Author

Avery Hill

Avery Hill is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org

Colorado State Representative Beckman resigns to join the Trump administration

On January 17, 2020, Colorado State Rep. Susan Beckman (R) announced she was resigning to assume a position within President Trump’s administration. Beckman has not yet announced what position she will assume, nor has President Trump or his administration commented on her resignation. An announcement is expected from the Trump administration next week. Beckman was first elected from House District 38 in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018.

Vacancies in the Colorado state legislature are filled by a vacancy committee consisting of members representing the political party that last held the seat. The person appointed will serve the remainder of Beckman’s term, which ends in November 2020.

Beckman’s successor will be the 21st member of the Colorado General Assembly to be appointed to their position. There are currently eight Colorado state Senators and 12 Colorado state Representatives that were appointed to their respective positions out of the 100 members of the Colorado General Assembly.

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Additional Reading:
Colorado State Senate
Colorado House of Representatives
Colorado General Assembly



Hunter becomes chair of Federal Election Commission

On January 1, 2020, FEC commissioner Caroline C. Hunter (R) assumed the role of Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairwoman. Hunter is serving her second non-consecutive one year term as FEC Chairwoman and 12th year on the commission.

The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency created by Congress in 1975 to administer and enforce the Federal Elections Campaign Act. The FEC is responsible for disclosing campaign finance information, enforcing limits and prohibitions on contributions, and overseeing the public funding of presidential elections.

The commission is led by six members that are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They each serve six-year terms, with two seats up for appointment every two years. To prevent partisanship, no more than three members can be of the same political party. The chairs of the commission serve one-year terms

After Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen (R) resigned on August 31, the FEC has three members. The minimum number of members that must be present to make the agency’s decisions valid—known as a quorum—is four. The FEC will continue to make campaign finance documents available to the public and issue recommendations regarding campaign finance complaints. However, it will be unable to vote on recommendations until a quorum is established.

All of the FEC’s current members are holdover members of the board, meaning they have served longer than their original six-year term. President Donald J. Trump nominated James E. Trainor III to the commission in 2017 but the nomination was returned to the president at the conclusion of the 115th Congress. There have been no new appointments to the FEC since Trainor’s appointment and no Senate confirmations of new FEC members since Lee E. Goodman and Ann Ravel were confirmed as new FEC members in October 2013.

Before serving as the FEC Chairwoman, Hunter served as the vice-chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, and in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Before working within the government, Hunter served as deputy counsel of the Republican National Committee.

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Evans resigns from Washington D.C., city council

Washington D.C., City Council Member Jack Evans (D) resigned on January 17, 2020, after serving on the council for 30 years. Evans’ resignation came after the council spent a year investigating Evans and reprimanding him for possible ethical violations stemming from his work as an attorney.

On December 10, 2019, the city council approved a report that recommended Evans be expelled from the council. A vote to expel Evans had been set for January 21.

A special election will be held to replace Evans on the council on June 16, 2020. The primary for this special election will be held on June 2, 2020.

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Whipple resigns from Kansas House of Representatives to become mayor of Wichita

On January 13, 2020, Kansas State Rep. Brandon Whipple (D) resigned from the District 96 seat in the state House after becoming mayor of Wichita, Kansas. Whipple defeated incumbent Jeff Longwell to become Wichita’s mayor on November 5, 2019.

Whipple was first elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2012.

In Kansas, state legislative vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment. The Sedgwick County Democratic Party has nominated Stephanie Yeager (D) to succeed Whipple. Governor Laura Kelly (D) has not yet approved Yeager’s nomination.

Kansas is currently under divided government since the governor is a Democrat and Republicans control both houses of the state legislature.

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Additional Reading:
Kansas House of Representatives
Kansas House of Representatives District 96



Filler-Corn is Virginia’s first woman and first Jewish speaker of the House

Eileen Filler-Corn (D) will serve as the first female and first Jewish speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. The House of Delegates and Virginia State Senate comprise the Virginia General Assembly—the oldest legislative body in America—having been established in 1619.

The speaker of the House is a partisan leadership position in the House of Delegates. He or she serves as the chief spokesman for the Virginia House, presides over legislative sessions, directs the legislative process, and performs additional administrative and procedural duties.

Filler-Corn will replace the former speaker of the House, Kirk Cox (R), whose party lost control of the Virginia House of Delegates on November 5, 2019. After the 2019 elections, the current partisan composition of the House of Delegates is 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

Democrats also gained control of the Virginia State Senate in 2019, resulting in the state becoming a Democratic trifecta. This means Democrats control both chambers of the General Assembly and the governorship.

Filler-Corn served as the House minority leader from 2018 to 2019. She was first elected to the House of Delegates in a special election in March 2010. Before being elected to the House of Delegates, Filler-Corn was an attorney and served as the director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Virginia governor Mark Warner and Virginia governor Tim Kaine.

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Additional Reading:
Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates District 41
State Speaker of the House
Party control of Virginia state government
Kirk Cox



Cook County Democratic Committee appoints Villanueva to Illinois State Senate

On January 7, 2020, Illinois State Representative Celina Villanueva (D) was appointed by the Cook County Democratic Committee to fill the vacant District 11 state Senate seat. Villanueva assumed office on January 7, 2020, and her current term will end on November 3, 2020.

Villanueva’s appointment came after former state Senator Martin Sandoval (D) resigned on January 1, 2020. Sandoval resigned after federal agents searched his home and one of his legislative offices in search for information related to Sandoval’s relationship with lobbyists, construction company leaders, transportation company executives, and a red-light camera company.

This is Villanueva’s second legislative appointment in the last two years. In July 2018, Villanueva was appointed to the Illinois House of Representatives to replace former State Representative Silvana Tabares (D). Tabares resigned to accept an appointment to become the Alderman from Chicago’s 23rd Ward.

Villanueva is a candidate for the District 11 state Senate seat, which is up for regular election in 2020. The primaries will be held on March 17 and the general election is on November 3.

Villanueva previously worked for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and as a community activist in Chicago.

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Additional Reading:
Illinois State Senate
Illinois State Senate District 11
Martin Sandoval



Maryland Governor Hogan appoints Griffith to fill state House vacancy

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) appointed U.S. Marine Corps veteran and businessman Mike Griffith (R) to fill the vacant District 35B state House seat on December 30, 2019. Griffith assumed office on January 6, 2020, and his term will end on January 10, 2023.

Griffith’s appointment came after former state Delegate Andrew Cassilly (R) resigned on December 11, 2019, to join Gov. Hogan’s staff as a Senior Adviser. Cassilly’s resignation caused one of six recent vacancies in the Maryland General Assembly, all of which were filled by Gov. Hogan’s appointments.

Before joining the Maryland House of Delegates, Griffith served as a Military Police Officer in the United States Marine Corps. He is also the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of HPS Management, a commercial property management company.

Aside from Griffith’s appointment to replace Cassilly, Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D) resigned in late 2019, due to health issues and was replaced by Sen. Charles Sydnor III (D). Attorney Shaneka Henson (D) joined the Maryland House, filling a vacancy caused by the passing of Speaker Michael Busch (D) in May 2019. Del. Eric Bromwell (D) resigned after his appointment to Baltimore County’s opioid strategy coordinator position in August 2019, and his vacant seat was filled by Carl Jackson (D). Catherine (Cathi) Forbes (D) joined the House of Delegates in October 2019, filling the seat of Del. Stephen Lafferty (D), who resigned to become Baltimore County’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. And attorney Nicole Williams (D) filled a vacancy caused by the arrest and eventual sentencing of Del. Tawanna Gaines (D) for wire fraud.

The five above-mentioned newly appointed Delegates began their time in the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday, January 7, 2020, the first day of Maryland’s 2020 legislative session. Charles Sydnor returned to the General Assembly, but in a new chamber, the Maryland Senate.

There are still three vacancies in the Maryland House of Delegates and one vacant seat in the Maryland State Senate.

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Additional Reading:
Maryland House of Delegates
Maryland House of Delegates District 35B
Maryland State Senate
Andrew Cassilly
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam
Charles Sydnor III
Shaneka Henson
Michael Busch
Eric Bromwell
Carl Jackson (Maryland)
Stephen Lafferty
Cathi Forbes
Nicole Williams
Tawanna Gaines
State legislative vacancies, 2019



Vermont Governor Scott appoints Reed to fill House vacancy

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) appointed businessman Peter Reed (I) to fill the vacant Orange-Washington-Addison District state House seat on January 6, 2020. Reed was sworn into office on January 7, 2020, the first day of Vermont’s 2020 Legislative Session.

Reed’s appointment came after former state Representative Ben Jickling (I) resigned in August 2019 to join a software company in Wisconsin.

Before joining the Vermont House of Representatives, Reed served as a community banking officer for Northfield Savings Bank, an executive director for UBS Investment Bank, and a manager for the Royal Bank of Canada. Reed also has experience in the securities and consulting fields.

The Vermont House of Representatives has five Independent representatives and seven members that are a part of the Vermont Progressive Party, a third party in Vermont. It has the highest number of Independent and third party candidates of any state legislative chamber in the United States.

An officeholder or candidate who identifies as an Independent is not affiliated with any political party. According to its Statement of Principles, the Vermont Progressive Party is designed to promote economic, social and environmental justice and sustainability within the state of Vermont.

For a list of all political parties in the United States click here. (Insert link https://ballotpedia.org/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_States)

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Additional Reading:
Vermont House of Representatives
Vermont House of Representatives Orange-Washington-Addison District
Ben Jickling
Independent
Vermont Progressive Party



Barclay elected Minority Leader of New York State Assembly

On January 7, 2020, Republicans elected William Barclay (R) as minority leader of the New York State Assembly. Barclay was first elected to the State Assembly in 2002 and previously served as State Assembly Deputy Minority Leader.

Barclay’s appointment came after former Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R) was arrested on December 31, 2019, after crashing a state-owned vehicle while intoxicated. Kolb resigned from his Assembly leadership position on January 5, 2020.

The current partisan composition of the New York State Assembly is 106 Democrats, 42 Republicans, one independent, and one vacancy.

Before being elected to the New York State Assembly, Barclay practiced law as an attorney and partner with the Hiscock and Barclay law firm. He also clerked for Judge Roger Minor in the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, Albany.

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Additional Reading:
State House Minority Leader
New York State Assembly District 120
New York State Assembly
Brian Kolb (New York)



U.S. Small Business Administration nominee Carranza approved by Senate

On January 7, 2020, the U.S. Senate approved Jovita Carranza to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) by an 88-5 vote. Carranza is now the highest ranking Hispanic woman in President Trump’s administration.

The administrator of the Small Business Administration is responsible for overseeing the programs that assist small businesses in obtaining loans and loan guarantees, as well as contracts, counseling sessions, and other forms of assistance.

Carranza will replace former SBA chief Linda McMahon, who resigned on April 12, 2019, to become the chair of the America First Action PAC. At the time of her appointment, Carranza was serving as treasurer of the United States. Before serving as U.S. Treasurer, Carranza founded the supply-chain management company JCR Group. She also previously served as the deputy administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration under former President George W. Bush.

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Additional Reading:
Donald Trump presidential Cabinet
U.S. Small Business Administration
Linda McMahon