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    Former Trump Lawyer to Oversee Election Review in Texas

    The selection of a new secretary of state arrives as Gov. Greg Abbott is facing pressure to allow an expanded 2020 election audit in Texas.HOUSTON — Amid pressure from former President Donald J. Trump to support a broad review of the 2020 election in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday appointed as secretary of state a lawyer who briefly joined Mr. Trump’s challenge to the 2020 results in Pennsylvania.The new secretary of state, John Scott, will oversee Texas elections at a time when a new law imposing further restrictions on voting and a Republican redistricting plan have raised alarm among voting rights advocates that the state’s growing nonwhite population would not be fairly represented.More immediately, Mr. Scott, a Fort Worth lawyer who worked for Mr. Abbott when he was the state’s attorney general, will take charge of a limited review of the 2020 election results that Mr. Abbott, a Republican, ordered last month for four of the most populous counties in Texas.“I am confident that John’s experience and expertise will enhance his oversight and leadership over the biggest and most thorough election audit in the country,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement announcing the appointment.Though he must eventually be confirmed by the State Senate, Mr. Scott can serve in the role in the interim. The Senate is not in regular session again until 2023.The appointment brought immediate criticism from Democrats and voting groups. “The timing of this announcement is clearly intended to subvert our democratic process in a way that allows Greg Abbott’s completely unsuitable nominee to oversee our 2022 elections without having to face confirmation hearings,” said Stephanie Gómez, the Texas associate director for Common Cause.Mr. Scott was among the lawyers representing Mr. Trump’s campaign as it filed suit to challenge the results of the November 2020 election in Pennsylvania, a state that President Biden won by 80,555 votes.But Mr. Scott withdrew from the case, as did another member of his law firm, Bryan Hughes, on the eve of a hearing, after a circuit court ruling that effectively gutted their arguments. The case was ultimately dismissed.“The lesson from the Pennsylvania case is that John Scott is a guy you can trust to follow the law,” said Mr. Hughes, a Republican state senator from Tyler, Texas. He added that, while in the attorney general’s office, Mr. Scott represented Texas in litigation over the state’s voter identification law, “so this area of the law is not unfamiliar to him.”Mr. Hughes was the lead sponsor of Texas’ restrictive new election rules, which passed this year over concerted opposition from Democrats. The new rules broaden the authority of the secretary of state in elections.No credible evidence has emerged of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election in Texas or in any other state. Mr. Trump carried the state by more than 5 percentage points and Republicans maintained a lock on the statehouse despite a well-funded effort by Democrats to try to flip control.Still, with supporters of Mr. Trump believing he should have won the state by an even greater margin, Mr. Abbott has faced growing calls for legislation authorizing a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential vote in Texas. Last month, Mr. Trump wrote a letter to Mr. Abbott urging him to back the legislation.“Despite my big win in Texas, I hear Texans want an election audit! You know your fellow Texans have big questions about the November 2020 Election,” read the letter, steeped in arcane Texas legislative language and signed by the former president.Political operatives in the state have suspected that the former president received assistance in his foray into Austin politics by Texas conservatives, perhaps the lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who twice chaired Mr. Trump’s campaign in the state. Under Mr. Patrick’s leadership, the Senate has already passed a 2020 election review bill.Trump’s Bid to Subvert the ElectionCard 1 of 6A monthslong campaign. More

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    In Debate, Adams Acts Like Front-Runner, While Sliwa Goes on Attack

    Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee in the New York City mayor’s race, and Curtis Sliwa, his Republican opponent, clashed on vaccine mandates and congestion pricing.For the better part of an hour on Wednesday, Eric Adams was accused of spending too much time with “elites,” losing touch with working-class New Yorkers and being a carbon copy of Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose popularity has steadily waned during his tenure.Yet when he was given openings to respond during the first general election debate of the New York City mayoral contest, Mr. Adams — the typically voluble Democratic nominee for mayor — often flashed a placid smile instead.Mr. Adams, the overwhelming favorite in the race, seemed to approach the matchup against his Republican foe, Curtis Sliwa, as if it were an infomercial for a mayoralty he had already secured.“I’m speaking to New Yorkers,” Mr. Adams said. “Not speaking to buffoonery.”Mr. Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels and an animated orator, worked to knock the front-runner off balance and strained to sow the kind of doubts about his opponent that could alter the trajectory of the race. There was little evidence he succeeded.Mr. Adams cast himself as a steady former police captain who is preparing to move past Mr. de Blasio and his divisive eight years in power and sought to chart a vision for a city still reeling from the pandemic and its consequences. He relied heavily on his biography as a blue-collar New Yorker with firsthand experience grappling with some of the most significant challenges facing the city.The debate, hosted by ​​WNBC-TV and unfolding three days before early voting is to begin, marked the most direct engagement to date between the candidates as they vie to lead the nation’s largest city.For an hour, Mr. Adams and Mr. Sliwa — both longtime New York public figures with colorful pasts — clashed over wide-ranging issues that the city confronts, from a new vaccine mandate for city workers (Mr. Adams backs the mandate, Mr. Sliwa does not) to a congestion pricing plan (again largely backed by Mr. Adams, with Mr. Sliwa expressing strong concerns) to whether outdoor dining structures should stay. (Mr. Adams said yes, Mr. Sliwa said they should be reduced in size.)At every turn, Mr. Sliwa sought to undercut Mr. Adams’s working-class credentials, criticizing his opponent’s support from real estate developers and the endorsement he has earned from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, even as he also tried to link Mr. Adams to Mr. de Blasio, casting them both as career politicians.“How about we do something novel and stop trusting these politicians, like Eric Adams and de Blasio?” Mr. Sliwa said, as he expressed his objections to congestion pricing.Mr. Adams, for his part, noted his differences with Mr. de Blasio in his first answer to a question, suggesting that while he supported the mayor’s new vaccination mandate for municipal workers, he would have taken a more collaborative approach to implementing it.Mr. Adams sought to portray Mr. Sliwa as a candidate unfit and and unqualified to be mayor.WNBC-TV and the New York City Campaign Finance BoardMr. Adams, who has a meditation routine, appeared keenly focused on rising above many of Mr. Sliwa’s attacks. But he also sought to define his Republican opponent early in the evening as an untrustworthy public figure who does not have a significant record of accomplishments. He repeatedly referenced Mr. Sliwa’s own admission that he had fabricated crimes for publicity.“New Yorkers are going to make a determination of a person that wore a bulletproof vest, protected the children and families of the city and fought crime, against a person who made up crimes so that he can be popular,” Mr. Adams said. “He made up crime, New Yorkers. That in itself is a crime.”Given New York’s overwhelmingly Democratic tilt and Mr. Sliwa’s reputation as something of a celebrity gadfly, Mr. Adams is seen as far more likely to prevail in the Nov. 2 election, and he is poised to be New York’s second Black mayor. He has spent much of his time since winning the Democratic nomination in July focused on fund-raising and transition-planning and has only begun to accelerate his public events schedule in the last week, reflecting his front-runner status.Mr. Sliwa worked at every turn of the debate to goad Mr. Adams into a confrontation. At best, he managed to coax an occasional complaint from Mr. Adams that Mr. Sliwa was breaking the rules of the debate by speaking for too long.But while Mr. Adams tried to avoid engaging extensively with Mr. Sliwa, he found himself on the defensive at other times, especially when pressed on questions of his residency. He has said that his primary residence is an apartment in a multiunit townhouse he owns in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn — but he has had to refile his tax returns in part because of irregularities concerning his residency, among other issues, the news outlet The City reported. Mr. Adams said, as he has in the past, that he takes responsibility for omissions on his tax returns, even as he faulted his accountant, who he said was homeless.“He went through some real trauma,” Mr. Adams said of his accountant. “And I’m not a hypocrite, I wanted to still give him the support that he needed.”He pledged that the mistake would not be repeated.Mr. Adams also co-owns a co-op in Fort Lee, N.J., with his partner, and he has said that he moved into Brooklyn Borough Hall for a time after the pandemic arrived. Mr. Sliwa recently led a journey from Manhattan to Fort Lee “to find out where Eric Adams really lives.”Mr. Adams declined to specify how many nights he has spent at the Brooklyn apartment in the last six months, but did say again that it was his primary residence.Mr. Sliwa was also pressed on issues of transparency and trustworthiness.“I made mistakes,” he said, when asked about faking crimes — a practice he cast as a youthful folly. “I’ll continue to apologize for it, but I’ve earned the trust of New Yorkers. Just follow me in the streets and subways, I’m there, I’m the people’s choice. Eric Adams is with the elites in the suites.”For all of the stark differences between their candidacies, Mr. Sliwa and Mr. Adams have some political commonalities, reflecting Mr. Adams’s position as a relatively center-left Democrat and Mr. Sliwa’s more populist instincts. Indeed, the debate was far more civil than the matchup Mr. Sliwa had during the Republican primary. It was also less of a brawl than some of the multicandidate debate stage clashes that defined the crowded Democratic primary earlier this year, where Mr. Adams often found himself under fire on several fronts.Mr. Sliwa and Mr. Adams are both keenly focused on issues of public safety and support expanding access to the gifted and talented program in New York City schools, though they did not offer clear prescriptions for the fate of the controversial admissions test that governs the initiative.But they did not appear eager to dwell on any common ground. Mr. Sliwa even turned a prompt designed to elicit a positive response — to pitch those New Yorkers who left during the pandemic to return — into an attack on Mr. Adams, questioning whether he really intended to fly to Florida and collect wayward New Yorkers as he has pledged.Mr. Adams, in contrast, promised a safe, exciting and diverse city.“You will be bored in Florida,” he warned. “You will never be bored in New York.” More

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    This Election Season, Look Out for Virginia

    We’re heading around the bend, people! Elections are just a couple of weeks away and the two biggest races in the nation are …You have no idea, right?OK, most of the voting is going to be about local government — mayors and council members and holders of even smaller offices. But there are a couple of contests for governor, in Virginia and New Jersey.It’s Virginia that’s obsessing the world. Or at least the world that’s already terrified about what’s going to happen in 2022 (Dems lose Congress?) or 2024 (Trump? Trump? Trummmpp?).The candidates are the Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former governor who left office after one term because Virginia is the only state in the union that makes governors do that. Versus Glenn Youngkin, a former business tycoon who’s chipped in at least $16 million of his own money.McAuliffe isn’t exactly a pauper — Virginia’s very loose filing rules show he’s worth at least $6.9 million. But he’s always been a star at raising money. He once recalled a political event he was involved in when he was 7: “Nobody got in that door unless I got 50 dollars from them. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, 35 years later I’m still making sure that they pay.″OK, not all that inspiring, but everybody knows how important money is in these off-year elections. Virginia has evolved into a Democratic state, but what if McAuliffe loses — or just squeaks in? What if the turnout is puny? Will the nation read this as a prelude to disaster for congressional candidates next year?Democrats can’t think of anything else, and if you’ve wound up on any party mailing lists — truly, it can happen to anyone — you may have been getting more letters about Terry McAuliffe than you got greetings on your last birthday. Certainly bigger presents are involved.“I’m flabbergasted, Gail … ” reads one of the many, many missives I received from him recently. “We’ve been sending you email after email about just how important this race is, but it’s October, and it’s looking like a tossup right now.”Given my profession, I have never made a contribution to a political campaign in my life, but this doesn’t seem to have any impact on McAuliffe’s expectations.One of my all-time favorite donor requests came from Ellie Warner, McAuliffe’s finance director:“Gail, I’m freaking out right now! I meant to send this email earlier … but I forgot to press send, and now, we’re even more behind on our fund-raising goal than we were before.”That is so 2021. If, God forbid, McAuliffe somehow loses the election, “I forgot to press send” is going down in modern political history.New Jersey’s race has also had its moments. Republicans are trying to beat Gov. Phil Murphy over the head with his 2019 remark that if you’re a person whose only concern is tax rates, New Jersey is “probably not your state.”Now really, this is pretty obvious. Anybody who sits down with the family in, say, Montana, and announces, “Well, we’re going to relocate in the East, and the only thing we care about is taxes,” is not under any circumstances going to discuss real estate opportunities in the Trenton area.New Jersey is diverting but Murphy is expected to win handily. And the political world won’t be all that impressed. It’s Virginia that’s mobilized a national get-out-the-money campaign.“Gail, we don’t have much time, so I’ll make this quick,” wrote the political consultant James Carville in a mass email about a “critical fund-raising deadline.”Carville, who recently referred to himself as “an email-signing slut,” has reportedly sent out over 40 pleas for donations to various campaigns in the last three months, one darkly demanding to know if the recipient wants “Democrats to lose every election from here to eternity.”Meanwhile, Donald Trump is, of course, online constantly (“Did you see my RALLY in IOWA? It was INCREDIBLE”). He is supporting Youngkin, but not with nearly the enthusiasm he’s dedicating to raising money for his own political action fund.“President Trump specifically told us he wants this one-of-a-kind HAND-SIGNED football to go to YOU, Friend,” says one missive, looking for a contribution for a chance to be in a drawing for said memento.In the Virginia race, Youngkin, whose nickname is reportedly “Yunk,” is delicately dancing around the Trump issue. It’s tricky — if you want to be a winning Republican, you have to keep his fans happy while assuring the suburban moderates that you know Joe Biden was actually elected president.McAuliffe’s job is to make voters turn out, and one main strategy is to terrify them into action. (“I thought folks would be fired up to get out the vote, but at this point, it seems like enthusiasm is at an all-time low.”)Same thing goes for money. (“You can imagine how confused I am about why people aren’t stepping up and donating. We’re blowing this one, Gail.”)Everybody’s jumping in. John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania who’s planning to run for the U.S. Senate next year, wrote suggesting that I split an early bird $10 donation between his campaign and McAuliffe’s. There’s quite a lot of this going on, but Fetterman’s campaign website is notable for including the picture of a dog on the bottom, saying: “Hi, I’m Levi Fetterman. Boop my nose to donate $1.”Indeed, if you poked Levi’s nose, a special donation box did pop up. Like I said, they’re everywhere.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    House Democrats Are Retiring as Party Fears Losing Majority

    As they survey a grim political landscape for their party, three senior House Democrats opt for retirement and lament the factionalism within their ranks.WASHINGTON — The quickening pace of Democratic retirements in the House may be the clearest indication yet that the party’s hopes of maintaining its narrow majority are fading amid President Biden’s sagging approval ratings, ongoing legislative struggles and the prospect of redrawn congressional districts that will put some seats out of reach.In recent days, Representatives John Yarmuth of Kentucky, David E. Price of North Carolina and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania have announced they will not seek re-election. In all, a dozen House Democrats have said they will retire or seek other offices next year, including powerful lawmakers like Mr. Yarmuth, the chairman of the Budget Committee, and members from the most politically competitive districts, such as Representatives Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona.In interviews, the three representatives who most recently announced their retirement said personal issues were paramount in their decisions — they have served 72 years in the House between them. But they also cited three political factors: redistricting ahead of the 2022 elections, Donald J. Trump’s continued power over Republicans, and the rising Balkanization of the Democratic Party, that they said had made governance increasingly difficult and frustrating.None of the three expressed concern about any particular bloc in their fractious party, which includes a growing progressive wing, an ardent group of moderates and the pro-business “New Democrats.” Rather, they said they were worried that none of the groups was willing to compromise, leaving two vital pieces of President Biden’s agenda — a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and an ambitious social policy and climate change measure — in limbo.“That’s the danger I see for our party, these absolute positions emerging,” Mr. Doyle said. “It used to be you fought those fights in caucus, but when the caucus made a majority opinion, you moved forward.”Mr. Price, a former political science professor at Duke University, agreed.“I have a concern that we will have the ability to pull ourselves together, and not fracture among the caucuses the way the Republicans have,” he said.Democrats face an uphill battle to retain control of Congress. They cannot afford to lose a single seat in the Senate, but they do not face gerrymandered maps there, and vulnerable Republican seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Ohio make Democratic gains possible.In the House, Democrats can afford to lose only three or four seats. The party holding the White House almost always loses seats in midterm elections, and with President Biden’s approval rating well under 50 percent, the historical headwinds look strong. While 10 Republicans have said they will not seek re-election, the G.O.P. sees the recent retirement announcements of prominent and long-serving Democrats as an acknowledgment of defeat.David E. Price of North Carolina, a former political science professor, said that as district maps become more partisan, the prospect of polarization grows.Al Drago for The New York Times“These Democrats spent decades accumulating power and seniority in Congress. They wouldn’t give up that power if they felt Democrats were going to hold the majority,” Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said.Redistricting will make the Democratic road steeper. David Wasserman, who tracks new district maps for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said so far, Democratic fears look somewhat overblown — Republican state legislatures have already gerrymandered their maps so severely that they can only go so much further. Republicans appear more intent on shoring up their vulnerable incumbents than destroying Democratic seats, he said.In contrast, Democratic legislatures, especially in New York and Illinois, may actually produce more partisan maps than their G.O.P. brethren. In all, Mr. Wasserman said, Republicans could net up to five seats from new district lines, possibly enough to win the majority but far fewer than the 10 to 15 seats some Democrats fear.Nonetheless, the new maps are pushing Democrats toward retirement. Mr. Doyle said he expects his district, which was once dominated by the city of Pittsburgh, to expand into more Trump-friendly counties to allow some of his Democratic voters to shore up the swing district now held by Representative Conor Lamb, a Democrat who is running for the state’s open Senate seat.He could still win, he said, but he would have a whole new set of constituents, staff to hire, offices to open and hands to shake. After 26 years in the House, retirement was logical.Republicans toyed with breaking Mr. Yarmuth’s Louisville district into three Republican parts, but that idea is meeting resistance, even from the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.John Yarmuth of Kentucky warned his Democratic colleagues that failure to pass the infrastructure bill and social policy measure would be politically disastrous.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesMr. Price also did not personally see a threat, since the Republican legislature redrawing North Carolina’s map will likely dump more Democratic voters into his district straddling the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill to make surrounding districts more Republican.But as those maps become more partisan, the prospect of polarization grows, Mr. Price said. Mr. Doyle’s retirement opened the door for a considerably more liberal Democrat, Summer Lee, to jump into the race on Tuesday, with the backing of Justice Democrats, which has pushed the Democratic Party to the left. An even more Democratic district in the Research Triangle could elect a Democrat to the left of Mr. Price.As for the right, Mr. Price said, the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 “has scarred the House and raised serious questions that I never thought would be raised, about the future of the rule of law, the acceptance of election results, the peaceful transfer of power and the very future of democracy.”With far-right Republicans such as Representatives Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia already calling for Mr. Biden’s impeachment, Mr. Yarmuth said, “the prospect of serving in the minority is horrifying.”Still, Mr. Yarmuth reserved some of his harshest words for newcomers in his own party. Older members who helped draft the Affordable Care Act; the Dodd-Frank banking regulations in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis; and even President Barack Obama’s climate change bill, although it ultimately failed in the Senate, knew how to compromise, he said.“The people in the House who have been drawing all the lines are people who have not served in a governing majority,” he said. “They all have come since 2010.”And all of the newly announced retirees warned their colleagues that failure to pass the infrastructure bill and social policy “reconciliation” measure would be politically disastrous for the Democrats.“We’re not having trouble getting reconciliation done because of Republicans; it’s because of ourselves,” Mr. Doyle said. “While people say they don’t like to watch sausage made, they like to eat the sausage in the end.” More

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    What We Learned in the Latest Campaign Cash Reports

    Financial disclosures show who has the early money edge in key races, as well as the value of a Trump endorsement.Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays.A startling amount of money is pouring into American elections, especially the race for control of Congress in 2022. Every House and Senate candidate in the country was recently required to detail their spending and fund-raising through the end of September. Here are some takeaways, tidbits and trends from those financial reports.How Trump factors inFormer President Donald J. Trump has been doing a lot of endorsing in Republican primaries ahead of the 2022 midterms. His backing is, by far, the most coveted in the party. But a Trump blessing has not necessarily translated to a cash boom for those Senate hopefuls he backs, the records show.In Alabama, Mr. Trump is supporting Representative Mo Brooks — who has literally worked the endorsement into his logo — but Mr. Brooks was nonetheless badly out-raised for the second consecutive quarter, pulling in only $670,000 compared with $1.5 million for Katie Boyd Britt, a former chief of staff to Senator Richard Shelby.In Alaska, Mr. Trump is supporting Kelly Tshibaka, a primary challenger to Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Mr. Trump in his second impeachment trial. Ms. Murkowski doubled Ms. Tshibaka’s haul. In North Carolina, Mr. Trump’s preferred choice, Representative Ted Budd, was narrowly edged by former Gov. Pat McCrory.In Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s endorsement did seem to boost Sean Parnell, who has been a regular on Fox News and whose fund-raising doubled in the most recent quarter. But Mr. Parnell still faces a former Trump-appointed ambassador, Carla Sands, in the Senate primary and she gave her campaign $3 million from her personal fortune.In House races, Mr. Trump has made clear he is focused on defeating those who voted to impeach him. One such Republican has already retired. But none of the other nine House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump in January were out-raised last quarter by a primary challenger, with Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming setting the pace by raising $1.7 million. (In some races, challengers combined to out-raise the Republican incumbent.)One notable fund-raising haul was from Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina. She verbally lacerated Mr. Trump in January for his incitement of the Capitol riot but ultimately didn’t vote to impeach. She has since, as my colleague Catie Edmondson put it over the summer, “quietly backpedaled into the party’s fold.” Now, the $973,000 she raised is among the highest sums for a freshman.The House leaderboardAmong the rank and file, the strongest Democratic fund-raiser in the House was, by far, Representative Katie Porter of California, who represents a swingy region in Orange County. She raised $2.7 million and spent only $1 million — and now has $14.5 million in the bank. That could help her no matter how her district is redrawn in 2022 — or in a potential future Senate bid. One problem with the latter is that the only House member with more money currently in their treasury is Representative Adam Schiff, another ambitious Democrat from California with $15.3 million in his treasury.On the Republican side, Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas has emerged as a top fund-raiser, pulling in nearly $3 million. But Mr. Crenshaw was spending far more to raise those funds: He spent roughly 88 percent of what he raised in the third quarter, records show, including more than $1 million related to direct mail.On the left, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York continues to be one of her party’s strongest fund-raisers, bringing in nearly $1.7 million. On the right, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the freshman congresswoman from Georgia, has continuously stirred controversy and cashed in along the way, raising $1.5 million, roughly the same sum as Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Mr. Trump’s favorite pugilists on the Hill.In the political center, two moderate Democrats, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Tom Suozzi of New York, both topped the $1 million threshold.Democrats have an early money edge in key Senate racesTo keep the Senate next year, Democrats must first defend four incumbents up for re-election in the battleground states of Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia and Arizona. The good news for the party is that all four incumbents far out-raised their Republican challengers, with Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia raising the most of anyone in the country, $9.5 million.The picture is murkier in three Republican-held battlegrounds: North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where the Republican incumbents are retiring, and Wisconsin, where Senator Ron Johnson has not said for certain if he is running again. Democrats face potentially messy primaries in all three races as do Republicans in the two open seats.But in each of the three states, the top fund-raiser last quarter between the two parties was a Democrat (not including those donating to themselves, like Sands).In Florida, Representative Val Demings, a Democrat, has emerged as the surprise fund-raising star of the cycle, raising nearly $8.5 million — nearly $2.5 million more than the Republican she is challenging, Senator Marco Rubio. But Ms. Demings is spending extraordinary sums to raise that money — $5.6 million in the last quarter alone, much of it devoted to Facebook ads seeking new online contributors.What campaigns are spending to raise money — known in the industry as the burn rate — is a key indicator, because it shows how much of what is raised will be available when voters are paying closer attention.Of the top dozen Senate fund-raisers last quarter, Ms. Demings had the highest burn rate at 66 percent.One Democratic senator on the ballot in 2022 actually spent more than she raised last quarter: Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. She raised $3 million last quarter, but she spent $3.1 million. Records show she made a $1.5 million media buy to highlight her work for veterans.The early ad was an unusual strategic choice. Most operatives believe TV ads that air a year from an election will be long forgotten when voting begins. But with money already flooding key states, the ad could be a chance to make an early, positive impression, especially with outside Republican groups on the airwaves.nine days of ideas to remake our futureAs world leaders gather in Glasgow for consequential climate change negotiations, join us at The New York Times Climate Hub to explore answers to one of the most urgent questions of our time: How do we adapt and thrive on a changing planet? Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 3-11; in person and online. Get tickets at nytclimatehub.com.On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com. More

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    Decoding Kyrsten Sinema’s Style

    Sometimes a dress is just a dress. Sometimes it’s a strategy.Senator Kyrsten Sinema may have been in Europe recently on a fund-raising trip and out of reach of the activists who have dogged her footsteps, frustrated with her obstruction of President Biden’s social spending bill. But despite the fact her office has been keeping her itinerary under wraps, were those protesters able to follow her overseas, there’s a good chance they would be able to find her.Not just because of her political theater. Ever since she was first elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2005, Ms. Sinema has always stood out in a crowd. And as Ms. Sinema’s legislative demands take center stage (along with those of Senator Joe Manchin, the other Biden Bill holdout) her history of idiosyncratic outfits has taken on a new cast.As Tammy Haddad, former MSNBC political director and co-founder of the White House Correspondents Weekend Insider, said of the senator, “If the other members of Congress had paid any attention to her clothing at all they would have known she wasn’t going to just follow the party line.”The senior senator from Arizona — the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate, the first Democrat elected to that body from that state since 1995, and the first openly bisexual senator — has never hidden her identity as a maverick. In fact, she’s advertised it. Pretty much every day.Indeed, it was back in 2013, when she was first elected to the House of Representatives, that Elle crowned Ms. Sinema “America’s Most Colorful Congresswoman.” Since she joined the Senate, she has merely been further embracing that term. Often literally.Notice was served at her swearing-in on Jan. 3, 2019, when Ms. Sinema seemed to be channeling Marilyn Monroe in platinum blond curls, a white sleeveless pearl-trimmed top, rose-print pencil skirt and stiletto heels: She was never going to revert to pantsuit-wearing banality.Senator Sinema leaves the Senate reception room at the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump in 2020, her cape sweeping behind.Alyssa Schukar for The New York TimesInstead, she swept in as a white-cape-dressed crusader for Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, in January 2020. Modeled a variety of Easter-egg colored wigs — lavender, pink, green — to demonstrate, her spokeswoman Hannah Hurley told The Arizona Republic in May of last year, a commitment to “social distancing in accordance with best practices, including from salons.” (Ms. Hurley specified the wig cost $12.99.) Sported pompom earrings, a variety of animal prints, neoprene, and assorted thigh-high boots. And presided over the Senate on Feb. 23 of this year while wearing a hot pink sweater with the words “Dangerous Creature” on the front, prompting Mitt Romney to tell her she was “breaking the internet.”Her reply: “Good.”To dismiss that as a stunt rather than a foreshadowing is to give Ms. Sinema less credit than she is due. “She’s saying, ‘I can wear what I want and say what I think is important and I’m going to have a lot of impact doing it,’” Ms. Haddad said. “She is unencumbered by the norms of the institution.”Lauren A. Rothman, an image and style accountability coach in Washington who has been working with members of Congress for 20 years, said it’s part of a growing realization among politicians that “you are communicating at all times, because a clip on social media can be even more meaningful than something on national TV.” And that means “thinking at all times about what story you are telling with your nonverbal tools, which means your style.”As Washington has begun to realize. Conversation with various insiders and Congressologists offered theories on the wardrobe that suggested it was either: a sleight-of-hand, meant to distract from Ms. Sinema’s journey from progressive to moderate to possibly Republican-leaning; or meant to offer reassurance to her former progressive supporters that she wasn’t actually part of the conservative establishment.Richard Ford, a professor at Stanford Law School and the author of “Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Changed History,” said he thought her image was designed to telegraph: “I’m a freethinker, my own person, not going along with convention, so even though I’m a part of the Democratic Party I am representing your interests, not theirs.” (As it happens Ms. Sinema is featured in the book as an example of a woman “unapologetically” bringing a more feminine approach to dress to “the halls of power.”)Whatever the interpretation, however, no one expressed any doubt that she knew exactly what she was doing. To pay attention is simply to acknowledge what Ms. Haddad called “a branding exercise” being done “at the highest level.” Either way, the senator’s office did not respond to emails on the subject.Senator Sinema in non-traditional silver talking with Senator Thom Tillis in traditional dark suit in 2020.J. Scott Applewhite/Associated PressSenator Sinema in the U.S. Capitol Building in 2020.Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesAnother of Senator Sinema’s wigs, which came in a variety of Easter egg shades. This one matches the large flower on her dress.Pool photo by Tom WilliamsSenator Sinema stood out like a beacon in a bright red halter dress, blue beads, and an apple watch during a news conference in July.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesAfter all, said Hilary Rosen, the vice chair of the political consultancy SKDKickerbocker, who has known Ms. Sinema since 2011, the senator “used to dress more like the rest of us, in simple dresses” and the occasional suit jacket. But, Ms. Rosen said, “I’ve seen a real shift in the last few years, and I think they way she dresses now is a sign of her increasing confidence as a legislator. She’s not afraid to wear her personality on her sleeve, and that’s rare in a politician. They usually dress for ambiguity.”There are few places, after all, more hidebound when it comes to personal style than Congress, which long had a dress code that included the caveat that congresswomen were not supposed to show their shoulders or arms in the building. The House changed its rules in 2017, but the Senate hewed to tradition until Ms. Sinema’s election; the rules were actually changed for her.According to Jennifer Steinhauer’s book “The Firsts: the Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, the senior member on the Senate Rules Committee, went to leadership before the last swearing-in to request the rules be reconsidered to reflect the modern world. She knew Ms. Sinema, a triathlete, had a penchant for showing her arms, and believed the new senator “needed to be allowed to wear what she wanted” in her new workplace. Some male senators grumbled, but acceded. (In the end, Ms. Sinema compromised by carrying a silver faux-fur stole to cover her shoulders.)But for women, Capitol Hill is traditionally a land of Talbots and St. John’s; of dressing to camouflage yourself in the group so it is your words that stand out, not your clothes. As Mr. Ford said, “Women are always subject to heightened scrutiny and criticism,” and in Washington this is even more true.There’s a reason Kamala Harris, the first female vice president, seems to wear only dark pantsuits. A reason the Women’s Campaign School at Yale Law, an annual five-day intensive training course for female elected officials hosted by the school (though not administered by it), includes a seminar entitled “Dress to Win.” Any woman in the political public eye has to make a decision about her clothes, whether she likes it or not, and resorting to the most nondescript common denominator is the norm.Senator Sinema, on the second day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in February, modeling message dressing.Pool photo by Joshua RobertsSenator Sinema on Capitol Hill in September in tiger stripes, though not the kind normally seen in nature.Tom Brenner for The New York TimesSenator Sinema in September, this time in a sort of cow print.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesYet more wild animal imagery, courtesy of the sweater Senator Sinema wore for a vote in the Capitol in March.Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesWhen statements have been made with dress, they have been made with clear intent, both individually — the flamethrower coat Nancy Pelosi wore when she faced down President Donald J. Trump over his border wall; her many face masks; her mace pin — and with critical mass, as when the women of the House wore white to Mr. Trump’s State of the Union in 2019 and 2020. However, such visual messaging remains the exception to the general rule (that’s part of what makes these moments stand out, and gives them their power).When fashion comes into play, it is more generally as a gesture of international diplomacy (where it is often left to the first lady to get fancy in the name of playing nice on a state visit) or national boosterism, using the political spotlight to promote local business and thus justify the choice of a designer name as a move to help the economy (see President Biden’s decision to wear Ralph Lauren to his swearing-in).Senator Sinema began her Washington career by breaking that tradition, clearly reveling in a seemingly endless wardrobe of eye-catching, idiosyncratic and colorful clothes speckled with flowers and zebra stripes: the kind more often labeled “fun” rather than, say, “sober” or “serious”; the kind that were unidentifiable in terms of provenance (where did she get them? where were they made? who knew?); the kind that are not unusual in civilian life, but stand out like neon lights under the rotunda of the Capitol; the kind that maybe call to mind an uninhibited co-worker with a zest for retail therapy at the mall. But that the senator continued to do so as she ascended the political ranks served two purposes.Everything’s coming up floral, as Senator Sinema leaves a closed-door bipartisan infrastructure meeting on Capitol Hill in June.Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated PressMore blooms on Senator Sinema in September.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesPuffed sleeves and poesies on Senator Sinema in September.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesIt made her nationally recognizable in a way very few new members of Congress are, and it placed her at the forefront of a social trend at a time when dress codes of all kinds are being reconsidered — and often left behind. (It’s no accident that the other congresswoman sworn in at the same time who has become a household name, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is equally good at using the tools of image making to craft her political message.)And, it made it clear she just wasn’t going to apologize for enjoying shopping. She clearly does a lot of it. So what? As far as she is concerned, she can have her stuff and substance too.In other words, all those seemingly kooky clothes that Ms. Sinema is wearing aren’t kooky at all. They’re signposts. And the direction they are pointing is entirely her way. More

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    How Democrats Should Sell Themselves to Avoid Electoral Disaster

    More from our inbox:Children’s Painful LossesMy Exercise Ethic  Cristina DauraTo the Editor:Re “Can Democrats Find a Winning Message?” (column, Sunday Review, Oct. 10):Ezra Klein’s discussion of David Shor’s predictions about impending disaster for the Democratic Party in upcoming Senate elections was both fascinating and frustratingly incomplete.For one, he did not discuss the specific seats in play and in jeopardy in 2022 and 2024. Surely local issues and the attractiveness of individual candidates will play some role in the outcome.Second, if a decent part of the Biden agenda finally becomes law and if the pandemic wanes, isn’t there a reasonable prospect that a significant piece of the electorate will want to keep it going? We keep hearing how popular infrastructure renewal and long-overdue safety net improvements are.Perhaps the ingrained disadvantages that Democrats face in the electoral system can be overcome by people feeling better about their lives. Messaging may well be less of a factor than Mr. Shor fears.Larry SimonbergBronxThe writer was a spokesman for Mayor Ed Koch of New York from 1983 to 1989.To the Editor:I’ll tell you why David Shor is wrong, like many of the consultants I’ve encountered who often have a brand rather than a unique skill: 1) Focus groups and polling aren’t real life. 2) Human beings are irrational actors and their motivations shift unpredictably. 3) Most voters don’t vote for issues; they vote for candidates who appear powerful, in charge and decisive.Donald Trump explains all of these things. Most of the issues he spotlights are unpopular in polling and focus groups, yet he got more than 70 million votes in 2020 and is quite likely going to win in 2024. Democrats need passionate, vital candidates, not reactive data jockeys.David BillottiRockville, Md.The writer is a communications consultant.To the Editor:The Trump base is not reclaimable by Democrats. Donald Trump exposed the undercurrent of anger, fear and racism lurking in our country and made expressing those feelings acceptable within the Republican Party. Worse, he prodded that base to vote. And there is every reason to believe that will happen again.The Democratic Party’s only hope is to appeal to moderate, traditional and rational Republicans who have already abandoned Mr. Trump and his minions. Policy communication alone doesn’t hold the power that David Shor thinks it does. Accomplishment is what is needed.The Democrats need to coalesce behind President Biden’s agenda, abandon the extreme progressive wish list, and pass the infrastructure and Build Back Better legislative initiatives. Then, and only then, will they have a product the American people are ready, maybe even eager, to buy.Jay AdolfNew YorkTo the Editor:As a 45-year marketing and communications professional, I think the messaging of the Democrats for the last 10 years has been feeble and chaotic. There has been no consistent, simple messaging from the Democratic National Committee. In contrast, the Republicans have had the discipline to do exactly that, albeit poisoned with lies.You want a winning message to combat the Big Lie about the stolen election? Start a campaign with a catchy slogan like “Trump has done zilch for you,” and hammer that message home over and over again.This is a battle over hearts and minds. These voters have been lied to, used as pawns, as dupes. It’ll take time, but once they get it, they will react in fury against Mr. Trump.Randolph W. HoblerNorwalk, Conn.To the Editor:Did I read this article correctly? Democrats need to hide who they are in order to win elections? What a damning, unintentional self-indictment.Richard SybertSeattleChildren’s Painful LossesAmethyst, 5, and a portrait of her father, Erin Tokley, a Philadelphia police officer who died from Covid-19 in March.Laurence Kesterson/Associated PressTo the Editor:Re “120,000 Children Lost Caregivers to Covid” (news article, Oct. 8):I am usually a pretty stoic person, but the enormousness of pain reflected by the story about 120,000 children who have lost a parent or caregiver broke me.To think there are Americans running around screaming about the injustice of being asked to get a vaccine or wear a mask while the smallest shoulders among us are bearing the heaviest of burdens really makes you wonder what has happened to the soul of our country.Have we become so callous and vicious with one another that a tragedy like this is not enough to bring us together so we can fight this scourge as one?Michael ScottSan FranciscoMy Exercise Ethic  Ping ZhuTo the Editor:Re “Unable to Walk, She Needed to Run” (Science Times, Oct. 5):Elisabeth Rosenthal’s confession that her running is “more spiritual than pragmatic” struck a chord with my exercise ethic. As a longtime daily runner — three miles around the block with our fox terrier, Socks — I understand Dr. Rosenthal’s need to run, even after an accident.After two hip replacements, more than a decade ago, stopped my daily runs, I began substituting other exercise. It doesn’t work — not the elliptical, a bicycle or weight training.The only close relative to running I have found is aquafit classes. The thumping music and smiling water compatriots allow a mental escape from the daily grind and anxieties of living. But it’s a facsimile, not the real gold standard.So I wish Dr. Rosenthal a rapid return to running and to recapturing the “emotional sustenance running provides.”Mary Lake PolanNew Canaan, Conn. More