Discover more from This Week in Statehouse Action
This Week in Statehouse Action: Bad Habits edition
Virginia fundraising, North Carolina maps, Wisconsin garbage, and a new governor in Louisiana
This is a special time of year.
But it’s also election season, which I also love, except that it stresses me out quite a lot, which I don’t love so much.
I’m a grown-ass person, so I try to manage my stress effectively through stuff like exercise, getting enough sleep, petting my cat, eating properly …
But I’m also a human person, so not all of my coping mechanisms are healthy. Sometimes I’ll overexercise, or I’ll forget to eat, like, at all, let alone something healthy. Sometimes stress keeps me up, so the sleep thing gets tough. Relatedly, my caffeine intake … ah, increases this time of year.
Yeah, I know – extremely not great. But with life-affecting elections on the ballot every single year, it’s pretty tough for me not to fret about how those races are going to go and how certain outcomes could bring misery to lots and lots of people.
Which brings us to item number one of the week: the Commonwealth.
Those Virginia fundraising numbers I mentioned in last week’s edition dropped this week, and the news is … pretty good, if you’re a Democrat, except for that massive money bin Glenn Youngkin is swimming around in.
The campaign finance reports that became public on Tuesday covered the entire month of September – and what a month it was, money-wise.
As with the previous fundraising period, Democratic candidates in both chambers outpaced their GOP counterparts.
Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates raised a combined $8.8 million, while Republicans brought in $8.3 million.
Dems running for the state Senate raised almost $6.5 million collectively; Republicans raised just over $6 million.
Glenn’s bonkers numbers are largely because of the donations of three humans, two of whom are very much not Virginians.
But despite the fact that Youngkin banned TikTok from all state-owned phones and other electronic devices last December, Yass saw fit to throw $2 million towards the governor’s PAC.
Florida megadonor Thomas Peterffy added another $1 million to the $2 million he donated to Youngkin over the summer.
The third-largest donor to Spirit of Virginia last month is actually a Virginian, though.
It’s Glenn Youngkin himself.
At the end of September, he donated $500,000 to his own PAC.
I couldn’t tell you why he would do such a thing, other than maybe to juice his numbers a little…?
Look, I don’t understand rich people.
Youngkin may yet pump more money into GOP campaigns in the waning weeks of the election, but even after funneling boatloads of money into the state Republican Party and various must-win General Assembly races, he has about $6.5 million cash on hand.
… which, if he does end up jumping into the GOP presidential primary quagmire (never mind that he’s already missed a key filing deadline in Nevada is about to miss ones in New Hampshire and South Carolina), he’ll need to stay competitive in terms of available funds with the other fools who think they can beat Trump.
But back to the really important stuff.
I tuned in to a little presser the DLCC held today, and not just because Danica Roem was a featured speaker (I will show up to anything of hers I can, she is just such a great human).
Tom Bonier was also on the call, and since he’s one of the overall smartest and data-savvy humans out there, I really really really wanted to know what he had to say about early vote numbers so far.
All the usual caveats apply – there are still two weeks of early voting left, and of course many many folks will cast their ballots on Election Day itself – but the newsworthy takeaway is this:
In “key districts” (unspecified, so a fair reading of that could be “some but not all top-targeted districts”), Bonier says that Democrats are matching if not exceeding raw turnout levels from both 2022 and 2021 (2022 being the number Dems are really keen on, since 2021 didn’t go so great for them).
But even that optimistic news (for democracy) is a mixed bag (for Democrats).
Republicans are pushing their voters to cast their ballots early with greater fervor than ever before, so that turnout bump could end up being way better for them than for team blue.
Bonier also noted that turnout among Black voters “has exceeded … previous turnout” (though he didn’t specify which year[s]) both statewide and in some of these targeted districts.
So, yeah, interesting and generally positive news overall for Dems, but no actual bad news for Republicans.
And besides, 75-80% of ballots in these elections have yet to be cast in what are certain to be incredibly close races (calling it now: At least five seats will be decided by 500 or fewer votes).
In fact, we might not know which party has majority control of both chambers on Nov. 8 (though we may know at least one by the wee hours that most of us still consider “election night,” even though Nov. 7 technically ends at midnight).
On top of close races where provisional ballots will still need to be counted, we could be looking at recounts or litigation or another bowl situation [[shudder]].
Anyway, if you want to check out the press conference for yourself, Blue Virginia already has it up, those gems.
Okay, enough Virginia for one week (… she said for the first time ever). It’s time to return to [[groooaaaaaaaan]] North Carolina.
This week, the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature dropped the new congressional and legislative district maps that the GOP-controlled state Supreme Court let them re-gerrymander.
Obviously, they’re very very bad.
I guess we’ll start with the congressional map, since, if this month’s U.S. House Speaker debacle has demonstrated anything, it’s that the adults need to win back the majority next year.
Largely because the current congressional district map for North Carolina was court-drawn instead of power hungry Republican-drawn, the state’s current delegation is 7 R/7 D.
The two new proposed maps create either 11 safe Republican seats or 10 safe Republican seats with one GOP-trending seat.
Both pack Democrats into just three super super blue districts while spreading GOP voters out across the remaining seats in a super efficient way – while also keeping those seats out of reach for Democratic candidates.
Daily Kos Elections has some very nice versions of these maps that are helpfully partisan color-coded, by the by.
Whichever of these maps is ultimately adopted – final votes could happen as early as next week – Democrats stand to lose four U.S. House seats, which [[checks in on House Speaker election debacle]] seems bad.
The new legislative maps are also super sucky – and yes, as demonstrated by the existence of GOP supermajorities in both chambers despite the fact that the state is split pretty evenly in terms of partisan statewide votes, the current ones are already pretty dang bad.
But these new maps not only make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win a majority in either the state House or Senate, they also make it pretty pretty hard for Republicans to lose their 3/5 supermajorities in either chamber in anything but a super Democratic election year.
And the maps that are passed into law by the North Carolina legislature next week or shortly thereafter will stand for the rest of the decade.
Even if Republicans didn’t have supermajorities, they’d still get their way – neither legislative nor congressional district maps are subject to gubernatorial veto in North Carolina.
And the GOP-majority state Supreme Court that allowed legislative Republicans to re-gerrymander the lines in the first place sure aren’t going to overturn them.
If you’re wondering about the odds of Democrats retaking a majority on North Carolina’s highest court to help fight stuff like this, well, don’t hold your breath.
… because you’ll be holding it until 2028.
That’s the earliest (barring unexpected deaths or retirements) Democrats can possibly win the majority back from Republicans – and then only if they win four of the next five state Supreme Court elections across 2024, 2026, and 2028.
Yeah, it’s bad.
And now … north to more bad things.
In Wisconsin, the GOP-controlled state Senate got around to passing part of that nasty little raft of anti-abortion bills I mentioned in this space a few weeks back.
One would update Wisconsin’s 1949 law to make it clear that it absolutely does apply to abortion and redefine abortion in a way that excepts medical procedures intended to prevent a pregnant person from dying.
Another just straight up gives an anti-abortion group (Choose Life Wisconsin) that funds “crisis pregnancy centers” – which, as we all know, are just propaganda outlets that exist to specifically discourage women from accessing abortion care – $1 million of taxpayer money each year.
These bills have yet to pass the Assembly, but let’s be real – they totally will.
Republicans also passed a bill banning minors from receiving gender-affirming medical care.
This measure is headed to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk, who will veto it.
And finally … did you know that one of this year’s gubernatorial elections is already over?
This past Saturday, Louisiana held its all-party primary, where 15 contenders fought to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
To most folks’ surprise, current GOP Attorney General Jeff Landry won the primary outright with 51.5% of the vote, obviating the need for a Nov. 18 runoff.
The only viable Democrat in the race — former Secretary of Transportation Shawn Wilson — was a distant second with 26%.
So now Louisiana Republicans are returned to full trifecta control of the Pelican State for the first time in eight years.
Coming up next week: Other stuff on the ballot this fall!
We’ll take another look at the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court race, the pro-abortion ballot measure in Ohio, and more!
Maybe we’ll have a House Speaker by then…?
LOL no we won’t
Thank you, as ever, for hanging in.
Here’s hoping your weekend is full of good, low-stress, happy, healthy things.
And take care of yourself.
We need you.