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Google promises $1 billion to fight housing crisis

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Google has a $1 billion plan to put a dent in the Bay Area housing crisis. 

The company announced a sweeping new plan Tuesday to contribute $1 billion to build as many as 20,000 new homes in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next 10 years. 

The bulk of that investment will come not from Google parent Alphabet's multibillion-dollar cash reserves, but from a promise to rezone its own land in order to build residential housing. 

"Over the next 10 years, we’ll repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing," Google CEO Sundar Pichai write in a blog post. "This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families." Read more...

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The Sixth District is rated “Lean Republican” by the Cook Political Report, but it’s also a district with the kind of suburban voter who has swung against the president and his party in recent years. 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In 2018, Democrat Laura Kelly won the governor’s race to put her party back in power for the first time in a decade. This is a state where more than half of voters identify as moderate or liberal. And its population has been growing more suburban and urban, despite its prairie reputation. “We have a big chunk of stereotypical suburban voters that are transitioning to be more Democratic now,” Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, told me. “They’re not as comfortable today with the politics of the Republican Party, and a lot of them voted for Laura Kelly. Those voters carry a lot of heft.” In all likelihood, the presidential election isn’t going to be won or lost here. If Joe Biden prevails in Kansas, he’s probably on his way to a landslide. But the battle for control of the US Senate could be decided in this state. And the general election campaign could look quite different depending on which Republican triumphs in Tuesday’s primary. Kansas’s US Senate Republican primary Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, US Rep. Roger Marshall, and businessman Bob Hamilton are the leading contenders for the Republican Senate nomination, vying for the opportunity to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Roberts. Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images Sen. Pat Roberts on May 7. Kobach is a well-known commodity and has been an immigration hawk for years. As Miller puts it, he was “Trump before Trump was Trump.” He served two terms as secretary of state before running for governor in 2018. But Kobach’s inflammatory rhetoric and hardline views have sometimes put him at odds with the more moderate Kansas electorate, and he lost the governor’s race. He hasn’t been able to raise much money for the 2020 Senate race, though as Recode’s Teddy Schleifer reported, libertarian tech billionaire Peter Thiel pumped almost $1 million into the campaign to support Kobach. But he does enjoy support among Kansas’s more conservative voters, which has kept him at the front of the primary field. Marshall won his US House seat in 2018 before quickly being courted by the Republican establishment to run for Senate after the national party’s preferred choice, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declined to enter the race. He is a party-line Republican; at times, he’s sounded open to reforms like a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, but he has also vocally supported Trump’s agenda. There is no getting to Kobach’s right on that particular issue, however, and so the primary campaign has assumed a familiar mainstream-versus-conservative tenor. “He’s the kind of Republican that, if Republican leadership has negotiated a compromise spending bill with Democrats, Marshall is going to vote for it because leadership is going to vote for it,” Miller said of Marshall. “He’s not going to vote no on principle.” Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images Rep. Roger Marshall speaks to reporters on October 23, 2019. According to the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior Republicans have begged Trump to endorse Marshall over Kobach, fearing the latter would be more vulnerable in a general election after his 2018 loss. But Trump has so far not waded into the race and likely views Kobach as an ideological ally. Hamilton, who started his own plumbing business in the 1980s, is the wild card. He’s put more than $3 million of his own money into the campaign, portraying himself as the archconservative outsider. Polling on the race has been sparse, with the last survey from June showing Kobach with a 9-point lead (35-26) over Marshall and Hamilton sitting in third with 15 percent. At this point, the Kansas Senate race is likely to be somewhat competitive, in a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1932, no matter who the Republican candidate is. Barbara Bollier, a state senator expected to easily prevail in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, has raised more than $7 million so far, much more than any of her potential GOP opponents. “I think that’s really shocked people, to put that lightly,” Miller said. “I think she’s proving herself to be a better candidate than a lot of people wanted to give her credit for.” But national forecasters expect the race to be tighter if Kobach, who has already lost a statewide election in the Trump era, wins the Republican nomination. Sabato’s Crystal Ball currently rates the Kansas Senate race Likely Republican, but that would change if Kobach emerges with the nomination. “I do think a Kobach nomination endangers the Senate seat, and makes the overall GOP path to retaining a Senate majority harder,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor at the Crystal Ball, told me. “We will make the rating of Kansas more competitive if Kobach wins.” Kansas First Congressional District Republican primary Marshall is vacating his seat in Kansas’s First Congressional District so that he can run for Senate. The district, which covers most of western Kansas, has a strong Republican bent; the Cook Political Report rates it R+24, meaning it’s 24 points more Republican than the US overall. That means the winner of the GOP primary on Tuesday is all but assured to wind up in Congress next year. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the district Safe Republican. Tracey Mann, a former lieutenant governor, is considered the frontrunner, though Bill Clifford, a doctor and businessman, has spent more than $500,000 of his own money to try to make the primary competitive. “I think people would be surprised if Mann didn’t win,” Miller told me. The expected Democratic nominee after Tuesday’s primary, Kali Barnett, is “a good candidate in the wrong district” for the general election, Miller said. “If she gets 30 percent, that’s an accomplishment.” Kansas Second Congressional District primaries Oddly enough, it is the Republican incumbent in the Second District, which covers most of eastern Kansas besides the immediate Kansas City region, who is facing the most notable primary challenge. Rep. Steve Watkins is currently facing felony charges for alleged voter fraud. Prosecutors have said he used an inaccurate address to vote in a 2019 municipal election, leading him to vote in the wrong city council election. 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She has raised a healthy amount of money in the primary (more than $700,000) and could use her compelling life story — she had been homeless for a time in her native Puerto Rico before moving to Kansas, getting a college degree, and entering political life — to make the general election campaign a close one. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the race Likely Republican, but some other forecasters like the Cook Political Report place it in a more competitive category. “Her primary is just a formality,” Miller said of De La Isla. “Democrats are, I think, very interested in this district.” Kansas Third Congressional District Republican primary Rep. Sharice Davids is the Democratic incumbent. 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