ICYMI: Top stories of the week

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of September 25 – September 29.

State legislative competitiveness in 2023: Open seats, major party competition, and incumbents in contested primaries 

Every year, Ballotpedia publishes our State Legislative Competitiveness Report, a comprehensive look at competition in state legislative elections. This year, the 13th edition analyzed data in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia—the four states holding legislative elections in 2023. 

Our analysis of the 578 legislative elections occurring in this year’s off-cycle elections found the overall State Legislative Competitiveness Index declined from a decade high 30.8 in 2019 to 30.7 this year. The data show that 336, or 58%, of the legislative districts up for election this year have no major party competition. This is the largest number of races with no major party competition in an odd year since we began gathering data in 2011.

This analysis only includes odd years when all four states held elections (2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023). Lawmakers in Mississippi and Louisiana are elected to four-year terms

The average State Legislative Competitiveness Index for state legislative elections in even-numbered years between 2010 and 2022 is 34. In 2022, competitiveness reached 36.6—the highest level since 2010.. 

We use three criteria to determine state legislative competitiveness:

  • Open seats, those where no incumbents are running;
  • Incumbents in contested primaries; and,
  • Seats with major party competition, those contested between a Democratic and Republican candidate in the general election.

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Dallas becomes largest city with a Republican mayor after party switch

On Sept. 22, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, a former Democratic state legislator, announced he was switching his party affiliation to become a Republican. 

The switch makes Dallas—the country’s ninth-most populous city—the largest with a Republican mayor. Dallas’ immediate neighbor, Fort Worth, previously held that distinction.

Johnson is also the third big-city mayor to switch parties since 2016. In 2021, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee switched from Democratic to Republican. Fremont, Calif., Mayor Lily Mei switched from nonpartisan to Democratic in 2019.

Nationwide, Democratic mayors lead 63 of the country’s 100 most populous cities, Republicans lead 25, nonpartisan or independent mayors lead 10, and two mayors’ affiliations are unknown.

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Pennsylvania becomes 24th state to implement automatic voter registration

On Sept. 19, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) announced that the state had implemented automatic voter registration (AVR) for all eligible residents. The governor’s office said Shapiro was implementing the new policy as a procedural change, meaning it did not need legislative approval.

With Pennsylvania, 24 states and the District of Columbia have now enacted automatic voter registration

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