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Two weeks to Tampa mayoral race

Seven candidates are running in the March 5 election for Tampa’s open mayoral seat. Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) is term-limited and unable to run for re-election. Transportation and congestion relief are the major issues in this race.

Mayoral elections in Tampa are officially nonpartisan, though candidates are typically members of a political party. Tampa’s mayor is one of 18 Democratic mayorships up for election in 2019, with Republicans and independents each holding another four. No matter who wins the Tampa race, control of the city will not change partisan hands—FOX 13 says that all candidates identify as members of the Democratic Party.

The most recent polling by St. Pete Polls showed former police chief Jane Castor leading philanthropist David Straz 45-13. Four other candidates in the race polled between 6 percent and 9 percent. As of Jan. 22, Straz has raised $1.6 million while Castor has raised $222,000. Ed Turanchik has raised $215,000.

If no candidate receives a majority in the election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will take place April 23. The last time the city had an open seat mayor’s race was 2011. Five candidates ran and a runoff was required.

Obama-Obama-Trump pivot counties in 2018 U.S. House elections

There are 206 pivot counties in the country: those that voted for Barack Obama (D) in both 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
What happened in those counties in the 2018 elections for the U.S. House?
Democratic U.S. House candidates won 113 (55 percent) pivot counties and Republican candidates won 93.
Overall, Democratic candidates won by an average 12.3 percent margin while Republican candidates won their counties by an average 10.1 percent margin.
In counties won by a Democrat, the Republican candidate’s share of the vote was an average 21 percentage points lower than Trump’s in 2016. In counties where a Republican candidate won, their share of the vote was an average 6.9 percentage points lower than Trump’s in 2016.
Twelve congressional districts that intersect with a pivot county changed party control in 2018: 10 from Republican to Democratic, and two from Democratic to Republican.
Those districts were…
  • Republican to Democrat: FL-26, IA-1, IA-3, ME-2, MN-2, NJ-2, NM-2, NY-19, NY-22, SC-1.
  • Democrat to Republican: MN-1, MN-8.
 Across all 435 districts, Republicans lost a net of 40 of their 235 seats (17 percent). In the 203 districts that contain pivot counties, Republicans lost a net of eight of their 66 seats (12 percent).

Virginia General Assembly selects next supreme court justice

On February 14, the Virginia General Assembly appointed Virginia Court of Appeals Judge Teresa M. Chafin to succeed Elizabeth McClanahan on the Virginia Supreme Court. The Senate voted 36-0 and the House voted 97-0. Chafin will join the state supreme court on September 1, 2019. Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have Republican majorities.

Selection of state supreme court justices in Virginia occurs through legislative selection. Judges are selected by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly (the combined House of Delegates and Senate). Supreme court justices serve for 12 years and are subject to reappointment to additional terms by the legislature. Virginia is one of only two states in the country, the other being South Carolina, where judges are selected this way.

Chafin began serving on the Virginia Court of Appeals in May 2012. She was a judge on the 29th Judicial Circuit from 2005 to 2012. She was also a judge on the Tazewell County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court from 2002 to 2005. Chafin received her J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law in 1987.

She is the sister of state Sen. Ben Chafin (R-District 38). Chafin, a member of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, abstained from voting.

Gwyneth Paltrow, school boards, and Los Angeles elections – what they all have common this Tuesday

The deadline to register to vote for elections on March 5, 2019, in California is Tuesday, February 19. In California, residents must register to vote 15 days prior to an election. On March 5, 2019, voters will decide the following races:
– The District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education – This is a special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ref Rodriguez. The term filled by this election expires in December 2020.
– Seven local measures in five cities within Los Angeles County.
— Measure A will determine whether or not a development project by the Arts Club of London on 8920 Sunset Boulevard, which is owned by Gwyneth Paltrow and Arts Club chairman Gary Landesberg, moves forward. It was put on the ballot by through a veto referendum petition backed by Unite Here Local 11, a hospitality industry union.
— The other measures concerning hotel taxes in Manhattan Beach, sales taxes in Glendora, election consolidation in Signal Hill, marijuana taxes in West Hollywood.
– The District 2 seat of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors – Heading into this special election, the board is split 3-3 between members supported by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and those supported by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).
– Local measures concerning the lease of hospital facilities in Palm Drive (Sonoma County) and Coalinga (Fresno County)
Voter registration information is available here. If you miss the voter registration deadline on February 19, you can still register and vote conditionally. More information is available here.

The History of Chicago’s mayoral office: Did you know?

Chicago’s municipal elections are coming up on February 26, and voters in the nation’s third-largest city are surrounded by news stories, campaign finance data, polling numbers, endorsements, and campaign ads. We invite you to take a short break from the news cycle to dive into the history of the city and the mayoral office—doing so will help put the 2019 election in better context (and give you some fun facts to share with friends).
Did you know?
  1. Chicago has hosted more major-party national conventions than any other city at 25. The next most popular spot, Baltimore, held 10.
  2. Chicago voters last elected a Republican mayor in 1927.
  3. In 1933, Mayor Anton Cermak was shot and killed in a failed assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt while the two were meeting in Miami.
  4. Chicago was the nation’s second-largest city from 1890 to 1982. Its population peaked at 3.6 million in the 1950 census. As of 2017, Chicago had 2.7 million residents.
  5. Municipal election turnout was at a high of 82% in 1983 and a low of 33% in 2007.
  6. In 2018, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was responsible for a budget of $8.6 billion, comparable in size to the budget of Iowa.
For more political history on the city and the mayor’s office, including the evolution of the mayor’s powers, the prominence of the Democratic Party in the city, historical elections results, and voter turnout stats, click here.

Major local, national endorsements in the weeks ahead of Chicago mayoral race

Between Feb. 8 and Feb. 13, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and a former vice president endorsed candidates in the February 26 Chicago mayoral race.
On Feb. 13, the Tribune editorial board endorsed Bill Daley. It said in its endorsement, “We’re drawn…toward a candidate who speaks broadly of building Chicago. Toward a native Chicagoan who looks outward to a nation and world that wrongly think they already have Chicago figured out: It’s that glassy, glossy downtown flanked by neighborhoods rife with poverty and crime.”
On Feb. 8, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board endorsed Lori Lightfoot, writing, “More than any of the other 13 mayoral candidates, she has the vision, values, qualifications and policies to be an effective leader for the whole city, from the hedge fund managers to the fast food workers.”
Also on Feb. 8, former Vice President Al Gore (D) endorsed Bill Daley, citing Daley’s positions on climate change. Daley served as U.S. commerce secretary from 1997 to 2000 while Gore was vice president.
Other noteworthy endorsements from the past month:
  1. Crain’s Chicago Business endorsed Daley
  2. Former candidate Dorothy Brown backed Amara Enyia
  3. Illinois Education Association Region 67 endorsed Lightfoot
  4. Illinois Nurses Association backed Susana Mendoza
  5. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards endorsed Toni Preckwinkle
  6. Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison endorsed Willie Wilson (a Democrat)
Click here for a full list of endorsements in the mayoral race compiled by Ballotpedia, and subscribe to The Deep Dish for weekly updates on Chicago’s 2019 elections.

Trump signs bill to fund parts of the government and border barrier; declares state of emergency

President Donald Trump signed a $328 billion spending bill that includes $1.375 billion in funding for barriers on the southern border. He had requested $5.7 billion in wall funding. Trump, because he said he did not get the amount requested, declared a state of emergency on the southern border and directed $8.1 billion to build a border wall.

In a Rose Garden announcement, Trump explained his emergency declaration, saying, “It’s a great thing to do because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized the declaration, saying in a joint statement, “The president’s unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe. The president is not above the law. The Congress cannot let the president shred the Constitution.”

The day before Trump declared a state of emergency, the Senate passed the $328 billion spending bill by a vote of 83-16, and the House passed it by a vote of 300-128.

In the Senate, 42 members of the Democratic caucus and 41 Republicans voted for the bill. Eleven Republicans and five Democrats voted against the bill. 2020 presidential candidates Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) all voted against it. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) also voted against it. The 11 Republicans who voted against the bill were Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Tim Scott (S.C.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.).

In the House, 213 Democrats and 87 Republicans voted for the bill. One hundred and nine Republicans and 19 Democrats voted against the bill.

The package of seven spending bills includes funding for unfunded departments and agencies through September 30, 2019. It also included “$1.375 billion for construction of 55 news miles of physical barrier along Border Patrol’s highest priority locations along the southwest border,” according to a Senate Appropriations Committee summary. This was the same amount of money that was in the 2018 spending bill, according to Politico.

The bill was the result of negotiations that began on January 25, 2019, when members of Congress and Trump reached an agreement to temporarily fund the government while they worked out a larger plan to address immigration and border security.

Federal Register weekly update; highest weekly number of final rules in 2019

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 11 to February 15, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,582 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 4,676 pages. A total of 863 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 707 notices, seven presidential documents, 63 proposed rules, and 86 final rules.
One proposed rule 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 1,236 pages. As of February 15, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 2,430 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 668 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of February 15. 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 more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017.
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.

Nevada governor signs bill to allow state to enforce Question 1—a firearms background checks measure that voters approved in 2016

On February 11, 2019, Senate Bill 143 (SB 143) was introduced into the Nevada State Legislature to amend Question 1 (2016), which was designed to require firearm transfers between unlicensed persons to go through a licensed dealer. Under Question 1, the licensed dealer would contact the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS) to run a background check. According to then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), Question 1 was never enforced because the FBI refused to participate in the background checks.

SB 143 was written to require the state, rather than the FBI, to run background checks on persons who receive a firearm from an unlicensed individual. Question 1, SB 143, and similar types of legislation are often referred to as universal background checks because under such laws transfers between unlicensed persons would join transfers between licensed persons in requiring background checks, with certain exceptions.

The Nevada State Senate voted on SB 143 on February 13, 2019. The vote was 13 to eight, with the chamber’s 13 Democrats voting to support SB 143 and eight Republicans voting to oppose the bill. The Nevada State Assembly voted on February 15, 2019, passing the bill in a vote of 28 to 13. The chamber’s Republicans, along with one Democrat, opposed SB 143, while the remaining 28 Democrats supported the bill.

In Nevada, three years must pass before a ballot initiative can be amended or repealed. Question 1 was added to state code on November 22, 2016; therefore, SB 143 included a provision stating that the bill would take effect on January 2, 2020, which is after the three-year period on November 22, 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson (D-4), after the bill passed both legislative chambers, said, “Background checks are proven to be the best way to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands without compromising the rights of law-abiding citizens.” Sen. Ira Hansen (R-14), who voted against SB 143, stated, “All this is going to do is burden people who are good, ordinary citizens who are going to be doing transactions. No criminal in their right mind is going to go through a background check system before getting a firearm.”

Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed SB 143 on February 15, 2019, saying, “In November 2016, the majority of Nevadans made it clear they wanted us to do more to address gun violence–but for the 829 days since, they’ve been ignored. That finally changes today.” Sisolak was elected on November 6, 2018, succeeding Brian Sandoval (R) as governor, and giving Democrats trifecta control of Nevada.

William Barr sworn in as U.S. attorney general

William Pelham Barr was sworn in as the 85th United States attorney general, marking his second time in the position. Barr was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 54-45. He was sworn in the same day.

Fifty-one Republicans and three Democrats—Sens. Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Krysten Sinema (Ariz.)—voted for Barr. Forty-four members of the Democratic caucus and Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) voted against Barr’s nomination.

President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Barr to the position on December 7, 2018, and he was formally nominated on January 3, 2019. There were 42 days from nomination to confirmation for Barr. The average number of days from nomination to confirmation for Trump administration Cabinet members and Cabinet-rank officials is 36 days.

Barr previously served as the 77th United States attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush from November 1991 to January 1993. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

The only other person to serve as attorney general twice was John J. Crittenden. He served as the 15th and 22nd attorney general from March 1841 to September 1841 and July 1850 to March 1853.