The US mid-term elections in two and a half weeks’ time will help define the rest of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Americans will vote for members of both chambers of Congress, as well as for governors in 36 out of 50 states.
Between now and then, we’ll bring you updates and all the best analysis every weekday in this round-up.
Today’s round-up includes the fall-out from a mistake by an under-fire candidate and the return of the veteran-politician.
It’s an unusual debate when one of the participants opens it with an apology for a pretty serious mistake they had just made.
That’s what happened in Bismarck, North Dakota, on Thursday night. The state saw the first debate between the two contenders for the Senate seat – Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp and Republican challenger Kevin Cramer.
It’s not been a good few weeks for Heitkamp – she’s slipping badly in the polls, and a Supreme Court decision could affect how many votes she can muster.
And then, it emerged her campaign had used the names of the survivors of sex crimes in a newspaper ad, some of whom had not given their permission to be named.
Heitkamp began the debate with another apology, adding: “I don’t know if I could ever expect these women would accept my apology nor am I asking them to accept my apology but I am praying for guidance and forgiveness as we go forward.”
- Your simple guide to the mid-terms
The fate of the Senate could hinge on what happens to Heitkamp on 6 November.
Republicans are increasingly hopeful of flipping North Dakota – which would mean Democrats would need to flip at least three of the nine Republican-held Senate seats in contention this year is they want to claim the Senate.
One big number
There’s a long tradition of military veterans going on to run for Congress, but that has tailed off in recent years.
Agence France-Presse reports that in the early 1970s, close to 70% of all members of Congress were veterans (from World War Two and Korean and Vietnam wars). That number stands at about 20% today.
But now, with large numbers of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans running for office, that figure could be set to increase significantly.
“Rescue forces tend to run to where the fire is, and I think that right now the fire is in DC,” MJ Hegar, a Purple Heart recipient running for the House in Texas, told AFP.
While female vets running for the Democrats have claimed many of the headlines, there are a number of Republican veteran candidates who signed up to the military after 9/11, like Steve Watkins, who is running for a House seat in Kansas.
Over the course of the past week, we’ve been explaining what’s at stake in the mid-terms this year.
So as we head into the weekend, here’s a little reminder if you want to catch up over the next few days:
- Why healthcare is such a divisive issue this year
- Models and cage fighters: Surprising mid-terms candidates
- The reasons why young people may vote this time
And of course, let’s not forget our game explaining all the possible results – and their consequences. Have a good weekend, everyone.