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On Jan. 20, an employee of the University of Washington filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court, alleging that her union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, had unconstitutionally barred her and other employees from opting out of union membership.
Who are the parties to the suit? The lead plaintiff is Charlene Wagner, a fiscal specialist for the state university system. She is represented by the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit think tank and litigation firm whose self-described mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.” The Freedom Foundation is currently involved in approximately 60 lawsuits concerning public-sector union practices in the aftermath of Janus v. AFSCME. The main defendant is Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, which represents about 17,000 education workers in Washington, making it one of the largest public-sector unions in the state. The University of Washington is also named as a defendant.
What is at issue? In October 2018, Wagner sought to opt out of union membership and cancel her dues deduction authorization. SEIU 925 informed her that the membership agreement she had signed limited opt-outs to an annual two-week period (in this case, from April 29, 2019, to May 14, 2019).
Wagner and her attorneys argue that “dues are being seized under an unconstitutional [state] law that gives the union sole discretion over who the university – a state actor – is and isn’t authorized to deduct dues from.” They also allege that “a union cannot impose an irrevocability provision, containing a narrow opt-out window, on union nonmembers without a knowing First Amendment waiver.”
What are the reactions? In a press release, Freedom Foundation Senior Litigation Counsel James Abernathy said, “The whole point of Janus is to protect the First Amendment rights of public employees to not support a labor union. State laws that try to limit those rights are unconstitutional regardless of whether they were passed before or after Janus. … We shouldn’t have to keep relitigating the same issues, but SEIU 925 apparently believes it can disregard laws it doesn’t like.”
As of Jan. 24, neither SEIU 925 nor the University of Washington have commented publicly on the suit.
What comes next? The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. It has been assigned to Judge Barbara Rothstein. Rothstein was first appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter (D). The case name and number are Wagner v. University of Washington (2:20-cv-00091).
We are currently tracking 66 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.
Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.
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|January 23, 2020: The Democratic National Committee begins its first multi-million dollar investment in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona. Donald Trump will attend the annual, anti-abortion March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
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Republican: Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
“Pro-Trump Republican senators contend their home-state constituents oppose impeachment — not just loyal Republicans, but CNN-watching independents as well. They describe constituents back home who see impeachment as a waste of time and a distraction from working on real issues.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review, Jan. 20, 2020
“You want the American people to see a fair and thoughtful process. This is a big-enough issue that people will pay attention in a way they don’t on other issues.”
Michael Steel, quoted in Morning Consult, Jan. 16, 2020
Rep. Liz Cheney will not run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming. In a statement Jan. 16, she said the House is where she can have the greatest effect:
“Our nation is facing grave security challenges overseas and the House Democrats are working to weaken our president and embolden our enemies. Socialists in congress and among the presidential candidates are threatening our liberty and freedom.
I believe I can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives and working [to] take our Republican majority back.”
Cheney represents Wyoming’s At-Large Congressional District and is chair of the House Republican Conference, making her the third-ranking House Republican. She’s the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
The current four-candidate Republican primary field for this safe GOP seat includes former Rep. Cynthia Lummis. According to The Hill‘s Juliegrace Brufke, “Lummis is a favorite amongst the conservative faction of the party.”
Foster Friess, a businessman and the second-place finisher in 2018‘s Republican gubernatorial primary, announced Jan. 17 he would begin a listening tour in consideration of a Senate bid. The Casper Star Tribune‘s Nick Reynolds wrote that “Friess maintains a strong conservative coalition across the state as well as a sizable ability to self-fund a campaign.”
The filing deadline is May 29. The primary is Aug. 18. Incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R) is not seeking re-election.
Olson said that if “Texas 22 goes blue, America goes blue,” and that “one person came across as the person who can win this district in November. That man is Pierce Bush.”
Bush was CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star. He’s the grandson of George H.W. Bush and nephew of George W. Bush.
Andrew Schneider of Houston Public Media said, “The heart of the district is Fort Bend County, accounting for 70 percent of the vote. And for the last two election cycles, Fort Bend County has been trending Democratic.”
According to Houston Public Media, immigration, flood infrastructure, and transportation are major topics of discussion among Republican candidates.
Texas’ 22nd is one of 36 open House seats and one of 26 currently held by a Republican (another open seat is vacant and was last held by a Republican). Six representatives out of Texas’ 23-member Republican House delegation have announced they will not in 2020.
The Republican Main Street Partnership PAC endorsed state Sen. Randy Feenstra in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. The current six-candidate field includes incumbent Steve King.
King has been in the House since 2003 and faced his closest election in 2018, when he won by 3 percentage points.
The PAC’s website states that the “governing Republicans of Main Street have worked together to revive Congress as an effective institution after years of deadlock and extremism.” It is targeting suburban districts in 2020. Democrats picked up several suburban seats in 2018.
King was removed from committee assignments in January 2019 after The New York Times published an interview in which King mentioned white nationalism and supremacy and Western civilization. King has said his comments were taken out of context.
The primary is June 2, and the filing deadline is March 13.
State Assemblyman Jay Obernolte announced endorsements from the six members of California’s Republican House delegation, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and 8th District incumbent Paul Cook.
Cook’s retirement leaves the 8th District seat open in 2020.
The March 3 top-two primary has drawn 10 candidates. Among the five Republicans is Tim Donnelly, who ran against Cook in 2018 and received 40 percent of the vote. Donnelly beat Democrat Marge Doyle for the second-place spot in that year’s top-two primary by 1 percentage point.
Last week, we covered U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop’s decision to endorse former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright for governor of Utah rather than seek the office himself. On Friday, Wright announced that Bishop would be his running mate. Wright is the first of seven Republicans in the race to select a running mate.
Bishop was elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and earlier served 16 years in the state House, including two as speaker. Local media sources had identified him as a potential gubernatorial candidate after he announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election to the House this year.
Utah abolished the office of secretary of state in 1976 and delegated many of its responsibilities to the lieutenant governor. The office is responsible for overseeing notaries public, authenticating legal documents, overseeing registered lobbyists, and certifying municipal annexations. Utah is also one of two states (the other is Alaska) where the lieutenant governor serves as chief elections officer.
Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not running for re-election. The June 30 primary is open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Utah Republicans have won every gubernatorial election since 1984, marking the longest GOP gubernatorial winning streak in the country.
Montana state Sen. Al Olszewski announced Friday that freshman state Sen. Kenneth Bogner (R) would be his gubernatorial running mate. Olszewski is the first candidate from either party to name a running mate. Candidates for governor of Montana are required to name a running mate as part of the filing process. State Attorney General Tim Fox, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, and any other candidates joining the race have until March 9 to file.
Bogner was first elected to represent his eastern Montana state Senate district in 2018.
You may recall from last week’s edition that Fox, Gianforte, and Olszewski are scheduled to appear in a debate in Billings on Thursday. It will be the first debate between all three candidates.
The June 2 primary is open to all voters. No Republican candidate has been elected governor in Montana since Judy Martz (R) in 2000.
The Orange County Republican Party rescinded its endorsement of Assemblyman Tyler Diep (R-72). Chairman Fred Whitaker said, “This is a sad day when an incumbent Republican member of the legislature loses the local party endorsement, but the party felt there had to be accountability for voting patterns.”
Former Assemblyman Matthew Harper, who called for the vote, criticized Diep for being the only Republican to vote in favor of Assembly Bill 5, a bill addressing independent contractors. Harper said Diep was too supportive of public sector unions.
Diep blamed the decision on a small number of political insiders overriding the desires of his full constituency. “While it is disappointing that a few political insiders of the local party drove this, I am confident that voters will know I’m the best candidate to fight for them in Sacramento,” he said.
Former state Sen. Janet Nguyen (R) is the other Republican running in the top-two primary. Commenting on Nguyen’s campaign in December 2019, KCRW said, “Orange County used to be the bedrock of the Republican party in Southern California. But the party is facing an existential crisis.”
The first 2020 campaign finance reports in Texas were released last week. According to The Dallas Morning News, the numbers show that a fight between factions within the state Republican Party could be cooling off. In 2018, factional conflict between moderate Republicans aligned with Speaker Joe Straus and conservative Republicans aligned with the Texas Freedom Caucus played out in 46 Republican primaries across both legislative chambers.
“[Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life], which have funded primary challengers to Republican incumbents in the past, mostly stayed out of most elections this reporting period,” wrote James Barragán and Ariana Giorgi. Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, agreed. “This cycle is different in that the Republican civil war has essentially gone away. We’re not seeing any of that,” he said.
In 2020, Republicans are defending a 19-12 majority in the state Senate and an 82-64 majority with three vacancies in the state House.
One race where the conflict may not have subsided: the race for state GOP chair. Former Florida Congressman Allen West is challenging sitting chair James Dickey. West raised $490,000 (including $250,000 from donor Richard Uihlein) over the past six months, while Dickey raised $18,000.
North Dakota Rep. Jim Grueneich (R-12) announced that he and his wife Naomi were moving from their home in District 12 to District 28 to allow Naomi to pursue a career opportunity. Grueneich said he would run in District 28, where incumbents Jeffery Magrum (R) and Michael Don Brandenburg (R) have already announced re-election bids.
Each North Dakota House district elects two representatives who serve four-year terms. Grueneich and Magrum were each first elected to the House in 2016, while Brandenburg served in the House from 1997 to 2002 before winning election to the chamber again in 2004. Forty-seven of the chamber’s 94 seats are up for election this year. Republicans hold a 79-15 majority.
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“The National Republican Congressional Committee, the only national GOP organization dedicated to defending the House, effectively coordinates and defends conservative House candidates across America.” – NRCC website
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is a national 527 group and subsidiary of the Republican Party that aims to build and maintain a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives through contributions to Republican candidates and political organizations.
In February 2019, the NRCC announced 55 Democratic-held districts that it would target in 2020. For a list of those districts, as well as margins of victory for each district in the 2018, 2016, and 2014 elections, click here.
NRCC programs include the Patriot Program, which provides funding and support to incumbent members of the U.S. House running for re-election in battleground districts, and Young Guns, which recruits and supports challengers running for U.S. House seats in battleground districts.
As of December 2019, the NRCC had around $29 million in cash on hand, compared to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $48 million.
Democratic: Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
“Above all, progressives want to beat Trump. The Democratic front-runners have all pledged to support the eventual nominee no matter who it is. And this week, the leaders of six national progressive organizations sent out a ‘unity statement’ to this effect: ‘While we firmly believe that either Warren or Sanders should lead our nation in 2021, we will, in the end, go all-out to defeat Trump no matter who the Democratic nominee is.’
Still, progressives can’t shake the feeling that they’ve seen this movie before. Like Biden, Clinton was once widely considered to be the safest bet to beat Trump. She wasn’t as radical as Sanders, the thinking went, so she could better appeal to voters straddling the political middle. She was a known quantity, a bridge builder, a shoo-in. But then millions of American voters who once voted for Obama didn’t vote for her. To some lefties, a Biden nomination feels like déjà vu.”
Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic, Jan 18. 2020
“For all the hand-wringing among Democrats about which nominee would be most able to unify the party heading into November, Biden is also uniquely positioned to win over Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg supporters. When Sanders supporters are asked about their second choice in the primary, unsurprisingly Warren picks up 32 percent, but Biden follows closely at 28 percent. Similarly, Warren backers support Sanders as a second choice by 33 percent, but Biden is also strong at 24 percent — with Buttigieg trailing with 12 percent. Biden also leads among current Buttigieg and Bloomberg supporters by wide margins when asked about a second option.
Pundits and casual political observers are currently promoting the idea that Democratic primary voters are split ideologically into warring camps, but the ‘second choice’ figures paint a different picture of an electorate ready to unify behind Biden as the nominee.”
Kevin Walling, The Hill, Jan. 12, 2020
VoteVets Action Fund is spending $3.3 million on ads supporting Cal Cunningham in the Senate race in North Carolina through January.
An early biographical spot from VoteVets highlighted Cunningham’s experience in the Army and the state Senate, referring to him as a progressive.
Cunningham released his first TV ad as well, discussing his military service and saying he’d work to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.
Cunningham was elected to the state Senate in 2000 and served one term. An Associated Press article said Cunningham was considered a conservative Democrat at the time of his tenure.
Cunningham is one of five primary candidates, including state Sen. Erica Smith, vying for the nomination to run against Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in November. The primary is March 3.
On Oct. 31, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed Cunningham in the primary. Smith responded, “Ultimately, the voters of North Carolina will decide who their next United States Senator will be — NOT a handful of DC politicians making back room deals in windowless basements.”
Smith was first elected to the state Senate in 2014. Her endorsers in the 2020 Senate race include Flip the Senate, a group that says it supports progressive policies, and Build the Wave, a group using texting campaigns to boost Democratic turnout.
A Public Policy Polling poll conducted Jan. 10-12 found “Undecided” leading with 60 percent. Cunningham received 22 percent support to Smith’s 12 percent. Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling told Ballotpedia the poll’s margin of error was +/-4.3. A Fox News poll conducted Nov. 10-13 found 18 percent support for Smith to 13 percent for Cunningham, and 49 percent of respondents answered, “Don’t know.” The margin of error was +/- 3.5.
Three outlets rate the general election Toss-up or Leans Republican.
The DSCC endorsed attorney James Mackler in the Democratic primary for Senate in Tennessee.
The race is open as incumbent Lamar Alexander (R) is not seeking re-election. Five Democrats and 12 Republicans are currently running in the primary elections.
Mackler has also been endorsed by Phil Bredesen, the former governor of Tennessee and Democratic candidate for Senate in 2018. Bredesen lost that election to Marsha Blackburn (R).
Melanie Tomlyn of Indivisible of Nashville and Middle Tennessee said of the DSCC’s endorsement that “this Senate race is about the Tennessee grassroots and will not be dictated by outside national organizations putting their fingers on the scale.”
Indivisible’s website says its mission is “to cultivate a grassroots movement of literally thousands of local Indivisible groups to elect progressive leaders, realize bold progressive policies, rebuild our democracy, and defeat the Trump agenda.”
The primaries are Aug. 6, and the filing deadline is April 2. Three ratings outlets call this a safe Republican seat.
That leaves three candidates in the Democratic primary: Ivyland Borough Councilmember Christina Finello, technology consultant Skylar Hurwitz, and Pennsbury School Boardmember Debbie Wachspress. The filing deadline for the April 28 primary is Feb. 18.
The 1st District, currently represented by Brian Fitzpatrick (R), is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s target lists. It is one of three congressional districts in the country that Hillary Clinton (D) won in 2016 and that is represented by a Republican.
Pennsylvania’s district lines were redrawn ahead of the 2018 elections. Clinton carried what is now the 1st District by 2 percentage points. Fitzpatrick won in 2018 by 3 percentage points.
Roll Call described Democrats’ challenges in the district as follows:
“Fundraising will be critical for any Democrat running in the expensive Philadelphia media market and taking on Fitzpatrick, who had nearly $1.1 million on hand as of Sept. 30. Democrats will also have to chip away at Fitzpatrick’s moderate brand. A former FBI agent, he often touts his role in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. According to CQ Vote Studies, Fitzpatrick has supported Trump’s priorities 64 percent of the the [sic] time, the lowest score for a Republican (the average Republican has backed Trump’s priorities 94 percent of the time).“
Bucks County Courier Times reported that the county Democratic Party will hold an endorsement meeting the first week of February.
Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney received the endorsement of Sen. Jon Tester (D) Friday in his bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock. Aside from Bullock, who endorsed Cooney in October, and Cooney himself, Tester is the only Democrat to hold a statewide elected office in Montana.
You may recall from last week’s edition that gubernatorial candidates filed campaign finance reports Jan. 6. The reports showed consultant Whitney Williams, who is running with the endorsement of EMILY’s List, leading in fourth-quarter fundraising with $439,000 to Cooney’s $200,000 and state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner’s $15,000.
A fourth candidate, former state Rep. Reilly Neill, announced Monday that she was suspending her campaign. Candidates have until March 9 to file for Montana’s gubernatorial election. The June 2 primary is open to all voters. No Republican candidate has been elected governor in Montana since Judy Martz (R) in 2000.
Last week, we looked at Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s decision to run for governor, setting up a primary contest with former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe. Since then, Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed their projection for the general election from Likely Republican to Leans Republican. They cited Zuckerman’s history of running in statewide elections as a factor in their decision, saying that he was well-poised to attract voters turning out for the presidential election.
Personal PAC, a group dedicated to “making sure that Illinois always remains a state where abortion is safe, legal, and accessible to every woman,” announced endorsements across the state. They are endorsing challengers to two sitting state representatives: Yehiel Kalish (District 13) and Thaddeus Jones (District 26). As we reported last week, Kalish faces a primary challenge over his stance on an abortion law.
Primaries for all seats in the Illinois State Legislature will take place on March 17. Across the House, 15 Democratic incumbents face at least one primary challenger. In 2018, eight Democratic incumbents faced primary challengers.
Attorney Emily Kinkead (D) announced she would challenge state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl (D-20) in a Democratic primary the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review characterized as part of “a wave of progressive Democrats who in recent years have challenged establishment incumbents in Allegheny County’s Democratic Party.”
Kinkead said that she thought voters in the district were looking for a change, adding that she thinks that District 20 is more progressive than people think. Ravenstahl said he expected a challenge. “That kind of comes with the territory,” he said.
According to the Tribune-Review, Kinkead is following Reps. Summer Lee (D-34) and Sara Innamorato (D-21), who each defeated long-serving Alleghany County incumbents in 2018. Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania will take place on April 28.
The Nevada State Senate Democratic Caucus endorsed Roberta Lange, former chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, for a seat held by term-limited Sen. David Parks (D-7). Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel (D-20) and Assemblyman Richard Carillo (D-18) have both said they plan to run but have not filed for the race. The Nevada Independent called the endorsement “a significant advantage” in the Democratic primary.
Parks has represented District 7 since it was created as a result of redistricting in 2010. He won re-election against a Libertarian candidate 70-30 in 2016 and defeated a Republican challenger 64-35 in 2012. The filing deadline for this election is March 13.
Last week, state Rep. Shevrin Jones received the endorsement of retiring state Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-35) in a five-way primary. This week, he picked up an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D). A primary for this race will take place on August 18, and the filing deadline is June 12.
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“[The DCCC is] the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way to fortify and expand our new Democratic Majority.” – DCCC website
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is an official subsidiary of the national Democratic Party. As a national political committee, the group makes political contributions to support the election of Democratic candidates to the U.S. House.
In January 2019, the DCCC released an initial list of 33 Republican-held or open seats it would target in 2020. Twelve districts have been added since, six in August 2019 and six in January 2020. For a list of those districts, as well as margins of victory for each district in the 2018, 2016, and 2014 elections, click here.
DCCC programs include the Frontline Program, a partnership between the DCCC and members of Congress designed to protect vulnerable Democratic incumbents, and the Red to Blue program, which provides funding and guidance to candidates seeking election in districts represented by Republicans.
As of December 2019, the DCCC had around $48 million in cash on hand, compared to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $29 million.
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|January 21, 2020: The New York Times issued a dual endorsement of Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. The Democratic National Committee announced a new delegate threshold for the Feb. 7 debate.
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