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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 18, 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 Friday? Click here.

The next two days

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

May 19:

  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that a sixth region, Western New York, met the state’s criteria to enter Phase One of New York’s reopening plan. There are 10 regions in the state. On May 19, the following businesses can reopen: construction, manufacturing, and wholesale supply chains, agriculture, forestry, and fishing can resume, and retails can open for curbside pickup. Cuomo announced that elective surgeries could resume in two counties, Suffolk and Westchester, effective Saturday, May 16. He also announced that horse racing could resume, without fans, on June 1. On May 18, Cuomo announced that he’s asked major league sports teams to start planning to reopen or to begin seasons without fans. While stadiums must remain closed to fans, Cuomo said games can still be televised.

May 20:

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Phase one of Connecticut’s reopening plan will begin. This first phase of reopening will affect museums and zooms, offices, restaurants, and retailers. This phase was originally set to affect hair salons and barbershops, but Gov. Ned Lamont (D) delayed those changes until early June.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Retail businesses will be permitted to reopen at 33% capacity. Funeral and memorial services will also be permitted to resume at 33% capacity.

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.

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) released guidelines on cleaning and social distancing for casinos and movie theaters in the state to reopen. According to ABC 15, several casinos opened on May 15, while major theater chains are expecting to reopen in June or July. See today’s Featured Plan for more on Arizona’s reopening.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) released guidance for Phase 1 of the state’s reopening, scheduled to begin June 1. Businesses reopening in this phase, including restaurants and retailers, will be limited to 30% capacity. Phase one will require residents to wear face coverings in public. Delaware’s June 1 target date will make it the 49th state to begin reopening. Only Illinois (with no current target date) will begin reopening after it.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said theme parks in the state could begin submitting reopening plans for approval. The plans must include a target date for resuming operations and an endorsement from local officials. Disney World and Universal Studios, the largest theme parks in the state, have been closed since mid-March.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Gov. J.B. Pritzker filed an emergency rule on Friday, May 15 that allows business owners who violate the state’s stay-at-home order to be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Kansas (divided government): The following businesses were allowed to reopen on May 18: personal service businesses by appointment only (e.g., nail salons, barber shops, and tattoo parlors), gyms, and fitness centers. Gatherings of more than 10 individuals remain prohibited. The following businesses must remain closed: bars and nightclubs; non-tribal casinos; theaters; museums; indoor leisure spaces; community centers; outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues; fairs, festivals, carnivals, and parades; swimming pools; organized sports facilities; and summer camps.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Government offices were permitted to reopen on May 18. Occupational capacity of government buildings was capped at 33%. No more than 50% of a building’s workforce could be in the building at one time. The Department of Education released initial guidance for schools and districts on reopening to in-person instruction this fall. The 16-page document outlined potential start dates for schools ranging from July to October and included guidelines for employee training, contacting tracing, and preparedness for sudden closures.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order would be allowed to expire on May 18. It was replaced with a “Safer at Home” order, which advised residents to refrain from leaving their homes unless performing essential or newly permitted activities. Baker also announced the implementation of Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan. Effective May 18, the following businesses were allowed to reopen: manufacturing facilities; construction sites; places of worship; and hospitals and community health centers (to resume high-priority preventative care, pediatric care, and treatment for high-risk patients).
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced the formation of the Return to Learning Advisory Council. The group will make recommendations to the COVID-19 Task Force on Education on returning to in-person instruction in the fall.
  • Minnesota (divided government): Effective May 18, most non-critical businesses were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity. Businesses must establish and implement preparedness plans to reopen. The closure of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation has been extended through May 31. The state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 17.
  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): Missouri state park campgrounds began reopening to guests with reservations on May 18. State park beaches will also open to the public on May 21.
  • Nebraska (Republican trifecta): Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) announced on May 15 that long-term care centers, such as nursing homes, will be required to develop formal plans on how to mitigate the spread of coronavirus among vulnerable residents who live in the facilities.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): As part of Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) “Stay-at-Home 2.0” order, restaurants could reopen on May 18 for outdoor dining with social distancing measures. That means parties of no more than six and tables must be spaced six feet apart.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Fishing and charter boats could resume service on May 17. Also on May 17, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order allowing the following business to reopen, effective May 18: nonessential retail stores (for curbside pick up only), nonessential construction (with social distancing measures), drive-through and drive-in events, including church services and drive-in movies (people must remain in their vehicles). If cars are unable to maintain six feet of distance, windows must stay closed. The governor also said that drive-by and drive-in graduations celebrations are allowed, so long as people remain in their vehicles. On May 14, Murphy said Jersey Shore beaches could reopen effective May 22. Under that order, beaches and lakes must limit the number of visitors so that people can practice social distancing.
  • North Carolina (divided government): At a news conference on May 18, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said that an announcement on whether or not the state could move into Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan could come mid-week.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On May 15, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced recommended guidelines for large venues to reopen in phases. The guidelines call for arenas and stadiums to operate at 50% capacity, up to 250 people, and with food service complying with mandatory protocols for restaurants and bars.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On May 18, the state began allowing outdoor dining at restaurants. It also began requiring open businesses to maintain written COVID-19 Control Plans detailing precautions they have taken to prevent the spread of the virus. The state released a required Control Plan template for businesses to fill out. Businesses do not need to submit their plan to the state for review, but they must provide it to the Rhode Island Department of Health if requested. Non-essential retailers must also sign and display a compliance checklist in an area visible to employees and visitors and keep records available to the Department of Health upon request for contact tracing. Businesses that have not yet opened must complete the Control Plan and checklist requirements before they reopen.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Close-contact businesses (barbershops, salons, spas, and tattoo parlors), gyms, and public pools began reopening on May 18. The businesses must follow state guidelines, including keeping people six feet apart when possible, installing physical barriers at work stations, and putting up signs to remind employees and customers of safety and hygiene practices.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Greg Abbott (R) added daycares to the list of businesses that were scheduled to reopen on May 18, which included gyms, office spaces, and non-essential manufacturing. Abbott also announced that bars and bowling alleys may reopen with restrictions on May 22 in most counties and that restaurants may expand capacity up to 50% that day. Youth sports and overnight camps can reopen on May 31. Abbott delayed that reopening in El Paso, Randall, Potter, and Deaf Smith Counties, saying each had seen a spike in coronavirus cases. Bars in those counties may reopen, and restaurants may expand to 50% capacity, on May 29.
  • Vermont (divided government): Non-essential retail businesses began reopening to in-person shopping on May 18. Businesses are limited to 25% capacity, and employees must wear face coverings.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On May 15, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said restaurants will not be required to maintain a list of customer contact information to reopen, as originally planned. Restaurants are asked to maintain a list of customers who voluntarily share that information.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Fitness centers, gymnasiums, and recreation centers began reopening on May 18 with restrictions. Facilities are limited to 40% capacity and must keep equipment separated to allow for at least six feet of space between people. Other restrictions include keeping showers, locker rooms, swimming pools, and basketball courts closed and limiting the size of group classes.
  • The governors of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York announced a multi-state agreement to reopen public and private beaches, with restrictions, on May 22.

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 18, stay-at-home orders have ended in 23 states. Governors ended stay-at-home orders in 22 states—16 Republican governors and six Democratic governors. Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) administration overstepped its authority in extending that state’s stay-at-home order. Of the 20 states with stay-at-home orders in place, three have Republican governors and 17 have Democratic governors.

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

Reopenings status

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: Arizona Together

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 May 12, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order would expire on May 15 and detailed the next steps in the state’s reopening in a presentation titled “Arizona Together.”

Ducey said the state had met White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gating criteria to move to the next phase of reopening:

  • a downward trajectory of influenza- and COVID-like illnesses over 14 days
  • a downward trajectory of positive COVID tests as a percentage of total tests over 14 days
  • treating all patients without crisis care
  • robust testing in place for at-risk healthcare workers

Arizona resumed elective surgeries on May 1 followed by curbside retail on May 4. In-person retail, barbershops, and cosmetologists could reopen on May 8. Dine-in restaurant services could resume on May 11. Gyms, pools, and spas could reopen May 13. All businesses must reopen under certain safety guidelines.

Ducey issued a new executive order, effective May 16, stating that any business physically operating in the state and serving the public must “develop, establish and implement policies based on guidance from the CDC, Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and ADHS to limit and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) had released specific guidance for 10 types of establishments as of May 18.

Following that order, KTAR reported, “Ducey’s office confirmed … that most businesses deemed nonessential under the state’s stay-at-home order” would be allowed to open May 16, including movie theaters and tattoo parlors, and that “[s]ome closures will remain in place for businesses and events where large groups gather. That means bars will have to wait, as will concerts, festivals and sporting events with fans.”

The order also advises vulnerable individuals (including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) to continue limiting time away from home and members of households with vulnerable individuals to take precautions to protect them. It also advises all individuals to maximize physical distancing in public areas and to avoid settings where that is not possible unless CDC guidelines are followed.

Citing state law, the executive order says that no local government may issue an order or regulation conflicting with or adding to Ducey’s order.

The current executive order has no expiration date and says it will be reviewed for possible revision or repeal at least every two weeks.

Context

  • Ducey issued an order effective March 20 closing bars, gyms, movie theaters, and dine-in services at restaurants in counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases. He issued a statewide stay-at-home order effective March 31, ordering individuals to only leave the house for essential activities and ordering nonessential businesses to cease in-person, on-site transactional operations. He extended the order, initially set to expire April 30, until May 15 with modifications allowing retail to reopen. Ducey issued a new order effective May 16 allowing most nonessential businesses to open in line with federal, state, and local safety guidance.
  • As of May 17, Arizona had 13,937 cases of COVID-19 and 680 deaths. That is 193.9 cases per 100,000 residents and 9.5 deaths per 100,000 residents.
  • Arizona is a Republican trifecta, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Timeline of reopenings

May 1

  • Elective surgeries allowed to resume, with guidelines

May 4

  • Retail for curbside pickup

From the April 29 extended stay-at-home order: “Businesses and entities that remain open shall implement rules and procedures that facilitate physical distancing and spacing of individuals of at least six feet.”

May 8

  • Retail for in-person operations

From the April 29 order: “Businesses and entities that remain open shall implement rules and procedures that facilitate physical distancing and spacing of individuals of at least six feet.”

  • Additional guidance from the Arizona Department of Health Services
  • Barbershops and cosmetologists

From the May 4 executive order: “[E]ffective Friday, May 8, 2020, barbers and cosmetologists … may resume operations provided they establish and implement protocols and best practices for businesses to address COVID-19, including using face coverings for employees and customers, operating by appointment only and following protocols as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Department of Labor Division of Occupational Safety and the Arizona Department of Health Services.”

May 11

  • Restaurants for dine-in service

From the May 4 executive order: “[E]ffective Monday, May 11, 2020, dine-in services may resume provided they establish and implement protocols and best practices for businesses to address COVID-19, including enacting physical distancing policies, limiting the number of diners and following protocols as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Department of Labor Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Arizona Department of Health Services.”

May 13

  • Gyms with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation (Guidance from the ADHS)
  • Pools with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation (Guidance from the ADHS)
  • Spas with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation (Guidance from the ADHS)

On May 12, Ducey announced guidance for gyms, pools, and spas, which could reopen May 13.

May 16

  • Major League sports with no audience, following CDC guidelines
  • Most nonessential businesses following safety guidelines
  • No bars that don’t serve food, concerts, or festivals may reopen/resume

Ducey’s “Arizona Together” presentation summarized the executive order that was effective May 16 as follows:

INDIVIDUALS

  • Vulnerable individuals should remain at home
    • Individuals in these households should avoid returning to work where distancing is not practical
    • Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents
  • All Arizonans should continue to physically distance
    • Social settings where appropriate distancing is not practical should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed and CDC guidelines are followed

 

BUSINESSES

  • Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with Federal, State and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:
    • Social distancing and protective equipment
    • Temperature checks
    • Testing, isolating and contact tracing
    • Sanitation
    • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas
    • Business travel
    • Do not allow symptomatic people to physically return to work until cleared by a medical provider

 

 

EMPLOYERS

  • Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK, whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
  • If possible, RETURN TO WORK IN PHASES.
  • Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact, or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • Minimize NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to CDC guidelines regarding isolation following travel.
  • Strongly consider SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS for personnel who are members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION.

 

The plan also contains a section called, “Remember to do your part,” advising individuals to do the following:

CONTINUE TO PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE

✓ Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, especially

after touching frequently used items or surfaces.

✓ Avoid touching your face.

✓ Cover your cough or sneeze, cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.

✓ Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.

✓ Strongly consider using face coverings while in public, and particularly when using mass transit.

 

 PEOPLE WHO FEEL SICK SHOULD STAY HOME

✓ Do not go to work or school.

✓ Contact and follow the advice of your medical provider.

 

Site-specific guidance

As of May 18, The Arizona Department of Health Services has released guidance for 10 types of establishment. There are guidelines for the people who run these establishments and the individuals attending them.

Reactions

  • Glenn Hamer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, said of the April 29 modified stay-at-home order, “The revisions put forth by the governor breathe needed oxygen into our retail sector. Stores that sell essential goods have proven already that they can operate safely, and we look forward to more retailers doing the same.”
  • Timothy Lant, mathematical epidemiologist at Arizona State University, said of the April 29 order, “We waited as long as we could in order to make the right decision, and I think waiting until the 15th is the right decision. … It’s consistent with CDC guidance. It’s consistent with the models that I have developed. It’s consistent with similar activities in other states that are, I think, on the cautious side of doing what needs to be done.”
  • In a joint statement on Ducey’s April 29 order, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, and Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans said, “Our preference is to have the current stay-at-home order remain in place without modifications; however, we agree it’s critical to extend stay-at-home guidelines until at least May 15 and show a steadier trendline before further reopening happens.”
  • State House Majority Leader Warren Petersen (R) wrote of the April 29 order, “I’m asking my colleagues in the legislature to join me in overturning the arbitrary extension of the stay at home order. In case you didn’t know, anyone can stay at home.”

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 National Football League (NFL) will allow teams to open facilities that meet certain guidelines where state and local governments allow beginning May 19. Facilities must have protocols in place developed by the NFL’s chief medical officer. No more than 75 people may be at each team’s facility.
  • Broward and Miami-Dade counties in Florida began reopening May 18. Most other counties in the state began reopening on May 4. Palm Beach County began reopening May 11.
  • On May 16, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied a motion for a temporary stay against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) Executive Order 2020-32, which generally barred gatherings of more than 10 people, including religious gatherings. In an unsigned order, the panel wrote, “The Executive Order does not discriminate against religious activities, nor does it show hostility toward religion. It appears instead to impose neutral and generally applicable rules.” The panel did grant the plaintiffs’ motion for an expedited appeal. The plaintiffs, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries, allege that the governor’s order violated their First Amendment rights.
  • On May 16, Judge James Dever, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, issued a temporary restraining order against a provision of Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) Executive Order 138 that barred indoor religious services involving more than 10 people. The plaintiffs alleged that this provision of the order violated their First Amendment rights. Dever agreed: “There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution of the United States or the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their Free Exercise claim concerning the assembly for religious worship provisions in Executive Order 138, that they will suffer irreparable harm absent a temporary restraining order, that the equities tip in their favor, and that a temporary restraining order is in the public interest.” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper’s office, said the governor would not appeal the decision.
  • A Las Vegas gym, CrossFit Apollo, announced that it planned to reopen despite Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order, Directive 18, which required gyms and fitness centers to remain closed while other industries could reopen in Phase One of the state’s reopening plan.
  • Portland International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport announced face-covering requirements for travelers passing through both airports.


Amash will not run for Libertarian presidential nomination

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
May 18, 2020: Justin Amash announced that he would not run for the Libertarian presidential nomination. The Equality PAC endorsed Joe Biden. blank    blankblank   


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

Notable Quote of the Day

“Teflon presidents, gangsters, candidates — we have had them all. What we have not experienced until now is a Teflon campaign.

Between March 11, when the coronavirus prompted the NBA to suspend its season, and May 14, some 84,000 Americans died of coronavirus, more than 36 million lost their jobs, and Congress appropriated $3.6 trillion in new spending. It is not foolish to suppose that these world-shaking events would affect the presidential election. On the contrary: One would expect a dramatic swing toward either the incumbent or the challenger. But look at the polls. Not only has there been no big shift. There has been no shift. …

Why? The incidents of this election cycle are not the reason. Epidemics, depressions, and sex scandals have happened before. What is distinct are the candidates. One in particular.

If this race has been the steadiest in memory, it is because public opinion of the incumbent has been the most consistent in memory. ‘Trump’s approval rating has the least variation of any post-World War II president,’ notes Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight. Whatever is in the headlines matters less than one’s view of the president. And he is a subject on which most people’s views are ironclad.”

– Matthew Continetti, National Review

Election Updates

  • The Equality PAC, which is affiliated with the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, endorsed Joe Biden.

  • Biden released a statement on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia in which he wrote, “As President, I will reinvigorate and expand U.S. efforts to advance the human rights of LGBTQ+ people at home and around the world.” He also tweeted that passing the Equality Act would be one of his top legislative priorities as president.

  • Donald Trump tweeted, “I’m not running against Sleepy Joe Biden. He is not even a factor. Never was, remember 1% Joe? I’m running against the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats & their partner, the real opposition party, the Lamestream Fake News Media! They are vicious & crazy, but we will WIN!”

  • U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Mich.), who announced on April 28 that he was launching an exploratory committee for the Libertarian presidential nominationtweeted, “Thanks for your support as I’ve been exploring a run for president as the potential nominee of the Libertarian Party. … After much reflection, I’ve concluded that circumstances don’t lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate.”

Flashback: May 18, 2016

Trump announced a list of possible Supreme Court nominees. He said the list was “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value and, as president, I plan to use this list as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court justices.”blank

Click here to learn more.



Massachusetts state legislator proposes bill giving liability protections to unions during COVID-19 outbreak

On April 23, Sen. Paul Feeney (D) introduced S2700, which would grant liability protections to unions that advise their members of their right to refuse to work due to abnormally dangerous conditions.

What does the bill propose?

Section 2 of the bill proposes that “it shall be unlawful to file a civil action for damages against any employee organization or union for advising their bargaining unit members of their right to refuse to work because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of the employment.”

The legislation would also grant liability protections to construction contractors and sub-contractors. It would take effect immediately upon passage and apply retroactively to any claims arising during the COVID-19 state of emergency, which was declared by Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on March 10.

What comes next?

Both the upper and lower chambers of the Massachusetts General Court are considering the bill simultaneously. The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, where it is awaiting action.

Political context: Massachusetts has a divided government. Gov. Charlie Baker is a Republican. Democrats, meanwhile, have veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Minnesota public-sector workers sue for refunds of previously paid union fees

On May 8, six Minnesota state workers filed two class action lawsuits in U.S. district court against their unions. The plaintiffs want the unions to refund an estimated $19 million in fees paid before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision.

Who are the parties to the suits?

  • Fellows v. MAPE (0:20-cv-01128):
    • Plaintiffs: Mark Fellows, a Department of Human Services employee; Catherine Wyatt, a former Department of Revenue employee; and Alicia Bonner, a Department of Employment and Economic Development employee.
      • Representation: Greenberg Traurig; LLP; Liberty Justice Center; National Right to Work Foundation; Upper Midwest Law Center.
    • Defendant: Minnesota Association of Professional Employees
      • MAPE is a union representing about 12,500 professional public-sector employees..

What is at issue, and what comes next?

In both suits, attorneys for the plaintiffs argue the unions illegally compelled employees within their bargaining units to pay union fees. They argue that, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Harris v. Quinn in 2014, the unions “should have known that [their] agency fee seizures may violate public employees’ First Amendment rights.” In Harris v. Quinn, the court struck down an Illinois statute compelling a specific class of home healthcare workers to pay fees to the Service Employees International Union.

The cases are both pending adjudication in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 95 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map May 15, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart May 15, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart May 15, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state, then by bill number. The partisan affiliation of bill sponsor(s) is also provided.

  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions 3 or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee hearing scheduled May 14.
  • Louisiana HB572: This bill would allow teachers and other school employees to cease withholding union dues from their wages at any time upon submitting a written or email request.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Labor Committee hearing scheduled May 14.
  • Massachusetts S2700: This bill would make it unlawful to file a civil action against any union for advising its members of their right to refuse to work “because of an abnormally dangerous condition at the place of employment.”
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Referred to Joint Judiciary Committee May 7.


Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 15, 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?

May 16

  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): The following businesses are permitted to reopen on May 16: smaller retailers (25 percent capacity), offices and call centers (25 percent capacity), big box stores and larger retail (20 percent capacity), places of worship (10 percent capacity). Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the changes on May 14.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): According to Gov. Gary Herbert (R)All but Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Wasatch County, Summit County, and Grand County will move from the orange phase to the yellow phase of Utah’s reopening plan on May 16. Under the yellow phase, limits on gatherings rise from 20 to 50 people, but face coverings must be worn in public, and individuals should stay 6 feet from others when outside the home. All businesses can reopen in the yellow phase. Businesses that do open must follow social distancing guidelines and industry-specific requirements, such as limiting tables in restaurants to groups of 10 and symptom checking all employees who work in gyms. The plan also eases restrictions on team sports, so long as social distancing guidelines are followed and participants are checked for symptoms. Utah’s plan puts additional restrictions on high-risk individuals across all phases of reopening. It defines high-risk individuals as those with underlying medical conditions, those over the age of 65, and those living in long-term care facilities.

May 18

  • Florida (Republican trifecta): At a press conference on May 15, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Florida would enter “full phase one” on May 18. This means gyms will be allowed to reopen with social distancing guidelines, restaurants can operate at 50% capacity (up from 25%), and museums and libraries may operate at 50% capacity. The state began phase one reopenings in most of the state on May 4.
  • Kansas (divided government): On May 14, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced Phase 1.5 of Kansas’ reopening. Effective May 18, the following businesses will be permitted to reopen: personal service businesses by appointment only (e.g., nail salons, barber shops, and tattoo parlors) and gyms and fitness centers. Gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited. The following businesses must remain closed: bars and nightclubs; non-tribal casinos; theaters; museums; indoor leisure spaces; community centers; outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues; fairs, festivals, carnivals, and parades; swimming pools; organized sports facilities; and summer camps.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): Massachusetts’s stay-at-home order expires on May 18. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he will announce whether he will extend or lift the order that day.
  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): Missouri state park campgrounds will begin reopening on May 18. Reservations will be required. State park beaches will also open to the public on May 21.
  • New Hampshire (divided government): Outdoor dining at restaurants will be permitted under Gov. Chris Sununu’s “Stay-at-Home 2.0” order on May 18, with social distancing and hygiene measures for employees and the public.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): The following businesses are permitted to reopen on May 18: nonessential retail stores for curbside pick up only, nonessential construction under social distancing measures, and drive-through and drive-in events, including church services and drive-in movies, if people remain in their cars. If cars are unable to maintain six feet of distance, windows must stay closed.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Businesses that are open in the state have until May 18 to develop a written COVID-19 Control Plan detailing precautions they have taken to prevent the spread of the virus. The state released a required Control Plan template for businesses to fill out. Businesses do not need to submit their plan to the state for review, but they must provide it to the Rhode Island Department of Health if requested. Non-essential retailers must also sign and display a compliance checklist in an area visible to employees and visitors. Businesses that have not yet opened must complete the Control Plan and checklist requirements before they reopen. The state will also begin allowing outdoor dining at restaurants.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Close-contact businesses (barbershops, salons, spas, and tattoo parlors), gyms, and public pools can reopen on May 18. Businesses that reopen must follow state guidelines, which include keeping people six feet apart when possible, installing physical barriers at work stations, and putting up signs to remind employees and customers of safety and hygiene practices.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): Gyms, office spaces, and non-essential manufacturing businesses can reopen at or below 25% capacity on May 18 as part of the next phase of the state’s reopening plan.
  • Vermont (divided government): Non-essential retail businesses can reopen on May 18 at or below 25% capacity. Employees must wear masks. On May 15, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced he was replacing the state’s stay-at-home order with a “Stay Smart, Stay Safe” order. Scott said he hopes to increase the maximum crowd size to 25 over the next few days and allow some businesses, like hair salons and outdoor restaurants, to reopen before June 1. Private campgrounds, marinas, and hotels can reopen on May 22 with restrictions.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) said gyms and health clubs can reopen on May 18 at or below 40% capacity and keep equipment separated to allow for at least six feet of space between people. Other restrictions include keeping showers, locker rooms, swimming pools, and basketball courts closed and limiting the size of group classes.

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.

  • Statewide stay-at-home orders in five states—Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, and Vermont—ended on May 15. These became the 19th through 23rd states where stay-at-home orders have ended. Of those five states, three have Republican governors and two have Democratic governors.
    • In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on May 14 that the state’s stay-at-home order was extended through May 28 for regions, including New York City, that do not meet the state’s reopening criteria. However, five regions that met the criteria could proceed with reopenings of some nonessential businesses beginning May 15, including construction, manufacturing and retail for curbside pick up only. Those regions are the Finger Lakes, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North County, and the Southern Tier. Cuomo said in a tweet that as soon as a region hits its benchmarks for reopening, they can do so before May 28.
    • Delaware’s stay-at-home order was also scheduled to expire, but Gov. John Carney (D) announced on May 8 that it would be extended through May 31. Five other states have orders scheduled to expire on May 31.
  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced the state would not be ready to move to phase two of the state’s reopening plan on May 18 as originally anticipated. The announcement came after the state saw an increase in patients and hospitalizations in the last two days.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced that restrictions on Delaware’s beaches and community pools would be lifted beginning 5:00 p.m. on May 22. Ice cream stores and trucks may also reopen for take-out or curbside pick-up services. These openings only apply to Delaware residents. A 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors is still in effect.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Phase 1 of Louisiana’s reopening took effect on May 15. The following businesses were allowed to reopen at 25% capacity: gyms and fitness centers; barber shops and hair/nail salons; shopping malls; gaming establishments; theaters; racetracks (no spectators); museums, zoos, and aquariums (no tactile exhibits); and bars and breweries with food permits. Individuals, particularly those belonging to high-risk groups, are still encouraged to stay home. Individuals who do go out in public are encouraged to wear facial coverings, practice good hygiene, and maintain six feet of distance from others. For businesses, employees who interact with the public must wear facial coverings and enforce social distancing guidelines. Gaming establishments must register and obtain approval before reopening. No other business owners are required to do so.
  • Maryland (divided government): Phase 1 of Maryland’s reopening took effect on May 15. The following businesses were allowed to reopen: retail stores (50% capacity), manufacturing, churches and houses of worship (50% capacity), and personal services (by appointment only).
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey confirmed that casinos in the state would be able to reopen on May 21.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Outdoor dining at bars and restaurants is allowed and personal services, such as salons and barbers, can reopen as of May 15.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): The second phase of Oklahoma’s reopening plan began May 15. Under this phase, vulnerable individuals are directed to continue following safer-at-home guidelines. Individuals are directed to maintain social distancing measures and avoid group socializing. Employers must close common areas or enforce social distancing and hygiene measures, honor requests from vulnerable employees for special accommodations, and implement social distancing measures, including the use of personal protective equipment when working with the public. Also under phase two, organized sports activities can reopen with social distancing and sanitation measures, bars can operate with diminished standing room and social distancing and sanitation measures, childcare areas in places of worship can reopen, and funerals and weddings can resume with social distancing measures. Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals are still prohibited under phase two.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown announced that 31 counties would be able to enter Phase 1 of reopening on May 15. The first phase of the plan allows restaurants and bars to open for dine-in. It allows permitted retailers and malls, personal service businesses like hairdressers and salons, and fitness centers to reopen, contingent on their compliance with state guidelines. Brown also said that stand-alone retail stores would be able to open for limited business statewide.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): On May 15, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that 12 additional counties would be ready to move into the yellow phase of reopening by May 22: Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, and York. 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.
  • Tennessee (Republican trifecta): Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced that beginning on or after May 22, he will lift some restrictions on restaurants, retail, and large attraction venues like amusement parts and theaters across much of the state. Six Tennessee counties, including Shelby and Knox counties, are following county-specific plans and won’t be impacted by these changes. Lee said new guidelines would be released next week.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): The first phase of Virginia’s reopening plan began on May 15, for many parts of the state except Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Fairfax, Vienna, Alexandria. On May 14, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) approved requests from the City of Richmond and Accomack County to delay entering Phase 1 until May 29. The Accomack County Board of Supervisors and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney cited high rates of COVID-19 infections relative to the rest of the state to justify the delay. In the parts of Virginia entering phase one, retail stores can reopen at 50% capacity, and bars and restaurants will also be able to offer outdoor dining at 50% capacity. Many types of businesses will remain closed, including entertainment and public amusement venues. Places of worship can hold services at 50% occupancy.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said he could not guarantee that Washington would be ready to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan by June 1. Inslee said advancing to the next phase will depend on infection rates and contact tracing and isolation initiatives in Washington counties.
  • Wyoming (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that he was easing some restrictions on businesses beginning on May 15. Under the new order, restaurants can resume indoor and outdoor service so long as staff wear face coverings and tables are spaced out. Movie theaters and venues can reopen to a maximum of 25 people at a time, and gyms can provide group classes with up to 20 people.

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 15, stay-at-home orders have ended in 23 states. Governors ended stay-at-home orders in 22 states—16 Republican governors and six Democratic governors. Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) administration overstepped its authority in extending that state’s stay-at-home order. Of the 20 states with stay-at-home orders in place, three have Republican governors and 17 have Democratic governors.

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

Reopenings status

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: Pennsylvania’s reopening 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.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced his three-phase, color-coded reopening plan on April 22. It includes allowing regions of the state to reopen at different times depending on public health benchmarks and other data.

Thirty-seven of the state’s 67 counties have moved from the red phase to the yellow phase—24 counties on May 8 and an additional 13 on May 15. The counties are in the Northwest, Northcentral, and Southwest regions of the state.

The yellow phase allows all businesses except those specified to resume in-person operations as long as they adhere to state Department of Health guidelines. Businesses not allowed to open in the yellow phase include indoor recreation, health and wellness/personal care services (such as gyms, hair salons, massage therapy), entertainment venues (such as casinos and theaters), and restaurants and bars (except for carry-out and delivery).

On social and individual behavior restrictions, the plan states:

All Pennsylvanians should continue to maintain social distancing even as the reopening and easing of restriction process begins. With few exceptions, Pennsylvanians should maintain a distance of six feet from each other, gatherings of more than 25 people will be prohibited, and non-essential travel should be avoided. In addition, individuals should engage in frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and surfaces should be disinfected as often as possible.

On May 15, Wolf announced an additional 12 counties will move to the yellow phase on May 22. Most of the counties are in the Southcentral and Northeast regions.

Wolf said the plan’s phases were designed using the following six standards and the White House’s Opening Up America Guidelines. Click the links to learn more details about each standard. More details on business guidance and the regional approach are provided below.

Context

  • Wolf issued an order directing all non-life-sustaining businesses to close March 19. On March 23, Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for seven counties in the state. Between then and March 31, Wolf amended the order six times to include a total of 33 counties. On April 1, Wolf issued a statewide stay-at-home order directing residents to stay home except for life-sustaining activities, prohibiting gatherings, and requiring social distancing as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. The original order was set to expire on April 30. On April 20, Wolf extended the order to May 8.
  • On May 7, Wolf issued an order moving 24 counties into the yellow phase of his plan effective May 8 and extended the stay-at-home order for remaining counties to June 4. On May 14, he amended the yellow phase order to include 13 additional counties effective May 15.
  • As of May 14, Pennsylvania had 59,636 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 4,218 deaths. As of July 2019, the state’s estimated population was 12.8 million. Pennsylvania had 465.8 cases per 100,000 residents and 32.9 deaths per 100,000 residents.
  • Pennsylvania has a divided government, with a Democratic governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

Wolf’s plan contains the following table:



Business guidance

Businesses must adhere to state guidance as they reopen.

Wolf, state Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, the Department of Health, and the Department of State had released the following guidance documents as of May 15:

The May 4 guidance for all businesses with in-person operations includes a number of guidelines on cleaning, operations, providing equipment to employees, and creating a plan in case a business is exposed to COVID-19.

Guidelines include:

  • “Conduct business with the public by appointment only, whenever possible”
  • “If appointment-only service is not feasible, limit the number of people inside the building to no more than 50% of the total maximum occupancy”
  • “Designate a specific time for people at high risk, including those over the age of 65 to use the business at least once a week”
  • “Require all customers to wear masks while on the premises” (with exceptions)
  • “Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour”

Regional approach

The state will consider both regional and county data when deciding what may move to the next phase of reopening. Not all counties within a region necessarily move to the next phase at the same time. For example, Beaver County in the Southwest region did not advance to the yellow stage at the same time as the rest of the region.

Criteria for moving to the yellow phase include:

  • Fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported in the previous 14 days
  • Testing capacity
  • Contact tracing/case investigation ability
  • Adequate safeguards in high-risk settings

In addition to the above criteria, the state will use a modeling dashboard created in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. Wolf’s plan said the tool will “enable a balance between maximizing the results of our economy while minimizing public health risks. This tool will help better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to easing restrictions by sector and region.”

The plan includes the following sample image of the dashboard:

The secretary of health, secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, and director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency make recommendations to the governor on when to move a region from one phase to the next.

Additional details on Pennsylvania’s regional approach can be found here.

Reactions

  • After Wolf released the list of 24 counties allowed to begin reopening on May 8, state Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R) said, “I think it is absolutely ridiculous we are not leaving this up to our county elected officials to decide these things for the good and welfare of their county. … They know what their numbers are accurately and where those numbers come from. … Say, for example, Beaver County [with 426 COVID-19 cases and 67 deaths] almost all those instances came from one nursing home. That does not depict the entire scenario of that county as a whole. We have to take those things into consideration and I think county commissioners have the ability to do that more than anyone.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D) said, “Moving from red to yellow in many counties in the northcentral and northwest regions of our state is an exciting step, but I would ask residents to still take as much precaution as possible.” He said Wolf’s and Levine’s recommendations “along with those from the CDC are designed to keep everyone healthy. Economic recovery will be a long road, and we need to stay healthy for it to work.”

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. 

  • Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced that racing would return to Talladega Superspeedway without fans the weekend of June 21. The city will host the NASCAR Cup Series Geico 500, NASCAR Xfinity Series MoneyLion 300, and ARCA Menards Series’ General Tire 200. The Geico 500 was originally scheduled to take place in April.
  • Colorado: Commissioners in El Paso County voted unanimously to reopen restaurants ahead of Gov. Jared Polis’ (D) proposed timeline. The measure still requires approval by both Polis and the state’s health department, however.
  • Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that racing would return to Atlanta Motor Speedway in June. The NASCAR Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, originally scheduled for March 15, will run on June 7. The race will take place without spectators.
  • Wisconsin: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced a new order allowing barbershops, tattoo parlors, spas, and playgrounds to reopen with certain restrictions. He announced details of his Business Restart Program on May 15. Eighteen surrounding suburbs issued a joint order allowing salons, spas, and indoor shopping malls to open with certain restrictions. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released six, one-page “decision tool” documents for bars, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, schools, and workplaces. The documents are designed to assist those who run such facilities and systems in deciding when to reopen. The documents can be found here.
  • On May 14, the Nevada Gaming Control Board released guidelines for reopening casino restaurants. Restaurants within licensed gaming properties could reopen on May 9. Under the guidelines, restaurants must comply with the same standards as other restaurants, as outlined in Gov. Steve Sisolak’s reopening plan, including operating at 50 percent, employees being required to wear PPE, and tables needed to be 6-feet apart. Casino restaurants must also report if there is a separate entrance for guests to enter, or explain how guests enter the restaurant without stepping on the gaming floor. Similarly, if there is no internal restroom, casino restaurants must explain to the Gaming Control Board how guests can use the facilities without stepping on the gaming floor.
  • New Hampshire’s Governor’s Economic Reopening Task Force approved guidelines for reopening Hampton Beach on Thursday, May 14. Original guidance set a June 1 open date but the task force decided to omit that date for now and will instead reach out to public health officials and Gov. Chris Sununu about a specific timeline. The governor would make the final decision.
  • The City of Durham, North Carolina announced an extension to the city’s stay-at-home order until it is rescinded by the mayor. The new order retains a local requirement that residents and store employees wear face masks. Under the new order, gatherings are limited to 10 people (per the governor), and funerals are limited to 25 people (the state allows for 50). The order also requires employers to screen employees for symptoms of coronavirus.


Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: May 9-15, 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

“Bottom line: By making it a little easier to vote, voting by mail probably increases the likelihood of the marginal Democratic voter engaging in the process. (Though younger and lower-income voters, who tend to vote at lower rates, also tend to not take advantage of voting by mail.) But it also makes it easier for more habitual older voters, who tend to vote more Republican than younger voters, to cast a ballot. Thus, on balance, any associated partisan effects from voting by mail have tended to cancel out.

We should be careful to apply past patterns to 2020, though. The states that moved to universal voting did so gradually, over several election cycles. So we’ve never seen anything on the scale of what we might see in 2020. The obvious implication is that efforts to expand absentee voting in a pandemic might work differently. And maybe there will be partisan differences in who chooses to vote by mail, as we saw in Wisconsin’s primary.

But we may also learn something more about how states implement voting-by-mail systems and what those impacts are. (For example, is postage prepaid? How easy is it to request a ballot? How easy is it to correct a rejected ballot?) We may also see that different campaign tactics are more effective in getting people to vote by mail than getting people to vote in person. At the very least, we’ll almost certainly see tremendous variation on both counts — variation that will give us a new cottage industry of studies that refine our understanding of how vote by mail impacts turnout, or at least how it impacted turnout in 2020.”

– Lee DrutmanFiveThirtyEight

“Democrats are now the party of ‘closed’ and Republicans the party of ‘open.’ Generally speaking, Democrats believe we need to keep restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, and Republicans demand we open businesses to save the economy. Both have a point, and time will tell which side is advocating the wiser plan. …

Ultimately, the trajectory of the pandemic will determine which political party was right or wrong. The virus will determine the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Independent voters decide close elections, and they will break for the party that got it right on how to best manage COVID-19. Whichever party gets it wrong can spin the facts, but they will only convince their die-hard supporters, not the swing voters each ticket will need to prevail in November. The polling on the pandemic illuminates that time and again, partisan Republicans are on one side of the issue, partisan Democrats on the other, while the average American is in the middle. With this in mind, it only makes sense that those independent voters will remain in the middle through the 2020 elections but lean toward whatever political party was ultimately ‘right’ about how to best cope with COVID-19.”

– Gary MeltzRealClearPolitics

Week in Review

Biden and Trump campaigns, party committees raise over $60 million each in April

Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised $60.5 million in April, and Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $61.7 million.

DNC considers contingency plans

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee unanimously passed a resolution giving the Democratic National Convention Committee the power to “make the necessary changes to the format, size, date or other aspects in order to conduct a safe convention.” The resolution will go before the full DNC for a vote.

Biden and Trump win Nebraska’s presidential primaries

On Tuesday, Biden won Nebraska’s Democratic presidential primary with approximately 77% of the vote, receiving 29 pledged delegates. In the Republican primaryTrump received approximately 91% of the vote and 36 pledged delegates.

Biden says voters who believe Tara Reade shouldn’t vote for him

During an interview on MSNBC Thursday, Joe Biden said regarding sexual assault allegations from a former staffer, “If [voters] believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”

Trump visits Allentown, Pa.

Donald Trump visited an Owens and Minor medical supply distribution center in Allentown, Pa., on Thursday. Earlier in the week, Trump tweeted regarding opposition to coronavirus restrictions in Pennsylvania, “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!”

Biden and Sanders announce joint task force members

On Wednesday, Biden and Bernie Sanders announced the members of a series of joint task forces on climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care, and immigration. Biden tweeted, “A united party is key to winning the White House this November. The work of the task forces will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump — but transform our country.”

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Lara Trump is a Republican staffer with experience in digital media and political communication. Trump graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in communications and from the French Culinary Institute in New York with a degree in pastry arts. She is married to President Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign, Women’s Empowerment Tour speaker

Other experience:

  • 2017-2018: Giles-Parscale Inc., Trump Tower liaison
  • 2012-2016: Inside Edition, story coordinator and producer

What she says about Donald Trump: “While Washington career politicians & Joe Biden have paid lip service to the American worker & their families for generations, ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ is following through on his promises to support the backbone of America-the American working family.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 11-15, 2016

  • May 15, 2016: At a rally in Fort Mitchell, Ky., Hillary Clinton (D) said she would put her husband, former President Bill Clinton (D), “in charge of revitalizing the economy, ’cause you know he knows how to do it. … And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”
  • May 14, 2016: The Washington Post reported that a “band of exasperated Republicans — including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia” was “commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources­ and courting potential contenders” in hopes of running an independent presidential candidate in the November election.
  • May 13, 2016: The Los Angeles Times editorial board endorsed Hillary Clinton in the California Democratic primary. In an editorial titled “Endorsement: For all her faults, Hillary Clinton is vastly better prepared than Bernie Sanders for the presidency,” the board wrote, “Clinton may seem inauthentic to some or to lack that drink-a-beer-with-me quality that voters often look for in a candidate. But she has a grasp of the complexities of government and policy that is unmatched by any of the other candidates who ran for president this year — or by most candidates in most years.”
  • May 12, 2016: Trump met with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a group of Republican senators, and other party leaders in a series of meetings in Washington. Ryan commented, “The goal here is to unify the various wings of the party around common principles so we can go forward unified.” One senator stated, “It was not antagonistic. It was positive. There was a discussion of differences of some issues.”
  • May 11, 2016: After Bernie Sanders won the West Virginia Democratic primary on May 10, Trump tweeted, “I don’t want to hit Crazy Bernie Sanders too hard yet because I love watching what he is doing to Crooked Hillary. His time will come!”

Click here to learn more.



Biden says voters who believe Tara Reade shouldn’t vote for him

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
May 15, 2020: Biden said voters who believe Tara Reade shouldn’t vote for him. Trump tweeted his thanks to what he called his “great keyboard warriors.”        

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


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

Lara Trump is a Republican staffer with experience in digital media and political communication. Trump graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in communications and from the French Culinary Institute in New York with a degree in pastry arts. She is married to President Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign, Women’s Empowerment Tour speaker

Other experience:

  • 2017-2018: Giles-Parscale Inc., Trump Tower liaison
  • 2012-2016: Inside Edition, story coordinator and producer

What she says about Donald Trump: “While Washington career politicians & Joe Biden have paid lip service to the American worker & their families for generations, ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ is following through on his promises to support the backbone of America-the American working family.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“After Sanders’ campaign ended, he held a call with thousands of volunteers and allowed groups that endorsed him to make a pitch to them. He also posted on his website a list of groups that he encouraged supporters to join, including the Democratic Socialists of America and Our Revolution.

But many of Sanders’ former aides and allies said they want more direction. …

Some former aides see Sanders as personally uninterested in managing a legacy grassroots group and unfamiliar with some of the technical details of his 2020 operation’s infrastructure. …

[Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir] said that because the left lacks the institutional infrastructure that moderate Democrats have at their disposal, progressives sometimes expect Sanders to shoulder all of the burden.

‘You cannot ask a candidate who had a campaign to be the kind of long-term solution for this,’ Shakir said.”

– Holly Otterbein, Politico 

Election Updates

  • During an interview on MSNBC, Joe Biden said regarding sexual assault allegations from a former staffer, “If [voters] believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”
  • Biden hosted a virtual roundtable with Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) & Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) on the impact of COVID-19.
  • Donald Trump tweeted, “Thank you to all of my great Keyboard Warriors. You are better, and far more brilliant, than anyone on Madison Avenue (Ad Agencies). There is nobody like you!”
  • While visiting Allentown, Pa., Trump said, “We have to get your governor of Pennsylvania to start opening up a little bit. … You have areas of Pennsylvania that are barely affected and they want to keep them closed, you can’t do that.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 15, 2016

At a rally in Fort Mitchell, Ky., Hillary Clinton (D) said she would put her husband, former President Bill Clinton (D), “in charge of revitalizing the economy, ’cause you know he knows how to do it. … And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 14, 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 15

  • Stay-at-home orders are set to expire in seven states: Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, and Vermont. Arizona is a Republican trifecta. Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York are Democratic trifectas. Louisiana, Maryland, and Vermont are under divided government.
    • They will be 19th through 25th in the list of states where stay-at-home orders have expired.
    • Of the 18 states where stay-at-home orders have already expired, 13 have Republican governors and five have Democratic governors.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): The following businesses will be allowed to resume operations on May 15, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds (R): salons and barbershops (by appointment only), tattoo parlors, race tracks (without spectators), and social and fraternal clubs. Other businesses, including retail stores and restaurants, have already been allowed to reopen under previous executive orders.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Phase 1 of Louisiana’s reopening plan will take effect on May 15, with the following businesses reopening at 25% capacity: gyms and fitness centers; barber shops and hair/nail salons; gaming establishments; theaters; racetracks (no spectators); museums, zoos, and aquariums (no tactile exhibits); and bars and breweries with food permits. Gaming establishments must register and obtain approval before reopening. No other business owners will be required to do so.
  • Maryland (divided government): Stage 1 of Maryland’s reopening will begin on May 15, according to Gov. Larry Hogan (R). The state’s stay-at-home order will expire at 5:00 p.m. and the following businesses will be allowed to reopen: retail stores (50% capacity), manufacturing, churches and places of worship (50% capacity), and personal services (by appointment only). Not all counties will reopen on May 15. Hogan said that counties could choose to open at their own pace.
  • Montana (divided government): Movie theaters, gyms, and museums in the state will have the option to reopen at limited capacity starting on May 15 if they comply with sanitation and distancing requirements. According to the directive, live performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, and pools not in gyms will remain closed to the public.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Four regions—Finger Lakes, North Country, Southern Tier, and Mohawk Valley—have met criteria in the state’s reopening plan to begin reopening on May 15. In Phase 1, construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chains, agriculture, forestry, and fishing can resume, and retail can open for curbside pickup.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Outdoor dining at restaurants and bars, and personal services such as salons and barbershops, are scheduled to reopen on May 15. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced on Thursday, May 14 reopenings for the following businesses and activities: private and public campgrounds and state parks (May 21), horse racing with no spectators (May 22), gyms and fitness centers (May 26), public and private swimming pools (May 26), non-contact sports and leagues (May 26), Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle deputy registrar offices for new or renewed driver’s licenses (May 26), and daycares and summer day camps (May 31).
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): Under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, bars can reopen with diminished standing room capacity and social distancing measures, organized sports activities may resume, funerals and weddings may resume with social distancing measures, and childcare areas in places of worship can reopen, effective May 15.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Counties that meet prerequisites on testing, tracing, and declining COVID-19 prevalence will be permitted to begin reopening under the state’s plan on May 15. In Phase 1, restaurants and bars will be able to serve customers indoors and personal care and fitness businesses will be able to reopen, contingent on state restrictions. Additionally, retailers will be able to begin a limited reopening statewide for curbside and delivery service, regardless of county phase.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Thirteen more Pennsylvania counties will move into the yellow phase of reopening on May 15: Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. 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.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): The first phase of Virginia’s reopening plan will begin Friday, May 15, for all parts of the state except Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Fairfax, Vienna, and Alexandria. According to Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Northern Virginia will need to see a decline in COVID-19 cases to begin reopening. Under phase one requirements, retail stores can reopen at 50% capacity. Bars and restaurants will also be able to offer outdoor dining at 50% capacity. Many types of businesses will remain closed, including entertainment and public amusement venues. Places of worship can hold services at 50% occupancy.

May 16

  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Gov. Brad Little announced that the state would move into the second phase of reopening on May 16. Phase Two will allow restaurant dining rooms to reopen with the approval of local health officials, in addition to indoor gyms and hair salons that meet business protocols. Larger venues like movie theaters and bars and nightclubs will remain closed.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Effective May 16, smaller retailers, offices and call centers can reopen at 25 percent capacity, big box stores and larger retailers can reopen at 20 percent capacity, and places of worship can reopen at 10 percent. Under the state’s modified stay-at-home order, which was extended through May 31, everyone in the state is required to wear a face mask in public spaces. The new order does not apply to the northwest corner of the state where community spread is still high. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the changes on May 13.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): All but Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Wasatch County, Summit County, and Grand County will move from the orange phase to the yellow phase of Utah’s reopening plan on May 16, according to Gov. Gary Herbert (R). Under the yellow phase, limits on gatherings will rise from 20 to 50 people, but face coverings must be worn in public, and individuals should stay 6 feet from others when outside the home. According to the plan, all businesses can reopen under the yellow phase. Businesses that do open must follow social distancing guidelines and industry-specific requirements, such as limiting tables in restaurants to groups of 10 and symptom checking all employees who work in gyms. The plan also eases restrictions on team sports, so long as social distancing guidelines are followed and participants are checked for symptoms. Utah’s plan puts additional restrictions on high-risk individuals across all phases of reopening. It defines high-risk individuals as those with underlying medical conditions, those over the age of 65, and those living in long-term care facilities.

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.

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) met with President Trump at the White House. The two discussed the state’s plan for reopening. Polis said he hoped to have restaurants open for dine-in services by the end of the month and skiing areas open in June, but that local authorities would have input on how and when to reopen.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): On May 11, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that public and private schools in North Dakota could reopen starting June 1 for summer programs, though schools are not required to. Under the order, child care programs, summer school classes, and college admissions testing can resume. The order also does not prohibit schools from offering summer distance learning options.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): On May 13, Rhode Island released a set of guidelines for reopening businesses. Additionally, the state released a required template for businesses to fill out detailing their coronavirus control plan. Businesses do not need to submit their plan to the state for review before opening, but they must be able to provide it to the Rhode Island Department of Health if requested.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee (D) released guidance for personal service and professional service businesses in counties allowed to move into Phase 2 before the rest of the state. Under the reopening plan, counties with fewer than 75,000 people with no new COVID-19 cases in the three previous weeks can apply for a waiver to move into the second phase early. According to the guidance Inslee released May 13, if a county is allowed to move into Phase 2, personal services, including barbers and tattoo artists, and professional services, including accountants and attorneys, can reopen May 13 so long as they can meet all safety and health requirements.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): On May 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in 4-3 ruling, invalidated the executive branch’s stay-at-home order. The court found that Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm overstepped her authority when she extended the stay-at-home order through May 26 on behalf of Gov. Tony Evers (D). It was the first time a state court of last resort struck down a stay-at-home order. The suit was brought by the state legislature. Republican lawmakers asked the court to strike down the stay-at-home order, but stay the implementation for several days to give them and the governor time to develop a replacement plan. The court declined to do this, and restrictions imposed on individuals and businesses were immediately lifted. Under the most recent stay-at-home order, individuals were told to remain at home, with exceptions made for performing essential and other permitted activities. The most recent order allowed retail businesses to offer curbside pick-up and delivery services and golf courses and other outdoor recreation spaces to reopen, subject to social distancing protocols.

Status of 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 14, stay-at-home orders have ended in 18 states. Governors ended stay-at-home orders in 17 states—13 Republican governors and five Democratic governors. Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) administration overstepped its authority in extending that state’s stay-at-home order. Of the 25 states with stay-at-home orders in place, six have Republican governors and 19 have Democratic governors.

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

Reopenings status

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: Texas’ Texans Helping Texans

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 27, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) unveiled “Texans Helping Texas: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas.” Abbott simultaneously issued the executive order that initiated the first round of business reopenings, effective May 1 and continuing through at least May 18.

Abbott said, “This strategic approach to opening the state of Texas prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and follows the guidelines laid out by our team of medical experts. Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans’ livelihoods. We must also focus on protecting the most vulnerable Texans from exposure to COVID-19. If we remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texans, we can continue to open the Lone Star State.”

Context

  • On March 31, Abbott issued Texas’ statewide stay-at-home order. The order took effect on April 2 and expired on April 30.
  • As of May 13, Texas had 42,403 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,158 deaths. Based on an estimated population of 30 million, the state had 146.2 cases per 100,000 residents and 4.0 deaths per 100,000 residents.
  • Texas is a Republican trifecta, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.

Plan details

Guidelines for all individuals:

  • Maintain six feet of distance between individuals who do not reside within the same household.
  • Self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before going into any business.
  • Wash or disinfect hands upon entering a business and after any interaction with employees, customers, or objects.
  • Consider wearing cloth face coverings when entering a business.
  • Avoid group gatherings of more than five individuals.
  • Avoid contact with individuals aged 65 and older.

Guidelines for all employers and employees:

  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection practices and personal hygiene.
  • Screen all employees for COVID-19 symptoms before allowing them to enter the business.
    • Send home any employee exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Do not permit an employee with COVID-19 symptoms to return to work until the following criteria have been met:
      • Three days since recovery (resolution of fever without medication) and improvement in symptoms.; at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
      • If an employee has COVID-19 symptoms and wishes to return to work before the above criteria have been met, he or she must have a doctor’s note indicating that he or she has not tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Do not permit an employee who has had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 to return to work until completing a 14-day self-quarantine.
  • Require employees to wash hands upon entering the business.
  • Maintain six feet of distance between individuals where possible.
  • Consider requiring employees to wear cloth face coverings.

Guidelines for businesses opening May 1: The following businesses were permitted to resume operations, subject to capacity restrictions and other guidelines, effective May 1.

Guidelines for businesses opening May 8: The following businesses were permitted to resume operations, subject to capacity restrictions and other guidelines, effective May 8.

Guidelines for businesses opening May 18: The following businesses were permitted to resume operations, subject to capacity restrictions and other guidelines, effective May 18.

Guidelines for counties with five or fewer confirmed COVID-19 cases: Abbott issued an executive order authorizing counties with five or fewer confirmed COVID-19 cases to increase occupancy limits for reopened businesses to up to 50%, subject to the following criteria:

  • The county has created a list of testing opportunities.
  • The county has determined, in consultation with its regional advisory council, that it is prepared for any needed healthcare transfers.
  • The county has created and published COVID-19 information for the public.
  • The county has confirmed that nursing homes; assisted living facilities; industrial, agricultural, and business facilities with large numbers of employees; and city/county jails comply with Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
  • The county has demonstrated that it is prepared to protect vulnerable populations.
  • The county has documented procedures in the event a resident tests positive.
  • The county has reached out to the state to develop plans for contact tracing to occur within 48 hours of a confirmed positive case.

Reactions

  • Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, criticized the plan: “Republicans like Greg Abbott are not here to protect your family. All they care about is making sure their billionaire donors’ interests are protected. Governor Abbott said that he would reevaluate opening Texas up but after four straight days with over 1000 new cases and some of the highest death totals since the crisis began, Abbott decided to throw data and science out the window and continue to fight for his lobbyists and billionaire donors.”
  • James Dickey, chairman of the Texas Republican Party, supported the plan: “Thank you to Governor Abbott and our Republican leaders for getting Texas open for business again. Our economy has taken a tremendous blow but Texans are resilient — and ready to get back to work! We know the Governor is taking the precautions necessary to protect the health and safety of all Texans. We know that it will be Texas and our Texas workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses that will lead the way towards not just an economic comeback here in the great Lone Star State but will lead the way for the country as well. At the end of the day, the Republican policies that led Texas to boom before will lead Texas and the nation to boom again.”
  • Cindy Zolnierek, CEO of the Texas Nurses Association, said, “I do hope that businesses take this seriously. I would very strongly monitor to ensure that they’re not exceeding that 25% capacity. Just because we’re seeing some limitations lifted doesn’t mean that we should let up with all the things we’ve been told to do. I think the governor is trying to balance, you know, what we’re all experiencing economically and as well as mental health. I think we have to monitor very, very closely and respond by reinstituting restrictions if we see any change in our current trajectory.”
  • Brandom Gengelbach, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said, “As leaders of the Texas business community, we applaud Gov. Abbott for focusing on the incremental steps necessary to reopen the Texas economy. We recognize this effort will need to balance public health considerations while restarting economic activity in a phased and gradual approach that guards against subsequent spikes in infections. While each of our communities is different, we recognize that businesses play a vital role in enacting specific measures to keep their workforce safe and thereby protecting the entire community. We are encouraged by the governor’s willingness to work collaboratively with the business community.”

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: Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced that the county’s stay-at-home order was extended indefinitely. Several thousand retailers were allowed to reopen last week for pickup service alongside manufacturers.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): On May 13, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed into law a bill allowing any eligible South Carolina voter to request an absentee ballot for the state’s June 9 primary and subsequent runoff elections.
  • Baltimore, Maryland Mayor Bernard Young announced the city will keep its stay-at-home order in place. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced the county will extend its stay-at-home order. The state’s stay-at-home order will be allowed to expire on May 15.


Trump to visit Allentown, Pa.

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
May 14, 2020: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders announced the members of a series of joint task forces. Donald Trump will visit Allentown, Pa., today.  blank    blankblank   


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

Notable Quote of the Day

“Having millions of Americans stand in crowded polling places for hours to cast a ballot on Election Day sounds like the makings of a public health disaster — especially if there is a second surge of COVID-19 infections in the fall, as some experts predict. So now, election officials are looking for ways to hold elections remotely. One option that has been proposed is voting via an app on a smartphone or electronic device, just like Grimmett did last fall (though so far, states seem to only be considering this option for certain groups of voters, such as voters with disabilities).

It seems like an obvious solution: With so much of our daily lives now virtual, why couldn’t our elections be moved online too?

Voting online or via an app has even been tested in small elections a handful of times, but election security experts and even the founder of one of the most prominent voting apps on the market, Voatz, say there’s a laundry list of reasons why this technology isn’t ready for prime time. (Not to mention the fact that 19 percent of Americans still don’t have a smartphone, and as many as 21.3 million Americans still lack access to broadband internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission.)”

– Kaleigh Rogers, FiveThirtyEight

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders announced the members of a series of joint task forces on climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care, and immigration. Biden tweeted, “A united party is key to winning the White House this November. The work of the task forces will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump — but transform our country.”

  • Donald Trump will visit an Owens and Minor medical supply distribution center in Allentown, Pa., today. According to CBS Philadelphia, he plans to announce an initiative called the Strategic National Stockpile 2.0. Earlier this week, Trump tweeted, “Looking forward to being in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. I love the State, and for very good reason!”

  • Trump’s administration began working on potential transition plans, which are required by law to be prepared six months before the presidential election.

Flashback: May 14, 2016

The Washington Post reported that a “band of exasperated Republicans — including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia” was “commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources­ and courting potential contenders” in hopes of running an independent presidential candidate in the November election.blank

Click here to learn more.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 18 (May 13, 2020)

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 18

This week: Karen Handel endorses in Georgia Senate special election, Claire Chase calls on Yvette Herrell to drop out, and Indiana AG Curtis Hill’s law license is suspended

On the news

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

“It’s now clear the Obama-Comey FBI and Justice Department never had anything more substantial than the laughable fiction of the Steele dossier to justify the ‘counterintelligence’ investigation of the Trump campaign. Yet incessant leaks from that supposedly confidential probe wound up consuming the Trump administration’s first months in office — followed by the Bob Mueller-led special counsel investigation that proved nearly the ‘total witch hunt’ that President Trump dubbed it. 

Information released as the Justice Department dropped its charges against Gen. Mike Flynn shows that President Barack Obama, in his final days in office, played a key role in fanning the flames of phony scandal. …

Indeed, the Obama administration went on a full-scale leak offensive — handing the Washington Post, New York Times and others a nonstop torrent of ‘anonymous’ allegations of Trumpite ties to Moscow. It suggested that the investigations were finding a ton of treasonous dirt on Team Trump — when in fact the investigators had come up dry. …

Say this about Obama: He knows how to play dirty.”

Post Editorial Board, New York Post, May 11, 2020

“Trump’s allies in the conservative media and the Justice Department are taking #Obamagate very seriously. This conspiracy theory is informing our foreign policy, millions in tax dollars are being spent in an effort that is going ‘full throttle’ to prove that it is correct, and countless Americans are being fed a faux history involving a crime that supposedly ‘makes Watergate look small time.’ … 

While the mainstream press moves on to other matters or simply mocks the absurdity of the president’s huffing and puffing about #Obamagate, the right-wing media plunge their audiences deeper into it. Some Republican officials who ought to know better are playing along with the scam, while others cower in fear of a microphone because they have convinced themselves that the president spouting insane conspiracy theories about how his wires were tapped by Obama is less important than their vote on the farm bill.

The result is that President Trump gets to live in an alternate reality of his own choosing. One that allows him to level unfounded allegations against his foes without even attempting to interact with anything approaching a fact or a piece of evidence, while never facing any consequences. It’s his longstanding, postmodern m.o.—in business, in his personal life, and in politics: Create a preferred universe of convenient facts, then insist they are true, no matter what.”

Tim Miller, The Bulwark, May 12, 2020

U.S. Congress

Handel endorses Collins in special Senate election in GA 

Former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel endorsed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in the special Senate election in Georgia. Handel said:

“He stood with me when others would not in my own fight against Planned Parenthood, and I worked side-by-side with Doug to pass important pro-life legislation. Most importantly, I trust Doug — to stand up for life, to stand with our president and to stand for our Georgia values.” 

Handel represented Georgia’s 6th Congressional District until she lost to Lucy McBath (D) in 2018. She’s running against McBath again this year.

Collins also received endorsements from U.S Rep. Drew Ferguson, the first member of Georgia’s Republican congressional delegation to endorse in the race, and from Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald (R), the first statewide elected official to endorse him. 

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Kelly Loeffler to the Senate seat after Johnny Isakson (R) resigned in December. Several media outlets reported that President Donald Trump wanted Kemp to appoint Collins. 

As we reported earlier, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) executive director Kevin McLaughlin criticized Collins’ entrance into the special election, saying he was putting the Senate seat and other races in play. 

Loeffler’s endorsers include the NRSC, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Loeffler and Collins are among 21 candidates running in the all-party special election on Nov. 3—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held Jan. 5, 2021.

Defending Main Street PAC spends $100,000 to help Gibbs in NJ-03

Defending Main Street super PAC spent $25,000 on mailings supporting former Burlington County Freeholder Director Kate Gibbs and $75,000 opposing businessman David Richter in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District primary

The super PAC is affiliated with the Republican Main Street Partnership. The Partnership’s website says its members “are solution-oriented legislators dedicated to defending Main Street Americans and advancing common-sense policies that can command bipartisan support.”

Gibbs emphasizes her experience as a freeholder and as deputy director of the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative Local 825. Gibbs says she “cut taxes, improved school security, made life easier for working moms, and guaranteed equal pay for equal work” as freeholder. Gibbs says she works to “create jobs, build our infrastructure, and grow our economy” with the Local 825.

Richter was CEO of a construction management firm. Richter says he “knows how to create jobs and knows the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and small business owners who are trying to grow their companies.”

Richter was originally running in the primary for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. After incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew changed his affiliation from Democratic to Republican, Richter joined the 3rd District race.

New Jersey’s 3rd includes portions of Burlington and Ocean counties. The Burlington County GOP endorsed Gibbs, and the Ocean County GOP endorsed Richter.

The primary is July 7. The winner will face Andy Kim (D), who defeated incumbent Tom MacArthur (R) 50% to 48.7% in 2018.

Chase calls on Herrell to drop out of NM-02 primary

Claire Chase called on Yvette Herrell to drop out of New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District primary after one of Chase’s supporters told the Associated Press that Herrell told him Chase had an extramarital affair while her first husband was in Afghanistan.

Jared Richardson, a supporter of Chase’s, said Herrell called him last month and made the accusation. Herrell said she called Richardson for another reason.

Chase said, “Yvette’s candidacy is no longer viable and she should drop out of this race for the good of the Republican Party.”

Herrell said, “I have never attempted to use personal rumors about Claire in this race, and will never do so. … I will take any legal steps necessary to protect myself against libel.”

As we reported earlier, the candidates have criticized one another’s past comments about President Donald Trump.

The June 2 primary winner will face incumbent Xochitl Torres Small (D), who defeated Herrell 50.9-49.1% in 2018.

State executives

Indiana Supreme Court issues 30-day suspension of Attorney General Curtis Hill’s law license

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Attorney General Curtis Hill’s (R) license to practice law Monday following an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct. Hill was accused of inappropriately touching four women, including a member of the state Legislature, at a gathering in March 2018. His suspension will be effective for 30 days beginning May 18.

The court’s ruling followed a nearly two-year disciplinary process which started after the four women accused Hill of misconduct in July 2018. Hill denied the allegations and requested an independent investigation. After a three-month investigation, special prosecutor Daniel Siegler announced in October 2018 he would not file charges against Hill.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission began a separate investigation in 2019. The commission filed a motion for a suspension of Hill’s law license last December. The hearing officer, former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby, found that Hill’s behavior had constituted battery and professional misconduct. Selby recommended Hill’s law license be suspended for at least 60 days.

In a statement, Hill said he would accept the court’s decision and named Chief Deputy Attorney General Aaron Negangard as his acting replacement.

Hill’s suspension ends June 17, three days before the state GOP will meet to decide on a nominee for attorney general. Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter and attorney John Westercamp are also seeking the GOP nod. Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R) said Tuesday he was considering joining the race as well. Rokita represented the 4th Congressional District between 2011 and 2019.

In a statement Monday, state GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer said he opposed renominating Hill. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) released a separate statement saying he stood by his July 2018 call for Hill to step down.

Utah gubernatorial candidates meet for candidate forum

The four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for Utah’s open gubernatorial office met Thursday for their first candidate forum since the convention. Spencer Cox, Greg Hughes, Jon Huntsman, and Thomas Wright discussed the state’s path to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cox defended incumbent Gary Herbert’s (R) response to the virus, saying the idea that officials needed to choose between public health and the economy was a false notion. Cox said Utah’s approach to the virus left it well-positioned to reopen before other states.

Hughes said the state’s approach had been heavy-handed and imposed too many restrictions on public gatherings, local officials, and religious leaders. Hughes said the quickest way to recover from the pandemic would be to lift restrictions he described as infringing on constitutional liberties.

Huntsman said Utah’s response to coronavirus had been strong overall, but more work was needed to provide aid from Utah’s rainy day fund to small businesses. He said the state should consider the pandemic an opportunity to attract businesses from China.

Wright referred to his personal experience as a business owner, saying he had the best understanding of the challenges businesses are facing out of any of the candidates. He also called for the state to repeal its tax on food.

The June 30 primary is open to registered Republicans only.

Legislatures

Ballance faces Manzella in Montana state Senate primary

State Rep. David Bedey (R-86) endorsed Nancy Ballance (R) in her primary against Theresa Manzella (R) for the open Senate District 44 seat in Montana on May 9. Ballance and Manzella were both state representatives during the most recent 2019 legislative session representing House Districts 87 and 85, respectively. The primary reflects a larger divide within Montana’s state legislative Republican caucus between two loosely defined groups: the Solutions Caucus and the .38 Special.

The Ravali Republic described Ballance and Bedey as members of the Solutions Caucus, an unofficial group of 20 Republican House lawmakers who “chose to work across party lines to pass legislation including Medicaid expansion and an $80 million bonding bill” in 2019.

At the end of the 2019 session, Manzella posted a photo of Republican legislators, calling the group the .38 Special. According to Manzella, the number 38 referenced “The 38 [House Republicans] who consistently voted to uphold the Constitutions, adhere to Republican principles and limit government.” 

When she announced her intention to run in May 2019, Ballance, who was term-limited in the House, said, “I have a proven track record of listening to voters and of being able to work with other legislators to create real solutions for Montanans.” Ballance said, “I believe the people of Senate District 44 want actual accomplishments and results, not rhetoric and sound bites.”

Manzella, citing Ballance’s presence in the primary, announced her candidacy for District 44 later that year saying, “I believe it’s my civic duty to give the good citizens of the district a choice,” adding that she had “faith that our citizens prefer the traditional, conservative definition of Republican over the trending ‘progressive’ version threatening our party.”

Montana is one of 14 states with divided government. Republicans hold majorities in the House (57-42) and Senate (30-20) while Democrats control the governorship. The number of votes needed to override a gubernatorial veto in the House and Senate is 67 and 34, respectively.

N.D. Governor supporting candidates challenging incumbent House Appropriations chairman

In April, we reported on the Republican primary in North Dakota’s House District 8. 26-year incumbent Rep. Jeff Delzer (R) chose to remain in a four-way primary after failing to receive his district party’s support at the March 10 GOP convention. The district instead endorsed newcomers Dave Nehring (R) and David Andahl (R).

A flier was recently mailed to voters in support of Delzer’s primary opponents that, according to the Grand Forks Herald, included the disclaimer “paid for by the Dakota Leadership PAC.” According to a statement filed with the North Dakota Secretary of State last week, Governor Doug Burgum (R) donated $195,000 to Dakota Leadership PAC on May 7. The Herald reported that the District 8 primary was “the only legislative race the PAC is involved with so far.”

As the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Delzer has influence over the state’s budget process. Ahead of the 2019 session, Delzer and Burgum clashed after Delzer announced that the legislature would not consider executive budget bills and instead base the budget on its own projections. Columnist Mike Jacobs described the difference between Delzer and Burgum as follows: “Burgum believes in budgeting from plenty—that is to say, let’s fund what we can as opposed to Delzer’s let’s-guard-the-checkbook approach.”

Delzer will face Andahl and Nehring, both endorsed by the District 8 GOP, as well as Bob Wheeler (R) in the June 9 primary. The top-two vote-getters will advance to the general election against likely Democratic nominees Linda Babb and Kathrin Volochenko.

Idaho Statesman endorses challenger to incumbent Rep. Nichols in Republican primary

The Idaho Statesman editorial board endorsed Kirk Adams (R) in the House District 11B Republican primary on Monday. District 11B is currently represented by Rep. Tammy Nichols (R) who is also seeking re-election. 

The editorial board wrote, “We’re endorsing Adams over the incumbent … who, as Adams rightly described her, is more of a political activist than a legislator.” The endorsement mentioned Gov. Brad Little’s (R) stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic. Adams supports the order. Nichols recently spoke at the Disobey Idaho rally held to protest the order.

Nichols said, “If the liberal media and my opponent want to label me as an ‘activist’ because they believe that the work I do in helping people, limiting government, upholding the constitution, and working to get Idahoans back to work is a bad thing…then so be it!” 

Nichols was first elected to the open seat in 2018 after defeating Brian Ertz (D) 77.6-22.4%. She faced Adams and three others in the Republican primary, receiving 38.9 percent of the vote. Adams finished fourth with 15.3 percent. The winner of the June 2 primary will likely face Edward Savala (D). Savala is the only Democrat filed to run for the seat.

Power players

“Citizens United produces some of the most hard-hitting and influential television commercials, web advertisements, and documentaries available. These products delve deeply into the issues that matter most to the future of our country, striking a chord with people that helps awaken them to the importance of a limited government, individual responsibility, free market economy, and traditional American values.” – Citizens United website 

Founded in 1988, Citizens United is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization known for its numerous documentary films and its involvement in the landmark campaign finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The organization says it is “dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control” and that it “seeks to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.”

Citizens United is affiliated with the 501(c)(3) Citizens United Foundation, which says it is “dedicated to informing the American people about public policy issues which relate to traditional American values,” the Presidential Coalition, which says it exists to “educate the American public on the value of having principled conservative Republican leadership at all levels of government and to support the conservative ‘farm team,’” and the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a political action committee.

To view candidates endorsed by the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, click here.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 18 (May 13, 2020)

Heart of the Primaries

This week: Progressive groups split endorsements in Kentucky Senate primary, Kennedy launches $1.2 million ad campaign in Massachusetts, and Hillary Clinton endorses in Montana gubernatorial election

On the news

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

“Biden leads a largely unified party whose members widely consider his opponent a borderline sociopath who threatens democracy — not to mention prosperity, decency and human life. Under the circumstances, any sensible vice presidential pick will do. But Trump will be waging a culture war that, by November, will be but a few steps shy of civil war. Harris will have cultural resonance in the parts of America — immigrant, brown, black, female — that will be under sharpest attack. She can make manifest what’s at stake in this election, especially to those underwhelmed by the prospect of another old white guy in the Oval Office.

Harris’s face is the future of the Democratic Party, and of the nation, just as Biden is the face of receding power. She complements and strengthens him. She can be Biden’s Biden.”

Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg Opinion, May 10, 2020

“Does it really matter who Joe Biden picks as his running mate? Maybe not, but with Trump in the White House, it might. It doesn’t require massive new votes in California (Democrats got 61.7 percent last time) or New York (Democrats got 59 percent) or Massachusetts (60 percent).

It requires someone who attracts Trump-fatigued Republicans in a few states: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, for example.

Amy Klobuchar fits in those states. She is strongly liberal (a fact too often ignored in a slogan-driven atmosphere), but moderate in presentation and explanation.

If she were to become president, the country would cheer a woman of commitment, competence, and decency.”

Norman Sherman, The Hill, May 10, 2020

U.S. Congress

Progressive groups split endorsements in Senate primary in KY

Four local chapters of Indivisible endorsed Mike Broihier in the Democratic primary for Senate in Kentucky. 

Indivisible’s website says it is “a grassroots movement of thousands of local Indivisible groups with a mission to elect progressive leaders, rebuild our democracy, and defeat the Trump agenda.”

Ryland Barton of radio network WFPL wrote, “The endorsement indicates a split among progressives looking for an alternative to [Amy] McGrath. [State Rep. Charles] Booker was endorsed by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, another statewide progressive political group, in early March.” 

Booker’s endorsers also include the Sunrise Movement and Demand Universal Healthcare. Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson endorsed Broihier.

Amy McGrath, who says she is a progressive on some issues and conservative on others, is running with support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and VoteVets, among others. She had raised $30 million as of March 31. Booker had the second-highest fundraising total in the primary at $316,000.

The primary is June 23. Ten candidates are running. The winner will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984. 

Salon interviewed Booker, Broihier, and McGrath in April. Each said why they think they’re the candidate to defeat McConnell. 

  • Booker: “I am the only person running that has actually won an election in Kentucky and worked across Kentucky building coalitions, the same type that we have to build now to actually not only beat Mitch McConnell but really transform our future. 

    “Louisville’s still one of the most segregated cities in the country, and so having to deal with structural racism in a very personal level. [In] my family, my grandad fought for desegregation. I’ve had family members lynched, enslaved in Kentucky. And having worked all across the commonwealth in rural communities and Appalachia alike, it’s really given me the ability to speak across seeming divides and build coalitions of folks regardless of party.”

  • Broihier:Over the last couple years it became more and more evident to me that Trump is just the symptom and McConnell is the problem. People like him are the problem. I looked at my resume and said, you know, as a Kentucky farmer, as someone who has taught at UC Berkeley and taught substitute teaching at the local public schools, and as a retired combat veteran, no one has ever run against Mitch McConnell like me before. We’ve been running Republican-lite against McConnell for 35 years and gotten creamed every time.”
  • McGrath: “We need a new generation of leaders who can put their country over their political party to do what’s right for Kentucky and are not bought off by special interests. I spent my entire adult life serving my country while Mitch McConnell has spent 35 years creating the Washington Swamp. I will give everyday Kentuckians a voice in Washington — not just special interests or the wealthiest 1%. I’m the only candidate who has built a team to take him on toe to toe.

Kennedy launches $1.2 million ad campaign in Senate primary in MA

Joseph Kennedy III spent $1.2 million on the first major ad buy of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary for Senate in Massachusetts. 

Kennedy’s ad focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic. Kennedy says, “It will take shared sacrifice and progressive willpower to fix the damage done by President Trump, but together we will recover.” He said he would lead the fight for guaranteed healthcare for all in the Senate. 

Kennedy, who has served in the U.S. House since 2013, faces incumbent Sen. Ed Markey. Markey was first elected to the Senate in 2013. Before that, he served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013.

The Boston Globe asked Markey’s campaign if it planned to air TV ads soon. Markey’s campaign manager John Walsh said:

“Senator Markey has always found that the best advertising is doing your job well and right now the voters are responding. From recurring cash payments to providing relief to families and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025, and protecting our environment, Senator Markey’s legislative work is delivering real tangible results.”

Markey has released digital videos in recent weeks addressing Kennedy’s criticism that Markey has not been present in Massachusetts or effective at addressing the pandemic. One ad says Kennedy is “playing politics with the coronavirus” and features headlines about Markey’s actions related to COVID-19 in the Senate. Another ad features a former local school committeeman from Markey’s Malden neighborhood saying Markey is in touch with local issues. 

Meanwhile, 10 candidates are running in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary for a chance to replace Kennedy. Former state Comptroller Tom Shack recently dropped out of that race and endorsed Dave Cavell, a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama (D).

Congressional Hispanic Caucus PAC spends for Reardon in IN-01

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC has spent $170,000 on mailers and other activities supporting Mara Candelaria Reardon in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District primary. Reardon is a state representative. She was first elected in 2016. 

This is an open seat in a safe Democratic district. Incumbent Rep. Peter Visclosky, first elected in 1984, is retiring. Fifteen candidates are running in the June 2 primary. According to Daily Kos, there is no clear frontrunner. 

Six candidates reported campaign finance information to the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of the year. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott led in fundraising with $441,000. Attorney Sabrina Haake followed with $270,000. Reardon had raised $214,000.

State executives

Hillary Clinton endorses Montana gubernatorial candidate Whitney Williams

2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (D) endorsed Whitney Williams for the Democratic nomination for governor of Montana May 5. Clinton’s endorsement came as Williams and her opponent Mike Cooney hit the airwaves to make their final arguments before voters ahead of the June 2 primary.

Cooney, the state’s current lieutenant governor, launched his first television ad May 5. The ad says Cooney is an experienced and trustworthy leader who assisted incumbent Steve Bullock in his push to expand Medicaid last year. Williams’ first ad, which she launched April 24, said she was the only gubernatorial candidate with experience in disaster recovery.

Among Williams’ other endorsers are former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), EMILY’s List, and the state branch of the National Organization for Women. Cooney’s endorsers include Sen. Jon Tester (D), Gov. Steve Bullock (D), and the state branch of the AFL-CIO.

The June 2 primary is open to all registered voters. 

Democrats’ Indiana gubernatorial nominee selects running mate

Woody Myers, the Democratic nominee for governor of Indiana, announced Friday he had selected former state Rep. Linda Lawson (D) as his running mate.

Lawson, who was first elected in 1998, served in the state House before announcing her retirement in 2018. Lawson was elected minority leader in 2012, becoming the first woman in Indiana history to serve as a legislative leader.

Myers said he picked Lawson because they both had a record of working across partisan lines. Lawson said she brought experience in employment issues to the ticket, saying that she served several terms on the state legislature’s employment committee. 

Party leaders will need to ratify Lawson’s place on the ticket at their virtual convention on June 13 before she formally becomes Myers’ running mate.

The last Democrat to win election as governor of Indiana was Frank O’Bannon in 2000.

Legislatures

Incumbent Minnesota state Senator will file for primary after losing party nomination to challenger

State Sen. Erik Simonson (D-07) announced on May 10 that he would proceed to a contested primary against Jen McEwen (D). According to results released on May 9, McEwen won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement in the virtual convention for the Duluth-area District 7 over Simonson, receiving 70 percent of the delegate vote to Simonson’s 29 percent. 

The convention was held virtually with participants allowed to vote online or by mail. According to party officials, nearly 400 individuals participated, which was described as “a significant increase over in-person conventions.” 

Simonson criticized the convention format, saying, “Party endorsing conventions have become less and less effective over the past few years.” He said, “in the midst of a global pandemic, the process was even less inclusive than usual.”

McEwen said, “The processes put in place here actually allowed more people to participate” and “showed that democracy is not only possible during this pandemic, but we can find ways to make sure even more people are at the table.” 

Simonson said he “worked hard to build relationships across the aisle,” and that his “moderate and inclusive approach to legislating will resonate with Duluth voters.” According to the Duluth News Tribune, McEwen “has run on a progressive platform, touting health care, clean energy and housing priorities.” 

Simonson was first elected in 2016 after defeating Donna Bergstrom (R) 66-34%. He previously represented District 7B in the state House from 2013-2017. The window to file for a legislative primary extends from May 19 to June 2. The primary will be held on Aug. 11 with the winner likely facing Bergstrom, the 2020 Republican nominee, in the general election.

Orangetown Democratic Committee endorses local village trustee in four-way primary for N.Y. Senate District 38

On May 8, the Orangetown Democratic Committee announced its endorsement of Elijah Reichlin-Melnick in the four-way primary to replace outgoing Sen. David Carlucci (D) in Senate District 38. Reichlin-Melnick will face Justin Sweet, Eudson Francois, and Vladimir Leon in the June 23 primary.

Senate District 38 encompasses most of Rockland County and part of Westchester County. It contains the towns of Orangetown, Clarkstown, Ramapo, and parts of Ossining, each of which consists of several smaller villages. Three of the four Democratic candidates in the primary currently serve as a local elected official in the District.

Reichlin-Melnick has been a member of the Nyack Village Board of Trustees since 2017. He is also legislative director for state Sen. James Skoufis (D) of nearby Senate District 39. Nyack is located in Orangetown.

Sweet is the Clarkstown Town Clerk. He was elected to the position in 2010 after Carlucci, the previous town clerk, chose to run for state Senate. In addition to seeking the Democratic nomination, Sweet received the endorsement from the Working Families Party.

Francois is a member of the Spring Valley Board of Trustees, which is located primarily in Ramapo. He also serves as a Teacher Policy Board Member in the East Ramapo Central School District and is a member of the Spring Valley NAACP.

Leon owns a bakery in Ramapo. He ran for Rockland County Executive in 2013 and 2017 and is on the Board of Directors at the Monsey Medical Center. 

William Weber and Matthew Weinberg are seeking the Republican nomination. District 38 has been represented by a Democrat since Carlucci was first elected in 2010.

Power players

“We are organizing a political revolution to challenge the power of the plutocrats and prioritize the needs of people and our planet. With your support, we are building a national grassroots movement of local groups powerful enough to win progressive issue fights, elect progressive champions, transform the Democratic Party, and get big money out of politics.” – Our Revolution website 

Founded in 2016, Our Revolution is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization created by former Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to advocate for progressive policies and support progressive candidates. Sanders said in 2016, “If we are successful, what it will mean is that the progressive message and the issues that I campaigned on will be increasingly spread throughout this country. … The goal here is to do what I think the Democratic establishment has not been very effective in doing. And that is at the grass-roots level, encourage people to get involved, give them the tools they need to win, help them financially.” 

According to Our Revolution’s website, some of the policies it supports are Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, a $15 federal minimum wage, and canceling student debt. 

To view a list of candidates Our Revolution has endorsed in 2020, click here.