Steyer qualifies for January debate with double-digit showing in S.C. and Nevada

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 10, 2020: Six candidates have qualified for Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate. Donald Trump focused on the economy, the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Democratic primary candidates at his rally in Ohio.        

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

Daily Presidential News Briefing, Staffer Spotlight - Gabrielle Farrell

Gabrielle Farrell is a Democratic staffer with experience in political communication. She previously worked as press secretary on Warren’s 2018 U.S. Senate campaign. Farrell received a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in 2012 and a master’s from Northeastern University in 2017.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2018 Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) U.S. Senate campaign, press secretary
  • 2017 Martin Walsh (Mass.) Boston mayoral campaign, press secretary

Other experience:

  • 2018: New Hampshire Democratic Party, director of communications
  • 2016-2017: Boston Public Schools, deputy chief of staff, communications
  • 2014-2016: Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh
    • 2015-2016: Associate press secretary
    • 2014-2015: Press assistant
  • 2012-2014: Project Bread
    • 2013-2014: External affairs associate
    • 2012-2013: Communications associate


Notable Quote of the Day

“With Iowa very much up for grabs — no single Democrat has emerged as a dominant front-runner here — the state’s small but growing population of Latinos is getting unprecedented attention. … In party caucuses where fewer than 172,000 people voted in the last presidential cycle, the Democratic candidates figure that driving up turnout even modestly among the roughly 80,000 eligible Iowa Latinos could tip the balance.”

– Evan Halper, The San Diego Union-Tribune


  • Six candidates have qualified for Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary debateJoe BidenPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie SandersTom Steyer, and Elizabeth Warren. Steyer qualified late Thursday after two Fox News polls in South Carolina and Nevada showed him at 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Friday is the final day to qualify.
  • Michael Bennet is campaigning in South Carolina on Saturday.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed Biden on Thursday and will serve as his national campaign co-chair. Biden will campaign in Nevada on Friday and Saturday.
  • Michael Bloomberg is taking a bus tour of Texas with events scheduled Saturday and Sunday in San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas.
  • Buttigieg released his $1 trillion infrastructure plan focused on transportation, clean water supplies, and broadband internet. He is campaigning in Des Moines on Sunday.
  • John Delaney and Sanders are expected to attend a presidential forum on immigration, education, environmental issues, and justice in Des Moines on Sunday.
  • Tulsi Gabbard discussed her vote to pass the War Powers Resolution—which states that the president cannot take further military action in Iran without congressional approval—in a livestream on Thursday night.
  • Klobuchar will continue to campaign in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday with stops in Fort Dodge and Perry.
  • Deval Patrick is attending forums in Nashua and Dover, New Hampshire, on Friday.
  • Sanders is holding several campaign events in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ro Khanna.
  • Steyer is campaigning in North Carolina on Saturday and Sunday with stops in Durham and Raleigh.
  • Warren is holding campaign events in Iowa with former 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Katie Porter.
  • Marianne Williamson is campaigning in Exeter and Manchester, New Hampshire, over the weekend.
  • Andrew Yang will finish his five-day tour of New Hampshire on Sunday. His staff announced on Thursday that they had unionized.


  • Donald Trump focused on the economy, the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Democratic primary candidates at his rally in Ohio on Thursday night. More than 8,000 people attended the event.
  • Bill Weld is campaigning in Iowa on Friday with stops in Davenport, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: January 10, 2016

White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough said that President Barack Obama would wait until the general election to support a candidate. “We’ll do exactly what has been done in the past, which is when the nominee will be set, then the President will be out there,” McDonough said.

Click here to learn more.

Trump holds first rally this year in Ohio

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 9, 2020: Donald Trump is holding a rally in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday night. Rep. Anthony Brown (Md.) endorsed Pete Buttigieg.        

 State Spotlight

Notable Quote of the Day

“In the new year, with the caucuses rapidly approaching, no candidate (save for Delaney) is embarking on an Iowa-or-bust strategy. Back in 2008, between Dec. 1 and the caucuses on Jan. 3, the top candidates spent at least 23 of the campaign’s final 34 days in Iowa. But this month, Buttigieg isn’t scheduled to return until Jan. 12, and in the meantime has spent three days in the Super Tuesday state of Texas. After a couple of days in Iowa at the start of the year, Klobuchar went to Nevada and New Hampshire. Sanders left last Sunday and won’t be back until this Saturday. For the first half of the month, Warren is campaigning in the state only on the weekends, while last Tuesday she held a rally with Julián Castro in New York. Biden hasn’t been to Iowa since Sunday, relying for now on a bus tour of surrogates.”

– Bill Scher, Politico


  • Wolf Blitzer, Abby Phillip, and Brianne Pfannenstiel will moderate Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate. The deadline to qualify for the debate is Friday.
  • Michael Bennet will speak at the College of Charleston’s “Bully Pulpit Series” in South Carolina on Friday.
  • Joe Biden released several digital ads focused on gun violence as part of a $4 million advertising campaign in Iowa. Biden is attending a fundraiser in California co-hosted by former Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Lou Correa, among others.
  • Michael Bloomberg delivered a speech about his jobs plan in Chicago on Wednesday.
  • Cory Booker discussed the impeachment trial and his presidential campaign in an interview on the Associated Press’ Ground Game podcast.
  • Rep. Anthony Brown (Md.) endorsed Pete Buttigieg on Thursday. Brown, the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to back Buttigieg, will serve as his campaign’s first national co-chair. Buttigieg also held a rally in Denver on Wednesday.
  • Tulsi Gabbard discussed the killing of Qasem Soleimani and Iranian missile strikes on CNN and Fox News on Wednesday. She opened a new campaign office in Manchester, New Hampshire.
  • Amy Klobuchar is holding a town hall in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Friday.
  • Deval Patrick is campaigning in New Hampshire on Thursday with stops in Hanover and Milford.
  • Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed in The Des Moines Register about his campaign’s fundraising approach and economic policies. Sanders is holding town halls in Iowa on Friday.
  • Tom Steyer is holding town halls in New Hampshire on Thursday. He spoke about climate change, young voters, and race relations in an interview with Blavity Politics.
  • Elizabeth Warren is building her Georgia campaign, hiring six senior staffers in and around Atlanta this week. She answered reader questions in a video segment for Elle.
  • Marianne Williamson is speaking at a candidate forum on faith and politics in Des Moines on Thursday.
  • In an appearance on The ViewAndrew Yang said he would leave the power to declare war to Congress.


  • Donald Trump will hold his first campaign rally of the year in Toledo, Ohio, on Thursday night.
  • The Des Moines Register editorial board interviewed Bill Weld about Iran, the Republican Party, and the Democratic primary on Wednesday.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: January 9, 2016

Ed Brookover, a former national field director for the Republican National Committee, replaced Barry Bennett as Ben Carson’s campaign manager.

Click here to learn more.

Bloomberg, Trump each spend $10 million on Super Bowl ads

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 8, 2020: Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump have each reportedly spent $10 million on Super Bowl ads. Democratic presidential candidates react to the Iranian missile attacks on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. soldiers.        

Notable Quote of the Day

“More Democratic voters are commenting on and questioning candidates more about the U.S. strike killing Qassem Soleimani than they did about the impeachment vote in December, the CBS News Political Unit is finding. Voters tell CBS that the deployment of troops and fears of Iranian retaliation impact their daily lives more than the immediate results of an impeachment trial.

Following the strike against Soleimani, voters at candidate town halls over the weekend asked more questions about foreign policy than they did about impeachment at the town halls that took place during the weekend in September after the opening of the impeachment proceedings against President Trump and during the weekend after the House voted on the articles of impeachment.”

– Caitlin Conant, CBS News



  • Donald Trump is spending $10 million on 60 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
  • Joe Walsh spoke about his campaign and new bookF*ck Silence: Calling Trump Out for the Cultish, Moronic, Authoritarian Con Man He Is, in an interview with New York Magazine.
  • Bill Weld will campaign in Iowa on Wednesday, holding events in Nevada, Newton, and Des Moines.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: January 8, 2016

Politico reported polling showed that Donald Trump’s based extended beyond “conservative, blue-collar men … to pro-choice Republicans, independents and even registered Democrats unnerved, primarily, by illegal immigration.”

Click here to learn more.

A look ahead at ranked-choice voting in 2020

A look ahead at ranked-choice voting in 2020

Voters in Alaska and Massachusetts may weigh in on ballot measures that would implement ranked-choice voting for state-level and congressional offices.

Alaska: The ballot measure, an indirect initiated state statute, would establish ranked-choice voting for all general elections conducted in the state. The measure would also establish a top-four primary system for all state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices.

  • Supporters must submit 28,501 petition signatures in order to qualify the measure. Petition signatures must be filed prior to the start of the 2020 legislative session, which is set to begin on Jan .21. If the initiative is certified, the state legislature can directly approve it or equivalent legislation, thereby keeping the measure off the ballot. If the legislature does not act, the initiative will appear on the ballot. A simple majority of voters must approve the measure in order to enact it into law.

Massachusetts: The ballot measure, an indirect initiated state statute, would establish ranked-choice voting for both primary and general elections for statewide, state legislative, and congressional offices.

  • Proponents submitted 111,268 petition signatures in order to qualify the measure. On Dec. 4, 2019, William Galvin, secretary of the commonwealth, announced that his office had verified that more than 80,239 of these signatures were valid, thereby meeting the requirements for certification. The legislature has until May 5, 2020, to approve the measure itself and forgo placing it on the ballot for voter approval. If the legislature declines to act, proponents will need to submit an additional 13,374 signatures by July 1, 2020, in order to place the measure on the Nov. 3, 2020, ballot. A simple majority of voters must approve the measure in order to enact it into law.

How many jurisdictions have adopted ranked-choice voting? One state (Maine) has implemented ranked-choice voting at the state level. Local governments in nine states have implemented ranked-choice voting at some level. Local governments in another four states have adopted but have not yet implemented ranked-choice voting. See the map and table below for further details.

Ranked-choice voting map
Ranked-choice voting map


Federal judge blocks North Carolina voter ID law 

On Dec. 31, 2019, Judge Loretta Biggs, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, prohibited North Carolina officials from enforcing the state’s voter identification law.

What is at issue? On Nov. 6, 2018, North Carolinians approved a state constitutional amendment establishing a photo identification requirement for voters. The state legislature, with Republican majorities in both chambers, approved implementing legislation (SB 824) in December of that year, overriding Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto. The state chapter of the NAACP, in tandem with several local NAACP affiliates, filed suit, alleging that provisions of SB 824 constituted “the effective denial of the franchise and dilution of [African American and Latino] voting strength,” violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

How did the court rule? In the opinion ordering the injunction, Biggs, an Obama appointee, wrote, “Plaintiffs have satisfied each element required to support the issuance of a preliminary injunction with respect to their claims that S.B. 824’s voter-ID (both in-person and absentee) and ballot-challenge provisions were impermissibly motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent. Those provisions will be enjoined pending trial. In contrast, the evidence in the record does not sufficiently demonstrate that S.B. 824’s provision expanding the number of at-large poll workers allotted to both political parties warrants an injunction at this time.”

What are the responses? Dr. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina NAACP, said, “The Federal Court made it crystal clear that racial discrimination will not stand in North Carolina in its decision today to intervene to halt this illegal photo voter ID impediment-the latest bad faith attempt in a string of failed efforts by the NC General Assembly to place hurdles in the path of the right to vote of African Americans and Latinos in this state, and to diminish the force of the true will of the people.”

Republican State Sen. Phil Berger opposed the ruling: “It is absolutely ridiculous that the judge would accuse the bill sponsors – including an African American Democrat – of being racist. The voters saw the need for voter ID and approved the constitutional amendment. The legislature, acting on the will of the people, enacted one of the broadest voter ID laws in the nation. Now this lawsuit, and last-minute ruling, have sowed additional discord and confusion about the voting process.”

What comes next? Biggs’ Dec. 31 order is not a final ruling on the merits. Biggs’ order prevents election officials from enforcing voter identification requirements pending resolution of the case. It is unclear whether an appeal will be made to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2019 population estimates, foreshadowing post-2020 apportionment 

Last month, the United States Census Bureau released population estimates for 2019. Although these number are not final, they can function as a bellwether for changes in congressional apportionment that might result from the 2020 census.

Projected changes in congressional reapportionment
Projected changes in congressional reapportionment

According to several commentators, including Reid WilsonWilliam H. Frey, and Louis Jacobson, 10 states – Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia – might lose congressional seats in the coming apportionment cycle. Seven states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas – might gain seats.

  • Of the 10 states poised to lose congressional seats …
    • Nine are expected to lose one seat a piece. One state – New York – might lose two.
    • Democrats have the majority of seats in the current U.S. House delegations for California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island. Republicans, meanwhile, hold the majority of seats in the current delegations for Alabama, Ohio, and West Virginia. Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
  • Of the seven states poised to gain congressional seats …
    • Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon are likely to gain one seat each. Florida is likely to gain two, and Texas might pick up three.
    • Democrats have the majority of seats in the current U.S. House delegations for Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon. Republicans, meanwhile, hold the majority of seats in the current delegations for Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Texas.

Ballot access requirements for gubernatorial candidates in 2020 

Eleven states will hold gubernatorial elections in 2020. How do prospective candidates get on the ballot in their respective states?

Generally speaking, a candidate must either pay a filing fee or submit petition signatures in order to have his or her name printed on the ballot. In states like Montana and Utah a candidate must do both.

The table below details filing requirements for both partisan and unaffiliated gubernatorial candidates in 2020. Where petition signatures are required, ratios expressing those requirements as percentages of state population are provided to facilitate comparisons.

Ballot access requirements for gubernatorial candidates 2020
Ballot access requirements for gubernatorial candidates 2020

Legislation tracking 

Redistricting legislation: The map below shows which states having 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 Jan. 5, 2020

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020
Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020

Electoral systems legislation: The map below shows which states having 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 Jan. 5, 2020

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020
Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020

Primary systems legislation: The map below shows which states having 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 Jan. 5, 2020

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020
Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020

Bloomberg expands campaign to 800 staffers

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 7, 2020: Michael Bloomberg has more than 800 organizers and staff members across the country. Julián Castro endorsed Elizabeth Warren.

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (CBS News/YouGov • Iowa • Dec. 27, 2019 - Jan. 3, 2020)
Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (CBS News/YouGov • New Hampshire • Dec. 27, 2019 - Jan. 3, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“In 2020, [Georgetown University professor Michael Kazin] says any Democrat who wins the nomination needs to reach the 8% to 10% of swing voters. The nominee can try to reach these voters by adopting an ‘effective message’ criticizing how Trump has not helped Americans and a ‘unifying message’ that tells people their interests will be served, he says. ‘I’m not quite sure what message is going to be the most effective one, but I am sure that a Democrat who wins the nomination will not just be able to talk to their base because their base isn’t large enough to win the Electoral College,’ he says. ‘Might be large enough to win the popular vote but probably not large enough to win the Electoral College.’”

– Jeremy Hobson and Allison Hagan, WBUR


  • Michael Bennet released his first digital ad in a new series called “Just the Truth” about his family history and immigration.

  • Surrogates for Joe Biden—including former Secretary of State John Kerry, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman Emanuel Cleaver II—are beginning a weeklong “We Know Joe” tour of Iowa.

  • Michael Bloomberg has hired 500 organizers and staff members in more than 30 states across the country. Another 300 staffers work at his national headquarters in New York City. He also released a new ad, “Judge Him,” featuring judge Judy Sheindlin.

  • Cory Booker is airing a new ad in Iowa called “Rise” as part of a six-figure ad buy. He canceled events in Iowa on Wednesday to attend a congressional briefing on Iran.

  • Pete Buttigieg attended a private fundraiser in Houston on Monday. He also released four different ads in each early voting state focused on Buttigieg’s military service (New Hampshire), mayoral tenure (South Carolina), healthcare (Nevada), and economic inequality (Iowa).

  • John Delaney discussed Iran in an interview on Iowa local television Monday.

  • Tulsi Gabbard continues her “New Year Tour” of New Hampshire with a town hall in Tilton.

  • Amy Klobuchar will speak at the College Convention 2020 in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

  • Deval Patrick made a six-figure television and digital ad buy across Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. In the spot, “Not Too Late,” Patrick said he entered the race late because of his wife’s cancer diagnosis.

  • Tom Steyer is holding a town hall in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Wednesday.

  • Julián Castro endorsed Elizabeth Warren on Monday. Warren is hosting an event with Castro on Tuesday in Brooklyn.

  • Marianne Williamson said on Monday that she had a skeletal staff with five or six people on the payroll. Her former campaign manager, Patricia Ewing, said everyone had been laid off.

  • Andrew Yang is holding a town hall in New Hampshire on Wednesday.


Flashback: January 7, 2016

Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary Clinton, marking the first-ever presidential primary endorsement from the organization.

Click here to learn more.

Trump and Sanders top fourth-quarter fundraising


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 6, 2020: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders raised the most money in the fourth quarter of 2019. Julían Castro ended his presidential campaign on Thursday.


Four states are tied for the most Democratic wins in presidential elections since 1900. Which of the following is not one of them?

Notable Quote of the Day

Notable Quote of the Day
“But past presidential cycles may well look more predictable in hindsight than they were in real time. …

For example, few look back on 2012 as a highly suspenseful cycle. But eight years ago, it was far from clear that Obama would win a second term. In mid-December 2011, his approval in the Gallup Poll was just 42%, 3 points lower than the latest Trump reading in the Gallup this month.

Back then, on the Republican side, half a dozen contenders topped the polls for at least a week or two late in 2011 and it took months to winnow the field. The nomination fell to Mitt Romney, who ran a creditable race and had a plausible scenario for winning through October. On election night, his staff was so confident that they did not even prepare a concession speech in case he lost.”

– Ron Elving, NPR News

Q4 Fundraising

Year-end financial reports are due Jan. 31 to the Federal Election Commission. Several candidates have released their fourth-quarter numbers early:

  • Sanders: $34.5 million

  • Buttigieg: $24.7 million

  • Biden: $22.7 million

  • Warren: $21.2 million

  • Yang: $16.5 million

  • Klobuchar: $11.4 million

  • Booker: $6.6 million

  • Gabbard: $3.4 million

Trump topped all Democrats, bringing in $46 million in the fourth quarter. This total surpasses Barack Obama’s fourth-quarter haul in 2011 by $4 million.


  • Michael Bennet introduced his “Real Deal” platform, a $6 trillion plan providing universal pre-K, expanding the Child Tax Credit, establishing a public healthcare option called Medicare X, and a public-private partnership to address climate change.

  • Rep. Abby Fineknauer (Iowa) endorsed Joe Biden on Thursday. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan and Conor Lamb—both from battleground districts in Pennsylvania—and Elaine Luria (Va.) also endorsed Biden on Sunday.

  • Michael Bloomberg did not file to participate in the Nevada caucuses, reflecting his previously announced plan to skip the early primary states. He campaigned in North Carolina on Friday.

  • Cory Booker made a six-figure ad buy in Iowa for a clip called “He Will Win.” He campaigned in South Carolina on Friday and Saturday.

  • Pete Buttigieg completed his four-day tour of New Hampshire on Saturday with stops in Manchester and Franklin.

  • Julián Castro ended his presidential campaign on Thursday. “I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run together,” Castro said in a video statement. “We’ve shaped the conversation on so many important issues in this race, stood up for the most vulnerable people and given a voice to those who are often forgotten.”

  • John Delaney is continuing his monthlong tour of Iowa on Monday with stops in Arnolds Park and Mason City.

  • Tulsi Gabbard began a “New Year Tour” of New Hampshire on Thursday. It will run through Jan. 9 and include stops in Warner, Grantham, Hanover, and other cities.

  • Amy Klobuchar released a new statewide ad in Iowa and New Hampshire called “What It Takes.” She campaigned in Nevada on Saturday with stops in Minden, Reno, and Las Vegas.

  • Deval Patrick hired Wyatt Ronan as his state director in New Hampshire. He is campaigning in South Carolina on Monday and Tuesday.

  • Bernie Sanders finished his weeklong tour of Iowa on Saturday.

  • Tom Steyer hired Jeff Berman, who served as delegate adviser to the 2008 Obama and 2016 Clinton presidential campaigns, as a senior adviser.

  • Elizabeth Warren hosted town halls in Iowa on Saturday and Monday. She said on Friday that she will vote for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

  • Marianne Williamson laid off her staff nationally on Thursday. She said in a statement, “I am not suspending my candidacy, however; a campaign not having a huge war chest should not be what determines its fate.”

  • Andrew Yang launched a write-in campaign to appear on the Ohio Democratic primary ballot on Monday. He is finishing a four-day tour of Iowa on Monday.


  • Donald Trump said on Friday that he authorized the strike that killed Iran’s security and intelligence services commander Qasem Soleimani.

  • Joe Walsh did not file to appear on the primary ballot in his home state of Illinois. His campaign said it was focusing its resources on Iowa and New Hampshire.

  • Bill Weld spoke on CNN on Sunday about Trump’s Iran policy.

Flashback: January 6, 2016

Gary Johnson, who previously served as the Republican governor of New Mexico, announced he was running for the Libertarian nomination for president.blank

Click here to learn more.

Justice Kavanaugh open to reviving the nondelegation doctrine

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

This edition:

In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we report on Justice Kavanaugh’s interest in reviving the nondelegation doctrine; the latest figures in the Trump administration’s 2-for-1 deregulatory policy; a summit hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the need to reform the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); rulemaking and due process reforms at the U.S. Department of Transportation; and the lifting of multiple injunctions against the administration’s rules for determining the admissibility of aliens who are likely to become dependent on public assistance.

At the state level, we review an unusual request for a smaller budget from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and the New Hampshire governor’s challenge to a federal rule requiring the state to change its highway exit signs. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 150 proposed rules and 245 final rules published in the Federal Register in November and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs‘ (OIRA) regulatory review activity.

The Checks and Balances Letter

Key readings.jpg

In Washington

Justice Kavanaugh open to reviving the nondelegation doctrine

What’s the story? In a statement published with the United States Supreme Court’s November 25 orders, Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that Justice Neil Gorsuch’s analysis of the nondelegation doctrine—the constitutional principle forbidding Congress from delegating its legislative powers to the executive—in Gundy v. United States last term “may warrant further consideration in future cases.”
Kavanaugh had not yet joined the court when the conservative justices commented on reviving the nondelegation doctrine in Gundy. His comments suggest that there is now a conservative majority willing to reconsider the doctrine.
Kavanaugh’s statement followed the court’s decision to not hear Ronald W. Paul v. United States, which raised the same issue of statutory interpretation that the court resolved in Gundy. The issue concerns whether the Constitution allows Congress to delegate authority to the U.S. attorney general to retroactively require mandatory sex offender registration without providing explicit guidance on the use of that power.
Want to go deeper?

Trump administration 2-for-1 deregulatory goal in 2019

What’s the story? The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) issued its final 2019 fiscal year report on the results of the Trump administration’s 2-to-1 executive order, which requires agencies to eliminate two significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.
In 2019, OIRA reported that agencies issued 61 significant deregulatory actions (those eliminating significant regulations) and 35 significant regulatory actions for a ratio of 1.7-to-1—just shy of the administration’s 2-to-1 goal.
President Donald Trump (R) instituted the 2-to-1 policy in January 2017 via Executive Order 13771. At the end of the 2017 fiscal year, OIRA reported a ratio of 22-to-1. Following the 2018 fiscal year, OIRA reported a ratio of 4-to-1
The latest 2-to-1 report followed the release of the Fall 2019 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions in late November.
Want to go deeper?

DOJ hosts summit on APA’s contribution to the administrative state

What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on December 6 hosted federal lawmakers, staff, and administrative law experts to consider whether the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) is contributing to the expansion of the administrative state and how the APA should be reformed.
Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen delivered the keynote address in which he asserted that “regulation is now our principal form of lawmaking.” He also stated that the increase of informal rulemaking since the 1970s has contributed to the expansion of the administrative state.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco also addressed the gathering, pointing out that informal rulemaking constitutes agency end-runs around judicial review. He also spoke of the potential for codifying Trump’s regulatory reforms, and highlighted recent legislative proposals to reform the APA, such as expanding hybrid and formal rulemaking, increasing the use of cost-benefit analysis, and broadening the scope of judicial review.
Want to go deeper?

DOT rule on rules

What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on December 5 finalized a rule—dubbed “the rule on rules”—that changes the department’s rulemaking, guidance, and regulatory enforcement practices.
The new rule “enhances the department’s regulatory process by providing greater transparency and strengthening due process in enforcement actions,” according to a statement issued by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
The rule incorporates President Trump’s 2-for-1 regulatory policy (from Executive Order 13771) and the regulatory reform task force (from Executive Order 13777) into the department’s rulemaking practices. The rule also incorporates Trump’s October executive order prohibiting the imposition of regulations through guidance documents.
The rule also aims to strengthen due process protections in the department’s enforcement proceedings by ensuring that proceedings are free from bias, in part by ensuring that enforcement personnel are free from financial or personal interests that could affect the outcome of the enforcement action; that final decisions are well-documented; and that penalties are reasonable, among other changes.
Want to go deeper?

9th Circuit lifts injunctions against public charge rule

What’s the story? A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit voted 2-1 on December 5 to lift injunctions issued by federal judges in California and Washington that had blocked a Trump administration rule detailing how agencies are to determine the admissibility of aliens who are likely to become “public charges” (e.g., dependent on public assistance).
The ruling stated that the public charge rule is a reasonable interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Judges Jay Bybee and Sandra Ikuta, both appointed by George W. Bush (R), wrote that the “public charge” phrase “is subject to multiple interpretations, it in fact has been interpreted differently, and the Executive Branch has been afforded the discretion to interpret it.”
Judge John Owens, appointed by Barack Obama (D), dissented, stating that he would have preferred for the court to have had more time to conduct an in-depth review of the policy. He also called out Congress for failing to pass immigration legislation that could have avoided the injunctions, and beseeched legislators to take a more active role in addressing immigration.
A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on December 9 followed suit by lifting a separate injunction by a 2-1 vote.
One additional nationwide injunction blocking the rule is currently on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
Want to go deeper?

In the states

Oklahoma health department request for lower budget confuses legislators

What’s the story? Commissioner Gary Cox of Oklahoma’s Department of Health recently asked state legislators to reduce state funding for the 2021 fiscal year by 1.5%, or roughly $4.5 million. (The department’s complete 2021 budget proposal, including federal funds, totals $427 million.)
Cox’s request resulted in confusion among legislators, some of whom called the proposal counterintuitive and claimed that agencies rarely seek reduced funding. “In my nine years here, this is the first agency that has come to a committee meeting I’ve been a part of and asked for less money,” said state Senator Frank Simpson (R).
Cox told legislators that the proposal aims to reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary and duplicative jobs. The cost savings would be directed toward improving department efficiency by hiring nurses, health educators, and other health department employees.
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New Hampshire governor opposes federal highway edict

What’s the story? New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu on November 27 said that the state should refuse to implement a 2009 federal regulation that requires highway exit numbers to correspond with mileage markers.
New Hampshire, Delaware, and Massachusetts are the only three states that have yet to fully comply with the federal mandate.
Sununu argued that local businesses who use the state’s sequential exit numbers in their marketing campaigns would incur hefty costs to change their marketing materials; that GPS has made mileage-based systems irrelevant; and that New Hampshire citizens have an emotional connection to their local highway exit signs.
“I don’t know about you, but I love the fact that I grew up as an Exit 3 kid in Salem,” said Sununu via Twitter. “Exit numbers are a point of pride for some of us in NH, and we shouldn’t let Washington bureaucrats threaten to take that away!”
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation estimated that the change would cost $1 million.
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Suppressing dissent in commissions

Attorney Todd Phillips, writing in the November 11th Notice & Comment blog (of the Yale Journal on Regulation) expresses concern over the potential supression of dissent on government commissions. The issue presented itself, he said, in a recent opinion by Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging the release of statements by members of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. According to Judge Easterbrook, “every member of the Commission has a right to publish an explanation of his or her vote,” but only because of a statute specific to the CFTC.
But what of commissioners for whom no such specific statute exists?
According to Phillips,
“Administrative law currently does not have a good way of dealing with commission minorities and ensuring they are able to articulate their concerns with the actions of the majority. Perhaps it should.”
Click here to read the full post.

Regulatory Tally

Federal Register

  • The Federal Register in November reached 65,906 pages. The number of pages at the end of each November during the Obama administration (2009-2016) averaged 73,485 pages.
  • The November Federal Register included 150 proposed rules and 245 final rules. These included amended Venezuela sanctions, changes to the recruitment requirements for H-2B foreign workers, and the removal of the Colorado butterfly plant from the endangered species list due to its recovery, among others.
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Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s October regulatory review activity included:
  • Review of 46 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 47 significant regulatory actions each November.
  • Approved three proposed rules without changes.
  • Recommended changes to 42 proposed rules.
  • Agencies withdrew one rule from the review process.
  • As of December 17, 2019, the OIRA website listed 135 regulatory actions under review.
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Warren fundraising down in fourth quarter by 30 percent

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
December 30, 2019: Elizabeth Warren has raised $17 million in the fourth quarter so far, down from more than $24 million in the third quarter. Chris Myers, executive director of the California Democratic Party, will step down from that role to lead Bloomberg’s campaign in California.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail. Happy New Year! We’ll return to our regular Daily Presidential News Briefing schedule on Monday, January 6.

Notable Quote of the Day

“‘Florida has become the familiar stomping grounds for candidate’s third cousins, spouses, and siblings,’ political strategist Screven Watson joked about this year’s election cycle so far. But he predicts that candidates will be forced to eat their political vegetables and spend more time in the Sunshine State in coming months.

‘When it becomes showtime, Florida is too important to blow off,’ said Watson, an unaffiliated Democrat. ‘Like the annual trip to the dentist, they will begrudgingly show up.’”

–  Screven Watson, Democratic political consultant


  • Michael Bennet will begin a weeklong tour of New Hampshire on Dec. 30.

  • Joe Biden released the names of more than 200 donors who had raised $25,000 or more for his campaign. He will campaign in New Hampshire Dec. 29-30 and return to Iowa for a four-day trip from Jan. 2.-6. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD Pac, endorsed Biden.

  • Michael Bloomberg announced he will open a Texas headquarters in Houston and 16 field offices across the state. He also will relocate his national headquarters to Times Square. On Dec. 24, Bloomberg said his campaign had ended its relationship with a company that used prison labor to make calls for the campaign. Chris Myers, executive director of the California Democratic Party, will step down from that role to lead Bloomberg’s campaign in California.

  • Cory Booker will spend the New Year holidays in Iowa with events on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 before campaigning in New Hampshire Jan. 2-3.

  • Pete Buttigieg campaigned in Iowa Dec. 28-30. He will make a four-day visit to New Hampshire beginning Jan. 2. The campaign announced a fundraising contest for the lowest unique donation on Dec. 24.

  • Julián Castro spent the holidays with his family in Texas.

  • John Delaney will begin a monthlong tour of Iowa on Jan. 3.

  • Tulsi Gabbard continues her campaign visit to New Hampshire through Jan. 1.

  • Amy Klobuchar completed her tour of all 99 counties in Iowa on Dec. 27. She doubled her operation in Iowa and now has nearly 80 staffers across the state. She will campaign in New Hampshire Dec. 29-31.

  • Deval Patrick campaigned in Chicago on Saturday. He did not qualify for the Michigan primary ballot after failing to collect the necessary number of valid signatures.

  • Bernie Sanders will hold town halls and holiday events in Iowa Dec. 29 through Jan. 5.

  • Tom Steyer is kicking off his five-day “People Over Profits” bus tour of Iowa on Jan 1. He will open his first campaign office in California in Fresno on Monday.

  • Elizabeth Warren will host a town hall in New Hampshire on Jan. 2. The Warren campaign announced in an email to supporters on Dec. 27 that her campaign had raised $17 million in the fourth quarter so far, marking a 30 percent drop from the previous quarter.

  • Marianne Williamson will continue to campaign in Iowa on Monday. She will speak at the Author Incubator in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 1.

  • Andrew Yang campaigned in South Carolina on Dec. 26-27. He participated in an interview on MSNBC on Dec. 27 after refusing to go on the network for weeks because he said it omitted him from parts of its coverage.


  • The Donald Trump campaign launched a website providing supporters with arguments defending Trump against liberal relatives during the holiday season.

Flashback: December 30, 2015

Marco Rubio missed the most votes of any senator—35 percent—followed by fellow 2016 presidential candidates Lindsey Graham, at 28 percent, and Ted Cruz, at 24 percent.

Click here to learn more.

Two nonprofit groups challenge Rhode Island donor disclosure law

On Nov. 21, 2019, two nonprofit groups – the Gaspee Project and the Illinois Opportunity Project – filed suit in U.S. District Court, alleging that a Rhode Island law requiring issue advocacy groups to disclose personal information about their donors to the public violates donors’ free-speech and privacy rights.

Who are the parties to the suit? The plaintiffs are two nonprofit groups: the Gaspee Project and the Illinois Opportunity Project, both 501(c)(4) organizations subject to the challenged law. They are represented by the Liberty Justice Center. The defendants are Diane Mederos, Stephen Erickson, Jennifer Johnson, Richard Pierce, Isadore Ramos, David Sholes, and William West, all members of the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

What is at issue? The law in question (H7859, enacted in 2012) requires issue advocacy groups to disclose to the public personal information about their donors who contribute more than $1,000. Groups must report the donor’s name, job title, employer, home address, and donation amount. This information is then posted to a government website. The law also requires that, in the weeks leading up to an election, groups publish the names of their top five contributors on any advertising or messages.

What are the arguments? Daniel R. Suhr, an attorney for the Liberty Justice Center, said, “This case is about freedom of speech and association. We think the marketplace of ideas operates best when we have the most robust conversation and people can controversial things without fear of retaliation. From the beginning of our nation, our country has had a proud tradition of anonymous speech in the public square. And that stems from a commitment to focusing on ideas, rather than who is paying for the message.”

Austin Graham, legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which supports the Rhode Island law, said, “It’s about providing voters with more information to fully evaluate political advertising and messaging, which in turn allows them to fully participate in the democratic process. It’s the marketplace of ideas. Informed decisions in the political marketplace, like the economic marketplace, depend on the free flow of information about sources of political messages supporting or opposing candidates.”

Have other courts ruled on the constitutionality of similar laws? On Sept. 30, Judge Denise Cote, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 2016 law requiring 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) groups to disclose personal information about their donors in select circumstances. Under the New York law, 501(c)(3) groups were required to disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $2,500 in a calendar year if the 501(c)(3) group made in-kind contributions to a 501(c)(4) group that engaged in lobbying activity. 501(c)(4) groups were required to disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $1,000 if the 501(c)(4) group spent $10,000 or more per calendar year on covered communications (i.e., communications that advocate for or against an identified elected official).

On Oct. 2., Judge Brian R. Martinotti, of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, enjoined the state from enforcing its donor disclosure law, adopted on June 17, while litigation is underway. Under the New Jersey law, 501(c)(4) and 527 entities that spend $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about the outcome of any election or policy proposal must disclose the identities of their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.

Case information: The case name and number are Gaspee Project et al. v Mederos et al., 1:19-cv-00609. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The presiding judge is Mary McElroy, who was appointed to the court by Donald Trump (R).

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 74 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 December 23, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart December 23, 2019.png

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

Disclosure Digest partisan chart December 23, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.

Department of Labor proposes rule requiring mid-level public-sector unions to disclose finances

On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a regulation that would require mid-level public-sector unions (i.e., state, regional, or district affiliates of national-level unions) to disclose their finances to the federal government if their parent organizations represent private-sector workers.

What are the current regulations? Since 2010, mid-level unions representing public-sector employees exclusively have not been subject to federal financial reporting requirements, even if their parent unions do represent some private-sector workers. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act requires all unions representing private-sector workers to file regular financial disclosure reports with the U.S. Department of Labor.

What is the proposed regulation? The proposed regulation would restore a 2003 rule that required intermediate public-sector union affiliates to disclose their finances if their parent unions represented some private-sector workers. The 2003 rule was enacted by the Bush administration and later rescinded by the Obama administration. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the proposal would result in expanded disclosure filings by mid-level affiliates of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the International Association of Firefighters. Membership and financial figures for these unions are as follows:

What are the reactions?

  • In July 2018, the Department of Labor indicated it was considering the rule change. At that time, NEA general counsel Alice O’Brien said, “Given the strength of the pedigree of the current rule, any attempt by DOL to proceed with the proposed rule would be another attack on unions by this administration.”
  • Also in July 2018, Glenn Spencer, vice president of employment policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “The [Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act] is meant to be construed broadly and it’s meant to extend coverage as widely as possible.”

What comes next? The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 17. The Department of Labor will accept public comments on the proposal until Feb. 18, 2020.

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 107 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 December 20, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart December 20, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart December 20, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.