Welcome to the Tuesday, March 21, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Two weeks until Chicago mayoral, Wisconsin Supreme Court elections
- All three candidates in Mississippi House District 111 Republican primary submit Candidate Connection Surveys
- Republicans control 55% of all state legislative seats, Democrats with 45%
Two weeks until Chicago mayoral, Wisconsin Supreme Court elections
Two weeks from today, on April 4, voters will decide two of this year’s most-watched elections: Chicago’s mayoral runoff and Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court general election.
Here’s a quick look at where things stand in both of these contests.
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D) and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas (D) advanced to the April 4 runoff as the top two vote-getters in the Feb. 28 general election.
Johnson and Vallas received the most votes out of the nine-candidate field, with 21.6% and 32.9%, respectively.
Incumbent Lori Lightfoot (D) placed third, becoming the first incumbent mayor to lose re-election in Chicago in 34 years.
This means, on Feb. 28, 45.5% of voters cast their ballots for a candidate no longer on the ballot.
Since then, five of those seven candidates have endorsed either Johnson or Vallas.
- U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) and state Rep. Kambium Buckner (D) endorsed Johnson.
- Willie Wilson (I), Ja’Mal Green (D), and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (D) endorsed Vallas.
- Collectively, Johnson’s endorsers got 15.7% of the vote on Feb. 28, and Vallas’ endorsers received 11.7%.
- Two candidates—Lightfoot, who had 16.8% of the vote, and Ald. Sophia King, who received 1.3%—have not yet made an endorsement.
In Wisconsin, voters will decide the ideological balance of their state supreme court, choosing between Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Justice Daniel Kelly.
While Wisconsin’s supreme court elections are officially nonpartisan, PBS Wisconsin’s Zac Schultz wrote, “Protasiewicz and Kelly are heavily aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.”
The winner will succeed retiring Justice Patience Roggensack, a member of the court’s current 4-3 conservative majority. If Protasiewicz wins, the court will switch to a 4-3 liberal majority. If Kelly wins, the conservative majority will remain.
According to WisPolitics.com, this race has had more than $27 million in spending, making it the most expensive judicial election in U.S. history, breaking a $15 million record set in a 2004 Illinois Supreme Court election.
That $27 million figure includes candidate spending, but most of it—$18 million according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign—has come from satellite groups.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest spenders on both sides:
A Better Wisconsin Together—a committee whose largest donors are labor unions and Democratic ideological groups—has spent more than $5 million supporting Protasiewicz and opposing Kelly.
On Feb. 23, the group released an ad saying Kelly “repeatedly attacked abortion rights and groups fighting to protect them” and “is endorsed by groups who’d ban abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest.”
Fair Courts America—a committee funded primarily by Richard Uihlein, owner of a shipping and packaging supply company—has spent more than $4.6 million supporting Kelly and opposing Protasiewicz.
In early March, the group published a website supporting Kelly and opposing Protasiewicz, describing her as “Dan Kelly’s dangerous opponent … Her record = putting criminals back on the street as soon as possible!”
Additionally, today, March 21, the State Bar of Wisconsin, WISC-TV, and WisPolitics.com will host the only debate between the two candidates ahead of the April 4 election.
Barring any vacancies in the interim, the next supreme court election in Wisconsin will be in 2025, when Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s term expires. Walsh is a member of the court’s current liberal majority.
All three candidates in Mississippi House District 111 Republican primary submit Candidate Connection Surveys
All three candidates running in the Aug. 8 Republican primary for Mississippi’s House District 111 have submitted Candidate Connection Surveys.
This is the district’s first contested Republican primary in more than a decade. Because no Democrats are running, the winner will become the district’s next representative. The three candidates are:
- Eric Camp, a clergyman, sheriff’s department deputy, and cattle farmer;
- Jimmy Fondren, an attorney and business owner; and,
- David Carson Futch, an attorney, welder, and maintenance engineer.
Incumbent Rep. Charles Busby (R), first elected in 2011, is running for the state’s Transportation Commission this year, leaving the district open.
In the survey, we ask each candidate to tell us what they think is their state’s greatest challenge over the next decade.
Here’s what the District 111 candidates said. Click on their names to view their full survey responses:
- Camp: “Infrastructure and Education.”
- Fondren: “As a younger candidate … [w]e must figure out ways to not only keep our younger generation in Mississippi, but also ways to recruit new residents into the state.”
- Carson Futch: “Energy cost”
Mississippi is one of four states that hold state legislative elections in odd-numbered years. Winners in both chambers serve four-year terms.
All 174 state legislative districts—122 in the House and 52 in the Senate—are up for election. Republicans currently hold a 77-42-3 majority in the House and a 36-15-1 majority in the Senate.
When an election reaches 100% survey completion, we make sure to let others know. In 2022, 320 races met this threshold, which you can see here.
We invite every candidate running in an election we cover to complete our Candidate Connection Survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Our survey helps voters better understand how candidates think about the world and how they intend to govern.
If you are running for office, please consider submitting a survey here. You can also share the link with any candidates you want to hear from directly.
Republicans control 55% of all state legislative seats, Democrats with 45%
Ballotpedia’s March count of the nation’s 7,386 state legislators found that 55% are Republicans and 45% are Democrats.
Republicans control 56 of the country’s 99 legislative chambers, while Democrats control 41. The Alaska House and Senate both have multipartisan, power-sharing coalitions.
Since last month, Democrats have gained four seats, and Republicans gained six.
Compared to March last year, Democrats’ share of state legislative seats is up 0.1 percentage points (44.4% to 44.5%). Republicans’ share is up 0.6 percentage points (54.3% to 54.9%).
Republicans have controlled a majority of state legislative seats since 2011, making this the party’s longest period of majority control at that level of government in more than 100 years. Democrats’ longest period of majority control lasted 48 years, from 1955 to 2003.
From 1923 to 2023, Democrats controlled a majority of seats for 73 years, and Republicans held the majority for 26.