Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

The Friday Five - March 23, 2018

The Friday Five - March 23, 2018

For the Week of 3/23/2018

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:

1.    Democrats are contesting more state legislative seats than they have in decades.

Saint Louis University Assistant Professor Steven Rogers examines the DLCC and state Democrats’ momentum, highlighting the influx of Democratic candidates running for state legislatures in 2018. With 6,066 state legislative seats on the ballot in November, Democrats are running more candidates and contesting more elections than they have in decades. Since Trump was elected, the DLCC has flipped 39 legislative seats from red to blue – 24 of which were flipped by Democratic women. The DLCC has been the leading and driving force behind electing state Democrats for more than 20 years. While some see Democrats’ success this cycle as reaction to Trump, the truth is that state Democrats would not be in any shape to benefit from a “Trump Effect” had the DLCC not been working hard on the long game for all these years – strategizing with state leaders, building relationships, and investing in state caucuses and parties to help recruit the best candidates, train them for campaigns, and provide the necessary resources. The DLCC is proud to announce we are seeing record candidate recruitment all over the country as Democrats step up to defend our values against the Trump administration’s right-wing agenda, and we look forward to putting Republicans on notice this cycle.

2.    Beleaguered Leslie Gibson abandons state House race, seeks ‘peace and quiet’

Controversial Republican candidate Leslie Gibson, who drew fire for insulting several teen survivors of the Florida school shooting, is abandoning his campaign for Maine state House District 57. Democrat Eryn Gilchrist filed for the seat, answering nationwide calls for someone to challenge Gibson, saying she never anticipated running for office but felt so “horrified and embarrassed” at the thought of Gibson representing her that she decided to jump in the race. A 2013 graduate of Bates College and a first-time candidate, Gilchrist is only 28 and works for a medical device company based in Bowdoin. Maine Democrats are excited for Gilchrist to enter the race, with DLCC Board member and Speaker of the Maine House Sara Gideon saying Eryn “is a concerned member of her community who cares about the future of her neighbors – and, like many other Democrats across Maine, she’s now stepping up to help them.”

3.    Some Republicans seek to impeach Democratic judges over congressional map ruling

In Pennsylvania on Tuesday, a dozen Republican state lawmakers introduced five separate resolutions seeking to impeach state Supreme Court justices who struck down Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional map as illegally favoring Republicans. This blatant act of political retaliation targets justices who voted against Republicans’ gerrymandered maps. The House’s top Democrat, Rep. Frank Dermody, ripped the resolutions, saying: “Mr. Dush is proposing to impeach a majority of the court’s judges because he disagrees with their decision. This is an absurd attack on common sense.” After Conor Lamb’s victory and state Democrats’ 39 flips from red to blue, Pennsylvania Republicans are getting nervous ahead of 2018 midterms and trying every underhanded tactic to insulate themselves from Democrats’ building momentum. Thankfully, the United State Supreme Court saw through Pennsylvania Republicans’ ploy to save their rigged maps and rejected their appeal. The DLCC looks forward to working with Pennsylvania Democrats to expand Democrats’ numbers in the Legislature and ensure fair maps in the Commonwealth following 2020 redistricting.

4.    NYS budget talks continue in Albany, diversity lacking a role in the conversation

DLCC Board member and Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a major player in New York politics. However, because members of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) have pledged allegiance to a Republican Senate majority (reaping perks and power in the process), Leader Stewart-Cousins is often wrongfully excluded from critical discussions between the Governor and her leadership colleagues – all of whom are men. As Democratic Conference Leader, Stewart-Cousins spoke out after the Democratic Conference voted against the Republican Senate’s proposed budget for failing to address important issues like the federal SALT deductions, gun laws, and ethics reform. Now, some are calling for Leader Stewart-Cousins to finally be included in budget negotiations with the Governor, especially with issues such as sexual harassment reform on the table. The DLCC stands with Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and we are proud of her legislative accomplishments and history of leadership in the state.

5.   Facebook data from Cambridge Analytica helped Republicans win keys seats in Colorado. And it cost them big bucks.

The political firm that obtained private data on millions of Facebook users helped Republicans in Colorado win a crucial majority in the state Senate, taking $444,000 in “dark money” payments over two years. Cambridge Analytica used personal data from the social-media platform and voter records to create profiles that allowed Republican operatives to target specific voters based on personality and political issues, according to interviews and tax filings obtained by The Denver Post. The 2014 effort in Colorado served as a precursor to the London-based firm’s work in 2016 to help elect President Donald Trump and is connected to data mining operations now under investigation in two countries. Looking ahead to 2018, the DLCC is excited to feature multiple candidates for the Colorado Senate on our Spotlight Races page, and we look forward to working with our legislative leaders and state partners to retake the majority in this critical chamber.

- There’s Never Been a Native American Congresswoman. That Could Change in 2018. [The New York Times]

"We must ensure that every person living in California — no matter how they look, who they love or where their parents were born — can climb life's ladder, live out loud and be whoever they want to be without being demeaned, downsized or discriminated against."
-- California Senate President pro tem Toni Atkins

This week Senator Toni Atkins made history, becoming the first woman and first openly LGBTQ person to lead the California state Senate. Senator Atkins was sworn in as Senate President pro tem, taking over for Senator Kevin de Leon who is serving his last term in the chamber. The DLCC looks forward to working with Senate President Atkins to protect our Democratic majorities in the state, ensuring California Democrats can continue to govern by example.

3/24/18:   ELECTION DAY - Louisiana HD-93 Special Election

3/27/18:   ELECTION DAY - Alabama HD-21 Special Election

3/27/18:   FILING DEADLINE - Missouri, South Dakota

3/30/18:   FILING DEADLINE - South Carolina