State Bytes

State Bytes: A Stateside Podcast

Each week State Bytes featured multiple conversations about all of the states that held regularly scheduled elections on November 6. We're also available on iTunes.

Introductory Pod

Join Statesiders, Bob Maurice and Meghan Holihan, over the next five weeks for conversations with local lobbyists, pollsters and other political insiders about the 2018 statewide and legislative races, ballot questions, policies and political trends driving the voters’ decisions on November 6. 

 

California

Peter Kellison of The Kellison Company and Clear Advocacy talked with us on August 29 about the upcoming election in the Golden State. Mr. Kellison gives us an overview of the state’s unique primary system and how it effects the general elections in the state. We get an overview of the issues Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and John Cox (R), his opponent in the gubernatorial, are running on. More candidates for State Assembly and Senate are running on progressive issues than in the past. Democrats are attempting to gain supermajorities in both chambers. We also explore how initiatives get on the ballot in the state and the current gas tax repeal initiative (Prop 6) that gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R) has led the charge on.

 

Indiana

Jon Gubera of Gubera Public Affairs talked with us on September 11 to discuss the legislative races on the ballot in November. We start out discussing the competitive U.S. Senate race and how that will affect these down ballot contests. State level incumbents on the ballot will benefit from the current economic climate Indiana is enjoying. Indiana, unlike the majority of other states, is not witnessing the influx of female candidates or first-time engagers. The Legislature laid out a long-term infrastructure plan last session and doubled the Pre-K pilot program last session. Mr. Gubera tells us what he expects the legislators to tackle in a budget session.

 

Nevada

John Oceguera, former Speaker of the Nevada Assembly, from Strategies 360 chatted with us on September 19 about the upcoming gubernatorial race between Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt (R) and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), the legislative races on the ballot, and the issues these candidates are running on. We discuss which counties AG Laxalt (R) and Commission Sisolak (D) will likely carry and how a blue wave effects those numbers. We discuss the general trends being seen in these down ballot races including the record number of women running for the Assembly. The Legislature comes back after a year off and Mr. Oceguera expects education issues to take priority in 2019.

 

Wisconsin

We chatted with two folks on August 23 for this battleground state – Jason Childress and Joe Leibham from Foley & Lardner LLP - to learn more about Wisconsin’s upcoming general election. We discuss the tight gubernatorial race between Governor Scott Walker (R) and State Superintendent Tony Evers (D), how this cycle’s political climate is affecting it, and how Governor Walker (R) has been preparing for what he has said will be his toughest race. Evers (D) has successfully won three statewide elections and is seen as a middle of the road individual. We examine recent specials that Democrats managed to win in Republican leaning districts and a Supreme Court election won by a liberal Democrat. We discuss the Assembly races and Republicans’ historical margins in the chamber. Jason and Joe also give us an overview of the State Senate races and thoughts on the Democrats’ shot at flipping the chamber.

 

West Virginia

Curtis Wilkerson from Orion Strategies joined us on September 12 to give us an overview of the unprecedented State Supreme Court scandal and the state legislative races. Additionally, with Senator Manchin (D) at the top of the ticket this year, Mr. Wilkerson discusses the effect on down-ballot races and West Virginia’s political history. West Virginia does not have a gubernatorial of attorney general election in 2018 but folks should not overlook the legislative races in this state. House and Senate candidates are running on multiple issues, mostly specific to West Virginia. Mr. Wilkerson also gives us a glimpse of what could be on the table for the 2019 session.

 

Delaware

We chatted with Kim Willson and Rhett Ruggerio from Ruggerio Willson in Delaware on September 12. The state does not have a gubernatorial election but we do discuss the attorney general race including the last-minute Republican candidate’s entry.  Ms. Willson goes over several competitive State Senate races including a Dover area seat. Candidates in these state legislative races are running on a mix of both Delaware-specific issues and national issues including the opioid epidemic and gun control. Mr. Ruggerio anticipates budget forecasting being pushed by the Administration and potentially a gas tax or infrastructure package. Mr. Willson anticipates two hot button issues to come up next session.

 

Nebraska

Rochelle Mallett joined us from Husch Blackwell Strategies on August 16 for one of our few in-person recordings. Ms. Mallett provides us with some insight on the Nebraska’s unique Legislature including how leadership is elected, how to successfully approach lobbying in the Senate, and the pace of the legislative session. There are 24 seats up this cycle in the Senate – 18 are currently held by a Republican and 6 are currently held by Democrats. Ms. Mallett gives us her thoughts on the upcoming session and we discuss potential issues that Senators could tackle in 2019.

 

Colorado Part One

We have two episodes in this battleground state. We talked with Travis Berry on August 21. In Part One, Mr. Berry gives us an overview of what issues the two gubernatorial candidates, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) and Congressman Jared Polis (D), are running on. We also dive into the attorney general race. He highlights some issues folks are running on in legislative races, specifically, in some of the suburban districts.

 

Colorado Part Two

We have two episodes in this battleground state. We talked with Micki Hackenberger of Axiom Strategies on September 21. In Part Two, Ms. Hackenberger educates us on Colorado’s political history and why it has been dubbed a swing state. She details the philosophical differences the two gubernatorial candidates have on a huge issue in the state: healthcare. We discuss the targeted State Senate races including the high profile 24th district. Both Mr. Berry and Ms. Hackenberger discuss the much-talked about ballot measure that would essentially ban oil and gas development.

 

Connecticut

Jim O’Brien from The Connecticut Group joined us on August 22 to discuss Connecticut politics and the upcoming general election. The state’s economy is still struggling, and its citizens have experienced two tax increases in the past eight years. Couple those with the low approval rating of outgoing Governor Dan Malloy (D) and we’ve seen a reliably blue state slip a bit in the polls. The State Senate has been tied since the last election. It is again considered a battleground chamber this session. Mr. O’Brien also outlines the top priorities of the legislature for next session.

Also, be sure to check out Mr. O'Brien's podcast.

 

Massachusetts

Jay Myers with Locke Lord joined us right after the Massachusetts’s primary election on September 7. We discuss the popularity of Governor Charlie Baker and how his opponent will try to counter that in general. We also talk about some shake ups down ballot in the primary and trends Mr. Myers sees in the state legislative races. He highlights major legislative accomplishments from this past session and we discuss what is left on the table for January. He also graciously gives us some advice on how to approach passing a bill in the Commonwealth.

 

Idaho

John Watts of Veritas Advisors LLP joined us on September 17 to discuss Idaho politics. Mr. Watts gives us an overview of the gubernatorial race between Lt. Governor Brad Little (R) and Paulette Jordan (D). We discuss what issues the two are running on, the messaging in each campaign, and how those things are resonating with the voters. We also talk about the magnitude of the Medicaid expansion ballot question and how it’s effecting the governors’ race. Mr. Watts lays out potential issues for the Legislature to tackle in 2019 and some fun facts about the state.

 

Alabama

Graham Champion chatted with us from Public Strategies LLC on September 19 to provide insight on the upcoming state elections in, what he affectionately calls, the Make Me State. Mr. Champion gives us an overview of the governor’s race and his thoughts on a potential upset in a statewide office. We discuss what will likely take priority next session and why so many new faces will fill the chambers.

 

Rhode Island

Lenny Lopes from The Victor Group chatted with us about the Rhode Island gubernatorial race on September 18. He summarizes what issues Governor Gina Raimondo (D) and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) ran on in their primaries and what they’re focusing on in the general campaign. Mr. Lopes also recaps the 2018 legislative session.

 

Kentucky

Mike Biagi from The Rotunda Group joined us on September 20 to discuss the upcoming state legislative elections in Kentucky. Mr. Biagi gives us an overview of what issues folks are running on and how their campaigns are messaging around current issues. We also chat about what is coming down the pike for the 2019 legislative session.

 

Illinois

John Kamis chatted with us from Carpenter Lipps & Leland on September 25. Mr. Kamis reminds us what happened in the Republican and Democratic primaries that were held way back in March. We talk about the recent ideological shifts in both parties within the Prairie State and how those could affect the next legislative session.

 

Iowa

Tom Cope and John Murphy joined us from Cope Murphy+Co on October 1. Giving our listeners a Republican and Democratic perspective, they outline the issues Governor Reynolds (R) and Fred Hubbell (D) are campaigning on and what is resonating with Iowa voters. We discuss strategies for down ballot races and what the chambers could look like in the 2019 session.

 

Georgia

Jay Morgan from The J.L. Morgan Company talked with us about Georgia’s election on October 2. Mr. Morgan summarizes one of the hottest gubernatorial races in the country – both Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and Stacy Abrams (D) are focused on creating an intensity in their bases. It is a race that has been consistently in the national news and Mr. Morgan speaks to that unprecedented exposure. Mr. Morgan offers insight on how Secretary Kemp (R) and Abrams (D) might work with the legislature to accomplish specific goals.

 

Hawaii

Mike Iosua and Kim Yoshimoto joined us from Imanaka Asato on September 20 to discuss the Democratic gubernatorial primary contest. Mr. Iosua and Ms. Yoshimoto talk about what issues Hawaiians are facing today and how that sets up the 2019 legislative session.

 

Arkansas

Justin Allen from Wright Lindsey Jennings chatted with us on September 21 about Governor Asa Hutchinson’s (R) and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s (R) campaign platforms. Mr. Allen identified several issues that will likely be on the table in the 2019 legislative session. We also discuss the state’s ballot measures, some of which are in litigation.

 

New York

Evan Stavisky from The Parkside Group joined us on September 24 to discuss the state’s competitive primary results and what that could mean for the legislative session. We chat about what could happen if the State Senate flips to full Democratic control and Mr. Stavisky gives us a fun fact about the Senate chamber itself.

 

Arizona

Barb Meaney from Triadvocates chatted with us on September 25 to discuss the dynamics of the gubernatorial and state senate races. She notes that her state has bucked the trends we’ve seen in other states. Ms. Meaney also outlines issues that may come up in the 2019 legislative session.

 

Pennsylvania

Rick Russell from State Street Advisors talked with us about the Keystone State’s elections on September 27. At the time of our recording, Mr. Russell acknowledged that there was a lack of intensity and animosity in the gubernatorial race. However, State Senator Scott Wagner (R) recently live streamed a video on Facebook that could change the mood of this race. (The original video was removed from the site.) We also discuss the state house and senate races and the upcoming challenges facing the legislature.

 

Canada

Steven Dover from Tactix joined us on October 9 for a special episode on the recent, historic provincial elections in Quebec and New Brunswick. Mr. Dover provides an overview of how provincial government is structured. We then discuss the surprising election results in Quebec and the issues the new government will likely attempt to tackle. We also talk about the disorder being experienced in New Brunswick as technically no party won a majority in the election. This is a very educational episode.

 

New Mexico

Al Park from The Park Law Firm joined us on September 26 to discuss the upcoming election and New Mexico’s political history. Mr. Park recaps issues folks are running on in the state and trends he is experiencing in these races on the ground. We also discuss potential issues for the legislature to tackle this upcoming session.

 

Missouri

In this special roundtable episode, three guests joined us on September 27 to talk Missouri demographics and politics. Bill Shoehigh of Shoehigh and Associates and Kurt Schaefer and Doug Nelson of Lathrop Gage discuss the state house and state senate races and initiatives on the ballot in November and how those results might shape the 2019 session. We also briefly discuss the new dynamic in the Governor’s Office.

 

Maryland  

Lisa Harris Jones from Harris Jones & Malone joined us on September 28 to talk about the gubernatorial election in the Old Line State between Governor Larry Hogan (R) and Ben Jealous (D). She also details how the state’s surprising primary went down and her thoughts on what issues have resonated with voters this cycle.

 

Michigan

Pat Harrington from Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates joined us on October 3 to outline the issues gubernatorial candidates Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) are running on. Mr. Harrington talks about the state’s “blue pockets” and which chamber he believes is the most likely (though not guaranteed) to flip. We also discuss different post-election scenarios and what they would mean for next session.

 

New Hampshire 

Jim Merrill from The Bernstein Shur Group joined us on October 5 to talk about the gubernatorial race between Governor Chris Sununu (R) and Molly Kelly (D) and what folks are running on in state level races. Mr. Merrill talks about trends he has seen this cycle. He also gives us a lay of the land of the upcoming legislative session.

 

Montana

Aimee Grmoljez from Crowley Fleck chatted with us on September 28 to give us some insight on Montana politics and the upcoming election. Ms. Grmoljez talks about issues that are in the forefront of these races as well as any trends she has seen on the ground. She also gives an overview of initiatives on the ballot.

 

South Dakota

Justin Smith from Woods Fuller Shultz & Smith chatted with us on October 1. Mr. Smith gives us an overview of the gubernatorial race between Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R) and State Senator Billie Sutton (D). We also recap the 2018 legislative session, get a preview of the upcoming year, and touch on the Wayfair case.

 

Oregon

Amanda Dalton from Dalton Advocacy joined us on October 3 to discuss the surprisingly tightening gubernatorial race between Governor Kate Brown (D) and State Representative Knute Buehler (R). Ms. Dalton also talks about measures on the ballot and the potential to drive voters on election day. We also discuss what may be on the table next legislative session.

 

Kansas

Natalie Bright and Marlee Carpenter from Bright & Carpenter Consulting joined us on October 5 to discuss the Kansas state elections. We get an overview of the gubernatorial race between Secretary Kris Kobach (R) and State Senator Laura Kelly (D). Also, Ms. Bright and Ms. Carpenter discuss some interesting trends in the state house and state senate races. We also discuss what may be coming down the pike next legislative session.

 

Alaska - Part One

Alaska - Part Two

Frank Bickford from The Bickford Pacific Group joined us October 4 and October 23 to discuss Alaska politics and the upcoming election. In Part One, Mr. Bickford discusses the gubernatorial campaigns of Mike Dunleavy (R) and former U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D). He also gives us a lay of the land in the state house and state senate races. In Part Two, Mr. Bickford joined us to discuss the recent development of incumbent Governor Bill Walker’s (I) decision to drop out of the race.

 

Utah

Derek Brown and Chase Everton from Michael Best in Salt Lake City joined us on October 4 to talk Utah politics. Mr. Brown and Mr. Everton discuss the citizen initiatives in the state, how those are affecting local races, and how they could affect the next legislative session.

 

North Carolina

Theresa Kostrzewa from Capitol Advantage Associates chatted with us on October 9 about the upcoming state level elections in North Carolina. Ms. Kostrzewa discusses accomplishments of the Republican Party, which holds a majority in both chambers, and gives her thoughts on the upcoming legislative session.

 

Washington

Bill Stauffacher from Stauffacher Communications joined us on October 10 to talk about state elections in Washington. We discuss state house and senate races, candidate trends, and ballot measures. Mr. Stauffacher also discusses the state’s unique legislative districts.

 

Maine

Deb Hart from Hart Public Policy gave us an overview of the gubernatorial race between Shawn Moody (R) and Attorney General Janet Mills (D) on October 15. Ms. Hart discusses what she’s seeing on the ground in what has become a battleground state this cycle.

 

Vermont

Allison Crowley DeMag from Morris & DeMag talked with us on October 16 about the gubernatorial race between Governor Phil Scott (R) and Christine Hallquist (D). Ms. Crowley DeMag also discusses what needs to happen for the Democrats to have veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.  

 

Ohio - Part One

We have two episodes in this battleground state. We talked with Mike Caputo of Capitol Partners on October 23. In Part One, Mr. Caputo discusses the gubernatorial race between Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) and Rich Cordray (D). Mr. Caputo also discusses early voting numbers and the huge uptick in registered unaffiliated voters.

Ohio - Part Two

We have two episodes in this battleground state. We talked with Ali Mock from Government Edge on October 25. In Part Two, Ms. Mock gives us an overview of the issues gubernatorial candidates and down ticket candidates are running on. We discuss potential issues legislators may tackle during the lame duck legislative session. Ms. Mock also weighs in on why Ohio has become such a bellwether for national trends.

 

Minnesota

Sonnie Elliott of Faegre Baker Daniels joined us on September 25. Ms. Elliott gave us a lay of the land in the state's gubernatorial election between Congressman Tim Walz (DFL) and Jeff Johnson (R). We also discuss state house races and the state senate special election and how those results could affect next legislative session.

 

North Dakota

Tom Kelsch from The Kelsch Law Firm chatted with us on October 17 about the U.S. Senate race and the state's attorney general race. We examine two state ballot measures and Mr. Kelsch gives us his thoughts on issues lawmakers may tackle next legislative session.

 

Texas

Jack Erskine and Ky Ash of K&L Gates joined us on October 18 to talk about the potential down ballot impact of the state's U.S. Senate race. Mr. Ash gives us an overview of Governor Greg Abbott's (R) re-election campaign as well as his opponent, Lupe Valdez (D). Mr. Erskine tells us what candidate trends he's seeing on the ground. We also discuss potential big ticket items on the table for the upcoming legislative session.

 

Oklahoma

Pat McFerron of CMA Strategies talked with us on October 19 about the gubernatorial race between Kevin Stitt (R) and Drew Edmondson (D). We examine trends that he is seeing on the ground and Mr. McFerron also discusses last session's education funding package.

 

Tennessee Part One

We were lucky enough to chat with two folks in a state that is experiencing more media attention than it is used to in an election cycle. Mike Bivens of Bivens & Associates joined us on October 22 to outline the gubernatorial race between Karl Dean (D) and Bill Lee (R). Mr. Bivens gives us his thoughts on state house and senate races and the Republicans' achievements in the legislature.

Tennessee Part Two

We were lucky enough to chat with two folks in a state that is experiencing more media attention than it is used to in an election cycle. Jim Schmidt of Schmidt Government Solutions joined us on October 25 to give us his thoughts on how Democratic enthusiasm may affect state level elections and when the state's embrace of the Republican Party occurred. 

 

South Carolina

Amber Barnes and Brian Flynn of McGuireWoods joined us on October 24 to discuss the state's gubernatorial contest between Governor Henry McMaster (R) and State Representative James Smith (D). We also examine issues down ballot candidates are running on and their thoughts on what may be coming down the pike for the upcoming session.

 

Florida

Greg Black of Gunster joined us on October 24 to talk about the gubernatorial race between former Congressman Rob DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D). Mr. Black examines the state house and senate races and gives us his thoughts on what a split government would look like. We also discuss legislative processes in a part-time state. 

 

Contact Meghan Holihan with questions, comments, or feedback. Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes.