Roundtable: 3 experts on SCOTUS’ gerrymandering ruling

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Each issue includes an in-depth feature—such as an interview or legislative analysis—and discussions of recent events relating to electoral and primary systems, redistricting, and voting provisions.

SCOTUS finds partisan gerrymandering claims fall beyond jursidiction of federal courts

On June 27, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 in both Rucho v. Common Cause (North Carolina) and Lamone v. Benisek (Maryland) that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions that fall beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. The high court combined the cases and issued a single joint decision covering both.

  • How did the majority rule? Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. In the court’s opinion, Roberts noted that the Framers, “aware of electoral districting problems … [assigned] the issue to the state legislatures, expressly checked and balanced by the Federal Congress, with no suggestion that the federal courts had a role to play.” He went on to say, “To hold that legislators cannot take their partisan interests into account when drawing district lines would essentially countermand the Framers’ decision to entrust districting to political entities.”
    • Roberts addressed the assumptions underlying partisan gerrymandering claims: “Partisan gerrymandering claims rest on an instinct that groups with a certain level of political support should enjoy a commensurate level of political power and influence. Explicitly or implicitly, a districting map is alleged to be unconstitutional because it makes it too difficult for one party to translate statewide support into seats in the legislature. But such a claim is based on a ‘norm that does not exist’ in our electoral system—’statewide elections for representatives along party lines.'” Roberts also wrote, “[Federal] courts are not equipped to apportion political power as a matter of fairness, nor is there any basis for concluding that they were authorized to do so.”
  • Who dissented? Justice Elena Kagan penned a dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan wrote the following in her dissent: “The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process, to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives. In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”
  • What happens next? The high court remanded both cases to their respective lower courts with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The lower court decisions had thrown out existing congressional district plans as impermissible partisan gerrymanders. As a result of the high court’s ruling, those district plans will remain in place heading into 2020. Earlier this year, a federal district court struck down Michigan’s congressional and state legislative district plans as partisan gerrymanders. That decision, which had been stayed by the Supreme Court pending resolution of Rucho and Lamone, will likely be vacated and remanded in light of the high court’s ruling.
  • Commentary: Ballotpedia spoke with three election policy experts, all from different sides of the debate, to get their takes on what comes next now that the Supreme Court has weighed in on the justiciability of partisan gerrymandering claims.
    • Logan Churchwell (Communications and Research Director of the Public Interest Legal Foundation): The moral of the story from Rucho is simple: federal claims of partisan gerrymandering are henceforth and forever dead as doornails. For-ev-er. Activists won’t stop though. Expect to see renewed pushes to strip state legislatures still vested with redistricting powers in favor of commission-based approaches. California will serve as the gold standard for states to model themselves. California’s system ensconced partisan actors and support staff and helped to fundamentally transform the once politically vibrant state into a one-party regime.
      • Logan Churchwell is Communications and Research Director of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which is a law firm that, according to its website, “exists to assist states and others to aid in the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections.”
    • Walter Olson (Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute): To begin with, Congress can act on House gerrymandering. The Constitution’s Elections Clause provides that “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations,” and in fact Congress has in the past prescribed to the states standards for districting. Here, overly ambitious and prescriptive measures, such as those that would impose volunteer-commission formats on all 50 states whether their electorates favor that idea or not, should yield to simple and readily enforceable rules aimed at curtailing the worst abuses. In particular, strong standards on compactness, a vital principle of good districting, would all by themselves disallow many of the worst maps by which U.S. House members currently reach the Capitol.

      Addressing the gerrymandering of state legislatures is a tougher challenge, since there is lacking an enumerated federal power by which this might be accomplished in a uniform way nationwide. But many states have a process for ballot initiatives, and even where that is lacking, this is a natural issue for reformist governors and other officials who run statewide.

      • Walter Olson is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization that, according to its website, is “dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.” Olson was the Co-Chair of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission.
    • David O’Brien (Staff Attorney at FairVote): The path forward lies in Congress and the states. We can safely assume this Congress won’t agree on a solution, so the immediate focus will be on the states. Efforts at the state level will include litigation and legislation. The litigation will be in state courts, using claims grounded in state constitutions. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania redrew its congressional map last year after finding it violated provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution. A similar challenge to North Carolina’s state legislature’s districts is now wending through courts there. Not all state constitutions have the provisions used in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, however, and not all courts will interpret them in the same way. There will also be efforts to pass redistricting reform legislation. Some legislatures may pass meaningful reforms, but not many. Foxes rarely surrender the opportunity to guard a henhouse. Publicly-initiated ballot measures have been the most reliable method to create independent redistricting processes but only about half the states have a ballot initiative process.

      Even success will bring challenges. Action by state courts risks conflicts with legislatures. Attempts to impeach justices, pack courts, or strip courts of jurisdiction over redistricting challenges could be the next front in the gerrymandering fight. By claiming the Constitution compels it to stand aside, SCOTUS may have saddled the states with years of inter-branch disputes. Some legislatures have responded to successful ballot measures by making it harder to put initiatives on the ballot. And no matter how successful ballot measures are, any progress could be eradicated in an instant if SCOTUS decides to reverse Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

      • David O’Brien is a Staff Attorney at FairVote, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for “electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”

New York City considers ranked-choice voting for select municipal elections

On June 12, the New York City Charter Commission voted 13-1 to draft ballot language for a charter amendment that would, if approved by voters, establish ranked-choice voting (RCV) for all municipal primary and special elections beginning in 2021. The commission will meet again on July 24 and vote either to grant or withhold final approval of the ballot measure. Should the commission approve the measure, it will appear before New York City voters on November 5, 2019.

  • How are municipal elections in NYC currently conducted? In most municipal elections, New York City employs a plurality voting system in which the candidate with the most votes wins outright. Plurality voting applies to all municipal general and special elections, as well as primaries for non-citywide offices. In primary elections for the offices of mayor, comptroller, and public advocate, a candidate must receive at least 40 percent of the vote in order to win a nomination outright. If no candidate meets that threshold, a run-off is held between the top two candidates.
  • How would elections change if the charter amendment is approved? The amendment would establish RCV for all municipal primary and special elections beginning in 2021. The amendment would allow voters to rank preferences for up to five candidates per office. RCV would not apply to general elections.
  • History of RCV in NYC: From 1936 to 1947, NYC used a single-transferable vote (STV) system, which is designed to achieve proportional representation. STV is a multi-winner ranked-choice voting system. This system set a minimum threshold of 75,000 votes to be elected. Candidates could affiliate with the party or parties of their choice. A candidate receiving the fewest first-preference choices was eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate were eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. This was continued until the number of candidates that had reached the minimum threshold matched the number of open seats. Voters repealed this system in 1947.

Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills

The maps below show which states are considering redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems legislation. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Redistricting legislation as of July 15, 2019

Redistricting July 2019 map.png

Electoral systems legislation as of July 15, 2019

Electoral systems July 2019 map.png

Primary systems legislation as of July 15, 2019

Primary systems July 2019 map.png

Gillibrand releases Social Security platform

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 17, 2019: Kirsten Gillibrand published a Medium post outlining her Social Security and senior policy plan. Cory Booker introduced the Second Look Act on early releases for inmates.
Facebook Ad Spending (July 8 - July 14)

Campaign Finance Spotlight

Monday was the deadline for presidential candidates to file second-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission. Here are three highlights from those reports: 

  • Trump led all presidential candidates with $26.5 million in receipts. Individual contributions accounted for $8.8 million of that total while amounts received from PACs and political committees were $17.6 million.
  • Buttigieg more than tripled the amount he received during the first quarter, reporting $24.9 million in individual contributions. Biden and Warren followed with $22 million and $19.2 million, respectively.
  • Sanders spent $14.1 million during the second quarter—the most expenditures of any candidate. He also ended the quarter with $27.3 million—the most cash among the Democratic candidates. Only two other Democratic candidates—Buttigieg and Warren—reported having about $20 million or more in cash on hand heading into the third quarter.

The following two charts show individual contributions, total receipts, expenditures, and cash on hand for each presidential candidate.


Notable Quote of the Day

“The path to maintaining a majority in the Senate goes through North Carolina and I think the path to the president’s re-elect does as well.”

– Thom Tillis, U.S. senator from North Carolina


  • The Des Moines Register and AARP are hosting a series of five forums in Iowa this week. Michael BennetJohn DelaneyTulsi Gabbard, and Tim Ryan will participate in Wednesday’s event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • Joe Biden unveiled his policy proposal focusing on rural communities Tuesday. Biden called for expanding a microloan program for new farmers, investing in broadband infrastructure, doubling funding for community health centers, and recruiting more doctors to residencies in rural areas.
  • Cory Booker is introducing the Matthew Charles and William Underwood Second Look Act Wednesday, which would establish several early release protocols. Booker proposed allowing people who have served more than a decade in prison to petition a court for early release. Inmates older than 50 would get the presumption of release following a petition.
  • Shondaland and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews interviewed Steve Bullock Tuesday.
  • Pete Buttigieg will speak at the Young Democrats of America convention in Indiana Thursday.
  • Democracy Now! interviewed Julián Castro about immigration, labor issues, and foreign policy.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand published a Medium post outlining her senior policy plan. Gillibrand said she would increase Social Security benefits by $65/month, eliminate a cap on total benefits, and expand eligibility to include surviving spouses and other select family members. Gillibrand would also increase the Social Security payroll tax cap and establish a 3.8 percent investment income tax to keep the program solvent.
  • Kamala Harris released her plan to lower the price of prescription drugs. Under Harris’ proposal, prices would be set by the Department of Health and Human Services. Companies that sell drugs at a higher rate would be taxed on the profits, which would then be turned into rebates for consumers.
  • The Chronicle interviewed John Hickenlooper about climate change, the Senate, and education policy.
  • Amy Klobuchar outlined her first 100 days in office during a policy address in Washington, D.C. She said she would first rejoin the International Climate Change Agreement, preserve insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, and travel to Canada and Europe to strengthen international relationships.  
  • Beto O’Rourke hired Aisha McClendon to serve as his national director of African American voter outreach.
  • Bernie Sanders said he would try to split apart Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and pursue greater enforcement of antitrust legislation.
  • Joe Sestak wrote an op-ed in Fortune about his military service and the principle of accountable leadership.
  • Elizabeth Warren attended Mark Esper’s confirmation hearing Tuesday, where she questioned the nominee for secretary of defense about his relationship with defense contractor Raytheon.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle profiled Andrew Yang’s campaign and how he is performing better than several politicians in the race.


  • Donald Trump launched the Women for Trump coalition Tuesday at an event near Philadelphia. Leading the effort were Lara Trump, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, and others.

On the Cusp: Tracking Potential Candidates

  • Mark Sanford announced that he was considering running for president. “I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters,” Sanford said.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: July 17, 2015

Politico reported on Elizabeth Warren’s speech at Netroots Nation and her influence on the 2016 Democratic primary.

The Daily Brew: Making sense of the 2nd quarter presidential fundraising

Today’s Brew compiles all the second-quarter presidential financial reports + highlights our upcoming webinar on SCOTUS’ rulings this term affecting the administrative state  
The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. President Trump leads 2020 presidential candidates in second-quarter fundraising
  2. One week until our July 24 briefing on the Supreme Court and the administrative state
  3. Twenty candidates are running for six Toledo City Council seats

President Trump leads 2020 presidential candidates in second- quarter fundraising

The deadline for presidential candidates to file second-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was Monday. These reports summarize how much money each campaign raised from individual donors, political action committees, and other campaign committees. Candidates also reported how much their campaign spent during the quarter and the amount of money they had at the end of the period—also known as the amount of “cash on hand.”

Here are three highlights from those reports: 

  • President Donald Trump (R) led all presidential candidates with $26.5 million in receipts. Individual contributions accounted for $8.8 million of that total while amounts received from PACs and political committees were $17.6 million.

  • Pete Buttigieg (D) more than tripled the amount he received during the first quarter, reporting $24.9 million in individual contributions. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren followed with $22 million and $19.2 million, respectively.

  • Bernie Sanders spent $14.1 million during the second quarter—the most expenditures of any candidate. He also ended the quarter with $27.3 million—the most cash among the Democratic candidates. Only two other Democratic candidates—Buttigieg and Warren—reported having about $20 million or more in cash on hand heading into the third quarter.

The following two charts show individual contributions, total receipts, expenditures, and cash on hand for each presidential candidate.



The “Individual Contributions” column represents donations from individuals. The “Total Receipts” column includes individual donations and contributions from other sources, including political committees and loans from the candidate.

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One week until our July 24 briefing on the Supreme Court and the administrative state 

As you know from reading the Brew these past few months, I love learning about the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, did you know that of the 68 decisions issued by the Court this past term, there were more 9-0 decisions (22) than 5-4 ones (19)? And that Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion in more of those 9-0 cases—five—than any other justice?

My colleagues and I at Ballotpedia don’t just calculate statistics associated with the current term, we also analyze the effect the Court’s decisions have on public policy. One area of particular interest this term was the administrative state, as the Court heard cases regarding such principles as the nondelegation doctrine, judicial review of agency interpretations of laws, and Auer deference.

We’re hosting a briefing on the Court’s rulings on these issues and how they’re likely to affect policymaking on July 24 at 11:00 am Central time. We’ll cover the decisions in cases such as Gundy v. United States and Kisor v. Wilkie, among others. I can’t wait for what figures to be a really interesting session–click the link below to register and join me.


Twenty candidates are running for six Toledo City Council seats

Sixty of America’s 100 largest cities by population will hold elections in 2019, including contests for mayor, city council, and other city offices like clerk and treasurer. While the numbers vary from year to year due to special elections to fill vacancies, more of these contests take place in odd-numbered years. In the two most-recent odd-numbered years—2015 and 2017—an average of 54 cities held elections for council members for an average of 417 seats per year. In the last two even-numbered years, an average of 46.5 cities held council elections which decided an average of 204.5 seats.

Last week, the filing deadline passed in Toledo, Ohio – the 66th largest city. Twenty candidates filed to run. These races are for council members elected in each of the city’s six districts. The mayor and six at-large council members were elected in 2017. 

Although Toledo’s municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, party affiliations are available for each candidate. Four incumbents—all Democrats—are running for re-election. One Democratic incumbent is not seeking another term while one Republican incumbent is term-limited.

Five of the six districts will hold a primary election September 10 since more than two candidates are running in each. The top two vote recipients will then meet in the general election November 5.



Biden proposes $750 billion healthcare policy

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 16, 2019: Joe Biden proposed expanding the Affordable Care Act. Cory Booker released his long-term care policy.


Which was the most recent presidential election where both parties renominated their candidates from the last election?

Notable Quote of the Day

“Some of these candidates need a miracle. It’s like if you’re a baseball team and you’re 15 games behind in mid-July, the odds are that you’re not making it to the playoffs.

If you don’t have the money, you’re not going to have the infrastructure. And if you don’t have the money or the infrastructure, what are you going to do to break through? At this point, it’s just very, very tough.”

– Mathew Littman, Democratic strategist


  • Michael Bennet discussed agricultural runoff during a campaign stop at the Iowa Flood Center Monday.

  • Joe Biden unveiled his $750 billion healthcare plan Monday. It would build on the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option that resembles Medicare. Biden’s plan would also increase healthcare tax credits to limit healthcare spending to no more than 8.5 percent of a household’s income.

  • Cory Booker released his long-term care policy Monday. Booker proposed increasing Medicaid asset and income limits to cover more people. He also called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for family caregivers and paying long-term care workers a minimum of $15 per hour.

  • In an interview on Recode Decode with Kara SwisherPete Buttigieg discussed systemic racism, tech regulation, and the state of the Democratic Party.

  • The Des Moines Register and AARP are hosting a series of five forums in Iowa this week. Julián CastroKirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris will participate in Tuesday’s event in Davenport, Iowa.

  • John Delaney wrote an op-ed about the opioid crisis in the Concord Monitor.

  • Jay Inslee participated in the “20 Questions for 2020” series by NowThisNews, discussing clean energy, mountain climbing, and campaign strategy.

  • In an interview on the NPR Politics PodcastAmy Klobuchar said she would prioritize nominating federal judges on her first day in office, but would not release any names during her campaign. 

  • Wayne Messam spoke about his presidential campaign and uneven media coverage on The Breakfast Club.

  • In an interview on ABC News’ The Investigation podcast, Seth Moulton called for an impeachment inquiry to begin immediately and criticized the debate over the politics of impeachment.

  • Beto O’Rourke is opening 11 field offices in Iowa and his first field office in Texas.

  • Tim Ryan toured a migrant child detention center in Homestead, Florida, as part of an oversight visit.

  • Bernie Sanders proposed establishing a $20 billion emergency trust fund to enable local governments to purchase for-profit hospitals in financial distress.

  • In an interview with Cheddar PoliticsJoe Sestak spoke about space exploration and his proposal for a two-state solution in Israel.

  • Tom Steyer will campaign in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday.

  • The Washington Post reported on Elizabeth Warren’s legal consulting for Dow Chemical in a case involving women who had become sick from breast implants made by the company’s subsidiary.

  • Marianne Williamson campaigned in Beverly Hills, California, on Monday.


  • Top donors to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising venture by Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, include Nebraska donor Marlene Ricketts and former Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon. They each gave the maximum contribution of $360,000. Trump is scheduled to host a fundraiser Friday at his Bedminister golf course.

Flashback: July 16, 2015

Politico reported on the salaries of top 2016 staffers. Marco Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan was earning an annual salary of $198,000. Rand Paul’s campaign manager, Chip Englander, followed with $129,000, according to financial reports.

The Daily Brew: Who will be in the next Democratic presidential debate? We’ll know this week

Today’s Brew highlights which candidates have qualified for the second Democratic presidential debates + a summary of new state ballot measures from the past month  
 The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Candidates in second Democratic presidential debates will be announced this week
  2. Four statewide ballot measures certified over the past month
  3. Nine candidates running for an open seat on Atlanta’s school board

Candidates in second Democratic presidential debates will be announced this week

Twenty-one Democratic presidential candidates have reached either the polling or fundraising threshold for the party’s second set of debates on July 30 and 31. Since only 20 candidates—10 per night—will participate, the Democratic National Committee will use tiebreaker criteria to determine who will participate. These criteria are, in order:

  1. Candidates who have achieved both the polling and fundraising thresholds,
  2. Candidates with the highest polling average, and
  3. Candidates with the highest number of contributors.

The 14 candidates who have reached both sets of requirements are Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Willamson, and Andrew Yang.

Six other candidates—Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, and Tim Ryan—have met the polling threshold of 1 percent support or more in three eligible national or early state polls.

Over the weekend, Mike Gravel announced he had reached the fundraising threshold of at least 65,000 unique contributors and at least 200 unique contributors from a minimum of 20 U.S. states. Four candidates have not yet met either qualifying criteria—Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Joe Sestak, and Tom Steyer.

The lineup for each night of the debates will be announced during a live drawing on CNN July 18. 

These debates—which will be held in Detroit—will be conducted using different rules than the first set of debates on June 26 and 27. According to CNN, candidates will be allowed to make both opening and closing statements and participants who repeatedly interrupt other speakers will be penalized. Unlike last month’s debate, there will be no questions requiring a show of hands or one-word, down-the-line answers. 

The third Democratic presidential debate is scheduled for Sept. 12 in Houston. Candidates will need to receive two percent support or more in four national or early state polls and have received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors to qualify.

Want the lineup in your inbox the morning after it is announced? Click here to sign up for Ballotpedia’s free Daily Presidential News Briefing.

Learn more

Four statewide ballot measures certified over the past month 

In our latest edition of State Ballot Measure Monthly—click here to subscribe—we learned that four new statewide measures have been certified for the 2019 and 2020 ballots. 

Three will go before voters in 2019. Here’s what each measure would do:

  • A state constitutional amendment in Maine would authorize legislation allowing persons with physical disabilities that prevent them from signing their own names to use an alternative signature to sign petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures. Maine’s constitution currently requires people to sign petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures with their original signature. 
  • A New Jersey amendment would extend an existing $250 property tax deduction that veterans receive to be sent to continuing care retirement centers on behalf of the veterans living there. It would also require those retirement centers to pass the value of the deduction on to veterans in the form of credits or payments.  
  • A Pennsylvania amendment would add a specific set of rights for crime victims—together known as Marsy’s Law—to the state constitution.

A 2020 measure that would allow state and local governments to pass campaign finance laws was certified in Oregon. The state legislatures referred all four of these amendments to their respective ballots.

Read this month’s issue


Nine candidates running for an open seat on Atlanta’s school board

Nine candidates are running in a special election for a seat on the Atlanta Public Schools board. They include three former school board candidates, a former Atlanta city council candidate, and a former candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives.The election is Sept. 17. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held Oct. 15.

Former board member Byron Amos resigned the seat in January to run for the Atlanta City Council. Amos had served on the board since 2011 and was re-elected in a 2017 runoff by less than one percentage point. Keisha Carey, who lost to Amos in the 2017 runoff, is one of the nine candidates seeking the open seat. The winner of the special election will serve until 2021 when the entire nine-member board is up for election.

The Atlanta public school district is the sixth-largest in Georgia. It had 51,145 students during the 2014-2015 school year.

Learn more→


Castro, Gillibrand, Inslee, and Warren attend Netroots Nation conference

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 15, 2019: Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, and Elizabeth Warren attended Netroots Nation in Philadelphia. Mike Gravel reached the donor threshold for the second debate.

There are 13 new candidates running since last week, including five Democrats, one Republican, and two Libertarians. In total, 779 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“It’s definitely fear, what else? They’ve known since March that this conference [Netroots Nation] is happening, so don’t give me [expletive] about scheduling. It’s stupid. … If they want to cede the ground to Warren, then great.”

– Markos Moulitsas, DailyKos founder, on candidates who did not go to Netroots Nation


  • Michael Bennet will hold a meet and greet in Iowa City Monday and attend a climate change event Tuesday.
  • The Des Moines Register and AARP are hosting a series of five forums in Iowa this week. Joe BidenCory BookerJohn Hickenlooper, and Amy Klobuchar will participate in Monday’s event in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Bill de Blasio discussed the Trump administration’s planned ICE raids in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union.
  • De Blasio’s son, Dante, is also joining his presidential campaign as a policy analyst.
  • The Washington Post examined Steve Bullock’s campaign messaging and record on campaign finance issues.
  • ABC’s Nightline profiled Pete Buttigieg Sunday, including his handling of a police-involved fatal shooting in South Bend, Indiana.
  • CNN reported that Buttigieg has more than 250 staff members and planned to expand his operations in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and California.
  • Julián CastroKirsten GillibrandJay Inslee, and Elizabeth Warren attendedNetroots Nation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    • Castro discussed income inequality and advocated housing vouchers and the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.
    • Gillibrand discussed the loss of manufacturing jobs and the concept of white privilege.
    • Inslee spoke against the filibuster.
    • Warren shared portions of her new immigration plan.
  • In an interview on the PBS show Firing Line with Margaret HooverJohn Delaneydiscussed his plan to only push forward bipartisan bills during his first 100 days in office.
  • Tulsi Gabbard was off the campaign trail to complete her monthly Army National Guard duty.
  • Mike Gravel reached the donor threshold to qualify for the second Democratic presidential debate. The campaign said it had contacted the Democratic National Committee over the polling qualification requirement since Gravel has been excluded from more than half of eligible polls.
  • Kamala Harris appeared on The Breakfast Club radio show Friday morning, where she criticized other presidential candidates for releasing proposals that would be difficult to implement.
  • Hickenlooper hired Peter Cunningham to replace Lauren Hitt as communications director. 
  • Wayne Messam spoke at the Second Nazareth Baptist Church in South Carolina.
  • In an interview with CNBC, Seth Moulton discussed climate change, tech regulation, and federal buyback programs for guns.  
  • In a Medium post, Beto O’Rourke wrote about the generational consequences of slavery and said he was descended from a slave owner. 
  • O’Rourke also protested conditions at immigrant detention centers at a vigil in New Hampshire Friday.
  • Tim Ryan raised $895,000 from more than 13,000 individual donors.
  • Bernie Sanders will hold a campaign rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to protest the closure of the Hanemann University Hospital Monday.
  • Joe Sestak campaigned in Iowa, including stops in Waterloo, Lake Mills, and West Liberty.
  • Tom Steyer made his first campaign stop as a presidential candidate in South Carolina Friday, where he met with community members and local activists in Charleston.
  • Marianne Williamson spoke at the Wild Goose Festival on spirituality and justice in North Carolina.
  • Andrew Yang held a rally in Portland, Oregon, marking his first campaign stop in the city.
  • The New Republic and Gizmodo announced that they planned to hold a summit on climate change in New York City on September 23. Candidates will appear individually on stage to answer questions being drafted, in part, by Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The New Republic withdrew from the event following criticism of its publication of an op-ed focused on Buttigieg’s sexuality.


  • Donald Trump promoted the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement during campaign stops in Wisconsin and Ohio Friday.
  • Bill Weld discussed Robert Mueller’s potential testimony in an interview on CNN.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: July 15, 2015

Including both campaign fundraising and aligned super PAC totals, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rick Perry led the fundraising race after the second quarter of 2015.

The Daily Brew: Trump administration changes approach to obtaining citizenship data

Today’s Brew highlights how the federal government will collect information on residents’ citizenship + our Candidate Connection report summarizes last year’s candidate surveys  
The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Monday, July 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Trump directs federal agencies to provide citizenship information, ends effort to add citizenship question to 2020 census
  2. Learn more about the nearly 2,000 candidates who responded to our survey last year
  3. Florida group announces it collected almost double the required signatures for citizen voting amendment

Trump directs federal agencies to provide citizenship information, ends effort to add citizenship question to 2020 census

President Trump (R) announced Thursday that his administration would cease efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Trump instead issued an executive order directing federal agencies to provide citizenship information to the Department of Commerce.

The president’s executive order stated in part, “I have determined that it is imperative that all executive departments and agencies (agencies) provide the Department the maximum assistance permissible, consistent with law, in determining the number of citizens and non-citizens in the country, including by providing any access that the Department may request to administrative records that may be useful in accomplishing that objective.”

Attorney General William Barr stated that the decision ended the ongoing litigation surrounding the citizenship question on the census.

Here’s a summary of how we got here:

  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross approved the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census in March 2018, arguing that the question would improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The question asked, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

  • The question was blocked by lower courts on the grounds that it violated the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause and the Census Act. Lower courts also held that Trump administration officials had failed to follow proper administrative procedure under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

  • The Supreme Court decided 5-4 last month to both affirm the legality of a citizenship question on the census and remand the case—Department of Commerce v. New York—to the agency for review. The court ruled that the Trump administration’s decision to add the citizenship question to the census did not violate the Enumeration Clause or the Census Act. However, the court held that Ross’ rationale for adding the question to the census was inconsistent with the administrative record in violation of the APA.

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Learn more about the nearly 2,000 candidates who responded to our survey last year 

One of Ballotpedia’s core missions is to enlighten voters about the people running for office and their political philosophies. Our Candidate Connection survey tool – one of my favorite projects – had nearly 2,000 candidate replies in 2018. 

We were thrilled that 1,957 candidates took the time to candidly tell our readers all about themselves and their values. 

We’re getting ready to re-launch our 2020 survey tool – and we cannot wait to show you all of the exciting changes. In the meantime, here are a few more data points about our 2018 survey.

  • A majority of respondents—56.06%—ran for state legislative office and 21.67% ran for seats in Congress.

  • Out of the nearly 2,000 candidates who responded to Ballotpedia’s candidate survey, 477—24.4%—won their elections. Another 772—39.4%—won their party’s primary and lost in the general election. Texans made up the largest portion of candidate respondents—186—with Californians coming in second with 147. 

  • Out of all 50 states, only two—Mississippi and North Dakota—did not have any candidates respond.

Our 2018 Candidate Connection report also highlights a few notable candidates who completed the survey, identifies the respondents who won their elections, and lists all of the 1,957 candidates who sent in answers.


Florida group announces it collected almost double the required signatures for citizen voting amendment

Sponsors of a Florida initiative that would amend the state constitution to state that only U.S. citizens are qualified to vote announced last week that they collected more than 1.5 million signatures to qualify the measure for the 2020 ballot. The group—Florida Citizen Voters—needs to submit 766,200 valid signatures by February 1, 2020. 

The amendment would change the Florida Constitution to state, “Only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” The state constitution currently uses the term “every citizen” instead of “only a citizen.”

A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020.

All state constitutions mention United States citizenship when discussing the qualifications of an elector. Twenty-one (21) states use the specific phrase “Every citizen of the United States…” when discussing who is a qualified elector. An additional 16 states use the word “every” but structure the sentence differently. Six states use the word “all” or “any” when discussing citizenship and suffrage. Six other states have some other way of phrasing the sentence. 

Voters in North Dakota decided a similar measure—Measure 2—in 2018. The measure amended the North Dakota Constitution to state that “only a citizen” rather than “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections. Voters approved that measure 66% to 34%. Currently, North Dakota is the only state that uses that phrase in its state constitution.

Voters in San Francisco approved a measure—Proposition N—in 2016 which allowed noncitizens to register to vote in school board elections. New York City allowed noncitizens to vote in local school board elections from 1968 to 2003 until the city abolished elected school boards. As of 2019, 11 cities in Maryland, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park allowed noncitizens to vote. Chicago has allowed noncitizens to vote and serve on its school councils since 1989.

Twenty-two statewide measures have been certified for the 2019 ballot in five states. In odd-numbered years from 2007 to 2017, an average of about 33 measures appeared on the ballot in an average of 8 states. In 2017, 27 statewide measures were certified. 

Thirty-seven statewide measures have been certified for the 2020 ballot in 18 states.



Under new law, Rhode Island unions can charge fees to non-members for grievance representation

On July 8, Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed H5259 and S0712 into law. These companion bills authorize public-sector unions to impose fees on non-members who request union representation in grievance and/or arbitration proceedings. It requires public-sector employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It also requires employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue payroll deductions for union dues.

  • State political context: Rhode Island is a Democratic trifecta; since 2013, Democrats have controlled the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.
  • State membership context: According to a report from the state department of administration, as of May 2019 there were 11,326 state employees in union positions. Of these, 702 were not union members, accounting for approximately 6.2 percent of the total.
  • National legislative context: As of July 12, four additional states have enacted five relevant bills this year:
    • Delaware SB8: Establishes compensation as a mandatory subject of collective bargaining efforts.
    • Nevada SB135: Provides for collective bargaining rights for state employees.
    • Oregon HB2016: Requires public employers to grant paid time to employees participating in certain union activities; requires employers to furnish unions with access to employees.
    • Oregon HB3009: Requires public employers to provide unions with access to new employees; permits individuals who are not union members to make payments in lieu of dues to unions.
    • Washington HB1575: Declares that public employers and public-sector unions are not liable for claims involving agency fees paid to unions prior to Janus; amends dues deduction authorization laws, allowing authorizations to be initiated via electronic, voice, or written communication and requiring authorizations to be discontinued by a written request made to the union.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 101 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 July 12, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart July 12, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart July 12, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Referred to Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file July 8.
  • Massachusetts H3854: This bill would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
    • Adopted by both House and Senate July 3.
  • Oregon HB2276: This bill would prohibit public employers and labor unions from entering into agreements authorizing the deduction of in-lieu-of-dues payments from public employee paychecks.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2567: This bill would require the state Employment Relations Board to conduct a study “relating to public employers subject to public employee collective bargaining act” and submit that study to the legislature by September 15, 2021.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2643: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to pay dues or agency fees to unions if they choose not to become members. This bill would also establish the Employment Relations Protection Account and require public employers to pay assessments to this account. These assessments would then be distributed to unions.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2726: This bill would allow non-members to make voluntary contributions to labor unions via payroll deduction.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB2775: This bill would permit public-sector employees to refrain from joining or paying dues to unions. This bill would also allow unions to choose not to represent non-members.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB3072: This bill would allow employees to revoke authorizations for dues or fees deductions paid to unions.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon HB3244: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to become or remain union members as a condition of employment. This bill would also prohibit employers from requiring employees to pay fees to unions in lieu of dues as a condition of employment.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Oregon SB846: This bill would allow public employees to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union. This bill would also permit unions to refrain from representing employees who choose not to join or pay dues to the union.
    • Died in committee upon adjournment June 30.
  • Rhode Island H5259: This bill would authorize unions to impose fees on non-members to represent them in grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It would also require employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue dues payroll deductions. This is a companion bill to S0712.
    • Signed into law July 8.
  • Rhode Island S0712: This bill would authorize unions to impose fees on non-members to represent them in grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It would also require employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue dues payroll deductions. This is a companion bill to H5259.
    • Signed into law July 8.

Warren releases immigration platform


July 12, 2019: Elizabeth Warren released her immigration platform. Kirsten Gillibrand proposed tax penalties against companies that outsource jobs.

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

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Staffer Spotlight - Jennifer O'Malley Dillon

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is a longtime Democratic staffer and specialist in data analysis.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign, deputy campaign manager
  • 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, battleground states director
  • 2008 John Edwards presidential campaign, deputy national campaign manager and Iowa state director
  • 2006 Jim Davis Florida gubernatorial campaign, campaign manager
  • 2004 Tom Daschle U.S. Senate campaign, deputy campaign manager
  • 2002 Tim Johnson U.S. Senate campaign, field director

Other experience:

  • 2013-Present: Precision Strategies, partner and co-founder
  • 2009-2010: Democratic National Committee, executive director

What she says about O’Rourke:

“His leadership, his energy, his belief that you don’t have to segment voters and that you can be a president for all voters…people are searching for that.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“In poll after poll, Sanders appeals to lower-income and less-educated people; Warren beats Sanders among those with postgraduate degrees. Sanders performs better with men, Warren with women. Younger people who vote less frequently are more often in Sanders’ camp; seniors who follow politics closely generally prefer Warren. …

It demonstrates that a progressive economic message can excite different parts of the electorate, but it also means that Sanders and Warren likely need to expand their bases in order to win the Democratic nomination.

Put another way, if their voters could magically be aligned behind one or the other, it would vastly increase the odds of a Democratic nominee on the left wing of the ideological spectrum.”

– Holly Otterbein, Politico reporter


  • Michael Bennet discussed his polling performance, prostate cancer diagnosis, and work with the Gang of Eight on a 2013 bipartisan immigration bill on The View Thursday.
  • Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisSeth Moulton, and Beto O’Rourke are campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend.
  • The following candidates will also be in Iowa for events like the Ankeny Area Democrats SummerFest BBQ and Progress Iowa Corn Feed: BennetBill de BlasioButtigiegCastroJohn DelaneyGillibrandJohn HickenlooperJay InsleeAmy KlobucharMoultonTim RyanJoe Sestak, and Marianne Williamson.
  • De Blasio wrote an op-ed on criticizing the Trump administration’s proposal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. De Blasio called for rewriting the trade agreement to include wage standards and the right to organize and form multinational bargaining units.
  • In a video for NowThisNewsSteve Bullock criticized undisclosed satellite spending in politics.
  • Pete Buttigieg officially unveiled the “Douglass Plan,” his platform focused on economic opportunity for black Americans. The plan calls for investing $25 billion in HBCUs and minority-serving institutions, revitalizing abandoned properties, and increasing access to credit. He also advocated redrawing the boundaries of Washington, D.C., to create a new state called New Columbia.
  • Tulsi Gabbard campaigned in Wisconsin, holding a town hall in Milwaukee and speaking at a youth awards banquet at the LULAC annual conference.
  • Gillibrand proposed a “Deadbeat Company Tax,” which would penalize large companies for moving 25 jobs or more overseas. The penalties include a 15 percent abandonment tax on the total value of any capital assets moved out of the U.S.
  • The Mike Gravel campaign released a negative ad against Biden questioning his record as a progressive. It will air Friday on MSNBC.
  • In an op-ed on democracy for FortuneGravel wrote, “We must return lawmaking power directly to the people through a legislature of the people, and give them the budgets they need through a land value tax.”
  • Harris proposed investing $1 billion into states to clear the rape kit backlog nationwide. States would have to meet new standards to receive funding, including providing an annual report on the number of untested kits and testing new kits more quickly.
  • Amy Klobuchar issued a policy proposal addressing eldercare, Alzheimer’s disease, and the financial concerns of seniors Friday. The plan would be funded through taxes on inherited wealth.
  • In an interview on BET Digital’s Black CoffeeBernie Sanders discussed reparations, student loan debt, and how his proposals will affect black communities.
  • Tom Steyer discussed his presidential campaign and its focus on reducing corporate involvement in elections on Cheddar Thursday.
  • Elizabeth Warren released her immigration policy proposal Thursday. She would eliminate criminal penalties for unauthorized border crossings, separate law enforcement and immigration enforcement into two distinct functions, and shift the priorities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to homeland security efforts.
  • Andrew Yang announced that he raised $2.8 million in the second quarter of 2019. 


What We’re Reading

Flashback: July 12, 2015

Several news outlets reported that Scott Walker planned to announce his candidacy for president the following day.

The Daily Brew: Less than one month until Seattle’s City Council elections

Today’s Brew highlights Seattle’s upcoming races for seven city council seats + Trump appoints a seventh judge to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals  
The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Thursday, July 11, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Seattle to elect 7 of 9 council members one year after repealing housing tax proposal
  2. Senate confirms third appeals court judge this year without support from both home-state senators
  3. Federal judge blocks Trump administration rule requiring drug price disclosure in television ads

Seattle to elect 7 of 9 council members one year after repealing housing tax proposal

Seattle voters will elect seven of nine city council members later this year in races which have attracted $1.2 million in public financing and $308,000 in satellite spending. All of the outside spending has been by the political action committee of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which has raised over $900,000. Amazon—which has its headquarters in Seattle—has contributed $200,000 of that amount. 

In 2018, the city council unanimously passed a law that would have required businesses grossing at least $20 million to pay $275 per employee to fund affordable housing programs for the homeless. The proposal faced criticism from Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce. One month after its passage, seven of nine council members voted to repeal the tax.

Three incumbents are running for re-election in their districts and there are four open seats. The Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee has spent $308,000 in support of nine candidates across the seven districts, including challengers to two incumbents. Across all seven elections, 55 candidates are running. In 2015, 37 candidates filed to run for the same seven seats.

This is the second city council election in which candidates can participate in a public campaign financing program involving voter vouchers. Eligible Seattle residents received four $25 vouchers each, which they could distribute among council candidates of their choosing. As of last week, 42 candidates were participating in the program, and $1.2 million had been distributed among 32 candidates.

This is also the second election in which voters will elect district representatives to the city council. Seattle passed a charter amendment in 2013 that changed the city council from nine at-large positions to seven positions elected according to districts and two at-large members. The nonpartisan primary elections are on August 6 and the top two finishers in each district will advance to general elections November 5.

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New Beyond the Headlines Video

Vice President Mike Pence has cast 13 tie-breaking votes in the Senate as of June 25, 2019. Find out how that compares to previous vice presidents and learn which bills Pence has broken the tie on. Watch now→


Senate confirms third appeals court judge this year without support from both home-state senators 

The U.S. Senate confirmed Daniel Bress along party lines to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Tuesday. President Donald Trump (R) nominated Bress in February to succeed Judge Alex Kozinski, who was appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan in 1985.

After Bress assumes his seat, the 9th Circuit will have 28 active judges. Of those 28, 16 judges were appointed by Democratic presidents and 12 were appointed by Republicans:

  • 9 by President Bill Clinton

  • 5 by President George W. Bush

  • 7 by President Barack Obama

  • 7 by President Trump

The Ninth Circuit is the largest federal appeals court, with 29 judicial positions. The second largest—the Fifth Circuit—has 17 judgeships.

Neither Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) nor Sen. Kamala Harris (D) of California returned blue slips for Bress’ nomination. A blue slip is the name for a piece of paper a home-state senator returns to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to show his or her approval of a federal judicial nominee and are considered a senatorial courtesy. The Judiciary Committee chairman determines the policy he or she applies to how blue slips impact the confirmation process. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)—who became chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2019—said he would follow the blue slip tradition for district court nominees but not for appeals court nominees. There are 179 federal appeals court judgeships and 677 district court judgeships. Graham has also stated that the lack of a blue slip should not prevent a judicial nominee from moving forward in the confirmation process. Bress is the third appeals court judge confirmed by the Senate in 2019 without support from both home-state senators.


Federal judge blocks Trump administration rule requiring drug price disclosure in television ads

In May, I brought you the story about a new federal rule requiring pharmaceutical companies to include the list price of certain prescription drugs in television advertisements. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—an agency within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)—intended to make Medicare and Medicaid administration more efficient by giving beneficiaries of the programs more information about the costs of drugs. 

The rule—which was set to take effect Tuesday—was blocked by a federal judge’s ruling in a lawsuit brought by three pharmaceutical companies and the Association of National Advertisers. The plaintiffs argued that Congress did not grant the HHS authority to regulate drug advertising and that the rule amounted to compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment.  

Federal judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia—who was appointed by President Obama in 2014—prevented the measure from taking effect, ruling Monday that the HHS exceeded its authority under the Social Security Act to adopt it. Mehta’s opinion stated, in part, “The plain statutory text simply does not support the notion—at least not in a way that is textually self-evident—that Congress intended for the Secretary to possess the far-reaching power to regulate the marketing of prescription drugs.”

After the decision, a White House spokesperson released a statement which said, “It is outrageous that an Obama appointed judge sided with big PhRMA to keep high drug prices secret from the American people, leaving patients and families as the real victims.”