November 29, 2020

Biden vs. Trump 2020 Live Updates: Trump Talks Up Tuberville as Alabama Votes

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageJeff Sessions had lunch at a Cracker Barrel in Mobile, Ala., on Monday as he made his final pitch to voters. 
Credit…September Dawn Bottoms/The New York Times

Alabama voters are choosing between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville.

MOBILE, Ala. — Republicans in Alabama will cast their votes today in the Senate runoff election between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville, delivering the final word on a contest between a candidate who is loathed by President Trump but devoted to his agenda, and one who has been endorsed by Mr. Trump but only tepidly supports Trumpism.

For years, Mr. Sessions has battled the antipathy of the president, who detests his former attorney general for recusing himself from the investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Tuberville’s case a final time in a conference call with Alabama voters on Monday evening, arguing that the candidate “is going to do a job like you haven’t seen,” and reiterating that he had “made a mistake” by appointing Mr. Sessions as attorney general.

Tuesday will determine just how much that antipathy has come to shape the attitudes of voters toward Mr. Sessions, who for a time was perhaps the most popular politician in Alabama. Throughout the runoff campaign, polls have shown him trailing Mr. Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach, by as many as 20 percentage points.

The winner will face off against Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, who is widely seen as facing an uphill battle to hold onto his seat.

Mr. Sessions and his wife, Mary, will cast their votes Tuesday morning in their home precinct in Mobile.

As has been the case for most of the primary, Mr. Tuberville has no public events scheduled during the day, though his campaign is hosting a party Tuesday evening at the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery.

Most polling locations will close at 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

In Maine, Democrats are vying to challenge Susan Collins.

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Three Maine Democrats are competing in a Senate primary race that has drawn intense national focus because the winner will challenge Senator Susan Collins, who has become a reviled figure among national Democrats.

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Updated 2020-07-14T11:28:36.609Z

Sara Gideon, the speaker of the State House of Representatives, is viewed as the front-runner against two progressives, Betsy Sweet, a lobbyist, and Bre Kidman, a lawyer.

Ms. Gideon has already raised $23 million, a record sum for a Maine race, thanks to donors nationally who see her as crucial to a Democratic takeover of the Senate. Ms. Gideon has staked out positions on health care and the environment in line with Joseph R. Biden Jr. Her two challengers, who champion more sweeping policies like “Medicare for all,” have struggled to raise money.

Recent polls have shown Ms. Gideon with a narrow lead over Ms. Collins. Although the senator is a moderate in her party who has long enjoyed bipartisan support in representing Maine in the Senate since 1997, her reluctance to forcefully push back against Mr. Trump has sent her approval ratings plummeting at home. Her vote to confirm Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court further angered liberals.

Key runoff elections are taking place in Texas.

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Back in December, the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm waded into the Texas primary, endorsing M.J. Hegar over a field of candidates. Now Ms. Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot who narrowly lost a 2018 bid for the House, faces a runoff against Royce West, a state legislator vying to become the first Black senator from Texas.

The winner will face Senator John Cornyn, a three-term incumbent who is the second-ranking Senate Republican and will be a heavy favorite in the general election. But Democrats are becoming more optimistic about Texas by the week, with Mr. Biden’s campaign announcing Tuesday that it is buying television airtime in the state. Still, Ms. Hegar or Mr. West would need a major increase in fund-raising to become competitive in November.

In Texas House races, Democratic voters will choose a candidate in the primary runoff in the state’s 24th Congressional District, which covers suburbs between Dallas and Fort Worth. It’s a longtime Republican stronghold that Democrats think they can flip in November.

The candidates are Kim Olson, 62, a white Air Force veteran, and Candace Valenzuela, 36, an Afro-Latina former school board member.

Ms. Olson has advertised her 25 years of military experience and how she was part of the first generation of female fighter pilots. Ms. Valenzuela has emphasized her difficult childhood — her family was poor, and she was homeless for a time — and her personal connections to the community. If elected she would be the first Afro-Latina member of Congress.

Ms. Olson was initially seen as the heavy favorite, and she finished more than 10 percentage points ahead of Ms. Valenzuela in the first round of voting in March. But Ms. Valenzuela has racked up prominent endorsements, including from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

The winner will face the Republican nominee, Beth Van Duyne, for a House seat currently held by Kenny Marchant, a retiring Republican.

Another congressional runoff will unfold for Republicans in the 22nd District, which is expected to be competitive in November.

The district, which is in the Houston area and currently represented by the retiring Pete Olson, is home to a bitter race between Troy Nehls, the Fort Bend County sheriff, and Kathaleen Wall, a conservative activist. Mr. Nehls was far ahead of Ms. Wall in the first round of voting in March, but did not reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Joe Biden will call for eliminating carbon emissions by 2035.

Mr. Biden will call for standards to eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035, according to multiple people familiar with plans the Democratic presidential nominee is expected to unveil on Tuesday.

In a speech in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden intends to set out a plan that significantly expands on his call last year to spend $1.7 trillion to dramatically reduce fossil fuel use across the United States economy before 2050, the people familiar with the announcement said, part of a broader energy and infrastructure plan as Mr. Biden sketches out an economic recovery blueprint.

It comes after weeks of task force meetings on climate change between Mr. Biden’s allies and supporters of his one-time rival Senator Bernie Sanders.

One major element of the announcement will include charting a path to “zero carbon pollution” from the United States electricity sector by 2035.

“That’s a huge transition in a decade and a half,” said Paul Bledsoe, a strategic adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic research organization. But, he said, setting out near-term targets like a clean electricity standard ‘is important to instill a sense of urgency.”

According to the Energy Information Association, coal and natural gas still account for more than 60 percent of the United States electricity sector.

One person who has been working with the campaign said Mr. Biden, who led the implementation of the 2009 Recovery Act, is expected to make the case that a major investment in wind, solar, electric vehicle charging stations and other renewable energy deployment will help revive the economy in the wake of the coronavirus.

Mr. Biden is also expected to link environmental advocacy to issues of racial justice.

News of Mr. Biden’s plan for the clean electricity standard was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Mr. Biden has long faced skepticism over the scope of his climate ambitions from environmental activists and other progressives, but he has ramped up his efforts to engage on the subject in recent months.

“Vice President Biden will outline how his plan will create the good-paying union jobs we need to build a resilient and sustainable infrastructure now and deliver an equitable clean energy future,” his campaign announced on Monday.

Pennsylvania Democrats ask court to uphold rights to mail-in ballots.

Credit…Matt Slocum/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party on Monday asked a state appeals court to affirm new state election rules that expand the use of mail-in ballots in the November election, lining up against the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in the latest partisan clash over how voting will be conducted during the pandemic.

Democrats say the Trump administration is trying to disenfranchise Pennsylvania’s voters, especially people of color, by trying to restrict mail-in voting, which was used by about 1.8 million people in the June 2 presidential primary election.

In late June, the Trump campaign, the R.N.C. and four members of Congress from western Pennsylvania sued the secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, and county election boards in federal court, saying the state had inconsistently applied the new election laws during the primary and had violated the state and federal constitutions.

One of the laws allows most people to vote by mail without needing an excuse for why they can’t vote in person.

At a news conference on Monday, Sharif Street, a Democratic state senator, said the Trump administration and the R.N.C. were using their lawsuit to try to suppress voter turnout in Pennsylvania, a battleground state in the presidential election.

The Republicans, Mr. Street said, are aiming for changes that would allow the party to bring in poll watchers from outside a community; require that mail-in ballots not placed in “secrecy” envelopes be destroyed; and allow only one drop-off location per county for completed ballots, even in big cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where Democrats vote in large numbers.

“This is impacting communities of color disproportionately,” Mr. Street said. “For too long, people have been trying to take away our rights to vote, and we are here to make sure that the rights of Pennsylvanians to vote is not disenfranchised.”

The Trump campaign said Monday that the new laws would lead to fraud in mail-in voting. Mr. Trump has promoted baseless conspiracy theories that mail-in ballots are subject to fraud because they could be stolen from mail carriers, counterfeited or forged by his opponents inside and outside the United States.

In Massachusetts on Monday, several voters and voting rights organizations filed a lawsuit seeking to force the secretary of the commonwealth, William Galvin, to send mail-in ballot applications to voters by July 15, as required by a new state law. Mr. Galvin, a Democrat, has said he will not send the applications because he does not have the funding for it.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Lisa Friedman, Trip Gabriel, Katie Glueck, Jon Hurdle, Jeremy W. Peters and Elaina Plott.