Detroit, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — Michigan voters on Tuesday made their state the first in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana, passing a ballot measure that will allow people 21 or older to buy and use the drug and putting conservative neighboring states on notice.
Three other states had marijuana-related measures on their ballots. North Dakota voters decided recreational pot wasn't for them , while voters in Missouri passed one of three unrelated measures to legalize medical marijuana. Utah voters also were considering whether to allow medical marijuana and to join the 31 other states that have already done so.
Including Michigan, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. And Canada recently did so. But the passage in Michigan gives it a foothold in Middle America and could cause tension with neighboring Indiana and Ohio, which overwhelmingly rejected a 2015 legalization measure.
"Troopers that work along the state line are very cognizant of what's going on up north," said Indiana State Police Sgt. Ron Galaviz, a spokesman for the agency's Fort Wayne Post, which stretches north to the Michigan line.
He said if the referendum passed, "we know some of our citizens are going to go over to Michigan to partake." And those who return either under the influence or in possession of pot may learn the hard way that it remains illegal in Indiana.
"We'll enforce our laws as written," added Galaviz, a Michigan native. "If you're traveling to or through our state, we really don't want you bringing it down here."
Kristin Schrader, 51, a Democrat from Superior Township in Washtenaw County, said she voted to legalize marijuana because she doesn't want people leaving Michigan to get it.
"I've got no attachment to marijuana myself, but I don't care to stand in the way of the train while it's coming down the tracks. I don't want people to go to other states to get it and spend their money somewhere else. If there's going to be an economic benefit to legalize marijuana, I want it to be in Michigan."
The Michigan law will take effect in about a month, as the election first has to be certified by the Board of State Canvassers. Ten days after that certification, people age 21 or older will be allowed to have, use and grow the drug, but the process of establishing regulations for its retail sale could take about two years.
The measure, which was endorsed by a national organization of black-owned businesses and a group of retired Michigan law enforcement officers, will create a state licensing system for marijuana businesses and allow cities and townships to restrict them. Supporters say it will raise roughly $130 million in additional tax revenue each year that will go toward road repairs, schools and local governments. They also say it will allow for greater regulation of pot usage and for the police to focus on more pressing problems.
Opponents, including many law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, chambers of commerce and religious groups, said legalizing marijuana would lead to increased use by children, drug abuse and car crashes. They also said Michigan's proposal would be too permissive by allowing people to have up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of the drug on them and up to 10 ounces (284 grams) at home.
Unlike Michigan's measure, North Dakota's rejected measure didn't receive any significant funding from outside groups. It came as the state was still setting up its medical marijuana system, which voters approved by a wide margin two years ago.
In Missouri, voters passed one of three unrelated medical marijuana measures that made it onto the ballot. The constitutional amendment will allow patients with cancer, HIV, epilepsy and other conditions access to the drug.
Voters in Utah also were considering whether to legalize medical marijuana. The Mormon church, which carries outsized influence in the conservative state, had opposed the proposal but recently joined lawmakers and advocates to back a deal that would legalize it in the conservative state. Utah's governor said he would call lawmakers into a special session after the midterm election to pass the deal into law, even if Tuesday's initiative failed.
Washington, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — The first two Native American and Muslim congresswomen are headed to the U.S. House, and Massachusetts is getting its first black congresswoman, while Arizona and Tennessee are getting their first female senators in Tuesday's midterm elections.
The high-profile midterm cycle that produced a record number of women contenders and candidates of color meant a number of winners will take office as trailblazers, marking firsts for their race and gender.
What is already the most diverse Congress ever will become even more so after Tuesday's elections.
The inclusive midterm victories bode well for future election cycles, said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, co-founder of Higher Heights for America, a national organization focused on galvanizing black women voters and electing black women as candidates.
"This is going to be a long process to get us to a point of proportionate representation, but tonight is a giant step forward for what leadership can and will eventually look like in this country," Peeler-Allen said. She added that even women of color who were unsuccessful will inspire a new crop of candidates, similar to the white women encouraged to run after Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential election loss.
Some of Tuesday's black female pioneers, like Illinois Democrat Lauren Underwood, were first-time candidates. Others, like Massachusetts' Ayanna Pressley, were political veterans. Most were considered longshots. Some will represent districts that are majority white and that have been historically conservative, their victories a rejection of conventional wisdom on electability and the effects of gerrymandering that have historically assigned elected officials of color to represent minority communities.
Pressley, a Boston city councilwoman, will represent Massachusetts' 7th Congressional District in the next Congress. Pressley stunned the political establishment in September, defeating a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary, and ran unopposed in the general.
"None of us ran to make history," Pressley told supporters in her acceptance speech Tuesday. "We ran to make change. However, the historical significance of this evening is not lost on me. The significance of history is not lost on me."
Half a century ago this week, New York's Shirley Chisholm was elected the first black woman in Congress, and several of the black women elected Tuesday have said their campaigns were inspired by her example.
Also in the House, Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. New Mexico Democrat Deb Haaland and Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids were elected the first two Native American women to serve in Congress.
Democrat Mike Espy, who will face Mississippi Republican Rep. Cindy Hyde-Smith in a December runoff, could become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.
And regardless of who wins in Arizona's competitive Senate race, the state will elect either Republican Martha McSally or Democrat Kyrsten Sinema as the state's first woman to serve in the chamber. Also in the Senate, Republican Marsha Blackburn will become Tennessee's first woman senator.
Georgia candidate Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, was in a fierce battle to become America's first black woman governor, while Democrat Andrew Gillum narrowly lost his bid to become the first black governor of Florida.
In Colorado, Jared Polis will be the country's first openly elected gay governor. In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevy, elected in 2001, had been outed as gay while in office.
Washington, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — The Democrats picked up at least two dozen House seats Tuesday and appeared on track to retake control of the chamber, a victory that could put a check on President Donald Trump's agenda over the next two years and trigger a multitude of investigations into his business dealings and administration.
As one of the most volatile midterm elections in U.S. history wound down, the Democrats drew ever closer to the 218 seats needed for a majority, with dozens of races still undecided. A Democratic victory would break the Republicans' eight-year hold on the House that began with the tea party revolt of 2010.
While the Republican Party retained control of the Senate, a win for the Democrats in the House would end the GOP monopoly on power in Washington and open a new era of divided government.
"Tomorrow will be a new day in America," Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a victory party in Washington.
The campaign unfolded against a backdrop of ugly rhetoric and angry debates on immigration, health care and the role of Congress in overseeing the president.
With the Democratic Party needing a net gain of 23 to take back the House, its candidates flipped seats in several suburban districts outside Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago and Denver that were considered prime targets for turnover because they were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Democrats also made inroads in Trump country, where they tried to win back white working-class voters.
Midterm elections are typically difficult for the party in power, but the GOP's hold on power was further weakened by an unusually large number of retirements as well as infighting between conservatives and centrists over their allegiance to Trump.
The Democrats, in turn, benefited from extraordinary voter enthusiasm, robust fundraising and unusually fresh candidates. More women than ever were running, along with veterans and minorities, many of them motivated by revulsion over Trump.
As the returns came in, the House was on track to break the record of 84 female members of one party or the other.
In trying to stem Republican losses, Trump made only passing reference to his $1.5 trillion tax cut — the GOP Congress' signature achievement — and instead barnstormed through mostly white regions of the country, interjecting dark and foreboding warnings. He predicted an "invasion" from the migrant caravan making its way toward the U.S. and decried the "radical" agenda of speaker-in-waiting Pelosi.
Trump also took little responsibility for the House, saying his focus was on saving the Senate.
On Tuesday night, he called to congratulate Pelosi and acknowledged her plea for bipartisanship, the leader's spokesman said.
Health care and immigration were high on voters' minds as they cast ballots, according to a ranging survey of the American electorate conducted by The Associated Press. AP VoteCast also showed a majority of voters considered Trump a factor in their votes.
The Democratic candidates tried to stick to an economic message of lowering health care costs and investing in infrastructure to create jobs.
They also promised to clean up government. With control of the House, Democrats will chair powerful committees and have subpoena power to seek Trump's tax returns and more aggressively investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether there was any collusion by the president's campaign.
In the Miami area, former Clinton administration Cabinet member Donna Shalala won an open seat, while GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo lost his bid for a third term in another district.
In the suburbs outside the nation's capital, Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock — among the most endangered GOP incumbents, branded Barbara "Trumpstock" by Democrats — lost to Jennifer Wexton, a prosecutor and state legislator.
And outside Richmond, Virginia, one-time tea party favorite Rep. Dave Brat lost to Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative motivated to run for office after the GOP vote to gut the Affordable Care Act. Like other Democrats across the country, Spanberger emphasized protecting people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage or charged more by insurers.
Pennsylvania was particularly daunting for Republicans after court-imposed redistricting and a rash of retirements put several seats in play. Democratic favorite Conor Lamb, who stunned Washington by winning a special election in the state, beat Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus in a new district. At least three other red districts flipped to blue.
In Kansas, Democrat Sharice Davids beat a GOP incumbent to become one of two Native American women, with Deb Haaland of New Mexico, elected to the House. Davids is also openly gay.
Democrats welcomed other firsts, including two Muslim-American women, Rhasida Tlaib of Michigan and Minnesota's Ilhan Oman, who is also the first Somali-American elected to Congress. The Republican side of the aisle elected mostly white men.
But in Kentucky, one of the top Democratic recruits, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, lost her bid to oust to three-term Rep. Andy Barr in the Lexington-area district.
Republicans had expected the GOP tax plan would be the cornerstone of their election agenda this year, but it became a potential liability in key states along the East and West coasts where residents could face higher tax bills because of limits on property and sales tax deductions.
The tax law was particularly problematic for Republicans in New Jersey, where at least three GOP-held seats flipped. The winners included Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor who ran for a suburban Newark seat.
The GOP campaign committee distanced itself from eight-term Rep. Steve King of Iowa after he was accused of racism and anti-Semitism, but he won anyway.
In California, four GOP seats in the one-time Republican stronghold of Orange County were in play, along with three other seats to the north beyond Los Angeles and into the Central Valley.
"We always knew these races are going to be close," said Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, co-chair of House Democrats' recruitment efforts. "It's just a very robust class of candidates that really reflects who we are as a country."
Washington, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump knows he's on the line.
The president spent election night watching returns with family and friends at the White House, after concluding a six-day rally blitz in Missouri late Monday. Trump packed his closing argument with hard-line immigration rhetoric and harsh attacks on Democrats as he stared down the prospect of Republican losses that could shadow his presidency.
"Everything we have achieved is at stake," he said. "Because they can take it apart just as fast as we built it."
Faced with the possibility of keeping the Senate but losing the House, aides have begun laying out the political reality to Trump, who could face an onslaught of Democratic-run investigations and paralysis of his policy agenda. In turn, Trump has already been trying out defensive arguments, noting that midterm losses are typical for the party in the White House, pointing out a high number of GOP retirements and stressing that he had kept his focus on the Senate.
In the hours after the first polls closed Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the administration was cautiously optimistic and downplayed the possibility of a Democratic rout, saying "maybe you get a ripple, but I certainly don't think that there's a blue wave."
Aides set up televisions in the White House residence for Trump, first lady Melania Trump and their guests to watch election results come in, with the sets tuned to different cable news channels. Among those expected were Trump's adult children, White House aides, Republican officials and presidential friends.
The election also likely served as a referendum on Trump's racially charged appeals and the strength of the coalition that powered him to the White House — a group he will need again in just two years. His party flipped one Senate seat, in Indiana, early in the night, while holding its own among the first wave of hotly contested House seats.
"Frankly, the candidates who have embraced the president and who the president has gone into campaign for over the last several weeks are candidates that we see doing very well tonight," Sanders told Fox News.
Nearly 40 percent of voters cast their ballots to express opposition to the president, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, while about 25 percent said they voted to express support for Trump.
Trump's scorched-earth campaigning came to define the 2018 campaign. In the final days, he sought to motivate supporters with the battle over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — at one point mocking a woman who claimed the judge had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.
Ahead of the election, both parties claimed that the emotionally charged debate over Kavanaugh's confirmation would motivate their supporters to turn out. According to VoteCast, half of voters said the tumultuous process was very important to their vote and they broke for the Democratic House candidate.
Returning to his immigration-heavy 2016 playbook, Trump went on to unleash his full fury on a caravan of migrants slowly making their way to the southern border. His take-no-prisoners approach troubled many Republicans seeking to appeal to moderate voters in suburban House districts, but Trump prioritized base voters in the deep red states that could determine the fate of the Senate. At times he even appeared at odds with his own campaign, which in the election's final days released a gauzy ad aimed at suburban women.
Trump did not care for the soft-focus ad, which notably did not mention him, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly. Instead he promoted a shocking, expletive-loaded video featuring a Latino man convicted of murdering two police officers, which was widely decried as being racist.
But while Trump's plays to his most loyal supporters help rev up the crowds in small towns and rural areas in red states, they were viewed as a turnoff to moderates, independents and women in the suburban districts needed to keep the House in GOP hands. Still, Trump brushed off criticism that he was alienating moderate voters as he continued his massive rallies and overheated rhetoric.
"These rallies are the best thing we've done. I think that the rallies have really been the thing that's caused this whole big fervor to start and to continue," he told reporters on Sunday.
Opposition to Trump proved to be more a motivating factor for Democrats than support for the president a factor for Republicans. Still, Republican voters tended to be overwhelmingly supportive of the president.
More voters disapproved of Trump's job performance than approved — a finding that is largely consistent with recent polling. Voters scored Trump positively on the economy and for standing up "for what he believes in." But the president received negative marks from voters on temperament and trustworthiness.
Still, about one-third of voters said Trump was not a factor in their votes.
During the final stretch of the race, Trump tore across the country, holding 11 rallies over six days. On Monday, he blitzed through a trio of Midwest states he won in 2016 — Ohio, Indiana and Missouri — exhorting his supporters to help send Republicans to Capitol Hill to help safeguard his administration's accomplishments and a booming economy.
"It's all fragile. Everything I told you, it can be undone and changed by Democrats if they get in," Trump told supporters during a telephone town-hall organized by his campaign before Air Force One took off for Cleveland. "You see how they've behaved. You see what's happening with them. They've really become radicalized."
Trump pointed to his boisterous rally crowds as proof that Republicans were surging at the right time, rejecting suggestions that Democrats entered Election Day with an edge in enthusiasm. He frequently invoked his upset win in 2016 and tried to recapture that energy in his final rallies, at times relegating the candidates he had traveled to endorse to supporting actors in the theater of a Trump rally.
And he plowed forward despite a spate of election-season violence that gripped the nation. He continued to hold events amid a mail bomb scare that targeted his political opponents and went forward with a rally hours after a gunman massacred 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Shanghai, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — The Chinese government granted 18 trademarks to companies linked to President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump over the last two months, Chinese public records show, raising concerns about conflicts of interest in the White House.
In October, China's Trademark Office granted provisional approval for 16 trademarks to Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, bringing to 34 the total number of marks China has greenlighted this year, according to the office's online database. The new approvals cover Ivanka-branded fashion gear including sunglasses, handbags, shoes and jewelry, as well as beauty services and voting machines.
The approvals came three months after Ivanka Trump announced she was dissolving her namesake brand to focus on government work.
China also granted provisional approval for two "Trump" trademarks to DTTM Operations LLC, headquartered at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York. They cover branded restaurant, bar and hotel services, as well as clothing and shoes.
The marks will be finalized if there is no objection during a 90-day comment period.
All the trademarks were applied for in 2016.
"These trademarks were sought to broadly protect Ms. Trump's name, and to prevent others from stealing her name and using it to sell their products," Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump's ethics attorney, said in an email. "This is a common trademark practice, which is why the trademark applications were granted."
Both the president and his daughter have substantial intellectual property holdings in China. Critics worry that China, where the courts and bureaucracy are designed to reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party, could exploit those valuable rights for political leverage.
There has also been concern that the Trump family's global intellectual property portfolio lays the groundwork for the president and his daughter, who serves as a White House adviser, to profit from their global brands as soon as they leave office.
"Ivanka receives preliminary approval for these new Chinese trademarks while her father continues to wage a trade war with China. Since she has retained her foreign trademarks, the public will continue to have to ask whether President Trump has made foreign policy decisions in the interest of his and his family's businesses," wrote Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group that first published the news about Ivanka Trump brand's new Chinese trademarks.
Lawyers for Donald Trump in Beijing declined to comment.
Companies register trademarks for a variety of reasons. They can be a sign of corporate ambition, but many companies also file defensively, particularly in China, where trademark squatting is rampant. Trademarks are classified by category and may include items that a brand does not intend to market. Some trademark lawyers also advise clients to register trademarks for merchandise made in China, even if it's not sold there.
China has said it handles all trademark applications equally under the law.