For the Week of 6/29/2018
Democrats in statehouses across the country are fighting to move America forward. In case you missed it, here are some statehouse highlights from this week:
If there was any question that the November midterm elections are more important than ever, the retirement of Justice Kennedy made that loud and clear. Often seen as the swing vote for critical civil rights cases, Kennedy’s exit foreshadows a consolidation of right-wing power as the majority on the SCOTUS bench as Trump plans to replace him with a reliable conservative ideologue - effectively removing the court as a check on Trump’s divisive and discriminatory agenda. This puts policies decided by statehouses, like partisan gerrymandering, immigration, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and access to abortion in the national spotlight. Democrats must stand united and work to elect more state Democrats and regain statehouse majorities across the country to make sure this will not mark the end of our nation’s progress on civil rights. In 2018, it will be more than just candidates on the ballot – it will also be a choice about protecting the future of our democracy, our American values, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens from a potential right-wing Supreme Court that will serve Trump rather than the constitution.
It is no secret that there are more Democratic women than Republican women serving in all legislative levels of government. Through its partnership with organizations like EMILY’s List, Run For Something, and Emerge America, the DLCC works to support strong, Democratic women to run for office by providing access to trainings, tools, resources, and everything else needed to win. And Trump’s presidential victory galvanized even more women to run for office – there has been an influx in the number of women running for their state legislatures nationwide, especially in Texas and Florida. Electing Democratic women to state legislatures is not only an important stepping stone to break Republicans’ stranglehold on statehouses across the country, but it also lays the groundwork to help Democratic women enter the candidate pipeline. The DLCC is committed to continue supporting strong Democratic women in their quest to protect our values and insulate their communities from the Trump agenda.
Knowing that Maine Republicans can’t win on their own merits this November, they are putting their thumb on the scale by refusing a routine fix to a typo that effectively shuts down the state’s Clean Elections system. Maine voters have twice approved the Clean Elections program that aids candidates who wish to receive very limited private contributions to their campaigns. However, the system – embraced by mostly Democratic candidates – is threatened by an inadvertent drafting error that prohibits the Maine Ethics Commission from disbursing funds to candidates through the Clean Elections system. In an election year where the DLCC continues to be extremely successful in harnessing the incredible momentum we’ve seen from Democrats all over the country, Republicans know that this unethical obstruction of the Clean Elections system will help stem this momentum. Maine House Democrats, led by DLCC Board member Speaker Sara Gideon, have been critical in the advancement of progressive policy in the state, and with Democrats only one seat away from flipping the Maine Senate from red to blue, the DLCC has both chambers in its sights this November. After flipping 44 seats from red to blue since the 2016 election, it is essential that we continue to elect more Democrats and flip everything this November to hold Republicans accountable for their detrimental and divisive policies affecting Americans nationwide.
State Democrats are leading the charge to secure voting rights for everyone. This Wednesday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill that automatically registers residents to vote when they receive licenses at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or medical care through MassHealth, Massachusetts’ health care program for those who are disabled or have low incomes. Estimated to enroll an additional 500,000 voters, this bill makes the ballot box more accessible for every citizen by enfranchising those often marginalized from the democratic process, such as young people, those from lower incomes, and communities of color. With this bill, Massachusetts becomes the 14th state to have passed legislation for automatic voter registration. Despite the shameful blow dealt to voting rights this week by the Supreme Court’s decision in Abbott v. Perez, state Democrats have continued to step up to protect our constitutional right to vote.
In an updated report entitled “Stranded at the Altar,” New York State Senate Democrats revealed how their Republican counterparts have repeatedly failed the LGBTQ community by refusing to pass even one of the 21 LGBTQ-related bills brought before them in 2018. Instead, they have wasted the Senate’s time on such frivolous pursuits as naming baseball as New York’s official sport and the wood frog as its official amphibian, continuing a pattern of Republican inaction on LGBTQ issues that began after the 2011 Marriage Equality Act. By grossly ignoring the community and refusing to protect the rights of all Americans, the Republicans and their allies in the State Senate are participating in the discrimination and marginalization that the LGBT community faces in their daily lives. After the DLCC helped to bring the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) members home to the main line Democratic conference under the leadership of DLCC Board member Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the DLCC is only one seat away from flipping the New York Senate. This November, it is critical that New Yorkers hold these Senators accountable for their purposeful inaction and obstructionism, and elect the Democratic Senate majority New Yorkers have wanted for years.
- Statement from DLCC Executive Director on Abbott v. Perez [DLCC Press Release]
- Statement from DLCC Executive Director on Janus v. AFSCME [DLCC Press Release]
- How Post-Millennial Voters Could Change America [The Atlantic]
- Uncertainty for midterms after Supreme Court acts in key redistricting cases [ABC News]
"There is no sugarcoating today’s opinion. The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this Nation’s law— and in its economic life—for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance. And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy."
-- Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan's dissent in the Janus v. AFSCME decision
The DLCC was disappointed by this decision by the Supreme Court. This decision goes against what Democrats have spent so long fighting to protect - the freedom of working people to join together in strong unions to speak up for themselves and their communities. Republicans have rigged the system in their favor, and we will continue to work overtime to show them that the power of the people is greater than the people in power. The DLCC remains dedicated to electing state Democrats to statehouses nationwide and flipping chambers this November and beyond so our legislators can work to protect unions, raise the minimum wage, pass paid family leave, ensure equal pay, and help make sure all families can thrive.
7/10/18: Candidate Filing Deadline in Delaware
7/12/18: Candidate Filing Deadline in New York
7/17/18: Runoff Elections in Alabama
7/24/18: Runoff Elections in Georgia
8/2/18: Primary Elections in Tennessee
8/7/18: Primary Elections in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington