Welcome to the Wednesday, February 22, Brew.
By: Juan Garcia de Paredes
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- A look at the higher education background of top state executives
- Campaigns surrounding California’s 2022 ballot measures received the highest average amount in contributions per measure since 2016
- An abortion-related constitutional ballot measure may appear on the Ohio ballot in 2023
Fifty-eight state executives have master’s degrees; 93 have law degrees
Let’s start the day by looking at the higher education background of the top state executives around the country.
Of the 192 officeholders currently occupying the top four executive positions in each state—governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—184 have a bachelor’s degree, 58 have a master’s degree, and 93 have a law degree. Nine such officeholders have a Ph.D., and one has a medical degree. Eight state executives do not list holding a higher education degree in their official biography.
The number of degrees held by officeholders is higher than the number of executives in office because some officeholders hold multiple degrees. Nevada’s Attorney General Aaron Ford (D), for example, holds five degrees, the most of any current officeholder. Following Ford are Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R), with four degrees each.
Broken down by party, 97 Republican officeholders have a bachelor’s degree, 25 have a master’s degree, and 44 have a law degree. Three Republican officeholders have a Ph.D., and eight do not list holding a higher education degree in their official biography.
On the Democratic side, 87 officeholders have a bachelor’s degree, 33 have a master’s degree, and 49 have a law degree. Six Democratic officeholders have a Ph.D., and one has an M.D.
Among all the top four state executive positions, the most popular school for a bachelor’s degree is Harvard University (6). The second most popular school is Yale University, where five officeholders received their bachelor’s degrees. Three schools—Brigham Young University, the University of Vermont, and the University of Washington—have four alumni each.
Broken down by party, the most popular school among Republican officeholders for a bachelor’s degree is Brigham Young University (4), followed by Auburn University (3) and the University of Georgia (3). On the Democratic side, the most popular school to get a bachelor’s degree is Harvard University (5), followed by Yale University (4).
The most popular schools for a master’s degree among all top four state executives are the University of Oxford (4), Harvard University (3), and Columbia University (3).
For Republican officeholders, the most popular school to get a master’s degree is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with two alumni. On the Democratic side, the most popular schools are the University of Oxford and Columbia University, with three alumni each.
Seven of the current top state executives received their Juris Doctorate (J.D.), or law degree, from Harvard University. Four schools—Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Virginia—have three law school alumni each among these officeholders.
Harvard University was among the most popular universities to get a J.D. for officeholders of both parties. On the Republican side, three officeholders received their law degrees from Harvard, and three received their law degrees from the University of Mississippi. On the Democratic side, four officeholders received their degrees from Harvard, while three received theirs from Stanford University.
Ballotpedia reviewed the biographies of the top four officeholders in each state as of February 2023, including profiles on official state directories, campaign websites, and media reports. All 50 states have the office of governor and attorney general. Forty-five states have a lieutenant governor, and 47 have a secretary of state. Click the link below to read more!
Campaigns surrounding California’s 2022 ballot measures received the highest average amount in contributions per measure since 2016
The final 2022 ballot measure finance data is in from California. Campaigns supporting and opposing the seven ballot measures that appeared on the California general election ballot in 2022 received $724.8 million in contributions. This is an average of $103.5 million per measure, the highest average for California ballot measures between 2016 and 2022.
Proposition 26 and Proposition 27—both related to sports betting legalization—were the most expensive ballot measures in California last year and the most expensive from 1999 to the present. Supporters and opponents of the measures, which were both defeated in November, received a combined $463.4 million in contributions.
Before Propositions 26 and 27, the most expensive ballot measure in California was Proposition 22, a 2020 measure related to app-based drivers and labor regulations. Campaigns supporting and opposing that measure raised a combined total of $224.2 million.
Campaigns behind the seven ballot measures that have qualified for the 2024 ballot in California have raised $101.3 million as of the latest campaign finance filings, which covered through December 31, 2022.
Abortion may appear on the Ohio ballot in 2023; other states expecting abortion-related constitutional ballot measures
Two campaigns in Ohio announced that they are joining efforts to put a statewide abortion-related initiative on the ballot in 2023.
On February 16, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Protect Choice Ohio said that they would file an initiative that would be similar to a measure that voters approved in Michigan in November 2022. That measure provided a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, which was defined to include abortion, contraceptives, and pregnancy-related matters.
Kellie Copeland, the executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio and a member of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, said, “This grassroots initiative – by and for the people of Ohio – is foundational to ensuring access to abortion and the right to bodily autonomy, not only for ourselves, but for generations to come.”
For a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to qualify for the November 2023 general election ballot, the campaigns would have to collect a minimum of 413,488 valid signatures by the July 5, 2023, deadline. This signature requirement number equals 10 percent of the votes cast for governor from the most recent election.
Following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, there were five statewide abortion-related constitutional amendments that were decided on by voters. In 2022, voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont were the first to approve ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. Voters in Kentucky and Kansas rejected measures to provide that the state constitution could not be interpreted to establish a constitutional right to abortion.
Currently, there is one certified statewide constitutional amendment related to abortion on the ballot in 2024, the New York Equal Protection of Law Amendment. Additionally, there are four proposed constitutional amendments—in Pennsylvania, Iowa, South Dakota, and Florida—that may appear on the ballot in either 2023 or 2024.
Historically, from 1970 to November 2022, there were 53 abortion-related ballot measures. Forty-three (81%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (26%) and rejected 32 (74%) of these 43 ballot measures. The other ten abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved seven (70%) and rejected three (30%).