- New Mexico: Albuquerque voters will go to the polls next Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the city council and to decide on whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks. New Mexico Politics with Joe Manahan reported Friday that their exclusive poll shows that 56.3% of likely city voters oppose the proposed ban, 37.4% support it, with 6.4% undecided. Pro-choice groups have had ads up on TV since late October, and supporters of the 20-week ban just went up this week. A record number of early votes have already been cast.
- Iowa: Voters in Senate District 13 will go to the polls on Tuesday to replace a Republican who resigned amid allegations of ethics rules violations. If former Rep. Mark Davitt wins, Democrats will have shored up their one-seat majority in the chamber just a bit in advance of the 2014 elections. If Republican state Rep. Julian Garrett wins, Senate Democrats will maintain their slight 26-24 edge.
Fun fact! The Iowa state Senate is arguably the biggest offensive opportunity for Republicans/biggest defensive priority for Democrats in 2014. Half of the chamber will be up for election, and these members will be running for the first time in their redrawn post-redistricting districts. If Republicans were to win a majority in the chamber, they would have a "trifecta" -- GOP control over the state House, Senate, and governor's mansion -- and a deluge of ultra-conservative legislation currently kept at bay by Sen. Mike Gronstal's Democratic majority would flood through.
Why electing Democrats to state legislatures is ridiculously important, part bajillion and three: Anti-choice activists in Michigan appear to have collected a sufficient number of signatures to get a law on the books that would require insurance companies to offer abortion coverage only through a separate rider to a customer’s policy. If at least 258,088 of the 315,477 submitted signatures are valid, the petitions move to the state Board of Canvassers and on to the legislature, which has 40 calendar days to approve or reject them. If the petitions are approved by the legislature, the measure automatically becomes law – Gov. Snyder will have no authority to review or veto it. If the legislature takes no action or rejects the petitions, the issue will go to the voters in November 2014. (The legislature is widely expected to approve the measure.)
Bottom line: Last year's holiday season legislative surprise in Michigan was a so-called "right to work" law. This year, it'll likely be a gender-discriminatory requirement for women to plan ahead and pay out-of-pocket for unforeseeable circumstances like, say, a pregnancy endangering a mother's life, or a rape resulting in pregnancy.
Fun fact, part 2! The Michigan House may be one of Democrats' best offensive opportunities on the state level in 2014. Democrats are six seats away from a majority in the 110-seat chamber. All 110 seats are up for election, and 12 Democrats and 16 Republicans are term-limited, so about a quarter of these elections will be for open seats. Oh, and there's a hot governor's race at the top of the ticket. Watch for lots of money to be spent in this fine state next year.
Also, do you like your turkey with a side of court filings? Look for the Virginia AG race recount to kick off on Nov. 26. Get excited!