Mackenzie Murphy

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March 2022 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.34% Republicans, 44.39% Democrats

Image of donkey and elephant to symbolize the Democratic and Republican parties.

According to Ballotpedia’s March partisan count of the 7,383 state legislative seats across the United States, 54.34% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.39% are Democrats. 

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. Republicans control 62 chambers, while Democrats hold 36. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Democrats hold 864 state Senate seats and 2,413 state House seats, gaining three senate seats and four house seats since last month. Republicans hold 1,096 state Senate seats and 2,916 state House seats, retaining the same number of senate seats and losing four house seats since last month.

Independent or third-party legislators hold 41 seats across 18 different states, of which 33 are state House seats and eight state Senate seats. There are 49 vacant state House seats and four vacant state Senate seats across 21 different states.

Compared to March 2021, Democrats have lost five state Senate seats (869 v. 864) and 34 state House seats (2,447 v. 2,413). Republicans have gained seven state Senate seats (1,089 v. 1,096) and lost two state House seats (2,918 v. 2,916).  

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New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner retires

On Jan. 10, 2022, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner (D) retired. 

Gardner is the longest-serving secretary of state, having been first elected secretary by the state legislature in 1976. Before serving as secretary, Gardner served as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1973 to 1976. 

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) was sworn in after Gardner resigned. According to the New Hampshire Constitution, the deputy secretary of state replaces the secretary until a new secretary is appointed. In New Hampshire, the secretary of state is chosen by a joint session of both houses of the State Legislature. 

Scanlan will serve the remainder of Gardner’s term, which is set to end in December 2022. 

Scanlan’s swearing-in created a Republican triplex in New Hampshire, meaning that Republicans control the executive offices of governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

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Texas State Rep. Ryan Guillen leaves Democratic Party, announces bid for re-election as a Republican

On Nov. 15, 2021, Texas State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R) announced he was leaving the Democratic Party.

“After much thought and much prayer with my family, today I am announcing that I’ll proudly be running as a Republican to represent house district 31,” Guillen said in a press conference held with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R).

Guillen most recently won reelection in 2020, defeating Marian Knowlton (R) 58.4% to 41.6%.

He first assumed office in 2003, when he ran in the general election unopposed. 

As of November 2021, Ballotpedia has counted 146 state legislators who have switched parties since 1994. Ballotpedia has counted 39 state senators who have switched parties and 107 state representatives. Fifty-three state representatives have switched parties from Democrat to Republican, and 75 state lawmakers have switched parties in total. 

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Texas Gov. Abbott appoints state supreme court justice

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R) appointed Evan Young to the Texas State Supreme court on Nov. 1, 2021. Young assumed office on Nov. 9. Young’s appointment fills the vacancy created by Eva Guzman, who resigned from the court in June 2021 to run for Texas attorney general. 

Under Texas law, the governor appoints a replacement to the Texas Supreme Court in the event of a midterm vacancy. The Texas State Senate must then confirm the nominee. Appointees serve until the next general election, in which they must participate in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the remainder of the unexpired term. 

Before his appointment to the Texas Supreme Court, Young worked as a clerk to Judge Harvie Wilkinson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Young received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and from Oxford University. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School.

In 2021, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Seventeen of the vacancies have been caused by retirements, and one vacancy was caused by a justice’s death. To date, 14 of those vacancies have been filled.

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Michael DiMassa resigns from Connecticut state House

Connecticut state Rep. Michael DiMassa (D-116) resigned on Oct. 25 after he was indicted on charges of wire fraud.

DiMassa submitted a letter of resignation dated Oct. 21 that the secretary of state received on Oct. 25. DiMassa was arrested on Oct. 18 after he allegedly created a fraudulent company that received more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.

DiMassa was first elected to represent the 116th district in 2017, after defeating Richard DePalma (R) 73.39% to 26.61%.

Vacancies in the Connecticut state legislature are filled by special elections. The governor must call for an election no later than 10 days after the vacancy happens, and all special elections must be held no later than 46 days after a governor’s declaration. If the vacancy happens with less than 125 days left before the general election, the special election must be held on the same day as the general election. No election can be called by the governor if the vacancy happens with less than 49 days before the general election.

As of October 2021, there have been 116 state legislative vacancies in 41 states. Five of those vacancies have occurred in Connecticut.

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Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appoints John Scott (R) as secretary of state

On Oct. 21, 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed John Scott as secretary of state

Scott replaces Ruth Ruggero Hughs, who resigned in May of 2021 after the Senate Nominating Commission refused to take up her nomination. 

Texas is one of nine states where secretaries of state are appointed by the governor. Scott’s appointment will have to be approved by the state Senate. The legislature adjourned on May 31 and will not convene again until Jan. 10, 2023. 

Gov. Abbott has appointed five secretaries of state during his tenure as governor. 

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder dies

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) died from stomach cancer while serving in office on Oct. 1, 2021. Schroeder was first elected to represent House District 43 in 2018.  She most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Nicole Breadon (D) 59.7% to 40.3%.

When a vacancy occurs in the Michigan State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election to fill the vacancy, which should be held whenever the next general election is scheduled. If the vacancy happens after the statewide primary election, the leaders of the respective party organizations in the district can submit a list of nominees to be voted on by party leadership. The nominee must be voted on no later than 21 days after the vacancy occurred.

Michigan is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

This is the 20th vacancy in 2021 caused by the death of a serving legislator. So far this year, there have been 109 vacancies in 40 state legislatures. Sixty-seven (67) of those vacancies have been filled.

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Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler resigns

Matthew Strickler resigned from his position as Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources in September 2021. The press release announcing Strickler’s departure stated he was leaving to pursue “new opportunities where he will continue his excellent work of protecting our nation’s resources.”

Governor Ralph Northam (D) appointed Ann Jennings, Virginia’s deputy secretary of Natural and Historic Resources, as Stickler’s replacement. Jennings was sworn in on Sept. 27. 

Strickler has served as secretary for Virginia’s Department of Natural resources since 2018. He previously worked as a senior policy advisor to Democratic members of the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. Prior to working in the Virginia Statehouse, Strickler worked as a legislative assistant to Northam during his tenure in the Virginia State Senate. 

Virginia’s secretary of natural and historic resources is an appointed state executive position. The secretary heads the Department of Natural Resources and oversees five departments relating to the area’s natural and historical resources.

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