Election 2000 Civil Justice Reform Summary
CSE engaged in voter education efforts in twelve states.
Presidential Election Too Close to Call
U.S. House Maintains Republican Majority: GOP Congressional Chairman Tom Davis Vows to Take up Tort Reform Early in 2001
U.S. Senate Maintains Narrow Majority. New Tort Reformers Elected, but Some Incumbent Supporters Defeated
Tort Reformers Sweep Supreme Court Races in Michigan and Alabama
Ohio Court is Unchanged with Justice Resnick Maintaining Her Seat
Florida House and Senate Remain Pro-Reform
Todd Staples Defeats Trial Lawyer Candidate David Fisher Allowing Republicans to Maintain Texas State Senate Majority
Washington Senate Race Too Close to Call
A better electoral system is achieved by keeping the public informed. CSE’s national base of 280,000 activists helped educate voters and defuse massive expenditures by many trial lawyers to keep pro-reform candidates from serving the public and keeping the benefits of tort reform hidden from the public.
As part of these efforts, CSE:
distributed 50,000 voter guides on the ground,
attended approximately 500 events,
distributed 15,250 yard signs,
reached 55,000 voters through our on-the-ground efforts,
mailed over 1,000,000 pieces,
traveled 90,000 miles,
garnered 273 print media hits, and
appeared on CNN and major networks with Sharkman.
Federal. President-elect George W. Bush is a strong supporter of tort reform and has vowed to push reforms at the federal level. While Republicans have maintained their majority in both houses, the narrow margin in the Senate will make sweeping reforms a challenge.
Alabama. Candidates inclined to uphold legislative tort reform won five out of the five Supreme Court seats up for election. They will constitute a commanding 8-1 reform majority, up from 6-3. With 95% reporting, Roy Moore (R) defeated opponent Sharon Yates (R) 54% to 46%. Justice Lyons (R) held onto his seat against Libertarian Sydney Smith 73% to 27%. Justice Cook (D) lost to challenger Lyn Stuart (R) 52% to 48%. Justice England (D) lost to challenger Tom Woodall (R) 53% to 47%. Bernard Harwood (R) defeated challenger Joel Laird (D) 54% to 46%, filling the vacancy left by retiring Justice Maddox.
California. California’s congressional delegation was home of four closely watched toss up races (in Congressional Districts 15, 27, 36, 49). All were seats held by Republicans. Of these races, all pro-reform candidates lost to anti-reformers. California’s state legislative races also resulted in an Assembly and Senate more inclined to cater to trial lawyer special interests.
Florida. Trial lawyers, fresh from their legislative tort reform defeat of 1999 and flush with tobacco cash, saw Florida’s term limits as an opportunity to gain control of the state Senate and win additional seats in the state House. It is anticipated that the state House is open to passing more sweeping reforms, while the state Senate remains open to protecting existing reforms and passing further narrow reforms. Additionally, Florida was home to a few closely-watched congressional races, including Congressional Districts 3,12, and 22, with anti-reform candidates winning the majority of those. The U.S. Senate race was also tight and garnered a significant amount of attention, with trial lawyer candidate Bill Nelson winning the seat.
Illinois. Candidates inclined to uphold legislative tort reform gained one of the four state Supreme Court seats up for election. The court came closer to commanding a reform majority but it is still an activist court by 5-2, down from 6-1. Freeman won retention 83% to 17% with 50% reporting. Bob Thomas (R) defeated Larry Drury (D) 63% to 37% with 65% reporting. Fitzgerald (D) ran unopposed and is considered pro-reform. Tom Kilbride (D) defeated Carl Hawkinson (R) 52% to 48% with 71% reporting.
Iowa. Election day resulted in no change for the outlook of tort reform in the state House and Senate. The state House continues to lean pro-reform while the state Senate is less inclined to support broad tort reform.
Michigan. Candidates inclined to uphold legislative tort reform held all of the three state Supreme Court seats up for election. The court will continue their 5-2 reform majority. Justice Cliff Taylor (R) defeated Marietta Robinson (D) 53% to 38%, with 61% reporting. Justice Stephen Markman (R) defeated Edward Thomas (D) 56% to 38%, with 58% reporting. Justice Robert Young, Jr. (R) defeated E. Thomas Fitzgerald (D) 52% to 38%, with 58% reporting.
New Hampshire. With 86% reporting, U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass (R) strongly defeated trial lawyer candidate Barney Brannen 56% to 41% in the 2nd Congressional District, maintaining the New Hampshire congressional delegation’s overwhelming support of ending lawsuit abuse.
North Carolina. Several key races in North Carolina came down with a tort reformer facing an anti-reformer. With 88% reporting in the governor’s race, anti-reformer, Mike Easley defeated tort reformer Richard Vinroot, 52% to 46%, allowing the trial lawyers to maintain the Governor’s seat in North Carolina. In the Attorney General’s race, with 82% reporting, Roy Cooper (D) defeated Dan Boyce (R) 54% to 44%. Roy Cooper is an undecided tort reform vote. In the 8th Congressional District, with 83% reporting, CSE tort reform pledge signer Robin Hayes (R) defeated anti-reformer Mike Taylor 54% to 45%. Tort reformers picked up two seats in the state House with Fern Shubert upsetting Max Melton 54% to 46% and Linda Johnson defeating Leonard Slossamon 54% to 46%, both with 100% reporting.
Ohio. There was no change in the makeup of the Ohio Supreme Court. Candidates inclined to uphold legislative tort reform won one out of the two Supreme Court seats up for election. They lost a chance to constitute a reform majority, leaving the balance in the Supreme Court unchanged from 4-3 against reform. With 80% reporting, Justice Deborah Cook defeated challenger Tim Black 52% to 48%. Justice Alice Resnick defeated reform challenger Terrence O’Donnell 56% to 44%, with 79% reporting.
Texas. Texas was home to one of the most closely watched and most expensive state Senate races in the country. Pro-reformer and CSE tort reform pledge-signer, Todd Staples (R) defeated trial lawyer David Fisher (D) in Texas’s State Senate District 3 62% to 38%, with 65% reporting. As a result a pro-reform vote will replace an unreliable tort reform vote, allowing Republicans to maintain the majority in the state senate, which means they will appoint the lieutenant governor now that Gov. Bush has won the presidency. Democrats will continue to control the house under a slimmer majority.
Washington. One of the strongest supporters of tort reform in the U.S. Senate faced in one of the toughest races of his political life as a U.S. Senator. Right now, this race is too close to call.
Other states around the country had key state races, including:
In Mississippi four state Supreme Court seats were on the ballot, three of them reformers. Pro-trial lawyer candidates captured three of the four seats, with only one reformer surviving.
In New York, Hillary Clinton defeated Republican Rick Lazio.
In Missouri, Sen. John Ashcroft lost the election. It’s been announced that the late Governor’s wife, Jean Carnahan, will be appointed by the sitting Governor. Legal challenges are anticipated.
State Supreme Court Results
State Legislative Results
We designed our multi-level efforts and independent strategies to coalesce into a long-term, sustainable asset that positions CSE to achieve its goals post-November. Our plan involves growth by building on existing assets. It involves a presidential, federal, legislative, and judicial strategy, each one building on the others.