The quiet season—four states actively in session

Welcome to the Friday, September 2, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Legislators are in session in four states
  2. A look at Massachusetts’ Sept. 6 primaries
  3. Explore North Dakota’s general elections

Legislators are in session in four states

Most state legislatures have wrapped up their business for the year, but work goes on for some. Currently, four state legislatures are in regular session: Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have full-time legislators, while New Jersey has a hybrid system where legislators spend more than two-thirds of a full-time job fulfilling their duties.

Pennsylvania’s session is scheduled to end Nov. 30 and the remaining four states will remain in session until Dec. 31.

Forty-six states have held legislative sessions this year. Four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas—hold regular sessions in odd-numbered years only.

Among states without full-time or hybrid legislators, California had the longest regularly-scheduled session at 240 days and Wyoming’s was the shortest at 25 days.

Legislatures sometimes convene outside of their regularly-scheduled sessions in what are called special or extraordinary sessions. According to MultiState, 16 states have held special sessions so far this year. Legislators in South Carolina and Missouri are expected to meet in special sessions this month.

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A look at Massachusetts’ Sept. 6 primaries 

We are quickly approaching the end of the primary election calendar. Only three states (and Louisiana) have primaries coming up. Today, we are looking at Massachusetts, with primaries next Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The state’s nine U.S. House districts are up for election with all nine Democratic incumbents on the ballot. None of the incumbents face contested primaries, but there are two contested Republican primaries in the 8th and 9th Districts.

All elected state executive offices are on the ballot. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is not seeking re-election, meaning Democrats—who have held majorities in the state legislature since the 1950s—could create a Democratic trifecta if they win the office.

Democrats last had a trifecta in Massachusetts in 2014, before Baker’s election.

Attorney General Maura Healy (D) is running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D) was running but unofficially withdrew, meaning her name will remain on the ballot.

Republicans will pick between state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R) and Chris Doughty (R). Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Diehl, who also won the party’s endorsement at the GOP convention earlier this year. Neighboring Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) endorsed Doughty.

We are also watching the Democratic primary for secretary of the commonwealth. First elected in 1994, incumbent William Galvin (D) is running for re-election to an eighth term and faces Boston NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan (D). The winner of that primary faces Rayla Campbell (R) in November.

Democrats are also deciding primaries for lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, and two seats on the Governor’s Council.

All 40 Senate and 160 House districts are up for election. There are 44 contested state legislative primaries: 40 for Democrats and four for Republicans. 

Democrats currently hold a 125-27-1 majority in the House with seven vacancies and a 37-3 majority in the Senate.

This represents 11% of all possible primaries, and a 19% increase from 2020, due to an increase in Democratic contests.

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Explore North Dakota’s general elections

We’re wrapping up the first week of our 50 States in 50 Days journey featuring North Dakota, the Peace Garden State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska

On the ballot in North Dakota

At the congressional level, North Dakota will elect one U.S. Senator and one U.S. Representative.

Six state executive offices are up for election: attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commission, tax commissioner, and two seats on the public service commission.

Thirty-two of the state’s 47 Senate seats and 66 of its 94 House seats are up for election. Across both chambers, 26 seats are open, guaranteeing that newcomers will make up at least 18% of the Legislature next year.

Additionally, one seat on the state supreme court is up for election but the incumbent justice is running unopposed.

Redistricting highlights

North Dakota remains one of six states that elects a single, at-large representative.

State legislative elections will take place under new lines. Our side-by-side map comparison tool shows how redistricting affected those districts. Here are the state Senate maps in effect before and after redistricting:

To interact with this tool and learn more about redistricting in North Dakota, click here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of North Dakota’s U.S. Senators—Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven—are Republicans.
  • North Dakota’s at-large U.S. representative, Kelly Armstrong, is a Republican.
  • Republicans hold a 40-7 majority in the state Senate and a 80-14 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, North Dakota is one of 23 Republican trifectas. It has held this status since 1995.
  • North Dakota has had a Republican governor since 1992.
  • Along with the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general are also Republicans, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex among those offices.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 61 state legislative seats, 62% of those up for election, do not have major party competition. When only a Democrat or Republican runs for a state legislative seat, the candidate running is all but assured of being elected.

North Dakota is one of six states where Republicans are guaranteed to win a majority of seats up for election due to a lack of Democratic competition.

Democrats are running for 43% of all seats up for election. Fifty-six seats (57%) do not have a Democratic candidate.

Republicans are running for 95% of the seats up for election. Five seats (5%) do not have a Republican candidate.

Key races

Ballot measures

North Dakota is one of five states holding a vote on marijuana legalization this year.

The North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize the personal use of marijuana for adults 21 and older and allow individuals to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants.

This is the third time voters have weighed in on marijuana-related ballot measures. In 2016, voters legalized medical marijuana, 64-36%. Voters rejected a recreational usage initiative in 2018, 59-41%. 

In total, 127 ballot measures appeared on North Dakota’s statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Voters approved 59 and rejected 68.


  • Polling locations cannot open earlier than 7:00 a.m. and must be open by 9:00 a.m. Polling locations must remain open until 7:00 p.m. and close no later than 9:00 p.m.
  • North Dakota requires voters to present identification while voting. For more information about voter ID requirements in North Dakota, click here.
  • Early voting is available to all voters beginning on Sept. 29 and ending on Nov. 7.
  • North Dakota is the only state that does not require voter registration.
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee in North Dakota. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. There is no specific deadline for applying for an absentee ballot. The completed ballot must be postmarked at least one day before the election. To check the status of your ballot, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

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