Will Court Rulings Reshape Local Races?

Under The Hood

Image via Pixabay

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a one-two punch that dramatically could reshape America’s political landscape heading into the mid-terms. It started Thursday with a gun control decision that could call into question every firearm law in the nation, and wrapped Friday with a ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But will that change the prevailing wisdom Republicans go into this election year in a strong position?

Don’t count on it. For one thing, these decisions came days after qualifying, when races of consequence were won by Republicans by default

It’s broadly understood these days midterms mean madness for the party not occupying the White House. Frequently, this gets credited to a desire to throw the bums out, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that. An enormous slice of the U.S. electorate cares about only one election, and it only comes up every four years. There’s evidence in local turnout. In 2020, about 80% of Sarasota and Manatee county voters cast ballots in the November general election. Compare the 2018 midterms, where three statewide elections in Florida were so close they went to recounts but only 67% of voters in either county participated in the general. That means you start with a less broad slice of the electorate. Intrinsically, it’s the most enthusiastic voters across the spectrum making decisions. 

It can be assumed most Republican super-voters’ feeling on President Joe Biden range from disapproval to disgust, much as Democrats felt in 2018 about Donald Trump. But most Democrats this election may feel they won the big battle by preventing a second Trump term , while Republicans see this election as a chance to place a congressional check on an administration with full control of Washington. Those who imagine moody swing voters shifting from Biden backers in 2020 to lovers of the GOP make a misguided assumption. Midterms are base elections.

The trick now is the Democratic base just got a huge awakening. Biden doesn’t control all three branches of government. Democrats don't feel motivation to place a check on Trump but may feel the need to deliver one on a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court.

The thing is, conservative voters feel energized as well. They may not have needed it but these rulings do as much to validate their agenda. Indeed, these back-to-back rulings deliver victories for conservatives on perhaps the two most important issues to Republican base voters: abortion and gun rights.

A critical aspect of the court decisions should soon come into view of more voters; these rulings mean higher stakes in state elections. After all, overturning Roe doesn’t mean all abortions become illegal. It means states can pass laws outlawing procedures if they choose. Additionally, state legislatures will rewrite gun laws and decide how to pursue licensing requirements.

And locally? Well, there are Democrats, Jan Schneider and Andrea Doria Kale, filed against U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Greg Steube, two Republicans representing the region in Congress. But neither is a nationally backed candidate. So what about state level position? Ha.

Republican state Sens. Jim Boyd and Joe Gruters face primary opposition, but there will be no Democrats challenging them in November. Liberals hoping to back an opponent in an open primary should know Gruters’ Republican opponent is a far-right candidate uninterested in moderating abortion policy.

State Reps. Will Robinson, James Buchanan and Michael Grant, all Republicans, face no opposition at all. State Rep. Tommy Gregory faces a symbolic Demcoratic challenge in a deep-red district. State Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Republican who voted for a 15-week abortion ban this year, is running in a swing district but midterm fears from any well-positioned Democrtas mean no one filed against her besides first-time candidate Derek Reich, who lacks resources or a veteran professional campaign.

The best Democrats could hope for in this mid-term is to match the energy of Republican voters. That may not be enough in many cases. But it turns out they aren't running anyone anyway.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media.

Image via Pixabay

« View The Saturday Jun 25, 2022 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Transfer students transform their lives at New College of Florida

Transfer students transform their lives at New College of Florida

Patricia Okker | Aug 13, 2022

With Senate Race, Be Mindful of Consequences

With Senate Race, Be Mindful of Consequences

Jacob Ogles | Aug 13, 2022

Engage in citizenry: Vote for qualified school board

Engage in citizenry: Vote for qualified school board

Jennifer Vigne | Aug 6, 2022

School Board Races Offer Political Test

School Board Races Offer Political Test

Jacob Ogles | Jul 30, 2022