GA/TX/AZ Clips 11/22/21
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Jolt: Redistricting scrambles Democrats’ plans for 2022
Just three years ago, about a dozen Democrats across the Atlanta suburbs flipped seats previously held by Republicans in what several of the newcomers termed a “blue tsunami.”
Now changing political tides are having a different sort of ripple effect.
At least five members of that ascendant Democratic class are leaving the state House. Several more face tough elections.
It’s a reflection of a convergence of political dynamics. Redistricting is making some of the suburban legislative seats harder for the incumbents to hold, while opening opportunities in the state Senate for some.
Fatigue and frustration could factor, too. Several Democrats have told us the special session has reinforced the reality that the GOP will control the chamber well into the next decade.
Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott, GOP leaders allocate $4 million to fund county-level election audits
GOP leaders on Friday approved shifting $4 million in emergency funds for the Texas secretary of state’s office to create an “Election Audit Division” at the agency, which will spearhead county election audits as required by the state’s new election law set to take effect next month.
The additional funding, first reported by The Dallas Morning News, was requested by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week and approved by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and the Republican budget-writers of the two chambers, state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood.
In a Nov. 18 letter to Patrick and Phelan, Abbott said the emergency shift in money — which is coming from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — was necessary because the secretary of state’s office “does not currently have the budget authority to adequately accomplish the goals sought by the Legislature.”
CBSDFW:At Dallas Rally, Beto O’Rourke & Supporters See The Political Center As His Path To Victory
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – During Beto O’Rourke’s first rally in North Texas since he entered the Texas Governor’s race last Monday, his campaign said he attracted more than 1,500 people to Dallas Fair Park.O’Rourke told the crowd, “We are the big, bold, beautiful people of Texas who are coming to reclaim this state.”
He railed against what he called Governor Greg Abbott’s and Republicans’ extreme policies on guns, abortion, and elections. O’Rourke challenged his supporters to knock on doors, reach new voters, and embrace his philosophy.
“Did we decide that we’re not Democrats or Republicans or even Independents, but that we are Texans first and foremost before anything else.”
While Democrats are happy O’Rourke has entered the race, a new poll released Sunday suggests he still has work to do. The Dallas Morning News/UT Tyler poll shows Abbott leading O’Rourke 45-39%. When it comes to the impression Texas voters have of O’Rourke, the poll shows 37% have a favorable view of him, while 43% have an unfavorable view.
Among Independents, O’Rourke has a 28% favorable rating, and a 44% unfavorable rating. When asked how he will try to fix that so more Independents and perhaps Republicans support him, O’Rourke said, “Who knows with these polls, right?”
He said the general election is still nearly a year away, giving him plenty of time to meet more people. “If it is not about the candidate and not about my political party but instead about Texas and the big things we want to do, better jobs, world-class schools, expanding Medicaid so everyone can see a doctor, we are going to win.”
O’Rourke said another priority of his is to legalize marijuana.
Governor Abbott has repeatedly criticized O’Rourke as too liberal and wrong for Texas with his positions on the second amendment, border security and illegal immigration, and energy jobs being out of step with most Texans.
Texas Tribune: Congressional gerrymandering by Texas Republicans cut out the heart of Houston’s Asian community
But an invisible line now separates the center from its people. When Texas lawmakers redrew congressional maps following the 2020 census, they split up Asian American populations in both Harris and Fort Bend counties.
One district line, winding between a local car wash and bar, severs most of the Korean neighborhoods, grocery stores, restaurants and a senior center from the community center itself, which now hangs on the edge of one congressional district while most of its members reside in the next district over.
“It’s like (lawmakers) don’t even know we are here,” said Hyunja Norman, president of the Korean American Voters League, who works out of the center. “If they were thoughtful, they could’ve included the Korean Community Center in (our district). But it’s like they are ignorant of us, or they just don’t care.”
As the Asian American and Pacific Islander population has grown and continued to mobilize politically, especially in the midst of rising hostility and targeted attacks, the community’s desire for representation in Texas and U.S. politics has become stronger. But many now feel their political aspirations became collateral damage in Republican efforts to draw political districts designed to preserve partisan power.
Although they make up only about 5% of Texas’ total population, Asian Texans accounted for a sizable portion of the state’s tremendous growth over the past decade. Nearly one in five new Texans since 2010 are Asian American, according to the census. They were the fastest-growing racial or ethnic voting group in the state, increasing from a population of about 950,000 in 2010 to nearly 1.6 million in 2020.
Arizona Republic: Ducey heralded funding vouchers to avoid COVID-19 restrictions in schools. The reality is much different
The early-September message from the Governor’s Office was adamant: More than 2,000 applications for vouchers to move students out of schools with COVID-19 restrictions was clear evidence that Arizona families wanted school choice.
Gov. Doug Ducey earmarked $10 million in federal funds for the vouchers and said “we’re going to bolster it up to meet the need” of so many applications.
Three months later, the Governor’s Office has approved just 93 of those applications. Of the millions of dollars available, parents have spent less than $50,000 through the controversial program, a review by The Arizona Republic shows.
On top of the low numbers, multiple approved applications appear to exceed income caps for eligibility. And over one-third of vouchers were for children shifting to online schools, though Ducey said one goal was to get kids back into classrooms.
Arizona Mirror: GOP senator wants to cancel 2022 vote on in-state tuition for Dreamers because GOP senators were in the minority
A Republican lawmaker says voters shouldn’t get to weigh in on a ballot measure next year that would repeal a state law prohibiting undocumented students from accessing in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges because not enough Republicans supported the proposal.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita on Tuesday introduced a proposal to reverse the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044, which a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers sent to the ballot earlier this year. The passage was celebrated as an achievement of years-long advocacy to repeal a 2006 voter-approved law that prevents the estimated 2,000 undocumented students who graduate Arizona high schools every year from accessing affordable secondary education at state university and community colleges.
Ugenti-Rita told the Arizona Mirror that Senate President Karen Fann was wrong to allow SCR1044 to be voted on because most GOP senators opposed it.
“It’s odd to me that (Fann) would put up a bill that she voted against, with only three Republicans voting for it,” the Scottsdale Republican said. “President Fann put something on the floor that the overwhelming amount of Republicans opposed, and she did it anyway.”
The measure cleared the Senate with 17 votes, including three Republicans: Sen. Paul Boyer, the Glendale Republican who sponsored the legislation, Sens. Tyler Pace and TJ Shope. It won approval in the House on a 33-27 vote, with four Republicans joining the Democrats.
While the measure to repeal the in-state tuition ban for undocumented students in Arizona didn’t have broad support among Republicans in the legislature, past polling has shown that 1 in 3 Republican voters support it.
Arizona Republic: ‘Results were meaningless’: Analysts say they cannot validate or replicate Cyber Ninjas’ hand count of votes
Cyber Ninjas’ hand count of votes cast in Maricopa County’s 2020 election can neither be validated nor replicated, according to analysts who waded through tens of thousands of newly released records.
They say the numbers reported by the Florida-based firm hired by the Senate to lead the partisan audit are wildly inaccurate and stand as proof “the results” were made up.
“They (Cyber Ninjas) were not able to accurately hand count either the number of ballots cast … or the votes on those ballots,” a trio of nationally recognized election experts concluded in a Nov. 15 report. “They spent about $9 million over 7 months, so far, and have proven absolutely nothing.”
Cyber Ninjas’ claim that its count showed Biden gained 99 votes and Trump lost 261 votes in the recount is without foundation, according to the analysts.
The firm counted damaged ballots, mixed original ballots with duplicates and used untested methods designed to give the hand count — and the audit — unearned credibility, the analysts said.
Benny White, a Pima County Republican, has done election and voter registration analysis for the Arizona Republican Party.
“It caused them to never actually audit the election results but rather to attempt to create a new result that the public would accept,” said Benny White, a prominent Pima County Republican and data analyst.
“Unfortunately, the procedures they followed and the records they kept and relied on to announce results were so erroneous that nothing they reported could be relied on by the public,” he said.
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