Kentucky GOP U.S. Senator Rand Paul's recent vow that Congress should "nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation" in his executive orders on gun control brings to mind a minor political party which was founded on perceived federal overreach. The Nullifier Party of the 1830s was a state's rights party founded by former Vice-President John Calhoun and was rooted in the principles outlined in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, which held in part that states can nullify federal laws they deemed unconstitutional or laws that adversely affected one state or part of the country over another. Based in South Carolina, the Nullifiers seated two members in the Senate in the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Congresses (1831-1837) with four U.S. Representatives in the 22nd, nine in the 23rd, eight in the 24th, and six in the 25th. For the time being, Senator Paul remains a Republican.
The victory by Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark in Tuesday's 5th Congressional District special election marked the 32nd time a U.S. House seat was won by a woman in the Bay State. Since the first woman was elected to the chamber in 1916 (Montana's Jeannette Rankin), Massachusetts has held 627 seats across the subsequent 49 Congresses. Women have been elected to 5.1 percent of these seats, which is the 21st highest rate in the nation. In addition to Clark, four other female U.S. Representatives have served from Massachusetts: Republican Edith Nourse Rogers (18 terms, 1925-1960), Republican Margaret Heckler (eight terms, 1967-1983), Democrat Louise Day Hicks (one term, 1971-1973), and Democrat Niki Tsongas (four terms, 2007-present).
A total of eight candidates will be on the ballot in New Jersey's gubernatorial election Tuesday. That is the lowest number since 1989, when voters got to choose from six candidates in the ballot access-friendly Garden State. There were 19 gubernatorial hopefuls in 1993, 10 in 1997, nine in 2001, 10 in 2005, and a dozen in 2009. Since 1901, an average of eight candidates have appeared on New Jersey's gubernatorial ballot. As a result, candidates have won with a plurality of the vote eight times during this 110+-year period: in 1907, 1913, 1919, 1934, 1981, 1993, 1997, and 2009. In addition to major party nominees Chris Christie and Barbara Buono, the other six candidates running for governor in 2013 are Kenneth Kaplan (Libertarian), Steven Welzer (Green), William Araujo (Peace and Freedom), Jeff Boss (NSA Did 911), Diane Sare (Glass-Steagall Now), and Hank Schroeder (independent).
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