Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination
Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination on May 10 after six rounds of vote-counting using ranked-choice voting. Youngkin defeated six candidates, including business owner Pete Snyder, state Sen. Amanda Chase, and former House Speaker Kirk Cox. After the final round of vote-counting, Youngkin received 55% of the delegate vote to Pete Snyder’s 45%.
Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, the Virginia Republicans held an unassembled convention on May 8 across 39 satellite locations for all three statewide executive offices—governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Delegates cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting to determine a winner, rather than using multiple rounds of voting.
Ranked-choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of adjusted votes.
Youngkin led the field of Republican candidates in fundraising. According to campaign finance reports, he raised $7.7 million as of March 31. He is the former co-CEO and president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, where he worked from 1995 to 2020.
Youngkin responded to our Candidate Connection survey before the convention. In it, he said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.” Click here to read all of his survey responses.
Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is unable to seek re-election due to term limits. Virginia’s constitution prevents the governor from running for a second consecutive term, although there is no lifetime term limit.
Democrats have won every statewide election in Virginia since 2012. The last Republican to win the governorship was Bob McDonnell (R) in 2009. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in the state for the first time since 1994.
Voters deciding nine ballot measures in seven states in response to coronavirus or pandemic-related regulations
Ballotpedia has been tracking certified and potential ballot measures that were proposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and coronavirus-related regulations. Nine statewide measures in seven states have already qualified for the ballot, and eight more measures in five states have been proposed.
One statewide measure related to the pandemic has already been approved. Last November, New Jersey voters approved Public Question 3, 58% to 42%, which postpones state legislative redistricting until after the 2021 election if the state received federal census data after February 15, 2021. The Census Bureau released apportionment counts last month and announced that it would deliver redistricting data to the states by September 30.
Pennsylvania voters will decide two constitutional amendments May 18 on the governor’s emergency powers, which have been a point of conflict between the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf during the pandemic. One amendment would limit a governor’s emergency declaration to 21 days unless the legislature votes on a concurrent resolution to extend the order. The other amendment would allow the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass a resolution, which the governor cannot veto, by a simple majority to extend or terminate the governor’s emergency declaration.
Voters will decide at least six other measures in the 2022 general election on topics such as changes to election laws prior to an election, how state legislatures can be called into and conduct special sessions, and restrictions on religious freedom.
Ballotpedia has also identified three local ballot measures passed last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic and coronavirus-related regulations:
- Miami, Florida, voters approved a non-binding measure in favor of creating a COVID-19 screening program at the Miami International Airport,
- DuPage County, Illinois, voters approved a non-binding measure advising the county to stockpile personal protective equipment (PPE) for distribution to nursing homes, first responders, health care providers, and at-risk communities,
- Sacramento, California, voters amended the city charter allowing the city to delay the completion of the redistricting process from 2021 to 2022.
Annette Ziegler becomes chief justice of Wisconsin Supreme Court
Annette Ziegler began a two-year term as chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on May 1. She succeeds Patience Roggensack, who had served as chief justice since April 2015.
Until 2015, the justice with the longest continuous service on the Wisconsin Supreme Court served as the chief justice, unless that justice declined (in which case the role passed to the next senior justice of the court). Voters passed a state constitutional amendment in April of that year—Question 1—that changed the selection method to a majority vote of the current justices.
Ziegler was first elected to the court in 2007 and was re-elected unopposed to another ten-year term in 2017. She previously served as a Washington County Circuit Court judge, becoming the first female judge in that county.
Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are officially nonpartisan. Ballotpedia’s State Court Partisanship Study identifies Ziegler as a mild Republican.
Chief justices of the state supreme courts act as head of the judiciaries in their states, in addition to serving as a justice on the court. Each state has different laws providing for the selection of its chief justice(s). Ballotpedia has categorized four methods of selection, as follows:
- Appointment: chief justices are appointed to the position by the governor, state legislature, or other body
- Chamber vote: the court’s justices choose a chief justice from amongst themselves
- Popular vote: chief justices are elected to the position by voters in the state
- Seniority: the chief justice is determined based on their length of service on the court
State supreme court chief justices in Wisconsin and 22 other states are selected by chamber vote. Fourteen (14) states select chief justices by appointment, seven by popular vote, and six by seniority.
And if all this sounds really interesting and you want to learn more about state supreme courts and our State Court Partisanship Study, please join us later today for a briefing with one of the study’s primary authors. Click here to register for your spot!