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Tuesday, November 3, 2015
371 Days until Election Day 2016
90 Days until the Iowa Caucuses It's Tuesday, November 3, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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- Voters in 26 States Head to the Polls It’s the first Monday after the Tuesday in November, and you know what that means…Election Day! While no one votes in the presidential election for 90 more days, there are still some exciting races on the ballot today:
- Governor Two states are holding gubernatorial elections today.
- The race that will be most-closely watched will be in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear is term-limited, and cannot run for a third term. Democrat Jack Conway, the state’s Attorney General, and Republican Matt Bevin, a businessman, face off to succeed Beshear. Both Conway and Bevin are past candidates for higher office: the former was the 2010 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate; the latter primary challenged Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.
- Despite Kentucky’s usual Republican leaning, Bevin has failed to excite the GOP base in the state. Bevin, who is running self-funded, has attempted linking Conway to national Democrats, such as President Barack Obama, unpopular in Kentucky, a gambit that might work. The race is seen as a tossup.
- Voters in Mississippi will also vote in a gubernatorial election today; incumbent Phil Bryant, a Republican, is seeking re-election. His challenger? Independent truck driver and ex-firefighter Robert Gray, who shocked the political world when he won the Democratic primary in August. Bryant is expected to beat Gray handily: a poll conducted two weeks ago showed the Republican triumphing with 66% of the vote to the Democrat’s 28%.
- State Legislature Seven state legislative chambers in four states will hold 584 elections today. Republicans control 68 out of 99 state legislative chambers in the United States, over two-thirds, while Democrats control just 30. This will be an important day for Democrats across the board to recapture seats they have loss in recent years.
- And nowhere can that effort be better-seen than in the race for control of the Virginia State Senate, the battleground for state legislative races this year. The chamber is home to the smallest gap between parties of all state legislative chambers, with 21 Republican seats and 19 Democrats.
- Democrats need only gain one seat, if they keep all their current seats, as Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (a Democrat) serves as the chamber’s tiebreaking vote. Control of the State Senate will be key as Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe attempts to push Medicaid expansion, gun control, and universal pre-K through the state legislature
- Of the seven chambers holding elections today, just one (the New Jersey General Assembly) is controlled by Democrats.
- Ballot Measures Dozens of ballot measures will be voted on at the city and state level today. Some of the highlights:
- In Houston, Texas, voters will make the final decision on Proposition 1, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) referendum. HERO, which was passed by the Houston City Council in May 2014, has become a flashpoint for the nationwide debate over same-sex marriage, gender identity, and religious liberty. The ordinance bans discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity “in city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment.”
- In Ohio, voters statewide will cast their ballot for or against Issue 3, a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. If passed, Ohio would become the fifth state to do so.
- In addition, there is an initiative on the Washington state ballot today to make the sell or trade of parts of 10 endangered animals illegal. According to the Washington Post, animals include elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, sharks, rays, and the pangolin; the measure is being supported by Microsoft co-founder and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the 51st richest person in the world, who has poured his own money into a campaign for the initiative.
- Lessig Ends Presidential Bid Two months after announcing a longshot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig dropped out of the race Monday.
- The academic ended his campaign with an announcement via YouTube. Lessig explained his decision in the video: “It is now clear that the party won’t let me be a candidate, and I can’t ask people to support a campaign that I know can’t even get before the members of the Democratic Party. Or to ask my team or my family to make a sacrifice even greater than what they’ve already made.”
- He expanded on the video announcement in an email to supporters Monday, blaming the Democratic Party debate rules for his campaign’s demise and failure to catch on. “The Democrats have now changed the rules for the debates, making it impossible for my campaign to continue,” Lessig wrote. “As you know, the critical step in this improbable campaign has been to get into the debates. Though we raised more money than almost half of the field, and with you, built a vibrant campaign for reform, the party was slow to welcome us to this race. The polls have been slow to include me on the list of candidates.”
- Lessig went on to detail his recent 1% showings in the past three polls of the Democratic nomination; while that percentage may seem weak, it meets the requirements set in August by the Democratic National Committee of “receiving at least 1% in three national polls, conducted by credible news organizations and polling organizations, in the six weeks prior to the debate.”
- However, Lessig wrote, “At the end of last week, I learned from my team that the DNC has now changed the rules…The standard is now 3 polls “at least six weeks before the debate.” That means, for me to qualify, I had to have had 3 polls at 1% before October 10!”
- This new requirements made it nearly impossible for Lessig to gain entry into the next Democratic debate, on November 14 in Des Moines, making further success for the campaign unlikely. However, Lessig ended his email by noting he would “of course” return to the presidential race if invited to the debate.
- With Lessig’s announcement, the Democratic presidential field shrinks to just three candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley. Two other Democratic candidates (Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb) dropped out in the past month.
- Lessig’s original plan was, if he won the Presidency, to resign the office after his Citizen Equality Act was passed, promoting his vice president to the top office. Last month, with the automatic resignation plan not catching on, Lessig switched track, and announced he would serve a full presidential term if elected. The Citizen Equality Act (a campaign finance proposal), while no longer his entire platform, remained the main issue of his campaign.
- Still, 1% seemed to be the highest Lessig could climb in polling, and the professor switched track once again Monday, as he exited the race for the nomination.
- 2016 Talk Here are some of the pieces driving the 2016 Talk today:
- “Marco Rubio is rising in the polls — but it’s not just about his big debate win” by Philip Bump in The Washington Post.
- “Inside Sanders’ plan to chip into Clinton’s lead” by Gabriel Debendetti in Politico
- “Two hours, a dozen campaign managers, and a mutiny inside the GOP” by David Weigel in The Washington Post
- “Under Pressure to Stand Out, Jeb Bush Tries for Reset” by Matt Flegenheimer in The New York Times
- “Donald Trump Gets Personal in Attacks on Marco Rubio” by Kendal Breitman in Bloomberg Politics (with interesting video of Bloomberg interview with Trump)
Capitol Hill News
- Senate: Today The upper chamber will hold a procedural vote on S.1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, a bill to strike down the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule.
- According to The Hill, the measure “would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to go back to the drawing board on a rule defining the federal governments oversight of minor waterways under the Clean Water Act. It would also give the agency specific instructions and a deadline for writing the new regulation.”
- The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), has 46 cosponsors (43 Republicans, 3 Democrats). 60 votes in favor of the bill will be needed for it to clear the procedural vote today.
- House: Today The lower chamber will vote on H.Res.354, a resolution “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the safety and security of Jewish communities in Europe”.
- The chamber will also begin debate on the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, the highway funding legislation which makes the clever acronym, the DRIVE Act.
- The measure will fund transportation projects totaling up to $325 billion, with a November 20 deadline to extend the three-week highway funding bill passed last week.
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light