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Joel Williams

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

Four Republicans file to run in New Jersey gubernatorial primary, Gov. Murphy draws one primary challenger

Four Republican candidates filed to run for governor of New Jersey ahead of the April 5 filing deadline. Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh will compete in the June 8 primary election for their party’s nomination. The general election will take place on Nov. 2.

Ciattarelli and Singh both ran for governor in 2017. Kim Guadagno, the Republican nominee, received 47% of the vote in the Republican primary. Ciattarelli received 31% and Singh received 10% of the vote.

Governor Phil Murphy (D) faces challenger Roger Bacon in the Democratic primary. Murphy won a six-way Democratic primary with 48% of the vote in 2017. This is Bacon’s second run for governor. In 2009, he ran in a four-way primary against then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and received 6% of the vote.

New Jersey is currently a Democratic trifecta, with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. New Jersey was last under divided government in 2017, when Democrats controlled the legislature and Chris Christie (R) was governor.

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Two Congressmen announce retirement

U.S. Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Jody Hice (R-Ga.), announced that they would not seek re-election in 2022. Their announcements brought the number of U.S. House members to rule out a 2022 run to five; Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) announced she would not seek re-election March 12.

Both Reed and Vela said they would not seek any political office in 2022. Reed’s retirement came following allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced last week. Vela did not offer a reason for his retirement, although Ally Mutnick of Politico reported that his district was a potential Republican target in 2022 following Trump’s election success in the Rio Grande Valley.

Brooks and Hice both indicated they would run for another political office rather than the U.S. House. Brooks said he would run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Richard Shelby (R), who is not seeking re-election. Hice said he would run for Georgia Secretary of State. Incumbent Brad Raffensperger (R) has not yet indicated whether he will run for a second term as secretary of state in 2022.

In the 2020 election cycle, four U.S. senators (one Democrat and three Republicans) and 36 U.S. representatives (nine Democrats, 26 Republicans, and one Libertarian) did not run for re-election. In the last two midterm election years, 2018 and 2014, 55 and 48 members of Congress retired, respectively.

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1.19 million signatures verified in Newsom recall

On March 19, the California Secretary of State’s office released an update on signature verification in the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). According to the official report, 1.834 million signatures were turned in through March 11. Of those, 1.188 million were deemed valid. Another 380,060 signatures remain unprocessed. At least 1,495,709 signatures must be deemed valid to trigger a recall election.

According to media reports, recall organizers said they turned in more than 2.1 million signatures by the March 17 deadline. At the current verification rate of about 82%, that would amount to 1.722 million valid signatures, which would be enough to trigger the recall election.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election without needing a majority of votes cast. In the 2003 recall, 135 candidates ran and Schwarzenegger received 48.58 percent of the vote.



Newsom recall signature deadline next week

The organizers of an effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have until March 17 to turn in signatures in an attempt to get the recall on the ballot. To trigger a recall election, organizers must turn in 1,495,709 signatures, which is equal to 12% of the total votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election. If supporters turn in enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election, the additional procedural steps dictate a recall election take place within 60 to 80 days of signature verification.

In the most recent reporting period that ended Feb. 5, the California Secretary of State had reviewed 798,310 signatures and deemed 668,202 of those valid. At the time of the report, there were still 296,147 signatures submitted that had not yet been reviewed. According to media reports, recall organizers had turned in more than 1.9 million signatures to the secretary of state’s office as of March 3.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. Should voters approve a recall, whichever candidate receives the most votes on the second question would win outright.

Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In December 2020, a spokesman for Newsom said President Donald Trump’s (R) supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $100 million and distract from efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine and reopen schools.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.



Tishaura Jones, Cara Spencer advance from St. Louis mayoral primary

Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer advanced from the St. Louis mayoral primary on March 2 and will run against each other in the general election on April 6. Jones received 25,374 votes, while Spencer received 20,649 votes. Lewis Reed and Andrew Jones, the other two candidates in the primary, received 17,162 and 6,422 votes, respectively.

This election was the first one that used approval voting in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations ran in the election without partisan labels and voters could choose any number of candidates to vote for. This voting method was approved by voters in November 2020 as Proposition D.

Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Both Tishaura Jones and Spencer are affiliated with the Democratic Party. The last 10 mayors of St. Louis have all been Democrats. The last time a Republican held the mayor’s office was Aloys Kaufmann, who served as mayor from 1943 to 1949.



St. Louis to use new mayoral primary system for first time on March 2

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

On March 2, St. Louis, Missouri, will hold a mayoral primary using an electoral system called approval voting for the first time in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations will appear on the ballot without partisan labels and voters may choose any number of candidates to vote for. The two candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election on April 6. Voters approved the method through the passage of Proposition D in November 2020.

Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Four candidates are running in the primary: 2017 mayoral candidate Andrew Jones, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Aldermen President Lewis Reed, and Alderwoman Cara Spencer. Each has a partisan affiliation: A. Jones ran as a Republican in 2017, and the other three candidates have previously run for office as Democrats.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsed both Spencer and Reed. T. Jones was endorsed by Saint Louis County Executive Sam Page, Democracy for America, and the state council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Spencer was endorsed by former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. and former Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury.

Through Feb. 22, Spencer raised the most money of all the candidates ($356,000), followed by T. Jones ($333,000), Reed ($271,000), and A. Jones ($20,000).

Candidates have each made crime a key priority in this campaign. A. Jones said that the city’s violent crime problem made it harder for the city to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, so addressing crime would improve safety while also improving the city’s business climate. T. Jones said she supported restructuring the police department’s budget to reallocate funding for mental health services, job training programs, and treating substance abuse. Reed’s campaign website called for a focus on violent crime, using a strategy called focused deterrence with groups most likely to commit violent crimes. Spencer, citing her background in mathematics and modeling, said she would implement a data-driven strategy for crime reduction in the city. 

The city of St. Louis utilizes a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.



California Secretary of State verifies 668,000 signatures submitted for gubernatorial recall

On Feb. 19, the California Secretary of State’s office released the latest signature report in the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). As of Feb. 5, the secretary’s office validated 668,202 signatures of the 798,310 signatures that it processed, with another 296,147 submitted but not yet processed. So far, 83.7 percent of signatures processed by the state have been deemed valid. Supporters have until March 17, 2021, to collect the 1,495,709 signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In June 2020, Newsom said President Donald Trump’s (R) supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $81 million.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement. In the 2003 recall of Davis, 135 candidates ran and Schwarzenegger received 48.58 percent of the vote.

Between 1921 and 2020, four gubernatorial recall efforts have qualified for the ballot: 1921 (North Dakota), 1988 (Arizona), 2003 (California), and 2012 (Wisconsin). Of those, only two resulted in the sitting governor’s removal from office (Lynn Frazier in North Dakota and Davis in California). In the 1988 Arizona recall, the recall election was canceled following the governor’s impeachment.



Final executive clemency update of Trump presidency

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction.” From 2017-2021, Donald Trump (R) issued 143 pardons and 94 commutations. That averages out to about 36 pardons per year and 24 commutations per year. 

Trump’s 143 total pardons are the most by a one-term president since Jimmy Carter (D), who issued 534 total pardons. His 36 average annual pardons are the most of any president since Bill Clinton (D).

Trump issued the second-most commutations since Lyndon Johnson (D), behind Barack Obama who issues 1,715 commutations. Trump’s average annual commutations issued are also second-most since Johnson.

Since 1902, presidents have issued 14,333 pardons (about 120 per year) and 6,641 commutations (about 56 per year). Democratic presidents issued 8,393 pardons and 4,103 commutations, while Republican presidents issued 5,940 pardons and 2,538 commutations. The president to issue the most pardons in that span was Franklin Roosevelt (2,819) and the president to issue the most commutations in that span was Obama (1,715).



February 16 is next official reporting deadline in Gavin Newsom recall effort

A campaign is underway to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Supporters have until March 17 to collect 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a recall election. The next official monthly reporting period ends on February 16. On Feb. 10, organizers of the recall effort reported they had collected more than 1.5 million signatures. The deadline for counties to verify these signatures after organizers submit them is April 29.

As of Jan. 6, the end of the last monthly reporting period, supporters had turned in 723,886 signatures. Of those, 485,650 had been processed by the secretary of state, with 75,563 deemed invalid. This meant that supporters had turned in at least 410,087 valid signatures as of Jan. 6.

Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In June 2020, Newsom said President Donald Trump’s (R) supporters were behind the recall effort, which he also said would cost the state $81 million.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Gavin Newsom be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Five other recall efforts against Newsom have failed to make the ballot since 2019. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only other gubernatorial recall election in California history was the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D) that resulted in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) election. More than 100 candidates ran and Schwarzenegger won with 48.58% of the vote.

Between 1921 and 2020, four gubernatorial recall efforts have qualified for the ballot: 1921 (North Dakota), 1988 (Arizona), 2003 (California), and 2012 (Wisconsin). Of those, only two resulted in the sitting governor’s removal from office (Lynn Frazier in North Dakota and Davis in California). In the 1988 Arizona recall, the recall election was canceled following the governor’s impeachment.



Recall effort against California governor enters final six weeks to gather signatures

Supporters of a recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have until March 17 to collect 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a recall election. On February 1, 2021, recall organizers said they had collected about 1.3 million signatures.

Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In June 2020, Newsom said that the recall will cost state taxpayers $81 million and is being led by supporters of President Donald Trump (R).

After the March 17 submission deadline, counties will have until April 29 to verify signatures. If enough signatures are verified, 30-day period will begin in which signees may remove their names from the petition. After the withdrawal window, the legislative budget committee has 30 days to review and comment on the estimated cost of the election. After that review, the lieutenant governor would be required to call a recall election within 60 to 80 days.

On February 1, 2021, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) announced his intent to run for governor in either the 2022 general election or the recall election should it make the ballot. Faulconer served as mayor from March 2014 to December 2020.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only recall campaign to succeed was in 2003 when former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled by voters. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Gray’s replacement.