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Corinne Wolyniec

Corinne Wolyniec is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Kyle Bailey resigns from Maine state House

Maine state Rep. Kyle Bailey (D-27) resigned on Oct. 15, citing a new job opportunity. “Due to an exciting professional opportunity that has arisen recently, I am unable to complete my full term as state representative,” Bailey said in a statement.

Bailey was first elected to represent Maine’s 27th House District in 2020, defeating Roger Densmore (R), 59% to 41%. 

If there is a vacancy in the Maine State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election. The political committees representing the vacant seat are responsible for setting all deadlines. The winner of the election will serve the remainder of Bailey’s two-year term, which was set to expire in December 2022. 

So far in 2021, there have been 113 state legislative vacancies in 41 states. Two of those vacancies occurred in Maine.

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Matthew Dunlap vacates the office of Maine State Auditor

The office of the Maine State Auditor became vacant on Oct. 1 when former auditor Matthew Dunlap (D) stepped down. 

The Maine Legislature elected Dunlap as state auditor on December 2, 2020, effective January 4, 2021. Under Maine law, he was required to have certification as a public accountant, internal auditor, or information systems auditor within nine months of the day he assumed office. Dunlap resigned on Oct. 1 after failing to obtain those credentials by the deadline. According to The Maine Wire, Dunlap said he intended to continue pursuing internal auditor credentials.

Deputy state auditor Melissa Perkins will serve as the interim auditor until the state legislature confirms a successor. 

The Maine State Auditor is a statutory state executive position in the Maine state government. The auditor is in charge of examining all state financial records and reporting the findings to the Legislature.

Forty-eight (48) states have a statewide auditor, with New York and Tennessee being the two states that do not. The state auditor’s office belongs to either the executive or legislative branch, depending on the state. While both offices are similar in function, a legislative auditor functions primarily under the state legislature and is not considered a state executive office. Maine is one of 33 states that have state executive auditors. Twenty-three (23) states have legislative auditors, and eight states have both.

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Raquel Terán assumes office as Arizona state senator, creating vacancy in state House

Raquel Terán (D) assumed office as the senator for District 30 in the Arizona state Senate on Sept. 28. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Terán (D) to the district on Sept. 15. The seat became vacant in August when former state Sen. Tony Navarrete (D) resigned after being arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. Terán will serve the remainder of Navarrete’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

At the time she was appointed, Terán was serving her second term in the Arizona House of Representatives. Terán ran for the District 30 seat in the state Senate in 2012 and was defeated by incumbent Robert Meza in the Democratic primary, 51% to 49%.

Terán’s appointment to the state Senate creates a vacancy in the state House. When a vacancy occurs in the Arizona legislature, the board of county supervisors must select a replacement. Arizona is one of seven states that fill state legislative vacancies through board of county commissioners appointment.

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Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria retires

Paolo DeMaria retired as Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction on Sept. 24. DeMaria was first appointed to the position in May 2016 by the Ohio State Board of Education.

DeMaria announced on July 1 that he intended to retire, saying in a statement, “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education, the education community and school children and the people of Ohio since June 2016 as State Superintendent, and for 30 years in various agencies of state government.”

The Board of Education selected Stephanie K. Siddens to serve as the interim superintendent until they choose a permanent replacement. 

Siddens has worked at the Ohio Department of Education since 2006. At the time she was appointed as acting superintendent, she was the senior executive director of the Center for Student Supports. She previously served as senior executive director of the Center for Curriculum and Assessment and director of the Office of Early Learning and School Readiness.

The Ohio superintendent of public instruction is an appointed state executive position in the Ohio state government. The superintendent serves as the secretary to the Board of Education and also its executive and administrative officer. The superintendent is responsible for executing the educational policies, orders, and administrative functions of the board as well as directing the work of all employees who work in the department of education.

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Two state legislators switch political party affiliation

Two state legislators switched their political party affiliation the week of Sept. 13. New Hampshire state Rep. William Marsh switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, and Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson became an independent after members of the Minnesota House Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) caucus voted to expel him.

William Marsh—who represents Carroll County District 8 in the New Hampshire House—announced on Sept. 14 that he would leave the Republican Party and switch his affiliation to Democrat. Marsh told the Washington Post that he decided to switch because he disagreed with state Republicans’ opposition to mask and vaccination mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s not in the interest of the public to allow Covid to spread in New Hampshire as it has in Florida,” he said. “I’m a doctor first, so I stood up for my patients and said, ‘I’m done with this.’ And I left.”

In Minnesota, members of the House DFL caucus voted on Sept. 14 to expel John Thompson, who represents District 67A. House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Majority Leader Ryan Winkle said there were credible allegations of abuse and misconduct against Thompson and that the caucus voted to expel him in the absence of a resignation. In response to his expulsion, Thompson said, “The DFL chose to release me from their caucus, but what they didn’t do is dampen my resolve to continue serving my district and authentically making sure the voices of those that have been marginalized are clearly heard in the halls of power at the State Capitol.”

Marsh was first elected to the New Hampshire House in 2016, running unopposed in the primary and general elections. He most recently defeated Eve Klotz (D), 63% to 37%, to win re-election in 2020. Marsh ran in both elections as a Republican. Thompson won election to the Minnesota House as a Democrat in 2020, defeating John Stromenger (R), 73% to 27%.

Ballotpedia has identified 145 state legislators—39 state senators and 106 state representatives—who have switched parties since 1994. Marsh is the seventh state legislator in New Hampshire we’ve identified who has switched parties and is the only one to switch to Democrat. Of the other six, four became Libertarians and two became Republicans. Thompson is the third Minnesota state legislator we’ve identified who has switched parties; all three switched to independent.

Eleven state legislators have switched parties so far in 2021. Seven state legislators switched parties in 2020, and 12 switched in 2019. Nationwide, 74 state lawmakers switched from Democrat to Republican, and 20 switched from Republican to Democrat since 1994. The others switched to or from being independent or other parties.

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August 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.26% Republicans, 44.72% Democrats

54.26% of all state legislators are Republicans, and 44.72% are Democrats, according to Ballotpedia’s August partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,957 state senators and 5,363 state representatives. Democrats hold 863 state Senate seats and 2,439 state House seats, a loss of four seats in each chamber since the end of July. Republicans hold 4,006 of the 7,383 total state legislative seats—1,091 state Senate seats (up one since July) and 2,915 state House seats (a decrease of five).

Independent or third-party legislators hold 39 seats, of which 32 are state House seats, and seven are state Senate seats. There are 36 vacant seats.

During the month of August, Democrats saw a net decrease of eight seats, and Republicans saw a net decrease of four seats. Compared to August of last year, the state legislatures are 2.06% less Democratic (46.78% to 44.72%) and 2.26% more Republican (52.00% to 54.26%).  

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Heather Meyer assumes office as Kansas state representative

Heather Meyer (D) assumed office as the representative for District 29 in the Kansas state House on Sept. 7. The Johnson County Democratic Party appointed Meyer to the district on Aug. 24. The district became vacant on Aug. 29 when former state Rep. Brett Parker (D) resigned to accept a job offer. Meyer will serve the remainder of Parker’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

At the time she was appointed, Meyer practiced as a social worker in the Kansas City area.

Meyer ran for the District 29 seat in 2014. She was defeated in the general election by incumbent James Todd (R), 54.3% to 45.7%. According to the Shawnee Mission Post, Meyer said she plans to run for a full term in 2022.

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Abe Hudson Jr. resigns from Mississippi state House

Mississippi state Rep. Abe Hudson Jr. (D-29) resigned on Aug. 30. 

“Serving in this capacity has been one of the highest honors and proudest accomplishments of my life,” Hudson said in a video he posted to Facebook. “I believe that my transition will allow both the Mississippi Delta and I to grow. Furthermore, it will allow someone with a fresh perspective to lead our area out of many of the challenges that we’ve aggressively started to address.”

Hudson was first elected to represent Mississippi’s 29th House District in a special election in 2016. He defeated Earl Lucas in a runoff election, 62.7% to 37.3%. Hudson ran unopposed in the 2019 general election. 

If there is a vacancy in the Mississippi State Legislature, the governor must call for an election no later than 30 days after the vacancy occurs. The winner of the election will serve the remainder of Hudson’s four-year term, which was set to expire in January 2024.

So far in 2021, there have been 94 state legislative vacancies in 37 states. Three of those vacancies occurred in Mississippi.

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Christine Goodwin assumes office as Oregon state Representative

Christine Goodwin (R) assumed office as the representative for District 2 in the Oregon State House on Aug. 25. Commissioners from Douglas, Josephine, and Jackson counties appointed Goodwin to the seat on Aug. 12. The seat became vacant in July when former state Rep. Gary Leif (R) died of cancer. Goodwin will serve the remainder of Leif’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

At the time she was appointed, Goodwin worked as an administrator of the private optometry practice owned by her and her husband. Goodwin served as interim Douglas County Commissioner in 2018 and is a former member of the South Umpqua School Board.

Oregon is one of seven states that fill state legislative vacancies through board of county commissioners appointments. 

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New Mexico Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart resigns

Ryan Stewart resigned as New Mexico’s secretary of education on Aug. 20, citing health issues in his family. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) first appointed Stewart to the position in August 2019. Stewart said he would continue serving at the Public Education Department in an advisory role. 

Lujan Grisham announced on July 29 that former Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus would become the new secretary of education. Steinhaus retired as superintendent in May. He previously served as deputy cabinet secretary of the state Public Education Department and as director of student and education programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Steinhaus began his career as a music teacher at Alamogordo Public Schools.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Stewart for his steady leadership and guidance during these past two years. I’m among the many who will miss him. I’d also like to thank my colleagues at the Higher Education and Early Childhood Education and Care departments for their warm welcome and expressions of support,” Steinhaus said during a news conference. “I look forward to collaborating with them regularly as we work together to build the nation’s best cradle to career education system. We are united in that commitment.”

The New Mexico secretary of education is an appointed state executive position in the New Mexico state government. The secretary serves as head of the state Public Education Department and is responsible for overseeing New Mexico’s education policy and program development, operational management of the department, and the distribution of educational funding.

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