Author

Jaclyn Beran

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

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.
 


Eleven candidates competing for 3 Newark school board seats

In New Jersey, a nonpartisan school board election is being held in Newark Public Schools on Tuesday. Three of the nine at-large seats on the school board are on the ballot. Two incumbents, Leah Owens and Tave Padilla, are running for re-election. Incumbent Kim Gaddy did not file for re-election. All three incumbents were first elected to the board in 2016, and they ran together as the Newark Unity slate and were endorsed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka. The eight consecutive elections prior to 2019 also saw members of slates endorsed by the mayor win election to the board.
 
Incumbent Tave Padilla, A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, and Shayvonne Anderson are running together on the mayor’s Moving Newark Schools Forward slate. Incumbent Leah Owens, Denise Cole, and Saafir Jenkins are running together on the Children Over Politics team. The other candidates in the race—Maggie Freeman, Priscilla Garces, Arlene Ramsey, Yolanda Johnson, and Denise Ann Crawford—are running as independents.
 
The 2019 election is the second since local control was returned to the district by the New Jersey State Board of Education on September 13, 2017. The state originally took over the district in 1995.
 
Newark Public Schools served 40,514 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 


Recall targeting Colorado lawmaker approved for circulation

The Colorado Secretary of State approved a recall petition for circulation against state Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D) on April 4. Recall supporters have until June 3, 2019, to collect 5,696 signatures to force a recall election.
 
According to the recall supporters, Galindo is being targeted for recall because of her support for an oil and gas regulation bill and a gun bill. The gun bill would temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Other reasons for the recall are due to Galindo’s support of legislation related to the national popular vote and sex education.
 
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.”
 
Recall efforts have also been started in Colorado against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D). Rep. Tony Exum (D) and Senate President Leroy Garcia (D) have also been discussed as possible recall targets. Gov. Jared Polis (D) is the target of a recall effort, but he must be in office for six months before an official recall can begin.
 
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 election. 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.
 


Alabama governor announces state House special election

Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has called a special election to fill the vacant District 74 seat in the Alabama House of Representatives. The special election is set for November 12. The seat became vacant when Dimitri Polizos (R) died of a heart attack on March 27, 2019. He had held the seat since 2013 and was re-elected in 2018 with 61 percent of the vote. The winner of the special election will hold the seat until November 7, 2022.
 
The primary is on June 11. If no candidate in either partisan primary receives more than 50 percent of the vote, special primary runoffs will be held on August 27. If no primary runoff is necessary, the special general election will be held on August 27 instead of November 12. The filing deadline for major party candidates is April 9, and the filing deadline for independent candidates is June 11.
 
In 2019, there have been 52 state legislative special elections scheduled or held so far in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


Nine candidates file for Las Vegas special election

Candidates had until March 28 to file for a Las Vegas City Council special election for Ward 2. Nine candidates filed by the deadline, including former state assembly members Valerie Weber and Victoria Seaman. The seven other candidates are Patsy Brown, Bruce Feher, Hilarie Grey, David Orentlicher, Derrick Penney, Richard Plaster, and Michael Tomko. The special election on June 11 coincides with the city’s general election for mayor and three other city council seats. All of the elections are nonpartisan.
 
The special election became necessary after the former Ward 2 representative, Steve Seroka, resigned on March 4. He had served on the city council since 2017. Prior to his resignation, Seroka was the subject of a recall attempt. Recall organizers had accused Seroka of having anti-development positions.
 
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and the 29th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Las Vegas special election filing deadline is March 28

Candidates interested in running in the Las Vegas City Council special election for Ward 2 have until March 28 to file for the seat. The special election on June 11 coincides with the city’s general election for mayor and three other city council seats. All of the elections are nonpartisan.
 
The special election became necessary after the former Ward 2 representative, Steve Seroka, resigned on March 4. He had served on the city council since 2017. Prior to his resignation, Seroka was the subject of a recall attempt. Recall organizers had accused Seroka of having anti-development positions.
 
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and the 29th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Marcia Washington sworn into the Nevada State Senate

Marcia Washington (D) was sworn into the Nevada State Senate District 4 seat on March 18 to replace former Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson (D). Atkinson resigned his seat on March 5 after pleading guilty to using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal purposes.
 
Washington previously served on the Nevada State Board of Education and as a fire inspector in Clark County. She also previously worked for the Clark County School District.
 
The Clark County Commission unanimously chose Washington for the seat on March 15. She was one of 11 applicants for the position. Washington will serve the remainder of Atkinson’s term, which runs through 2020, and she has stated that she does not plan to run for a full term. Assemblywoman Dina Neal (D), who also applied for the seat, has said that she will run for the position in 2020.
 
Ten out of the Nevada State Senate’s 21 seats will be up for election in 2020. Of the 10 seats up for election, Democrats currently control seven and Republicans control three.
 
The Nevada State Senate has 13 Democrats and eight Republicans. Nevada currently has a Democratic trifecta, which is where one political party holds the governor’s office and controls both state legislative chambers. Nevada became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 when the party took control of the governor’s office.


Ten file for 4 Pittsburgh school board seats

Ten candidates filed paperwork to run in the May 21 primary for four of the nine seats on the Pittsburgh School District Board of Directors in Pennsylvania. The general election is on November 5, and the filing deadline was March 12.

Out of the four seats up for election, District 8 incumbent Kevin Carter was the only board member to file for re-election. He is running unopposed in both the primary and general election. District 2 incumbent Regina Holley, District 4 incumbent Lynda Wrenn, and District 6 incumbent Moira Kaleida did not file for re-election.

Nine candidates filed to run for the three open seats. In District 2, four candidates are running in the Democratic primary. One of those candidates will also appear on the Republican primary ballot. In District 4, three candidates are running in the Democratic primary. Two of those candidates will also appear on the Republican primary ballot. In District 6, two candidates have filed to run in the Democratic primary. In Pennsylvania, school board candidates can file to run as both Democratic and Republican candidates simultaneously.

Pittsburgh Public Schools served 22,359 students during the 2016-2017 school year.



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