Two new states added—state legislative contested primaries up 30% compared to 2020

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 28, 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 30% compared to 2020
  2. Here’s what’s on the ballot today
  3. A quick primer on New York’s primary elections

Number of contested state legislative primaries is up 30% compared to 2020

We are back with this week’s update on the elevated number of contested state legislative primaries throughout this election cycle. This week, we added New York and Wisconsin, bringing our total to 29 states that account for 3,661 of the 6,166 (59%) state legislative seats up for election this year.

There are 30% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 62% more Republican primaries and 18% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 9%.

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

Overall, eight states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 17 have Republican trifectas, and four have divided governments.

Of the 29 states in this analysis, 27 are holding partisan primaries. Two states—California and Nebraska—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in 10 states, decreased in 14, and remains the same in two. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 25 states and decreased in two. 

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

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Here’s what’s on the ballot today

Happy Election Day! Today, June 28, voters in five statesColorado, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah—will make their picks for this year’s state and congressional races. Plus, there’s a special U.S. House election in Nebraska and runoffs for various offices in Mississippi and South Carolina.

Here are some of the highlights:

Illinois: at least two U.S. House incumbents are guaranteed to lose in Illinois because of two incumbent vs. incumbent primaries. In the Chicago-area 6th District, Democratic Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman are facing off and, farther downstate, Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller are seeking their party’s nod in the 15th District.

Colorado: earlier this year, The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul wrote, “In virtually every major Republican primary race … voters will have a choice between a candidate or candidates who … believe the outcome of the last presidential election was fraudulent and those who don’t.” The topic has played a central role in two of the Colorado Republican Party’s primaries we’re watching, in particular—U.S. Senate and secretary of state—where voters will select nominees to challenge Democratic incumbents in November.

Mississippi: there are two Republican primary runoffs in Mississippi featuring incumbents. The primaries were on June 7, but since no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, there are runoffs in the 3rd District—between Rep. Michael Guest and Michael Cassidy—and 4th District—between Rep. Steven Palazzo and Mike Ezell.

Oklahoma: the state’s incumbent attorney general, John O’Connor (R), faces his first electoral test after Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed him to the position in 2021. Recent polling showed O’Connor at 28% behind challenger Gentner Drummond (R), a 2018 candidate for the office, with 41%. Thirty percent of respondents were undecided. 

New York: in another first, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) faces U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) in New York’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Hochul assumed office in 2021 following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Averages of two June polls showed Hochul at 56%, followed by Suozzi at 18%, and Williams at 9%, with 19% undecided.

Use the link below to view all of the races we will be covering, and be sure to check back later this week as we take a look at the results!

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A quick primer on New York’s primary elections

The primaries taking place in New York today, June 28, are the first of two statewide primaries this year. In May, a federal judge moved the primaries for the U.S. House and state Senate to Aug. 23 following lawsuits over the maps for those offices as part of the redistricting process.

That leaves primaries for state executive offices and the state’s 150 Assembly districts on the June ballot. The state is also holding a U.S. Senate election this year, but the Democratic and Republican primaries were canceled after only one candidate filed in each race—U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and Joe Pinion (R)—meaning they automatically advanced.

One unique feature of New York’s primaries is that the state allows fusion voting, where more than one political party can support a candidate. It is common for candidates to seek both major and third-party nominations. Under this system, candidates who lose one primary, but win another, can still appear on the general election ballot.

New York does not hold runoff elections. This means the candidate with the most votes in the primary—even if less than 50% of the total votes cast—advances to the general election.

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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