The Weekend Briefing shows us the first US House special elections of 2021 getting underway, and a court holding off on surveillance on a political party.
US Election News
|Gwinnett County, GA Elections Supervisor Resigns|
Kristi Royson is stepping down from her role as the supervisor of elections in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the second-largest county in the state. She will be moving into the private sector. The resignation comes as Georgia’s vote came under massive scrutiny from former president Donald Trump and his allies; Gwinnett County went hard to Democrat Joe Biden and helped give him Georgia’s electoral votes. However, those interviewed by the AJC did not feel the outcome of the election had anything to do with her departure.1
|Voting Begins in Two Louisiana US House Special Elections|
Two Louisiana House seats are up for grabs once more, and early voting is set to open this weekend.2 The districts in question are the 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts, one dominated by New Orleans and the other mainly in the north of the state. Jungle primary day is March 20, or two weeks from Saturday. Democrats are considered strong favorites to hold the 2nd District, being vacated by Cedric Richmond (D). Meanwhile, Republicans are clear favorites in the 5th District, where Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R) passed away days before swearing in to Congress. Should nobody win an outright majority, the top two will advance to an April 24 runoff. 15 candidates are running in the 2nd District and 12 candidates, including Letlow’s widow, are running in the 5th.
|Trump Adherent Launches New Party in Michigan|
Donald Trump said at CPAC 2021 that he would not start a new political party. This has not stopped some of his most ardent supporters from trying. In Michigan, a local Republican precinct official named Brian VanDussen is working to create the Patriot Party. Its platform, without fail, will be conservative in nature, but not specifically pro-Trump.3 VanDussen is not the only one to try, and Michigan may not be the only state where there is interest. Needless to say, third parties in the United States tend not to succeed in the modern era, and without Trump’s explicit blessing, a third party espousing his ideals is not going to get far off the ground.
International Election News
|German Intelligence Ordered Not to Spy on AfD – Yet|
A day after German’s domestic intelligence bureau, the BfV, moved to begin spying on the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, a court has ruled that they cannot. Despite being classified by the agency as an extremist organization, a Cologne court stayed the initiative pending the court’s review of the AfD’s petition to prevent it.4 You can read that as saying the BfV is not permitted to surveil against the AfD right now, but to this point, there is no firm conclusion yet made as to whether or not the agency will be barred from surveillance against them forever.
This comes as two German states, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, are about to vote in a week. In southern Baden-Württemberg, the AfD has 23 of 120 seats in the outgoing Landtag (state parliament), while in Rhineland-Palatinate, they hold 14 out of 101.
|Voters Give NL Election Low Marks|
We have discussed in our NL elections page as well as previous Briefings that the 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador election is looking like a mess. They were about to have an early election and the Liberals were on track for a massive win, but then there was a COVID-19 outbreak on the island and the vote was postponed by about a month. NL is also moving to a postal vote, with a possible record-low turnout, and word is that the final results may not be known until next month. You may be wondering, how is this all sitting with the natives? Not well, according to the CBC. Per their recent survey, about two-thirds of the province’s voters agreed to varying degrees that the election should have been held off pending the vaccine rollout’s success. What’s worse is that a vast majority of Newfoundlanders also feel Elections NL, the province’s election bureau, has done poorly.5
Under provincial law, new Premier Andrew Furey had to call an election this year, but it could have happened in the summer. It remains to be seen if the Liberals will suffer a backfire or are still on track for a big win on March 12.
Today’s Further Reading
- Arielle Kass, “Gwinnett elections director is stepping down,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5 March 2021.
- Associated Press, “Elections again? Voting opens in Louisiana’s US House races,” WWL-TV, 5 March 2021.
- Malachi Barrett, “Michigan ‘Patriot Party’ wants to replace Republicans, investigate election fraud,” MLive, 5 March 2021.
- Guy Chazan, “German court bars surveillance of far-right AfD,” Financial Times, 5 March 2021.
- CBC News Staff, “Widespread discontent with N.L. election call, and Elections NL itself, survey suggests,” CBC News, 5 March 2021.