Friday, October 23, 2020

Will The Anti-Red Tsunami Sweep The Democrats Back Into Control Of State Legislatures-- Yes, But Why Not Florida?



Florida Man x 3

Reporting for National Journal, Mary Frances McGowan and Leah Askarinam wrote about the state of the crucial-- but largely ignored-- down-ballot battles over control of state legislatures. In a tsunami-- even though it's primarily a rejection of Trump-- Republicans on all levels are staring into the wide open maw of defeat. In 2010, two years after Obama's big win, due almost entirely to Democratic Party complacency and incompetence on every level, 21 state legislative chambers flipped from blue to red. The Republicans used these wins to further gerrymander state after state into GOP bastions, particularly North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Texas. (Democrats did basically the same thing in Illinois and Maryland.)

Goal Thermometer"Ten years later," wrote McGowan and Askarinam, "Democrats control 39 legislative chambers out of 98 total (excluding Nebraska, which is unicameral). Republicans are on defense, and Democratic groups are stressing the importance of having a seat at the table during redistricting, not to mention the importance of policy goals like expanding Medicaid and increasing voter access." They warn that it's no easy task. Republicans drew the boundaries of the districts being fought over and the Republican State Leadership Committee has had "a gargantuan financial war chest" to work with. Blue America is trying to boost the chances of progressive candidates across the country and you can contribute to any or all of them by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer on the right. National Journal delineates the 10 most likely chambers to flip a week from Tuesday.

The 67 seat Minnesota Senate, which currently has 35 Republicans and 32 Dems, is probably the surest bet, with 10 Republican-held districts that Governor Tim Walz carried in 2018. The Dems need to flip just 2 of them and are likely to flip at least 5.

In Arizona, both Houses are controlled by the GOP and both look flippable in a state that is trending blue and where Biden is way ahead and where Democrat Mark Kelly looks sure to beat GOP incumbent Martha McSally in a US Senate landslide. Governor Ducey is loathed because of his disastrous pandemic response and state legislators are going to get walloped because of him (and Trump). "More so than in other state legislatures," wrote McGowan and Askarinam, "the results from the two chambers are likely to reflect one another. Arizona is divided into 30 legislative districts, each of which is represented by one state senator and two state House members. Republicans hold a 17-13 majority in the state Senate and a 31-29 majority in the House. Democrats should be able to win both but, like Minnesota , this isn't going to have any impact on the redrawing of district lines. (Arizona has an independent commission doing that job.)

Texas though, is a real battle-royale where the ability of the GOP to gerrymander is very much at stake. This one is CRUCIAL. Please contribute to Lorenzo Sanchez, Eric Holguin and Erin Zwiener here. Right now there are 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats in the state House and the Democrats are heavily targeting the 9 Republican-held seats that Beto O’Rourke carried in his 2018 Senate race, focusing on blue-trending suburban areas near Houston and Dallas, where Trump has become an albatross around the neck of every Republican. If the Democrats flip this chamber, the repercussions nationally will be humongous because GOP plans to gerrymander newly blue congressional districts will have to be scrapped.

The Iowa House has a 53-47 Republican majority. The Democrats need 4 seats to take back control. The legislature doesn’t draw the legislative boundaries but it gets to approve or disapprove them. Democrats control 3 of the 4 congressional districts and the 4th is an open seat where J.D. Scholten is running the most energetic campaign in the state. It looks like Biden is going to win the state, as will Theresa Greenfield, who is leading GOP Senator Joni Ernst by 1.8 points on average.

The Michigan House looks ready to flip back to the Democrats as well. Right now the GOP holds 58 seats to the Democrats' 52 but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer carried Oakland County by 17 points in 2018 and the Democrats are fighting hard to pick up seats there and in other suburban districts.

I would call it a much longer shot, but Democrats feel they can take back both the House and Senate in North Carolina, in great part because a federal court declared the old map unconstitutional, the Democrats had a very successful recruiting season and because both Governor Roy Cooper and Biden are surging right now. The Dems need 5 state Senate seats (and 2 are sure things). "The path to netting the other three," wrote McGowan and Askkarinam, "is scattered across the state, with promising races taking place in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and the Piedmont region. Democrats point to Senate District 24 in Alamance County, where Democratic veteran J.D. Wooten is running against Republican Amy Galey, as a bellwether. Trump carried that district by 12 points in 2016; if Wooten makes it across the finish line, the chamber is likely to follow. In the state House, Democrats need to flip six seats to take a majority. The landscape is a bit rockier than in the Senate, due to a handful of vulnerable incumbents whom the party needs to protect. However, the party has identified nine Republicans they see as vulnerable."

Pennsylvania should be easier, where the state House has 110 Republicans and 93 Dems but with plenty of suburban targets around Philly and Harrisburg for the Democrats to win in, along with Biden. The Democrats are also likely to flip 3 state Senate seats, but they need a 4th (in Lancaster) and if they win it it will mean the anti-red tsunami is bigger than most people expect.

The toughest of the 10 chambers is the Georgia state House, where Democrats need to pick up 16 seats. They'll win seats but probably more like 7 or 8 than 16.

Goal ThermometerThat leaves a chamber that should be a relatively do-able pick up unmentioned: the Florida state Senate, which the top Senate Democrat, Gary Farmer, seems absolutely determined to lose. The state Senate consists of 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats, so the Dems need 3 for a tie and 4 for a majority. It's almost as if they made a deal with the Republicans to go after 2, which will leave the Senate with a 21-19 GOP majority. Early on, the Democrats tried recruiting failed gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink to run for the open SD-20 seat (parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties). She declined but the candidate who nearly won the seat against Tom Lee, the retiring incumbent, in 2018 is in it to win it. The state party has not been welcoming, at least in part because Lewis is black and they try to prevent minority candidates from running in "white" districts. (Yes, it's the worst Democratic state party in the country-- or maybe tied for worst with Ohio's.) Right now, it looks like Lewis is going to beat far right nut-job Daniel Burgess, despite Farmer and the state party. That'll make it a tied chamber; one more seat and they have a win.

Dr. Fergie Reid of 90For90, who helped recruit so many of the Florida candidates told me this morning that "Some Democrats are on offense in Florida; many of these Democrats are playing a beautiful style of 'team electoral politics.' 2020 Florida Democrats are contesting 83 of the 84 GOP held State Legislative Districts; 11 out of 11 in the State Senate and 72 out of 73 in the State House. In the 14 GOP held congressional districts, Democrats are contesting 12. Two Republicans were given walkovers,' on the candidate filing deadline date in April, Mario Diaz-Balart in the prime swing district in the state-- CD 25-- and Neal Dunn in CD 2. Recent polling shows serious Biden strength, and serious Trump weakness in Florida. Republicans are fearful of an impending 'shellacking' and rightfully so. Their great fear is losing control. If they lose either the state House or state Senate, Florida Dems will have a say in the next decade’s electoral maps. Kathy Lewis for SD 20 is the 'rate limiting step' to this Democratic 'power possibility' in Florida. Moreover, the state Senate candidates in todo are the key drivers for a potential Biden overperformance throughout the state: Karen Butler for SD 1, Stacey Peters for SD 5, Heather Hunter for SD 7, Scott Fretwell for SD 17, Kathy Lewis for SD 20, Tony Eldon for SD 21, Katherine Norman for SD 23, Corinna Robinson for SD 25 and Rachel Brown for SD 27; the other Florida Senate candidates are already receiving max support. Help the neglected candidates for maximum effect. Sprint to the finish line. Leave no doubt.

Who's missing from this photo-- Matt Gaetz, Ted Yoho, Joe Gruters, Daniel Perez, Bill Galvano, Dane Eagle, Ashley Moody?

The most unpopular governor in America, Ron DeSantis, is not on the ballot. If voters want to make him pay for his pro-COVID/anti-Florida agenda, the can only take it out on his cronies in the legislature. And they should. DeSantis has killed 16,110 Floridians and the state's case total is 760,389-- 35,404 cases per million Floridians, far worse than any big state in the country. On Kathy Lewis' website, is a message about the pandemic: "In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida has seen unprecedented numbers of citizens lose their livelihoods and having to navigate an unemployment system that was seemingly designed to deter users from accessing much needed unemployment assistance. Florida’s response to COVID-19 has been disorganized and lacking in measures focused on saving lives. Kathy believes we need a robust and thorough plan developed with the expert advice of scientists and public health professionals to deal with the current pandemic and to prepare Florida for future pandemics with our citizens’ health and safety as our priority."

Bob Lynch is running for the Florida state House held by a top GOP leader-- who is protected by the Florida Democratic Party-- Daniel Perez. Bob explained that "The reason Florida is not on the list is because Florida Democrats made the calculated decision to not be on the list. This was largely led by Gary Farmer, who has a cushy gig in the minority, and he doesn’t want to rock the boat. Cutting deals with Republicans is his job. Representing Florida is not."

"There is," he continued, "a solid chance we flip Georgia, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and even freakin’ South Caroline Blue.  You’d think that Florida Dems would take advantage of this historic opportunity to go on a full court press to flip the Florida State Senate and House going into a redistricting year. Instead, Gary Farmer and his cronies decided to spend all of their time and money on Senate District 9 and 39 because that’s where their consultants and vendors can get paid the most and send the kickbacks all up the chain. They have not only completely ignored a historic slate of Senate candidates featuring @Butler4FLSen, @KathyLewisforFL, @Rachel_D_Brown, @NormanFlSenate, @CorinnaRobinson, @HeatherForSD7, @fretwellforfl, and @tonyforflorida, they have openly worked against some of them. Any one of these candidates could change the balance of power in Florida for a decade. Yet Gary and Juan Peñalosa have done everything in their power to abandon and torpedo these candidates. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself why?"

One very prominent candidate who is likely to be serving in the legislature next year and asked me not to divulge his name told me that "The Democrats are bringing a water gun to a bazooka fight with the Florida state legislature. Rather than help Democratic candidates win crucial races across the state, they're leaving them high and dry while actively working against candidates challenging Republican authority. It's genuinely disgusting how little party leadership actually wants to take back the state for the Democrats, especially considering Florida is a swing state with redistricting right around the corner. Republicans will fundraise and promote all of their candidates and shower them with buckets of cash to win. While the Democrats will be like 'OMG thanks for running XD' while doing absolutely nothing to help them win. It's embarrassing. One would think with the GOP's agenda sprinting towards fascism, the Dems might want to help out in critical races. But no, they'd rather be in the minority and collect a check. Holy shit what a petulant opposition party!"

Matt Rogers of Politidope-- and a legislative candidate himself in Virginia-- told me that for the last year, he's "been laser-focused on flipping Florida's 29 Electoral College votes for whomever the Democratic nominee ended up being. During that time, I've heard blood-boiling discussion of inspiring Democratic candidates being recruited OUT of races, party leaders wishing black candidates were 'more attractive' and Party 'leaders' themselves going on Twitter can saying they don't want to 'waste' resources on the brave candidates I've been so fortunate to work alongside with. Nevertheless, we persist. We've got only a few days left to raise money (until October 29th at 11:59 PM) for them. Let's do everything we can to help them and, in effect, help flip Florida's 29 Electoral College votes against the fascist in the White House.

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At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Florida "Democrats" ARE Republicans and do all they can to keep their friendly elephants in their seats. The DINOs even endorse and donate to them.

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It (the anti-red) may. But ask yourself what happened when the 2008 black tsunami receded in 2010? The nazis retook states and gerrymandered and put in place voter suppression and....

as for FL... the state is so fucked up it is difficult to care.


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