Nomination rules change
The Democratic National Committee voted last week to dramatically reduce the influence of “superdelegates” in selecting the party’s presidential nominee, with significant implications for the 2020 race. In the past, superdelegates—elected officials and other party leaders—got a say in nominating a candidate alongside delegates chosen in state primaries and caucuses. In 2016, they made up about 15 percent of votes at the convention. Under the new rules, superdelegates will vote only if the process is deadlocked and no candidate has a majority on the first ballot. The decision raises the hopes of party outsiders in what’s expected to be a wide-open race to challenge President Trump. In 2016, supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) feared that superdelegates would overrule the wishes of primary voters. Ultimately, Hillary Clinton won both a majority of primary voters and the nomination.
Balch Springs, Texas
A white former police officer was found guilty of murder this week for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, Jordan Edwards, in 2017 and could face life in prison. The officer, Roy Oliver, 38, was fired from the police force days after the shooting, which he testified was done to protect his partner. Oliver and the partner had responded to a house party when gunshots rang out from somewhere outside. Partygoers raced out of the house, and Oliver retrieved his rifle. He and his partner tried to stop a car slowly backing away before Oliver fired five rounds into the car in less than one second, hitting 15-year-old Edwards in the head, killing the freshman honor roll student instantly. Edwards’ relatives sobbed and hugged when the verdict was read. Oliver is the second former police officer in Dallas County this year to be convicted of murder in connection with a civilian death.
Gerrymanders struck down
A panel of three federal judges ruled this week that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans, threatening havoc for the November elections. The judges held that district lines—which let Republicans capture 10 of the state’s 13 seats in the House of Representatives despite North Carolina being roughly evenly divided politically—might need to be redrawn immediately, potentially forcing candidates to run in entirely new areas. “To have the election for new congressional districts, with no primaries, would be chaos,” said one influential Republican donor. The GOP-controlled state legislature could ask the Supreme Court for a stay, keeping the current map in place through November. The court, however, is split 4-4 between likely pro-Democratic and pro-Republican votes; a tie would leave the lower court’s decision in place.
Another troubled shooter
A 24-year-old gunman killed two competitors at a video-game tournament this week and injured 12 others before taking his own life, with much of the massacre captured on camera in gruesome detail. The shooter, David Bennett Katz, had managed to buy two handguns and extra ammunition in Baltimore, near his hometown, police said, despite an extensive history of mental health issues. He had received treatment and medication for psychiatric issues since age 12. A judge wrote in 2010 that “David would go days without bathing, would play video games until 4 a.m. on school nights, would walk around the house in circles.” Taylor Robertson, 28, of West Virginia, and Elijah Clayton, 22, of California, were killed playing the Madden NFL video game. Moments before the shooting, a red dot appeared on Clayton’s chest from a laser affixed to one of Katz’s guns.
New York City
Lanny Davis, an attorney for President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, this week backtracked on his claim that Trump knew in advance about a meeting in Trump Tower between campaign aides and Russians tied to the Kremlin. Davis admitted he was the source of a CNN story that reported that Cohen witnessed Trump being told about the meeting, but said, “I made a mistake.” Republicans jumped on his retraction, with President Trump saying in a tweet, “Look at the lie that Fake CNN is now in. They got caught red handed!” CNN stood by the story, which it says was corroborated by other sources. BusinessInsider.com reported that Davis’ reversal may have come over fears that Cohen could be prosecuted for perjury, because he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump did not know about the meeting. Davis has been advertising Cohen’s willingness to provide information on Russian election interference.
High-stakes race takes shape
Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis won their parties’ gubernatorial primaries this week, turning November’s election into a choice between a Bernie Sanders progressive and a Trump Republican. Gillum narrowly scored an upset win after receiving Sen. Sanders’ endorsement, while DeSantis blew out his opponent on the strength of President Trump’s backing. The two 39-year-olds will square off for one of the most intensely contested gubernatorial elections this fall. If elected, Gillum would become Florida’s first black governor. He was outspent 10 to 1 in the primary but surged after embracing the Sanders platform, including Medicare-for-All and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. DeSantis ran a campaign closely aligned with Trump, beginning his victory speech by saying, “Thank you, Mr. President.”