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Joel Williams

Joel Williams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Lydia York defeats Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuiness in Democratic primary

Lydia York defeated incumbent Kathy McGuiness in the Democratic primary for state auditor on September 13, 2022. McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018.

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July 2022: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count.

McGuiness said that the charges against her were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.



U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D), Mark Robertson (R) running in a district that became less Democratic due to redistricting

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D), Mark Robertson (R), and Ken Cavanaugh (L) are running in the general election for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District on November 8, 2022.

The partisan balance of Nevada’s 1st Congressional District changed as a result of redistricting following the 2020 census. According to data compiled by Daily Kos, Joe Biden (D) would have won this district in the 2020 presidential election with 53% of the vote. Under the old district lines, Biden won the 1st District with 62% of the vote. The district’s Partisan Voter Index, a measurement tool that scores each congressional district based on how strongly it leans toward one political party, changed from D+15 in 2018 to D+3 in 2022.

Titus was elected to the U.S. House in 2013 and also served a term from 2009 to 2011. Titus served in the Nevada State Senate from 1998-2008 and worked as a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Titus outlined her policy stances to Nevada Newsmakers. She said: “I am a progressive, but I don’t believe in defunding the police. I’m for Medicare for all, but you’ve got to do it in a step-by-step process. I am for every environmental issue out there … But I can’t just say overall the ‘Green New Deal’ because that is a push toward nuclear power.”

Robertson served in the U.S. Army and retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. He also taught as an assistant professor and adjunct faculty at UNLV, the National Defense University, and the American College. In his response to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, Robertson said, “He can use his national and international experience to develop solutions to the complex problems we face as a Nation.” He highlighted school choice, 1st Amendment issues, border control, police funding, and balancing the federal budget as top issues.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 118th Congress. All 435 districts in the House are up for election. As of September 13, 2022, Democrats hold a 221-212 advantage in the U.S. House with two vacancies. Republicans need to gain a net of six districts to win a majority in the chamber.



A rematch of last year’s third-closest U.S. House race taking place this year in CA-27

U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) and Christy Smith (D) are running in the general election for California’s 27th Congressional District on November 8, 2022. Incumbent Judy Chu (D) is running for re-election in California’s 28th Congressional District because of redistricting.

In 2020, Garcia defeated Smith in the 25th District by 333 votes, making it the third-closest U.S. House race that year. Brianna Lee of LAist said the 2022 race would likely be more competitive because redistricting “jettisoned the district’s most conservative outpost in Simi Valley, giving Democratic voters even more of an edge.” In the June 7 top-two primary, Garcia received 49.6% of the vote and Smith received 35.4%. Republican votes for all candidates in the primary combined for 53.4% of the vote, while Democratic votes combined for 46.6%.

Garcia was first elected to represent California’s 25th Congressional District in May 2020, when he won a special election to succeed Rep. Katie Hill (D). Garcia served in the U.S. Navy as a pilot for 20 years and worked for Raytheon after his retirement. Garcia’s website lists the economy, jobs, taxes, and inflation as his key campaign issues.

Smith served in the California State Assembly from 2018 to 2020. She worked as an analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and founded the Valencia Valley Technological Education Foundation. Smith’s campaign website highlights expanding access to healthcare, improving the quality of public education, and codifying Roe v. Wade as key campaign issues.

The district’s representation shifted party hands multiple times in the past decade, from Stephen Knight (R) to Hill (D) to Garcia (R). Joe Biden (D) won the district by 10.1% in the 2020 presidential election.



Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions

Incumbent Kathy McGuiness and Lydia York are running in the Democratic primary for Delaware state auditor on September 13, 2022. 

McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018. Before becoming state auditor, she served five terms on the Rehoboth Beach City Commission and worked as a pharmacist. McGuiness is running on her record as auditor. Her campaign website said, “Under Kathy’s leadership, the Auditor’s Office has become a nationwide leader in innovation and efficiency. McGuiness has created a new mobile app for Delaware taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse, and also created an interactive CARES Act Fund Tracker portal.”

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July 2022: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count.

McGuiness said that the charges against her were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

The stated function of the auditor’s office is to “[serve] Delawareans by providing independent objective oversight of the state government’s use of taxpayer dollars with the goal of deterring fraud, waste and abuse through unbiased assessments, including the use of various audits, special reports, and investigations of financial operations designed to ensure statutory compliance while enhancing governmental economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story erroneously listed the Democratic primary as occurring on September 6.



Missouri’s average gas price falls to $3.49

As of August 24, Missouri’s average gas price according to AAA was $3.49 for regular gas, which was below the national average of $3.88. Gas prices fell from the previous week’s average of $3.52 and were below the July average of $4.04. On August 24, 2021, the state’s average price was $2.84.

Joplin was the metro area in the state with the lowest average price at $3.32. Jefferson City was the metro area in the state with the highest average price at $3.65.

Missouri has a gas tax of $0.1742 cents per gallon, making it the fourth-lowest in the United States. The lowest is Alaska ($0.0895) and the highest is Pennsylvania ($0.586). The average across the country is $0.2885.

The price of gasoline is affected by several factors. Gas prices are primarily driven by crude oil prices, which are in turn affected by supply and demand, financial markets, international politics, environmental regulation, taxes, weather, and other factors. When the supply of oil increases due to increased production, the price will likely decrease. When demand increases—either from individual consumers or oil-dependent industries—the price will likely increase. Production may increase or decrease depending on advances in technology, changes in industry regulation, policy changes, political forces, and more.



John Wood (I) drops out of race for U.S. Senate in Missouri

John Wood (I), a former senior investigator for the January 6th Select Committee, announced that he was suspending his campaign for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Wood qualified for the ballot on August 1, one day before the state’s Republican primary. On August 23, Wood said that he saw no path to victory in the general election following Eric Greitens’ loss to Eric Schmitt in the Republican primary.

In a statement, Wood said, “I made the decision to run for the United States Senate when Eric Greitens was the favorite for the Republican nomination. That would have been unacceptable, embarrassing, and dangerous for my party, my state, and my country.”

Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R) endorsed Wood, while Danforth’s Missouri Stands United PAC spent more than $3 million supporting Wood’s campaign. Wood said he filed to run “as an independent to offer Missourians who are fed up and exhausted by the status quo something better. A common sense campaign that unites our state instead of dividing us,” and that he would serve as an independent who caucuses with the Republican Party.

Trudy Busch Valentine (D), Eric Schmitt (R), and five other candidates are running in the general election for one of Missouri’s U.S. Senate seats on November 8, 2022. Sen. Roy Blunt (R), who first took office in 2011, announced on March 8, 2021, that he would not seek re-election.

As of August 2022, three independent election forecasters rated the general election as Solid Republican or Safe Republican. Donald Trump (R) won the state in the 2020 presidential election by a 15.4 percentage point margin. The last time a Democratic candidate won a statewide election in Missouri was in 2012, when U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) both won re-election. Missouri’s other U.S. Senator, Josh Hawley (R), won the 2018 election by a 5.8 percentage point margin.



Alaska holds first top-four primary for governor

Alaska held its first top-four primary for governor on August 16. Based on unofficial returns on election night, three candidates—Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), former state Rep. Les Gara (D), and former Gov. Bill Walker (I)—appeared likely to advance. Dunleavy received 42.3% of the vote, followed by Gara with 21.7% and Walker with 21.4%. The fourth candidate to advance will be Charlie Pierce (R), who had 7.2% of the vote, or Christopher Kurka (R), who had 4.1%.

This is the first use of the top-four primary system for governor of Alaska since voters approved it in November 2020. Regardless of party affiliation, all candidates run in a single primary election. The four candidates to receive the most votes advance to the general election. The four-candidate general election will use ranked-choice voting.

Three race forecasting outlets rated the general election as Likely or Solid Republican. In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) received 52.8% of the vote in Alaska, while Joe Biden (D) received 42.8%.

According to the Associated Press, no Alaska governor has been re-elected since Tony Knowles (D) in 1998. Sean Parnell (R), who became governor in 2009 following the resignation of Sarah Palin (R), won a full term in 2010 but lost his re-election bid in 2014.



Eight candidates competing to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) in Missouri

Trudy Busch Valentine (D), Eric Schmitt (R), John Wood (I), and five other candidates are running in the general election for Missouri’s Class III U.S. Senate seat on November 8, 2022. Sen. Roy Blunt (R), who first took office in 2011, announced he would not seek re-election on March 8, 2021.

Busch Valentine is the heiress of the Anheuser-Busch beer company and worked as a nurse. She cited two primary reasons for her campaign: to fight the opioid epidemic and improve access to quality healthcare, and to advocate for women’s rights. She also criticized the state of politics in Missouri and called it divisive. “Our communities are strong, but our politics are broken. Too often neighbors and families just stop talking to each other, and the politicians in Washington continue to divide us even further,” she said. Based on July quarterly reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Busch Valentine raised $3.4 million and spent $2.7 million.

Schmitt was appointed Attorney General of Missouri in January 2019. He served as state treasurer from 2017 to 2019 and in the Missouri State Senate from 2008 to 2016. Schmitt has highlighted his experience as attorney general and the lawsuits he filed against the federal government. He said, “[I have] taken a blow torch to Biden’s unconstitutional and unlawful policies to protect the America First Agenda.” He also said that he was a “proven Conservative [who will] take the fight to the Senate and save our values, our culture, and our country.” Based on July quarterly reports filed with the FEC, Schmitt raised $3.6 million and spent $2.6 million.

Wood worked as a senior investigator for the January 6th Select Committee but resigned to campaign. Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R) endorsed Wood, while the newly formed Missouri Stands United PAC announced it would spend $20 million to support Wood’s campaign. Wood said he filed to run “as an independent to offer Missourians who are fed up and exhausted by the status quo something better. A common sense campaign that unites our state instead of dividing us.” and that he would serve as an independent who caucuses with the Republican Party. Based on July quarterly reports filed with the FEC, Wood raised $162,000 and spent $40,000.

As of August 2022, three independent race forecasters rated the general election as Solid Republican or Safe Republican. Donald Trump (R) won the state in the 2020 presidential election by a 15.4% margin. The last time a Democratic candidate won a statewide election in Missouri was in 2012 when U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) both won re-election. Missouri’s other U.S. Senator, Josh Hawley (R), won the 2018 election by a 5.8% margin.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. Senate. Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority, with the chamber split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) having the tie-breaking vote. Fourteen seats held by Democrats and 21 seats held by Republicans are up for election in 2022.

Minor party, independent, and write-in candidates include Paul Venable (Constitution Party), Jonathan Dine (L), and independent candidates Ronald Deets, Steve Price, and Nicholas Strauss.



Missouri’s average gas price falls to $3.52

As of August 17, Missouri’s average gas price according to AAA was $3.52 for regular gas, which was below the national average of $3.94. Gas prices fell from the previous week’s average of $3.62 and were below the July average of $4.27. On August 17, 2021, the state’s average price was $2.87.

Joplin was the metro area in the state with the lowest average price at $3.32. Jefferson City was the metro area in the state with the highest average price at $3.71.

Missouri has a gas tax of $0.1742 cents per gallon, making it the fourth-lowest in the United States. The lowest is Alaska ($0.0895) and the highest is Pennsylvania ($0.586). The average across the country is $0.2885.

The price of gasoline is affected by several factors. Gas prices are primarily driven by crude oil prices, which are in turn affected by supply and demand, financial markets, international politics, environmental regulation, taxes, weather, and other factors. When the supply of oil increases due to increased production, the price will likely decrease. When demand increases—either from individual consumers or oil-dependent industries—the price will likely increase. Production may increase or decrease depending on advances in technology, changes in industry regulation, policy changes, political forces, and more.



Jaime Herrera Beutler becomes 12th U.S. House member to lose a primary election this year

On August 15, 2022, media outlets called the top-two primary for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez (D) and Joe Kent (R) advanced with 31.0% and 22.8% of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) finished third with 22.2%.

Herrera Beutler is the 12th member of the U.S. House to lose an election this cycle. With more primaries and all general elections remaining, 2022 is now even with the 2016 election cycle for the number of incumbent losses. In the past five election cycles, 2018 saw the most incumbent losses (34), followed by 2012 (27).

Herrera Beutler was one of 10 Republican representatives to vote in favor of impeaching then-President Donald Trump (R) on January 13, 2021. In a statement the day before the vote, Herrera Beutler said she would vote to impeach Trump because he “incited a riot intended to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. That riot led to five deaths.” Herrera Beutler was publicly rebuked by the Washington Republican Party and censured by the Clark County Republican Party.

Kent identified himself as an America First candidate, a term often associated with the platform of Trump and candidates who say they support Trump’s agenda. Kent said that he got into elected politics because of the January 2021 impeachment vote. Trump endorsed Kent on July 26, 2022. During a virtual campaign event, Trump said, “[Herrera Beutler] voted for the radical Democrats second impeachment hoax where the Republicans stood up tall for me but she didn’t.”

Washington uses a top-two primary system, in which all candidates appear on the same ballot, for congressional and state-level elections. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election, regardless of their party affiliation.