Disability Policy News In Brief

December 2, 2019

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
December 2, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 47
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Did you talk politics over the holiday? Need to start getting more informed for your primary? We've got you covered.

Campaign 2020

We are now about three months away (Feb 3, 2020) from the Iowa caucus, which kicks off the presidential primary season and is a strong indicator for how candidates will do later in the campaign. Presidential candidates have been releasing various policy plans that impact the disability community. Some have specific disability plans, while others have disability embedded throughout other plans. Stay informed with each. What's in it? What's not? What could this mean to you?

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:

Presidential Candidates Surveys on Disability

AUCD developed a comprehensive disability policy explainer on the issues. You can view the factsheet here.

Twenty-four New Hampshire-based organizations joined together and requested that each campaign answer five disability-related questions. You can view candidate responses here.  

AAPD, REV UP and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) have been working on a Presidential candidates questionnaire. The questionnaire collects responses on disability issues. You can view responses here.

AAPD and REV UP Texas will be hosting a nonpartisan Presidential forum on disability issues on January 13, 2020, in Austin, TX. Learn more here.

The Center for American Progress developed 10 disability policy questions every presidential candidate should answer. You can view the questions here.

Congressional Openings

There continue to be many special elections for the remainder of the 116th Congress:

  • Rep. Elijah Cummings' seat (MD-7th District) will be filled by a special primary on February 4 and special general election on April 28, 2020.
  • Rep. Sean Duffy's seat (WI-7th District) will be filled by a special primary held February 18 and special general election on May 12, 2020.
  • Rep. Chris Collins' seat (NY-27th District) will be filled by a special election likely April 28, 2020.
  • Rep. Katie Hill's seat (CA-25th District) will be filled by a special primary on March 3 and a runoff election on May 12, 2020.  

The list of retirements and resignations continues to grow. Members will complete this term in the 116th Congress. Elections for these seats will occur November 2020.

  • Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL-19th District) is retiring.
  • Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2nd District) is retiring. He served as the lead Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over Autism CARES.
  • Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) seat - he passed away in 2018 - has been filled by Governor's appointment. A special election will be held in November 2020 to complete the rest of the 2017-2022 term. 
  • Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is resigning at the end of 2019 due to health issues. GA Governor will appoint a replacement who will serve until the November 2020 election.

Election Watch 2020

In addition to the Presidential race and every House of Representative's seat being on the ballot, there are 36 of 50 Senate seats up in 2020 - a mix of standard cycles and special elections. Generally, the races are viewed in three lenses:

Open Seats where the incumbent will not be running again and states will have a new Senator:






Pat Roberts (R)

New Mexico

Tom Udall (D)


Lamar Alexander


Mike Enzi

Competitive Seats, where the incumbent is running, but there is a strong challenger and a chance they will lose:




Doug Jones (D)


Martha McSally (R)


Cory Gardner (R)


Chris Coons (D)


Susan Collins (R)

North Carolina

Thom Tillis (R)

Safe seats, where the incumbent is running and is unlikely to lose:




Dan Sullivan (R)


Tom Cotton (R)


Chris Coons (D)


David Perdue (R)


Jim Risch (R)


Dick Durbin (D)


Joni Ernst (R)


Mitch McConnell (R)


Bill Cassidy (R)


Ed Markey (D)


Gary Peters (D)


Tina Smith (D)


Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)


Steve Daines (R)


Ben Sasse (R)

New Hampshire

Jeanne Shaheen (D)

New Jersey

Cory Booker (D)


Jim Inhofe (R)


Jeff Merkley (D)

Rhode Island

Jack Reed (D)

South Carolina

Lindsey Graham (R)

South Dakota

Mike Rounds (R)


John Cornyn (R)


Mark Warner (D)

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito (R)

We are still very early in the race and it is likely the view of what is a safe vs. competitive seat will change over time.

Action Steps:

  • If you live in a state with a Senate seat up for election -- Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire ,New Jersey ,New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia ,West Virginia, Wyoming -- this election year is an excellent chance to be involved with your Senator. Reach out now and learn about the candidates, educate them on disability issues and build relationships.
  • Educate your network about the race and support others to be registered and to vote. 

Register to Vote

 Voting is an important right of being a US citizen. It allows people to choose leaders they feel will best represent their needs on the local, state and federal levels. You can make real change by being an educated voter in your community.

 Action Steps:

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ICYMI! Read our latest blog post: How Montana Tackles Tech. Share the blog post widely to start a conversation about assistive technology in your state.

Action Steps:

  • As someone interested in disability policy, we ask you to consider writing and submitting a blog post. Read our blog submission guidelines and further details and submit a story today!

Tuesdays with Liz: Neil Romano on the National Council on Disability (NCD)

Chairman of the National Council On Disability (NDC) Neil Romano discusses the role of the Council and its impact on people with disabilities. For more information on NDC, visit www.ndc.gov.

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