Welcome to the Thursday, October 13, Brew.
By: Samuel Wonacott
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- ESG and state executive official elections
- Maine’s gubernatorial election is a contest between an incumbent seeking a second term and a former governor seeking a third
- Alabama voters will decide whether to ratify an updated and recompiled state constitution
ESG and state executive official elections
The environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing movement has been an issue in many of this year’s state financial officer elections. ESG refers to the consideration of non-financial factors in the management of public funds. Non-financial investment factors can include company alignment with fund managers’ views of climate change, social justice, and diversity and how such factors could affect company values and risks.
One set of officials that impact ESG policy are state financial officers. These positions include executive officials such as treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers, who are generally responsible for investing state money and coordinating financial planning. These officials can influence if and how states apply ESG criteria to investments and financial policy.
Of the 50 state financial offices up for election this year, Democrats hold 26, while Republicans hold 24.
- Twenty-six treasurer positions are up for election.
- Democrats and Republicans each hold 13 of those offices.
- Fifteen auditor positions are up for election.
- Democrats hold seven of those offices, while Republicans hold eight.
- Nine comptroller positions are up for election.
- Democrats hold six of those offices, while Republicans hold three.
Here is a snapshot of a few races where the debate over ESG investing is playing out in state financial officer elections this year:
- Minnesota state auditor: Four candidates are running for Minnesota state auditor—incumbent Julie Blaha (D), Ryan Wilson (R), Will Finn (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota), and Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now Party). During a debate, Wilson said, “I will not play politics with our pensions. We must put return on investment first.” Blaha said, “Even if you don’t care about the environment at all, you need to think about climate change in investments. There are significant risks and there are significant opportunities in how climate is changing and how we’re transitioning energy.”
- Kansas state treasurer: Three candidates are running for the office—incumbent Lynn Rogers (D), state Rep. Steven C. Johnson (R), and Steve Roberts (L). Johnson’s campaign issued a press release that says: “Johnson made eliminating woke ESG investment strategies a centerpiece of his campaign. ESG funds only invest in companies based on their environmental and corporate policies, making returns on investment a secondary concern.”
- Missouri state auditor: Three candidates are running for the office—Alan Green (D), Scott Fitzpatrick (R), and John Hartwig (L). Fitzpatrick, the state Treasurer, said: “As Treasurer, I’ve fought back against misguided Biden Administration policies like the IRS bank account monitoring scheme, woke environmentalism disguised as ESG initiatives for the investment of public funds, and the John Kerry/Joe Biden pushed boycott of American energy producers by big banks.”
If you’d like to keep up to date on the latest developments in the world of ESG, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Economy and Society, which hits inboxes every Tuesday. Here are some recent examples of stories you can expect to see in Economy and Society:
- On Oct. 5, Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder (R) announced in a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink that his state would sell all of its BlackRock investments, worth about $794 million, because the investments conflict with state interests. BlackRock’s website states: “Each of our investment teams is responsible for implementing ESG approaches in line with its investment mandate and is required to have a formal ESG integration statement to underpin its respective approach. Along similar lines, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s (R) announced on Aug. 28 that 10 financial institutions, including BlackRock, were ineligible to do business with the state because, in Hegar’s view, their investment strategies weakened the state’s fossil fuel industry.
- Unlike Louisiana and Texas, some states have made investment policy decisions in line with the ESG movement. In 2021, for example, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law a bill directing the state treasurer to divest state pension funds from all fossil fuel companies by 2026.
Click the link below to learn more about ESG.
Maine’s gubernatorial election is a contest between an incumbent seeking a second term and a former governor seeking a third
The general election is only weeks away, and we’re bringing you stories from some of the battleground races we are following closely between now and Nov. 8. Today, we’re looking at Maine’s gubernatorial election.
Mills was first elected governor in 2018 and is seeking a second term. LePage served as governor from 2011 to 2019 and is seeking a third term.
Mills served as Maine’s attorney general for eight years during LePage’s administration. Mills also served four terms as the district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. She was the first woman elected to each of these positions. Mills says she has worked across the aisle to deliver progress as governor and would continue to address the following issues in a second term: expanding health care, fully funding Maine’s public schools, preserving Maine’s lands and waters, and fighting climate change.
LePage was elected governor after serving as the mayor of Waterville, Maine, for seven years. He also served two terms on the Waterville City Council. LePage says his vision for Maine is “to create prosperity through a lower overall tax burden for residents and businesses; a smaller, more efficient state government that we can all afford; protecting our most vulnerable populations (our children, our seniors and persons with disabilities), empowering parents’ rights to decide their children’s future, and managing a welfare system that serves as a safety net for the truly needy – not a free for all.”
Both candidates have responded to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision on abortion.
- Mills said: “Maine, our only chance at defending the right to safe and legal abortion will be this November at the ballot box. If given a chance, my opponent will dismantle reproductive rights across Maine. We must vote like our freedom to choose is on the line — because it is.”
- LePage said: “As the child of a severely dysfunctional family, with domestic abuse that left me homeless, I know my mother faced difficult decisions and I am glad she chose life. The federal government has regularly prohibited taxpayer abortion funding, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger; and I have supported that policy and would continue to do so.”
This is one of 36 gubernatorial elections taking place this year. There are currently 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors.
Click below to read more about Maine’s gubernatorial election.
Alabama voters will decide whether to ratify an updated and recompiled state constitution
Today is the 28th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Alabama the Beautiful.
Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington
On the ballot in Alabama
One U.S. Senate seat and seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election in Alabama. Six House incumbents are running for re-election. Incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby (R) did not run for re-election, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R) unsuccessfully ran to succeed Shelby.
Thirteen state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, agriculture commissioner, four seats on the state board of education, and two seats on the public service commission.
All 35 seats in the Alabama Senate are up for election, as well as all 105 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives. Incumbents did not run for re-election in 26 state legislative districts this year.
Two seats on the Alabama Supreme Court are up for election.
Alabama did not gain or lose U.S. House districts after the 2020 census.
Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Alabama:
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case asking whether Alabama’s 2021 congressional redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act, on Oct. 4, 2022.
To use our tool to view Alabama’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Alabama redistricting page.
- Both of Alabama’s U.S. senators are Republicans. Six members of the U.S. House from Alabama are Republicans, and one is a Democrat.
- Republicans have a 27-8 majority in the state Senate and a 73-28 majority in the state House. Alabama has been a Republican trifecta—with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature—since 2011.
- Alabama is one of 23 Republican triplexes, meaning that the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state all belong to the Republican Party.
Seats contested by only one major party
In 2022, 108 state legislative seats in Alabama, or 77% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, that party is all but guaranteed to win.
Democrats are running in 44% of all state legislative races. Seventy-nine state legislative seats (56% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.
Republicans are running in 79% of all state legislative races. Twenty-nine seats (21% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and a Democrat is likely to win.
Below are a few of the state legislative races identified by Alabama Political Reporter as competitive elections. In 2018, the Alabama House of Representatives had the largest average margin of victory out of every lower chamber that held state legislative elections that year, and the Alabama Senate had the third largest average margin of victory out of every upper chamber that held elections.
- Senate District 2: Incumbent Tom Butler (R) and Kim Lewis (D) are running.
- Senate District 7: Incumbent Sam Givhan (R) and Korey Wilson (D) are running.
- Senate District 21: Incumbent Gerald Allen (R) and Lisa Ward (D) are running.
- Senate District 27: Sherri Reese (D) and Jay Hovey (R) are running. Incumbent Tom Whatley (R) was defeated in the Republican primary.
Alabama voters will decide 10 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 8.
One of those measures, the Alabama Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question, is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would ratify the proposed Alabama Constitution of 2022. Updates include removing a provision allowing slavery as a punishment for crime and removing repealed or nullified provisions of the state’s 1901 constitution, such as a ban on interracial marriage.
According to AL.com, “The goal was to make the massive Alabama Constitution of 1901, which has been amended 977 times, easier to read, use, and understand, as well as eliminating sections intended to preserve racial segregation and white supremacy that predated the civil rights movement.”
In Alabama, 102 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1987 and 2020. Eighty ballot measures were approved, and 22 ballot measures were defeated.
- Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time.
- Alabama requires voters to present photo identification. For more information on voter ID requirements in Alabama, click here.
- Alabama does not permit early voting.
- The voter registration deadline is Oct. 24. Registration may be completed online, by mail, or in person at certain locations. Oct. 24 is the receipt deadline, not postmark deadline, for mail-in registration. Same-day voter registration is not allowed.
- Certain Alabama voters are eligible to vote absentee. A mailed ballot request must be received by Nov. 1. An absentee ballot may be requested in person through Nov. 3. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be received by noon on Nov. 8. Absentee ballots returned in person must be returned by Nov. 7. 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!