News you might have missed: Congress likely to get its first openly gay Black members
Also: Florida Democrats gain a vote-by-mail advantage, and Rhode Island removes the part of its name associated with slavery.
This week, New York primary voters made history when they chose a diverse array of candidates who are virtually guaranteed to win their November general election contests.
Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.
When the next Congress is sworn in come January 2021, Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones are poised to become the first openly gay Black members to serve in history.
Both men are the likely winners of New York primaries on Tuesday. Both are leading their primary fields in reliably Democratic districts, and if they are officially declared the winners, as current tallies indicate they will be, they’re all but certain to win in November and take their place in Congress early next year.
Torres, a member of the New York City Council, is leading the other Democratic primary candidates, including anti-gay and pro-Trump Democrat Rubén Díaz Sr., in New York’s 15th Congressional District. The most Democratic House seat in the country based on past presidential election vote totals, the 15th is being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano.
Jones leads a crowded Democratic primary field in New York’s 17th Congressional District, a Westchester County-based seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey.
“Ritchie and Mondaire have shattered a long-standing political barrier with their primary wins, putting them on-track to becoming the first two openly LGBTQ Black members of Congress,” Annise Parker, president & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Black LGBTQ people — like all LGBTQ people — are severely underrepresented at every level of government, but this gives hope that we are moving toward building a U.S. Congress that is more representative of the people it serves.”
Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo announced on Tuesday that her state will change its official name, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, dropping “Providence Plantations” because of its associations with the state’s historical ties to the slave trade.
“This morning I signed an executive order removing the phrase Providence Plantations from gubernatorial orders and citations, all executive branch agency websites, all official correspondence, and state employee pay stubs and paychecks,” Raimondo said.
The move comes as protesters across the country demand the removal of monuments and names with ties to slavery and the Confederacy.
Democrats in Florida now have a 302,000-voter advantage over Republicans in applications for mail-in ballots, Politico reported, possibly giving Democrats an advantage in the November general election.
The news comes as Donald Trump has launched attacks on voting by mail-in ballot, falsely saying it results in fraud and possibly souring Republicans on the voting method.
Now Florida Democrats say that their vote-by-mail advantage could be a boon for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, as it’s easier to get voters to cast ballots by mail than to get them out to the polls.
“[Republicans are] going to have to turn out more people — maybe 300,000 more voters — on Election Day,” said Juan Peñalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. “They haven’t had to turn out that many more voters in one day in more than a decade that I’ve been in Florida.”
Virginia is poised to become the first state in the country to implement safety regulations meant to protect workers from being infected by the coronavirus, the Washington Post reported.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said the state created the safety measures because the Trump administration is not enforcing any.
According to the Post, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency tasked with overseeing workplace safety, has received 4,000 coronavirus-related complaints, but has only given one citation.
An anti-abortion group seeking to ban an abortion procedure used in the second trimester of pregnancy failed to obtain enough signatures to get its bill before the Michigan Legislature, the Associated Press reported.
In Michigan, a bill can be introduced for consideration via petition. If that bill is then passed, it cannot be vetoed by the governor.
The anti-abortion group Michigan Values Life tried to gather enough petitions to put the ban on dilation and evacuation abortions in front of the GOP-run Legislature.
But the group came up 7,276 signatures short after many of the signatures the group collected were invalidated.
The procedure the group was trying to ban is common in second-trimester abortions and is considered safe by doctors.
“Restricting this method is part of a larger campaign to limit access to abortion and would force providers to substitute the ideology of lawmakers for their own professional medical judgment and the preferences of their patients,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, which focuses on sexual and reproductive rights.
The country trio formerly known as The Dixie Chicks has dropped the “Dixie” from their name.
The politically active trio also released a powerful music video for their new song, “March,” which includes images of the racial justice protests taking place across the country, sparked by the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of white police officers.
The video, which includes a montage of many of the names of Black Americans killed by police officers, has already racked up more than one million views on Twitter and more than 100,000 views on YouTube.
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