The Capitol building stands behind caution tape at a construction site in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Impossible No Longer - Democrats Eye Senate

(Bloomberg) --

Since the shell-shocked morning after Election Day 2016, Democrats have set their sights on securing a U.S. House majority. But winning the Senate has seemed solidly out of reach.

No more.

With just weeks left before the Nov. 6 midterms, the once-scant possibility that the party could overcome an electoral map that heavily favors Republicans and capture control of the Senate is looking less daunting.

Democratic candidates are mounting stronger-than-expected challenges to Republican-held seats in Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada, while vulnerable party candidates in Indiana and West Virginia are gaining ground, Laura Litvan and Steven T. Dennis write.

Republicans still have key advantages, but they’re shrinking. Chief among them is that Democrats have 26 seats on the line, compared to nine for Republicans – one of the most politically skewed Senate-election maps in history. Ten of the Democratic-held seats are in states Donald Trump won two years ago.

The outcome is crucial. The party holding the Senate will not only wield power over Trump’s agenda. It will decide the fate of his appointees, including possibly one or more Supreme Court picks who the president hopes will cement a conservative super-majority for decades to come.

Impossible No Longer - Democrats Eye Senate

Global Headlines

Just in: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chose a sensitive time for his latest broadside against the country’s central bank, assailing it on rates and inflation targets two hours before it met to set borrowing costs. His repeated interventions have triggered concerns over the bank’s independence and pummeled the lira. 

Coup plotting | The next three weeks look crucial both for Prime Minister Theresa May’s tenuous hold on power and Britain’s exit from the European Union. While momentum for compromise in London and Brussels is building, pro-Brexit Tories are losing patience with May’s strategy – and there are signs of a coup plot taking shape. A backlash against May’s speech at her party’s annual conference on Oct. 3 could trigger a confidence vote in her leadership and throw the Conservatives – and the prospects for Brexit – into disarray.

Enough is enough | The EU has sent a clear signal to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that it won’t stand by as he neutralizes the checks on his power, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told Esteban Duarte and Alan Crawford in an interview in Madrid. Borrell welcomed the two-thirds majority against Orban in the European Parliament, even if he accepted the Hungarian leader is unlikely to back down.

‘Department of Swagger’ | U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is applying his trademark impatience to staffing a department hobbled by vacancies and shattered morale. It’s part of a rebranding effort aimed at appealing to Trump, Nick Wadhams writes. Instead of overseeing a corps of cautious and cerebral diplomats, Pompeo boasts on social media that he’s leading the “Department of Swagger.”

With hindsight | Over a year since more than 1 million Muslim Rohingya began fleeing what the United Nations called “gross human rights violations” committed by Myanmar’s military and aided by the civilian government’s lack of action, the nation’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has acknowledged the “situation could have been handled better.” She also defended the seven-year prison terms handed down to two Reuters journalists, saying the case “had nothing to do with freedom of expression.”

Lula’s heir | Brazil’s imprisoned former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva finally endorsed his running mate Fernando Haddad as his party’s presidential candidate this week after the leftist icon was barred from standing in October’s elections. Recent opinion polls that show the 55-year-old academic and former minister under Lula now statistically tied as runner-up helped fuel a selloff in Brazilian markets on concern Haddad would push public banks to offer cheap credit and use capital controls to stabilize the currency.

Plagiarism scandal | Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is in trouble after reports he copied significant sections of his PhD thesis. Sanchez has denied the allegations, but two senior officials have already quit this year over similar cases and his opponents smell blood.

What to Watch

  • With a diminished Hurricane Florence still threatening North Carolina, Ari Natter takes a closer look at whether state officials are regretting weakening building-code requirements.
  • The Kremlin-funded RT TV channel said it will broadcast an interview today with the two Russians the U.K. accuses of carrying out a nerve-agent attack on a former spy, a day after President Vladimir Putin urged them to come forward.
  • Top Chinese and U.S. officials could soon be back at the trade negotiating table after an overture from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • Actress-turned-politician Cynthia Nixon trails incumbent New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in polls ahead of today’s Democratic primary.

And finally ... Kofi Annan, the soft-spoken first United Nations secretary-general from sub-Saharan Africa, is being buried today. A co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, news of his death in Switzerland at the age of 80 sparked an outpouring of grief in his home country of Ghana. While anti-war groups cheered his opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Annan drew sharp criticism for his handling of UN peacekeeping operations during the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the killing of Muslims from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica the following year. “He was the conscience of the world,” said Kwame Pianim, a former Ghanaian finance minister and close friend.

Impossible No Longer - Democrats Eye Senate

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