The Process Is Political: A New, Regular Roundup

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Through the 2012 election cycle, It’s A Free Country will keep a focus on the mechanics of elections, from voting rules, political party rules to redistricting to, of course, the money that fuels campaigns.

As part of that, we'll be keeping a regular eye on top-line news, undercovered stories, and opinion on our changing political process in a weekly roundup. As with most things around here, we welcome tips, thoughts, and fierce debate about whether any or all of this is good for our democracy. 

After SCOTUS Ruling, Nebraska Abandons Public Financing Rules: "Commissioners chose the course of action Friday because they believe it will most quickly settle the legal issues surrounding Nebraska's law, which funnels public funds to candidates whose opponents exceed voluntary spending limits." (Omaha World-Herald)

Campaign Spending Drives the Debt Increase: "Debt to GDP is up 181.3 percent since 1980 Congressional campaign spending is up 180.7 percent over the same period: A statistical correlation of 99.669 percent. Coincidence? You can decide," writes former Democratic Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. (Politico) 

Coal Cash in WV Special Election for Gov: "The energy sector provided about 20 percent of the $1.25 million [acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat] attracted during the last filing period. While oil and natural gas interests also were represented, two-thirds of these energy contributions were mining-related....The GOP candidate, Bill Maloney, hails from the drilling industry. Of the $383,747 he received, at least $65,000 came from the energy sector. But the Morgantown businessman's personal wealth remains his campaign's key source." (Associated Press)

Gillibrand Tops 2011 Fundraising List, by Longshot: New York's junior senator leads the money haul with $6,347,471 in first six months of 2011. TN GOP Sen. Robert Corker trails at #2 with $4,444,623. (, via National Journal)

While NY Gov Cuomo Announces Probe of Overpaid Nonprofit Chiefs...: "The new governor got campaign contributions from at least a half-dozen well-paid execs at such nonprofits, state records show." (NY Daily News)

Taking Money and (Not) Running: "Roger Williams spent $1.2 million—more money than any other Senate candidate except incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.—but gave up his bid for the Republican nomination in Texas to run for a House seat instead." (National Journal)

Florida Redistricting and a Skeptical Public: "Two constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010 force lawmakers to do something that was anathema to them during most of Florida’s political history: redraw legislative and congressional districts without favoring any incumbent or party....At nearly every one of the 20 hearings so far, legislators have heard a steady drumbeat of scolds from distrustful voters. Constituents have complained that lawmakers are conducting hearings before drawing maps, are adhering to an antiquated redistricting schedule, and are wasting taxpayer money by fighting voters in court." (Miami Herald)

Record Year for Money Haul in Senate: "The $103.1 million that 82 individual Senate campaign committees raised in 2011 was the highest total ever reported for the first six months in a non-election year, exceeding the previous high of $93.2 million raised in the first half of 2009." (

New Hampshire Needs Voter ID Law: argues Republican state Senator in Manchester newspaper. (The Union Leader)

Early Voting Makes Nevada 9/13 Special Election a 'Free for All': “There isn’t overwhelming interest in the race, and many voters are more occupied with the end of summer and the start of school. Both parties know this and have organized get-out-the-vote efforts. Democrats obviously need a strong get-out-the-vote effort to negate the large advantage Republicans hold in total number of registered voters," says Nevada political scientist. (The Daily Caller)

Your Redistricting Map is Orwellian! No, Yours is Orwellian!: the state of the Congressional redistricting debate in Colorado. (The Colorado Statesman)