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“The athlete activism we’ve seen over the past year and, more importantly, its impact on the national discourse about athlete rights and their role in affecting change broadly is deeply encouraging and something we should promote,” said one Democratic congressional aide. “It’s powerful when athletes who were able to play professionally can turn around and help make things better for those behind them, particularly when we know that the vast majority won’t make it into professional sports.”

Democrats have also involved athletes in the party’s efforts to address broader systemic inequalities. In March, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, chaired by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), invited U.S. women’s national soccer team star and political firebrand Megan Rapinoe to testify before the committee in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill introduced in January by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) aimed at narrowing the gender pay gap. That same day, Rapinoe spoke beside Biden at a White House event celebrating Equal Pay Day. At the gathering, the president called the soccer phenom “one of our greatest allies.”

Black athletes in particular have also become key partners in Democrats’ effort to expand voting rights and challenge state laws designed to restrict access to the voting booth. Before the November election, Obama joined forces with James’ organization, More Than A Vote, to coordinate voter registration drives and enroll poll workers from low-income and historically Black neighborhoods. During Game 1 of the NBA Finals on September 30, the former president made an appearance in a virtual fan section, seated next to retired NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade, to promote the organization’s work. Since the election, the group has teamed up with key figures on the left, including Democratic strategist and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, to challenge new Republican-backed voter ID laws in Georgia, Florida and Arizona.

Though officially nonpartisan, More Than A Vote illustrates in miniature the increasingly dense network of ties that connects the Democratic establishment with sympathetic athletes. The organization is run by a small army of seasoned Democratic operatives and is backed by a roster of high-profile athletes, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, U.S. men’s national soccer team forward Jozy Altidore and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. Addisu Demissie, the organization’s executive director, previously served as the campaign manager for Booker’s successful Senate run in 2013 and Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign in 2018. Jonae Wartel, the group’s vice president for advocacy and elections, worked as the Southern regional director for the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2019. In November 2020, Wartel took a leave of absence from More Than A Vote to oversee the Democrats’ campaign in Georgia’s runoff election.

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“Athletes like LeBron want [to partner with] political experts who have values that align with their priorities,” said Tyler, who worked for a stint as the DNC’s national press secretary. “If you’re launching an organization that’s committed to combating voter suppression, you want people engaged in those fights who share your values and know what they’re doing.”

In other words, they want to partner with Democrats.

Although athletes helped Democrats score big at the ballot box in November, the prospect of a long-term political alliance between the two groups remains uncertain. Even as Democrats in Washington continue to court athletes as spokespeople for Democratic causes, potential fault lines in the nascent relationship have begun to emerge.

Some in the progressive wing of the party worry that Democrats’ cooperation with high-profile celebrity athletes could go too far, leading the party to prioritize the interest of economic elites over those of middle- and low-income voters.

“I think that Democrats should be vying for every single vote they should get, whether it’s soccer moms or soccer players,” said Mulholland, the political director of Data for Progress. “To the extent that athletes can be a medium through which Democrats can connect with voters and the public in a way that’s not the traditional medium for political communication, I think that’s really useful, but extremely wealthy sports stars shouldn’t be the defining priorities of the Democratic Party.”

At the same time, not all athletes are eager to be won over by Democrats. Although liberal athletes have emerged as a vocal minority among current players, large portions of the sporting world remain staunchly conservative. During the Trump presidency, numerous high-profile sports figures voiced their support for the former president, including MLB pitcher Clay Buchholz, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, retired golfer Jack Nicklaus, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, and former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, whom Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom in September 2019.



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‘Rogue city leaders’: How Republicans are taking power away from mayors

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“Next year, if a liberal town … imposes a mask mandate again on businesses throughout the community because of a bad flu virus or the sniffles, everybody would have to abide,” said state Rep. Joseph Chaplik, a freshman lawmaker who is skeptical of the science showing masks help reduce transmission of disease. “If we’re going to give up our freedom and liberties for temporary safety, we’re going to have neither safety nor freedom.”

The strategy used in Arizona has been employed with new intensity by Republicans in states like Texas, Florida and Georgia, where lawmakers over the past year passed legislation preempting the ability of city — and state — leaders to enforce their own regulations. The bigfooting of local officials accelerated as the pandemic turned public health decisions into political minefields, but it also also touched on other wedge issues, like police funding, gun control and climate change.

The move by GOP lawmakers represents a sharp ideological shift for a party that has long championed states rights and local control. Republicans, their influence growing in statehouses and shrinking in cities, see an opening to extend their reach into urban centers. And Democrats, typically the targets of these preemption laws, fear they could be left powerless.

“At the end of the day, we want to give community members the voice to have the policies and laws that they’re voting for local officials to make,” said Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director for the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities, a nonpartisan advocacy group generally opposed to preemption legislation.

“Giving local officials the space is that goal,” he said. “There shouldn’t be these big dichotomies in how policies are being made between state and local.”

As Republicans have maintained a tight hold on the majority of state legislatures, much of today’s preemption battles feature GOP-led assemblies handicapping Democratic-run cities. That dynamic is drawn from the stark partisan divide between statewide and local power: Republicans control 30 state legislatures while Democrats control 64 of the 100 biggest cities in the U.S.

Preemption fights are nothing new. State and local officials have been pitted against each other on what seems like every policy, from soda taxes to minimum wage increases to transgender rights. But in recent years, deep red states have latched onto preemption legislation more and more as a strategy to snatch away power from Democratic city leadership and rally their base.

Take Florida, where the Legislature this session pushed through several major preemption bills, starting with a high-profile “anti-protest” measure as part of the backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement. Buried within the law is a provision checking the ability of counties to redirect funding from police departments and giving the state’s governor the authority to review and reject those budget decisions. Lawmakers also enacted a proposal tightening an existing law forbidding local governments from approving any policies on guns.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, capitalizing on the conservative resistance to Covid-19 protocols, also issued an executive order waiving fines issued to businesses by local governments for violating Covid-related mandates and signed legislation allowing a governor to preempt local emergency rules.

And now, environmentalists took another hit after DeSantis this week signed a law that preempts local government decisions on energy and makes it difficult for cities to reduce fossil fuels by switching to renewable energy.

“It’s like there’s a competition out there for Florida to be the worst of the worst on these awful preemption laws,” said Brooke Errett, a senior organizer for Food and Water Watch Florida who lobbied against the bill.

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Supporters say the bill, backed by oil and gas interests, shouldn’t deter cities from setting or achieving clean energy goals and is in fact needed to prevent them from cutting off natural gas used by homeowners or restricting consumer choice on energy.

Opponents don’t buy that. Rep Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) called the bill a “power play” by utilities and the fossil fuel industry at the expense of solar and other clean energy sources.

Preemption bills protecting fossil fuel interests have surged across the country, with legislation recently passing in 15 states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa and Kentucky. Critics say these laws pose a serious threat to combating air pollution and climate change.

Republicans even succeeded in Kansas despite the state having a Democratic governor. Lamakers muscled through an energy bill this session that preempted parts of a town’s plan that set a goal of shifting all community energy use to renewable energy sources by 2035. It became law without Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s signature due to its passage with a veto-proof majority.

Colorado, which has a legislature controlled by Democrats, is going the opposite direction. Democratic lawmakers have been working to undo some of the major preemption laws on the books. They first repealed a state law prohibiting cities from enacting rules about gun ownership. It was proposed in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder in which 10 people were killed.

“Communities should be able to decide what are the right policies to keep them safe,” said Colorado Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, who led the bill’s passage.

The state also enacted a law to ban plastic bags and plastic foam containers used in restaurants and retail. It lifts a ban on local governments setting their own plastics regulations that are stricter than the states. From Pennsylvania to California, political clashes around eliminating widespread use of plastic bags and other single-use items have emerged as some of the most contentious preemption fights in recent memory.

Fenberg views Republicans’ aggressive approach to preemption as a “race to the bottom.”

This debate exposes how deep the ideological split is between the two parties. Republicans see themselves as defending personal choice and freedom, while Democrats argue they are actually the ones advancing those same principles by letting communities self-govern.

“Our job is to protect individuals and protect their liberty,” said North Dakota state Rep. Jeff Hoverson, a Republican who shepherded a law restricting state officials’ ability to enforce mask mandates. It was vetoed by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum, but the Legislature overrode it.

“We should be protecting them from not just state government and federal government but local government as well,” he said. “The government needs to have a lot more compelling case than it does to interfere. Really, the S.O.B.’s, they’re wrecking our country.”

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Rob Schmitt: President Trump Says He’s Going After Mitch McConnell

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Rob Schmitt: President Trump Says He’s Going After Mitch McConnell – And He’s Thinking About Not Supporting Anybody Who Supports McConnell

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Arizona’s Katie Hobbs Suffers COMPLETE Meltdown on CNN – The Truth Is Coming

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Arizona’s Katie Hobbs Suffers COMPLETE Meltdown – Far Left Hack Knows What’s Coming

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