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Madison Adkins

Madison Adkins is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

DeAnne DeFuccio sworn in to New Jersey General Assembly District 39

DeAnne DeFuccio (R) was sworn in on April 9 to a seat in the New Jersey Assembly, representing the 39th District. DeFuccio won the special election held at the Bergen County Republican Organization on March 31 by a vote of 88-81 over John Azzaritti. 

DeFuccio will serve the remainder of Holly Schepisi’s (R) term, which was set to expire in January 2022. Schepisi vacated the seat after she was selected to represent the 39th Senate District following Gerald Cardinale’d (R) death.

DeFuccio has served on the borough council of Upper Saddle River since March 2020. Previously, she worked as an attorney.

The Republican primary for the 39th Assembly District will take place on June 8, and DeFuccio has filed to run for re-election. Azzaritti, John Glidden, and Jonathan Kurpis will challenge incumbents DeFuccio and Robert Auth (R) in the primary.

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Costa Constantinides resigns from New York City Council

Costa Constantinides resigned from the New York City Council on April 9 after announcing he would leave to take a position as CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens on March 31. Constantinides had served as the District 22 representative since 2013. His current term was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021.

The New York City Council is the city’s primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, overseeing the use of municipal properties, levying taxes, and making or amending city laws, policies, and ordinances.

The New York City Council is composed of 51 members, each of whom are elected in partisan elections by the city’s fifty-one districts. The current partisan composition is 45 Democrats and three Republicans with three vacancies. The city’s charter requires Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to schedule a special election to fill the vacancy left by Constantinides’ departure.

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March 2021 partisan composition of state legislative seats — 54.3% Republicans and 44.9% Democrats

According to March’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.27% of all state legislators are Republicans, and 44.91% are Democrats.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures, or which political party holds the majority of the seats in each chamber, at the end of every month. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats control 37. One chamber (Alaska’s state House) has a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

Republicans held 1,089 of the 1,972 total state senate seats—up five seats from February—and 2,918 of the total 5,411 state house seats—up one seat from last month. Democrats held 869 state senate seats (up three seats) and 2,447 state house seats (down two seats). Independent or third-party legislators held 38 seats. There were 22 vacant seats.

In March, Democrats saw a net increase of one seat, while Republicans saw a net increase of five seats. Compared to March 2020, Democrats have lost five state Senate seats (874 v. 869) and 139 state House seats (2,586 v. 2,447). Republicans have gained four state Senate seats (1,085 v 1,089) and 139 state House seats (2,779 v 2,918). 

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Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould retires

Andrew Gould retired as an associate justice of the Arizona Supreme Court on April 1. He had announced that he would retire from the court on March 12.

Governor Doug Ducey (R) appointed Gould to the state supreme court on Nov. 28, 2016, after a new bill expanded the court from five justices to seven. Gould won a retention election in 2020, receiving 68.1% of the vote. His current term would have expired in January 2027.

Ducey will appoint a replacement justice to the state supreme court to fill this vacancy. Newly-appointed judges must stand for retention to remain on the court during the next general election after they serve at least two years on the bench.

The Arizona Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. Republican governors appointed all seven judges on the court. Governor Ducey appointed five, and former Gov. Janice Kay Brewer (R) appointed two.

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Kim Janey sworn in as acting mayor of Boston

Kim Janey was sworn in as the nonpartisan acting mayor of Boston on March 22. Janey became acting mayor after former Mayor Martin Walsh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the secretary of labor in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration. Janey is the first Black person and the first woman to serve as Boston mayor.

Janey will serve as acting mayor through the next election on Nov. 2. Janey has not yet announced whether she will run for re-election.

Janey will remain a non-participating member of the Boston City Council, representing District 7. Janey was elected to the council in 2017. 

Boston is one of the 100 largest cities by population in the United States. Of the mayors of the country’s 100 largest cities, there are currently 64 Democrats, 25 Republicans, four independents, and seven nonpartisans.

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New Jersey Governor announces nomination of state supreme court justice

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced on March 15 that he would nominate Rachel Wainer Apter to the New Jersey Supreme Court. She will replace Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who is retiring on Aug. 31.

Wainer Apter has served as a director with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, a counsel to the New Jersey Attorney General, and an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. From 2011 to 2012, Wainer Apter was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and has also clerked for federal judges Robert Katzmann and Jed Rakoff.

State law requires supreme court nominees to pass the “advice and consent” of the state Senate one week after the governor issues a public notice of the nomination. 

This is Gov. Murphy’s second nominee to the seven-member supreme court. The court will switch from a 4-3 majority of justices appointed by Republican governors to a 4-3 majority of justices appointed by Democratic governors. According to state law, the New Jersey governor may appoint justices to have up to a one-seat partisan advantage on the court, but he or she may go no further than that.

Twenty-six state supreme courts have Republican majorities, 16 have Democratic majorities, and eight have split or indeterminate majorities.

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Pennsylvania 60th House District Rep. Jeffrey Pyle (R) retires

Pennsylvania state Rep. Jeffrey Pyle (R) announced his immediate retirement on March 16, citing health issues. CBS Pittsburgh reported that Pyle was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2005 and had recently suffered a stroke.

Pyle was first elected as state Representative in 2005 and was re-elected seven times, most recently in 2020. He has also served as the mayor of Ford City, Pa., as a committeeman for Ford City’s Second Ward South of Armstrong County, and as a teacher in the Armstrong School District.

The special election to fill the District 60 seat will take place on May 18, which coincides with Pennsylvania’s statewide primary. On that day, voters will decide primaries for one seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court and one seat on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Voters will also decide three statewide ballot measures.

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Former N.H. Attorney General Gordon MacDonald sworn in as chief justice of state Supreme Court

Former Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was sworn in to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on March 4. He was nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu (R) on Jan. 7 to succeed Robert Lynn, and the New Hampshire Executive Council voted 4-1 to confirm his nomination on Jan. 22. All four Republican members of the executive council voted to confirm. The only vote against confirmation was from Cinde Warmington (D).

The New Hampshire Executive Council is a five-member state executive board that oversees the state budget and approves gubernatorial appointments. Following the 2020 elections, the executive council switched from Democratic to Republican control. 

Gov. Sununu previously nominated MacDonald to succeed Robert Lynn as chief justice in June 2019, when the executive council was still under Democratic control. However, the council voted 3-2 along party lines to reject MacDonald’s nomination.

Robert Lynn was the chief justice of the Supreme Court from Feb. 6, 2018, until his retirement on Aug. 23, 2019. His seat on the court remained vacant until MacDonald joined the court.

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North Dakota House of Representatives expels member for first time in state history

The North Dakota House of Representatives expelled Rep. Luke Simons (R) on March 4 by a vote of 69-25. The resolution to expel Simons stated that he had “exhibited a history of hostile, threatening, and inappropriate behavior, most frequently toward women.” The Bismarck Tribune reported that this is the first time in the state’s history that a lawmaker has been expelled.

Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R) said, “There is only one way to make this behavior stop and that is to expel Rep. Simons from this House.”

Simons was first elected to represent District 36 in 2016, and he had recently been re-elected to a second term in 2020.

Vacancies in the North Dakota House are filled by the district committee of the political party that holds the seat. A replacement must be named within 21 days of the vacancy. Because there are more than 828 days left in Simons’ term, the appointed person will serve until the next general election or special election called by the governor. Qualified electors in a district where a vacancy exists can petition for a special election to be called by the governor to fill the remaining term.

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U.S. Senate acquits former President Trump of incitement of insurrection

The U.S. Senate acquitted President Donald Trump (R) of incitement of insurrection on Feb. 13. All 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voted guilty. The other 43 Republicans voted not guilty. The seven Republicans to vote guilty were:

◦ Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

◦ Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

◦ Susan Collins (R-Maine)

◦ Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

◦ Mitt Romney (R-Utah)

◦ Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)

◦ Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

Trump is the only president to be impeached twice by the House. Trump was previously acquitted of abuse of power by a vote of 52-48 and obstruction of Congress by a vote of 53-47 on Feb. 5, 2020.