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Ellen Morrissey

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

Kevin Brobson (R) defeats Maria McLaughlin (D) in Pennsylvania Supreme Court election

Kevin Brobson (R) defeated Maria McLaughlin (D) in the general election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. As of 3:00 a.m. EST, The New York Times reported that Brobson had received 52.6% of the vote to McLaughlin’s 47.4%.

Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who joined the court in 1998, did not run for another term because he turned 75 in 2021. Pennsylvania judges must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reach 75 years of age.

At the time of the election, five judges on the court were elected in partisan elections as Democrats, and two were elected as Republicans. Since Brobson won, the court’s partisan composition will remain the same.

After 2021, the next scheduled election for a seat on the court is in 2022, as current chief justice Max Baer (D) will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 that year. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. To read more about Pennsylvania’s 2021 Supreme Court election, click here.



Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe elected to the Jersey City Public Schools school board

Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe won election to the three at-large open seats on the Jersey City Public Schools school board. As of 1:00 a.m. EST, Jones had received 23.6% of the vote, Barkouch had received 19.8%, and Ioffe had received 19.6%. None of the other six candidates had received more than 10% of the vote. 

Jones, Barkouch, and Ioffe ran on the Education Matters slate with an endorsement from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Their election means that NJEA-backed candidates will maintain their 7-2 majority on the board. 

The three seats were open since three incumbents didn’t seek re-election—Mussab Ali, Marilyn Roman, and Joan Terrell-Paige. They were last elected in 2018 on the Education Matters slate. In 2020, the Education Matters slate won all three seats up for election. In 2019, the Education Matters slate won three seats and two members of the Change for Childrenslate won the other two up for election.

To read more about the Jersey City Public Schools election, click here.



Redistricting roundup in Colorado, Arkansas, and Connecticut

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting news from Colorado, Arkansas, and Connecticut:

In Arkansas, the secretary of state’s office approved the veto referendums announced by Arkansans for a Unified Natural State, which challenge the state’s congressional map bills, meaning the organization can begin collecting signatures. The signature campaign for the veto referendums, if successful, would place the two identical congressional district map bills on the Nov. 2022 general election ballot. To qualify for the ballot, supporters must gather 53,491 signatures for each referendum from registered voters in at least 15 of the state’s counties within 90 days after the end of the special legislative session in which the bills were passed.

In Colorado, the secretary of state’s office announced on Oct. 12 that it would pursue claims alleging the violation of lobbying laws in interactions with the state’s independent redistricting commissioners. Stanley Matsunaka (D) filed a complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State alleging that former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty (R) and former Colorado House and Senate member Greg Brophy (R) had failed to register as lobbyists before lobbying the commissioners. It further alleged that McNulty, Brophy, and registered lobbyist Alan Philip did not correctly report payment by a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, Colorado Neighborhood Coalition, for lobbying work.

In response to the complaint, McNulty said: “This is just another attempt by partisan Democrats to suppress involvement in a public process.” Philip said: “Partisan Democrat secretary of state decides to move forward with a baseless complaint by partisan Democrat operatives. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.” The secretary of state’s office said it would pursue claims against McNulty and Brophy, but it would not pursue the claims against Philip due to lack of sufficient grounds. The office referred the issue to the Office of Administrative Courts for further action.

In Connecticut, the Connecticut Reapportionment Commission announced the addition of a ninth member, ​​Kevin Johnston (D), on Oct. 20. Johnston is a former state Senator and state auditor. At the same meeting, commissioners selected Senate Minority Leader Kevin C. Kelly (R) and House Speaker Matthew Ritter (D) to serve as chairs. The commission is tasked with drawing both congressional and legislative maps, since the Connecticut General Assembly did not approve new maps by the Sept. 15 deadline.

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Major party campaign committee fundraising nears $600 million in 2022 cycle

Six party committees have raised a combined $599 million over the first nine months of the 2022 election cycle. In September, the committees raised $68 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $14.5 million and spent $5.1 million in September, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $12.2 million and spent $5.8 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the DCCC has raised 1.4% more than the NRCC ($106.5 million to $105.1 million). September was the third consecutive month where the DCCC outraised the NRCC.

The senatorial committees raised less than their house counterparts last month, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raising $9.5 million and spending $7.0 million in August and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raising $8.0 million and spending $5.1 million. The NRSC has raised 12.5% more than the DSCC so far in the 2022 election cycle ($66.7 million to $59.2 million). August was the sixth consecutive month where the NRCC outraised the DSCC.

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC also led the DSCC in total fundraising by a 7.1% margin ($47.7 million to $44.5 million). The DCCC led the NRCC in total fundraising by a 38.4% margin ($89.1 million to $60.1 million).

Between the national committees, the Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in September. The RNC raised $12.7 million and spent $16.6 million, while the DNC raised $11.4 million and spent $9.5 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC has raised 1.1% more than the DNC ($122.9 million to $121.5 million).

At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC led the DNC in fundraising by a larger 88.2% margin ($168.7 million to $65.4 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 3.0% more than the  DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($304.1 million to $295.3 million). The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is down slightly from 3.1% last month.

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Redistricting update: Virginia redistricting commission’s legislative map deadline passes, Arkansas congressional redistricting veto referendum campaign announced

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from Virginia and Arkansas.

In Virginia, the Redistricting Commission did not meet the Oct. 10 deadline to submit state legislative maps to the General Assembly. Under state law, the commission is given a 14 day extension to submit maps after “its initial failure to submit a plan to the General Assembly.” If the commission does not reconvene to draft maps, the authority to create new districts passes to the Virginia Supreme Court, which as of October 2021 was made up of a majority of justices appointed by a Republican-controlled legislature.

The Virginia Redistricting Commission is made up of four Democratic state legislators, four Republican legislators, and eight citizen members. The commission is also tasked with drawing a new congressional map, with an Oct. 25 deadline to submit maps to the legislature.

In Arkansas, an organization called Arkansans for a Unified Natural State announced on Oct. 9 that it would attempt to place both proposed congressional district map bills on the November 2022 general election ballot as veto referendums. On Oct. 13, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he would neither sign nor veto the map bills, meaning they are set to become law 90 days after Oct. 13. The two map bills, submitted to the governor by the Arkansas General Assembly as HB 1982 and SB 743, are identical.

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters of the veto referendums would need to gather 53,491 signatures from registered voters across at least 15 of the state’s counties within 90 days after the end of the special legislative session during which the bills were passed. Supporters of the referendums announced they would need to gather the required 53,491 signatures for each of the identical map bills.

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New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice selects Philip Carchman as Legislative Reapportionment Commission tiebreaker

On Oct. 7, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner named Philip Carchman as the tiebreaker member of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Carchman is a former state appellate court judge of the New Jersey Superior Court.

In July, Rabner requested tiebreaker proposals from the Democratic and Republican members of the commission, saying: “If there is a match, I would be favorably inclined to appoint the individual.” The members submitted lists of candidates in August, but no names matched between the lists. Carchman did not appear on either party’s list of recommended candidates.

The New Jersey Supreme Court also selected the tiebreaker for the Congressional Redistricting Commission. A majority of the court voted to select John Wallace, a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice, to act as a tiebreaker after the commission members were unable to agree on a candidate.

The state constitution gives the chief justice authority to choose an 11th member of the commission to break a tie in the event that the commission cannot reach agreement on state legislative district maps. The redistricting process will officially begin in New Jersey on Oct. 23. Legislative redistricting maps must be approved by March 1, 2022.



Wisconsin General Assembly passes resolution to preserve core of existing districts in redistricting process

On Sept. 28, the Wisconsin General Assembly voted to approve a resolution that called for keeping “as much as possible the core of existing districts, thus maintaining 11 existing communities of interest, and promoting the equal opportunity to vote by minimizing disenfranchisement.” The Senate approved the resolution in a 19-12 vote along party lines, and the Assembly approved it in a 60-38 vote. 

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R) said the resolution was “about continuity of representation. The parameters of reapportionment have always been the same, trying to keep districts compact, contiguous, keep communities of like interest together.”

Gov. Tony Evers (D) said it was unlikely he would approve any maps that maintained the current districts, saying “The current maps are inadequate, and to base our decision-making on that inadequacy would not be doing the people’s work.”

In Wisconsin, both congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by the Wisconsin State Legislature. These lines are subject to veto by the governor. The state legislature has not yet announced a date to begin the redistricting process.



Nebraska enacts congressional and state legislative district maps

On Sept. 30, the Nebraska State Legislature approved new congressional and state legislative district maps. Shortly after the legislature’s approval, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the maps into law.

The congressional map was approved by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democratic members of the legislature. All Republicans in attendance voted in favor of the map, along with four Democrats. 

The state legislative map was approved by a 37-7 vote. Twenty-nine Republicans and eight Democrats voted in favor of the map. Five Democrats and two Republicans voted against it.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chairwoman of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

These maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.



Oregon is first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps in the current redistricting cycle. If the maps are not changed by the Oregon Supreme Court as a result of possible legal challenges, this would become the third time since 1910 that Oregon enacted redistricting maps drawn by the legislature.

The congressional maps were approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6, and the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-11, and the Oregon House of Representatives 31-18.

​​After signing the maps, Gov. Brown released a statement saying: “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” The House Special Committee On Congressional Redistricting amended the congressional map after Republican legislators criticized the initial Democratic proposal.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

During the special session on redistricting, which began Sept. 20, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) made alterations to the redistricting process. Rather than have one house committee made up of three Democrats and three Republicans handle both state legislative and congressional redistricting, she created two new committees to handle the maps. The committee handling congressional maps had two Democratic members and one Republican member, and the committee handling state legislative redistricting had four Democratic members and four Republican members. In a statement, Kotek said: “Ultimately, we are bound to do our constitutional duty and the job Oregonians elected us to do. Separate committees are the only path the House now has to fulfill its responsibilities.”

In response to the procedural change and the proposed maps, all but one Republican member of the house did not attend the special session on Sept. 25. Sixteen of the 23 House Republicans returned when the session resumed on Sept. 27, meaning the House was able to reach a quorum and move forward with the redistricting votes. Rep. Suzanne Weber (R) said “Many of us [Republicans] are only here because we don’t trust the secretary of state [Shemia Fagan (D)] to draw these maps.”

Possible challenges to the congressional map must be filed by Oct. 12, and challenges to the state legislative maps must be filed by Oct. 25. To read more about the redistricting process in Oregon after the 2020 census, click here.



Major party committees have raised $531 million in 2021

Six party committees have raised a combined $531 million over the first eight months of the 2022 election cycle. In August, the committees raised $58 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $8.0 million and spent $6.9 million in August, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $6.2 million and spent $5.9 million. The NRSC has raised 11.9% more than the DSCC so far in the 2022 election cycle ($66.7 million to $59.2 million). August was the fifth consecutive month that the NRCC outraised the DSCC.

The House committees raised more than their Senate counterparts last month. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $10.1 million and spent $6.0 million. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $6.5 million and spent $4.7 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the NRCC has raised 0.9% more than the DCCC ($92.8 million to $92.0 million).

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC also led the DSCC in fundraising by a 12.3% margin ($42.7 million to $37.7 million). The DCCC led the NRCC in fundraising by a 36.6% margin ($76.2 million to $52.6 million).

Between the national committees, the Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The RNC raised $12.2 million and spent $16.7 million, while the DNC raised $9.9 million and spent $10.0 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC has raised 0.06% more than the DNC ($110.2 million to $110.1 million).

At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC led the DNC in fundraising by an 83% margin ($141.4 million to $58.5 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 3.1% more than the  DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($269.7 million to $261.3 million). The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is down slightly from 3.2% last month.

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