Five mayoral elections decided by fewer than 1,000 votes

Welcome to the Monday, July 31, 2023, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Five recent mayoral elections in America’s largest cities have been decided by fewer than 1,000 votes
  2. State supreme courts have issued 3,842 opinions in 2023
  3. Democratic party committees lead Republican counterparts in cumulative fundraising

Five recent mayoral elections in America’s largest cities have been decided by fewer than 1,000 votes

As Ballotpedia prepares for August’s mayoral elections, we wanted to look at some of the most competitive recent elections in the nation’s 100 most populous cities.

Between 2019 and 2023, the average mayoral election in the top-100 cities had a margin-of-victory of 17,945 votes. The top five closest general elections in that period, however, were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes. 

The 2019 mayoral election in Aurora, Colorado was the closest, with 214 votes separating winner Mike Coffman (R)  and second-place finisher Omar Montgomery. The four next closest elections were in Austin, Texas (886), Oakland, California (677), Arlington, Texas (646), and Greensboro, North Carolina (425).

The closest general election featuring an incumbent was in Greensboro, North Carolina, where incumbent Nancy B. Vaughan (D) defeated Justin Outling by 425 votes. The next four closest elections were in:

  • Arlington, Texas, where incumbent Jim Ross won by 646 votes;
  • Garland, Texas, where incumbent Scott LeMay (R) won by 4,661 votes; 
  • Wichita, Kansas, where incumbent Jeff Longwell (R) lost by 5,205 votes, and;
  • Lincoln, Nebraska, where incumbent Leirion Gaylor Baird (D) won by 6,668 votes.

Sixty-three of the top 100 mayors ran for re-election from 2019 to July 2023. Nine lost re-election. 

The four most competitive primaries between 2019 and July 2023 were also decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.

The Green Party primary in Tucson, Arizona, was the closest, with 29 votes separating first and second place. The next closest were the nonpartisan primaries in Gilbert, Arizona (166) and Scottsdale, Arizona (226), and the Republican primary in Baltimore, Maryland (562).

The closest primary election featuring an incumbent was in Buffalo, New York, where India Walton beat incumbent Byron Brown by 1,049 votes in the Democratic primary. Brown went on to defeat Walton in the general election as a write-in candidate. 

The second-closest one was in Wichita, Kansas, where incumbent Jeff Longwell (R) received 1,342 more votes than Brandon Whipple (D) in the nonpartisan primary. Both moved on to the general election, where Whipple defeated Longwell by 5,205 votes. 

The next three closest primaries were in:

  • Glendale, Arizona, where incumbent Jerry Weiers (R) won by 2,683;
  • Toledo, Ohio, where incumbent Wade Kapszukiewicz (D) received 3,717 more votes than Carty Finkbeiner (D), and; 
  • Greensboro, North Carolina, where Nancy Vaughan received 3,882 more votes than Justin Outling.

Twenty-nine of the 100 largest cities are holding mayoral elections in 2023. Fourteen have already taken place, and 15 will take place between now and Nov. 7. The next top-100 mayoral election is Nashville’s general election on Aug. 3.

Keep reading

State supreme courts have issued 3,842 opinions in 2023

State supreme courts issued 192 opinions in the two-week period from July 10 to July 23, 2023. 

The Delaware Supreme Court issued 26 opinions, more than any other state, followed by Pennsylvania with 17 and Vermont with 13. The 192 opinions issued last week account for 5% of the year-to-date total of 3,842. 

West Virginia leads with 310 opinions issued since Jan. 1, followed by Pennsylvania with 240 and Delaware with 238.

State supreme courts have issued an average of 132 opinions per week so far this year. This figure is less than the 2022 weekly average of 143 and the 2021 average of 160.

Supreme courts in 12 states have issued over 100 opinions each since the start of the year, while courts in eight states have issued fewer than 25.

Some of the state supreme court opinions issued this year include those in:

  1. Illinois, where the “court ‘respectfully suggested’ that the legislature address the policy concerns inherent in the possibility of awards of substantial damages” in a case involving White Castle’s use of employee biometric data;
  2. Nevada, where the court held “there is no requirement that an employee’s activities be foreseeable to his employer in order for the employee to recover workers’ compensation benefits.” The case involved an employee’s death while riding an ATV on a business trip; and,
  3. Oregon, where, in a case involving clothing store Eddie Bauer the court affirmed that a customer “suffered an ‘ascertainable loss’ when the consumer purchased a product that the consumer would not have purchased at the price that the consumer paid but for a violation of [ORS] 646.608(1)(e), (i), (j), (ee), or (u), if the violation arose from a representation about the product’s price, comparative price, or price history, but not about the character or quality of the product itself.”

Supreme courts in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, and Delaware regularly end the year as some of the country’s most active courts. Collectively, they accounted for 26% of all opinions issued in 2021 and 2022, and, to date, 28% in 2023.

Every state and the District of Columbia have at least one supreme court, known as a court of last resort. Oklahoma and Texas have two courts of last resort, one for civil cases and one for criminal proceedings. Supreme courts do not hear trials of cases. Instead, they hear appeals of decisions made in lower courts. The number of justices on each state supreme court ranges between five and nine.

In 2020, we conducted a study identifying the partisan balance in every state supreme court. You can find that research here. We also identified which justices ruled together most often in our Determiners and Dissenters report found here.

Keep reading 

Democratic party committees lead Republican counterparts in cumulative fundraising

As of June 30, 2023, the end of the most recent party committee campaign finance filing period, the three committees associated with the Democratic Party had raised a total of $156 million for the 2024 election cycle, while the three committees associated with the Republican Party had raised $134 million.

The three Democratic committees are the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The three Republican committees are the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

The DNC, DSCC, and DCCC each maintain a lead over their Republican counterparts in total money raised and spent. See the table below for exact figures.

Compared to previous cycles, the Democratic committees’ cumulative receipts as of June ($156 million) currently outpace their receipts at this point in the 2020 election cycle ($133 million), but are lower than their receipts at this point in the 2022 election cycle ($204 million). On the Republican side, the three committees have raised $134 million as of last month, which is less than what they raised in both the 2020 ($176 million) and 2022 election cycles ($215 million).

Keep reading