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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
May 31, 2023

NC: GOP bill would expand UNC Board of Governors, change appointment process

The UNC Board of Governors would gain four new seats and shift from election by the General Assembly to direct appointment under a revised version of a bill moving quickly toward Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

Senate Bill 512 made a splash when filed last month due to provisions that would further strip powers from the office of the governor and transfer them to the legislature. The bill passed the Senate and is moving swiftly through the House, with a committee substitute filed Tuesday making some important changes for the UNC System’s top governing board.

The General Assembly’s Republican majority already tightly controls the process of nominating and electing political appointees to the board. Democratic lawmakers have complained for years that nominees they put forward are never chosen. They’ve also complained about a lack of racial, gender and political diversity on the board, which went years without a single registered Democrat after GOP lawmakers won a majority and took over the process. The board now has just one registered Democrat.

Under the new version of the bill, the board would expand from 24 to 28 members. In 2017, the General Assembly cut the board from 32 to 24 members, saying the board was too large and unwieldy. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told lawmakers Tuesday the change would bring the board closer to the size it was when he served a single four-year term on it in 1997, when he was 26 years old.


May 31, 2023

NYC: City Council campaigns say there is more interest in races with primaries approaching

Some City Council candidates in southern Brooklyn say there was increased interest in their campaigns this past holiday weekend.

After all, they are in their final month of campaigning. Primary Day is June 27.

But there and in other districts, including in lower Manhattan, it’s often still work just to get the word out.

Early voting begins on June 17 for nominations for City Council, district attorney for Queens and the Bronx, district leaders and other offices.

In many heavily Democratic districts, the primary is more important than the general election.

Candidates and their teams have been reminding voters there’s an upcoming election, promoting their platforms and explaining ranked-choice voting.


May 31, 2023

NYC Mayor Adams rails against 'hot rays of socialism and communism' in Memorial Day speech

Mayor Adams denounced left-wing ideologies in a highly politicized Monday speech in which he also lamented a perceived lack of national pride among young Americans.

Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s annual Memorial Day ceremony, the mayor made the critical comments after referencing a Thomas Jefferson quote about the “tree of liberty,” which is commonly interpreted as being about military struggle.

“You water the tree of freedom with your blood,” Adams said. “We sit under the shade of that tree of freedom protected from the hot rays of socialism and communism and destruction that’s playing out across the globe.”

The mayor did not mention any specific country’s government or leader as part of his anti-left broadside. A spokesman for Adams declined to say if the comments were in reference to anything or anyone in particular.


May 31, 2023

NYC: Why super PACs may have even more influence in City Council primaries

Like a classic Friday news dump, the latest campaign finance filings for New York City Council candidates were due the day leading into Memorial Day weekend. Maybe fitting for a relatively sleepy year in city elections? Just don’t tell that to the candidates and treasurers, or the political obsessives who’ve been digging into the numbers over the past few days. Here are five things to know about city candidates’ money game.

No candidate reported spending more money than Yusef Salaam (other than Speaker Adrienne Adams, who doesn’t even have a competitive race), who’s running in the open District 9 seat in Harlem. He’s a first-time candidate facing two proven winners in Assembly Members Al Taylor and Inez Dickens, who are expected to get outside help from super PACs (more on that below). So Salaam is spending big on mailers, petitioning, fundraising and a whole suite of campaign consultants. Of course, much of that $216,000 hasn’t actually been paid out yet – Salaam’s campaign is deeply in debt. But the team expects public matching funds to bring them back into the black, or close to it, on Friday. But, the primary spending limit is just $207,000, so Salaam may already be setting himself up to pay a fine after the election.

Salaam initially opted out of the matching funds program, possibly thinking his fame as a member of the Central Park Five, giving speeches on criminal justice reform around the world, would help him raise more than the strict limits of the program. The campaign reversed course weeks ago. The majority of his campaign money has come from donors living outside the city – Salaam himself only recently moved back, after living in Georgia for years – but since he’s bringing in so much money, he has managed to keep pace with the local candidates on local donations too. Taylor reported 381 individual donations from city addresses, Dickens had 358 and Salaam had 336.

Pretty much everyone in competitive races has qualified for matching funds and will be governed by spending limits, so there shouldn’t be any massive monetary mismatches this year … until you factor in independent expenditure committees, which can spend freely. Not a single super PAC has reported spending a dime yet, but some have made their intentions known.


May 31, 2023

NY: Suburban Democrats lost. Now they wield all the power.

The 2022 state legislative elections in the suburbs weren’t quite an extinction event for Democrats, but it was a close call. They lost four state Senate seats on Long Island after entering the cycle holding six of the nine. The Hudson Valley fared better, but only just. Republicans flipped one state Senate seat and won a new district created through redistricting (not to mention the congressional bloodbath). The remaining Democratic state senators in the region won by the skin of their teeth. And Gov. Kathy Hochul lost every suburb of the New York metro area outside of Westchester in the closest gubernatorial contest in two decades. Her opponent? A popular Republican Congress member from the suburbs.

But the electoral losses and close calls didn’t seem to hamper the influence that suburban Democrats had during the legislative session in Albany. In fact, it may have had the opposite effect as, particularly during the extended budget season, members from the suburbs of New York City managed to rack up some significant victories in killing the governor’s housing plan, carving themselves out of a transit-related tax hike and securing another tweak to bail reform in order to give judges greater discretion to set bail.

Albany has gone through significant upheaval in the past decade-and-a-half, with power changing hands between parties, break-away conferences forming, governors resigning and new powers emerging. But through it all, regardless of the particular political landscape or who may find themselves leading at any given time, the suburbs in particular have managed to ensure that the voices of their constituents are heard – and heeded – in the halls of the Capitol. This year was no different as the national spotlight suddenly shone on the Long Island and Hudson Valley when a handful of House races decided the balance of power in Congress.

Democratic state legislative losses on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley were an “eye-opening” experience for some members of the Legislature. At least, that’s the thinking of Hudson Valley state Sen. James Skoufis, who narrowly won his own reelection last year. “I think there’s growing recognition that if there’s one place geographically that’s not a bubble in New York state, a political bubble, it’s the suburbs,” Skoufis told City & State. “I occasionally speak to my colleagues about the repercussions of our policymaking sometimes, and what it means for us back home.”


May 31, 2023

After years of delays, New Yorkers can finally register to vote online

A long-delayed system allowing eligible New Yorkers to register to vote online officially launched on Wednesday, nearly three years after it was initially scheduled to be available.

The state passed legislation to expand online voter registration in 2019 and was supposed to launch the new online portal two years ago. But the new system faced a series of delays due to pandemic-era changes in election laws and resource constraints that slowed the sites’ development, according to the state’s Board of Elections.

“Undertaking the creation of a statewide online voter registration system is no small task. Doing so during a worldwide pandemic while simultaneously running a presidential election is even more challenging,” said Jennifer Wilson, a spokesperson for the state election board.

The pandemic forced the agency to redirect staff and resources to other projects, including the construction of an online absentee request portal, Wilson said.

“In spite of the delays, we feel that the final result is an easy to use and secure platform that meets the intended goal of further enfranchising voters in New York state,” she added.


May 31, 2023

NJ-07: Sue Altman (D) announces bid to unseat Tom Kean

Sue Altman, a former teacher and non-profit executive who gained prominence as a grassroots political activist taking on Donald Trump and machine politics on both sides of the aisle, today entered the race for the 2024 Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district, where Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) is preparing to seek re-election to a second term.

Altman, 41, the state director of New Jersey Working Families, launched her bid to unseat Kean by labeling the freshman congressman as a career politician and Donald Trump apologist trying to maintain a reputation as a right-of-center Republican in New Jersey while forging alliances with more conservative factions of his party in Washington.

“There is too much at stake to sit on the sidelines and watch Tom Kean, Jr. pander to a Republican party that is being led by extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and has already taken away a woman’s right to an abortion, stood in the way of any meaningful gun legislation and blocked efforts to address climate change,” Altman said in a statement announcing her candidacy.

The announcement, anticipated since former Rep. Tom Malinowski announced eight days ago that he would not seek a return to Congress, sets the stage for one of the nation’s most competitive and closely-watched House races. National Democrats have put Kean on their early target list, listing his seat as one they must win next year to reclaim a House majority.

“I will be an unwavering advocate for the people of my district by fighting rising costs and high taxes that are diminishing New Jerseyans’ quality of life,” stated Altman. “I will never stop working to protect a woman’s right to an abortion and to keep our children, schools, and communities safe from gun violence.”


May 31, 2023

DeSantis signs bill renaming FL road after Rush Limbaugh, but some Dems couldn't honor a 'racist'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that will rename a road in Central Florida’s Hernando County after the late conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, though some Democratic lawmakers said they couldn’t support a bill to honor a man they described as being ‘racist.’

Nevertheless, as of July 1, a stretch of U.S. 41 and State Road 50 in Hernando County will now be dubbed “Rush Limbaugh Way.” Hernando is on the Gulf side of the peninsula.

As originally filed by Brevard County House Republican Tyler Sirois, the bill (HB 21) was initially designed to rename a newly constructed bridge in Brevard County known as the NASA Causeway after Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman in space. In its final version approved by the Legislature, the measure renames roads or bridges after 22 people.

Those include officers killed in the line of duty, an archbishop, an astronaut, teachers, and other people.


May 31, 2023

MS-GOV: Judge puts Democratic candidate back on gubernatorial ballot

A special Hinds County Circuit Court judge has ruled the state Democratic Party improperly disqualified Bob Hickingbottom from this year’s gubernatorial primary ballot.

The state party is appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court. The high court issued an order Tuesday for parties to file briefs and other paperwork by Wednesday to expedite the matter, with the start of absentee voting drawing near.

Judge Forest Johnson Jr. ruled that Hickingbottom meets qualifications to run for Mississippi governor — being at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for 20 years or more and a resident of the state for at least five years. The judge ruled that, while it is undisputed that Hickingbottom has failed to file a statement of economic interest with the Ethics Commission as required by law since he ran for governor in 2019 as a Constitution Party candidate, he should still be on the ballot.

The ruling said there is a difference between violating the law requiring a candidate to file an ethics report and qualifications to run for governor and, “Qualifications are core … Either you are or you’re not.” The court noted that if elected, Hickingbottom could face misdemeanor penalties for failing to file the report, including being barred from being sworn into office or receiving a salary.


May 31, 2023

MS-GOV: Reeves (R) campaign says it still plans to give away donations tied to welfare scandal

The Tate Reeves campaign says the governor still intends to give away political contributions he has received from those involved in the state’s welfare scandal, though at this point those funds remain in his campaign coffers.

“The political donations from anyone who is connected to the TANF scandal will be donated to a worthy cause at the ultimate conclusion of the legal proceedings. Those cases are ongoing,” said Elliott Husbands, Reeves’ campaign manager, referring to the continuing investigation of the misspending of $77 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare funds.

In a February 2020 press conference, Reeves acknowledged receiving campaign contributions from people associated with the scandal and ongoing investigation, such as Nancy New and her son Zach, both of whom have pleaded guilty to state and federal charges related to the misspending of funds that were designed to provide assistance to the state’s poorest citizens.

“I can tell you right now, anything they gave to the campaign is going to be moved to a separate bank account,” Reeves said in 2020. “… Anything they gave the campaign will be there waiting to be returned to the taxpayers and help the people it was intended for. If that doesn’t happen, the money will go to a deserving charity.”

There is no indication that the funds have been transferred to a separate bank account based on a review of Reeves’ multiple campaign finance accounts. The Reeves campaign gave no indication that a separate bank account had been established.


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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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