Democracy … The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the U.S.S. Republican Governor.
Its nine-month mission: To explore strange new bills.
To seek out new lows in democratic civilizations.
To boldly go where no governor has gone before!
… Okay, you’re a good sport to get through that. Ahead, warp factor seven.
The Un-Democratized Country: I’ve been making some hay in this space of all the state legislative elections Republicans keep losing. Because they’re losing a lot of them, and a lot of supposedly safely red seats have flipped from red to blue over the past year.
- Well, Republicans have noticed this, too.
So, if you’re a Republican governor, what do you do when you can’t seem to win special elections?
You stop having them, of course!
- A Wisconsin state Assembly seat and a state Senate seat have been open since December (when the Republican incumbents bailed to take spots in Walker's administration), but Walker doesn’t want to call special elections to fill them any time soon.
- Rather, he wants the hold the specials concurrent with the general elections in November, when he seems to think Republicans have a better chance of holding on. (The state Senate is currently 18 Republicans to 14 Democrats, with one vacancy).
- That means the Wisconsinites living in those districts could remain unrepresented in those chambers for the better part of a year—if not longer.
Also, Walker’s probably violating the state constitution by refusing to call specials to fill vacant seats in a timely manner, but whatevs.
- Walker may be taking cues from Alabama GOP lawmakers, who are reacting to a Democrat winning of one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats in December’s special election by trying to get rid of Senate special elections entirely.
- And will Florida Gov. Rick Scott follow suit? He’s currently dragging his feet on scheduling a special election to fill a recent state Senate vacancy there, too.
- If he leaves the seat open, more than half a million Floridians will lack representation in the Senate for almost a year.
New Frontiers of Unconstitutionality: Republicans in Mississippi are trying to chart new star systems when it comes to infringing on women’s healthcare and right to obtain an abortion.
Old and busted: 20-week abortion bans. (Mississippi passed one in 2017.)
New hotness: 15-week abortion bans.
Where No One Has Run Before: The surfeit of Democratic candidates in last fall’s elections in Virginia demonstrated an unprecedented appetite among progressives to run for office, most for the very first time, and that trend is clearly carrying forward into 2018 at the statehouse level.
- Take, for example, Kentucky, where Democrats are challenging all but two of the Republican state Senators up for re-election this fall.
- In the House, 70 women are challenging incumbent lawmakers (up from only 11 in 2016 and three in 2014).
- Forty of the candidates taking on incumbents in the GOP-controlled legislature are educators—a record-setting number.
- The 34 teaches and six administrators running this fall are fighting back against the state’s “attack on education.”
Data, But Not The Android: Filing closed this week in West Virginia, too, which let us update our extremely awesome Daily Kos 2018 Legislative Open Seat Tracker to reveal a picture that’s still quite rosy for Democrats in terms of retirements and uncontested seats this fall.
- Across Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, and West Virginia (and the 441 seats among the four of them),
- 52 Republicans are retiring (versus just 27 Democrats), and
- 105 Democratic-held seats will be uncontested this fall (compared to 58 GOP-held).
Into Darkness: The impact of the #MeToo movement continues to make its way through many state legislatures—including Arizona, where an independent report three months in the making just dropped and revealed some Very Bad Things that suddenly former Republican Rep. Don Shooter has been up to for the past several years.
- Shooter’s “pattern of unwelcome and hostile conduct” began as soon as he took office in 2011 and is detailed in great length in an 80-page report.
- His sexual misconduct includes:
- Grabbing his crotch while standing next to a lobbyist and telling her how “pretty” she was,
- Telling a fellow lawmaker that he would perform anal sex on a rival while making the rival legislator’s wife watch, and
- Making repeated unwelcome sexualized comments about a fellow lawmaker’s breasts.
- Fellow Republican and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard at first refused to call for Shooter’s expulsion from the House, instead merely booting Shooter off of committees and scheduling a censure vote. So harsh!
- But on Thursday, Speaker Mesnard changed his tune drastically after seeing a letter Shooter sent to his colleagues that challenged parts of the investigation and report implicating him. Mesnard said the letter “represents a clear act of retaliation and intimidation” and scheduled a vote to expel his colleague.
- Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote—40 of 60 lawmakers—and 56 House members voted in favor of booting Shooter on Thursday. Three (including Shooter himself) were opposed.
Can’t help but wonder what the folks who voted to keep Shooter around have been up to ….
- Meanwhile, in Virginia, one party is serious about combatting and preventing sexual harassment and misconduct. The other … would like you to take an online training course every two years.
- This week, the itty bitty literal-luck-of-the-draw Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates killed a bill to create a comprehensive sexual harassment reporting and prevention training put forth by Democratic Del. Vivian Watts, a longtime House veteran (who’s seen a harassment incident or twenty in her tenure).
- The full House is instead voting on a Republican lawmaker’s bill that requires legislators and full-time staff “and others” to complete an online sexual harassment training that’s “created by or selected” by House and Senate clerks, who have no specialized training in the area themselves.
Way to be serious about this, Virginia GOP. Thought y’all would have come a little further since the original architect of your House majority was felled by a sexual harassment scandal 16 years ago.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I could sure use some shore leave. But I won’t be going to Florida, home to my (least) favorite former state legislator and current Rep. Matt Gaetz, who invited a literal Holocaust denier as his guest to the State of the Union address this week. I hear the weather is nice on Risa this time of year ….