By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Millions raised to support ranked-choice voting initiatives in Missouri, Nevada
- Two incumbents among candidates in Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District
- Across 11 states, the top PACs collectively raised $197 million
Millions raised to support ranked-choice voting initiatives in Missouri, Nevada
Last week, we looked at the 84 statewide measures that’ve been certified for the ballot. That number isn’t final, though. Across the country, groups are working to get measures certified for the November ballot. Let’s take a look at two of those campaigns in Missouri and Nevada dealing with ranked-choice voting (RCV).
The Missouri and Nevada ballot initiatives would use open primaries in which the top candidates, regardless of partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. In Missouri, the top four vote recipients would advance to the general election. In Nevada, the top five vote recipients would advance. In Missouri and Nevada, voters would then use ranked-choice voting to determine who among the four or five candidates wins the election.
Campaigns that support the initiatives in Missouri and Nevada have received millions in contributions in the weeks ahead of their signature deadlines. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
The Nevada Voters First PAC is leading the campaign and signature drive for the Nevada Top-Five Ranked Choice Voting Initiative. Through March 31, the PAC received $2.26 million. Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation and former CEO of Gehl Foods, Inc., contributed $1 million. The Final Five Fund, Inc., which the Institute for Political Innovation lists as a 501(c)(4) counterpart, contributed $488,000. The Nevada Association of Realtors and Strategic Horizons, a committee associated with the Clark County Education Association, each donated $250,000. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, contributed $100,000, as did the organization Unite America.
June 21 is the deadline to file signatures. At least 135,561 valid signatures are required for the initiative to make the ballot. In Nevada, initiated constitutional amendments need to be approved at two successive general elections.
In Missouri, the Better Elections PAC is leading the campaign behind the top-four RCV ballot initiative. Better Elections received $4.3 million through March 31. More than 98% of the PAC’s funding came from the organization Article IV, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Article IV is associated with John and Laura Arnold, whose organization Action Now Initiative contributed to RCV-related ballot initiatives in previous years.
The signature deadline is May 8. The number of signatures required is equal to 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. The smallest number of valid signatures required is 160,199. The actual number required depends on the districts from which the signatures were gathered.
Two states—Alaska and Maine—have implemented ranked-choice voting for congressional and/or state-level elections. As of January, localities in eight other states have adopted RCV. In five additional states, local jurisdictions have adopted, but not implemented, RCV.
Three states have voted on RCV ballot measures. Should the ballot initiatives in Missouri and Nevada make the ballot, the two would be the fourth and fifth states to vote on RCV measures.
In 2016, Maine became the first state to adopt RCV for some statewide elections when voters approved Question 5. PACs raised $2.94 million to support Question 5. Action Now Initiative contributed $470,000, the largest contribution.
In Nov. 2020, Alaska and Massachusetts voted on RCV ballot initiatives. Massachusetts Question 2 was defeated, with 54.78% of voters rejecting the proposal. The campaign behind Question 2 raised $10.18 million, including contributions from Action Now Initiative, Unite America, and Katherine Gehl. Voters in Alaska approved Ballot Measure 2, which received 50.55% of the vote. Ballot Measure 2 replaced partisan primaries with open top-four primaries and established ranked-choice voting for general elections. The campaign raised $6.84 million, with Unite America and Action Now Initiative as top donors.
Two incumbents among candidates in Republican primary for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District
Twelve states are holding primaries in May. Today, we’re taking another look at one of those battleground primaries, this time in West Virginia on May 10.
Five candidates are running in the Republican primary election for West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. 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. Gov. Jim Justice (R) and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D) endorsed McKinley. McKinley told MetroNews in an October 2021 interview that his campaign was focused on proving to voters in the new district that he can deliver tangible results. According to his campaign website, McKinley’s key issues are the U.S.-Mexico border, economic revitalization including investing in coal and natural gas, and U.S. relations with China.
Mooney was elected to represent District 2 in 2014. Former President Donald Trump (R), the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Mooney. In an October 2021 interview with MetroNews, Mooney highlighted what he called his conservative record and said that’s what should appeal to voters in the district. According to his campaign website, Mooney’s key issues are the 2nd Amendment, the state’s opioid epidemic, and reducing regulation of the state’s energy industry.
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.
Also running in the primary are Susan Buchser-Lochocki, Rhonda Hercules, and Mike Seckman.
Five U.S. House races have two incumbents running for the same congressional district in the 2022 elections. After the 2010 census, there were 13 districts where multiple incumbents ran against each other in the 2012 primary or general elections.
Across 11 states, the top PACs collectively raised $197 million
In 2021, the state-level PAC to raise the most money in each of 11 states collectively raised more than $197 million. Florida Voters in Charge, which backed an unsuccessful signature drive for a Casino Gaming Expansion Initiative, raised the most of those 11 with $75.56 million. They were followed by ActBlue Virginia ($38.86 million), ActBlue Texas ($25.63 million), and Pennsylvania’s DNC Services Corporation ($24.99 million).
A PAC, which corporations, labor unions, membership organizations, or trade associations may establish, is broadly defined as a group that spends money on elections.
Click on the links below to take a deeper dive into these fundraising numbers:
This year, we plan to publish several hundred articles breaking down campaign finance numbers in the 11 states covered by Transparency USA: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. To learn more about our partnership with Transparency USA, click the link below.