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Ballot Bulletin March 2020

Virginia General Assembly passes bill allowing localities to use ranked-choice voting in some municipal elections 

On Feb. 27, the Virginia State Senate voted 22-18 to approve HB1103, which would allow local governments to implement ranked-choice voting (RCV) for select municipal elections. All of the Senate’s 21 Democrats and one Republican voted in favor of the legislation. Eighteen Republicans voted against it. The same bill had passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Feb. 7 by a vote of 57-42. Fifty-four House Democrats and three Republicans voted in favor of HB1103. Forty-two Republicans voted against it (one Democratic member did not vote). HB1103 now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for his action.  

If enacted, HB1103 would allow local governments to implement RCV in elections for county boards of supervisors and city councils. The state board of elections would be authorized to “promulgate regulations for the proper and efficient administration of elections determined by ranked-choice voting, including (i) procedures for tabulating votes in rounds, (ii) procedures for determining winners in elections for offices to which only one candidate is being elected and to which more than one candidate is being elected, and (iii) standards for ballots.” Localities would be liable for any implementation costs incurred by the state. The Department of Planning and Budget has estimated those costs at approximately $1.3 million.

What have been the reactions? 

The following is a sample of the commentary surrounding HB1103: 

  • Del. Sally Hudson (D), the bill’s chief sponsor, said, “It’s a benefit to communities like mine in Charlottesville that tend to have very low-turnout primaries in the summer and then local elections in the fall that often have multiple candidates running for a handful of open seats. You end up with really split elections and less certainty about which candidate has majority support from the community.”    
  • Del. Chris Runion opposed the bill, saying, “It confuses the voter, and it complicates the process. I would prefer that a voter goes in and makes his decision, casts their ballot and goes back and knows this is who they voted for and that’s who they support and they go home satisfied with that result.”
  • Elizabeth Melson, president of FairVote Virginia, which has advocated in favor of the bill, said, “With ranking, if a candidate meets a voter who favors an opponent, the conversation need not end; it can shift to second choices and areas of mutual concern. In places with ranked choice already implemented, candidates sometimes even campaign in groups of two or three and ask to be second or third choices. It could lead to more civilized and issue-based campaigns and less mud-slinging.”
  • Quentin Kidd, a professor at Christopher Newport University, said, “So if you had a city or a county that was 50-50 split, ranked-choice voting could really mix things up and make for some really healthy political competition. But in a county that’s really rural and really Republican, Democrats would almost be locked out. In a city that’s really Democratically-oriented, Republicans would almost be locked out.” 

What other jurisdictions have implemented RCV? 

Maine is the only state that has implemented RCV for federal and state-level elections. Nine states have jurisdictions with RCV at the local level. On the map below, these states are shaded in gold. Another four states have jurisdictions that have adopted, but have not yet implemented, RCV. These states are shaded in blue. A complete list of implementation sites is available here

In other RCV news …

On March 3, citizens in Portland, Maine, approved a charter amendment extending the use of ranked-choice voting to all city council and school board elections. Previously, ranked-choice voting only applied to mayoral elections. The charter amendment passed with 81 percent of the vote.  

Virginians to decide constitutional amendment transferring redistricting power from legislature to commission 

On March 5, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 54-46 to approve a resolution placing a redistricting-related constitutional amendment on the ballot for Nov. 3, 2020. The ballot measure would transfer the authority to draft the state’s congressional and legislative district plans from the Virginia General Assembly to a 16-member redistricting commission comprising eight state legislators and eight citizens. 

What does the constitutional amendment propose? 

Under the amendment, the commission would draft the maps and the Virginia General Assembly would vote either to approve or reject them. The Virginia General Assembly would be prohibited from amending the maps. If the Virginia General Assembly were to reject a map, the redistricting commission would draft a new one. If the second map is rejected, the state supreme court would enact a district map.

Maps would require approval by 12 of 16 (75 percent) commission members, including six of eight legislator-members and six of eight citizen-members. Leaders of the legislature’s two largest political parties would select members to serve on the commission. Based on the current composition of the General Assembly, the commission’s legislative members would include two Senate Democrats, two Senate Republicans, two House Democrats, and two House Republicans. The commission’s eight citizen members would be recommended by legislative leaders and selected by a committee of five retired circuit court judges.

How did the amendment make it to the ballot, and what comes next? 

In order to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, a majority vote in each chamber, in two successive legislative sessions, is required. In 2019, the House and Senate, with Republican majorities, approved the amendment. Democrats won control of both legislative chambers in November 2019. This year, the Senate approved the amendment 38-2. In the House, nine Democrats and all 45 Republicans voted to advance the amendment; 46 Democrats voted against the amendment. In November, a simple majority vote is required to enact the constitutional amendment. 

For more information on the support and opposition arguments on this amendment, click here

For more information about the legislative process that put the amendment on the ballot, click here.

Are other states considering similar measures this year? 

This is the first ballot measure certified for 2020 related to redistricting. Measures might also be on the ballot in Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Oregon. In 2018, five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah — voted on initiatives to alter redistricting procedures or establish redistricting commissions. Voters approved all of them.

Ballot access requirements for U.S. Senate candidates in 2020 

Thirty-three seats in the United States Senate are up for election in 2020. How do prospective candidates get on the ballot in their respective states?

Generally speaking, a candidate must pay a filing fee, submit petition signatures, or both in order to appear on the ballot. Filing requirements vary from state to state. Filing requirements also vary according to a candidate’s partisan affiliation. Candidates of the major political parties are sometimes subject to different filing requirements than unaffiliated candidates. 

Petition signature requirements exist on a broad spectrum. For example, Kentucky requires partisan primary candidates to submit two petition signatures (candidates are also liable for a $500 filing fee). This petition requirement is the lowest in the nation for Senate candidates in 2020. By contrast, Texas requires unaffiliated candidates to submit 83,717 petition signatures, 1 percent of all votes cast for governor in the last election. This petition requirement is the highest in the nation. 

Filing fees are similarly variable. Kansas requires unaffiliated candidates to pay a $20 administrative fee. This fee is the smallest in the nation for Senate candidates in 2020. By contrast, Arkansas Republican candidates are liable for a $20,000 filing fee, a larger filing fee than that imposed in any other state this cycle.    

We have compiled complete filing requirements for major-party and unaffiliated Senate candidates in 2020. To peruse the data, click here

Legislation tracking 

Redistricting legislation

The map below shows which states have taken up redistricting policy legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of March 9, 2020

Electoral systems legislation

The map below shows which states have taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of March 9, 2020

Primary systems legislation

The map below shows which states have taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of March 9, 2020



Biden wins MI and three other states, Sanders wins ND

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 11, 2020: Joe Biden won primaries in four states, and Bernie Sanders won North Dakota. Washington is still too close to call. Both candidates canceled rallies Tuesday night in Ohio because of coronavirus concerns. blank    blankblank   


Notable Quote of the Day

“But it’s clear that if [Bernie Sanders] doesn’t pick up more delegates from Biden in the Midwest, he’ll likely find it difficult to find much support elsewhere. The former vice president is poised to pick up huge delegate advantages in the remaining Southern states, like Georgia and Louisiana, due to his strength among African American voters. Florida, another big electoral prize, is projected to be a Biden win.

Though many of Sanders’ supporters say he should stay in the race. After all, there are still over 1,000 delegates up for grabs and soon more progressive states like New York will have the opportunity to weigh in.”

– Alexandra Hutzler, Newsweek

March 10 results

Six states and the Democrats Abroad held events for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

  • Joe Biden was the projected winner in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri. Across all six primaries, he is expected to win at least 184 pledged delegates.

  • Bernie Sanders won North Dakota and is expected to receive at least 115 delegates.

  • Washington is too close to call with 67% of precincts reporting. Sanders and Biden are separated by 0.2%.

  • The Democrats Abroad, which concluded its global primary on Tuesday, are expected to release their results on March 23.

  • President Donald Trump won all Republican primaries. He will finish the night with a cumulative total of least 1,099 delegates. To win the nomination, a candidate needs 1,276 delegates. No other Republican presidential candidate won any delegates last night.

The map below shows the projected winners of the Democratic primaries held yesterday.



The following chart shows the current Democratic delegate scoreboard.



Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio are holding primaries next week with 577 Democratic pledged delegates at stake. A debate between Biden and Sanders is scheduled to take place Sunday, March 15, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Democrats

  • Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders canceled their respective rallies in Cleveland on Tuesday night for public health and safety. It was the first time concerns about the coronavirus led to canceled campaign rallies this election cycle.

  • The Democratic National Committee also announced there will be no live audience at the presidential primary debate in Phoenix on Mar. 15.

  • Biden received nine congressional endorsements from former Michael Bloomberg supporters, including Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), and Scott Peters (Calif.). Former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang also endorsed Biden.

  • Biden was also endorsed by Republican Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor. Sterling Heights is in Macomb County, one of 12 Pivot Counties in Michigan.

  • Tulsi Gabbard attended the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

  • Rep. Mark Takano (Calif.) endorsed Sanders on Tuesday.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump announced he will travel to Milwaukee on Mar. 19 to launch the “Catholics for Trump” coalition.

Flashback: March 11, 2016

Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump, and the National Review backed Ted Cruz.blank

Click here to learn more.



Gov. Cuomo includes donor disclosure requirements in New York state budget proposal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has included amendments to New York’s nonprofit donor disclosure laws in his fiscal year 2021 budget proposal.

Part UU of the executive budget proposes that a nonprofit group disclose the following for any donation of $1,000 or more earmarked to pay, in whole or in part, for political communications: the name and address of the donor, the date and amount of the donation, and a description of any restriction placed on the donation.

The amendments come in response to a federal court order striking down portions of A10742, donor disclosure laws enacted by the state legislature in 2016. On Sept. 30, 2019, Judge Denise Cote, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, struck down Section 172-f of the law, which required nonprofits to disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $1,000 if the nonprofit spent $10,000 or more per calendar year on political communications. Cote wrote, “Section 172-f sweeps far more broadly than any disclosure law that has survived judicial scrutiny.” President Bill Clinton (D) appointed Cote to the court in 1994.

What are the reactions?

  • Jason Conwall, a spokesman for the governor, said, “The public has a right to know who is backing these organizations so voters can better understand the sources for their positions and make decisions with full knowledge of the facts. Everyone supports transparency until it shows up at their own front door. The proposal advanced in the Executive Budget is more narrowly tailored [than the 2016 law] and we are confident it will withstand judicial scrutiny.”
  • Chai Jindasurat, policy director at Nonprofit New York, said, “Donors have legitimate and personal reasons for why they wouldn’t want to be disclosed or labeled [and] why they would want to give anonymously. If it is a problem, we’re happy to try and figure out a way to address transparency for all types of nonprofits. We just don’t know if it’s actually an issue.”

What comes next? Cuomo’s proposal is part of the larger budgeting process. With the governor having submitted his executive budget proposal, it now falls to the state legislature to assemble and adopt a final budget. The governor can execute line-item vetoes on the budget adopted by the legislature. New York’s new fiscal year begins April 1. Negotiations between lawmakers and the governor are currently ongoing. New York is a Democratic trifecta; Democrats hold the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 45 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map March 9, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart March 9, 2020.png

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

Disclosure Digest partisan chart March 9, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

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

  • Connecticut HB05406: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for independent expenditures supporting or opposing incumbents before they form committees.
    • House Government Administration and Elections hearing scheduled March 6.
    • Committee sponsorship.
  • Connecticut HB05410: This bill would increase disclosure of independent expenditures and prohibit such expenditures by foreign-influenced entities.
    • House Government Administration and Elections hearing scheduled March 6.
    • Committee sponsorship.
  • New Hampshire HB1525: This bill would alter the definition of a political advocacy organization for the purposes of campaign finance reporting.
    • House Election Law Committee approved March 4.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
  • Oklahoma SB1491: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Senate approved March 3. First House reading March 4.
    • Republican sponsorship.
  • Virginia SB979: This bill extends the applicability of the state’s campaign finance disclosure act to candidates for directors or soil and water conservation districts.
    • House approved March 7 (Senate approved Jan. 27) .
    • Republican sponsorship.


Six states and Democrats Abroad hold primaries, 365 pledged delegates at stake

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 10, 2020: Six states and the Democrats Abroad are holding primaries on Tuesday. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are campaigning in Cleveland.        

 Poll Spotlight

Notable Quote of the Day

“Sanders ran well in rural Michigan and won 73 of the state’s 83 counties in 2016. He has strong support among Arab Americans and young voters, who joined a crowd of over 10,000 that rallied for him on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Sunday. Yet, his struggles with African Americans and suburban women — groups expected to turn out in large numbers, especially in populous southeastern Michigan — could sound the death knell for him.

Biden maintains a double-digit lead over Sanders in each of the last three post-Super Tuesday polls out of Michigan. But both campaigns are well aware that polling also showed Sanders losing big in 2016 just prior to his victory.”

– Maya King, Politico

March 10 primaries

Six states are holding primary events on Tuesday:

There are 352 Democratic pledged delegates at stake across these six states. Another 13 pledged delegates will be allocated from the Democrats Abroad, which concludes its weeklong global primary on March 10.

Democrats

  • Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (Fla.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Hank Johnson (Ga.) endorsed Joe Biden.
  • Biden campaigned in Michigan on Monday, including holding a rally in Detroit with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. He is holding a campaign rally in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
  • Rufus Gifford, the finance director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, has reached out to more than 700 bundlers for Biden.
  • Tulsi Gabbard criticized the Democratic National Committee’s debate criteria in an interview on Fox News.
  • Bernie Sanders is holding a rally in Cleveland on Tuesday night, one week before the primary in Ohio. On Monday, he held a public health roundtable in Detroit on the coronavirus.
  • Working Families Party endorsed Sanders on Monday.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump held a fundraiser in Longwood, Florida, that raised $4 million on Monday. His campaign postponed a “Women for Trump” bus tour through Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: March 10, 2016

Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump participated in a Republican primary debate on CNN.

Click here to learn more.



Booker and Harris endorse Biden

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 9, 2020: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris endorsed Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders will participate in his second town hall on Fox News.

Share the latest from the campaign trail. blank    blankblank   


Which of the following states are tied for the fewest delegates at this year’s Democratic National Convention?

Notable Quote of the Day

“Indeed, major party turnout in Wayne County [in Michigan], which encompasses Detroit and is strongly African American, fell by more than 64,000 votes in 2016 as compared to 2012. That’s especially important since Trump leveled the Democrats’ famed ‘blue wall’ with narrow wins in states that were supposed to comfortably go to Hillary Clinton: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, which he won by just 10,704 votes out more than 4.8 million cast.

Tuesday will be the first test of Democrats’ ability to take them back.”

– Will Weissert and Kat Stafford, Associated Press

Democrats

  • On Friday, the Democratic National Committee announced the criteria for the March 15 primary debate in Phoenix, Arizona. To qualify, a candidate must receive at least 20 percent of the pledged delegates awarded in primary contests up to March 15, the day of the debate. With only two pledged delegates as of Super Tuesday, it is mathematically impossible for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to qualify.

  • Gabbard tweeted about the new requirements, “To keep me off the stage, the DNC again arbitrarily changed the debate qualifications. Previously they changed the qualifications in the OPPOSITE direction so Bloomberg could debate. I ask that you stand w/ me against the DNC’s transparent effort to exclude me from the debates.”

  • Joe Biden made a $12 million ad buy—his largest of the campaign so far—in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio, and digital markets.

  • Former 2020 presidential presidential candidates Cory BookerJohn DelaneyKamala Harris, and Deval Patrick endorsed Biden. He also received more than a dozen endorsements from congressional and state legislators and executives since Friday, including Sen. Tina Smith (Minn.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas).

  • Bernie Sanders is participating in a televised town hall on Fox News, his second on the network, on Monday night.

  • Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Sanders on Sunday at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Detroit Action, a racial and economic justice advocacy group in Michigan, made its first-ever presidential primary endorsement and backed Sanders.

Republicans

  • Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Donald Trump campaign, told reporters on Sunday that the campaign would target Biden on trade and healthcare if he became the Democratic nominee.

  • Trump attended two fundraisers in Florida over the weekend that included more than 1,000 donors.

Flashback: March 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Miami, Florida. The event was hosted by Univision and The Washington Post.blank

Click here to learn more.



Only one U.S. Court of Appeal vacancy

Ballotpedia's Bold Justice

Welcome to the March 9 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. Lost track of the judiciary over Super Tuesday? We’ve got you covered! Catch up on the latest news by following us on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.


We #SCOTUS so you don't have to


Arguments

The Supreme Court justices will not hear arguments this week. The court will next hear arguments on March 23. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.


Opinions

SCOTUS has ruled on one case since our March 2 issue. The court has issued rulings in 12 cases so far this term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific case SCOTUS ruled on since March 2:

  • March 3

    • Kansas v. Garcia was argued before the court on October 16, 2019.

      The case: Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales, and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were convicted of identity theft in Johnson County, Kansas. In each case, prosecutors used Social Security numbers found on I-9 and W-4 employment forms as evidence of identity theft. Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara appealed their convictions, arguing the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) preempted their prosecution. On appeal, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the three convictions.

      The outcome: In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed and remanded the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision, holding the Kansas statutes under which Garcia, Morales, and Ochoa-Lara were convicted “are not expressly preempted.”

      Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Neil Gorsuch joined. Justice Stephen Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan joined.


Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest in March:

  • March 9: 

    • SCOTUS will release orders and/or opinions.

  • March 20: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

  • March 23:

    • SCOTUS will release orders and/or opinions.

    • SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.

  • March 24: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.

  • March 25: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.

  • March 27: SCOTUS will conference.


The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from February 4 to March 2.

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There has been one new judicial vacancy since the January 2020 report. As of March 3, 72 (or 8.3%) of 870 active Article III judicial positions on the courts covered in this report were vacant.

    Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 78 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

  • Nominations: There have been 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.

  • Confirmations: There have been six new confirmations since the January 2020 report.

Vacancy count for March 2, 2020

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.



*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

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 presidential nomination. Nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to March 2.



U.S. Court of Appeals vacancy

Judge E. Grady Jolly assumed senior status on October 3, 2017, creating a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. This is currently the only vacancy on a U.S. Court of Appeal. The last time this occurred was in July 1984, when Judge John Butzner‘s seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was the only vacancy. There is currently no nominee pending to replace Jolly.

As of publication, there are two upcoming Court of Appeals vacancies. Andrew Brasher was already confirmed to succeed Judge Ed Carnes on the 11th Circuit. Carnes is expected to assume senior status on June 30. Judge Thomas Griffith announced he would retire from the court on September 1. There is no nominee pending for Griffith’s seat.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map displays federal district court vacancies as of March 2.



New nominations

President Trump has announced 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.

  • David Dugan, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

  • Iain D. Johnston, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

  • Franklin U. Valderrama, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

  • Christy Wiegand, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

  • Saritha Komatireddy, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

  • Jennifer Rearden, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

  • J. Philip Calabrese, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

  • James Knepp II, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

  • Brett H. Ludwig, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

  • Michael J. Newman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The president has announced 249 Article III judicial nominations since taking office January 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017, 92 in 2018, and 77 in 2019. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.


New confirmations

Between February 4 and March 2, 2020, the Senate confirmed six of the president’s nominees to Article III courts.

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 193 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—138 district court judges, 51 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

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.


Looking ahead


We’ll be back March 23 with a new edition of Bold Justice. 

Click here to learn more.



Florida House of Representatives advances public-sector labor bill

On March 4, the Florida House of Representatives passed legislation that would alter the process by which public-sector workers join, resign from, and pay dues to unions.

What does the bill propose? HB1 would amend Florida’s public-sector labor laws as follows:

  • Requires employees joining unions to sign membership cards. These membership cards must include the following statements:
    • Florida is a right-to-work state.
    • Union membership is not required as a condition of employment.
    • Union membership and automatic payroll deductions for union dues are voluntary.
    • An employee cannot be discriminated against for refusing to join or pay fees to a union.
  • Requires unions to revoke an employee’s membership upon the employee’s written request (unions cannot ask an employee why he or she is resigning).
  • Requires written authorization for automatic payroll deductions for union dues.
  • Provides that dues deduction authorizations are in force, unless revoked by the employee, for three years or until the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement, whichever comes first.
  • Requires employers to verify dues deduction authorizations.

How did the House vote, and what comes next? The House voted 63-52 in favor of the legislation. Republicans cast all 63 yes votes. Forty-four Democrats and eight Republicans voted against the bill. Five members did not vote.

The bill now goes to the Florida State Senate, where it has been assigned to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability, Community Affairs, and Rules committees. A companion bill (SB804) was introduced in the Senate on Jan. 14 and referred to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability, Community Affairs, and Rules committees.

What are the reactions?

  • Support
    • Rep. James Grant (R), the bill’s sponsor, said, “This is about money, not a membership. This is simply a question of whether or not somebody’s paycheck can [have union dues] deducted.”
    • Rep. Josie Tomkow (R), who voted in favor of the bill, said, “HB 1 empowers workers to make decisions about their union membership. Should they want to join the union or leave the union, that decision must be protected and their rights as workers defended.”
    • Vincent Vernuccio, a senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said, “This bill simply protects public employees in Florida. It confirms that they want to be members of the union and they want to pay the union. It ensures that public employers have the necessary information to deduct dues from their paychecks.”
  • Opposition
    • Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D) voted against the legislation, saying, “One of the concerns that I have is potential intimidation. Could you imagine to have to go to your employer, and have to have your employer personally verify that you’ve signed an authorization for a deduction of dues – may create an environment where that type of intimidation can occur?”
    • Rep. Tina Polsky (D) also voted against the bill, saying, “There were teachers, firefighters, policemen, all the people we say we care so much about, all saying that this bill was rather insulting to them. Because they know how to revoke their membership. They know how to sign up for membership and dues.”
    • Stephanie Yocum, president of the Polk Education Association, said, “I describe it as a poor solution to a nonexistent problem because Florida is already a ‘right-to-work’ state, which means that people don’t have to join their union. We’re not beating people over the head to join, and people definitely know how to revoke their membership if they want to.”

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 91 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 March 6, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart March 6, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart March 6, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

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

  • Florida H0001: This bill would require employees who wish to join a union to sign a membership authorization form. It would require unions to revoke an employee’s membership upon his or her written request. It would also require a signed authorization to deduct dues from an employee’s salary.
    • House approved March 4; transmitted to Senate and referred to Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability, Community Affairs, and Rules committees March 5.
    • Republican sponsorship.
  • Maryland HB1134: This bill would grant collective bargaining rights to certain employees of the circuit courts and the District Court of Maryland.
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled March 3.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • New Hampshire SB448: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to certify a union as a bargaining unit’s exclusive representative if that union receives a “majority written authorization.”
    • Senate Commerce Committee hearing scheduled March 3.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Virginia HB582: This bill would repeal the existing prohibition against collective bargaining by public employees.
    • Senate approved substitute bill March 5.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Virginia SB939: This bill would permit local governments to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.
    • House requested conference committee March 3; Senate accepted request March 5.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Washington HB2017: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges.
    • Senate approved March 4.
    • Democratic sponsorship.


Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: February 29-March 6, 2020

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

Notable Quotes of the Week

“But inside the Democratic Party there is a debate not unlike the one that divides the two main parties about the breadth of change that Washington should pursue. The Democrats’ moderate wing, which is now anchored by older black voters in the south, remains deeply skeptical of Sanders-style socialism, while the New New left, powered by young radicals in big cities, is repelled by the incrementalism of Biden.

This divide between Sanders’s and Biden’s bases might not be easily bridgeable, and if a clear delegate winner fails to emerge, the party’s convention in Milwaukee could be as messy as anything since 1968, when supporters of anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy took to the streets to protest the establishment-led victory of vice president Hubert Humphrey. How the eventual nominee wins the nod, and how he (or she) handles the inevitable bruised feelings in the other camp, will matter more this year than it has in decades.”

– Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent for Politico 

“Biden’s rise is owed first and foremost to an overwhelming wave of support from black voters — bigger even than some early polls in this race suggested it might be.

Biden parlayed House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) endorsement into a bigger-than-expected win Saturday in South Carolina, where black voters were 57 percent of the electorate and favored Biden 4 to 1 over Sanders. Then black voters essentially delivered Biden a big sweep of the South on Tuesday. They delivered a large chunk of the vote, and they went for Biden 57 percent to 17 percent. Perhaps most significant, they gave Biden Texas, where 6 in 10 black voters supported him and provided his narrow win. …

There is a narrative about how the Democratic establishment has come to Biden’s rescue. What really happened is that African Americans did.”

– Aaron BlakeThe Washington Post

Week in Review

Biden wins 10 Super Tuesday primaries, Sanders wins four

Fourteen states and American Samoa held primary events for the presidential nomination on Super Tuesday. Here are the results:

  • Donald Trump won in all 13 states holding Republican primaries on Super Tuesday.
  • Joe Biden won ten Democratic primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. He is projected to receive at least 584 pledged delegates.
  • Bernie Sanders won four Democratic primaries in California, Colorado, Utah, and Vermont. He is projected to receive at least 503 pledged delegates.
  • Michael Bloomberg won the Democratic caucus in American Samoa.

The following chart shows the pledged delegate allocation over time so far.

The map below shows the winners of the Democratic primaries held on Super Tuesday.

Bidens wins all 46 counties in South Carolina Democratic primary

Joe Biden headed into Super Tuesday with momentum after winning the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary on Saturday. Biden won the popular vote in all 46 counties in South Carolina and 39 of the state’s 54 pledged delegates.

Bernie Sanders, the second-place finisher with 20% of the vote, received 15 pledged delegates.

Democratic presidential field drops from 8 to 3 candidates

Five candidates left the Democratic presidential primary following the South Carolina and Super Tuesday primaries.

Tom Steyer ended his presidential campaign on Saturday after placing third in the South Carolina Democratic primary. He said in a speech to supporters, “I said if I didn’t see a path to winning, that I’d suspend my campaign. And honestly, I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.”

Pete Buttigieg ended his presidential campaign on Sunday night. He said, “We have a responsibility to concede the effect of remaining in this race any further. Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.” He endorsed Joe Biden on Monday.

Amy Klobuchar ended her campaign on Monday and endorsed Biden. She is campaigning for him over the weekend in Detroit, Southfield, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Following Super Tuesday, Michael Bloomberg ended his presidential campaign and also endorsed Biden. He said in a statement, “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

Elizabeth Warren ended her presidential campaign on Thursday. She declined to endorse another candidate.

Trump and RNC raise $86 million, Weld says he will continue in race

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee jointly raised $86 million in February. Trump held a campaign rally in North Carolina on Monday and spoke at the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit on Wednesday.

Trump spoke at his first televised town hall of the 2020 election cycle in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. The event was hosted by Fox News.

In an interview with ReasonBill Weld said he would remain in the race after Super Tuesday. “Steve Bannon said that if the president loses four percent of the traditional Republican vote, he cannot be re-elected. If that’s true, that’s a marker I can meet,” Weld said.

The next Democratic primary debate on March 15

CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper and Univision’s Jorge Ramos will moderate the eleventh Democratic primary debate on March 15 in Phoenix. Debate qualifications have not yet been released, but the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is expected to raise the delegate threshold.

“We have two more debates—of course the threshold will go up. By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated. The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has,” DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

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

René Spellman is a Democratic staffer with experience in political communications and organizational management. Spellman graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science and human biology. She previously worked on Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, national director of surrogates, traveling press, and press logistics
  • 2016 Jim Barksdale (D-Ga.) U.S. Senate campaign, campaign manager
  • 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign, senior advisor for youth
  • 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, youth vote director

Other experience:

  • 2018-present: People For the American Way, board member
  • 2017-2019: Creative Artists Agency, executive
  • 2014: Mtheory LLC, vice president of local marketing
  • 2012-2014: MWWPR, vice president of entertainment and corporate communications
  • 2009-2012: Political appointee
    • The White House Council for Community Solutions, advisor and deputy to the executive director
    • Corporation for National and Community Service
    • U.S. Department of Education
    • Presidential Inaugural Committee, ticketing and credentials
  • 2006-2007: National Music Business Association for Students, founding director of marketing

What We’re Reading

Flashback: March 2-6, 2016

  • March 2, 2016: Hillary Clinton announced she had raised $30 million in February 2016.
  • March 3, 2016: Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump participated in the eleventh Republican presidential primary debate in Detroit.
  • March 4, 2016: Donald Trump canceled his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
  • March 5, 2016: Bernie Sanders won primaries in Kansas and Nebraska, and Hillary Clinton won in Louisiana. In the Republican primary, Donald Trump won Kentucky and Louisiana and Ted Cruz won Kansas and Maine.
  • March 6, 2016: Marco Rubio won Puerto Rico’s Republican primary.

Which winning presidential candidate received the smallest share of the popular vote?

Click here to learn more.



Biden wins nine Super Tuesday states, at least 399 pledged delegates

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 4, 2020: Joe Biden won nine of the 14 Super Tuesday states with one race still too close to call. He will be allocated at least 399 pledged delegates. Bernie Sanders will receive at least 322 delegates.        

Notable Quote of the Day

“Biden’s rise is owed first and foremost to an overwhelming wave of support from black voters — bigger even than some early polls in this race suggested it might be.

Biden parlayed House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) endorsement into a bigger-than-expected win Saturday in South Carolina, where black voters were 57 percent of the electorate and favored Biden 4 to 1 over Sanders. Then black voters essentially delivered Biden a big sweep of the South on Tuesday. They delivered a large chunk of the vote, and they went for Biden 57 percent to 17 percent. Perhaps most significant, they gave Biden Texas, where 6 in 10 black voters supported him and provided his narrow win. …

There is a narrative about how the Democratic establishment has come to Biden’s rescue. What really happened is that African Americans did.”

– Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

Super Tuesday results

Fourteen states and American Samoa held events for the presidential nomination on Super Tuesday. Here are the results:

  • Donald Trump won in all 13 states holding Republican primaries on Super Tuesday.
  • Joe Biden was the winner of nine Democratic primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
  • Bernie Sanders won four Democratic primaries in California, Colorado, Utah, and Vermont.
  • Michael Bloomberg won the Democratic caucus in American Samoa.
  • With 81% of precincts reporting, the race is too close to call in Maine. Biden leads Sanders by 1,345 votes.
  • One-third of Democratic pledged delegates—1,344—were at stake on Super Tuesday. Biden won at least 399 of those delegates. Sanders won at least 322. Bloomberg picked up 44, Elizabeth Warren 42, and Tulsi Gabbard 1. There are 536 delegates that still need to be allocated.

The following chart shows the pledged delegate leaderboard so far.

The map below shows the winners of the Democratic primaries held yesterday.

Democrats

  • Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, and Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper endorsed Joe Biden. He began airing a new ad, “It’s Time,” featuring Amy Klobuchar’s endorsement.
  • Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday morning that he expected his only path to the Democratic nomination would be through a contested convention.
  • Tulsi Gabbard criticized media coverage on Fox News that did not name her as a candidate still in the race.
  • A county judge denied Bernie Sanders’ campaign’s request to keep polling locations in Los Angeles open for two additional hours because of technical issues at some sites.
  • Elizabeth Warren announced on Tuesday night that she planned to campaign in Michigan, Arizona, and Idaho in the coming days.

Republicans

  • The Donald Trump campaign filed a lawsuit against The Washington Post for defamation, citing two articles on alleged Russian assistance to Trump’s campaign.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: March 4, 2016

Donald Trump canceled his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Click here to learn more.



Bloomberg ends presidential campaign, endorses Biden

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 5, 2020: Michael Bloomberg ended his presidential campaign and endorsed Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders launched a new campaign ad featuring clips of former President Barack Obama. blank    blankblank   


Notable Quote of the Day

“Then came South Carolina.

Biden’s initial struggles were part of Bloomberg’s rationale for getting into the race in the first place. That strategy looked smart as Biden faltered through the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada. But when the former vice president ran away with the South Carolina primary, it set off a chain of events that ultimately left Bloomberg with no real path to the nomination.

Within 48 hours of his resounding win, money and endorsements poured into the Biden campaign. And the field suddenly cleared. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out and threw their support his way in an Avengers-like pair of events in Dallas.

In the eyes of multiple top Bloomberg aides, that was the turning point. A resurgent Biden undercut their candidate’s entire rationale for entering the race.”

– Dan Merica, CNN

Democrats

  • The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is expected to raise the delegate threshold for the March 15 debate, although specific criteria have not yet been released. “We have two more debates—of course the threshold will go up. By the time we have the March debate, almost 2,000 delegates will be allocated. The threshold will reflect where we are in the race, as it always has,” DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said.

  • Joe Biden was endorsed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Reps. Ted Deutch (Fla.), Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), Kathy Castor (Fla.), Lois Frankel (Fla.), Andy Kim (N.J.), Robin Kelly (Ill.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), and Bill Foster (Ill.) on Wednesday.

  • Biden issued a $125 billion plan to address the opioid crisis, which includes expanding treatment services and raising taxes on pharmaceutical company profits.

  • Michael Bloomberg ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday and endorsed Biden. He said in a statement, “I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden.”

  • A federal judge dismissed Tulsi Gabbard’s free speech infringement lawsuit against Google on Wednesday.

  • Bernie Sanders launched a new ad featuring clips of former President Barack Obama praising Sanders. Sanders will campaign in Jackson, Mississippi, on Friday.

  • Elizabeth Warren is “talking to her team to assess the path forward” after not placing in the top two in any Super Tuesday state, Reuters reported on Wednesday. She is scheduled to hold a town hall in Lansing, Michigan, on Friday.

Republicans

Flashback: March 5, 2016

Bernie Sanders won primaries in Kansas and Nebraska, and Hillary Clinton won in Louisiana. In the Republican primary, Donald Trump won Kentucky and Louisiana and Ted Cruz won Kansas and Maine.blank

Click here to learn more.



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