It is unclear whether or not voters can expect a slow political news cycle in the final of 2018. Congress was expected to pass a temporary funding bill that would kick the can down the road another few months before another budget fight dominates the headlines.
In the midst of the partisan competition of who can brand this disaster in governance against the other side better, there are nonpartisan news items that are worth noting that are not getting any attention from cable and other mainstream media outlets.
Tulsi 2020 Looking More and More Likely
US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has become a bit of a rockstar among independent-minded voters:
- Gabbard served as the vice chair of the DNC, but resigned in 2016 and promptly endorsed Bernie Sanders as her party was trying to marginalize Sanders' campaign.
- Despite her more progressive views on several issues, she garnered support and respect from Sanders supporters AND Trump supporters.
- She supports popular election reforms like ending the use of superdelegates in the Democratic Party, and opening primaries to bring more voices into the process.
- She has taken a hardline stance on ending our involvement in certain foreign conflicts, like the civil war in Syria and the proxy war in Yemen.
- She is one of only a handful lawmakers actively trying to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
We have been following this surge in popularity and what it could mean for potential presidential runs in the future. Now it looks like Tulsi could run in 2020 as President Donald Trump seeks a second term.
Tulsi caught the eye of several media outlets in November when she tweeted at the president that "being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not 'America First,'" raising her profile a little on the national stage.
AP reported Tuesday that a presidential bid is something Gabbard says she is “thinking through very carefully.” She would most likely be the youngest candidate in the Democratic field at 38 (she is 37 now).
Compare this to other potential contenders like former VP Joe Biden (currently 76), US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (currently 69), and US Sen. Bernie Sanders (currently 77). Even US Sen. Kamala Harris is 54 and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is 62.
The question though remains if she would enter into the race if Sanders, whose supporter base would be key to her success, also runs. However, a run in 2020 could raise her profile for another presidential bid in the future.
North Carolina's 9th Congressional to Be Empty When New Congress Starts
The disputed election in North Carolina's 9th district will most likely not be settled when the 116th Congress is sworn in on January 3. This will leave hundreds of thousands of voters unrepresented until at least January 11.
The state board of elections has scheduled a hearing on January 11 to look further into allegations of election fraud. Specifically, allegations that Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr, a political operative, illegally collected and even filled out absentee ballots in certain counties in the 9th district.
The colloquial term for this "ballot harvesting," which is illegal in North Carolina.
Here's the thing: The state board refused to certify the results for Republican candidate Mark Harris, who led Democrat Dan McCready by nearly 1,000 votes after Election Day.
However, an unusually high number of mail-in-ballots were requested in two counties in particular, but not returned. This raised some eyebrows.
Then, in sworn affidavits, several voters said a woman -- later identified as Lisa Britt -- or someone else came to their homes to collect their ballots, even offering to complete the ballots for them. Some of the ballots reportedly were not signed or sealed when they were taken.
Britt is the stepdaughter of Leslie McCrae Dowless, who was paid by the Harris campaign and specifically did absentee ballot work. This along with other suspicious activities that have been reported against Dowless are why the board of elections refused to certify the results. Now there are two options: certify the results or order a new election.
The hearing on January 11 will determine how the state board chooses to act. Voters in the district could end up being unrepresented for much longer. But it wouldn't be the first time in North Carolina.
In 2014, the congressional seat in the 12th district was empty for 10 months due to a weird scheduling of elections after the sitting congressman resigned.
Defeated GOP Congressman Asks Appellate Court to Overturn Will of Voters
US Rep. Bruce Poliquin appealed his lawsuit against ranked choice voting in Maine to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Poliquin asked the court to block the certification of election results in his district, which Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap did Thursday.
Poliquin was defeated by Democratic challenger Jared Golden in the first US House race to be decided by ranked choice voting. He filed a legal challenge against Maine ranked choice voting not long after exit polls showed his likely defeat. He asked a federal judge to stop the ranked choice voting tabulation and declare him the winner. The judge refused.
Poliquin devoted much of his social media effort to sew the seeds of doubt with a system that elections officials said ran smoothly. This included unfounded claims dismissed by Dunlap's office and constitutional concerns rejected by Federal District Court Judge Lance Walker.
US Rep.-elect is scheduled to be sworn in on Jared Golden after the certification of the election results. The legal battle, however, continues and could find its way to the steps of the Supreme Court. Stay tuned for more on this story.