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Several Democrats engaged in competitive House races have shifted their stance on the criminal justice provisions they previously championed in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Crime has become a major concern for voters ahead of the November election, with a poll last week indicating they think Republicans are better equipped to handle the issue that is now more important to them than abortion.
According to the survey conducted for ABC News by Langer Research Associates in New York, the economy (89%), education (77%) and inflation (76%) top the list of issues that voters consider ” very important” heading into the midterms, but these issues were closely followed by crime at 69%, which beat abortion at 62%.
In New York’s 11th District, Max Rose, a Democrat who represented all of Staten Island and parts of South Brooklyn for a single term from 2019 to 2021, is again seeking to represent the district in the House as he seeks to defeat the woman who ousted him from office in 2020, incumbent GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis.
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In 2018, during a questionnaire to candidates through the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Rose said he supported “federal and state efforts to enact criminal justice reform and end the incarceration of mass, including sentencing and prison reforms (e.g., HR 3356 Prison Reform and Redemption Act), bail reform, and the closure of Rikers Island. »
Rose has since expressed a change of heart from her 2018 support for bail reform. During an appearance on Fox and Friends in August amid concerns he would follow Malliotakis into the 2022 rematch to represent the district, Rose suggested there is a ‘causal relationship’ between liberal policies crime and the rise of violence in the country.
“There’s definitely a causal link to it and the stats don’t lie,” Rose said. “Emerging in New York, particularly in the last year, there’s a revolving door, an inconsequential culture of crime, part of which I think is undeniably tied to this bail law. And what’s shocking about this is that this solution is so obvious.]
“Every year it feels like the Democrats in New York State come back and change that bail law,” he added. “We all know they’re going to do it again. They should do it as soon as possible because it’s not just people’s lives that are at stake, it’s people’s businesses.”
Regarding cash bail, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who currently represents the Empire State’s 18th District in the House and is seeking re-election to the House to represent the state’s newly redesigned 17th District, said made similar comments during his campaign for state attorney general in 2018.
During a debate on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network for the attorney general candidates at the time, Maloney firmly said he believed in the “end of cash bail” and said he would “absolutely” do so. an “absolute priority”.
However, since those remarks, Maloney has hinted that it is time for bail reform laws, writing in a Tweet from April 2022 that “the NY budget includes significant reforms to bail law” and that “no one can say the old system worked and didn’t need reform”.
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“It’s critical that we keep dangerous people off the streets,” he added in the tweet. “These changes are an important and necessary step.”
Maloney, who is currently chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, faces a challenge from New York Republican Congressman Michael Lawler to represent the state’s 17th district.
Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster, who is seeking re-election to represent New Hampshire’s third congressional district, also appears to be weighing the impact the crime could have on her election chances.
In 2020, Kuster, via his website, touted his “Opportunity and Justice for All Legislative Agenda,” which included the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which limited qualified immunity, as well as the Human Correctional Healthcare Act which provided coverage. Medicaid for incarcerated people. .
As of September 2022, Kuster’s website appears to no longer link to this agenda, and it does not appear in the “Priorities” section of its website.
Kuster will face GOP nominee Bob Burns, a delegate to the state’s 2016 Republican National Convention, in the Nov. 8 election.
Similarly, New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, who currently represents Granite State’s First District in the House, has previously touted his support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act via his website in 2020. At the time, his website stated in a section titled “Keeping Our Communities Safe and Strong” that Pappas supported the measure to “hold problematic officers accountable, ban the use of chokeholds, and require body cameras.”
As of September 2022, the same section of his website under the “on issues” tab makes no mention of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and instead focuses heavily on gun violence.
Pappas is set to face Republican Karoline Leavitt in the November election, a New Hampshire native who won her party’s support earlier this month in the GOP primary election.
Rising crime is also weighing heavily on the campaigns of two Minnesota Democrats who voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and are now seeking to retain their seats in Congress.
In statements to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Rep. Angie Craig, who currently represents Minnesota’s 2nd congressional district, and Rep. Dean Phillips, who currently represents Minnesota’s 3rd congressional district, distanced themselves from the skilled supporter of the measure immunity and have decided to embrace police-friendly messaging.
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“While I supported much of the Justice in Policing Act, I did not favor the qualified immunity language,” Phillips said in a statement to the outlet. “I voted to forward the legislation to the Senate with the hope and expectation that negotiations would generate a compromise.”
Similarly, according to the outlet, Craig said, “Knowing what I know now and how attacks on law enforcement have negatively impacted recruitment, retention and morale and how those factors are hurting to public safety efforts, I believe qualified immunity should remain in place for our law enforcement officers.”
Phillips is set to face Republican nominee Tom Weiler in November, while Craig faces a challenge from Navy veteran and Republican nominee Tyler Kistner.
Hillary Scholten, a Democrat running to represent Michigan’s third congressional district, also appears to have removed content related to “criminal justice reform” from her website since her previous run for the same seat in 2020, which she ultimately lost to Republican Representative Peter Meijer. .
During her 2020 campaign to represent the district, Scholten said via her website that she would be “proud to work for positive bail reform so that financially vulnerable people are not unjustly criminalized at higher rates. and suggested it was time to “rethink how we ‘keep our communities safe, who we incarcerate, and what that period of incarceration looks like.’
As of September 2022, the “priorities” section of Scholten’s website conspicuously does not include any content related to criminal justice reform and instead focuses on many of the things it touted in 2020, such as “employment and economy” and “education”. It appears that Scholten’s website has added a section called “Common Sense Gun Safety Reform”.
Scholten will face Republican candidate John Gibbs in the general election in November
Michelle Vallejo, the Democratic candidate to represent Texas’ 15th congressional district in the House, also removed language from her website that viewed the criminal justice system as “racist” after winning her primary election.
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In a section titled “embracing the border and the immigration system” that was posted under the “Michelle Priorities” section of Vallejo’s website earlier this year, a passage read: “We need to create clear boundaries between the immigration system and the racist criminal justice system.”
This language no longer exists on Vallejo’s website as of September 2022. Vallejo is set to face Republican Monica De La Cruz in November.
Crime and support for law enforcement is a hot topic among voters across the United States as crime rises in cities across the country. Overall, 60% of voters see crime as a major problem heading into the midterm elections – 52% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans, according to a Pew Research August Poll.
Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.