Steyer leads Democratic presidential campaigns in Ballotpedia pageviews



The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Tuesday, December 3, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Steyer leads Democratic presidential campaigns in Ballotpedia pageviews
  2. Today is Giving Tuesday
  3. Judge blocks Washington initiative limiting annual vehicle license fees from taking effect

Steyer leads Democratic presidential campaigns in Ballotpedia pageviews 

Two Democratic candidates—Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former U.S. Rep Joe Sestak (Penn.)—ended their presidential campaigns in the past few days. That leaves 16 Democratic elected officials and notable public figures running for president.

We track and report the number of views candidates’ 2020 presidential campaign pages receive to show who is getting our readers’ attention. 

For the week ending Nov. 30, Tom Steyer’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 4,081 views, more than any other Democratic candidate. This was the first week Steyer’s page received the most pageviews among the Democratic field. Pete Buttigieg’s page had the second-most pageviews during this week and Andrew Yang’s page was third.

Steyer was the only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews last week than the week before. His pageviews increased by 22%. All other Democrats had decreases of between 11% and 37%.

Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews this year with 147,622. He is followed by Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.

See the full data on all presidential candidates by clicking the link below.


Learn more


Today is Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a day set aside from the Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays of holiday shopping to give back to the nonprofit organizations you support. We would be honored if you would include Ballotpedia in your giving list this year. If you choose to give a donation, your financial support will grow this encyclopedia of politics, power our sample ballot tool, and help inform millions of people in 2020. 

If you are unable to give today, but might be interested in volunteering your time in the future, please reply to this email and let me know! We’ll be launching a volunteer initiative in 2020 and would love to have you on board.

Donate today and help us reach our #GivingTuesday goals

Judge blocks Washington initiative limiting annual vehicle license fees from taking effect

Washington political activist Tim Eyman has proposed, sponsored, or been otherwise involved with statewide initiatives every year since at least 1998. The measures he has worked on primarily involve two subjects—taxes and transportation. His most recent initiative—the Limits on Motor Vehicle Taxes and Fees Measure (I-976)—was approved by voters last month but its implementation is on hold after being challenged in court. 

King County Superior Court judge Marshall Ferguson blocked I-976 from taking effect last week pending the lawsuit’s resolution. Ferguson wrote, “If the collection of vehicle license fees and taxes stop on December 5, 2019, there will be no way to retroactively collect those revenues if, at the conclusion of this case, the Court concludes that I-976 is unconstitutional and permanently enjoins its enforcement. Conversely, refunds of fees and taxes impacted by I-976 can be issued if the State ultimately prevails in this matter, albeit at some expense to the State.”  

Washington voters approved I-976—53% to 47%—on Nov. 5. The measure was designed to do the following:

  • Limit annual license fees for vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds at $30 except for voter-approved charges;
  • Base vehicle taxes on the Kelley Blue Book value;
  • Repeal the $150 fee on electric vehicles and limit certain taxes and fees related to transportation; and
  • Repeal authorization for certain regional transit authorities, such as Sound Transit, to impose motor vehicle excise taxes.

Nine plaintiffs—including the governments of Seattle and King County—filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 declaring that I-976 violated the Washington Constitution. The complaint stated that Initiative 976 violated the single-subject rule, the separate subject-in-title requirement, the requirement to disclose the repeal of statutes, and other constitutional provisions. In his response to the lawsuit, Eyman stated, “It is absolutely critical that the people of Washington state, regardless of how they voted, not pay taxes and fees that the voters voted to get rid of.” 

Proponents of I-976 said that a flat $30 vehicle license fee is fair and reasonable and that it’s dishonest for the state to tax a used vehicle based on its sales price rather than its Blue Book value. Opponents of 1-976 stated that the measure would cut much-needed transportation funding and take money from roads, bridges, and transit programs.

Ferguson was appointed to the court by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in July 2018. He was among 11 King County Superior Court judges who were automatically elected on Nov. 5 after they were the only candidates who filed to run. 

Learn more→


An early look at the 2020 ballot measures to watch

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, December 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An early look at the 2020 ballot measures to watch
  2. How do recalls work in each state?
  3. Eight former Michigan legislators sue to overturn state’s 1992 term limits ballot initiative

An early look at the 2020 ballot measures to watch

Forty-three statewide measures have qualified for 2020 ballots in 20 states. That number is likely to quadruple between now and Election Day. Here’s a chart showing the number of statewide ballot measures in the six previous even-numbered years:

Total measures

Even at this early stage, our Ballot Measures team has identified 10 measures worth watching. Here are three highlights:

California Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum

Californians will decide whether to uphold or overturn a first-in-the-nation law to replace the use of cash bail with risk assessments for all detained suspects awaiting trial. After Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the law on August 28, 2018, the American Bail Coalition organized a PAC to finance the campaign to repeal the law through a veto referendum. The campaign successfully collected 365,880 required signatures. California’s initiative and referendum rules dictate that the law is now suspended until voters decide the referendum on Nov. 3, 2020.

Colorado National Popular Vote Referendum

Since the 2016 election, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has picked up an additional five states in 2019, bringing the compact 31 electoral votes closer to going into effect. The compact would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college votes join. In Colorado—which has nine electoral votes and was the largest state to join the compact since 2014—a campaign called Protect Colorado’s Vote collected signatures to place a veto referendum on the ballot for Nov. 3, 2020. Now, voters will decide whether Colorado should join the compact or continue to allocate its electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in Colorado.

Marijuana Legalization Initiatives

Since 2012, voters in nine states have approved marijuana legalization measures. In 2020, there could be marijuana legalization ballot measures in several states, including ArizonaNew Jersey, and South Dakota. Arizona would be a second attempt for legalization proponents, as an initiative was defeated in 2016. New Jersey, a state without the initiative process, could vote to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot after the legislature failed to pass a statute. Signatures were submitted for a South Dakota ballot initiative at the beginning of November. Eleven states and the District of Columbia—covering 93 million people, or 28% of the United States—U.S. population have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Nine states did so through statewide citizen initiatives, and two through bills approved by state legislatures and signed by governors.

How do recalls work in each state?

Since 2012, Ballotpedia has tracked over 1,500 recall efforts against elected officials. States are often called the laboratories of democracy, and that’s no different when it comes to the various processes nationwide around recalls.  Here’s an overview:

Citizens can use the recall process to remove elected officials from office before their term is over in certain states. This process typically involves the circulation of petitions by recall organizers, the evaluation of signatures by election officials, and a public vote if the petitions contain a sufficient number of valid signatures.

Thirty-nine states allow citizens to recall local elected officials, and 19 states permit the recall of state officials. Of those 19 states, citizens in 10 of them can recall any state-level elected official. Seven states only allow citizens to recall state executives and legislators, but not appellate judges. Rhode Island only permits the recall of state executives and Illinois only permits the recall of the governor.

Eligible for recall

Recalls in Virginia take the form of petitions to the state’s circuit courts. Virginia laws state that local officials can be recalled, but it is unclear whether a state official can be recalled. There is no precedent for a state legislator or governor in Virginia having been recalled. Virginia is the only state not to use elections for its recall process; instead, it sends recall petitions to the state Circuit Courts for trial. One recent example of this is the 2017 recall campaign against Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham and City Councilman W. Howard Myers. Petitions were filed against the two and Judge Joseph M. Teefey heard the recall case on February 6, 2017. However, Teefey dismissed the petitions against Parham and Myers after organizers agreed to withdraw the effort.

Eleven states—Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont—do not permit the recall of elected officials. 

Twice a year, we publish aggregate data on the status of recalls. During the first half of 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 72 recall efforts against 115 elected officials. Keep an eye out for our year-end report—summarizing recalls by state and office—that will be published later in December.

Eight former Michigan legislators sue to overturn state’s 1992 term limits ballot initiative 

Eight former state legislators filed a legal complaint Nov. 20 in a federal district court to invalidate provisions of a ballot initiative that enacted term limits on legislators. The 1992 ballot initiative—titled Proposal B—was approved with 58.7% of the vote. Proposal B was designed to limit the number of terms a person could be elected to congressional, state executive, and state legislative offices in Michigan.

State legislators are subject to term limits in 15 states. State legislative term limits came through citizen-initiated ballot measures in each state except Louisiana, where the legislature referred a ballot measure to voters.

Six states have had state legislative term limits overturned. In Idaho and Utah, voters passed ballot initiatives in 1994 establishing state legislative term limits. The state legislatures of those states then repealed those laws in 2002 and 2003, respectively. In Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, voters approved ballot measures enacting state legislative term limits that were then struck down as unconstitutional by their state supreme courts.

Bloomberg campaigns in Deep South

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

December 3, 2019: Michael Bloomberg will campaign in Jackson, Mississippi. Pete Buttigieg makes a $2 million statewide ad buy in South Carolina. 

How many candidates have filed with the FEC to run for president?

Notable Quote of the Day

“There has been a pretty consistent story line since Donald Trump’s election, which is Southeastern Pennsylvania being agitated, voting in higher numbers than it normally does, and becoming more Democratic. An increase in energy and turnout in Philadelphia can make a big difference statewide given the size of Philadelphia, particularly given the very tight margin by which Donald Trump carried the state.”

– J.J. Balaban, Democratic strategist



  • The Donald Trump campaign announced Monday that it would no longer permit Bloomberg reporters to cover its campaign events. Trump and Republican leadership also released a joint statement criticizing Google’s policy on microtargeted political ads.

  • Bill Weld appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on Monday night.

Flashback: December 3, 2015

Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, and Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s presidential forum.

Bullock and Sestak end presidential campaigns

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

December 2, 2019: Steve Bullock and Joe Sestak ended their presidential campaigns. Tulsi Gabbard crossed the donor threshold for the December debate.

There are eight new candidates running since last week, including three Democrats and two Republicans. In total, 972 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“Sitting presidents have long used their office to draw a spotlight and rake in money while the party out of power fights its way through a primary. Trump, however, never really ceased campaigning and has been running for reelection essentially since taking office, giving him a far earlier head start.

For months, his campaign has spent comparatively little on digital advertising in battlegrounds, while dumping money in population-dense states like New York, California and Texas, which are rich in potential donors but won’t decide the outcome of the election. Yet the money he is raising there will enable him to flood important states with advertising early next year.”

– Brian Slodysko, Associated Press


  • Michael Bennet is campaigning in eastern Iowa Sunday and Monday. He appeared on the Intelligence Matters podcast to discuss foreign policy and election security on Nov. 27.
  • Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.) endorsed Joe Biden on Saturday. Biden continues to campaign in Iowa Monday as part of his eight-day “No Malarkey” bus tour through the state.
  • Michael Bloomberg is spending $9.5 million on television ads in several markets, including Los Angeles, Houston, Tampa, and Dallas.
  • The pro-Cory Booker super PAC, Dream United, announced on Nov. 27 it would shut down. United We Win, another pro-Booker super PAC, will begin to air an ad on Tuesday in Iowa as part of a $200,000 advertising and call campaign. The Booker campaign is also launching a six-figure radio and digital ad campaign.
  • Steve Bullock ended his presidential campaign on Monday. “While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering into this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates,” he said in a statement. Bullock will not run for the U.S. Senate in Montana.
  • Pete Buttigieg spoke at a roundtable on the minimum wage on Sunday in North Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Julián Castro released his policy plan on hunger and food insecurity on Nov. 27. Castro is campaigning in Los Angeles on Monday.
  • Tulsi Gabbard introduced a resolution on Nov. 27 to withdraw troops from Syrian oil fields. On Sunday, Gabbard announced she had crossed the donor threshold for the December debate and campaigned in New Hampshire.
  • The New York Times profiled the state of Kamala Harris’s campaign, including the resignation of state operations director Kelly Mehlenbacher. Harris campaigned in Iowa on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Amy Klobuchar’s field organizers unionized with representation from Teamsters Local 238. In a CNN interview on Sunday, Klobuchar said she did not see herself voting to acquit Trump if there were an impeachment trial.
  • Deval Patrick announced his campaign leadership which includes former Beto O’Rourke staffer Abe Rakov as his campaign manager. Patrick campaigned in New Hampshire on Saturday.
  • Bernie Sanders campaigned in South Carolina on Sunday with stops at the Reid Chapel AME Church and the University of South Carolina.
  • Joe Sestak ended his presidential campaign on Sunday. He said, “Without the privilege of national press, it is unfair to ask others to husband their resolve and to sacrifice resources any longer.”
  • Tom Steyer campaigned in Las Vegas on Saturday and Sunday, speaking at an anti-corruption roundtable and a women’s town hall.
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) endorsed Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. Warren wrote an op-ed about the AIDS crisis on Sunday.
  • Marianne Williamson campaigned in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday with stops in Dubuque and Iowa City.
  • Andrew Yang released his tax returns from 2011 to 2018 on Nov. 27. Yang also had his best fundraising day on Saturday, raising $750,000.


What We’re Reading

Flashback: December 2, 2015

The Washington Post published a Republican Party memo on what the party should do if Donald Trump became the nominee.

Bold Justice: SCOTUS cases and appeals court switches

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to


The Supreme Court will hear arguments in six cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

In its October 2018 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 69 cases. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS will hear this week:

December 2

  • New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, New York concerns New York City’s former ban on transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits. It is the first firearms case the court has agreed to hear since 2010.

    A group of New York City residents challenged New York City’s rule that an individual with a premises license for a handgun is only allowed to take the handgun out of his or her home to go to a shooting range within the city limits. The residents argued that the rule violated their Second Amendment right, the dormant Commerce Clause, the First Amendment right of expressive association, and the fundamental right to travel.

    The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the residents’ argument. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepted the case on January 22, 2019. New York City repealed the gun rule in July 2019.

    The issue: Whether the City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked, and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel.

  • Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org Inc. concerns copyright law. In 2015, the Georgia Code Revision Commission sued the nonprofit organization Public.Resource.Org (PRO) for copyright infringement. The Commission argued that PRO could not distribute copies of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA). PRO disagreed, arguing the OCGA was in the public domain. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled in favor of the Commission and barred PRO from distributing the OCGA. On appeal, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part and vacated in part the district court’s ruling, concluding the state of Georgia had no valid copyright.

    The State of Georgia appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In its petition, the state said the 11th Circuit showed “considerable confusion regarding the government edicts doctrine.” The government edicts doctrine originated in the 1800s with three U.S. Supreme Court cases that held judicial opinions are not copyrightable. Lower courts later expanded the doctrine to apply to state law.

    The issue: Whether the government edicts doctrine applies to the annotations in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.

December 3

  • In Rodriguez v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, United Western Bank, a subsidiary of Colorado corporation United Western Bancorp, Inc. (UWBI), closed in 2011 after suffering $35.4 million in losses. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was appointed as United Western Bank’s receiver. An agency or court appoints a receiver as an alternative to filing for bankruptcy. The receiver manages the assets of a bankrupt business.

    Also in 2011, the parent company, UWBI, filed a tax refund request of $4.8 million to recover a portion of United Western Bank’s 2008 taxes. In 2012, UWBI filed for bankruptcy. Both the FDIC and UWBI argued in bankruptcy court that the tax refund belonged to them. The bankruptcy court ruled the refund belonged to UWBI.

    On appeal, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado reversed the bankruptcy court’s decision. Simon Rodriguez, the Chapter 7 trustee for UWBI’s bankruptcy estate, appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s ruling and remanded the case to the bankruptcy court.

    Rodriguez petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 10th Circuit’s decision, arguing circuit courts were divided on the question of tax refund ownership.

    The issue: Whether courts should determine ownership of a tax refund paid to an affiliated group based on the federal common law “Bob Richards rule,” as three Circuits hold, or based on the law of the relevant State, as four Circuits hold.

    The Bob Richards rule came from a 9th Circuit decision in In re Bob Richards Chrysler-Plymouth Corp., Inc. in 1973. The rule “presumes that a tax refund belongs to the subsidiary that caused the underlying loss unless the parties have entered into a tax agreement clearly assigning the refund to the parent.”

  • In Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, a group of landowners located within the bounds of the Anaconda Smelter superfund site, sued the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for common law trespass, nuisance, and strict liability and sought restoration damages. ARCO argued the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) preempted the landowners’ claims.

    The state district court dismissed the case on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run out. On appeal, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case. On remand, the district court denied ARCO’s motions. ARCO appealed again, and the state Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial and remanded the case.

    The issue: (1) Whether a common-law claim for restoration seeking cleanup remedies that conflict with EPA-ordered remedies is a “challenge” to EPA’s cleanup jurisdictionally barred by § 113 of CERCLA.

    (2) Whether a landowner at a Superfund site is a “potentially responsible party” that must seek EPA’s approval under CERCLA § 122(e)(6) before engaging in remedial action, even if EPA has never ordered the landowner to pay for a cleanup.

    (3) Whether CERCLA preempts state common-law claims for restoration that seek cleanup remedies that conflict with EPA-ordered remedies.

December 4

  • Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma concerns the interpretation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act statute of limitations.

    Christopher Sulyma worked at Intel from 2010 to 2012, where he participated in retirement accounts an Intel investment committee managed. In 2015, Sulyma sued Intel, claiming the committee mismanaged his retirement accounts and violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted summary judgment in favor of Intel, who argued Sulyma’s claims were untimely. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and remanded the case.

    The issue: Section 413(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act establishes a three-year limitations period, from “the earliest date on which the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the breach or violation.” Can a plaintiff sue a defendant if the relevant information was disclosed to the plaintiff more than three years before the plaintiff filed the suit?

  • In Banister v. Davis, a jury convicted Gregory Banister of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2004. After several appeals, Banister filed a petition under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to revisit an earlier judgment. The district court denied the petition.

    On appeal, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also denied Banister’s petition for a certificate of appealability, which would have allowed another court to hear an argument that a habeas corpus appeal was wrongfully denied. The 5th Circuit ruled the petition was untimely based on Gonzalez v. Crosby. In that 2005 Supreme Court case, the court considered whether Gonzalez’ Rule 60(b) petition counted as a second writ of habeas corpus. The court ruled that it did not constitute a second habeas petition.

    Banister appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that there was a circuit split on extending the Gonzalez decision to include Rule 59(e) motions. Banister’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court described the purpose of Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure as “to allow the district court to correct its own errors, sparing the parties and appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings.” Click here for more information on Rule 59(e).

    The issue: Whether and under what circumstances a timely Rule 59(e) motion should be recharacterized as a second or successive habeas petition under Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 (2005).

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the upcoming dates of interest in December:

  • December 2: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • December 3: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • December 4: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • December 6: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

SCOTUS trivia

Which Supreme Court justice did NOT attend either Harvard Law School or Yale Law School?

  1. Samuel Alito
  2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  3. Neil Gorsuch
  4. Stephen Breyer

Choose an answer to find out!


The Senate has confirmed three nominees since our November 12 issue.

Luck’s and Lagoa’s confirmations to the 11th Circuit marked the third appellate court to change from a majority of Democrat-appointed judges to a majority of Republican-appointed judges since President Trump took office. The 2nd and 3rd Circuits also changed from majority Democrat- to majority Republican-appointed judges during the Trump administration. Trump has appointed five of the 13 judges on the 2nd Circuit and four of the 14 judges on the 3rd Circuit.

Overall, the Senate has confirmed 164 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—112 district court judges, 48 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.

Circuit court composition chart


President Trump has announced one new Article III nominee since our November 12 edition.

The president has announced 234 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Federal judicial nominations by month chart


The federal judiciary currently has 98 vacancies. As of publication, there were 53 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional 18 judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status during Trump’s first term.

For more information on judicial vacancies during Trump’s first term, click here.

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee reported five new nominees out of committee since our November 12 edition.

  • Patrick Bumatay, nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
  • Lawrence VanDyke, nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
  • Philip Halpern, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Bernard Jones II, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • Barbara Bailey Jongbloed, nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.

Court in the spotlight

In each issue of Bold Justice, we highlight a federal court you should know more about. Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the 94 U.S. District Courts. The district courts are the general trial courts of the U.S. federal court system.

There is at least one judicial district for each state, and one each for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  

In this edition, we’re enjoying the leaves changing on a visit to the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. The District of Vermont has original jurisdiction over cases filed Vermont. Decisions of the court may be appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The District of Vermont has two authorized judgeships. There are currently no vacancies. The breakdown of current active judges by appointing president is:

  • Barack Obama (D): Two judges

Federal district judges issue injunctions blocking public charge rule

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law.

This edition:

Does the Wisconsin Constitution recognize an administrative fourth branch of government? That’s just one of the stories you’ll be puzzling over in this month’s edition of Checks and Balances. We also review multiple injunctions blocking the Trump administration’s public charge rule; two federal cases that raise Appointments Clause challenges; the United States Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision to rule on the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB); a coalition of automakers’ support for uniform national carbon emissions standards; a new SCOTUS case challenging the authority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue penalties; and a federal judge’s move to block President Donald Trump’s proclamation on immigration and health care.

At the state level, we review a challenge to the New Jersey attorney general’s directive limiting cooperation between law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); a Florida lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of automatic license plate readers; an unconstitutional vaping ban in Massachusetts that remains in effect; Wisconsin’s potential administrative fourth branch of government; and a proposal to limit the Michigan governor’s power to transfer funds between agencies.

As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 205 proposed rules and 274 final rules added to the Federal Register in October and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.

The Checks and Balances Letter

Key readings.jpg

In Washington

Federal district judges issue injunctions blocking public charge rule

What’s the story? Three federal district judges in New York, California, and Washington issued temporary injunctions on October 11 blocking the Trump administration’s public charge rule from taking effect on October 15. A fourth federal judge in Chicago issued a similar injunction on October 14.
The judges—Judge George Daniels of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Phyllis Hamilton of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, and Judge Gary Feinerman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois—argued that the rule was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, failed to consider potential costs to state and local governments, and constituted an unsupported congressional delegation of authority to DHS, among other claims.
Read more about this story in the September 2019 edition of Checks and Balances
Want to go deeper?

Two cases raise Appointments Clause challenges

What’s the story? The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 15 in Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Aurelius Investment LLC, a case arguing that the appointment of members to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The seven-member board is made up of one member chosen at the president’s discretion and six other members selected by the president from a list compiled by members of Congress. The appointees selected from the congressional list are not subject to Senate confirmation.
Aurelius Investment LLC and the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego challenged the board’s authority, arguing that the board members are Officers of the United States who must all be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The board argued that its members do not qualify as Officers of the United States because its activities are primarily local in nature.
The court’s decision in the case could determine whether certain territorial officers can also be classified as federal officers for purposes of the Appointments Clause.
On October 31, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on October 31 held in Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Inc. et al. that the appointment of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) administrative patent judges (APJs) by the U.S. secretary of commerce violates the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution.
Judges Kimberly Moore, Raymond Chen, and Jimmie V. Reyna held that APJs exercise significant authority that qualifies them as Officers of the United States. Instead of changing their method of appointment, however, the court cited precedent set forth in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to propose removing APJs’ for-cause removal protections in order to classify them as inferior officers, who can be appointed by department heads.
Want to go deeper?

SCOTUS to determine constitutionality of CFPB structure

What’s the story? On Oct. 18, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a case challenging the constitutionality of the bureau’s structure.
Seila Law, a national law firm, argued that the CFPB’s single director is only removable for cause. The firm contended that the director’s cause removal protections unconstitutionally prevent the president from unilaterally firing the agency’s head. The firm said in its petition, “the importance of the [separation of powers] question presented [by this case] cannot be overstated.”
In a brief filed with the court on Sept. 17, Solicitor General Noel Francisco on behalf of the CFPB agreed with Seila Law, claiming that the bureau’s structure violates the separation of powers doctrine because it prevents the president from unilaterally firing the agency’s single director.
Read more about this case in the October 2019 edition of Checks and Balances.
Want to go deeper?

Automakers side with Trump over California in carbon emissions fight

What’s the story? A coalition of automakers, including General Motors and Toyota, on October 28 sided with the Trump administration in a power struggle between California and the federal government over the authority to set carbon emissions standards.
California joined with 23 states to sue the Trump administration in September after the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a final rule revoking California’s waiver allowing the state to set carbon emissions standards lower than the national average.
California’s waiver authority was established under the Clean Air Act of 1970. The state’s most recent waiver was approved in 2013 under the Obama administration and aimed to reduce carbon emissions by 2025.
The Trump administration withdrew California’s waiver with the intent of setting the stage for a legal challenge that could be resolved prior to the 2020 election.
The coalition, including members of the Association of Global Automakers and the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation, joined with the Trump administration in support of a uniform national fuel economy standard, arguing that multiple standards drive up costs for manufacturers and consumers.
The states challenging the waiver withdrawal claim that lower standards protect public health and safety.
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SCOTUS to decide limits of SEC penalties

What’s the story? The United States Supreme Court on November 2 agreed to hear Liu v. Securities and Exchange Commission, a case that questions when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may ask courts to impose certain penalties on rulebreakers.
The defendants in the case question whether the SEC has the legal authority to ask courts to issue disgorgement orders instructing those who break securities laws to relinquish all money related to the illegal activity.
In a 2017 case, Kokesh v. SEC, the court held that such orders were penalties, which could prevent the SEC from requesting them unless Congress changes the law.
The court’s decision in the case could limit how the SEC and other administrative agencies can penalize those who violate laws and regulations.
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Federal judge blocks Trump’s proclamation on immigration and health care

What’s the story? Judge Michael Simon of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon granted a temporary restraining order on November 3 to prevent President Trump’s proclamation on immigration and health care from taking effect.
The proclamation, issued on October 4, requires immigrants to demonstrate that they can either acquire health insurance coverage within 30 days of entering the country or pay for foreseeable medical care outright prior to receiving a visa.
Seven U.S. citizens joined with the nonprofit organization Latino Network on October 30 to file a lawsuit challenging the proclamation, arguing that the requirement would prevent two-thirds of legal immigrants from receiving visas and reduce the number of immigrants who can receive family-sponsored visas.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to the order, stating, “Once again, a nationwide injunction is permitting a single judge to thwart the President’s policy judgment on a matter where Congress expressly gave the President authority.”
Presidential proclamations are official announcements of policy from the president that are generally directed toward the activities of private citizens, rather than government actors. Many proclamations are honorary or ceremonial, but some carry the weight of law if they fall within the scope of presidential authority.
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In the States

Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court want to know if there is a fourth branch of government

What’s the story? The Wisconsin Supreme Court on October 21 heard oral arguments in Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1 v. Robin Vos, prompting some justices to question whether the Wisconsin Constitution provides for an administrative fourth branch of government.
The case challenges legislation passed during the December 2018 extraordinary session that made changes to administrative processes in the state, including a requirement that the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approve any legal settlements reached by the state’s Department of Justice. The change is aimed at ending sue-and-settle in the state—a practice by which outside groups sue an agency in order to reach a settlement on terms favorable to the regulatory goals of both.
Plaintiffs in the case, led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), argued that the legislation is unconstitutional because it violates the state’s separation of powers doctrine. The legislative committee’s approval of legal settlements, according to the plaintiffs, represents an unconstitutional exercise of executive—rather than legislative—power.
State lawmakers, on the other hand, claimed that the attorney general is part of a fourth branch of administrative government with no constitutional authority of his own. Instead, the attorney general’s authority is prescribed through laws passed by the legislature. Lawmakers, therefore, argued that the legislation is in line with the separation of powers because the attorney general is not part of the executive branch and receives his authority directly from lawmakers.
Justices Brian Hagedorn and Dan Kelly asked questions seeking to clarify whether the role of the attorney general fits within the executive branch. Justice Rebecca Bradley voiced skepticism of lawmakers’ characterization of the attorney general as an office outside of the executive branch, stating, “We’ve never recognized a fourth branch of government.”
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New Jersey sheriff challenges constitutionality of attorney general’s ICE directive

What’s the story? New Jersey Sheriff Robert Nolan and the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders on October 15 filed a federal lawsuit challenging a directive from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) that bars law enforcement in the state from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Ocean County Board of Freeholders filed a similar lawsuit in September.
Grewal’s Immigrant Trust Directive took effect in March 2019. The directive limits the type of voluntary assistance that state and local police officers, correctional officers, and state and county prosecutors can provide to ICE. The directive aims to improve public safety by strengthening immigrant trust in local law enforcement, according to Grewal.
Nolan’s lawsuit claims that the directive violates the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because it is preempted by two federal laws that prevent state and local governments from restricting communication with immigration authorities. The lawsuit also argues that the directive violated the rules and procedures of the New Jersey Administrative Procedure Act.
A spokesman for Grewal stated that the federal Criminal Justice Act of 1970 grants the attorney general broad authority to set statewide law enforcement policies.
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Florida judge greenlights lawsuit challenging automatic licence plate readers

What’s the story? Judge Abby Cynamon of Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court on October 16 issued an order allowing a Florida lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of automatic license plate readers (ALPR) to proceed through the courts.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a public interest law firm focused on the administrative state, filed the lawsuit in October 2018. NCLA claims that the unconstrained use of ALPR technology by Florida law enforcement violates the Fourth Amendment by monitoring the vehicular movement of private citizens without probable cause.
In Virginia, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Smith issued an injunction in April barring the use of automatic license plate readers on the grounds that the technology violates Virginia’s Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act.
Nine states have enacted legislation that limits the retention of ALPR data, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven other states have passed laws that restrict the use of ALPR technology.
Read more about this story in the November 2018 edition of Checks and Balances.
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Massachusetts vaping ban remains effective despite unconstitutional ruling

What’s the story? Suffolk Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins on October 21 held that Governor Charlie Baker’s (R) executive order banning the sale of vaping products in the state overstepped his authority by failing to afford citizens their constitutionally protected right to due process.
Baker in September declared a public health emergency and issued a temporary, four-month ban on the sale of vaping products after 61 cases of vaping-related lung disease had been reported in the state. The Vaping Technology Association filed suit against the order, arguing in part that Baker had overstepped his authority.
Wilkins ruled that the executive order violated citizens’ right to due process because the state failed to hold a public hearing on the issue or perform small business impact analysis. Wilkins allowed the ban to stay in effect but ordered Baker to re-issue the ban and allow for public comment.
The state appealed Wilkins’ ruling. The Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on December 9.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts House approved a bill on November 13 by a vote of 126-31 that would ban the sale of flavored nicotine products in the state and impose a 75% excise tax on vaping products.
Governors in Michigan, Montana, and Oregon issued similar vaping bans that were subsequently blocked by the courts. Vaping bans issued by governors in New York, Rhode Island, and Washington remained in effect as of November 14.
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Michigan legislators propose to limit governor’s budget powers

What’s the story? Republican lawmakers in Michigan on November 5 asked Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to agree to limit the State Administrative Board’s authority to transfer funds tied to specific directives in legislative spending bills. The proposed change is part of a broader negotiation to pass a supplemental spending bill for the fiscal year.
The State Administrative Board is made up of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and the director of the Department of Transportation. The board has general supervisory authority over state administrative activities. The state legislature granted transfer authority to the board in 1931 and it was upheld by the Michigan Supreme Court in 1993.
Whitmer on September 29 became the first governor in 28 years to transfer funds between departments under the authority of the State Administrative Board. Whitmer transferred $625 million of funds, including a transfer of funds to public transit that the legislature had approved for roads.
Republicans legislators want to limit the power of the State Administrative Board to transfer funds designated for certain purposes by the legislature.
Whitmer on October 29 sent a letter to Republican lawmakers agreeing to negotiate a supplemental spending bill and restore some transferred funds as long as the legislature did not vote to “gut state executive authority that’s been around for 98 years.”
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Regulatory Tally

Federal Register

  • The Federal Register in October reached 58,594 pages. The number of pages at the end of each October during the Obama administration (2009-2016) averaged 66,312 pages.
  • The October Federal Register included 205 proposed rules and 274 final rules. These included the listing of the Barrens topminnow as an endangered species, the removal of the Kirtland’s warbler from the endangered species list, and updated guidelines for federal workplace drug testing, among others.
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Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s October regulatory review activity included:
  • Review of 45 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 42 significant regulatory actions each October.
  • Approved three proposed rules without changes.
  • Recommended changes to 39 proposed rules.
  • Agencies withdrew three rules from the review process.
  • As of November 4, 2019, the OIRA website listed 154 regulatory actions under review.
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An analysis of notable endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, November 25, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An analysis of notable endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates
  2. Iowa governor to appoint new state supreme court justice after chief justice dies
  3. North Carolina court delays candidate filing for U.S. House seats

An analysis of notable endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates

The 17 Democratic elected officials and notable public figures running for president have received a combined 173 noteworthy endorsements, according to a review of a list of endorsements compiled by FiveThirtyEight through Nov. 22. 

Noteworthy endorsers include current and former presidents and vice presidents, current and former party leaders, governors and other state executives, members of Congress, mayors of large cities, state legislative majority and minority leaders, and Democratic National Committee (DNC) members. 

Sixty-nine percent of Democratic governors and members of Congress have yet to endorse a candidate in the primary. This includes 70% of Democratic governors, 66% of the party’s U.S. Senators, and 69% of the Democratic representatives in the House.

Joe Biden leads with 40 noteworthy endorsements, followed by Kamala Harris with 35 and Bernie Sanders with 23. Six noteworthy candidates—Tulsi Gabbard, Deval Patrick, Joe Sestak, Tom Steyer, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang—have not received any such  endorsements. 

Of the 23 Democratic governors, six have endorsed a presidential candidate and one—Steve Bullock of Montana—is running for president. Biden, Cory Booker, Harris, and Amy Klobuchar have each been endorsed by their home state’s governors. Biden was also endorsed by Govs. Ned Lamont (Conn.) and Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.). Sixteen Democratic governors have yet to endorse a candidate. 

Of the 47 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, 10 have endorsed a presidential candidate and six are running for president—thus, 31 senators have not endorsed a candidate. Five senators have endorsed Biden, which is more than any other candidate. Booker, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren were each endorsed by their fellow home-state senator. Harris’ fellow California senator—Dianne Feinstein—endorsed Biden, and Michael Bennet’s fellow Colorado senator—Cory Gardner—is a Republican.

Of the 236 Democratic U.S. House members—including the three nonvoting members—71 have endorsed a presidential candidate and one—Gabbard—is running for president. Biden has the most congressional endorsements with 19, followed by Harris with 17 and Booker with 11. 

Three presidential candidates have received noteworthy endorsements from officeholders in early voting states—Iowa (Feb. 3), New Hampshire (Feb. 11), Nevada (Feb. 22), and South Carolina (Feb. 29): 

  • Bullock was endorsed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and DNC member Jan Bauer. 

  • Julián Castro was endorsed by Nevada DNC member Allison Stephens. 

  • Warren was endorsed by Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, Nevada state Controller Catherine Byrne, and Nevada DNC member Alex Goff.


Iowa governor to appoint new state supreme court justice after chief justice dies 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ (R) will make her third appointment to the state’s seven-member supreme court after Chief Justice Mark Cady died suddenly Nov. 15. Cady was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and had served as chief justice since 2011. 

When a vacancy occurs on the Iowa Supreme Court, the governor appoints a new justice from among three nominees submitted by the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission. The new justice must then stand in a retention election during the next regularly scheduled general election to continue serving on the court. After the initial election, justices must stand for retention every eight years and retire at age 72. 

When Cady’s successor is appointed, the court will have five judges appointed by Republican governors and two appointed by Democratic governors.

There are 344 state supreme court justices nationwide. Of those judgeships, 165 are elected by voters, 12 are selected by state legislatures, and 167 are appointed.  

In 2019, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies across 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 22 vacancies, 15 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Six vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while one occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints the replacement. 

Cady’s is the first such vacancy this year to be caused by the death of a sitting justice. Of the other 21 vacancies, 14 were due to retirement and two former justices took jobs in the private sector. One vacancy occurred when a justice was elevated to chief justice of the court, and four others occurred when the justices were elevated to federal judicial positions.

North Carolina court delays candidate filing for U.S. House seats

A three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court issued an order last week delaying the filing period for 2020 congressional candidates pending finalization of the state’s congressional district plan. That filing period had been scheduled from Dec. 2 through Dec. 20.

The North Carolina House and Senate approved a remedial congressional district plan (HB1029) earlier this month along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. In its Nov. 20 order delaying candidate filing, the court scheduled a hearing for Dec. 2 to consider both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ motions for summary judgment in the case. 

Until a decision is reached, the North Carolina State Board of Elections cannot accept filing petitions for U.S. House candidates. This does not affect candidate filing deadlines for other offices, such as U.S. Senate, governor, or members of the state legislature.

Opponents of North Carolina’s congressional districts filed suit Sept. 27 in state superior court alleging that the districts enacted by the state legislature in 2016 constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The plaintiffs asked that the court bar the state from using the maps in the 2020 election cycle. The court granted this request Oct. 28, enjoining further use of the 2016 maps. 

The filing period for congressional candidates in Pennsylvania in 2018 was delayed for two weeks after the state supreme court approved a revised map of the state’s U.S. House districts. The court had ruled in January 2018 that the congressional districts adopted in 2011 violated the state constitution. The 2018 filing deadline for gubernatorial and state legislative candidates in Pennsylvania was March 6 and the deadline for congressional candidates was March 20.  

The filing deadline passed earlier this month for congressional candidates in two states—Alabama and Arkansas. Four additional states—California, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas—have candidate filing deadlines in December.

Bay State ballot measures

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, November 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Deadline passes to submit signatures for ballot initiatives in Massachusetts
  2. Filing deadline upcoming for two congressional special elections
  3. Forty-two percent of Brew readers who responded to last week’s survey say they’ve attended a political debate in person

This is the last edition of the Daily Brew for this week. We will return on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Deadline passes to submit signatures for ballot initiatives in Massachusetts 

Ballot initiative campaigns in Massachusetts were required to submit more than 80,000 signatures to local registrars by Nov. 20 in order for measures to take the next step toward qualifying for the 2020 ballot.  After signatures are verified by local registrars, petitioners must submit those signatures to the secretary of the commonwealth by Dec. 4. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) approved 10 initiatives for circulation on Sept. 4. Three groups—Voter Choice for Massachusetts, Right to Repair Coalition, and the Massachusetts Senior Coalition—reported last week that they had submitted signatures to local registrars: 

  • Voters Choice for Massachusetts is sponsoring the Massachusetts Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative that would enact ranked-choice voting for many elections in Massachusetts. The measure would exclude elections for president, county commissioners, and regional district school committees, as well as elections in caucuses. The initiative’s sponsors reported submitting 130,000 signatures.

  • Right to Repair Coalition is sponsoring the Massachusetts Right to Repair Initiative which concerns access to mechanical data in a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics or telematics system. 

  • Massachusetts Senior Coalition is sponsoring the Massachusetts Nursing Homes Medicaid Ratemaking Initiative, which would change the formula that state healthcare programs, such as MassHealth (Medicaid), use to determine payments to nursing homes and rest homes. The initiative’s sponsors reported submitting over 130,000 signatures.

The required number of signatures—80,239—equals 3% of the votes cast in the state’s last gubernatorial election. No more than one-quarter of the verified signatures on any petition can come from a single county. If enough signatures are submitted for an initiative, the legislature may adopt the measure by a majority vote in both houses. It must act on a successful petition by May 6, 2020. 

If the legislature rejects the proposed law or declines to act on it, petitioners have until July 1, 2020, to request additional petition forms and submit a second round of 13,374 signatures. If proponents collect a sufficient number of signatures in this round, the initiative will be placed on the 2020 ballot. A measure only goes on the ballot if the legislature does not pass it and if the second round of signatures is successfully collected.

Massachusetts’ two-step process is similar to Ohio’s process for initiated statutes. If a ballot initiative receives signatures of 3% of the votes cast for governor, the proposal goes before the Ohio State Legislature. If the legislature doesn’t enact it, it must receive signatures from another 3% of the votes cast for governor to place the measure on the ballot.

Thirty-nine measures appeared on statewide ballots in Massachusetts from 1996 to 2018, an average of three per year during even-numbered election years. During this time, 21 were approved and 18 were defeated.

Learn more blank    blankblank   

Filing deadline upcoming for two congressional special elections 

Candidate filing deadlines are approaching for two upcoming special elections for U.S. House seats that will take place in the first half of 2020. Five special elections have been scheduled to take place during the 116th Congress.

Wisconsin’s 7th

Candidates in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District must file by Dec. 2. This special election will fill the vacancy created when Rep. Sean Duffy (R) resigned on Sept. 23.  Primary elections are scheduled for Feb. 18, 2020, which is the same date as Wisconsin’s statewide spring primary for judicial offices. The general election is May 12, 2020.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) originally scheduled the special election for the 7th District on Jan. 27, 2020, but was required to move the election date back after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the original dates did not adhere to federal requirements.

President Trump won the 7th District in the 2016 presidential election, 58% to 37%. The District includes all or part of six of Wisconsin’s 23 Pivot Counties. Pivot Counties are counties that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Trump (R) in 2016.

California’s 25th

Candidates wishing to run in the special election for California’s 25th Congressional District must file by Jan. 9, 2020. This special election will fill the vacancy resulting from the resignation of former Rep. Katie Hill (D), who left office Nov. 1. 

California uses a top-two primary system in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. The primary is scheduled for March 3, 2020, and the general election will be held May 12, 2020. 

Hill defeated then-incumbent Rep. Steve Knight (R) in the 2018 general election, 54% to 46%. Hillary Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, 50% to 44%.

Maryland’s 7th

The filing deadline was Nov. 20 for candidates running in the special election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District following the death of Elijah Cummings (D) on Oct. 17. Thirty-two candidates—24 Democrats and eight Republicans—are competing in primary elections on Feb. 4, 2020. The general election will be held April 28, 2020. Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, 76% to 20%.

Three special elections for U.S. House seats were held in 2019 and 32 such elections were held from 2013-2018. Three U.S. House special elections resulted in a change of partisan control since 2013.

Forty-two percent of Brew readers who responded to last week’s survey say they’ve attended a political debate in person

The DNC held its fifth presidential primary debate last week, which prompted us to ask how many readers had ever attended a political debate in person. The question asked people to answer ‘yes’ if they’d been to a debate involving candidates at any level of government. And I specifically said it didn’t matter whether questions were asked by moderators—in a more traditional debate— or by attendees—in what’s known as a town hall format.

The results were interesting as 42% of Brew readers who responded said they had attended a political debate in person. Thanks so much for your responses!What's the tea results

DNC approves early caucus voting plan in Nevada

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

November 26, 2019: The Democratic National Committee approved Nevada’s early caucus voting plan. Donald Trump is holding a rally in Florida on Tuesday.

We wish all our readers a Happy Thanksgiving! We’ll be back next Monday with the latest presidential news.

How many presidential elections have featured two major party nominees from the same state?

Notable Quote of the Day

“But no matter how much distance individual Senate candidates put between themselves and the 2020 primary, running away from the party’s presidential nominee rarely works and might not be much of an option. That’s why different Democratic factions are already arguing that their candidate is more likely to notch the seats needed to make Chuck Schumer majority leader.

‘It’s the presidential race that’s going to drive turnout and energy, even as important as these Senate races are,’ said John Walsh, who dropped out of the Colorado Senate primary to endorse Hickenlooper. ‘Democrats need someone they can be united around.’”

– Burgess Everett and James Arkin, Politico



  • Donald Trump is holding a rally in Sunrise, Florida, at the BB&T Center on Tuesday.

  • Bill Weld discussed the Republican primary and the impeachment inquiry in an interview on WMUR’s The Trail: From New Hampshire to the White House podcast.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: November 26, 2015

Donald Trump responded to reports that he had mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a physical disability.


Bloomberg launches presidential bid with record-setting ad campaign

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

November 25, 2019: Michael Bloomberg formally announced he was running for president. Amy Klobuchar announced new Nevada hires.

There are 11 new candidates running since last week, including five Democrats, two Republicans, and one Libertarian. In total, 964 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“Bloomberg plans to skip the first four states on the primary calendar and focus on winning the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states instead. …

In fact, previous presidential candidates who tried some version of this strategy failed miserably. For instance, in 2008, when Rudy Giuliani was still best remembered as a former New York City mayor, he counted on a win in the Florida Republican primary to neutralize his expected losses elsewhere. He led in the Florida polls — often by huge margins — right up until Iowa and New Hampshire. But afterward, then-Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney surged past Guiliani in the Sunshine State, and he dropped out after placing third there. Similarly, in 1988, then-Sen. Al Gore attempted to win the Democratic nomination by ignoring Iowa and New Hampshire and focusing on winning a bunch of Super Tuesday contests in the South, his home region. And while Gore did win several states that day, it still didn’t translate into the momentum he needed in subsequent contests, and he too lost the nomination. Indeed, Bloomberg would be trying to join a shortlist of only two modern presidential candidates who won their party’s nomination despite losing both Iowa and New Hampshire.”

– Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight


  • Michael Bennet is attending an education discussion at the University of New Hampshire Law School on Monday.
  • Joe Biden attended a private fundraiser in Providence on Sunday. Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee endorsed Biden.
  • Michael Bloomberg formally announced he was running for president on Sunday. He launched a $34 million ad campaign that will run in markets in the Super Tuesday states until Dec. 3, breaking the top weekly broadcast expenditure record previously set by President Barack Obama. Bloomberg said he will not accept any donations for his campaign or a salary if elected president.
  • Pete Buttigieg is holding several community events across Iowa on Monday. He released his policy plan for long-term care and retirement.
  • Julián Castro campaigned at the Siouxland Pride Alliance in Iowa on Sunday.
  • The Burlington Hawk Eye interviewed John Delaney about infrastructure and economic opportunity zones.
  • Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that she was 3,000 donors away from meeting the fundraising threshold for the December presidential primary debate.
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal (Calif.) endorsed Kamala Harris on Friday, marking her fourth Congressional Hispanic Caucus endorsement.
  • Amy Klobuchar hired Marina Negroponte, the former Nevada state director for Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign, to lead her efforts in Nevada. Cameron Miller will serve as Nevada political director.
  • Deval Patrick is speaking at the “Politics and Eggs” breakfast at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Monday.
  • Bernie Sanders is holding a town hall in Salem, New Hampshire, on Monday.
  • Tom Steyer campaigned in Iowa on Sunday and will make stops in Charles City and Northwood on Monday.
  • Elizabeth Warren will campaign in Iowa on Monday and Tuesday, including an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board.
  • Marianne Williamson campaigned in South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Andrew Yang said he will not appear on MSNBC until the network apologizes for limiting his inclusion in the debate and omitting him in reports on fundraising and polling.


  • Donald Trump is expected to spend more than $200 million in Florida, his new permanent residence.
  • Joe Walsh spoke at the National League of Cities’ presidential forum on Friday.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: November 25, 2015

The Bernie Sanders campaign announced it was sending two dozen more paid field staffers to Iowa.