Chris Henderson

Chris Henderson is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at

Tim O’Brien sworn in to Indiana House of Representatives

Tim O’Brien (R) was sworn in on March 30 to represent District 78 in the Indiana House of Representatives. Republican precinct committee members selected him to represent the district in a caucus on March 29. O’Brien replaces Holli Sullivan (R), who was recently appointed as Indiana’s new secretary of state. Sullivan, who had represented the district since 2014, was appointed secretary of state on March 16.

O’Brien defeated Alfonso Vidal and Sean Selby to win the caucus vote. He will serve out the remainder of Sullivan’s term, and the office will be up for regular election in November 2022. At the time of his appointment, O’Brien worked as a realtor for F.C. Tucker Emge.

The Indiana House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Indiana General Assembly. After O’Brien’s appointment, the current partisan breakdown of the chamber is 71 Republicans and 29 Democrats.

Additional reading:

John Formella confirmed as New Hampshire attorney general

John Formella was confirmed as New Hampshire’s next attorney general by the Executive Council of New Hampshire on March 24 by a vote of 4 to 1. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) nominated Formella to the position on March 3. Formella has served as legal counsel in Gov. Sununu’s office since 2017. 

WMUR reported that Sununu congratulated Formella, saying “John’s work ethic is unmatched, and I have no doubt he will make an exceptional Attorney General and advance the best interests of Granite Staters. I look forward to working with him and the Department of Justice in the years ahead.”

Formella succeeds Gordon MacDonald, who left office earlier this year due to his nomination as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Deputy Attorney General Jane Young assumed the duties of the attorney general’s office when MacDonald stepped down. According to the governor’s office, Formella will take office after “an appropriate transition period.”

Prior to becoming legal counsel to Gov. Sununu, Formella worked for the New England law firm Pierce Atwood LLP. He was first hired as a summer associate in 2011 and was promoted to a full-time attorney in 2012.

The New Hampshire attorney general serves as head of the Department of Justice. The office’s primary responsibilities include acting as attorney for the state in criminal and civil cases in the supreme court, prosecuting crimes, enforcing the state’s criminal laws, and collecting unpaid debts to the state.

Additional reading:

Indiana governor appoints Holli Sullivan as secretary of state

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) appointed state Rep. Holli Sullivan (R) as secretary of state on Feb. 16. She succeeds Connie Lawson (R), who announced earlier this year that she would be resigning due to health and family reasons. Sullivan will serve until the office’s next scheduled election in November 2022. 

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) first appointed Lawson as secretary of state in March 2012 to fill the vacancy created when Charlie White (R) resigned. Lawson was elected to the position in 2014 and 2018. Her tenure of nine years is the second-longest in the history of the office. Indiana’s first secretary of state, Robert New, served for nine years and one month from 1816 to 1825.

Before being appointed secretary of state, Sullivan served in the Indiana House of Representatives, representing District 78 since 2014. She was originally appointed to the state House after Gov. Mike Pence (R) appointed the district’s previous representative, Suzanne Crouch (R), to state auditor. Sullivan was elected to the legislature in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020. 

When a vacancy occurs in the Indiana General Assembly, the party that last held the seat must appoint a replacement, with the approval of the chair of the state party. Sullivan’s successor will be selected by the Republican precinct committeemen of District 78. 

The Indiana secretary of state is one of five statewide elected offices established by Indiana’s Constitution. The secretary of state is responsible for maintaining state records, overseeing elections, chartering new businesses, and overseeing the state’s securities and motor vehicle dealership industries. 

Additional Reading:

More than 70 people apply to be the next lieutenant governor of Rhode Island

Daniel McKee (D) was sworn in as governor of Rhode Island on March 2. The previous incumbent, Gina Raimondo (D), resigned after she was confirmed as the U.S. secretary of commerce in the Biden administration. McKee was Raimondo’s lieutenant governor.

Under the Rhode Island Constitution, if the incumbent governor resigns, the lieutenant governor fills the office until the next election. Neither the constitution nor state law prescribes how the lieutenant governor’s office is filled if the incumbent resigns. In 1997, when Lt. Gov. Robert Weygand resigned, Gov. Lincoln Almond appointed his replacement. McKee referred to that event when saying that he, as governor, would select the next lieutenant governor.

According to WPRI-TV, more than 75 people have applied, including several state legislators. State Sen. Louis DiPalma (D) and state Reps. Robert Phillips (D), Grace Diaz (D), and Anastasia Williams (D) are among the candidates seeking the position. Several former lawmakers have applied as well.

The initial application deadline—Feb. 2—was extended indefinitely, but The Boston Globe reported that McKee is expected to choose his successor sometime in the next few weeks. The Rhode Island state Senate must confirm McKee’s choice. 

The lieutenant governor of Rhode Island is the second-ranking officer of the executive branch of Rhode Island, and the first officer in line to succeed the governor. Their duties include emergency management, intergovernmental relations, and making appointments to boards and commissions, among others. 

Additional Reading:

John Blake resigns from Pennsylvania state Senate 

Pennsylvania state Sen. John Blake (D) resigned on March 8 to take a position on U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright’s (D) staff. Cartwright represents Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District in Congress. Blake represented District 22 in the state Senate, which includes Lackawanna County and parts of Luzerne and Monroe Counties. 

“It has been a very difficult and emotional decision for me,” Sen. Blake said at a news conference. “I have served the 22nd District for more than a decade. I’ve given ten years of my life to the office and the people of the district, and I have been privileged and honored to serve.” 

Blake first took office as a state senator representing District 22 in 2011. He was re-elected in 2014, defeating Republican challenger Joe Albert. He most recently won re-election in 2018, defeating Republican Frank Scavo III, 61% to 39%. 

A special election will be held to fill Blake’s seat. When there is a vacancy in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the presiding officer of the chamber where the vacancy occurred must call for an election. The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Blake’s term, which expires on November 30, 2022. 

The Pennsylvania state Senate is the upper chamber of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. After Blake’s resignation, the current partisan breakdown of the Pennsylvania state Senate is 27 Republicans, 20 Democrats, one independent, and two vacancies.

Additional Reading:

Antonio Soto resigns from Puerto Rico House of Representatives

Antonio Soto (New Progressive Party) resigned his seat in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on Feb. 28. Soto cited a need to take over his family’s businesses due to his parents’ advanced age as the reason for his resignation. 

“There are circumstances in life that make us make decisions and the family always comes first,” Soto said when announcing his resignation. “It is up to me to step forward and respond to them.”

Soto was first sworn in to the Puerto Rico House in 2013. He represented District 6, which includes Guaynabo, Cataño, and Bayamón, and served as the chair of the Finance Commission for the past four years. Soto recently won re-election to his House seat on November 3, 2020, for a term that was set to expire in January 2025. 

When a vacancy occurs in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives before the 15 months preceding the date of a general election, the governor must call a special election within 30 days. The election must occur no later than 90 days after the governor’s call, and the person elected will hold office for the rest of the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.

Additional reading:

Guerrero-Cuellar appointed to Illinois House of Representatives

On Feb. 25, Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar (D) was appointed to represent District 22 in the Illinois House of Representatives, replacing Edward Guerra Kodatt (D), who resigned on Feb. 24 after three days in office. Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) held the seat for fifty years prior to his resignation earlier this year.

Kodatt had been appointed on Feb. 21 after an endorsement by Madigan, who held 56% of the weighted vote in choosing his successor due to his role as 13th Ward Democratic committeeman. Three days later, Madigan called on Kodatt to resign due to allegations of misconduct. Kodatt worked for Chicago’s 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn at the time of his appointment.

“After learning of alleged questionable conduct by Mr. Kodatt, it was suggested that he resign as state representative for the 22nd District,” Madigan and Quinn said in a joint statement. “We are committed to a zero-tolerance policy in the workplace.” 

The 22nd District’s ward and township committeemen chose Guerrero-Cuellar, who had received the second-highest vote total when Kodatt was appointed, after Madigan threw his support to her following Kodatt’s resignation. At the time of her appointment, Guerrero-Cuellar worked in community services on COVID-19 education and contact tracing. 

The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With Guerrero-Cuellar’s appointment, the partisan breakdown of the chamber is 73 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

Additional Reading:

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns

Illinois state Rep. Michael Madigan (D) announced on Feb. 18 that he would resign from the Illinois General Assembly. Madigan has been a member of the state House since 1971, representing District 22. 

“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service,” Madigan said in a statement. “Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House.”

Madigan served as House speaker from 1983 until 1995, when the Republican Party gained control of the chamber, and again from 1997 to 2021. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history. In 2021, he was not re-elected as speaker after Illinois utility company Commonwealth Edison admitted its involvement in an effort to influence Madigan to pass favorable legislation through offering jobs, contracts, and payments to his associates. Madigan was not charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of the scheme. Chris Welch (D) was elected to succeed Madigan as speaker on Jan. 13.

Vacancies in the Illinois General Assembly are filled by appointment by the party which last held the seat. Vacancies must be filled within 30 days by the respective party organizations covering the legislative district. As a member of the Cook County Democratic Party, Madigan has a role in choosing his successor.

The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With Madigan’s resignation, the partisan breakdown of the chamber will be 72 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and one vacancy. 

Additional Reading:

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announces resignation

On Feb. 15, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced her intention to resign, citing health and family reasons. Lawson said she will be leaving office as soon as a successor appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is ready to take office.

“I have dedicated the last 32 years of my life to public service,” Lawson said in a statement. “I have served with all of my heart and soul. It has been an honor to serve, but it is time for me to step down. Like many Hoosiers, 2020 took a toll on me. I am resigning so I can focus on my health and my family. I will work with Governor Holcomb to ensure our next Secretary of State is up to the task and has the tools and resources to hit the ground running.”

Lawson was first appointed as secretary of state by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) on March 16, 2012. She filled the vacancy created by the resignation of Charlie White after he was convicted of six felonies related to voter fraud. Lawson was re-elected in 2014 and 2018, defeating Democratic challengers Beth White and Jim Harper. She will resign before her term would have expired in January 2023. Her tenure of nearly nine years is the longest in the history of the office.

The Indiana secretary of state is one of five statewide, elected offices established by Indiana’s Constitution. They are responsible for maintaining state records, overseeing the state’s elections, and chartering new businesses, among other duties.

Additional Reading:

Doris Turner, Mike Simmons appointed to Illinois state Senate

On Feb. 6, two new state legislators were appointed to fill vacancies in the Illinois state Senate. Doris Turner (D) was appointed by the Democratic county chairs of the 48th Legislative District Committee to fill the seat formerly occupied by Andy Manar (D). Manar left office in January in order to take a position as senior advisor to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D). 

At the time of her appointment, Turner served as Ward 3 Alderman for the city of Springfield, Illinois. She previously worked for the State of Illinois for 33 years, 22 of which were with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Mike Simmons (D) was appointed by the Cook County Democratic Party committee to fill the District 7 seat left vacant by the retirement of Heather Steans (D) in January. Steans cited a need for “fresh eyes and fresh energy,” and that it was “time to pass the baton.” Simmons is the founder of Blue Sky Strategies & Co. and previously worked as a policy director for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). 

When a vacancy occurs in the Illinois state Senate, the Illinois Constitution requires that it be filled by appointment by the political party that last held the seat. The new legislator must be chosen by the party organization covering the legislative district within 30 days.

The Illinois state Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. With the appointments of Turner and Simmons, the current partisan breakdown of the chamber is 41 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and no vacancies.

Additional Reading: