One new state added – state legislative contested primaries up 31% compared to 2020

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 21, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Number of contested state legislative primaries is up 31% compared to 2020
  2. A look at Illinois’ upcoming primary elections
  3. What elections we are covering today

Number of contested state legislative primaries is up 31% compared to 2020

Here is this week’s update on contested legislative primaries. We’ve provided regular updates about the elevated number of state legislative primaries throughout the election cycle. This week, we added Wyoming, bringing the total to 27 states accounting for 3,520 of the 6,166 (54%) state legislative seats up for election this year.

There are 31% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 61% more Republican primaries and 18% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 10%.

A primary is contested when more candidates are running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Overall, seven states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 16 have Republican trifectas, and three have divided governments.

Of the 27 states in this analysis, 25 are holding partisan primaries. Two states—California and Nebraska—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in nine states, decreased in 13, and remains the same in two. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 23 states, decreased in one, and is unchanged in one. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

Use the link below to view these figures and additional state-specific statistics.

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A look at Illinois’ upcoming primary elections

Voters in five states—Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah—will participate in the next round of primary elections on June 28, in addition to those in Mississippi and South Carolina deciding runoff elections. We’ve brought you breakdowns from Colorado and have more planned for the week ahead. 

Today, let’s  look at Illinois, the races on the ballot, and how their primaries work.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) is seeking a second term and running uncontested in her primary. On the Republican side, seven candidates are seeking the nomination to face Duckworth in the general election.

Voters will also decide primaries in the state’s 17 U.S. House districts, one fewer than in the previous decade. Illinois lost a congressional district after the 2020 census, meaning the state currently has more incumbents than districts up for election. This, and the general redrawing of lines, has resulted in two incumbent v. incumbent primaries.

  • In the 6th District, U.S. Reps. Sean Casten (D) and Marie Newman (D) are seeking the Democratic nomination. While Casten is the current 6th District representative, political researcher Frank Calabrese wrote that 41% of the voters in the new district come from Newman’s 3rd District and 32% come from Casten’s old 6th District. One challenger, Charles Hughes (D), is also running in the primary.
  • In the 15th District, U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R) and Mary Miller (R) are seeking the Republican nomination. Daily Kos reported that 28% of the new district’s voters come from Davis’ old 13th District and 31% came from Newman’s old 15th District. As of June 15, this primary came in second in terms of most satellite spending out of all House races this cycle, according to Open Secrets.

Overall, 16 incumbents filed for re-election and two—U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos (D) and Adam Kinzinger (R)—are retiring.

Five state executive offices are also up for election, plus that of lieutenant governor, who is elected alongside a gubernatorial candidate. Four of the five Democratic incumbents are running, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the only incumbent facing a contested primary. Sec. of State Jesse White (D), first elected in 1998, is retiring.

Illinois has a number of state court primaries taking place this year, including one Democratic primary for an open seat on the state supreme court. In 2020, we released a report detailing the partisan balance of state supreme courts and found Illinois to have a 4-3 Democratic majority, meaning the outcome of these elections in November will decide the governing majority of the state supreme court.

The open position is in the 2nd District, currently held by a Republican. But district lines were redrawn during redistricting. Now, the Republican incumbent, Justice Michael Burke, who had a partisanship score of mild Republican, is running in the 3rd District, which is currently held by retiring Justice Robert Carter (D).

There are also four Democratic primaries and one Republican at the intermediate appellate court level, which you can read more about here.

Finally, voters will decide primaries across all 177 districts at the state legislative level. There are 51 primaries—25 Democratic and 26 Republican—representing 14.4% of all possible primaries. This is the first time since at least 2014 where Republican primaries have outnumbered those for Democrats. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers.

Illinois is one of 21 states that conduct open primaries, meaning voters can choose which party’s primary ballot they want to use by publicly stating their affiliation at the polling place.

In Illinois, candidates can advance from a primary with a plurality, rather than a majority, of the vote. The state does not hold runoff elections. This means the candidate with the most votes—even if less than 50% of the total votes cast—advances to the general election, something especially pronounced in races with a large number of candidates.

If you have primaries coming up, use Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup to see what’s on your ballot and bring your choices to the polls with our My Vote app!

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What elections we are covering today

All things considered, today, June 21, is one of the quieter days on the 2022 primary election calendar. But we still have a number of races across the country including five U.S. House primaries in Virginia and runoff elections in the three states that voted on May 24: Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia.

Here’s a look at some of the battleground races we will be watching closely:

  • Republican U.S. Senate runoff in Alabama: Katie Britt and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks advanced to a runoff after neither received over 50% of the vote in their earlier primary. Britt won 45% to Brooks’ 29%, with the remaining vote split between four other candidates. Former President Donald Trump (R) initially endorsed Brooks, but rescinded his endorsement in March and later endorsed Britt. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R), first elected in 1986, is retiring.

We are also covering a nonpartisan special election for the city assembly in Anchorage, Alaska, and races in Washington, D.C., including the city’s mayoral primaries.

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