The Fund for Jobs and Growth - a Washington D.C. super PAC - is suing New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) to allow the group raise unlimited funds based on the Citizens United decision. In March, the ELEC ruled that the Fund could not receive unlimited contributions from individuals if there purpose is make independent expenditures to influence New Jersey elections. This is the third ruling dealing with independent expenditures, and in the prior rulings, the ELEC determined that the groups did not have a “major purpose” of influencing New Jersey elections (Source). New Jersey has not allowed super PACs to raise unlimited funds, and thus, the Fund is challenging the constitutionality of the state’s requirement that the Fund register and abide by contribution limits.
Colorado is considering changes to it’s election laws, including same-day registration, mailing ballots to all registered voters, and removing the “inactive voter” label (applied to voters who do not vote in the prior election). This bill, which has not been introduced yet, comes after large increases in the state’s voter registration and mail ballot returns. County clerks reported that 74 percent of Colorado voters returned mail ballots during the 2012 election. That figure alone suggests changes in conducting future Colorado campaigns; chasing mail ballots will be a much more important factor in campaigns.
Two Texas state legislators have filed legislation to create terms limits and are being supported by a coalition of good government and TEA Party reformers (Source):
- State Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) has filed SJR 13 which would limit service as Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Attorney General (TX Constitution, Article IV, Section 1), and other statewide elected officers with the exception of judicial offices.
- State Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) has filed HJR 42 which would limit service in the Texas Legislature to 6 terms and would limit service in the executive to 12 years (oddly enough Gov. Perry has served for about 12 years).
Both legislators were term limited out of their previous public service jobs at the city level. They argue that this would undo the power of incumbency and would allow fresh policy solutions to be brought forward and implemented.
Terms limits will certainly undo the power of incumbency to an extent - the extent being when the legislator must finally leave office. This will no doubt bring fresh blood into the legislature, but how fresh is it really when the officeholders rotate from one office to the other, as has been done since the first days of our republic?
- For example, James Madison was term limited in the Continental Congress, leaving that body in 1783, and joined the Virginia House of Delegates in 1784 (Source: Wills, Garry. James Madison. p. 24).
As for fresh policy solutions, a 2004 study of Missouri’s term limits found that legislators spent less time studying policies and specializing in specific areas, such as education, water, healthcare, etc. [You can read the full study here]. By not studying or specializing in policy, legislators are more likely to rely on ideological proposals.
On the national level, Joe Lieberman has expressed his support for term limits as he exits the Senate after 24 years: “I think the place might be healthier and less partisan and more rigid if it turned over more often.” Some legislators from Missouri, where term limits have been in place since 1992, might disagree (Source). A 2006 study stated: “Members are less collegial and less likely to bond with their peers, particularly those from across the aisle” (Source).
I tend to lean in the direction of opposing term limits for legislators and am pretty ambivalent about term limits for executive offices. The proposed benefits of term limiting legislators don’t seem to actually occur when you look at states which have already enacted term limits.
Early vote turnout for the Republican primary run-off was not far off the mark of the regular primary, and we saw the same with the total turnout.
During the regular primary, 1.4 million people voted, and during the run-off, 1.11 million people voted. Early voters (549,993) represented 49.5 percent of the total turnout [slightly higher than the 48 percent in the regular primary].
This year’s statewide run-off had the 2nd lowest drop off between run-off turnout and primary turnout, behind only the 1972 run-off between Ralph Yarborough and Barefoot Sanders, out of the 11 such statewide primaries held since 1950 (Source).
Conventional wisdom suggested the high turnout would benefit Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, since it was thought low turnout would play into the hands of activists/movement conservatives who were supporting Ted Cruz. But conventional wisdom, which proved right during the regular primary, was proved wrong during the run-off, as Cruz beat Dewhurst by 13.6 points (56.8 to 43.2 percent).
Public Policy Polling’s final poll of the TX Senate race [pdf] showed Cruz with a 10 point lead in the race, including a 15 point lead among those who already voted (the actual results for early voting were 52.9 to 47 in favour of Cruz). A lot of interesting numbers in the PPP poll showing where support for each candidate was coming from that might have some bearing on future GOP primaries, but I’ll leave that for another time.