Democratic National Convention to be Chaired by Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge

According to this story, the chair of the Demoratic National Convention will be Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, not Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. There is probably no previous instance in history of a major U.S. political party switching presiding officers for a national convention, one day before the beginning of that convention. UPDATE: Political Wire reports that Wasserman Schultz says she will resign as national chair of the Democratic Party after the national convention is over. However she will preside over the opening of the national convention on Monday, July 25.

Bangor Daily News Story on Maine Libertarian Party

The Bangor Daily News has this story about the Maine Libertarian Party. It quotes the state chair, Chris Lyons, as saying that the news that the party is ballot-qualified for the first time since the period 1991-1992 has caused a great upsurge in support for the party.

The New Hampshire Libertarian Party also experienced substantial growth in 1991, after the party had unexpectedly and surprisingly become a qualified party in that state in November 1990 by polling over 3% for Governor. Within a few months, four state legislators had switched to the Libertarian Party. Thanks to Thomas MacMillan for the link.

Illinois Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case on Whether Redistricting Initiative Should be on Ballot

On July 22, the Illinois Supreme Court accepted an appeal from proponents of the statewide initiative to set up an independent redistricting commission. See the group’s web page here. The lower court had ruled that it can’t be on the ballot, even though it has enough valid signatures, because the lower court felt the Illinois Constitution doesn’t permit that type of initiative. See this news story. Thanks to Thomas Jones for this news.

Libertarian and Constitution Parties File Brief in South Dakota Ballot Access Case

On July 20, the Libertarian and Constitution Parties filed this brief in their ballot access case. The issue is the March 29 deadline for new parties, if the parties want to have nominees for all offices. A decision is expected soon, because whether the Constitution Party’s nominees for U.S. Senate and state legislature get on the November ballot depends on the outcome.

U.S. District Court Strikes Down Two Campaign Finance Restrictions in Austin, Texas

On July 20, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel struck down two Austin, Texas campaign finance restrictions, but he upheld a third one. The case is Zimmerman v City of Austin, w.d., 1:15cv-628. Here is the 18-page opinion.

Austin law made it illegal for candidates for Mayor or City Council to receive campaign contributions, except during the period starting six months before the election. That law was invalidated.

Austin law also required candidates for Mayor and City Council to disburse their excess campaign contributions, during the three months after the election. The law required them to give the money back to their contributors, give it to charity, or the city. That was also invalidated.

The judge upheld the $300 limit on individual contributions. The fourth issue in the case was the law that limited the amount that a candidate could spend, that came from outside the city, to $36,000. The judge said the plaintiff did not have standing to challenge that law. The plaintiff is an incumbent member of the city council who is running for re-election. The evidence showed he had nowhere near that amount of contributions from outside the city, so as to him, the law made no difference, so he lacked standing.