Welcome to the Friday, March 17, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Trifecta status of four states could change this year
- New Orleans mayor challenges lowered signature requirement in recall effort
- #FridayTrivia: Which state has the longest statutory early voting period this year?
Trifecta status of four states could change this year
Five states are holding gubernatorial or state legislative elections (or both!) this year: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Heading into the election:
- New Jersey is one of 17 states with a Democratic trifecta;
- Mississippi is one of 22 states with a Republican trifecta; and,
- Kentucky, Louisiana, and Virginia are three of 11 states with divided governments.
A state government trifecta exists when one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the legislature.
The trifecta statuses in Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia are most susceptible to change, based on our sixth annual analysis of trifecta vulnerability.
We base our assessment of legislative elections on the absolute number of seats in a chamber, and the proportion of that total one party would need to change control. For gubernatorial elections, we base our trifecta vulnerability analysis on race forecasts from the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections.
We rate New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta moderately vulnerable. The governorship isn’t up for election until 2025, but all seats in both legislative chambers are on the ballot this year.
Democrats currently hold a 25-15 majority in the Senate and a 46-34 majority in the General Assembly. If Republicans gain five Senate seats (12.5% of the chamber) or six in the General Assembly (7.5%), it would create a divided government in the state.
Democrats will maintain their trifecta if they lose no more than four Senate seats and five in the General Assembly.
Republicans had a net gain of eight seats—two in the Senate and six in the General Assembly—in 2021. Democrats have controlled both legislative chambers since 2004.
We rate Kentucky as having a slight possibility of creating a Republican trifecta. Republicans hold majorities in both legislative chambers, neither of which is up for election this year.
But Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is running for re-election in a race election forecasters rate as Lean Democratic. Beshear was first elected in 2019, defeating then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R) 49.2 to 48.8%.
We rate Louisiana as having a moderate possibility of creating a Republican trifecta. All 144 state legislative seats are up for elections, with Republicans holding a 27-12 majority in the Senate and a 69-33-3 majority in the House.
Louisiana is also holding its first open gubernatorial race since 2015. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is term-limited, and election forecasters rate the contest to replace him as Lean Republican. Bel Edwards was most recently re-elected in 2019, defeating Eddie Rispone (R) 51.3 to 48.7%.
We also rate Virginia as having a moderate possibility of creating a Republican trifecta. Republicans currently control the governorship—which isn’t up for election this year—and hold a 52-48 majority in the state House. Democrats hold a 22-18 majority in the Senate.
If Republicans retain their House majority, they would need two seats in the Senate (5.0% of the chamber) to create a Republican trifecta.
Democrats would need to either retain their Senate majority, win a House majority (two seats, or 2.0%), or both, for the state to remain under a divided government.
We rate Mississippi’s Republican trifecta as not vulnerable. The governor’s race is rated Likely Republican. Republicans hold a 36-15-1 majority in the Senate and a 77-42-3 House majority.
Six states’ trifecta statuses change in 2022. In Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota, divided governments became Democratic trifectas. In Nevada, a Democratic trifecta became a divided government. And in Arizona, a Republican trifecta became a divided government.
Between 2010 and 2022, 79 state government trifectas were broken or gained.
New Orleans mayor challenges lowered signature requirement in recall effort
On March 14, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) filed two lawsuits challenging a consent judgment that Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) and the organizers of a recall effort against her announced on March 1.
The consent judgment revised the number of registered voters in Orleans Parish from 249,876 to 224,876 for the recall effort, which, in turn, lowered the signature requirement from 49,975 to 44,975.
The consent judgment is a retroactive change. Recall organizers announced they had submitted more than 49,000 signatures before the Feb. 22 deadline. Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters Sandra Wilson has until March 22 to verify the signatures.
In the first lawsuit, Cantrell’s attorney argued Ardoin lacked the authority to retroactively lower the signature threshold for a recall petition that had already been submitted.
The lawsuit also alleges that Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Jennifer Medley, who approved the consent judgment, had a vested interest in the outcome of the litigation based on reports that Medley signed the recall petition.
Cantrell also petitioned the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish to direct Ardoin to show the authority he used to negotiate the consent judgment.
Since 2010, Ballotpedia has tracked 44 recall efforts against mayors of the country’s 100 most populous cities, including Cantrell’s. Forty-one recall efforts failed to make the ballot.
Cantrell’s is one of the remaining three recalls on that list. One, in Omaha, went to a vote in 2011, where Mayor Jim Suttle retained his position with 51% of the vote. The third, in 2013, ended because San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigned.
Thirty-nine states allow recalls of public officials at the local level. This includes 92 of the country’s 100 most populous cities.
#FridayTrivia: How long is the average early voting period this year?
In Tuesday’s Brew, we updated you on this year’s early voting periods in the eight states holding statewide elections. Six of those eight states have a statewide, no-excuse early voting period, ranging from three days to 44, where any voter can cast a ballot before the election in person.
In those six states, how long is the average early voting period this year?