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U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D) announces re-election bid

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D) announced in a tweet on February 7 that he would be running for re-election in 2020. He has represented Arizona’s 1st Congressional District since 2017.

He last won re-election in 2018 when he captured 53.8 percent of the vote to defeat Wendy Rogers (R). A former Flagstaff city council member, Eva Putzova (D), has already announced her bid for O’Halleran’s seat in 2020.

O’Halleran was chosen to serve as the policy co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition in November 2018. In the 116th Congress, he will serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture.

Prior to his election to the U.S. House, O’Halleran served in the Arizona State Senate as a Republican, where he represented District 1 from 2007 to 2009, and in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2001 to 2006. He ran for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in 2016 after leaving the Republican Party in 2014.



Early voting in all 50 Chicago wards started Monday

Chicago residents can vote early right within their wards as of Monday, Feb. 11. Locations are open for early voting seven days a week through Feb. 25, the day before the election. Click the link below to see addresses and hours for locations in all 50 wards.

One early voting location—the Loop Super Site at 175 W. Washington St.—has been open since Jan. 29. The Loop Super Site will remain open for all Chicago voters to cast early ballots through Feb. 25.

The offices of mayor, city treasurer, and city clerk, as well as all 50 city council seats, are on the ballot. A runoff election is scheduled for April 2 for any race in which no candidate received a majority of the vote on Feb. 26.

Important notes from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners:

“Government-issued photo ID is not required but is helpful if there is a question about the registration, address, signature or if there are two voters with the same or similar names at the same address.

Registration services are available at every Early Voting site. NOTE: Any voter who needs to register for the first time or file an address update or a name change must show two forms of ID, one of which shows the voter’s current address.”



Twenty-three state executive offices are on the ballot in 2019. What are they?

Three states are holding state executive elections in 2019—Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Each of them is holding an election for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Other offices up for election include agriculture commissioner (KY, LA, MS), auditor (KY, MS), insurance commissioner (LA, MS), public service commissioner (MS), and treasurer (KY, LA, MS).

In both Kentucky and Mississippi, general elections will be held on November 5. Kentucky’s statewide primary will be May 21, while Mississippi’s primary will be August 6, with a runoff on August 27 if needed. Louisiana will hold a jungle primary on October 12. If no candidate wins a majority of the votes in the primary, a general election will be held on November 16.

Two of the three sitting governors in these states, Matt Bevin (R-KY) and John Bel Edwards (D-LA) are running for re-election. The other, Phil Bryant (R-MS), is prevented from seeking re-election because of term limits. Each of these elections will impact the trifecta status of these states.



One year ago this weekend: Filing deadlines in Indiana and Alabama

This Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the state and federal candidate filing deadlines for Alabama and Indiana’s 2018 elections. Both states played host to high-profile elections last year.

In Indiana, offices up for election in 2018 included one of the state’s seats in the U.S. Senate, all nine of its seats in the U.S. House, three state executive offices, all 100 seats in the state house, and half of the 50 seats in the state senate.

This time last year, we were watching the U.S. Senate race, where state Rep. Mike Braun (R) emerged from a three-candidate primary to mount a successful challenge to incumbent Joe Donnelly (D).

Republican U.S. House primaries were also notable, including the seats left vacant by Senate candidates Luke Messer (R) and Todd Rokita (R). State Rep. Jim Baird (R) defeated six other candidates in the primary and went on to win Rokita’s Lafayette-centered seat over Tobi Beck (D). In Messer’s southeastern Indiana district, businessman Greg Pence (R)—the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence (R)—defeated four opponents in the primary before facing Jeannine Lee Lake (D) in the general election.

In Alabama, all seven U.S. House seats, 13 state executive offices, and all 140 seats in the state legislature were up for election. Alabama’s governor and attorney general had both resigned in 2017, leaving their replacements to defend their seats for the first time. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) defeated four challengers in the primary and secured election to a full term over Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D). Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) defeated three Republican challengers including former Attorney General Troy King (R), who advanced to a runoff. Marshall defeated attorney Joseph Siegelman (D) in the general election.

Ivey’s accession to the governorship left the lieutenant governorship vacant. State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R) won the Republican nomination following a runoff against state Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R). He defeated Will Boyd (D) in the general election. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyn Stuart (R), who had served since the suspension of Roy Moore (R) in 2016, faced a successful primary challenge from Justice Tom Parker (R), who went on to win election to a six-year term.

We also watched the Republican primary in the Mobile-area 2nd Congressional District. Rep. Martha Roby (R) faced four challengers, including Bobby Bright (R), who had represented the district as a Democrat before Roby unseated him in 2010. Roby and Bright advanced to a runoff, which Roby won.

To read more about these elections and the officeholders who are now serving, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Alabama_elections,_2018 and https://ballotpedia.org/Indiana_elections,_2018



Wonder why you’ve been receiving more robo-calls? A 2018 ruling by a federal appellate court has something to do with it

According to a January 29, 2019, report by The Washington Post, Americans received approximately 26.3 billion automated phone calls in 2018, a 46 percent increase over the total number of automated calls received in 2017. The increase can be attributed in part to a federal appellate court ruling that expanded the types of equipment that can be used legally to make automated calls.
 
On March 16, 2018, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its ruling in ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, striking down a rule promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the types of equipment that can be used for making automated phone calls. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), enacted in 1991, granted the FCC the authority to interpret and enforce the law’s restrictions against the use of certain kinds of automated dialing equipment. In 2015, the FCC issued an order that, among other things, classified devices capable of being transformed into automated dialing systems via the installation of apps as devices subject to the restrictions of the TCPA. The court found that this classification metric was overly broad.
 
Judge Srikanth Srinivasan, appointed to the court by Barack Obama (D), wrote the following in the court’s opinion: “The Commission’s understanding would appear to subject ordinary calls from any conventional smartphone to the Act’s coverage, an unreasonably expansive interpretation of the statute.” Srinivasan was joined by Judges Cornelia T. L. Pillard and Harry Edwards, who were appointed to the court by Obama and Jimmy Carter (D), respectively.


Federal Register weekly update; highest 2019 weekly page total to date

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.
 
During the week of February 4 to February 8, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,752 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 3,094 pages. A total of 884 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 760 notices, three presidential documents, 48 proposed rules, and 73 final rules.
 
Four proposed rules and three final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
 
During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 842 pages. As of February 8, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 2,776 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 516 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of February 8. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016: 
 
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.


New Mexico Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of closed primaries

On February 5, 2019, the New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the legality of closed primaries in the state. The initial suit was brought by former attorney general Paul Bardacke (D), who argued that New Mexico’s closed primary process serves private organizations (in this case, political parties) in violation of a state law prohibiting the use of public money to benefit private organizations. The state supreme court did not address this argument in its order, which summarily dismissed the challenge.
 
A closed primary is a type of primary election in which a voter must affiliate formally with a political party in advance of the election date in order to participate in that party’s primary. In 14 states, including New Mexico, at least one political party conducts closed primaries for congressional and state-level offices. In 11 of these states, including New Mexico, all political parties conduct closed primaries. In the 2016 presidential election cycle, political parties in 27 states utilized closed primaries and/or caucuses as part of the presidential nominating process.
 
In New Mexico, state supreme court justices are appointed by the governor, who selects from a list of candidates recommended by a commission. After being appointed, the justice must stand in the next partisan election in order to retain his or her seat.


Speakman wins special Democratic primary for Rhode Island seat, will face current officeholder and two others

On February 5, June Speakman defeated Richard Ruggerio in the special Democratic primary for the Rhode Island House of Representatives District 68 seat. Speakman received 73.6 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election night results. She will face William Hunt Jr. (L) and two independents, Kenneth Marshall and James McCanna III, in the special general election on March 5. No Republican candidates filed for the seat either in the special election or last November’s regular election.
 
On December 5, 2018, Laufton Ascencao (D) announced that he would not take the oath of office for the Rhode Island House of Representatives District 68 seat he had won the previous month. Ascencao admitted that he had lied to local Democratic town committee members about mailing out a six-page political brochure during the election. He also acknowledged creating a fake invoice statement for expenses associated with the mailer, which he said was completed but not in time for it to be published and mailed prior to the election, so there were no actual expenses incurred for it. Ascencao had won the November election with 64 percent of the vote; his only opponent was the Libertarian nominee, William Hunt Jr. His decision not to take office resulted in a special election being called.
 
Marshall currently holds the District 68 seat as a Democratic member. He was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 and 2016; he did not run for re-election last year after acknowledging in July 2018 that he had not reported more than $10,000 in campaign contributions. However, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) decided in December 2018 that Marshall’s term would be extended until the special election had passed.
 
Entering the special election, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has 66 Democrats and nine Republicans. Rhode Island has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.


Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D) passes away at 92

Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D) passed away Thursday at the age of 92. Dingell represented a U.S. House seat near Detroit, Michigan, from 1955 to 2014. He was the longest-serving member U.S. House in American history with nearly 60 years in the chamber. Throughout his tenure, he served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee including several periods as chairman. Dingell was replaced by his wife, Debbie Dingell (D), after retiring ahead of the 2014 elections.



Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearing for DC Circuit nominee Neomi Rao

The United States Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for Neomi Rao, President Trump’s nominee to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on February 5, 2019. Trump nominated Rao to the seat, which was vacated by Brett Kavanaugh following his confirmation to the United States Supreme Court, on November 13, 2018.
 
Prior to the hearing, Rao received a well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association (ABA).
 
Committee members questioned Rao on a variety of topics, including articles she wrote as an undergraduate student concerning sexual assault and feminism as well as her recent work as the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a position she has held since July 2017.
 
As OIRA administrator, Rao has directed the Trump administration’s regulatory review process, clearance and approval of government information collection requests, and oversight of government statistical practices and privacy policies. Since the DC Circuit hears the majority of judicial challenges to administrative actions, Rao stated that she would consider recusing herself from cases concerning regulations issued under the Trump administration on a case-by-case basis when required by court precedent or statutory standards.
 
Prior to joining the Trump administration, Rao worked as an associate professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, where she founded the Center for the Study of the Administrative State. She also served as counsel to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary under U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R), as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and as a special assistant and associate counsel to former President George W. Bush (R).