Category: Elections

Nov 18

South Carolina Republican Party could skip 2020 primary to help Trump

The South Carolina Republican Party potentially could decide to forgo a 2020 primary election if President Trump runs for re-election -- but a concrete decision has not yet been made, state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick told Fox News Wednesday.

The Washington Examiner first reported the state party may abandon a primary this year to “protect” Trump – setting off a flurry of speculation about the South Carolina GOP’s plans for the upcoming election.

But McKissick stressed a decision would not be made until the party’s executive committee meets in the summer of 2019. Then, McKissick, along with one voting member from each county in the state, will determine their plan for a primary to submit to the Republican National Committee.

“The purpose of political parties is to unify around a platform and elect candidates who would advance that platform,” McKissick said, adding that the entire state party supports Trump in that regard.

“It is completely on the table that the executive committee will make one decision or another about a party. But nobody is pushing or prodding in any direction about doing it one way or another at this point,” he said. “Nobody was even thinking or talking about this before.”

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Should the state GOP opt out of a primary, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened in the Palmetto State. Republicans opted out of primary in 1984 during former President Ronald Reagan’s largely uncontested re-election bid and again in 2004 when former President George W. Bush ran for re-election.

Democrats, too, skipped primaries for former President Bill Clinton’s re-election bid in 1996 and former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, according to The State newspaper.

Still, the idea the Republican Party was even considering scrapping the "First in the South" primary drew widespread condemnation among the state’s Democrats.

“The Republicans have themselves a pig in a poke. I don’t know why anyone is surprised as the Republicans have become experts at denying people the right to vote,” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson told Fox News. “They have a president that half of the Republican base doesn’t support, and they want to deny them the right to vote.”

Sep 10

Last GOP congressman in New England files appeal in bid to keep seat

The last remaining Republican congressman in New England filed an appeal Tuesday that seeks to undo the election of his Democratic opponent under Maine's new voting system, asking the court to act quickly as the swearing-in of new U.S. House members nears.

A federal judge last week rejected U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin's concerns over the constitutionality of ranked voting, a system used in November for the first time in a congressional race.

Poliquin lost his re-election bid to Democrat Jared Golden. His appeal asks the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston to reconsider his request to nullify the election's outcome and either declare him the winner or order another election.

Poliquin claims he should be the winner because he had the most first-place votes on Election Day. But Golden won the race in an extra round of voting in which two trailing independents were eliminated and their votes were reallocated.

In his appeal, Poliquin claims that ranked-choice voting "violated all voters'" constitutional rights. Poliquin says the judge's rejection of his requests "sidestepped the explicit questions presented, often casting the questions at a more superficial level of analysis."

Meanwhile, Golden's chief of staff, Aisha Woodward, said the judge's decision was "crystal clear" and called it the "best response" to Poliquin's appeal.

Poliquin's appeal comes just weeks before Golden is set to be sworn in Jan. 3.

But Congress doesn't have to wait for the litigation to wrap up before deciding whether to swear Golden in, said Edward Foley, constitutional law professor at Ohio State University's law school. That decision is in the hands of the newly Democratic controlled House, where House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi earlier this month chided Republicans' fight against ranked-choice voting and Golden's win.

"Congress doesn't have to be controlled by the litigation in terms of deciding whether to seat the elected member," Foley said. "That's a decision Congress ultimately makes itself."

Another fight over a House race has been brewing in North Carolina , where Republicans want their candidate to take his seat in Congress in a still-undecided race marred by ballot fraud allegations.

But the fight there differs from Poliquin's lawsuit, which is about concerns over the system Maine used to tabulate winners.

Under ranked-choice voting, a system Maine voters approved in 2016, all candidates are ranked on the ballot, and a candidate who collects a majority of first-place votes is the winner. If there's no majority winner, then the last-place candidates are eliminated, and their second-choice votes are reassigned to the remaining field. The process is sometimes referred to as an instant runoff.

Poliquin has lambasted ranked-choice voting as being so "confusing" that it effectively disenfranchises voters.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Lance Walker said that critics can question the wisdom of ranked-choice voting, but that such criticism "falls short of constitutional impropriety." The judge rejected several of Poliquin's constitutional concerns and said the Constitution gives states leeway in deciding how to elect federal representatives.

Poliquin has also abandoned his request for a recount of Maine's election. The secretary of state's office said he is responsible for the "actual cost" of recount efforts.

Maine's top state court last year warned that ranked voting conflicts with the state's constitution, which says the winners of state-level races are whomever gets the most votes, or a "plurality." And so Maine uses ranked voting only in federal elections and state primary races, but not for general elections for governor or the Legislature.

Democratic Gov.-elect Janet Mills has vowed to seek to amend the state constitution so the system can be used in all elections.

Mar 10

Rep. Martha McSally appointed by Arizona governor to Senate seat held by John McCain

Republican Rep. Martha McSally, just weeks after losing one of the midterms' tightest and most contentious Senate races, was appointed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday to fill the state’s other U.S. Senate seat.

McSally will serve for at least the next two years in the seat that was held by longtime Arizona Sen. John McCain until his death in August.

“With her experience and long record of service, Martha is uniquely qualified to step up and fight for Arizona’s interests in the U.S. Senate,” Ducey said in a statement.

Ducey had appointed former Sen. Jon Kyl to the seat in September, but Kyl, after serving for several months, announced plans to resign at the end of the year. According to Ducey’s office, Kyl’s resignation will be effective Dec. 31.

McSally was defeated by Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in this year’s midterm election for the seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. Her appointment means she will now serve alongside her opponent, something Ducey noted in his statement.

“I thank her for taking on this significant responsibility and look forward to working with her and Senator-Elect Sinema to get positive things done,” Ducey said.

McSally will serve until the 2020 election, when voters will elect someone to serve the final two years of McCain's term.

Democrats hope that the state swings again in 2020 and are expected to target it both in the presidential race and the contest for McCain's seat. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, former astronaut and current gun control advocate Mark Kelly and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who left the GOP this year, have all considered running as Democrats for the post.

The intense interest in the seat was a factor in Ducey's convoluted decisions. He initially appointed Kyl while the governor himself was campaigning for re-election. By picking Kyl, Ducey dodged tough political decisions that could have complicated his own re-election bid.

McSally is a two-term congresswoman who was long considered for the Senate by the state's GOP establishment. The first female combat pilot, McSally rose to the rank of colonel in the Air Force before entering politics.