Also writing at Bolts, Widener University law professor Quinn Yeargain took a look at what these measures, all of which were placed on the ballot by the Republican-controlled state legislature, would do days before the abortion ruling came down. (The article also analyzes a comparable effort in Arkansas.) Proposition 128 would give lawmakers the power to amend or repeal a referendum if the Arizona Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down any portion (lawmakers currently face strict limits on amending or repealing voter-approved laws).
Prop. 129, meanwhile, would require any voter-initiated referendum to be about a “single subject,” a rule that would not apply to measures advanced by the legislature. Yeargain notes that the right-wing high courts in other states have used this sort of requirement to block ballot measures, and that a win for Prop. 129 could empower the conservative Arizona Supreme Court to take the same action. Finally, Prop. 130 would require any initiative that would approve a new tax pass with 60% of the vote instead of a majority.
The GOP has had complete control of the state government since 2009, but progressives have used the existing initiative process to pass laws that otherwise would have died in the legislature. Yeargain writes that since 2016, voters “have raised the minimum wage and legalized cannabis; they also increased taxes on the wealthy to raise teachers’ salaries and required employers to provide paid sick time to their employees.”
Arizona Republicans, like their counterparts in other states, have responded over the years by passing their own laws to make it tougher for activists both to get initiatives on the ballot and to keep them there. Most notably in 2017, Gov. Doug Ducey signed laws that banned campaigns from paying petition circulators on a per-signature basis and subjected petitions to “strict compliance” standards that allow signatures to get disqualified for mere clerical errors. Voting rights supporters this year tried to advance a referendum that, among other things, would have done away with “strict compliance,” but the state courts used that very rule to keep it off the ballot.
However, Republicans have still been restricted by the Voter Protection Act, a successful 1998 ballot measure that makes it tough for lawmakers to modify anything passed by voters. The GOP legislature, though, has responded by using its one-vote majorities in each chamber to put Props. 128, 129, and 130 before voters and change the system that has frustrated them so much.
● CO-Sen: The Colorado Sun reports that the gun safety group Giffords PAC and a newly established super PAC called 53 Peaks are each spending $2.5 million to attack Republican Joe O’Dea, developments that come as O’Dea’s own super PAC allies are deploying $3 million against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. Republicans have touted O’Dea as a strong candidate in a tough state, but no other major outside groups on either side have gotten involved here yet.
● OK-Gov: The Republican firm Amber Integrated’s new survey for KOCO News shows GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt fending off Democrat Joy Hofmeister just 47-44, a huge shift from the 47-29 Stitt edge the firm found in June.
Those numbers came as quite a surprise, but Amber isn’t the only local firm to show things tight in one of the reddest states in the nation: A few weeks ago, SoonerPoll gave Stitt an even smaller 44-43 edge over Hofmeister, a Republican-turned-Democrat who serves as superintendent of public instruction. The only other survey we’ve seen this month came from the Republican firm Echelon Insights, polling for the big tech trade association NetChoice as part of a 14-state survey, but it showed a different state of affairs. While that assortment of polls overall found very favorable results for Democrats, it still had Stitt up by a wide 55-36.
It remains to be seen if national Democrats will put a serious amount of money into this race four years after Stitt prevailed by double digits despite his party’s struggles nationally and at home. Stitt back then was running to succeed termed-out Gov. Mary Fallin, a fellow Republican who posted toxic approval numbers thanks in large part to the budget cuts that lead to four-day school weeks and a teacher’s strike. Most polls gave Stitt only a small lead over Democrat Drew Edmondson, but the Republican ended up pulling off a 54-42 win.
Hofmeister, who joined the Democratic Party as she was launching her bid against Stitt last year, is hoping that her focus on schools will give her the chance to do what Edmondson couldn’t in 2018. Hofmeister has gone after the governor for supporting private school vouchers after opposing them last time, declaring, “Stitt’s voucher scheme is a rural school killer.” Plenty of Stitt’s fellow Republicans agree, as the GOP-dominated legislature has refused to pass his voucher program.
● TX-Gov, TX-AG: the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation has conducted a survey using YouGov for several media clients that shows Gov. Greg Abbott turning back Democrat Beto O’Rourke 51-44 as another GOP incumbent, Attorney General Ken Paxton, beats Democrat Rochelle Garza 47-42.
NY-19: Triton Polling and Research (R) for Freedom Council USA (pro-Marc Molinaro): Marc Molinaro (R): 51, Josh Riley (D): 42
OH-01: Impact Research (D) for Greg Landsman: Greg Landsman (D): 49, Steve Chabot (R-inc): 46 (May: 47-47 tie)
Triton surveyed the special election for the old 19th District about a month before Election Day and it found Molinaro beating Democrat Pat Ryan 50-40; Ryan, though, came out on top 51-49 in the late August contest.
We’ve seen two other surveys of the Molinaro-Riley matchup, and both early September polls showed Riley ahead by 3: One of those surveys was a Riley internal, while the other was done for Molinaro’s allies at U.S. Term Limits.
We haven’t seen any numbers from any other firms from the contest for Ohio’s 1st, which flipped from 51-48 Trump to 53-45 Biden under the new map.
● Jim Florio: New Jersey Democrat Jim Florio, a congressman who was elected governor on his third try in 1989, died Sunday at the age of 85. We take a detailed look at his many campaigns, including his narrow 1993 loss after an aggressive effort against Republican Christine Todd Whitman, in our obituary.
Before Florio won the state’s top job, he went through a tight 1981 contest against his fellow congressman, Republican Tom Kean, in what turned into a closely watched race to lead the state. Florio urged voters to send “an overwhelming message” to Ronald Reagan, whose numbers had fallen since he carried the state the previous year, while Kean’s side argued that voters didn’t want “another four years of a Democratic administration in Trenton.”
Polls showed Florio ahead and two TV networks even called the race for him on Election Day. But Kean, whose campaign manager had to stop him from delivering a concession speech in what remains the closest gubernatorial race in state history, ended up prevailing by 1,800 votes in a victory that was only affirmed after 26 days. Democrats after the election highlighted how Republicans used a “Ballot Security Task Force” of off-duty police to intimidate voters of color. The RNC entered into a consent decree the next year where it had to take steps to avoid even the appearance that it supports voter suppression, but the decree expired in 2018.
Florio’s far easier 1989 win made him New Jersey’s first Italian American governor, but his approval ratings took a massive hit after he immediately called for raising taxes upon taking office to deal with the national recession. Florio himself joked at one point that “visitors to New Jersey think my first name is Dump,” but he still came close to winning a second term against Whitman in 1993. Check out our obituary for much more.
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