Joel Williams

Joel Williams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at

Pennsylvania U.S. House district and Kentucky governor on the ballot May 21

On May 21, voters will decide on the next representative from Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and party nominees for Kentucky’s November gubernatorial election. Ballotpedia will have live results from all three races available once polls close.
In Pennsylvania, Marc Friedenberg (D), a professor, and state Rep. Fred Keller (R) are running in a special election for the seat vacated by Tom Marino (R) in January 2019. Marino beat Friedenberg by 32 points in November 2018. Donald Trump (R) won the district by 36 points in 2016. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. The special election is the first of three special elections to the U.S. House scheduled for 2019.
In Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin (R) faces state Rep. Robert Goforth (R), Ike Lawrence, and William E. Woods in the Republican primary to choose a gubernatorial nominee for the November general election. Bevin has the lead in both polling and fundraising and has also received the backing of Vice President Mike Pence (R).
Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, and retired engineer Geoff Young are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. Adkins, Beshear, and Edelen have raised a collective $7 million and spent $5 million. Beshear has led in polling, and Edelen has led in fundraising. Polls in Kentucky are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.

May fundraising reports: Justus raises twice as much as Lucas’ in KC mayoral election

In Kansas City, Missouri’s, mayoral election, Jolie Justus raised twice as much as fellow city council member Quinton Lucas as of May 9. Reports filed 40 days out from the election showed Justus had raised $1.02 million compared to $497,000 raised by Lucas. Justus had also spent $755,000 to Lucas’ $351,000.
The only polling released in the general election shows Lucas with a lead, however. A Remington Research poll conducted in mid-April gave Lucas a 38-31 edge, with 31 percent of respondents undecided and a 4 percent margin of error.
The general election will take place on June 18. Lucas and Justus advanced from a field of 11 candidates on April 2. In that contest, Justus received 22.8 percent of the vote and Lucas received 18.4 percent. The winner of the general election will succeed term-limited Mayor Sly James (D).
Thirty-one mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are being held in 2019. In 20 of those cities, the pre-election incumbent is Democratic. Seven pre-election incumbents are Republican, three are independent, and the affiliation of one is unknown. Justus served as a Democratic state senator, while Lucas’ party affiliation is not publicly known.

One week until Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary elections

Four Democrats and four Republicans are competing for their party’s nominations in Kentucky’s May 21 gubernatorial primaries. The general election will take place on November 5. The position last changed partisan hands in 2015, when current governor Matt Bevin (R) defeated Jack Conway (D).
The Democrats running are Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, and retired engineer Geoff Young. Edelen has led the group in fundraising and spending. Beshear has led in the one public poll conducted and several internal campaign polls released by the candidates. Fifteen televised ads have aired on behalf of candidates in this race.
On the Republican side, Gov. Bevin faces state Rep. Robert Goforth, Ike Lawrence, and William E. Woods. Bevin and Goforth are the only candidates to raise significant funds so far, with the two only about $50,000 apart. No public polls have been released in the race to this point. While he has not earned the endorsement of President Donald Trump (R), Bevin did hold a campaign event at which Vice President Mike Pence (R) spoke.
Secretary of State Alison Grimes (D) announced on May 2 that a record 3,421,796 Kentuckians were registered to vote in the gubernatorial primary. In 2015, 392,701 votes were cast in both primaries combined.
Heading into the election, Kentucky is a Republican trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the governor’s office and both chambers of the Kentucky State Legislature. There are 22 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 13 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.

How much does it cost to register a car in each state?

As of May 2019, the range for vehicle registration costs in the 45 states with a fixed cost (rather than variable) was between $8 and $225. The cost for a title in those states ranged from $3 to $100. Five states had variable costs based on either the MSRP or the age and weight of the vehicle: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Utah.
Since May 2018, the cost to register a car increased in 13 states and decreased in five states. The cost to obtain a title increased in six states and decreased in seven states.
The five states with the most expensive registration fees were:
  • Florida ($225)
  • Montana ($217)
  • Indiana ($196)
  • Maryland ($135)
  • Oregon ($112)
The five states with the cheapest registration fees were:
  • Arizona ($8)
  • Arkansas ($17)
  • Missouri ($18.50)
  • Louisiana ($20)
  • Georgia ($20)
To read more about how much it costs to register a vehicle or obtain a title in your state, click the link below.

Noteworthy election recounts in the United States

An election recount is a process by which votes cast in an election are re-tabulated to verify the accuracy of the original results. Recounts typically occur in the event of a close margin of victory, accusations of election fraud, or the possibility of administrative errors. Recounts can either occur automatically or be requested by a candidate or voters. Twenty states have statutory provisions providing for automatic recalls, and 43 have a provision allowing for recounts to be requested.
According to a report published by the organization FairVote, 27 recounts occurred in statewide elections between 2000 and 2015. Of those, 15 were held when the original margin of victory was of 0.15 percent or less. Three of the 27 recounts resulted in a reversal of the original election result.
Since 2017, five noteworthy recounts have taken place at the state legislative level. Those five recounts resulted in two reversals of the initial election result, one of which became a tie. There were also three noteworthy recounts in statewide races in 2018, though none resulted in a change of the initial result.
Click below to learn how recounts can occur in your state.

Republicans head to primary runoff in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District

Greg Murphy and Joan Perry advanced from a field of 17 candidates in Tuesday night’s Republican primary. A runoff election will take place on July 9. The winner of that runoff will run in the general election on September 10. The election will fill the vacancy left by Walter Jones (R), who died on February 10, 2019.
Murphy received 22.5 percent of the vote, which was short of the 30 percent needed to avoid a runoff election. Perry received 15.4 percent of the vote. Murphy led the field in primary fundraising, while Perry received the endorsement of Susan B. Anthony List.
The winner of the July runoff will face Allen Thomas (D) and Tim Harris (L) in the general election. Thomas won the Democratic primary outright with 49.9 percent of the vote, while Harris won the Libertarian primary with 56.4 percent of the vote.

Arizona Gov. Ducey (R) makes fourth appointment to Arizona Supreme Court

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) appointed appeals judge James Beene to the Arizona Supreme Court on April 26, 2019. Beene became Ducey’s fourth appointment to the seven-member court, and the ninth state supreme court justice appointed by a governor in the country this year.
Beene replaces former Justice John Pelander, who retired on March 1. Pelander was appointed by former Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in 2009. He was retained in elections in both 2012 and 2018.
A selection committee submitted a list of five potential nominees to Ducey the same day that Pelander retired. The committee responsible for interviewing individuals and recommending potential nominees was made up of seven Republicans, three Democrats, and four independents.
Ducey is set to make another appointment to the court this fall. Chief Justice Scott Bales is retiring to take a job in the private sector on July 3. Appointed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) in 2005, Bales is the last remaining member of the court to be appointed by a Democratic governor. His replacement will be Ducey’s fifth appointment to the court.
Arizona is one of 24 states in the country that use assisted appointment as their form of judicial selection for their court of last resort. Sixteen states select judges by nonpartisan election, seven use partisan elections, four have the governor appoint judges directly, and two states (South Carolina and Virginia) have the state legislature elect judges.
Additional reading:

First debate held in Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial primary

Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidates Rocky Adkins, Andy Beshear, and Adam Edelen participated in a debate at Transylvania University hosted by Hey Kentucky! and LEX18.
Daniel Desrochers of the Lexington Herald Leader described the debate as light on conflict. He wrote that the buildup to the debate “suggested there might be fireworks. It was more like sparklers.”
The primary election will take place on May 21. Geoff Young is also on the Democratic ballot but did not participate in the debate. Governor Matt Bevin faces state Rep. Robert Goforth, Ike Lawrence, and William Woods in the Republican primary election.
The general election will take place on November 5. It is one of three gubernatorial elections on the ballot this year. The others are in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Heading into the election, Kentucky is a Republican trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the governor’s office and both chambers of the Kentucky State Legislature. As of February 2019, there were 22 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 14 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.
Additional reading:

25 candidates running in primaries for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District special election

Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian primaries in the special election for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District will take place on Tuesday, April 30.
Twenty-five candidates are running in the two primaries. The winner of the special election will succeed former Rep. Walter Jones (R), who died in February 2019. Jones had held the seat since 1995 and never received less than 60 percent of the vote dating back to 2000.
There are 17 Republican candidates, including six elected officials and six candidates with backgrounds in politics or notable endorsements. State Rep. Greg Murphy leads the field in fundraising at $320,000. Two notable outside groups have issued endorsements in the race: Club for Growth PAC backs Celeste Cairns and Susan B. Anthony List backs Joan Perry. Both groups have made ad buys on behalf of their preferred candidate, with Cairns also getting an ad buy from Awake Carolina and Perry getting one from Winning for Women.
There are six Democratic candidates. Two have raised more than $100,000: Allen Thomas ($255,000) and Richard Bew ($125,000). Thomas is the former mayor of Greenville, and Bew is a retired Marine colonel. 
The date of the general election is dependent on the outcome of the primary elections. If no candidate receives more than 30 percent of the vote in either primary, a primary runoff will take place on July 9. The general election would then take place on September 30. If primary runoffs are not necessary, the general election will be July 9.
The 2018 Cook Partisan Voter Index for this district was R+12, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 12 percentage points more Republican than the national average. This made North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District the 111th-most Republican nationally. No Democratic candidate ran against Jones in 2018.
As of April 25, 2019, there have been four special elections called during the 116th Congress. Three of those are for seats in the U.S. House, and one is for a seat in the U.S. Senate. From the 113th Congress to the 115th Congress, a total of 40 special elections were held. During the 115th Congress, four of the 17 special elections resulted in a seat changing partisan hands. All of those seats flipped from Republicans to Democrats.
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Castor wins Tampa mayoral runoff

Former police chief Jane Castor defeated philanthropist David Straz 73-27 in the runoff election for Tampa’s open mayoral seat. Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) was term-limited and unable to run for re-election.
Castor is a member of the Democratic Party, so the mayor’s office will not change partisan hands. Tampa is one of 20 cities with a Democratic mayor with elections in 2019, while there are seven with a Republican mayor and four with independent mayors also holding elections.
The two candidates initially advanced from a field of seven candidates in the March 5 general election. In that contest, Castor earned 48 percent of the vote while Straz earned 15 percent. In that election, Castor won 101 of the city’s 103 precincts.