Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at

Teresa Leger Fernandez wins Democratic primary in New Mexico’s 3rd District

Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) defeated Valerie Plame (D), state Rep. Joseph Sanchez (D-40), and four other candidates to win the Democratic nomination for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District.

Fernandez received 41.8% of the vote to Plame’s 22.9% and Sanchez’s 12.8% with 70% of precincts reporting. No other candidate received over 10% of the vote.

Fernandez received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and groups like the Working Families Party and EMILY’s List.

She will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election. Outgoing Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-03) was first elected in 2008 and never received less than 55% of the vote in any of his re-elections.

Louisiana State Representative Bagala dies from coronavirus

Louisiana State Rep. Reggie Bagala died on April 9 from coronavirus at the age of 54, according to a social media post by his son.

On April 1, it was announced that Bagala was in the hospital after testing positive for the disease. He was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2019.

Vacancies in the Louisiana legislature are filled by special election.

Additional reading:
Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic, 2020
Louisiana House of Representatives

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) resigns from U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) resigned from the Senate on December 31, 2019. Isakson had announced that he would resign his seat at the end of the year due to health reasons on August 28, 2019.

Isakson was first elected to the Senate in 2004 after incumbent Zell Miller (D) retired. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2016. Isakson served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2004 and previously served in the Georgia state legislature.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill Isakson’s seat. Loeffler will be sworn in on January 6, 2020.

Isakson’s resignation means that a special election will be held on November 3, 2020, to fill the remaining two years of his Senate term. A special election will also take place on that date in Arizona to fill the remaining two years of the late John McCain’s (R) Senate term. Three U.S. House special elections were held in 2019 and three more U.S. House special elections are scheduled in 2020 to fill vacancies.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Kelly Loeffler 
Special elections to the 116th United States Congress (2019-2020)

Supreme Court to hear oral argument in 24 cases over the next three months

 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, December 5, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Supreme Court to hear oral argument in 24 cases over the next three months
  2. Local Roundup
  3. Recall effort against state lawmaker rejected due to petition error

Supreme Court to hear oral argument in 24 cases over the next three months

The U.S. Supreme Court began its December sitting this week, hearing oral argument in six cases. The court will also hear arguments in six cases next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Five facts for December 5. 

  • The Supreme Court will hear eight cases over five days in January, starting on Jan. 13. It announced last week that it will hear nine cases in its February sitting, which runs from Feb. 24 to March 4.
  • The Supreme Court began hearing cases for the current term Oct. 7. The court’s annual term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions by mid-June.
  • Thus far, the court has heard 25 cases in this term.
  • The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear 57 cases during its 2019-2020 term. In the 2018-2019 term, SCOTUS considered 75 cases. It heard oral argument in 72 and decided three cases without argument. In the 2017-2018 term, SCOTUS agreed to hear 71 cases.
  • Of the 57 cases that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, eight are on appeal from the Ninth Circuit and eight are from state and district courts. The Ninth Circuit hears appeals of cases from the following states-Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. It also has appellate jurisdiction over the district courts for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Ninth Circuit is the largest appellate court, with 16 Democratic-appointed justices and 13 Republican-appointed justices.

Do you want to stay on top of all the happenings at the Supreme Court and the entire federal judiciary? We’ve got just the newsletter for you—Bold Justice—which covers Supreme Court cases, judicial confirmations and important rulings from other federal courts. I look forward to reading every issue. Subscribe today—it’s free—and you’ll receive the new edition in your email on Monday. 

Learn more

Local Roundup

Here’s our weekly roundup of local news:

Boise, Idaho

Lauren McLean defeated incumbent David Bieter in the runoff election for mayor of Boise on Tuesday—Dec. 3—receiving 65.5% of the vote. This was Boise’s first runoff election for mayor in over 50 years. McLean and Bieter were the top two finishers in the city’s general election Nov. 5, with McLean receiving 46% of the vote and Bieter 30% in a seven-candidate field.

Bieter was first elected mayor of Boise in 2003 and has served four terms. McLean has been a member of the Boise City Council since 2011 and is the first woman elected to be the city’s mayor. Although municipal elections in Boise are officially nonpartisan, McLean describes herself as a Democrat and Bieter is a former Democratic member of the Idaho House of Representatives.

Boise is the largest city in Idaho and the 97th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Mayoral partisanship in the 100 largest cities

Thirty-one mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities were held in 2019, with one race—the Dec. 14 runoff for mayor of Houston—still to be decided. In 20 of those cities, the incumbent was Democratic at the start of 2019. Six incumbents were Republican, three were independent, one was unaffiliated, and the affiliation of one was unknown.

With the Houston race yet to be decided, the mayor’s partisan affiliation changed in four cities. Democrats have gained three mayorships, two from Republicans and one from an independent. Republicans won one seat held by an unaffiliated mayor.

  • Democrat Kate Gallego won a special runoff election in Phoenix on March 12. Thelda Williams (R) was the previous incumbent after former Mayor Greg Stanton (D) resigned to run for the U.S. House.
  • In Raleigh, North Carolina, Mary-Ann Baldwin (D) won the nonpartisan mayoral race. The pre-election incumbent was independent Nancy McFarlane, who did not seek re-election. 
  • Mike Coffman (R) won the Nov. 5 mayoral election in Aurora, Colorado. Incumbent Bob LeGare (unaffiliated) did not run in the 2019 election.
  • Democrat Brandon Whipple won Wichita, Kansas’ mayoral election on Nov. 5. He defeated Republican incumbent Jeff Longwell.

Scott LeMay (R) won the mayoral election in Garland, Texas, after running unopposed. He succeeded Lori Barnett Dodson, whose partisan affiliation was unknown.

The table below shows the partisan breakdown of mayors back to 2016. Democratic mayors oversaw 67 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2016, 64 at the beginning of 2017, 63 at the start of 2018, and 61 at the start of 2019.

Mayoral partisanship

Recall effort against state lawmaker rejected due to petition error

Last month, we covered the story of a recall effort against Michigan State Rep. Larry Inman (R). Supporters of the recall submitted 13,991 signatures—1,790 more than what was required—on Nov. 22 in an effort to trigger a recall election. Here’s an update to that story.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections announced Nov. 29 that it rejected the recall effort due to a typo in the signature petitions. The original petition language—approved in July—described one of the charges against Inman’s as, “Attempted extortion under color of official right.” The signed petitions submitted last month omitted the word “right.” 

In a letter to recall organizers, Director of Elections Sally Williams wrote, “While the omission of one word may seem inconsequential and the rejection of a recall petition on such grounds as excessively technical and harsh, the recall statute does not authorize the bureau to excuse differences between the reasons for recall approved by the board and those printed on the recall petitions.” The image below from Williams’ letter shows both the original petition language and that which appeared on the signed petitions.

Petition error

Recall organizer Kaitlin Flynn told The Detroit News that supporters are “in shock and deeply disappointed” and that the recall group was evaluating all of its options. Flynn told UpNorthLive that the mistake was due to a printing error.

According to the petition language, supporters are trying to recall Inman due to his indictment on three felony counts and missing more than 80 votes during the 2019 legislative session. Federal prosecutors charged Inman in May 2019 with extortion, lying to the FBI, and lying to investigators about texts soliciting contributions. His trial on those charges began Tuesday—Dec. 3. On Aug. 29, the state House passed a resolution urging him to resign by a 98-8 vote. 

Ballotpedia has tracked 99 recall efforts of state legislators from 1913 to 2018, with 29 of those occurring in Michigan. Four such efforts made the ballot and three Michigan legislators were successfully recalled. The last Michigan legislator recalled was Rep. Paul Scott (R) in 2011.

Learn more→

30 congressional retirements so far this cycle

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Friday, December 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Two Representatives announce they aren’t running for re-election in 2020
  2. Supreme Court schedules oral argument in three cases related to the administrative state
  3. What’s the Tea (and cookies)?

Two congressmen announce they aren’t running for re-election in 2020

Two years ago, Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) announced during the week after Thanksgiving that they would not seek re-election in 2018. This week, two House members announced they would not run for re-election in 2020. 

Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) announced Wednesday—Dec. 4—that he would not seek a sixth term. Heck was first elected from the state’s 10th Congressional District in 2012.  He defeated Joseph Brumbles (R), 61.5% to 38.5%, in 2018. The 2018 Cook Partisan Voter Index for the district was D+5, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 5 percentage points more Democratic than the national average.

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) announced on Dec. 5 he would not run for re-election next year. Graves was first elected to the House in 2010, winning a special election in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District. After redistricting, Graves was elected from the newly created 14th Congressional District in 2012. He defeated Steven Foster (D)—76.5% to 23.5%—to win re-election in 2018. The 2018 Cook Partisan Voter Index for the district was R+27, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 27 percentage points more Republican than the national average.

Thirty members of the U.S. House—nine Democrats and 21 Republicans—have announced they will not run for re-election in 2020. In the 2018 election cycle, 52 members of the U.S. House—18 Democrats and 34 Republicans—did not seek re-election.

The current partisan composition of the House is 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election next November.  

The chart below compares the number of Democrats and Republicans in Congress who did not seek re-election between 2012 and 2018.


Supreme Court schedules oral argument in three cases related to the administrative state 

Thursday’s Brew updated readers on the Supreme Court’s 2019-20 term, highlighting cases scheduled for oral argument during December, January, and February. Three cases the court will hear in the first week of March are of particular interest to those who study the administrative state. 

I asked our team for a brief summary. After all, these are complicated court cases. You can see their reply below, with links for more details and background.

Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam

This case—scheduled for March 2—asks whether asylum seekers may challenge in court procedures immigration officials used to deny their asylum applications.  

Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

This case, along with Liu v. Securities and Exchange Commission, is scheduled for oral argument March 3. It concerns whether Congress’ decision to give substantial executive authority to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—an agency led by a single, Senate-confirmed director the president may not remove at-will—violates separation of powers principles.  

Liu v. Securities and Exchange Commission 

At issue in this case is whether the Supreme Court might limit how the Securities and Exchange Commission and other administrative agencies can penalize people who violate regulations.

Our monthly newsletter on the administrative state—The Checks and Balances Letter—covers cases like these, as well as laws and administrative decisions affecting regulatory activity at both the federal and state level. Click the link below to subscribe or explore past issues!

What's the tea

Tea and cookies, it’s a natural partnership. 

Especially around the holidays.

And whether it’s recollections of baking with a loved one, or just the sights and smells of fresh-baked items, many folks have wonderful memories of cookies this time of year. Making sure we have time to bake is one of the first things our family puts on the calendar when we plan our December every year.

Next week, we’re gearing up for a big holiday cookie event at Ballotpedia. I’m excited to tell you more about it on Monday. 

In the meantime, perhaps you can settle the debate we were having at Ballotpedia just yesterday. Peanut butter balls—also known as Buckeyes—have a peanut butter filling inside a chocolate coating.

Do you classify them as cookies?

Peanut butter balls

25 years of legislative party switches

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, Dec. 4, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day

  1. Pennsylvania state Senator becomes 10th state legislator to switch parties in 2019
  2. Filing deadline roundup
  3. Kavanaugh statement suggests Supreme Court could revisit nondelegation doctrine

Pennsylvania state Senator becomes 10th state legislator to switch parties in 2019

Pennsylvania state Sen. John Yudichak announced Nov. 19 that he had changed his party affiliation from Democratic to Independent. Yudichak also said he would begin caucusing with the state Senate’s Republican majority. Yudichak was first elected in 2010 and ran unopposed for re-election in both 2014 and 2018. His current term runs until 2022.

Yudichak’s switch means that the Pennsylvania Senate now has 27 Republicans, 21 Democrats, one independent, and one vacancy. 

Yudichak is the 10th state legislator to switch parties in 2019. Five state representatives left the Democratic Party, four state representatives left the Republican Party, and one state senator left the Republican Party. 

Ballotpedia has tracked 124 state legislators—35 state senators and 89 state representatives—who have switched parties since 1994. This includes 71 state lawmakers who switched from Democrat to Republican and 19 who switched from Republican to Democrat. The rest either switched to or from third parties or chose to become independents.

Party switchers

Learn more blankblank   

Filing deadline roundup 

Candidate filing deadlines are this month for the 2020 elections in California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. Here are updates from three of those states: 


Illinois’ filing deadline for established party candidates was Monday, Dec. 2.  According to state law, an established political party is one whose candidates received more than 5% of the total vote cast in any district or political subdivision. Primary elections in Illinois are on March 17.

The offices on the ballot in Illinois include the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Dick Durbin (D), all 18 U.S. House districts, 20 of 59 state Senate seats, all 118 state House districts, four state Supreme Court seats, 10 intermediate appellate court seats, and local offices.


California’s filing deadline is Friday—Dec. 6. Offices on the ballot include all 53 U.S. House districts, 20 out of 40 state Senate seats, and all 80 state House districts. The filing deadline will be extended by five days in races where the incumbent does not file for re-election. California’s top-two primaries are on March 3.

There will be a special election in California’s 25th Congressional District in early 2020, after the resignation of Katie Hill (D) on Nov. 1. The deadline for candidates to file to run in the special election is Jan. 9—after the statewide filing deadline. The primary election in that race is on March 3 and the special election is May 12.

North Carolina

A three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court ruled unanimously Monday, Dec. 2 that the state’s 2020 U.S. House elections will take place under a remedial map state lawmakers adopted in November. The state legislature approved the remedial map along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. The court had earlier ruled that the previous map—enacted in 2016—was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

The court also ordered that the candidate filing period for U.S. House districts should begin immediately, after previously delaying the filing period for those offices pending its consideration of the remedial map. The ruling means that candidate filing is underway for all offices in North Carolina until Dec. 20. 

The other December filing deadlines are Texas (12/9) and Ohio (12/18). The 2020 candidate filing deadlines in two states—Alabama and Arkansas—passed in November. You can view our full list of filing deadlines for the 2020 election cycle here.

Kavanaugh statement suggests Supreme Court could revisit nondelegation doctrine

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued an opinion Nov. 25—published with the court’s orders—hinting he would consider reviewing the nondelegation doctrine, a legal principle that prohibits legislative bodies from delegating their powers to either executive agencies or private entities.

Last term, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Gundy v. United States that the U.S. attorney general’s authority to issue regulations under the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) did not violate the nondelegation doctrine. In his dissent from that decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch argued that the delegation of authority from Congress to the attorney general in SORNA was unconstitutional and that Congress cannot let administrative agencies decide major policy questions. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas joined Gorsuch’s dissent. 

Justice Samuel Alito voted with the majority in Gundy but wrote a separate opinion saying he would be willing to reconsider the court’s approach to nondelegation questions if a majority of the justices agreed. Kavanaugh suggested that at least some congressional delegations of power are, in his view, unconstitutional and argued that Gorsuch’s analysis of the nondelegation doctrine in Gundy “may warrant further consideration in future cases.”

Law professor Jonathan Adler, who is critical of legislative bodies unlawfully delegating power, responded to Kavanaugh’s statement saying that if Kavanaugh’s message is “not an invitation for litigants to bring additional non-delegation challenges” then he does “not know what is.” 

Ian Millhiser, a Supreme Court writer for Vox who defends delegation as settled law, suggested that Kavanaugh’s statement is “significant because it shows that there are almost certainly five votes on the Supreme Court to slash agencies’ regulatory power.”   

The nondelegation doctrine is a fascinating and important legal principle that affects all three branches of government, and how they interact. If you want to learn more about this topic, we have a Learning Journey about it that will increase your understanding in just five days. I know it did for me! Each day, we’ll send you an email with information, examples, and exercises to help you understand it. Along the way, you can contact us with any questions and comments you may have. It’s fun, free, and easy.

Steyer leads Democratic presidential campaigns in Ballotpedia pageviews



The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Tuesday, December 3, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Steyer leads Democratic presidential campaigns in Ballotpedia pageviews
  2. Today is Giving Tuesday
  3. Judge blocks Washington initiative limiting annual vehicle license fees from taking effect

Steyer leads Democratic presidential campaigns in Ballotpedia pageviews 

Two Democratic candidates—Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former U.S. Rep Joe Sestak (Penn.)—ended their presidential campaigns in the past few days. That leaves 16 Democratic elected officials and notable public figures running for president.

We track and report the number of views candidates’ 2020 presidential campaign pages receive to show who is getting our readers’ attention. 

For the week ending Nov. 30, Tom Steyer’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 4,081 views, more than any other Democratic candidate. This was the first week Steyer’s page received the most pageviews among the Democratic field. Pete Buttigieg’s page had the second-most pageviews during this week and Andrew Yang’s page was third.

Steyer was the only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews last week than the week before. His pageviews increased by 22%. All other Democrats had decreases of between 11% and 37%.

Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews this year with 147,622. He is followed by Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.

See the full data on all presidential candidates by clicking the link below.


Learn more


Today is Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a day set aside from the Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays of holiday shopping to give back to the nonprofit organizations you support. We would be honored if you would include Ballotpedia in your giving list this year. If you choose to give a donation, your financial support will grow this encyclopedia of politics, power our sample ballot tool, and help inform millions of people in 2020. 

If you are unable to give today, but might be interested in volunteering your time in the future, please reply to this email and let me know! We’ll be launching a volunteer initiative in 2020 and would love to have you on board.

Donate today and help us reach our #GivingTuesday goals

Judge blocks Washington initiative limiting annual vehicle license fees from taking effect

Washington political activist Tim Eyman has proposed, sponsored, or been otherwise involved with statewide initiatives every year since at least 1998. The measures he has worked on primarily involve two subjects—taxes and transportation. His most recent initiative—the Limits on Motor Vehicle Taxes and Fees Measure (I-976)—was approved by voters last month but its implementation is on hold after being challenged in court. 

King County Superior Court judge Marshall Ferguson blocked I-976 from taking effect last week pending the lawsuit’s resolution. Ferguson wrote, “If the collection of vehicle license fees and taxes stop on December 5, 2019, there will be no way to retroactively collect those revenues if, at the conclusion of this case, the Court concludes that I-976 is unconstitutional and permanently enjoins its enforcement. Conversely, refunds of fees and taxes impacted by I-976 can be issued if the State ultimately prevails in this matter, albeit at some expense to the State.”  

Washington voters approved I-976—53% to 47%—on Nov. 5. The measure was designed to do the following:

  • Limit annual license fees for vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds at $30 except for voter-approved charges;
  • Base vehicle taxes on the Kelley Blue Book value;
  • Repeal the $150 fee on electric vehicles and limit certain taxes and fees related to transportation; and
  • Repeal authorization for certain regional transit authorities, such as Sound Transit, to impose motor vehicle excise taxes.

Nine plaintiffs—including the governments of Seattle and King County—filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 declaring that I-976 violated the Washington Constitution. The complaint stated that Initiative 976 violated the single-subject rule, the separate subject-in-title requirement, the requirement to disclose the repeal of statutes, and other constitutional provisions. In his response to the lawsuit, Eyman stated, “It is absolutely critical that the people of Washington state, regardless of how they voted, not pay taxes and fees that the voters voted to get rid of.” 

Proponents of I-976 said that a flat $30 vehicle license fee is fair and reasonable and that it’s dishonest for the state to tax a used vehicle based on its sales price rather than its Blue Book value. Opponents of 1-976 stated that the measure would cut much-needed transportation funding and take money from roads, bridges, and transit programs.

Ferguson was appointed to the court by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in July 2018. He was among 11 King County Superior Court judges who were automatically elected on Nov. 5 after they were the only candidates who filed to run. 

Learn more→


An early look at the 2020 ballot measures to watch

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, December 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An early look at the 2020 ballot measures to watch
  2. How do recalls work in each state?
  3. Eight former Michigan legislators sue to overturn state’s 1992 term limits ballot initiative

An early look at the 2020 ballot measures to watch

Forty-three statewide measures have qualified for 2020 ballots in 20 states. That number is likely to quadruple between now and Election Day. Here’s a chart showing the number of statewide ballot measures in the six previous even-numbered years:

Total measures

Even at this early stage, our Ballot Measures team has identified 10 measures worth watching. Here are three highlights:

California Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum

Californians will decide whether to uphold or overturn a first-in-the-nation law to replace the use of cash bail with risk assessments for all detained suspects awaiting trial. After Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the law on August 28, 2018, the American Bail Coalition organized a PAC to finance the campaign to repeal the law through a veto referendum. The campaign successfully collected 365,880 required signatures. California’s initiative and referendum rules dictate that the law is now suspended until voters decide the referendum on Nov. 3, 2020.

Colorado National Popular Vote Referendum

Since the 2016 election, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has picked up an additional five states in 2019, bringing the compact 31 electoral votes closer to going into effect. The compact would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college votes join. In Colorado—which has nine electoral votes and was the largest state to join the compact since 2014—a campaign called Protect Colorado’s Vote collected signatures to place a veto referendum on the ballot for Nov. 3, 2020. Now, voters will decide whether Colorado should join the compact or continue to allocate its electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in Colorado.

Marijuana Legalization Initiatives

Since 2012, voters in nine states have approved marijuana legalization measures. In 2020, there could be marijuana legalization ballot measures in several states, including ArizonaNew Jersey, and South Dakota. Arizona would be a second attempt for legalization proponents, as an initiative was defeated in 2016. New Jersey, a state without the initiative process, could vote to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot after the legislature failed to pass a statute. Signatures were submitted for a South Dakota ballot initiative at the beginning of November. Eleven states and the District of Columbia—covering 93 million people, or 28% of the United States—U.S. population have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Nine states did so through statewide citizen initiatives, and two through bills approved by state legislatures and signed by governors.

How do recalls work in each state?

Since 2012, Ballotpedia has tracked over 1,500 recall efforts against elected officials. States are often called the laboratories of democracy, and that’s no different when it comes to the various processes nationwide around recalls.  Here’s an overview:

Citizens can use the recall process to remove elected officials from office before their term is over in certain states. This process typically involves the circulation of petitions by recall organizers, the evaluation of signatures by election officials, and a public vote if the petitions contain a sufficient number of valid signatures.

Thirty-nine states allow citizens to recall local elected officials, and 19 states permit the recall of state officials. Of those 19 states, citizens in 10 of them can recall any state-level elected official. Seven states only allow citizens to recall state executives and legislators, but not appellate judges. Rhode Island only permits the recall of state executives and Illinois only permits the recall of the governor.

Eligible for recall

Recalls in Virginia take the form of petitions to the state’s circuit courts. Virginia laws state that local officials can be recalled, but it is unclear whether a state official can be recalled. There is no precedent for a state legislator or governor in Virginia having been recalled. Virginia is the only state not to use elections for its recall process; instead, it sends recall petitions to the state Circuit Courts for trial. One recent example of this is the 2017 recall campaign against Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham and City Councilman W. Howard Myers. Petitions were filed against the two and Judge Joseph M. Teefey heard the recall case on February 6, 2017. However, Teefey dismissed the petitions against Parham and Myers after organizers agreed to withdraw the effort.

Eleven states—Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont—do not permit the recall of elected officials. 

Twice a year, we publish aggregate data on the status of recalls. During the first half of 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 72 recall efforts against 115 elected officials. Keep an eye out for our year-end report—summarizing recalls by state and office—that will be published later in December.

Eight former Michigan legislators sue to overturn state’s 1992 term limits ballot initiative 

Eight former state legislators filed a legal complaint Nov. 20 in a federal district court to invalidate provisions of a ballot initiative that enacted term limits on legislators. The 1992 ballot initiative—titled Proposal B—was approved with 58.7% of the vote. Proposal B was designed to limit the number of terms a person could be elected to congressional, state executive, and state legislative offices in Michigan.

State legislators are subject to term limits in 15 states. State legislative term limits came through citizen-initiated ballot measures in each state except Louisiana, where the legislature referred a ballot measure to voters.

Six states have had state legislative term limits overturned. In Idaho and Utah, voters passed ballot initiatives in 1994 establishing state legislative term limits. The state legislatures of those states then repealed those laws in 2002 and 2003, respectively. In Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, voters approved ballot measures enacting state legislative term limits that were then struck down as unconstitutional by their state supreme courts.

An analysis of notable endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, November 25, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An analysis of notable endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates
  2. Iowa governor to appoint new state supreme court justice after chief justice dies
  3. North Carolina court delays candidate filing for U.S. House seats

An analysis of notable endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates

The 17 Democratic elected officials and notable public figures running for president have received a combined 173 noteworthy endorsements, according to a review of a list of endorsements compiled by FiveThirtyEight through Nov. 22. 

Noteworthy endorsers include current and former presidents and vice presidents, current and former party leaders, governors and other state executives, members of Congress, mayors of large cities, state legislative majority and minority leaders, and Democratic National Committee (DNC) members. 

Sixty-nine percent of Democratic governors and members of Congress have yet to endorse a candidate in the primary. This includes 70% of Democratic governors, 66% of the party’s U.S. Senators, and 69% of the Democratic representatives in the House.

Joe Biden leads with 40 noteworthy endorsements, followed by Kamala Harris with 35 and Bernie Sanders with 23. Six noteworthy candidates—Tulsi Gabbard, Deval Patrick, Joe Sestak, Tom Steyer, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang—have not received any such  endorsements. 

Of the 23 Democratic governors, six have endorsed a presidential candidate and one—Steve Bullock of Montana—is running for president. Biden, Cory Booker, Harris, and Amy Klobuchar have each been endorsed by their home state’s governors. Biden was also endorsed by Govs. Ned Lamont (Conn.) and Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.). Sixteen Democratic governors have yet to endorse a candidate. 

Of the 47 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, 10 have endorsed a presidential candidate and six are running for president—thus, 31 senators have not endorsed a candidate. Five senators have endorsed Biden, which is more than any other candidate. Booker, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren were each endorsed by their fellow home-state senator. Harris’ fellow California senator—Dianne Feinstein—endorsed Biden, and Michael Bennet’s fellow Colorado senator—Cory Gardner—is a Republican.

Of the 236 Democratic U.S. House members—including the three nonvoting members—71 have endorsed a presidential candidate and one—Gabbard—is running for president. Biden has the most congressional endorsements with 19, followed by Harris with 17 and Booker with 11. 

Three presidential candidates have received noteworthy endorsements from officeholders in early voting states—Iowa (Feb. 3), New Hampshire (Feb. 11), Nevada (Feb. 22), and South Carolina (Feb. 29): 

  • Bullock was endorsed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and DNC member Jan Bauer. 

  • Julián Castro was endorsed by Nevada DNC member Allison Stephens. 

  • Warren was endorsed by Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, Nevada state Controller Catherine Byrne, and Nevada DNC member Alex Goff.


Iowa governor to appoint new state supreme court justice after chief justice dies 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ (R) will make her third appointment to the state’s seven-member supreme court after Chief Justice Mark Cady died suddenly Nov. 15. Cady was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Terry Branstad (R) and had served as chief justice since 2011. 

When a vacancy occurs on the Iowa Supreme Court, the governor appoints a new justice from among three nominees submitted by the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission. The new justice must then stand in a retention election during the next regularly scheduled general election to continue serving on the court. After the initial election, justices must stand for retention every eight years and retire at age 72. 

When Cady’s successor is appointed, the court will have five judges appointed by Republican governors and two appointed by Democratic governors.

There are 344 state supreme court justices nationwide. Of those judgeships, 165 are elected by voters, 12 are selected by state legislatures, and 167 are appointed.  

In 2019, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies across 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 22 vacancies, 15 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Six vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while one occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints the replacement. 

Cady’s is the first such vacancy this year to be caused by the death of a sitting justice. Of the other 21 vacancies, 14 were due to retirement and two former justices took jobs in the private sector. One vacancy occurred when a justice was elevated to chief justice of the court, and four others occurred when the justices were elevated to federal judicial positions.

North Carolina court delays candidate filing for U.S. House seats

A three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court issued an order last week delaying the filing period for 2020 congressional candidates pending finalization of the state’s congressional district plan. That filing period had been scheduled from Dec. 2 through Dec. 20.

The North Carolina House and Senate approved a remedial congressional district plan (HB1029) earlier this month along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. In its Nov. 20 order delaying candidate filing, the court scheduled a hearing for Dec. 2 to consider both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ motions for summary judgment in the case. 

Until a decision is reached, the North Carolina State Board of Elections cannot accept filing petitions for U.S. House candidates. This does not affect candidate filing deadlines for other offices, such as U.S. Senate, governor, or members of the state legislature.

Opponents of North Carolina’s congressional districts filed suit Sept. 27 in state superior court alleging that the districts enacted by the state legislature in 2016 constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The plaintiffs asked that the court bar the state from using the maps in the 2020 election cycle. The court granted this request Oct. 28, enjoining further use of the 2016 maps. 

The filing period for congressional candidates in Pennsylvania in 2018 was delayed for two weeks after the state supreme court approved a revised map of the state’s U.S. House districts. The court had ruled in January 2018 that the congressional districts adopted in 2011 violated the state constitution. The 2018 filing deadline for gubernatorial and state legislative candidates in Pennsylvania was March 6 and the deadline for congressional candidates was March 20.  

The filing deadline passed earlier this month for congressional candidates in two states—Alabama and Arkansas. Four additional states—California, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas—have candidate filing deadlines in December.

Bay State ballot measures

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, November 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Deadline passes to submit signatures for ballot initiatives in Massachusetts
  2. Filing deadline upcoming for two congressional special elections
  3. Forty-two percent of Brew readers who responded to last week’s survey say they’ve attended a political debate in person

This is the last edition of the Daily Brew for this week. We will return on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Deadline passes to submit signatures for ballot initiatives in Massachusetts 

Ballot initiative campaigns in Massachusetts were required to submit more than 80,000 signatures to local registrars by Nov. 20 in order for measures to take the next step toward qualifying for the 2020 ballot.  After signatures are verified by local registrars, petitioners must submit those signatures to the secretary of the commonwealth by Dec. 4. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) approved 10 initiatives for circulation on Sept. 4. Three groups—Voter Choice for Massachusetts, Right to Repair Coalition, and the Massachusetts Senior Coalition—reported last week that they had submitted signatures to local registrars: 

  • Voters Choice for Massachusetts is sponsoring the Massachusetts Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative that would enact ranked-choice voting for many elections in Massachusetts. The measure would exclude elections for president, county commissioners, and regional district school committees, as well as elections in caucuses. The initiative’s sponsors reported submitting 130,000 signatures.

  • Right to Repair Coalition is sponsoring the Massachusetts Right to Repair Initiative which concerns access to mechanical data in a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics or telematics system. 

  • Massachusetts Senior Coalition is sponsoring the Massachusetts Nursing Homes Medicaid Ratemaking Initiative, which would change the formula that state healthcare programs, such as MassHealth (Medicaid), use to determine payments to nursing homes and rest homes. The initiative’s sponsors reported submitting over 130,000 signatures.

The required number of signatures—80,239—equals 3% of the votes cast in the state’s last gubernatorial election. No more than one-quarter of the verified signatures on any petition can come from a single county. If enough signatures are submitted for an initiative, the legislature may adopt the measure by a majority vote in both houses. It must act on a successful petition by May 6, 2020. 

If the legislature rejects the proposed law or declines to act on it, petitioners have until July 1, 2020, to request additional petition forms and submit a second round of 13,374 signatures. If proponents collect a sufficient number of signatures in this round, the initiative will be placed on the 2020 ballot. A measure only goes on the ballot if the legislature does not pass it and if the second round of signatures is successfully collected.

Massachusetts’ two-step process is similar to Ohio’s process for initiated statutes. If a ballot initiative receives signatures of 3% of the votes cast for governor, the proposal goes before the Ohio State Legislature. If the legislature doesn’t enact it, it must receive signatures from another 3% of the votes cast for governor to place the measure on the ballot.

Thirty-nine measures appeared on statewide ballots in Massachusetts from 1996 to 2018, an average of three per year during even-numbered election years. During this time, 21 were approved and 18 were defeated.

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Filing deadline upcoming for two congressional special elections 

Candidate filing deadlines are approaching for two upcoming special elections for U.S. House seats that will take place in the first half of 2020. Five special elections have been scheduled to take place during the 116th Congress.

Wisconsin’s 7th

Candidates in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District must file by Dec. 2. This special election will fill the vacancy created when Rep. Sean Duffy (R) resigned on Sept. 23.  Primary elections are scheduled for Feb. 18, 2020, which is the same date as Wisconsin’s statewide spring primary for judicial offices. The general election is May 12, 2020.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) originally scheduled the special election for the 7th District on Jan. 27, 2020, but was required to move the election date back after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the original dates did not adhere to federal requirements.

President Trump won the 7th District in the 2016 presidential election, 58% to 37%. The District includes all or part of six of Wisconsin’s 23 Pivot Counties. Pivot Counties are counties that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Trump (R) in 2016.

California’s 25th

Candidates wishing to run in the special election for California’s 25th Congressional District must file by Jan. 9, 2020. This special election will fill the vacancy resulting from the resignation of former Rep. Katie Hill (D), who left office Nov. 1. 

California uses a top-two primary system in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. The primary is scheduled for March 3, 2020, and the general election will be held May 12, 2020. 

Hill defeated then-incumbent Rep. Steve Knight (R) in the 2018 general election, 54% to 46%. Hillary Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, 50% to 44%.

Maryland’s 7th

The filing deadline was Nov. 20 for candidates running in the special election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District following the death of Elijah Cummings (D) on Oct. 17. Thirty-two candidates—24 Democrats and eight Republicans—are competing in primary elections on Feb. 4, 2020. The general election will be held April 28, 2020. Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, 76% to 20%.

Three special elections for U.S. House seats were held in 2019 and 32 such elections were held from 2013-2018. Three U.S. House special elections resulted in a change of partisan control since 2013.

Forty-two percent of Brew readers who responded to last week’s survey say they’ve attended a political debate in person

The DNC held its fifth presidential primary debate last week, which prompted us to ask how many readers had ever attended a political debate in person. The question asked people to answer ‘yes’ if they’d been to a debate involving candidates at any level of government. And I specifically said it didn’t matter whether questions were asked by moderators—in a more traditional debate— or by attendees—in what’s known as a town hall format.

The results were interesting as 42% of Brew readers who responded said they had attended a political debate in person. Thanks so much for your responses!What's the tea results