Day 2 of the week of previews – state executive offices

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 12, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl   

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

  1. 309 state executive offices on the ballot in 44 states
  2. This year will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures on record
  3. Register for a briefing on Ballotpedia’s 2022 Mid-Year Recall Report

309 state executive offices on the ballot in 44 states

This week, we will be diving into elections at all levels of government coming up in November, with general elections less than four months away! 

Today, we are looking at state executive offices, elected officials—such as governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—who enforce state laws.

This year, there are 309 state executive offices on the ballot in 44 states. This figure includes 36 gubernatorial elections, 30 for attorneys general, and 27 for secretaries of state. 

Republicans currently hold 152 of these offices, Democrats hold 124, and 33 are either nonpartisan or are held by a third-party or independent officeholder. The graph below shows the partisan breakdown for top-ballot offices up for election this year:

Eight governors are not seeking re-election: three Democrats and five Republicans. Seven of those governors are term-limited. Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) is the only incumbent governor choosing not to seek re-election.

All outgoing Democratic governors are in states Joe Biden (D) won in the 2020 presidential election. Three of the five Republican retirements are also in states won by Biden: Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The remaining two outgoing Republican governors are in states that voted for Donald Trump (R): Arkansas and Nebraska.

There are also nine open races for attorney general, with four outgoing Democratic incumbents and five outgoing Republicans. Additionally, Gentner Drummond (R) defeated incumbent Atty. Gen. John O’Connor (R) in Oklahoma’s June 28 primary, guaranteeing a newcomer in that office.

There are 11 open races for secretary of state. This total includes five outgoing incumbents for both Democrats and Republicans as well as North Dakota Sec. of State Al Jaeger (I), though Jaeger is often regarded as a Republican incumbent.

When one party controls all three top-ballot offices—governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—we call that a state government triplex. Sixteen states with Democratic triplexes and 16 with Republican triplexes are holding elections for at least one of these offices this year. No single party holds all three offices in the other eight states holding top-ballot elections. Ten states are not holding any top-ballot elections this year.

Ballotpedia has identified gubernatorial elections in 11 states, attorney general elections in six states, and secretary of state elections in five states as battlegrounds. There are five states where all three offices are battlegrounds: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin

Of those five states, all but Nevada—which voted Democratic in both 2016 and 2020—voted for Biden in 2020 after voting for Trump in 2016.

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This year will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures on record

There will be at least five abortion-related measures on the ballot this year, including the first two ballot measures to explicitly provide constitutional rights to abortion. This is the largest number of abortion-related ballot measures on record for a single year. 

Voters will decide on four of these measures on Nov. 8 and one, in Kansas, on Aug. 2.

Here are summaries of those five measures:

  • California: Proposition 1 says the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and legislative leaders called for the amendment on May 2, following the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center.
  • Kansas: this measure would amend constitutional language to say that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortions. The amendment would also give the legislature the power to pass laws regarding abortion. Legislative sponsors introduced the amendment in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), which held that the Kansas Bill of Rights provides a right to an abortion.
  • Kentucky: like Kansas, this proposal would change constitutional language to say nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion or requires government funding for the procedure. Unlike Kansas, there has not been a state court ruling providing such a right, though the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and others filed a lawsuit on June 27 arguing the constitution provides such a right.
  • Montana: LR-131 would provide in state law that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons. The measure would also require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method. 
  • Vermont: Proposal 5 would amend the state constitution to provide that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.” Eileen Sullivan, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, said her organization began preparing the measure following the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018.

More measures may follow. Campaigns in Colorado and Michigan are collecting signatures for abortion-related measures. Michigan’s signature deadline passed on July 11 and Colorado’s is set for Aug. 8.

  • Colorado: this initiative would prohibit abortion in Colorado, where the procedure is currently legal. On June 20, Colorado Life Initiative, which is backing the proposal, reported it had collected three-quarters of the required 124,632 signatures.
  • Michigan: this initiative would add a provision to the state constitution saying “[e]very individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including a right to abortion. Reproductive Freedom For All, the campaign in support, reported it had collected around 800,000 signatures, more than the 425,059 required.

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Register for a briefing on Ballotpedia’s 2022 Mid-Year Recall Report

On July 14, we will host a briefing on our Mid-Year Recall Report, led by staff writers Samuel Wonacott and Caitlin Vanden Boom, digging into what we know about recalls so far!

In the first half of 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 152 recall efforts against 240 officials, representing a slight decline from 2021 when we tallied 165 efforts against 263 officials by midyear. The most recall efforts we have tracked by midyear was 189 in 2016, and the lowest was 72 in 2019.

This briefing will cover a range of topics, including where these recalls are happening and which officials have been affected. It will also look at results from some of the biggest recalls so far, including those in the San Francisco Unified School District and against the city’s former district attorney, Chesa Boudin.

You can also expect a deep dive into recall elections at the school board level, which remain elevated this year after a spike in 2021.

Use the link below to save your spot in our Mid-Year Recall Report briefing now!

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