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Corrine Brown Defense Blames Chief of Staff
Former aide who accepted plea deal is focus as ex-lawmaker’s corruption trial begins

Former Rep. Corrine Brown and her attorney James Wesley Smith III, center, leave court in Jacksonville, Fla., after a pretrial hearing on April 5. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via AP)

Former Rep. Corrine Brown’s corruption trial opened on Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida, with Brown’s defense placing the blame on her former chief of staff. 

The Florida Democrat is charged with 22 counts in a 24-count indictment that includes using her reputation to solicit donations to a charity that she and her former chief of staff used as a slush fund, according to First Coast News.

The Important Connection Between Governors and Congress
A first look at the gubernatorial race ratings for 2017-18

South Dakota Rep. Krisit Noem is a candidate for governor in 2018 and leaves behind a safe Republican seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In Washington, it’s easy to ignore governors as distant rulers over far away lands. But now is a good time to start paying attention to what’s happening in state races.

Voters in 38 states (including nine of the 10 most populated) will elect a governor over the next two years, and the results have a direct connection to Capitol Hill. The large number of races give aspiring (or weary) members an opportunity to leave the House, and consequently, leave behind potentially vulnerable open seats. And governors in 28 of those states will have a role (specifically veto power) in the next round of redistricting, which will impact what party controls the House in the next decade. 

Opinion: The Obama Effect — Pros and Cons for Republicans and Democrats
Former president could unite a party in distress

Former President Barack Obama’s influence could unite a Democratic Party that showed togetherness after President Donald Trump’s win but is already breaking apart on issues such as abortion rights, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Barack Obama, the charismatic former president, can cause a scene just by walking into a coffee shop, as the rapturous crowds in usually blase New York City demonstrated at one of his cameos. So as he gently re-entered the public and policy eye this week, it’s no surprise that he could throw both Democrats and Republicans off balance — though of course for very different reasons.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave President Donald Trump possibly his most important first-100-day achievement by spearheading the maneuver to transform Obama’s Supreme Court pick to replace Antonin Scalia into the conservative Neil Gorsuch, whose first significant vote allowed an Arkansas execution to proceed. McConnell’s obstruction and subsequent “nuclear option” may have played a part in breaking the democratic process, but isn’t that a small price to pay for a win —  at least I’m sure the president feels that way.

Rising Stars 2017: Advocates
On the front lines in a new era

Seven advocates made the CQ Roll Call’s list of Rising Stars of 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

All this week, CQ Roll Call has been looking at 17 Rising Stars of 2017 — people who will now wield power and influence in a Washington that has been turned upside down by the presidency of Donald Trump.

Some of the names are familiar, others have recently burst on the scene. They include members of Congress, congressional and administration staffers, and advocates.

D.C. Home Rule Advocates to Continue Fight After Chaffetz Retirement Announcement
Others on Oversight Committee may be targeted next

Golf balls with Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s face imprinted on them were a party favor at the Americans for Self-Rule PAC launch party this week. (Courtesy Lynette Craig)

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s announcement that he will retire from Congress at the end of 2018 has made some folks in Washington, D.C., very happy.

Advocates for District of Columbia sovereignty see Chaffetz, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as one of their biggest tormentors. The Republican lawmaker especially riled local groups to action by attempting to exercise the committee’s authority to overturn D.C. laws under the Home Rule Act, long a sore spot for District residents.

Opinion: How Jon Ossoff Became the Face of the Anti-Trump Fight
Liberal blog Daily Kos led the way in resistance to president

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff’s rise to national prominence happened largely thanks to the efforts of the liberal blog Daily Kos, Patricia Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the days after Donald Trump was inaugurated in January, liberals in America were depressed, despondent, and asking themselves what to do next. David Nir, the political director of the liberal blog Daily Kos, had an answer and that answer was Jon Ossoff.

Nir and the Daily Kos team had been crunching the numbers from Trump’s election since the day after it happened. Which districts did Trump underperform in? Where were the opportunities for Democrats? They quickly noticed that in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which Mitt Romney won by 23 points in 2012, Trump had won by just a point and a half. Could Rep. Tom Price be vulnerable the next time around?

Poll: Border Wall Fight Should Not Prompt Government Shutdown
Majority say it’s more important to keep the government running

A view of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana, Mexico, in January. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images file photo)

A new Economist Group/YouGov poll found that a majority of Americans think it’s most important for Congress to avoid a government shutdown, even if it means leaving behind a proposal to start construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The opt-in, online poll found that 19 percent of those surveyed want Congress to come up with the $3 billion requested by President Donald Trump for a border wall, even if it prompts a government shutdown. But 60 percent think it’s more important to keep the government running past an April 28 deadline when a continuing resolution runs out. Another 22 percent are unsure.

Governor Moves Special Election for Alabama Senate Seat
Jeff Sessions vacated seat in February to become attorney general

Alabama Sen. Luther Strange was appointed to the Senate in February by Gov. Robert Bentley. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sen. Luther Strange will be running for election one year sooner than expected, after Alabama’s new governor moved the special election for his seat from November 2018 to December 2017.

Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement Tuesday that she moved the date up to comply with state law on special elections. Strange’s GOP predecessor, Jeff Sessions, vacated the seat in February after he was confirmed as attorney general. Then-Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange to the seat.

All Eyes on Turnout in Georgia Special Election
Jon Ossoff thinks outright victory on Tuesday is ‘within reach’

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff speaks to campaign volunteers Monday before they head out to canvass the 6th District, one day before the special election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ROSWELL, Ga. — Morning rain showers with scattered afternoon thunderstorms. That’s the forecast for Election Day in the House district that’s set for one of the most closely watched special elections ever. 

In the final hours of the race to fill Georgia’s 6th District seat, only one thing mattered to the leading candidates: turnout. 

A Republican Favorite, NASA Escapes Trump’s Budget Ax
‘A lot of the NASA facilities are in Republican states and districts’

Space Shuttle Discovery takes its last flight on the back of a 747 over Washington on April 17, 2012. (Douglas Graham/Roll Call file photo)

This story first appeared on CQ.com on April 17, 2017.

Space exploration was left relatively unscathed when President Donald Trump released his first budget request in March — especially when compared with other science and technology programs.