Oct 3, 2022 - Podcasts

Florida's path forward

As of yesterday evening, Hurricane Ian had killed at least 80 people in Florida and four in North Carolina. Nearly a million people remained without power last night in Florida, and rescue efforts have been ongoing in the southwestern part of the state.

  • Plus, the Supreme Court’s new session.
  • And, the state offices where election deniers could have the biggest impact.

Guests: Axios’ David Nather and Sam Baker.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Fonda Mwangi and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Monday, October 3.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re covering today: the Supreme Court’s back in session. Plus, the state offices where election deniers could have the biggest impact.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: Florida’s path forward.

NIALA: As of yesterday evening, Hurricane Ian had killed at least 80 people in Florida and four in North Carolina. Nearly a million people remained without power last night in Florida, and rescue efforts have been ongoing in the southwestern part of the state. Here’s FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell yesterday on ABC:

DEANNE CRISWELL: This is going to be a long road to recovery. And there are a lot of people that are impacted. But we also know that we’re still actively in the search and rescue phase trying to make sure that we are accounting for everybody that was in the storm’s path and that we go through every home to make sure that we don’t leave anybody behind.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said 1600 people had been rescued so far. Even days after the storm, waters are continuing to rise in parts of Florida – causing flooding that’s complicating some of those rescue efforts.

President Biden plans to visit Florida on Wednesday. Today, he and Dr. Jill Biden are headed to Puerto Rico to survey damage from Hurricane Fiona which hit two weeks ago. LUNA, the private energy company in charge of restoring power, says 91 percent of the island has electricity again.

For the latest on damage caused by hurricane Ian you can head to axios.com, and if you want to help we’ll have a link in our show notes.

The Supreme Court’s new session

NIALA: The Supreme Court is back in session today after an explosive end to the term in June. This session will be hearing cases on affirmative action, voting, religion, free speech and more. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is officially on the bench and will hear her first oral arguments today. The court has a six to three conservative majority. Axios’ resident Supreme Court expert Sam Baker is here with what to watch this term. Hey Sam!

SAM BAKER: Good morning Niala.

NIALA: Sam, today the Supreme Court will be hearing a case that could limit the scope of a landmark federal environmental law, the Clean Water Act of 1972. What do we need to know about this case?

SAM: Honestly, the main thing you need to know about this case is sort of its context. The case itself is about building on protected lands. But what you need to know is that that 6-3 conservative majority is jumping right in. One of the big cases from the end of last term was a big EPA case. This is, does not have the same stakes, the one they're hearing today but it's probably gonna go in the same direction. Probably going to limit the EPAs authority. This is going to be a continued, hard push to the right.

NIALA: It's been three months since the court overturned Roe versus Wade and also expanded the right to carry guns outside the home. What are we expecting from the court this term?

SAM: The biggest probably is affirmative action.The court has upheld affirmative action in the past, but the tenor of those opinions they just have sort of seemed to not be wild about the fact that they were upholding it. They have a new, fresh challenge to affirmative action. It's specifically a challenge to the use of race and admissions at Harvard and at the University of North Carolina. With this 6-3 court, a lot of people are betting that this might be the end of affirmative action in college admissions.

NIALA: Sam, tomorrow the court is scheduled to hear a case that threatens to eliminate a landmark voting rights law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. How did this end up on the docket for this term?

SAM: Yep. This is another big one. It is a challenge to a congressional map in Alabama, which consolidated a whole lot of black voters into one district and then drew other districts such that it would dilute black voters power is the accusation at least. That map was challenged in court. A lower court actually agreed with the challengers, told the state to draw a new map. However, the Supreme Court decided to get involved and just that fact alone. A lot of observers see as a sign that this map is probably going to stand, which will of course make it easier and easier for conservative states to get more and more aggressive in their redistricting efforts.

NIALA: Axios’ Sam Baker. Thanks Sam.

SAM: Thanks Niala.

In a moment, why midterm candidates promoting lies about the 2020 election could have a big say in 2024.


The state offices where election deniers could have the biggest impact

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo.

Around 60% of Americans will have an election denier on the ballot in November. That's according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis. And there are a few states where victories for those election deniers could have a major impact on the 2024 presidential election. Axios Managing Editor David Nather has been reporting on this. Hey David.


NIALA: Let's start with what elected positions could have the biggest effect on the presidential election. What offices are you especially looking at?

DAVID: Well, when you talk to people who watch elections closely they're looking particularly at secretary of state elections. And you know, that's not a high profile office usually it's not getting the most attention, but these are the people who are overseeing elections in more than half the states, so they can do a lot of things if they're somebody who baselessly disputes the results of the 2020 election. They can make it harder to vote or they could just not certify election results.

NIALA: And so the idea of, for example, a Secretary of State not certifying an election result that's the type of specific outcome election experts are worried about when it comes to these candidates?

DAVID: Yeah, they're worried about that. But, another thing is that if they're under pressure to overturn an election, they may just simply not stand up to the pressure. A lot of people remember when the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, stood up to President Trump when he was saying, come on I just need you to find me more votes. Raffensperger stood up to him, but an election denier secretary of state might not.

NIALA: David, a lot of these statewide offices do tend to, as you said, fly under the radar. What other ones could end up being very important for certifying an election?

DAVID: Well take a state Attorney General because that's somebody who can file a lot of lawsuits baselessly alleging fraud in elections. That's something that the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did when he tried to get the election results in Georgia and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin thrown out. That was a lawsuit that the Supreme Court rejected but any Attorney General who is kind of an election denier could file similar lawsuits in the future as well. And of course, the House and Senate races, they matter as well to presidential elections for reasons that we've already seen in 2020. House and Senate members can certify presidential election results, but they can also block them and object and throw elections into chaos.

NIALA: Okay. So what states do we need to be watching?

DAVID: Swing states particularly, especially in a place like Arizona where the Secretary of State candidate is a pretty robust election denier. But also the Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, who has said that if she had been in office at the time, she just would not have certified Arizona's election results for Biden. And in Pennsylvania, the Republican nominee is Doug Mastriano, who's talked about how important it is to pick a Secretary of State who believes the 2020 election fraud theories. That's a state where the governor chooses the Secretary of State; they're not elected but that makes the governor's election a pretty important one.

NIALA: We'll link to David's story in our show notes. Axios David Nather. Thank you.

DAVID: Thank you.

Brazil's presidential election

NIALA: Yesterday, Brazilians cast votes for their next president. Nearly a dozen candidates were on the ballot. Former leftist President President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva got the majority of the vote over far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro - but since neither reached a 50 percent threshold, they’re headed to a runoff on Oct. 30.

We were just talking about American candidates casting doubt on the 2020 election. President Bolsonaro has been similarly voicing election doubts, without evidence, for months – specifically about the security of Brazil’s electronic voting system. He recently said that if he receives less than 60% of the vote "something abnormal has happened."

NIALA: That’s it for us today! You can reach our team at podcasts at axios dot com or reach out to me on twitter.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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