The defeat this week of an Ohio ballot measure that would have made it harder to amend the state constitution was a big win for supporters of abortion rights.
But the rejection of Issue 1 contains another lesson that could have implications for the 2024 election: that the GOP’s focus on transgender youth — wrapped in a message about “parents’ rights” — may have run its course. In the weeks leading up to the referendum, Protect Women Ohio, which is made up of a coalition of anti-abortion groups, spent more than $5 million on ads tying the ballot measure to gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
Former vice president and current presidential contender Mike Pence also weighed in, recording a video message urging support for Issue 1.
“Democrats want to keep the threshold [to amend the state constitution] as low as possible so they can pass abortion on demand, so they can advance their extreme gender ideology agenda and take away parents’ rights in education,” Pence said. “Don’t let that happen, Ohio. Stop the radical left.”
The rejection of the ballot measure fuels Democrats’ hopes that abortion will continue to drive voters away from the Republican Party, even in red states such as Ohio.
It could also spell the end of the GOP’s fixation on trans youth and “parental rights,” which took hold after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 win. Early data from 2022 suggests such issues may have already lost some of their political potency.
“We saw some pretty distasteful if not disgusting tactics from the Ohio GOP from the ‘yes’ campaign in the closing days, essentially what amounted to throwing the kitchen sink at an issue that they just couldn’t win,” Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters told reporters Wednesday morning. “These folks know that their policies on abortion, on birth control are out of step with Ohio voters. So they’re going to do or say anything they can to prevent Ohioans from protecting abortion rights in November, and that included doing or saying anything they could to pass Issue 1.”
Small state, big field: The dozen Democrats running in a special election in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District span the ideological spectrum, from a progressive backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders to a long shot who supports abortion restrictions and gun rights. The candidates are working to introduce themselves to voters and get their message out when a lot of voters are on summer vacation.
NH primary check: Former President Donald Trump and Pence were among the presidential candidates in New Hampshire over the past week, and while some of the people who attended a Pence town hall were looking for a new candidate to support in next year’s primary election, those who attended Trump’s rally were set on voting for him.
Recruiting young candidates: A new hybrid PAC will recruit Democratic candidates under 35 to run for state legislatures and Congress, aiming to build a progressive bench for the party that includes officials who will focus on issues its founders say are important to young voters. The PAC’s launch comes as elected officials’ ages have recently gotten more scrutiny.
That was then: As he gears up for a potential Senate run, Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana is sharpening his critique of Mitch McConnell. But Rosendale wasn’t always a vocal critic of the Senate minority leader.
Tax talks: Some vulnerable House Republicans are making expanding the child tax credit a priority in discussions about tax legislation this fall, CQ Roll Call’s Laura Weiss reports.
AI rules: The Federal Election Commission on Thursday voted to advance a nonpartisan advocacy group’s request for new rules governing so-called deepfake political ads generated by artificial intelligence. The next step will be a public comment period, which will open next week and run for 60 days. After that, the commission will determine whether or not to take up a final rule on the matter. Public Citizen, which petitioned for the new rule, said the need to regulate deepfakes has become urgent.
AZ polls: Recent polling out of Arizona shows just how complicated a three-way contest for the Senate between incumbent independent Kyrsten Sinema, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and a Republican like Kari Lake or Mark Lamb may be. A Noble Predictive Insights poll released last week suggested that a Sinema run wouldn’t necessarily benefit the GOP. And a new Emerson College poll found similar results.
First in Roll Call: End Citizens United // Let America Vote is endorsing New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for reelection, touting that she was among the first senators to refuse corporate PAC money. “Take any problem in Washington, and the corrupting influence of money in politics is standing in the way of fixing it,” she said in a statement.
Memos for all: The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is launching a “Blue State Project” aimed at defending GOP incumbents in safe blue states, according to a memo reported by CNBC. The group says it’ll also go on offense in open districts, as well as in districts in Pennsylvania where Republicans last cycle were hamstrung by a weak gubernatorial candidate. Meanwhile, the DCCC’s own memo says it plans to tie vulnerable Republicans to “extreme Republicans” next year.
More endorsements: New York Rep. Pat Ryan endorsed former Rep. Mondaire Jones in the race for the nearby 17th District. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC endorsed Allyson Muñiz Damikolas in California’s 40th District. End Citizens United // Let America Vote endorsed Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester for the state’s open Senate seat.
Senate switch?: Speaking to Metronews’ Hoppy Kercheval on Thursday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III said he’s been thinking about becoming an independent instead of a Democrat “for a long time” but has not made up his mind. Sinema made the switch last year.
#NVSEN: Jeff Gunter, who was ambassador to Iceland under President Donald Trump, is the latest candidate seeking the Republican nomination for Senate in Nevada, in what’s quickly becoming a more crowded primary. Gunter, who spoke with The Nevada Globe about his campaign, had a fair share of controversy as a political appointee ambassador, as CBS News reported in 2020.
#RI01 Roundup: Democratic Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, whose congressional campaign is embroiled in a controversy over potentially fraudulent signatures on her nomination papers, picked up the backing of the Save Democracy PAC. Sandra Cano, another Democrat seeking the 1st District seat, received the endorsement of Cumberland Mayor Jeff Mutter. Cano, a state senator, has the support of more than 50 local officials from across Rhode Island. And Aaron Regunberg is getting a boost from two progressives in Congress: Rep. Greg Casar of Texas and Rep. Delia Ramirez of Illinois.
San Joaquin Valley rematch: Democrat Adam Gray is hoping to unseat Republican Rep. John Duarte in California’s 13th District. Duarte narrowly beat Gray, a former member of the California Assembly, in 2022.
What we’re reading
They’re with him: Columnist Walter Shapiro delves into Hill Republicans’ tendency to avoid commenting on revelations about Trump, and what it might mean for next year’s elections.
Skyline view: A deep dive by The Bergen Record in New Jersey tells how a planned Hudson River waterfront development on a Superfund site may be tied to the latest investigation of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.
Moore to chair Democratic convention: Minyon Moore, a Chicago native and longtime Democratic adviser, will be the chair of next summer’s Democratic convention. Louisa Terrell, who was previously the director of legislative affairs for the White House, will also be a senior adviser to the convention and the Biden campaign. The Chicago Sun-Times has more on Tuesday’s staffing announcements.
New goals: In Washington state, Republicans hold no statewide offices, don’t control either legislative chamber and occupy just two of 10 seats in the U.S. House. But Jim Walsh, the heavy favorite to take over as chairman of the state Republican Party, has a plan to change that: he tells the Washington State Standard that avoiding divisive primaries is one of his goals.
Tennessee lawsuit: The Tennessean reports on a new lawsuit seeking to throw out congressional and state legislative district lines as illegal racial gerrymanders. In the 2020 redistricting cycle, Davidson County was divided into three more rural districts (breaking apart Nashville, which long voted for former Rep. Jim Cooper, a Blue Dog Democrat).
The count: 22
That’s how many Ohio counties there were where “no” votes exceeded “yes” votes on the proposal Tuesday to change the rules for amending the state constitution by referendum. Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin notes that’s 15 more counties than Biden won against Trump in 2020.
As our indispensable prognosticator continues his vacation, we skimmed the Nathan L. Gonzales archives on Roll Call’s YouTube channel (it searches better than our website) and thought it was fitting to reshare his take on the July 2017 outlook on the Senate landscape for 2018. Spoiler alert: Many of the same seats we’ll be watching next year were also in play then.
Key race: MD-06
With Maryland Rep. David Trone running for the state’s open Senate seat, the race for the now-open 6th District is getting crowded on both sides of the aisle.
The district, which includes parts of Montgomery and Frederick counties and stretches out to the West Virginia border, is more competitive than others in the state and is Republicans’ best chance for a pickup in Maryland. Inside Elections rates it as Likely Democratic.
Montgomery County Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles announced her campaign on Thursday, joining a Democratic field that includes state delegates Lesley Lopez and Joe Vogel; former Chevy Chase Councilmember Joel Rubin; Hagerstown Mayor Takesha Martinez; Mia Mason, a military veteran, trans rights activist and former 1st District candidate; and Drake West, founder of the Drake Institute for Women’s Policy Destiny. April Delaney, a deputy assistant secretary in the Commerce Department whose husband, John Delaney, previously represented the 6th District before a long-shot run for president in 2020, is also a potential candidate.
On the Democratic side, the money race was off to a slow start at the end of the second quarter. Vogel reported raising $116,000 while Lopez reported raising $51,000. Candidates like Sayles, Mason and Rubin have only recently announced their campaigns.
The Republican primary is also filling up. Air Force Veteran Mariela Roca, retired police officer Chris Hyser, former state Delegate Brenda Thiam, Navy veteran Tom Royals and Heath Barnes — the town of Woodsboro’s burgess, a role his campaign website describes as being similar to mayor — have all filed as candidates, although only Roca has reported raising any money through June 30. Neil Parrott, who was the Republican nominee in the district last year, reported raising $22,000 as of the end of June but reportedly hasn’t officially said he will run again.
Voting starts next week in special House primaries in Rhode Island and Utah. Clerks will begin mailing ballots on Tuesday to registered voters in Utah’s 2nd District, where three Republicans are seeking the nomination to succeed GOP Rep. Chris Stewart, who is resigning. In Rhode Island’s 1st District, there’s a crowd of Democrats and a few Republicans vying to succeed resigned Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, and early voting starts Wednesday. Primary day is Sept. 5 in both states.
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