Welcome to the Thursday, June 16, Brew.
By: David Luchs
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Texas’ 34th Congressional District flips to GOP in special election
- Measures regarding abortion have been on the ballot 47 times in 23 states since 1970; at least four more will be decided this year
- May 2022 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.33% Republicans, 44.39% Democrats
Texas’ 34th Congressional District flips to GOP in special election
Mayra Flores (R) won a special election in Texas’ 34th Congressional District Tuesday, flipping a previously Democratic-held U.S. House seat. Flores won 51% of the vote to Democrat Dan Sanchez’s 43%. Rene Coronado (D) and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R) received 4% and 2% of the vote. Had no candidate won more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers would have advanced to a runoff election. Based on the proclamation announcing the special election, that runoff would likely have been held in August.
Flores will serve the remainder of the term Filemon Vela (D) was elected to in 2020 after Vela resigned in March.
Vela won the seat in 2020 55% to 42%. In 2020, Democrats won 33 seats by margins smaller than Flores’ 7.7 percentage point margin of victory.
This is the first time partisan control of a U.S. House seat changed in a special election since Mike Garcia’s (R) May 2020 victory in the California congressional district previously represented by Katie Hill (D). Garcia defeated Christy Smith (D) 55% to 45%, a 9.8 percentage point margin of victory.
Flores is also the Republican nominee for the regular election in November, where she will face fellow incumbent Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (D). This election was held under district lines dating to before the 2020 round of redistricting. Joe Biden (D) won the old 34th district in which this election took place by a margin of four percentage points. Under the new district lines that will be in place for the November election, Joe Biden would have won the district by a margin of more than 15 percentage points.
Also Tuesday, statewide primaries took place in four states. Here are results from some of the battlegrounds:
- Adam Laxalt wins GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Nevada: Former state attorney general Adam Laxalt (R) defeated Sam Brown (R) and six other candidates to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Nevada. Laxalt was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018, losing the general election to Steve Sisolak (D) 49% to 45%.
- Nancy Mace wins re-nomination: Incumbent U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R) defeated Katie Arrington (R) 53% to 45% in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Former President Donald Trump (R) backed Arrington, the 2018 GOP nominee for the seat, after Mace voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
- Tom Rice loses re-nomination: State Rep. Russell Fry (R) defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Rice (R) 51% to 25% in South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District. Trump endorsed Fry after Rice voted to impeach Trump in 2021. Rice is the sixth member of the U.S. House to lose re-nomination so far this year. At this point in the 2020 election cycle, three members of the U.S. House had lost re-nomination.
Measures regarding abortion have been on the ballot 47 times in 23 states since 1970; at least four more will be decided this year
There will be at least four measures addressing abortion on statewide ballots this year. Measures have been certified for the ballot in Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont. The four abortion-related measures certified for the ballot is the same as in 1986 and more than in any other year.
Since 1970, there have been 47 abortion-related ballot measures, of which 40 (85%) had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (27.5%) and rejected 29 (72.5%) of those 40 ballot measures.
The other seven abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved four (57%) and rejected three (43%).
The abortion-related ballot measure topics with the highest success rates during this time were:
- Providing that state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion (four of six, or 67%),
- Legalizing abortion or expanding the timeframe during which an abortion can occur (four of six, or 67%), and
- Parental notification laws (four of nine, or 44%)
The ballot initiative process, in which signatures are collected to place a proposed law on the ballot, was used for 36 of 51 (71%) abortion-related ballot measures. Legislatures referred 14 (27%) to the ballot, and a state constitutional convention referred one (2%). The states with the highest numbers of abortion-related ballot measures were Colorado (nine), Oregon (six), Washington (four), and California (three). All four have an initiative and referendum process. States without an initiative and referendum process have never had more than one abortion-related ballot measure.
State legislatures were responsible for all four abortion-related measures on the 2022 ballot. Click the names of the measures below to learn more about them:
- Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment (August 2022)
- Kentucky No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment (2022)
- Montana LR-131, Medical Care Requirements for Born-Alive Infants Measure (2022)
- Vermont Proposal 5, Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment (2022)
Campaigns for initiatives are collecting signatures in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan, and a legislative constitutional amendment could make the ballot in California.
The deadlines for abortion-related measures still collecting signatures for the 2022 ballot are July 7 in Arizona, July 11 in Michigan, and August 8 in Colorado. The California State Legislature has until June 30 to place the right to reproductive freedom amendment on the ballot this year.
May 2022 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.33% Republicans, 44.39% Democrats
According to Ballotpedia’s May partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.33% of all state legislators are Republicans, and 44.39% are Democrats.
Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 62 chambers, while Democrats hold 36. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.
Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,961 state senators and 5,368 state representatives. Democrats hold 860 state Senate seats—losing one since April—and 2,417 state House seats, up two from last month. Republicans hold 4,011 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,093 state Senate seats (down three since April) and 2,918 state House seats, an increase of one. Independent or third-party legislators hold 41 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and eight are state Senate seats. There are 54 vacant seats.
Compared to May 2021, Democrats have lost seven state Senate seats (867 versus 860) and 33 state House seats (2,450 versus 2,417). Republicans have gained two state Senate seats (1,091 versus 1,093), while the number of state House seats has remained the same.