For the Week of 5/19/2017
Since President Trump’s inauguration, Democratic state legislators across the country have stepped up to lead the resistance and defend Americans from Trump’s GOP. While DLCC Board members and state leaders work to expand and protect progress in statehouses nationwide, DLCC is using grassroots online outreach to share proactive daily actions that can be taken by any voter interested in fighting back against the Trump agenda. By participating in these small acts of resistance, you can help DLCC strengthen the party’s recruitment bench, win statehouse majorities, and prevent another decade of Republican gerrymandering. To be a productive progressive ally, be sure to follow DLCC on Twitter and Facebook and share these manageable but important daily actions with your network of changemakers!
When Maine Republicans were presented with an opportunity to enshrine equal rights for women in the state’s Constitution, they utterly failed. Legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Louis Reckitt would put lawmakers on record in favor of this important amendment, which aims to “explicitly protect against sex discrimination,” and sent it to the state’s voters. Currently, 23 states include an equal rights amendment in their state constitutions. In Maine, supporters of the amendment argued that gender inequality presents itself in a variety of ways, from unequal pay to divorce and domestic violence laws. Democratic state Senator Eloise Vitelli remarked, “It is time to guarantee that our courts use the highest standard, a constitutional standard, when faced with cases that have to do with sex discrimination.” Maine Republicans will be marked by this vote in 2018 elections and beyond.
In this high-profile election year, Republicans cannot catch a break. With unpopular Republican standard-bearers Gov. Christie and President Trump already hindering GOP candidates down the ballot, records show New Jersey Republican legislative candidates are being significantly outraised and outspent by their Democratic counterparts. Per a report from the state’s election watchdog agency, Democratic candidates have outraised and outspent their Republican rivals about two-to-one so far in this year's races for all 120 seats in the New Jersey legislature. Records through May 5 show that Democrats raised $20.9 million and spent $10.6 million, while Republicans raised just $8.5 million and spent only $5.6 million. Additionally, with almost three-and-a-half times more cash on hand than Republicans, state Democrats will likely continue to surpass GOP challengers as the party looks to maintain and expand their statehouse majorities.
North Carolina Republicans are never short on shady shenanigans. Their most recent maneuver? Punishing students in Democratic-held districts as retribution for prolonged budget debates. As the session stretched past midnight one night last week, Republicans continuously shot down Democratic amendments to fund priorities like access to fresh produce in food deserts and government staffing. After Republicans took a recess, a new Republican budget amendment to combat opioid abuse was proposed at around 3 a.m. However, Republicans didn’t disclose that to fund this amendment, education programs would be slashed – but only in districts represented by Democrats. The amendment strips funding from programs that benefit many African-American students and students from low-income families, bans state funding from supporting a summer STEM program, and alters a program that helps teaching assistants earn their teaching licenses so it only applies to counties represented by Republican senators. Democratic Senator Erica Smith-Ingram’s district was directly hit by the amendment. “I don’t know what motivated the amendment, but it will have a devastating effect on an area that is already suffering…The future of children should not be caught up in a political disagreement between members,” said the Senator.
While some may consider 2017 an off-year, those in state politics know there is no such thing. This year, a closely watched Washington state Senate race has the potential to shift another state into the “all blue” column as Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra aims to flip LD-45, which would establish a Democratic majority in the state Senate. While the district was previously represented by late Republican state Sen. Andy Hill, Hillary Clinton carried the district in 2016. Manka is an extremely talented candidate and a leader in her community. A senior deputy King County Prosecutor, she is a nationally recognized anti-domestic violence advocate and mental health expert. Manka recently appeared with DNC Chair Tom Perez at a Seattle fundraiser, and Perez expressed the party’s commitment to supporting legislative candidates. This November, Manka will face Republican candidate Jinyoung Englund in this critical contest for chamber control.
*DLCC's Quote of the Week*
"I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."
While serving as an Illinois state Senator, Barack Obama addressed the 2004 Democratic National Convention and spoke about the “audacity of hope.” While a lot has changed since President Obama began his state Senate term 20 years ago, his lifetime commitment to helping working families, achieving criminal justice reform, and improving health care was apparent during his statehouse tenure. DLCC is working to elect real leaders like Barack Obama to legislatures across the country. If we are to survive the Trump Era, Democrats must look to the states for the future of the party.