The Daily Brew: The incumbents who sought a change of scenery

Welcome to the Tuesday, Feb. 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 344 members of Congress, state legislators sought another office in 2020
  2. Pennsylvania Secretary of Commonwealth to resign after error in constitutional amendment process
  3. Election result anticipated in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

344 members of Congress, state legislators sought another office in 2020

Ballotpedia regularly tracks incumbent success rates for congressional and state legislative incumbents. Another aspect of that analysis is how state legislators and members of Congress do when they run for a different office.

Last year, Ballotpedia tracked 344 officials in Congress and state legislatures who ran for a different office than the one to which they were elected. Of those 344 officials, 162 (47%) won election to a new position.

Of the 344 state legislators and members of Congress who sought another office in 2020, 169 (49%) were Republicans, 173 (50%) were Democrats, and two were independents. Overall, fifty-six percent of Republicans and 39% of Democrats won election to a new office. 

  • Fourteen members of the U.S. House and eight members of the U.S. Senate sought election to a different office. 
    • Four House members and all eight U.S. Senate members ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, losing to Joe Biden (D). 
    • Three Republican House members (45%) and two Democratic House members (28%) won election to a new position.
    • One House member lost in the general election and three others were defeated in their party’s primary. One withdrew before the primary.
    • The 14 House members who sought election to a different office included seven Democrats and seven Republicans.
    • Compared to 2018, fewer members of the U.S. House sought a different office in 2020. In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 21 members of the House who sought election to statewide offices, including 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Forty-three percent won the general election.
  • In the state legislatures, 322 state lawmakers from 44 states ran for other elected office, with 49% winning their elections. Fifty-four percent of state representatives and 32% of state senators were successful in their bids for other elected office. Of the 322 state legislators, 162 were Republicans and 158 were Democrats. Two ran as independents. 
    • Fifty-seven percent of Republican state legislators and 41% of Democratic state legislators won election to a new position. 
    • Of the 244 state representatives who ran for a different office, a majority (59%) sought a state senate seat. Seventy-eight state senators ran for a different office, with the most sought-after (35%) being a seat in the U.S. House.
    • Compared to 2018, 150 fewer state legislators ran for another office in 2020. In 2018, 472 ran for a new position, with 46% successfully doing so.

>Read on 

Pennsylvania Secretary of Commonwealth to resign after error in constitutional amendment process

Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) is expected to resign on Feb. 5 after her office failed to advertise a constitutional amendment as the state constitution requires. I asked our ballot measures team to explain how the process works in Pennsylvania.

A constitutional amendment must be approved at two successive sessions of the Pennsylvania Legislature. During the 2019-2020 legislative session, both legislative chambers approved the amendment. It was reintroduced during the 2021-2022 session, and the state House re-approved it on Jan. 27. 

The Pennsylvania Constitution (Section 1 of Article XI) required Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) to publish the constitutional amendment in at least two newspapers in each of the state’s 67 counties during each of the three months before the next general election (Nov. 3, 2020). On Feb. 1, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of State announced that officials did not advertise the constitutional amendment as required. The department’s press release said, “While the department will take every step possible to expedite efforts to move this initiative forward, the failure to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment means the process to amend the constitution must now start from the beginning.” 

Voters could have decided the constitutional amendment at the upcoming election on May 18, but the two-session process will now need to restart. The earliest the amendment could be referred to the ballot is now May 16, 2023. 

The constitutional amendment would have created a two-year period in which persons can file civil suits arising from childhood sexual abuse that would otherwise be considered outside the statute of limitations. A 2018 grand jury report that investigated child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church recommended the two-year litigation window.

Boockvar said in a statement that she learned of the error the week prior and immediately notified Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) office. “I’ve always believed that accountability and leadership must be a cornerstone of public service,” she said. Gov. Wolf appointed Boockvar to the office in 2019. 

Pennsylvania is not the only state to miss a constitutionally required advertisement period for constitutional amendment in recent years. 

In 2019, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) said that his office failed to report two constitutional amendments that the 86th Iowa General Assembly (2017-2018) approved in 2018. Like the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Iowa Constitution required notifications of the constitutional amendments to be published at least three months before the following general election. 

Unlike Pennsylvania, the Iowa Constitution doesn’t specify who needs to publish the amendment. Rather, it is set in statute. In response to the error, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill to make the state legislature, rather than secretary of state, responsible for publishing proposed constitutional amendments passed in one legislative session. Since the Pennsylvania Constitution specifically requires the secretary of commonwealth to publish amendments, a constitutional amendment would be needed to pursue a similar policy change as Iowa.

Thirty-six state constitutions have a publication requirement for proposed constitutional amendments. Most require public notice prior to the election at which voters are to decide a constitutional amendment. 

In six states (out of 13) with a two-session process for legislatively referred constitutional amendments, there are constitutionally mandated publication requirements in between approval in the first legislative session and the second legislative session. Those states are Iowa, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

>Read on

Election result anticipated in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

After a months-long litigation process, a final vote count is expected as early as today, Feb. 2, in the race for New York’s 22nd Congressional District between Anthony Brindisi (D) and Claudia Tenney (R). This election is one of two U.S. House races whose outcome remains unclear following the 2020 election cycle. New York’s 22nd does not currently have a voting representative in the U.S. House since no winner was certified before the 117th Congress was sworn in.

The most recent unofficial count shows Tenney with a 112-vote lead over Brindisi. These updated numbers were released following the recanvassing of Oneida County’s affidavit ballots on Jan. 29. Justice Scott DelConte of the Oswego County Supreme Court ordered the count to identify ballots cast by individuals whose voter registrations were not processed by the county board of elections in time for the election. Of the 1,097 ballots recanvassed, it was determined that 393 were cast by voters with unprocessed voter registrations.

Also on Jan. 29, DelConte released his final ruling on the absentee and affidavit ballot challenges brought by the Brindisi and Tenney legal teams. The decision included rulings on 17 types of ballot challenges. Of the 1,188 challenges made by the candidates, 470 were affirmed, 139 were overturned, 533 were withdrawn, and three were not preserved for judicial review. 

In his decision, DelConte ordered the boards of elections in the county to certify their election results in court on Feb. 2, meaning a winner in the race could be determined as soon as today. If results are certified with Tenney keeping her lead, the House will be composed of 221 Democrats and 212 Republicans. 

Follow along with us as we track the race at the link below.

>Read on