- 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 her and 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.
- 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.
If I Were A Lawmaker: Because a week of statehouse action just doesn’t feel complete if Wisconsin Republicans aren’t pulling some legislative awfulness, they happily obliged me yet again.
- This time, GOP lawmakers are pushing a bill that would prevent the state from providing public workers with insurance plans that cover abortions.
- The only exceptions in the measure are for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother … except that the rape or incest has to be reported to the police, which most are not, so, yeah, these “exceptions” are garbage tinsel on a garbage bill.
- The bill was approved by the GOP-controlled Assembly last November, and it passed out of a Senate committee this week on a party-line vote.
- A similar bill passed the Assembly four years ago, but the Senate declined to take it up—in part because a Senate Democratic leader promised “all-out hell” if it came to the floor.
Psst Democrats this is a very good promise
I Walk The (District) Line: If there’s one thing Arizona Republicans LOVE to hate, it’s their state’s Independent Redistricting Commission. After years of trying to control it and impeach its members and even have it declared unconstitutional, they’re coming at it yet again.
- This time, they’re attempting to undermine both the commission’s independent nature and bring both it and the maps it draws under the legislature’s control.
A little background (okay, a LOT of background):
- Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) was created in 2000 via a voter-initiated ballot measure that removed the drawing of state legislative and congressional district maps from lawmakers’ hands and placed it with two Republican commissioners and two Democratic commissioners; these four then select a fifth independent member to serve as IRC chair. None of the members are directly appointed by the legislature.
- In 2011, the IRC drew congressional maps that made Republican heads explode because they failed to give their party a sufficient advantage—which of course the Arizona GOP believes it’s entitled to, just because.
- So GOP Gov. Janet Brewer promptly fired the head of the IRC for this affront.
(Rumor has it that Brewer was spurred on by Rep. Ben Quayle’s mom, wife of the former vice president, who purportedly called Brewer to yell at her because the map would force her son, then-Rep. Ben Quayle, into a primary with another incumbent.)
- The Arizona Supreme Court intervened and found that Brewer had insufficient reason to remove the head of the commission and reinstated her.
- The “offending” maps were then approved by the IRC and went into effect for the 2012 elections.
(Baby Quayle lost his primary.)
- But Arizona’s Republicans weren’t done messing with the IRC. If we can’t control it, they decided, let’s get rid of it.
- So the legislature’s GOP majority sued to have the IRC declared unconstitutional, saying it unlawfully took power over redistricting away from the lawmakers themselves.
- The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, and Arizona Republicans were forced to reconcile themselves to the IRC’s existence, at least for a time.
- That isn’t to say they gave up, of course: Arizona Republicans then tried to get the maps themselves declared unconstitutional, but that didn’t go their way, either.
- Now Republican lawmakers are pushing a measure that would essentially blow up the IRC and its bipartisan redistricting work.
- GOP state Senate President Steve Yarborough’s proposal would
- Expand the IRC from five members to eight: three Republicans, three Democrats, and two independents.
- All eight members would be appointed by the legislature.
- The (GOP-controlled) legislature would approve (or not) the commission’s maps.
- If the (GOP-controlled) legislature didn’t like the maps, they’d draw their own and ask for voter approval.
- With no incentive to approve maps that don’t maximize Republican advantage, this proposal effectively takes redistricting authority away from the IRC and places it back in state legislators’ hands.
- The measure must pass both (GOP-controlled) legislative chambers and then be approved by Arizona voters this November.
...the same voters who voted to create the IRC in the first place.
Understand Your (Wo)man: Last week, I noted the surge of women candidates running for state legislative seats in Arizona, Ohio, and Connecticut.
- I’m thrilled to add Maine to the list of states in which women are queuing up to filed for seats in historically high numbers. (The state’s candidate filing deadline is still a few weeks away, so we won’t have final totals for a little while.)
And now candidate filing has closed in Ohio, meaning it’s time to 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, West Virginia and Ohio (and the 557 seats among the five of them),
- 60 Republicans are retiring (versus just 30 Democrats),
- 18 Republicans are being term-limited out (versus 12 Democrats), and
- 119 Democratic-held seats will be uncontested this fall (compared to 58 GOP-held).
Fun fact! Every single Ohio Republican lawmaker on the ballot this fall faces a Democratic opponent (14 Democrats are unchallenged).
Don’t take your guns to town, folks.
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