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Jaclyn Beran

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

Two Kentucky House special elections scheduled for Tuesday

Two special elections are scheduled for February 25 in District 67 and District 99 in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Voters will have until 6 p.m. local time to cast their vote.

Rachel Roberts (D) and Mary Jo Wedding (R) are running for the District 67 seat. The seat became vacant when Dennis Keene (D) resigned on December 16, 2019, to take a job as the commissioner of the Department for Local Government in Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) gubernatorial administration. Keene had represented District 67 since 2005. He was re-elected in 2018 with 60% of the vote.

Bill Redwine (D) and Richard White (R) are facing off in the election for District 99. The seat became vacant when Rocky Adkins (D) resigned on December 10, 2019, to take a job as a senior adviser in Beshear’s gubernatorial administration. Adkins had represented District 99 since 1987. He was unopposed in 2018 and won re-election in 2016 with 66% of the vote.

Republicans have a 61-37 majority with two vacancies in the state House and a 29-9 majority in the state Senate. Kentucky has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Andy Beshear (D) was elected to a first term as governor in 2019.

As of February, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Signatures due in California governor recall effort

Supporters of the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) had until February 13 to submit 1,495,709 signatures to force a recall election. The recall, which was submitted by Erin Cruz (R), was approved for circulation by Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) on September 6, 2019. As of January 29, 2020, there were 197,150 signatures submitted, and 134,357 had been deemed valid by the secretary of state.

The recall petition alleges that Newsom mismanaged the state and caused poor schools, deteriorating infrastructure, high costs for gas and utilities, and increased homelessness and debt. The recall petition also criticized Newsom’s support of policies such as Medicare for All and laws that aid immigrants living in the country illegally.

A second recall petition was submitted by James Veltmeyer and approved for circulation against Gov. Newsom on September 27, 2019. Veltmeyer ended the recall on January 6, 2020. He said on his recall website that he was ending the effort because it was not going to be successful and because the effort did not have the money to collect signatures.

In response to the recall efforts, Newsom filed a statement with the secretary of state in August 2019. In his statement, Newsom said that the “…recall effort will cost California taxpayers $81 million dollars! It is being pushed by political extremists supporting President Trump’s hateful attacks on California.”

California became a Democratic trifecta in 2011. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the California state House by a 61-18 margin with one vacancy and the state Senate by a 29-10 margin with one vacancy. Newsom succeeded Jerry Brown (D) as governor in 2019. He won the 2018 election with 61.9% of the vote.

Three gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 22 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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Lipper-Garabedian wins Democratic primary for a Massachusetts state House seat

A special primary election was held on February 4 to fill a vacant seat in the 32nd Middlesex District of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Melrose city councilor Kate Lipper-Garabedian defeated Ann McGonigle Santos and Mathew Helman in the Democratic primary. According to the Melrose Patch, Republican write-in candidate Brandon Reid has received enough votes to appear on the special election ballot on March 3.

The seat became vacant on November 18, 2019, when Paul Brodeur (D) was sworn in as mayor of Melrose. Brodeur had served in the state House since 2011. He was unopposed in his re-election bids in 2016 and 2018. He faced Republican opposition in 2014 and won re-election with 66% of the vote.

Democrats control the state Senate by a 34-4 margin with two vacancies and the state House by a 125-31 margin with one independent member and three vacancies. Massachusetts has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Charlie Baker (R) was re-elected to a second term as governor in 2018.

As of February, 28 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 13 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Massachusetts will also hold special primary elections on March 3, 2020, to fill four vacant seats in the state legislature.

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Field set for March 3 special primaries in Massachusetts

Candidates interested in running for four Massachusetts state legislative special elections had until January 28 to file. The primaries are scheduled for March 3, 2020, and the general elections are on March 31.

Massachusetts State Senate

  • Second Hampden & Hampshire District: State Rep. John Velis is unopposed in the Democratic primary. John Cain is unopposed in the Republican primary. The seat became vacant on January 6, 2020, after Donald Humason Jr. (R) became the mayor of Westfield. Humason was unopposed in his 2018 re-election bid. He faced Democratic opposition in 2016 and won re-election with 60% of the vote.
  • Plymouth and Barnstable District: Rebecca Coletta, John Mahoney Jr., Thomas Moakley, Susan Moran, and Stephen Michael Palmer are running in the Democratic primary. Jesse Brown and James McMahon are facing off in the Republican primary. The seat became vacant on November 29, 2019, after Vinny deMacedo (R) resigned to take a job in higher education. DeMacedo was re-elected in 2018 with 59% of the vote.

Massachusetts House of Representatives

  • Thirty-seventh Middlesex District: Dina Samfield and Danillo Sena are running in the Democratic primary. Malena Chastain and Catherine Clark are facing off in the Republican primary. The seat became vacant on January 8, 2020, when Jennifer Benson (D) resigned to take a job as president of the Alliance for Business Leadership. Benson was unopposed in her re-election bids in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. She faced Republican opposition in 2010 and won re-election with 55% of the vote.
  • Third Bristol District: Carol Doherty and Muzammil Nazir are running in the Democratic primary. Kelly Dooner is unopposed in the Republican primary. The seat became vacant on January 6, 2020, after Shaunna O’Connell (R) became mayor of Taunton, Massachusetts. O’Connell was re-elected in 2018 with 62% of the vote.

Democrats control the state Senate by a 34-4 margin with two vacancies and the state House by a 125-31 margin with one independent member and three vacancies. Massachusetts has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Charlie Baker (R) was re-elected to a second term as governor in 2018.

As of January, 28 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 13 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Massachusetts will also hold a special general election on March 3, 2020, to fill another vacant seat in the state House.

Click here to learn more about  Massachusetts 2020 state legislative special elections

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State legislative special elections, 2020 
Massachusetts General Court



Georgia House special election scheduled for Tuesday

A special general election is scheduled for January 28 for District 171 of the Georgia House of Representatives. The seat became vacant on November 25, 2019, after Jay Powell (R) passed away. A runoff election, if necessary because no candidate secures a majority of the vote, is scheduled for February 25, 2020.

Jewell Howard (D), Tommy Akridge (R), and Joe Campbell (R) are competing in the special election. Powell was first elected to District 71 in 2008. He was unopposed in his 2014, 2016, and 2018 re-election bids. In 2012, Powell faced opposition from Jewell Howard (D). He defeated Howard with 59% of the vote.

Republicans have a 104-74 majority with two vacancies in the state House. Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

As of January, 27 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 13 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Georgia will also hold a special election on February 4, 2020, to fill a vacant seat in the state Senate.

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Republican Mike Nemes wins Kentucky Senate special election

A special election was held on January 14 to fill a vacant seat in the Kentucky State Senate. Mike Nemes (R) defeated Andrew Bailey (D) with 64% of the vote to win the District 38 seat. Nemes previously served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013.

The seat became vacant in November 2019 after Dan Seum (R) retired. Seum served in the state Senate for the first time from 1989 to 1992 and again for a second time from 1995 to 2019. Prior to his election to the state Senate, he served in the state House from 1982 to 1988. He was re-elected in 2018 with 68% of the vote.

Republicans have a 28-9 majority with one vacancy in the Kentucky State Senate. Kentucky has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Kentucky also has special elections scheduled on February 25 to fill two vacant seats in the state House. As of January, 27 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 13 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Kentucky State Senate
Kentucky State Senate District 38
State legislative special elections, 2020



Cynthia Neeley wins special Democratic primary for husband’s former seat

A special Democratic primary was held on January 7 for District 34 of the Michigan House of Representatives. Cynthia Neeley defeated nine other candidates to win the Democratic primary with 29% of the vote. She will face Republican Adam Ford in the special general election on March 10.

The seat became vacant on November 11, 2019, after Sheldon Neeley (D) resigned in order to serve as the mayor of Flint, Michigan. He was first elected to the seat in 2014 with 91% of the vote. He was re-elected to the seat in 2016 with 89% of the vote and again in 2018 with 90% of the vote.

Republicans have a 58-51 majority with one vacancy in the Michigan House of Representatives. Michigan has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of January, 23 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 12 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Michigan House of Representatives District 34
Michigan House of Representatives
State legislative special elections, 2020



Michigan Supreme Court restores state Rep. Larry Inman recall

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled on December 30, 2019, in relation to the recall petition targeting state Rep. Larry Inman (R), that a missing word was not a valid reason to throw out the 13,870 signatures submitted in the recall effort. The court found that, “The recall petition is proper because the reasons give for recall in the circulated petitions were not different than the reasons that were approved by the Board of Canvassers.”

The order reversed the December 20 ruling by the state Court of Appeals that upheld the Bureau of Elections decision to reject the Inman recall due to a typo. The word “right” was omitted from the petition submitted in November 2019. In the petition filed in July 2019, the group described one of Inman’s charges as “Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right.” According to the Bureau of Elections, the petition language in the previously approved reasons for the recall has to match exactly.

Inman will face a recall election in May 2020 if the petition has enough valid signatures. The initial review by the state Bureau of Elections found that 1,763 of the signatures submitted were invalid, which left the effort 94 signatures short of the 12,201 needed to force a recall election.

According to the petition language, supporters tried 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. After the indictment was announced, Inman was stripped of his committee assignments, removed from the GOP caucus, and not allowed access to his office. On December 10, 2019, Inman was found not guilty of making a false statement to the FBI. The jury could not reach a decision on the charges of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.

Since 2011, 85 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 64 did not go to a vote, and three are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.

Michigan is under a divided government. 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 22-16 margin and the state House by a 58-51 margin with one vacancy. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected to the governor’s office in 2018.

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State legislative recalls
Larry Inman 



27% drop in recall efforts in 2019

This year, fewer state and local recall efforts were started or reached the ballot compared to 2018. Ballotpedia covered 151 recall efforts against 230 officials in 2019. In comparison, 206 recall efforts targeted 299 officials in 2018. Since Ballotpedia released its first annual recall report in 2012, a minimum of 151 efforts (2019) and a maximum of 282 efforts (2016) have been covered each year.

In addition to having fewer recalls overall, 2019 also saw a lower success rate for recalls that made the ballot. Of the 66 officials whose recalls reached the ballot, 34 (52%) were recalled and 32 remained in office. Recall efforts in 2017 and 2018 both had a higher success rate, 56% and 63% respectively.

In other ways, however, 2019 was similar to previous years. As in 2016, 2017, and 2018, city council officials drew more recall petitions than any other group. A total of 90 city council members were targeted in 2019. Mayors and vice-mayors faced the second-most recall efforts with 45. In comparison, 93 city council officials and 39 mayors and vice-mayors were targeted in 2018.

California led the way with the highest number of officials targeted for recall with 37. The state previously had the most recall efforts in 2015 (80), 2016 (79), and 2017 (61). Colorado (28) and Idaho (23) were second and third in total recall efforts in 2019.

Of the recall efforts covered in 2019, 20% were still underway as of December 17 and another 6% had recall elections scheduled. A total of 40% of the efforts did not make it to the ballot.

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Additional reading:
Recall overview
Political recall efforts, 2019



Recount decides Boston City Council seat by one vote

After a three-day recount, the Boston Election Commission announced on December 9 that the fourth at-large seat on the Boston City Council was won by Julia Mejia by a margin of one vote. The recount found that Mejia received 22,492 votes, and Alejandra St. Guillen received 22,491 votes.
In the November 5 general election, unofficial results showed Mejia had received 10 more votes than St. Guillen. At-large incumbents Michael Flaherty, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu were all re-elected in the general election. At-large incumbent Althea Garrison was defeated in the general election.
After the recount results were announced, Mejia said that, “It feels incredibly overwhelming to win by one vote. It really goes to reinforce the message we’ve been promoting all along, that every vote matters.” St. Guillen tweeted out on December 10 that she would not be contesting the results. She said, “Last night, I believed that I owed it to my supporters and the voters to fully review the results from the recount before moving forward. After weighing all the options with my team and my family, I have come to the decision to not move forward with a court challenge.”
Mejia, a community activist, will take office in January. She will be the first Latina to serve on the city council.
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Bitnami