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Good morning. President Trump curtailed visas for foreign workers. The virus is spreading in indoor places where people are gathering. And it’s Election Day, in New York, Kentucky and elsewhere.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party has had a rough couple of election cycles.
In 2018, not a single candidate endorsed by a progressive group like Our Revolution or Justice Democrats won a swing House district. More moderate Democrats, on the other hand, flipped dozens of districts. In 2020, the more liberal presidential candidates lost the nomination to Joe Biden.
But the left flank of the party has had success in one kind of federal race — primaries in safely Democratic House districts — and there is one such high-profile election today. It has become a proxy fight between establishment Democrats and progressives. Many on the left, feeling emboldened by the coronavirus crisis and the success of Black Lives Matter, see the race as a chance to create another prominent figure along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, who both upset long-tenured House incumbents in 2018.
The incumbent this time is Eliot Engel, who is 73 and has been in Congress since 1989. The Times calls Engel “a faithful practitioner of old-school Washington politics, rising in committee ranks and bringing home perks for his diverse and overwhelmingly Democratic district.” He’s been endorsed by Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus, Planned Parenthood and multiple unions. Engel has called criticisms of his record “a farce.”
The challenger is Jamaal Bowman, 44, who grew up in public housing and became the founding principal of a Bronx middle school. “We’ve anchored our race in fighting for racial and economic justice from the very beginning,” he told my colleague Jesse McKinley. Bowman, who’s black and has spoken about being unjustly arrested, supports reducing police budgets. He has been endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Socialists of America and Move On.
Public polling in House primaries tends to be sparse and unreliable, and the available evidence suggests either candidate could win. Michelle Goldberg, a Times Opinion columnist, has called the race “a test of whether the energy on American streets translates into votes.”
The Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky — to decide who will face Mitch McConnell — features Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who ran unsuccessfully for the House last year, against Charles Booker, a progressive state representative.
Ocasio-Cortez faces her own primary challenge, from Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor backed by several Wall Street executives.
The elections held today will also be tests of how well voting can work during a pandemic. Results may not be available tonight, because many more voters are casting absentee ballots.
FOUR MORE BIG STORIES
1. Trump suspends work visas
President Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from coming to the U.S. to work, including computer programmers and landscaping workers. He argued that they would harm the job prospects of Americans during the economic downturn.
The order, which includes exemptions for seasonal farm workers and certain medical workers dealing with coronavirus research, will be in effect until at least the end of the year. Business groups fiercely oppose the move.
2. The new hot spots
As lockdowns have ended and public life resumes, the coronavirus is spreading in many of the places people congregate and especially indoors, in nightclubs, casinos, houses of worship and elsewhere, researchers say.
Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia, said that six outbreaks had been linked to churches in his state, though he had no plans to close them.
More coronavirus developments:
3. Democrats’ Arizona dreams
No Democratic presidential candidate has won Arizona since Bill Clinton did so in 1996. But Biden seems to have a real shot, leading in recent head-to-head polls. Trump plans to campaign in the state today, his third visit there in the past five months. In 2016, he beat Hillary Clinton there by three and a half percentage points.
A simple way to understand Arizona’s importance: Biden could lose Wisconsin or Michigan and still win the election if he were to win Arizona. This hypothetical map, from the political website 270ToWin, shows how. And The Times’s Jennifer Medina has just reported a story from Phoenix that explains how the Biden and Trump campaigns are thinking about Arizona.
The money race: Biden is closing his fund-raising deficit with Trump and on Tuesday plans to hold an event with former President Barack Obama.
No fourth debate: The Biden campaign has rejected the Trump campaign’s request to add a fourth presidential debate to the usual three.
4. Square puts businesses in a crunch
Thousands of small enterprises that use the payment service Square to manage their credit card transactions say the company recently began holding back 20 to 30 percent of the money they collect from customers, The Times’s Nathaniel Popper reports. Square, which is led by the Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, said the reserves were meant to protect consumers who may ask for refunds.
But small-business owners — like plumbers, legal consultants and construction firms — accused Square of shielding its own struggling bottom line. The businesses said they had to lay off employees, take out loans and miss mortgage payments as a result.
Here’s what else is happening
After a noose was found in the Talladega Superspeedway garage of Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in NASCAR’s top tier, fellow drivers pushed his car to the front of pit road in a show of solidarity before Monday’s race.
The White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said that the trade deal between the U.S. and China was “over,” briefly causing stock markets to dive before he and Trump walked back the remarks.
Protesters threw ropes over a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House and tried to pull it down, but the police stopped them.
Lives Lived: Starting out by dressing department stores and liking drugs far too much, Joel Schumacher went on to Hollywood and made it big, directing milestone movies of the 1980s and ’90s like “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Lost Boys” and “Batman & Robin.” He has died at 80.
BACK STORY: Antifa rumors go local
The Trump administration has falsely claimed that antifa — a loose collective of anti-fascist activists — was an organizing force behind the nationwide protests against police brutality. On the local level, our colleagues Davey Alba and Ben Decker report, similar false rumors have spread through online communities, leading fearful residents to contact law enforcement in dozens of cities and towns.
“These are trusted neighbors sharing relevant information among other members of the same community,” Davey told us. For that reason, the rumors are often accepted without scrutiny, and largely invisible to journalists and fact checkers.
“A few hundred likes and shares translated to police resources being dispatched, residents changing their behavior, confrontation happening and more,” Davey said.
Advice for being a critical consumer: “Be wary of rumors that are being passed around if you can’t trace it directly to a verifiable source,” Davey said, “and don’t share or pass on information unless you have verified it yourself.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, READ
Here’s a quick, adaptable weeknight dinner: spicy kebabs seasoned with fennel, cumin, garlic and chile. The marinade works well on pork, chicken, beef, lamb or a dense fish like salmon. Everything for the marinade is tossed in a blender, meaning no chopping is needed.
If you don’t have a grill, you can broil the meat on a rimmed baking sheet, flipping it halfway through cooking. Garnish with slivers of onion and herbs, and you’re all set.
Play ball? Not so fast
Major League Baseball owners announced plans for a 60-game schedule starting in July — but there are growing concerns that big-time sports will struggle to return. Athletes and team employees in baseball, football, golf, tennis and other sports have recently tested positive for the virus, as they begin gathering for practices. A spike in cases in Florida has cast doubt on the N.B.A.’s plan to finish its season in Disney World.
“The question is how many will it take before leagues shut down again, if they start up again at all,” Sopan Deb, a Times sports reporter, told me. “This is all a big risk, and no one, even epidemiologists, has any idea how this will go.”
A murder mystery with a twist
The author Ottessa Moshfegh’s books, like her 2018 best seller “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” often revolve around isolation. Her latest novel, “Death in Her Hands,” is a murder mystery that follows Vesta, a recently widowed older woman who lives in a remote cabin with her dog.
The story is told through Vesta’s unreliable voice as she investigates a crime that may or may not have happened. It is easy to dismiss Vesta as “a madwoman,” the critic Ruth Franklin writes, but to do so obscures the way her condition “mirrors that of Western elite society in the past decade or so.” Read the rest of her review here.