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Democrats claim victory in Kentucky & Virginia

The Democratic National Committee has asked its media partners to seek an alternative venue for the December Democratic presidential debate amid an ongoing labor dispute between the University of California and the AFSCME Local 3299. 

In October, the DNC announced PBS NewsHour and Politico would host the 6th debate on December 19th at UCLA. But on Tuesday, the AFSCME Local 3299 sent letters to six presidential campaigns, including that of Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, notifying them of an ongoing speakers' boycott because of the University of California's "continued role in contributing to economic and racial inequalities at the UC and across the State of California." The AFSCME Local 3299 accuses UC of refusing to negotiate a fair contract and outsourcing jobs to private companies that pay less, and asked candidates to refuse to attend or speak at any UC events until issues were settled.

On Wednesday, the DNC confirmed with CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice that they asked partners to find another venue. The story was first reported by Huffington Post. In response to the news, the AFSCME Local 3299 released a statement saying, "We applaud the decision by the DNC to stand with University of California workers in their fight for fair treatment from California's 3rd largest employer. And we are grateful to the candidates and other leaders who have stood with us in solidarity on our picket lines. 

Just as our next President must heal the divisions in our country, they must also work to confront the staggering inequality and mistreatment of low wage workers that have become all too common in today's economy. While a change of venue for this debate is no doubt inconvenient, it pales in comparison to the effect that the University's lawless outsourcing practices are having on thousands of families and communities across California. It is past time for UC to honor the aspirations of those who do the hard, physical work of making this institution run and not just ivory tower elites."

Meanwhile, the DNC said it will release more info on its 6th debate as it becomes available. 

FROM THE CANDIDATES

MICHAEL BENNET

Senator Michael Bennet filed for the New Hampshire Primary Wednesday afternoon, appearing with a small handful of supporters. The Colorado Senator delivered a 40 minute critique of "Medicare for All," raising taxes on the middle class, candidate celebrity and what he calls "a lurch to a set of policies that are good for raising money."

According to CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga, Bennet said he remains unsurprised by early Granite State leads for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders: "Well, Bernie's run before. He's well known, and I respect and admire his commitment to his ideology. And Elizabeth also is, you know, the closest thing we have to celebrity candidate." Doubling down on his criticism of Warren, Bennet argued the Massachusetts lawmaker's healthcare proposal is "incredibly rosy."

"Thirty-one trillion dollars," Bennet declared, fist pounding on the filing room table. "Which is what Bernie says the bill will cost and I guarantee you he's closer to the number than Elizabeth is—I guarantee it—is equivalent to 70% of all the revenue that we will collect as the federal government over the next 10 years."

Asked about Donald Trump Jr.'s tweet naming a person identified by some outlets as the alleged whistleblower, Bennet said he did not see the post, then added, "If that's true, that's a terrible, unpatriotic act. It's despicable. There's a reason there's a whistleblower law, and that's to protect people who are standing up to power, standing up to authority. And for weeks, Donald Trump has been asking somebody to reveal who the whistleblower was. A President of the United States of either party should never do that." 

STEVE BULLOCK

Montana Governor Steve Bullock is up on the airwaves in Iowa with two new ads, as he hopes to boost his polling numbers in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says the half million dollar ad buy will last a few weeks, and the ads will air in several Iowa markets, including Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. 

In one ad, titled "Responsibility," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller explains why he endorsed Bullock. "As Iowans, we know our right to go first in the nation comes with a special responsibility to sort through a crowded field and caucus for a Democrat who can beat Trump," Miller says. "This year, that's what matters most. And that's why I strongly support Steve Bullock for president." The other ad, titled "Only," uses clips from news anchors reading about Bullock's record and winning in a state where President Trump beat Secretary Hillary Clinton by 20 points. In the closing of that ad, Bullock says "I approve this message to beat Trump and be a president for all of America."

KAMALA HARRIS

CBS News campaign reporters Adam Brewster, Musadiq Bidar and Tim Perry have exclusively learned that Kamala Harris' campaign is announcing an African American Steering Committee in Iowa. Harris campaign says the committee consists of leaders across the Hawkeye State tasked with working with state organizers to "continue engaging the African American community in Iowa." In addition, the Harris campaign is naming Mia Mayberry as its new Iowa Deputy Political Director in charge of African American outreach. Mayberry, a native of Quad Cities, is the former Vice Chairwoman of the Rock Island County Board of Supervisors.

"We are fully committed to running a campaign that embodies the values that Senator Harris holds," Diedre DeJear, Harris' Iowa Campaign Chair, said in a statement released by the campaign. "We are better as a country when more people are included and our team has made meaningful, continued engagement with communities of color a top priority throughout this race," DeJear added.

The campaign says the committee will "help leverage their own networks and insight to help amplify both Harris and her organizing team's efforts in the state." Although the latest census shows African Americans make up roughly 4% of Iowa's population, they are still a heavily sought after group among many of the Democratic candidates. Last week, CBS News reported plans for the Harris campaign to divert resources from other early voting primary states to Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Filing for the New Hampshire Primary, Senator Amy Klobuchar touted yesterday's elections as a sign of President Trump's weakened influence. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Klobuchar told press crowded in the secretary of state's office, "This is a country of democracy. And the president is not King, and our citizens last night, made their voices no loud and clear."  

Speaking to the concerns of centrist Granite Staters, Klobuchar declared, "We lost in 2016 – our party – to in the middle of the country, in a big, big way. We lost, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Iowa and Indiana. So my plan is to build a blue wall around the heartland, and make Donald Trump pay for it."

Asked to weigh in on Joe Biden's accusation that Elizabeth Warren has an "elitist view of policy," Klobuchar said, "You know, I wouldn't use that word." Restating her debate stage argument, Klobuchar said that no candidate "has monopoly on good ideas." Klobuchar added of Warren, "She's put some ideas out there. I think mine are better for a bunch of reasons. And that's just how I would argue it. I would say that if you're going to make changes for people with healthcare, you actually have to be able to get it done."

ELIZABETH WARREN

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley on Wednesday endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president, breaking from the other three members of the so-call "squad" of first-term congresswomen of color, all of whom endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in recent weeks. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says that Pressley, the first black congresswoman to be elected from Warren's home state of Massachusetts and as a rising star in the Democratic Party, is a valuable endorsement for Warren. But the endorsement is certain to fuel speculation that Pressley is eyeing Warren's senate seat, should the senior senator give it up for the Oval Office come January 2021. 

STATE-BY-STATE

CALIFORNIA

Rusty Hicks, the chair of the California Democratic Party, condemned Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren late Tuesday for electing to "publicly snub California's Democrats" in electing to skip the party's presidential forum later this month in Long Beach. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin notes the candidates will still be out west that weekend, however, as they are both slated to speak that Sunday in Las Vegas at an event hosted by Nevada Democrats. 

NEVADA

At least eight total candidates, including the four top-polling presidential hopefuls in the state – Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren – have followed Julián Castro in denouncing a City of Las Vegas proposal as effectively "criminalizing the homeless." CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says several dozen turned out to a morning rally opposing the measure in front of city hall, including staff and supporters from a number of the presidential bids. The Sanders campaign on Tuesday said they emailed supporters about the rally, urging them to "stand in solidarity with the homeless community of Las Vegas."

IN THE POLLS

HAWKEYE BREAKDOWN

A new Quinnipiac University Poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucus goers finds a four way race at the top 89 days out from the Iowa Caucuses. CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster say Senator Elizabeth Warren leads the pack with 20%, followed closely by Mayor Pete Buttigieg (19%), Senator Bernie Sanders (17%) and former Vice President Joe Biden (15%). Senator Amy Klobuchar followed them at 5%, and Senator Kamala Harris, who is betting big on Iowa, was at 4%. 

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang were all at 3%. All of the other candidates polled at 1% or less. The poll of 698 likely Democratic caucus goers was taken from October 30 to November 5 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 points. 

The poll found that 46% of likely caucus-goers have made up their mind, while 52% said they may change their preference. Among the top 4 polling candidates, 61% of Sanders supporters said they made up their mind, which topped Biden (48%), Warren (44%) and Buttigieg (40%). Thirty-four percent of respondents said healthcare is their top issue when deciding who they will support, higher than any other issue. Among those who say healthcare is the top issue, 26% support Sanders, 22% support Warren, while Biden and Buttigieg were tied at 15%.   

UP FOR DEBATE

CENTER STAGE

The New Quinnipiac Poll of Iowa Democrats gives Tulsi Gabbard the necessary polling to appear in the November Democratic presidential debate, notes CBS News Political Unit AP Sarah Ewall-Wice. Gabbard is the 10th candidate to qualify. Presidential hopefuls needed to meet 3% polling in four national or state polls or 5% polling in two state polls as well as receive contributions from 165,000 unique donors to qualify. She will be joining Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang on the debate stage. Candidates have until November 13th to meet both qualifications. The DNC previously announced the debate hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post will take place November 20th in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the poll also qualified Amy Klobuchar for the December debate, making her the 6th candidate to meet both thresholds. She will join Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who have previously qualified for the 6th debate. Candidates have until December 12th to meet the requirements to participate. That debate will take place on December 19th.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

HE'S BACK

CBS News Political Correspondent Ed O'Keefe has learned former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is poised to launch a comeback bid for his old Alabama U.S. Senate seat on Thursday, according to multiple Republicans familiar with Sessions's plans. Sessions stepped down from his Senate seat at the start of the Trump administration to lead the Justice Department, a resignation that led to a tumultuous special election that resulted in Republicans losing the seat. 

If Sessions prevails in a crowded primary, he would face his successor, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, who is his party's most vulnerable incumbent given the overwhelmingly Republican nature of the Cotton State. Tomorrow, November 7, also marks an important date in the life of Jeff Sessions: It is the date, exactly one year ago, that he was forced out of his job as attorney general by President Trump.

GOVERNOR'S MANSION 

KENTUCKY GUBERNATORIAL RACE With all precincts reported in Kentucky's gubernatorial race, Democrat Andy Beshear had over 5,000 more votes than incumbent-Republican Governor Matt Bevin. But while Beshear declared victory Tuesday night, Bevin said he wasn't conceding and today requested a re-canvass to double check how votes were tallied, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro.  

At a press conference in Frankfurt, Bevin said that the re-canvass would occur at 9 a.m. next Thursday and that potential ballot irregularities were a reason for his request. "We know there have been thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted. That is known and this again, is something that is being looked into. We know there are reports of people have been turned away, incorrectly turned away from various booths around the state. Again, things that need to be corroborated and looked into," Bevin said. 

He also criticized Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is overseeing the re-canvassing process, due to her father being previously convicted for illegally funneling contributions to her 2014 Senate campaign against Senator Mitch McConnell. "This is a family and an office that has already been very corrupt, so for her to try to jump the gun on this and interject herself into this, a little suspect as well." 

Grimes told WKYT in Lexington that she's seen more than 20 re-canvasses, none of which led to a change in outcome.

As it stands now, Beshear is governor-elect and will be inaugurated on December 10th. In a press conference today, Beshear said he was done with the race and looked forward to transitioning into office. His campaign said Wednesday they hope "Bevin honors the results of the re-canvass, which will show he received fewer votes than Andy Beshear." 

The governor-elect added Wednesday, "This isn't about politics anymore. That ended last night. This is about me being the best governor I can be for the people of Kentucky." Awaiting Beshear is a newly-elected Republican cabinet, including Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is the first African American to hold that title in the state. 

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