Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Elections of Future Past edition

Big week in the Commonwealth. Big week in statehouse action. So... Supersized super-awesome TWISA. Grab a snack.

I'll leave genuine Cantor experts (like the inimitable Jeff Schapiro) to illuminate Tuesday's primary, except to note Cantor's time in the House of Delegates because, hey, that's my jam.

But there was another upheaval in Virginia politics this week that popped on Sunday night and gushed all over the news on Monday: state Sen. Phil Puckett's surprise resignation. More on that later, though -- there's so much fun to get to first. 
  • Go time: Looks like the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is setting up fundraising committees in Minnesota to help the DFL keep its majority in the state House (73 D/61 R), which Republicans are reportedly targeting this year in a major way. The Republican State Leadership Committee/RLCC, the DLCC's counterpart, has been pumping money into its own state committee, Minnesota's Future, since 2012.
    • Fun fact! The DLCC gave state Democrats over $700,000 in 2012, and the DFL flipped GOP majorities in both the state House and Senate. That same year, the RSLC-backed Minnesota's Future spent $1.1 million targeting 35 races; Republicans won only 11 of them.
  • Making up for lost time: On Wednesday afternoon, a federal court ordered the three days of early voting just prior to Election Day restored to Ohio voters. The order affirms a 2012 ruling invalidating a law passed in 2011 by the state's GOP-controlled legislature that ended early voting on the Friday before election day. Now if they'd just bring back the "golden week"...
  • Winter is coming: Actually, it came, like it does every year, but a ballot measure committee seeking to return Michigan's legislature to its part-time status is blaming the cold for the group's failure to collect enough signatures to make it on the November ballot. 
    • Time well spent, guys But the Michigan legislature is taking advantage of its full-time status by doing things like introducing fetal heartbeat legislation. One GOP lawmaker has introduced a package that requires doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion and, if one is detected, have the woman listen to it. If no heartbeat is detected, one bill requires the doctor to pressure the woman to have an "additional diagnostic procedure" (read: transvaginal ultrasound) or wait to obtain an abortion until a heartbeat can be detected. 
      • I see what you did there. But accompanying legislation makes performing an abortion after that heartbeat has been detected a Class F felony. Even better, there's no rape or incest exception -- just when the life of the mother is in peril. It's a catch-22 made specially for the ladies. I feel so treasured.
    • All the cool kids are doing it: Also, Nebraska could find itself on the minimum wage ballot measure bandwagon this fall. Supporters need to gather 85,000 signatures by July 3 to place a measure on the November ballot that would raise the hourly minimum wage to $9.00 by 2016.
  • Showtime! It's sure to sweep the Tonys next year. Are you ready for Crazy GOP Lawmaker: The MusicalNo, seriously. It's called Cacey Stampfield: The Musical. Inspired by a concept album (!) based on Tennessee Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield, a Nashville theater company is premiering an "original political satirical show" based on the legislator's antics. The show will touch on Campfield's greatest hits, including his "Don't Say Gay" bill and his proposal to tie kids' grades to parents' welfare payments. The writer is still working on incorporating Campfield's comparison of Obamacare to the Holocaust.
  • Tony Danza is an outstanding Italian-AmericanThus spake the New York legislature. Governing! 

Flashback to Monday. Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett resigned. Shady deals were happening, then maybe didn't happen, but probably still are going to happen after the hubbub subsides. 

Here's everything you n/ever wanted to know about the near, middling, and far-off future consequences of The Pucketting.
  • Much attention was lavished on the short-term consequences: Puckett's departure tips the divided state Senate (with an effective Dem majority, thanks to Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam) to Republican control (20 D/20 D --> 19 D/20 R). 
  • This new GOP majority is now able to pass its non-Medicaid-expanding version of Virginia's long-overdue budget, which had been held up because Gov. McAuliffe and fellow Democrats are really into expanding healthcare to some 400,000 Virginians (and using the budget is really the only way to do that).
    • Shockingly, the Republicans who dominate the House (32 D/68 R) have no intention of passing anything that expands Medicaid, because OMG OBAMACARE -- and the threat of being primaried from the right -- are way scarier than the wrath of the poors at the ballot box in 2015. They'll be too sick to make it to the polling place, anyway, right?
  • So the shiny new GOP majority in the Virginia Senate can now pass a version of the state budget that doesn't expand Medicaid, which they'll do on Thursday, and then the House Republicans will be delighted to pass that same budget, which they'll also do on Thursday, and then all those folks get to drive back to the tens of thousands of uninsured folks who totally would have benefited in their home districts
  • Oh, and that budget they'll pass? Not only does it most definitely not expand Medicaid, but it also cuts new funds for free clinics and hospitals. Raises for teachers and state employees will get axed, too.
    • You know what's not getting axed? $300 million for a new office building and parking deck for those same lawmakers who couldn't bring themselves to give 400,000 Virginians access to healthcare
      • #richforever
  • Anyway, so that nasty budget those lawmakers pass will end up on the governor's desk, and McAuliffe will find himself with a Very Hard Decision to make.
    • If he A. Vetoes it, Virginia state government will shut down for the first time ever.
    • If he B. Signs it, everything is terrible, but state government stays up and running.
      • And that's to say nothing of the epic political implications of either of those decisions.
But that's all short-term, really, except for the broad implications for Virginians generally. So let's take a peek at the future, with a quick glance at the past.
  • A 19 D/21 R state Senate will give Republicans control over both chambers of the legislature for the 2015 session with only the threat of Gov. McAuliffe's veto pen to stave off right-wing shenanigans. Transvaginal ultrasounds, anyone?
  • But then the Commonwealth's nifty odd-year elections happen, and the entire state Senate will be on the ballot.
    • Do the Democrats have any chance of reclaiming a majority in the chamber?
      • Definitely maybe.
  • Math is hard. Odd-year electorates are finicky things, so using the 2012 Obama results to predict success is, admittedly, a little problematic, but it's at least a decent indicator of where Democrats can find opportunities.
    • SD7: Senator Frank Wagner ran unopposed in 2011, but Obama won the district with 50.2% here in 2012.
    • SD10: Sen. John Watkins won with 56.6% in 2011; Obama won 51.1%.
    • SD17: Sen. Bryce Reeves eked out a win over incumbent Dem Edd Houck in 2011 with 50.3%; Obama narrowly lost the district with 49.8%.
      • Fun fact! Puckett's SD38 was the only district won by a Democrat in 2011 and by Romney in 2012. Virginia Senate Democrats shouldn't have to worry too much about defense in 2015.

For the Week of June 11, 2014 


The Western Governors' Association will hold its Annual Meeting June 9-11 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners will hold its New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners Annual Meeting June 15-17 in Stowe, Vermont. 


A primary runoff election was held June 10 to decide the races from the May 20 primaries where no candidate received a majority of votes, including the Republican primary for Attorney General. 


Governor Dan Malloy's (D) Common Core Task Force will hold its final meeting June 11 to develop recommendations on how best to implement the Common Core education standards. 

Primary elections were held June 10 for House and Senate seats. 


Early voting for the primary election is scheduled to begin June 12. 


The Legislature is scheduled to recess June 12. 


Primary elections were held June 10 for the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, as well as House and Senate seats. 


The Board of Education will hold public workshops June 11-12 to discuss possible amendments to Core Curriculum Content Standards. 


Primary elections were held June 10 for the office of the Secretary of State, as well as House and Senate seats. 


Primary elections were held June 10 for the office of the Lieutenant Governor, as well as House seats. 


The House Appropriations Committee will meet June 11 to discuss the state budget and Medicaid Expansion. No kidding.

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