Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of October 20th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of October 20th, 2016)


For the Week of October 20th

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

“A coordinated effort among Democrats to prevent another round of GOP gerrymandering is Republicans' worst nightmare for the long-term health of their party.”

DLCC National Communications Director Carolyn Fiddler commented on the formation of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), a new group dedicated to taking on Republican gerrymandering and coordinating Democratic efforts up and down the ticket through the 2020 election cycle. NDRC will be chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder and has been identified by President Obama himself as a main focus of his political activity once he leaves office. The group will partner with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and other Democratic and progressive organizations in a national effort to flip legislative chambers and ultimately prevent Republicans from gerrymandering themselves into power for another decade. With the Clinton campaign working to expand Democratic influence in red states, voter registration reaching record breaking levels, and Donald Trump sinking down-ballot Republicans, Democrats are poised to flip legislative chambers all over the country on November 8. With more statehouses in Democratic hands, the DLCC and the NDRC will work hand-in-hand to ensure fair redistricting post-2020.

“It’s outright deceptive for Republican legislators — who have voted with Gov. Walker and Republicans nearly 100 percent of the time — to claim they are anything other than rubber stamps for the Walker agenda.”

George Aldrich, executive director of the Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, executive director of the Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee, calls out GOP hypocrisy as down-ballot Wisconsin Republican lawmakers attempt to distance themselves from their now-unpopular governor. At the Capitol, these legislators have voted in lock-step with their fellow Republicans, following Governor Walker's lead and helping push his right-wing policies. But now, 20 days out from Election Day, these same legislators are walking back their support for Walker as the governor sees plummeting job approval ratings and remains tangled in controversy stemming from the Guardian's report on possible GOP "pay-to-play" politics in the state. In a volatile election year, Republican legislative candidates are disguising their party-line voting records in campaign mailers that claim they stand "up against party leaders in Madison," highlighting votes against education budget cuts (while failing to mention votes in support of voucher programs at the expense of public schools). Down-ballot Republicans are becoming political contortionists as they attempt to distance themselves from top-of-the-ticket Republicans both on and off the ballot.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

How Many Republicans Will Trump Take Down With Him?

Alan Greenblatt (Governing)
October 14, 2016

Donald Trump's faltering campaign and the open warfare it's triggered within his party are bound to hurt other Republican candidates. The question is, how much?

Democrats went into this election cycle optimistic about taking back some of the many legislative chambers they lost in 2010 and 2014. Trump's problems give them a real chance.

"We certainly think we'll take back these rented chambers," said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), referring to the legislative bodies taken by Republicans in 2014 in Democratic-leaning states like Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire and Washington state.

The Republican Party has been deeply divided by the Trump candidacy and its never-ending set of controversies. Washington state GOP Chair Susan Hutchison, for example, came under considerable criticism within party circles this week for suggesting that when Trump made his remarks about grabbing women, "he was a Democrat at the time." ...

Post, the DLCC official, said that Trump's unpopularity means that Democrats will not only win back a number of chambers in November but make serious inroads in states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

"We didn't necessarily see states like Arizona and Michigan as being in play at the start of this cycle," she said. "But now we think we have a path to taking the Arizona Senate and the Michigan House." ...

One of the big question marks regarding the presidential race is how many citizens will be so turned off that they might not vote at all. If polls stay where they are now, Republicans who don't like Trump might not bother turning out, convinced that he can't win.

On the other hand, there's been a lot of media chatter this week that Trump loyalists, angered by the criticism from his own party, will vote for him and then leave the rest of their ballots blank.

That remains to be seen, but either scenario would hurt down-ballot GOP candidates.

[Read More]

State battles are hot; election isn’t just about White House

Davied Lieb (Associated Press)
October 17, 2016

Years of losses have left Democrats at historic lows in state legislatures. But now they’re seeking to wrest control of as many as a dozen chambers from Republicans, a key step in gaining more influence in redistricting.

The battle for statehouse control is playing out in more than half the states with tens of millions of dollars of planned political spending before the Nov. 8 general election. Democrats are hoping the turmoil surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign can boost their fortunes in down-ballot races, although Hillary Clinton remains unpopular in many Republican-leaning regions...

“A volatile environment” is how it’s described by his counterpart Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

Money spent on TV advertising for state House and Senate races is up more than 50 percent compared with the same point in 2014, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press by the Center for Public Integrity of data from the media-tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

With gridlock in Washington, states increasingly are where policies are adopted on major issues such as gun rights, marijuana use, minimum wages and the regulation of businesses in the new economy, such as ride-sharing services and online fantasy sports.

Also at stake is redistricting control. The party that controls legislatures and governorships during the 2020 Census will have the upper hand in redrawing congressional and state legislative districts in those states. Controlling those boundaries can ensure a political advantage for the next decade...

National Democratic and Republican groups are particularly focused on 27 states where they hope either to flip control of a chamber or cut into the opposing party’s majority with an eye toward greater gains in the future.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee says it expects to win control of between eight and 12 new chambers and has highlighted 52 “essential races,” including many in presidential battleground states.

The GOP’s Walter acknowledges Republicans may see a slight overall decline, but he says they still could win several new chambers, including the Kentucky House, the lone Democratic-led chamber in the Southeast. The Republican State Leadership Committee has been running TV ads portraying Democratic Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo as a Clinton ally intent on putting coal miners out of work.

At the top of the target list for Democrats is the Michigan House, where dozens of Republicans elected in the wave of 2010 are now barred by term limits from seeking re-election. Adding to Democratic hopes: Clinton is ahead in the polls there, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s popularity has tanked following his administration’s handling of the lead-tainted water in Flint. Democrats must gain nine seats to reclaim the chamber, meaning they likely need victories in some blue-collar districts where Trump figures to fare better.

Several states with split-party control in their legislatures are being targeted by both parties, including Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington.

Republicans currently hold a precarious single-seat advantage over Democrats in the Colorado Senate, while Democrats hold just a three-seat lead in the House. One of the most pivotal races is in Denver’s western suburbs, where Republican Sen. Laura Woods faces a rematch against Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, who held the seat in 2014.

[Read More]

COMING UP

Voter Registration Deadlines, State by State - The New York Times

When does early voting start in every state? - POLITICO

November 8 - Election Day (United States)

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Abortion

CT: NARAL, Family Institute Endorse in Legislative Races - Hartford Courant
PA: Anti-abortion group to spread its message in Harrisburg with the help of graphic images - PennLive
PA: State lawmakers have handful of voting days before Election Day - The Inquirer
WI: Legislation banning state funds from going toward abortion forces many women to pay for procedure out-of-pocket - Badger Herald

Guns

FL: Endorsement Watch: Florida Retail Federation, Florida Conservation Voters, NRA issue endorsements - Florida Politics
ME: Gabrielle Giffords, Portland police chief stump for tighter gun control - Bangor Daily News
NV: When it comes to gun laws, nevada could be edging closer to California - Las Vegas Sun
PA: State lawmakers have handful of voting days before Election Day - The Inquirer
VA: Guns at polling places worry Virginia election officials - The Washington Post

Health Care

AR: Arkansas Supreme Court keeps medical marijuana act on the ballot, rejects casino amendment (Updated) - Talk Business & Politics
CO: Bernie Sanders to campaign in Boulder for Amendment 69, the statewide universal healthcare proposal - The Denver Post
FL: Florida Dems give medical marijuana proponents fundraising boost - Florida Politics

Labor

ME: LePage says 2 leaders of effort to raise Maine’s minimum wage should be jailed - The Portland Press Herald
VA: ‘Right-to-work’ is hot election issue between unions, business in Va. - The Washington Post
WA: Powerful SEIU pins hopes for higher wages, more state services on Democrats’ victory in Legislature - The Seattle Times

LGBT

MA: Massachusetts churches sue over transgender bathroom bill - Reuters
NC: McCrory’s HB2 emails: Pressure before signing, and a firestorm afterward - The Charlotte Observer
NC: Gov. McCrory says HB2 protects public safety. These victims would say otherwise. - Myrtle Beach Online
NC: NC governor doubles down on anti-LGBT law, continues to blame gay rights group - LGBTQ Nation
NC: Addressing Challenges to Progressive Religious Liberty in North Carolina - Center for American Progress
PA: There's still time for Pa. to pass protections for LGBT citizens that respect the rights of all: Robin Fretwell Wilson - PennLive
U.S.: In battle for LGBT rights, cities run ahead of states - The Christian Science Monitor
U.S.: Human Rights Campaign Releases 5th Annual Municipal Equality Index - The Human Rights Campaign

Voting Rights

AZ: Appeals Court to consider blocking ballot collection law - Associated Press
AZ: Federal judges deal double blows to Democrats' challenges of Arizona voting laws - Associated Press
FL: Citing 'obscene' disenfranchisement, federal judge hands Democrats another Florida court victory - Miami Herald
GA: Hearing set in lawsuit over Georgia’s voter registration deadline - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
IN: Committee Votes To Create Bipartisan Redistricting Commission - Indiana Public Media
MO: Groups opposing voter ID amendment team up to relay concerns to Missouri voters - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
TX: Odd Texas voting law on interpreters scuttled before November election - The Texas Tribune
TX: Dallas County set to double number of early voting sites - Dallas News
VA: Civil rights group sues Virginia elections officials over voter registration outages - Richmond Times-Dispatch
VA: Getting out the restored vote - The Roanoke Times
WI: Wis. Judge Signs Off On Voting Credential Handouts - Associated Press
WI: Judge blasts state over voter ID - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
U.S.: Obama, Holder to lead post-Trump redistricting campaign - POLITICO

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

AZ: Democrats confident they can finally win a House seat in LD18 - Arizona Capitol Times
CA: These 12 races will determine the California Legislature’s balance of power - The Sacramento Bee
CA: Brown endorses Democrat in heated East Bay race - SF Gate
CO: Colorado's House Is Safely Democratic, So Senate Races Like Woods-Zenzinger Will Decide Control - Colorado Public Radio
CT: If Democrats win, Matt Ritter to be next CT House majority leader - CT Mirror Times
FL: National Dems list Jennifer Webb, Beth Tuura, José Javier Rodriguez as 'essentials' - Florida Politics
FL: Democrats take slight lead in vote-by-mail ballots - Florida Politics
FL: State could tally 64,000 new voters in extended registration period - SaintPetersBlog
FL: Beth Tuura up with video ad on her background, determination - Florida Politics
FL: Florida Senate candidate accused of theft in Hallandale Beach - Sun Sentinel
IN: Democrats hope to end Statehouse supermajorities - Indy Star
KY: Democrats hitting E.Ky. TV airwaves in three districts targeted by GOP super PAC - CN2
ME: Democrats off to fast start with absentee voting - Bangor Daily News
MN: Dayton takes active role in campaign for Legislature - MPR News
NC: Democrats hope to smash GOP supermajority in NC House - News & Observer
NY: SD-46: Niccoli Pushes Amedore On Trump - NY State of Politics
NY: Leader of Democratic Senate caucus likely to wield more power after elections - The Buffalo News
NY: NY State Senate Candidate Who Promised 'Kool Aid, KFC and Watermelons' Arrested, Says 'I'm Hungry Now' - NBC 4 New York
OH: Area GOP legislative candidates struggle with Donald Trump - The Columbus Dispatch
OR: Democrats and Republicans wage expensive fight to pick up seats in Oregon House - The Oregonian
SC: More, diverse SC voters set for Election Day - The State
TN: Dickerson-Coleman Senate race headlines Tennessee’s battlegrounds - The Tennessean
TX: Reports shine light on competitive statehouse races - The Texas Tribune
TX: Record 15 million Texans registered to vote - The Texas Tribune
WA: Behind the curtain of ‘gray money’: Donors, motives hard to track in Washington legislative races - The Seattle Times
WI: In 2016, state Republicans in swing districts distance themselves from Scott Walker - Madison.com
U.S.: November Likely to Lessen GOP's Advantage in Legislatures - Governing
U.S.: How Many Republicans Will Trump Take Down With Him? - Governing
U.S.: Showing Confidence, Hillary Clinton Pushes Into Republican Strongholds - The New York Times
U.S.: State battles are hot; election isn’t just about White House - Associated Press

CONTACT

Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee
fiddler@dlcc.org