Jan. 11.

An hour and a half later, he was declared dead at a hospital.

Decent-Doll said her son’s vital signs were deemed normal at the urgent care center and that the family was advised to give him fluids.

By 9:15 a.m. Thursday, it was clear Messenger’s life was in grave danger.

“I ran upstairs, and I sat with him, and I tried to get him to respond to me, but there was no response, nothing,” Decent-Doll said. “It’s indescribable, it really is.”

The grieving mother said that her son had just gotten a flu shot in December and that he “never stopped, ever. He loved science. He loved his family.”

Kristen Ervinck started a GoFundMe to help the grieving family:
"Mikey was so full of life and so energetic he lit up the room with his smile," it read.

The GoFundMe raised more than $12,000 as of Saturday. 
At least 30 children have lost their lives to the disease this flu season.

Michael Messenger's funeral was Thursday. His family is still waiting for the results of his autopsy.