Author

Jaclyn Beran

Jackie Beran is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jaclyn.beran@ballotpedia.org

Recall effort against Colorado state Rep. Tom Sullivan ends

An effort to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan (D) from the Colorado House of Representatives ended on June 11. Kristine Brown, the state’s Republican Party vice chair and leader of the recall, said in a Facebook post, “While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is.”
 
The recall was approved for circulation by the secretary of state’s office on May 13. Supporters had a July 12 deadline to collect 10,035 signatures to force a recall election. According to recall supporters, the effort against Sullivan was due to his support or sponsorship of four specific bills, including legislation designed to temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. That bill, which created Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) in Colorado, passed the House by a 38-25 margin with all votes in favor from Democrats and 23 Republicans joining with 2 Democrats in opposition. It was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in April.
 
Sullivan’s son was killed in the 2012 shootings at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. He was elected to the state House in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Cole Wist (R) in the general election with 54% of the vote. Wist, who held the seat for three years, co-sponsored an ERPO bill in 2018 and stated on Twitter that he did not support the effort to recall Sullivan.
 
Four other Democratic state lawmakers are being targeted for recall for their support of the legislation designed to give local governments more control over regulating the oil and gas industry. As of today, none of those recalls have been approved for circulation.
 
Since 2011, 80 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 56 did not go to a vote, and six are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019.
 


Wichita’s mayor faces eight challengers in re-election bid

Nine mayoral candidates and eight city council candidates have filed to run in the 2019 elections in Wichita, Kansas. A primary for the mayoral race is scheduled for August 6. The general election is on November 5. The filing deadline was June 3.
 
Wichita’s current mayor, Jeff Longwell, filed for re-election. He is facing eight challengers, including state Rep. Brandon Whipple (D), in the primary. Longwell became mayor in 2015 after serving on the Wichita City Council from 2007 to 2015. He was elected in 2015 with 60% percent of the vote.
 
Three of the six seats on the city council—Districts 2, 4, and 5—are also on the ballot in 2019. The primaries for the three races were canceled due to an insufficient number of filed candidates. A primary is held only if four or more candidates file in a certain district. The races are on the November 5 ballot. District 2 incumbent Becky Tuttle is running for re-election against former state Rep. Joseph Scapa and Rodney Wren. District 4 incumbent Jeff Blubaugh is facing Beckie Jenek and Christopher Parisho in the general election, and District 5 incumbent Bryan Frye is competing against challenger Mike Magness.
 
The mayor and city council members each serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms (eight years) in office.
 
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 48th-largest city in the U.S. by population. In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population. In addition to the cities, Ballotpedia is also covering elections in 23 counties across 11 states.
 


June 3 filing deadline for Wichita mayor and city council races

Prospective candidates for mayor and city council in Wichita, Kansas, have until June 3 to file to run in the nonpartisan races. A primary will be held on August 6 for any races where three or more candidates file. The general election is scheduled for November 5.
 
The mayor and city council members each serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms (eight years) in office.
 
Wichita’s current mayor, Jeff Longwell, has filed for re-election. Longwell became mayor in 2015 after serving on the Wichita City Council from 2007 to 2015. As of May 28, three additional candidates, had also filed for the mayoral election.
 
Three Wichita City Council seats are on the ballot in 2019. District 2 incumbent Becky Tuttle, District 4 incumbent Jeff Blubaugh, and District 5 incumbent Bryan Frye have all filed for re-election. As of May 28, the candidate list showed no opponents had filed to run against any of the three incumbents.
 
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 48th-largest city in the U.S. by population. In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population. In addition to the cities, Ballotpedia is also covering elections in 23 counties across 11 states.
 


Republican state representative in Alaska targeted for recall due to legislative session delays

Alaska state Rep. Gary Knopp (R) has been targeted for recall due to his role in forming a majority coalition with Democrats, which recall supporters argue led to delays and disruptions to the 2019 legislative session. Prior to the session beginning, Knopp announced that he was leaving the Republican caucus in order to form a majority coalition with Democrats. He said, “A 21 member caucus cannot succeed. It’s doomed for failure and I’m not going to be on that train. I’m not joining the Democrats either. I’m doing this to try and force a true coalition.” Over 30 days in January and February, Knopp helped to form a coalition of 15 Democrats, eight Republicans, and two members unaffiliated with either party.
 
After the delays at the beginning of its session, the legislature was unable to finish all of its work. This led to Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) calling the legislature into a 30-day special session on May 15, 2019. The special session has been tasked with passing legislation related to criminal reform, the operating budget, the mental health budget, the capital budget, and education funding. The special session could cost the state between $500,000 and $1 million.
 
Recall supporters need about 1,000 signatures to request a recall petition from Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R). If Meyer accepts the application, supporters will need about an additional 3,000 signatures to force a recall election. Misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties are the only grounds for recall in the state of Alaska.
 
After the recall was announced against Rep. Knopp, he said: “In the recall petition, they are welcome to do what they want to do. I don’t think they have cause, but if they want to move forward with it that’s their prerogative. I just wish it would be done by people in the district not the haters across the state who aren’t getting what they want.” Knopp was censured by the Alaska Republican Party in May 2019 for his role in the disruptions to the start of the 2019 legislative session. Because of the censure, Knopp will no longer receive support from the state party.
 
Knopp was elected to District 30 in the state House in 2016. He defeated Shauna Thornton (D) and two other candidates in the general election with 66.51% of the vote. He ran unopposed in the 2018 election.
 
Since 2011, 80 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 55 did not go to a vote, and seven are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Alaska has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 13-7 margin. Although Republicans won a majority in the state House in the 2018 elections, a coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (undeclared) as House speaker on February 14, 2019. This resulted in the parties having split control of key leadership positions in a power-sharing agreement. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) won the governor’s office in 2018.
 


One Colorado legislative recall ends and another begins

Two recall efforts against Colorado state Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D) ended on May 12 after she resigned her seat amid allegations of sexual misconduct by a former staff member. The first recall was approved by the secretary of state on April 4. Recall supporters had until June 3 to collect 5,696 signatures to force a recall election. A second recall effort against Galindo was launched by Joe Neville, the head of the Values First Colorado political action committee and brother of Senate Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R). The recall was not approved for circulation by the state. Galindo was originally targeted for recall because of her support for an oil and gas regulation bill, a gun bill, as well as legislation related to the national popular vote and sex education.
 
A different recall effort targeting state Rep. Tom Sullivan (D) was approved for circulation by the state on May 13. He is being targeted for recall due to the same legislation as Galindo. Supporters have until July 12 to collect 10,035 signatures to force a recall election. Four other Democratic state lawmakers are also being targeted for recall over the same legislation. As of May 14, none of those recalls had been approved for circulation by the state.
 
Sullivan was the main sponsor of the gun bill, which was designed to temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Sullivan’s son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 shootings at an Aurora movie theater. The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry and also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Both bills were signed by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in April 2019.
 
Sullivan was elected to District 37 in the state House in 2018. He defeated incumbent Cole Wist (R) in the general election with 54% of the vote. Prior to the 2018 election, Wist had held the seat since 2016.
 
Since 2011, 79 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 55 did not go to a vote, and six are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Jared Polis (D) took over the governor’s office in 2019.
 


Judicial filing deadline passes in Hamilton County, Ohio

Candidates had until May 6 to file for seven seats on the Hamilton County Municipal Court in Ohio. Twelve candidates, including six incumbents, filed by the deadline. Judges will be elected in nonpartisan general elections on November 5.
 
District 6 Judge Richard Bernat did not file for re-election. Three candidates are competing for his open seat. District 1 Judge Dwane Mallory, District 3 Judge Ted Berry, and District 7 Judge Gwen Bender are all unopposed in the general election. In the three other races on the ballot, District 2 Judge Tyrone Yates, District 4 Judge Josh Berkowitz, and District 5 Judge Heather Russell will all face off against one challenger in the general election.
 
The county court is located in the city of Cincinnati and has jurisdiction over municipal ordinance violations. The court is made up of 14 judges who are elected to six-year terms.
 
In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 23 counties across 11 states. In addition to the counties, Ballotpedia is also covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population.
 


Judicial filing deadline on May 6 for Hamilton County, Ohio

Candidates have until May 6 to file for seven seats on the Hamilton County Municipal Court in Ohio. Judges will be elected in nonpartisan general elections on November 5. The winners of the elections will serve six-year terms.
 
The county court is located in the city of Cincinnati and has jurisdiction over municipal ordinance violations. In total, 14 judges serve on the court. As of April 29, Judge Ted Berry, Judge Heather Russel, and Judge Gwen Bender had filed for re-election.
 
In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 23 counties across 11 states. In addition to the counties, Ballotpedia is also covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population.
 


60 state legislative vacancies so far in 2019

Since January 2019, 60 state legislative vacancies have been created. Thirty-seven of those vacancies have been filled through appointments or special elections. In the 23 vacancies still left to be filled, three will be filled through appointments and 20 will be filled through special elections.
 
Before the vacancies were created, Democrats controlled 32 of the seats and Republicans controlled the other 28. In the 37 vacancies that have been filled so far, Democrats took 21 seats, Republicans took 15 seats, and an independent took one seat. So far in 2019, six state legislative seats have changed partisan control in special elections. Four seats flipped from Democrat to Republican, one seat flipped from Republican to Democrat, and one seat flipped from Republican to independent.
 
The process for filling vacancies varies among the states. Twenty-five states fill state legislative vacancies through special elections, 22 states fill vacancies through appointments, and three states fill vacancies through a hybrid system that uses both appointments and special elections. The most common reasons for a state legislative vacancy include officeholders resigning, dying, leaving for a new job, being elected or appointed to a different office, or receiving a legal conviction.
 
Ballotpedia completes a count of the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. March’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators shows 52 percent of all state legislators are Republicans and 47 percent are Democrats. Republicans held 3,861 of the 7,383 state legislative seats in the country—1,082 state Senate seats and 2,779 state House seats. Democrats held 3,462 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—877 state Senate seats and 2,585 state House seats. Independent or third-party legislators held 32 seats, and 28 seats were vacant.
 


Rancher gives $100,000 to support state legislative recall in Colorado

Weld County rancher Steve Wells has donated $100,000 through his company to the effort to recall Colorado state Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D). Prior to Wells’ donation, the recall committee had raised $2,542. The recall effort was approved for circulation on April 4 and the petition was submitted by Mary Achziger and Karen Kornins. Recall supporters have until June 3, 2019, to collect 5,696 signatures to force a recall election.
 
A separate, second recall effort against Galindo is also targeting state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D). These recalls were launched by Joe Neville. He is the head of the Values First Colorado political action committee and the brother of Senate Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R). The petitions have not been approved for circulation yet by the state.
 
Galindo is being targeted for recall because of her support for an oil and gas regulation bill and a gun bill. Both bills were signed by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in April 2019. The gun bill would temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The oil and gas bill gives local governments more control over regulating the industry and also instructs the state to emphasize public safety over promoting oil and gas production. Other reasons given for the recall efforts include Galindo’s support of legislation related to the national popular vote and sex education.
 
The recalls have the support of newly elected state GOP chair and U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). Galindo was elected to District 50 in the state House in 2018. She defeated Michael Thuener (R) in the general election with 54.4 percent of the vote. Prior to the 2018 election, Colorado Treasurer Dave Young (D) held the seat from 2011 to 2019.
 
After the recall petition was approved, Rep. Galindo said, “People are free to disagree with the decisions I make at the state capitol, and they’re free to vote for someone else in 2020. I will fight every day for our community and our shared best interests, and even for the people who disagree with me.”
 
Since 2011, 76 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 54 did not go to a vote, and four are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Jared Polis (D) was sworn into the governor’s office in 2019.
 


Maine special election filing deadline coming on April 18

Political parties in Maine have until April 18, 2019, to submit candidate nominations to the secretary of state for the special election in District 45 of the state House of Representatives. The special election will be held on June 11.
 
The special election became necessary after Dale Denno (D) resigned his seat on March 27, 2019, for health reasons. He had held the seat since 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 with 65% of the vote. The winner of the special election will finish the remainder of Denno’s term, which ends in December 2020.
 
In 2019, there have been 52 state legislative special elections scheduled or held so far in 20 states. So far, six partisan flips have occurred in 2019—four Republican wins, one Democratic win, and one independent win. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


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