Donald Trump sure loves his kids (or most of them, at least), and I hope the Russians love their children, too.
Yeah, I know. EVERYBODY’S talking about Russia and about Donald Jr. this week.
But not here. No collusion happening in the Statehouse Action space, so … поехали!
(I think that’s “Let’s go!” in Russian but I only took a year of it in college so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
VICTORY: Democrats keep winning special elections—at the state legislative level, at least.
- Pickups three and four of the cycles came from Oklahoma, of all places, on Tuesday night.
- Both were historically, deeply red seats. Like a raw steak.
- Democrats also flipped a state House seat in New Hampshire and a state Assembly seat in New York in May. In both elections, the Democrat not only won, but also overperformed Clinton’s numbers last fall by 11 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
- Additionally, Democrats have held key seats in the Iowa, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, and South Carolina legislatures and have over-performed in 19 out of the 26 two-party legislative and congressional special elections held since Trump’s election in November.
… So not only are Democrats winning by flipping seats from GOP to Democratic hands, but even when Republicans manage to hold on to seats in these special elections, they’re scrambling to cling to historically red seats and eking out tiny wins in previously uncompetitive districts.
Republicans can’t afford more “wins” like these if they hope to hold on to state House seats in Virginia this fall and their U.S. House majority in 2018.
Games without Frontiers: Wait, did you think the Maine budget standoff was over? Nah. It’s just been … put on hold. A long-term standoff. A cold war, if you will.
- A couple of weeks ago in this space, you read about the state government shutdown GOP Gov. Paul LePage and his cronies in the state House seemed so committed to bringing about.
- Well, it happened, and it didn’t have to. The Democratic House majority and the Republican Senate majority reached an agreement that would have kept state services going and state workers paid. LePage rallied the House Republican minority to block the two-thirds vote required to pass the state budget (every single Democrat and all but one Republican in the Senate voted for it) to avoid a shutdown.
- LePage got his way: Maine’s government shut down. Negotiations continued, broke down a little when LePage got aggro, continued, got weird when LePage lied to a state senator about leaving for a 10-day vacation, then continued some more.
- Finally, three days into the shutdown, an agreement was reached and LePage signed a budget.
- Last week, LePage admitted he’d used the shutdown to “ransom” a tax on high income (over $200,000/year) to fund the state’s public schools that Maine voters approved just last fall.
Yes, you read that right: The governor of Maine used a budget stalemate to override the will of voters and strip funding from public schools.
- And LePage and his GOP House accomplices are gearing up to use the same budget-hostage strategy again next year. “We’re going to be in the driver’s seat,” he boasted of his scheme with the minority House Republicans.
But wait! There’s more!
Just days later, LePage revealed to the world that he lies to the press just for fun. Because he loves the press so, so much.
- While on an AM talk radio show last Thursday discussing fallout from his government shutdown, he told listeners:
I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid, it’s awful…. The sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.
And this week (because what’s a week without LePage stirring the pot?), Maine’s sitting governor went after one of the Democrats who’s seeking to replace him when he’s term-limited out next year.
- After Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills announced her gubernatorial run, LePage couldn’t help but go at her:
This lady is a Democrat before she's an attorney …. I really do believe that Maine people are much smarter than that, really.
“This lady.” Come on, man.
- Fun fact! Mills’ office has sparred with LePage repeatedly over the course of his tenure, and, as Mills pointed out in response to LePage’s jabs, "The fact is, I've won every legal battle which he has engaged in with me."
War and Cheese: Meanwhile, Wisconsin lawmakers are dealing with some R-on-R violence as the Assembly GOP majority battles with the Senate GOP majority over the state’s budget, which is already 12 days overdue.
Escalation: An otherwise under-the-radar contest for a New Hampshire state Senate seat on July 25 is attracting big GOP guns.
- The GOP candidate in the race is rolling out radio ads featuring Gov. Chris Sununu and former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte. Both ads essentially accuse the out-of-power Democrats in the state of being uncooperative—ripping a page from the Trump playbook.
- Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Kevin Cavanaugh just dropped a somber web video touting his modest roots, background in labor, and his lifelong ties to the district.
- Democratic big guns are coming out for Cavanaugh, too. He’s been endorsed by both of the state’s U.S. senators; Rep. Annie Kuster will canvass for him on July 22; and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter recently hosted a fundraiser.
- Why are both sides bringing out the heavy artillery in this little race? This seat—SD-16—is crucial to Democrats’ chances of flipping the 14-to-10 GOP (technically 14-to-nine, now, since it’s the vacant seat was held by a Democrat) majority in the state Senate in 2018. Holding this swing district puts Democrats on surer footing for a chamber flip in 2018, when all 24 seats will be on the ballot.
And in case you needed a reminder of why it’s important to not have Republicans in complete control of state government, let’s take a peek at a new voting measure Sununu just signed into law, brought to you by black helicopter-level conspiracy theories.
This new law requires people who move to New Hampshire within 30 days of an election to show proof that they intend to make the state their permanent residence when they register to vote.
- The measure places onerous and pointless requirements on Granite Staters who seek to register within that 30-day window or on Election Day itself.
- But between Trump’s wild allegations widespread voter fraud and the echoing of those claims in the state by Republican elected officials, including Gov. Chris Sununu, the false notion that Democratic voters were “bused” in to vote gained traction in the GOP-controlled legislature this year.
- This baseless conspiracy theory gave Republicans supposed justification as they passed a law forcing new voters to provide proof that they intend to remain in the state long-term if they register within the 30 days preceding an election.
- If new voters merely attest to their intent to remain and fail to send in one of the required items as that “proof,” election officials may “cure” voters’ registrations by, among other things, sending agents to their home address.
State officials coming to your house to make sure you live there and intend to stay there. No, nothing surveillance state-y at all about that. Nope.
Today’s GOP: Smaller government, except when we can make it harder for you to vote. In that case, WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE AND ARE COMING FOR YOU.
Anyway, off to cover my windows in tin foil. Dasvidaniya!