On Thursday, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee included three Florida 2016 Essential Races, expanding the list to highlight 52 legislative races across the country. Victory Fund-endorsed Florida House candidates Beth Tuura and Jennifer Webb were upgraded to Essential Races, along with current state Representative and 2016 state Senate candidate Jose Javier Rodriguez. Tuura, an Emmy award-winning broadcaster, was inspired to run for Florida HD-47 after witnessing the policy shortcomings of the GOP-led chamber, including the failed vote to shield LGBT Floridians under the state’s equal protection law. Webb, running for HD-69, will draw on her experience as Director of Community Engagement for the University of South Florida to bring communities together to achieve state progress. Rep. Rodriguez is running in SD-37, and he will bring valuable experience fighting for working families and students in the state House to the Senate. DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post expressed her excitement over the strong candidates running in Essential Races, noting, “This cycle’s down-ballot Democratic recruits are unprecedented in their diversity and quality. The success of these candidates will not only decide the balance of power in many states, but also help state legislatures better reflect the increasing diversity of the American electorate.”
In Oregon, Democrats and Republicans are engaged in an increasingly expensive fight for control of the Oregon House, which Democrats currently enjoy a 10-seat majority over Republicans. In an effort to draw attention and support to down-ballot Oregon Democrats running in key districts, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has added Janelle Bynum’s race for Oregon HD-51 and Tonia Moro’s race for SD-03 to its list of 2016 Essential Races. Both women are small business owners running for now-open seats, with Moro looking to succeed her ally in progressive reform, the late Sen. Alan Bates. Aaron Fiedler, a spokesperson for Future PAC, the Oregon House Democrats’ political action committee, commented on Republicans’ reliance on big-dollar contributions from out of state donors, noting, “The reality for Republican candidates is that they haven’t been able to raise effectively from in-state donors.” As of early this week, individual House Republican candidates and Democratic candidates had both raised totals nearing $5.8 million since 2015, while Future PAC raked in over three times as much as their Republican equivalent, Promote Oregon Leadership PAC, since the beginning of October.
Another debate was chalked up as a Democratic win this week, this time for Nevada state Senate and DLCC Essential Races candidate Devon Reese. In November, Reese will face former House Minority Leader Heidi Gansert in the race to represent the key Senate District 15. While Gansert tried to exploit her experience as Minority Leader and Chief of Staff to Gov. Sandoval, Reese proved her tactic unwise as he exposed her bad voting record on a range of issues and noted, “Experience matters, absolutely...But the wrong experience is worse than having no experience at all.” Gansert’s record provided endless fodder for Reese as he drew attention to her dangerous views on guns, support for Donald Trump, and irresponsible fiscal policies. The DLCC included Reese in its list of 2016 Essential Races. With Democratic voter registrations spiking and Trump’s top spot on the Republican ballot plaguing his party’s down-ballot candidates, Reese and Nevada Democrats are zeroing in on post-election majorities in both battleground chambers.
In Ohio, Republican legislative candidates are struggling to distance themselves from their party’s standard bearer, Donald Trump. GOP candidate for HD-23, Laura Lanese, expressed her frustration with her party’s presidential nominee, saying, “He’s making my life incredibly difficult…He’s going to hurt a lot of us downticket.” While Republicans are struggling in this battleground state, Democrats stand to benefit from Trump’s negative coattails and aim to win ground in the Legislature this November. This week, the DLCC added Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Tommy Greene (HD-16) to its list of 2016 Essential Races; Greene joins fellow Ohio Democrats Ginny Favede (HD-95) and Emily Hagan (SD-24) who were added to the Committee’s list of key races last week.
Missouri state Senator Scott Sifton’s crucial re-election campaign was added to the DLCC’s list of 2016 Essential Races this week. In November, Sifton will face Republican challenger and former SD-02 candidate Randy Jotte. Sifton was elected to represent the St. Louis County SD-01 in 2012, when he narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Jim Lembke, becoming the first Democrat to unseat a full-term Republican Senator is recent state history. As a Senator, Sifton has earned the reputation of an intellectual legislator, a tactful negotiator, and an advocate for his district. Sifton has worked to improve public schools, champion strong ethics rules for legislators, and support veterans as a member of the Missouri Veterans Commission. Sifton noted, “I’ve worked across the aisle, I haven’t always agreed with the majority, but I think for the most part we’ve made sure the process of the Missouri Senate has been fair, there are [sic] have been strong and reasonable checks and balances in the system, and I think that’s important.”