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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 8, 2020

This is our daily update on how federal, state, and local officials are planning to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, we:

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next three days

What is reopening in the next three days? Which stay-at-home orders will expire?

Nevada and Kentucky will be the 37th and 38th states, respectively, to begin to reopen. Reopen is defined as partially or completely lifting restrictions on three or more industries. They will be the 14th and 15th states with Democratic governors to begin to reopen. There are still eleven states that have not begun to reopen. Nine of them have Democratic governors.

May 9

  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that effective Saturday May 9, restaurants (for dine-in at 50 percent capacity with social distancing measures), personal services such as salons and barbershops (by appointment), and retailers (at 50 percent occupancy) could reopen as part of phase one of the state’s reopening plan. Indoor malls are allowed to reopen for curbside pickup. Cannabis dispensaries will also be allowed to reopen. Dispensaries are encouraged to continue curbside pickup and delivery, though in-store sales can resume with permission from the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Phase 1 of reopening begins Saturday, May 9. The first phase includes allowing elective medical procedures to resume and some state parks to reopen. It allows pilot reopenings of dentist offices, barbershops, salons, and seated dining. Retail stores may also allow in-store pickup for pre-orders. Gatherings are limited to 10 people and social distancing remains in place. The state’s stay-at-home order expires Friday, May 8.

May 11

  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Palm Beach County is allowed to begin reopening. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) approved the reopening today. On Thursday, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner sent a letter asking DeSantis to allow the county to reopen under Phase One of the governor’s reopening plan. Palm Beach was initially left out of the plan alongside Broward and Miami-Dade counties, while the rest of the state moved to Phase One.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Phase 1 of Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) plan is set to take effect Monday, May 11. It includes reopening manufacturing, construction, vehicle or vessel dealerships, office-based businesses (at 50% capacity), horse racing (without spectators), and dog grooming and boarding services.
  • Michigan (divided government): Manufacturing entities will be allowed to resume operations May 11. Michigan began its phased reopening process on April 24.

Since our last edition

Have any states opened? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced that the state’s six casinos could reopen beginning May 18. The casinos will only be allowed to open at 33% capacity and must follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Kentucky (divided government): On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) outlined the second phase of Kentucky’s “Healthy at Work” plan. Effective May 22, restaurants will be permitted to resume at 33% capacity, plus outdoor seating. Effective June 1, movie theaters and fitness centers can reopen. Effective June 11, public and private campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Effective June 15, child-care facilities, subject to capacity restrictions, can reopen. Beshear said the third reopening phase would likely begin July 1. As with the first phase of reopening, each new phase is subject to several criteria, outlined here.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) unveiled her phased reopening plan, “MI Safe Start.” The plan outlines six phases of disease spread from uncontrolled growth to post-pandemic, with restrictions placed on businesses being eased as the state moves through each phase. These phases, and the changes in restrictions implemented in each phase, are outlined here. Whitmer said Michigan was currently in phase three (flattening), which is marked by a relatively stable number of new cases and deaths on a day-to-day basis, stable healthcare system capacity, and increased testing and tracing efforts. The plan does not specify effective or duration dates for each phase. Instead, movement from one phase to another is contingent on meeting specified public health benchmarks.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that beginning May 15, outdoor dining would be allowed at restaurants and bars, and personal services, such as salons and barbershops, could reopen. On May 21, restaurants and bars are permitted to reopen for dine-in service, with restrictions, such as social distancing measures and a 10 person limit on parties.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that 13 counties will move from the red phase into the yellow phase of the state’s reopening plan on Friday, May 15. Those counties will remain under a stay-at-home order until then. Twenty-four counties in the northern part of the state entered the yellow phase Friday, May 8. During the yellow phase, theaters and gyms remain closed, but some types of businesses, such as retail, can begin to reopen with restrictions. Bars and restaurants are limited to carry-out and delivery. Wolf extended the stay-at-home order for counties in the red phase through June 4.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): The second phase of the state’s reopening plan started Friday, May 8. Businesses allowed to reopen at 25% capacity include barbershops, nail salons, and swimming pools.
  • Vermont (divided government): Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that all child care programs in the state can reopen on June 1.

Update on stay-at-home orders

Forty-three states issued orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activities and the closure or curtailment of businesses each state deemed nonessential. Seven states did not.

As of May 8, 15 governors have ended their state’s stay-at-home orders. Twelve of those states have Republican governors and three have Democratic governors. Of the 28 states where governors have not ended their state’s stay-at-home orders, seven have Republican governors and 21 have Democratic governors. (Rhode Island’s stay-at-home order runs through the end of the day.)

Here’s which stay-at-home orders have expired, and when the rest are scheduled to expire.

Tracking reopenings

The table and maps below show the status of plans to lift restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. We update them daily.

We place states into six categories. How does your state stack up?

  • Reopenings in progress: the state has already lifted restrictions on some industries put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Announced reopenings, effective date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a set date.
  • Announced reopenings, contingent date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a targeted date, dependent on other conditions.
  • Announced reopenings, no date: the state has a plan to reopen three or more industries entirely dependent on conditions.
  • Limited or no announced reopening plan: the state has not yet put forth a plan to reopen three or more industries
  • No state-mandated closures were issued.


Featured plan: Oklahoma’s “Open Up and Recover Safely”

This is an in-depth summary of one of the latest reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

On April 22, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and the Governor’s Bounce Back Advisory Group released a three-phase plan, “Open Up and Recover Safely.”

Phases 1 and 2 include descriptions of what may reopen and under what conditions as well as guidance for individuals and employers. Additional details on Phase 3 are forthcoming.

Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals are prohibited in each phase.

Phase 1 allowed personal care businesses and state parks to reopen on April 24. Restaurants, entertainment venues, movie theaters, sporting venues, gyms, tattoo parlors, and places of worship were allowed to reopen on May 1.

In Phase 2, bars may open with reduced standing-room capacity, and funerals and weddings may resume. Phase 3, as currently written, will allow summer camps operated by churches and schools to open. Target start dates for Phases 2 and 3 are May 15 and June 1.

Moving from one phase to another requires “hospital & incident rates remain[ing] at a manageable level for 14 days,” hospitals treating all patients without alternate care sites, “sufficient testing material in the state and ability to conduct contact tracing,” and the state’s ability to “quickly and independently supply sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and critical medical equipment, including ICU equipment, to handle a surge.”

As of Friday, May 8, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce had issued specific social distancing and sanitation guidance documents for 15 industries, which are linked below.

Local governments may implement more restrictions than the statewide reopening plan includes.

Context

  • Stitt declared a state of emergency on March 15. Stitt amended the executive order on March 24 to require vulnerable populations (those over the age of 65 and those with serious underlying medical conditions) to stay home. The amended order also required businesses not classified as critical infrastructure in counties identified by the Oklahoma State Department of Health as experiencing community spread to close. Stitt extended the order, originally set to expire April 15, until May 6.
  • As of Friday, there have been 4,424 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma and 266 deaths. As of July 2019, Oklahoma’s estimated population was 4 million. There are 11.8 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents, and 6.7 deaths per 100,000 residents.
  • Oklahoma is a Republican trifecta, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

Stitt and the Governor’s Bounce Back Advisory Group released the following details April 22. For a list of the group’s membership, see page 5 here.

Pre-Phase 1

The plan says providing guidance for individuals and critical industry employers was a core responsibility of the state before Phase 1 could be implemented.

Guidance for critical industry employers includes developing policies around temperature checks, sanitation, disinfection, travel, contact tracing, social distancing, personal protective equipment, workforce symptom monitoring, and prohibiting sick employees from coming to work. Employers are also encouraged to consider flexible sick leave policies.

The plan links to CDC guidelines.

Guidance for individuals includes adhering to state, local, and CDC social distancing guidelines; washing hands with soap and water; not touching the face; disinfecting frequently-used items/surfaces as much as possible; and staying home and contacting a doctor if feeling ill. The plan also asks individuals to consider wearing face coverings when in public and on mass transit.

Phase 1

Individual guidance:

  • Vulnerable individuals continue to follow safer-at-home guidelines
  • Maximize social distance when in public
  • Avoid socializing in groups/facilities that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing
  • Minimize nonessential travel and adhere to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and executive orders about isolating after travel

Employer guidance:

  • Create plans to return employees to work in phases
  • Close common areas or enforce social distancing protocols
  • Minimize nonessential travel and adhere to CDC guidelines and executive orders about isolating after travel
  • Honor requests for special accommodations from personnel who are members of a vulnerable population

Allowed to reopen or resume April 24:

  • Personal care businesses (hair salons, barbershops, spas, nail salons, and pet groomers) for appointments only. Must adhere to sanitation protocols and follow Oklahoma Department of Commerce guidelines for social distancing at these businesses
  • State parks and outdoor recreation

Allowed to reopen May 1:

  • Dining, entertainment, movie theatres and sporting venues, using CDC’s recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Gyms, if they adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Places of worship for in-person meetings, if they leave every other row/pew open and adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitation, plus the recommended guidelines from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce
  • Tattoo Parlors, for appointments only. Must adhere to sanitation and social distancing protocols

Phase 2

Individual guidance:

  • Vulnerable individuals continue to follow safer-at-home guidelines
  • Maintain social distancing in public
  • Avoid socializing in groups that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing
  • Consider resuming nonessential travel

Employer guidance:

  • Close common areas or enforce social distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Honor requests for special accommodations from personnel who are members of a vulnerable population
  • Recommended to implement social distancing protocols, including proper sanitation and use of protective equipment when interacting with public

What can reopen or resume:

  • Organized sports activities, under social distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Bars, with reduced standing-room occupancy and under social distancing and sanitation protocols
  • Funerals and weddings, under social distancing protocols
  • Children’s nursery areas in places of worship

Phase 3

The following are described as starting points for Phase 3.

Employer guidance:

  • Can resume unrestricted worksite staffing

What can reopen:

  • Summer camps operated by churches and schools

Industry-specific guidance:

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce issued the following industry-specific guidance documents as of Friday.

Reactions

  • Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said,

    “[Tulsa Mayor G.T.] Bynum and I, as well as the Oklahoma Municipal League, have been in constant communication with the Governor this last week as he has developed a statewide vision for a new phase in pandemic response. We are very appreciative for that line of communication with the Governor.

    As was announced three weeks ago, and in the interest of public health, our city’s shelter in place proclamation lasts through April 30th, as does the closure of personal care services.

    On the advice of our local public health experts, it is our intent to follow the spirit of the White House criteria for potentially entering a new phase after April 30th. We dearly hope that public health data allows Oklahoma City to consider entering that new phase on May 1st as the Governor has envisioned. We will continue to monitor public health data and will provide updates on our local plans as we have them.”

  • Norman Mayor Breea Clark said, “This recovery plan will begin the Hunger Games between Oklahoma cities fighting over sales tax, forced to put their economies ahead of the safety of their residents. We are the ONLY state in the nation that ties cities to sales tax to support our general funds the way that we do. It has NEVER been a good system, but the economic fallout from this pandemic is further highlighting why this constitutional provision MUST CHANGE.”
  • Secretary of Health and Mental Health Jerome Loughridge, a member of the Governor’s Bounce Back Advisory Group, said, “We look at a whole multitude of data points. … As long as those are staying at a manageable level, we will proceed to the next two-week period.”
  • Oklahoma State Medical Association President Dr. George Monks said:

    “We are concerned Gov. Stitt’s plan to reopen the state is hasty at best. Even without widespread testing, Oklahoma has seen an ongoing growth in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the past week alone. According to the Trump administration, states should not begin this process until they’ve seen a two-week downward trajectory in COVID-19 cases, and we are far from this point.

    Oklahoma’s physicians, nurses and other health care workers continue to care for those who are ill from this savage disease. To increase the danger of widespread infection by opening prematurely not only discounts their efforts, but also the sacrifices made by their loved ones.”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Idaho: In an interview with KTVB, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean outlined the city’s reopening plan and how it differs from Gov. Brad Little’s (R) state plan. The main difference is the city plans do not have target dates attached to phases, which McLean said allows the city to focus primarily on data and not on the dates.
  • Pennsylvania: Four counties filed a lawsuit against Gov. Tom Wolf (D) over their classification as red counties in the state’s reopening plan. Butler, Fayette, Green, and Washington Counties filed the lawsuit in U.S. district court on Thursday, May 7. The counties argue that their constitutional rights have been violated. The case name and number are County of Butler v. Wolf, 2:20-cv-00677. The docket report can be accessed here.
  • Texas: Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt announced an extension of the joint stay-at-home order. The order will now end on May 31 for the city of Austin and June 15 for Travis County. The orders were modified to align with Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) list of businesses that were allowed to open. Abbott’s reopening order explicitly supersedes local stay-at-home orders.
  • Illinois: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced “Protecting Chicago,” a five-phase reopening process she said would complement Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s state reopening plan. She said she believed the city is in Phase 2. Phase 3 will involve limited reopening of select businesses and public amenities. Physical distancing and face covering guidance continues through Phase 4. Timing of the phases will be determined by meeting a number of public health measures.
  • Florida: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county’s target date for reopening some businesses is May 18. Miami-Dade, along with Broward and Palm Beach counties, were not included in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan.
  • California: State officials allowed Orange County to begin opening county beaches for non-stationary activity with physical distancing Thursday.


Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: May 2-8, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.        

Notable Quotes of the Week

“Democrats have been split since 2016 over whether energizing black voters or winning over some white working-class voters in the industrial Midwest represents the best shot for the party in November. Hillary Clinton’s defeat four years ago was narrow enough that either option could explain it, giving Democrats little certainty as they try to wrestle the presidency from Trump.

Biden is believed to be considering as many as a dozen candidates, but much of the focus has centered on a handful of his former primary rivals, each of whom would fulfill different aims for the party: Warren, a liberal icon; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a Midwestern moderate; and Harris, who would be the first black female nominee. …

Public polling offers little guidance. A new CBS News-YouGov poll found Warren to be the top pick among registered Democrats, at 36 percent to 19 percent for Harris. But asked whether a liberal or a moderate running mate would make victory over Trump easier, 31 percent said a liberal would make Biden’s election easier; 42 percent felt that way about a moderate nominee.”

– Matt Viser, Annie Linskey, and Vanessa WilliamsThe Washington Post

“A pair of major developments give us a hint about how future trends will develop on the partisan battleground.

First: Heading into the 2020 election, President Trump is on track to far surpass President Barack Obama’s record in collecting small donor contributions — those under $200 — lending weight to his claim of populist legitimacy.

Second: Democratic candidates and their party committees are making inroads in gathering contributions from the wealthiest of the wealthy, the Forbes 400, a once solid Republican constituency. Democrats are also pulling ahead in contributions from highly educated professionals — doctors, lawyers, tech executives, software engineers, architects, scientists, teachers and so on. …

Trump’s success in raising small dollar contributions is not necessarily a harbinger of his prospects in November 2020. It does, however, raise a question about the contemporary role of the two major political parties.

Traditionally, one of the core strengths of the Democratic Party has been that voters trust it more than the Republican Party to protect and advance the interests of the middle class. In recent years, however, that advantage has been eroding.”

– Thomas B. EdsallThe New York Times

Week in Review

Delaware postpones Democratic primary for the second time 

On Thursday, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) again postponed the state’s presidential primary, to July 7. The primary was originally scheduled to take place on April 28 before being postponed to June 2. Carney also announced that the state would mail absentee ballot applications automatically to all eligible voters in the primary.

Biden campaigns virtually in Florida

Joe Biden held a virtual campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday. He also participated in a roundtable with African American leaders in Jacksonville and visited a food bank in Orlando, all from his home in Delaware.

Judge reinstates New York’s Democratic primary 

On Tuesday, Judge Analisa Torres of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate New York’s June 23 Democratic primary, which state officials had canceled on April 27. Torres wrote that the “removal of presidential candidates from the primary ballot not only deprived those candidates of the chance to garner votes for the Democratic Party’s nomination, but also deprived their pledged delegates of the opportunity to run for a position where they could influence the party platform, vote on party governance issues, pressure the eventual nominee on matters of personnel or policy, and react to unexpected developments at the Convention.” The primary was originally scheduled for April 28 but was postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic before it was canceled. Democratic members of the New York State Board of Elections appealed the ruling on Wednesday.

Trump visits Honeywell factory in Phoenix 

Donald Trump visited Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday, where he toured a Honeywell factory that is making N95 respirator masks. He said in a speech at the factory, “Thanks to the profound commitment of our citizens we’ve flattened the curve. … We’re reopening our country, and it’s going to be something special.”

Biden wins Kansas Democratic primary   

The Democratic Party of Kansas released the results of its presidential preference primary Sunday. The primary was conducted entirely via mail-in ballot. Biden placed first in the ranked-choice tally with 76.9% of the vote to Bernie Sanders’ 23.1%.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

General election race ratings

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Rufus Gifford is a Democratic staffer with experience in political advising and finance. Gifford received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1996.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2018 candidate for Massachussett’s 3rd Congressional District
  • 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign, finance director

Other experience:

  • 2019-2020: UTEC, advisory board member
  • 2019-2020: Angeleno Group, senior advisor
  • 2019-2020: Run for Something, board of directors member
  • 2019-2020: Priorities USA, board of directors member
  • 2019-2020: Out Leadership, senior advisor
  • 2017-2020: GAME, advisory board member
  • 2013-2017: U.S. Embassy to Denmark, ambassador
  • 2009-2011: Democratic National Committee, finance director
  • 2008-2009: Presidential Inaugural Committee, California finance director

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 4-8, 2016

  • May 8, 2016: 2008 Republican presidential nominee and former U.S. Sen. John McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would support Trump in the presidential election. He commented, “You have to draw the conclusion that there is some distance, if not a disconnect, between party leaders and members of Congress and the many voters who have selected Donald Trump to be the nominee of the party. … You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party.”
  • May 7, 2016: Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders 60-40 in the Guam Democratic caucuses, winning four of Guam’s seven pledged Democratic delegates. By that time, 77% of pledged delegates had been allocated, and Clinton led Sanders by around 300 pledged delegates.
  • May 6, 2016: 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole and former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed Trump. Dole stated, “The voters of our country have turned out in record numbers to support Mr. Trump. It is important that their votes be honored and it is time that we support the party’s presumptive nominee.”
  • May 5, 2016: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stated that he was not ready to endorse Trump for president, saying that the “bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.” Trump replied that he was “not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda.”
  • May 4, 2016: Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) suspended his presidential campaign, one day after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ended his campaign. Cruz and Kasich were the last of Donald Trump’s primary opponents to suspend their bids.

Click here to learn more.



Trump campaign to launch ads attacking Biden

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

May 8, 2020: Joe Biden held a virtual campaign rally in Tampa, Florida. Donald Trump’s campaign manager tweeted ads that will be part of a $10 million campaign against Biden.         

Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the presidential primary updates you need to know:

  • Delaware: Gov. John Carney (D) again postponed Delaware’s presidential primary, to July 7. The primary was originally scheduled to take place on April 28 before being postponed to June 2. Carney also announced that the state would mail absentee ballot applications automatically to all eligible voters in the primary.

Each Friday, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.


Rufus Gifford is a Democratic staffer with experience in political advising and finance. Gifford received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1996.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2018 candidate for Massachussett’s 3rd Congressional District
  • 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign, finance director

Other experience:

  • 2019-2020: UTEC, advisory board member
  • 2019-2020: Angeleno Group, senior advisor
  • 2019-2020: Run for Something, board of directors member
  • 2019-2020: Priorities USA, board of directors member
  • 2019-2020: Out Leadership, senior advisor
  • 2017-2020: GAME, advisory board member
  • 2013-2017: U.S. Embassy to Denmark, ambassador
  • 2009-2011: Democratic National Committee, finance director
  • 2008-2009: Presidential Inaugural Committee, California finance director

Notable Quote of the Day

“A pair of major developments give us a hint about how future trends will develop on the partisan battleground.

First: Heading into the 2020 election, President Trump is on track to far surpass President Barack Obama’s record in collecting small donor contributions — those under $200 — lending weight to his claim of populist legitimacy.

Second: Democratic candidates and their party committees are making inroads in gathering contributions from the wealthiest of the wealthy, the Forbes 400, a once solid Republican constituency. Democrats are also pulling ahead in contributions from highly educated professionals — doctors, lawyers, tech executives, software engineers, architects, scientists, teachers and so on. …

Trump’s success in raising small dollar contributions is not necessarily a harbinger of his prospects in November 2020. It does, however, raise a question about the contemporary role of the two major political parties.

Traditionally, one of the core strengths of the Democratic Party has been that voters trust it more than the Republican Party to protect and advance the interests of the middle class. In recent years, however, that advantage has been eroding.”

– Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden held a virtual campaign rally in Tampa, Florida. He also participated in a roundtable with African American leaders in Jacksonville and visited a food bank in Orlando, all from his home in Delaware.
  • Donald Trump has approved a $10 million ad campaign attacking Biden. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted, “For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star). It is firing on all cylinders.  Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc. In a few days we start pressing FIRE for the first time.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 8, 2016

2008 Republican presidential nominee and former U.S. Sen. John McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would support Trump in the presidential election. He commented, “You have to draw the conclusion that there is some distance, if not a disconnect, between party leaders and members of Congress and the many voters who have selected Donald Trump to be the nominee of the party. … You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party.”

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 7, 2020

This is our daily update on how federal, state, and local officials are planning to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, we:

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next two days

What is reopening in the next two days? Which stay-at-home orders will expire?

May 8

  • Alaska (divided government): Bars and gyms will be allowed to open at 25% capacity Friday. Limits on social and religious gatherings will be increased to 50 people. Businesses will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity and restaurants will be allowed to serve walk-in customers.
  • California (Democratic trifecta): Curbside pickup services may begin for certain types of retail businesses Friday. Permitted businesses include bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting-good stores, and clothing stores. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) made the announcement on May 11.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Retail stores may open for curbside pickup, and barbershops and salons may reopen under sanitation and distancing guidelines Friday. Gov. John Carney (D) announced the changes on May 5.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): The following businesses will be allowed to reopen Friday: dental service providers, campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities, and medical spas. Businesses in the 22 counties exempted from Gov. Kim Reynolds’ (R) April 27 reopening order will be permitted to resume operations Friday. Reynolds issued the proclamation making these modifications yesterday.
  • North Carolina (divided government): The state’s stay-at-home order, in effect since March 30, expires tomorrow. On May 11, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued a modified order that goes into effect Friday. The state will enter the first phase of a three-phase plan. In the first phase, individuals may leave the house for commercial activity. Retail may open at 50% capacity, subject to cleaning and social distancing measures. Child-care centers may open for working parents or those looking for work. State parks and trails may reopen, subject to limits on gathering size. Face coverings are recommended in public, and continued telework is encouraged. Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Twenty-four counties will be allowed to begin reopening Friday and will no longer be subject to the stay-at-home order. Most businesses may open for in-person services, except restaurants, bars, gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons, massage therapy establishments, casinos, and theaters. Businesses that reopen must adhere to guidelines Wolf released on May 4. Gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the changes on May 1.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): The state’s stay-at-home order expires Friday. Gov. Gina Raimondo issued the order on March 28. It was originally set to expire on April 13. Raimondo extended the order until May 8.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): Small-group recreational businesses, such as bowling alleys, will be allowed to reopen tomorrow. Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced the changes on May 5.

Since our last edition

Have any states opened? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Kentucky (divided government): Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack announced that effective May 6, the following types of medical procedures could resume: outpatient gastrointestinal, radiology, diagnostic non-urgent cardiac, outpatient orthopedic, outpatient ophthalmological, outpatient ENT, and outpatient dental procedures.
  • Maryland (divided government): Effective today, healthcare facilities and providers are permitted to resume elective and non-urgent medical procedures, subject to conditions established by the state department of health. The number and types of permitted outdoor activities have also been expanded. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) made the announcement Wednesday.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): In a Wednesday press conference, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced the state was on track to begin phase two of Oklahoma’s reopening plan, “Open Up and Recover Safely.” Phase two would begin on May 15, and allow bars to open with reduced standing-room capacity, along with the resumption of funerals and weddings.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): In a Thursday press conference, Gov. Kate Brown (D) released details on a three-phase reopening plan centered on counties. Counties will need to meet prerequisites related to testing, tracing, and declining COVID-19 prevalence to move between phases, and will need to remain in the first phase for a minimum of 21 days before potentially moving to the next. Counties with low COVID-19 infection rates can begin applying on May 8 to enter the first phase of the reopening process, which will start no earlier than May 15. According to the plan, stand-alone retail businesses across the state, such as furniture stores and boutiques, can reopen with limitations on May 15.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): On May 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in a lawsuit over Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) March 19 order restricting the operations of non-essential businesses in the state. As a result, the state supreme court’s ruling, which upheld the order, was allowed to stand. On March 24, plaintiffs (several Pennsylvania businesses) petitioned the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to vacate Wolf’s order, alleging it violated their constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and judicial review. The plaintiffs also argued the order deprived them of their property without due process or just compensation. On April 13, the state supreme court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) issued an order mandating that all employees at assisted living facilities and daycare centers in the state get tested for coronavirus. The order directs the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia National Guard to oversee and carry out the testing.

Update on stay-at-home orders

Forty-three states issued orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activities and the closure or curtailment of businesses each state deemed nonessential. Seven states did not.

As of May 7, 15 governors have ended their state’s stay-at-home orders. Twelve of those states have Republican governors and three have Democratic governors. Of the 28 states where governors have not ended their state’s stay-at-home orders, seven have Republican governors and 21 have Democratic governors.

Here’s which stay-at-home orders have expired, and when the rest are scheduled to expire.

Tracking reopenings

The table and maps below show the status of plans to lift restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. We update them daily.

We place states into six categories. How does your state stack up?

  • Reopenings in progress: the state has already lifted restrictions on some industries put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Announced reopenings, effective date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a set date.
  • Announced reopenings, contingent date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a targeted date, dependent on other conditions.
  • Announced reopenings, no date: the state has a plan to reopen three or more industries entirely dependent on conditions.
  • Limited or no announced reopening plan: the state has not yet put forth a plan to reopen three or more industries
  • No state-mandated closures were issued.


Featured plan

This is an in-depth summary of one of the latest reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

On April 22, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive providing for the phased reopening of the state.

In the directive, Bullock extended the stay-at-home order for individuals to April 26 and businesses to April 27. The expiration of the stay-at-home order marked the beginning of the first phase of the three-phase reopening.

Bullock’s order has three phases, but no specific timelines for their duration. Instead, each phase “will be regularly evaluated in close consultation with public health and emergency management professionals.” Bullock said the following factors would help determine when the state moves to the next phase:

  • “Ability for public health professionals to monitor new cases adequately and conduct contact tracing.”
  • “Hospitals must maintain the ability to treat all patients safely, both COVID-19 patients and those with other health conditions.”
  • “Montana must maintain its ability to screen and test all people with COVID-19 symptoms and maintain sufficient levels of personal protective equipment.”

If these criteria can’t be met, the state will revert to the previous restrictions or other mitigation measures.

Bullock said the following orders remain in effect:

  • Mandatory quarantine for certain travelers arriving in Montana remains in effect until modified or rescinded by a subsequent order.
  • Limits on foreclosures, evictions, and service disconnections will continue through May 24, subject to modification by subsequent directives.

Context

  • Bullock issued the original stay-at-home order on March 26. It was set to expire on April 10, but he extended it through April 24. On April 22, Bullock extended the order through April 26 for individuals and April 27 for non-essential businesses permitted to reopen on that date.
  • As of May 6, there had been 456 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Montana and 16 fatalities. A total of 19,704 tests had been administered, amounting to a positive test rate of 2.3%. As of July 2019, Montana’s estimated population was 1.1 million. Per 100,000 residents, there have been 42.7 confirmed positives, 1.5 confirmed deaths, and 1,843.7 total tests.
  • Montana has a divided government, with a Democratic governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

Phase 1 guidelines (in progress)

Individuals:

  • Although individuals are not required to remain in their homes, it is recommended that residents continue to minimize non-essential travel, particularly if they qualify as vulnerable individuals.
    • Vulnerable individuals are defined as “people over 65 years of age, people with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, or asthma, and people whose immune system is compromised.”
  • When in public, individuals should maintain six feet of distance from others.
  • Individuals should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people if circumstances inhibit appropriate physical distancing.

Businesses:

  • Guidelines for all businesses:
    • Health screenings must be conducted for all employees at the beginning of each shift.
    • Customers should be physically distanced when waiting in line.
    • Waiting areas that cannot accommodate adequate physical distancing must be closed.
    • Physical distancing of six feet must be maintained between customers.
  • Businesses permitted to reopen or expand their operations on the following timetable, subject to reduced capacity and physical distancing guidelines:
    • April 26: Places of worship.
    • April 27: Retail businesses, personal care services, outdoor recreation sites; organized youth activities.
    • May 4: Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and casinos (at 50% capacity — these businesses must close their doors and have all customers out by 11:30 p.m.).
  • The following businesses must remain closed for the duration of Phase 1, which does not currently have a fixed end date:
    • Gyms, pools, and hot tubs.
    • Other places of assembly (e.g., movie theaters, performance venues, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls).
    • Senior living and assisted living facilities must remain closed to visitors.

Phase 2 guidelines

Individuals:

  • Individuals should avoid gatherings of more than 50 people if circumstances inhibit appropriate physical distancing.

Businesses:

  • In general, all the provisions established in Phase 1 continue to apply in Phase 2. The following additional provisions are set to take effect in Phase 2:
    • Gyms, polls, and hot tubs can resume operations.
    • Other places of assembly can resume operations, subject to gathering-size restrictions and physical distancing guidelines.
    • The reduced capacity threshold for restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and casinos increases from 50% to 75%.

Phase 3 guidelines

In phase three, there are no limits on gatherings, and businesses can resume normal operations, subject to ongoing physical distancing guidelines.

School provisions

Beginning May 7, schools may resume in-person teaching at the discretion of local school boards.

Local provisions

Bullock’s directive explicitly preempts less restrictive local ordinances. More restrictive local ordinances are presumably permitted.

Guidance for individuals and employers in all phases 

The reopening plan lays out the following guidelines for individuals and employers in all phases.

Individuals:

  • Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, refrain from touching your face, sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
  • Regularly disinfect commonly used items or surfaces.
  • “Strongly consider using non-medical face coverings while in public, especially in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.”
  • Individuals who do not feel well should stay home, seek medical advice, and adhere to isolation and quarantine guidelines established by their local health departments.

Employers:

  • Develop and implement policies regarding the following:
    • Social distancing and personal protective equipment
    • Temperature checks and other health screening measures
    • Testing, isolation, and contact tracing, in consultation with public health officials
    • Sanitation
    • Disinfection of common and/or high-traffic areas
  • Employers should monitor their workers for symptoms and not allow symptomatic employees to work

Reactions

  • Todd O’Hair, president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, supported Bullock’s reopening plan: “The Montana business community appreciates the Governor’s leadership over the course of the COVID19 pandemic. The Montana Chamber of Commerce supports a phased approach to re-opening our economy, while still maintaining health standards and containing the spread of COVID-19. Montana businesses are capable of being flexible and partnering with our colleagues and employees to address the challenges that this may pose, and are eager to open our doors once again.”
  • Dr. Marc Mentel, president of the Montana Medical Association, said: “Because of Montana’s aggressive approach of shutting everything down early in the pandemic, we are in the fortuitous position of having a very low viral burden in the state. With that being said, I feel assured that a cautious, vigilant, and step wise approach to opening up our healthcare, commerce, and education sectors could be attempted. Keep in mind that for every two steps forward we might need to take a step back, but it is in everyone’s best interest that we try.”
  • Vicky Byrd, CEO of the Montana Nurses Association, wrote in an April 28 op-ed that the state was moving forward on reopening too quickly: “We know that social distancing and good hand-washing is working but relaxing the stay-at-home order at this point could be counterproductive. The last thing we want is to open up too soon, see another spike in cases, and have to revert back to another stay-at-home order. The Montana response has had a positive result and our concern is if we open before important goals are met, our state will lose progress made and will be compromised.”
  • In the week before Bullock issued his reopening plan, state Republicans launched a social media campaign, STARTMontana (“Strategy To Activate a Real Transition”), urging him to loosen restrictions. The campaign is still active. In a May 1 post on the campaign’s Facebook page, profile administrators said, “The governor still has Montana’s small businesses under heavy restrictions – killing our economy. We are down to just 56 active cases, meaning 86% of people have recovered. Why does the governor refuse to #STARTMontana?”
  • Whitney Williams, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, opposed the possible reopening of schools on May 7: “Reopening our schools should be a statewide decision — backed by science, not expediency. Shifting this decision to local school boards creates a patchwork approach across the state that’s not good for parents, for teachers or for anyone in our state. I believe it’s in the best interests of our children and the safety of our communities to keep schools closed in Montana through the end of this academic year and plan for a fall opening.”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the White House declined to implement its 17-page recommendation for reopening America. The report was compiled at the request of the White House Task Force.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) announced that businesses could begin offering pickup services beginning on Friday. Most park hiking trails and golf courses will reopen Saturday. The trails in Runyon Canyon Park and the city’s beaches will remain closed. Garcetti said vulnerable individuals (over 65 or with preexisting conditions) may not go to the trails or golf courses.
  • The Fond du Lac Reporter profiled several candidates who are taking unique approaches to gathering signatures in Wisconsin. Jeff Jacobs (G) set up a table in his lawn where visitors can sign petitions. Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R) mailed copies of his nomination sheets to supporters, asking them to sign and return them.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced a further postponement of the state’s presidential primary, this time to July 7. The presidential primary, which was originally scheduled to take place on April 28, was first postponed to June 2. Carney also announced that the state would mail absentee ballot applications automatically to all eligible voters in the primary.


Oklahoma House advances bill barring public agencies from requiring donor information from 501(c)s

On April 6, Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall (R) placed SB1491, which would bar public agencies from requiring 501(c) nonprofits to provide them with personal information about their donors, directly on the calendar for floor consideration. The legislation had previously been waiting for action in the House Judiciary Committee. The Oklahoma State Senate, which originated the legislation, approved it unanimously on March 3.

What does the bill propose?

SB1491 would bar any public agency from requiring a nonprofit 501(c) group to provide the agency with personal affiliation information about its donors. The legislation would also prohibit a public agency from publicly disclosing any such information it might have and exempt personal affiliation information from disclosure under the state’s open records law.

The legislation defines “public agencies” and “personal affiliation information” as follows:

  • “Public agency” definition: any state or local governmental unit.
  • “Personal affiliation information” definition: any “list, record, register, registry, roll, roster, or other compilation of data of any kind that directly or indirectly identifies a person as a member, supporter or volunteer of, or donor of financial or nonfinancial support to, any entity organized under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

Under SB1491, a knowing violation of these provisions would constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine, imprisonment for up to 90 days, or both.

What is the political context, and what comes next?

Oklahoma is a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

The legislature suspended its regular session effective March 23. Governor Kevin Stitt (R) called the legislature into a special session, which convened on April 6, to consider legislation addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislature reconvened its regular session on May 4.

  • Oklahoma’s legislature is one of several whose regular operations have been upended as a result of the outbreak. To date, 23 states have suspended their session (in five of those states, sessions have since reconvened). For more information, see this article.

The regular session is set to reconvene today. Adjournment is slated to occur on May 29. It is unclear when SB1491 will be brought to the floor for consideration.

Have other states considered similar legislation? What were the reactions?

Last month, the legislatures of Utah and West Virginia enacted similar bills. Similar legislation is up for consideration in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Michigan lawmakers approved a comparable bill, SB1176, in 2018. Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it; the legislature did not override the veto.

  • In an op-ed for The Detroit News, Sean Parnell, vice-president of public policy for the Philanthropy Roundtable, wrote: “Michiganians are no stranger to anonymous giving, whether it’s the tens of millions of dollars given to support the Kalamazoo Promise or the numerous small anonymous gifts made through sites like GoFundMe.com. The Personal Privacy Protection Act ensures these and countless other acts of kindness can remain private if the giver wishes, while doing nothing to undermine Michigan’s laws regarding disclosure of campaign donations or punishing fraud by nonprofits. If Michigan wants to continue to encourage philanthropic giving, passage of this bill should be a priority..”
  • Opposing the bill, the Campaign Legal Center’s Erin Cholpak wrote, “While other states have been working to close loopholes that have allowed the increasing role of dark money in election campaigns, SB 1176 would codify those loopholes as enforceable law in Michigan. … And even if SB 1176 ultimately exempts campaign finance disclosure requirements from its broad disclosure ban, the bill will still make it easier for Michigan lawmakers to hide any conflicts of interest and could facilitate a rise of pay-to-play politics by shielding such arrangements from public scrutiny.”

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 47 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. 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.

Disclosure Digest map May 4, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart May 4, 2020.png

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

Disclosure Digest partisan chart May 4, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Oklahoma SB1491: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Withdrawn from House Judiciary Committee and directed to calendar April 6.
  • Virginia SB979: This bill extends the applicability of the state’s campaign finance disclosure act to candidates for directors or soil and water conservation districts.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Signed into law April 7.


Trump says coronavirus task force will continue indefinitely

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
May 7, 2020: Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed Joe Biden. Donald Trump said the coronavirus task force would continue indefinitely.  blank    blankblank   


Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Notable Quote of the Day

“If Joe Biden plays his cards right, the death of the traditional presidential campaign will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The 77-year-old Mr. Biden, whom the president derisively calls ‘Sleepy Joe,’ can become the hottest bad boy and disrupter in the media game.

It seems likely that social distancing will force the presidential campaign to be played out entirely on our screens. That will free Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, of the burden of running a grueling, expensive campaign involving incessant travel.

Instead, he can be digitally omnipresent — at a small fraction of the cost and physical toll — and create a new paradigm for how presidential campaigns communicate in the press for years to come.

Mr. Biden’s greatest asset as a campaigner is his palpable empathy. Politicians can learn a lot of tricks — talking points, debate and interview strategies — but personal warmth is something that cannot be taught. It also happens to be a trait that translates well on TV.”

– Lis Smith, The New York Times 

Election Updates

  • Former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed Joe Biden. Holder said, “I think you will see him deal with the whole problem of mass incarceration and continuing the work that we did during the Obama-Biden years to ask questions about the ways in which we have dealt with criminal justice issues in the nation, like, do we need to incarcerate as many people as we do? And are there alternatives to incarceration?”

  • Biden tweeted regarding the February shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, “The video is clear: Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood. My heart goes out to his family, who deserve justice and deserve it now. It is time for a swift, full, and transparent investigation into his murder.”

  • Donald Trump said his administration’s coronavirus task force would continue indefinitely. He tweeted, “… the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people … to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics.”

  • Trump signed a Proclamation on National Nurses Day and met with healthcare professionals in the Oval Office. He said, “This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had.  This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this. And it should have never happened. It could have been stopped at the source. It could have been stopped in China. It should have been stopped right at the source, and it wasn’t.”

Flashback: May 7, 2016

Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders 60-40 in the Guam Democratic caucuses, winning four of Guam’s seven pledged Democratic delegates. By that time, 77% of pledged delegates had been allocated, and Clinton led Sanders by around 300 pledged delegates.blank

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 6, 2020

This is our daily update on the plans federal, state, and local officials are making to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, we:

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next two days

What is reopening in the next two days? Which stay-at-home orders will expire?

May 7

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): Several types of businesses may reopen on Thursday, subject to distancing and other guidelines. The businesses include retailers, wholesalers, shopping malls, car washes, childcare, observatories, pet grooming, and health care services. A full list of businesses is available here (Exhibit G). Gov. David Ige (D) announced the changes Tuesday.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Restaurants, bars, and outdoor recreational facilities in the state may reopen Thursday. Restaurants and bars must close no later than 10 p.m. and must adhere to social distancing and other guidelines. Outdoor recreational facilities can operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., also subject to social distancing guidelines. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced the changes Monday.

May 8

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Curbside pickup services may begin for certain types of stores Friday. The stores allowed to open include bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting good stores, and clothing stores, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Monday.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Retail stores may open for curbside pickup and barbershops and salons may reopen under sanitation and distancing guidelines Friday. Gov. John Carney (D) announced the changes Tuesday.
  • North Carolina (divided government): The state’s stay-at-home order, in effect since March 30, expires Friday. Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued a modified order that will take its place Friday. The state will enter the first phase of a three-phase plan. In the first phase, individuals may leave the house for commercial activity. Retail may open at 50% capacity with cleaning and social distancing measures. Child care centers may open for working parents or those looking for work. State parks and trails may reopen with limits on gathering. Face coverings are recommended in public and continued telework is encouraged. Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Twenty-four counties will be allowed to begin reopening Friday. The 24 counties will no longer be under the stay-at-home order. Most businesses may open for in-person services except restaurants, bars, gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons, massage therapy establishments, casinos, and theaters. Businesses that reopen must adhere to guidelines Wolf released Monday. Gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the changes on May 1.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): The state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire Friday. Gov. Gina Raimondo issued the order March 28. It was originally set to expire April 13. Raimondo extended the order until May 8.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): Small group recreational businesses, such as bowling alleys, will be allowed to reopen on Friday. Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced the changes Tuesday.

Since our last edition

Have any states opened? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) released his Restore Illinois plan. The plan has five phases and splits the state’s 11 existing Emergency Medical Services Regions into four reopening regions. The regions may reopen independently of one another. All regions are currently in Phase Two, which allows for retail curbside pickup and delivery as well as outdoor activities such as golf, boating, and fishing. Phase Three will allow manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops, and salons to reopen with capacity limits, along with gatherings of fewer than 10 people. The plan does not give a timeline for advancing through the phases.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that eight state parks reopened on May 6.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that a number of businesses, including gyms, hair salons, and tanning salons, would be allowed to reopen within the next two weeks. Texas is in the first phase of its reopening plan.
  • Vermont (divided government): Gov. Phil Scott (R) issued an order that loosens restrictions on social gatherings. Gatherings of 10 people or fewer are now allowed. Many types of outdoor recreation, such as golf and outdoor basketball games, are now allowed. Sporting or spectator events are not allowed.

Update on stay-at-home orders

Forty-three states issued orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activities and closing businesses that they each deemed nonessential. Seven states did not. Here’s which stay-at-home orders have expired, and when the rest are set to.

Tracking reopenings

The table and maps below show the status of plans to lift restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. We update them daily.

We place states into six categories. How does your state stack up?

  • Reopenings in progress: the state has already lifted restrictions on some industries put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Announced reopenings, effective date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a set date.
  • Announced reopenings, contingent date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a targeted date, dependent on other conditions.
  • Announced reopenings, no date: the state has a plan to reopen three or more industries entirely dependent on conditions.
  • Limited or no announced reopening plan: the state has not yet put forth a plan to reopen three or more industries
  • No state-mandated closures were issued.

Featured plan

This is an in-depth summary of one of the latest reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) implemented Phase 1 of his four-phase reopening plan, “Safe Start Washington,” Tuesday. Each phase will last at least three weeks.

Monday, Inslee extended the state’s stay-at-home order until May 31 with modifications allowing for Phase 1.

Industry-specific guidelines will be issued for businesses allowed to reopen in each phase. Phase 1-permitted reopenings and activities include drive-in spiritual services, some outdoor recreation, construction, landscaping, auto sales, and retail curbside pickup. As of Wednesday, guidelines for outdoor recreation and construction were available. The remaining guidelines will be released by May 15.

Inslee’s plan also details physical distancing, hygiene, and sanitation guidance and requirements for individuals and employers to follow throughout each phase.

Inslee said he was “mindful of regional differences and impacts across the state with regard to the spread of COVID-19 and our response. … Therefore, some counties with lower numbers of cases and deaths, as well appropriate levels of [personal protective equipment] and hospital capacity, may explore plans for reopening businesses sooner.”

Counties with populations under 75,000 that haven’t identified a resident with COVID-19 in the most recent three weeks may apply for a variance, or permission to move to Phase 2 earlier than the rest of the state.

Specified disease burden and readiness indicators will determine when the state moves to subsequent phases.

Context

  • Inslee declared a state of emergency February 29. The original stay-at-home order was effective March 25-April 6. Inslee extended it until May 4, then until May 31 with modifications.
  • As of May 4, Washington had 15,594 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 862 deaths. As of July 2019, Washington’s population was 7.6 million. A total of 219,453 tests were administered, with a positive rate of 7.1%. Per 100,000 residents, there have been 204.8 confirmed cases and 11.3 deaths.
  • Washington is a Democratic trifecta, with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

Guidance for individuals and requirements for employers in all phases 

The plan states, “Until there is an effective vaccine, effective treatment or herd immunity, it is crucial to maintain some level of community interventions to suppress the spread of COVID-19 throughout all phases of recovery.”

Individuals:

  • Stay at least six feet from other people
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public places when not eating or drinking
  • Stay home when sick
  • Avoid others who are sick
  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently/use hand sanitizer when soap and water not available
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Don’t touch eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces/objects

Employers:

  • Maintain the six-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons. When not possible, adopt other measures, such as barriers to block sneezes/coughs
  • Limit close interactions with patrons
  • Provide adequate sanitation and hygiene for workers, vendors, and patrons. Ensure employees can wash hands frequently with soap and running water
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting, especially of high-touch surfaces
  • Identify and provide to employees personal protective equipment and face coverings in accordance with Department of Labor & Industries requirements on facial coverings and industry-specific COVID-19 standards.
  • Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include:
    • requiring COVID-19-positive employees to stay home and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to COVID-19-positive employees
    • following CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, possibly closing the business until the location is properly disinfected
  • Educate employees about COVID-19, including signs, symptoms and risk factors and how to prevent its spread, in a language they best understand
  • As directed by federal, state, and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other business-specific practices, such as screening employees for illness and exposure upon entry or requiring non-cash transactions
  • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights
  • Comply with state and federal law for healthy workplaces and with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices outlined in “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Proclamation 20-25, and in accordance with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries General Coronavirus Prevention Under Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations

Businesses and activities allowed to resume

Phase 1

For individuals:

  • Some outdoor recreation (hunting, fishing, golf, and more) according to guidance issued April 27
  • Limited nonessential travel to engage in Phase 1-permitted activities
  • Drive-in spiritual services, one household per vehicle

Businesses:

  • Construction, according to guidance issued April 29
  • Landscaping
  • Auto and boat sales
  • Retail for curbside pickup
  • Car washes
  • Pet walkers

Phase 2

For individuals:

  • Outdoor recreation involving no more than five people outside one’s household (i.e., camping, beaches)
  • Gathering with no more than five people outside one’s household per week
  • Limited nonessential travel for Phase 1- and Phase 2-permitted activities

Businesses:

  • Remaining manufacturing and construction businesses
  • Restaurants/taverns at less than 50% capacity and with a maximum table size of five people. No bar seating.
  • Hair and nail salons
  • In-store retail, with restrictions
  • Real estate
  • Professional services/office-based businesses (telework still strongly encouraged)
  • In-home services (i.e., nannies, housecleaning)
  • Pet grooming

Phase 3

For individuals:

  • Outdoor group sports with no more than 50 people
  • Gatherings of no more than 50 people
  • Resume nonessential travel

Businesses:

  • Gyms, pools, and other recreational facilities at less than 50% capacity
  • Professional sports without audience participation
  • Restaurants/taverns at less than 75% capacity and with a maximum table size of 10 people. Bar areas at less than 25% capacity.
  • Movie theaters at less than 50% capacity
  • Customer-facing government services (telework still strongly encouraged)
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • All other business activities except nightclubs/events with more than 50 people

Phase 4

For individuals:

  • For high-risk populations, public interactions resume with physical distancing
  • All recreational activity resumes
  • Gatherings with more than 50 people allowed

Businesses:

  • Nightclubs
  • Concert venues
  • Large sporting events
  • Resume unrestricted worksite staffing, with continued physical distancing and good hygiene

County variance

Counties with populations under 75,000 that have not identified a COVID-19-positive resident in three weeks may apply to move to Phase 2 before the state as a whole. Secretary of Health John Wiesman will approve or deny applications.

On May 4, Inslee said 10 counties met that criteria: Columbia, Garfield, Jefferson, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Kittitas, Ferry, and Grays Harbor.

Inslee’s plan says he and the Department of Health will consider additional criteria for allowing other counties to apply for a variance, including cases per capita, in the next two weeks.

Steps for counties to follow when applying for a variance can be found on page 7 here.

Reactions

  • Republican state Reps. Drew MacEwen, Andrew Barkis, Chris Corry, and Brandon Vick sued Inslee in federal court Tuesday over his stay-at-home order extension. Their complaint stated the following:

    “Today, we know far more than we knew in early March about COVID-19. We know that the emergency has been averted. We know that the threat to vulnerable populations remains. We know that there is no longer an emergency in the State. …

    Unfortunately, the Governor insists that he, and he alone, can determine whether an emergency exists. He claims that it’s an emergency if he says it’s an emergency, and that no one—not the legislature, and not the courts—can gainsay him. He claims that the emergency can continue as long as he thinks it continues, and no one but he can say otherwise.

    The Governor has assumed the sole power to determine whether a person in Washington can worship, can peaceably assemble, can work, can build needed housing, can offer living space for rent, can engage in any activity.

    But the facts, and the science, are clear: when the entirety of public knowledge is examined, there is no public disorder or threat to public order in the State of Washington.”

  • Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D) tweeted in response to the lawsuit, “I am deeply disappointed that any legislator would advance a frivolous lawsuit like this that, if taken seriously by the public, is incredibly dangerous. There is no road to economic recovery that skips limiting the transmission of #COVID19. Until then, we must #StayHome.”
  • Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward wanted Inslee to consider allowing Spokane County to move to Phase 2 early. Woodward said, “We’re seeing new cases in single digits for a county with a half-million population, and we have no new deaths. We have 10 people in the hospital right now. … I think we have to start looking at those numbers too.”
  • Washington Hospitality Association President Anthony Anton wrote, “This has been a difficult time for our industry. Restaurants are not only eager but ready to serve guests in our restaurants once the state moves forward into Phase 2 of reopening.”

    We want to thank the governor for working collaboratively with the Washington Hospitality Association, and for his trust in our industry’s preparedness to serve the community safely as soon as we get the green light.”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) criticized Sutter and Yuba counties for allowing many businesses to open Monday. He said, “They’re making a big mistake. They’re putting their public at risk. They’re putting our progress at risk.” Newsom did not say whether the state would take action against the counties. He said, “I would encourage them just to do the right thing.” For more on the county reopening orders, see Monday’s edition.
  • Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that retailers, offices, and personal care services in Denver could reopen Saturday. Customers must be six feet apart and businesses are limited to a capacity of either 10 people or 50% of normal, whichever is lower. Offices are allowed to open at 50% of normal staffing with employees at least six feet apart.
  • Three schools in Montana announced they will resume in-person instruction on Thursday when the state’s school closure order expires. Gov. Steve Bullock (D) said that the decision whether or not to reopen schools would be up to local officials. The three schools are Cohagen Elementary School (14 students), Cooke City Elementary School (six students), and Willow Creek School (50 students).
  • Judge Analisa Torres of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate the June 23 Democratic presidential preference primary, which the board had previously canceled. Andrew Yang, a former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and several candidates for New York’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention filed the lawsuit April 28. Learn more here.


Ballot Bulletin: Candidate filing changes under COVID-19

States modify candidate filing procedures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak 

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, at least 12 states have modified their candidate filing procedures for certain elections. Today, we examine this topic in depth, reviewing both the permanent statutory framework for candidate ballot access and the temporary modifications made in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Background

In order to have his or her name printed on the ballot for an elective office in any given state, a candidate must meet a variety of state-specific filing requirements and deadlines. These ballot access laws are established and enforced at the state level. A candidate must prepare to meet ballot access requirements well in advance of primary and general elections. 

Broadly speaking, there are three ways by which an individual can become a ballot-qualified candidate for elective office: 

  1. An individual can seek the nomination of a state-recognized political party. In this case, a candidate generally participates in partisan primaries. He or she may be required to collect petition signatures, pay filing fees, or both. 
  2. An individual can run as an unaffiliated (i.e., independent) candidate. Like partisan candidates, he or she may be required to collect petition signatures, pay filing fees, or both. 
  3. An individual can run as a write-in candidate. In states that permit write-in voting, a candidate may be required to file some paperwork in advance in order to have his or her votes tallied. These candidates are generally not subject to the same petition and filing fee requirements as partisan and unaffiliated candidates. 

Modifications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak

Some of the social distancing policies implemented by state and local governments have complicated efforts by candidates to collect petition signatures in person. As a result, candidates have sought modifications to petition signature requirements, filing deadlines, and other candidate filing procedures. 

At least 12 states have made such modifications. These states are shaded in blue in the map below. State-specific details are provided below the map. 

  • Florida: Candidates authorized to submit qualifying documents, including signed petitions, electronically.
  • Georgia: Petition deadline for minor-party and unaffiliated candidates postponed to August 14, 2020.
  • Illinois: Candidates for state-level office exempted from filing statements of economic interests for the duration of the governor’s disaster proclamation period and for 30 days thereafter. Unaffiliated and new-party candidates authorized to collect petition signatures electronically. Unaffiliated and new-party candidate filing deadline extended to August 7, 2020. Petition signature requirements for unaffiliated and new-party candidates reduced to 10 percent of their original numbers.
  • Maine: Petition deadline for unaffiliated candidates postponed to July 1, 2020.
  • Massachusetts: Candidate filing deadlines for district and county races postponed to May 5, 2020, and June 2, 2020, respectively. Candidate petition signature requirements reduced to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. Candidates authorized to collect petition signatures electronically.
  • Michigan: Petition signature requirements for select primary candidates reduced to 50 percent of their original numbers. Candidate filing deadline extended from April 21, 2020, to May 8, 2020. Election officials directed to develop procedures allowing for the collection and submission of electronic petition signatures. Modifications applied only to candidates for whom there is no filing fee option (i.e., candidates for statewide and judicial office). 
    • Note: On May 5, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the district court judge who ordered the aforementioned modifications had erred in doing so. Although the appeals court agreed that the original requirements were unconstitutional, it found that the lower court had exceeded its authority in mandating new requirements to the state. The appeals court directed the state “to select its own adjustments so as to reduce the burden on ballot access, narrow the restrictions to align with its interest, and thereby render the application of the ballot-access provisions constitutional under the circumstances.”  
  • New Jersey: Candidates permitted to collect petition signatures electronically and submit petitions online. Petition deadline for unaffiliated candidates for non-presidential office extended to July 7, 2020.
  • New York: Petition signature requirements for primary candidates reduced and signature-gathering process suspended effective March 17, 2020.
  • Texas: Petition deadline for independent candidates for non-presidential office extended to August 13, 2020.
  • Utah: Candidates and/or campaigns authorized to deliver petition sheets to voters electronically. Voters permitted to return signed petition sheets electronically or by mail.
  • Vermont: Candidate petition signature gathering requirements suspended for the August 2020 primary and November 2020 general elections.
  • Virginia: Petition signature requirement for Republican primary candidates for the United States Senate reduced to 3,500. Petition deadline for independent candidates for non-presidential office extended to June 23, 2020.


Lawsuits 

A number of these modifications have been instituted by court order. The number of lawsuits involving election administration issues in light of the COVID-19 outbreak has been increasing in recent weeks. To date, we’ve tracked 43 such lawsuits across 24 different states. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 15 of those lawsuits. 

For example, on April 17, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order extending the candidate filing deadlines for district and county races to May 5 and June 2, respectively. The high court reduced candidate petition signatures requirements to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. The court also authorized candidates to collect petition signatures electronically.
 

Election postponements

Since our April 22 edition, we’ve tracked the following election postponement updates: 

  • New York: Judge Analisa Torres, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate the Democratic presidential preference primary, which the board had previously canceled, on June 23. The state board of elections had canceled the primary after removing from the ballot all candidates who had suspended or terminated their campaigns.


To date, 20 states and one territory have postponed or canceled upcoming state-level elections. These states are shaded in dark blue on the map below. In another five states, state-level officials have modified, or have authorized the modification of, municipal election dates. These states are shaded in light blue on the map below.

Absentee/mail-in voting modifications

Since our April 22 edition, we’ve tracked the following absentee/mail-in voting modifications: 

  • Connecticut: Mail-in ballot applications sent automatically to all voters in the August 11, 2020, statewide primary and November 3, 2020, general election.
  • Kentucky: Absentee/mail-in voting eligibility requirements suspended, allowing all voters to cast ballots by mail in the June 23, 2020, primary election.
  • New York: Absentee/mail-in voting eligibility requirements suspended, allowing all voters to cast ballots by mail in the June 23, 2020, primary election. Mail-in ballot applications sent automatically to all voters in the June 23, 2020, primary.
  • Oklahoma: The state supreme court struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized, finding that the requirement did not qualify as an exception under a state law establishing that statements signed and dated under the penalty of perjury carry the force of an affidavit.
  • Virginia: A federal court approved a partial settlement suspending the witness requirement for absentee ballots. The suspension applies to the June 23, 2020, primary election.


To date, 26 states have made modifications to their absentee/mail-in voting procedures. These modifications can be divided into five broad categories:

  • Automatic mail-in ballots: Five states (California, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey) have opted to send mail-in ballots automatically to all eligible voters in advance of select upcoming elections to ensure that most voting takes place by mail. These states are shaded in yellow in the map below. 
  • Automatic mail-in ballot applications: Eleven states (Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and West Virginia) are sending mail-in ballot applications automatically to all eligible voters in advance of select upcoming elections. These states are shaded in dark blue in the map below. 
  • Eligibility expansions: Seven states (Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, and Virginia) have expanded absentee voting eligibility in select upcoming elections. These states are shaded in light blue in the map below. 
  • Deadline extensions: Two states (Ohio and Wisconsin) have extended absentee/mail-in ballot request or submission deadlines in select elections. These states are shaded in dark gray in the map below. 
  • Procedure changes: Two states (Oklahoma and Virginia) have made other changes to their absentee/mail-in voting procedures that do not fall into one of the four categories listed above. These states are shaded in light gray in the map below. 


Legislation tracking 


To date, we have tracked 92 bills that make some mention of both election policy and COVID-19. States with higher numbers of relevant bills are shaded in darker blue on the map below. States with lower numbers of relevant bills are shaded in lighter blue. In states shaded in white, we have tracked no relevant bills. 

Legislation related to elections and COVID-19, 2020 

Current as of May 5, 2020


Looking ahead 

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau announced on April 13 that they would ask Congress for a four-month extension of the statutory deadline for delivering redistricting-related census data to the states. If that extension is granted, the states will receive that data in July 2021 as opposed to February or March 2021. 

This will have a considerable impact on the redistricting process in the states. In a recent newsletter, political pundit Jim Ellis outlined some of the complications that might result from this proposed postponement: 

“First, the political leaders in New Jersey and Virginia, places that have 2021 elections and need their new state legislative lines in place well before that date, would find themselves in a difficult position. Initially, the two states would certainly have to postpone their primary elections because both nominate their general election candidates in June.  Beyond that, it is possible they would have to even postpone their general elections into [2022] or run in the obsolete boundaries that were drawn back in 2011.  In either case, we could expect lawsuits being launched from whichever party loses a particular electoral contest.” 

“Other states would be affected, too.  Many have legal deadlines in place mandating that the new redistricting maps for state legislature and the US House delegation be adopted before the legislative sessions ends.  Most states recess before mid-summer, which would mean special sessions being called if the legislature is to act.” 

In our May 20 issue, we will explore this issue in greater depth. 



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 17 (May 6, 2020)

This week: Super PACs release ads in Kansas’ Senate election, Minnesota GOP endorses primary candidates, and Montana gubernatorial candidates hold virtual debate

On the news

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

“The winners in the quarantine are those who would have been seriously infected by COVID-19 were it not for this lockdown. The losers are people like those mentioned above, and countless more. While the quarantines may have been justified on net, the hard fact remains that the losers are losing a lot.  It is naive to expect them to tolerate this indefinitely, especially in light of the actual course the disease has taken (as opposed to the initial estimates), the arbitrariness and political tinge of many government policies, and the uniformity of its imposition within states despite wildly divergent disease trajectories.  

This quarantine has been an incredibly destructive policy, and the harms have not been distributed evenly across the United States. Some people are suffering much, much more than others. It is a testament to the American spirit that so many have endured this hardship for so long — a tribute to our people’s commitment to the good of all. But these protests are an indication that this kind of fellow-feeling only goes so far. Absent a draconian police state or a massive system of bribery and patronage, respect for the law is ultimately premised on the belief that the law is good. If enough people conclude that these laws are ruining them, look out.”

Jay Cost, RealClearPolitics, May 3, 2020

“The movement to ‘reopen’ America is a fallacy based on a fantasy.

The fallacy is the notion that lifting stay-at-home orders will result in people going back to their normal routines. This is false. The state-issued stay-at-home orders did not determine most people’s desires to stay home—they merely ratified behaviors that the vast majority of people and institutions were already adopting in response to COVID-19.

The fantasy is that we can go back to what the world looked like 12 weeks ago. This is not possible now and will not be possible until we possess a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.”

Jonathan Last, The Bulwark, April 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Amash presidential bid would make MI-03 an open race

Rep. Justin Amash announced last week he’d formed an exploratory committee for the Libertarian nomination for president. The race for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District will likely be open, as Amash can only run for one office under state law. 

Amash has been elected and re-elected to the House as a Republican since 2010. He switched his affiliation to independent in July 2019 before joining the Libertarian Party Friday.

Inside Elections‘ Nathan Gonzalez said, “Amash’s presidential run is a gift to House Republicans. … Without Amash running for reelection and complicating the race as an independent, Republicans shouldn’t have a problem taking his district back in November.”

Five candidates are running in the Aug. 4 Republican primary. Media outlets call army veteran Peter Meijer (of the Meijer supermarket family) and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis the frontrunners. 

Both candidates have received support from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Afendoulis reached the first level of the Young Guns program and Meijer, the second level.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) endorsed Meijer last week. Former candidate and businessman Joel Langlois recently endorsed Afendoulis.

Afendoulis’ campaign spokesperson Peter Towey said of McCarthy’s endorsement, “With all due respect to the leader, Peter Meijer helped found a group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect nine democrats who voted to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker and impeach President Trump.”

Meijer has donated to With Honor Fund, which supports armed forces veterans for Congress regardless of affiliation. Meijer said, “I’m not fazed now by baseless attacks from my opponent on how I’ve worked to help elect conservative war heroes like Dan Crenshaw, Mike Waltz, and Brian Mast.”

Meijer had raised $1 million through March 31, including $325,000 he loaned his campaign. Afendoulis raised $462,000. She loaned her campaign $56,000.

Super PACs release opposition ads in KS Senate primary

Club for Growth Action released an ad opposing U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall in the Senate primary in Kansas, while Keep Kansas Great PAC aired an ad opposing former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Club for Growth Action, which has not endorsed in the race, said in its ad, “In 2018, as the World Health Organization became China’s puppet, Marshall repeatedly voted to fund it.” 

Keep Kansas Great PAC supports Marshall and said in its ad that Kobach “is being bankrolled by an anti-Trump D.C. special interest group,” referring to Club for Growth. The ad also said Kobach will lose again, referring to the 2018 gubernatorial election, where Democrat Laura Kelly defeated him 48% to 43%.

Six candidates are running in the Aug. 4 primary

Candidate Bob Hamilton released his first TV ad, highlighting the plumbing business he started. He said, “If you want more of the same from Washington, I’m probably not your guy.”

Last week, the Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed Marshall and called on other candidates to unite behind him. We recently reported that the Kansas Republican Party chairman asked two candidates, former Johnson County Commissioner Dave Lindstrom and state Senate President Susan Wagle, to drop out of the race.

MN-02, MN-07 GOP endorse primary candidates 

District Republican parties endorsed Tyler Kistner in the 2nd District primary and Michelle Fischbach in the 7th District primary. The virtual conventions took place May 2.

In the 2nd District, five candidates are running. Kistner took 62% support on the first ballot at the convention. Candidates needed 60% for the endorsement.

Five candidates are running in the 7th District. Fischbach won the endorsement on the eighth round of voting, receiving 65%. 

Second with 35% was Dave Hughes, the district’s Republican nominee in both 2016 and 2018. In both elections, incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson (D) defeated Hughes.

President Donald Trump endorsed Fischbach in March.

Minnesota’s 2nd and 7th Districts are among 30 Democratic-held U.S. House districts that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. 2nd District incumbent Angie Craig was first elected in 2018 with 53% of the vote. Peterson has been in the House since 1991.

State executives

Montana gubernatorial candidates hold virtual debate

Montana Republicans held their first televised gubernatorial debate of the primary season Saturday. Each of the three candidates—state Attorney General Tim Fox, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, and state Sen. Al Olszewski—appeared via webcam rather than gathering in person.

Fox criticized Gianforte for how he had run his campaign, accusing him of avoiding the press and his opponents and of buying the election by self-funding his campaign $1 million. Fox argued he was the only candidate who could win the general election, saying Gianforte’s policy proposals were not feasible and that he had lost the 2016 gubernatorial election to Steve Bullock (D).

Gianforte said he had sought to run a positive campaign and that Fox’s criticisms were untrue. In response to Fox’s argument that he would be best-positioned to win the general election, Gianforte said his internal polling numbers showed him outperforming Fox. He argued that his background as a business owner would leave him in an especially strong position to support economic growth.

Olszewski said neither of his opponents’ platforms had as much in common with the state GOP’s official platform as his does, citing his opposition to the Flathead Water Rights Compact and his proposal to find a legal mechanism for ending Montana’s expanded Medicaid program. Olszewski called for funding public education via natural resource taxes and royalties rather than property taxes, allowing the latter to be cut.

The June 2 primary is open to all voters. Republicans last won a Montana gubernatorial election in 2000.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner removed from primary ballot

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Boyd Dunn was disqualified from seeking re-election Thursday owing to the discovery of forged signatures among his nominating petitions. 

Following a pair of challenges to Dunn’s nominating signatures, a petition circulator who had worked with the Dunn campaign informed Dunn’s attorney she had forged more than 100 signatures. Because she could not identify which signatures were forgeries, all 165 signatures she had collected were rejected, leaving Dunn 92 signatures short.

In his ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman said the evidence suggested Dunn had been unaware of the forgery and had not committed any wrongdoing. Dunn released a statement saying he planned to appeal the decision.

Arizona’s corporation commission is a five-member board whose responsibilities mostly involve regulation and oversight of state utilities. Members are elected to four year terms in statewide elections, with three commissioners elected in each presidential election year and two in each midterm election year. All five incumbent commissioners are Republicans.

Four Republicans, including incumbent Lea Marquez Peterson, qualified for the Aug. 4 primary. The top three finishers will advance to the general election, where they will face the three Democratic nominees and any third party or independent candidates. The top three finishers in that race will be elected to the commission.

Republican Governors Association launches ad buy in support of incumbent governors

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) launched an online ad campaign Friday in support of all six Republican governors up for re-election this year. The ads praise the governors’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Four of the ads feature governors who face at least one primary challenger. A fifth is running in support of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, who has not yet declared whether he is running for re-election, but will face a contested primary if he does. The sixth incumbent, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, does not have a primary challenger.

Legislatures

Mailers target SD state Senate candidates over school vaccination bill

Mailers targeted two term-limited state representatives running for open seats in the South Dakota State Senate. The mailers criticized Reps. Lee Qualm 

(R-21) and Isaac Latterell (R-06) for their sponsorship of House Bill 1235 during the 2020 legislative session.

H.B. 1235 would have removed the requirement that students receive vaccinations before entering public or private school. Speaking in support of the bill, Qualm said he did not oppose vaccinations and described H.B. 1235 in terms of medical freedom, saying, “this bill provides the freedom to decide if you want to get all of the vaccinations as scheduled, some of the vaccinations, or none of the vaccinations.” The bill failed in committee 10-2.

Qualm and Latterell are both running in competitive primaries. In District 21, Qualm, the current House Majority Leader, faces a challenge from political newcomer Erin Tobin (R), a nurse practitioner. In District 6, Latterell faces Rep. Herman Otten (R), Latterell’s term-limited seatmate.

Over the past week, voters in Districts 21 and 6 received separate mailers urging them to oppose Qualm and Latterell in their respective primaries, citing their sponsorship of H.B. 1235, specifically. Both versions of the mailers included text that read, “It’s time to fight the science deniers as if our health depends on it” and “We need to stop the spread of fake health information now.”

The mailers were attributed to Pac’n Heat, a statewide political action committee chaired by Deb Peters (R), a former state legislator. Peters represented District 9 in the state House from 2005 to 2019. She resigned that year and took a job with the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO), where she is now the chief financial officer.

According to its website, the SDAHO is a lobbying and advocacy organization that serves “as the voice for South Dakota’s hospitals and healthcare organizations encompassing the full continuum of care.” Its C.E.O., Tim Rave (R), a former legislator, testified against H.B. 1235 in committee.

In addition to Qualm and Latterell, twelve other legislators sponsored or co-sponsored H.B. 1235, three of whom are also facing primaries: Reps. Thomas Brunner (R-29), Tim Goodwin (R-30), and Dayle Hammock (R-31).

South Carolina GOP supports primary challenge against incumbent Republican representative

Last week, the S.C. state Republican Party sent mailers to voters in House District 8 encouraging them to vote for Vaughn Parfitt (R) in the June 9 Republican primary, rather than incumbent Republican Rep. Jonathon Hill.

According to the Greenville News, “Hill has a reputation for voting against spending provisions and other measures supported by the GOP rank-and-file.” Hill was suspended from the House Republican Caucus in 2019, which he attributed to his vote against a 2017 constitutional-carry bill.

In a statement, the state GOP’s executive director, Hope Walker, wrote, “Due to extreme and unprecedented behavior, the incumbent was expelled from the Republican House Caucus … and we are making resources available to a Republican candidate who will actually support Republicans.”

After learning that the state party was supporting his opponent, Hill wrote, “I believe in the party platform, it’s why I choose to run as a Republican, and I have supported the party with my time and money for a decade now.”

Parfitt, an optometrist, said he’s running against Hill because “We’re not getting representation in this district,” adding, “I just felt like it was time that I had to something so I jumped in.”

Hill has faced a contested primary in every election since he was first elected to represent District 8 in 2014, when he defeated incumbent Rep. Don Bowen (R) 57-43% in a primary. The winner of the upcoming Republican primary will likely face Jackie Todd (Alliance Party of South Carolina) in the general election, the only other candidate running for the seat.

Power players

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.” – U.S. Chamber of Commerce website 

Founded in 1912, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit membership organization that says, “Our organization has one overarching mission—to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.”

The Chamber was established after President William Howard Taft proposed a group of business community representatives to function as a “central organization in touch with associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country and able to keep purely American interests in a closer touch with different phases of commercial affairs.” 

To view a brochure of the organization’s policy priorities for 2020, click here.

The Chamber has recently endorsed Randy Feenstra (R) in IA-04 and Matt Rosendale (R) for Montana’s at-large representative.  



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 17 (May 6, 2020)

This week: Major education groups split NJ-02 endorsements, Ossoff and Tomlinson release first TV ads in Georgia Senate primary, and Colorado Senate ballot access battles continue

On the news

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

“Believing women, that oft-rehearsed exhortation, must mean taking action if it’s to mean anything. A thorough and fully transparent investigation is critical, but nothing produced by any inquiry will entirely settle the question. It is still possible — if not likely — that all of this will simply fade away, and that Mr. Biden will continue his campaign without ever submitting to a full accounting, precisely the sort of thing #MeToo was meant to prevent.

But it is also possible that this won’t just go away, and that it will demoralize voters and place Mr. Biden at a disadvantage against Mr. Trump in the general election, despite the fact that Mr. Trump has a damning list of accusers alleging sexual offenses. For a candidate mainly favored for his presumed electability and the perception of empathy and decency, that’s a serious liability. To preserve the strides made on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the era of #MeToo, and to maximize their chances in November, Democrats need to begin formulating an alternative strategy for 2020 — one that does not include Mr. Biden.”

Elizabeth Bruenig, The New York Times, May 3, 2020

 

“Here’s the devilish thing about this Schrödinger’s cat scenario. In the version of reality in which Biden did assault Reade, we can at least debate the justice of throwing him off the ticket. In the version of reality in which he didn’t assault her, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice.

In other words, the progressives who want to force Biden off the ticket have given almost no thought to what would happen next, and what few ideas they have floated are in contradiction with each other. The replacement should either be a former candidate, or somebody who didn’t run, and they should either be picked by the remaining voters or by the party. Oh, and remember, there’s also an ongoing pandemic, which means there can’t be more campaigning and might not be an in-person convention. Good luck!

Had Reade told her story several months earlier, Democratic voters might have chosen a different nominee. In the meantime, the only mechanism to pick the nominee that is either practical or legitimate is the process we had: the actual votes of Democrats, who very clearly and deliberately decided to nominate Joe Biden.”

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, May 5, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ossoff, Tomlinson release first TV ads in Georgia Senate primary

Jon Ossoff and Teresa Tomlinson have released the first TV ads in the Senate Democratic primary in Georgia, both focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ossoff’s ad features his wife, who is a doctor. He says, “It’s never been clearer we need to stand up to the health insurance companies that have bought off Congress. … I’m not taking their money, and I won’t stop fighting until everyone has great healthcare.” 

Tomlinson criticizes Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) reopening plan and calls Sen. David Perdue (R) “an invisible senator” in her ad. She highlights her experience as the public safety director and mayor of Columbus.

Ossoff ran in the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District—the most expensive House race in history, where candidates and satellite groups spent more than $50 million. Ossoff was also an investigative journalist. 

Tomlinson was mayor of Columbus from 2011 to 2019.

Also in the seven-candidate field is Sarah Riggs Amico, the 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and former executive chairwoman of a trucking company.

Each candidate has highlighted their performance in previous elections as evidence they can win in November. 

On policy, each candidate supports expanding Medicare and background checks on gun purchases. Each opposes open borders and abolishing private health insurance. Each also said they would not accept money from corporate political action committees.

The primary is June 9. 

Major education groups split NJ-02 endorsements

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) PAC endorsed Amy Kennedy in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District primary last week. The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) endorsed Brigid Callahan Harrison in January. 

Kennedy was a public school teacher and member of NJEA. 

NJEA President Marie Blistan said, “I know that Amy will keep the promises made to educators and make sure that at the end of their careers, New Jersey’s public school employees can count on retirement benefits we earn during a long career of service.”

Harrison is a political science and law professor at Montclair State University and a member of the AFTNJ, a teachers union.

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera said, “Brigid stands where our members stand on key issues such as lifting the terrible burden of student loan debt, fighting for affordable health care, and investing in our schools and our infrastructure.”

As we reported earlier, six county Democratic parties endorsed Harrison, and one (Atlantic County, the largest county in the district) endorsed Kennedy.

The Democratic primary became an open race in December when incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew changed his affiliation from Democratic to Republican. He has one challenger in the Republican primary.

The primaries are July 7.

Colorado Senate ballot access battles continue

Four Colorado Senate candidates have filed lawsuits to get on the Democratic primary ballot, arguing either the state of emergency or changes to party rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from qualifying. Two cases have been decided, and two are outstanding.

Diana Bray, Lorena Garcia, and Michelle Ferrigno Warren tried to qualify for the ballot via signature-gathering. They needed to submit 10,500 valid signatures——1,500 signatures from each of the state’s seven congressional districts—to qualify for the ballot.  

As we reported last week, district judge Christopher Baumann ordered Warren to be placed on the ballot, saying her 5,383 valid signatures were sufficient. The Secretary of State’s office appealed, and the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday to remove Warren from the ballot. The court said only the state legislature could change the election code.

April 28, Baumann ruled that Bray could not appear on the ballot, saying the 2,724 valid signatures she submitted were insufficient. 

Baumann ruled April 30 to place Garcia on the ballot. Garcia submitted 9,428 valid signatures. Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled she shouldn’t be placed on the ballot. Garcia plans to appeal in federal court.

Erik Underwood tried to qualify for the ballot through the party’s state assembly, held virtually on April 18. Underwood received 1% of the vote. A candidate needed at least 30% to make the primary ballot. On April 28, Underwood filed a lawsuit arguing he was denied a fair election, citing alleged irregularities and emergency rules adopted by the party.

The primary is June 30. John Hickenlooper qualified for the ballot in February via signature collection, and Andrew Romanoff qualified by receiving 86% of the party’s state assembly vote.

Incumbent Cory Gardner (R) faces one primary challenger. Gardner is one of two Republican senators running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton (D) won in the 2016 presidential election.

State executives

Vermont AFL-CIO endorses Zuckerman in Democratic gubernatorial primary

The Vermont branch of the AFL-CIO endorsed Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman for the Democratic nomination for governor Friday. Zuckerman, a member of the state’s Progressive Party, is among three Democrats in the running.

Among Zuckerman’s other supporters are former state Democratic chairwoman Cindy Metcalf and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s endorsers include former state party chairwoman Dottie Deans and former Gov. Madeleine Kunin. Attorney Pat Winburn has not received any noteworthy endorsements.

The filing deadline is May 28. The Aug.11 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Phil Scott (R), who was first elected in 2016, has not yet announced whether he will seek a third term.

Mark Hass receives newspaper endorsements in Oregon Secretary of State primary

Oregon’s largest newspaper endorsed state Sen. Mark Hass in the Democratic primary for secretary of state Sunday. The Oregonian’s endorsement followed that of Willamette Week, which endorsed Hass April 29. Hass faces his state Senate colleague Shemia Fagan and 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the Democratic primary. 

Fagan’s endorsers include former Gov. Barbara Roberts, the state branch of the AFL-CIO, and Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon. Among McLeod-Skinner’s endorsers are former Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and Our Revolution Portland.

The May 19 primary is open to registered Democrats only. Like all Oregon elections, it will be conducted entirely via mail-in ballot. Democrats last won an Oregon secretary of state election in 2012.

Follow-up: Montana Democrats meet for two more virtual events

Last week, we reported that Montana’s two Democratic candidates for governor had met for a virtual debate. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and consultant Whitney Williams met for two more virtual events this week — a candidate forum on Thursday and a debate on Saturday.

Legislatures

Big Brother contestant kicks off campaign against incumbent Tennessee state representative

Reality T.V. contestant Ovi Kabir (D) kicked off his campaign against incumbent State Rep. Rick Staples (D) for House District 15 on May 4. A Democrat has represented the Knoxville-area 15th District since 1986.

Kabir was student body president at the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville from 2018 to 2019. After graduating, Kabir was selected to appear on the 21st season of the CBS reality series, Big Brother where he placed 15th. Kabir said, “I’m running to talk about big ideas—from expanding Medicaid to raising the minimum wage to how we can fight homelessness as a city.”

Staples was first elected to represent District 15 in 2016 after he replaced State Rep. Joe Armstrong (D) on the general election ballot following Armstrong’s conviction for filing a false tax return. Staples defeated independent candidate Pete Drew, 65-35%, and ran unopposed in 2018. Staples says he is “A champion of ordinary people,” and that “he is working hard to represent his district and give them the best they deserve.” This is his first contested primary.

Two other candidates—former Knox County Commissioner Sam McKenzie and Matthew Park, a business and technology consultant—are running in the primary for the reliably Democratic seat. The winner will likely face Troy Jones (I), the only other candidate filed to run, in the general election. 

Democrats tout experience in race for Connecticut State Senate seat

Two Democrats—former East Haven Mayor April Capone and the district party’s 2018 nominee, Aili McKeenkicked off their campaigns for Connecticut’s state Senate District 34 on April 29 and May 5, respectively. The current incumbent, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R), is not seeking re-election.

Capone and McKeen are campaigning on their political and volunteer accomplishments.

Capone was elected mayor of East Haven in 2007 and served until 2011, when she was defeated by former Mayor Joe Maturo, Jr (R). She later worked for Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) in the Office of Policy & Management. Capone said, “we need experienced leaders,” adding, “I have the experience. I’ve not only served the municipal levels. I was part of state service.” 

McKeen is a personal property specialist. She also volunteers on Wallingford’s Inland Wetland & Watercourses Commission and with the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. McKeen was the Democratic nominee for District 34 in 2018. She defeated Josh Balter (D) in the primary, 71-29%, and lost to Sen. Fasano in the general election, 58.5-41.5%. McKeen said, “I’m not a career politician … Yes, April has a resume full of positions. But I’ve been an advocate for as long as she’s been a politician.” 

The winner will likely face business owner and North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals member Paul Cicarella, Jr. (R) in the general election. Cicarella is the only Republican who has announced. The filing deadline is June 9.

N.Y. state Planned Parenthood affiliate endorses incumbent Assemblyman over local Planned Parenthood board member

The statewide Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC endorsed New York Assemblyman Steve Otis (D) in his bid for re-election to District 91. Otis received the endorsement over the only other candidate in the primary, Meg Cameron (D), who has served as an executive board member with the local Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic affiliate since 2010.

This is Otis’ first contested primary and second contested election since first winning the district in 2012. He faced a general election challenge that year from William Villanova (R), whom he defeated 63-37% after running unopposed in the primary. He ran unopposed in the primary and general elections in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Otis received the statewide Planned Parenthood endorsement in 2018, as well. 

Cameron chairs the Rye City Democratic Committee and has received endorsements from Rye’s mayor, Josh Cohn (D), and two Rye City Councilmembers—Ben Stacks (D) and Julie Souza (D). Cameron managed the “Moving Rye Forward” campaign in 2017 that worked to elect all three to office.

District 91 is located in Westchester County and includes the cities of Rye, Mamaroneck, and Rochelle. Since no Republicans filed to run, the winner of the June 23 Democratic primary will likely win the general election in November.

Power players

“314 Action was founded by members of the STEM community, grassroots supporters and political activists who believe in science.  We are committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration’s attacks on science.” – 314 Action website 

Founded in 2016, 314 Action is an organization that aims to elect STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) professionals to office. The group, which is named after the mathematical ratio Pi, says it is “the largest and only resource specifically created for scientists and STEM professionals seeking assistance running for office.” 

In addition to electing leaders from STEM backgrounds, 314 Action’s goals include “[strengthening] communication among the STEM community, the public and our elected officials”, “[making] science more accessible to the public,” “[educating, advocating for, and defending] the integrity of science and its use,” “[providing] a voice for the STEM community on social issues,” “[promoting] the responsible use of data driven fact based approaches in public policy,” and “[increasing] public engagement with the STEM Community through media.”

To view candidates endorsed by the 314 Action Fund, click here.