Pluribus AM: Hobbs ahead in Ariz.; abortion and school choice fights ahead; new legislative leaders elected

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Good morning, it’s Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. In today’s edition, abortion debates in Fla., N.M. and Minn.; school choice takes the stage in Wis., Iowa; and new legislative leaders set to take over: 

Top Stories

ARIZONA: An estimated 93% of the vote has been counted, and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) leads former TV anchor Kari Lake (R) by a percentage point, or about 26,000 votes. In the race for Attorney General, Kris Mayes (D) leads Abraham Hamadeh (R) by just 11,000 votes, a margin of 0.4%. (Arizona Republic) There are still big tranches of votes left to come from conservative Navajo and Cochise counties, and from liberal Pima County.

FLORIDA: Incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) says she will push a new bill barring abortions more than 12 weeks after conception, down from current state law which blocks the procedure at 15 weeks. Passidomo wants to include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest, something the current law does not have. (Orlando Sentinel)

NEW MEXICO: State Democrats will introduce a measure codifying a woman’s right to an abortion in next year’s session. State Sen. Linda Lopez (D) said her bill will be modeled on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D) executive order that declares abortion “an essential part of reproductive health care.” (Santa Fe New Mexican)

ILLINOIS: Lawmakers will kick off their final session of the year on Tuesday by considering changes to the SAFE-T Act, the criminal justice overhaul that generated so much controversy this year. The bill ended cash bail, a provision Democrats are likely to address, though details have not yet emerged. (Chicago Tribune)

VIRGINIA: The Department of Education on Friday proposed significant revisions to history and social science learning standards that specifically reference Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” speech. The Virginia Education Association objected to standards they said were packed with “overt political bias.” (Washington Post)

CONNECTICUT: Legislators want to hold a special session this month to extend a gas tax holiday that has been in effect for eight months. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has signaled he is interested in doing so as well, but he hasn’t set a date for a session yet. (CT Mirror)

IOWA: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is expected to reintroduce a school choice bill that would devote $55 million in taxpayer funding for public schools to private school tuition assistance grants. The bill has failed in the GOP-controlled legislature in each of the last two years, but four new Republicans joining the state House could help. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

MINNESOTA: Democrats, now fully in control of state government, said they will push to codify abortion rights currently guaranteed by state Supreme Court precedent. Gov. Tim Walz (D) is working with former Gov. Jesse Ventura (I) on a measure to legalize recreational marijuana, and Democrats are also likely to advance red-flag laws to make it easier to take guns away from potentially dangerous people. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

WISCONSIN: Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) will push universal school choice and tax cuts in next year’s legislative session. The state’s budget surplus is expected to top $5 billion. LeMahieu said he wants to eliminate personal property taxes that businesses pay. (WisPolitics)

NEBRASKA: Lawmakers will be tasked with finalizing details of a new requirement that voters show identification at the polls after voters approved a constitutional amendment last week. The state Senate will begin work determining which identifications will be accepted, and what alternatives voters without an ID will have. (Nebraska Examiner)

In Politics

COLORADO: Democrats have chosen state Rep. Julie McCluskie (D) as the next House Speaker. She’s the first House Speaker from the Western Slope in 20 years. State Rep. Monica Duran (D) will serve as majority leader, and Rep. Jennifer Bacon (D) will be assistant majority leader. (Colorado Sun)

GEORGIA: State Sen. John Kennedy (R) will be the next Senate President Pro Tem, replacing retiring Pro Tem Butch Miller (R). State Sen. Burt Jones (R) won election last week to be Georgia’s next lieutenant governor. Sen. Steve Gooch (R) will be majority leader. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) House Republicans meet today to pick Speaker David Ralston’s (R) replacement.

NEW MEXICO: State Rep. Javier Martinez (D) is the likely next Speaker of the state House after Democrats nominated him this weekend. Rep. Gail Chasey (D) will serve as majority leader, Rep.-elect Reena Szczepanski (D) will serve as majority whip and state Rep. Raymundo Lara (D) will be caucus chair. (Albuquerque Journal) Szczepanski may be a new member, but she’s not a new face at the Roundhouse: She served as outgoing Speaker Brian Egolf’s (D) chief of staff.

VERMONT: Senate Democrats have unanimously nominated state Sen. Phil Baruth (D) to serve as President Pro Tem. He replaces Sen. Becca Balint (D), who just won Vermont’s lone seat in Congress. (VT Digger)

ALASKA: Legislators in both the House and Senate are preparing for bipartisan leadership coalitions. Though Republicans hold majorities in both chambers, friction between conservatives and moderates over social issues and the size of the Permanent Fund dividend opens the door to coalitions with Democrats and independents. (Anchorage Daily News) 

ILLINOIS: State Rep. Tony McCombie (R) says she has enough votes to be the next House Minority Leader. McCombie is backed by the current House GOP leader, Jim Durkin (R), who is retiring. (Capitol Fax)

MICHIGAN: Failed gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon (R) is considering a campaign to chair the state Republican Party. (Detroit News) So are Matt DePerno, who lost a challenge to Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), and James Craig, the former Detroit Police Department chief whose bid for governor unraveled in a signature-gathering mishap. (Detroit News)

MASSACHUSETTS: Libertarian Cristina Crawford won more than half a million votes last Tuesday, nearly 23%, in her challenge to Treasurer Deb Goldberg (D). Crawford’s showing far surpasses the 3% the Libertarian Party needed to regain major party status it lost in 2020. (Merrimack Eagle-Tribune) 

By The Numbers

709,784: The number of votes cast for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), who won re-election last week with 56%. That’s a great showing, but it’s 264 votes shy of the all-time record held by then-Gov. Jodi Rell (R), when she won re-election in 2006 with 63% of the vote. (Hearst Connecticut Media)

18: The age of North Dakota Rep.-elect Dawson Holle (R), the youngest legislator in state history. He’s one of five Republicans under the age of 25 who will serve in the next legislative session. (Fargo Forum)

26: The age of Oregon Sen.-elect Winsvey Campos (D), the youngest-ever person to hold a seat in the state Senate. Campos was 24 when she won a seat in the state House in 2020. (Oregonian)

Off The Wall

You, too, can own a piece of history — in this case, an out-building on a home in Natick, Mass., where Vice President Henry Wilson learned to make shoes. Yours for the low, low price of $1.25 million. (WCVB) Wilson was Ulysses Grant’s veep.

Quote of the Day

“Just another year of getting punched in the face. That’s what it feels like.”

Iowa state Rep.-elect J.D. Scholten (D), after Iowa Republicans swept to power in the legislature and in top executive offices. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)