Republican Daniel Cameron makes history in Kentucky attorney general race, amid Bevin drama

Republican Daniel Cameron made history Tuesday with his victory over former Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, becoming the first African-American to be elected the state’s attorney general — and offering a silver lining to the GOP amid drama over the state’s gubernatorial race.

Further, Cameron will be the first Republican attorney general in the state in more than 70 years, a significant achievement as GOP Gov. Matt Bevin trails Democrat Andy Beshear in a tight race in which Bevin has not conceded but Democrats have declared victory.

The Trump campaign highlighted Cameron’s win, however, even as it appeared to write off Bevin’s chances of prevailing.

GOP’s BEVIN REFUSES TO CONCEDE AS KENTUCKY GUBERNATORIAL RACE GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE

“President Trump’s rally helped five of six Kentucky Republicans win clear statewide victories, including Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron, who will be the first black A.G. in Kentucky history and the first Republican to hold the office since 1948,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “The President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned into a very close race at the end. A final outcome remains to be seen.”

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2019, file photo, Kentucky Republican candidate for Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky. Cameron was elected Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 3, 2019, file photo, Kentucky Republican candidate for Attorney General Daniel Cameron addresses the audience gathered at the Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky. Cameron was elected Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Cameron, 33, has worked in private practice and was legal counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He grew up in Kentucky and played football for the University of Louisville.

In his victory speech, Cameron thanked McConnell, R-Ky., who supported his campaign. McConnell faces Democratic opposition in 2020, and one potential opponent, U.S. Marine veteran Amy McGrath, pointed to Beshear’s possible victory as a sign that the long-time senator’s days could be numbered.

“All I have to say is: Mitch, you’re next,” McGrath said in a statement.

Cameron’s win, however, indicates that votes for a Democrat in the Kentucky gubernatorial race do not necessarily mean the state will lean in that direction in other contests.

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Trump expressed optimism for his party Wednesday morning, looking to the victories of Cameron and other Kentucky Republicans as a sign that McConnell could remain in office in 2020 and beyond.

“Based on the Kentucky results, Mitch McConnell @senatemajldr will win BIG in Kentucky next year,” Trump said.

California to appeal Trump tax return ruling, renew bid to block president from 2020 primary ballot

California’s chief elections officer said Tuesday he will appeal a federal judge’s decision to block a state law that would have required President Trump to submit five years’ worth of his personal income tax returns in order to be included on the state’s 2020 primary ballot in March.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced his plans just hours after U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. issued a written opinion saying the state law likely violates the U.S. Constitution. England Jr., who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, had announced last month he planned to block the law.

TRUMP ATTORNEY JAY SEKULOW SAYS CALIFORNIA TRIED TO ‘SHRED CONSTITUTION’ AFTER COURT RULED IN FAVOR OF PRESIDENT

“California will appeal this ruling and we will continue to make our thorough, thoughtful argument for stronger financial disclosure requirements for presidential and gubernatorial candidates,” Padilla said in a statement. “Our elected leaders have a legal and moral obligation to be transparent with voters about potential conflicts of interest. This law is fundamental to preserving and protecting American democracy.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, had signed the proposal into law in July. Jesse Melgar, the governor’s spokeswoman, told the Los Angeles Times that Newsom supported an appeal of Tuesday’s ruling, adding: “States have a legal and moral duty to restore public confidence in government and ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards.”

In his 24-page decision, England Jr. said the law violates Trump’s First Amendment right of associating with voters who share his political beliefs. He also noted the California Legislature is controlled by Democrats, who passed a law targeting a Republican president.

“The dangerous precedent set by this act, allowing the controlling party in any state’s legislature to add substantive requirements as a precondition to qualifying for the state’s presidential primary ballot, should concern all candidates alike,” the judge wrote.

“The dangerous precedent set by this act, allowing the controlling party in any state’s legislature to add substantive requirements as a precondition to qualifying for the state’s presidential primary ballot, should concern all candidates alike.”

— U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow praised the ruling in an interview on “Hannity,” saying the law reflected “an ongoing pattern and practice of trying to basically shred the Constitution.” England Jr.’s ruling affirmed that it was outside the state’s authority to set qualifications for running for president. That power belongs to the Constitution.

Lawyers from state and national Republican parties, who are also defendants in the lawsuit, voiced concerns during last month’s hearing that leaving Trump off the primary ballot would stifle Republican voter turnout at the primaries and, therefore, ensure that fewer GOP candidates make it to the general election.

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Under California’s so-called jungle primary system, all candidates, regardless of party, vie for the same elected office and the top two vote-getters move on to the general election. Since it was implemented in California in 2010, this system has often ensured a Democrat-vs.-Democrat general election battle in all but California’s most conservative areas.

California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson called the ruling a victory for voters and their ability to vote for the candidate of their choice. Patterson said in a news release: “This decision rightfully stops the Democrats’ petty politics and their efforts to disenfranchise millions of California voters and suppress Republican voter turnout.”

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill requiring felons pay off fines before regaining right to vote

Florida‘s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on a bill Friday requiring felons to pay off their financial obligations before regaining the right to vote, a tactic many critics argue amounts to voter suppression and a modern-day poll tax.

State Republicans introduced the bill after voters passed an amendment in November to give roughly 1.4 million people with felony convictions to right to cast ballots in elections. The measure allowed felons not convicted of murder or sexual offenses to vote once they “complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.”

The language also said felons must complete their sentences, which Republicans interpreted to include paying off fines and fees imposed at sentencing.

FLORIDA: VOTING RIGHTS OF MORE THAN 1 MILLION FELONS RESTORED

Former felons register to vote in Miami on Jan. 8, 2019. (ELINA SHIRAZI/Fox News)

Former felons register to vote in Miami on Jan. 8, 2019. (ELINA SHIRAZI/Fox News)

“Senate Bill 7066 enumerates a uniform list of crimes that fall into the excluded categories and confirms that the amendment does not apply to a felon who has failed to complete all the terms of his sentence,” DeSantis wrote in a memo to Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee.

Democrats argued the bill created unnecessary hurdles voters didn’t foresee when they passed the amendment and that the original intent of preventing felons from voting was to repress the minority vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the NAACP and other groups promptly filed a federal lawsuit over the new law Friday.

“Over a million Floridians were supposed to reclaim their place in the democratic process, but some politicians clearly feel threatened by greater voter participation,” Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “They cannot legally affix a price tag to someone’s right to vote.”

Experts said granting felons to right to vote could possibly tip the scales in a state where elections can be decided by a small percentage of votes.

Several groups and Democratic presidential hopefuls blasted new law over Twitter.

“Disgusting. My democracy plan would re-enfranchise those who have served their time and left prison—and prevent states like Florida from overriding their rights with Jim Crow-era nonsense,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted.

“The 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed to eliminate the poll tax. Today, FL Gov Ron DeSantis defied the will of people & signed a law depriving thousands of formerly incarcerated persons from voting unless they pay restitution, fines & fees. THIS is why we need to #RestoreTheVOTE,” the NAACP posted.

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When the bill advanced through the Florida House in April, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called it a “poll tax,” a tool most notoriously used to disenfranchise black voters in the Jim Crow-era south.

Under the law, felons could petition a judge to forgive their outstanding fines and fees in favor of community service or have a victim forgo repayment of restitution.