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The Daily Brew: Democratic presidential debates, Round 2

Today’s Brew previews the next set of Democratic presidential primary debates + the upcoming primaries for governor of Mississippi and Seattle city council  
The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 30, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Second set of Democratic presidential debates begins tonight
  2. One week until August 6 Mississippi gubernatorial and Seattle city council primaries
  3. Thirty-one school board members have faced recall efforts in 2019

Second set of Democratic presidential debates begins tonight

The second set of Democratic presidential primary debates begins tonight in Detroit, Michigan. Twenty candidates will participate over the course of two debates on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will appear in the center of the debate stage on July 30 due to their polling performance. The other participants tonight are Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Tim Ryan. Bullock is the only candidate participating who did not appear in the June presidential primary debate.

On the second night, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will appear in the middle of the candidate stage. Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, and Andrew Yang round out the lineup on July 31. 

Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper will moderate the event, which will be broadcast by CNN and streamed on Unlike the first debates held in June, there will be no questions requiring a show of hands or one-word, down-the-line answers. Candidates who repeatedly interrupt other speakers will have their speaking time reduced. Candidates will also be allowed to make opening and closing statements.

No debates are scheduled in August. The third presidential debate is scheduled in Houston on September 12 and 13. Candidates will need to receive 2% support or more in four national or early state polls and receive donations from at least 130,000 unique donors to qualify. Seven candidates have already achieved both thresholds—Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, O’Rourke, Sanders, and Warren.

Also, we asked you—our Brew readers—whether you would be watching this week’s debates. Here are your responses: 

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One week until August 6 Mississippi gubernatorial and Seattle city council primaries 

We’re covering 47 battleground elections in 2019, including four over the next week. Incumbent David Briley faces nine challengers in the nonpartisan election for mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, later this week on August 1. There are also a trio of battleground elections one week from today on August 6. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect next week. 


Only one of the three 2019 gubernatorial elections is an open-seat race as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is term-limited. Republican and Democratic party primaries will be held to select each party’s gubernatorial nominee.

Three candidates are running for the Republican nomination—Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., and state Rep. Robert Foster. Each has identified different policy priorities. Reeves—who was endorsed by Bryant—says he has a record of experience in state government and will oppose tax increases. Waller has received endorsements from four former state party chairmen and says he would focus on repairing the state’s roads and bridges. Foster emphasizes his status as a political outsider and says he would focus on agricultural policy.

On the Democratic side, state Attorney General Jim Hood, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, and six other candidates are competing to be the nominee. The last Democrat to win election as governor of Mississippi was Ronnie Musgrove in 1999. If no candidate wins a majority in either primary, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff on August 27. 

Bryant won the past two general elections with more than 60% of the vote. Two of three election forecasters tracked by Ballotpedia rate the November 5 general election as “Leans Republican” and the other rated it as “Likely Republican.”


Seattle is holding primary elections for the seven district representatives on its city council. The top two vote recipients from each primary will compete in the November 5 general election.

Three incumbents are seeking re-election and four seats are open. The local Chamber of Commerce PAC—which has received contributions from local businesses, including Amazon—has spent more than $300,000 in support of nine candidates, including two challengers to incumbents Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant. In 2018, the city council passed and then repealed a head tax on businesses to fund affordable housing programs.

This year’s election also features a public campaign financing program in which residents distribute $25 vouchers to candidates of their choosing. Through the program, $1.4 million has been distributed among 35 participating candidates so far. Fifty-five candidates are running across the seven races. In 2015, 37 candidates ran for the same seven council seats.

Thirty-one school board members have faced recall efforts in 2019

We’ve recently told you about recall efforts against governors, state legislators, and city officials, so today let’s take a look at another down-ballot office—school boards.  

Ballotpedia has tracked 13 recall efforts targeting 31 school board members so far in 2019. Three of those recalls have been certified to proceed to an election:

  • One recall election of two school board members was held February 19 and both were recalled. 

  • A recall election against one board member was scheduled for July 16, but it was put on hold pending court action. 

  • A third recall election targeting three board members is scheduled for August 27. 

Recall efforts against 13 school board members are still in progress, while efforts against nine board members have ended and will not be going to a vote. Three board members resigned after recall efforts were initiated against them. 

As of this time last year, four recall elections had been held against seven school board members. Six members were recalled in those elections and one was retained. Overall, 33 school board recall efforts targeting 74 board members nationwide were covered by Ballotpedia in 2018.

Twenty-five percent of elected officials targeted by recall efforts in 2018 were members of school boards. In 2017, 15% of elected officials targeted by recall efforts were school board members.

Ballotpedia covered 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials in 2018. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.



Democratic and Republican Governors Association affiliates launch ads in Kentucky gubernatorial election

On July 25, the group Bluegrass Values debuted two television ads in support of Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D). These are the first ads released by the group, which is affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association, in the Kentucky gubernatorial election. Beshear faces Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and John Hicks (L) in the general election on November 5.
The following day, Putting Kentucky First launched an ad in opposition to Beshear. The Republican Governors Association-affiliated group has already released five ads opposing Beshear and one supporting Bevin during the campaign. A report from Medium Buying on July 8 said that Putting Kentucky First had spent $2 million on television ads so far.
Heading into the election, Kentucky is a Republican trifecta. This race will decide the state’s trifecta status until at least the 2020 state legislative elections. If Bevin wins, Republicans will maintain their trifecta control of the state, while a Beshear or Hicks victory would result in neither party having trifecta control.
A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Right now, there are 22 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 14 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.

Bernie Sanders endorses 2020 California initiative to change how commercial and industrial properties are taxed

On July 25, 2019, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) spoke at the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California, where he endorsed a ballot initiative to change how the state levies taxes on commercial and industrial properties and allocate the revenue resulting from the change to local governments and school districts. The ballot initiative has qualified for the election on November 3, 2020. UTLA is a supporter of the ballot initiative and has provided the campaign Schools and Communities First, which is behind the proposal, with $435,000.
Sen. Sanders is the first presidential candidate to endorse the ballot initiative. He said that billionaires and real estate developers shouldn’t receive tax breaks “while 500,000 people are sleeping out on the streets tonight and when our kids aren’t getting the education they deserve.”
Since 2016, Sen. Sanders has endorsed five statewide ballot measures in California, including Propositions 50, 61, and 64 in 2016 and Proposition 10 in 2018. Proposition 59, which advised the state’s officials on the electorate’s position on Citizens United v. FEC, and Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana, were approved. Proposition 61, which would have enacted a new regulation on drug prices, and Proposition 10, which would have expanded local rent control, were defeated.
The 2020 ballot initiative would amend the state constitution to require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value. In California, the proposal to assess taxes on commercial and industrial properties at market value, while continuing to assess taxes on residential properties based on purchase price, is known as split roll. As of 2019, Proposition 13 (1978) requires the taxable value of residential, commercial, and industrial properties to be based on 1 percent of the property’s purchase price, with an annual adjustment equal to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower. According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, market values in California tend to increase faster than 2 percent per year, meaning the taxable value of commercial and industrial properties is often lower than the market value.
Furthermore, the ballot initiative would create a process in the state constitution for distributing revenue from the revised tax on commercial and industrial properties, with 60 percent being distributed to local governments and special districts and 40 percent being distributed to school districts and community colleges.
Opponents of the ballot initiative include the California Business Roundtable, California Chamber of Commerce, and California Taxpayers Association. Rex Hime, president of the California Business Properties Association, stated, “California already has the worst climate for business and job creation in the country. A split-roll property tax will just increase pressure on many businesses that are already finding it hard to make ends meet.”

Highlights from Tuesday’s Republican primary debate in Mississippi gubernatorial election

State Rep. Robert Foster, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and former state supreme court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. are running in the August 6 Republican primary for a chance to succeed Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. The candidates participated in the first and only scheduled televised debate of the primary July 23. Some highlights from the debate are below.
  • Taxes to fund infrastructure improvements: Foster proposed eliminating the personal income tax and making small increases to the gas and sales tax. Waller said he supports increasing the gas tax while eliminating the 4% income tax bracket. Reeves said he opposes raising the gas tax.
  • Medicaid expansion: Waller said he supports expanding Medicaid in Mississippi similar to how Mike Pence did as governor of Indiana. Reeves said he opposes Medicaid expansion. Foster said all options are on the table for him.
  • Effect of state flag’s Confederate imagery on business: All three candidates said they did not believe the flag was keeping businesses out of Mississippi. Foster stated that taxes are having that effect. Waller said changes to the state flag should be left up to voters and not the state legislature. Reeves said he opposes action by the governor or legislature to change the flag and that the issue has not come up in economic development meetings he has been involved in.
Candidates also discussed teacher pay, marijuana, the minimum wage, and the inclusion of women in the next administration.
Bryant won the past two general elections with more than 60 percent of the vote. The state’s last Democratic governor was Ronnie Musgrove, who served from 1999 to 2003. Eight candidates are running in the August 6 Democratic primary. Two of three election forecasters tracked by Ballotpedia rate the November 5 general election as “Leans Republican” and the other rated it as “Likely Republican.”

Triplex status at play in three states this year

A triplex occurs when a state’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state all belong to the same political party, a situation which can reduce conflict between state executives. Currently, there are 18 Republican and 17 Democratic state triplexes.
Three states are holding elections in 2019 which could affect their triplex status: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Currently, neither Republicans nor Democrats hold triplexes in any of these three states. The offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state will be on the ballot in each state.
In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is currently serving with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Either party could gain triplex control during the November 5 general election.
In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards serves with Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. The November 16 general election will determine whether either party will gain control of all three offices.
In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant serves with Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood and Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Republicans and Democrats will vie for triplex control during Mississippi’s November 5 general election.

New Jersey donor disclosure law faces legal challenges

New Jersey donor disclosure law faces legal challenges

On June 25, Americans for Prosperity filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging New Jersey S150, which amended the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act, violates the First Amendment. 

  • Who are the parties to the suit?
    • Americans for Prosperity, the plaintiff, is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy group that describes itself as “an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels.” The defendants are New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) and the commissioners of the Election Law Enforcement Commission: Eric Jaso, Stephen Holden, and Marguerite Simon.
  • What is at issue?
    • Attorneys for Americans for Prosperity wrote. “The First Amendment safeguards individuals’ rights to associate privately and advocate anonymously throughout the United States. … Protecting the integrity of elections may be a sufficiently important reason to justify, under exacting scrutiny, regulation of electioneering communications, but the same is not true of issue advocacy. Rammed through in a rush to exact political revenge, [S150] obliterates this fundamental distinction and oversteps constitutional bounds by subjecting issue advocacy to the formidable regulations and burdens properly reserved for electioneering.”
  • What does the legislation do? 
    • S150 defines an independent expenditure committee as any person or group organized under sections 501(c)(4) or 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that spends $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about any of the following:
      • “the outcome of any election or the nomination, election, or defeat of any person to any state or local elective public office”
      • “the passage or defeat of any public question, legislation, or regulation”
      • Independent expenditure committees will be required to disclose all expenditures exceeding $3,000. These committees will also be required to disclose the identities of their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.
      • Political context: New Jersey is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state Legislature.
  • How have the defendants responded?
    • Neither the attorney general nor the Election Law Enforcement Commission have commented publicly on the litigation. 
  • The case, Americans for Prosperity v. Grewal (case number 3:19-cv-14228), was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We’re currently tracking 72 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.

Number of relevant bills by state

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

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

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills in the past two weeks. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number. Know of any legislation we’re missing? Please email us so we can include it on our tracking list.

  • New Hampshire SB105: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for certain contributions made to inaugural committees.
    • Enacted July 15.
  • New Hampshire SB156: This bill would require that political contributions made by limited liability companies be allocated to individual members in order to determine whether individuals have exceeded contribution limits.
    • Vetoed July 15.

Delaney proposes mandatory national service program

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 29, 2019: John Delaney proposed a mandatory national service program. Cory Booker reached the donor threshold to qualify for the third Democratic presidential debate.

There are eight new candidates running since last week, including two Republicans. In total, 799 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“U.S. politics is not a national contest. Victories in Congress, state politics and the Electoral College all depend on winning majorities or hefty pluralities in heartland states and areas that are not big cities. Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 mainly because she was whomped in non-urban areas where Obama had lost by far smaller margins. Media commentators and lefty advocates often speak as if the United States is one big national polity, where appeals to one demographic slice or another are decisive. But it just isn’t so. Piling up votes on the liberal coasts matters not at all, if party candidates lose in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Carolina.”

– Theda Skocpol, Harvard University professor of government and sociology


  • Michael Bennet spoke about healthcare and his rural policy while campaigning in Iowa. He also discussed the death penalty in an interview on The Insiders with Dave Price.
  • Joe Biden released lists of new endorsements in Florida and Tennessee.
  • Cory BookerPete Buttigieg, and Julián Castro spoke at forums hosted by the New Leaders Council Convention Friday and Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Booker passed the 130,000-donor threshold for the third presidential debate, reaching both the grassroots fundraising and polling requirements to qualify.
  • In an interview on Up with David GuraSteve Bullock discussed Democratic party leadership and said he did not support impeachment at this time.
  • Buttigieg campaigned in Michigan, speaking in Detroit about racial justice, climate change, and education.
  • John Delaney announced a plan to establish a mandatory national service program for Americans turning 18 years old or graduating from high school. They would receive at least two years of free tuition at a public college or university or tuition for vocational or technical training. The plan would apply to those born after 2006 and would be phased in.
  • The Washington Post profiled Tulsi Gabbard, including her candidacy, lawsuit against Google, and campaign messaging.
  • Kamala Harris released a plan to spend $10 billion on laboratories and other infrastructure at historically black colleges and universities and $50 billion in scholarships, internships, and curriculum in STEM fields. Harris also called for spending $12 billion on entrepreneurship programs.
  • John Hickenlooper wrote an op-ed about gun violence and mass shootings for
  • Jay Inslee issued his community climate justice platform focused on climate inequality. His plan includes tracking pollution hotspots and climate change effects, establishing an Office of Environmental Justice, spending $1.2 trillion on frontline communities, and creating a universal clean energy service fund to address energy insecurity.
  • Amy Klobuchar met with AFSCME Council 61 members while campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.
  • Seth Moulton participated in a meet and greet in the Hamptons as part of the Common Good’s presidential candidate series Saturday.
  • CNN profiled Beto O’Rourke’s political journey from city council to 2020 presidential candidate.
  • Fletcher Smith and Brandon Brown, who helped lead Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign in South Carolina, announced they were endorsing Tim Ryan.
  • Ryan released his industrial and manufacturing plan on Saturday. He called for doubling union membership, expanding apprenticeship programs, raising the minimum wage to $15, and increasing infrastructure funding.
  • Bernie Sanders appeared on Pod Save America Friday to discuss democratic socialism, Medicare for All, and the Israeli government.
  • Sanders joined Type 1 diabetes patients traveling to Canada for cheaper insulin Sunday and criticized pricing in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Joe Sestak held a campaign event focused on Iran and national security in Iowa Saturday.
  • Tom Steyer advocated impeachment on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.
  • CNN published a video profile of Elizabeth Warren on her law professor years and transition from conservative to progressive.
  • USA Today interviewed Marianne Williamson about her performance in the Miami debate.
  • Andrew Yang wrote an op-ed on about why he started Venture for America and his support for a universal basic income.


  • The Washington Post reported on Jared Kushner’s role in Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, describing him as a “de facto campaign manager.”
  • Bill Weld criticized Trump’s rhetoric in an interview on MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: July 28, 2015

Politico examined the fundraising and organizational challenges faced by Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.


Trump administration requests D.C. Circuit lift injunction blocking civil service executive orders

Trump administration officials asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to immediately lift the injunction blocking enforcement of President Trump’s (R) three civil service executive orders. Government attorneys argued that the injunction has created uncertainty and stalled collective bargaining negotiations between federal agencies and union groups.
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit unanimously reversed and vacated a lower court decision that had blocked provisions of three civil service executive orders issued by President Trump (R). The judges held in their July 16 ruling that the lower court did not have jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs—a coalition of union groups—should have brought the case before the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) as required by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS).
Plaintiffs have a 45-day grace period to request a rehearing in the case before the injunction is lifted. Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, stated on July 24 stated that the plaintiffs plan to seek a rehearing before the full D.C. Circuit.

Council on Environmental Quality extends comment period for new greenhouse gas emissions guidance

On July 24, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) gave the public more time to comment on new guidance related to how federal agencies should address greenhouse gas emissions. The guidance tells agencies to focus on the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences of major actions. It also tells agencies that they do not have to weigh the monetary costs and benefits of proposed actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The CEQ published the draft guidance in the Federal Register on June 26 and originally scheduled a month for public feedback. After a request to extend the comment period, CEQ published a notice moving the deadline to August 26, 2019.
The CEQ guidance will replace 2016 guidance about greenhouse gas emissions. The 2016 guidance was withdrawn following President Trump’s Executive Order 13783, which directed federal agencies to review all rules related to domestic energy development and to remove any that imposed significant economic costs.
The NEPA established the CEQ inside the Executive Office of the President to coordinate agency actions that affect environmental quality and to make sure agencies comply with NEPA requirements. The NEPA requires agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed actions and to tell the public about how the agency makes decisions.
Guidance is a term in administrative law used to describe documents created by administrative agencies to explain rules, laws, and procedures. Guidance documents affect how agencies administer regulations and programs. However, they are not supposed to be legally binding in the same way as rules issued through the rulemaking processes of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Federal Register weekly update; highest weekly number of significant regulatory actions since May

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 July 22 to July 26, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,452 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 36,454 pages. The week’s Federal Register featured a total of 486 documents, including 367 notices, 10 presidential documents, 43 proposed rules, and 66 final rules.
Three proposed rules and one final rule 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 1,646 pages for a year-to-date total of 36,398 pages. As of July 26, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 56 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,215 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of July 26. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During 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.
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.
Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016:,_1936-2016