25 years of legislative party switches

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, Dec. 4, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day

  1. Pennsylvania state Senator becomes 10th state legislator to switch parties in 2019
  2. Filing deadline roundup
  3. Kavanaugh statement suggests Supreme Court could revisit nondelegation doctrine

Pennsylvania state Senator becomes 10th state legislator to switch parties in 2019

Pennsylvania state Sen. John Yudichak announced Nov. 19 that he had changed his party affiliation from Democratic to Independent. Yudichak also said he would begin caucusing with the state Senate’s Republican majority. Yudichak was first elected in 2010 and ran unopposed for re-election in both 2014 and 2018. His current term runs until 2022.

Yudichak’s switch means that the Pennsylvania Senate now has 27 Republicans, 21 Democrats, one independent, and one vacancy. 

Yudichak is the 10th state legislator to switch parties in 2019. Five state representatives left the Democratic Party, four state representatives left the Republican Party, and one state senator left the Republican Party. 

Ballotpedia has tracked 124 state legislators—35 state senators and 89 state representatives—who have switched parties since 1994. This includes 71 state lawmakers who switched from Democrat to Republican and 19 who switched from Republican to Democrat. The rest either switched to or from third parties or chose to become independents.

Party switchers

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Filing deadline roundup 

Candidate filing deadlines are this month for the 2020 elections in California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. Here are updates from three of those states: 


Illinois’ filing deadline for established party candidates was Monday, Dec. 2.  According to state law, an established political party is one whose candidates received more than 5% of the total vote cast in any district or political subdivision. Primary elections in Illinois are on March 17.

The offices on the ballot in Illinois include the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Dick Durbin (D), all 18 U.S. House districts, 20 of 59 state Senate seats, all 118 state House districts, four state Supreme Court seats, 10 intermediate appellate court seats, and local offices.


California’s filing deadline is Friday—Dec. 6. Offices on the ballot include all 53 U.S. House districts, 20 out of 40 state Senate seats, and all 80 state House districts. The filing deadline will be extended by five days in races where the incumbent does not file for re-election. California’s top-two primaries are on March 3.

There will be a special election in California’s 25th Congressional District in early 2020, after the resignation of Katie Hill (D) on Nov. 1. The deadline for candidates to file to run in the special election is Jan. 9—after the statewide filing deadline. The primary election in that race is on March 3 and the special election is May 12.

North Carolina

A three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court ruled unanimously Monday, Dec. 2 that the state’s 2020 U.S. House elections will take place under a remedial map state lawmakers adopted in November. The state legislature approved the remedial map along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. The court had earlier ruled that the previous map—enacted in 2016—was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

The court also ordered that the candidate filing period for U.S. House districts should begin immediately, after previously delaying the filing period for those offices pending its consideration of the remedial map. The ruling means that candidate filing is underway for all offices in North Carolina until Dec. 20. 

The other December filing deadlines are Texas (12/9) and Ohio (12/18). The 2020 candidate filing deadlines in two states—Alabama and Arkansas—passed in November. You can view our full list of filing deadlines for the 2020 election cycle here.

Kavanaugh statement suggests Supreme Court could revisit nondelegation doctrine

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued an opinion Nov. 25—published with the court’s orders—hinting he would consider reviewing the nondelegation doctrine, a legal principle that prohibits legislative bodies from delegating their powers to either executive agencies or private entities.

Last term, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Gundy v. United States that the U.S. attorney general’s authority to issue regulations under the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) did not violate the nondelegation doctrine. In his dissent from that decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch argued that the delegation of authority from Congress to the attorney general in SORNA was unconstitutional and that Congress cannot let administrative agencies decide major policy questions. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas joined Gorsuch’s dissent. 

Justice Samuel Alito voted with the majority in Gundy but wrote a separate opinion saying he would be willing to reconsider the court’s approach to nondelegation questions if a majority of the justices agreed. Kavanaugh suggested that at least some congressional delegations of power are, in his view, unconstitutional and argued that Gorsuch’s analysis of the nondelegation doctrine in Gundy “may warrant further consideration in future cases.”

Law professor Jonathan Adler, who is critical of legislative bodies unlawfully delegating power, responded to Kavanaugh’s statement saying that if Kavanaugh’s message is “not an invitation for litigants to bring additional non-delegation challenges” then he does “not know what is.” 

Ian Millhiser, a Supreme Court writer for Vox who defends delegation as settled law, suggested that Kavanaugh’s statement is “significant because it shows that there are almost certainly five votes on the Supreme Court to slash agencies’ regulatory power.”   

The nondelegation doctrine is a fascinating and important legal principle that affects all three branches of government, and how they interact. If you want to learn more about this topic, we have a Learning Journey about it that will increase your understanding in just five days. I know it did for me! Each day, we’ll send you an email with information, examples, and exercises to help you understand it. Along the way, you can contact us with any questions and comments you may have. It’s fun, free, and easy.