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Steyer launches $1 million ad campaign in IA, NV, SC


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 11, 2019: Tom Steyer is airing two new ads in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina as part of a $1 million campaign. Joe Walsh and Bill Weld will attend a debate on Sept. 24.

 Daily Presidential News Briefing - Facebook Ad Spending (September 2-8, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“Put another way, if you’re wondering why candidates such as Castro and Booker aren’t gaining more traction despite seemingly having run competent campaigns, the answer may have less to do with them and more to do with the fact that the field has a lot of heavyweights. Biden is a former two-term vice president; Sanders was the runner-up last time and basically built an entire political movement, and Warren and Harris have been regarded as potential frontrunners since virtually the moment that Donald Trump won the White House. The years that produce volatile, topsy-turvy nomination races, such as the 1992 Democratic primary, tend to be those where a lot of top candidates sit out, perhaps because they’re fearful of running against an incumbent with high approval ratings.”

– Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight



  • Donald Trump endorsed Ben Sasse—a Trump critic who opposed his 2016 presidential run—in his Senate reelection campaign.

  • Joe Walsh and Bill Weld will attend a debate on Sept. 24, 2019. A spokesperson said Mark Sanford would attend if a scheduling conflict was resolved. Trump was invited but did not respond. Business Insider will stream the event live.

Flashback: September 11, 2015

Rick Perry became the first noteworthy Republican candidate to suspend his presidential campaign.



Recall efforts against two Colorado state senators end with no signatures submitted

The organizers of recall efforts targeting Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee (D) and state Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D) notified the secretary of state’s office on September 10 that they would not be turning in signatures for either recall effort. Recall organizers had until September 10 to turn 11,304 signatures for the Lee recall and until September 16 to turn in 18,376 signatures for the Pettersen recall. 
Both Sen. Lee and Sen. Pettersen were targeted for recall because of their support of the same four bills during the 2019 legislative session. The legislation was related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education. 
  • The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove firearms from people who were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry. It also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The national popular vote bill was designed to award Colorado’s electoral college votes in the presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote. Polis signed this bill in March 2019.
  • The sex education bill was designed to update the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. Polis signed this bill in May 2019.
The state Senate’s president, Leroy Garcia (D), is also facing an official recall due to similar legislation. The signatures for that recall are due on October 18. 
Gov. Polis (D), Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D), and Rep. Tom Sullivan (D) all faced recall campaigns in 2019 due to the same legislation as Lee and Pettersen, but none of the three recall efforts reached the ballot. The Polis recall ended on September 6 after supporters failed to submit the required number of signatures. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019. The recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.
Since 2011, 85 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 58 did not go to a vote, and nine are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
Additional reading: 

Trump rallies in NC for two special elections

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 10, 2019: Donald Trump held a rally Monday at the Crown Expo Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

How many sitting presidents have lost their bids for renomination?

Notable Quote of the Day

“The broader bets, made very early in the election cycle, signify some defining characteristics of Trump’s 2020 effort. To win, Trump probably needs to come up with a different set of states than those that garnered 304 electoral college votes and carried him to the White House: public polls show his disapproval ratings swamp his approval numbers by at least 9 percentage points in his 2016 blue-to-red trifecta of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

But Trump is flush with funds. With more than $100 million in cash on hand, Trump’s campaign has the freedom to look for unorthodox opportunities to seek out electoral votes in other parts of the country. That massive money haul will be used to mobilize support in states Trump lost narrowly, and in some cases broadly, and where his campaign feels there are enough untapped Trump supporters to tip the balance in his favor, his campaign says.”

– Brian Bennett, TIME


  • McClatchy DC reported on Joe Biden’s campaign organization in Iowa, including a comparison to Elizabeth Warren’s more hyperlocal style.

  • Bill de Blasio visited Puerto Rico Monday to discuss disaster relief efforts.

  • Steve Bullock campaign manager Jennifer Ridder sent donors a memo Tuesday outlining Bullock’s path to victory, which includes a focus on Iowa.

  • Pete Buttigieg hired Jarvis Houston to be his South Carolina state director, where the campaign has placed 33 staffers.

  • John Delaney discussed the vulnerabilities of higher-polling candidates in an interview on CNN. 

  • Tulsi Gabbard spoke about the primary debates, suing Google, and the state of the Democratic Party in an interview on The Rubin Report.

  • Kamala Harris discussed her criminal justice plan in an interview on MSNBC.

  • In an interview on WBUR’s Here & Now, Amy Klobuchar spoke about her political identity, the 2016 presidential election, humor in politics, the opioid crisis, and the first overseas trip she’d make as president.

  • Wayne Messam spoke at a Broward College class Monday night.

  • Politico profiled the changed tone of Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign.

  • Tim Ryan released a policy album on music streaming service Spotify that includes 10 tracks with his positions on gun violence, immigration, and other issues.

  • The New York Times reported on the 1987 trip to Canada that drove Bernie Sanders’ position on healthcare.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled Joe Sestak and his grassroots campaign in Iowa.

  • Tom Steyer will hold a town hall Tuesday in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

  • Warren endorsed Jessica Cisneros and Marie Newman, two congressional candidates launching primary challenges to Democratic incumbents.

  • Andrew Yang attended a fundraiser in Richmond, Texas, at the home of Asian American Democratic Club founder Ling Luo.


Flashback: September 10, 2015

Bobby Jindal spoke at the National Press Club about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.


Exclusive: Volume 9 of Ballotpedia’s state legislative competitiveness report

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, September 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. More than half of all state legislative seats this year have only one major party candidate
  2. Mississippi group submits signatures for initiative legalizing medical marijuana
  3. 49% of Ballotpedia survey respondents prefer to vote early or absentee 

More than half of all state legislative seats this year have only one major party candidate

We released our 9th Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report September 4 analyzing the 538 regular state legislative elections taking place this fall in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. We’ve prepared this report annually since 2010.

Our Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report focuses on three factors affecting competitiveness:

  • Incumbents not seeking re-election

  • Number of races with at least two candidates on the ballot in primary elections

  • Races without major party competition

We do this analysis every year and in odd-numbered years, it only covers elections in the four states holding state legislative contests in those years. During even-numbered years, it covers elections in up to 46 states.

Here are three highlights from this study:

  • 56% of all regular state legislative races have a candidate from either the Democratic or Republican Parties, but not both. In 2015—the last time these seats were up for regular election—61% of races had a candidate from one major party, but not both. In 2011, this figure was 43%. 

  • More incumbents—129 out of 435, or 30%—faced primary challengers in 2019 than in 2015 or 2017. In 2017, 16% of incumbents faced primary challengers, and in 2015, 22% of incumbents faced primary challengers.

  • 103 state legislative incumbents—19%—are not seeking re-election. Of those, 62  are Republicans, 39 are Democrats, and two are Independents. This is the highest percentage of incumbents not running for re-election in odd-year state legislative elections this decade. In 2011, 18% of state legislative incumbents did not seek another term. 

This analysis also contains lots of historical data, including breakdowns of our findings by state and legislative chamber, the effect of term limits, and incumbents defeated in party primaries. And we compare these statistics with previous odd-numbered election years this decade so you can see relevant averages and trends. There’s so much great information here – click the link to read more.

Mississippi group submits signatures for initiative legalizing medical marijuana 

Mississippi voters may soon have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana. 

A Mississippi group—Mississippians for Compassionate Care—reported submitting more than 214,000 signatures last week in support of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in the state. A total of 86,185 valid signatures are required to qualify the measure for the November 2020 ballot.  

If enough signatures are found valid, the initiative goes to the state legislature, which cannot prevent it from going before voters but can put an alternative measure on the ballot along with the initiative.

This initiative would provide for a medical marijuana program in Mississippi under the direction of the Mississippi Department of Health. Individuals with certain debilitating medical conditions—as specified in the initiative—could seek a certification from a Mississippi-licensed physician to obtain medical marijuana. Nothing in the measure would require a physician to issue a certification for a patient to obtain medical marijuana. 

These signatures must be certified by the county clerks in each county and verified by the secretary of state to ensure they are from voters distributed across the state’s congressional districts. No more than one-fifth of all signatures can be from one of the Mississippi’s five congressional districts. Any signatures over that amount from one district will be disregarded.

The measure also specifies that no qualified patient could possess more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time and that no more than 2.5 ounces could be provided to a patient in a 14-day period. Under the measure, no medical marijuana treatment center could be located within 500 feet of a school, church, or child-care establishment.

Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing medical marijuana. Additionally, 13 states—including Mississippi—have legalized the use of cannabis oil, or cannabidiol (CBD)—one of the non-psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana—for medical purposes.

Medical marijuana by state

The last time Mississippi voters had a statewide measure on the ballot was in 2015 when they defeated both a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment and its alternative put on the ballot by the legislature regarding education.

49% of Ballotpedia survey respondents prefer to vote early or absentee 

Voters in North Carolina will decide two congressional special elections today—in the 3rd and 9th districts. Ballotpedia will have live results from both races on Tuesday night and provide a summary of the results in the Brew Wednesday morning.

Our preview of these two elections last week discussed the number of mail-in absentee and in-person early ballots that had been accepted in both races. This prompted last week’s What’s the Tea? question:  


Click here to learn more about early voting



Dan Bishop (R) wins NC-09 special election

State Sen. Dan Bishop (R) defeated Dan McCready (D), Jeff Scott (L), and Allen Smith (G) in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District special election on September 10, 2019. Bishop received 50.8% of the vote to McCready’s 48.6% with 99% of precincts reporting, in addition to early voting results. The state board of elections called the special election following allegations of absentee ballot fraud in the 2018 race.
As of September 6, the special election had seen more than $10.7 million in satellite spending, the second-highest total for a U.S. House special election (Georgia’s 6th Congressional District special election in 2017 saw $27 million spent by satellite groups). McCready’s campaign raised $5 million to Bishop’s $2 million through August 21.
Throughout the race, Bishop highlighted his support for President Donald Trump (R), who endorsed and campaigned for Bishop, and sought to connect McCready to Democrats in Congress such as Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who Bishop called radical socialists. Bishop described himself as a “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-wall” conservative.
McCready emphasized his plan to lower prescription drug prices and criticized Bishop’s voting record on the issue. McCready said he would “always put country over party” and pursue bipartisan legislation on healthcare, taxes, and education. He was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden (D).
Trump won the 9th District by 12 percentage points in 2016. In the uncertified results of the 2018 House race, Republican candidate Mark Harris led McCready by 905 votes.

Murphy defeats Thomas in NC-03 special election

State Rep. Greg Murphy (R) defeated Allen Thomas (D), Tim Harris (L), and Greg Holt (Constitution Party) in the special election for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on September 10, 2019. Murphy received 60.6% of the vote to Thomas’ 38.6% with 82% of precincts reporting, in addition to early voting results.
The special election was called after former incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R) died on February 10, 2019.
Murphy campaigned on his support of President Trump and highlighted his work as a physician and state legislator. Thomas emphasized economic development, small-town revitalization, and improving access to healthcare in his campaign.
According to campaign finance reports through August 21, Murphy raised $902,000 and spent $803,000, and Thomas raised $565,000 and spent $476,000. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won the district with 61% of the vote.

Andrew Yang leads in pageviews for fourth consecutive week, Kamala Harris becomes third candidate to reach 100,000 views

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
Andrew Yang’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 3,321 pageviews for the week of September 1-7. Yang’s pageview figure represents 10.5% of the pageviews for all Democratic candidates during the week. Joe Biden had 8.7% of the pageviews for the week, followed by Elizabeth Warren with 7.7%. This is Yang’s fourth consecutive week with the most pageviews among Democrats.
Every noteworthy Democratic candidate had fewer Ballotpedia pageviews last week than the week before. The three candidates with the smallest week-over-week declines in pageviews were Beto O’Rourke (-19.2%), Amy Klobuchar (-29.7%), and Pete Buttigieg (-33.0%).
Buttigieg remains the leader in overall pageviews this year with 111,101. He is followed by Yang with 109,257 and Kamala Harris with 100,164.
On the GOP side, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 5,339 pageviews to former Rep. Joe Walsh’s 4,496 and President Trump’s 1,187.

Eighteen file to run for four Boise city offices in November

In Boise, Idaho, 18 candidates filed to run for four nonpartisan city offices on the November 5 general election ballot. The position of mayor and three of the city council’s six seats are up for election. The candidate filing deadline passed on September 6, and the withdrawal deadline is September 20.
The mayoral election attracted the most candidates with seven filed, including incumbent David Bieter, who was first elected to the office in 2003. Though the mayor’s office is nonpartisan, Bieter is affiliated with the Democratic Party. He served as the Democratic representative of District 19 in the Idaho House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003.
District 1 city council incumbent Lauren McLean filed to run for mayor rather than for re-election to her current seat, leaving it open for a newcomer. Six candidates filed to run for that seat. The District 3 seat was also left open for a newcomer since incumbent Scot Ludwig did not file for re-election. Two candidates filed to run for that seat. In District 5, incumbent Elaine Clegg faces two challengers in her bid for re-election.
Boise is the largest city in Idaho and the 97th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Fresno court upholds supermajority requirement for citizen-initiated special taxes, says issue could be decided by state supreme court

On September 5, 2019, Judge Kimberly Gaab ruled that Fresno Measure P was defeated because it required a two-thirds vote for approval. Gaab had previously stated that the cases surrounding this issue were likely to be decided by the California Supreme Court, superseding her decision. Measure P was designed to enact a 0.375% sales tax for 30 years to fund city parks, recreation, streets, and arts. It was put on the ballot by a citizen initiative and received approval from 52% of voters in 2018.
After the election, the city certified the measure as defeated. The group Fresno Building Healthy Communities filed a lawsuit against the city on February 1, 2019, arguing that because Measure P was a citizen initiative, it did not need to meet the supermajority requirement. The lawsuit argued based on a previous state supreme court ruling differentiating election date timing requirements for citizen initiatives from those for measures referred by the local lawmakers. It stated that the supermajority requirement in the state constitution applied to referred measures but not to citizen-initiated ones. The office of the Fresno City Attorney also asked the Fresno County Superior Court to determine the correct vote requirement for Measure P, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association intervened in the case, arguing that a two-thirds supermajority was required.
Judge Gaab’s ruling stated, “The two-thirds vote requirement is not placed on the ‘local government.’ Rather, proposed special taxes must be ‘submitted to the electorate,’ which must approve the proposals by a two-thirds vote. Since local government does not approve special tax proposals, it is erroneous to conclude that the two-thirds vote requirement in article XIII C, section 2, subdivision (d) applies only to a ‘local government.’ Once the initiative is submitted to the voters, it is incumbent upon to the voters to approve it by a two-thirds vote, or otherwise reject it.” Gaab also argued that the ruling in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland upon which the plaintiffs’ arguments were based differentiated between the election date issue and the supermajority requirement issue.
California voters approved Proposition 218 in 1996. The proposition included the requirement that local governments may only enact, extend, or increase a special tax with a two-thirds supermajority vote of the electorate. Following the passage of Proposition 218, the two-thirds supermajority vote requirement was applied to legislative referrals and citizen initiatives.
In August 2017, however, the California Supreme Court categorized taxes imposed by citizen initiatives as separate from taxes imposed by local governments in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland. This ruling brought the supermajority vote requirement into question for special taxes proposed through citizen initiatives.
In 2018, eight local citizen initiatives in California proposing special taxes were approved by more than a simple majority but less than a two-thirds supermajority vote. Local officials declared two of the measures to be defeated based on the two-thirds supermajority requirement. The other six measures were certified as approved. In July 2019, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled a different direction than Judge Gaab, deciding that the two San Francisco tax measures were properly certified as approved with 50.9% approval and 61.3% approval, respectively.

Bold Justice: Trump appointed second-most federal judges through Sept. 1 of a president’s third year

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to

The Supreme Court is currently in recess. The 2019-2020 term begins Oct. 7. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ upcoming term.

The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts over a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from August 1 – 28, 2019.


  • Vacancies: There was one new judicial vacancy since the July 2019 report. As of August 28, 103 of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report were vacant—a vacancy percentage of 11.8 percent.

    Under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the president appoints Article III judges for what amount to lifetime terms on the federal bench. All such appointments must receive Senate confirmation. Article III judges include judges on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Courts of Appeal, U.S. District Courts, and the Court of International Trade.

    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 were six new nominations since the July 2019 report.

  • Confirmations: There were two new confirmations since the July 2019 report.

Vacancy count for Aug. 28, 2019

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level

New vacancies

One judge left active status, creating an Article III vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Trump’s first term, click here.

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

Vacancy map

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

There are currently four vacancies for U.S. Courts of Appeal judgeships. According to a Ballotpedia analysis of federal court vacancies between April 2011 and August 2019, this is the fewest number of vacant Courts of Appeal judgeships during this time. 

  • The second-lowest was in June 2019, with five vacancies. 
  • The highest number of vacancies—21—was in July, September, and October of 2017.
  • The median number of vacancies was 14.

US Court of Appeals vacancies

Court of Appeals vacancies map 2

New nominations

President Trump 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.

The president has announced 211 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

Since July 31, 2019, the Senate confirmed two of the president’s nominees to Article III courts. 

Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 146 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—99 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices. This is the second-most Article III judicial confirmations through this point in a presidency since Theodore Roosevelt. Only Bill Clinton, with 165 judicial appointments, had more.

  • The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through September 1 of their third year in office is 82.

  • The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. William Taft’s (R) five appointments were the most among this set. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (D), Jimmy Carter (D), and George W. Bush (R) did not appoint any justices through Sept. 1 of their third year in office. Trump has appointed two justices so far.

  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 18. Trump has appointed the most with 43. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed the fewest with five each. Trump’s 43 appointments make up 24 percent of the total 179 appeals court judgeships.

  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is 56. Clinton appointed the most with 135, and T. Roosevelt appointed the fewest with 10. Trump has appointed 99 district court judges. Those appointments make up 15 percent of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.