Recently, I mused about the future of the Election Assistance Commission in the wake of the 2014 election and related litigation – and it would appear that all of a sudden the future is now. On one side of the aisle, there are signs of progress: the Senate Rules Committee will be holding a hearing at 2pm today on the two Republican nominees, Christy McCormick and Matthew Masterson. On the other side of the aisle, however, we have continued intrigue. As was rumored late last week, Democratic nominee Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center has withdrawn her name from consideration. No reason for the withdrawal was given, but a good guess is the combination of an incoming GOP Senate majority and the Brennan Center’s high-profile (if not well-sourced) claims that new voting laws supported by the GOP affected outcomes in 2014. I have learned from a source close to the process that Perez withdrew her candidacy BEFORE Election Day. The confirmation challenges with a GOP Senate may still have been considerable but her withdrawal had nothing to do with what happened in the 2014 election – or afterwards. The White House has designated Matthew Butler (pictured above) as the new second Democratic nominee alongside Thomas Hicks. Butler is a former CEO of Media Matters and now is part of aconsulting group that offers “planning and production experience.”
At this point, it would appear that the Democrats have made the decision to trade a potentially controversial (and therefore problematic) pick for one that is lower-profile, albeit just as partisan.
I’ve given up predicting what will happen to the EAC, but I am very confident that whatever it is, it will come with lots of intrigue and controversy. Sadly, I have to agree with Rick Hasen:
[T]here was a time when a few courageous EAC commissioners could have made the Commission something to get above the partisan sniping. But they were shut down and that moment regrettably has passed.