Campaign 2024
Ben Wikler

Ben Wikler

White House

From Alabama Republicans' blatantly discriminatory congressional map, to the Wisconsin GOP's ousting of a the states' top election official and attempt to impeach a liberal Supreme Court justice, to North Carolina's decision to allow the majority-Republican legislature to appoint state and local election board members, News from the States reports these anti-democratic moves have all recently "generated national headlines" and stoked fears ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

"If they can impeach someone successfully to stop them from ruling in a way they don't like, what will they do after the 2024 election?" Ben Wikler, the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party told the news outlet, referring to state Republicans' "threat to impeach" state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz. "It was one vote in our state Supreme Court that prevented the 2020 election from being overturned in Wisconsin. And they know who the justices were, so they could just suspend them. This would open the door to monsters that I don't think they'd be able to control."

News from the States points out other states like Ohio and Florida, which are also pushing anti-democratic legislation, have "flown further under the radar."

According to the report, "In Ohio, the Supreme Court has ruled five times that the state's current legislative maps are unconstitutional gerrymanders favoring Republicans. But the bipartisan commission that's supposed to draw fair maps hasn't met since May 2022."

Furthermore, "Lawmakers' goal appears to be to run out the clock and ram through skewed maps with little public scrutiny. Because the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority, it's expected to green-light whatever lawmakers come up with."

In the Sunshine State, "Acting on a request from the speaker of the House, the state Supreme Court last month created a commission to study changing the way prosecutors and judges are elected," the news outlet notes, which one advocate warned "would almost certainly be a near-fatal blow against the reform prosecutor movement in the state."

The report notes while these types of "power grabs" within state legislatures are not new, "advocates say, these efforts are even more dangerous for democracy. That's because, by giving lawmakers more power over elections or over their state's judicial system, many of these schemes strengthen and reinforce the ultimate threat of outright election subversion."

Joanna Lydgate, Chief Executive Officer of pro-democracy group States United Action emphasized, "We should call this what it is: an effort to lay the groundwork to subvert the will of the voters in future elections. While the focus is often on the national picture, our elections are run by the states. That means we need to keep shining a light on state-level efforts that undermine our democracy. It's the only way to shut it down."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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Dave McCormick

Dave McCormick

Connecticut-based millionaire and former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick on Thursday announced that he will challenge incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), following months of recruitment efforts by national Republicans. McCormick, who has run for the Senate before, has a long record of opposing public education, reproductive rights, and American workers.

Hours before a scheduled Pittsburgh announcement speech, McCormick released a campaign video, promising: “I will fight for pro-growth economic policies, for America-first energy policies. I will fight on day one to secure borders. I will lead the fight on China.”

In 2022, McCormick sought the Republican nomination for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. He narrowly lost in a primary to television personality Mehmet Oz after Democrats criticized both candidates as carpetbaggers from out of state.

McCormick told the right-wing American Enterprise Institute this March, in an interview first flagged by the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, that part of the reason Oz lost to Democratic nominee John Fetterman in the November 2022 general election was a lack of authentic connection to the state.

Telling the interviewer that he himself has deep roots in Pennsylvania, McCormick said: “He didn’t have enough anything like that. And so that explains a lot, I think, because people want to know that the person that they’re voting for kind of gets it, and part of getting it is understanding that you just didn’t come in yesterday.” (Disclosure: The American Independent Foundation is a partner organization of American Bridge.)

Though McCormick repeatedly claimed to be a Pennsylvania resident during his 2022 campaign and earlier this year, an August 14 Associated Press investigation of tax filings and property records revealed that he still appears to live in a $16 million mansion in Westport, Connecticut.

The American Independent Foundation later reviewed additional tax records that show he paid Westport town motor vehicle taxes on two vehicles, indicating that they were still registered in Connecticut as of October 2022.

In his 2022 campaign, McCormick spoke about his opposition to abortion. He endorsed a nearly total abortion ban during an April 2022 debate: “I believe in the very rare instances, there should be exceptions for the life of the mother.”

A spokesperson told the Philadelphia Inquirer last June that McCormick now supports exceptions in cases of rape and incest.

Recent polls have shown more than 60 percent of Pennsylvanians support abortion being legal in most or all circumstances. Casey has backed legislation to restore the right to an abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade.

During his 2022 campaign, McCormick opposed gun safety legislation and, on his campaign website, accused the “extreme left” of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment.

McCormick attacked public education during a March radio interview, also flagged by American Bridge. Asked on the Rich Zeoli Show about “wokeness” in the education system, McCormick complained that schools were not teaching that America is exceptional:

And this all became clear during COVID, because all of a sudden, parents could see that the history that was being taught, the sexualization that was happening, particularly in our elementary schools, they could see that teachers were making decisions that were not in the best interests of their children. And that’s why we’ve got to break the back of our teachers’ unions and our public school system and give kids choice and get parents more involved.

McCormick said in April 2022 that he opposes efforts to increase the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage, which has not been adjusted since 2009. “I wouldn’t change the minimum wage we have now,” he said on the Politics PA podcast. “But I wouldn’t raise it.”

Asked that January about allegations that his businesses had outsourced Pennsylvania jobs, he told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA: “Certainly, there was never any outsourcing of jobs to any country, and there was certainly no outsourcing of jobs to China. And the businesses I ran had very, very little business at all with China. The firm I led had two percent of its revenue coming from China.”

This appeared to contradict a 2005 Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewstory about McCormick’s assumption of the position of undersecretary of commerce for export in the George W. Bush administration, which said, “McCormick said his experience as a corporate CEO helping companies to move work offshore, and as a platoon leader in the Army during the first Gulf War, will serve him well in his new post.”

The American Independent Foundation reported in March 2022 that McCormick had repeatedly called himself a former Army Ranger, though he never earned that title.

According to the Army’s Special Operations Command, only military members who serve or served in the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment can call themselves a U.S. Army Ranger. McCormick completed the Army’s Ranger Course training program in 1988, entitling him to say he was “Ranger qualified,” according to U.S. military standards, but he never served in the 75th.

In his 2022 campaign, he touted the endorsement of Sean Parnell, a former primary opponent who had dropped out of the race. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had reported that Parnell sought to seal custody records after his estranged wife filed protection-from-abuse orders against him.

“The real David McCormick is a mega-millionaire Connecticut hedge fund executive who is lying about living in Pennsylvania, and has spent his life looking out for himself and his rich friends at the expense of working families,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Maddy McDaniel told the American Independent Foundation. “Bob Casey has spent his career fighting for Pennsylvanians who work for a living, while McCormick has shown he will do and say anything to benefit himself and his wealthy Wall Street friends.”

Casey has introduced 54 bills so far in 2023, addressing gun violence, Medicare and Medicaid expansion, public health, and costs for Pennsylvania families.

The Cook Political Reportlists the race as competitive, but leaning Democratic.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.