Avery Hill

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Herbert appoints Birkeland to Utah House

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) appointed Kera Birkeland (R) to the Utah House of Representatives on April 16. Kirkland will represent District 53, filling the vacancy created by Logan Wilde’s (R) resignation to assume the role of commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Birkeland serves as the vice chair of the Utah Republican Party, was an at-large delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention from Utah, and worked as the director of operations for Oil Vault, a small business she founded with her husband, Lars Birkeland.

Birkeland was sworn into office on April 16 and will serve the remainder of Wilde’s term set to end December 31 of this year. Birkeland has filed to run for re-election and is currently the only Republican candidate filed to run for the District 53 seat. A primary is scheduled for June 30, 2020, and the general will take place on November 3, 2020.

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Washington senator McCoy announces resignation

Washington senator John McCoy (D) announced his retirement and resignation effective April 17, 2020. McCoy is a 17-year Washington legislature veteran and one of the state’s longest-serving Native American legislators.

McCoy’s letter of resignation to the Washington Senate stated, “When I first came to the Legislature in 2003 as a member of the House of Representatives, I was humbled to represent such warm and vibrant people in Everett, Marysville, and Tulalip. Through changes in committees, leadership roles, and even chambers over the course of my legislative career, it was always an immense privilege to represent my neighbors.”

McCoy served in the Washington House of Representatives, representing District 38-Position 1 from 2002 to 2013. He was elected to the state Senate in November 2013 and was re-elected to represent Washington Senate District 38 in 2018. Before joining the Washington legislature McCoy served 20 years in the United States Air Force and as a computer technician for the White House.

The Snohomish County Council will appoint a representative to temporarily fill McCoy’s seat from a list of names submitted by the Democratic Central Committee for Senate District 38. That appointee will serve until the November election. Candidates interested in running to serve the remaining two years of McCoy’s term and being on the ballot in November must file before May 15, 2020.

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Beshear appoints judge to Fayette County District Court

Kentucky Gov Andy Beshear (D) appointed prior Fayette County commonwealth’s attorney Melissa Moore Murphy to serve on the Fayette County District Court on April 16. Murphy was a candidate for the vacant seat on the Fayette County Court created by Judge Julie Goodman’s appointment to the Fayette County Circuit Court.

Murphy has served as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, assistant McCracken County commonwealth’s attorney, and as an attorney with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s law department. In 2018, Murphy ran for a seat on Kentucky’s 22nd District Court. She was defeated by John Tackett.

Murphy will be sworn into office and assume her place on the Fayette County district court bench on April 24, 2020. She will serve the remainder of Goodman’s term set to end at the end of the year. Murphy will need to run for re-election for her seat in Kentucky’s November election. She is currently the only candidate running for the district court’s fourth division seat.

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Floren announces retirement after 20 years in Connecticut legislature

Connecticut State Representative Livvy Floren (R) announced April 7 that she would not seek re-election after representing Connecticut House District 149 for 20 years. Floren said in a statement that it was time for her to retire from the office.

Floren currently serves as the Assistant House Republican Leader. She also serves as a ranking member of the Bonding Sub-Committee. Before serving as a state legislator, Floren was a substitute school teacher and a public relations manager.

Elections for the office of Connecticut House of Representatives will take place in 2020. The general election will be held on November 3, 2020. A primary is scheduled for August 11, 2020. The filing deadline is June 9, 2020. Click here to learn more about Connecticut’s 2020 elections.

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Herbert appoints new Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) appointed Utah state representative Logan Wilde (R) to serve as Utah’s commissioner of agriculture and food on March 26. Wilde will fill the vacancy created when commissioner Kerry Gibson (R) resigned on January 14, 2020. Gibson resigned to run for Utah’s 1st Congressional District.

The commissioner oversees the Utah Department of Agriculture which promotes the interests and products of Utah agriculture and promotes methods for increasing production and facilitating the distribution of the agricultural products of the state, among other initiatives.

Wilde currently serves as a member of the Utah House of Representatives, representing District 53. He has served in the Utah House for seven years and is the vice chair of the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee. Wilde is also a member of the Utah Association of Conservation Districts.

Before joining the Utah State Legislature, Wilde served on the Morgan County Council, Weber-Morgan Health Department Board, and as a managing partner at M.R. Wilde and Sons.

The Utah State Senate is scheduled to review Wilde’s appointment during the state legislature’s interim session in May 2020.

Additional Reading:
Utah House of Representatives District 53
Kerry Gibson

Kemp appoints superior court judge to Georgia Court of Appeals

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals on March 26. Colvin was one of two judges recently appointed to fill vacancies on the appeals court. The other vacancy was created when Carla McMillian was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) first appointed Colvin to the Macon Circuit of the 3rd Superior Court District of Georgia on March 24, 2014. Colvin won election to a full term on the bench after running unopposed in the general election on May 24, 2016. Prior to becoming a superior court judge, she was an attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Colvin received her undergraduate degree from Sweet Briar College and her J.D. from the University of Georgia. All three of Gov. Kemp’s judicial appointments last week were University of Georgia School of Law alumni.

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Georgia Court of Appeals
Carla W. McMillian

Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader will not seek re-election

Wisconsin State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D) announced April 2 she would not seek re-election. Shilling’s announcement comes after spending nearly 20 years in the state legislature.

In a statement, Shilling said, “It was not an easy decision, but I know it is time to put my family first and look to a future where I can put away my little red suitcase that has accompanied me on my weekly travels to Madison for the past 20 years.”

Shilling was first elected to the state Senate in August 2011, after winning a recall election and defeating Republican incumbent Dan Kapanke. She has served as the senator representing Senate District 32 ever since. Before that, she represented District 95 in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2001

The filing deadline for Wisconsin’s state legislative elections is June 1, 2020. A primary is scheduled for August 11, 2020, and the general election will take place on November 3, 2020.

Additional Reading:
Wisconsin Senate elections, 2020
Dan Kapanke

Mississippi State Rep. Andrews resigns

Mississippi state representative William Andrews (R) resigned March 31 from the Mississippi Legislature, effective immediately. Andrews said that he resigned from the House in order to receive his pension earned while serving as a county judge.

Andrews’ resignation comes two months after former state representative Ramona Blackledge (R) left the state House. Blackledge stated that she resigned so she could continue receiving her Public Employees Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS) retirement benefits she earned as a county tax assessor.

Andrews’ letter of resignation stated, “In spite of an Attorney General’s opinion and PERS regulation allowing PERS Retirees to serve in the Legislature, Philip Gunn has blocked all efforts to comply with the existing law and PERS regulations. As a result, my PERS benefits have been suspended and the House of Representatives has refused to Pay me less than normal salary and benefits. The end result is that I cannot continue to serve.”

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) stated that he would not challenge a section of the Mississippi Administrative Code which prohibits recipients of Mississippi’s public employees’ retirement system benefits from also receiving a salary from the state. Two other members of the Mississippi House, Representatives Goodin and Darnell, were also receiving pension payments from their time as teachers before Gunn’s decision.

Andrews, Blackledge, Darnell, and Goodin had opted to receive reduced pay for their service as state representatives and no per diem for food and lodging during legislative sessions so they could receive their pension benefits.

Andrews was elected to serve as the representative for Mississippi House District 87 in November 2019. A special election will be held to fill the vacancy created by Andrews’ resignation. Details about this upcoming special election, including when it will be held, have not yet been released.

Additional Reading:
Mississippi House of Representatives District 87
Philip Gunn

New York State Senate minority leader announces he won’t seek re-election

New York State Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan announced March 25 he would not seek re-election. Flanagan is the seventh Republican state senator to announce their retirement since Democrats took control of the Senate in 2018.

Flanagan previously served as Senate president and Senate majority leader. He has represented New York State Senate District 2 since 2003 after representing state Assembly District 9 from 1987 to 2003. His current term ends on December 31, 2020.

Flanagan released a statement regarding his retirement which said, “For almost thirty-four years I have enjoyed the privilege, honor and distinction of serving as an elected official in the New York State Legislature. The opportunity to serve the public for virtually all of my adult life has enriched every aspect of my life, and so it is with a heavy but extremely proud heart that I announce today that I will not be seeking re-election to the New York State Senate.”

Elections for all 63 seats in the New York State Senate will take place in 2020. The general election will be held on November 3, 2020. A primary is scheduled for June 23, 2020, and the filing deadline is April 2, 2020.

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Washington lieutenant governor will not seek re-election

Washington Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib (D) announced on March 19 that he will not seek re-election and instead leave politics to join the Society of Jesus, a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church.

Habib was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 2012 and the state Senate in 2014. He was elected lieutenant governor on November 8, 2016.

The Lieutenant Governor of Washington is the second-ranking officer of the state and separately elected from the Governor. Washington’s lieutenant governor is up for regular election on November 3, 2020, with a top-two primary scheduled for August 4. The filing deadline to run is May 15.

Ballotpedia is covering the Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election here.

Additional Reading:
Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2020
Joseph Brumbles
Mark Greene