For the Week of 4/6/2018
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:
Earlier this week the DLCC and state Democrats won three seats in special elections in California, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, with an additional two California contests headed to a June 5 runoff. These wins come on the heels of the DLCC announcing a new record for first quarter fundraising of more than $5 million, with $1 million coming from online donations, and just before big special elections in Iowa and Florida on Tuesday, 4/10. In Florida, Democratic state Rep. Lori Berman will aim to keep SD-31 in Democrats’ hands as Florida Democrats look to flip the chamber ahead of 2020 redistricting. In Iowa, first-time candidate, DLCC Spotlight candiate, and small business owner Tracy Freese is fighting to flip SD-25 from red to blue after the former Republican leader who represented the Ames-Waterloo area district resigned in scandal. As the major player in the state legislative space, the DLCC is on track to spend $35 million this election cycle, and has highlighted some of their state Democrats to know in 2018 at races.dlcc.org. With Democrats only 16 seats away from flipping eight chambers, you can read about the DLCC’s 2018 roadmap here.
This week in Oklahoma, an estimated 30,000 teachers and educators gathered at the state capitol to protest low teacher pay and decreased school funding, shutting down nearly half of the state’s 500-plus school districts. Meanwhile, every single one of Kentucky’s public schools was closed on Monday as furious teachers protested legislation deceptively passed by GOP lawmakers last week that drastically cuts pension benefits (Republican lawmakers hid the cuts in a measure originally slated to deal with wastewater treatment). Battles over insufficient teacher pay and benefits have been on the rise in GOP-controlled states where state Republicans have gutted school spending in recent years to offset deep tax cuts for businesses and income tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited wealthy earners. Now, teachers in Arizona are gearing up for their own strike, rallying last week in Phoenix for a 20 percent raise. The successful nine-day teachers strike in West Virginia has given educators in these states hope that they can force lawmakers to listen to them too. The DLCC recently helped to elect educators to both the Kentucky and Oklahoma legislatures and as we gear up for 2018, we are excited to see at least 32 teachers running as Democrats for a seat in the Kentucky legislature. It is critical that we elect more Democrats to state legislatures nationwide so we can move our nation’s education systems into the 21st century and give teachers the support and recognition they deserve.
“Yuge” news out of New York this week as the once-splintered Senate Democratic Conference united under the leadership of DLCC Board Member and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Previously, a group of eight rogue Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) had caucused with Senate Republicans, giving Republicans control of the chamber and dooming numerous pieces of progressive legislation meant to benefit the New Yorkers who intentionally voted for a Democratic majority. The DLCC was a major voice in the call for reunification and we look forward to securing a Democratic majority in the chamber after Democrats and DLCC Spotlight candidate Shelley Mayer flip SD-37 and win other Democratic seats in all of the critical April 24 special elections.
4. After voting for Parkland Bill, State Representative says he wants to Remove Gun Control Measures
Just weeks after Florida state legislators passed a sweeping package of school safety and gun control changes following the Parkland shooting, a Republican state representative - who voted for the bill - says he wants to remove its gun control provisions if he is re-elected. A Parkland shooting survivor called out the freshman Representative on Twitter, accusing him of going back on his word out of fear of retaliation from the NRA. As state Democrats nationwide continue to pass new gun safety legislation and strengthen existing laws to ensure guns stay out of the wrong hands, the DLCC is working with partners to make sure Florida voters know where their representatives stand on this crucial issue.
After the DLCC and Senator Patty Schachtner flipped Wisconsin SD-10 from red to blue in a January special election upset, Republican Gov. Scott Walker tweeted that the Democratic victory was “a wake-up call for Republicans in Wisconsin.” Now, following Rebecca Dallet’s victory in a statewide Supreme Court race, Gov. Walker is sounding the alarms, tweeting: “we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI” and “Next, they’ll target me.” While the Supreme Court race was technically nonpartisan, Dallet was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder, while her opponent was backed by the NRA and GOP party money. One of the biggest impacts of Dallet’s win is that it shifts the court from a 5-2 conservative majority to 4-3, and it gives Democrats the possibility of overtaking the majority in time for the court to chime in on any GOP-drawn electoral maps after the 2020 Census (the U.S. Supreme Court is currently deciding on the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s state legislative districts in the landmark case, Gill v. Whitford). Gov. Walker is right to be worried as the DLCC is building Democratic momentum, flipping legislative seats, and laying the foundation for more Democratic wins.
- DLCC’s Jessica Post on New York News [DLCC Press Release]
- DLCC Holds Key Seats in Special Elections [DLCC Press Release]
- DLCC Sees Record Fundraising in Q1 [DLCC Press Release]
- Why Take Student Protests Seriously? [POLITICO]
- Dozens of educators file to run for seat in Kentucky legislature [The Hill]
- Equal pay for women, sick time for all workers on the way to becoming law in NJ [NorthJersey.com]
- Democrats demand investigation into Cambridge Analytica’s role in Colorado election [The Denver Post]
"We’re going to have a lot of teachers at the ballot box who I don’t think would normally go in a midterm year...If I were a legislator right now, I’d be honestly sweating bullets."
-- Noah Karvelis, an elementary school teacher in Tolleson, AZ
This week teachers staged walkouts and rallies in Republican-dominated states across the country, shutting down schools in protest of low pay, insufficient school funding, and slashed benefits. These demonstrations are occurring in states and districts with important midterm races in November, suggesting that thousands of teachers, who’ve endured years of pay freezes and budget cuts at the hands of Republican-controlled legislatures, are set to become a powerful political force this fall. What’s even more exciting than teachers using the power of the ballot box to elect state Democrats and usher in new advocates in statehouses across the country? Teachers stepping up to run for office themselves. With candidate filing deadlines still outstanding in over a dozen states, teachers energized by these rallies and hungry for change may soon find themselves filing to run for their state legislature. Kentucky, which has been a hotbed of political action in recent weeks, saw an influx in educators hoping to join the legislature; the DLCC is proud that 32 of the 40 educators on the ballot are running as Democrats. As the DLCC continues to rack up special election wins, turn red districts blue, and support and train candidates and campaign staff, we're hopeful that more states will be on their way to having “teacher caucuses” come November 9.
4/9/18: FILING DEADLINE - North Dakota
4/10/18: ELECTION DAY - Florida SD-31 Special Election
4/10/18: ELECTION DAY - Iowa SD-25 Special Election
4/13/18: FILING DEADLINE - Oklahoma
4/24/18: FILING DEADLINE - Michigan
4/24/18: ELECTION DAY - New York SD-32, SD-37, AD-05, AD-10, AD-17, AD-39, AD-74, AD-80, AD-102, AD-107, AD-142 Special Elections