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Democrats now hold 31 districts that Trump won in 2016

The new U.S. Congress is facing divided government, a shutdown, and new leadership priorities under a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. As we move farther from the 2018 elections and closer to 2020, representatives from districts won by the opposite party’s presidential candidate in 2016 will be some of the most fascinating to watch.
 
Republicans ceded ground in Clinton districts—they hold three that she won in 2016, down from 25 before the 2018 elections. The three remaining Republican-held districts are:
 
– New York’s 24th, represented by John Katko
– Pennsylvania’s 1st, represented by Brian Fitzpatrick
– Texas’ 23rd, represented by Will Hurd
 
Democrats also made gains in Trump districts and now hold 31 congressional districts that he won in 2016. They held 13 of those districts before the 2018 elections. The current Democratic districts that Trump won in 2016 are located in the following states:
 
– Arizona
– Georgia
– Illinois
– Iowa
– Maine
– Michigan
– Minnesota
– Nevada
– New Hampshire
– New Jersey
– New Mexico
– New York
– Oklahoma
– Pennsylvania
– South Carolina
– Utah
– Virginia
– Wisconsin
 
Click here to start preparing for 2020 elections in the U.S. House.


Window to file Initiatives to the People in Washington opened on January 5; signatures are due July 5, 2019

January 5 was the first day to file petitions for Initiatives to the People in Washington to start the process; 259,622 signatures are due by July 5 to qualify the initiatives for the 2019 ballot. Ballotpedia checks for new filings daily, so be sure to watch our coverage for updates. As of January 11, no Initiatives to the People had been filed.

Signatures for two Initiatives to the Legislature (the other type of citizen initiative in Washington) were submitted to qualify for consideration by the legislature and then to appear on the November 2019 ballot in Washington if the legislature does not approve them. Sponsors for each initiative submitted around 100,000 more signatures than the number of valid signatures required to qualify.
 
Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct initiated state statute – called Initiative to the People (ITP) – or indirect initiated state statute – called Initiative to the Legislature (ITL). In Washington, citizens also have the power to ask voters to repeal legislation through veto referendum petitions. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments. The Washington State Legislature, however, may place legislatively referred constitutional amendments on the ballot with a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote in each chamber.
 
Initiatives to the Legislature are considered by state legislators if enough signatures are submitted. If the legislature approves the initiative, it is enacted. If the legislature does not approve it, it goes to the voters. The deadline to submit signatures for 2019 Initiatives to the Legislature was January 4. Initiatives to the People go directly to the ballot if enough valid signatures are submitted.

 



Trump makes case for border barrier in televised address; Democratic leadership rejects request

In the televised address from the Oval Office on January 8, 2019, President Donald Trump said that there is a humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border, and he called on members of Congress to allocate $5.7 billion to build a wall or steel barrier to protect the nation. He said, “At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need.”
 
In making his case for the barrier, Trump said that individuals who enter the country without legal permission from the southern border strain public resources and reduce job availability and wages. He also said that some drugs and criminals enter the country through the southern border, harming Americans.
 
In response to those, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who “have suggested a barrier is immoral,” Trump said, “Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.”
 
The address took place on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown. Trump said that he would not sign legislation to reopen the federal government if it did not include border funding.
 
Immediately after Trump’s speech, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), issued a televised response rejecting Trump’s request for a border wall and calling on him to reopen the government. Pelosi said, “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.”
 
Schumer said that Democrats support border security measures, but “disagree with the president about the most effective way to do it.” Schumer also criticized Trump for creating a crisis that he said did not exist. Schumer said, “This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”
 
In his address, Trump did not declare a national emergency over border security, something he is considering if Congress refuses to fund the requested border barrier. “Federal law allows the president to halt military construction projects and divert those funds for the emergency,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Democrats said that they would challenge Trump’s declaration in court if issued.


SCOTUS issues two unanimous opinions

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two unanimous opinions this week – Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc., and Culbertson v. Berryhill. Last term, the justices issued 20 unanimous opinions.
 
In Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc., the court considered a case regarding the Federal Arbitration Act. In his first opinion for the court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh vacated and remanded the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
 
In Culbertson v. Berryhill, the court considered a question concerning Social Security and attorney fees. The court unanimously reversed and remanded the ruling of the Eleventh Circuit Court.
 
The justices have granted cert in 65 cases and have issued decisions in seven of them. They have 26 cases remaining on their argument schedule.


Date set for Pennsylvania State Senate special election

A special election has been called for the District 37 seat of the Pennsylvania State Senate on April 2, 2019. This is the third special state legislative election scheduled in Pennsylvania this year; Pennsylvania House Districts 114 and 190 are up for election on March 12.
 
District 37 was left vacant after its previous officeholder, Guy Reschenthaler (R), was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House on November 6, 2018.
 
Candidates running for special elections in Pennsylvania are selected by their respective political parties. Independent candidates can file a petition with the state to run in a special election. The deadline for party nominations and independent petition filing is February 11, 2019.


Four candidates file to run in Georgia House special election

The candidate filing deadline passed on January 8 for the special election in District 176 of the Georgia House of Representatives. Barbara Griffin (D), Barbara Seidman (D), James Burchett (R), and Franklin Patten (R) filed to run in the special election being held on February 12. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held between the top two candidates on March 12.
 
District 176 became vacant after Jason Shaw (R) was appointed to serve the remainder of H. Doug Everett’s term on the Georgia Public Service Commission, beginning January 1, 2019. Shaw was elected to District 176 in 2010, which was also the only year in which he faced general election opposition. He won in 2010 with 69 percent of the vote.
 
The Georgia House of Representatives currently has 64 Democrats, 112 Republicans, and four vacancies. Another special election is being held in District 5, which has gone to a runoff scheduled for February 5. Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
In 2019, 21 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.


Six candidates file to run in Minnesota State Senate special election

The candidate filing deadline passed on January 8 for the special election in District 11 of the Minnesota State Senate. Michelle Lee and Stu Lourey will face off in the Democratic primary on January 22. Justin Krych, Carl Pederson, Jason Rarick, and Matthias Shir are running in the Republican primary. The general election will take place on February 5.
 
District 11 became vacant when Tony Lourey (D) resigned in January 2019 after Gov. Tim Walz (D) appointed Lourey to serve as human services commissioner. Lourey was elected to District 11 in 2006. He last won re-election in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote. Stu Lourey is his son.
 
The Minnesota State Senate currently has 32 Democrats, 34 Republicans, and one vacancy. Minnesota currently operates under divided government. Republicans control the state senate, Democrats gained control of the state house in the 2018 elections, and the governorship is held by Tim Walz (D).
 
In 2019, 21 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.


Kentucky governor to face at least seven challengers in 2019

Democrats and Republicans are lining up to challenge Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in his 2019 re-election bid. The incumbent closed out 2018 with a 34 percent approval rating—the lowest of any governor who is set to remain in office after the 2018 midterm elections.
 
Four Democratic candidates have announced they are running for governor: Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, and retired engineer Geoff Young.
 
Beshear, the son of Kentucky’s last Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, was the first to announce his candidacy last year. He entered 2019 with the most cash on hand with more than $850,000.
 
Adkins, who has been in the state legislature for three decades, is counting on his eastern Kentucky background and support for coal to appeal to rural voters across the state. Adkins was re-elected to the state legislature in 2016 with 66 percent of the vote, even as his county backed Donald Trump (R) for president.
 
Bevin also faces a challenge from within his own party. State Rep. Robert Goforth announced he was entering the Republican primary with Lawrence County attorney Mike Hogan as his running mate on Tuesday. Goforth is a relative newcomer to politics, having first been elected to serve in the Kentucky House of Representatives in a special election in February 2018.
 
U.S. Rep. James Comer, who lost to Bevin in the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary by 83 votes, also said he would run for the office if Bevin decided not to seek re-election. Although Bevin has repeatedly said he intends to run again, he has not yet filed paperwork to do so.
 
Truck driver Bryan Messenger and manager William Woods are also running in the Republican primary.
 
The filing deadline for candidates is January 29, 2019.


Government shutdown delays comment period for Trump administration’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal

The federal government shutdown has delayed a comment period for a proposed rule that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in December. The rule would replace the Clean Water Act’s definition of “waters of the United States” set by the Obama administration in 2015. The EPA aims to clarify the difference between federally-protected waterways and state-protected waterways, which it says will help landowners determine whether they need a federal permit to do projects on their property. The EPA has decided to wait until Congress funds the agency to begin a 60-day comment period during which the public may submit written feedback about the rule.
 
Proposed rules are preliminary versions of a prospective federal agency regulation. If an agency determines that a new regulation is necessary, the agency develops a proposed rule for publication in the Federal Register. After a period of public comment, the agency may determine to revise the proposed rule, abandon the proposal, or move forward to the final rule stage of the rulemaking process.


Florida governor makes first state supreme court appointment

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed Florida Third District Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa to succeed Fred Lewis on the Florida Supreme Court. Lewis retired from the court on January 7 after reaching the mandatory retirement age. Lagoa is DeSantis’ first appointment to the seven-member court. Her appointment is effective immediately.
 
Lagoa was a judge on the Florida Third District Court of Appeal from 2006 to 2019. She was appointed to the appellate court by Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in June 2006. She worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida from 2003 to 2006.
 
Lagoa graduated from Florida International University in 1989 and received her J.D. from Columbia University in 1992. During her legal studies, Lagoa served on the Columbia Law Review.
 
Retiring Justice Lewis was an associate justice of the Florida Supreme Court from 1998 to 2019. Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) appointed Lewis to the court. He served as chief justice of the court from 2006 to 2008.
 
Two supreme court seats remain vacant following the January 7 retirements of Justices Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente.


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