Latest stories

Democrats hold Iowa State Senate seat where 2020 presidential candidates campaigned

Cedar Falls School Board member Eric Giddens (D) defeated former state Rep. Walt Rogers (R) in a special election for the District 30 seat in the Iowa State Senate. Giddens won with 57 percent of the vote to Rogers’ 42 percent.
The appearance of current and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in the district helped this race garner national attention. At least three candidates made appearances with Giddens, while others held separate campaign events in the district or sent staff to canvass for the Democratic candidate. The district voted Democratic in the past two presidential elections. In 2012, Obama won the district by 7.4 percent. In 2016, Clinton won the district by 3.5 percent.
The seat became vacant after Jeff Danielson (D) resigned on February 14, 2019. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 32-17 majority in the chamber. A party needs 34 votes in the Senate in order to override a gubernatorial veto, so the outcome of this election did not impact either partisan control or veto-proof supermajority status.

Jacksonville mayor avoids run-off and wins re-election

Mayor Lenny Curry (R) won re-election to his second term on March 19 defeating two Republicans and an independent. He received 58 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Councilwoman Anna Brosche (24 percent), unaffiliated candidate Omega Allen (11 percent), and former Atlantic Beach City Councilman Jimmy Hill (8 percent). No Democratic candidate filed to run in the race, but the Duval County Democratic Party approved a resolution opposing Curry’s re-election. Curry’s new term will last four years, and the next election will take place in 2023.
Twenty-six of the 100 largest cities by population will be holding mayoral elections in 2019. Of those, five (Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and Dallas) are among the 10 largest cities. Democrats currently hold the mayor’s office in 18 of the cities with elections this year, while Republicans and independents hold four each.

Five Jacksonville City Council races headed to May 14 runoff

Five of the 19 city council seats in Jacksonville, Florida, are headed to a runoff election on May 14 after no candidate received a majority of the votes cast in the March 19 general election. Two of the runoff races feature incumbents. At-large Position 3 incumbent Tommy Hazouri (D) is competing against Greg Rachal (R), and District 8 incumbent Ju’Coby Pittman (D) is competing against Tameka Gaines Holly (D). The runoff elections for the At-large Position 1 seat and the District 14 seat each include one Democrat and one Republican, while the runoff election for the District 10 seat includes two Democrats.
The other nine incumbents on the ballot—six Republicans and three Democrats—won re-election outright on March 19. The five open seats that did not go to a runoff were all won by Republicans. The Jacksonville City Council is guaranteed to have at least 11 Republicans and five Democrats after the runoff elections. Currently, it has a Republican majority of 13-6.
The city also held elections for mayor, property appraiser, sheriff, supervisor of elections, and tax collector on March 19. All five Republican incumbents won re-election outright to those offices, including Mayor Lenny Curry. Curry faced no Democratic opponents in his re-election bid.
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and the 13th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Campaign contributions for and against Colorado Springs Issue 1 near $1 million ahead of April 2 election

Here’s a quick breakdown of the almost $1 million in campaign finance spending for Colorado Springs Issue 1
At the municipal election on April 2, 2019, Colorado Springs voters will decide whether or not to allow collective bargaining for city firefighters. The initiative in question, Issue 1, was placed on the ballot through a citizen petition campaign led by Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs. A total of $924,000 has been contributed to campaigns for and against the initiative as of the March 15 filing date.
Below is a quick overview of current campaign finance reporting for Issue 1:
Support total: $570,847.13
  • Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs reported $570,847.13 in total contributions and $414,442.28 in expenditures for the #YESon1 campaign.
  • The top donor to the #YESon1 campaign thus far has been Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters – IAFF Local 5 with $269,509.05 in total contributions.
Opposition total: $353,142.57
  • Citizens Against Public Employee Unions reported $344,058.31 in total contributions and $268,976.61 in expenditures for the No on #1 campaign.
  • Americans for Prosperity Colorado Springs IC also registered in opposition to Issue 1 and reported $9,084.26 in non-monetary contributions.
  • The top donor to the No on # 1 campaign thus far has been Colorado Springs Forward with $166,000.00 in total contributions.

What does it take to make the Democratic presidential primary debate stage?

Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang have all reportedly qualified for the first Democratic presidential primary debate this past week.
With 16 notable Democratic candidates running so far, what does it take to reach the debate stage?
The Democratic National Committee announced last month that a candidate can qualify for the first debate in June by either polling performance or grassroots fundraising.
Under the first option, the candidate must receive 1 percent support or more in three national or early state polls from a select list of organizations and institutions.
Under the second option, candidates must receive donations from at least 65,000 unique donors. Additionally, they must have a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.
Some candidates have been openly sharing their progress. Marianne Williamson, who is halfway to qualifying, called on her supporters to ask their friends to donate, writing, “You yourself giving me another dollar would not help in this process, but if you make a personal commitment to asking at least one other person to contribute at least one dollar, that will get us over the finish line.”
John Delaney has agreed to donate $2 to charity for every new donor that contributes at least $1 to his campaign.
To follow who else makes it to the debate stage and all the latest news in the 2020 presidential election, sign up for Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing.

Candidate filing deadline passes for Denver’s 2019 municipal elections

Candidates for Denver mayor and city council had to file by Thursday, March 14, in order to make the ballot for the general election on May 7, 2019. In races where no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held on June 4, 2019.
Denver’s current mayor, Michael Hancock, is seeking a third term in office. Hancock became mayor in 2011 after serving on the Denver City Council from 2004-2011. Hancock is running alongside five other candidates in the nonpartisan race: Lisa Calderón, Stephan Evans, Jamie Giellis, Kalyn Heffernan, and Penfield Tate.
Mayors in Denver serve four-year terms and can serve up to three terms (12 years) in office. As the city’s chief executive, the mayor is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors, and overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations.
Denver uses a strong mayor-council form of government, meaning that the mayor is the city’s chief executive while the council is the city’s primary legislative body. Of the largest 100 cities in the country, 47 use a strong mayor system, 46 use a council-manager system, six use hybrid systems, and one uses a city commission.
Citizens in Denver will also cast votes for city auditor, city clerk and recorder, and 13 seats on the Denver City Council.
Additional reading:

Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Ellis resigns after allegations of sexual misconduct

On March 18, 2019, Rep. Brian Ellis (R) resigned his seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Ellis, who represented Pennsylvania’s 11th state House district, said the following in his resignation letter: “It is with immense gratitude to the sacrifices made by my family, the support of my constituents, and the friendship of my colleagues that I have concluded that it is in my best interests of my family, the residents of the 11th House district, and my own health that I resign from the General Assembly.”
Ellis was accused of sexually assaulting a state capitol employee in October 2015. Ellis allegedly offered to help an acquaintance after she fell down in a bar by taking her to his home, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her. The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she did not consent to any sexual acts. The Philadelphia Inquirer first published an account of the allegations on January 24, 2019. On January 25, 2019, House Republican leaders issued a statement calling for Ellis’ resignation.
The leaders said Ellis should focus on his family and addressing the allegations, which were under criminal investigation by the Dauphin County district attorney. They also removed Ellis from his committee leadership positions and committee assignments, pending the outcome of the investigation. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) also called for Ellis to step down.
Vacancies in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are filled by special election. The presiding officer of the House must call for the election. The state constitution does not establish a timetable for special legislative elections.
Additional reading:

An analysis of legislation in the 115th Congress

The 116th Congress is more than two months old. Here’s a look back at the 115th Congress.
The 115th Congress ran from January 3, 2017, to January 3, 2019. The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House both began with a Republican majority. Following the November 2018 election, the Senate retained its Republican majority and the House gained a Democratic majority.
Members of the 115th United States Congress introduced 13,556 pieces of legislation, and 867 of those received a vote. Seven hundred fifty-eight (6 percent) of those bills passed, and 443 (3 percent) of those went on to be signed into law. In the 114th Congress, 708 bills were passed and 329 were signed into law, and in the 113th Congress, 663 bills were passed and 296 were signed.
Ballotpedia categorized 79 of the Congress’ votes as key votes.
Click the link below to learn more.

U.S. House passes the Federal Register Modernization Act

The U.S. House passed a bill that would change printing requirements for the Federal Register. The Federal Register is a legal newspaper published every federal business day by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). The Federal Register lists new administrative agency rules and regulations in addition to policy statements and interpretations of existing rules. It also contains presidential documents (such as executive orders) and notices for public hearings, grant applications, and administrative orders.
The Federal Register Modernization Act passed the House by a 426 to one vote on March 12, 2019. The bill requires that the Federal Register be published, but not necessarily in print form with duplicate copies of each particular document. In times when the GPO cannot print the Federal Register as usual, the bill allows it to publish the Federal Register on a website. The bill also requires a time stamp for each document in the Federal Register showing when the GPO made them available for public inspection.

Judge restores Obama-era compensation reporting requirements blocked by Trump administration

D.C. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan set aside a decision to delay and review an Obama-era requirement that employers submit pay data along with other employee information. Her March 4 decision held that the Trump administration’s delay was illegal because it violated the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
Since 1966, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has required employers with over 100 employees to submit an annual report with information about employees’ sex, race and ethnicity, sorted by job category. In September 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved an EEOC request to add earnings and hours worked to the reporting requirements.
In September 2017, the OMB directed the EEOC to announce a stay for the effective date of the pay data collection requirements for the duration of an OMB analysis. The Office of Management and Budget said that it was reviewing the new data collection forms under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which aims to minimize the burdens of information requests from federal agencies. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) sued, saying that the OMB had violated both the PRA and the APA when it issued a stay for the pay data collection requirements.
Judge Chutkan ruled that the OMB’s action staying the EEOC’s collection of pay data failed the APA’s arbitrary-or-capricious test. The test comes from Section 706 of the APA and requires judges to invalidate agency actions if the agency fails to consider all relevant factors or gives an explanation for its actions that is implausible or that runs counter to the evidence. She said that OMB’s decision to issue the stay “totally lacked the reasoned explanation that the APA requires.” Judge Chutkan rejected the government’s request for Auer deference, which requires courts to yield to agency interpretations of their own ambiguous regulations. She said that courts do not defer to an agency’s unsupported suppositions.
Additional reading: