Oprah jumps into contentious Georgia race, endorses Democrat Abrams

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Oprah Winfrey plans to lend her star power to Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' quest to become the United States' first black woman governor at a couple of appearances in the state on Thursday.

After a brief flirtation earlier this year with a run for the White House in 2020, the media mogul, who has long associated herself with Democratic Party causes, has instead thrown her influence into a race that has become a flash point for accusations of voter suppression.

Abrams' Republican rival, Brian Kemp, serves as Georgia secretary of state, a role in which he oversees state elections. Earlier this month, a coalition of state civil rights groups sued Kemp, accusing him of trying to depress minority voter turnout to improve his chances of winning. On Monday, former U.S. President and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter asked Kemp to step down as secretary of state since he was running for governor.

Oprah Winfrey plans to lend her star power to Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' quest to become the United States' first black woman governor at a couple of appearances in the state on Thursday.

Saying 'I've been used,' Kanye West distances himself from politics

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Three weeks after a bizarre White House meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, rapper Kanye West said on Tuesday he was distancing himself from politics.

West, Trump's biggest celebrity supporter, also sought to distance himself from a new campaign that encourages black Americans to quit the Democratic Party.

"My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative!!!" West tweeted, without mentioning Trump, who is a Republican, or any other names.

The singer and fashion designer, who has said he is bipolar, also said he "never wanted any association" with a campaign launched last weekend called Blexit that seeks to draw African-Americans away from their long-standing support for Democrats.

West, 41, was linked to the campaign after its leader, conservative activist Candace Owens, said he had designed the logo for the movement's hats and T-shirts.

"I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn’t want their name on it so she used mine," West tweeted on Tuesday. "I have nothing to do with it."

West posted his comments just a week before U.S. congressional elections on Nov. 6 and after months of erratic behavior, including describing slavery as a choice.

On Oct. 11, he met Trump in the Oval Office and launched into a rambling 10-minute-long speech carried live on television in which he said Trump made him feel like a superhero, and referenced the existence of an alternate universe.

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Kentucky grocery shootings were 'possible hate crime'

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The fatal shootings of two African-Americans at a grocery store near Louisville, Kentucky are being investigated as a possible federal hate crime, US officials say.

Gregory Bush, 51, has been charged with two counts of murder and 10 of wanton endangerment over Wednesday's incident.

Police say he opened fire on both victims at a Kroger grocery store on the outskirts of Jeffersontown city.

Officials say he also tried to enter a black church shortly before.

Police Chief Sam Rogers said it was too early to confirm if the shooting was racially motivated - but confirmed reports Mr Bush was seen on security cameras attempting to enter the Jeffersontown First Baptist Church about 10-15 minutes before the shooting at the Kroger store.

The church has a large African-American membership,

The two victims of the shooting have been named as 69-year-old Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, 67.

Mr Stallard was shot multiple times inside the Kroger shop, which he had been visiting with his 12-year-old grandson.

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A witness told a local Fox affiliate he had shielded the child, who was uninjured in the shooting, after he ran away shouting for help after witnessing the attack.

Ms Jones was then gunned down in the car park outside the supermarket.

One witness, Ed Harrell, exchanged gunfire with the suspect outside, but he fled and was apprehended by officers minutes later.

Mr Harrell told the local Courier Journal newspaper he confronted the gunman outside, who told him: "Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites."

Police have not confirmed the statement, but the FBI confirmed it is investigating the shooting alongside local authorities.

Grab showing the Kroger strore where shooting happenedImage copyrightGOOGLE STREET VIEW
Image captionThe shooting happened on Wednesday, at a supermarket surrounded by other businesses

US District Attorney Russell Coleman in Louisville said Friday that they were looking into potential violations of federal law "which includes potential civil rights violations such as hate crimes."

In his statement, he said the shootings "are not being taken lightly by the United States government."

Bush has a criminal record of violent behaviour and a recorded history of mental illness, local media say.

He had previously been temporarily banned from possessing firearms by a judge, the Associated Press reports.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he was "sick and heartbroken and quite angry" over the attack.

"We are one city - one proudly diverse and welcoming city - and we have one shared future," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"Our city and our future have no room for anyone who looks at their fellow human beings with hate or discrimination," he added.

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GOP pollster: Republicans may hold on to the House in midterms

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GOP pollster John McLaughlin said Sunday that Republicans may be able to fend off Democrats' efforts to take back control of the House in November's midterm elections. 

Speaking on AM 970's "The Answer" in New York, McLaughlin told host John Catsimatidis that the key to a Republican victory next month is retaining enthusiasm felt by GOP-leaning voters following the successful confirmation of President Trump's second Supreme Court nomination, Brett Kavanaugh.

"You’re seeing Republicans in the areas where Trump did well go up in the polls because the Trump voters are reengaged," McLaughlin said.

"If, over the next three weeks, they keep those Trump voters engaged, [then] we have a shot at holding the House, but we’ll definitely pick up some U.S. Senate seats," the pollster continued.

McLaughlin, who served as Trump's top pollster during his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, asserted that Republicans should take a page from Trump's book and go on the offense.

"The Republicans, they need to play offense," McLaughlin said, adding that the party's target should be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has battled opposition from within her own party in recent months.

"The person who is the most unpopular national figure is Nancy Pelosi. And the Democrats are hiding her," McLaughlin continued. "The president needs to take her on and expose her because she stands for higher taxes, open borders, fewer jobs. She stands for basically a weaker America."

Democrats are battling for a net gain of 23 seats in the House to retake the lower chamber next month. Republicans hold the advantage in the Senate, where Democrats are seeking to close a two-seat gap.

Republicans trailed Democrats by 13 points on a generic congressional ballot among likely voters in a CNN poll released this week. FiveThirtyEight's election forecast currently gives Democrats a 79 percent chance of winning control of the House next month.

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History-making runs turn black governor nominees into stars

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illum, Abrams, Jealous

It was a raucous scene that could have been backstage at a rock concert: camera flashes, fans clamoring for autographs, scowling bodyguards, reporters hungry for a scoop. But the center of this attention wasn't Beyonce or the Rolling Stones. It was three black gubernatorial candidates who stood side by side in a throng of admirers, soaking up all that love.

If elected, Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Ben Jealous of Maryland and Andrew Gillum of Florida would give America its largest number of black governors ever. That historic possibility was not lost on them, or the black voters who hope to make that history happen, as they shared the stage at the Congressional Black Caucus' annual legislative conference this week.

"This moment, and the significance of it, won't seep in for some time from now," said Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, and at 39 the youngest of the three.

"What this signals is not only the continued evolution of our country but the increasing recognition of diversity, not only of capacity but of backgrounds," said Abrams, 44, later.

Abrams, who could become the nation's first black female governor, is getting the most national attention. But all three were squired around the Washington Convention Center by black politicos who are strategizing ways to help on turnout, campaigning and fundraising.

Jealous, 45, faces the steepest challenge, down in polls against incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Abrams and Gillum are running for open seats.

After the three spoke together on stage, Jealous listened attentively backstage as Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas laid out plans to help him with voter turnout and fundraising. Gillum, meanwhile, stood nearby shaking hands with other state elected officials and Abrams conducted a media interview.

"I believe what we see in this current electoral cycle is not going to stop," Abrams said. "We have more diversity in the candidates running and in the candidates winning and particularly for women of color. ... I'm proud to be part of a national trend and I think it's a trend that's becoming a permanent one for America."

None of them were heavy favorites in their primaries. Abrams is a longtime state official and former state House leader; Gillum has been a fixture of local Tallahassee politics since his college days; and Jealous is a former head of the NAACP and was a venture capitalist and activist before entering the governor's race last year.

Their historic primary wins — and the national attention it brought — will bring out Democratic voters who might not have voted in a midterm election otherwise, they said. Midterm elections typically draw fewer than half of those eligible to vote.

"I know we have people keep wanting to hedge on these races: 'Oh, you can win in the primary, but what happens in the general?'" Gillum said. "I honestly believe for all three of us, we are the best, and frankly, the most likely of the whole lot we were in to bring the kind of energy necessary in order to win states like ours."

The political trio seem comfortable together and readily quote one another in interviews. They also tease one another, as they did when they turned Abrams' observations about overcoming gender and racial barriers into jokes about their respective skin tones.

"I'm of a very rich brown hue," Abrams said.

"I'm richer," Gillum interrupted. "It's the only thing I'm rich in."

Jealous, who is biracial, smiled, then quipped: "No comment."

The three of them have known one another for many years, Jealous said. He met Abrams when they were both around 20 years old, he said, and they've known Gillum since he was about that same age.

"It's a special joy when you look to your left and look to your right and the people you see are the people you know and the people you trust," Jealous said.

P.B.S. Pinchback of Louisiana was the nation's first black governor during Reconstruction, serving from 1872 to 1873. The next would not come until 1990, when Douglas Wilder would be elected in Virginia. Deval Patrick was elected in 2007 and David Paterson served as New York governor from 2008 to 2010.

There has never been a black female governor in American history.

"What's more important to me is that I'm opening the doors for others who may not have seen themselves in positions of power and leadership, and I can speak for communities that are unseen and unheard," Abrams said.

All of them recognize the change their campaigns represent and what could be a unique place in history if they are all successful.

"It is a wonderful season we are in," said Bernice King, a daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., at a later event honoring black female lawmakers. "I'm excited about the midterm elections, and I know that regardless of what the outcome is that God still has his hands on us."

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CBSNEWS.COM

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/history-making-runs-turn-black-governor-nominees-into-stars/

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