Here are the main events in Politics that occurred over the past week:
1. NJ Gubernatorial Elections Heats Up In The Final Stretch
The ongoing gubernatorial race in New Jersey picked up some steam this past week as both the candidates headed into the final stretch of campaigning. The final New Jersey Gubernatorial debate was held on October 18 and witnessed both candidates taking on each other on pressing issues facing the state such as property taxes, increasing spending on public services such as education, the gas tax, and the overall legacy of Governor Chris Christie. Despite having a commanding lead in most polls, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy performed somewhat poorly in the debate, particularly by not answering the questions fielded to him head on and by repeadely dodging the question of what he would do to reduce the burden of property taxes on the states poorest residents. In contrast, Republican candidate Kim Guadagno came across as the more decisive of the two candidates, by directly answering each question posed to her and by clearly stating her position on the issues. On the other hand, the overall tone of Guadagno during the debate was quite negative and created the perception that she would be unwilling to compromise on the issues. Overall, it can be argued that the overall poor performance of both candidates will result in little change in the polls, which have Phil Murphy leading comfortably.
2. Billionaire Democratic Donor Urges Local and State Political Leaders to Support Trump Impeachment Efforts
Prominent Democratic donor and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer this week called on every governor in the United States to tell their constituents where they stand on the question impeaching President Donald Trump. In a letter to donors, Steyer asked state and local leaders to call on federal representatives to support Trump’s removal from office. Thus far, Congressmen Al Green (D-TX), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Steve Cohen (D-TN) have all came out in support of efforts to impeach President Trump. In the letter, Steyer said that Politicians at all levels of government must speak out about Trump’s lack of fitness for office, and denounced the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Additionally, Steyer also accused Trump of violating the constitution by trying to delegitimize the ongoing Russia investigation and failing to disclose his business ties to foreign governments. Even though impeachment proceeding against Trump is unlikely because Republicans control both houses of Congress, Steyer feels that efforts to impeach Trump could become a real issued provided that the Democratic Party regains control of both houses of Congress after the 2018 midterm elections.
3. Democrats Increasing Worried About The VA Gubernatorial Race
Much like the New Jersey gubernatorial race, the Virginia gubernatorial race entered into its final stretch this week and witnessed political heavyweights from both sides campaigning for their respective candidates. President Donald Trump enthusiastically endorsed Republican candidate and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie and appeared at several rallies with him in the Southwestern part of the state. On the Democratic side, former President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton campaigned with Ralph Northam and urged Virginian voters to turn out in high enough numbers to regain control of the state legislature and allow for unified Democratic control over the state for the first time in nearly a decade. Despite the strong campaigning on both sides and the initial optimism regarding Democratic chances for the race, it appears that Ed Gillespie has a slight edge going into election day despite the fact that Virginia is a solidly Democratic state at the Presidential level. Some of the factors benefiting Gillespie include the typically lower Democratic turnout in off-year elections, the popularity of President Trump amongst rural voters in Southwestern Virginia, and voter dissatisfaction with the Virginia Democratic Party over their failure to come up with a cohesive message to counter the Trumpist shift of the Republican Party.
4. Saudi Arabian Government Pledges To Clamp Down On Extremist Interpretations Of Islam
In part of an attempt to reform its image as a state sponsorer of terrorism, the government of Saudi Arabia announced on October 18 that it will begin policing and reexamining the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad to make sure followers of Islam do not use twisted and radical interpretations of Islamic traditions to foment violence and terrorism. While lacking specifics on how this policy would be implemented, the Saudi Arabian Culture and Information Ministry said that it would strive to “eliminate fake and extremist texts and any texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders, and terrorist acts.” These teaching come as a surprise to many observers, who note the fact that the government of Saudi Arabia is the worlds leading sponsorer of terrorism and that it uses the ideology of Wahhabism to promote a puritanical and fundamentalist version of Islam that is entirely opposite to the message originally promoted by the Prophet Muhammad. It argued that this change in policy was pushed for in part by the US and Israeli governments, who want to portray Saudi Arabia as a moderate and progressive country in their efforts to sway Arab allies in support of increased sanctions and outright military intervention against Iran, which is Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival.