Progressives Every Day: Ohio Goes Up in Smoke, Driving Off a Cliff in Texas


Welcome to a Thursday night edition of Progressives Everywhere!

There’s a fair bit of serious news to talk about, but I want to first give love to Liverpool Football Club, which just won its first Premier League title in 30 years. I love this team and I’ve never seen a more passionate fanbase. It’s absolutely wild in that city right now. YNWA.

Booker Pulls Ahead

We went over the New York primary results yesterday, but Kentucky has still not counted enough ballots in the extremely close Democratic Senate primary to declare a winner. Right now, though, progressive underdog candidate Charles Booker has pulled ahead by about 3,000 votes thanks to a massive advantage in Lexington and his hometown Louisville. Still, the sheer number of absentee ballots means that it’s still anyone’s race.

Ohio Initiative Going Up in Smoke

Yesterday we got the good news that a federal judge ruled that Idaho must allow an activist group pushing an education funding/wealth tax ballot initiative to collect signatures online due to the coronavirus’s interruption of the collection process.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court today refused to hear a similar request from a group pushing for an initiative that would legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. That probably kills the campaign for now. It really sucks, though I guess I’ll give Ohio’s lawyers just a tiny bit of credit for this pun:

Defending its ballot-initiative rules, Ohio said the injunction required officials to cobble together a “half-baked” plan allowing for online signature gathering that would be hard to quickly stand up.

Texas’s Attorney General Is a Psychopath

With Texas continuing to set and reset its own record for coronavirus cases, Gov. Ken Abbott finally acknowledged reality and paused the state’s reopening process on Thursday. It likely won’t do much to stem the tide, as restaurants can still operate at 75% and other public places are allowed to continue at 50%, but at least he’s at least acknowledging the fact that he’s driving the state off a cliff and gently tapping the breaks just a little bit to make it seem like he cares (though, like a coward, he still won’t mandate masks).

Attorney General Ken Paxton, on the other hand, is just hitting the gas, doing everything he can to doom as many Texans as possible. Today, he led other Republican Attorneys General in filing a brief urging the Supreme Court to repeal Obamacare right smack in the middle of a pandemic that has killed 120,000 Americans and led to nearly 30 million losing their job-based health insurance. It’s truly a psychotic devotion to hurting people, especially when paired with his other malefactions over the last few months.

As I’ve noted in prior issues, he is so dead set against both democracy and public health, he’s threatening to arrest anyone who applies for an absentee ballot and cites fear of COVID-19 as an excuse. His obstinance is forcing activists to appeal to the Supreme Court in a long-shot attempt to allow voters to request absentee ballots without needing a very specific excuse for doing so.

In the graph of Texas’s coronavirus cases below, I’ve marked the date at which Abbott began the state’s reopening:

Meanwhile, Arizona reported 79 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, setting a state record. The hospitals there are quickly moving towards max capacity, with 88% of adult ICU beds occupied and 86% of inpatient beds taken up. Both marks are their highest since the end of March.

Experts and health professionals are not pleased.

In Arizona, emergency rooms are seeing about 1,200 suspected COVID-19 patients a day, compared with around 500 a month ago. If the trends continue, hospitals will probably exceed capacity within the next several weeks, said Dr. Joseph Gerald, a University of Arizona public health policy professor.

“We are in deep trouble,” said Gerald, urging the state to impose new restrictions on businesses, which Gov. Doug Ducey has refused to do.

Here’s a terrifying and infuriating visualization via The Questionist:

COVID-19 has killed a disproportionate number of senior citizens, but once Arizona let young people loose without any real restrictions or mask requirements, they too began contracting the disease at a frightening clip.

Voting Suppression, Visualized:

When the Supreme Court repealed the core of the historic Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “our country has changed,” effectively suggesting that racist voter suppression was a thing of the past. The 5-4 ruling allowed nine southern states to more or less do what they wanted with regards to voting laws, kicking off seven years of aggressive racism.

They’ve used a variety of tactics, from closing polling places and installing voter ID laws to straight-up canceling people’s voter registrations. The visualization below, while covering just three of those past seven years, shows just how pervasive and damaging those registration purges have been.

Unsurprisingly, the states that were controlled by Republicans during that three-year span have the highest share of voters purged — despite the considerable obstacles, voters in Nevada, Maine, North Carolina, and Wisconsin voted out Republican governors in November 2018. In Virginia, Democrats took over the entire State House in 2019.

North Carolina Needs to Pony Up:

Speaking of Republicans in North Carolina doing crappy things to their constituents, the state has one of the stingiest unemployment programs in the country. North Carolina maxes out payments at $350 per week for only 20 weeks.

How does that compare with other states? Most offer 26 weeks of benefits that are, on average, much higher than North Carolina’s. Legislature candidate Nicole Quick tweeted this out earlier today:

The GOP’s gerrymander made it impossible for Democrats to win either chamber of the legislature, but with new districts created by court order, Team Blue has a decent shot of capturing at least one of them this fall. Given the economic emergency we’re in and the fact that it’s unlikely that national Republicans will extend the unemployment topper more than a few weeks, NC Dems need to make this a big campaign issue and prioritize more generous benefits if they do take over at least one chamber.

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