• WA-05: Longtime Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers unexpectedly announced on Thursday that she won't seek reelection this year in Washington's conservative 5th Congressional District.
McMorris Rodgers was one of the highest-ranking Republicans in the House when she served as GOP conference chair from 2013-2019. She currently chairs the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee and could have continued in that role for another term under party rules had she won reelection, making her retirement decision all the more surprising.
At just 35 years old, McMorris Rodgers won election in 2004 to the 5th District in eastern Washington to succeed GOP Rep. George Nethercutt, who had defeated Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley in the 1994 Republican wave and unsuccessfully ran for Senate the year McMorris Rodgers was elected. In 2007, she became one of the few members of Congress to give birth while in office, and she quickly rose through the ranks to become the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress a few years later.
While McMorris Rodgers faced serious efforts by Democratic opponents in her initial 2004 election and the 2006 Democratic wave, she won both races with ease. The only time McMorris Rodgers won by a single-digit margin was in another strong Democratic year, when she defeated well-funded Democrat Lisa Brown by a 55-45 margin in 2018. (Brown, who at the time had been a former legislative leader and university chancellor, would go on to win election last year as mayor of Spokane, which is the district's largest city.)
Washington's filing deadline isn't until May 10 for its Aug. 6 top-two primary, where the top-two finishers—regardless of party—will advance to the November general election. Since the district would have backed Donald Trump 54-44 in 2020, it's likely that a Republican will hold onto the seat.
• OH Ballot: Ohio's Supreme Court has rejected a motion to expedite a lawsuit that voting rights advocates recently filed after Republican state Attorney General Dave Yost once again rejected their proposed ballot language for an initiative that would broadly expand and protect voting access.
Yost recently said the measure could not appear on the ballot with the title of the "Ohio Voters Bill of Rights" after previously rejecting language summarizing the measure. Supporters nonetheless said on Thursday that they expect the court, which did not give an explanation for why it rejected expediting the case, to "make a decision by early March."
These repeated delays have prevented organizers from beginning to gather the roughly 413,000 voter signatures needed by the initial July 3 deadline to qualify for November's ballot. And even if the GOP-majority Supreme Court compels Yost to approve organizers' ballot language, the state's Republican-controlled Ballot Board could still require the measure to be split into multiple initiatives.