Abortion rights supporters

Ohio Voters Torch GOP Scheme To Kill Abortion Rights Amendment

Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected a Republican-backed measure called Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have made it difficult to ever change the state's constitution again. The proposal was failing 62-38 with 36% of the estimated vote tallied when the Associated Press called the race. The result means that pro-choice advocates will need to win a simple majority on Nov. 7 in order to pass their own amendment to enshrine abortion rights into the state's governing document instead of the 60% supermajority that Issue 1 would have imposed.

The outcome also ensures that activists seeking to pass other amendments opposed by Ohio's GOP-dominated state government will not need to contend with the dramatically increased signature requirements that Issue 1 would have required in order to qualify measures for the ballot. (Republicans in numerous other states have also been trying to make it tougher to pass progressive ballot change at the ballot box, mostly without success.) That's good news for a 2024 effort to create an independent redistricting commission in place of a broken bipartisan board that tilts heavily to the GOP, as well as a campaign to raise the minimum wage from its current level of $10.10 per hour.

Both sides, however, chiefly viewed Tuesday's contest as a proxy fight over abortion rights, with Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose outright declaring in June, "This is 100 percent about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution." The "no" side ran a barrage of ads highlighting those comments from LaRose, who is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, warning that "[c]orrupt politicians and special interests" were "trying to rig the rules to lock in Ohio's extreme abortion ban and stop efforts to restore our rights."

Conservative groups, though, seem to have decided that abortion rights were too popular to directly attack in a state where, according to Civiqs, voters agree 55-40 that the procedure should be legal in all or most cases. The "yes" side instead resorted to transphobia by insisting, "Out-of-state special interests that put trans ideology in classrooms and encourage sex changes for kids are hiding behind slick ads." (Neither Issue 1 nor the abortion amendment has anything to do with any of these issues.)

Other right-wing ads insisted that Issue 1 was necessary to stop "radical groups" from "tak[ing] away parents' ability to be informed and to make decisions for their children," even though the November abortion amendment wouldn't impact the state's parental consent laws.

The pro-Issue 1 side further claimed it was trying to stop out-of-state interests from changing the state's governing document for their own ends, despite the fact that much of their money came from one out-of-state billionaire, Illinois megadonor Richard Uihlein. But Uihlein's deep pockets were not enough: AdImpact reports that the "no" side outspent its rivals $15.9 million to $10.7 million on TV and radio ads.

None of the GOP's messages helped avert defeat on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen whether conservatives will adopt different tactics heading into the fall. And another expensive battle looms: The groups backing abortion rights tell NBC they'll spend at least $35 million to pass their amendment, while their opponents at Protect Women Ohio say they've already booked $25 million in ad time.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Mark Robinson

Christian Nationalist Instantly Leads In North Carolina GOP Governor's Primary

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson announced Saturday that he would seek the Republican nomination for governor next year, a declaration that came a month after he told a church service that “God formed” him to fight against LGBTQ rights. His entry, however, had been anticipated for years, so much so that Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein preemptively attacked his likely opponent during his own campaign kickoff in January, warning in a video, “Robinson wants to tell you who you can marry, when you’ll be pregnant, and who you should hate.”

But while Stein has no intra-party opposition in his quest to succeed termed-out Gov. Roy Cooper, a fellow Democrat, Robinson will have some company in his primary. State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced a bid last month, while an advisor for former Rep. Mark Walker tells the News & Observer that he’ll also join the race in May. Folwell, who has trailed Robinson by 50 points or more in the few polls we’ve seen, acknowledged he’s the “underdog” while still arguing, “What I am going to talk about is how do we talk about problems without attacking people.” Walker also seems undeterred, despite his own weak third-place finish in last year’s Senate primary.

Robinson, who would be the Tar Heel State’s first Black chief executive, was a political unknown until 2018, when he became a conservative celebrity after giving a speech protesting the cancellation of a gun show in Greensboro. The former furniture factory worker went on to take the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in his first bid for office two years later. He beat state Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley 52-48 in the general election despite standing by his past litany of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and transphobic screeds.

Robinson went on to make news over the following years with more bigoted comments. His most infamous remarks may have been those he offered in a 2021 address to a Baptist church. “There is no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality—any of that filth," he said. "And yes, I called it filth.” Robinson refused to apologize and has continued to spout hateful rhetoric in the years since. “We are called to be led by men,” he told congregants at another church just last year. “God sent women out … when they had to do their thing, but when it was time to face down Goliath, [He] sent David. Not Davita, David.”

The Republican frontrunner showed absolutely no interest in changing in the lead-up to his new campaign, declaring in January that “abortion is not compatible with this nation, the same way slavery was not compatible with this nation.” This statement came just months after Robinson confirmed that his wife had an abortion in 1989, just prior to their marriage, saying, “It's because of this experience and our spiritual journey that we are so adamantly pro-life.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Yet Another Manic Fabricator Unmasked Among House GOP Freshmen

Yet Another Manic Fabricator Unmasked Among House GOP Freshmen

Television station WTVF's Phil Williams has reported that Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles appears to have fabricated large portions of his life, with Williams writing that the freshman Republican has claimed to be "an economist, a nationally recognized expert in tax policy and health care, a trained police officer, even an expert in international sex crimes"— none of which appears to be true. Ogles won his first term last year in a newly gerrymandered Middle Tennessee district, and he went on to oppose Kevin McCarthy for speaker on 11 straight ballots before finally falling into line.

During last year's primary, Ogles presented himself "as a former member of law enforcement" in a debate, saying he'd "worked in international sex crimes, specifically child trafficking." He also made similar claims during the campaign and in his first weeks in office.

But Williams explains that the only law enforcement background Ogles had was his brief service as a volunteer reserve deputy in the Williamson County Sheriff's Office starting in 2009―a gig that ended just two years later after he failed to meet the minimum requirements for participation or even attend meetings. A spokesperson for the sheriff added, "There is nothing in Mr. Ogles' training or personnel file that indicates he had any involvement in 'international sex trafficking' in his capacity as a reserve deputy."

Williams also found that, while the congressman has claimed to have "oversee[n] operations and investments in 12 countries" as the chief operating officer of a group that works to stop human trafficking, his tax returns show he was paid all of $4,000 for part-time work. There's also no evidence that Ogles ever received an education in economics or worked as an economist. However, unlike fellow first-term Republican fabricators George Santos and Anna Paulina Luna, it appears that Ogles has not claimed to be Jewish.

Williams wasn't the first Tennessee journalist to question Ogles. In late January, the Tennessee Lookout's Sam Stockard reported that Ogles claimed to be a graduate of Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management when records show he actually went through the school's executive education program. Those two programs may sound similar but they're nothing alike. "Participants in the short-term, non-degree programs typically receive a certificate, according to a Vanderbilt spokesman," wrote Stockard. "In other words, he probably attended a few hours of lectures and got a piece of paper."

State Sen. Heidi Campbell, the Democrat Ogles defeated 56-42 last year, also says she had some idea about her opponent's other alleged lies, specifically his supposed law enforcement background, but none of these stories surfaced during the primary, where Ogles defeated former state House Speaker Beth Harwell 35-25, nor in the general.

Ogles' campaign finances are also a shambles. The month after his win, the Federal Election Commission threatened to audit the incoming congressman over his fundraising reports; among other things, he failed to properly identify donors and recorded accepting multiple contributions over the legal $2,900 limit. Williams further reported last month that Ogles has alsofailed to file the personal financial disclosures that all federal candidates are required to submit.

Campbell now argues that she might have won had her opponent's alleged fabrications emerged during the campaign, though Tennessee Republicans last year did everything they could to make sure that any Republican would win the Fifth District. While Nashville's Davidson County had been contained in a single congressional district since the 1950s, the GOP's new gerrymander divided it between three different constituencies and immediately transformed the 5th District from safely blue to solidly red.

Veteran Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper decided to retire right after his seat morphed from a 60-37 Biden district to one Trump carried 54-43, and Ogles went on to beat Campbell in a race that almost everyone agreed would be an easy GOP pickup. Ogles' victory, as well as the successful re-election campaigns of fellow Republican Reps. John Rose and Mark Green, ensured that Nashville would be represented by Republicans for the first time since Horace Harrison left office in 1875 after losing his bid for another term.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Katie Hobbs Wins In Arizona, Beating Election Denier Kari Lake

Katie Hobbs Wins In Arizona, Beating Election Denier Kari Lake

Democrats enjoyed yet another welcome burst of news when NBC called the Arizona governor's race for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who will be the first Democrat in 14 years to lead what’s become a crucial swing state. Hobbs leads her far-right opponent, former local TV anchor Kari Lake, 50.4-49.6 with 98 percent of the likely total vote reporting for the contest to succeed termed-out Gov. Doug Ducey. Republicans hoped that later-counted ballots would allow Lake to overcome the edge that Hobbs has enjoyed since Election Night, but those batches of votes weren’t quite red enough to deny Hobbs the win.

Lake, who began spreading conspiracy theories and cultivating ties with the extremist right well before she went off the air last year as a news anchor for Phoenix's Fox 10, was part of Trump’s nationwide primary slate of Big Lie spreaders, and she rode that support to beat out a Ducey-backed foe for the nomination in August. Lake quickly became a national MAGA star, and some over-eager observers speculated that she could be Trump’s running mate―or even a future presidential nominee―even though she hadn’t even won her own race yet. Lake herself even recorded videos imploring voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania to elect like-minded Trumpists, Tudor Dixon and Doug Mastriano, to lead their respective states.

What Lake didn’t do in the general election, though, was abandon her conspiracy mongering. The Republican nominee spent the week before the election making light of the assassination attempt on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying, “Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in D.C.—apparently her house doesn’t have a lot of protection.” Lake also continued to push the Big Lie, saying of Trump’s 2020 loss in Arizona, “We had 740,000 ballots with no chain of custody. Those ballots shouldn’t have been counted.”

Hobbs, for her part, launched her campaign last year highlighting how she performed her job as the Grand Canyon State’s chief election administrator in the face of death threats. Hobbs ran a considerably more low-key campaign than Lake, who aired several ads hitting the Democrat for refusing to debate her. Hobbs and her allies, though, stuck with their strategy of highlighting Lake’s extremism, which included an ad hitting her for appearing to flirt with secession in response to the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago.

Hobbs’ victory will make her Arizona’s first Democratic governor since early 2009, when Janet Napolitano resigned to become Barack Obama’s first secretary of homeland security. Team Blue knew that Napolitano’s departure would hand the governor’s office to Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer, who was next in line for the top job in a state that lacks a lieutenant governor’s post, but they hoped the GOP would hand back control the next year.

That was a huge miscalculation. Brewer was in place to sign the infamous anti-immigrant bill SB 1070 into law months before she rode the 2010 red wave to a full term, and Ducey won the following two elections. Hobbs, though, finally returns this office to Democratic control over a decade after they forfeited it.

P.S. It looks like Arizona will, starting in 2026, elect a lieutenant governor for the first time, since voters are on the verge of passing a ballot measure to establish the post. Hobbs would be able to name her own running mate, who would assume the governorship should Hobbs win a second term but be unable to complete it, ensuring that the debacle of 2009 can never be repeated. Until then, though, the person next in line to succeed her will be Secretary of State-elect Adrian Fontes, a fellow Democrat who won the race to succeed Hobbs by defeating election denier Mark Finchem.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Democrat Peltola Defeats Palin In Alaska Special Election Upset

Democrat Peltola Defeats Palin In Alaska Special Election Upset

Alaska election officials carried out the instant-runoff process Wednesday for the August 16 special election for the state’s only House seat, and former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola has scored a dramatic pickup for her party by defeating Republican Sarah Palin 51-49 percent.

Peltola, who will replace the late GOP Rep. Don Young, will be the first Democrat to represent the Last Frontier in the lower chamber since Young won his own special election all the way back in 1973. The new congresswoman, who is of Yup’ik ancestry, is also set to become the first Alaska Native to ever serve in Congress.

The outcome was in doubt for so long because the state allows all mail ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received for another 15 days. Peltola went into Wednesday with 40 percent of the vote while two Republicans, Palin and businessman Nick Begich, took 31 percent and 28 percent respectively. (Write-in ballots made up the balance.) While the two Republican candidates together outpaced Peltola 59-40, Democrats hoped that Palin wouldn’t pick up quite enough Begich voters to overtake the leader when their second-choice preferences were tabulated.

Everyone was kept guessing through Wednesday, especially the candidates, who appeared together at an Alaska Oil and Gas Association forum just before the results were announced. They learned there that, while the voters who listed Begich or a write-in as their first choice went for Palin 50-29 percent, a crucial 21 percent didn’t express a preference for either finalist. All of this was just enough for Peltola to keep her edge in the final round of tabulations and give her party a crucial win in a state that Donald Trump had carried by 53-43 percent just two years ago.

Peltola’s victory on such red turf, though, looked improbable before the polls closed two weeks ago. Indeed, national Democrats didn’t even commit serious resources to the contest, a decision the former state representative called “bizarre” just before Election Day. Peltola, however, benefited from voters’ lingering apathy toward Palin, whom the Anchorage Daily News last year described as "nearly invisible within the state" and "almost entirely absent from Alaska politics" since she resigned the governorship in 2009.

While Palin had Donald Trump’s backing for her comeback campaign, the 2008 vice presidential nominee showed little interest in reintroducing herself to her old constituents. Palin made only a few public appearances in the Last Frontier, while she used the weeks before Election Day to hold a Minneapolis fundraiser with far-right pillow salesman Mike Lindell and speak at CPAC's confab in Dallas.

Begich was only too happy to portray Palin as a terrible governor who only cared about being a celebrity, and he ran commercials showing photos of her 2020 appearance on The Masked Singer where she performed "Baby Got Back" disguised as a pink and blue bear. Palin herself hit back in the final days of the race by castigating Begich, who is the rare Republican member of Alaska's prominent Democratic family, for supporting relatives like former Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

Peltola, by contrast, avoided attacking either of her GOP rivals, and neither Palin nor Begich went after her either: Both Republicans instead smiled in selfies with their Democratic opponent, and Palin even went so far as to call her a “sweetheart.” All of this made it harder for conservative leaders to make the case that Begich's and Palin’s supporters needed to look past their brutal intra-party fight and rank the other Republican in order to keep Peltola out of Congress.

Republicans, though, will have the chance to regain this seat in a few months. Peltola, Palin, and Begich as well as Libertarian Chris Bye, will be on the ballot again in November for another instant-runoff election, and the dynamics could be very different for this second round.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Melanie Stansbury celebrating winning New Mexico's 1st Congressional District

Democrat Stansbury Romps In Special Election To Replace Haaland

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury defeated Republican state Sen. Mark Moores in a 60-36 landslide to hold New Mexico's 1st Congressional District in Tuesday's special election to succeed Deb Haaland, who resigned earlier this year to become U.S. secretary of the interior.

Stansbury improved on Haaland's 58-42 win last year and even ran slightly ahead of Joe Biden's 60-37 showing in this Albuquerque-based constituency, a result indicating that Republican efforts to turn the race into a referendum on crime gained little traction. Moores almost singularly focused his campaign on the rising local crime rate, a message his party hopes will resonate nationally next year. One of his TV ads even featured horror movie-style sound effects of a woman screaming as the narrator went after Stansbury on police reform.

Stansbury, though, pushed back and aired her own ads featuring law enforcement personnel vouching for her. She also emphasized her support for the Biden administration and its policies and campaigned with both first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.

While Democrats will be pleased with the end result, whether the outcome portends anything for the midterms is much harder to say. At the very least, extrapolating from a single special election is a risky endeavor, and Republicans will be quick to note that GOP outside groups didn't spend any serious money on Moores' behalf.

For now, though, Stansbury's victory means Democrats will restore one more vote to their slim House majority, giving Nancy Pelosi a 220-211 advantage with four more vacancies to be filled in future special elections.

Republican Who Mulled Run Against Cuomo Retires After Sexual Harassment Charge

Republican Who Mulled Run Against Cuomo Retires After Sexual Harassment Charge

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Republican Rep. Tom Reed said yesterday that he would not run for re-election or for any other office in New York in 2022, an announcement that came two days after the Washington Post published a story where a former lobbyist named Nicolette Davis accused Reed of sexually harassing her at a Minneapolis restaurant in 2017.

Davis, who was a 25-year-old insurance company lobbyist at the time, recounted that she had briefly met Reed earlier on the day in question during a networking trip. Davis says she went to a restaurant with several of her colleagues later that evening that Reed also happened to be at, and she wound up sitting next to him at a table.

In the words of reporter Beth Reinhard, Davis says that the congressman put his "hand outside her blouse, briefly fumbled with her bra before unhooking it by pinching the clasp," which left her "stunned" and afraid to speak. Reinhard continued, "He moved his hand to her thigh, inching upward." Reed only stopped, according to Davis, after she asked another person at the table for help, who then "pull[ed] the congressman away from the table and out of the restaurant."

Davis showed the paper a text from that night in which she told her friend and coworker, Jessica Strieter, "A drunk congressman is rubbing my back," and later added, "HELP HELP." An unnamed witness also told Reinhard that "Reed was visibly intoxicated and put his hand on Davis' back before being escorted from the restaurant while the rest of the group remained."

Strieter says that Davis told her more about the incident after the trip, adding, "She was really shaken by it." Davis' supervisor at the time, Brad Knox, also said that he remembered Davis telling him about what happened. Knox added that he asked Davis if she wanted to file a complaint with the House Ethics Committee but says that she decided not to. Davis herself says she now regrets not pursuing that option, but explained, "I was afraid I would become 'that girl' who made a mess of things for a member, and that no one would ever want to associate with me."

The Post contacted Reed, who had been mulling a bid for governor of New York, with a list of questions for the story, to which he responded, "This account of my actions is not accurate." On Sunday, though, Reed published a statement apologizing to Davis and announcing that he would not be on the ballot for anything next year.

Sen. Cory Gardner

Democratic PACs Drop Colorado Ads — Because Sen. Gardner Is Doomed

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC announced Friday that it was canceling its remaining $1.2 million TV reservation in Colorado, a move that's only the latest sign that Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is in dire shape against Democrat John Hickenlooper.

While SMP is the first group that has stopped spending here altogether, Gardner's allies have also largely directed their resources elsewhere. The Denver Post's Justin Wingerter reported on Friday that the NRSC, the committee that Gardner himself chaired just two years ago, had spent $145,000 during the first half of October, a negligible sum for the final weeks of a Senate race.

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