24% of Montana legislators are term-limited this year

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. One-quarter of Montana legislators ineligible to seek re-election this year due to term limits
  2. Applications are open for our Summer Volunteer Fellowship program
  3. North Carolina’s open 4th District draws eight Democratic candidates

24% of Montana legislators are term-limited this year

Thirty incumbent state legislators in Montana—24% of those with expiring terms—were ineligible to run for re-election this year because of the state’s term limit law

Montana’s term limits had the most significant effect on the state Senate, where 12 of the 25 districts holding elections (48%) are open. In the House, term limits affected 18 of the 100 districts up for election (18%).

In addition to the 30 term-limited legislators, 10 other incumbents did not seek re-election, one in the Senate and nine in the House. Overall, term limits accounted for 75% of the open districts in Montana this year, the most since 2014.

Montana is one of 15 states with state legislative term limits. Legislators can serve eight years in office during any 16-year period in Montana. These are not lifetime limits, meaning legislators can run again after spending the requisite time out of office.

Montana’s limits are also chamber-specific. A term-limited senator can’t run for re-election to the Senate but can run for the House and vice versa. This year, 10 term-limited representatives are running for the Senate, and two term-limited senators are running for the House. These crossovers have resulted in a few incumbent v. incumbent match-ups:

  • Rep. Geraldine Custer (R), who was term-limited, is running in Senate District 20. Rep. Barry Usher (R), who was not term-limited, is also running in this district.
  • Term-limited Reps. Willis Curdy (D) and Brad Tschida (R) both are running in Senate District 49. Curdy is uncontested in the Democratic primary while Tschida faces Nancy Burgoyne in the Republican primary.
  • Term-limited in the House, Rep. Andrea Olsen (D) is running in Senate District 50 against incumbent Sen. Tom Steenberg (D).

Collectively, states with term limits have had a larger percentage of open seats than those without term limits in every election cycle since at least 2014. While not all of these open seats are always caused by term limits, the presence of term limit laws tends to result in more incumbent turnover than in states without such laws.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana this year was March 14. Candidates filed to run for the state’s 100 House districts and 25 of the 50 Senate districts.

Overall, 272 major party candidates filed to run this year. That’s 2.2 candidates per district, the most since 2016, with 2.5 candidates per district.

This is Montana’s first election cycle as a Republican trifecta since 2004. From 2005 to 2020, Montana had a divided government. In 2020, Republicans gained the governorship with the election of Greg Gianforte (R). Republicans currently hold a 31-19 majority in the Senate and a 67-33 majority in the House.

Montana’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for June 7, making them the 14th in the nation.

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Applications are open for our Summer Volunteer Fellowship program

Applications are now open for the Summer 2022 class of the Ballotpedia Volunteer Fellowship, a program designed to provide high school and college students with the ability to meaningfully support American voters by enhancing Ballotpedia’s coverage of local elections via in-depth digital research.

The Summer 2022 Fellowship Program will run from Monday, June 6, through Friday, July 29. Fellows are asked to contribute 5-10 hours of work per week, which can be completed at their discretion in order to accommodate school schedules, extracurricular activities, and work commitments. Applications will be accepted between today, April 19, and Friday, April 29. 

Do you know a student who would be a great fit for this program? Feel free to forward them this email!

Applicants who are selected for further consideration will be contacted for an interview to take place in the first two weeks of May. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to submit an application as soon as possible! If you have any questions about the program, email us here.

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North Carolina’s open 4th District draws eight Democratic candidates

Twelve states are holding primaries in May. Today, we’re taking another look at one of those battleground primaries, this time in North Carolina on May 17.

Eight candidates are running in North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District Democratic primary. Incumbent Rep. David Price (D)—first elected in 1986, defeated in 1994, and re-elected in 1996—is not seeking re-election. This is the first election in the 4th District without an incumbent on the ballot since 1972 when Rep. Nick Galifianakis (D) retired to run for U.S. Senate.

Media attention has focused on three Democratic primary candidates: Clay Aiken, Nida Allam, and Valerie Foushee. The Assembly’s Michael Graff described the three as “Aiken, the former American Idol contestant who says he wants to become the South’s first gay congressman,” “Allam, a 28-year-old Muslim and rising star who’s spent most of her life in the Triangle,” and “Foushee, who worked with the Chapel Hill police department for years and has a lot of support among older Black Democrats in Durham.”

Aiken is a co-chair of the National Inclusion Project, an organization that provides opportunities for children with disabilities, which he co-founded in 2003, the same year he placed second in the American Idol singing competition. Aiken highlighted his national recognizability, saying he would “continue to use his platform to be a powerful, progressive voice for voting rights, free health care, and a woman’s right to choose.”

Allam is a member of the Durham County Board of Commissioners. Upon her election to the board in 2020, Allam became the first Muslim woman elected to office in North Carolina. Allam said she “was the first candidate in this race to stand up for policies like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal,” and promoted endorsements from national figures like U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and groups like Our Revolution.

Foushee is a member of the state Senate, to which she was first appointed in 2013 after serving in the House. Before that, Foushee served in local offices within the 4th District. Foushee emphasized her experience, saying, “she has stood up to radical Republicans when they have attacked a woman’s right to choose, targeted our immigrant communities, and attempted to strip North Carolinians of their voting rights.” Foushee received endorsements from state Attorney General Josh Stein (D), EMILY’s List, and the state AFL-CIO.

Crystal Cavalier, Matt Grooms, Stephen J. Valentine, Ashley Ward, and Richard Watkins are also running in the primary.

Redistricting did not alter the 4th District’s electoral makeup, which remains Solid Democratic according to three independent race forecasters. The district covers areas outside of Raleigh, including portions of the state’s Research Triangle. The 4th District has the largest percentage of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 (27%) and the largest percentage with a bachelor’s degree (52%) in North Carolina.

If no candidate receives at least 30% of the vote in the May 17 primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to a July 26 runoff.

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