Thursday, February 15, 2018

I Vote The Line edition

February’s just over halfway done, but it already feels longer than a Folsom Prisonsentence.
Partly because so much hurt keeps happening.
But also because 44 state legislatures are actively meeting this week.
Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, and Louisiana are so so chill right now
Cry, Cry, Cry: After every gun violence tragedy, conversation quickly and rightly turns to Congress’ shameful inaction on the issue.
  • But states have broad leeway to regulate (or not) firearms themselves, so it’s worth taking a peek at what’s been happening in legislatures since the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October and the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and … well.
    • The Democratic majorities in the Massachusetts House and Senate became the first legislature to pass a ban on bump stocks, the device that made the Las Vegas horror so deadly.
    • (California and New York already ban bump stocks.)
      • Meanwhile, in Nevada itself, it’s against state law to ban bump stocks because of a measure that passed the legislature in 2015, back when Republicans controlled both chambers. (Though of course a future Democratic legislature could repeal this ban-ban.)
      • Republicans in other states expanded access to firearms and rolled back gun restrictions over the course of the past year.
        • After the GOP took control of both chambers of the Iowa legislature in 2016, that state passed its own version of Florida’s infamous “stand your ground” law.
        • New Hampshire and North Dakota eliminated the requirement that gun owners obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.
        • Ohio loosened restrictions to allow concealed weapons in day care centers and some parts of airports.
        • Wyoming legalized carrying firearms in K-12 schools.
        • Georgia and Arkansas legalized it on college campuses.
        • Texas legislators legalized gun silencers.
      The Voter Comes Around: So, not everything is terrible. I promise. 
      • This week saw a veritable special election bonanza, by which I mean that state legislative specials were held on Monday (two in Minnesota) and Tuesday (one each in Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma). Four of these five elections were to fill vacant Republican seats.
        • On Monday, Democrats held on to state Senate district 23B in Minnesota, despite the fact that Trump won the district (by a 46-45 margin) in 2016.
        • Republicans held on to their House seat (Trump won House District 23B 59-33).
          • Both specials were to replace lawmakers forced to resign over sexual misconduct allegations, and a Democratic woman will be replacing the Senate harasser in Senate District 54.
      Wouldn’t be mad if this happened every time #MeToo forces a man from office tbh
      • On Tuesday, Democrats flipped a vacant Republican seat in Florida when Margaret Good defeated Republican and congressional scion James Buchanan 52-45 percent in a district Trump carried in 2016 (by a 51-46 margin).
        • The pickup was Democrats’ 36th red-to-blue state legislative flip of the cycle—and the 23rd by a woman!—and it’s one that should absolutely spook the pants off of Republicans.
          • House District 72 not only went for Trump, but it’s also historically Republican down-ballot and has a GOP voter registration advantage of around 13,000. 
          • Buchanan benefitted from his the name recognition of his congressman father, Rep. Vern Buchanan.
          • National Republicans took interest in the race, investing in it and even sending a key Trump campaign operative—none other than Corey Lewandowski—to help get out the vote.
        • Rep.-elect Good, meanwhile, had Joe Biden in her corner; he endorsed herand recorded a robocall for her about a week before the election.
      • Republicans held on to the seats in Oklahoma and Georgia on Tuesday (although the Democrat improved on 2016 presidential performance in the Oklahoma seat by 37 points; comparable figures aren’t available for the Georgia seat because it was a four-way race).
      Can’t get enough special elections? Good! Because they can’t get enough of you, either, probably.
      Coming up:
      • Saturday, February 17:
      • Tuesday, February 20:
        • Kentucky House District 49, which became vacant when the incumbent Republican, a local minister of a controversial church, killed himself after being accused of sexually abusing a teenage member of his congregation. His widow is running for the seat, as is former Democratic state Rep. Linda Belcher.
        • Mississippi House District 60, which became vacant when Republican incumbent John Moore resigned in the face of multiple sexual harassment complaints. State legislative special elections in Mississippi are technically nonpartisan; four men are running to replace Moore.
Read the rest here.

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