Rhode Island

Brennan Center For Justice: 19 States With New Voting Restrictions Since 2016

The William Brennan Center For Justice, named after the great former Supreme Court Justice, tracks violations of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and has exposed the reality that 19 states, since the Supreme Court backtracked on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a decision in 2013, have made the right to vote much more difficult, and affecting election results.

In 2016, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, with these states including Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In 2017, Arkansas, North Dakota, Missouri, Georgia, and Iowa added new laws.

So 8 Southern states of the old Confederacy (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia) are back where they were before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it harder for blacks and other people of color, and poor people in general, to be able to have the chance to vote.

But also, the 8 Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas have gown down the same road.

And Arizona in the West and New Hampshire and Rhode Island on the Atlantic Coast also have made it more difficult to vote.

Look at this list of states, and notice almost all of them, except Virginia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island voted for Donald Trump.

So we have the possibility that despite public opinion polls that indicate a “Blue Wave”, the restrictions on voting rights could impact election result in November.

Key Democrats To Elect As State Governors: Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, Ben Jealous, Gavin Newsom, Richard Cordray, J. D. Pritzker, Tony Evers, Gretchen Whitmer

It is urgent that Democrats, who at present, only have 16 state governorships, win a majority of the 36 gubernatorial races taking place this November.

Among the crucial races to win are the following:

Andrew Gillum in Florida

Stacey Abrams in Georgia

Ben Jealous in Maryland

Gavin Newsom in California

Richard Cordray in Ohio

J. D. Pritzker in Illinois

Tony Evers in Wisconsin

Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan

With other large states in Democratic hands and likely to remain so, including:

Andrew Cuomo in New York

Tom Wolff in Pennsylvania

it would mean that Democrats would control most of the larger states’ executive branches, crucial for reapportionment of seats in state legislatures and the US House of Representatives after the Census in 2020.

Only Texas of the top ten states in population would be likely to remain Republican, and with North Carolina (Roy Cooper) and New Jersey (Phil Murphy) and Virginia (Ralph Northam) and Washington State (Jay Inslee) all under Democratic Governors, it would mean 12 of the top 13 states with nearly two thirds of the nation’s population would be controlled by Democrats.

Add Democratic states likely to remain so, including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the possibility of winning in Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Mexico, and you have a majority of Democratic run state governorships. Finally, Nevada and Arizona seem long shots, but could, in a “Blue Wave” be won by Democratic nominees for governor in those states.

But even if not a majority of states, if the large populated states are won, it will benefit the Democrats in the coming reapportionment of seats in the House of Representatives.

Likely Changes In Electoral Votes And Congressional Seats As Result Of 2020 Census Figures

We are two years away from the 2020 Census, which will determine:

Electoral Vote Changes for 15 or 16 states
Congressional Seat Changes for 15 or 16 states
Federal Funding of Domestic Programs for all states

With Donald Trump’s attempt to cut population growth in the Census by putting fear into undocumented immigrants filling out the Census forms, it could affect all of the above.

As things now stand, 6 states are certain to gain electoral votes and Congressional seats, while 9 other states lose electoral votes by 2024, and Congressional seats by the 2022 midterm elections.

Interestingly, California, which has regularly gained multiple seats for decades, has not grown enough in comparison to the total population of the entire nation, so will for the first time ever gain no seats at all. Of course, with many undocumented immigrants, more than any other state, there is a theoretical possibility that California could, conceivably, lose a seat if enough of this group do not fill out Census forms.

The state of Virginia also has not grown enough, just like California, so is unlikely to gain a new electoral vote or Congressional seat.

Texas will likely gain 3 electoral votes and seats, while Florida will gain 2, and with Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, and Oregon all gaining one each. All these states are in the Sun Belt, except Oregon in the Pacific Northwest.

So a total of 9 seats and electoral votes will be gained by a total of 6 states, which means those 9 seats will come from 9 different states, with 7 coming from the Northeast (Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania) and Midwest (Ohio, Michigan Minnesota, Illinois), and two from the South (West Virginia, Alabama).

It is also possible with changes in population in the next three years, that an additional seat could be lost by Illinois, and gained by Montana in the Pacific Northwest, which has lost a seat before, and might gain it back.

So at a maximum, 16 states will see their electoral votes and Congressional seats change, 7 gaining as a maximum and 9 losing as a maximum. The other 34 states will have no change at all.

Also, with Rhode Island about to lose a seat, it will be left with only one Representative At Large, joining Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Delaware, assuming Montana gains a seat. Otherwise, the total number of states with only one House seat would grow from 7 to 8.

Off Shore Drilling Prevented In Florida By Rick Scott Intervention: Time To Prevent All Off Shore Drilling On All Coasts Of United States!

The Trump Administration and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have called for open offshore drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and in the waters surrounding Alaska, a violation of past environmental policies.

Favoring the oil and gas industries over the preservation of our coastlines is an outrage, and all Governors of the states affected have protested, rightfully.

But already, Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida, who plans to run for Bill Nelson’s Senate seat this fall, has joined Nelson and Republican Senator Marco Rubio in pressing for leaving Florida out of the offshore drilling edict, and the Trump Administration and Zinke have caved in, clearly for political reasons.

But that is not enough, as all states with ocean shoreline should be freed from this cave in to the oil and gas industry, and we do NOT need such exploration of our oceans, and too many oil spills and accidents have occurred, which kill of ocean life and pollute the waters.

The problem is that most of the coastal states are “blue”, or Democratic states,in New England, the Middle Atlantic, and the Pacific Coast. This includes Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, with only the latter three being Republican states, as is Florida. The Pacific Coast states include Washington, Oregon, and California, along with Hawaii and Alaska, with all but Alaska being Democratic states. Alaska, Florida, and California are the top three in coastline waters.

This should not be a political issue, and the fight to protect our wetlands is one that must be fought in a vehement, no holds barred, manner.

It should also include any new drilling in the Great Lakes area and along our various river systems, as we need to move toward alternative sources of energy, as so many nations in Europe, particularly Germany as an example, are doing.

Two Democratic Women Governors, And Six Democratic Women Candidates For Governor In 2018 Midterm Elections

The Democrats have two women Governors, and six other women running for Governor in the 2018 midterm elections.

Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island and Kate Brown in Oregon are running for reelection, and both would be favored to keep their Governorships in strongly Democratic states.

The six candidates have a more difficult road to travel, as they will have male challengers and opponents, and some of them in states won by Donald Trump.

Gwen Graham, daughter of former Florida Senator Bob Graham, will have challengers and opponents in the Sunshine State, which is strongly Republican in state elections.

Stacey Abrams is African American, and running in Georgia, also heavily Republican in recent decades.

Gretchen Whitmer is running in Michigan, a state that Donald Trump won by a small margin in 2016.

Cary Kennedy in Colorado, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, and African American wife of Congressman Elijah Cummings, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings in Maryland, have the advantage of running in Democratic states, but will have to fight off male opponents in the primaries.

None of the six women are guaranteed even nomination at this point, as primaries will decide that.

Time For “A New Generation Of Leadership” For Democrats Running For The Presidency

The Democratic Party needs “new blood” running for President in 2020, just as it had in John F. Kennedy in 1960; Jimmy Carter in 1976; Bill Clinton in 1992; and Barack Obama in 2008.

This is not the time for “old” leadership, meaning another run for the White House by Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. Anyone reading this blog knows of my great admiration for Biden, but at age 78 in 2020, it is too late, in the author’s opinion, for him to be a serious alternative. And as much as Hillary Clinton has an exceptional background, having run for President twice, and being still seen by many as a divisive figure, and being 73 in 2020, it is proper to say that her time has passed.

It is also NOT the time for Bernie Sanders, who despite his strong support, is not really a cooperative member of the Democratic Party, not having been a member until he decided to run for President, and now backing away again from membership in the party. His age in 2020, 79, also makes him far from a good choice for such a demanding job.

What about Elizabeth Warren? She will be 71 in 2020 and is an inspiring person, but the problem of misogyny that Hillary Clinton faced, which was a factor in her defeat, argues against Warren, as she has been cast in a negative light by many, for her vehement and outspoken manner. This blogger admires her, but finds it hard to believe she could win in the 2020 Presidential race.

So basically, what we need is someone not thought about before, and there are a multitude of candidates one can think of to consider for 2020.

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, (62 in 2020) )Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running mate, is one, as is his fellow Virginian, Senator Mark Warner (65 in 2020). But both are seen by many as too moderate centrist, not appealing to the Bernie Sanders supporters in 2016.

There is Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, (68 in 2020), who was thought of as an alternative running mate for Clinton, and who might have helped keep the white working class in Ohio and elsewhere for the Democrats in 2016.

There is also Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who would be 47 in 2020, and comes across as very appealing in appearance and views on the issues.

Then, there is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who would be 51 in 2020, but is seen as too centrist by many, and being African American, after the racism so evident during the term of Barack Obama, one wonders if that would be a problem.

And there are also Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota (60 in 2020)and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (54 in 2020), but being females might be a negative factor, sad to say.

Additionally, there is Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon (64 in 2020), the only Democrat to endorse Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Less likely possibilities include Senator Chris Coons of Delaware (57 in 2020); Senator Al Franken of Minnesota (69 in 2020); Senator Kamala Harris of California (56 in 2020); and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island (65 in 2020).

Other than the US Senate, the only possible gubernatorial Presidential possibilities that seem reasonable are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (62 in 2020), and California Lieutenant Governor and likely next Governor Gavin Newsom (53 in 2020), former Mayor of San Francisco.

Trying to figure out this early who might indeed run is really difficult, but one can assume that a good number of these 18 possibilities will actually enter the Presidential race.

First thoughts on this would be that Chris Murphy, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Cuomo, and Gavin Newsom would have the best chance, with all likely to be candidates. All are young enough, and have a record of accomplishment worthy of consideration. But also, it is likely that Mark Warner, Sherrod Brown, and Elizabeth Warren will also announce for President, and others might as well.

Of course, someone not yet thought of, who might be elected to the governorship or the Senate in 2018, might be added to the list.

And, one cannot eliminate someone from outside the political system, likely a businessman or media or entertainment star, could enter the race, and one cannot project against such a person having a real chance to be the Democratic Presidential nominee.

One must recall that John F. Kennedy had the issue of Catholicism that was a problem; Jimmy Carter the Southern issue and basically unknown nationally; Bill Clinton having the ethics and morality issue; and Barack Obama having the racial problem.

No one would have predicted three years before their elections that any of them would have been the nominee of the party, let alone the next Presidency of the United States!

First Democratic Presidential Debate Gives Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, And Jim Webb Opportunity To Be Noticed And Gain Support!

The first Democratic Presidential debate, coming up on Tuesday, October 13, on CNN, gives three candidates their first chance to gain attention and support.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb have gained virtually no support, no more than one or two percent in polls, with all of the attention focused on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and with Vice President Joe Biden still considering whether to enter the race, although he will not be in the first Presidential debate.

All three of the “unknowns” have records worthy of consideration, but at this point, have what is considered to be zero chance to be the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Interestingly, three of the five candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination started as Republicans, including Hillary Clinton Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb.

And Bernie Sanders, technically has never been a Democrat, although he caucuses with the Democrats in the US Senate.

So only Martin O’Malley has ALWAYS been a Democrat, an ironic twist!

It will be interesting to see if any of the three “unknowns” gain any real momentum after Tuesday’s debate, with the best bet being O’Malley!

The Odd, Unusual History Of Democratic Presidential Contenders For 2016

It is not well known or recognized, but it is reality that more than half of the Democratic Presidential contenders for 2016 were actually NOT always identified as Democrats.

We have Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the most successful Independent and Socialist in Congress in American history! He has allied with the Democrats in caucuses for years, but only finally declared himself a Democrat when he announced his candidacy for President.

We have Lincoln Chafee, who is the son of a former Republican Senator, John Chafee, who was also a Richard Nixon cabinet member as Secretary of the Navy in the 1970s; succeeded his father in the Senate as a Republican; then became an Independent when he ran for Governor of Rhode Island; and only in 2013 switched his loyalties to the Democratic Party.

We have newly announced former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who switched from Republican to Democrat before running for the Senate in 2006, but was a Ronald Reagan cabinet member as Secretary of the Navy in the 1980s, just as John Chafee was more than a decade earlier.

And then we have Hillary Clinton, who as a high school student was a supporter of Republican Barry Goldwater for President in 1964, although she never registered as a Republican!

Only Martin O’Malley of Maryland and likely future candidate Joe Biden have an “unblemished” record as Democrats throughout their lives!

Mayoral Experiences Of Three Democratic Presidential Candidates Unique Among Presidential Seekers Over Long Period Of Time!

With the entrance of former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee into the Democratic Presidential race a week ago, we now have three of the four announced candidates in that party with a unique experience, rare among Presidential candidates historically—mayoral experience.

Being a mayor, even of a small sized city, is an experience that relates much more to the people than being a Governor or Senator.

Lincoln Chafee was Mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island for seven years; Senator from Rhode Island for eight years; and then Governor of Rhode Island for one four year term, giving him a total of 19 years in public office. He started off as a liberal Republican, the last of the old breed that had existed for decades, but no longer exists. Chafee opposed George W. Bush on the Iraq War, the only GOP Senator to vote “No” on the war. After being defeated for reelection by Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006, Chafee became a declared Independent and was elected Governor as such in 2010. Then in 2013, he joined the Democratic Party. His government experience made him fully aware of local urban problems, and he has a reputation of being thoughtful, courageous, and principled, as one of the few people to go from one party to independent to the other major party.

Bernie Sanders was Mayor of Burlington, Vermont for eight years; Congressman from Vermont for sixteen years; and has been Senator from Vermont going on nine years, giving him a total of 33 years in public office. He is also the longest serving Independent member of Congress in American history, as he is a proud Socialist who has allied with the Democratic caucus. He is a man who truly understands urban issues, as well as state and national issues. He has shown great principle and convictions, and everyone knows you get the truth and the whole story from Bernie Sanders when he answers questions.

Martin O’Malley was Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland for seven years and Governor of Maryland for eight years, giving him a total of 15 years in public office. Under his tenure, Maryland became the leading state in education and treatment of the disabled and senior citizens, and O’Malley took the lead on progressive issues both at the city and state level. He is seen as having potential to be a future President, even if he is unable, similar to Chafee and Sanders, to overcome Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton.

So despite Hillary Clinton’s great advantage at this point, she is gaining three rivals who are not to be ignored or ridiculed, as they have solid experience in dealing with the issues of people, and reputations as true progressives!

The Democratic Party Winners In The 2014 Midterm Elections!

While the Democrats lost more seats in the House of Representatives, and lost 8-9 seats in the US Senate and majority control as a result, there WERE Democratic triumphs worthy of mention!

Jeanne Shaheen won a second term in the Senate, defeating Scott Brown in the New Hampshire Senate race.

Al Franken won a second term in the Senate in Minnesota.

Jeff Merkley won a second term in the Senate in Oregon.

Dick Durbin won a fourth term in the Senate in Illinois.

Chris Coons won a second term in the Senate in Delaware.

Ed Markey won a first full term in the Senate in Massachusetts, after having a special election victory in 2013 to replace Secretary of State John Kerry.

Cory Booker won a full Senate term in New Jersey.

Tom Udall won a second Senate term in New Mexico.

Jack Reed won a fourth Senate term in Rhode Island.

Mark Warner won a second Senate term in Virginia after a very close race with Ed Gillespie.

Brian Schatz won the remainder of a full term in the Senate from Hawaii.

Gary Peters was a new Senator elected in Michigan, to replace retiring Senator Carl Levin.

In the Governorship elections, Andrew Cuomo in New York and Jerry Brown in California won major victories, and also, Democrats kept or gained control of Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont–a total of ten victories. Their biggest win, however, was Tom Wolf, defeating Tom Corbett, making Pennsylvania, the sixth largest state, run by Democrats again!

It is not that Democrats have a total great number of victories, but it is worth mentioning that they are far from giving up on regaining the Senate in 2016, and many Governorships are likely to go to the Democrats as part of a “wave”, helped along by the strong likelihood of a Democratic Presidential nominee winning in 2016, and by a substantial majority in the Electoral College!