Thursday, September 14, 2017

It Takes A District edition

What happened?
Sure, we all know that's the title of Hillary Clinton’s new book about the election. But it’s also what Republicans are saying this week after Democrats flipped two more solidly red seats on Tuesday night.
Those two wins bring the seat flip score this cycle to Democrats 6, Republicans 0.
Wins feel good, and pickups feel better, but Democratic success since Trump’s election actually cuts a quite a bit deeper.
Analysis of these special elections reveals that Democrats are consistently outperforming the presidential elections results from both 2016 and 2012.
  • Democrats have beaten Hillary Clinton’s numbers in 28 of the 35 contested special elections this cycle, and
  • Democrats improved on Obama’s 2012 numbers in 25 of them.
Compared to Clinton’s numbers, Democrats are performing an average of 13 percent better, and they’re even performing 9 percent better than Obama. 
Don’t call it a comeback… okay maybe call it a comeback.
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?
  • Ten of the special elections held so far this cycle have been in districts where the presidential margin shifted 10 or more points toward the Republican presidential candidate from 2012 to 2016.
    • 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.

Read the rest of this week's Statehouse Action here, or sign up to have it delivered to your inbox each week here

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Budget Riders on the Storm edition

The weather sucks and everything is terrible.
If it’s not a record-shattering hurricane, it’s raging wildfires or a swarm of earthquakesright on top of our continent’s very own supervolcano.
Who’ll Stop The Rain? Republican majorities in the Wisconsin legislature are truly desperate to woo a massive new Foxconn plant to the state.
  • 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.
Rock You Like A Hurricane: Last week, the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature approved some truly awful new state legislative maps to comply with a court order striking down the previous, illegally racially gerrymandered ones. (The new maps are extreme partisan gerrymanders, arguably creating just 15 competitive districts out of 170 total House and Senate seats in the state.) They convened a special session to do so, and when they adjourned, they plotted to return in October. 
  • In North Carolina, special sessions must be called for a specific purpose. Often the purpose is set forth in the adjournment resolution of the current session.
In the most recent adjournment resolution, North Carolina Republicans basically allowed themselves to consider any issue they dang well please. But some of the more interesting items on their October agenda include:
  • 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 back in February when 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.
Read the rest of this week's Statehouse Action here, or sign up to have it delivered to your inbox each week here

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Hurrican't Even edition

The disaster in Texas is on all our minds right now—and hopefully will be for some time, frankly. The crisis won’t be over when the floodwaters recede. Folks will be working to rebuild their homes and lives for many months, even years, to come. 
(Looking to help out? Check out this list of great charities! Anything you can give makes a difference.)
But statehouse action pauses for no crisis, so here’s a look at what’s happening around the country that’s not hurricane-related but is still plenty, um, dark and stormy.
Fear and loathing in the Commonwealth: Fear’s a bad look on any candidate, and Ed Gillespie is wearing it especially poorly.
Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial nominee couldn’t help but have been spooked by his own flaccid primary performance against crazypants Confederate apologist Corey Stewart—not to mention his own party’s overall abysmal turnout, especially relative to Democratic primary numbers (about 350,000 vs. 540,000 voters, respectively).
  • Heck, in winning the GOP nomination, Gillespie earned almost 80,000 fewer votes than the guy who lost the Democratic primary.
Gillespie had significant ground to make up post-primary, but he really hasn’t made any headway since June 13.
When the going gets tough, Gillespie gets … scared and desperate, apparently. 
Read the rest of this week's Statehouse Action here, or sign up to have it delivered to your inbox each week here

Monday, August 28, 2017

New Home Who Dis edition

So, it's been a while.

But actually it hasn't.

You see, I've been writing This Week in Statehouse Action consistently for the past couple of months (gasp, I know, regular updates, how novel).

But my posts have a new home now. I'm publishing This Week in Statehouse Action under a new aegis: Daily Kos. (Fancy!)

I'll try to cross-post parts of them here, but the easiest way to make sure you don't miss any of the statehouse hotness is to sign up here to have them delivered hot and fresh to your inbox each Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, here are the ones you might have missed if you just visited this page every couple of weeks and stared forlornly at the same outdated post.

This Week in Statehouse Action: Losersayswhat edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Racist is as racist does edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: How I learned to stop legislating and love the bomb edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Lawmaker, lawmaker, make me a match edition

This Week In Statehouse Action: Bills' and Laws' Excellent Adventures edition

This Week In Statehouse Action: Enter The Commonwealth (34 Districts) edition

This Week In Statehouse Action: I can see Russia from my statehouse edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Beach Weak edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Legisocalypse Now edition

Monday, May 15, 2017

Oye Comey Va edition

lol jk no Comey news here. Until he decides to run for a state legislative seat somewhere. Which he won't. So here's some other news. And puns. And a personal update.
Evil Ways: Despite the best efforts of North Carolina Republicans, SCOTUS just delivered a pretty epic victory for voting rights advocates.
  • This morning, the Court rejected an appeal from the state GOP to reinstate the state's draconian 2013 voting law, which was struck down by a federal court last summer (when judges famously asserted that its voter-suppression provisions "target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision").  
  • In case you were wondering just how awful this voting law was, here's a quick trip down memory lane. In addition to establishing one of the strictest voter ID requirements in the nation, the measure
    • Cut early voting from 17 days to 10 days
    • Eliminated straight ticket party voting
    • Ended same-day registration during early voting
    • Banned paid voter registration drives
    • Prohibited localities from extending hours due to long lines
    • Ended pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds
    • Authorized expanded party-appointed “poll observers” and made it easier for observers to challenge voters
    • Increased the maximum campaign contribution in the state to $5000
    • Weakened disclosure requirements for IE committees. 
Now if state courts would just once again reject North Carolina Republicans' retread of an effort to rig state and local election boards to keep voter-suppression advocates and policies in place...
  • Oh, and because GOP lawmakers in North Carolina keep finding new ways to be awful:
    • In the wee hours of Friday morning, Senate Republicans retaliated against Democrats' repeated attempts to get their spending priorities included in the state budget by stripping education funding from Democrats' districts -- to the tune of $1 million from programs that disproportionately benefit minority and low-income students. 
  • Seriously, these people are the worst. But until SCOTUS weighs in on a ruling that mandates new districts and new elections for state lawmakers, North Carolina GOPers will continue to sit safely in their illegally racially gerrymandered districts. 

Everything's Coming Our Way: Democrats overperformed in YET ANOTHER special election last week -- in Oklahoma.  
  • …and by "overperformed," I mean came within 56 votes of winning. 
  • This district supported Trump last November 73-23. This week, the Republican in this state House race turned a 50-point margin into a 2-point win.   
    • The contest for House District 28 pitted a Democratic prosecutor and former state trooper against a Republican oil executive. The state GOP's failure to fund education and creation of a budgetary crisis were major issues in this small, mostly under-the-radar election (just over 2400 votes were cast). 

Shape Shifter: And finally, a bit of personal news: I'll be leaving DLCC in a couple of weeks for bigger adventures -- stay tuned for news on my next move! You'll always be able to reach me at my gmail address, though, and I'll remain your most persistent, insightful, punniest source for state political news on Earth (ours, anyway. On Earth-61, I'm Batman). 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Democrats went down to Georgia (and Alabama and Virginia and Connecticut and Delaware and Iowa and Pennsylvania and...)

And take it from this Fiddler, they’re looking for elections to win.


Oh hey there was a special election in Georgia last night.

No, I don’t mean the 6th congressional district. I mean the 32nd state Senate district.

Fun fact! Most of GA SD32 falls within GA06.
  • The race was crowded, with three Democrats and five Republicans in the running. And it’s a ridiculously Republican seat. Georgia GOP lawmakers gerrymandered the heck out of it.
  • But Democrat Christine Triebsch came in first, with 24% of the vote. She’ll face Republican Kay Kirkpatrick in a special election on May 16 (Georgia separates their state and federal runoffs).
But wait, there’s more!
  • A special election for Alabama House District 67 was also held last night. Democrat Prince Chestnut won that contest against an Independent opponent with 94.9% of the vote.
 So, just to recap the special election results since Trump’s election in November:
  • Of the 15 contested state legislative elections held over the past five months, Democrats have won nine of them (not counting GA SD32 here, since, while the Democrat won the most votes, it’s going to a runoff). 
  • Of the six state legislative contests Democrats lost, they outperformed Hillary’s numbers in four of them.
So if once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and three times is enemy action…
Whether we’re talking Democratic wins or Democratic overperformances, Republicans have plenty to be scared of.

And I know I talk about Virginia¸ like, all the time, but there was an election in the Commonwealth last night, too!

…for Circuit Court Clerk in Prince William County.

Why all the hubbub? Two reasons: 

1. Democrat Jacqueline Smith defeated Republican Jackson Miller fairly handily (53.9% to 46%), despite the fact that he’d outraised her 6-to-1. Prince William County, a historically Republican but increasingly swing-y DC outer suburb, is home to several key state House pickup targets for Democrats this fall.

Which brings us to point

2. Jackson Miller is currently the Virginia House of Delegates Republican Whip, 4th in the GOP hierarchy, and happens to represent a district Hillary won with 54.2% of the vote. But instead of joining several of his Republican colleagues in similar situations and retiring, he decided to hedge his bets by filing to both run for reelection to the House and for Clerk of Court.


Miller’s performance last night bodes ill for his fate in November… and for the fate of other Republicans representing Prince William County.

(This is the part where I remind you that Virginia Democrats are having their best state House recruitment year in memory – on top of the retirement of multiple Republicans in swing districts, Dems are running candidates in 83 of the House of Delegates’ 100 districts (so far – Democrats still have almost two months to file to run in the remaining seats!).

In sum,
  • Democratic performance in special elections since November has been strong, 
  • GOP victories in elections since November have been feeble, 
  • Democratic candidate recruitment has been going incredibly well, and 
  • DLCC's own grassroots fundraising is breaking records.

State legislative Democrats are leading the way for the Democratic Party's success this cycle.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Equal Pay Day Tripper

Today marks the day women finally catch up to amount of money men in the same job were paid in 2016. It’s a sad thing to still have to recognize, but facts are facts: women still aren’t earning as much as our male counterparts.

·         Or, as Florida Democratic House Leader Janet Cruz put it, “I want my whole damn dollar.” Amen.

Democrats in almost 40 states have introduced bills aiming to remedy this equal pay disparity. Republicans remain reluctant to get on board – both at the state and federal levels.

But nevermind equal pay – what about equal attention?

That’s all Minnesota Democratic House Leader Melissa Hortman asked of her colleagues on Monday when, upon noticing that a group of white male legislators were hanging out in a meeting room instead of listening to the floor speeches women lawmakers were giving against a bill intended to crack down on protests.

So Leader Hortman moved to force the absent group of “100 percent white male” state lawmakers return to the House floor to hear debate on this important bill.

“I’m a white male,” state Rep. Bob Dettmer (R) said. “I respect everybody. But I really believe the comments that were made by the minority leader were really not appropriate. Minority leader, would you apologize to the body?” 
To borrow a phrase… nevertheless, she persisted.
Representative Dettmer, I'm glad you asked me to yield. I have no intention of apologizing. I am so tired of watching Rep. Susan Allen give an amazing speech, Rep. Peggy Flanagan give an amazing speech, watching Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn give an amazing speech, Rep. Rena Moran give the most heartfelt, incredible speech I've heard on this House floor…, watching Rep. Ilhan Omar give an amazing speech... and looking around, to see, where are my colleagues? And I went in the retiring room, and I saw where a bunch of my colleagues were. And I'm really tired of watching women of color, in particular, being ignored. So, I'm not sorry." 

That thump you heard from up north on Monday afternoon was the sound of a mic dropping.

And how about those Tar Heels? [[ducks]]

In news less directly related to women, Republicans in the North Carolina legislature still just can’t get past the fact that the state’s voters replaced their GOP governor with a Democrat last fall.
First, statehouse Republicans passed a bunch of bills directly aimed at usurping Democratic Gov. McCory’s authority over election boards.
  • Previously, the NC State Board of Elections consisted of five members appointed by the governor. The law GOPers passed in December expanded the board to eight members, four of which are appointed by the governor, two “of the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates” and two of the “party with the second highest number of registered affiliates.” So, under a Democratic governor, we were at 2 D/2 R.

  • The House and Senate each got to appoint two members, one from each party. Again, 2 D/2 R. So instead of the 3-2 split the board would have had under a Democratic governor, this expanded board was split evenly, 4 D/4 R
    • But in deciding disputes and resolving issues, a simple majority of five of the eight votes of this new board won’t get you squat. According to this law, “a majority vote for action shall require six of the eight members.”
      • …which is basically a recipe for perpetual gridlock and inaction.
    • The chairmanship of the Board would have flipped parties each year. Based on current party registration numbers, a Democrat would’ve chaired the board in odd years, and a Republican would’ve held the reigns in even years.

Fun fact! With the exception of a handful of school boards and municipalities, ALL ELECTIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA ARE HELD IN EVEN YEARS.

·         Additionally, under a Democratic governor, local electoral boards should be 2 D/1 R. This law split them at 2 D/2 R.
o   This is an especially big deal in light of the outsized role local election boards played in voter suppression attempts in the 2016 election.

But on March 17, a state court ruled that the laws that undercut the Democratic governor’s authority over election boards (again, the same ones Republicans used to disenfranchise voters last fall) violated the state’s separation-of-powers provision.

But North Carolina Republicans just can’t get past their apparently terminal case of sore-loseritis.
Today, Republicans in the House Elections Committee approved a measure that does the same thing to the partisan makeup of electoral boards as the law tossed by the court a little over two weeks ago. The bill is being fast-tracked to the House floor for a full vote.  

I wonder why Republicans are so scared of Democratic-majority election boards that won’t suppress voting rights?