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.

…sorry.

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.

Oops.

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?