The Daily Brew: Partisan splits in states holding 2022 U.S. Senate elections

Welcome to the Thursday, Feb. 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Partisan splits in states holding 2022 U.S. Senate elections
  2. Alaska House of Representatives elects speaker for 2021 session
  3. Wisconsin spring primary review

Partisan splits in states holding 2022 U.S. Senate elections

In a recent Brew edition, we gave you a rundown of the states holding U.S. Senate elections in 2022. Today, let’s look at the political affiliations of the statewide officeholders in those states. 

Of the 34 Senate seats up for election on Nov. 8, 2022, Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. We took a look at party differences between:

  • the Senate incumbents and their state’s other senator, 
  • their state’s governor, and 
  • their state’s 2020 presidential winner.

Split Senate delegations

Five states have both a Democratic and Republican senator in the 117th Senate: Maine, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. This is the fewest number of states with split Senate delegations in history, according to Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota. 

Four of the seven states with split delegations in 2021 have Senate seats up for election in 2022. Vermont has one Democratic senator and one independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, so three states with seats up for election have senators in different caucuses: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In all three, the seats up for election in 2022 are currently held by Republicans.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have already announced they are not running for re-election next year.

Senator’s vs. governor’s party

Eleven seats up for election are currently held by a senator of a different party than the state’s governor. Six seats held by Republican senators in states with Democratic governors are up. Five seats held by Democratic senators in states with Republican governors are up.

States won by presidential candidate of a different party

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson(R)).

Keep reading at the link below for a full analysis of the 2022 Senate elections.

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Alaska House of Representatives elects speaker for 2021 session

On Feb. 11—24 days after the 2021 legislative session began on Jan. 19th—the Alaska House of Representatives elected a permanent speaker of the House. Members elected Rep. Louise Stutes (R) in a 21-19 vote.

Here’s some background on the story.

Since the start of the current session, House members had been divided between supporters of a Republican-led majority and those favoring a multipartisan coalition. Republicans won a 21-19 majority in the 2020 general election, but in December, Stutes joined the coalition bloc composed of 16 Democrats and three independents, leaving each faction with 20 members. 

In January, Reps. Bart LeBon (R), Laddie Shaw (R), and Neal Foster (D) were nominated for the speakership, but each vote ended in an even 20-20 split. On Feb. 4th, the House unanimously elected Rep. Josiah Patkotak (I) as temporary speaker. Rep. Ben Carpenter (R) said the House Republican Caucus nominated Patkotak, who is a member of the coalition bloc, to “alleviate the Lt. Governor from his temporary responsibility as presiding officer and to move the discussion forward about finding a permanent presiding officer.”

Rep. Kelly Merrick’s (R) vote for Stutes ultimately broke the recurring tie votes. Merrick said, “Today, I voted to elect Republican Representative Louise Stutes as Speaker of the House, ending more than three weeks of deadlock and allowing the Legislature to move forward. It was by no means an easy decision to make, but it ensured that no matter how organization comes together, there will be a Republican Speaker.”

The three-week period without a House speaker is the second-longest in the state’s history. In 2018, similar divisions kept House members from electing a speaker until Feb. 14th, 2019, when a coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker and agreed to split other key leadership and committee positions between the two parties.

Ballotpedia identified ten instances since 1994 where a member of the minority party held a state legislative chamber’s top leadership position. We also identified seven instances where bipartisan coalitions worked together to install in a top leadership position a member of the majority party whom most members of the majority party did not support. Click here to learn more about these situations and how they developed. 

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Wisconsin spring primary review

Wisconsin held the first statewide primaries of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Let’s look at the preliminary results.

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction was the only statewide nonpartisan primary on the ballot. 

  • Seven candidates filed for the office. 
  • Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor did not file to run for election. Taylor was first appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who resigned the seat after being elected governor in 2018. 
  • According to unofficial results, the highest number of votes went to Jill Underly (27.3%) and Deborah Kerr (26.5%). Both candidates advanced to the general election. 
    • Underly was endorsed by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teacher union. After the primary, she was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Kerr describes herself as a Democrat but has received support from Republican officials and local parties. Kerr leads the primary field in fundraising. 

Two partisan state legislative special elections were on the otherwise-nonpartisan ballot. 

  • Wisconsin State Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. One Democrat, three Republicans, and two independent candidates filed for the seat. John Jagler defeated Todd Menzel and Don Pridemore in the Republican primary, receiving 57.1% of the unofficial vote. He faces Melissa Winker (D), Ben Schmitz (American Solidarity Party), and Spencer Zimmerman (Trump Conservative Party) in the general election.
  • State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector. One Democrat and five Republicans filed for the seat. Elijah Behnke won the Republican primary with 44.5% of the unofficial vote. He faces Karl Jaeger (D) in the general election.

If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election on April 6. The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats and local nonpartisan seats.

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