Latest stories

Three San Francisco school board members face recall elections on Feb. 15

Welcome to the Friday, January 28, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing the Feb. 15 recall election of three San Francisco, Calif., school board members
  2. Michigan Supreme Court overturns distribution and circulation registration requirements for initiative petition drives
  3. More on the process to fill a Supreme Court vacancy

Previewing the Feb. 15 recall election of three San Francisco, Calif., school board members

Recall elections against Alison Collins, Gabriela López, and Faauuga Moliga—three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California—are on the ballot on Feb. 15. 

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Siva Raj, a parent who filed the notices of intent to recall along with Autumn Looijen, said, “We are parents, not politicians, and intend to stay that way. We are determined to ensure San Francisco’s public schools provide a quality education for every kid in the city.” Supporters also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district amid the pandemic. 

Collins, López, and Moliga were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates

In response to the effort, Collins said, “We can’t let people scare us. When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

López said, “The people who are behind this don’t know us, they don’t know our work, they don’t know what we’ve been doing, they don’t know what we are dedicated to. They hear what’s out there and they recognize this is an opportunity to bring down someone who is me.”

Moliga said, “The recall effort shows there is a group of parents that are frustrated with the school board. I am the first Pacific Islander ever elected in office in San Francisco, giving my marginalized community a voice in local government for the first time.” 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, endorsed the recall on Nov. 9, 2021. 

We’ve tracked 23 school board recall efforts so far in 2022, more than the year-end totals for five of the past 13 years. Last year, we tracked a decade-high 92 efforts against 237 board members, 0.4% of whom were removed from office.

While some states require recall supporters to have a specific reason for the recall, others, including California, do not. Ballotpedia researches the reasons for recalls in both scenarios. The recall effort in San Francisco is one of nine across the U.S. in 2022 where recall supporters cited district policies regarding the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for the recall. This matches the number of COVID-related recalls as 2020. There were 54 such recalls in 2021.

In related school board news, we are preparing to launch Ballotpedia’s Hall Pass in the coming weeks, a free weekly newsletter designed to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and education policy. Subscribe today to receive our very first edition!

Keep reading 

Michigan Supreme Court overturns distribution and circulator registration requirements for initiative petition drives

On Jan. 24, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned two provisions of a 2018 law that changed aspects of the state’s initiative process. The provisions of House Bill 6595 (HB 6595) the court said were unconstitutional were:

The supreme court upheld a provision of HB6595 requiring paid circulators to identify on petition forms that they are paid.

The Michigan State Legislature passed and former Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed HB 6595 in December 2018. A month earlier, in the 2018 general election, Michigan voters approved three initiatives to:

  • Legalize marijuana;
  • Create an independent redistricting commission; and,
  • Add voting policies, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, and no-excuse absentee voting, as constitutional rights.

Ballotpedia recently published an analysis comparing the difficulty of different states’ signature distribution requirements. The analysis was based on two factors in particular:

  • The percentage of jurisdictions from which signatures must be collected; and,
  • The size of the requirement in each required jurisdiction.

Before it was overturned, Michigan’s distribution requirement was near the middle of the pack when compared to the other 16 states with distribution requirements for initiatives and veto referendums. Seven states had easier requirements and nine states plus D.C. had roughly equal or harder requirements. Mississippi’s requirement, as interpreted by the state supreme court in 2021, is mathematically impossible to meet with the state’s current four congressional districts.

Keep reading 

More on the process to fill a Supreme Court vacancy

On Jan. 27, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announced his plan to retire at the end of the court’s 2021-2022 term. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution says the President of the United States “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…judges of the supreme Court.” Here are three more important things to know about the process to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court:

  1. The most public part of this process is when the nominee testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee and takes questions. The hearing, which is kept open at the chairperson’s discretion, is where you will see senators asking the nominee questions directly. This appearance became a standard part of the process with the nomination of John M. Harlan in 1955. The first televised nomination hearing was in 1981 for Sandra Day O’Connor.
  1. One major recent change to the process of confirming a Supreme Court justice came on April 6, 2017, during Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation process. The U.S. Senate lowered the threshold to close debate on Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority from 60 votes. Before that change, any senator from the minority party could filibuster, or block, a nominee if there were an insufficient number of votes to end the debate.
  1. A president may also choose to make a recess appointment by appointing a new justice while the Senate is not in session. Under this method, the nominee would not need Senate confirmation. But the justice’s term would end with the end of the next session of Congress, rather than the lifetime appointments we see with Senate confirmation. 

Presidents have made 12 recess appointments to the Supreme Court, most in the 19th century. The most recent was President Dwight Eisenhower’s (R) appointment of Potter Stewart in 1958. Following the expiration of his term, Eisenhower appointed Potter again, this time with a Senate confirmation.

Keep reading



Texas’ U.S. House races to have the fewest candidates per seat this year since at least 2018

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Texas was Dec. 13, 2021. Our team has been crunching the numbers on the filings and sent along a report. This year, 223 candidates are running for Texas’ 38 U.S. House seats, including 143 Republicans, 79 Democrats, and one independent candidate. That’s 5.87 candidates per seat, less than the 6.53 candidates per seat in 2020 and 5.92 in 2018.

This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in Texas gaining two U.S. House seats. Two members of the U.S. House are running for re-election in a different district than the one they currently represent: Lloyd Doggett (D) is running for re-election in the new 37th District, while Vicente Gonzalez (D) is running in the 34th District seat held by retiring Rep. Filemon Vela (D).

Six seats are open, meaning no incumbent is running. In addition to Gonzalez’s and Doggett’s current districts, they are the newly-created 38th District and the 1st, 8th, and 30th districts. 1st District incumbent Louie Gohmert (R) is running for state attorney general, while incumbents Randy Weber (R) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) are retiring from the House.

This is the same number as 2012 (the last elections after redistricting) and 2020. There were seven open seats in 2018.

There are 13 districts where incumbents do not face primary challenges.

Three seats are guaranteed to Republican candidates because they face no opposition. Three more seats are likely to be won by Republicans because no Democrats filed. There are no districts where the same is true of Democratic candidates.

Fifteen candidates each are running in the 15th and 30th districts, more than any other. Six Democrats and nine Republicans are running in the 15th. Nine Democrats and six Republicans filed in the 30th. Both districts are open seats.

Texas’ U.S. House primaries are the first in the country, on March 1, 2022. Candidates need at least 50% of the vote to win in the primary; in the event no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a May 24 runoff.

Additional reading:



Michigan Supreme Court overturns distribution and paid circulator registration requirements for initiative petition drives

On Jan. 24, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled provisions of a 2018 law adding restrictions to the state’s initiative process unconstitutional.

The decision overturned two provisions of House Bill 6595 (HB6595):

  • a distribution requirement to allow no more than 15 percent of required signatures to come from a given congressional district and
  • a registration requirement for paid signature gatherers.

Justice Megan Cavanagh wrote, “It would run directly contrary to the clear intention that nothing more than a minimum number of signatures from the statewide population is necessary to propose changes to Michigan’s laws.”

The supreme court upheld a provision requiring paid circulators to identify that they are paid on petitions forms.

Background on HB 6595

In Dec. 2018, the state legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed HB 6595, which added restrictions to the state’s ballot initiative process. At the time, Michigan had a Republican Trifecta, with the legislature and governor’s office controlled by Republicans.

Michigan voters approved three initiatives on the Nov. 2018 ballot to

  • legalize marijuana;
  • create an independent redistricting commission; and
  • add voting policies, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting, as constitutional rights.

HB 6595 was written to require that no more than 15 percent of required signatures come from a given congressional district, which had the effect of requiring signatures to come from at least seven of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts. HB 6595 also required paid signature gatherers to register with the secretary of state and state on petition sheets that they were paid, among other provisions related to the initiative process.

On Jan. 22, 2019, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) asked Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) for a formal opinion on whether HB 6596 violated the Michigan Constitution’s initiative and referendum provisions. On May 22, 2019, Nessel released an opinion stating that certain provisions of HB 6595, including the distribution requirement, were unconstitutional. The opinion is binding on state officials unless it is overturned by a court ruling. In response to Nessel’s opinion, Rep. Jim Lower (R), who sponsored HB 6595, said, “I don’t think anybody’s surprised. I disagree with the conclusions she has come to, and I think it will be litigated.”

In June 2019, lawsuits were filed against Nessel’s formal opinion. The Republican-controlled state House and Senate filed litigation against Nessel. On Sept. 27, 2019, Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Attorney General Nessel, deciding that the distribution requirement was unconstitutional. Plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

On January 27, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, decided that the state constitution’s signature requirements for citizen-initiated ballot measures are self-executing. The Michigan State Legislature, according to the court, cannot “impose additional obligations on a self-executing constitutional provision.” The Court of Appeals ruled that the distribution requirement was an “unreasonable restraint on the constitutional right of the people to initiate laws.” The House and Senate appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, which initially vacated the case on Dec. 29, 2020, based on standing, but it ruled on the provisions of HB 6595 in Jan. 2022.

Distribution requirements

A distribution requirement states that petitions for an initiative or veto referendum petition must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure or candidate to qualify for the ballot.

In the 26 states that feature the powers of initiative, veto referendum, or both, 16 have laws imposing distribution requirements, while 10 of them, including Michigan, do not.

In seven states, the distribution requirement for statewide initiative petitions is spread out over a state’s counties (Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming). In five states, it is calculated based on state legislative districts (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah). In the other four states with a distribution requirement, it is based on U.S. congressional districts (Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Nevada). Michigan’s overturned distribution requirement law was also based on congressional districts. Washington, D.C., has a distribution requirement for citizen initiatives that is based on city wards.

Ballotpedia published an analysis comparing the difficulty of different state distribution requirements to meet. The analysis was based on two of the many factors determining the difficulty:

  • The percentage of jurisdictions from which signatures must be collected (i.e., from how much of the state must at least some signatures be collected) and
  • The size of the requirement in each required jurisdiction (i.e., how evenly must the signature gathering be spread out across the state).

Michigan’s overturned distribution requirement was near the middle when compared to the other 16 states with distribution requirement laws for initiatives and veto referendums. Seven states had requirements ranked easier based on the two factors, and nine states and D.C. had requirements ranked harder or roughly equal. Mississippi’s requirement, as interpreted by the Mississippi Supreme Court in a 2021 ruling, is mathematically impossible to meet with the states current four congressional districts.



Mike Reichenbach advances from Republican primary to South Carolina Senate general election

A special primary election was held for South Carolina State Senate District 31 on Jan. 25. Mike Reichenbach (R) advanced to the special general election and defeated Jay Jordan (R). 

The special general election is scheduled for March 29. The filing deadline passed on Dec. 11.

The special election was called after the seat became vacant due to the death of Hugh Leatherman (R) on Nov. 12. Hugh Leatherman served from 1981 to 2021. 

As of January 2022, 31 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2021, an average of 74 special elections took place each year. South Carolina has held 33 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2021.

Entering the special election, the South Carolina State Senate has 16 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 24 seats. South Carolina has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:



Hubert Delany wins Connecticut House special election

A special general election was held for the District 144 seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives on Jan. 25. Hubert Delany (D) won the special election with 1,661 votes and defeated Danny Melchionne (R), who received 1,323 votes. 

Candidates running for special elections in Connecticut are nominated through party conventions. The filing deadline for write-in candidates passed on Jan. 11.

The special election was called after Caroline Simmons (D) left office to become mayor of Stamford, Connecticut, on Dec. 1. Simmons served from 2015 to 2021. 

As of January 2022, 31 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2021, an average of 74 special elections took place each year. Connecticut has held 45 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2021.

Entering the special election, the Connecticut House of Representatives had 95 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and three vacancies. A majority in the chamber requires 76 seats. Connecticut has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:



Republicans outraise Democrats by 81% in Wisconsin state legislative races

New campaign finance filings for Wisconsin state legislative races show Republicans leading Democrats in fundraising. Between July 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, Republican candidates outraised Democratic candidates by 81 percent.

Heading into the primary elections, seven Republican candidates raised $202,189 compared to $85,234 raised by four Democrats.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

The candidates who raised the most money were incumbent Howard Marklein (R) in Senate District 17 ($83,863), Romaine Quinn (R) in Senate District 25 ($45,046), and incumbent Chris Kapenga (R) in Senate District 33 ($37,055).

State legislative primary elections are held on August 9, 2022. In some cases, party nominees may be chosen earlier.

Republicans have a 21-12 majority in the Wisconsin State Senate and a 61-38 majority in the Wisconsin State House.

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how much and how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political parties may contribute to campaigns. All campaign financial transactions must be made through the candidate’s committee. Campaign committees are required to file regular campaign finance disclosure reports with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



Republicans outraise Democrats by 44% in Florida state legislative races

New campaign finance filings for Florida state legislative races show Republicans leading Democrats in fundraising. Between July 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, Republican candidates outraised Democratic candidates by 44 percent.

Heading into the primary elections, 27 Republican candidates raised $1.84 million compared to $1.17 million raised by 33 Democrats.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

The candidates who raised the most money were Blaise Ingoglia (R) in Senate District 10 ($459,648), incumbent Ed Hooper (R) in Senate District 16 ($458,995), and Reggie Gaffney (D) in Senate District 6 ($447,959).

State legislative primary elections are held on August 23, 2022. In some cases, party nominees may be chosen earlier.

Republicans have a 24-15 majority in the Florida State Senate and a 78-40 majority in the Florida State House.

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how much and how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political parties may contribute to campaigns. All campaign financial transactions must be made through the candidate’s committee. Campaign committees are required to file regular campaign finance disclosure reports with the Florida Department of State.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 7

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

January 27, 2022

In this issue: Colorado’s O’Dea takes petition route to Senate primary ballot and Dunleavy gets another GOP challenger in Alaska’s top-four primary

Key dates for Texas primary voters

Texas holds the first primaries of the 2022 elections in just over a month. Here are key dates to be aware of:

  • Voter registration deadline: Jan. 31
  • Early in-person voting: Feb. 14-Feb. 25
  • Mail-in ballot application deadline: Feb. 18
  • Election day: March 1 (Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.)

See the Texas Secretary of State’s website for details on who qualifies to vote by mail, ID requirements, and more.

Colorado Senate candidate O’Dea will submit petitions to make primary ballot

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea announced on Jan. 19 that he plans to submit petitions to make the primary ballot instead of going through the party’s nominating assembly. Colorado provides major party candidates those two paths to the primary election ballot.

At the party assembly, a candidate must receive 30% of delegates’ votes to be listed on the ballot. If no candidate receives 30%, a second vote is taken. If no candidate receives 30% in that vote, the top two vote-getters appear on the ballot.

U.S. Senate primary candidates taking the petition path must collect 1,500 signatures from registered primary voters in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. A candidate who takes the assembly path and does not win at least 10% of the vote cannot use the petition route to get on the same party’s primary ballot.

O’Dea is one of eight Republicans seeking the GOP nomination. Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is running for re-election. O’Dea is so far the only GOP candidate seeking to make the ballot via petition, which must be filed with the secretary of state’s office by March 15. The Republican Party’s nominating assembly is April 9.

Fellow Republican Senate candidate Gino Campana wrote, “Joe Odea is petitioning onto the ballot because it’s painfully obvious he is way too liberal to win at the convention. … I have built a grassroots campaign supported by President Trump’s advisors, and I will use this energy to win at the convention.”

O’Dea’s campaign representative said, “Gino can stick his dishonest insults in his very own tax-and-spend-liberal ear. … Joe’s going to compete for every vote in every corner of the state — Republican insiders, Republican outsiders, and all the many Coloradans who are tired of Joe Biden and Michael Bennet’s failed leadership.”

The primary is set for June 28.

Ted Cruz campaigns with David McCormick in Pennsylvania

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Republican Senate primary candidate David McCormick, the former CEO of Bridgewater Associates, at a campaign rally on Jan. 25. As we wrote last week, McCormick also has former Republican primary candidate Sean Parnell’s support. 

Currently, Cruz is the only GOP senator to make an endorsement in the primary. City & State Pennsylvania has tracked endorsements from several U.S. representatives, state legislators, local officials, and more for candidates Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, McCormick, Mehmet Oz, and Carla Sands. Check the list out here.

Last week, we also wrote about ad spending from candidates and satellite groups. Politico wrote this week, “Republican candidates and groups supporting them spent and reserved a combined $15.3 million on TV ads, according to our pals at AdImpact. Of that total, about $3.5 million was reserved by outside GOP groups.”

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring. The primary is scheduled for May 17.

Primary field in Florida’s 13th Congressional District grows

On Jan. 19, attorney Kevin Hayslett entered the Republican primary in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Charlie Crist (D) is running for governor, a position he held from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican.

Hayslett has endorsements from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri (R) and Gualtieri’s predecessor, Jim Coats (R). Five other candidates are running for the Republican nomination, including Anna Paulina Luna, the Republican Party’s 2020 nominee in the district, and Amanda Makki, another returning candidate. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Luna last September and Makki has promoted her endorsements from 12 area mayors.

Luna defeated Makki and three others in the 2020 Republican primary, winning 36% of the vote to Makki’s 28%. Crist defeated Luna in the general election 53-47%.

Florida is in the process of redistricting. Currently, the 13th District has a slight Republican lean of R+1. Most plans would give the Tampa-area district a more Republican tilt ranging from R+2 in the state House’s plan to R+14 in a plan Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) proposed.

The primary will take place on Aug. 23.

Kenai Mayor Charlie Pierce (R) joins top-four Alaska gubernatorial primary

Last week, Kenai Mayor Charlie Pierce (R) announced he is running in Alaska’s gubernatorial primary. Pierce is the second Republican officeholder to challenge incumbent Mike Dunleavy (R). Pierce’s announcement comes as Alaska prepares to hold its first gubernatorial election using a new election system voters approved in 2020 involving top-four all-party primary elections and ranked-choice voting general elections.

Pierce, who was elected mayor in 2017, said he was running due to frustration with Dunleavy and former Gov. Bill Walker (I). Walker is also running this year. The Anchorage Daily News described Pierce’s differences with Dunleavy as “more based on style than substance or policy.”

Dunleavy’s other elected Republican challenger, state Rep. Chris Kurka (R), has criticized the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that Alaska was “awash in Big Pharma-manipulated federal blood money” spent to promote vaccination. 

Also last week, the Alaska GOP announced it was endorsing Dunleavy for re-election. Former President Trump endorsed Dunleavy late last year (on the condition that Dunleavy not endorse U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for re-election). 

In other related news, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the election system voters approved in 2020. The court’s ruling means that the system will go into effect for this year’s elections, including the Aug. 16 gubernatorial primary. Under the system, every candidate will appear on the same primary ballot, regardless of their partisan affiliation. The top four candidates will advance to the general election, in which voters can rank their preferences rather than voting for a single candidate. Click here for details on how ranked-choice voting works.

Alaska is the first state to adopt top-four primaries and the second to adopt ranked-choice voting for statewide elections, after Maine.

Maryland gubernatorial candidate fundraising data

Former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz has raised $1.5 million toward her gubernatorial campaign. Former state Del. Robin Ficker loaned his campaign $1.1 million. Del. Daniel Cox raised $344,000. 

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited and endorsed Schulz. Former President Trump endorsed Cox. We wrote about the dueling endorsements in our second issue.

Democratic primary candidates have raised more than GOP candidates. Wes Moore led Democrats with $4.8 million. Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez raised $2.7 million and former U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., $2.5 million. Several other candidates have announced Democratic primary bids.

Former Lt. Gov. and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele recently announced he would not enter the GOP primary. 

The primaries are scheduled for June 28.  

Ricketts endorses Pillen for governor

On Jan. 18, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) endorsed Jim Pillen in the Republican gubernatorial primary. In October, former President Trump endorsed Charles Herbster in the primary. Ricketts is term-limited. 

Pillen has served on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents since 2013. Ricketts said, “Whether creating Nebraska jobs, fighting Critical Race Theory at the University system, or supporting his fellow ag producers, Jim has consistently shown he’s a leader of principle and integrity.” 

Herbster owns a manufacturing company and the cattle ranch Herbster Angus Farms. Trump said Herbster “has been a tremendous supporter of America First and Make America Great Again, right from the beginning.” 

Ricketts said, “While I agree with President Trump on many things, I strongly disagree that Charles Herbster is qualified to be our next governor — from his choice to headquarter his business in Missouri to his support of tax policy that would tax medical services, prescriptions, and food, as well as more than doubling our sale tax.” 

Herbster said, “It is disappointing to me that Governor Ricketts is supporting a candidate who has a weak record on illegal immigration, who failed to stop Critical Race Theory from seeping into public universities and then voted to fund it with taxpayer dollars, and who has admitted to polluting our most precious resource, water.” 

Several other candidates have filed for the primary so far.


Ricketts also endorsed state Sen. Mike Flood in his Republican primary bid against incumbent Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District. Ricketts said, “Mike will be able to focus his entire energy on representing the first district here in Nebraska and stopping this radical agenda coming out of DC.” Fortenberry said Ricketts’ and former Gov. Dave Heineman’s endorsements of Flood were “particularly disappointing.” 

In October, a federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry on one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Fortenberry pleaded not guilty. 

Nebraska’s primary is scheduled for May 10.

South Carolina Senate District 31 special primary results

On Tuesday, Mike Reichenbach defeated Jay Jordan in the special Republican primary election for Senate District 31 53% to 47%. Former incumbent Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R) died on Nov. 12. Reichenbach will face Suzanne La Rochelle (D) in the special election on March 29.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 7

In this issue: Vincent Fort challenging Rep. David Scott (GA-13) and Massachusetts triplex office primaries take shape

Key dates for Texas primary voters

Texas holds the first primaries of the 2022 elections in just over a month. Here are key dates to be aware of:

  • Voter registration deadline: Jan. 31
  • Early in-person voting: Feb. 14-Feb. 25
  • Mail-in ballot application deadline: Feb. 18
  • Election day: March 1 (Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.)

See the Texas Secretary of State’s website for details on who qualifies to vote by mail, ID requirements, and more.

Former state Sen. Vincent Fort challenging U.S. Rep. David Scott in GA-13

Vincent Fort announced on Jan. 20 he’s challenging U.S. Rep. David Scott in the Democratic primary for Georgia’s 13th Congressional District. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein said this is “one of several ideological battles in Georgia that will help shape the direction of the Democratic Party in 2022.”

Fort said the district “needs someone who believes in Democratic ideals and someone who doesn’t vote like a South Georgia Republican. It needs someone who believes in Medicare for All and doesn’t side with the big banks and predatory lenders.” Bluestein said that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Fort’s bid for Atlanta mayor in 2017 due to Fort calling for “the decriminalization of marijuana, free tuition at Atlanta city colleges and other left-leaning initiatives.”

Bluestein described Scott as a moderate, pointing to his membership in the Blue Dog Coalition and saying Scott endorsed Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) 2016 re-election bid and had “broken party lines to support then-President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and back Republican-led foreign policy efforts.”

Scott campaign spokesman Ralph Jones said in November, “From climate change and crippling student debt, to skyrocketing prescription costs and an economy struggling to build back from COVID-19, Congressman Scott looks forward to continuing his work in the People’s House to lead on solutions to the unprecedented challenges our communities face.” 

Scott was first elected in 2002. Fort served in the state Senate for 20 years before his mayoral bid, in which he placed 5th of 12 candidates.

South Fulton City Councilman Mark Baker and Antonio Gray are also running. The primary is set for May 24. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on June 21.

House members make dueling endorsements in TX-28 primary, newspaper switches its endorsement from 2020

On Jan. 20, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Jessica Cisneros in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th Congressional District. On Jan. 19, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) endorsed incumbent Henry Cuellar. 

Cuellar and Cisneros also ran against one another in the 2020 Democratic primary, which Cuellar won 51.8% to 48.2%.

The San Antonio Express-News, which endorsed Cuellar in the 2020 primary, endorsed Cisneros on Monday, saying Cisneros: “offers a fresh and compelling vision for the district, although she needs to study up on military issues. We appreciate her expertise in immigration law and the potential for her to give voice to border and immigration issues. We are also troubled by Cuellar’s measured support of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which he said could continue with the presence of the United Nations. We also wonder how well Cuellar works with other border lawmakers.”

In 2020, Cisneros’ endorsers included Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Ocasio-Cortez. Cuellar’s endorsers included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).

 

Tannya Benavides is also running in the March 1 primary. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a May 24 primary runoff.

Cuellar was first elected to the House in 2004. The 28th District is one of five districts in Texas that the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting. Three independent election forecasters currently rate the general election either Solid Democratic or Likely Democratic.

Democratic fundraising up after Johnson (R) announces re-election bid, Lasry launches seven-figure ad buy

Several Democrats running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin said they saw boosts in fundraising after incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) announced he would seek re-election on Jan. 9. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ campaign said it raised almost $150,000 in the 72 hours following Johnson’s announcement. According to the Wisconsin State Journal’s Alexander Shur, the campaigns of state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and Milwaukee Bucks Executive Alex Lasry reported fundraising increases.

The deadline for candidates to file their fourth-quarter fundraising report is Jan. 31. The Hill’s Julia Manchester said the Senate race is “on track to be one of the most expensive of the cycle. Barnes raised $1.1 million between July 1 and Sept. 30. Godlewski and Lasry also raised more than $1 million during the time period, but each donated large sums of money to their campaigns.” 

After Lasry’s campaign announced a seven-figure media buy, NBC’s Natasha Korecki said, “This is the largest primary spending by a candidate in the Wisconsin Senate primary race of 2022 so far. … The rotation of ads, first provided to NBC News, offer a glimpse into the issues that could shape the race, such as inflation and the supply chain crunch. They are all issues where the president is faltering nationally but Lasry promises to address back home — and argues he already has.” 

Other issues in the race have manifested in candidates’ early policy plans. According to the Associated Press’ Scott Bauer, while Barnes and Lasry have “focused their first policy initiatives on voting rights and other issues related to protecting the democracy. … Godlewski’s [first major policy plan] takes a different approach, trying to appeal to rural Democrats who could be an important voting bloc in the Aug. 9 primary. [Nelson] has also pitched himself to rural voters as a folksy populist.” 

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 9. 

Who’s running in Massachusetts’ triplex office primaries

Two candidacy announcements within the past week affect primaries for all three of  Massachusetts’ triplex offices—governor, attorney general, and secretary of the commonwealth (also known as secretary of state in many other states). On Jan. 20, Attorney General Maura Healey announced she’s running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, leaving the attorney general race open. And on Jan. 23, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin (D) announced he’s running for re-election. 

Politico Massachusetts Playbook‘s Lisa Kashinsky said of the governor’s race, “In a race where other candidates are running more to their party’s flanks — GOP former state Rep. Geoff Diehl is a former President Donald Trump-backed conservative; state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen are progressives — Healey is striking a more moderate tone. She’s focusing less on her liberal-prosecutor past and more on pocketbook issues like the high cost of living.”

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is not seeking re-election. The state currently has divided triplex control with a Republican governor and Democrats holding the attorney general and secretary offices. 

Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan had already announced Democratic primary bids for attorney general before Healey’s announcement. State House News Service’s Katie Lannan named former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, who ran for mayor of Boston last year, and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan as potential candidates. Lannan said, “State election records show the last time more than two AG candidates made it to the ballot for either party primary was in 1974” and that Democrats have held the office since 1969.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin was first elected in 1994 and faces a primary challenge from NAACP Boston President Tanisha Sullivan. Galvin referred to his experience as equipping him to serve best. Sullivan said she’d expand voting rights and improve public records transparency. 

Primaries are scheduled for Sept. 20.

Tom Suozzi’s first TV ad in NY governor’s race focuses on crime and public safety

Crime and public safety are emerging as issues in New York’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. 

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi released the first TV ad of his gubernatorial bid, saying that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “is actually proposing to downgrade armed robbery to a misdemeanor and to stop prosecuting resisting arrest.” Suozzi said that “if any DA refuses to enforce the law, I’ll remove them.” 

Suozzi said earlier this month, “Crime is a big problem in our state and the governor has not been talking about some of the more controversial issues that are out there right now. … You can’t make it so that the district attorney in Manhattan is not going prosecute a resisting arrest but you’ll get prosecuted for resisting arrest in Queens; that just doesn’t make any sense — it’s a green light for chaos.”

 

Incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul said that “in respect to public safety, my position is very clear… working with the mayor of New York, we are committed to ensuring that there’s public safety for individuals so they don’t have to have that sense of anxiety. And we’re going to get it done.”

Bragg said there was confusion around his memo about downgrading some crimes to misdemeanors. Braggs said robberies with guns will be prosecuted as felonies and resisting-arrest cases involving violence against officers will be prosecuted.

Lee Zeldin, running in the Republican gubernatorial primary, said he would remove Bragg from office. 

Suozzi has also criticized the state’s law, passed in 2019, ending cash bail for certain crimes and criticized Hochul for not taking action to change it. Hochul said she has been in conversation with state legislative leaders about the bail policy.

Hochul, formerly lieutenant governor, assumed the governorship when Andrew Cuomo resigned last year and is seeking a full term. The primary is scheduled for June 28. Three other candidates are running in the Democratic primary so far, including New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Bulmaro Vicente challenges California Assemblyman Tom Daly 

Democrat Bulmaro Vicente announced he is challenging state Rep. Tom Daly in the Assembly District 68 top-two all-party primary. 

Vicente is the policy director for Chispa, which describes itself as an “organizing political home for young Latinx identifying peoples.” With Chispa, Vicente campaigned to pass Senate Bill 2 in the California Assembly, a law allowing police officers to be decertified for certain cases of misconduct. The Daily Post‘s Gabriel San Román wrote that Daly was the only Orange County Democratic Assembly member to vote in favor of the law, which passed. Other county Democrats abstained. 

San Román said, “Even though Daly delivered on what Chispa campaigned for, Vicente counts him as a moderate out of step with the changing progressive politics” of the district. Daly said, “The police decertification bill was the result of months of negotiating, haggling and compromise. There were progressive and moderate elements in that bill and many others.”

Daly has emphasized his record on veterans issues and transportation: “In my first term I was able to change state law so that transportation agencies, like OCTA, are able to combine the design and construction process for major projects. … It’s certainly progressive for taxpayers because it saved them a lot of money.”  

Vicente said, “We needed our state leaders to protect tenants from being evicted — and we didn’t see that. We saw politicians, like Daly, side with landlords, who were evicting tenants late in the pandemic.”

Daly has served in the state Assembly since 2012. Daly currently represents Assembly District 69 but is running in District 68 this year due to redistricting. San Román said, “The new 68th District still encompasses Santa Ana, Anaheim and a larger share of Orange while shedding its portion of Garden Grove. Largely intact, the district favors Latinos, who comprise 56% of the eligible voters, and registered Democrats.”

Vicente served on Berkeley’s Police Review Commission from 2015 to 2017. 

In 2020, no Democratic incumbents in the state legislature were defeated during primary or general elections. Thirty-seven incumbents (43%) total had primary challengers. California’s 2022 primary elections are scheduled for June 7.



Arizona enacts new congressional and legislative maps following transmittal to the secretary of state

Arizona enacted new congressional and legislative districts on Jan. 24, 2022, after the state’s independent redistricting commission transmitted the maps to the secretary of state. Arizona was apportioned nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census. The state also has 30 legislative districts, each of which elects one senator and two representatives.

The redistricting commission originally approved the maps on Dec. 22, 2021. Members unanimously approved the congressional lines and voted 3-2 in favor of the legislative plan with nonpartisan Chairwoman Erika Neuberg joining the two Republican members—David Mehl and Douglas York—in support and the two Democratic members—Shereen Lerner and Derrick Watchman—opposed.

Following their approval, the maps entered a review period during which time towns and counties could suggest minor administrative edits. On Jan. 18, the commission reconvened to discuss incorporating those edits and to certify the maps. The commission voted 3-2 to certify the congressional map on Jan. 18 and 3-2 in favor of the legislative map on Jan. 21 with Neuberg, Mehl, and York voting in support both times and Lerner and Watchman opposed.

At the time of the congressional map’s enactment, Democrats held five U.S. House seats in Arizona and Republicans held four. The Arizona Republic’s Ray Stern wrote, “The new map, should it withstand legal challenges, favors Republicans in five — and possibly six — of the state’s nine districts.”

In a statement, the Arizona Democratic Party said, “Chair Neuberg … abandoned her role as nonpartisan arbiter … [and] has been an active participant in the Republican Commissioners’ efforts to achieve a warped congressional map so gerrymandered, it might as well have been drawn by a Republican legislature.”

Neuberg said her vote in favor “stemmed from fundamental differences and understanding on constitutional responsibilities as it related to redistricting.” Commissioner Mehl said, “I think this map is a terrific map for the state of Arizona … This map really represents what we heard from the public and what we see in the constitution.”

With the legislative map, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Dude wrote, “The final map has 13 Republican districts, 12 Democratic ones and five that would be considered competitive … Four of those five competitive districts lean toward the GOP.”

Following the Dec. 22 meeting when the final maps were initially approved, Commissioner Lerner said, “I think there’s always going to be partisanship. But I feel the partisanship exceeded my expectations.” Neuberg referenced the competitive districts saying, “[T]hese maps will further encourage elected leaders to pay attention to their constituents.”

As of Jan. 25, 25 states have adopted congressional district maps and 29 have adopted legislative lines. Congressional redistricting has been completed for 271 of the 435 seats (62.3%) in the U.S. House. Legislative redistricting has been completed for 3,992 of the 7,383 state legislative seats (54.1%).

Additional reading: