Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 33 (September 2, 2020)

This week: Results from last night’s primaries in Massachusetts and a preview of the top primaries in New Hampshire

With Labor Day just around the corner and general election season in full swing, this will be the last regular edition of 2020’s Heart of the Primaries. Notable election results from the primaries in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware will be featured in Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew. We hope you have enjoyed our reporting on 2020’s primaries as much as we have enjoyed bringing you this newsletter. Heart of the Primaries will return ahead of the 2022 midterms.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On whether the presidential race is tightening:

In a powerful speech in Pittsburgh on Monday, Joe Biden nestled into his comfort zone. The Democratic presidential nominee is never more clear, direct or impassioned than when the disaster that is President Trump and the moral authority of the office are the focus of his attention. What’s stunning is that the president happily feeds Biden’s fire. …

“…I believe Biden has an upper hand against Trump. Forget about the president’s lame attempts to question Biden’s mental acuity or his ability to do the job. Those are projections meant to distract and to stoke fear among easily panicked Democrats. No, pay attention to what Biden has done. He’s laid a trap that everyone can see and Trump fails to avoid. Every time he opens his mouth, Trump forays into racism and white grievance that give Biden another chance to stand in stark contrast to him. Another chance to show humanity and leadership to a nation in desperate need of it.

“But I am also mindful of this: A cornered animal will fight its way out of it. And Trump is using fear to fight his way out, even if it means exacerbating racial tensions. That’s why he went to Kenosha to visit law enforcement. That’s why he can’t see fit to denounce right-wing militias who support him. That’s why he absolutely must be defeated in November.”

Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post, Sept. 1, 2020


“In mid-August, a Pew Research Center poll found that the issue of violent crime ranks fifth in importance to registered voters—behind the economy, health care, the Supreme Court, and the pandemic, but ahead of foreign policy, guns, race, immigration, and climate change. The poll found a large partisan gap on the issue: three-quarters of Trump voters rated violent crime “very important,” second behind only the economy. Nonetheless, nearly half of Biden voters also rated it “very important.” Other polls show that, over the summer, Biden has lost some of the support he gained among older white Americans in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. …

“On Tuesday night, the CNN host Don Lemon warned his colleague Chris Cuomo that riots were hurting Biden and the Democrats: ‘Chris, as you know and I know, it’s showing up in the polls, it’s showing up in focus groups. It’s the only thing right now that’s sticking.’ Lemon urged Biden to speak out about both police reform and violence. With Kenosha and the political conventions, the coverage seems to be changing. On Thursday, the Times ran a piece headlined ‘How Chaos in Kenosha Is Already Swaying Some Voters in Wisconsin.’ … 

“Nothing will harm a campaign like the wishful thinking, fearful hesitation, or sheer complacency that fails to address what voters can plainly see. Kenosha gives Biden a chance to help himself and the country. Ordinarily it’s the incumbent president’s job to show up at the scene of a national tragedy and give a unifying speech. But Trump is temperamentally incapable of doing so and, in fact, has a political interest in America’s open wounds and burning cities.

George Packer, The Atlantic, Aug. 28, 2020

Election results

  • Massachusetts U.S. Senate primary: Incumbent Ed Markey defeated Joe Kennedy III. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, Markey had 55% of the vote to Kennedy’s 45%. Markey, who was first elected in 2013, had endorsements from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Kennedy, who has served in the U.S. House since 2013, had endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Election forecasters say Markey is a solid bet to win re-election in November.
  • Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District primary: Incumbent Richard Neal defeated Alex Morse. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, Neal had 59% of the vote to Morse’s 41%. Neal, who was first elected in 1988, is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. 
  • Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District primary: As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, this primary was too close to call. Nine Democrats were on the ballot for the seat currently held by Joe Kennedy III. Jake Auchincloss led with 23% of the vote, followed by Jesse Mermell with 22% and Becky Grossman with 18%.

State executives

Previewing New Hampshire’s gubernatorial primary

Two of New Hampshire’s top elected Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016. State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes will face Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky in the Sept. 8 primary.

According to WMUR’s John DiStaso, “While Volinsky is viewed as a bit further to the left philosophically than Feltes, in fact the two are similar on many other issues and point to their experiences representing for middle- and low-income people among their chief qualifications to go up against the popular Republican incumbent.”

Feltes and Volinsky differ on a broad-based tax. Since 2002, every New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee has pledged to veto any broad-based tax increase. Feltes has made a similar pledge, while Volinsky says such a promise is outdated, instead committing to reducing local property taxes for the majority of citizens.

Feltes, who has served in the state senate since 2015, has endorsements from End Citizens United, Let America Vote, and the Voter Protection Project. Volinsky, who has been a member of the Executive Council since 2016, is backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Sierra Club, and Blue America.

As of the August campaign finance reports, Feltes led in fundraising with $1.0 million to Volinsky’s $590,000.

The winner will face the Republican nominee and Libertarian Darryl Perry in the November general election. Incumbent Chris Sununu (R) was first elected 49% to 47% in 2016 and was re-elected 53% to 46% in 2018. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the November election and one says it leans towards Republicans.

Previewing New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 primary

Six Democrats are seeking the nomination for one of five seats on the New Hampshire Executive Council. The five-member executive board is responsible for approving state expenditures, overseeing spending, and approving gubernatorial appointments. Incumbent Andru Volinsky (D), who has held the District 2 seat since the 2016 election, is running for governor.

Four candidates—Leah Plunkett, Emmett Soldati, Craig Thompson, and Cinde Warmington—completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. One of the questions on the survey asked candidates what areas of public policy they are personally passionate about. An abridged version of each candidate’s response follows.

Plunkett said: “Leah has demonstrated proven progressive courage through her board service on Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the ACLU. She has stood up and spoke out to make real, proven change even when it was unpopular. With Leah, it’s an important combination: a proven skill set, plus the perspective of a young working mom of two.”

Soldati said: “The Executive Council represents a larger opportunity to expand access to others who have been left out of the conversation – to appoint leaders to agencies and commissions with diverse perspectives on what life is like for Granite Staters, with lived experience that relates to the complex issues we are working to solve, to ensure that the businesses we engage with have strong anti-discrimination policies and pay fair wages, and to safeguard our courts against corporate, partisan, and conservative interests.”

Thompson said: “People of every age, gender, race, national origin, faith background, marital status and family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental and physical ability, economic and social status, and educational background should feel welcome to make New Hampshire their home…We place the highest value on public service of all kinds, civilian and military, and encourage all to engage and serve their communities.”

Warmington said: “We’re facing the most dire public health crisis of our lifetime. Yet, no one on our Executive Council has a health care background. Having an Executive Councilor who understands both the complexities of the health care system and how those are presented in state contracts will be of great benefit. I know what’s in our state contracts. I know what to ask. I know where we can hold state contractors accountable to lower costs and expand access.”

Also on the ballot are John Shea and Jay Surdukowski. Two Republicans are also in the running: Jim Beard and Stewart Levenson. New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 is located in the southern part of the state and has elected a Democrat in every election since the last round of redistricting took place following the 2010 census.

Power players

“Officially affiliated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Courage to Change seeks to reward challengers and incumbents who display political courage — people who refuse to bow to establishment pressure, who advocate ferociously for working-class families, and who have lived the same struggles as the people they seek to represent.” – Courage to Change PAC website

Courage to Change PAC is a political action committee affiliated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The PAC was established in 2019, the same year Ocasio-Cortez assumed office. In addition to financial support, it also endorses candidates, with its most recent endorsement being Alex Morse (D) in the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District primary.

During the 2020 election cycle, Courage to Change PAC has spent a total of $217,386. Its top contributions include $10,000 to the campaign of Samelys López who ran in the Democratic primary in New York’s 15th Congressional District and nine $7,500 contributions to Democratic primary campaigns in New York.

Click the following link to see Courage to Change PAC’s 2020 endorsements.

Biden will speak about school reopenings in Delaware

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 2, 2020: Joe Biden will deliver a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, focused on school reopenings and the coronavirus pandemic. A lawsuit in Arizona is seeking to block Kanye West from the ballot over his party registration.

Presidential Facebook ads, 2019-2020 (August 24-30, 2020)

Notable Quotes of the Day

“We now have a name for our worst-case election scenario. It’s called a ‘red mirage.’

The term describes an election outcome in which early results appear to favor President Trump, but then tip toward a decisive victory for Joe Biden as more mail-in ballots are counted. It was coined by Josh Mendelsohn, CEO of Hawkfish—the political data firm founded by Michael Bloomberg—who warns in a new interview with Axios on HBO that this nightmarish scenario is not only possible but likely according to some of the firm’s modeling.

In one version, Trump could see a projected 408 electoral votes on election night, compared to 130 for Biden, but that’s with only 15% of the mail-in votes being counted, Axios reports. The tide could then turn to favor Biden as we count more votes—polling data shows Democrats are more likely to vote by mail.”

– Christopher ZaraFast Company

“We shouldn’t overdo it. Hawkfish is presenting a scenario in which an apparent 408-130 win for the president on Nov. 3 eventually becomes a 334-204 Biden victory. That’s not impossible, but it’s a stretch. Many states count their absentee ballots rapidly; the California pattern of taking weeks to get it done is relatively rare. It’s possible that normally quick states will collapse this year given unprecedented use of mail voting, but most have been preparing for that possibility and are unlikely to be completely overwhelmed. As Politico’s Steven Shepard points out, large media organizations will also have exit polls, and while those are hardly perfect, the people who run them have had many cycles to get used to early and absentee voting.”

– Jonathan BernsteinBloomberg

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden will deliver a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, focused on school reopenings and the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. Prior to his remarks, Biden will receive a briefing from education leaders in Wilmington on the subject.

  • Biden is airing a new ad in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin featuring clips from a speech he gave on Monday condemning rioting and Donald Trump’s rhetoric.

  • Trump is traveling to Wilmington, North Carolina, for an official White House event on Wednesday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

  • Mike Pence will also campaign in North Carolina on Thursday, participating in an anti-abortion event in Raleigh and accepting an endorsement from the Southern States Police Benevolent Association.

  • Arizona resident Rasean Clayton is suing to block Kanye West from appearing on the Arizona ballot as an independent. The lawsuit says West did not submit paperwork stating he is not a member of a recognized political party. West is registered as a Republican.

Flashback: September 2, 2016

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released notes from its July interview with Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email server while secretary of state.blank

Click here to learn more.

More than 50% of state legislative seats guaranteed to one major party in 12 states

Image of a red sign with the words "Polling Place" a pointing arrow.

In 12 states, more than half of state legislative seats are guaranteed to one of the two major parties in the 2020 elections, according to Ballotpedia’s 10th Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report.

When a candidate from only one of the two major parties runs for a state legislative seat, it is all but guaranteed to be won by that party. Nationally, roughly one-third of the 5,875 state legislative seats up for election this year will be won by one of the two major parties due to a lack of major party competition.

The 12 states where more than half of all state legislative elections feature only one major party candidate are:

The chart below shows the number of seats without major party competition in all even-year elections since 2010:

On the other hand, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire feature the highest percentage of seats with major party competition, all over 90%. In Michigan, 109 of the 110 seats up have major party competition in the general election.

Nationally, Democrats and Republicans are contesting a nearly-equal number of seats this year, with a 35-seat difference between the two parties. This is the most parity in the number of seats contested by each of the two major parties since 2010.

Additional reading:

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 1, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at the announcement of a new phase of reopening in North Carolina, the extension of Mississippi’s mask mandate, school reopenings, and much more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation extending the moratorium on evictions through Jan. 31, 2021, as long as renters pay at least 25% of their rent and file a declaration with their landlord.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced childcare centers can raise class sizes from 10 to 15 children, effective immediately.
  • Maryland (divided government): The state Board of Education approved new minimum requirements for instruction. Schools must be open at least 180 days and offer at least six hours of instruction, of which 3.5 hours must be synchronous instruction (all students taught at the same time) for grades K-12.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) extended the state’s executive order requiring individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces and bars to close at 11 p.m. every night. The order expands school sporting and extracurricular events (like school performances) to 25% capacity. Previously, only two attendees per participating student were permitted.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) extended the moratorium on evictions for 45 days through Oct. 15. Sisolak also announced an additional $10 million in federal relief funds for short-term rental assistance.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced new guidelines for agritourism businesses and activities like corn mazes, hayrides, and pick-your-own produce farms.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 1, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the state’s application to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program (LWA). The LWA allows eligible individuals to receive an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits. President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order on Aug. 8 allowing funds in the Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) program to be used to bolster state unemployment insurance programs.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Sept. 1, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced he would ease some coronavirus restrictions as part of a new phase of reopening, dubbed Phase 2.5, which goes into effect on Sept. 4. Under Phase 2.5, the limit on gatherings will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Museums and aquariums can reopen at 50% capacity. Gyms and indoor exercise facilities can reopen at 30% capacity. Several restrictions, like the ban on bars and movie theaters, will remain in effect.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 31, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that student athletes in counties with between 10 and 24.9 cases per 100,000 could begin playing sports immediately if they test negative for coronavirus. Currently, three counties are in that range, which the state designates as “orange” in its color-coded risk assessment system.

Daily feature: Schools

All 50 states closed schools to in-person instruction at some point during the 2019-2020 academic year. Beginning in May 2020, schools in certain states began to reopen. In which states are schools allowed to open? In which states are they ordered to remain closed?

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Four states (N.M., R.I., Vt., W.V.) have a state-ordered school closure
  • Two states (Calif., Hawaii) have a state-ordered regional school closure
  • Three states (Del., N.C., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
  • Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Mo., Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
  • Thirty-six states have reopenings that vary by school or district

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • The Anchorage Assembly announced that meetings will be open to the public again. Up to 60 individuals will be allowed to watch meetings and give in-person testimony. Attendees must pass a forehead temperature check, fill out a contact tracing log, wear masks, and maintain social distancing.
  • New York City delayed the reopening of schools for 11 days. Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the delay would give teachers additional time to prepare for in-person instruction.
  • On Aug. 24, a Las Vegas hotel, after being fined for hosting an “Evangelicals for Trump” event, filed suit in the Clark County District Court seeking an order invalidating Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. In its complaint, the Ahern Hotel argues that Sisolak’s Directive 21, which allows restaurants and casinos to operate at 50% capacity while limiting other gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, “is unreasonable because there is no rational basis for treating” businesses that host events differently than “similarly situated non-essential business.” The hotel says the disparity is an “unlawful, arbitrary, capricious” and “clearly erroneous” violation of its rights to equal protection and due process. The hotel is seeking a court order allowing convention centers, hotels, and restaurants to host events if they meet other health and safety standards under Phase II of Nevada’s Reopening Response Plan. The city and state have not commented on the suit.

Trump heads to Kenosha to survey damage following protests, hold community roundtable

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 1, 2020: Donald Trump is traveling to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests are taking place following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Republican Voters Against Trump is targeting independent and Republican voters in Florida with an $8 million campaign.

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Trafalgar Group • Michigan • August 14-23, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Morning Consult • North Carolina • August 14-23, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Roanoke College • Virginia • August 9-22, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“One of the most important divides in Minnesota politics is between the diverse, cosmopolitan Twin Cities metro area and ‘Greater Minnesota,’ whose residents often feel short-changed relative to the metro. In 2016, every county in Greater Minnesota got redder, and 19 of them flipped from Barack Obama to Trump.

However, there is a silver lining for Democrats: Several counties in the metro actually got bluer in 2016, powered by formerly Republican suburbs like Eden Prairie, Edina and Chanhassen. Still, it wasn’t enough to counterbalance Democrats’ losses in Greater Minnesota, so the state shifted toward Republicans overall.

So, robbed of the formula that fueled them for so long — an uncharacteristically strong performance in rural areas and among non-college-educated white voters — Democrats are now in serious danger of losing Minnesota for the first time since 1972. It might not happen this year: Biden, after all, leads by 4.2 points in our forecast there. But that is more about Biden’s strength nationally than Minnesota being blue.”

– Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden is airing two new ads in Minnesota focused on his upbringing in Scranton and health insurance. They are part of a previously announced $280 million TV and digital ad reservation in battleground states.

  • Donald Trump is traveling to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where demonstrations against police brutality are taking place following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. According to this schedule, he will survey property damaged during the protests and host a roundtable discussion on community safety.

  • Immigrants’ List Civic Action is airing an ad in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin connecting Trump’s description of the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu” to harassment of Asian Americans.

  • Republican Voters Against Trump is targeting 450,000 independent and Republican voters in Florida as part of an $8 million campaign called Project Orange Crush.

  • Six Democratic mayors in Minnesota—Chris Swanson, Larry Cuffe, John Champa, Chuck Novak, Robert Vlaisavljevich, and Andrea Zupancich—endorsed Trump.

  • The Free and Equal Elections Foundation interviewed Howie Hawkins about his campaign and third parties on Monday.

Flashback: September 1, 2016

Donald Trump hired David N. Bossie as his deputy campaign manager.blank

Click here to learn more.

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 31, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at California’s new color-coded reopening system, an update in the lawsuit over reopening Florida schools, mask mandates, and much more. Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.


The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Inter-island and out-of-state travelers will be required to fill out a Safe Travels application online starting Sept. 1. The online forms will be the same as the paper Safe Travels forms travelers previously had to complete.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gyms and some indoor amusement facilities (like indoor water and amusement park attractions) will be able to reopen starting Sept. 1. Murphy also announced indoor dining services and movie theaters will be able to reopen starting Sept. 4.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released a new color-coded reopening plan. Counties will be classified as one of four colors based on coronavirus spread in each county. They are, in decreasing order of severity, purple, red, orange, and yellow. Different business restrictions will apply to each of the color levels.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 31, schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction. Schools in the state were initially closed on March 16.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 28, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals put a hold on Leon County Judge Charles Dodson’s ruling that Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order requiring schools to open for in-person instruction was unconstitutional.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Aug. 28, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed an executive order allowing already-licensed after-school and out-of-school programs to operate during the school day. State Secretary of Education James Peyser said, “[W]e know that remote learning will be part of the educational experience for many students this fall, so it’s critical that we enable parents, after-school providers, and community organizations to offer additional childcare options and learning supports when students are unable to attend school in person.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunklel extended the state’s stay-at-home public health order and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended and revised the state’s emergency executive order. Both orders are effective from Aug. 29 through Sept. 18. Under the revised emergency order, indoor dining services will be permitted at restaurants and bars at 25% capacity. Church gathering capacity will be increased from 25% to 40%, and other gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed. Museums with static (non-interactive) displays will also be able to resume operations.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Aug. 31, a representative for Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said the governor was expected to make an announcement about reopening some businesses and lifting restrictions on Sept. 1.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 28, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued an emergency order extending the statewide state of emergency for 30 days. Stitt first declared a state of emergency on March 15.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced every public school district in the state except Providence and Central Falls will be permitted to resume in-person instruction when schools reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year. Raimondo said in-person classes are still scheduled to start Sept. 14. Raimondo also signed an executive order extending Phase III of the state’s reopening plan.

Daily feature: Face coverings

We last looked at face coverings in the Aug. 24th edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have adopted a statewide public mask mandate or let a face covering requirement expire.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic.

  • On Aug. 25, a group of businesses filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging restrictions that prevent venues from hosting ticketed live music events and other events with cover charges. Venues are also barred from advertising live entertainment. The plaintiffs argue that the New York Liquor Authority rule “is not just unworkable, it is unconstitutional.” The plaintiffs allege the rule violates the constitutional guarantees of free speech, procedural and substantive due process, and state agency rulemaking procedures. Justin Kantor, the New York Independent Venue Association co-chair, said, “These venues are doing everything possible to safely reopen and offer work to both artists and employees, even if it is at a financial loss, only to have New York state impose knee-jerk regulations that have now added unnecessary and unlawful restraints to our already devastated industry.” The New York Liquor Authority has not commented publicly on the suit, which has been assigned to Judge Gregory H. Woods, an appointee of President Barack Obama (D).

Pro-Trump Preserve America is launching $30 million ad campaign

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
August 31, 2020: Preserve America is launching a $30 million ad campaign in battleground states on Tuesday. Joe Biden and Mike Pence are campaigning in Pennsylvania at the start of this week.        

Notable Quote of the Day

“Predicting the end of political conventions as we know them may be a popular talking point, but it’s not a practical reality. Conventions are an opportunity for networking and building relationships. They’re an opportunity for the parties to inject local economies with a much needed tourism boost and to build some much needed goodwill with swing state voters. So much of what makes a convention a convention is about what happens outside of the convention hall, not inside during prime time.”

– Michael Starr Hopkins, Democratic strategist

“This year’s party conventions aren’t geared toward persuading voters to change their minds. Instead, the conventions are looking to persuade voters to vote. Those same political science studies that found persuasion campaigns don’t work also found that turnout tactics do make a real difference. From now on, party conventions will almost certainly be geared—not toward a traditional polling bounce—but toward increasing likeability for the candidate, building enthusiasm for the campaign, and convincing their own voters on the importance of not letting the other side win.”

– Sarah Isgur, Republican political adviser

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden aired two ads targeting young voters and voters of colors during the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. The ads focused on voter turnout and protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
  • Biden will deliver remarks on his vision for America in southwestern Pennsylvania on Monday. His campaign’s press release said that he will “lay out a core question voters face in this election: are you safe in Donald Trump’s America?”
  • Kamala Harris launched a new Hispanic small business outreach program in Miami with Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell called “Nuestro Negocios, Nuestro Futuro.”
  • Donald Trump traveled to Louisiana and Texas on Saturday to meet with officials and relief workers following Hurricane Laura.
  • Preserve America, a new pro-Trump super PAC led by Chris LaCivita, the Republican strategist behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004, is expected to begin a $30 million ad campaign in battleground states on Tuesday.
  • Mike Pence will speak at a “Workers for Trump” rally and visit a construction company near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 31, 2016

Donald Trump met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City.

Click here to learn more.

Federal court rejects challenge to Ohio exclusive representation law

Sixth Circuit rejects challenge to Ohio exclusive representation law                   

On Aug. 25, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected a challenge to Ohio laws that allow unions to become exclusive bargaining agents for all public-sector employees within a bargaining unit.

Who are the parties to the suit?  

The plaintiff is Jade Thompson, a Spanish teacher at Marietta High School in Ohio.  Attorneys from the Buckeye Institute and Baker and Hostetler, LLP, represent her. The Buckeye Institute describes itself as “an independent research and educational institution – a think tank – whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states.” 

The defendants are the Marietta City School District Board of Education and the Marietta Education Association, a teachers’ union that is the exclusive bargaining representative for the district’s employees. 

What is at issue?

Ohio law allows a union to become the exclusive bargaining agent for all public-sector employees within a bargaining unit, if the union can prove that a majority of the unit’s members want its representation. If a union has been certified as a unit’s exclusive bargaining agent, the public employer must bargain with that union and no one else. This prohibition extends both to individuals and other labor organizations. 

Thompson, who is not a member of the union that represents her bargaining unit, objects to the union’s “policies and to any association with it.” She filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, alleging that: 

  1. Ohio’s exclusive bargaining law “violates her [First Amendment] rights to be free from compelled speech and association”
  2. The law violates her First Amendment “right to meaningfully communicate with the government”

Judge Michael Watson, who was appointed to the bench by George W. Bush (R), rejected these arguments on Nov. 26, 2019. Thompson appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. 

How did the court rule?

The three-judge appellate panel unanimously affirmed the district court’s decision. Judge Amul Thapar, who was appointed to the court by Donald Trump (R), wrote the court’s opinion. Addressing Thompson’s first argument, Thapar cited Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight. In Knight, a group of non-union community college instructors objected to a Minnesota statute allowing an exclusive representative to speak on behalf of all of a bargaining unit’s employees at “meet and confer” sessions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Minnesota had “in no way restrained [the instructors’] freedom to speak … or their freedom to associate or not to associate with whom they please.” Thapar wrote: 

“Knight controls here. If allowing exclusive representatives to speak for all employees at “meet and confer” sessions does not violate the First Amendment, we see no basis for concluding that the result should be different where the union engages in more traditional collective bargaining activities. It appears that every other circuit to address the issue has agreed.”

Regarding Thompson’s second argument, Thapar wrote: 

“First, we consider Smith v. Arkansas State Highway Employees. There, the [Supreme Court] held that the First Amendment imposes no “affirmative obligation on the government to listen, to respond[,] or . . . [to] bargain.” And since the government has no obligation to bargain with Thompson, it is difficult to see how the government’s decision to bargain with someone else violates her rights. Second, in Knight, the Supreme Court recognized that it was “doubtless true that the unique status of the exclusive representative … amplifies its voice in the policymaking process.” But amplification “is inherent in government’s freedom to choose its advisers.” And a “person’s right to speak is not infringed when government simply ignores that person while listening to others.” Thus, Knight again forecloses Thompson’s claim.”

Judges Julia Gibbons and Richard Griffin, both George W. Bush (R) appointees, joined Thapar’s opinion. 

About the Sixth Circui

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court that hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The court has 16 authorized judicial posts and no current vacancies. The chief judge is Guy Cole, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee. Of the court’s 16 active judges, five were appointed by Democrats and 11 by Republicans. Appeals are heard in the Potter Stewart United States Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

What comes next?

Neither Thompson nor her attorneys have not said whether they will appeal the decision. The case name and number are Thompson v. Marietta Education Association (19-4217).

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 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. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have been taken on relevant bills since our last issue.

Trump accepts Republican presidential nomination

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
August 28, 2020: Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican presidential nomination from the White House. Joe Biden aired a two-minute ad during the final night of the Republican National Convention.

Notable Quote of the Day

“According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 30 percent of registered voters said they planned to vote by mail, and 43 percent said they planned to vote in person on Election Day. But among Trump supporters, only 11 percent said they planned to vote by mail, and 66 percent said they planned to vote in person on Election Day. Among Joe Biden backers, 47 percent said they planned to vote by mail, while only 26 percent said they planned to vote in person on Election Day. (The share who said they would vote early in person was consistently 20-21 percent among all three groups: Trump supporters, Biden supporters and voters overall.)

If this holds, it would mean votes cast on Election Day would skew heavily toward Trump, and votes cast by mail would skew heavily toward Biden. This has serious implications for … well, democracy. First, Trump could argue the mail ballots (which, remember, could account for most of Biden’s votes) were fraudulent and thus should not be counted. Although it’s unlikely they’d actually be thrown out, this would damage the credibility of the election in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Second, it could mean the first votes counted on election night will be disproportionately good for Trump, who might claim victory based on incomplete returns. It might not be until days later, after a good chunk of the Democratic-leaning mail vote is counted, that Biden pulls ahead.”

– Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden aired a two-minute ad during the final night of the Republican National Convention on major broadcast channels and Fox News. The ad, which discusses Biden’s vision for the country and does not mention Trump, will continue to run in battleground states over the weekend.

  • 43 Alumni for Biden shared a list of nearly 300 former Bush administration and campaign officials who have endorsed Biden. More than 100 former John McCain congressional and campaign staffers also endorsed Biden on Thursday.

  • Biden said on Thursday that he will resume campaign travel after Labor Day with stops planned in Arizona, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

  • Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination from the White House grounds on Thursday night. He highlighted his first-term accomplishments and discussed the economy, coronavirus pandemic, protests, and public safety. Trump also called Biden “a Trojan horse for socialism.”

  • Trump will hold a campaign event at an airport hangar near Londonderry, New Hampshire, on Friday.

  • Trump will participate in a town hall with undecided voters on September 15—seven weeks before Election Day—on ABC News. George Stephanopoulos will moderate the event.

  • Jo Jorgensen will campaign in Arkansas on Friday and Colorado on Saturday.

Flashback: August 28, 2016

Jake Tapper interviewed Mike Pence about immigration on CNN’s State of the Union.blank

Click here to learn more.

Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 27, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at the extension of mask requirements in Alabama and Indiana, Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s (D) approval of a new stay-at-home order in Oahu, a lawsuit in California over in-person schooling, and much more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Alabama (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kay Ivey (R) extended the state’s mask mandate through Oct. 2. At a press conference, Ivey said, “I understand you don’t want to wear a mask; I don’t either . . . But we are seeing significant drops (in COVID-19 infections) that are no doubt due to the mask order.”
  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a $1.7 billion testing contract with diagnostics firm PerkinElmer. The company will set up a laboratory to report test results within 24 to 48 hours, allowing for tens of thousands of tests to be processed per day by November with a goal of 150,000 per day by March 1, 2021. Newsom said this testing capacity will give the state “the ability to make decisions in real time that will advance our efforts to reopen our schools . . .  reopen our businesses in a more effective and efficient manner, and a more sustainable manner.”
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said he was considering creating mobile testing units to deploy to schools and colleges across the state. Kemp said stationary testing site use was declining and creating mobile sites would allow the state to use the excess capacity.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Gov. David Ige (D) approved Oahu Mayor Kirk Calwell’s order reimplementing a stay-at-home order in the county for two weeks, effective Aug. 27. Individuals can only leave their homes to conduct certain essential activities.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced the state would remain in Phase 4.5 of its reopening plan and extended the statewide mask mandate for another 30 days.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) closed bars, nightclubs, and breweries in Polk, Linn, Johnson, Story, Dallas, and Black Hawk counties through at least Sept. 5. Reynolds cited high positive test rates among young adults in those counties, which are home to the state’s major universities.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Aug. 27, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order detailing the symptoms an employee must have to stay home from work and avoid disciplinary measures from his or her employer. The new order replaces a previous one that included a greater range of symptoms. The new order also stipulates that employees aren’t shielded from disciplinary measures if known medical conditions can explain the symptoms.
  • Nebraska (Republican trifecta): The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced the directed health measures for Phase 3 set to expire Aug. 31 were extended through Sept. 13. Sixty-six counties are in Phase 3. The other 27 counties in Phase 4 will remain in Phase 4 through Sept. 30.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Aug. 26, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced students would be permitted to participate in marching bands and cheerleading activities at football games this fall.

Featured lawsuit

Once a week, we take a closer look at a noteworthy lawsuit involving governmental responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. We define a noteworthy lawsuit as one that has garnered significant media attention, involves major advocacy groups, or deals with unique legal questions. This week, we look at a lawsuit involving prohibitions against in-person instruction at private schools in California: County of Fresno v. Immanuel Schools.

County of Fresno v. Immanuel Schools

On Aug. 25, California Superior Court Judge D. Tyler Tharpe denied Fresno County health officials’ request to temporarily bar in-class instruction at a private Christian school, until the judge issues a ruling.

What is at issue?

The county’s lawsuit seeks to block the school from hosting in-person classes. In its complaint, Fresno County argued that the school’s reopening would violate state and local public health orders and constitute a public nuisance. The County alleges in-person class instruction presents “an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of the students, parents, teachers and staff at Immanuel Schools,” as well as to “the surrounding area, which includes many of the vulnerable agricultural worker populations that are being heavily affected by the COVID-19 virus.”

How did the court rule?

Ruling from the bench, Tharpe refused to issue a temporary restraining order, saying the County failed to “make an affirmative factual showing and a declaration pertaining competent testimony based on personal knowledge of irreparable harm, immediate danger or any other steps or a basis” for blocking the school’s actions at this time.

What were the reactions, and what comes next?

A statement from the leaders of Immanuel Schools said, “We know today’s decision is not permanent. Therefore, we will continue our legal efforts defending our rights to remain open.” Daniel Cederborg, attorney for the county, also reacted to the decision, saying that, while the judge appeared to be “impressed with the schools’ opening plan,” the decision “doesn’t show anything about the merits of the case.” A preliminary injunction hearing is set for Sept. 15, and a separate case, Immanuel Schools v. Newsom, challenging the state-mandated school restrictions, is currently pending before the California Supreme Court.