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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
July 31, 2023

There Are Just 100 Days Until the Crucial 2023 Virginia General Assembly Elections

There are just 100 days to go until the crucial 2023 Virginia General Assembly elections, with early voting starting on September 22. So it’s time to start cranking it up – donating time, energy, money, etc. to your favorite Democratic candidates. Click here if you want to learn more about the key districts Democrats need to win to hold the State Senate and take back the House of Delegates. Also, check out the “Flip-and-Defend-a-District” series, by Del. Rip Sullivan, as well as the partisan rankings for all the districts.


July 31, 2023

Betty Villegas (D) sworn into AZ House to replace Andrs Cano (D)

Democrat Betty Villegas was sworn in Monday afternoon to the Arizona House of Representatives to fill a vacancy caused when the former leader of the Democratic caucus resigned earlier this month.

Villegas replaces Andrés Cano in the House as one of the two representatives for District 20, which is largely based in Tucson. Cano, who served as the Democratic leader until shortly before he resigned, gave up his seat to pursue a Masters Degree at Harvard Kennedy School.

“I look forward to working with all of you. I know that there is a lot of work to do,” Villegas said before a group that included lawmakers, reporters, family and friends.

Villegas, a housing advocate who formerly worked for Pima County, was chosen by the Pima County Board of Supervisors last week to fill the spot and joins a list of lawmakers appointed this session due to resignations and expulsions.


July 31, 2023

MD: Former campaign treasurer gets 6 months

The former campaign treasurer to two former Baltimore County elected officials will spend six months in jail after pleading guilty to theft and perjury.

Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Robert E. Cahill on Monday sentenced William Christopher McCollum, 52, of Lutherville, to five years in jail with all but six months suspended.

McCollum pleaded guilty in May to one count of felony theft scheme and perjury connected to the theft of more than $125,000 from two campaign accounts. During that hearing he provided more than $125,000 in restitution to the campaign account of former Baltimore County Councilmember Cathy Bevins (D), and the Baltimore County Victory Slate, a campaign account operated by James T. Smith Jr. (D), former two-term Baltimore County executive, circuit court judge and one-time top aide to disgraced former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D).

In May, McCollum’s attorney told the judge the restitution was meant “to show (McCollum’s) remorse and start his redemptive process.”


July 31, 2023

NJ: Brindle will retire from top ELEC post

Jeff Brindle, the executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, will retire, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Brindle’s decision to retire comes more than five months after Gov. Phil Murphy had sought to oust Brindle from his post earlier this year over an email sent to a staffer last fall that mocked National Coming Out Day.

He will leave on November 30.

Brindle has served as executive director since 2009. He is suing Murphy and some top aides over their bid to force him out.

Murphy named four new ELEC commissioners in June following the passage of the Election Transparency Act that reconstituted the state’s campaign finance watchdog panel.


July 31, 2023

Missouri officials are watching vote in Ohio raising constitutional amendment threshold

As Missouri Republicans mull over whether to put a measure on next year’s ballot making it harder to amend the state constitution, at least one other state with similar political characteristics will soon vote on the idea.

Voters in Ohio will decide Aug. 8 whether to raise the threshold to amend the constitution to 60%. Like Missouri, Ohio is a former presidential swing state that’s become much more Republican in recent years. And backers of the idea say there needs to be a higher standard to enact consequential policy items than a simple majority.

There’s another thing the two states have in common: Proponents of raising the constitutional threshold have made no secret that it’s aimed at scuttling ballot items either expanding or enshrining abortion rights.

Elected officials and political scientists in both states say the result of the Ohio vote could influence whether Republicans in places like Missouri try to put a similar question before voters next year.

“Hopefully they’ll see it go down in flames in Ohio, and the renewed effort will be pretty weak here,” said state Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Platte County.


July 31, 2023

ME: Gov. Mills signs bill to protect domestic abuse victims

Domestic abuse survivors joined Gov. Janet Mills at the State House on Tuesday for a ceremonial signing of a law designed to protect victims and restrict abusers from being released early from prison.

The law, L.D. 692, was sparked by the survivor-led nonprofit Finding Our Voices and sponsored by Rep. Vicki Doudera (D-Camden). The law was officially signed on June 22 and restricts the early release of domestic abusers from county jails, while requiring stronger efforts to notify victims when an early release occurs.

“There is a long list of things that need to change to make our state safe for women and children, and L.D. 692 is a great first step,” said Patrisha McLean, president and founder of Finding Our Voices.

McLean said it was the “backdoor” jail releases that prompted survivors to fight for this bill.


July 31, 2023

OH: "Aug. 8 could be a critical day for our democracy"

Aug. 8 may be the day Americans take back our democracy. That’s the day that voters in Ohio, responding to an illegal election called by a legislature itself created by unconstitutional maps, can tell the elite power brokers that they have gone too far.

“Take back our democracy,” is a strong claim. It evokes the gratitude we feel when contemplating the sacrifices Americans made at Valley Forge, or Little Round Top, or on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Showing up to vote on Aug. 8 is not as perilous, but it may be as impactful.

Across the nation, our democracy is under attack in state legislatures. Laws restricting voting, gerrymanders that make voting nearly irrelevant as outcomes are pre-ordained, even laws that allow partisan committees to declare results null and void have been passed in many states. Freed from accountability to voters, these legislatures instead have become mechanisms to impose policies written by and for wealthy interests. That’s why, after gaining control, in state after state, unpopular laws are imposed on the people — from attacking reproductive choice to destroying public education; from subsidizing fossil fuels to ensuring that guns are everywhere. In some states, now, it’s easier to get a gun into a school than some books.

Few states have suffered the ill effects of lost democracy like Ohio. (For a full and painful account read David Pepper’s Laboratories of Autocracy.) And yet, the legislature is greedy for more power. For a century, voters in Ohio have held the right to amend their constitution. Now, that right is a risk the ruling autocrats cannot abide. The last time voters used this power, they outlawed gerrymandering. The legislature ignored it. Now Ohioans want to vote on whether to protect reproductive choice. This is an affront to the unaccountable legislature who would are used to making every decision without input from ordinary citizens.


July 31, 2023

Three House members could soon make their exits--and more will join them

Politico relays that Georgia Rep. David Scott's colleagues in the Democratic caucus "widely expect him not to run" again in his dark blue seat; Scott, who has a history of siding with Republicans, has not commented publicly, though. Two House Republicans who identify with the declining institutionalist wing of the GOP, Arkansas' Steve Womack and Idaho's Mike Simpson, tell the Washington Post in a separate report that they're considering retiring from their safely red seats.

We’ll start with Scott, whose performance as the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee has been the subject of much intra-party frustration. His lack of a response to Republican efforts to cut food assistance programs—in a new report, Politico says that he hasn't held a single press conference on the topic this year—apparently prompted Democrats to form a special task force, led by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, to take point on the issue.

The unusual move seems to have been prompted by concerns about Scott's health. Last year, Politico reported that people close to Scott "acknowledged he’s noticeably slowed in the last few years, citing his increasingly halting speech and trouble at times focusing on a topic."

Politico's article this week says that Scott "no longer speaks with reporters in the halls of the Capitol"; in June, when one reporter was actually able to ask the congressman how a hearing had gone, the congressman replied, "I don't know." "There are real questions about whether he’s with it," an unnamed House colleague told Politico of the 78-year-old Georgian.


July 31, 2023

Why Trump's 'fake electors' in Pennsylvania are likely to avoid prosecution

Unlike in other states, Pennsylvania’s fake electors added an important caveat to the certificate that likely shielded them from the consequences faced by their counterparts in Michigan.

Pennsylvania’s certificate said the votes they were casting should only be counted if a court found that they were the “duly elected and qualified Electors.”

“The reasoning that we were given for the need to go through with this process was that [the campaign] was concerned that there was a number of court cases that the Trump campaign had not adjudicated yet,” DeMarco said, and the campaign hoped a favorable ruling for Trump in those cases might have changed the outcome of the vote.

In that scenario, DeMarco added, the campaign was concerned that if there was no slate of electors submitted under the constitutional process, the court victories would be meaningless.


July 31, 2023

Billions in property tax cuts need Texas voters' approval before taking effect. Here's what you need

A $12.7 billion package of property tax cuts goes before voters later this year, promising to deliver savings to millions of property owners in Texas suffering from skyrocketing tax bills.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation creating the cuts last weekend, officially closing months of negotiations among the state’s top Republicans. But before they can go into effect, Texas voters will first have to decide in a constitutional election on Nov. 7 whether to allow the state to spend billions in taxpayer money — mainly collected from Texans during the past two years — to pay for the massive cuts. If approved, an outcome that seems likely given voters’ support of tax cuts in the past, the changes would be applied for the 2023 tax bills due in January.

Here’s what you need to know to make your decision.


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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
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Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 01:53 PM
Number of posts: 56,065

About RandySF

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

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