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Biden orders deep assessment of Russian hacking, even renewing nuclear treaty

Virginia Democrat Senator Mark Warner, who will become chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Mr Biden is ordering a new general intelligence assessment on Russia and, in particular, a better understanding of the SolarWinds hack.

“SolarWinds is one of the most sophisticated and deepest hacks we’ve come across, and the President needs the best information he can get to not only lead the penetration correction, but also to understand how to fix it. ‘prevent it in the future and what actions might deter Russia from moving forward,’ Warner said.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Mr Biden needed “the best assessment our intelligence agencies can produce” on the hack, on the interference Russian in the elections and on the bonuses they offered on American troops.

“If we hope to be successful in thwarting future threats to our national security from Russia,” Schiff said, “we must examine Putin’s malicious conduct with objectivity and with our eyes wide open.

The White House’s new order to the intelligence community shouldn’t require a massive overhaul of the analysis produced by the CIA and other agencies over the past four years, according to some people familiar with the matter.

Under the Trump administration, the bar was relatively high for sending intelligence reports on Russia to the White House, given the hostility and skepticism with which Mr. Trump viewed them. The new order is a clear message that the Biden administration wants the intelligence community to share with the White House a wide selection of its information about Moscow.

Thursday, shortly after taking the oath by Vice President Kamala HarrisMs Haines attended the daily intelligence briefing for Mr Biden, an official said. In a statement, Ms. Haines pledged to “never hesitate to speak the truth to power and to provide information based on facts, not politics.”

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Diana DeGette: Charging Officer Has Deep Home Experience

WASHINGTON – When President Nancy Pelosi was looking for someone to chair the historic debate over President Trump’s impeachment at the end of 2019, she chose a veteran Democrat who had impressed her with a tough and skillful parliamentary hand: The Representative Diana DeGette from Colorado.

“Sitting here in the president’s chair, all I can think of is how serious this debate is for the future of our republic,” she wrote on Twitter at the time. “It is truly an honor that I have been asked to chair the House for this important moment in our country’s history.

Now Ms Pelosi has turned to Ms DeGette again, this time as impeachment official to pursue the case against Mr Trump in the Senate. In choosing the Colorado congresswoman, she chose someone with extensive experience in the House and in the president’s chair.

Ms DeGette, first elected in 1996, spent 14 years as the Democrats’ chief whip – the executive responsible for counting the votes, known as the whip in congressional parlance. She often holds the hammer in the House, spinning in and out of the chair as members of Parliament usually do.

On Capitol Hill, she has carved a place for herself in health policy and as a champion of reproductive rights – a legislative portfolio that dates back to her days as a state legislator in the 1990s, when she drafted the so-called “bubble bill” creating an eight-foot privacy bubble around anyone within 100 feet of a Colorado healthcare facility, including abortion clinics. The bill has survived a Supreme Court challenge.

She is also the author of the 21st Century Cures Act, a 2016 measure intended to accelerate the development of medical products and bring new innovations and advancements to patients who need them faster and more effectively. It was one of the last bills signed by President Barack Obama.

When Democrats regained a majority in the House in 2018, Ms DeGette announced her intention to run for top whip, which would have made her the No.3 Democrat in the House. But she ultimately withdrew from the race, citing “internal pressure” from Democrats to line up behind Ms Pelosi’s existing leadership triumvirate; Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, Majority Leader; and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the current whip.

On Tuesday, she said she was “honored” to help with this second impeachment effort.

“Trump has shown that he represents a real danger for this country”, she said written on twitter. “I look forward to doing my part to remove him from office immediately.”

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How archaeologists are using deep learning to dig deeper

Finding the tomb of an ancient king full of golden artifacts, weapons, and elaborate clothing seems to be every archaeologist’s fantasy. But looking for them, Gino Caspari can tell you, is incredibly tedious.

Dr. Caspari, a research archaeologist at the Swiss National Science Foundation, studies the ancient Scythians, a nomadic culture whose warriors on horseback terrorized the plains of Asia 3,000 years ago. The tombs of Scythian royalty contained much of the fabulous wealth that they had plundered from their neighbors. From the time the bodies were interred, these graves were popular targets for thieves; Dr Caspari estimates that over 90 percent of them have been destroyed.

He suspects that thousands of graves are spread across the Eurasian steppes, which span millions of square kilometers. He had spent hours mapping the graves using Google Earth images of territories in what is now Russia, Mongolia, and western China’s Xinjiang Province. “It’s basically a dumb task,” Dr Caspari said. “And that’s not what a well-trained academic should do.”

In fact, a neighbor of Dr. Caspari at International House in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood had a solution. Neighbor, Pablo Crespo, then a graduate student in economics at New York City University who worked with artificial intelligence to estimate commodity price volatility, told Dr Caspari what he needed was a neural network convolutional to find its satellite. images for him. The two bonded over a common academic philosophy, to make their work openly available for the benefit of the wider scientific community, and a love of heavy metal music. Over the beers of the International House bar, they began a collaboration that put them at the forefront of a new type of archaeological analysis.

A convolutional neural network, or CNN, is a type of artificial intelligence designed to analyze information that can be processed in the form of a grid; it is particularly well suited to the analysis of photographs and other images. The network sees an image as a grid of pixels. The CNN that Dr. Crespo designed begins by assigning each pixel a rating according to its degree of red, then another for green and for blue. After evaluating each pixel based on a variety of additional parameters, the array begins to analyze small groups of pixels, and then successively larger ones, looking for matches or near-matches with the data it has been. trained to spot.

Working in their spare time, the two researchers broadcast 1,212 satellite images over the network for months, instructing it to search for circular stone graves and ignore other circular and mess-like objects such as piles of debris. building and irrigation ponds.

At first, they worked with images that spanned around 2,000 square miles. They used three-quarters of the imagery to train the network to understand what a Scythian tomb looks like, correcting the system when a known tomb was missing or highlighted one that did not exist. They used the rest of the images to test the system. The network correctly identified known graves 98% of the time.

Creating the network was straightforward, said Dr Crespo. He wrote it in less than a month using the Python programming language and at no cost, not including the price of the beers. Dr Caspari hopes their creation will give archaeologists a way to find new graves and identify important sites so they can be protected from looters.

Other convolutional neural networks are starting to automate a variety of repetitive tasks that are typically imposed on graduate students. And they open new windows to the past. Some of the jobs these networks inherit include classifying pottery shards, locating wrecks in sonar images, and searching for human bones that are for sale, illegally, on the Internet.

“Netflix uses this kind of technique to show you recommendations,” said Dr. Crespo, now a senior data researcher for Etsy. “Why shouldn’t we use it for something like saving human history?”

Gabriele Gattiglia and Francesca Anichini, both archaeologists from the University of Pisa in Italy, excavate sites from the time of the Roman Empire, which involves analyzing thousands of broken pieces of pottery. In Roman culture, almost all types of containers, including kitchen vessels and amphorae used to ship goods around the Mediterranean, were made of clay, so analysis of pottery is essential for understanding life. Roman.

The task is to compare shards of pottery to pictures in printed catalogs. Dr Gattiglia and Dr Anichini estimate that only 20 percent of their time is spent excavating sites; the rest is devoted to the analysis of pottery, a job for which they are not paid. “We began to dream of a magical tool to recognize pottery on an excavation,” said Dr Gattiglia.

This dream has become the ArchAIDE project, a digital tool that will allow archaeologists to photograph a piece of pottery in the field and have it identified by convolutional neural networks. The project, which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, now involves researchers from across Europe, as well as a team of computer scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel who designed the CNNs.

The project involved scanning many paper catalogs and using them to train a neural network to recognize different types of pottery vessels. A second network has been formed to recognize the profiles of the pottery shards. So far, ArchAIDE can only identify a few specific types of pottery, but as more researchers add their collections to the database, the number of types is expected to increase.

“I dream of a catalog of all types of ceramics,” said Dr Anichini. “I don’t know if it’s possible to end in this life.”

Saving time is one of the biggest benefits of using convolutional neural networks. In marine archeology, navigation time is expensive, and divers cannot spend too much time underwater without risking serious pressure-related injuries. Chris Clark, an engineer at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., Solves both problems by using an underwater robot to perform sonar scans of the seabed, then using a convolutional neural network to search for images of wrecks and d ‘other sites. In recent years he has worked with Timmy Gambin, archaeologist at the University of Malta, to excavate the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea around the island of Malta.

Their system got off to a bad start: on one of its first trips, they dropped their robot into a wreck and had to send a diver to retrieve it. Things got better from there. In 2017, the network identified what turned out to be the wreckage of a WWII dive bomber off the coast of Malta. Dr Clark and Dr Gambin are currently working at another site that was identified by the network, but declined to discuss details until the research had been peer reviewed.

Shawn Graham, professor of digital humanities at Carleton University in Ottawa, uses a convolutional neural network called Inception 3.0, designed by Google, to search the Internet for images related to the buying and selling of human bones. The United States and many other countries have laws requiring that human bones held in museum collections be returned to their descendants. But there are also bones held by people who circumvented these laws. Dr Graham said he has even seen videos online of people digging graves to fuel this market.

“These people who are bought and sold have never consented to this,” Dr. Graham said. “It continues to violate the communities from which these ancestors were taken. As archaeologists, we should try to stop this.

He made some changes to Inception 3.0 so that it could recognize photographs of human bones. The system had already been trained to recognize objects in millions of photographs, but none of these objects were bones; he has since formed his version on more than 80,000 images of human bones. He’s now working with a group called Countering Crime Online, which uses neural networks to track down images related to the illegal ivory trade and sex trafficking.

Dr Crespo and Dr Caspari said the social sciences and humanities could benefit from integrating information technology tools into their work. Their convolutional neural network was easy to use and freely available for anyone to modify to suit their own research needs. Ultimately, they said, scientific advancements boil down to two things.

“Innovation really happens at the intersections of established fields,” said Dr. Caspari. Dr Crespo added: “Have a beer with your neighbor every now and then.”

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Hakeem Jeffries wants Democrats to take a deep breath

Mr. Jeffries ‘own theory of the affair is that the Democrats’ “For the People” message is the right one. The best way to win back traditionally Democratic voters skinned by millions by Mr. Trump and bridge the divisions within his party’s own ranks, he argued, is to focus relentlessly on table issues like healthcare costs, prescription drug pricing, defeating Covid-19, creating jobs and tackling racial inequalities.

“It is unlikely, in the absence of the intimidating chair of the presidency, that someone who has mastered the art of grievance politics can have the same grip on a significant part of the country that Donald Trump has demonstrated,” did he declare. “As we move forward, Democrats have a real chance to win back some of these working class voters by making it clear that our implemented ideas will sort out the broken American contract and improve their quality of life.

It begins, he said, by “crushing the virus” and sending “direct relief” to American workers and business owners still reeling from the pandemic-stricken economy.

“This should be our priority and this will be the first day,” he said.

Faced with the likelihood of a Republican Senate, it will not be easy. Mr Jeffries said Democrats believe there will be opportunities for them to partner with Mr Biden and Republicans in the Senate to pass laws relating to prescription drug pricing, infrastructure spending and changes in penitentiary sentences and laws.

Party leaders have vowed a “deep dive” into Tuesday’s results to better understand how they lost five seats and counted and failed in almost every pickup opportunity they believed within reach.

Mr Jeffries said he was particularly concerned about why the public opinion poll that guides campaigns at nearly every level has consistently failed to capture the depth of support not only for Mr Trump, but for other Republicans on the ballot.

“One of the things we should be looking at is, is the ballot interrupted, or is the ballot only interrupted when Donald Trump is on the ballot,” Mr. Jeffries said, noting that the polls of public opinion had much more accurately predicted the 2018 Mid-Term Results. “Because if it is the latter, then there aren’t too many adjustments to be made in the future because Trump will nowhere be an electoralist in 2022.

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Amid tears and anger, House Democrats promise ‘deep dive’ on election losses

WASHINGTON – Democrats cried, cursed and traded blame Thursday at a special party meeting to dissect this week’s disappointing election results, agreeing on little except that they needed a ” deep dive ”into how they ended up with painful losses that weakened The House majority instead of the big gains they had boldly predicted.

In a caucus meeting held by phone that was their first group conversation since election day, President Nancy Pelosi and Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who led the party’s election campaign, defended their efforts. Democrats expressed frustration at the loss of eight of their members – and a net loss of six seats, with 36 races still undecided – which had left them a tighter margin of control.

Party leaders noted that Democrats appeared on track to hold the House, thanks to the incumbents’ relentless victories in competitive districts, and that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. appeared to be heading for a victory , according to seven people on the call who requested anonymity to disclose a conversation that was meant to be private.

“We did not win all the battles, but we won the war,” said Ms Pelosi.

But on the call, which lasted three hours and gave an overview of divisions among Democrats over how to exercise their power and define their message, Ms Bustos admitted that things had gone wrong. She said she was “gutted” and “heartbroken” by the losses.

“Something has gone wrong,” Ms Bustos said, accusing the electorate of incorrectly modeling in the polls and promising “deep analysis” of the issue. “They all pointed to a political environment, but the voters who turned out looked a lot like 2016.”

“We have protected the only firewall of our democracy,” she added. “Now, hopefully and probably with Joe Biden to take over the White House, we are now in a position to put our priorities into action because we have held onto this fragile majority.”

It was a bitter pill for Democrats who had been overwhelmed days earlier on their chances. On polling day, Ms Pelosi and Ms Bustos sang about their chances of success. Ms Pelosi cited predictions that the party could win five, 10 or even 20 seats and expressed concern that “fewer than a handful of incumbents”. The two women, however, declined to come up with their own precise predictions.

But on Thursday, one of the incumbents they hadn’t worried about, Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who was defeated Tuesday night as President Trump won a resounding victory in his Miami neighborhood, broke down in tears as the that she was talking to him soon. – former colleagues on internal divisions of the party.

“We have a divided America,” Mucarsel-Powell said on the call. “Keep fighting for the kids or whatever you believe in, but if you have a problem pick up the phone – don’t tweet it.”

Representative Abigail Spanberger, who narrowly escaped defeat on Wednesday in a conservative-leaning neighborhood in Virginia that Democrats also believed to be safe, berated her progressive colleagues for embracing the ‘defund the police’ movement and for failing to push back with force the accusations of socialism. If Democrats did not recognize the election results as a “failure” and strategies for change, she said, using an expletive to emphasize, they would be “crushed” in the next election.

Ms. Pelosi objected to this.

“I don’t agree, Abigail, that this is a failure,” she said. “We won the house.”

Ms Bustos, who was only narrowly re-elected herself, highlighted the success of the so-called frontlines, around 40 mostly freshman Democrats, including Ms Spanberger, who have traditionally held seats in districts preservatives. While some lost this week, most were set for victory.

“These were seats that were in Trump country, and we were able to keep 30 seats that are Trump districts, and that’s no small feat,” she said.

Ms Bustos also defended the Democrats’ offensive push deeper into Republican territory, a move that yielded few revivals and some members said incumbents left incumbents insufficiently protected.

The losses for the Democrats included freshmen in swing districts – like Reps Joe Cunningham from South Carolina, Xochitl Torres Small from New Mexico, Kendra Horn from Oklahoma and Abby Finkenauer from Iowa – but also a veteran, Representative Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, who heads the Agriculture Committee and has served in the House for three decades.

One of the biggest surprises of the election occurred in South Florida, where Mr. Trump made significant inroads among Cuban Americans. Along with Ms. Mucarsel-Powell, Representative Donna E. Shalala, another first-term Democrat representing the Miami area, lost.

Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-tier Democrat, said the party needed to overcome racial animosity in the electorate and had to shy away from certain far-left policies that alienated key segments of voters if Democrats wanted to win a pair of Senate seats currently at stake in Georgia.

“These two seats give us the opportunity to change the dynamics in the Senate, but we are going to have to win these seats to do so,” he said. He cautioned against running for “Medicare for all or defeating the police or socialized medicine,” adding that if Democrats pursue such policies, “we’re not going to win.”

Texas Rep. Marc Veasey warned colleagues against anti-break-in speech, saying voters in South Texas did not want to say, “They hear, ‘Cut jobs.”

But some progressives have urged not to shy away from liberal policies they say galvanized the party’s main supporters.

Representative Pramila Jayapal from Washington, a leader of the Progressive Caucus, said that “the participation of our progressive base” would be the crucial factor in the election of Mr. Biden.

“It’s a huge victory,” Ms. Jayapal said. “We didn’t get the repudiation from Trump that we wanted, but we trained a lot of young people, brown and black. Don’t be so quick to blame the members who have been tasked with energizing these groups, who will ultimately save the day in the race for the White House.

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Pushing deep into the GOP turf, Democrats set to expand House majority

VERONA, NY – Pushing further into Republican territory a week before Election Day, Democrats are set to expand their House majority while Republicans, overwhelmed by President Trump’s weak position in election fields crucial battles, scramble to make up for the losses.

Armed with a huge cash advantage, a series of critical Republican recruiting failures and a wave of liberal enthusiasm, Democrats strengthened their grip on hard-fought seats in 2018, which saw them take control of the House. They trained their firepower and huge campaign coffers on once-strong Republican foundations in affluent suburban neighborhoods, where many voters became disillusioned with Mr. Trump.

That left the Republicans, who started the cycle hoping to take over the House by reclaiming a number of competitive districts they lost to Democrats in 2018, striving to achieve a darker goal: to limit the reach for another Democratic sweep, largely winning rural, white areas. working-class neighborhoods like this one in central New York where Mr. Trump is still popular. Depending on the success of those efforts, Republican strategists, citing a national environment that has turned against them, privately plan to lose between a handful of seats and up to 20.

This is totally at odds with Mr. Trump’s own prediction just days ago that Republicans would take back control of the House, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi said was “illusory,” echoing the private assessments of many members. from the president’s party.

“The Democrats’ green wave in 2018 has turned into a green tsunami in 2020, which, combined with the ongoing struggles with suburban college voters, is creating an extremely difficult environment,” said Corry Bliss, a Republican strategist who helped lead the party’s failed 2018 effort to protect its majority in the House, referring to the torrent of Democratic campaign money. “There are about a dozen 50-50 races across the country, and the most important factor in each is whether the president can close hard down the home stretch.

The field for House Republicans was not supposed to be that dark. But Mr. Trump’s stumbling response to the pandemic and the incendiary policy of politics has alienated critical segments of the electorate, particularly suburban voters and women, dragging Republicans into Congress and paving the way for them. Democrats in districts that would once have been unfathomable.

“I don’t think too many people would have thought that at the start of this cycle, but we are playing deep in Trump country,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, the chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm. , noting that “a third of a billion dollars” and solid recruits had given “a good secret sauce”.

Seeking new opportunities in neighborhoods that were traditionally conservative strongholds, Democrats stormed into the country’s suburbs. In the Midwest, they target Reps Don Bacon from Nebraska, Ann Wagner from Missouri, and Rodney Davis from Illinois. They are also storming once ruby ​​red areas of Texas, positioning themselves within striking distance to take up to five seats on the outskirts of Houston and Dallas.

Nowhere is the dynamic perhaps more marked than outside of Indianapolis, in a seahorse-shaped neighborhood run by Rep. Susan W. Brooks, Republican from Indiana, who is retiring. The district, one of the wealthiest and most educated in the state, has been reliably conservative, sending Republicans to the House since the early 1990s and backing Mr. Trump in 2016 by eight points.

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But this year, Democrats see the district as one of their best opportunities to change seats, betting that disgust for Mr. Trump will bolster support for their candidate, Christina Hale, a former member of the General Assembly of the United Nations. ‘Indiana who boasts of working to pass legislation with Vice President Mike Pence when he was state governor.

“People here are so tired of all the drama and the constant cycle of news,” Ms. Hale said in an interview. “They’re just looking for practical, knowledgeable, and empathetic people to represent them in Washington and people who will collaborate across the aisle.”

Two years ago, armed with similar marks and messages, Democrats won 31 districts where Mr. Trump had prevailed in 2016. Most of them are expected to re-elect, capitalizing on their huge fundraisers and weak challengers republicans.

If Republicans have any reason for optimism, it’s in largely rural areas like New York’s 22nd District, populated mostly by white voters who still strongly support the president. They are optimistic about their chances in this race, where Claudia Tenney seeks to reclaim her seat from Representative Anthony Brindisi, the Democrat who ousted her in 2018 after winning by less than 4,500 votes.

While Ms Tenney described herself in an interview as independent, her campaign is betting that Mr Trump’s presence on the ballot this year could help him overtake Mr Brindisi on polling day. Across the neighborhood, along roads that wind through farmland and nestled among elaborate Halloween displays, the garden signs paid for by Tenney’s campaign ring out, in all caps, “Trump Tenney” – a clear indication of the way their fortunes are intertwined. (Mr. Trump Tuesday also tweeted in support of Mrs. Tenney.)

“I just can’t believe he won’t win this double-digit district, and I think his policies have worked really well for our region,” Ms. Tenney said of Mr. Trump. “They would rather have a president and a leader who will stand up for them rather than hang on to personality issues.”

But Mr Brindisi, who has sought to create a platform rooted in health care, labor and local constituency legislation, argued Ms Tenney lost in 2018 because she failed to keep her promises to the district.

“People don’t want to go back. They want to keep moving forward, ”Mr. Brindisi said. “At the end of the day, if I run into people on the street in this neighborhood, they’re going to say, ‘Anthony, I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, just do it right. “”

Elsewhere in the country, some challengers the Republicans had promoted as strong recruits, like Nancy Mace, the first female Citadel graduate to run against Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, found themselves held up by a dismal national environment. and unable to keep up their attacks on centrist lawmakers.

“When you try to paint someone who is clearly a moderate like a super extreme, I just don’t think it works,” said AJ Lenar, an advertising designer and Democratic strategist who works with Mr. Cunningham and who is mocks attempts to label him as a socialist.

Making matters worse for Republicans is the state of their fundraising. Democrats in the most competitive races have a 5-to-1 advantage over their Republican opponents, and Democratic candidates overall were on the verge of spending nearly twice as much on Labor Day TV commercials by Labor Day. ballot, according to strategists follow purchases. In New York City, Democrats overtake Republicans by $ 9 million on television to support Representative Max Rose, who has a seat on Staten Island that Republicans see as one of their best opportunities.

Some Republican candidates, including Ms Tenney, were so easily raised that outside groups, like the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican House super PAC, were forced to step in to carry out the fundamentals of the campaign. like advertising and phone calls. as exit voting programs. Ms Tenney is one of a group of Republican candidates in this cycle who have aired almost no ads themselves, leaving the super PAC to run their entire TV campaign.

The Democrats’ giant monetary advantage also means they can afford to play in longer races in Alaska and Montana, forcing Republicans to sink millions into those loose seats in an effort to build a firewall against a potential wave.

Even though his party seemed to be playing more defense than offense, Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, argued in an interview that Republicans can still take back the House. Democrats in districts like New York’s 22nd, which Mr Brindisi ousted two years ago, appear to be on more solid footing than they actually are, he said, due to polls nationals who underestimate conservatives – a claim few of his peers share.

But he admitted that his prediction assumed Mr. Trump was as popular with voters in those districts as he was four years ago.

“It really depends on how well the president is performing at or near 2016 levels,” Emmer said. “Otherwise, it becomes much more difficult.”

This is also the challenge for Victoria Spartz, the state Republican Senator running against Ms Hale in suburban Indiana, where internal polls show support for Mr Trump’s erosion. She used her story of emigrating from Soviet Ukraine to emphasize her strong belief in limited government.

But Ms Spartz faces the same headwinds that are rocking her party in districts across the country. After triumphing in a crowded primary by flaunting her conservative credentials, she must now convince voters of her independence from Mr. Trump and the Republicans.

“I wish people would pay more attention and vote for the candidate,” she said in an interview, “not for the party”.

Emily Cochrane reported from Verona, NY, and Catie Edmondson from Washington. Luke Broadwater contributed reporting from Washington.