Blue Candidates Ride a Green Wave

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

Democrats Seeking House Seats Raise More Money than Republicans

Democratic Congressional candidates have trounced their Republican counterparts in fundraising efforts through the first two quarters of the 2018 election cycle toward a record-breaking year of fundraising. And while the full third-quarter tallies aren’t due to be filed to the Federal Election Commission until October 15, it looks like the Democrats are still killing it.

Through the first six months of the year, Democratic House candidates pulled in about $312 million, almost $100 million more than the GOP’s $214 million total, according to FEC data, compiled by Center for Responsive Politics.

For the third quarter, more than 60 House Democratic candidates have raised more than $1 million, which Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Ben Ray Lujan announced a week before the official numbers were due to be filed with the FEC. And several candidates have pulled in far greater sums.

Danny O’Connor broke a fundraising record for his district, Ohio’s 12th, by pulling in $6 million in the third quarter. Andrew Janz, who faces off against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) reported raising $4.3 million, despite a district that is likely to stay red.

Other big tickets include Kentucky’s 6th District candidate Amy McGrath, who raised $3.7 million and Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey’s 11th District, who raised $2.6 million.

Voters’ Resources

The Voter Participation Center – General information about voter registration deadlines by state, for online and mail registration.

Vote.org – More information about voter registration broken out by state and by in-person, online and by mail registration. It also shows which states allow you to register to vote on Election Day.

Rock the Vote – Volunteer to help get out the vote this election in all sorts of different ways, from doing graphic design, to phone banking from home or hosting a voter registration drive.

Get Off Your Donkey and Vote! – This site, geared toward Democrats taking back control of the House and Senate, offers ways to help volunteer, donate and just stay involved this election.

 

Even the good stories on the other side of the aisle fall under the challenger’s shadow. For example, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), raised $1.1 million in the third quarter in his re-election bid for his seat in Kansas’ 3rd District. But his Democratic challenger, Sharice Davids reported raising $2.7 million in the third quarter. Incidentally, Yoder has been very vocal about not receiving enough financial support from both House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) PAC the Congressional Leadership Fund and the House campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

ActBlue, the online grassroots fundraising tool for Democratic candidates has seen a staggering $385 million pour in over Q3, with its biggest dollar days in its history falling on the days Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing on September 28 and the two following days. Through the third quarter, ActBlue has raised about $1.3 billion this election cycle for Democratic candidates and organizations. That compares to $634 million in 2016, and $259 million in 2014, for the same period.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senate candidates are flush with cash, too. But people seem to be literally throwing gobs of greenbacks at Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). In the third quarter alone, he raised $38 million, easily smashing any quarterly record – ever – for a U.S. Senate candidate. The haul is made up of more than 800,000 individual contributions, according to the candidate, who has not taken any money from corporate or labor PACs. By comparison, Sen. Cruz has raised $12 million over the past three months.

The odds of O’Rourke winning waxes and wanes from week to week, but he’s mostly considered the underdog in the red Lone Star State. It’s noteworthy that more than 47% of O’Rourke’s individual donors is women, compared to the average for Senate primary winners, which is 38%.

In Arizona, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), who is running for the Senate seat Jeff Flake (R) is vacating, has raised nearly $7 million in the third quarter, according to an article in The Hill. She’s up against Rep. Martha McSally (R).

And Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) raised more than $6 million in Q3 through 140,000 individual contributions averaging $19.

So, what will happen with all this campaign cash? A media blitz like we’ve never seen before thanks to so much money to burn and get-out-the-vote campaigns, which is what could really sway the outcome in November.

The post Blue Candidates Ride a Green Wave appeared first on DCReport.org.

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Maine’s Radical Universal Home Health Care Proposition

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Naomi LaChance.

A group of progressives in Maine have proposed a radical new solution to providing medical care for an aging, rural population. Question 1, a measure on the ballot in November, proposes universal home health care for all Maine residents, to be paid for by a tax on people making more than $128,400 a year. Opponents of the proposal say that the program would be too costly; supporters say it could radically change the lives of people living with disability or serious illness.

Eligibility for the program would depend on daily needs, rather than on a medical diagnosis. Maine residents who cannot complete at least one “daily living” activity, such as bathing, cooking or walking, would be able to receive help in a variety of forms.

More than 27,000 people may be eligible for the program, with seniors making up less than half, at 13,100, according to an analysis by the University of Southern Maine. According to another study by the university, half of Maine residents older than 75 have a disability.

“I’ve never had people cry signing a petition and tell me how much something like this would have changed their lives,” Kevin Simowitz, political director for Caring Across Generations, told Kaiser Health News. The Maine People’s Alliance, a grassroots organization that works on a variety of progressive issues, collected 67,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The group has spent $343,166 in support of Question 1, according to the most recent state campaign finance data.

“In our rapidly aging state, too many seniors are being forced from their homes, and too many people with disabilities can’t get the care they need,” said Miri Lyons, a Maine resident and former home care worker and family caregiver for a child with a disability. “Home care for all will fix that. It’s a guarantee that if you need help staying in your home, you can get it.”

Two ballot question committees—Mainers for Homecare and Caring Majority—have spent $233,567 and $61,158 respectively supporting the measure. It has been endorsed by the Maine AFL-CIO, the Maine Small Business Coalition and Justice in Aging.

Maine industry groups largely oppose the measure, saying it would adversely affect the state’s overall economy. Opponents say the measure is too expensive and take issue with the proposed income tax, which would affect the top 3 percent of people living in Maine, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

“This bill is not about caring for our seniors. It’s about selling a scheme to our seniors and people with disabilities, funneling money to union bosses and driving highly paid professionals, like doctors and engineers, out of Maine,” No on Question 1, a political action committee (PAC), says its on website. The PAC receives the majority of its funding from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Bankers Association PAC and the Maine Association of Realtors.

The Maine Bankers Association PAC has spent $50,000 opposing the ballot measure. The Retail Lumber Dealers Association of Maine PAC has spent $5,000 and Restaurateurs for a Strong Economy has spent $500 in opposition, according to state campaign finance data. The National Federation of Independent Business Maine PAC has spent $4,000 against the measure.

No on Question 1 has spent $58,791 against the ballot measure. The group’s treasurer, Diane Johanson, formerly was a lobbyist for the Maine Tourism Association, which opposes the measure as well.

Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance, said that large donors like the Maine Association of Realtors and the Maine Bankers Association PAC profit when the elderly have to move out of their homes and into nursing homes. He called the spending against the measure “absolutely disgusting.”

Critics say that Question 1’s emphasis on pay for caregivers, as well as a stipend for family caregivers, is too costly, but supporters say a raise is crucial.

“I work full time and make eleven dollars and fifty cents an hour. Starting pay at my company is minimum wage. I rely on food stamps and Section Eight to keep my son fed and housed,” said Maddie Hart, a home care worker in Maine quoted on the Maine People’s Alliance website. “My work is challenging, dangerous, and skilled. Home care workers deserve to be paid enough to support our families. This referendum will help get us there.”

“I think it makes common sense to make sure that elders, veterans and disabled folks can stay in their homes,” Peter Vondell, a disabled Marine veteran, wrote in the Sun Journal. “No one wants to live in a dismal, sterile medical facility, I know I don’t.”

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Can a Tsunami of Angry Women Voters Swamp the Republicans’ White Male Base?

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

The Kavanaugh Debacle Has Energized Voters on Both Sides

Before the mess that was the confirmation of newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, there was talk that Democrats could take back the House and the Senate. But then Kavanaugh’s Trump-like vitriol, anger and partisanship during that process fired up the Trump base and surprisingly still managed to earn him a seat on the bench of the nation’s highest court where temperament and non-partisanship are typically the gold standards. As many have mused lately, Trump has managed to tarnish even the Supreme Court.

As we inch closer to Election Day, what does this mean for Democrats and the so-called Blue Wave? It seems Democrats still have a solid chance of taking back the House. In fact, just this past week, The Cook Political Report moved ratings changes on eight more House seats toward Democrats, from New York to Utah. At this point, the newsletter predicts “the likeliest outcome to be a Democratic gain between 25 and 40 seats.” Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to gain control of Congress. FiveThirtyEight forecast that Democrats had a 74% chance of taking back the House as of Oct. 6, 2018.

Before Kavanaugh’s theatrics and confirmation, there was speculation that while prospects were daunting Democrats had a chance, or at least the momentum, of winning back the Senate, too. But the Kavanaugh debacle makes the Senate a lot harder to predict because it gets to the question of voter turnout, which is always hard to accurately predict. Though on Oct. 6, FiveThirtyEight forecast Democrats had a 22% chance of winning back the Senate.

Democrats were already super energized about the midterms. Democrats voting in primaries in the first 31 states to hold elections this year, stormed the polls by an increase of 84% over 2014, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in July. By comparison, Republicans showed an increase of only 24% in the same time period.

Voters’ Resources

The Voter Participation Center – General information about voter registration deadlines by state, for online and mail registration.

Vote.org – More information about voter registration broken out by state and by in-person, online and by mail registration. It also shows which states allow you to register to vote on Election Day.

Rock the Vote – Volunteer to help get out the vote this election in all sorts of different ways, from doing graphic design to phone banking from home or hosting a voter registration drive.

Get Off Your Donkey and Vote! – This site, geared toward Democrats taking back control of the House and Senate, offers ways to help volunteer, donate and just stay involved this election.

There has also been a notable widening gender gap this election cycle. A Pew Research Poll released on Oct. 1, 2018, showed a majority of women disapproved of Trump’s job performance by 63% (with 30% approving) compared with 46% of men who approved of his performance. Women are favoring Democrats by a 10-point gap over men, who favor Republicans by 5 points, which makes for a total gap of 15-points on the generic ballot, according to a recent The Economist/YouGov poll.

Now, add some gasoline in the name of Brett Kavanaugh to that bonfire of female voters casting ballots on Trump’s referendum and treatment of women and that Blue Wave could become a tsunami that snatches up endangered GOP Senate seats like Ted Cruz’s in Texas or Marsha Blackburn’s in Tennessee, not to mention the open seats like the one in Arizona Jeff Flake is abandoning.

But the Kavanaugh confirmation process, while fanning the flames on the left, chummed the waters for Trump’s base and may have energized them enough to lull them out of complacency to get out the vote and retain those precious Senate seats.

Recent polling by The New York Times Upshot/Siena College showed that support for Kavanaugh aligned very closely with voters’ opinions of Trump’s job approval. Basically, if a voter liked Trump, they’d like Kavanaugh and vice-versa. For example, where Trump was unpopular, like the suburban Twin Cities area where his job approval rating was at 38% at the time of the poll, support for Kavanaugh was at 43%. But in the more conservative Cincinnati suburbs, Trump had a job approval rating of 48% and Kavanaugh’s support there was at 51%. The advantage here for the GOP going forward into the midterms is in the districts where the president is near a 50% job-approval rating because Republicans do better in polarized, partisan fights, according to The Cook Political Report.

However, that may not hold true post-Kavanaugh. These have become ugly times.

And now that Kavanaugh has been confirmed there’s a chance that Trump’s base – the angry white male – will once again slip into dormancy thanks to that victory. They got what they wanted, didn’t they? In fact, they got a little more than they asked for: A Supreme Court seat and a performance, albeit cringe-worthy.

The post Can a Tsunami of Angry Women Voters Swamp the Republicans’ White Male Base? appeared first on DCReport.org.

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Super PACs Pull Money from Failing Republican Incumbents

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

Redirecting Campaign Bribes from Trailing Candidates to Those with Better Chances to Win

You know we’re getting down to the wire when the big purses start pulling out of campaigns and redirecting their funds to candidates they think have a prayer of winning. In the past week, we’ve seen that play with two big Republican PACs, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

Most recently, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely aligned to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), cut off funds for two GOP incumbent campaigns, for Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). The Super PAC, which has already raised about $100 million for the 2018 election cycle, is pulling out of $1 million in TV ad spots it had reserved for Coffman and $2.1 million it had reserved for Bishop. The fund will redirect the funds elsewhere, according to an article in Politico.

Political action committees give a disproportionate amount of their campaign dollars to incumbents because congressional re-election rates are typically in the 90% range. So, to see PACs walk away from incumbent races, especially funds so flush with cash, is quite unusual. But then again, this mid-term election is anything but typical.

According to Republican officials, in both races, Democratic challengers are leading and are expected to outspend Coffman and Bishop significantly in the final weeks leading up to the election. But another PAC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, isn’t convinced Coffman is a lost cause and has agreed to fill the gap with a $600,000 TV ad buy, according to the Politico article.

Voters’ Resources

Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for senators, former senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after running for office.

However, a Democrat super PAC, House Majority PAC, is so confident Democratic challenger Jason Crow can overtake Coffman, it has pulled out of $800,000 it had planned for TV advertising in the Denver-area swing district.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee has pulled funds from other races it sees as unsalvageable at this point, such as the Congressional District 17 in Pennsylvania. It recently canceled its ad reservations in the district where Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) is up against Conor Lamb (D). The PAC had spent about $2.2 million in ads opposing Lamb. But the Democrat has significantly outraised his Republican challenger at $7.3 million to Rothfus’ $2 million, according to a report at the end of June by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Other Republican candidates have been unhappy about the lack of support from the NRCC, such as Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.). And others are in danger of getting cut off, including Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Pa.) and Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa). But as former Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.), who was involved with the NRCC during his tenure, said, “These are very Darwinian decisions. It means selection of the fittest.”

As we get closer to Election Day, expect to see more money move around campaigns as Republicans try to scramble to hold onto their edge in the House and Senate.

The post Super PACs Pull Money from Failing Republican Incumbents appeared first on DCReport.org.

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A Better Way to See Who’s Buying Your Senator

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

New System Could Report Campaign Donor Payoffs Immediately

It only took 15 years, but senators must now electronically file their campaign finance reports directly to the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) as part of a provision tacked onto a larger appropriations bill that Trump signed on September 21.

The provision is only one sentence long in the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, but it has accomplished what several previous attempts to transition from paper to electronic filings since the early 2000s could not.

For one, this new system means that information could become immediately available to the public once filed, as is the case with House of Representative and presidential candidates, which have electronically filed their disclosures directly to the FEC since 2001. The previous process took weeks and sometimes months to complete.

It also is estimated to save nearly a million dollars annually in taxpayer money by eliminating the old system, which relied on Senators submitting paper reports to the Secretary of the Senate, who would then process those thousands of paper reports before submitting them to the FEC, which would have to turn those disclosures into data.

The antiquated system was also prone to errors – millions of dollars’ worth. An investigation by The Center for Public Integrity found more than $70 million in errors in nearly 6,000 candidate disclosures from a process that involved two government agencies, one government contractor, one subcontractor and overseas workers paid cheaply for data entry. Before 2016, the FEC data was digitized page by page by traditional data entry clerks who entered the records one at a time, according to The Center for Public Integrity.

Voters will now have more information to help them make decisions at the ballot box.

In one ridiculous error found by the investigation, it showed U.S. Senate candidate Bill Bledsoe, a Libertarian running for a seat to represent South Carolina, spent $613,638 to fill up his van’s gas tank – an error that occurred two weeks in a row, when somewhere along the line his FEC identification number was mistaken for his gas payment. Just once was enough gas to fuel a mission to the moon 10 times, according to the article by The Center for Public Integrity. And the kicker is that Bledsoe, a Libertarian running for a seat to represent South Carolina, spent less than $2,000 on his entire campaign.

“This reform has been a long time coming. It’s a big win for taxpayers and transparency,” FEC Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub said in a statement when the ruling became law.

The investigation compared errors from paper filings to electronic filings and found that 20% of digitized paper filings had at least one significant error, compared to 2% for electronic ones.

In addition to numerical errors like the one with Bledsoe, there were thousands of records that had missing names for expenditures and contributions – information that voters never had access to because it is forever lost in translation.

Voters will now have more information to help them make decisions at the ballot box.

The idea to include the e-filing provision in the spending bill was that of Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) when the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act wasn’t brought to a floor vote, despite having more than 50 bipartisan cosponsors. That bill had been introduced for the first time in 2003 and reintroduced 15 more times. It never reached a vote.

The new Senate e-filing rules go into effect immediately, and the FEC states it does not have the authority to grant waivers or filing extensions. If a Senator does not receive contributions or have expenditures in excess of $50,000 a year, electronic filing is optional.

Voters’ Resources

Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

 

Republicans Overwhelmingly Prefer Bad Food to Good Food

Voters will get a chance to see how their representatives in Congress have voted on important food and agricultural policy issues just before the midterm elections. Food Policy Action (FPA) is launching a digital resource for voters to see how members of Congress have voted over the past six years on policy issues spanning food safety issues, the environment, and aid to the hungry, as well as the recently passed Farm Bill.

Food Policy Action, a collaboration of national food policy leaders, is launching a new website for voters that gives insight into the voting patterns of Congressional members and assigns a score to each member of the House of Representatives in five areas of food and agricultural policy, from 0% to 100%. On average, Republicans received a score of 20% for 55 votes, compared to 93% for Democrats. Food Policy Action’s website also ranks Senators by voting performance.

Under the Trump Administration, we’ve seen rollbacks in nutritional standards for school lunches; budget proposals that endanger food assistance programs for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, beneficiaries – the largest domestic hunger safety net for millions of low-income individuals and families; and a delay by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a new rule that includes farmworker protection from exposure to pesticides, to name just a few.

As part of the voter toolkit, Food Policy Action has also condensed its topline findings from its annual report, A Plate Divided: Food Policy and Congress, which was released earlier this year, for voters.

 

Update: Supreme Court Upholds Ruling on Dark Money Donors

The Supreme Court decided in a unanimous ruling to uphold a lower court’s decision to require some dark-money groups to disclose their donors. The order came in swift response to vacate a stay issued three days earlier by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., that temporarily blocked the ruling.

In August, Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington, made the ruling that many nonprofit groups that placed ads supporting or opposing political candidates must disclose the identities of donors who contributed more than $200, based on a case brought by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

Before that ruling, these groups, which are not registered as political committees with the FEC, were able to shield all their donors, thereby earning the term ‘dark money’.

A federal appeals court will still hear an appeal of Judge Howell’s ruling, but no decision is expected until after votes are cast for the midterms. That means groups placing ads from now until election day will have to disclose their donors.

 

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Roberts Halts ‘Dark Money’ Finance Ruling

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

Move Lets Anonymous Campaign Donors Remain Hidden

Chief Justice John Roberts halted a federal judge’s order that invalidated a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to dark-money groups to be anonymous.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell was supposed to take effect Monday. A three-judge D.C. Circuit panel turned down the same arguments for a stay.

The FEC regulation in dispute requires disclosure only when a donor designates his or her money for a specific independent expenditure, but does not require donors’ identities to be made public under other conditions, including when they seek to support or oppose an individual candidate.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the FEC after Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS failed to disclose the names of contributors behind its effort to defeat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in 2012.

It’s not clear whether Roberts’ order is a short-term measure intended to allow further consideration of the issue by the justices or whether it will remain in place during the fall midterm elections.

The Year of the Woman

A record 256 women are running for the House and Senate this year, but that may not translate into a record number of women in office. It is possible that the number of women could actually decline or remain about the same in Congress and in governors’ offices.

The best chances for women to make history are in the House, where Democratic women won primaries at a higher rate than any other group, male or female. Women of color make up one-third of all House candidates, also a record.

Most of the female candidates running in the House are in districts that favor the other party, either running for open seats or challenging incumbents.

Currently, women hold 84 of the 435 seats in the House. The large number of Democratic female nominees in the House reflects the energy of the women’s marches against Trump and the historic gender gap among voters who elected him.

There are 22 women running in Senate contests this year, up from the previous record 18 in 2012. Eleven of those are favored to win.

Voters’ Resources

Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for U.S. representatives and candidates.

U.S. Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for senators, former senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after running.

 

Florida Felons May Get a Voting Reprieve

A ballot amendment in the November election could restore voting rights to 1.5 million felons in Florida, more than 10% of the state’s voting-age citizens.

The amendment would give all former felons, except for convicted murderers and sex offenders, the right to vote once they complete all terms of their sentence. To pass, at least 60% of the state’s voters must support it.

Nearly all states restrict felons’ right to vote, a practice that began in America’s colonial period. Only Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote while in prison. Two other states, Iowa and Kentucky, automatically and permanently ban felons from voting.

Felon voting restrictions didn’t affect a significant number of people until the 1970s and 1980s with the rise of mass incarceration.

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New York Democrats Take Center Stage on Tuesday

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

Reformer Zephyr Teachout Battles To Take Trump to Court While Nixon Hopes to Upset Cuomo

Trump could face more legal problems if associate law professor Zephyr Teachout, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, is elected.

Teachout, who is facing three other candidates Thursday in New York’s primary, has been advising the attorneys general in Washington and Maryland in their emoluments lawsuit against Trump. She faces New York City public advocate Letitia James, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and former Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve in the primary.

The last major poll, conducted in July, found that 42% of voters were undecided.

In the gubernatorial race, incumbent Andrew Cuomo was facing criticism over a bridge named after his father and a flier paid for by the State Democratic Party tying together a picture of his opponent in the primary, Cynthia Nixon, and the words “anti-Semitism.”

“This is an attack not only on my children and my character but on all New Yorkers,” Nixon said. “It’s sickening, at a time when anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other hate crimes are on the rise, to exploit people’s real fears like this.”

Marcus Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, called for an investigation of the bridge opening by the National Transportation Safety Board. Cuomo celebrated “the grand opening” Friday of the eastbound span of the bridge over the Hudson River, but the bridge hasn’t actually opened because of safety concerns.

 

Elsewhere on Tuesday …

New Hampshire and Rhode Island also hold primaries this week.

In New Hampshire, 11 candidates are running in the Democratic primary on Tuesday for the seat held by retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Six people are seeking the Republican nomination.

The front-runners in the Democratic primary are Maura Sullivan, a former Marine who served in the Obama administration, and Chris Pappas, a former state lawmaker.

Sullivan has raised $1.8 million, 96.7% from out-of-state donors. Pappas has raised $823,289. Other candidates include Levi Sanders, the son of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Naomi Andrews, Shea-Porter’s former chief of staff.

On the Republican side, the candidates include former state Sen. Andy Sanborn and Eddie Edwards who was the enforcement chief for the state liquor commission. Sanborn has raised $865,400. Edwards has raised $628,699.

The Rhode Island primary is Wednesday. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democratic incumbent, has no opposition. Neither does the Republican candidate, Bob Flanders.

Voters’ Resources

Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for senators, former senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after running.

 

Trump Undercuts D.C. Area Republicans

Trump put a political shiv in Rep. Barbara Comstock’s attempt to win a third term by announcing he was canceling pay raises for 2 million federal employees.

Comstock and fellow House Republicans Scott Taylor and Dave Brat are trying to defend their competitive Virginia districts, where many federal employees live, as Republicans try to stop Democrats from winning a majority in the House.

Comstock, considered by many the most imperiled GOP House incumbent, trailed Democrat Jennifer Wexton by about 10 percentage points in a June poll.

 

Reverting to Form in the Deep South

Since 2012, county election officials in Georgia have closed 214 precincts, or nearly 8% of the state’s polling places. The precincts have been eliminated without federal government oversight.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2013 removed requirements under the Voting Rights Act for some local governments to get federal approval before changing voting practices. The counties hit hardest by precinct closures are often in rural, impoverished areas that don’t get much public scrutiny.

National outrage stopped the Randolph County elections board in Georgia from closing seven of its nine polling places.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is expected to issue a report Wednesday on minority voting rights access.

 

Democrats Challenge the Old Guard

Eighteen House incumbents seeking re-election have not faced a primary opponent in at least a decade. For some, that’s almost three decades. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) hasn’t faced an in-party primary opponent since being elected in 1990.

Historically, House incumbents in both parties have either run unchallenged or beat their opponents. Less than 10% of incumbents get a serious primary challenger.

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) are two of the four incumbents who lost their primaries this year. The other two are Republicans. Crowley lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Campuano, who was elected to Congress in 1998, lost the Democratic primary to Ayanna Pressley by 17 points.

“Because of President Trump, voters are fired up and turning out, something we saw even in city elections last year,” said Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. “The city is becoming younger and more diverse, and they are asking more of their leaders.”

Capuano, who had been unchallenged in primaries for years, won Somerville by just 122 votes, or slightly over 50%, but Pressley, a Boston City Council member, crushed him in Boston which has most of the district’s votes. She won there with 64%.

 

 

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‘Hey, Republicans, Thanks for the Tax Cuts!’ 

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

The 1% Shower GOP Candidates with Mid-Term Campaign Bribes Donations

David Cay Johnston

Donald Trump’s tweets telling the super-rich to expect another big tax cut if Republicans hold onto the House and Senate is paying off for the GOP.

National Republican fundraising continues to run well ahead of Democrats, who are saddled with debt, new Federal Election Commission reports show.

Republicans have raised $1.1 billion this year, while the parallel Democratic Party organizations have yet to break the billion dollar mark. The Democrats are also saddled with 11 times as much debt as the GOP.

The net worth of the Big Four Democratic party organizations is just 56-cents to each dollar the GOP has.

The latest Federal Election Commission data, which we analyzed in the accompanying graphic, applies only for the national party organizations, not each campaign for 435 House seats, 33 Senate seats and 36 governorships.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has floated the idea of reducing capital gains taxes by adjusting the amount paid to acquire assets for inflation. While our Constitution says Congress, not the executive branch, sets taxes just the idea that such a move may be attempted has tantalized the super-rich, especially those who like the Trump and Kushner families are invested in real estate.

Trump plans a second round of tax cuts, including lowering the corporate profits tax rate again.

Money alone does not win elections, but it helps.

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March In The Spring, Vote In The Fall

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

Angry Teachers Wield Their Ballot Power and Throw Out Radical Republicans 

If there’s anything that’s come out of the Trump era, it’s a galvanization of activism across the country, renewed by enthusiasm, from the women’s march, to the fight of teachers for fair pay. People are standing up for their beliefs and rights like we haven’t seen in decades. And it is affecting ballots this mid-term season.

The latest example is the GOP runoff election held in Oklahoma on Aug. 28. The fight of state teachers there, who fought against Gov. Mary Fallin and the state’s legislators who slashed education budgets by 23.6% between 2008 and 2015, reached a satisfying new stage when the teachers’ fight turned into might at the ballot box, according to a New York Magazine article.

They had already won a small salary increase by going on strike, pushing the governor to pass a small increase in a fracking production tax—the smallest in the nation. But it proved the teachers could possibly win against the heavyweights, the energy billionaires, and they promised to take the rest of their fight for better educational resources all the way to the election.

They won, big time, last week after largely cleaning house in the first primary. Out of the 19 Republicans who voted against raising taxes to fund the teacher pay increases, only four survived the primaries and will be on the ballots in November.

Oklahoma isn’t the only state seeing this kind of a movement. It follows West Virginia, where a Republican state Sen. Robert Karnes lost re-election after opposing his state’s teacher strike for wage increases. He was defeated in the May primaries by state Delegate Bill Hamilton.

The same thing happened in the Kentucky primary in May. School teacher Travis Brenda defeated Republican House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell in the GOP primary because Shell, one of Mitch McConnell’s protégés, led a push to cut teachers’ pensions.

Voters’ Resources

Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

 

Now Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is fighting for his political life against the superintendent of schools for the state, Tony Evers, the Democratic challenger. Walker is trying to rebrand himself as the “pro-education” candidate. Nobody seems fooled, though. A recent Suffolk University poll showed Walker trailing 2 points behind Evers.

However, it’s not just education activism that’s giving people hope. We’ve seen activism on so many issues gear up since Trump’s inauguration, and that’s translating into voter enthusiasm.

Fox News just released a new poll asking among other questions, how interested people were in the upcoming November elections. The high total came in at a median 47% who said they were extremely interested. The news service has asked that question 28 times over the past three mid-term elections, but this result, with calls conducted Aug. 19- 21 among a random national sample of more than 1,000 registered voters, was the highest.

Across all demographics, Veterans showed the most enthusiasm at 53%, though when asked how that compared to previous congressional elections a majority said its interest registered at a similar level. The under-45 age bracket showed the lowest interest, unsurprisingly, at 41%, yet this was the only demographic among nine where the majority showed an increase in interest over previous midterm elections.

Of the total, 65% said they were certain to vote in the midterms. The group that said it is certain to vote in the upcoming election by the largest percentage was Clinton voters, at 76%. That compares to Trump voters, at 67%. And as most polls are showing, when asked if the election were held today, 49% of respondents said they would vote Democratic, compared to 38% who said they would vote Republican.

Massachusetts Primary Preview

Here are the races to watch on Tuesday:

Senate: Incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) is expected to hold onto her seat, and has raised a hefty war chest of $31.5 million, with more than half coming from small donations. However, several Republicans and a well-funded Independent candidate are challenging her. Leading the GOP candidates are John Kingston, with just shy of $6 million raised, most of which is self-funded; Geoff Diehl, with $1.9 million; and Beth Lindstrom at 1.4 million. V. Shiva Ayyadurai, an Independent candidate, has raised nearly $5 million. He is a scientist and an entrepreneur with four degrees from MIT, known for making a controversial claim that he invented email.

7th Congressional District: Incumbent Rep. Michal Capuano (D) is up against a tough opponent in Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley. The councilwoman served as former Sec. of State John Kerry’s political director when he was a U.S. senator, and if elected, she would be the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. She was the first black woman elected to Boston’s City Council in 2009. Capuano has raised $1.7 million, from a mix of large individual contributions and PACs, compared to Pressley’s $890,143, mostly all of it from large individual contributions, according to Center for Responsive Politics.

3rd Congressional District: The state’s only open seat falls in this district which has attracted a deep bench of Democratic candidates. Frontrunners include Dan Koh, who has raised $3 million; followed by Russ Gifford, with $2.1 million; and Lori Trahan, with $1.1 million. Two Republicans are vying for the seat, Rick Green, who has raised $810,031, and Scott Gunderson, at just over $1,000.

Featured image: View of the crowd during a rally and walkout by Oklahoma teachers at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, April 2, 2018. (Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman)

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Republicans Charge Top Dollar for Dirty Air

Read more of this story here from DCReport.org by David Crook.

GOP Candidates’ Windfall: Coal Industry Pays Up for EPA Rollbacks Regulations

It’s not a surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to roll back regulations on coal emissions in its effort to outright kill President Barack Obama’s Clean Air Plan – that’s been happening for a long time under Trump. It’s also a guaranteed byproduct of putting a former coal lobbyist at the helm of the EPA, just as Trump did when he replaced Scott Pruitt with Andrew Wheeler in early July.

The Trump Administration says it wants to give states more autonomy and looser guidelines for handling greenhouse gas emissions, no matter the health consequences. That’s because what Trump really wants to do is hand wealthy energy companies an easier way to make more money and in turn give more money to the GOP.

Let’s see how the coal industry has been doling out dollars to Republican candidates (and a few Democrats) this election cycle:

For the 2018 mid-term election cycle to date, 130 members of the 115th Congress have received a total of $879,482, from individuals and PACs of coal companies. That compares to 142 candidates for the 115th Congress receiving a total of just over $1.5 million in donations in the 2016 election cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Just 18 Democrats were on this list for receiving donations totaling $65,990 – and five of those Democrats received donations of $500 or less. That means 113 Republicans pulled in $813,492 from the coal companies.

Topping the list of candidates is Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), who has received a total of $41,790. Rounding out the top five Republicans are Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), with $41,500; Rep. Kevin McCarthy, also with $41,500; Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.V.) with $38,100; and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) with a total of $29,000.

Voters’ Resources

Represent.Us – A bipartisan anticorruption site with information on current laws, policies, national and local resources to help make a difference in political financing.

U.S. House of Representatives Financial Disclosure Database – Use this site to view the financial disclosure statements for Congressional members and candidates.

United States Senate Financial Disclosures – This site provides the financial reports for Senators, former Senators and candidates from January 2012 to present. Senator reports are available until six years after the Senator leaves office; candidate reports are available for one year after they run for office.

 

The top Democrat on the list is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), ranked 10th here, with $20,000 in donations. For some reason, the list also includes Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), though it shows she has never received a single dollar in her 10-year political career from any coal company employees or PACs – the only candidate on the list with that distinction.

The politician with the opposite distinction – having received the most money from the coal industry spanning his career – is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has pulled in $916,599 since 1989, which is how far the data goes back in the report. McConnell has served as a U.S. Senator since 1985.

As for the donors, this year’s top investor is Alliance Resource Partners, which has spent a total of $222,900 on candidates; $60,950 from its employees, and $161,950 through PAC contributions. Arch Coal comes in second with a total of $104,600 spent to date, with only $100 from individual contributions and the rest through PAC donations. Peabody Energy is the third-highest donor, having spent $80,200 so far this cycle, with $2,700 from individual donors and the rest through PAC donations. Murray Energy is in fourth place with $66,340 spent, with $27,840 coming from individual contributions and $38,500 through PAC donations. And rounding out the top five is Boich Companies, with $57,200 spent this cycle, all from individual contributions.

In terms of lobbying, the coal companies have spent just over $3.9 million through the first two quarters of this year, according to the data from the Center for Responsive Politics. That compares to almost $2.5 million in the first six months of the 2016 election cycle. But in 2014, coal companies spent just shy of $5.5 million on lobbying in the first two quarters of that election year. In the last 10 years, the biggest money spent on lobbying – election year or not – was in 2008, when the coal industry spent $12.6 million in the first six months of the year and a total of $26.7 million for the full year trying to press their agenda on Capitol Hill.

Primary Preview – Arizona and Florida

Arizona and Florida hold primaries on Tuesday. Here’s what to watch for in each state.

Arizona – Sadly, the state will be looking to fill two Senate seats this year, with the passing of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Aug. 25. But Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will likely appoint McCain’s successor, who will serve until the 2020 elections because McCain died after the deadline to file for the November election. The other seat Arizona is looking to fill is that of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) in November. In the race to fill Flake’s seat, there are two Democrats looking to take the spot, with the frontrunner and top fundraiser of all the candidates, Kyrsten Sinema, who has raised more than $10.5 million. Three Republicans are running, including U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who has raised $7.6 million, Kelli Ward, who has raised just shy of $3 million and controversial candidate, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned last year after being found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order to stop racial profiling. Arpaio, who holds extreme views on illegal immigration, has raised the least of the Republicans with $1.3 million.

The Congressional race worth watching is in the 2nd District which is being vacated by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). This district sits right on the Mexican border and voted for Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in 2016, so Democrats see this as a real chance to gain a seat here. The frontrunner is former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), who used to represent the 1st Congressional District until she ran an unsuccessful bid against the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). She has raised close to $2 million. Next in line among the seven Democratic candidates is former state Rep. Matt Heinz, who has raised almost $890,000. There are four Republican candidates vying for this open seat with Lea Marquez Peterson leading the pack with $773,809 raised. There is also a third-party candidate, Josh Reilly.

Florida – Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), while facing no real challenges from his own party, is already in a tough battle against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson has raised $19.7 million, which would be considered impressive in a normal election. But Scott has raised $31.1 million, though more than $20 million of that total was invested by Scott himself. Heading into the home stretch, Nelson has more than $14 million on hand, compared to just over $3.3 million for Scott. Additional candidates in the race include Rep. Rocky De La Fuente and four Independent candidates.

The 6th Congressional District has an open seat with Incumbent Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis running for Governor. Three Democratic candidates are vying for the seat, including Nancy Soderberg, who has raised the most of both parties, with $1.7 million. She’s facing Stephen Sevigny and John Upchurch on Tuesday. The Republican contenders include John Ward, Michael Waltz and Fred Costello. Both Ward and Waltz have raised more than $1 million.

There are two more open Congressional seats in Florida. In the 15th District, the retirement of Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) has brought out three Democratic candidates, five Republicans, an Independent and a third-party candidate. The Democratic candidates include Kristen Carlson, Andrew Learned, who both have raised around $300,000, and Ray Pena. The Republican candidates include frontrunner Ross Spano, Neil Combee, Sean Harper, Danny Kushmer and Ed Shoemaker. Jeffrey G. Rabinowitz is running as an Independent and Dave Johnson is running as a third-party candidate.

Another retirement is leaving another District open, this time in the Miami-based 27th District. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the most senior woman in the House and longest-serving Florida Congressional member is retiring after 29 years. The list of candidates hoping to fill her seat is long, with five Democrats, nine Republicans and one Independent. Two Democrats have raised north of $2 million; state Rep. David Richardson and Donna Shalala, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton. Democratic candidate Matt Haggman has raised $1.3 million. Leading the pack of Republicans is Maria Elvira Salazar, Bruno Barreiro and Stephen Marks.

Featured image: In his 33 years in the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has extracted almost $1 million from the coal industry. (AP photo)

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