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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Judgment Day comes for Virginia Republicans

Democrats could flip Virginia state legislature

In Virginia, voters on Tuesday will elect all 140 seats in the state House and Senate. Republicans hold razor-thin majorities in the state's legislature, and Democrats are hoping to flip both chambers in what was once a GOP stronghold. 

One of the organizations working to elect more Democrats is the National Democratic Training Committee, which provides free training for the party's candidates, volunteers and staffers. In Virginia, the committee has trained 698 people, including 574 who signed up for online courses. 

According to the the NDTC, more people signed up for training sessions in 2019 than in 2017 and 2018 combined. Kelly Dietrich, the head of the NDTC, told CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson that "the wave in 2018, and it really was a wave, will continue this year and into 2020." The organization has 136 trainees on 132 nationwide campaigns this year, including 82 in Virginia, according to the NDTC.

The organization has also hosted training sessions in Kentucky and Mississippi, which are both holding competitive gubernatorial elections on Tuesday. The sessions were for lower-tier candidates, but Dietrich said he is excited about her party's chances in both contests because they show "there's hope and opportunity" for Democrats in even the reddest states. 

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a new endorsement Tuesday morning from former Iowa State Senator Tod Bowman. Bowman represented Clinton, Dubuque, and Jackson counties from 2011 to 2019. All three counties supported Obama twice and then switched to Trump in 2016. 

In a statement provided by the campaign, Bowman cites Biden's "experience and vision" as well as his strength in a general election matchup against President Trump as reasons he is endorsing Biden. While recent early state polls show Biden is slipping, the campaign remains focused on voter outreach, an official close to the Biden team tells CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar

Last Friday, the day of the Liberty and Justice celebration in Des Moines — a major Democratic event on the road to the caucuses — the Biden campaign says it had its best voter outreach day of the year. The campaign also says that in October, organizers knocked on more than 50,000 doors, completed more than 185,000 phone calls statewide and sent more than 40,000 texts, all of which resulted in more than 33,000 conversations with voters. 

The campaign also has an operation that specifically focuses on reaching out to Independent voters, a strategy that could prove essential in rural parts of the state where caucus-goers tend to be more moderate. 

PETE BUTTIGIEG

Following a three-day bus tour across Iowa, Mayor Pete Buttigieg unveiled a new statewide ad on Tuesday. The 60-second spot, which uses clips from his Liberty and Justice celebration speech this past weekend, will run on cable and broadcast in Iowa. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says this is Buttigieg's sixth television ad in the Hawkeye State. In just the first week of November, Buttigieg has already had 12 campaign events in Iowa, more than doubling the number of events he had in the state in October. 

JULIAN CASTRO

Julian Castro's campaign says the former Housing secretary is spending $50,000 on an ad buy in Iowa. CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry says the 30-second ad will run on television and digital platforms. "I've been bold. To address [Mr. Trump's corruption, I've been clear. To counter his lies, I've sought hope," Castro says in the ad. 

The ad in Iowa comes as Castro looks to lay off staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina by next week. That news was confirmed by Perry late Monday night. 

TULSI GABBARD

Appearing on the steps of the New Hampshire Capitol building in Concord, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard urged the United States to declassify secret documents detailing Saudi Arabia's possible complicity in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. 

CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says the Hawaii lawmaker was joined by Tim Frolich, a survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Frolich and Gabbard condemned the Department of Justice's decision to employ the "state secrets privilege," concealing elements of the FBI's ongoing investigation into the 9/11 attacks, citing reasons of national security.

"It is unconscionable to find any excuse or any reason why our own government will withhold the truth and facts from the American people," Gabbard told reporters. "It's been almost 20 years. Across that span of time we've seen different political parties in charge, who unfortunately have not upheld their mandate and commitments to the people who they are serving."

Gabbard challenged the Trump administration to halt all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia pending the declassification of related documents.

The Iraqi war veteran also visited the office of New Hampshire's secretary of state to file for the primary in person. Gabbard recommitted to "spending the next few months" courting Granite State voters from all political affiliations ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary.

KAMALA HARRIS

Senator Kamala Harris has officially filed for her candidacy in the New Hampshire primary. Perry and Sganga report that Harris did not file in person, instead sending Harris New Hampshire State Director Craig Brown filed on her behalf. 

Last week ,CBS News reported that the Harris campaign would be making major layoffs in New Hampshire. It was also reported that Harris' previously scheduled trip to New Hampshire, where she would have filed for the primary in person, was cancelled.  

The campaign has said they will be going all-in on Iowa, and an internal memo from Campaign Manager Juan Rodriguez stated that the campaign would be diverting its resources from New Hampshire, Nevada, California and the campaign's headquarters in Baltimore to the Hawkeye State. 

BERNIE SANDERS

Senator Bernie Sanders released a new digital ad on Tuesday featuring Stacey Walker, the Supervisor of Linn County, Iowa. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Walker recently endorsed Sanders and was named the first Iowa co-chair for the campaign. 

In the digital ad, which runs nearly two and a half minutes, Walker shares his personal story growing up on food stamps and living in section 8 housing. He says he had to work "twice as hard" and be "twice as good" in order to get ahead in life. "It shouldn't be that hard for folks," Walker says in the ad. Walker says that he is supporting Sanders because "he has always stood up for people who needed advocacy, who needed a voice." On Saturday, Walker will join Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a climate crisis summit in Des Moines and also speak at their rally in Coralville. 

TOM STEYER

In a swift move late Monday night, a South Carolina-based Tom Steyer aide resigned following reports of him allegedly stealing voter data from Kamala Harris' South Carolina team. After conversations with Steyer and the national and state-based teams for both Steyer and Harris' camps, CBS News campaign reporters Zak HudakTim PerryLaCrai Mitchell and Alex Tin report that Dwane Sims resigned after an internal investigation conducted by the Steyer campaign was completed. 

While there are differing accounts of the sequence of events that led to the resignation, both sides seem to agree that once Sims realized he had "inadvertently" accessed the voter file information, he contacted the South Carolina Democratic Party, which then informed the Democratic National Committee.

The chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party said in a statement that the party "recently learned of a breach by an employee of the Steyer campaign, who obtained access to some of Senator Harris' volunteer data in South Carolina. This was a former SCDP employee, who was off-boarded at the end of September, and as we learned on Friday, maintained a separate user account, which is in clear violation of the VoteBuilder protocol." 

Sims has not responded to a phone interview request made by CBS News.

On Monday, Steyer wrapped up two days of campaigning in southern Nevada, drawing large crowds to events in a state where the California billionaire has polled at or above all but four candidates: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Though a relative latecomer to the race, Tin says state director Jocelyn Sida has grown the operation to more than two dozen paid staff in the state, hired a majority-Latina leadership team, and drawn a handful of alumni from Steyer's other political ventures, For Our Future and Need to Impeach

GOVERNOR'S MANSION

MISSISSIPPI GUBERNATORIAL

Voters in Mississippi may have received a robocall recently from President Barack Obama, advocating for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jim Hood. CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe confirmed with an Obama spokeswoman that #44 did record a call, in which he touts Hood's pro-Medicaid expansion stance. "Jim Hood will expand Medicaid to cover 300,000 more people and fight to keep Mississippi's rural hospitals open — to raise teacher pay, and build an administration as diverse as Mississippi," the robocall script reads. 

The last minute deployment, paid for by "Friends of Jim Hood," comes one day before the state's gubernatorial election polls open and close. 

University of Mississippi professor John M. Bruce told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro that black voter turnout would be essential for Hood to win over Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves. More than one-third of the population in Mississippi is black and, according to the Jackson Free Press, over 96% of the black vote went to Obama in 2012 — though he lost the state overall to Republican Mitt Romney. 

Republicans were quick to use the robocall as ammo against Hood, who has kept the national Democratic party at arm's length throughout his campaign. Current Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican who can't run again due to term limits, tweeted: "At the 11th hour Jim Hood had Barack Obama endorse him for Governor of Mississippi. Now we finally know what he really believes. Vote Republican tomorrow and end this once and for all."

Kentucky also has a competitive gubernatorial race today between incumbent GOP Governor Matt Bevin and Democratic candidate and Attorney General Andy Beshear. 

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