GOP Rep. David Valadao concedes in California congressional race

FRESNO, Calif. — Republican Rep. David Valadao has conceded to Democrat TJ Cox in the race for Valadao’s seat in California’s 21st Congressional District.

Valadao called Cox to concede Thursday and released a statement, saying “representing the Central Valley in Congress has been the honor of a lifetime.”

Cox’s campaign confirmed Valadao’s concession in its own statement.

“I thanked Congressman Valadao and his family for their service to our country and our communities during the past six years,” Cox, of Fresno, said. “We will work together to ensure a smooth transition for our constituents.”

Valadao, of Hanford, was almost 5,000 votes ahead of Cox on election night, but late returns caught up with the three-term congressman — as they did for six of his fellow California Republicans. With the certification of elections in Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties this week, the final margin appears to be 862 votes — less than 1 percentage point — in Cox’s favor.

Cox marks the Democrats’ 40th congressional seat picked up in the 2018 election.

—The Fresno Bee


Suspect in fatal Chicago stabbings: ‘I just get up and go kill when I feel like it’

CHICAGO — A suspect in three fatal stabbings on Chicago’s West Side admitted after his arrest that “I just get up and go kill when I feel like it,” according to prosecutors.

Darius Mayze, 24, has so far been charged with killing 58-year-old Randall Rockett last month in the Lawndale neighborhood, where both men lived. Police say he’s a suspect in two other killings in the span of a week in November: Jose Refugio Ceja, 64, and Ruby Humphrey, 57.

Mayze was arrested Sunday after witnesses identified Mayze from surveillance video taken after Rockett was stabbed on Nov. 20, prosecutors said during a court hearing Wednesday.

While being held in custody, Mayze made several statements that were recorded on video, including “Kill as many people as you want to,” and “I told you I’m tired, I just get up and go kill when I feel like it.”

He was charged with first-degree murder and denied bail.

—Chicago Tribune


North Carolina voter ID bill goes to Gov. Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C. — A bill requiring North Carolina voters show photo identification before casting ballots at the polls beginning next year won final approval in the state Senate.

The voter ID bill that now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature was approved as scrutiny of possible election fraud in the 9th Congressional District intensifies. The investigation is focused on mishandling of absentee ballots.

Senate Democrats on Thursday failed to delay a vote until an election fraud investigation is complete. The Legislature’s bill deals mostly with voters showing IDs at the polls.

“We cannot claim to be addressing the real issue of voter fraud,” said Sen. Terry Van Duyn, an Asheville Democrat.

Voter ID is a long-held Republican goal. A 2013 voter ID law in North Carolina was struck down in federal court in 2016. Republicans this year put a constitutional amendment for voter ID on the ballot. It passed with about 55 percent of the vote.

Opponents have traveled to Raleigh to speak against and protest the bill. Protesters sang and carried signs in the rotunda outside the gallery soon after the 25-7 vote to approve the bill with little debate.

Cooper said last week there was no need for photo ID, and called it “wrong for our state.” He did not say whether he would veto the legislation.

An audit of 4.8 million votes cast in the 2016 election found one instance of in-person voter impersonation that could have been prevented by photo identification.

—The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)


Maria Butina, suspected Kremlin agent, gets public defender

WASHINGTON — Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist who is accused by the U.S. of acting as a Kremlin agent during the 2016 presidential race, was granted a court-appointed attorney Thursday.

A one-sentence court order entered Thursday said Butina is being represented by A.J. Kramer, a public defender it identified as an “advisory counsel.”

The reason for the appointment wasn’t immediately clear. A court can appoint an advisory counsel when the judge feels that the defendant may need to consult with an additional lawyer. The order was entered hours after a status conference on Butina’s matter, which her defense requested to have placed under seal.

Robert Driscoll, the attorney who has been representing Butina, declined to say why Kramer was assigned. “I’m not withdrawing,” he said by text message, without elaborating.

Butina entered into talks with prosecutors to secure a plea deal in mid-November, Bloomberg News reported at the time, citing a court filing.

Butina, 30, was arrested in July and held in solitary confinement. She was charged with conspiring to act as a foreign government agent and prosecutors alleged she had ties to the Russian intelligence community.

—Bloomberg News


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Copyright 2018 Tribune Content Agency.

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