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Ellen Morrissey

Ellen Morrissey is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Virginia GOP nominates Jason Miyares for attorney general in statewide convention

Jason Miyares defeated Leslie Haley, Chuck Smith, and Jack White to win the Republican Party of Virginia’s nomination for state attorney general at the 2021 convention.

Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, the 2021 Virginia Republican convention was an unassembled convention held across 39 satellite locations. Unlike previous conventions, there was no limit on how many delegates could cast votes, which were weighted according to the number of delegate votes allocated to each locality. Delegates cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting to determine a majority-vote winner. Over 53,000 people registered as delegates in 2021.

Miyares was announced as the winner of the attorney general convention on May 9, after three rounds of ranked-choice vote re-allocation. The final, weighted count showed Miyares with 51.7% of the vote to Smith’s 48.3%.

Miyares has served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2016. His campaign platform included reducing the rate at which the Virginia Parole Board granted early release to violent offenders and punishing manufacturers and marketers who he said played a role in the opioid addiction epidemic.

The general election for Virginia attorney general will take place on November 2, 2021. The Democratic nominee will be decided in a primary on June 8. As of May 10, votes were still being counted for the Republican nominations for governor and lieutenant governor.

Incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring (D) won re-election in 2017 with 53.4% of the vote to John Adams’ (R) 46.6%. The last Republican attorney general in Virginia was Ken Cuccinelli, who served from 2010 to 2014. Cuccinelli’s election in 2009, along with that year’s election of former Governor Bob McDonnell (R), was the last time a Republican candidate won statewide office in Virginia.



Democratic and Republican Party committee total fundraising about even, according to April FEC filings

Six party committees have raised a combined $206 million over the first three months of the 2022 election cycle. The committees raised about $83 million in March, according to April filings with the Federal Election Commission. Here’s a closer look at this month’s filings:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $9.3 million and spent $6.3 million in March, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $8.3 million and spent $11.2 million. So far in the 2022 cycle, the NRSC has raised 2% more than the DSCC ($23.1 million to $22.7 million).

The House committees saw higher fundraising last month than their senatorial counterparts, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raising $15.6 million and spending $11.2 million. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $19.1 million and spent $5.0 million. So far in the 2022 cycle, the DCCC has raised 1% more than the NRCC ($34.1 million to $33.8 million).

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC also led the DSCC in fundraising, but by a wider 35% margin ($19.5 million to $13.8 million). Similarly, the DCCC also led the NRCC in fundraising, but by a 25% margin ($32.5 million to $25.1 million).

Between the national committees, Republicans outraised and outspent Democrats this March. The Democratic National Committee raised $12.8 million and spent $7.0 million. The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $17.8 million and spent $15.1 million. The gap between the DNC and RNC total fundraising in the 2022 cycle is the widest of the three committee pairs we track. The DNC raised 8% more than the RNC ($48.2 million to $44.4 million).

At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the opposite was true. The RNC led the DNC in total fundraising by 75% ($45.8 million to $20.9 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC have raised 3.5% more than the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC ($105.0 million to $101.4 million).

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Jill Underly wins Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction election

Jill Underly defeated Deborah Kerr in the nonpartisan election for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction on Apr. 6. Decision Desk HQ called the race at 9:15 p.m. CT, and the Associated Press called the race at 9:30 p.m. CT. With 67% of precincts reporting, Underly led with 57% of the vote to Kerr’s 43%.

Kerr and Underly had advanced to the general election with 26.5% and 27.3% of the Feb. 16 primary vote, respectively. Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who was appointed in 2019 by the state’s current governor and former Superintendent Tony Evers (D), announced in January 2020 that she would not run for a full term.

Though the race was officially nonpartisan, both candidates were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Underly was endorsed by two former Wisconsin state superintendents, four Democratic members of Congress, and 29 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. In her own words, Kerr she was a “pragmatic Democrat with conservative values.” She received endorsements from state Senators Alberta Darling (R) and Lena Taylor (D).

Re-implementing in-person schooling in response to the coronavirus and the allocation of school funding were central issues in the race, according to the Associated Press. Kerr said her plan would have school reopenings be mandatory across the state, and Underly said her plan for reopenings would have local school districts decide when they reopen. In regards to school funding, Kerr supported the public funding of school vouchers and charter schools, while Underly opposed the public funding of school vouchers and charter schools.



Deborah Kerr, Jill Underly running in Wisconsin State Superintendent race

Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly are running in the nonpartisan election for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 6, 2021. 

The candidates advanced as the top-two finishers from the February 16, 2021 primary. Kerr, a former school district superintendent, received 26.5% of the primary vote, and Underly, a current school district superintendent, received 27.3%. The primary saw the second-highest turnout for a Wisconsin State Superintendent race in the past 20 years.

Though the race is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are affiliated with the Democratic Party. As of March 18, Underly has been endorsed by two former Wisconsin state superintendents, four Democratic members of Congress, and 25 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Leading up to the primary, Kerr said she was a “pragmatic Democrat.” She has received endorsements from several local school board members and state Senator Alberta Darling (R). Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D), who served as superintendent from 2009 to 2019, has not endorsed either Underly or Kerr.

Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, whom Evers appointed as his successor, announced on January 13, 2020, that she would not seek re-election. The decision marked the first time in 20 years that an incumbent declined to enter the race.



Candy Christophe (D), Julia Letlow (R), and 10 other candidates running to represent Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District

Twelve candidates are running in a March 20 special primary election to represent Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. The election was called to fill the vacancy left after Congressman-elect Luke Letlow (R) died in December 2020. 

The 12 candidates who filed for the seat include nine Republicans, two independents, and one Democrat. Heading into the election, Candy Christophe (D) and Julia Letlow (R) have led the field in media coverage.

Christophe has worked as a business owner and social worker. Cristophe, the only Democrat running, has an endorsement from the state Democratic Party. Her campaign platform includes addressing unemployment in the district, supporting small businesses and farmers, and investing in infrastructure.

Letlow’s professional experience includes working as a teacher and educational administrator. Her endorsers include the state Republican Party and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Letlow said she and her late husband Luke Letlow (R) shared a vision for the district that included investing in jobs and rural development, supporting agriculture, and supporting education.

Before 2021, Louisiana’s 5th was represented by Ralph Abraham (R), who won re-election outright in the 2018 primary with 67% of the vote to Jessee Carlton Fleenor’s (D) 30%. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Joe Biden (D) 65% to 34% in the district.

Christophe was also a candidate in the 2020 primary election. That year, Luke Letlow and Lance Harris (R) advanced to the general election with 33.1% and 16.6% of the vote, respectively. Christophe placed third with 16.4% of the vote. Luke Letlow won the general election against Harris 62% to 38%.

Under the Louisiana majority-vote system, all candidates run in a single primary election. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a general election. If necessary, the general election for this seat will take place on April 24.

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Anthony Brindisi (D) concedes in New York’s 22nd Congressional District election

Incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D) conceded the election to represent New York’s 22nd Congressional District on Feb. 8, 2021, to Claudia Tenney (R). His concession follows several months of legal challenges from Brindisi and Tenney over the validity of certain absentee and affidavit ballots cast in the Nov. 3, 2020, election.

Brindisi announced his concession hours after the New York Board of Elections voted to certify the results of the election. Tenney led by 109 votes.

In a statement, Brindisi said: “Today I congratulated Claudia Tenney and offered to make the transition process as smooth as possible on behalf of our community. […] It is time to close the book on this election and focus on building a better community and more united country for our children.”

Tenney responded to Brindisi’s Feb. 8 concession in a tweet: “I really appreciate Anthony’s call today and thank him for his service. He graciously offered to help ensure a smooth transition and I look forward to working with him over the coming days to complete that process on behalf of everyone in NY22.”

To read more about the legal proceedings in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, click here.



Election still undecided in New York’s 22nd Congressional District

Results in the Nov. 3 U.S. House election in New York’s 22nd Congressional District have not yet been certified. The latest vote count, completed on Dec. 30, showed former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) with a 29-vote lead over incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D). This race was one of 56 U.S. House rematches from 2018, when Brindisi defeated Tenney 51% to 49%.

Litigation over the validity of certain absentee and affidavit ballots began the day following the election and is ongoing. Problems with mislaid ballots, missing documentation of ballot challenges, and errors in vote tabulation slowed the process.

Oswego County Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte has not made a final ruling on these issues, and official results have not been certified. DelConte also asked both campaigns to file legal briefs by Jan. 14 on 2,418 voter registration applications submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles that the county board of elections did not process before election day. These voters had the option to cast an affidavit ballot, but these ballots weren’t counted since it appeared the voters weren’t registered. At least 63 affidavit ballots from this group are being reviewed.

Final oral arguments on all court proceedings in the case are scheduled for Jan. 22.

Here are some other recent elections where the result was not confirmed until weeks after the elections:

  1. In 2018, the North Carolina Board of Elections did not certify the results in the 9th Congressional District race and voted unanimously to call for a new election on Feb. 21, 2019. Rep. Dan Bishop (R) won the special election on Sept. 10, 2019. 
  2. In the 2016 North Carolina governor’s race, incumbent Pat McCrory (R) conceded on Dec. 5, 2016, after a recount in Durham County verified that Roy Cooper (D) would remain ahead. 
  3. In 2014, Martha McSally (R) was declared the winner over incumbent Ron Barber (D) in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District at the conclusion of a recount on Dec. 17, 2014.



Elections in New York’s 22nd and Iowa’s 2nd set to have narrower margins of victory than any 2018 Congressional race

As of December 9, the results of two U.S. House elections remain uncertain. The election in New York’s 22nd Congressional District is too close to call amid an ongoing legal challenge surrounding partial recounts. In Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) was certified as the winner by state election officials as winning by a margin of six votes. Runner-up Rita Hart (D) announced she would contest the results before the U.S. House’s Administration Committee. Both elections are on track to be among the closest Congressional races in recent decades.

In 2018, 1,894 elections within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were decided by margins of 10 percentage points or fewer, including primaries where candidates won election outright.

Broken down by level of office, 105 of these races were federal, 1,217 were state-level, and 572 were local.

Federal races in 2018 were decided by a smaller average margin-of-victory (MOV) than in any even-year elections since 2012. The narrowest MOV in 2018 was 0.12 percentage points in Florida’s U.S. Senate election.

At the state level, the narrowest MOV was 0.008 percentage points in the election for Kentucky House of Representatives District 13. Among local races within our coverage scope, the narrowest margin was 0.017 percentage points in the election for one of Maricopa County’s seats on the Central Arizona Water Conservation board.

There were 258 races decided by margins under one percentage point in 2018. This includes 20 races where the MOV was ten votes or fewer. Two races in 2018 were decided by a single vote: the election for District 1 of the Alaska House of Representatives and the election for District 13 of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

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President Donald Trump leads in endorsement win rates among Ballotpedia’s tracked influencers

During the 2020 election cycle, Ballotpedia tracked candidate endorsements from five noteworthy influencers: President Donald Trump (R), President-elect Joe Biden (D), former President Barack Obama (D), Vice President Mike Pence (R), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I). 

Obama issued the most endorsements in 2020 elections at 232, according to Ballotpedia’s count. Of these 232 endorsed candidates, 82 won, 115 lost, and 35 races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 42% of Obama-endorsed candidates won their races.

We counted 181 endorsements that Trump issued during the 2020 elections, the third-highest among our tracked influencers. Of these candidates, 136 won, 40 lost, and five races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 77% of Trump-endorsed candidates won their races.

Biden issued 50 endorsements in 2020. Twelve of these candidates won, 29 were defeated, and nine races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 29% of Biden-endorsed candidates were elected to office.

We counted 202 endorsements that Sanders issued during the 2020 elections, the second-highest among our tracked influencers. Of these candidates, 125 won, 62 lost, and 15 races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 67% of Sanders endorsed candidates won their elections.

At 10 endorsements issued in 2020 by Ballotpedia’s count, Pence endorsed the fewest candidates in 2020 among our tracked influencers. Seven of these candidates won and three were defeated, meaning Pence-endorsed candidates won 70% of the time.

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Kwanza Hall defeats Robert Franklin in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District special election runoff

Kwanza Hall (D) defeated Robert Franklin (D) in a special runoff election for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District on December 1, 2020. Hall received 54% of the vote to Franklin’s 46%. 

Hall will serve the remainder of John Lewis’ (D) congressional term through January 3, 2021. Lewis died on July 17, 2020. Since the runoff took place on December 1, 2020, Hall’s tenure in Congress will last 33 days. Nikema Williams (D) will be sworn in to represent the district in the 177th Congress. Williams won the November general election.

Hall and Franklin were the top-two finishers among a field of seven candidates in the September special general election. Hall received 32% of the vote and Franklin received 28%. The two candidates running in the 5th Congressional District’s regularly scheduled general election, Williams and Angela Stanton King (R), did not run in the special election.

Hall previously served on the Atlanta School Board from 2003 to 2006 and the Atlanta City Council from 2006 to 2017. Leading up to the election, he worked as a managing director at Entrepreneurial Endeavors.