Posted by Shadi Matar on January 22, 2016 in Blog

AAI compiles a weekly roundup of election news tracking key races across the country as well as legislation that will impact voting rights ahead of the 2016 elections. For AAI’s coverage of presidential candidates and races, make sure to check out our profiles over at #YallaVote’s Election Central. And for more state specific information, head over to our election map and click on your state. You can read previous editions of our 2016 Election News Roundup right here at its headquarters.


Kamala Harris Receives Endorsement from Anthony Rendon

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has just received a major endorsement from incoming California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63) in her bid for the vacant U.S. Senate seat. Rendon’s support might aid Harris in her efforts to sway Latino voters away from her opponent Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D, CA-46). Harris’s campaign released a statement from Rendon that praised her as “an environmental leader – successfully defending California’s world-class environmental protections in court. She’ll fight to bring California’s climate leadership to Washington”. Political analysts believe that Sanchez needs to secure strong support from California’s large Latino community in order to do well in the June primary. In California’s “jungle primary” the top two finishers from the field of candidates will go on to face each other in November to succeed retiring Senator Barabara Boxer. In the latest polls, Harris leads Sanchez 27% to 15% with Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-76) coming in third. Read more about California here.


Governor Rick Snyder Expected To Testify before House Committee Over Flint Water Crisis

The U.S House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on February 3rd on the Flint, Michigan water crisis and how ineffective state and federal authorities were in handling the situation. The committee is expected to invite Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to testify before the panel. This comes after nearly a year of high levels of lead found in drinking water in Flint that were first reported in February of 2015. Flint had switched from drawing water from Lake Huron to drawing from the Flint River in 2015, as a temporary way to save money. After the initial reporting’s of lead in the water were confirmed, Arab American, Dr. Mona Hanna-Atissha found that blood lead levels in children had risen significantly. Read more about Michigan here.


Ohio House Pro Tem Chris Widener Retiring

President Pro Tem of the Ohio House of Representatives, Chris Widener (R-10) is retiring at the end of January 2016. Widener is barred from running again because of term limits and will have his successor for the Pro Tem position appointed by his colleagues in the house. Rep. Bob Hackett (R-74) and Brian Walton, a businessman from Ohio, are running for Widener’s house seat in the March 15 primary. Widener has already endorsed Hackett to take over his house seat. Read more about Ohio here.



New York May Combine Presidential Primary and Special Elections

Almost a month ago, New York voters faced the possibility of heading to four separate elections this year. Earlier this week, however, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that combining a couple of special elections with the presidential primary date, April 19th, would be well within his legal authority – and it would also save the state almost $50 million in an already very costly election cycle. Although Gov. Cuomo has not made a final decision, the New York Board of Elections is already taking initial steps to plan for consolidated polling dates. But it is not a simple matter, take for instance rules governing the presidential primary which requires registered voters to vote for a candidate of the party to which they’re registered; but that’s not the case for the 62nd Assembly district election, where voters can cast their vote for any candidate from any party. Read more about New York here.


Maryland Senate Race Tightens

With only three months left before the primary, Maryland’s Senate race is neck and neck. Two current U.S. Representatives, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, and Rep. Donna Edwards, of the eighth and fourth districts respectively, are within two points of one another for Senator Barbara Mikulski’s seat. While Van Hollen brings institutional backing, money, and years of experience in House leadership to the table, thereby upping his numbers, Edwards has the majority support of women, progressive organizations, and community leaders, a tactic she used in 2008 to win her current seat. From now until April 26th, gaining an extra point or two will be critical. Read more about Maryland here.


A Number of Toss Up Races in 2016 for PA

As Trump continues to rise in the polls in Pennsylvania, it is well established that his base is, above all else, angry, and diverse. A demographic that Pennsylvania Democrats may be concerned about, and the Trump campaign are actively targeting, are Regan Democrats, who are usually non-voters. This could endanger several key make-or-break races for Democrats. In the four-way Senate race, Republican incumbent Pat Toomey has raised almost $10 million for his reelection bid, vastly out raising his three other Democratic opponents. In a second contentious race, the first Democrat and first woman ever elected Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Kathleen Kane, will seek to keep her seat. However, she is currently under indictment for obstruction, making the race  a free for all. These toss up races, combined with Trump’s surge in the polls, will give these typically non-voters a lot of power over many races in the state, including the Presidential election, and reignite fear into Pennsylvania’s Democrats. Read more about Pennsylvania here.