Steyer launches $1 million ad campaign in IA, NV, SC


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 11, 2019: Tom Steyer is airing two new ads in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina as part of a $1 million campaign. Joe Walsh and Bill Weld will attend a debate on Sept. 24.

 Daily Presidential News Briefing - Facebook Ad Spending (September 2-8, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“Put another way, if you’re wondering why candidates such as Castro and Booker aren’t gaining more traction despite seemingly having run competent campaigns, the answer may have less to do with them and more to do with the fact that the field has a lot of heavyweights. Biden is a former two-term vice president; Sanders was the runner-up last time and basically built an entire political movement, and Warren and Harris have been regarded as potential frontrunners since virtually the moment that Donald Trump won the White House. The years that produce volatile, topsy-turvy nomination races, such as the 1992 Democratic primary, tend to be those where a lot of top candidates sit out, perhaps because they’re fearful of running against an incumbent with high approval ratings.”

– Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight



  • Donald Trump endorsed Ben Sasse—a Trump critic who opposed his 2016 presidential run—in his Senate reelection campaign.

  • Joe Walsh and Bill Weld will attend a debate on Sept. 24, 2019. A spokesperson said Mark Sanford would attend if a scheduling conflict was resolved. Trump was invited but did not respond. Business Insider will stream the event live.

Flashback: September 11, 2015

Rick Perry became the first noteworthy Republican candidate to suspend his presidential campaign.



Bishop (R) wins NC-9 special election

The Daily Brew

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

  1. Bishop (R), Murphy (R) win congressional special elections in North Carolina
  2. 1,617 candidates have filed with the FEC to run for Congress in 2020
  3. Judge may call for special election after state Senate primary was decided by one vote

Bishop (R), Murphy (R) win congressional special elections in North Carolina

North Carolina’s 9th

State Sen. Dan Bishop (R) defeated Dan McCready (D) and two other candidates in Tuesday’s special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. With 99% of precincts counted, Bishop had 50.8% of the vote to McCready’s 48.6%.

On Feb. 21, the state board of elections voted unanimously to call a new election in the district following investigations of absentee ballot fraud in the 2018 race.

The special election featured more than $10.7 million in satellite spending as of Sept. 6, which is the second-highest amount ever spent in a U.S. House special election. Satellite spending was $27 million in the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2017. 

During the campaign, Bishop talked about his record in the state legislature including his work in 2018 to help pass a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, lower income taxes, and oppose sanctuary cities. McCready—who was also the nominee in the 2018 race—campaigned on his plan to lower prescription drug prices and said he’d seek bipartisan legislation on health care, education, and taxes in the House. 

Donald Trump (R) won the district over Hillary Clinton (D) in the 2016 presidential election, 54.4% to 42.8%.

North Carolina’s 3rd

State Rep. Greg Murphy (R) defeated Allen Thomas (D) and two other candidates in the special election in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. With 82% of precincts counted, Murphy received 61% of the vote to Thomas’ 39%. The special election was called after the previous incumbent—Rep. Walter Jones (R)—died on Feb. 10.

Murphy linked himself to President Trump and highlighted his work as a physician and state legislator. Thomas emphasized economic development, small-town revitalization, and improving access to health care.

According to campaign finance reports from January 1 through August 21, Murphy raised $902,000 and spent $803,000. Thomas raised $565,000 and spent $476,000. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won the district, 60.5% to 36.9%.


1,617 candidates have filed with the FEC to run for Congress in 2020

232 candidates have filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for one of 35 U.S. Senate seats in 2020. Two hundred six of those candidates—108 Democrats and 98 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. 

In 2018, 527 candidates filed to run for 35 Senate seats, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans. 

On the House side, 1,385 candidates have filed so far to run in 2020.  This includes 686 Democrats and 615 Republicans. 

In 2018, 3,244 House candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans. All 435 House seats are up for election every two years.

A person who files with the FEC to run for Congress must complete a two-page “Statement of Candidacy” form either on paper or online. Candidates must provide their address, the office they are seeking, and their signature. They must also name any committees working to elect them.  The figures are as of the most recent FEC files on September 9. 

FEC rules state that an individual is considered a candidate and must file a statement of candidacy after raising $5,000 or more for their campaign. However, if the person is only exploring a candidacy—either through polling or touring the district—no formal declaration is required. Once someone conducts certain activities, such as making statements that refer to themselves as a candidate or taking action to qualify for the ballot, he or she must register as a candidate.

Judge may call for special election after state Senate primary was decided by one vote

A special primary election may take place in some precincts in a Mississippi state Senate district after the trailing candidate contested the results of August’s Republican primary—which was decided by a single vote.  

A special judge of the state Supreme Court will decide whether some or all of the district’s voters will cast new ballots after a hearing which is expected later this week.

When all ballots were counted after the Aug. 6 primary, Dixie Newman led Scott DeLano by one vote, 3,184 to 3,183. Those results were certified after a recount was completed Aug. 24.

DeLano contested the certified results Sept. 3 with the Republican Executive Committee of Harrison County claiming that some voters in five precincts were not given the correct ballots. The committee said it did not have the power to call a new election, but it did vote to allow DeLano to petition a judge for a special election in those precincts. If the judge orders a new election, any district voter in those five precincts would be eligible to vote.

Incumbent Tommy Gollott (R) resigned from the legislature before the end of his term on July 1. Since no Democratic candidate filed to run for the seat, the winner of the Republican primary will become the district’s new state Senator. 

All 52 seats in the Mississippi Senate are up for election in 2019. Republicans control the chamber 31-18, with three vacancies. Mississippi is also holding elections for all state executive officers—including the governor—and all 122 seats in the state House on Nov. 5. 

Mississippi has been a Republican trifecta since the beginning of the 2012 legislative session. 


Exclusive: Volume 9 of Ballotpedia’s state legislative competitiveness report

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, September 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. More than half of all state legislative seats this year have only one major party candidate
  2. Mississippi group submits signatures for initiative legalizing medical marijuana
  3. 49% of Ballotpedia survey respondents prefer to vote early or absentee 

More than half of all state legislative seats this year have only one major party candidate

We released our 9th Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report September 4 analyzing the 538 regular state legislative elections taking place this fall in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. We’ve prepared this report annually since 2010.

Our Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report focuses on three factors affecting competitiveness:

  • Incumbents not seeking re-election

  • Number of races with at least two candidates on the ballot in primary elections

  • Races without major party competition

We do this analysis every year and in odd-numbered years, it only covers elections in the four states holding state legislative contests in those years. During even-numbered years, it covers elections in up to 46 states.

Here are three highlights from this study:

  • 56% of all regular state legislative races have a candidate from either the Democratic or Republican Parties, but not both. In 2015—the last time these seats were up for regular election—61% of races had a candidate from one major party, but not both. In 2011, this figure was 43%. 

  • More incumbents—129 out of 435, or 30%—faced primary challengers in 2019 than in 2015 or 2017. In 2017, 16% of incumbents faced primary challengers, and in 2015, 22% of incumbents faced primary challengers.

  • 103 state legislative incumbents—19%—are not seeking re-election. Of those, 62  are Republicans, 39 are Democrats, and two are Independents. This is the highest percentage of incumbents not running for re-election in odd-year state legislative elections this decade. In 2011, 18% of state legislative incumbents did not seek another term. 

This analysis also contains lots of historical data, including breakdowns of our findings by state and legislative chamber, the effect of term limits, and incumbents defeated in party primaries. And we compare these statistics with previous odd-numbered election years this decade so you can see relevant averages and trends. There’s so much great information here – click the link to read more.

Mississippi group submits signatures for initiative legalizing medical marijuana 

Mississippi voters may soon have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana. 

A Mississippi group—Mississippians for Compassionate Care—reported submitting more than 214,000 signatures last week in support of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in the state. A total of 86,185 valid signatures are required to qualify the measure for the November 2020 ballot.  

If enough signatures are found valid, the initiative goes to the state legislature, which cannot prevent it from going before voters but can put an alternative measure on the ballot along with the initiative.

This initiative would provide for a medical marijuana program in Mississippi under the direction of the Mississippi Department of Health. Individuals with certain debilitating medical conditions—as specified in the initiative—could seek a certification from a Mississippi-licensed physician to obtain medical marijuana. Nothing in the measure would require a physician to issue a certification for a patient to obtain medical marijuana. 

These signatures must be certified by the county clerks in each county and verified by the secretary of state to ensure they are from voters distributed across the state’s congressional districts. No more than one-fifth of all signatures can be from one of the Mississippi’s five congressional districts. Any signatures over that amount from one district will be disregarded.

The measure also specifies that no qualified patient could possess more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time and that no more than 2.5 ounces could be provided to a patient in a 14-day period. Under the measure, no medical marijuana treatment center could be located within 500 feet of a school, church, or child-care establishment.

Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana. Additionally, 13 states—including Mississippi—have legalized the use of cannabis oil, or cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the non-psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana—for medical purposes.

Medical marijuana by state

The last time Mississippi voters had a statewide measure on the ballot was in 2015 when they defeated both a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment and its alternative put on the ballot by the legislature regarding education.

49% of Ballotpedia survey respondents prefer to vote early or absentee 

Voters in North Carolina will decide two congressional special elections today—in the 3rd and 9th districts. Ballotpedia will have live results from both races on Tuesday night and provide a summary of the results in the Brew Wednesday morning.

Our preview of these two elections last week discussed the number of mail-in absentee and in-person early ballots that had been accepted in both races. This prompted last week’s What’s the Tea? question:  


Click here to learn more about early voting



Trump rallies in NC for two special elections

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 10, 2019: Donald Trump held a rally Monday at the Crown Expo Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

How many sitting presidents have lost their bids for renomination?

Notable Quote of the Day

“The broader bets, made very early in the election cycle, signify some defining characteristics of Trump’s 2020 effort. To win, Trump probably needs to come up with a different set of states than those that garnered 304 electoral college votes and carried him to the White House: public polls show his disapproval ratings swamp his approval numbers by at least 9 percentage points in his 2016 blue-to-red trifecta of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

But Trump is flush with funds. With more than $100 million in cash on hand, Trump’s campaign has the freedom to look for unorthodox opportunities to seek out electoral votes in other parts of the country. That massive money haul will be used to mobilize support in states Trump lost narrowly, and in some cases broadly, and where his campaign feels there are enough untapped Trump supporters to tip the balance in his favor, his campaign says.”

– Brian Bennett, TIME


  • McClatchy DC reported on Joe Biden’s campaign organization in Iowa, including a comparison to Elizabeth Warren’s more hyperlocal style.

  • Bill de Blasio visited Puerto Rico Monday to discuss disaster relief efforts.

  • Steve Bullock campaign manager Jennifer Ridder sent donors a memo Tuesday outlining Bullock’s path to victory, which includes a focus on Iowa.

  • Pete Buttigieg hired Jarvis Houston to be his South Carolina state director, where the campaign has placed 33 staffers.

  • John Delaney discussed the vulnerabilities of higher-polling candidates in an interview on CNN. 

  • Tulsi Gabbard spoke about the primary debates, suing Google, and the state of the Democratic Party in an interview on The Rubin Report.

  • Kamala Harris discussed her criminal justice plan in an interview on MSNBC.

  • In an interview on WBUR’s Here & Now, Amy Klobuchar spoke about her political identity, the 2016 presidential election, humor in politics, the opioid crisis, and the first overseas trip she’d make as president.

  • Wayne Messam spoke at a Broward College class Monday night.

  • Politico profiled the changed tone of Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign.

  • Tim Ryan released a policy album on music streaming service Spotify that includes 10 tracks with his positions on gun violence, immigration, and other issues.

  • The New York Times reported on the 1987 trip to Canada that drove Bernie Sanders’ position on healthcare.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled Joe Sestak and his grassroots campaign in Iowa.

  • Tom Steyer will hold a town hall Tuesday in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

  • Warren endorsed Jessica Cisneros and Marie Newman, two congressional candidates launching primary challenges to Democratic incumbents.

  • Andrew Yang attended a fundraiser in Richmond, Texas, at the home of Asian American Democratic Club founder Ling Luo.


Flashback: September 10, 2015

Bobby Jindal spoke at the National Press Club about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.


Bold Justice: Trump appointed second-most federal judges through Sept. 1 of a president’s third year

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to

The Supreme Court is currently in recess. The 2019-2020 term begins Oct. 7. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ upcoming term.

The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts over a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from August 1 – 28, 2019.


  • Vacancies: There was one new judicial vacancy since the July 2019 report. As of August 28, 103 of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report were vacant—a vacancy percentage of 11.8 percent.

    Under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the president appoints Article III judges for what amount to lifetime terms on the federal bench. All such appointments must receive Senate confirmation. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Courts of Appeal, U.S. District Courts, and the Court of International Trade.

    Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 112 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

  • Nominations: There were six new nominations since the July 2019 report.

  • Confirmations: There were two new confirmations since the July 2019 report.

Vacancy count for Aug. 28, 2019

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level

New vacancies

One judge left active status, creating an Article III vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

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

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

Vacancy map

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

There are currently four vacancies for U.S. Courts of Appeal judgeships. According to a Ballotpedia analysis of federal court vacancies between April 2011 and August 2019, this is the fewest number of vacant Courts of Appeal judgeships during this time. 

  • The second-lowest was in June 2019, with five vacancies. 
  • The highest number of vacancies—21—was in July, September, and October of 2017.
  • The median number of vacancies was 14.

US Court of Appeals vacancies

Court of Appeals vacancies map 2

New nominations

President Trump announced six new nominations since the July 2019 report. 

  • Steven Menashi, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
  • Jodi Dishman, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • Karen Marston, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • Richard Myers II, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
  • Sarah Pitlyk, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • Anuraag Singhal, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The president has announced 211 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

Since July 31, 2019, the Senate confirmed two of the president’s nominees to Article III courts. 

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 146 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—99 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices. This is the second-most Article III judicial confirmations through this point in a presidency since Theodore Roosevelt. Only Bill Clinton, with 165 judicial appointments, had more.

  • The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through September 1 of their third year in office is 82.

  • The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. William Taft’s (R) five appointments were the most among this set. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (D), Jimmy Carter (D), and George W. Bush (R) did not appoint any justices through Sept. 1 of their third year in office. Trump has appointed two justices so far.

  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 18. Trump has appointed the most with 43. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed the fewest with five each. Trump’s 43 appointments make up 24 percent of the total 179 appeals court judgeships.

  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 56. Clinton appointed the most with 135, and T. Roosevelt appointed the fewest with 10. Trump has appointed 99 district court judges. Those appointments make up 15 percent of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.

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

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


Gov. Polis recall effort does not make ballot

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, September 9 Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Colorado governor recall effort does not make ballot
  2. Join us for a look at the 2020 Almanac of American Politics
  3. Two more state Supreme Court appointments, 11 total this year

Effort to recall Colorado governor does not make ballot

A recall effort targeting Colorado Gov. Jared Polis did not make the ballot after recall supporters announced September 6 that they had not collected the required number of signatures. The group leading the effort—Dismiss Polis—needed to submit 631,266 signatures for the recall election to occur. They collected about 300,000, according to spokesperson Karen Kataline.

According to the petition, Dismiss Polis targeted Polis for recall because he signed legislation related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education during the 2019 legislative session.

After the recall effort ended, Polis stated: “After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t turn in a single signature on the recall. I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as Tom Sullivan’s did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship.”

From 2003 to 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 17 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921. Four gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2019.

Three Colorado state senators—Leroy Garcia (D), Brittany Pettersen (D), and Pete Lee (D)—are also facing official recall campaigns in 2019. Two state representatives—Rochelle Galindo (D) and Tom Sullivan (D)—were previously targeted for recall earlier this year. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019; while the recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.

Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House 41-24 and the state Senate 19-16. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019 after winning the 2018 election with 53.4% of the vote. 

Join us for a look at the 2020 Almanac of American Politics

The 2020 Almanac of American Politics is here with detailed profiles of each governor, state, member of Congress, and congressional district. Join me and Ballotpedia staff writer David Luchs—who was on our Almanac research team—for a briefing on the Almanac at 11 a.m. Central Time September 10.

The Almanac has been described by columnist George Will as “the bible of American politics” and by anchor Judy Woodruff as “the oxygen of the political world.” It contains profiles of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five insular territories, as well as the president and vice president, all 50 state governors, all 100 members of the Senate, all 441 members of the House (including the six non-voting territorial delegates), and each U.S. House district. This version includes up-to-date information reflecting the results of the 2018 midterms.

In our briefing, we’ll be discussing the Almanac’s history, the scope of its profiles, essays, and data tables, and what’s new in the 2020 edition. We’ll also explore the research process and Ballotpedia’s role in assembling the Almanac—which is a great experience for our researchers. This is the third version that Ballotpedia has worked on with Almanac authors.

If you’re interested in ordering your own Almanac, we’ll be offering a discount code for 10% off at the end of the broadcast. A recording of the webinar will be available on our website for any readers unable to view the live broadcast.

Two more state Supreme Court appointments bring this year’s total to 11

Two state Supreme Court vacancies in Arizona and Virginia respectively were filled this week, bringing the total number of state Supreme Court seats filled this year to 11. There are 344 state Supreme Court justices nationwide. Of those judgeships, 165 are elected by voters, 12 are selected by state legislatures, and 167 are appointed.

In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Bill Montgomery (R) to the Supreme Court on September 4. Montgomery replaces former Chief Justice Scott Bales, who retired on July 31. Montgomery was Ducey’s fifth appointment to the seven-member court.

In Virginia, Teresa Chafin joined the state Supreme Court this week to fill the vacancy created by Justice Elizabeth McClanahan’s retirement on September 1. In February 2019, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved Chafin to succeed McClanahan. Virginia is one of two states—along with South Carolina—that selects state Supreme Court justices through legislative election. 

In 2019, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies across 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 18 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Five vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement, and one (Virginia) occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature selects the replacement.


Mark Sanford launched Republican primary challenge to Trump



Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 9, 2019: Mark Sanford announced Sunday that he was running for president. Tom Steyer reached the polling threshold to qualify for the October primary debates.

There are 10 new candidates running since last week, including five Republicans. In total, 850 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“But there’s a danger in running as a continuation of a previous administration, because in the past half-century of presidential elections, the change candidate has beaten the ‘familiar’ candidate almost every time.

Incumbent presidents are largely immune from this phenomenon. They get to enjoy the constant visibility and bully pulpit of the most powerful person in the world, and only sagging economies (Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush) or disastrous wars (Lyndon Johnson) seem to fell them in their bids for re-election. …

But whether it’s a former vice president or the runner-up in the previous election cycle’s primary, the candidate who is perceived as running for president because it’s ‘their turn’ tends to flame out against a fresher face.”

– Anthony L. Fisher, Business Insider


  • WMUR released videos of the 19 Democratic candidates—all but Wayne Messam—who spoke at the New Hampshire Democratic Convention over the weekend. 
  • Eight candidates participated in a political ad on gun violence produced by an advocacy organization founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords, Giffords’ Courage to Fight Gun Violence. The ad, which is part of a six-figure digital ad buy, features Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
  • The Michael Bennet campaign is holding a national headquarters opening celebration Tuesday in Lakewood, Colorado.
  • Bennet and John Delaney spoke at the Merrimack County Democrats annual picnic Sunday in New Hampshire
  • Booker discussed nuclear energy, gun licensing, and other campaign issues during his first visit to Maine Saturday.
  • Steve Bullock spoke about the obscurity gap in an interview on Fox News Saturday.
  • Julián Castro is holding a rally Monday in Houston, Texas.
  • Tulsi Gabbard discussed her opposition to impeachment in an interview on Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren. She said, “I think it’s important for us to think about what is in the best interest of the country and the American people, and continuing to pursue impeachment is something that I think will only further to tear our country apart.”
  • GabbardTom Steyer, and Andrew Yang attended the AAPI Democratic Presidential Forum Sunday in Costa Mesa, California.
  • Harris released her criminal justice platform, which would end federal mandatory minimum sentences, the death penalty, and solitary confinement. It would also phase out for-profit prisons and cash bail.
  • BuzzFeed interviewed Wayne Messam’s former campaign staff members about payment and organizational issues in the campaign. The Messam campaign responded that these issues were the result of unauthorized actions by a consulting firm.
  • Sanders is hosting a campaign rally Monday at Civic Center Park in Denver, Colorado.
  • Joe Sestak spoke about climate change while campaigning in New Hampshire Sunday.
  • With the release of a Nevada poll from CBS News/YouGov, Steyer reached the polling threshold to qualify for the October primary debates. He is the 11th candidate to do so.
  • Marianne Williamson will host a meditation on peace in New Hampshire Monday.


  • Republican state parties in South CarolinaNevada, and Kansas canceled their respective primaries and caucuses.
  • At the California Republican Party fall conventionDonald Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said the Trump family was a dynasty and they would move the GOP “into a new party – one that will adapt to changing cultures.”
  • Mark Sanford announced Sunday that he was running for president. “I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” he said, referencing the federal deficit and government spending.
  • In an interview on Real Time with Bill MaherJoe Walsh discussed his previous anti-Obama comments and contrasted himself with Trump.

General Election Updates

  • Gov. Janet Mills announced Friday that she would hold a ranked-choice voting bill passed by the Maine State Legislature until January. As a result, ranked-choice voting will be used in the presidential general election in Maine but not the primary elections.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 9, 2015

Antivirus software creator John McAfee launched an independent presidential campaign.


New Jersey court rules school district cannot pay salaries of union representatives

In a unanimous decision issued Aug. 21, a New Jersey appellate court ruled the Jersey City Board of Education cannot use public funds to pay the salaries of union representatives.

Who are the parties to the suit?
Plaintiffs Moshe Rozenblit and Won Kyu Rim reside within the Jersey City school district. They were represented by the Goldwater Institute. The defendants were the Jersey City Public Schools, the Jersey City Board of Education, and the Jersey City Education Association (the union representing the district’s teachers).

What was at issue?
The plaintiffs challenged a section of the collective bargaining agreement between the Jersey City Board of Education and the Jersey City Education Association that requires the board to pay the salaries of two teachers working full-time as union representatives. The plaintiffs specifically alleged that this section of the agreement violated Article VIII, Section 3, Paragraph 3 of the state constitution: “No donation of land or appropriation of money shall be made by the State or any county or municipal corporation to or for the use of any society, association, or corporation whatever.”

Meanwhile, the defendants held that the challenged provision was valid under Section 18A:30-7 of the New Jersey Statutes, which permits local boards of education to pay salaries in cases of absence not constituting sick leave. A lower state court had upheld this provision of the collective bargaining agreement, prompting the plaintiffs to appeal.

How did the court rule?
The panel was made up of Judges Jose L. Fuentes, Francis J. Vernoia, and Scott J. Moynihan. Writing for the court, Fuentes said: “Mindful of the principles of statutory construction, we conclude that N.J.S.A. 18A:30-7 does not empower the Board in this case to continue to pay the salaries and benefits of the president of the JCEA and his or her designee, while they devote their entire work-time to the business and affairs of the union.” The court declined to address the constitutional arguments made by the plaintiffs.

What are the responses?

  • Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches said, “Today is a great day for New Jersey taxpayers, because this puts an end to an egregious form of government cronyism. Today’s decision will help ensure that private unions no longer benefit from public dollars.”
  • Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas said, “We are intrigued by the ruling which only targets teacher’s unions which constitutes the single largest group of public employees while allowing other non-school staff public employee unions to continue the current release arrangement paid for by tax dollars.”

What comes next?
According to Hudson County View, “sources close to JCEA said that the union plans to fight the appellate court decision at this time.” The case name and number are Rozenblit v. Lyles, A-1611-17T1.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map September 6, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart September 6, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart September 6, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

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

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled Aug. 30.

Looking ahead to two U.S. House special elections in NC

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Friday, September 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Voters to decide congressional special elections Tuesday in NC-3 and NC-9 
  2. Third Democratic primary debate takes place September 12
  3. What’s the Tea?

Voters to decide congressional special elections Tuesday in NC-3 and NC-9

Voters in two North Carolina districts—the 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts—will elect new representatives in special elections on September 10. Early voting in both districts began August 21 and was scheduled to end today—September 6—although some polling locations were forced to close due to Hurricane Dorian. Here’s a look at each race and the early voting data so far. 

North Carolina’s 9th 

State Sen. Dan Bishop (R), Dan McCready (D), Jeff Scott (L), and Allen Smith (G) are running in the special election for North Carolina’s 9th District in the south-central part of the state. The election was called after the state board of elections did not certify the results from the 2018 race following an investigation into allegations of absentee ballot fraud.

As of September 3—the 14th day of the 17-day early voting period—54,372 ballots had been accepted, including mail-in absentee and in-person early ballots. That’s roughly half the number that had been accepted on the 14th day of early voting during the November 2018 election. In 2018, a total of 156,935 absentee and early ballots were counted. 

On the campaign trail, Bishop has invoked his record in the state legislature, including helping pass a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID in 2018, lowering income taxes, and opposing sanctuary cities. McCready has campaigned on his plan to lower prescription drug prices and says he’d seek bipartisan legislation on healthcare, education, and taxes in the House. 

In 2018, Republican nominee Mark Harris led McCready—who was also the Democratic nominee in that race—by 905 votes based on the unofficial results. Three polls ahead of the special election have shown Bishop and McCready within the margin of error of each other. Donald Trump (R) won the district by 12 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.

The special election has featured endorsements from prominent national figures and $8 million in ad spending from satellite groups—including $2.6 million by the National Republican Congressional Committee and $1.2 million by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (R) have campaigned for Bishop in the state, and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) endorsed McCready.

North Carolina’s 3rd

State Rep. Greg Murphy (R), Allen Thomas (D), Tim Harris (L), and Greg Holt (Constitution Party) are running in the special election for North Carolina’s 3rd District in the northeastern part of the state. The special election was called after former incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R) died February 10. Jones was first elected to Congress in 1994.

There were 14,349 ballots cast as of August 28, including mail-in absentee and in-person early ballots. In the November 2018 uncontested election for the same seat, 94,458? early and absentee ballots were counted. 

Murphy—who defeated Joan Perry in the July 9 Republican primary runoff—has campaigned on his support of President Trump and highlighted his work as a physician and state legislator. Thomas has emphasized economic development, small-town revitalization, and improving access to healthcare in his campaign. 

According to campaign finance reports through August 21, Murphy raised $902,000 and spent $803,000, and Thomas raised $565,000 and spent $476,000. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won the district with 61% of the vote.


Third Democratic primary debate takes place September 12 

The third Democratic presidential primary debate takes place September 12 in Houston. The following 10 candidates will participate:

•    Joe Biden
•    Cory Booker
•    Pete Buttigieg
•    Julián Castro
•    Kamala Harris
•    Amy Klobuchar
•    Beto O’Rourke
•    Bernie Sanders
•    Elizabeth Warren
•    Andrew Yang

ABC News and Univision are hosting the debate at Texas Southern University. Linsey Davis, David Muir, Jorge Ramos, and George Stephanopoulos will moderate the event. Candidates will have one minute and 15 seconds to answer questions and 45 seconds for rebuttals. 

The 10 Democratic candidates who did not qualify for this debate can still qualify for the next one using the same qualifying criteria. The Democratic National Committee announced this week that the fourth primary debate will take place in Ohio on October 15 and 16.

Candidates must have received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. The candidate must also receive 2% support or more in four national or early state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada. 

Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson are the closest to qualifying for the October debate, having already passed the fundraising threshold of 130,000 unique donors. Steyer needs one more eligible poll showing 2% support, Gabbard two, and Williamson three.

The last round of debates was held on July 30 and 31 in Detroit. Since then, Mike Gravel, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Seth Moulton, and Kirsten Gillibrand have ended their campaigns for president.

What's the tea?

What’s the Tea?

As our story above noted, several counties in North Carolina canceled early voting this week for the two congressional special elections due to evacuations associated with Hurricane Dorian. This got me thinking about how our readers feel about early voting.

How do you feel about early or no-excuse absentee voting where you live?



Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: August 31-September 6, 2019

 Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the events that matter in the 2020 presidential election. 

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.   

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Candidates by the numbers

Eight new candidates filed with the FEC since last week, including two Democrats, one Libertarian, and one Green. In total, 840 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Week

“While the ability to generate big crowds is certainly nice — it may signal enthusiasm among highly engaged voters or produce favorable media coverage — you should ignore any candidate, surrogate or media outlet that tells you that large crowd sizes mean that the polls are underestimating a candidate’s support. It’s just spin; polls are much more accurate at forecasting elections than crowd-size estimates, which don’t tell us all that much.

For every example like 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s huge crowds seemed to reflect real enthusiasm for his campaign, there is one like 2012, when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won his primary despite drawing noticeably small crowds on the campaign trail. Or take what happened in 2016. Despite a lot of hay being made about crowd sizes during the 2016 campaign, that cycle also was an argument against crowd sizes being predictive. Although now-President Trump did often draw large crowds at his primary rallies, Hillary Clinton reportedly beat him out for largest crowd of the 2016 campaign, 40,000 to 30,000. And at roughly this point in the Democratic primary in 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders was outdrawing Clinton!”

 – Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight

Week in Review

Where Schultz and Sanford stand on 2020 runs

Howard Schultz announced Friday that he would not run for president as an independent.

“My belief in the need to reform our two-party system has not wavered, but I have concluded that an independent campaign for the White House is not how I can best serve our country at this time,” he wrote in a statement.

Schultz added that the money he planned to spend on his campaign—a figure he previously put at $100 million—would be used “to invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics, and that move the country beyond two-party gridlock.”

Mark Sanford, who was expected to announce his presidential decision around Labor Day, deferred any statement until after Hurricane Dorian has passed.

He said in an interview with Fox News, “It would be something of a David and Goliath story. I mean it’s impossible at many different levels. It’d be a very steep climb. But you know that going in.”

2020 Democrats talk climate change for 7 hours

Ten candidates participated in a climate change town hall event spanning seven hours on CNN Wednesday evening: Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

Most issued new climate change proposals in advance: 

  • Booker released a $3 trillion climate change platform, which would include investments to advance environmental justice, a transition to a carbon-neutral economy by no later than 2045, the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and a $400 billion investment to create a clean energy workforce.
  • Buttigieg proposed three pillars in his $1.1 trillion climate change proposal: building a clean economy, investing in disaster relief and prevention, and promoting America’s international role in combating climate change.
  • Castro wrote in his “People and Planet First” environmental plan, “Together, we will direct $10 trillion in federal, state, local, and private investments over the next decade to create ten million good paying jobs, transition away from fossil fuels, build a 100 percent clean-energy economy, and lead the world in the 21st century.”
  • Harris’ $10 trillion climate plan included promoting environmental justice, ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, implementing a progressive fee on carbon pollution, and creating a clean energy economy by 2045.
  • Klobuchar’s climate plan included the goals of 100% net zero emissions by 2050, participating in the Paris Climate Agreement, and restoring the Clean Power Plan. 
  • Warren announced that she was endorsing and adopting Jay Inslee’s climate plan. Her climate proposal would also commit an additional $1 trillion over 10 years to subsidize the transition to a clean energy economy.

Mark your calendars for the fall debates

The third Democratic primary debate is Thursday, Sept. 12. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will share the debate stage for the first time, along with Cory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang.

The Democratic National also announced that the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate will be held Oct. 15-16, 2019, in Ohio.

Since the criteria for the third and fourth debate are the same, the September debaters have already qualified.

Among the rest of the Democratic field, Tulsi GabbardTom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson are the  closest to qualifying, having already passed the fundraising threshold of 130,000 unique donors. Steyer needs one more eligible poll showing 2 percent support, Gabbard two, and Williamson three by Oct. 1.

Bill de Blasio said he could drop out of the presidential race if he did not qualify for the fourth debate.

AZ, KS, NV, and SC Republican primaries may be canceled

The Republican parties in ArizonaKansasNevada, and  South Carolina are expected to cancel their presidential primaries this weekend.

Pro-cancellation party members, including Donald Trump campaign officials, say that it’s not uncommon when an incumbent president is seeking reelection and that it reduces costs.

Joe Walsh responded, “It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.”

Bill Weld also criticized the planned cancellations, saying, “We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.”

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

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

Erin Wilson is a Democratic staffer with extensive experience in Pennsylvania politics. Wilson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in political science and government in 2005.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Pennsylvania deputy state director
  • 2008 Bob Roggio (D-Penn.) U.S. House campaign, senior advisor
  • 2006 Bob Casey (D-Penn.) U.S. Senate campaign, deputy political director
  • 2004 Joe Hoeffel (D-Penn.) U.S. Senate campaign, political coordinator

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: Office of Sen. Bob Casey, state director
  • 2014-2016: Democratic National Committee, Northeast political director
  • 2007-2014: Office of Sen. Bob Casey
    • 2011-2014: Deputy state director
    • 2009-2011: Director of outreach and special projects
    • 2007-2009: Regional representative
  • 2005-2006: Office of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.), assistant to the first lady
  • 2002-2004: Rock the Vote, Philadelphia street team leader

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 3-6, 2015

  • September 3, 2015: Donald Trump signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. Jeb Bush said he would support Trump if he became the Republican nominee. 
  • September 4, 2015: Hillary Clinton apologized for her private email server use in her third nationally televised interview as a 2016 presidential candidate.
  • September 5, 2015: NBC News reported on the Draft Biden initiative’s efforts in Iowa.
  • September 6, 2015: After reaching a $1 million crowdfunding goal, Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig said that he was running for president.


Which of the following presidential candidates did not carry any state by a margin larger than 90%?

  1. Andrew Jackson→
  2. Woodrow Wilson→
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt→
  4. Dwight Eisenhower→