Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a freelance journalist, and former staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer

Recent Articles

It's a Toss-Up for Gabby Giffords's Seat

Before the horrific shooting last year that left her struggling to stay alive, U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords shocked politicos as one of the only Democrats to keep a Republican-leaning seat in the wake of the 2010 Tea Party wave. While her colleagues lost seats in droves and her party lost control of the House, Giffords kept her seat by a point and a half. According to Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director Luis Heredia, it was a victory that could be won by only a "a superstar candidate like Gabby Giffords." But in November, as a new set of candidates vie for the seat, the seat will no longer be "Republican leaning." Thanks to redistricting, Giffords's district will soon be almost evenly divided between registered Democrats, Republicans, and independents. According to Heredia, Republicans currently have a slight edge over Democrats, albeit by a matter of a couple of percentage points. The new maps, however, leave the district as a statistical toss-up. "The new lines itself...

Does Gerrymandering Violate Free Speech?

Flickr/faul
State parties across the country have already taken out knives to hack up political maps in the bloody process of redistricting. Now, many states are going to the mat to defend the highly partisan maps that, in most cases, got passed by the dominant political party in the state to the detriment of the minority party. The legal battles—particularly the ongoing Texas saga—are usually based largely around whether maps violate the Voting Rights Act. But in Illinois, the bipartisan League of Women Voters is challenging gerrymandered districts based on a new legal claim: that they violate free speech. While a district court already dismissed its claim, the League of Women Voters can—and has—appealed to the Supreme Court. Because it's a redistricting case, the Court will have to rule on the matter. "This is the first time a really bipartisan group has challenged gerrymandering as a regulation of speech," says Thomas Geoghegan, the attorney for the group. "What's really shocking is that in...

Indiana Wades into the Culture Wars

Indiana is hardly a state known for its intense culture wars and political battles. Mostly, it's known for one of the greatest sports movies of all time . But this year, Indiana is entering territory usually occupied by places like Kansas and Texas. The state legislature is not only about to pass a controversial bill to decrease union power; a measure to teach creationism has already passed out of the state Senate's Education Committee. The right-to-work legislation is hurtling at lightning speed for Governor Mitch Daniels's desk. After a year of fighting, including recent boycotts from Democrats, the legislation passed the state's House last week, leaving little doubt that the measure, supported by the governor and most of the state Senate, will soon become law. Indiana will be the first state in the Rust Belt to pass such legislation, which prevents mandatory union membership and forbids unions from collecting fees from anyone who chooses to opt out. Proponents argue that the move...

Gay Marriage Moving Forward Around the Country

It's been a good week for gay-rights advocates. Washington state gained the crucial 25th vote needed to pass same-sex marriage . The news prompted headlines around the country, but it was hardly the only place where such legislation moved forward. In Maryland, Governor Martin O'Malley is once again pushing a gay marriage bill. Last year's bill stalled, but this time around, lawmakers are making broader exemptions for religious institutions. O'Malley and other advocates are also trying to drum up public support for the bill, which if passed will likely be put to a public vote this fall. Current polling shows Maryland closely divided on the issue , but no one is tiptoeing around it. Today, O'Malley's wife went so far as to call the bill's opponents "cowards." Maine advocates announced Thursday that they had more than double the signatures necessary to put get gay marriage on the ballot. While there was little surprise that the coalition had gathered the signatures, some speculated that...

Has Hell Frozen Over?

Last week, I mentioned California Gov. Jerry Brown's state of the state address , which argued for more moderate approach to education and investments into infrastructure like high-speed rail. Perhaps most shocking, however, is that Brown's plan calls for some slight tax increases. And since California requires voters to approve such increases, Brown is embarking on a campaign around the state to convince people it might not be such a bad idea. In the world of political strategy, this sounds ludicrous. Except that it just might work. A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows over 68 percent of California likely voters support Brown's tax proposal. And it's not just Democrats; 65 percent of Republicans favor the governor's plan. According to the LA Times Brown's plan to wallop the well off—individuals earning $250,000, couples making $500,000—pleases the middle class. Raising the sales tax, the governor hopes, will neutralize the business lobby, which mostly fears...

Pages