Friday, September 16, 2022

Don’t Call It A Comeback edition

(Forgive me, for I have Substacked. This newsletter's new home is here.)


I know it’s been a while.

I missed you!

But I’m back and honestly super excited to share my inaugural TWISA at COURIER Newsroom with y’all! 

  • If you’re looking for old editions of this missive for some reason, they all live here. If you’re looking for even older editions, they live here. If you’re looking for REAL old school editions … well, they live in my Sent folder, but I’ll forward them to you if you really want.

Fair warning … The news isn’t any happier than it was way back in April.

With less than two months to go, we’re officially staring down the barrel of Election Day, and it’s actually extremely factual to say that, in this post-Dobbs world, the stakes in state legislative elections all across the country have never been higher.

  • Notwithstanding Lindsey Graham’s epic own goal in unveiling a 15-week abortion ban in the U.S. Senate, reproductive freedom–and the lack thereof–is now completely under state control.

  • And the abrupt loss of the abortion rights granted by Roe v. Wade has galvanized both progressive and women voters all across the country, making the previously predicted midterm GOP romp a far dimmer prospect for Republicans at every level of the ballot.

So, time for a quick quiz. Or just a guessing game, no pressure.

How much money has the Democratic National Committee donated to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), the party committee charged with electing Democrats to state legislatures and winning Democratic majorities that will protect reproductive freedom now that Roe has been overruled?

Okay okay, enough with the guessing. 

…but if you guessed a big fat load of nothing, congratulations! 

It’s true; the DNC has donated exactly $0 to the DLCC this cycle.

  • … although that’s admittedly comparing apples to Volvos; RSLC is an umbrella org that includes 

    • Republican Legislative Campaign Committee;

    • Republican Lieutenant Governors Association

    • Republican Secretaries of State Committee;

    • Ag America (no, not AG–RAGA split off from the RSLC in 2014), which works to elect GOP agriculture officials; and 

    • the ironically named Judicial Fairness Initiative, which helps elect Republicans to state courts.

Meanwhile, while national committees and rich donors continue to give downballot elections short shrift, GOP-controlled state legislatures have wasted little time destroying reproductive freedom in states they control.

  • Republicans in South Carolina (House: 43 D/79 R; Senate: 16 D/29 R) got this close to passing a near-total abortion ban earlier this month–and likely still will, it’s a matter of working out some details–but were blocked by the threat of a filibuster.

you don’t say

And all this is after GOP lawmakers in 13 states didn’t have to lift a finger to ban abortion after Roe was struck down.

As an erudite consumer of this missive, surely I don’t have to tell you what else those 13 states have in common.

… but I will anyway

Those 13 states all have GOP-controlled legislatures.

And even with all the money in the world, that probably won’t change any time soon.

  • Now that primaries are over and ballots are being printed, we know exactly who’s running for state legislative seats this year–and what party they’re from.

  • Thus, we also know how many folks are running for these seats with no opposition from the other party.

  • This is not to cast aspersions on anyone or any committee or any group–it’s simply the reality of a world where another round of mostly GOP-controlled gerrymandering resulted in fewer competitive state legislatures.

    • In 22 state legislative chambers across 15 states (23 and 16 if you include Nebraska, which I don’t, because it’s ostensibly nonpartisan), we already know which party will control them, no matter what happens on Election Day, because of the number of folks running unopposed.

  • Republicans are guaranteed majority control of 19 chambers:

    • Alabama House

    • Alabama Senate

    • Arkansas House

    • Arkansas Senate

    • Idaho House

    • Idaho Senate

    • Indiana Senate

    • Kentucky Senate

    • North Dakota House

    • North Dakota Senate

    • Ohio Senate

    • Oklahoma House

    • Oklahoma Senate

    • South Dakota Senate

    • Tennessee Senate

    • Utah Senate

    • West Virginia Senate

    • Wyoming House

    • Wyoming Senate

  • Democrats are guaranteed majority control of … three.

    • California Senate

    • Massachusetts House

    • Massachusetts Senate

Without a single vote cast!

But lawmakers aren’t the only things folks in some states can vote for.

Fun fact! Twenty-five states have ballot initiative and/or veto referendum processes.


  1. Anyway, abortion is literally on the ballot in six states this year–an all-time high!

  2. That leaves five states for November:

    • In Kentucky, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment similar to Kansas’.

    • In Montana, voters will likely approve a measure that would classify a born-alive infant as "a legal person for all purposes under the laws of the state ... entitled to the protections of the laws, including the right to appropriate and reasonable medical care and treatment" and require infants that are born alive after an induced labor, a cesarean section, an attempted abortion, or another method to receive medical care.

    • In California, Michigan, and Vermont, voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in those states’ constitutions.

Stay tuned!

Okay, I’m going to leave you with a bit of good news (... sorta) you might have missed a couple weeks back–but mostly just as a reminder of how incredibly important judicial races are (you know, the ones Republicans have a whole party org committed to funding?).

  • In the back half of August, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that, because the state legislature was unconstitutionally (racially) gerrymandered, Republican lawmakers maybe didn't actually have the power to approve amendments to the state constitution and put them before voters.

    • The decision, which the court's 4-3 Democratic majority issued along party lines, (mostly)n ends a four-year battle over these amendments–and over the authority of the gerrymandered North Carolina legislature.

      • The majority’s reasoning: Lawmakers who won their seats through unconstitutional racial gerrymandering can’t turn around and submit constitutional amendments that would permanently disadvantage the same groups that were discriminated against in the racial gerrymandering process.

I mean, makes sense, yeah?

But since when has that stopped Republicans from doing whatever they want? 

  • The court stopped short of granting the plaintiffs' requests to strike down the two amendments outright, instead returning the case to the trial court, though its framing of the dispute suggests the state courts will ultimately invalidate the amendments.

But … he might not have to.

(Hence the … sorta above.)

  • Republicans have the chance to functionally reverse this ruling at the ballot box in November, when two Democratic seats on the state Supreme Court are up.

    • Democratic Justice Sam Ervin IV faces Republican attorney Trey Allen, while Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman is trying to hold onto an open Democratic seat against Republican Court of Appeals judge Richard Dietz.

    • If Republicans win either of these two seats, they’ll regain the court majority that they lost in 2016, paving the way for a reversal not only in this case but in many others—reversals that would threaten a multitude of rights protected over the past several years by that Democratic Supreme Court majority and Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto pen.

so many elections, so little time 

Welp, that’s a wrap for my newsletter comeback!

I appreciate you hanging in.

I appreciate you.

So take good care of yourself, yeah?

You’re important, and we need you.

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