The Daily Brew: 13 politicians played in at least one Super Bowl

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 3, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. At least 13 politicians have played in the Super Bowl
  2. Delaware Legislature amends state constitution to prohibit discrimination according to race, color, national origin
  3. 20 state executive offices switched party control in 2020

At least 13 politicians have played in the Super Bowl

Super Bowl week is here. So, let’s see, Super Bowl and politics…how can we bring the two together? How about exploring which political figures have ever played in a Super Bowl?

We identified 13 people who played in at least one Super Bowl from 1970 to 2010 before running for elected office or serving in government. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967.

Of those 13, Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings made the most Super Bowl appearances with four each. Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006, and Page was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, where he served until reaching the court’s mandatory retirement age in 2015.

These 13 Super Bowl participants ran for office in 11 different states—Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Of the 13, six are current political figures, including two in the U.S. House—Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah). Eight of the politicians who played in the Super Bowl ran as Republicans, and two ran as Democrats. Three served in offices that were officially nonpartisan.

Nine of these 13 Super Bowl players were elected. Three were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, one to a state Senate district, one to a state supreme court, one to a local court, one to a county council, one to a county commission, and one to a mayoral office. The full list is presented in the chart below.

Are there any Super Bowl participants that you know of that we missed? Send us an email at editor@ballotpedia.org.

>Read on

Delaware Legislature amends state constitution to prohibit discrimination according to race, color, national origin 

We wrote yesterday in the Brew about a recent issue with a state constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania. Here’s a story about how Delaware recently changed its constitution, using its one-of-a-kind process.

The Delaware Legislature approved a constitutional amendment on Jan. 28 prohibiting discrimination according to race, color, and national origin. Delaware is the only state where the legislature can amend the state constitution without a ballot measure appearing before voters.

This new amendment adds “race, color, national origin” to the state constitution’s Bill of Rights. That section now reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, national origin, or sex.”

There are two ways to amend Delaware’s constitution. 

  • The state legislature must approve a proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote of each chamber in two consecutive legislative sessions. Such amendments do not require the governor’s signature before becoming effective.
  • The Delaware constitution can also be amended through a constitutional convention. The state legislature can refer the following question for voters to decide via a two-thirds vote in each chamber: “Shall there be a Convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?” If a simple majority of voters approves the question, the state will hold a constitutional convention.

In the 49 other states, the legislature must refer proposed constitutional amendments to the ballot for voter approval. States have varying requirements for constitutional amendments originating in the legislatures. Some have multiple processes with separate requirements:

  • Ten states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Nine states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a 60% supermajority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Seventeen states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Fifteen states, including Delaware, have a two-session process for proposed constitutional amendments. 
  • Four states—Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—have an either/or system, meaning that the legislature must pass a proposed amendment in two separate legislative sessions or a supermajority vote of one session.

>Read on 

20 state executive offices switched party control in 2020

One hundred and sixty-five state executive offices were up for election last year. Partisan control of 20 of those offices changed on Nov. 3. Republicans had a net gain of three state executive offices, and Democrats had a net loss of two.

In 2016, the last presidential election year, there were 93 state executive offices up for regular election. That year, partisan control of 23 offices changed, with Republicans having a net gain of 18 offices and Democrats having a net loss of 17.

Following the 2020 elections, Republicans hold nationwide majorities of all four top state executive offices:

  • There are 27 Republican governors and 23 Democratic governors.
  • There are 25 Republican lieutenant governors, 20 Democratic lieutenant governors, and five states without a lieutenant governor.
  • There are 25 Republican state attorneys general, 23 Democratic state attorneys general, and two nonpartisan state attorneys general.
  • There are 25 Republican secretaries of state, 21 Democratic secretaries of state, one independent, and three states without a secretary of state.

Eleven offices switched from Democratic to Republican control, and eight offices went from Republican to Democratic control. Vermont’s lieutenant governor changed from David Zuckerman (Vermont Progressive Party) to Molly Gray (D).

In two states, a change in partisan control of state executive offices resulted in a change in that state’s trifecta or triplex status. 

  • Greg Gianforte (R) defeated Mike Cooney (D) for Montana’s open governor’s office. Republicans maintained their majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, so Gianforte’s win created a Republican trifecta and triplex in the state.
  • Shemia Fagan (D) defeated Kim Thatcher (R) to win the election for Oregon’s secretary of state. Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not seek re-election. Because the governor and attorney general were already Democrats, Fagan’s win resulted in a Democratic triplex.

The 20 offices that changed control were spread across 15 states. There was a net gain for Democrats in eight states and a net gain for Republicans in seven. The state with the most Democratic gains was Kansas, where two positions on the state board of education changed from Republican to Democratic control. The state with the most Republican gains was Michigan, where three members of the state university boards of regents switched from Democrats to Republicans.

The map below shows states where party changes occurred in 2020. States shaded dark gray saw no change in the party control of the state executive offices up for election in 2020. In the case of Utah, the state began holding partisan elections for offices that were previously nonpartisan. Those elections were excluded from this analysis.

>Read on 




About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.