What’s on the ballot today

By: David Luchs

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

  1. Milwaukee mayoral race headlines today’s elections
  2. A look at upcoming Article III judicial vacancies
  3. Help us continue our coverage! Join the Ballotpedia Society today

What’s on the ballot today

Milwaukee’s mayoral election is in the spotlight as the city heads to the polls. Ballotpedia is tracking elections within our coverage scope in seven states today. The race to fill out the remainder of former mayor Tom Barrett’s unexpired term is the only battleground among them.

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Robert Donovan are the two candidates who advanced from a seven-candidate Feb. 15 primary, with 42% and 22% of the vote respectively. Although the race is officially nonpartisan, Johnson has said he is a Democrat. Donovan described himself as an independent in a 2016 run for the office.

Both candidates have served on the Milwaukee Common Council. The 15-member council is the city’s legislative body and is the equivalent of the city council in other U.S. cities. Johnson, who is serving as acting mayor in his capacity as council president, was elected to the council in 2016 and became council president in 2020. Donovan served on the council from 2000 to 2020.

Both candidates have campaigned on their public safety plans. Donovan says Milwaukee has never been less safe than during the two years Johnson served as council president and says he would increase police staffing levels and step up patrols. Johnson says he worked to establish funding for 200 new officers while council president and that Donovan’s public safety plan had not been updated since 2016.

Other elections within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope today include local and municipal elections throughout Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Missouri, as well as in Anchorage, Alaska. There are also state legislative special elections ongoing in California, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, as well as a special primary for the California U.S. House district last represented by Devin Nunes (R).

The special election to replace Nunes will be the eighth to take place since the start of the 117th Congress in January 2021. As of April 5, 2020, there had been three special elections for seats in the 116th Congress. As of April 5, 2018, there had been eight special elections for seats in the 115th Congress.

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A look at upcoming Article III judicial vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 34 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. Article III judgeships refer to federal judges who serve on one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal, 94 U.S. district courts, and on the Court of International Trade. These are lifetime appointments made by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

These positions are not yet vacant but will be at some point in the future with every judge having announced his or her intent to either leave the bench or assume senior status. In the meantime, these judges will continue to serve in their current positions.

The president and Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before they can start the confirmation process for a successor. For example, the process has already begun for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated to replace Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he vacates the seat at the beginning of the court’s summer recess. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted yesterday on whether to advance Jackson’s nomination to the full Senate. In all, there are six nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.

Twenty-two vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date he or she will leave the bench. The next upcoming scheduled vacancy will take place on April 17, 2022, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California Judge John Mendez assumes senior status.

In addition to these 34 upcoming vacancies, there are 73 current Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of the 870 total Article III judgeships. At roughly the same point in President Trump’s first term (March 30, 2018), there were 148 current Article III vacancies.

President Biden has nominated 83 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. Fifty-eight of those nominees have been confirmed. Of the 25 nominees going through the confirmation process, 11 are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, six are awaiting a committee vote, and eight are awaiting a committee hearing.

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