Welcome to the Thursday, February 9, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Mississippi Republicans guaranteed majorities in both state legislative chambers
- Democrats regain majority in the Pennsylvania House
- Volunteer for Ballotpedia—and help provide voters with neutral, fact-based information about every candidate
Mississippi Republicans guaranteed majorities in both state legislative chambers
Mississippi’s major party candidate filing deadline passed on Feb. 1, and the number of Republicans running without Democratic opponents is large enough to guarantee Republican majorities in both legislative chambers before any ballots are cast. That’s the first time that’s happened since Reconstruction.
Republicans have controlled both chambers since 2011
Following Reconstruction, Democrats controlled the Mississippi Legislature consistently from 1876 until 2007, when Republicans briefly controlled the Senate. Republicans won control of both chambers in 2011, and since then, the number of races contested by both major parties has gradually decreased.
The number of Democrats running without GOP opponents has ranged from a high of 55 in 2019 to a low of 47 this year.
The number of Republicans running without Democratic opponents has consistently increased, growing from 55 in 2011 to 98 this year.
The total number of contested primaries this year (67) represents 19% of all possible primaries, a decade-low percentage. In 2019, that figure was 20.7%. In 2022, across all states that held state legislative primaries, 20.4% of primaries were contested. In 2020, across all states that held state legislative primaries, 20.6% of primaries were contested.
Mississippi has had a Republican trifecta since the party won control of the House in 2011. Republicans have a 77-42-3 majority in the House. A total of 229 candidates filed to run for state House. Republicans hold a 36-16 majority in the Senate. Ninety-one candidates filed to run for the state Senate.
Statewide primaries will be held Aug. 8, with primary runoffs taking place on Aug. 29. The general election is Nov. 7. A general runoff election is scheduled for Nov. 28 for state executive offices only.
Offices on the ballot in Mississippi include governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and 10 other state executive positions. All seats in the state Senate and state House are up for election. We’re also covering school board elections in DeSoto County.
Democrats regain majority in the Pennsylvania House
Speaking of 2023 elections, Pennsylvania held special elections to fill three vacancies in the state House of Representatives on Feb. 7. Let’s look at the results of those House elections and what they mean for the chamber’s partisan balance.
The special elections took place in three Pittsburgh-area districts—32, 34, and 35. Last November, Democrats won a 102 to 101 majority in the chamber, switching majority control for the first time since 2010. However, the Democratic-held districts became vacant after the election, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 majority when the legislative session began in early January.
- In District 32, Joe McAndrew (D) defeated Clay Walker (R). McAndrew is a former director of the Allegheny Democratic Committee. Walker is an Army veteran and pastor.
- In District 34, Abigail Salisbury (D) defeated Robert Pagane (R). Salisbury ran her own practice and was previously a law professor. Pagane is a former law enforcement officer.
- In District 35, Matthew Gergely (D) defeated Don Nevills (R). Gergely served as the McKeesport chief finance officer. Before that, Gergely was a McKeesport school board member.
When the winning candidates are sworn in, Democrats will have a 102-100 majority in the chamber (with one vacancy). The candidates are expected to be sworn into office before the end of the month.
The timing of the elections was the subject of a legal dispute. Under Pennsylvania law, the majority leader schedules state legislative special elections. In December 2022, Democrat Joanna McClinton scheduled the three special elections for February 7. McClinton said she was sworn in as majority leader on Dec. 7 on the grounds that Democrats won more districts on Election Day. Republican Bryan Cutler said McClinton’s swearing-in was not legitimate because Democrats did not have a majority and said he was sworn in as majority leader on Dec. 12. House Republicans filed a lawsuit Dec. 9 challenging the timing of the Districts 34 and 35 elections and alleging McClinton did not have the power to schedule the elections.
Both Republicans and Democrats agreed to hold the District 32 election on Feb. 7.
On Jan. 13, 2023, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that all three elections should happen on Feb. 7.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania special elections at the link below.
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