Walker’s refusal to hold these special elections predates an epic special election upset in Wisconsin’s SD-10 in January, but Democrats had already flipped 34 state legislative seats from red to blue at that point in the cycle—a stark fact someone as politically adept as Walker was certainly aware of.
And if you’re worried about losing special elections, what better way to prevent that than not having them at all?
And if you’re wondering why Scott might be afraid to hold those specials ... well, Trump won SD-16 by a 56-42 spread—in other words, the kind of turf that's been in reach for Democrats this year. (Trump carried HD-33 by a much more comfortable 69-29 margin, but Scott can’t possibly justify holding a special for one seat and not the other.)
While we’re talking about Republicans refusing to hold special elections for fear of losing them, let’s revisit Alabama, where Republicans are upping the anti-democracy ante by basically trying to do away with ALL THE SPECIAL ELECTIONS.
First, Republicans pushed a measure that would eliminate special elections for U.S. Senate seats; a gubernatorial appointee would instead occupy the seat until the next general election.
Republicans also want to eliminate most special elections to fill vacant state legislative seats.
If a vacancy occurs after the first two years of a lawmaker’s term, aspecial election would not be calledto fill the seat. (Fun fact: state representatives and senators all serve four-year terms in Alabama.)
Instead, the governor would appoint someone to the post until the next general election.
GOP lawmakers claim that both proposals are aimed at saving money.
Funny how Alabama Republicans didn’t care about election costs until they got their butts handed to them in one of those special elections they suddenly want to do away with.
ImPeachy Keen: A month and a half or so ago, a Republican lawmaker had a totally reasonable response to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling the GOP’s severely gerrymandered congressional maps unconstitutional: IMPEACH!
And now that a new, fairer map is definitively in place for Pennsylvania’s congressional elections this fall, Republicans are moving to make good on this impeachment threat.
On Tuesday, Dush filed impeachment resolutions againstfourof thefiveDemocratic state Supreme Court justices—the same four justices who ruled against the GOP-gerrymandered map and required a replacement map to be used starting this year.
On Thursday, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court—notably, one of the members not targeted for impeachment, and a Republican, to boot—took the unusual step of issuing a statement denouncing the GOP’s move to impeach his fellow justices.
Chief Justice Thomas Saylor rightly called out the threats as retaliation for the justices’ “decision in a particular case” and as “an attack upon an independent judiciary.”
On Sunday, actors and celebrities and luminaries of all stripes will don their finest duds and traipse along a long scarlet rug before settling in to their seats at the Oscars. All that finery will then spend several hours scrunched up in theater seats as small golden statues are doled out to various “bests”—picture, actor, director, etc.
But with 40 legislatures in session this week, there’s plenty to recognize state lawmakers for in the meantime. Behold—the Staties!
Best Special: This category had three contenders this week, with special elections to replace Republicans in a deep-red KentuckyHouse seat, a Connecticut House seat that had been held by the GOP for 44 years, and a New Hampshire House seat.
Democrats won two of these races, making them the 38th and 39th red-to-blue flips of the cycle.
The Connecticut House win was impressive in that it ended decades of Republican control of House District 120, but the New Hampshire victory in House District Belknap-3 is definitely the winner in this category.
Democrat Phil Spagnuolo won this race 54-46 percent—a 19-point swingfrom Trump’s performance in this district in 2016.
Also, this was Democrats’ fifth pickup in the New Hampshire House this cycle.
Best Swan Song: Speaking of special elections, the member of the Wisconsin Assembly who lost the Senate District 10 special election to Democrat Patty Schachtner in January (in Democrats’ 34th red-to-blue flip of the cycle) has decided not to run for reelection to the seat he currently holds.
Politicians, like diapers, should be changed often, and for the same reason.
Best Picture: Okay, it’s the worst picture, actually, since Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens took it without the consent of his mistress and threatened to make the nude photo public if she failed to keep mum about their affair.
The GOP sponsor of the bill to move the RTW repeal from November to August claims that she just wants to give voters a chance to weigh in as soon as possible.
What Republicans really want to do is shrink the size of the electorate voting on this measure—a move that tends to reduce Democratic turnout and will likely result in fewer progressive voters showing up to cast ballots against this union-busting law.
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But also because 44 state legislatures are actively meeting this week.
Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, and Louisiana are so so chill right now
Cry, Cry, Cry: After every gun violence tragedy, conversation quickly and rightly turns to Congress’ shameful inaction on the issue.
But states have broad leeway to regulate (or not) firearms themselves, so it’s worth taking a peek at what’s been happening in legislatures since the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October and the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and … well.
But Republicans in New Hampshire killed a bill banning bump stocks at the beginning of the month.
(California and New York already ban bump stocks.)
Meanwhile, in Nevada itself, it’s against state law to ban bump stocks because of a measure that passed the legislature in 2015, back when Republicans controlled both chambers. (Though of course a future Democratic legislature could repeal this ban-ban.)
This week saw a veritable special election bonanza, by which I mean that state legislative specials were held on Monday (two in Minnesota) and Tuesday (one each in Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma). Four of these five elections were to fill vacant Republican seats.
On Monday, Democrats held on to state Senate district 23B in Minnesota, despite the fact that Trump won the district (by a 46-45 margin) in 2016.
Republicans held on to their House seat (Trump won House District 23B 59-33).
Both specials were to replace lawmakers forced to resign over sexual misconduct allegations, and a Democratic woman will be replacing the Senate harasser in Senate District 54.
Wouldn’t be mad if this happened every time #MeToo forces a man from office tbh
Buchanan benefitted from his the name recognition of his congressman father, Rep. Vern Buchanan.
National Republicans took interest in the race, investing in it and even sending a key Trump campaign operative—none other than Corey Lewandowski—to help get out the vote.
Rep.-elect Good, meanwhile, had Joe Biden in her corner; he endorsed herand recorded a robocall for her about a week before the election.
Republicans held on to the seats in Oklahoma and Georgia on Tuesday (although the Democrat improved on 2016 presidential performance in the Oklahoma seat by 37 points; comparable figures aren’t available for the Georgia seat because it was a four-way race).
Can’t get enough special elections? Good! Because they can’t get enough of you, either, probably.
Mississippi House District 60, which became vacant when Republican incumbent John Moore resigned in the face of multiple sexual harassment complaints. State legislative special elections in Mississippi are technically nonpartisan; four men are running to replace Moore.
So here’s an appropriately themed statehouse update for you
Love is in the air in state legislatures across the country, and by “love” I mean that 41 statehouses are currently in session, and they’re all just awash in sexy things like holding public hearings on bills and passing resolutions honoring local sports teams and voting on legislation.
But one of those four Republican open seatsgave Democrat Mike Revis the winon Tuesday with 52-48 percent, shifting 31 points from Trump’s win percentage in the district.
Want to feel the heat of more special elections? Next week features five contests on back-to-back days—two seats inMinnesota onMonday, Feb. 12, and seats inFlorida, Oklahoma,andGeorgiaonTuesday, Feb. 13.
Draw Me Two Times:PennsylvaniaRepublicans did not take late January’s state Supreme Court ruling against their gerrymandered congressional maps well.
Pennsylvania’s GOP lawmakers were, shall we say,less than thrilled. Statements decrying the order flew out of Republican legislative leaders’ offices. The state Senate President pro temporeannounced that he wouldn’t complywith the court’s order to draw a new congressional map.
Democrats have a 5-2 majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Republicans have almost zero chance of flipping the court back to a GOP majority before 2021.
In 2021, a commission of two Republicans, two Democrats, and a fifth member agreed upon by the other four create new state House and Senate maps.
If (when, let’s be real) the two Republicans and two Democrats fail to agree upon that fifth tie-breaking member, the state Supreme Court steps in to select the member. A Democratic-majority Supreme Court is likely to select a tiebreaker who will reject any map that unfairly benefits Republicans.
Additionally, legal challenges to the state House and Senate maps are normally handled by the state Supreme Court, placing another anti-GOP gerrymander trump card in Democrats’ hands.
The Democratic majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court thusly constitutes an existential threat to Republicans’ lopsided majorities in the the state legislature.
Pennsylvania Republicans finally are grumblingly complying with the court’s order to redraw the congressional maps, but they’re also not ruling out the possibility of going after the Supreme Court justices who are making them do it.
Rather, he wants the hold the specials concurrent with the general elections in November, when he seems to think Republicans have a better chance of holding on. (The state Senate is currently 18 Republicans to 14 Democrats, with one vacancy).
That means the Wisconsinites living in those districts could remain unrepresented in those chambers forthe better part of a year—if not longer.Also, Walker’sprobably violating the state constitutionby refusing to call specials to fill vacant seats in a timely manner, but whatevs.
Walker may be taking cues from Alabama GOP lawmakers, who are reacting to a Democrat winning of one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats in December’s special election by trying to get rid of Senate special elections entirely.
Living History: Lots of hand-wringing and column space has been invested in analyzing the regions of the country where the Democratic margin fell sharply from 2012 to 2016. Was this a one time thing? Is this a permanent partisan realignment? Will Democrats be able to recover? Did I leave the oven on?
Briefly, they are Connecticut HD-115, Iowa SD-45, Iowa HD-89, Iowa HD-82, New Hampshire HD Grafton-9, New Hampshire HD Belknap-9,Minnesota HD-32B, New York AD-09, Oklahoma HD-28, and Missouri SD-28.
In all 10 of these districts, the margin has shifted back towards Democrats in the special.
But in eight of them, the margin has shifted past the 2012 presidential margin.
Does this mean we can expect Democrats to win everything everywhere this cycle? Nah, that’s silly. But it does mean that Democrats not only aren’t stuck at 2016 performance levels, but they’re also often improving on Democratic presidential performance in 2012.
Too many words? Check out a neat visualization of this whole section here.
How desperate are they? Glad you asked! Not only are Republicans pushing a $3 billion incentive package to attract the Foxconn LCD screen plant, but they’re also waiving state environmental regulations and protections to speed the plant’s construction.
Oh, and they’re also changing the state’s legal system to accommodate the corporation. NBD!
Under the incentive package that’s likely to be approved by the legislature later this month, any lawsuit involving Foxconn will skip the state appeals court and go directly to the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Fun fact! No other Wisconsin business is or has ever been granted this expedited (and unquestionably pro-corporate) process.
Redrawing (read: gerrymandering) the state’s judicial districts, something Republicans first floated to understandable outrage last June. A gerrymandered judicial district map would effectively allow the legislature to stack the state’s court system with Republican judges.
Impeachment proceedings. Back in June, a GOP lawmaker launched impeachment proceedings against Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marhsall, who, by the way, has done nothing wrong.
Republican Rep. Chris Millis began laying the groundwork for impeachment charges backin Februarywhen he requested information on whether Marshall was illegally allowing non-citizens to become notaries public. (She wasn’t.) In March, Millis demanded that Marshall resign. (She didn’t.)
Then, despite the fact than none of his inquiries or investigations turned up evidence that Marshall did anything improper or illegal, Millis pushed his GOP toward impeachment proceedings anyway.