TagState leg

Householder removed as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives

Amid an ongoing federal investigation, the Ohio House of Representatives voted unanimously on July 30 to remove Rep. Larry Householder (R) from his leadership position as house speaker. State representatives introduced the motion for removal shortly after a federal grand jury indicted Householder on racketeering charges.

The House voted 55-38 that same day to select Bob Cupp (R) as the new speaker. House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes issued a statement that indicated no members of the Democratic Caucus voted for Cupp. In his address to the chamber, Cupp said, “It is a great privilege to lead this chamber. Sorry it is in such difficult and trying and unprecedented times as this, however, but I pledge to do so honorably and fairly and humbly.”

Both Householder and Cupp are running for re-election this year. Householder advanced unopposed from the April 28 Republican primary in District 72 and is running unopposed in the general election on November 3. Cupp ran unopposed in the District 4 Republican primary and faces Libertarian candidate Christina Marie Holloway in the general election.

Householder, along with four others, was arrested on July 21 and charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering scheme. Householder was accused of collecting more than $60 million in exchange for legislation that would bail out two nuclear plants.

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Lujan appointed to New Mexico House of Representatives

The Santa Fe County Commission appointed Tara Lujan (D) to the New Mexico House of Representatives on July 23. Lujan fills the District 48 seat vacated by Linda Trujillo (D) on July 9, when Trujillo resigned in order to focus on full-time work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lujan will serve in the New Mexico legislature until the end of the year. Since Trujillo was running for re-election when she resigned, the Democratic Central Committee in Santa Fe County will also select a replacement candidate for the November 3 ballot. Before she resigned, Trujillo advanced unopposed from the June 2 primary election. No candidates from other parties may be nominated to the November ballot, as no candidates from other parties filed to run in the district before the filing deadline passed.

New Mexico has a Democratic state government trifecta. In the November 2018 elections, the New Mexico House of Representatives’ Democratic majority increased from 38-31 (with one vacancy) to 46-24. All 70 seats in the chamber are up for election this year.

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O’Hearn appointed to Wyoming House of Representatives

Natrona County commissioners appointed Kevin O’Hearn (R) to the Wyoming House of Representatives on July 28 to fill the seat vacated when Carl “Bunky” Loucks (R) resigned in early July. O’Hearn was sworn into office on July 30. He will represent District 59 in the chamber for the remainder of Loucks’ unexpired term, which is set to end on January 3, 2021.

O’Hearn’s professional experience includes working as the building inspector and assistant town manager for Mills, Wyoming. Several commissioners cited his tenure in local government as their motivation for the appointment.

O’Hearn had already filed to run for Loucks’ seat this year and will face David Carpenter and Leah Juarez in the Republican primary on August 18. Loucks, who did not file to run for re-election, said he resigned to focus on running his business. No candidates filed to run in the district’s Democratic primary.

In 40 of the 60 races for the Wyoming House of Representatives occurring this year, no candidates filed in the Democratic primary. No candidates filed for the Republican primary in just five of the 60 districts.

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Ballotpedia survey shows no state constitution or administrative procedure act requires agencies to prove rule violators acted knowingly before imposing penalties

A Ballotpedia survey of all 50 state constitutions and administrative procedure acts (APAs) revealed that no state constitutions or APAs require agencies to prove rule violators acted knowingly before imposing penalties after adjudication. Without those requirements, state agencies may be able to order people and businesses to pay fines for breaking rules without proving whether rulebreakers did so knowingly.

Agency adjudication is a quasi-judicial process that takes place in the executive branch of the state government instead of in the judicial branch. Often, the procedural protections associated with adjudication are different from those found in a traditional courtroom setting.

Adjudication proceedings include agency determinations outside of the rulemaking process that aim to resolve disputes between either agencies and private parties or between two private parties. The adjudication process results in the issuance of an adjudicative order, which serves to settle the dispute and, in some cases, may set agency policy.

States traditionally require prosecutors in criminal cases to demonstrate that a defendant committed a crime knowing that the behavior was wrong, often known as mens rea. While traditional in criminal proceedings, this survey examined whether state agencies must also prove that people and businesses committed acts they knew violated regulations before issuing fines and penalties.

Understanding the burden of proof agencies must meet before charging fines and penalties provides insight into procedural rights at the state level. Procedural rights is one of the five pillars key to understanding the main areas of debate about the nature and scope of the administrative state.

To learn more about Ballotpedia’s survey related to procedural rights, see here:

Want to go further? Learn more about the five pillars of the administrative state here:

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Five states to hold statewide primaries

Five states are holding statewide primaries on August 4, 2020: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3.

Candidates in Arizona are running in elections for the following state offices:
• Corporation Commission (3 seats)
• Arizona State Senate (30 seats)

• Arizona House of Representatives (60 seats)

Candidates in Kansas are running in elections for the following state offices:
• State Board of Education (5 seats)
• Kansas State Senate (40 seats)

• Kansas House of Representatives (125 seats)

Candidates in Michigan are running in elections for the following state offices:
• State Board of Education (2 seats)
• University of Michigan Board of Regents (2 seats)
• Michigan State University Board of Trustees (2 seats)
• Wayne State University Board of Governors (2 seats)

• Michigan House of Representatives (110 seats)

Candidates in Missouri are running in elections for the following state offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor
• Attorney General
• Secretary of State
• Treasurer
• Missouri State Senate (17 seats)

• Missouri House of Representatives (163 seats)

Candidates in Washington are running in elections for the following state offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor
• Attorney General
• Secretary of State
• Superintendent of Public Instruction
• Commissioner of Public Lands
• Treasurer
• Auditor
• Commissioner of Insurance
• Washington State Senate (25 seats)

• Washington House of Representatives (98 seats)

Washington holds top-two primaries, in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.

Alabama is also holding a special state legislative primary on August 4. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two vote recipients will advance to a primary runoff scheduled for September 1. The special general election is scheduled for November 17.

The primaries are the 32nd to 36th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. August 4 is the 13th uniform statewide election date. The next primary is on August 6 in Tennessee.

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Tennessee to hold state legislative primaries

The statewide primary election for Tennessee is on August 6, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on April 2. The general election will be held on November 3. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices:
16 state Senate seats

99 state House seats

One state court of appeals judge is also up for retention election on August 6. If retained, Judge Carma Dennis McGee will serve an additional eight years on the court.

Tennessee has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Tennessee’s primary election is the 37th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on August 8 in Hawaii.

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NC state Senator resigns

North Carolina legislator Andy Wells (R) resigned from his seat in the state senate on July 27. He had represented District 42 in the chamber since 2015 and previously represented District 96 in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015.

Wells did not file to run for re-election to his seat in the North Carolina State Senate this year, running instead for Lieutenant Governor. He lost to Mark Robinson in the Republican primary on March 3, coming in second place with 14.6% of the vote to Robinson’s 32.5%. Wells did not give a reason why he left his seat in the state legislature just under six months before the end of his term.

Wells’ departure creates the fourth vacancy in the North Carolina State Senate this year, two of which have not yet been filled. The other current vacancy in the chamber was created when Jerry W. Tillman (R), who represented District 26, unexpectedly resigned from his seat on June 30. Vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

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Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Sen. Pat Roberts endorses Roger Marshall, Hagerty and Sethi line up support in Tennessee Senate contest, and Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On the Silent Majority

“Trump announced that Bill Stepien, a longtime aide, would be his new reelection campaign manager and that his outgoing campaign manager, Parscale, would remain a senior adviser to the campaign focused on digital and data strategies.

 

“I think we can take this as affirmation that the Trump campaign does not believe that it is on track to win in a landslide, and that all of the public polling is wildly wrong.

 

“Are there ‘secret Trump voters’ out there, Americans who are certain to vote for him but unwilling to say so to a pollster? Sure. I don’t know how many there are, and what percentage of the electorate they are. If they’re not close to ten percent, Trump’s in deep trouble. The available polling shows Trump down by a lot in states he won last time around — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida. When you say this, Trump supporters scoff that their man won states he was trailing last time, which is true — but he didn’t jump ten points on Election Day. Pollsters have attempted to correct their errors in sampling from the 2016 cycle. It’s worth noting that Nate Silver crunched the numbers and concluded, ‘the 2017-19 cycle was one of the most accurate on record for polling.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review, July 16, 2020

“As we saw in 2016 … the reluctance of right-of-center voters to argue with puffed-up progressives simply meant they wanted to avoid shaming and social ostracism. They kept their peace until it really mattered — when they reached the voting booth. That’s the beauty of the secret ballot — people who decline to be bullied by ‘strong liberals’ can make their voices heard loud and clear in November. According to the [July 22] Cato survey, the number of people choosing this path is far larger than it was in 2016. Moreover, they span the entire demographic spectrum …

“Trump’s silent majority is real, and it is much larger than it was four years ago. What should scare the pants off any sentient Democrat is the number of Latinos (65 percent) and black Americans (49 percent) who self-censor. For them, there is no risk of social ostracism for supporting Biden or any other Democrat. The only plausible reason for their reticence is support for Trump. The president is about to make history with the magnitude of his victory and, more importantly, who will vote for him.”

David Catron, The American Spectator, July 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Roberts endorses, groups spend, in Senate primary in Kansas

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) endorsed Roger Marshall in the Senate primary in Kansas. Roberts was first elected to the seat in 1996 and is retiring.

Marshall’s other endorsers include National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has endorsements from the National Association for Gun Rights, the National Border Patrol Council, and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

Open Secrets reports $9.3 million in satellite spending on the race. More than half has come in recent weeks. Kelly Arnold, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman, said, “I am just shocked about the amount of outside money. … These are numbers that you normally would see in a general election where it’s very competitive, and the national Democrats and national Republicans are battling it out in the state.”

Of the $9.3 million spent, $4.4 million went to activities opposing Marshall and $2.5 million went to activities opposing Kobach. Some recent expenditures:

  • The super PAC Sunflower State is spending more than $4 million on ads. Media outlets wrote that the group has Democratic connections. Politico’s James Arkin wrote that one of the group’s ads was “engineered to drive conservative voters toward Kobach. A narrator in the ad calls Kobach ‘too conservative’ because he ‘won’t compromise’ on building President Donald Trump’s border wall or on taking a harsher stance on relations with China. By contrast, the ad labels Marshall a ‘phony politician’ who is ‘soft on Trump.'” 
  • Plains PAC said it would spend $3 million on a television, radio, and online ad campaign criticizing Kobach.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund booked $1.2 million in airtime for an ad campaign supporting Marshall.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce began a $400,000 ad campaign supporting Marshall on July 13.
  • Free Forever PAC spent $365,000 on an ad supporting Kobach.

Click here for a compilation of satellite group ads.

Click here for a compilation of candidates’ campaign ads.

Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 4 primary. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican or Likely Republican.

Charges against Watkins a focal point of KS-02 primary

On July 14, Rep. Steve Watkins (R) of Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District was charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor count related to using an incorrect address on his voter registration form.

Watkins said he accidentally listed his mailing address as opposed to his residential address and corrected the error when he realized it. On July 17, Watkins said he was temporarily resigning his House committee memberships. House Republicans require any member charged with a felony carrying a sentence of two or more years to resign committee membership pending the charges.

Watkins, state Treasurer Jacob LaTurner, and former Kansas Secretary of Labor Dennis Taylor are running in the Aug. 4 primary.

LaTurner released an ad in which a narrator calls Watkins a fraud and calls LaTurner an honest conservative. The narrator says LaTurner would “bring integrity back to Congress.”

Watkins released an ad in which a narrator refers to the charges as a witch hunt and LaTurner as a swamp creature. The ad compares the charges against Watkins to the impeachment effort against President Donald Trump (R). It also says the district attorney who filed the charges shares a consultant with LaTurner. 

Kansas for Life switched from endorsing both Watkins and LaTurner to only endorsing LaTurner. Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kans.) endorsed LaTurner, saying, “Kansans deserve the best representation in Congress and Steve Watkins’ actions have unfortunately put this seat in danger of being handed over to a Nancy Pelosi liberal who doesn’t represent our Kansas values.”

Watkins’ endorsers include the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and the National Federation of Independent Business. The Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed LaTurner.

The Cook Political Report changed its general election race rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican following the charges. Two other outlets see the contest as Solid Republican or Likely Republican. In 2018, Watkins defeated Paul Davis (D) 47.6% to 46.8%.

Blackburn endorses Hagerty, Paul appears in pro-Sethi ad in Senate race in TN

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) endorsed Bill Hagerty for the Senate seat held by Lamar Alexander (R). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appeared in an ad supporting Manni Sethi. 

Alexander was first elected in 2002 and is retiring. 

Blackburn said, “I need a true Tennessee conservative to stand with me to protect our Tennessee values.” She said Sethi had defended Obamacare and donated to ActBlue, an online fundraising platform for Democratic campaigns and progressive groups.

A Protect Freedom PAC ad features Paul saying, “Tennessee is too conservative a state to keep sending Democrats in Republican clothing to represent Tennessee. Manni Sethi is the real deal.” 

Other satellite groups and the candidates themselves have released ads recently. The group Standing with Conservatives released an ad criticizing Sethi’s donations and saying he isn’t a Tennessee conservative. Conservative Outsider PAC released an ad saying Hagerty backs Romney, who, according to the ad, betrayed conservatives by supporting Trump’s impeachment.

A recent Hagerty ad criticizes Sethi by saying he is friends with Tom Perriello, a Democrat who ran for governor of Virginia in 2017. A Sethi ad features his wife defending Sethi against the Democratic donation line of criticism, saying she donated $50 12 years ago. She says Hagerty gave Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.

Hagerty served as ambassador to Japan from 2017 to 2019. Sethi is an orthopedic trauma surgeon. 

Fifteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 primary.

State executives

Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and all four primary challengers participated in their first debate July 22, discussing Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and his style of governance.

Scott, who is seeking election to a third two-year term, said he had led an effective pandemic response and was seeking re-election in order to continue to manage Vermont’s economic recovery.

Each of Scott’s challengers said his response to the coronavirus pandemic was too drastic and damaged the state’s economy. Scott said he was proud of Vermont’s response to the pandemic, saying it had a low number of positive cases both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population.

Douglas Cavett, a former educator, said he was running to correct what he described as injustices in Vermont’s criminal justice system, using his conviction on a charge of aggravated assault of a minor as an example. He said the charges against him were fabricated and evidence of a broader problem in the system.

John Klar, an attorney and farmer who is running alongside a slate of candidates for other state offices, including the state legislature. Klar says he is running because Scott supports policies he says are out of touch with Vermont Republicans, mentioning firearms regulations and abortion as areas of specific disagreement.

Bernard Peters, a former employee of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said he was concerned about Scott’s stance on firearms. Peters said Scott’s decision to sign a bill imposing new regulations on firearms in 2018 amounted to signing away Vermonters’ constitutional rights. Scott said as a gun owner, he did not feel as if his constitutional rights had been infringed and he preferred action to inaction.

Emily Peyton, a hemp farmer who earlier ran for governor in 2012, 2014, and 2018, said she was running to limit the state government’s power. She said Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic represented an overextension of the state government’s power.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters.

Race recap: Governor of Utah

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and preview the general election ballot.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) won the Republican nomination for governor of Utah in a primary on June 30, receiving 36.1% of the vote to second-place candidate Jon Huntsman’s (R) 34.9%. Huntsman earlier served as governor for four years before resigning to serve as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama (D).

Two other candidates advanced to the primary: former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) and former state GOP chairman Thomas Wright (R). Up to two candidates could earn a spot on the ballot if they were among the top finishers at the state party convention’s nominating vote. An unlimited number of candidates could win a spot on the ballot by submitting nominating petitions containing the signatures of 28,000 registered Republicans. Four additional candidates did not make it onto the ballot.

Cox, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2013, said he was running because he believes Utah has a bright future and that he would focus on managing the state’s economic recovery. Huntsman said his past experience as governor would make him a better leader in a time of crisis.

Cox faces University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson (D) as well as Gregory Duerden (Independent American Party of Utah), Daniel Rhead Cottam (L), and Richard Whitney (I) in the general election. Republicans have won each of the past 10 gubernatorial elections in Utah, the GOP’s longest ongoing winning streak nationwide.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Alaska Family Action announces it will not endorse in House District 24 primary featuring incumbent citing power-sharing agreement

On July 25, Alaska Family Action (AFA) announced it would not endorse incumbent Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-24) in the 2020 primary. 

AFA is a branch of the Alaska Family Council, which operates to “inspire biblical leadership” and “to see an Alaska where families thrive, religious freedom flourishes, life is cherished, and God is honored,” according to the group’s website.

AFA’s decision not to endorse Kopp is a break from 2018, when it supported his candidacy in that year’s Republican primary. 

Kopp was first elected in 2016. Following the 2018 elections, Republicans held a 23-16-1 majority in the House of Representatives. They were unable to form a majority coalition after Kopp and seven other Republican representatives created a power-sharing agreement with Democratic members to establish a bipartisan majority. 

The AFA wrote, “This bi-partisan majority is dominated by progressive liberals, and they have successfully blocked virtually all attempts to advance pro-life and pro-family legislation.” The announcement went on to say, “The policy issues that are most crucial to Alaska Family Action are routinely assigned to FOUR key committees: Health & Social Services, Education, Judiciary, and State Affairs. What do all these committees have in common? They’re all chaired by progressive lawmakers who are endorsed and bankrolled by Planned Parenthood.”

As part of the power-sharing agreement, Democrats were to lead six of the ten standing committees, including the four listed above. Three committees have bipartisan co-chairs. Kopp chairs the Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation to the floor.

On his campaign website, Kopp says he is “a proven and effective leader who values all Alaskans and will keep our legislature focused on issues that matter.” He won the 2018 primary with 70.5% of the vote. AFA has not endorsed his Aug. 18 primary opponent Thomas McKay (R).

Gila County GOP launches rare opposition ads against challenger in Arizona’s Senate District 6 primary

On July 24, the White Mountain Independent’s Peter Aleshire reported that the Gila County GOP launched ads and messaging opposing Wendy Rogers (R) and supporting incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-06) in Arizona’s Senate District 6 Republican primary. Aleshire wrote, “The Gila County Republicans normally don’t take a position in a party primary. However, … the committee considered Rogers such a flawed candidate that she might lose in the general election.” 

Rogers, an Air Force veteran and owner of a home inspection business, is the only candidate challenging Allen in the primary. 

The Gila County GOP ads claim, in part, that Rogers lives at a home owned in Tempe outside of the district rather than the Flagstaff mobile home listed as her address. In a Facebook post, Allen wrote, “That’s a direct violation of tax law and residency requirements,” adding, “She doesn’t even go here! So how can she accurately represent our district and our issues?”

Eric Frizzell, Rogers’ Fake News Response Director, said, “This is nothing but a bunch of losers trying to dig up fake dirt on Wendy,” adding that Rogers only visits her Tempe home to be with grandchildren.

Rogers leads Allen in fundraising, reporting $551,000 raised with $100,000 cash on hand. Allen has raised $127,000 with $16,000 available. Both candidates have been targeted and supported by satellite spending. Arizona’s campaign finance reports show that groups have spent $118,000 supporting Rogers and $86,000 in opposition. $93,000 has been spent supporting Allen with $131,000 spent in opposition.

Rogers has sought elected office five times, including four runs for U.S. House, twice in District 9 and twice in District 1. Most recently, Rogers ran against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-01), receiving 46% of the vote to O’Halleran’s 54%. Allen currently serves as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. She was first elected to represent District 6 in 2014. She previously represented Senate District 5 from 2008 to 2013.

Kansas City Star endorses incumbent Skubal in Kansas Senate District 11 primary

On July 24, the Kansas City Star endorsed Sen. John Skubal (R-11) in the Kansas Senate District 11 primary, calling him “a solid, moderate voice in the Kansas Senate.” Skubal, first elected to the seat in 2016, faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Kellie Warren (R-28) on Aug. 4. The editorial board wrote, “the policy differences between the candidates are not subtle. But the starkest contrast between them is in how they see COVID-19, and what they think we should do about it.”

On the usage of masks, Skubal said “The science says that we should wear a mask … We’re not just protecting ourselves, we’re protecting others.” Warren said, “the science really hasn’t even been that clear,” adding, “the [Center for Disease Control] first said, don’t wear masks, you don’t need them.” The candidates vary on other issues like Medicaid expansion, which Skubal supports and Warren opposes. 

We previously covered this primary on April 8 following Warren’s announcement of her candidacy. This will be Warren’s second contested primary against an incumbent Republican. She was first elected to the state House in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Joy Koesten 58-42% in the Republican primary. After her primary defeat but before leaving office, Koesten changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

The winner of the August primary will advance to the general election and will likely face Koesten, who is the only candidate running on the Democratic side.

Power players

“As an independent Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund has one goal: to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority when Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, together with their army of left-wing activists, try to take it back in 2020.” – Senate Leadership Fund website

Founded in 2015 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the fund has raised $102 million this cycle compared to $134 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Republicans’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund reported more than $95.5 million in satellite spending, spending more than $10 million each to oppose four Democratic Senate candidates: Claire McCaskill in Missouri ($20.5 million), Jacky Rosen in Nevada ($15.9 million), Joe Donnelly in Indiana ($15.0 million), and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee ($13.3 million). Rosen was the only candidate among the four to win her race.

So far this cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund has reported spending more than $500,000 in two races. The group has spent $1.3 million in support of Roger Marshall (R) ahead of his Aug. 4 primary for Kansas’ open Senate seat. It has also spent $770,000 opposing Rep. Doug Collins’ (R) campaign challenging incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in Georgia’s upcoming Senate special election.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Ilhan Omar challenger raises $3.2 million in second quarter, Working Families Party spends in support of Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders endorses in Vermont gubernatorial primary

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On Medicare for All in the Democratic Party platform

“The platform does nod to ‘Medicare for All,’ the policy backed by Sanders, saying: ‘We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach.’

“Platform committee co-chair Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called it the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’

“Still, anticipating virtual floor fights and frustration from progressive activists who want the party to set an even more aggressive policy course, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said at the top of the committee meeting that ‘we should never confuse unity with unanimity, nor should we confuse debate with division.’”

Denis McDonough, Tom Perez, quoted by Scott Detrow, NPR, July 27, 2020

“History teaches a clear lesson: The fact that our nation is the only advanced industrial country without universal healthcare cannot be blamed on Republican obstruction alone. It was also caused by Democratic leaders who’ve spent decades catering to corporate interests (while collecting their campaign donations)—and refusing to fight for universal coverage. 

“This history of Democratic obstruction and vacillation is why hundreds of elected delegates to next month’s Democratic convention have put their foot down. They’ve signed a petition pledging to vote down the party platform if it ‘does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ The petition’s initiator is Judith Whitmer, chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation. She told Politico: ‘This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their healthcare at the same time.’

“By demanding of the party leadership what Harry Truman called for 72 years ago, Whitmer and other Democratic activists are indeed ‘giving ’em hell.’” 

Jeff Cohen, Common Dreams, July 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

MN-05: Melton-Meaux raises $3.2 million in second quarter

Antone Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. They and three others are running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary on Aug. 11.

As of June 30, Omar raised $3.9 million to Melton-Meaux’s $3.7 million. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot wrote, “Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who previously represented the 5th District—held a press conference July 20 in which Martin said contributions to Melton-Meaux’s campaign were efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” Martin said the average ActBlue contribution Melton-Meaux received in May was $650 compared to Omar’s average of $18. Melton-Meaux said he received five times the amount of contributions Omar did from within the 5th District. Omar said her campaign received more individual contributions from within the state than Melton-Meaux’s.

Omar is among four House members often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) recently endorsed Omar. Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of only endorsing incumbents. 

Working Families Party spends in support of Tlaib in MI-13

The Working Families Party and Detroit Action are spending $100,000 in support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District primary. Tlaib faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Politico’s Holly Otterbein reported that the independent expenditure campaign “will be focused on young Black and Latino voters, and is expected to highlight [Tlaib’s] record on racial justice, including her promotion of the BREATHE Act, which seeks to eliminate federal programs ‘used to finance and expand’ law enforcement.”

The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke and Christine Ferretti wrote:

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress. But Jones’ surrogates are pitching their candidate, who is African American, as a better choice to lead the majority-Black district amid a national movement for racial justice. Blacks comprise nearly 54% of the district’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary is a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

The Michigan AFL-CIO recently endorsed Tlaib. In 2018, the group endorsed Jones. Jones’ 2020 endorsers include several local elected officials and Black pastors.

The primary is Aug. 4.

AG commissioner endorses Vazquez in FL-18

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, endorsed Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District primary.

Fried said in her endorsement, “Florida’s 18th Congressional District deserves a Congressperson who will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, will be a champion for clean water, and will work to get things done for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.”

Vasquez is a lawyer and former Americorps volunteer. He faces Pam Keith, a lawyer and Navy veteran.

The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Vasquez in June. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Keith.

Both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Read Keith’s responses here and Vazquez’s responses here.

Incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), first elected in 2016, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenger. Three election forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Republican. The primary election is Aug. 18.

State executives

Candidates prepare runs for Virginia lieutenant governor, attorney general

Candidate fields have begun to emerge for two top-level executive offices in Virginia ahead of next year’s primaries. This month, five Democrats, including three members of the legislative class of 2017, announced their intention to run for executive office.

Although there are no term limits on the offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor, Virginia is the only state where governors are prohibited from serving back-to-back terms. Both Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) have suggested they will run to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Delegate Jay Jones (D), who was elected to the Norfolk-area district his father represented during the 1990s, became the first member of either major party to declare his intention to run for state attorney general on July 13. Jones, who is Black, would be Virginia’s first nonwhite attorney general. He said in his campaign kickoff video that challenging efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act would be among his priorities.

On July 14, Del. Hala Ayala (D), who defeated incumbent Rich Anderson (R) to win a district representing Prince William County, said she would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, becoming the first candidate to officially enter the race. She said she was running to ensure Virginia was better-prepared for future public health emergencies, including expanding Medicaid coverage.

State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D), who defeated incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) in another Prince William County contest, said she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor. 

On July 22, Norfolk city Councillor Andria McClellan (D) announced she was also exploring a run for lieutenant governor. McClellan was first elected to the city council in 2016, defeating incumbent Barclay Winn. Ayala, Guzman, or McClellan would each be the first woman elected to the office.

Sean Perryman said on July 27 that he was exploring a run. Perryman, a former counsel to the House Oversight Committee under Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is the president of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP, Virginia’s largest.

Other Democrats who have indicated they are considering a run for lieutenant governor include former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman and Mike Pudhorodsky.

Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s (D) run for governor Monday. The announcement came as Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) aired their first television ads ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.

Holcombe’s ad, titled “Believe”, first aired July 16. The ad introduces Holcombe as a former educator and says she believes Vermont can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position than when the pandemic started if it takes the opportunity to expand healthcare and education and attract high-paying jobs.

Zuckerman’s ad, titled “Building our Future”, displays clips of Zuckerman working on his farm. The ad says that while daily life has been disrupted by the pandemic, farm work needs to continue.

A third candidate, attorney Pat Winburn, began running television ads when he entered the race in March. Winburn, who has not previously held elected office, says he is running to bring a new perspective to state government.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Preliminary New York legislative results show progressive challengers defeated five incumbents

New York’s primaries occurred on June 23, but due to the coronavirus, results have been delayed as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Within the past week, additional votes counted show at least five progressive challengers defeating incumbent state Assembly members.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferre-Sadurni wrote, “A slew of progressive challengers upset entrenched incumbents in the New York Legislature … cementing their movement’s influence in Albany and making it likely that the state government will become one of the most liberal in the nation.”

The NYC Democratic Socialists of America, for example, endorsed one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18), and four others—Jabari Brisport (D), Phara Souffrant Forrest (D), Zohran Mamdani (D), and Marcela Mitaynes (D)—in the primaries. Of those five, Salazar, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes won their primaries. Brisport’s primary for the open Senate District 25 seat remains uncalled, but he has claimed victory.

Below is a list of races where challengers defeated incumbents. Vote totals have not been finalized, but in each instance the incumbents have either conceded or the challenger’s victory has been widely reported:

  • AD-34: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, an immigrant and healthcare activist, defeated Assm. Michael DenDekker, who first assumed office in 2009.
  • AD-36: Mamdani defeated Assm. Aravella Simotas. Simotas was first elected in 2010. She ran unopposed that year. Before Mamdani’s 2020 primary challenge, her only other contested election, general or primary, happened in 2012.
  • AD-50: Emily Gallagher defeated Assm. Joseph Lentol. Lentol was first elected in 1972. The NYC DSA did not endorse Gallagher, but she says she is a democratic socialist.
  • AD-51: Mitaynes defeated Assm. Felix Ortiz. Ortiz was first elected in 1994 and served as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly.
  • AD-57: Souffrant Forrest defeated Assm. Walter Mosley, who was first elected in 2012. Mosley will appear on the general election ballot on the Working Families Party ticket.

12 primaries featuring Democratic incumbents in the state Assembly remain uncalled. In the Senate, one such race remains uncalled.

Candidates participate in primary forum for Hawaii’s House District 20

On July 20, the four candidates running in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s House District 20 participated in a virtual forum hosted by the Oahu County Democratic Party. 

This is the first election since 1976 when Rep. Calvin Say (D-21) will not appear on the ballot. The longtime incumbent and former House Speaker announced in May he would run instead for Honolulu City Council in 2020.

House District 20 encompasses the Honolulu neighborhoods of St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, and Kaimuki.

The candidates are Kaimuki Neighborhood Board member Becky Gardner (D), state Department of Labor program specialist Jay Ishibashi (D), St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member Jackson Sayama (D), and attorney Derek Turbin (D).

The candidates were asked to speak about the intersection of economic and public health amid the coronavirus outbreak. All four candidates said public health should be the top priority while acknowledging the influence tourism has on the local economy. Ishibashi and Turbin suggested Hawaii begin marketing to tourists in countries with less severe coronavirus outbreaks. 

Sayama, Turbin, and Gardner also said they would prioritize creating jobs in industries distinct from tourism. Sayama mentioned growing the state’s renewable energy and cybersecurity sectors. Turbin said he would direct federal funds towards the local agriculture industry and develop a remote-worker economy. Gardner supported the Green New Deal as a means to recover from the economic downturn. 

The winner of the primary will face Julia Allen (R) in the general election.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Sherod in six-way primary for Missouri’s open Senate District 5 seat

On July 25, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed former deputy State Auditor Michelle Sherod (D) in the six-person Democratic primary for the open seat in Missouri’s Senate District 5. The paper said: “Sherod, 58, has the maturity and broad-based experience to advance [an urban-centric] agenda without brow-beating or lecturing conservatives about causes and concerns they don’t necessarily prioritize.” 

The editorial board also mentioned state Rep. Steven Roberts (D-77), another candidate in the primary, saying, “it’s important for voters to know that they have a strong alternative candidate in [Roberts], 32, … a former prosecutor,” adding, “Although Roberts has more legislative experience, Sherod clearly has more life experience.” Roberts was first elected to represent House District 77 in 2016.

Of the six candidates running, three have raised more than $10,000 according to pre-primary campaign finance reports. Sherod, Roberts, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green (D) raised $138,000, $273,000, and $101,000, respectively. Each candidate reported at least $20,000 cash on hand. 

Incumbent Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) is not running for re-election. She was first elected to represent District 5 in 2012.

Former St. Louis Public Schools Board member Bill Haas (D), non-profit consultant McFarlane Duncan (D), and property manager Jeremiah Church (D) are also running in the primary. The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Michael J. Hebron Sr. (R).

Power players

“In 2019-2020, we will work to elect Democratic senators who are committed to an economy that provides opportunity and security for America’s working families and who stand up to protect the rights of all Americans.” – Senate Majority PAC website

Founded in 2010 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the PAC has raised $148 million this cycle compared to $125 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Democrats’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Majority PAC reported more than $111.6 million in satellite spending, spending over $10 million each to oppose four Republican Senate candidates: Josh Hawley in Missouri ($18.0 million), Rick Scott in Florida ($15.8 million), Dean Heller in Nevada ($14.4 million), and Mike Braun in Indiana ($14.2 million). Other than Heller, each of the four won their races.

So far this cycle, the Senate Majority PAC has reported spending more than $1 million in three races, having already spent $5.2 million to oppose John James in Michigan, $3.6 million to oppose Susan Collins in Maine, and $1.9 million to oppose Steve Daines in Montana.



Special election primary being held in Washington Senate district

A special election primary is being held on August 4 for District 38 of the Washington State Senate. June Robinson (D), Kelly Fox (D), and Bernard Moody (R) are running in the special election. The top two candidates in the primary will compete in a general election on November 3. Candidates are running to serve the remainder of the unexpired two-year term.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of John McCoy on April 17. McCoy had represented the district since 2013. Robinson was appointed to the seat by the Snohomish County Council on May 13.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 29-20 majority in the Washington State Senate. Washington has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of July, 50 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/State_legislative_special_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_State_Senate_District_38



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