NPV bill loses cosponsors
Three lawmakers reject NPV after closer inspection
Last week was a lousy one for California-based National Popular Vote. After hiring six lobbyists and spending $80,000 lobbying in Madison, Wisconsin, they got Assembly Elections Committee Chairman Jeff Smith to schedule the bill for a hearing with less than two day’s public notice. And NPV’s lobbyists had convinced three Republicans to join the bill, giving them coveted “bipartisan” status.
But the NPV crew had bitten off more than they could chew. The lack of notice only helped rile up a public rightly skeptical of a process designed to represent California more than Wisconsin. Calls and emails poured into the Capitol. Several people, myself included, showed up to testify about the serious flaws and risks of NPV’s plan.
And all three Republican legislators jumped clear of the NPV bill (pdf). That’s right, NPV in Wisconsin can no longer make any pretense of bipartisanship. Several people in Madison tell me that Steven Foti, NPV’s “Republican” lobbyist there, has lost some credibility by signing on with NPV in the first place. I also heard that at least one Democrat on the Elections Committee opposes the bill.
Will Madison be the next Augusta? In Maine, NPV dumped in money and lobbyists. Save Our States visited once, for less than a day. When leadership–supporting NPV–suddenly pulled the bill to the floor, LD 56 went down almost 2-1. Not a single Republican voted for it and nearly half the Democrats voted against NPV as well.
All this is part of a trend we’ve seen around the country. In Rhode Island, Arkansas, even here in Washington where the bill was enacted last year, the more legislators learn about NPV the less they support it. In Massachusetts, Representative Will Brownsberger, a Democrat who originally cosponsored the NPV bill, explained his vote against it.
In the end, I concluded that, whatever its merits in principle, the proposal creates unacceptable downside risks for our country, risks that are not outweighed by its alleged benefits. …
I gave careful consideration to voting for the NPV just to keep the conversation alive about reform of the Electoral College, but all-in-all I really feel that — lacking a runoff mechanism — the NPV proposal is not sound enough to make a positive statement for change.
Nor, honestly, am I clear in my mind that the Electoral College — which embodies our national history as a union of states — is the root of political evil. Certainly the concept of sending electors to a college is anachronistic, but the formula for the college embodies a balance of power between large and small states.
I am less interested in changing the mechanics and more interested in developing and supporting national candidates who combine truthful vision with the skills to engage to a broad range of people across the nation.
Read more about the debate in Wisconsin:
- More fallout on Newcomer’s decision to co-sponsor AB751,
- Disenfranchising Wisconsin,
- Why the Electoral College is necessary
- WI Legislators Try Changing Election Laws.