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Bennett, Cawthorn advance to Republican primary runoff in NC-11

Lynda Bennett and Madison Cawthorn advanced to a Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District on March 3, 2020. With 99% of precincts reporting, Bennett received 22.7% of the vote to Cawthorn’s 20.4%. Jim Davis received 19.3%. A candidate needed more than 30% of the vote to win the primary outright. The primary runoff is May 12.
Incumbent Rep. Mark Meadows (R), former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, announced he would not seek re-election the day before the December 20, 2019, filing deadline. Twelve candidates joined the race following his announcement.
Meadows endorsed Bennett. She also received endorsements from Rep. Jim Jordan (R) and the House Freedom Fund. Bennett highlighted her background as a real estate broker and as vice-chair of the Haywood County Republican Party, along with the activism training she received from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups. Cawthorn owns a real estate investment company and is a motivational speaker. He said he was a proven fighter, having experienced a car accident that left him paralyzed. Matthew Burril endorsed Cawthorn after withdrawing from the primary.
Ratings outlets rate the general election for North Carolina’s 11th Safe or Solid Republican. All 435 House seats are up for election in 2020. Democrats hold a 232-197 majority over Republicans in the chamber.

Hunt wins Republican primary in Texas’ 7th Congressional District

Wesley Hunt defeated five other candidates in the Republican Primary on March 3, 2020. He will advance to the general election on Nov. 3. As of 10:53 p.m. Central Time on March 3, 5% of precincts had reported. Hunt led with 61.8% of the vote, followed by Cindy Siegel with 27.8% and Maria Espinoza with 5.4%. The other candidates in the race were Kyle Preston, Jim Noteware, and Laique Rehman.
Incumbent Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Fletcher was first elected in 2018, winning by five percentage points. Republicans had held the seat since 1967 before that.
The 7th District has a 2017 Cook Partisan Voter Index score of R+7, meaning this district’s results were 7 percentage points more Republican than the national average in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Two of three race rating outlets rate the race as lean Democratic, while the other rates it as likely Democratic.

Granger defeats Putnam in Texas’ 12th Congressional District Republican primary

Rep. Kay Granger defeated Chris Putnam in the Republican primary for Texas’ 12th Congressional District. As of 11:48 p.m. ET, 84% of precincts had reported. Granger led with 59.1% of the vote to Putnam’s 40.9%. Granger will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the Nov. 3 general election.
Both candidates in the race highlighted their support for President Donald Trump. Granger emphasized Trump’s endorsement of her campaign, while Putnam called Granger a career politician, and said Granger was not supportive of the president.
Democrats have a 232-197 advantage over Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. There is one independent member, and there are five vacancies. Currently, if Republicans win 18 Democratic-controlled districts in the Nov. general, they will win control of the House. If Democrats hold as many districts, they will maintain their control of the chamber.

Sessions, Tuberville advance to Republican primary runoff for Senate in Alabama

Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville advanced to a Republican primary runoff election for U.S. Senate in Alabama on Tuesday. As of 11:15 p.m. ET on March 3, 41% of precincts had reported. Sessions had received 32.5% of the vote and Tuberville received 32.4%. Bradley Byrne had received 25.2%. The runoff will be held on March 31, 2020. A candidate needed more than 50% of the vote to win the primary outright.
Sessions held the seat for 20 years before President Donald Trump appointed him as U.S. attorney general in 2017. He has said he committed to the Trump agenda as a U.S. senator and in the Department of Justice. Tuberville, a former college football coach, has called himself the outsider in the race who can stand with Trump.
Roy Moore had received 6.9% of the vote with 41% of precincts reporting. Moore was the Republican nominee in the 2017 special Senate election to fill the seat after Sessions’ appointment. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones by 1.7 percentage points.
Jones was the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama since 1992. Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate with 53 seats to Democrats’ 45. Two independents caucus with Democrats.

Cunningham wins Democratic primary for Senate in NC

Cal Cunningham defeated Erica Smith and three other candidates in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in North Carolina on Tuesday. Cunningham led with 57.6% of the vote, followed by Smith with 35.2%, as of 8:40 p.m. ET with 12.4% of precincts reporting.
Cunningham, a member of the Army Reserves and a former state senator (2000-2002), was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He focused on expanding Medicaid, lowering prescription drug costs, and eliminating corruption in Washington. Smith has been a state senator since 2015. She said her platform, which included healthcare for all and a Green New Deal, would energize the base and young people to turn out in November.
Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) was elected to the Senate in 2014 when he defeated incumbent Kay Hagan (D) by 1.5 percentage points. Three ratings outlets rate the 2020 general election either Toss-up or Lean Republican. Max Greenwood of The Hill wrote, “Tillis has the backing of President Trump and may benefit from high Republican turnout in the general election. But Democrats have grown optimistic in North Carolina, as demographic changes and an influx of new residents from out of state have put the Tar Heel State in play.”
Republicans hold a majority in the Senate with 53 seats to Democrats’ 45. Two independents caucus with Democrats.

SCOTUS asks solicitor general to weigh in on Calif. law requiring nonprofits to disclose donors

On Feb. 24, the United States Supreme Court called on United States Solicitor General Noel John Francisco to file a brief expressing the federal government’s views on two suits challenging a California law requiring nonprofits to disclose identifying information about their donors. The lawsuit names and docket numbers are Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra (19-251) and Thomas More Law Center v. Becerra (19-255).

What does it mean when the Supreme Court calls on the Solicitor General to submit a brief, and what comes next? These orders are generally referred to as “Calls for the View of the Solicitor General” (CVSGs). Four of the Supreme Court’s nine justices must concur in order to issue a CVSG. Before becoming a federal appellate court judge in 2013, Patricia Millett wrote, “CVSGs are a unique feature of Supreme Court practice, and they underscore the special position of the Solicitor General in Supreme Court litigation. The Court is seeking the views of a non-party, not on the merits of the case, but on whether the Court should exercise its discretionary certiorari jurisdiction to hear the case at all.”

In its Feb. 24 order, the Supreme Court did not set a deadline for the brief. According to Millett, “The Solicitor General’s Office strives to file pending CVSGs in time to meet the Court’s traditional cut-off dates for action each Term.”

More about the Solicitor General: The office of the United States Solicitor General is an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice that argues on behalf of the federal government before the Supreme Court and in all federal appellate courts. The federal government is involved either as a party or as an amicus curiae in approximately two-thirds of all cases before the Supreme Court.

What is at issue? California law requires nonprofits to file copies of their IRS 990 forms with the state. Schedule B of this form includes the names and addresses of all individuals who donated more than $5,000 to the nonprofit in a given tax year. The California law requires that nonprofits give the state copies of their Schedule B forms. Although the law does not allow public access of Schedule B information, court documents indicate inadvertent disclosures have occurred.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra (19-251) and Thomas More Law Center v. Becerra (19-255): In 2014, Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, filed suit in U.S. district court, alleging violations of their First Amendment associational rights. In 2016, Judge Manuel Real, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, found in favor of AFPF and enjoined the state from collecting Schedule B information from the group. Real was appointed to the court by Pres. Lyndon Johnson (D).

In 2015, Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, filed a similar suit in the same U.S. district court. In a separate 2016 ruling, Real also found in favor of TMLC and enjoined the state from collecting Schedule B information from the group.

The two suits were combined on appeal. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously overturned Real’s rulings in 2018. Judges Raymond Fisher, Richard Paez, and Jacqueline Nguyen issued the ruling. Fisher and Paez were appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton (D). Nguyen was appointed by President Barack Obama (D). The plaintiffs petitioned the Ninth Circuit for en banc review. That petition was rejected March 29, with five judges dissenting. On Aug. 26, 2019, the plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 44 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map February 29, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart February 29, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Disclosure Digest partisan chart February 29, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Connecticut HB05406: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for independent expenditures supporting or opposing incumbents before they form committees.
    • Introduced and referred to Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee Feb. 28.
    • Committee sponsorship.
  • Connecticut HB05410: This bill would, among other things, increase disclosure of independent expenditures and prohibit such expenditures by foreign-influenced entities.
    • Introduced and referred to Joint Government Administration and Elections Committee Feb. 28.
    • Committee sponsorship.
  • Kentucky HB522: This bill would establish reporting and disclosure requirements for internet announcements that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate or group of candidates.
    • Introduced Feb. 27.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Tennessee HB2665: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Subcommittee on Constitutional Protections and Sentencing action deferred from Feb. 25 to March 3.
    • Republican sponsorship.
  • Virginia HB849: This bill would subject political campaign communications made via online platforms to the same disclosure requirements currently applied to print media, television, and radio advertisements.
    • House approved Senate substitute Feb. 25.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Virginia SB979: This bill extends the applicability of the state’s campaign finance disclosure act to candidates for directors or soil and water conservation districts.
    • House Privileges and Elections Committee advanced Feb. 28.
    • Republican sponsorship.

1,344 pledged delegates at stake on Super Tuesday

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 3, 2020: One-third of the Democratic pledged delegates are at stake on Super Tuesday. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke endorsed Joe Biden on Monday. blank    blankblank   

 Poll Spotlight

Notable Quote of the Day

“But inside the Democratic Party there is a debate not unlike the one that divides the two main parties about the breadth of change that Washington should pursue. The Democrats’ moderate wing, which is now anchored by older black voters in the south, remains deeply skeptical of Sanders-style socialism, while the New New left, powered by young radicals in big cities, is repelled by the incrementalism of Biden.

This divide between Sanders’s and Biden’s bases might not be easily bridgeable, and if a clear delegate winner fails to emerge, the party’s convention in Milwaukee could be as messy as anything since 1968, when supporters of anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy took to the streets to protest the establishment-led victory of vice president Hubert Humphrey. How the eventual nominee wins the nod, and how he (or she) handles the inevitable bruised feelings in the other camp, will matter more this year than it has in decades.”

– Ryan Lizza, chief Washington correspondent for Politico 

Super Tuesday

Fifteen states and territories hold Democratic presidential primaries on Super Tuesday—including the nation’s most populous states, California and Texas. The jurisdictions voting March 3 are:

Democrats Abroad—the Democratic political party affiliate representing U.S. citizens living outside the United States— also begin their primary on March 3 and conclude voting on March 10.

Forty percent of the U.S. population has a Democratic primary event on Super Tuesday. A total of 1,344 presidential pledged primary delegates will be awarded, not including the 13 delegates from Democrats Abroad. That’s 34% of the pledged delegates at stake in the whole Democratic primary process.

With 4% of pledged delegates awarded so far, 38% of all available pledged delegates will have been awarded after Super Tuesday.



  • Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee jointly raised $86 million in February. Trump held a campaign rally in North Carolina on Monday

  • In an interview with ReasonBill Weld said he would remain in the race after Super Tuesday. “Steve Bannon said that if the president loses four percent of the traditional Republican vote, he cannot be re-elected. If that’s true, that’s a marker I can meet,” Weld said.

Flashback: March 3, 2016

Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump participated in the eleventh Republican presidential primary debate in Detroit.blank

Click here to learn more.

Henderson appointed to New Mexico Court of Appeals

Shammara Henderson (D), the first Black judge appointed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, reportedly started hearing cases at the beginning of March. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) appointed Henderson to the court on February 14, 2020, following the retirement of former judge M. Monica Zamora (D) in January.

Henderson’s appointment to the intermediate appellate court is her first judicial position. She worked in the United States Attorney’s Office in New Mexico for six years before moving into private law practice in 2017. She served as the Associate General Counsel to former Gov. Bill Richardson (D) from 2008-2009.

The president of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association, Aja Brooks, confirmed to The Associated Press that Henderson is the first African-American judge to be appointed to the state appeals court.

Henderson will finish the remainder of Zamora’s eight-year term which runs through the end of 2020. She must run in a partisan general election on Nov. 3, 2020, in order to remain on the court. A second position on the state Court of Appeals, currently held by Judge Zachary Ives, is also up for election this year. Both Ives and Henderson have filed to run.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:

Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for February

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from February 4, 2020, to March 2, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

Vacancies: There has been one new judicial vacancy since the January 2020 report. There are 72 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, 78 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
Nominations: There have been 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.
Confirmations: There have been six new confirmations since the January 2020 report.

New vacancies
There were 72 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.3, which is 0.3 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in January 2020.
• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
• One (0.6%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions is vacant.
• 69 (10.2%) 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.

One judge left 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 Andrew Brasher left his seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama after he was elevated to the U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) and as of March 2, 2020.

New nominations
President Trump has announced 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.
• David Dugan, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
• Iain D. Johnston, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Franklin U. Valderrama, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Christy Wiegand, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
• Saritha Komatireddy, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
• Jennifer Rearden, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
• J. Philip Calabrese, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
• James Knepp II, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
• Brett H. Ludwig, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
• Michael J. Newman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 249 individuals to Article III positions.

New confirmations
Since February 4, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed six of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of March 2, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 193 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—138 district court judges, 51 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
• Andrew Brasher, confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
• Matthew Schelp, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
• Joshua Kindred, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
• John Kness, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Philip Halpern, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
• Silvia Carreno-Coll, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:

Justice Thomas signals reconsideration of judicial deference doctrine

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on February 24 that he would reconsider his 2005 Brand X opinion. He made his remarks while dissenting from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Baldwin v. U.S., which challenged Brand X. Thomas argued that Brand X appears to be “inconsistent with the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and traditional tools of statutory interpretation.”

Brand X involved an application of the Chevron deference doctrine. Under Chevron deference, federal courts must defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute. Brand X built on Chevron’s foundation by requiring courts to defer to agency interpretations of statutes even when courts previously held contrary views.

Justice Thomas argued that both deference precedents undermined the requirements of the United States Constitution. He wrote, “Regrettably, Brand X has taken this Court to the precipice of administrative absolutism. Under its rule of deference, agencies are free to invent new (purported) interpretations of statutes and then require courts to reject their own prior interpretations. Brand X may well follow from Chevron, but in so doing, it poignantly lays bare the flaws of our entire executive-deference jurisprudence. Even if the Court is not willing to question Chevron itself, at the very least, we should consider taking a step away from the abyss by revisiting Brand X.”

Click here learn more about Chevron deference, or click here to learn more about the Administrative Procedure Act.

Additional reading:

Link to Justice Thomas’ dissent: