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On Monday, January 23, liberal Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona officially announced that he is seeking the 2024 Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat presently held by centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a former Democrat turned independent who has yet to announce whether or not she will be running.

The announcement was well-received by the Democratic Party’s liberal/progressive wing; Gallego’s campaign said it raised more than $1 million in a single day.

But some Democrats fear that if Gallego becomes the Democratic nominee and Sinema runs as an independent, that could divide the non-Republican vote in Arizona — a key swing state — and give a GOP nominee the advantage. And that isn’t the only U.S. Senate race that Democrats need to be concerned about in 2024, according to Axios reporter Josh Kraushaar.

In an article published on January 25, Kraushaar reports, “After last years midterm fail, Republicans are licking their chops at an enviable outlook for snatching the Senate majority in 24. Why it matters: The four Senate tossup races are in red (West Virginia, Ohio, Montana) or swing (Arizona) states — part of a strongly GOP-favorable 24 Senate map.”

READ MORE:Excellent: Progressives praise Ruben Gallegos Senate primary challenge to Kyrsten Sinema

Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kraushaar notes, has emphasized that in 2024, three Democratic senators will be defending seats in states that former President Donald Trump won in 2020: Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and Jon Tester in Montana.

Manchin has not said whether or not he will seek reelection, but if he doesn’t run, that seat would be an uphill climb for Democrats, according to Kraushaar. Although the party’s liberal/progressive wing has often been critical of Manchin, he is a rare example of a Democrat who, in recent years, has been capable of winning a statewide race in deep red West Virginia.

Nor has Tester made an announcement, but Brown said he’s definitely running.

Kraushaar observes, “Ohio, a one-time battleground, is fast becoming Republican turf, with the GOP scoring a clean sweep in last years midterms. But Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has an enviable brand as a labor-friendly Democrat who has won over blue-collar voters that drifted to Trump. He has already announced hes all-in for a tough campaign.”

READ MORE: He needs to go: West Virginia GOP taking action to replace Joe Manchin in 2024

Read Axios’ full story at this link.

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    Families weep for the victims of Holocaust Day terror attack in Israeli synagogue: Funeral is held for 14-year-old boy gunned down by Palestinian militant as Netanyahu launches punitive crackdown

    Funerals have been held in Israel for the victims of the Holocaust Day terror attack at a synagogue in east Jerusalem.

    Friday's shooting, outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem on the Jewish sabbath, left seven Israelis dead and three wounded before the gunman was killed by police. It was the deadliest attack on Israelis in 15 years.

    Authorities published the names of four of the victims. They included 14-year-old Asher Natan; Eli Mizrahi, 48, and his wife Natali, 45; and Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56. Funerals for some victims were scheduled Saturday night.

    Mourners lit memorial candles near the synagogue on Saturday evening, and in a sign of the charged atmosphere, a crowd assaulted an Israeli TV crew that came to the area, chanting 'leftists go home.'

    In response to the shooting, Israeli police beefed up activities throughout east Jerusalem and said they had arrested 42 people, including family members, who were connected to the shooter.

    It comes as  Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday announced a series of punitive steps against the Palestinians, including plans to beef up Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in response to a pair of shooting attacks that killed seven Israelis and wounded five others.

    Relatives and friends carry the body of 14 years-old Asher Natan, a victim of a shooting attack in east Jerusalem

    Family and friends of Eli and Natali Mizrahi, who were killed in a shooting attack in Jerusalem, mourn during their funeral 

    The announcement cast a cloud over a visit next week by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and threatened to further raise tensions following one of the bloodiest months in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in several years.

    Netanyahu's Security Cabinet, which is filled by hard-line politicians aligned with the West Bank settlement movement, approved the measures in the wake of a pair of shootings that included an attack outside an east Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night in which seven people were killed.

    Netanyahu's office said the Security Cabinet agreed to seal off the attacker's home immediately ahead of its demolition. It also plans to cancel social security benefits for the families of attackers, make it easier for Israelis to get gun licenses and step up efforts to collect illegal weapons.

    The announcement said that in response to public Palestinian celebrations over the attack, Israel would take new steps to 'strengthen the settlements' this week. It gave no further details.

    There was no immediate response from Washington. The Biden administration, which condemned the shooting, opposes settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank - lands sought by the Palestinians for a future state. The topic is likely to be high on the agenda as Blinken arrives Monday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

    Relatives and friends mourn during the funeral of 14-years-old Asher Natan

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir investigate the crime scene

    The weekend shootings followed a deadly Israeli raid in the West Bank on Thursday that killed nine Palestinians, most of them militants. In response, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into Israel, triggering a series of Israeli airstrikes in response. In all, 32 Palestinians have been killed in fighting this month.

    Early Sunday, the Israeli military said that security guards in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim had shot a Palestinian who was armed with a handgun and released a photo of what it said was the weapon. There were no further details on the incident or the alleged attacker's condition.

    It remains unclear whether the Israeli steps will be effective. The attackers in the weekend shootings, including a 13-year-old boy, both appear to have acted alone and were not part of organized militant groups.

    In addition, Netanyahu could come under pressure from members of his government, a collection of religious and ultranationalist politicians, to take even tougher action. Such steps could risk triggering more violence and potentially drag in the Hamas militant group in Gaza.

    'If it's even possible to put this violent genie back into the bottle, even for a little while, this would require the reinforcement and proper deployment of forces - and carefully managing the crisis without being guided by the widespread calls for revenge,' wrote Amos Harel, the defense affairs commentator for the Haaretz newspaper.

    Yesterday, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire elsewhere in east Jerusalem, wounding an Israeli man and his son, ages 47 and 23, paramedics said. Both were fully conscious and in moderate to serious condition in the hospital, the medics added.

    As police rushed to the scene, two passers-by with licensed weapons shot and overpowered the 13-year-old attacker, police said. Police confiscated his handgun and took the wounded teen to a hospital.

    Palestinian gunman shot dead seven people on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and another shooting attack in the city on Saturday wounded two people

    Friday's attack outside a synagogue was the deadliest in the Jerusalem area since 2008

    Blinken is expected to arrive in Israel on Monday. The Biden administration condemned Friday night's shooting and has called for calm on all sides, but given few details on how it expects to promote these goals.

    The attacks pose a pivotal test for Israel's new far-right government.

    Both Palestinian attackers behind the shootings on Friday and Saturday came from east Jerusalem.

    Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem hold permanent residency status, allowing them to work and move freely throughout Israel, but they suffer from subpar public services and are not allowed to vote in national elections.

    Residency rights can be stripped if a Palestinian is found to live outside the city for an extended period or in certain security cases.

    Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war.

    The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future independent state. Israel has annexed east Jerusalem in a step that is not internationally recognized and considers the entire city to be its undivided capital.

    Israel's new firebrand minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has presented himself as an enforcer of law and order and grabbed headlines for his promises to take even stronger action against the Palestinians.

    Speaking to reporters at a hospital where victims were being treated, Ben-Gvir said he wanted the home of the gunman in Friday's attack to be sealed off immediately as a punitive measure and lashed out at Israel's attorney general for delaying his order.

    Overhauling Israel's justice system, including the attorney general's office, has been at the top of the agenda of the new government, which says unelected judges and jurists have overwhelming powers.

    The divisive issue helped fuel weekly protests by Israelis who say the sweeping proposed changes would weaken the Supreme Court and undermine democracy.

    Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the central city of Tel Aviv Saturday evening for a new protest. Some raised banners describing Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir as 'a threat to world peace.'

    The marchers also held a moment of silence in memory of Jerusalem shooting victims.

    The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, meanwhile, upheld its decision to halt security coordination with Israel to protest the deadly raid in Jenin.

    After a meeting headed by President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority called on international community and the U.S. administration to force Israel to halt its raids in the West Bank.

    Last year, as the Israeli military intensified its arrest raids following a string of deadly Palestinian attacks within Israel, at least 150 Palestinians were killed in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem. It was the highest annual death toll for more than a decade and a half. Over 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis last year, according to Israeli figures.

    Israel says most of the dead were militants. But youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations also have been killed.

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