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House delivers articles of impeachment to Senate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 16, 2020: The U.S. House delivered two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. The Iowa Democratic Party will release three sets of election results following the Feb. 3 caucuses. blank    blankblank   

State Spotlight - Nevada

Notable Quote of the Day

“To better understand which candidates did well or poorly Tuesday night, we plotted how favorably respondents rated the candidates before the debate vs. how debate-watchers rated candidates’ performances afterward — and Elizabeth Warren, in particular, seemed to have a breakout evening according to this metric. She not only received the highest marks for her debate performance, but her scores were high even relative to her pre-debate favorability rating.

That said, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden also received medium-to-high marks for their performances, but because of their relatively high pre-debate favorability ratings, we expected a lot of voters to already be predisposed to viewing their debate performances in a positive light. So while they still did pretty well on the debate stage, they didn’t exceed expectations the way Warren did. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer, on the other hand, tied for the lowest overall debate grades, putting them only barely above where we’d expect them to be given their pre-debate favorability ratings.”

– Aaron Bycoffe, Sarah Frostenson, and Julia Wolfe, FiveThirtyEight



Flashback: January 16, 2016

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz spoke at the South Carolina Tea Party Conference.

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NYT endorses Klobuchar and Warren

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 21, 2020: The New York Times issued a dual endorsement of Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. The Democratic National Committee announced a new delegate threshold for the Feb. 7 debate. blank    blankblank   

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Emerson College • New Jersey • January 16-19, 2020)
Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Emerson College • New Hampshire • January 13-16, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“On average in markets around the country, prices for political TV ads have risen by 20 percent since Bloomberg began his campaign. Meanwhile, some local politicians have already found difficulty trying to reach their own constituencies.

‘I think we might have been one of the first campaigns to experience the “Bloomberg Effect” on prices, but we certainly won’t be the last,’ said Eric Jaye, a California-based media buyer who purchased ads for Sylvester Turner, the just-reelected Democratic mayor of Houston.

The last few weeks of Turner’s campaign overlapped with Bloomberg’s massive November ad buy that covered all of the lower 48 states. His spending in Houston, priced at $1.2 million, spiked ad prices there by 45 percent as the mayoral campaign was finishing up.”

– Maya King, Politico


  • The New York Times issued a dual endorsement of Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren on Sunday. “Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it,” the editorial board wrote.

  • Michael BennetJoe BidenPete ButtigiegJohn DelaneyKlobucharBernie SandersWarren, and Andrew Yang spoke at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum on Monday. VICE News described the event as “the nation’s oldest and only nonpartisan presidential forum dedicated exclusively to addressing issues facing communities of color.”

  • The Democratic National Committee released the criteria to qualify for the eighth primary debate on Feb. 7 in New Hampshire. Candidates need to receive at least one pledged delegate in the Iowa caucuses or meet certain polling and fundraising thresholds similar to the January debate’s requirements. Candidates have until Feb. 6 to qualify. BidenButtigiegKlobucharSandersSteyer, and Warren—all of whom participated in the Jan. 14 debate—have already qualified.

  • Bennet said his campaign had reached its goal of raising $700,000 in a month by Jan. 16. The funds will be used to launch a TV and digital ad campaign in New Hampshire.

  • Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz endorsed Biden.

  • Michael Bloomberg spoke about racial inequities during a speech at the Vernon AME Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Sunday.

  • Buttigieg campaigned in South Carolina on Monday morning, including marching in the King Day at the Dome.

  • Tulsi Gabbard marched in the King Day at the Dome in South Carolina on Monday.

  • Deval Patrick appeared at the NAACP King Day Rally in South Carolina on Monday.

  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) endorsed Sanders on Sunday.

  • Tom Steyer marched in King Day at the Dome in South Carolina on Monday. He also spoke at a criminal justice forum.

  • Iowa Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen endorsed Warren on Saturday. Joe Moody, Texas House speaker pro tem, also endorsed Warren on Tuesday.


Flashback: January 21, 2016

Fergus Cullen, the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, endorsed John Kasich.blank

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Bennet, Klobuchar, Sanders, Warren in D.C. for impeachment trial

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 22, 2020: Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are in Washington, D.C., for the impeachment trial. Four more members of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Joe Biden.blank    blankblank   

Presidential Facebook ads, 2019-2020 (January 13-19, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“The four senators running for the Democratic presidential nomination are leaning heavily on surrogates while they are stuck in Washington serving jury duty on President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

As the Senate trial gets under way in earnest this week, Elizabeth Warren is sending in Representative Ayanna Pressley, Bernie Sanders is putting forward Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Klobuchar is leaning on local officials and Michael Bennet has former Clinton adviser James Carville.

And everyone is sending their spouses.”

– Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg



Flashback: January 22, 2016

National Review released a special edition featuring essays from 22 conservatives opposing Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.blank

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Bernie Sanders leads Democratic pageviews for second consecutive week; Deval Patrick sees biggest increase in pageviews

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers reflect the time investments of our community of thousands of readers who visit a Ballotpedia because they think the candidate is worth knowing more about, whether they believe the candidate has a strong chance of winning or is an unknown who warrants a closer look.

Last week, Bernie Sanders led all Democratic campaigns in pageviews. His campaign page was viewed 3,568 times, equaling 15.5% of pageviews for all Democratic campaigns this week. He was followed by Joe Biden with 11.2% of pageviews and Michael Bloomberg with 10.2%.

Deval Patrick’s campaign received the most pageviews this week relative to last week. His campaign page increased in pageviews by 55.3 percent. Andrew Yang saw the smallest increase in pageviews relative to last week among Democratic candidates with 7.4 percent.

The top three Democratic presidential candidates in lifetime pageviews are Yang with 162,812, Pete Buttigieg with 153,302, and Biden with 146,353.

As in previous weeks, every other Republican candidate led Donald Trump in pageviews. Trump received 1,857 pageviews, while Joe Walsh received 3,537, Roque de la Fuente received 3,233, and Bill Weld received 3,093.

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FTC faces due process challenge to adjudication, administrative law judges

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 3 became the latest federal agency to face a constitutional challenge to its adjudication procedures, including the role of administrative law judges (ALJs). Axon Enterprises Inc. filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona arguing that the FTC’s adjudication procedures vest the agency and its ALJs “with the powers of prosecutor, judge, and jury in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.”

Axon, a police equipment manufacturer, filed the complaint in response to a December order from the FTC blocking the company’s acquisition of Vievu LLC, a competing manufacturer of police body cameras. The FTC claimed in part that Axon’s acquisition of Vievu eliminated competition in the police body camera market. Axon contested the claim and argued that the in-house adjudication procedures used by the FTC to pursue the action are unconstitutional because they subject the company to a “biased administrative proceeding with a preordained result.”

Axon claims that the ALJs of the FTC do not act as neutral decision makers during agency adjudication. Instead, the company argues that the ALJs jointly act as prosecutor, judge, and jury.

Axon’s constitutional challenge to the use of ALJs departs from previous challenges because it centers on due process claims rather than Appointments Clause questions, like the challenges faced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in recent years

In the 2018 United States Supreme Court case Lucia v. SEC, the court held that the SEC’s ALJs are inferior officers (rather than agency employees) who must be appointed by the agency’s commissioners as required by the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. In October, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit stripped administrative patent judges—a position similar to ALJs that is specific to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)—of their for-cause removal protections in order to classify them as inferior officers in accordance with the Appointments Clause.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Adjudication (administrative state)
Federal Trade Commission
Lucia v. SEC

U.S. House passes CRA resolution to block Department of Education student loan rule

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 231 to 180 on January 16 to pass a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block a final rule related to government forgiveness of certain student loan debt. Two hundred and twenty-five Democrats and six Republicans voted to pass the resolution while 179 Republicans and Justin Amash (I-Mich.) voted nay.

The Department of Education (DOE) issued the 146-page rule in September 2019. The rule changed the process students must follow to discharge their loans and empowered the agency to collect money from schools to cover financial losses following successful student challenges. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued in a December press release that the new rule “ensures that taxpayers who did not go to college or who faithfully paid off their student loans do not shoulder student loan costs for those who didn’t suffer harm.”

U.S. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) argued after the U.S. House passed the CRA resolution that the DOE rule “guts essential protections for student borrowers and taxpayers.” He sponsored an identical CRA resolution in the U.S. Senate in September 2019. That resolution has attracted 40 Democratic cosponsors and the two Independent U.S. senators.

The CRA resolution must pass both houses of Congress and receive President Trump’s signature to repeal the rule.

The CRA gives Congress a chance to review and reject any new regulatory rules created by federal administrative agencies. Congress has used the CRA to repeal 17 out of the over 90,767 rules published in the Federal Register since the law’s creation in 1996.

To learn more about the Congressional Review Act and its use, click here.

Want to go further? Sign up today for our Learning Journey on the Congressional Review Act by clicking here.

Additional reading:
Final rule
Federal Register
Betsy DeVos
U.S. Department of Education

Click here to see the roll call vote.

Click here to see the text of the DOE rule.

Lawsuit claims new SNAP work requirements are unlawful

A group of states, the District of Columbia, and New York City filed a lawsuit on January 16 against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit argues that a December 2019 rule violated federal law and arbitrarily reversed decades of policies governing when states could seek waivers from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirements.

The plaintiffs asked the court to apply the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) arbitrary-or-capricious test to block the USDA from implementing the rule. Under that test, courts reviewing agency actions must throw out any that they find to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” The plaintiffs also argued that the USDA failed to allow stakeholders to comment on the rule during the planning process—a potential violation of informal rulemaking requirements.

The USDA rule grants state waivers to SNAP work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents only if the unemployment rate is higher than six percent. In the past, the USDA granted waivers to states with areas of average unemployment 20 percent above the national average. The rule also prevents states from combining areas of high and low unemployment to receive waivers for larger geographic areas.

The USDA proposed the rule in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13828, which directed agencies to strengthen work requirements for work-capable individuals receiving benefits from public assistance programs. The executive order instructed agencies to review regulations and guidance documents to see whether they increased self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility.

To learn more about the Administrative Procedure Act or the arbitrary-or-capricious test, click here. here to learn more.

Additional reading:
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Informal rulemaking 
Executive order

Click here to view the lawsuit.

Click here to see the rule in the Federal Register.

Tester endorses Cooney in MT governor primary

On Saturday, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) endorsed Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney in the Democratic primary for Governor of Montana. Term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) previously endorsed Cooney in October 2019. Whitney Williams also has noteworthy endorsements in this race, from EMILY’s List, former Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau (D), and Missoula Mayor John Engen.

In addition to Conney and Williams, former state Rep. Reilly Neill (D) and state Rep. Casey Schreiner (D) are also running in the June 2 Democratic primary. The filing deadline for this election is March 9, so the field could still change.

The winner of the Democratic primary will compete in the general election on November 3. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, and state Sen. Albert Olszewski are all running in the Republican primary.

Montana is one of 11 states holding gubernatorial elections this year, and the only state where the governor is term-limited. All three major race rating outlets have rated the race a toss-up.

With a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, Montana is currently one of 14 states under divided government. If Republicans win this seat and hold their majorities in the legislature, Montana will become a Republican trifecta. If Democrats hold this seat and win the state legislature, the state will instead become a Democratic trifecta. Across the country, there are currently 21 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas.

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Signatures filed for North Slope oil tax initiative in Alaska

The campaign Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share filed signatures for a ballot initiative to increases taxes on North Slope oil production fields. The taxes would apply to North Slope fields that have a lifetime output of at least 400 million barrels of oil and had a daily output of at least 40,000 barrels during the prior year. As of 2020, three oil production fields—Alpine, Kuparuk, and Prudhoe Bay—met those criteria. The ballot initiative would tax oil production using an alternative gross minimum tax or an additional production tax, whichever is greater for each month and each field.

On January 17, 2020, the campaign filed 44,624 signatures with election officials. At least 28,501 (63.9 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid. Robin Brena, chairperson of Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share, said the campaign had collected enough signatures in 35 state House districts to meet the state’s distribution requirement of 30 House districts. As the ballot initiative is indirect, certification would first send the proposal to the Alaska State Legislature, which would have the chance to approve the proposal outright. Otherwise, the ballot initiative would go before voters at the election on August 18, 2020, or November 3, 2020, depending on when the legislature adjourns this year’s regular session.

The ballot initiative has divided former oil officials who worked under former Gov. Bill Walker (I). Robin Brena, who served as chairperson of Walker’s Transition Subcommittee on Oil and Gas, is leading Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share. Chantal Walsh, a petroleum engineer and former Oil and Gas Division Director for Walker, is leading the opposition campaign OneAlaska. The Alaska Oil and Gas Association, as well as ConocoPhillips Alaska and ExxonMobil, are backing the opposition campaign.

Alaska voters last decided an oil-related ballot measure in August 2014. The measure, which sought to overturn legislation that expanded tax credits to oil companies and made the oil production tax a flat, rather than graduated, rate. The campaign that sought to overturn the legislation raised $488,09, most of which came from businessman BJ Gottstein, and the campaign to uphold the legislation raised $14.22 million, including $3.6 million from BP, $3.6 million from ExxonMobil, and $2.5 million from ConocoPhillips Alaska.

Vote Yes for Alaska’s Fair Share is the second campaign to file signatures for a ballot initiative this cycle. On January 9, 2020, the campaign Alaskans for Better Elections filed 41,068 signatures for a ballot initiative to replace partisan primaries with open top-four primaries and use ranked-choice voting in general elections. The final deadline to file signatures for Alaska ballot initiatives ahead of the 2020 election is January 21, 2020.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Alaska 2020 ballot measures
Alaska Top Four Ranked Choice Voting and Campaign Finance Laws Initiative (2020)
2020 ballot measures

Hunter becomes chair of Federal Election Commission

On January 1, 2020, FEC commissioner Caroline C. Hunter (R) assumed the role of Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairwoman. Hunter is serving her second non-consecutive one year term as FEC Chairwoman and 12th year on the commission.

The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency created by Congress in 1975 to administer and enforce the Federal Elections Campaign Act. The FEC is responsible for disclosing campaign finance information, enforcing limits and prohibitions on contributions, and overseeing the public funding of presidential elections.

The commission is led by six members that are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They each serve six-year terms, with two seats up for appointment every two years. To prevent partisanship, no more than three members can be of the same political party. The chairs of the commission serve one-year terms

After Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen (R) resigned on August 31, the FEC has three members. The minimum number of members that must be present to make the agency’s decisions valid—known as a quorum—is four. The FEC will continue to make campaign finance documents available to the public and issue recommendations regarding campaign finance complaints. However, it will be unable to vote on recommendations until a quorum is established.

All of the FEC’s current members are holdover members of the board, meaning they have served longer than their original six-year term. President Donald J. Trump nominated James E. Trainor III to the commission in 2017 but the nomination was returned to the president at the conclusion of the 115th Congress. There have been no new appointments to the FEC since Trainor’s appointment and no Senate confirmations of new FEC members since Lee E. Goodman and Ann Ravel were confirmed as new FEC members in October 2013.

Before serving as the FEC Chairwoman, Hunter served as the vice-chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, and in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Before working within the government, Hunter served as deputy counsel of the Republican National Committee.

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