Kentucky U.S. House elections feature first open seat since 2016, most candidates since at least 2014

Welcome to the Thursday, February 24, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Kentucky sees largest number of U.S. House candidates since at least 2014
  2. Committee behind an initiative to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers in D.C. submits signatures for the June ballot
  3. Thirty-nine state legislative special elections scheduled for 2022

Kentucky sees largest number of U.S. House candidates since at least 2014

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Kentucky was just about a month ago – Jan. 25, 2022. This year, 31 candidates are running for Kentucky’s six U.S. House districts: nine Democrats and 22 Republicans. That’s 5.2 candidates per district, the highest number of candidates per district in the state since at least 2014.

Democrats currently represent one U.S. House district in Kentucky and Republicans represent five.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  1. This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. Kentucky was apportioned six districts, the same number it received after the 2010 census.
  2. One district—the 3rd—is open with Rep. John Yarmuth (D) retiring from politics. Yarmuth was first elected in 2006 after defeating Rep. Anne Northup (R). The 3rd District has not been open since 1994.
  3. This is the first election cycle since 2016 featuring an open U.S. House district in Kentucky.
  4. With six districts, there are 12 possible primaries, two for each district. Of that total, voters will participate in eight contested primaries (67%), more than in 2020 and equal to the total in 2018. There will be three contested Democratic primaries and five for Republicans.
  5. Of the five incumbents seeking re-election, four are facing primary challenges, the same number as 2020, both of which are the highest since at least 2014. All five incumbents are Republicans.
  6. Every district is set to feature major party competition, meaning at least one Democrat and at least one Republican filed to run. Since 2014, only the 2016 election cycle saw uncontested general elections for U.S. House in Kentucky when two Republicans won without any Democratic opposition.
  7. The open 3rd District has nine candidates running, more than any other district: two Democrats and seven Republicans.

Kentucky and four other states—Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—are holding primary elections on May 17.

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Committee behind an initiative to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers in D.C. submits signatures for the June ballot

This Tuesday, the DC Committee to Build a Better Restaurant Industry submitted 34,000 signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections in an effort to place Initiative 82 on the June ballot. Initiative 82 would incrementally increase the tipped minimum wage from $5.05 in 2021 to match the minimum wage of non-tipped employees in 2027. In D.C., the minimum wage for non-tipped employees was $15.20 as of July 2021.

In D.C., proponents have 180 days from the time the Board of Elections approves the initiative to gather a number of signatures equal to at least 5 percent of the voters registered citywide. Signatures from 5 percent of registered voters in five of eight city wards are required to meet the city’s distribution requirement. For Initiative 82, approximately 26,000 valid signatures are required to be certified for the ballot. The Board of Elections has 30 days to count and review the signatures.

Adam Eidinger, a campaign organizer, said, “This is where the citizens get to write the law. If the Council’s not gonna help restaurant workers, a restaurant worker can write the law, propose it and put it directly to the voters.”

The proposed change was previously approved by D.C. voters as Initiative 77 in June 2018 by a margin of ​​55.74% to 44.26%. However, the Washington, D.C., Council voted 8-5 to repeal the measure in October 2018. The repeal was sponsored by the chairman of the D.C. Council, Phil Mendelson (D), whose term as chairman expires in 2023. At the time, Mendelson said, “77 may be well-intentioned, but the very people the Initiative is intended to help are overwhelmingly opposed. If we want to help workers – protect them from harassment and exploitation – there are better ways than Initiative 77.”

Mendelson told NBC4 Washington that he opposes Initiative 82 but would not try to repeal it if it were passed by voters again. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) also opposed the initiative in 2018 but has yet to take a stance on Initiative 82.

Initiative 82’s endorsers include the metro area chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Our Revolution DC, and SEIU 32BJ.

Initiative 82 is one of several ballot initiatives this year related to the minimum wage. In November, Nevada voters will decide on a $12 minimum wage ballot measure. Campaigns are also collecting signatures for minimum wage initiatives in California, Idaho, Michigan, and Nebraska.

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Thirty-nine state legislative special elections scheduled for 2022

Thirty-nine state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 19 states in 2022. Fourteen special elections have taken place already. The 14 already-held elections filled vacancies left by 11 Democratic lawmakers and three Republicans. Candidates from the same party as the former incumbent have won every state legislative special election so far this year.

By this time in 2021, 27 special elections had been called in 16 states. There were 33 special elections called in 15 states by this time in 2020. No seats flipped in the 14 special elections that had taken place between the two years; six in 2021 and eight in 2020.

An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even-numbered years. An average of 85 special elections took place in the past six odd-numbered years. Between 2011 and 2021, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.

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