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Before Swiping at Trump, Nikki Haley Took His Cash

Haley criticized Trump but had previously received cash from him. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley made headlines for her not-so-subtle swipes at Donald Trump in her Republican response to the State of the Union. But in the past, Haley was a recipient of the billionaire's cash.  

In her response, Haley said, "some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true." Haley added often the best thing "is turn down the volume."  

Before Donald Trump, There Was Maine's Paul LePage

LePage, shown here in 2013, is again garnering national media attention. (John Ewing/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

It's not unusual for Maine Gov. Paul LePage's comments to make national news.  

The two-term Maine Republican has a penchant for speaking off the cuff in a similar tell-it-like-it-is manner as the presidential candidate whom he's endorsed, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  

Gubernatorial Races to Watch in 2016

Democrats in North Carolina are hoping McCrory has overplayed his hand. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

Despite Democrats' surprising victory last week in Louisiana — where state Rep. John Bel Edwards beat Republican Sen. David Vitter in the runoff –  they hold only 18 gubernatorial seats, compared to the 31 held by Republican governors.  

Next year, Democrats will defend eight seats, including ones in targeted U.S. Senate battle grounds such as Missouri and New Hampshire, while Republicans will defend four.  Missouri: With incumbent Democrat Jay Nixon on his way out,  Republicans believe one of their top pickup opportunities is in Missouri, where the chief executive's office has been held by Democrats for all but four of the past 22 years.  

Vitter's Future on the Line as Louisiana Votes for Governor

Vitter speaks to reporters after Monday's debate in Baton Rouge. (Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

As Louisiana voted Saturday in the runoff election for governor, Sen. David Vitter flooded the three-parish New Orleans metro area with robocalls striking a contrite tone: “I humbly ask for your vote.”  

To Republican strategist James Farwell, who lives in New Orleans and has a long record of working with Newt Gingrich, Vitter’s self-defending TV ads with his family in the campaign's final days are a sign of how well Democrat John Bel Edwards' campaign executed its strategy.  

Vitter's Governor Race Raises Concerns Over His Senate Seat in 2016

A narrative that had once defined Vitter as the inevitable leader in the Louisiana governor's race has flipped, raising concerns about his Senate seat. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's gubernatorial campaign won't entertain questions about his future should he lose the Nov. 21 runoff.  

But plenty of other Republicans are already looking past then to whether Vitter would run for re-election to the Senate in 2016 and the implications of what that means for keeping control of the Senate in their party's hands. One national Republican operative told CQ Roll Call that if Vitter does lose the governor's race, “he’s going to have to have a long look in the mirror and come to the realization that he probably can’t win reelection [to the Senate]. This is a problem for Republicans if he does digs his heels in.”  

Did Bevin 'Trump' Conway in Kentucky? Not Quite

With his wife Glenna Bevin, center, and Lieutenant Governor-elect Jenean Hampton, right, looking on, Kentucky Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin, speaks to his supporters at the Republican Party victory celebration, Tuesday,  in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Update: 5:17 p.m. | If you ask Democrats in Washington, the blame for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's stunning loss Tuesday night to Republican Matt Bevin falls on the unpopularity of political insiders during a year in which outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading Republican presidential primary polls.  

“Unfortunately, he ran into the unexpected headwinds of Trump-mania, losing to an outsider candidate in the Year of the Outsider," said Elisabeth Pearson, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, a group which spent around $5 million in Conway's favor, in a statement after the election.  

Election Day 2015: Republicans Win Big

Bevin speaks to supporters Tuesday night as his wife Glenna, center, and Lt. Gov.-elect Jenean Hampton listen (Photo By Timothy D. Easley/AP)

In a major blow to Democrats who have struggled to hold their ground in a once reliable part of the country, Republican businessman Matt Bevin beat Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in their race for the state’s governor’s mansion.  

The Kentucky race was among a number of races across the country in an off-year election that political observers use as a bellwether for a full slate of elections, including the one for the White House, in 2016.  

What to Watch for on Election Day

Bevin, left, who ran an unsuccessful GOP Senate primary in Kentucky in 2014, is trailing in the Bluegrass State gubernatorial contest. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Voters in a handful of states across the country head to the polls Tuesday for a slate of elections that political handicappers use as an off-year election bellwether of what might happen in 2016.  

And while no federal offices are on the table, results from these states will have implications for House and Senate contests in 2016.  

David Vitter Trails Democrat in Louisiana Governor's Runoff

Vitter, R-La., heads to the Senate floor for a vote. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In the first poll released since two candidates emerged from Louisiana’s jungle primary for governor, state House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, holds a serious lead over Republican Sen. David Vitter.  

The survey , made public by the Democratic Governors Association and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research — an Alabama-based firm that has done polling for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and now Hillary Rodham Clinton’s — found Edwards with a 12-point lead, 52 percent to 40 percent, with less than four weeks until the Nov. 21 runoff.  Vitter inched his way into the runoff on Oct. 24 over two other Republicans with 23 percent of the vote. He finished four points ahead of Scott Angelle, a member of the state’s Public Service Commission, and eight points ahead of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. Edwards received about 40 percent of the vote.  

Louisiana Democrats Hope to Harness 'Anti-Vitter' Republicans

Vitter made it to the state's gubernatorial runoff. Now, the hard part has begun for the state's Democrats. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Though he received enough support to advance to a runoff next month, more than 850,000 of the 1.1 million people who voted last weekend in Louisiana pulled the lever for someone other than Republican Sen. David Vitter.  

Ahead of the Nov. 21 vote — where the veteran politician who has weathered big storms before will face Louisiana House Democratic Leader John Bel Edwards – Vitter's goal is clear: Convincing most of the 381,000 voters who supported his Republican opponents  that he is a good second choice.  "It's too many of the Baton Rouge politicians that have failed us," Vitter told supporters on election night , his opening play against his sole rival. His campaign is already trying to tie Edwards directly to President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in the state.