Welcome to the Wednesday, May 11, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Texas’ May 7 constitutional amendment election turnout
- A look at Idaho’s May 17 primaries
- Pennsylvania sees the fewest candidates running for the U.S. House since 2016
Texas’ May 7 constitutional amendment election turnout
On May 7, Texas voters decided on two statewide ballot measures. Across the state, voters also decided local school board elections.
Voters approved both constitutional amendments. Turnout was 7.5% of registered voters, the lowest in a constitutional amendment election since November 2017.
Proposition 1 allowed the Legislature to reduce the school tax limit for homeowners aged 65 and over and the disabled to reflect tax rate reductions enacted during the preceding tax year. Proposition 2 increased the school tax homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000.
The Texas Legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot. However, most amendments are referred in odd-numbered years because they coincide with the legislative session. Between 1995 and 2021, 175 of 177 (98.9%) statewide ballot measures appeared on odd-numbered year ballots.
The turnout in odd-year constitutional amendment elections has averaged 10.9% since 1985. For comparison, the turnout in even-year general elections has averaged 51.3% during the same period. Constitutional amendments have appeared on even-year general elections ballots twice since 1985 – once in 2014, when turnout was 33.7%, and once in 2002, when turnout was 36.2%.
There were also school board elections in Texas. Click here to see election results for all 47 districts within our coverage scope.
Click here to subscribe to Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on the conversations driving school board politics and education policy.
A look at Idaho’s May 17 primaries
Idaho is one of five states holding statewide elections on May 17. Let’s take a look at how primaries work in the Gem State.
Rep. Russ Fulcher (R) represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, while Rep. Mike Simpson (R) represents Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District. In the 1st Congressional District Republican primary, Fulcher is the only candidate on the ballot. The story is the same for the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary, which features Kaylee Peterson and no other candidates. In the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary, Simpson, Flint Christensen, Daniel Algiers Lucas Levy, Chris Porter, and Bryan Smith are on the ballot. The 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary features Wendy Norman and no other candidates.
The Republican primary for Idaho’s U.S. Senate seat features incumbent Sen. Mike Crapo, Brenda Bourn, Natalie Fleming, Scott Trotter, and Ramont Turnbull. In the Democratic primary, Ben Pursley and David Roth will appear on the ballot.
Idaho is holding elections this year for all 70 House seats and all 35 Senate seats. Idaho is also holding elections for governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, controller, and superintendent of public instruction.
Idaho is a Republican trifecta, meaning that Republicans control the governor’s office and both chambers of state legislature. Republicans hold 27 of the state’s 35 Senate seats and 58 of the state’s 70 House seats. In the House and Senate, more incumbents face primary challenges this year than at any point since at least 2014. Seventy-five incumbents filed for re-election, 61.3% of whom (46) are in contested primaries. Of those 46 incumbents in contested primaries, there were 45 Republicans, and one Democrat. Redistricting is part of the reason why there are more contested primaries. Redistricting can sometimes put multiple incumbents inside the same district. Four incumbent vs. incumbent primaries are scheduled in Idaho this year.
In the Republican gubernatorial primary, incumbent Brad Little, Janice McGeachin, Steven Bradshaw, Ben Cannady, Ed Humphreys, Ashley Jackson, Lisa Marie, and Cody Usabel are on the ballot. McGeachin is the current lieutenant governor. Little’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a central issue in the race. In two instances in 2021, McGeachin issued executive orders related to COVID-19 while Little was out of state. McGeachin’s first order, issued while Little was at a Republican Governors Association meeting, banned mask mandates. McGeachin’s second order, issued when Little was at the U.S.-Mexico border, expanded a ban on state entities requiring vaccination or testing. Little rescinded both orders when he returned to the state. In November 2021, former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed McGeachin.
In the Democratic primary, Stephen Heidt, David Reily, and Shelby Rognstad are on the ballot.
In Idaho, the primary candidate with the most votes wins—even if that candidate receives less than 50% of the total vote. Idaho is one of 40 states without primary election runoffs. The state does not cancel uncontested primaries, and write-in candidates have to file.
Pennsylvania has the fewest candidates running for the U.S. House since 2016
The filing deadline for candidates running for the U.S. House in Pennsylvania this year was March 15. Forty-eight candidates are running for Pennsylvania’s seventeen U.S. House districts, including 23 Democrats and 25 Republicans. That’s 2.82 candidates per district, slightly less than the 2.83 candidates per district in 2020, and less than the 4.66 in 2018.
Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:
- This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in Pennsylvania losing one U.S. House district.
- The 48 U.S. House candidates running this year are the fewest since 2016, when 44 candidates filed.
- Rep. Fred Keller (R), who represents the 12th district, is retiring, and Rep. Conor Lamb (D), who represents the 17th district, is running for the U.S. Senate.
- Six candidates — one Republican and five Democrats — are running in the 12th district, the most running for one seat this year. Five candidates — three Republicans and two Democrats — are running in the 17th district.
- There are five contested Democratic primaries this year, the lowest number since 2016. There are six contested Republican primaries, one more than in 2020, but two less than in 2018.
- There are 13 districts where incumbents do not face primary challengers.
- One district — the 3rd — is guaranteed to Democrats because no Republicans filed. Two districts — the 13th and the 14th — are guaranteed to Republicans because no Democrats filed.
Pennsylvania and four other states — Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Oregon — are holding primary elections on May 17. Pennsylvania uses a closed primary process, so voters must register with a political party to vote in the primary election. Primary winners are not required to garner an outright majority of the votes cast.