Brett Neely

As the federal government's partial shutdown enters its second day, there are few discernible signs that lawmakers are on track to speedily resolve their standoff.

For 20-odd hours, Virginia Democrats were giddy with the news that a recount had delivered Shelly Simonds a seat in the House of Delegates with a victory margin of a single vote. The Democratic win would mean a 50-50 party split in the House of Delegates, ending 17 years of Republican control and forcing a rare power-sharing agreement.

In odd-numbered years, Election Day consists of a hodgepodge of state, local and special elections.

But in an era when, to flip an old phrase, all politics is national, these low-profile, low-turnout elections might have a lot more to say about the direction of the country than may have been the case just a few years ago.

Two governors races and one president in the background

When West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice stood next to President Trump during a campaign rally in Huntington, W.Va., on Thursday to announce that he was switching parties and becoming a Republican, it was a historic moment for the GOP.

Kid Rock, the singer whose career has spanned rap, hard rock and country music, is fueling the speculation that he intends to announce a bid for the U.S. Senate next year to challenge incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. That is unless it's all a publicity stunt.

A day after shocking the political and foreign policy establishments on both sides of the aisle with a call for Russia to hack into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's email, Republican nominee Donald Trump now says he was being "sarcastic."

Less than 24 hours earlier, Trump said he would welcome Russian hackers releasing any emails they could "find" from the private email server Clinton used while serving as secretary of state.

Less than 12 hours after he was booed for not endorsing GOP nominee Donald Trump during his late-night speech before the Republican National Convention, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz wasn't backing down.

At an emotional event with the Texas RNC delegation Thursday morning, Cruz defended his decision to withhold his endorsement at a time when Republicans are trying to rally around their nominee ahead of the general election.

After repeatedly denying that elements of a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama were used in Melania Trump's address on the first night of the Republican National Convention, an employee of the Trump Organization took responsibility for the flap on Wednesday.

In a statement issued by the Trump campaign, staff writer Meredith McIver accepted responsibility for the addition of Michelle Obama's words in the speech.

This election year may well go down as the conspiracy-theory election, thanks to Donald Trump's ceaseless efforts to inject unsubstantiated plots into the American political debate.

A day after de facto Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said "there's nothing to learn" from making his tax returns public before this November's elections, the billionaire is taking heat from the party's 2012 nominee over that stance.

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