There’s a lot going on, so every Wednesday, the DLCC is sending a roundup of the state legislative stories you might have missed. It’s August 5th and here is the state of the states.
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- President Barack Obama endorsed a strong slate of state legislators and candidates this week. These Democratic candidates are poised to flip key districts in battleground states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio.
- Arizona, Michigan, and Kansas held primaries yesterday and while results are still trickling in, they are already historic. Michiganders cast an unprecedented 1.6 million absentee votes while Arizonans are on track to have record-breaking levels of early ballot voting. In Kansas, right-wing candidates ousted GOP moderates, giving Democrats a clearer path to breaking the GOP supermajority in the state.
- In last night’s primaries, GOP state Senator Sylvia Allen was ousted by perennial candidate Wendy Rogers. Rogers has lost every election she’s ever run for and will move her district towards Democrats in the fall. But don’t just take it from us. Her ticketmate, GOP Representative Walt Blackman posted on Facebook saying “Wendy Rogers doesn’t know a thing about the district, she is not from the district… and she is actually just trying to run so she can go to Congress.” Looks like “party unity” won’t be on the table for Republicans in Arizona this fall.
- Democrats in Nevada passed vote-by-mail legislation, ensuring that every Nevadan will be able to safely and securely cast their vote in November. Donald Trump attacked the bill, calling the expansion of voting access “an illegal late night coup.” State Democrats called this out for what it is: a “clear fear mongering attempt by the GOP to suppress voters.”
- Republican state legislators from battleground states like Florida, Iowa, and Texas signed a letter by ALEC saying they didn’t want federal aid in their state. As states face massive revenue losses because of COVID-19 and while Republicans in Congress hold federal dollars to states as a bargaining chip, their refusal to accept aid will impact teachers, emergency responders, and essential workers.
- Republican-endorsed Minnesota House candidate Julie Buria compared the state’s COVID-19 response to the Holocaust, just days after the Wabasha County GOP posted a photo that compared Minnesota’s mask mandate to the Holocaust. Yet another proof point that there is no bottom for Republicans.
- Pennsylvania GOP Representative Russ Diamond — an outspoken anti-masker — claimed that members of the “unmasked community” were victims of “a spirit of intolerance and discrimination.” His statement was almost an exact copy of the state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s remarks regarding anti-trans hate directed her way. Shame on Representative Diamond for making light of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and spreading delusional, debunked claims about wearing masks.
- Arizona GOP state Representative Walt Blackman posted an hour-long rant during which he declared he would make it his legislative priority to fire teachers who strike or protest schools reopening.
- New Jersey Democrats passedseveral key police and prison reform bills. One bill criminalizes calling 911 on somebody on the basis of race and another allows those who were sentenced to long prison terms for crimes committed as minors to be re-sentenced. They also voted to end mandatory minimums.
- Democrats in Connecticut passed a historic police reform bill of their own. The bill addresses issues on police use of force, training, and qualified immunity — making Connecticut one of the few states in the nation limiting qualified immunity for police.
- Democratic North Carolina Representative Sydney Batch was diagnosed with breast cancer while on the campaign trail three years ago. She credits her victory over breast cancer to early detection, which women of color disproportionately lack access to. Representative Batch spoke out about her experience to advocate for Medicaid expansion to help address racial disparities in breast cancer treatment.
- The Demcoratic-led legislature in Nevada passed a bill to help renters fight against evictions during the pandemic once the state’s eviction moratorium ends in September — protecting Nevadans against some of the longterm economic impacts of the coronavirus.
- Primary season is heating back up. With primaries over in battleground states Michigan, Arizona, and Kansas and more next week in Wisconsin and Minnesota, candidates will turn their efforts to winning in November. Let’s see how many extremist Republicans oust moderate incumbents.