In Collin County, Tx., a Dallas suburb, State Rep. Jeff Leach attacked his Democratic challenger as an “extreme anti-police zealot.” Leach, who was re-elected, also ran ads featuring a man who spent 13 years in prison on a wrongful conviction who praised Leach’s record on criminal justice reform. Criminal justice reform was a rare issue upon which the two parties found some common ground, reports the New York Times. In Oklahoma City, Republican state senator Stephanie Bice, spoke of giving low-level offenders “a second chance.” In Charleston, S.C., Nancy Mace, Republican, touted a state law she sponsored that barred the shackling of pregnant women during labor. Both women defeated Democratic House incumbents. In a video arguing for for maintaining Republican dominance of the Senate, Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky chose three issues — tax cuts, judicial appointments and criminal justice reform.
The First Step Act, which expanded release opportunities for federal prisoners, is widely cited as President Donald Trump’s most significant bipartisan achievement. Activists who have been pushing to rein in the excesses of a punitive system hope to advance their agenda, which includes such measures as banning no-knock warrants, making police disciplinary records public and rethinking lengthy sentences for juveniles. They hope that voters will distinguish between calls to “defund the police,” which Republicans used to attack Democrats, and bipartisan efforts to improve accountability and fairness. “I actually think the winning argument was you can be for law and order, and you can be for second chances,” said Holly Harris of the Justice Action Network, a nonpartisan advocacy group. Still, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) trashed her Republican opponent, Representative Doug Collins, for his support of criminal justice reform.