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Gillibrand is fifth Democrat this month to suspend presidential campaign


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

August 29, 2019: Kirsten Gillibrand suspended her presidential campaign. Ten candidates have qualified for the third Democratic presidential primary debate in September.

 Daily Presidential News Briefing Poll Highlights (August 24-26, 2019)
Daily Presidential News Briefing Poll Highlights (August 20-25, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“Donald Trump is in general election mode while we’re still in primary mode. We see it in Ohio. He’s absolutely carpet-bombing Ohio online. We’re doing our best to respond.”

– David Pepper, Ohio Democratic Party chair


  • Ten candidates have qualified for the third Democratic presidential primary debatein Houston, Texas, on Sept. 12, 2019: Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

  • Michael Bennet campaign adviser Craig Hughes sent a letter to the Democratic National Committee asking a series of questions about the debate criteria, including why some polling organizations were excluded as qualifiers and why information about future debate requirements had not yet been released.

  • Biden is finishing his two-day tour of South Carolina Thursday.

  • The Police Benevolent Association, which represents the New York City Police Department, voted no confidence in Bill de Blasio and called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to remove him.

  • Booker will campaign in Oklahoma Thursday.

  • Castro will be in Columbia, South Carolina, attending a roundtable on gun violence Thursday.

  • Tulsi Gabbard criticized the debate criteria in an interview on FOX News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.

  • Kirsten Gillibrand suspended her presidential campaign Wednesday. She discussed her decision in an interview with The New York Times.

  • Harris posted a digital ad about her Iowa bus tour as part of a six-figure advertising campaign in the state.

  • Klobuchar spoke about gun violence policy Wednesday during a speech at the Nevada State AFL-CIO Convention.

  • Tim Ryan discussed labor, trauma, and mindfulness in an interview with Lion’s Roar.

  • Tom Steyer hired several new top staffers, including Abdul Henderson as deputy campaign manager for battleground states, Doug Rubin as senior adviser, and Jenna Narayanan as a senior finance adviser.

  • Marianne Williamson is campaigning in South Carolina Thursday.


  • Donald Trump announced that he will make his first reelection campaign trip to the Bay Area on Sept. 17. Mike Pence spoke at the American Legion’s national convention in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

  • In an interview with VoxBill Weld discussed his fiscal and climate policies as differences between him and Trump.

Flashback: August 29, 2015

Donald Trump campaigned in Nashville, Tennessee, where he won a presidential straw poll and spoke at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.



Johnny Isakson announces 2019 retirement

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced his resignation effective December 31, 2019. He cited his health as a reason for the resignation. He is the first senator to announce an early retirement from the 116th Congress and the fifth senator not to run for re-election in 2020. Three other Republicans and one Democratic senator are also not seeking re-election.
Isakson was first elected to the Senate in 2004 to replace retiring incumbent Zell Miller (D). He won re-election campaigns in 2010 and 2016. His seat would have been up for election in 2022.
Under Georgia law, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will appoint a replacement for Isakson until the next general election (November 2020). A special election will be held at that time to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term. Georgia will have two U.S. Senate elections next November because Sen. David Perdue’s (R) seat is also up for its regularly-scheduled election.
Republicans currently hold a 53-member majority in the U.S. Senate. In 2020, Republicans are defending 23 seats while Democrats are defending only 12. Each party is defending two seats that the opposing party’s presidential candidate won in 2016.
Additional reading:

One-vote victory margin challenged in Mississippi State Senate primary

On August 6, Mississippi held its statewide primary. In the Republican primary for the District 50 seat in the state Senate, candidate Scott DeLano’s vote totals initially led his opponent’s, Dixie Newman. After the affidavit ballots were counted, Newman took the lead with one vote. The totals were then certified and the primary was called in favor of Newman, but DeLano contested the results. Following a recount, the results were upheld with the one-vote margin intact.
On August 26, DeLano filed a petition with the Republican County Executive Committee of Harrison County, Mississippi, officially contesting the certified race results. He cited his concern that not all votes cast in the district were counted. DeLano stated his intention to take his case to the circuit court if the committee did not rule on the matter.
After the recount’s results were announced, Newman wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page, “We have now completed the recount of votes and this process has proven there was no tampering with the election and the numbers still have me in the lead. Thank you to our Circuit Clerk, Connie Ladner and her office for conducting a seamless and thorough process. Now, we can all rest assured.”
In District 50, incumbent Tommy Gollott (R) did not file for re-election and retired before the end of his term on July 1, 2019. The filing deadline for candidates passed on March 1, 2019, and the general election for this race was canceled since no Democratic candidates filed to run for the seat. The winner of the Republican primary will automatically win the District 50 seat.
Entering the election, the Mississippi State Senate had 18 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and three vacancies. All 52 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 27 seats. Mississippi has had a Republican trifecta since the beginning of the 2012 legislative session. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
Mississippi is also holding elections for governor and all 122 state House seats in 2019. The general election date is November 5.

Ballotpedia releases federal vacancy count for August

In this month’s federal vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from August 1 to August 28, 2019. Ballotpedia publishes the federal vacancy count on the last Wednesday of each month.
  • Vacancies: There has been one new judicial vacancy since the July 2019 report. There are 103 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 112 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
  • Nominations: There have been six new nominations since the July 2019 report.
  • Confirmations: There have been two new confirmations since the July 2019 report.
New vacancies
There were 103 vacancies out of 870 Article III judicial positions—11.8 percent, 1.3 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in July 2019.
  • The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
  • Four (2.2%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.
  • 97 (14.3%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
  • Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.
A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.
The following judge vacated her active status, creating an Article III life-term judicial vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
  • Judge Rebecca Smith assumed senior status on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
New nominations
President Donald Trump (R) has announced six new nominations since the July 2019 report:
  • Steven Menashi, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
  • Jodi Dishman, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • Karen Marston, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • Richard Myers II, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
  • Sarah Pitlyk, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • Anuraag Singhal, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 199 individuals to Article III positions.
New confirmations
Since July 31, 2019, the United States Senate confirmed two of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of August 28, 2019, the Senate has confirmed 146 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 43 U.S. appeals court judges, 99 U.S. district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges.
  • Miller Baker, confirmed to a seat on the United States Court of International Trade.
  • Timothy Reif, confirmed to a seat on the United States Court of International Trade.
Additional reading:

Kirsten Gillibrand ends presidential campaign

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced she was ending her campaign for the presidency in an interview with The New York Times Wednesday.
In a tweet announcing her withdrawal, Gillibrand said, “I am so proud of this team and all we’ve accomplished. But I think it’s important to know how you can best serve. To our supporters: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Now, let’s go beat Donald Trump and win back the Senate.”
Gillibrand is the seventh noteworthy Democratic candidate to suspend her bid for the presidency this year and the fifth to do so this month. Other August withdrawals include former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
Gillibrand’s withdrawal leaves 20 noteworthy Democrats in the running. As of Monday, there were 277 Democratic presidential candidates registered with the Federal Election Commission.

The Daily Brew: September’s Democratic presidential debate lineup is set

Today’s Brew highlights the latest debate news and previews today’s presidential update webinar + reviews the latest local political news from around the U.S.  
The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, April 29, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ten candidates qualify for September’s Democratic presidential debate
  2. Local Roundup
  3. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announces he’s retiring at the end of 2019

Ten candidates qualify for September’s Democratic presidential debate

The Democratic National Committee announced the 10 candidates who qualified for the party’s third presidential debate in Houston on September 12. They are as follows:

  • Joe Biden
  • Cory Booker
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Julián Castro
  • Kamala Harris
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Andrew Yang

Candidates were required to provide verifiable evidence that they received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. Candidates were also required to have received 2% support or more in four national or early state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada—publicly released between June 28 and August 28. 

Eleven candidates did not qualify for this debate. Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson all achieved the fundraising threshold but did not meet the polling threshold. The other eight candidates—Kirsten Gillibrand, Michal Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Tim Ryan, and Joe Sestak—did not meet either threshold in time to qualify. Gillibrand announced late yesterday that she was ending her presidential campaign.

ABC News and Univision are hosting the debate, which will take place at Texas Southern University. Candidates will have one minute and 15 seconds to answer questions and 45 seconds for rebuttals.

We’re also excited to announce the launch of a brand new Learning Journey on Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in the presidential nominating calendar. Our Learning Journeys give you a series of daily emails with information, examples, and exercises to help you broaden your knowledge of U.S. government and politics. This Learning Journey guides you through the history of why Iowa and New Hampshire are so important in presidential elections and how the results of the early primaries can affect the rest of the presidential election cycle. I’m really looking forward to taking this one myself—click here to get started.

And to catch up on all the presidential news from the past few months, join Emily Aubert and me for today’s quarterly presidential briefing webinar at 11 a.m. Central time. Emily is one of the primary authors of our daily and weekly Presidential News Briefing newsletters and she and I will discuss who’s in and who’s out in both parties, upcoming debates, and how the early state contests are shaping up. You won’t want to miss this as we examine the current state of the 2020 presidential race and what’s likely to happen next. Click the link below to reserve your spot!

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Local Roundup 

At Ballotpedia, we love local elections. We provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers like city clerk and treasurer. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as special districts, county officials, and local ballot measures. With more than 585,000 elected officials nationwide, nearly all elections happen at the hyper-local level.

Here’s a quick summary of the local news we covered this week:


Phoenix residents rejected two citizen initiatives—Propositions 105 and 106—at an August 27 special election. Proposition 105 would have terminated funding for future light rail expansion in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and allocated revenue from the transportation tax towards other infrastructure projects. Proposition 106 would have required the city to limit budget growth and devote a greater portion of its budget to pay down its $4.5 billion pension debt. 

St. Petersburg, Florida

St. Petersburg held primary elections August 27 for three seats on its eight-member city council. Two districts featured incumbents running for re-election and both received a majority of votes in their races. The top two vote recipients in each of the primaries advanced to the general election, which is scheduled for November 5. St. Petersburg is the fifth-largest city in Florida and the 77th-largest city in the U.S. by population. 

Tucson, Arizona

City Councilwoman Regina Romero defeated two other candidates August 27 to win the Democratic mayoral primary. Romero received 50% of the vote and second-place finisher Steve Farley—who endorsed Romero after the primary—had 38%. Romero is vying to be Tucson’s first female mayor and will face independent candidate Edward Ackerley and Green Party write-in candidate Mike Cease in the general election November 5. No Republican candidate filed to run. Incumbent Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D) did not seek a third term.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announces he’s retiring at the end of 2019 

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced yesterday that he was resigning as of the end of 2019 due to health concerns. In a statement, Isakson said, “With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have concluded that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve. It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state.”

He is the first senator to announce his resignation during the 116th Congress and is the fifth senator—four Republicans and one Democrat—not seeking re-election in 2020. 

Fourteen U.S. House members—11 Republicans and three Democrats—have announced they will not seek re-election in 2020. Two—one Republican and one Democrat—are running for seats in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) is running for governor.

Under Georgia law, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will appoint Isakson’s replacement until a special election is held on November 3, 2020, to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term—which would have expired in January 2023. In that special election, all candidates will appear on the ballot regardless of party. If no candidate receives a majority, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff in January 2021. Since the seat currently held by Sen. David Perdue (R) is also up for election, both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot in November 2020. 

Isakson’s announcement comes two days after Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) stated on August 26 that he was resigning in September due to family considerations. On his Facebook page, Duffy said, “With much prayer, I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now.” Upon Duffy’s resignation, a special election will be held to elect a new representative in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District.

Isakson was first elected to the Senate in 2004 to replace retiring incumbent Zell Miller (D). He won re-election campaigns in both 2010 and 2016. 

In 2018, 52 members of the House and three U.S. Senators did not seek re-election. Forty House members and five Senators did not seek re-election in 2016.



In 2018, 88 state legislative races were decided by a margin of 0.5% or less

In 2018, 88 regular state legislative races were decided by margins under 0.5%, including 16 races decided by 10 or fewer votes and two which were decided by a single vote. Eighteen of these races took place in New Hampshire, three times as many as in any other state.
Regular state legislative elections for 6,073 seats in 87 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers took place in 2018.
Across all 6,073 seats, the average margin of victory—defined as the difference between the vote share of the winning candidate and the runner-up—was 25.8%. In comparison, the average margin of victory across the 467 seats in the U.S. Congress that were up for election that year was 29.2% (16.8% across 33 U.S. Senate seats and 30.2% across 434 U.S. House seats).
Across all chambers, the smallest average margin of victory was 7.7% in the South Dakota House of Representatives and the largest was 51.6% in the Tennessee State Senate. The average nationwide margin of victory was higher for Democrats (26.8%) than for Republicans (22.3%).
In 2020, state legislative seats in 4,798 districts which held elections in 2018 will be up for election again. Republicans won seats in 2,454 of those districts in 2018, while Democrats won seats in 2,375. The 2018 elections in these districts were decided by a smaller margin than the overall average (24.9% compared to 25.8% overall). The average margin in the districts where Republicans won was 24.5%, while the average margin in districts where Democrats won was 27.8%.
Of the chambers holding elections again in 2020, the South Dakota House of Representatives had the smallest average margin of victory for Democrats at 1.9%, while the Vermont State Senate had the smallest average margin of victory for Republicans at 4.5%. The largest average margin of victory for Democrats was 55.2% in the New York State Assembly while the largest for Republicans was 40.2% in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

California Assembly passes constitutional amendments to lower the voting age

Since returning from recess on August 12, the state legislature’s lower house has passed two constitutional amendments designed to reduce the voting age. ACA 4 would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in that year’s primaries and special elections. As of August 2019, 16 states allow 17-year-olds who will be at at the time of the next general election to vote in that year’s primaries. Unlike ACA 4, the second constitutional amendment would make California the first state in the nation to not just lower the voting age for primaries but for general elections. ACA 8 would allow 17-year-olds to vote in elections. ACA 4 and ACA 8 could appear on the ballot in March 2020, and ACA 8 could be implemented in time for the general election on November 3, 2020, should voters approve the constitutional amendment.
Both ACA 4 and ACA 8 had the support of most Democrats—56 of 61 to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and 54 of 61 to allow 17-year-olds to vote in all elections. Most Republicans opposed the constitutional amendments—2 of 18 supported allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries and 3 of 18 supported allowing 17-year-olds to vote in all elections. The constitutional amendments needed 53 votes in the Assembly.
According to a California Assembly Floor Analysis, published on August 16, 2019, “Because the US Constitution only addresses abridging the right to vote and this measure expands voting rights there appears to be no conflict with the federal constitution. In an opinion dated April 12, 2004, the Legislative Counsel opined that an amendment to the California Constitution to permit a person under the age of 18 to vote would not violate federal law.”
With approval in the state Assembly, the question of whether ACA 4, ACA 8, or both will go before voters is in the hands of the state Senate. The 40-member state Senate is composed of 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans. At least 27 votes are needed in the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) signature is not required to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.
Between 1995 and 2018, the California State Legislature has asked voters to decide 32 constitutional amendments. Voters approved 84.4 percent of the constitutional amendments.

Trump administration asks U.S. Supreme Court for emergency action on asylum rule

On August 26, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Trump administration to enforce a new asylum rule while a challenge to the rule is working its way through the court system.
What happened?
The solicitor general asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a stay of injunction. If the Supreme Court complies, the Trump administration could deny asylum to people who travel through another country and fail to file for asylum there before applying in the United States. On August 16, the Ninth Circuit had upheld a district court’s injunction, which blocked the rule from going into effect until after courts resolve the cases brought against it. You can read about the Ninth Circuit’s ruling here
In the government’s request for a stay, Francisco argued that the rule involved foreign affairs and was not subject to the notice and comment procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). He argued that if the Supreme Court does not remove the injunction it should at least limit its application to specific people who were injured under the new rule. When the Ninth Circuit upheld the initial injunction, it limited the scope to those states within its jurisdiction.
What comes next?
According to Amy Howe, writing for SCOTUSblog, Justice Elena Kagan handles emergency requests related to cases before the Ninth Circuit. She will decide whether to rule on the government’s request herself or to refer the decision to the full Supreme Court.

President Trump nominates Eugene Scalia to lead U.S. Department of Labor

On August 27, 2019, President Trump nominated lawyer Eugene Scalia to replace Alexander Acosta as secretary of labor.
Who is he?
Scalia is the son of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and handled Labor Department litigation and gave legal advice on rulemakings and administrative law during George W. Bush’s presidency.
According to his law firm biography, Eugene Scalia also served as special assistant to U.S. Attorney General William Barr from 1992 to 1993 and has written over 20 articles and papers on labor, employment, and constitutional law.
What happens next?
After the summer recess, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will vote on Scalia’s nomination. If the committee approves him, then the full Senate will vote on whether to confirm him as the new head of the Department of Labor.