With old and busted things like the rollback of LGBT rights and voter suppression becoming all the GOP rage lately (and even federal-level Democrats gathering in a small Virginia town that’s changed precious little since my dad’s childhood there in the 1950s-’60s to deliver a new party message), July 2017 is beginning to feel like a one big rift in the space-time continuum.
But there’s always new hotness to be had in statehouses. And don’t worry—it’ll all make sense. I’m a professional.
Quantum Leap in the Granite State: On Tuesday, Democrats scored yet another special election victory. Holding a seat—even one as swingy as New Hampshire Senate District 16—isn’t as sexy as flipping one (or two, or four), but the Republican registration advantage, the fact that the seat favored Clinton by under 100 votes and went for both Gov. Sununu and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte just last fall, and the GOP candidate’s name recognition all made this an uphill climb for Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh.
Excellent fact! Cavanaugh’s win on Tuesday marks the first time a Democrat has won a state Senate special election in New Hampshire since 1984.
- This Democratic special election win was the 21st out of 28 contested specials held since Trump’s election in November in which Democrats over-performed Clinton’s numbers in these same districts.
Most triumphant! Check out why Tuesday’s Democratic victory should have Republicans nationwide very, very frightened.
Total Recall: (Yes I know it’s not a time travel movie it just takes place in the future shhhhhhh just roll with the dumb joke) Remember the heady days of 2011 and 2012? When Wisconsin Democrats recalled enough GOP state senators to flip the chamber (if only for a few months)?
Yes, I know they tried to recall Gov. Scott Walker, too, but that was always a terrible idea and I’d prefer to forget it happened.
- So during those heady five months when Democrats controlled the upper chamber of the Wisconsin legislature, they weren’t able to move policy (the legislative session had already ended for the year), but they might have had an epic, lasting impact on Democratic politics nationwide.
Flashback! Summer of 2012: Redistricting litigation was already underway in Wisconsin. The case that’s now before the U.S. Supreme Court that could effectively end partisan gerrymandering (Gill v. Whitford) was just a twinkle in Democrats’ eyes.
- Democrats used their brief stint in the Senate majority to force the private lawyers of the legislative GOPers who drew the state’s heinously gerrymandered legislative maps to produce key documents in another gerrymandering case, Baldus v. Brennan. That case resulted in small district changes and was ultimately settled out of court, but the evidence Democratic Sen. Mark Miller was able to demand as Senate Majority Leader let to the unearthing of deleted spreadsheets and other documents that became key in Gill v. Whitford.
Fast forward: The partisan gerrymandering case is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court’s fall term, and a decision could come early next year.
- See? Senate recalls: worth it. Walker recall: … I’m going to just leave that one right here.
Bathroom Bill’s Bogus Journey: The anti-transgender “bathroom bill” in North Carolina might (mostly) be a thing of the past, but GOP lawmakers in Texas are bound and determined to not learn from the nasty history of that law and its economic fallout in the Tar Heel State.
(The special session will also take on several anti-reproductive rights and anti-local government control/pre-emption measures.)
- The GOP-controlled Texas Senate just passed this anti-LGBT legislation. The bill is on its way to the state House, where, interestingly, it faces a less-receptive—but no less Republican—legislative chamber.
- Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is leery of the legislation, calling it unnecessary and pointing to both vocal opposition of the state’s business community and the damage North Carolina’s similiar law inflicted on its own economy.
- Will Straus be able to withstand pressure from the state’s GOP governor and lieutenant governor, as well as social conservatives within his own party? Time will tell!
Army of Data-ness: Different battles require different types of boomsticks, and if you’re looking for election data (like the kind that demonstrates the clear trend of Democratic electoral over-performance this cycle), breakdowns of presidential electoral performance by congressional and state legislative districts are pretty handy weapons to have in your arsenal.
Crunching this kind of data takes … [sigh] time, so while the data for every single congressional district is ready and waiting for your number-crunching needs, breaking down presidential results in over 7,000 state legislative districts takes a wee bit longer.
- Come get some: But we’ve got 30 states ready and waiting, including hot little numbers like Virginia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina … where, if you’re still with me, you know there’s been a whole lot of of statehouse action this week.
- Shop smart: Check back soon for final numbers in groovy places like Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania.
This has been most bodacious. Until next week, be excellent to each other!