Politics & leadership

Dems Pick UP GOP Seat in WI Senate | 01-19-2018

Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated Wisconsin state Rep. Adam Jarchow (R) in a special election last Tuesday to claim the Senate seat in the state’s 10th District held for 17 years by former Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R), who took a job in the administration...

Some States Act on Gun Control | 01-19-2018

Although there appears to be broad public support for some gun control measures , federal action on any of them seems unlikely in the current political climate. “The possibility of evidence-based firearm laws has become so politically toxic...

Politics in Brief -January 22 2018 | 01-19-2018

GOP BLOCKING EFFORT TO GIVE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS CONTROL OVER CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: Republicans who control the VIRGINIA Senate have vowed not to allow local governments in the state to decide whether to move or remove Confederate monuments. Democrats...

Republicans Hold VA House | 01-12-2018

After a couple of court rulings and a rare, random drawing, control of the Virginia House - firmly in Republican hands before the Nov. 7 election but up in the air afterward - appears to have finally been decided in Republicans’ favor. A recount...

Democrat Jones Declared Winner of US Senate Race in AL | 01-12-2018

Last month Alabama officials certified Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the state’s Dec. 12 U.S. Senate election over Republican Roy Moore, a former chief justice for the state’s Supreme Court. Moore, a conservative firebrand who was removed...

Trump Disbands Voter Fraud Commission | 01-12-2018

President Trump abruptly dissolved his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity this month. The commission had been tasked with investigating voter fraud, which Trump has repeatedly insisted was responsible for Hillary Clinton’s popular...

Politics In Brief - January 15 2018 | 01-12-2018

NC CONGRESSIONAL MAP RULED PARTISAN GERRYMANDER The congressional map drawn by NORTH CAROLINA’s Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2011 was struck down this month by a panel of federal judges on the grounds that it violated the 14th Amendment...

Recent Elections Change Parties’ Playbooks for 2018 | 12-15-2017

In defeating Republican Roy Moore in last Tuesday’s U.S. Senate race in Alabama – although Moore has refused to concede – Democrat Doug Jones did something no member of his party has done in the Deep South for 25 years. And while the...

WA Defies FCC Repeal of Net Neutrality | 12-15-2017

Last week the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to repeal the net neutrality regulations adopted during the Obama administration prohibiting broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast from favoring or blocking content from certain websites...

Land Grab Lesson for Border Wall Watchers | 12-15-2017

In the spring of 2007, long before presidential candidate Donald Trump began promising to build a wall along the border with Mexico, the federal government initiated one of the most aggressive seizures of private land in decades to build a fence to keep...

Politics in Brief - December 18 2017 | 12-15-2017

SCOTUS AGREES TO HEAR SECOND REDISTRICTING CASE: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a redistricting case from MARYLAND involving Republican voters’ claim that the congressional districts drawn by the state’s Democrat-controlled General...

AL Businesses Fear Economic Cost of Moore Senate Candidacy | 12-08-2017

Alabama GOP U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore appears to have bounced back from the allegations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled against him. But some members of the state’s business community are concerned about the potential impact of his...

FL Constitution Revision Committee Hard at Work | 12-08-2017

Over 100 proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution are currently being considered by a commission that meets every 20 years. Among other things the proposals would make it harder for state lawmakers to increase taxes, create a patients’...

Politics in Brief - December 11 2017 | 12-08-2017

DATES SET FOR VA HOUSE RECOUNTS: Recounts of three close VIRGINIA House races on Nov. 7, in the 40th, 94th and 68th districts, have been set for Dec. 13 and 14, 19, and 20, respectively. A preliminary hearing for a potential fourth recount in the 28th...

Democrats Fielding Citizen Legislative Candidates | 12-01-2017

As a 2015 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Pew Charitable Trusts indicates, most state lawmakers are business owners, lawyers or professional politicians. That stands to reason since people who work in those professions...

Opponents of Partisan Redistricting Turning to Ballot Box | 12-01-2017

An effort in Michigan to strip lawmakers of the power to draw the state’s legislative and congressional districts and turn that task over to a nonpartisan commission is on track to collect over 400,000 signatures - 315,000 of which would need to...

Politics In Brief - December 04 2017 | 12-01-2017

RECOUNTS LIKELY IN AT LEAST TWO VA HOUSE RACES With control of the VIRGINIA House of Delegates hanging in the balance, Democrats in the state have filed for recounts in two close November House races: in the 40th District, where Del. Tim Hugo (R) defeated...

Control of VA House Could Hinge on 55 Absentee Ballots | 11-17-2017

After apparently claiming 15 GOP-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates in this month’s legislative elections, Democrats only need one more seat to take control of the chamber. The outcome in three districts, however, awaits recounts. And...

One-Party Rule No Guaranty of Results | 11-17-2017

After hitting the political trifecta this month with the election of Democrat Phil Murphy to the governor’s office, the first order of legislative business for New Jersey Democrats next year will likely be raising taxes on high-earners, a proposal...

Politics in Brief - November 20 2017 | 11-17-2017

CA SENATE SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASES TO BE INVESTIGATED BY OUTSIDE COUNSEL: CALIFORNIA’s Senate Rules Committee issued a statement last week indicating that an outside legal team will now be handling the investigation of any sexual harassment or...

Dems Score Big Gains in State Legislative Races | 11-10-2017

Just two states - New Jersey and Virginia - held general elections on Nov. 7 in which state legislative seats were contested. Democrats made modest gains in New Jersey, where all 80 seats in the Assembly and all 40 seats in the Senate were up for grabs...

Majority of Ballot Measures Win Passage | 11-10-2017

Voters in seven states considered a total of 22 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 7. Texas voters weighed seven of those measures, the highest number of the seven states. All seven measures passed, which isn’t too unusual in the Lone Star State...

Politics in Brief - November 13 2017 | 11-10-2017

KY HOUSE SPEAKER RESIGNS POST: KENTUCKY Rep. Jeff Hoover, the state’s first Republican House speaker since 1921, stepped down from that post last week over allegations of sexual harassment were made against him and three other Republican lawmakers...

General Legislative Elections in Two States on Nov 7 | 11-03-2017

Just two states - New Jersey and Virginia - will hold general elections on Nov. 7 in which state legislative seats will be contested. Louisiana and Mississippi also hold legislative elections in odd-numbered years but all legislators in those two states...

Another Slow Year for Ballot Measures | 11-03-2017

On Nov. 7 voters in 7 states will consider a total of 22 statewide ballot measures, bringing the count for the year - with measures on the ballot last month in two states - to 27. That continues a downward trend in the number of measures on the ballot...

MT Upholds Tradition of Restricting Political Spending | 11-03-2017

In 1912 Montana passed a law prohibiting all corporate spending in the state’s elections. The law remained in place for 100 years, until the U.S. Supreme Court declared it to be in conflict with the court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC...

Politics in Brief - November 6 2017 | 11-03-2017

TX HOUSE SPEAKER WILL NOT SEEK REELECTION: After five terms as speaker of the TEXAS House, Rep. Joe Straus announced last month that he would not be running for re-election next year. Straus has repeatedly been criticized this year by fellow Republicans...

AK Judge Allows Independents To Run In Partisan Primaries | 10-20-2017

Last week Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg struck down an Alaska law barring independent candidates from running in the state’s partisan primary elections. The state’s Democratic Party had challenged the law, contending it restricted...

Partisan Divide On Gender Equality | 10-20-2017

About half of Americans say not enough has been done to create gender equality in the country, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. But that study, which is based on an online survey of 4,573 adults conducted on Aug. 8-21 and Sept. 14...

Politics In Brief - October 23 2017 | 10-20-2017

GA TRIES OUT PAPER-BALLOT VOTING MACHINES GEORGIA initiated the first step of a new paper-ballot voting machine pilot program last week with the start of early voting ahead of local contests and special elections on Nov. 7. The aim of the test, in...

America’s Partisan Divide Growing | 10-13-2017

It may come as no surprise to anyone who’s observed the political discourse in this country during the last two presidential administrations, but the gap between Democrats and Republicans is widening, according to a new study from the Pew Research...

Lawmaker Resignations Costing OK | 10-13-2017

Oklahoma could spend over a quarter of a million dollars on special elections this year. The reason? The need to fill eight vacancies in the state’s Legislature - four in the House and four in the Senate. One of those vacancies was created...

Hackers To Help Make US Elections More Secure | 10-13-2017

One of the highlights of this year’s DEFCON - one of the world’s largest hacker conferences, held each summer in Las Vegas - was a Voting Machine Hacking Village, where attendees were invited to infiltrate more than 25 different voting machines...

Politics In Brief - October 16 2017 | 10-13-2017

OK CONSIDERS COOLING-OFF PERIOD FOR STATE OFFICIALS The OKLAHOMA Ethics Commission is considering banning state officials and employees from lobbying for two years from the time their government service ends. Over 30 states already have such cooling...

Vegas Shooting Unlikely To Change Some US Gun Numbers | 10-06-2017

The mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas last week that left 59 people dead has displaced the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando last year, in which 49 people were killed, as the deadliest such attack in modern U.S. history...

Supreme Court Begins Blockbuster Fall Term | 10-06-2017

After being short-handed for over a year, due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a full-strength U.S. Supreme Court began its fall term last week with a docket full of major cases. They include: Gill v. Whitford , No. 16-1161, in which the court...

Russian Hacking Speeds Shift Away From Electronic-Only Voting Machines | 10-06-2017

After the recount in Florida in the 2000 presidential election with its infamous “hanging chads,” many states and counties, with the aid of federal funding from the Help America Vote Act, replaced their paper-based voting systems with, in...

Politics In Brief - October 9 2017 | 10-06-2017

MI Senate Leader Backs Private Police Plan MICHIGAN Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R) has proposed a bill ( SB 594 ) that would authorize private, possibly for-profit police forces with full arrest powers to supplement public law enforcement...

Graham-Cassidy Bill Comes Up Short In Senate | 09-29-2017

U.S. Senate Republicans abandoned their last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to do so with a simple majority of 50 votes. That decision came after U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined...

Moore Bests Trump In AL Senate Race | 09-29-2017

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore handily defeated sitting U.S. Sen. Luther Strange (R-Alabama) in a special primary runoff last Tuesday to determine the Republican who will potentially serve out the term of now-Attorney General Jeff...

CA Moves Up Primary Election Date | 09-29-2017

For the last few years, California has held its primary elections in June, which, in 2016, was after Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had already become their respective parties’ presumptive nominees. Under a bill ( SB 568 ) signed by Gov. Jerry...

Politics In Brief - October 2 2017 | 09-29-2017

DHS CONTACTS STATES ABOUT 2016 ELECTION HACKING The Department of Homeland Security directly notified election officials in 21 states last month that they had been targeted by hackers connected to the Russian government during the 2016 election campaign...

VA Ditching Touchscreen Voting Machines Ahead of Nov Election | 09-15-2017

On Nov. 7 Virginia will hold a governor’s race that the Washington Post described as “a harbinger of the 2018 midterms and a test of politics in the era of President Trump.” The state’s voters will also decide contests for lieutenant...

Congressional Redistricting Reform Coming to OH? | 09-15-2017

In 2015 Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure reforming the state’s highly partisan legislative redistricting process, but congressional redistricting was left untouched. Now there’s talk around the Statehouse of remedying that...

CA Sues to Block Elimination of DACA | 09-15-2017

Last Monday, a week after the attorneys general from 15 states filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created in 2012 through an executive order from President Obama, California...

Politics In Brief - September 18 2017 | 09-15-2017

SUPREME COURT STAYS TX REMAP ORDER: The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Aug. 24 ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Western District of TEXAS that several of that state’s legislative districts had been drawn...

States Sue To Block Termination Of DACA | 09-08-2017

Democratic attorneys general from the District of Columbia and 15 states - Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington - filed...

States Not Investing In Election Security | 09-08-2017

Most election officials and lawmakers agree that the cyberattacks targeting America’s voting systems last year are an ongoing threat. But resources aren’t being allocated for updating voting equipment, strengthening voter databases, training...

Politics In Brief - September 11 2017 | 09-08-2017

BACKERS OF NONPARTISAN REDISTRICTING MEASURE HAVE TIES TO DEMS Seven of the 10 board members of a petition committee pushing to create an independent citizen redistricting commission in MICHIGAN have supported Democratic candidates in previous elections...

New Strategy For Public Election Financing | 09-01-2017

The hope that public financing of elections might eventually get big private money out of politics ended with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission , eliminating limits on political spending by...