The race to the midterms is continuing to intensify this week, as Democrats vie for control of one if not both houses of the U.S. Congress. Midterm prep took an almost dangerous turn when a suspicious white powdery substance was discovered in a piece of mail sent to the Houston office of Texas Republican Ted Cruz’s campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate.
Two people (unaffiliated with the Cruz campaign) were hospitalized as a precaution, and the building was temporarily evacuated, but the substance was deemed non-hazardous. There’s no apparent immediate word as to where it came from and whether it was meant to enact a “scare.” A Cruz campaign volunteer called the incident a “false alarm,” Reuters reports. The piece of mail, for the record, never even made it to the floor where the Cruz campaign operates; it was intercepted before that.
Although the situation in Houston petered out, authorities in Washington, D.C., faced a tougher situation when two pieces of mail containing ricin were intercepted before reaching their intended recipients — Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. There’s no immediate public word as to where those pieces of mail came from. Mattis has been in the news recently for perceived opposition to President Donald Trump, although he remains aligned with the president to the point of staying on the job — although he might not for long. There’s been talk of him leaving after the midterms and the West Wing preparing for a replacement, which would add to the ever growing list of prominent staff departures.
In the meantime, the midterms are shaping up to be heated in ways far beyond the testy mail incident that unfolded Tuesday in Houston. Cruz — who until recently might have banked on sailing to re-election this fall, since Texas is so “red” — is facing a credible primary challenge in El Paso area Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who he recently debated for the first time.
The Cook Political Report currently pegs the race as a “toss-up,” and analysts have quipped that if Democrats can topple Cruz, there’s no way they’re not taking over the U.S. Senate as a whole.
A whole new driving force has emerged as voters prepare to cast their ballots, specifically for those they wish to represent them as Senators — Brett Kavanaugh. Trump’s nominee to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has faced credible allegations of sexual assault, and there’s currently an FBI investigation underway meant to uncover more of the facts associated with the situation. By and large, Republican Senators have stuck with Kavanaugh to the point of South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham calling on Trump to re-nominate the judge if his confirmation fails in a soon expected floor vote.
Still, there are a few GOP holdouts, including Arizona’s Jeff Flake, who helped get the ball rolling for the renewed FBI investigation in the first place. As recently as Tuesday afternoon, GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine reiterated their commitment to staying neutral in the debate for now.
The debate remains one of many issues affecting the direction of the scene the suspicious mail sent to Cruz’s campaign burst onto this week.
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