Southern State Votes Flash Warnings for Trump

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Donald Trump urged voters to send “radical Democrats” a message via Kentucky’s gubernatorial election. The verdict they delivered will only embolden the president’s opponents.

Kentucky’s staunchly Republican governor is poised for a loss in a state Trump won by 30 percentage points in 2016. With the race too close to call, he’s refused to concede, even as the Democrat declared victory.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring southern state of Virginia, Democrats gained full control of the state government for the first time in 26 years after seizing both houses of the Legislature from Republicans.

While the losses were largely attributable to local forces, Trump’s gambit to frame the off-year races as a referendum on the impeachment inquiry may have just backfired.

It couldn’t come at a worse time, with Democratic investigators unearthing ever-more damaging information for the White House.

More than 700 pages of transcripts released yesterday of testimony from two of the president’s top envoys undermine assertions by Trump and his allies that there was no quid pro quo in the administration’s interactions with Ukraine, the issue at the heart of the House impeachment inquiry.

With less than a year to go before he asks voters to grant him a second term, the president’s situation has never been more precarious.

Global Headlines

Just in: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says in a Bloomberg Television interview that the government “has no option” other than to restructure Eskom, the embattled power utility that’s draining state coffers, and that it’s having “good productive talks” with labor unions over jobs.False start | Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally launches his U.K. election campaign today, an opportunity to fight back after gaffes by his Conservative Party. A ministerial apology for insensitive comments about a London tower block fire, a parting shot from the former chancellor and allegations of doctoring a video attacking the main opposition Labour Party added to the sense of a campaign adrift. And that was just yesterday. The Conservatives remain ahead in polls.

Bending at last? | Berlin may be easing its opposition to a core aspect of the so-called banking union seen as key to strengthening the euro. Germany’s Finance Ministry signaled it may be open to a form of joint European deposit insurance, under certain conditions. Hurdles remain, but it might just be a step toward Germany giving more help to weaker euro states. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz will surely elaborate at a Bloomberg Future of Finance event in Frankfurt today. 

Tactical retreat | India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking to turn his trade setback into a win. Like the U.S. president, who said he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to protect American workers, Modi’s selling his refusal to join RCEP as a victory for the country’s poor. India can still join the regional pact, with Japan keen to keep the world’s largest democracy in the fold to act as a counterweight to China.

Fueling fear | Pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Junius Ho, known for anti-protester comments, was attacked and injured on the campaign trail, heightening concerns that violence could lead to the postponement of district elections later this month. Delaying the vote — or scrapping it altogether — would be a major blow to already-limited democracy in the former British colony, whose leader is effectively handpicked by Beijing.

Ticking clock | In a less crowded Democratic presidential field, Cory Booker’s skills at connecting with voters might be paying off. But every lane he tries to run in is blocked by another candidate. Wunderkind Rhodes Scholar turned mayor? That’s Pete Buttigieg. Favorite of the crucial African-American voting bloc? Joe Biden has most of that locked down. Time — and money — is running out.

Biden unleashed a blistering attack on rival Elizabeth Warren, accusing her of “elitism” toward Democratic voters for suggesting that his health care proposal would make him more at home in a Republican primary.

What to Watch

French President Emmanuel Macron is attending a state banquet hosted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping late today after the two countries vowed to uphold multilateralism and free trade and build an open global economy.

Mexico’s Congress approved a bill yesterday that would allow voters to recall President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador after three years in office.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government and southern separatists struck a peace deal in Saudi Arabia yesterday, formally ending a rift that had threatened their joint efforts to counter Iran-backed rebels in control of the capital.

Tell us how we’re doing or what we’re missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

And finally … Of all the communist regimes that were toppled in 1989, Romania’s was the most oppressive and its demise the bloodiest. The execution on Christmas Day of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena was captured on camera for the world to see, one of the abiding images of that year of overwhelmingly peaceful revolutions. Rodney Jefferson and Andra Timu use first-hand accounts to show how the shadows of those days still darken Romania 30 years later.

 

–With assistance from Ruth Pollard and Karen Leigh.

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net, Karl Maier

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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