COVID-19 emergencies still active in 23 states

Welcome to the Monday, March 7, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 27 states
  2. New single-member House districts boost total number of state legislative primaries in West Virginia this year
  3. Two incumbents among candidates in Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District

COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 27 states

At the start of the pandemic, governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring emergencies related to the COVID-19 virus. These orders allowed officials to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. 

As of March 4, 23 states are under an active COVID-19 emergency. Emergency orders have expired in 27 states. 

Alaska and North Dakota were the first states to end their COVID-19 emergency orders, doing so on April 30, 2021. Most recently, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) ended Indiana’s statewide emergency on March 4. Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) ended the statewide emergency on March 1.

Some governors ended their original emergency orders and issued new ones. In Maryland, for example, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ended the original statewide COVID-19 emergency on July 1, 2021, saying, “Thanks in large part to the hard work, the sacrifices, and the vigilance of the people of Maryland, we have finally reached the light at the end of that long tunnel. Each and every one of you—your actions—have made this day possible.” On Jan. 4, Hogan declared a 30-day emergency to “keep our hospitals from overflowing, to keep our kids in school, and to keep Maryland open for business, and we will continue to take whatever actions are necessary in the very difficult days and weeks ahead.” Hogan did not renew the emergency when it expired on Feb. 3.

Governors in Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia also ended their emergencies and later reinstated them. 

In Michigan and Wisconsin, the state supreme court ended statewide COVID-19 emergencies. On Oct. 5, 2020, Michigan’s emergency ended when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) lacked the authority to issue and extend emergency and disaster declarations after the legislature declined to extend those orders earlier that spring. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ended the statewide emergency on March 31, 2021, ruling 4-3 that Gov. Tony Evers (D) overstepped his authority when he declared several states of emergency since the start of the pandemic without legislative input.

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New single-member House districts boost total number of state legislative primaries in West Virginia this year 

West Virginia’s House of Delegates elections will look different this year than they have in previous elections. Previously, the West Virginia House of Delegates used multi-member districts, with 100 seats divided among 67 districts. However, as part of the most recent redistricting process, the Legislature replaced those districts with 100 single-member districts. As a result, 84 of the 85 incumbents running for re-election are doing so in new districts.

A multi-member district sends two or more members to a legislative chamber. The majority of states use single-member districts at the state level, but 10 states have at least one legislative chamber with multi-member districts. 

The West Virginia Senate kept its multi-member districts, in which two senators represent each of the 17 districts. One seat from each district is up for election each cycle, and senators are elected to staggered four-year terms. The 13 incumbent senators seeking re-election are all running in the same districts they represented before redistricting.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in West Virginia was Jan. 29—the fourth filing deadline of this election cycle. Here are some other highlights from West Virginia:

  1. Overall, 295 major party candidates filed for the 117 districts holding elections this year – 100 Democrats and 195 Republicans. This equals 2.5 candidates per seat, matching 2020 but lower than the 2.6 in 2018.
  2. Twenty-three of the 117 (20%) districts with elections have no incumbent running.. Four are in the Senate and 19 are in the House. Nine are in House districts that did not exist before 2022, three are in districts that were previously multi-member, and seven are in districts that remain single-member.
  3. 30.8% of possible primaries are contested, the lowest percentage since 2016. However, 72 total primaries are contested, the most since 2014, because of the 33 new single-member House districts. Seventy-two contested primary elections will take place out of a possible 234 (30.8%). 
  1. Ninety-eight incumbents are seeking re-election—22 Democrats and 76 Republicans. Thirty-six incumbents (37%) will face primary challengers, the lowest percentage since 2014.

West Virginia’s state legislative primaries are, along with Nebraska’s, the fourth in the election cycle, scheduled for May 10.

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Two incumbents among candidates in Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District

Speaking of West Virginia, let’s take a look at another marquee battleground primary – the Republican primary for the state’s 2nd Congressional District. 

Five candidates are running in the May 10 primary. As a result of redistricting, U.S. Reps. David McKinley (District 1) and Alexander Mooney (District 2) are running for re-election in the same district. These two candidates have received the most media attention and noteworthy endorsements.

McKinley was elected to represent District 1 in 2010. McKinley told MetroNews in an October 2021 interview he was focused on proving to voters in the new district that he can deliver tangible results. McKinley’s campaign website highlighted as key issues the U.S.-Mexico border, economic revitalization including investing in coal and natural gas, and U.S. relations with China. Gov. Jim Justice (R) and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D) endorsed McKinley.

Mooney was elected to represent District 2 in 2014. In an October 2021 interview with MetroNews, Mooney said his conservative record should appeal to voters in the district. Mooney’s campaign website highlighted as key issues the 2nd Amendment, the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing regulation of the state’s energy industry. Former President Donald Trump (R), the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Mooney.

McKinley has criticized Mooney for previously holding office in Maryland and running unsuccessful campaigns in both Maryland and New Hampshire. Mooney said he became a West Virginian by choice and that his eight years in the U.S. House representing the state should matter more than his past campaigns.

Mooney calls McKinley a Republican in name only, citing McKinley’s votes in favor of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the creation of a January 6 commission. McKinley said his infrastructure vote reflected what was best for his constituents and that he only supported the initial creation of a bicameral January 6 commission and not the final House-only committee.

Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules, and Mike Seckman are also running in the primary.

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About the author

Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.