For the Week of 6/9/2017
This week, the Supreme Court confirmed that Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly had racially gerrymandered two congressional districts and a whopping 28 state legislative districts. After the ruling, Democratic Gov. Cooper did the only responsible thing he could and called for a special session of the Legislature so lawmakers could redraw the district lines. State Republicans’ response? The Republican-led North Carolina House voted 71-44 — along party lines — to cancel the special session. The vote wasn’t even taken in the GOP-controlled Senate. It’s telling that the only way North Carolina Republicans think they can win is by breaking the rules or refusing to play the game at all. DLCC breaks down the ruling and more in this week’s Medium post.
As Donald Trump’s approval ratings to continue to tank, down-ballot Republicans are feeling the effects in legislative special elections across the country. Since Trump took office in January, state Democrats have overperformed in almost every special election while scoring victories in multiple key races. In fact, by calculating a district’s “baseline partisanship” using a weighted average of the last two presidential election results, Democratic special election candidates have moved the needle “left” by a whopping average of 14.4 percentage points! Recently, in New Hampshire and New York, this shift was enough to flip seats from red to blue. With elections in New Jersey and Virginia and critical legislative special elections in Washington and Florida on the horizon, DLCC remains committed to resisting Trump and Republican extremism by electing Democrats to statehouses nationwide.
If you’re looking for the resistance, look no further than the influx of first-time women candidates running for state legislatures. Since Election Day, over 13,000 women from all 50 states have reached out to EMILY’s List with interest in running for office. In New Jersey, state Senate Democratic candidate Christine Lui Chen was inspired by Barack Obama’s suggestion to “grab a clipboard” and get on the ballot. This November, Chen will aim to be the first Asian-American woman to serve in the New Jersey Legislature and her district’s first Democratic state Senator in more than 30 years. In Virginia, the 2017 House of Delegates elections has already attracted a record-breaking number of Democratic candidates. Presently, an impressive 38 Democratic women candidates are running to keep Trumpism out of the Virginia House. Through DLCC’s recruitment table, The Combine, and many other electoral programs, DLCC is proud to support these first-time women candidates as they fight to protect our nation’s values at the local level.
When President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, there was an almost immediate response from the resistance. Across the country, mayors, governors, and state legislatures leapt into action. State legislators urged governors to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group formed by Washington Gov. Inslee, New York Gov. Cuomo, and California Gov. Brown, and began working on environmentally responsible legislation that would put their states in line with the Accord’s requirements. “With the Trump Administration planning to slash environmental programs and protect polluters, it is up to New York state government to protect our health, economy and environment,” said DLCC Board member and New York Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. In Hawaii, Democrats passed legislation making it the first state to enact a law aligning with the Paris agreement. In California, DLCC Board member and Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León called on Gov. Brown to convene a “climate summit”; 27 Senate Democrats cosigned the letter. In a piece for The American Prospect, Senate President de León highlighted California’s place as a clean energy leader: “California’s leadership is now more critical than ever. We’re showing the way forward, and we’re sending a clear message to the rest of the world that no president, no matter how desperately they try to ignore reality, can halt our progress.” Senate President de León’s bill to put California on the path to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2045 is currently making its way through the Legislature. As the Trump White House continues to push reckless and detrimental policies, state Democrats will continue to lead the resistance and work to pass responsible legislation to move America forward.
As state Democrats in California, Oregon, Hawaii, Nevada, and beyond pass legislation to resist the Trump agenda, a state known for its progressive leadership is noticeably missing. In New York, eight rogue state Senate Democrats, known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), have been collaborating with Senate Republicans for years. This agreement between the IDC and Senate Republicans gives Republicans effective control of the chamber, and has robbed New Yorkers of the Democratic majority they elected. Democrat Brian Benjamin’s victory in a May state Senate special election sparked Senator Kirsten Gilibrand, every Democrat of the New York congressional delegation, Mayor Bill De Blasio, DNC Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison, and DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post to issue statements urging IDC members to return Democratic control to the state’s upper legislative chamber. In the Trump era, it is imperative that New York Democrats are able to stand against this administration’s detrimental policies and serve as a bellwether in Democrats’ resistance at the state level. By defecting, the IDC is only helping Republicans defeat vital Democratic legislation and preventing the advancement of state progress in one of the nation’s bluest states.
*DLCC's Quote of the Week*
"Sometimes it takes you to be hit on the head by a 2×4. With Trump, we’ve been hit by a 2×4 with a nail in it."
Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), one of two openly gay Virginia House incumbents up for re-election this year, on how Trump and the GOP are pushing a record number of LGBTQ Democrats to run for state office.