Debt-Deal Votes Double as Campaign Fodder: Ballots & Boundaries

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This week’s debt limit brinksmanship, negotiation, and completion provided some clues about what to expect in next year’s Senate contests.

Among House Democrats running for Senate in California, Rep. Adam Schiff’s “yes” vote on the debt bill (H.R. 3746) set him apart from Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter, his more vocally progressive rivals for the seat of retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D).

Schiff, who’s backed by ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D), said the pact was “far from perfect” but a “a necessary step to protect our economy and Californians.” Lee, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Porter, said the bill “hurts our most vulnerable by ripping away critical benefits & fueling the climate crisis — all while protecting the wealthy from paying their fair share & increasing defense spending.” Porter said the measure “contains giveaway after giveaway to Big Oil, which continues to have too much lobbying influence in Washington.”

The state has a March all-candidates primary, so still plenty of time for them to differentiate themselves before the top two vote-getters go through to the November general election.

The other four House Democrats who are announced Senate candidates all supported the pact: Colin Allred (Texas), who’s challenging Sen. Ted Cruz; Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), who’s seeking the seat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) hasn’t yet said if she’ll defend; Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), a candidate for the seat of retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D); and David Trone (Md.), who’s vying to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D).

The two House Republicans currently seeking Senate seats will be able to campaign on their opposition to the debt-limit deal. Rep. Alex Mooney (W.Va.) is up against party-backed Gov. Jim Justice for the seat of Sen. Joe Manchin (D). Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), a clear front-runner for the seat Sen. Mike Braun (R) is giving up to run for governor, missed the vote but previously said he opposed the agreement.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Republican leaders’ preferred choice to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), voted for the bill. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R), who may enter the race if Gallagher doesn’t, voted against it. Cruz voted no on the deal, while Sinema, Manchin, and Baldwin voted yes. — Greg Giroux

More on Senate ’24

MARYLAND: Hoyer Endorses Alsobrooks
Trone has begun dropping campaign commercials for his bid for Maryland’s open Senate seat. Fellow Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin still hasn’t decided whether to join the race. Meanwhile, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks locked down an endorsement from one of the big names in the state’s delegation: former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. — Washington Post

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Special Election ’23

RHODE ISLAND: Many Options
David Cicilline has been a former member of Congress for all of one day and already we’ve counted at least 15 fellow Democrats who want to be his replacement.

The highest-ranking officeholder in the primary is shaping up to be Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos. She was born in the Dominican Republic and is one of at least three immigrant office-holders who’ll use the upcoming special election to try to punch a ticket to Washington. READ MORE from Greg Giroux.

Sources: Websites of the campaigns and the office of the lieutenant governor.
Rhode Island state Sen. Sandra Cano, state Rep. Nathan Biah, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, and former White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Deputy Director Gabe Amo are among the Democrats interested in an open US House seat.

OHIO: Abortion Rights Proposal Stays As-Is
The Ohio Supreme Court has given its blessing to language voters may see on ballots later this year asking whether to include abortion rights in the state constitution.

The court’s ruling removed a hurdle for those pushing for the amendment as they work to collect enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot in November. READ MORE from Eric Heisig.

LOUISIANA: Church Question
Though Gov. John Bel Edwards can’t run for re-election because of term limits, part of the Democrat’s record will be on the ballot this year in the form of an initiative seeking to amend the Louisiana Constitution in response to pandemic restrictions on indoor gatherings.

The state House this week gave final passage to a measure referring to the ballot a proposed amendment stating that “the freedom to worship in a church or other place of worship is a fundamental right that is worthy of the highest order of protection.” — Ballotpedia

NORTH CAROLINA: Smaller Voting Window
Watch this bill, just unveiled by majority Republicans. The measure (SB 747) would, among other things, eliminate the state’s three-day grace period for late-arriving absentee votes, and require same-day registrants to cast provisional ballots.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has vetoed prior attempts to change voting law, but if Republican legislators stick together they could marshal the supermajorities needed to override him. A court challenge could be an uphill climb for voting rights activists: the Republican-controlled state Supreme Court recently reinstated a GOP-backed voter-ID bill and federal courts have recently weakened application of the Voting Rights Act in litigation where plaintiffs claim there is a disparate impact on voters of color. — Alex Ebert

See also: Could Texas Republicans be drawing a blueprint for GOP leaders in other states who want to tilt elections in their favor?


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To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at; Eric Heisig in Ohio at; Alex Ebert in Madison, Wisconsin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at

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