Native Americans Fight Voter Restrictions
Four states are holding statewide primaries Tuesday and a few races are the hottest in the nation. Here are the May 8 contests to watch:
- Indiana’s 6th Congressional District: With his brother Vice President Mike Pence and much of the money and force of the GOP behind him, Greg Pence (R) is the clear front-runner in this race to replace Rep. Luke Messer’s (R) open seat as he runs for Senate. He had raised $1.2 million by mid-April, according to data from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), setting himself far ahead of the rest of the candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike.
- Indiana Senate: Incumbent Joe Donnelly (D) is running unopposed. But on the Republican ballot, there are three names to watch: Reps. Luke Messer, Todd Rokita and former state legislator Mike Braun, the front-runner, based on fundraising with almost double what the others raised at $5.8 million in mid-April based on FEC data. All three have tried to tie themselves to Trump recently – though the state is seen as leaning against Trump for the midterms despite the president carrying Indiana by 16 percentage points in the 2016 election. And Messer and Rokita have had some bad press lately regarding allegations they’ve been involved in a straw donor scheme set up by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) for his gubernatorial campaign.
- Ohio Senate: Though incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is running unopposed, there are nine other Democratic candidates on the ballot in a state Trump carried in 2016. In Brown’s race, he will face the winner of a three-man race led by Rep. Jim Renacci (R) who dropped his gubernatorial bid after bad press over a straw donor scheme.
- North Carolina: There is no Senate race this year in the state, but all 13 Congressional seats are up for grabs, with incumbents running in all of them. Two races, in particular, are competitive, and both are held by Republicans.
In the 9th District, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R) is expected to face Democratic challenger Dan McCready, who had outraised him by $1.9 million to $1.2 million in mid-April, according to FEC data. If McCready wins in November, he would be the first Democrat to take the District since the 1960s.
In the 13th District, first-term incumbent Rep. Ted Budd (R) will likely square off against Democratic challenger Kathy Manning, who had raised $1.3 million to Budd’s $832,690 by mid-April, according to FEC data.
West Virginia: Incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) faces some interesting competition in this race. Among the three Republicans chasing his seat are coal magnate and ex-convict Don Blankenship, who was convicted for his role in the death of 29 miners, and has a Roy Moore quality about him. Also on the ballot are U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) and State Attorney General Patrick Morrissey.
Meanwhile, in the 3rd Congressional District, Jenkins leaves an open seat where Republican candidate Carol Miller had raised almost twice as much money at $463,818, as her two closest GOP candidates and the closest Democratic candidate, Richard Ojeda, according to FEC data in mid-April.
Native Americans Win a Round in Voter ID Fight
In North Dakota, a federal judge told state officials on April 30 that their voter identification laws against Native American residents went too far toward potential voter restrictions. The state had argued against U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland’s ruling that struck down a portion of the law requiring any prospective voter to provide proof of a street address, saying it could lead to voter fraud.
In his latest rebuke, Hovland noted there has never been any evidence of voter fraud in the state. Many of the North Dakota’s 40,000 Native Americans live on reservations and do not have numbered street addresses.
Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed legislation last year that reworked state voter ID laws after tribal members sued the state in 2016 alleging ID requirements discriminated against Native Americans and citing a violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
Hovland’s latest order suggested lawyers, the tribes and the state try to hammer out reasonable solutions, not just for Native Americans, but also for homeless people, so that all could have the opportunity to vote. The state plans to appeal the case.
The Native American vote is seen as critical for the re-election of U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), who faces a tough battle against challenger Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)
Congressman Wins Lawsuit to Get Back on Ballot
A federal judge has put incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) back on the ballot for the state’s 5th Congressional District after Lamborn was temporarily removed when a state Supreme Court ruling found his collection of signatures unlawful.
Colorado state law requires that candidates use state residents as petitioners. Lamborn used up to eight out-of-state residents to collect the 1,000 signatures necessary to appear on the primary ballot on June 26. Five district voters filed a suit against Lamborn and his name was removed.
Then Lamborn countersued to have his name reinstated on the ballot, claiming the Colorado law requiring petitioners to reside in the state violated the First Amendment. U.S. District Court Judge Philip Bremmer overturned the state court’s ruling and struck down the state law requiring petitioners to reside in Colorado.
Lamborn, who is running for his seventh term, faces Republican challengers State Sen. Owen Hill, Darryl Glenn, Bill Rhea and Tyler Stevens in this Republican stronghold.