Marielle Bricker

Marielle Bricker is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at

Nine file to run for potential swing seat on the Atlanta school board

Nine candidates filed to run in a special election for the District 2 seat on the Atlanta Public Schools school board. They had until July 10 to file for the seat, and the special election is on September 17. A runoff election, if needed, is scheduled for October 15.
The special election was called after Byron Amos resigned his seat in January 2019 to run for the Atlanta City Council. He was defeated in the runoff election in April. Amos had served on the board from 2011 to 2019, most recently winning re-election in 2017. The winner of the special election will fill Amos’ unexpired term, which ends in 2021.
In a June 20 article, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that the vacant seat “could be a critical swing vote on the board.” Due to the unoccupied seat, the board has had at least one vote end in a 4-4 tie, which led to an automatic defeat of the motion.
The nine candidates vying for the seat are Aretta Baldon, Christopher Brown, Keisha Carey, Will Chandler, Nathaniel Borrell Dyer, Davida Huntley, Ed Johnson, Chadd Jonesmith, and Paula Kupersmith. Carey challenged Amos in 2017 and lost the general runoff election with 49.51% of the vote. Dyer and Johnson also previously sought election to the Atlanta school board, while Brown was previously a candidate for Atlanta City Council and Chandler sought election to the Georgia House of Representatives.
Atlanta Public Schools served 60,133 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

New York City holding Democratic primaries for city offices; no Republican primaries scheduled

New York is holding statewide primaries on June 25, 2019. This is the first year in which local and state primaries are being held in June instead of September. This change is due to a January decision by the state legislature to consolidate these primaries with the federal primary date. The general election is November 5.
New York City is holding a special primary for the city council’s District 45 seat and regular primaries for city civil court judgeships and county district attorneys.
  • The city council’s District 45 special election is the second time the seat is on the ballot in 2019. The elections were called after incumbent Jumaane Williams was elected New York City Public Advocate in February 2019. The first general election held on May 14 was nonpartisan and determined who would hold the seat until December 31, 2019. The current election, which is partisan, is being held to decide who will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term, which ends December 31, 2021.
    • Eight candidates filed for the nonpartisan May special election. Candidate Farah Louis won with 41.8% of the vote, defeating all seven challengers. The same eight candidates filed as Democrats for the second special election, which necessitated a primary. The winner of the primary will face an independent challenger in the November general election.
  • Seventeen City Civil Court seats in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island are also on the ballot. Four races require primaries after more than two Democratic candidates filed for the seat. No seats drew more than one Republican candidate. The four Democratic primaries are for Kings County’s Countywide District and 6th Municipal Court District; New York County’s 4th Municipal Court District; and Queens County’s Countywide District. The remaining seats advanced directly to the general election.
  • Elections for county district attorney are also being held in Bronx, Queens, and Richmond counties. The races in Bronx and Richmond counties each feature unopposed incumbents who advanced directly to the general election. Queens County will hold a Democratic primary for the seat after seven candidates filed for election. The winner of the primary faces a Republican candidate in the general election.

New York is the largest city in New York and the U.S. by population.


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Republican Party selects nominee for special Pennsylvania House race; Democrats to make selection on June 20

A special election for District 85 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has been called for August 20. The seat became vacant after Fred Keller (R) resigned the seat on May 24. He was elected to Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District in a special election on May 21.
Candidates running for special elections in Pennsylvania are selected by their respective political parties. The Republican nominating convention was held on June 12. Seventeen conferees chose David Rowe as the Republican nominee. Three other candidates sought the nomination: Ben Ranck, Darwin Swope, and Clair Moyer. Rowe and Ranck were the only ones the conferees placed up for nomination. Rowe received nine votes and Ranck received eight votes.
The Democratic Party is meeting on June 20 to choose the Democratic nominee. The Daily Item identified four Democratic candidates up for consideration. These include Jenn Rager Kay, Adam Rosinski, Bonnie Hamilton, and David Heayn.
As of June 14, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Leading up to the special election, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has 93 Democrats, 109 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 102 seats. Pennsylvania is under divided control and is not a government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Kansas school boards cancel primaries in four of five districts covered by Ballotpedia in 2019

Ballotpedia is covering elections in five Kansas school districts in 2019: Circle USD 375, Goddard USD 265, Haysville USD 261, Maize USD 266, and Wichita Public Schools. The filing deadline for these elections was June 3, 2019. Four districts canceled their primaries after two or fewer candidates filed per seat up for election. Wichita Public Schools is scheduled to hold a primary on August 6 for one seat. All districts will hold general elections on November 5.
Three of seven seats are up for election in Wichita Public Schools; these consist of two by-district seats and one at-large seat. The district holds primaries if three or more candidates file per seat. The by-district seats do not require a primary, but four candidates filed for the at-large seat. All three incumbents filed for re-election. The District 3 incumbent is the only Wichita school board member who is unopposed in her bid for re-election.
Four of seven seats are up for election in Circle USD 375; these consist of three by-district seats and one at-large seat. Two incumbents filed for re-election. Each of the races only drew one candidate, so two newcomers will be sworn in following the election.
Goddard USD 265 has four of seven at-large seats up for election. Five candidates filed for election, including three incumbents. This means the district is guaranteed at least one newcomer on the board.
Five of seven at-large seats are up for election in Haysville USD 261; four are up for regular election and one is for an unexpired term. A total of seven candidates filed for the four seats up for regular election and one candidate is running for the unexpired term. Three incumbents filed for re-election, meaning the board will see a minimum of two newcomers.
Maize USD 266 has three by-district seats and one at-large seat up for election. There are seven seats on the board. Three incumbents filed for re-election. Two incumbents face challengers, but the at-large incumbent is unopposed in his bid for re-election. The open by-district seat drew two candidates. At least one newcomer will be elected to the board.
These five Kansas school districts served a combined total of 71,240 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Voters in Denver headed to polls for runoff election four weeks after general election

Denver is holding runoff elections on June 4 for seven nonpartisan seats after no candidate received a majority of the vote in the general election on May 7. On the ballot are mayor, five of 13 city council seats, and the city clerk and recorder position.
In the mayoral race, incumbent Michael Hancock faces Jamie Giellis. The candidates advanced from a six-way race with 38.7% and 24.9% of the vote, respectively. Hancock was last up for re-election in 2015, when he received 80.2% of the vote in the general election.
City Council Districts 1, 3, 5, 9, and 10 also advanced to the runoff election. The District 1 and District 3 seats are both open; incumbents in Districts 5, 9, and 10 are all seeking re-election and advanced to the runoff. By comparison, a total of four city council seats advanced to runoff races in 2015 and all four were open. That year, seven incumbents sought re-election. In 2019, 11 incumbents filed for re-election.
The city clerk and recorder runoff election features City Council District 3 incumbent Paul López and Peg Perl. Incumbent Debra Johnson did not file for re-election. López received 36.2% of the vote, and Perl received 32.6% of the vote. They advanced from a three-way general election race.
Denver is the largest city in Colorado and the 22nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Three of nineteen incumbents defeated in Philadelphia primary

Philadelphia is holding elections for 23 positions on November 5, 2019. Offices up for election include mayor, city council, city commission, sheriff, and register of wills. A partisan primary was held on May 21.
Mayor James Kenney (D) defeated two challengers to advance to the general election. He faces Republican candidate William Ciancaglini, who was unopposed in the primary.
All 17 seats on the city council are up for election. Ten seats are elected by district and seven are elected at large; in the at-large primary, only five candidates from a party could advance to the general election. A total of 14 incumbents filed for re-election. Of these, 11 are Democrats and three are Republican. Four incumbents were unopposed in the primary. One incumbent, District 3 member Jannie Blackwell (D), was defeated.
All three at-large city commission seats are also on the general election ballot. Only two candidates from a political party could advance to the general election. The commission currently has two Democratic members and one Republican member. Incumbents Lisa Deeley (D) and Al Schmidt (R) filed for re-election, but Anthony Clark (D) did not, leaving one open seat. A total of 13 Democratic candidates filed to run, and Deeley and challenger Omar Sabir advanced to the general election from the Democratic primary. Schmidt also advanced after he ran unopposed in the Republican primary.
Register of Wills Ronald Donatucci and two challengers—Tracey Gordon and Jacque Whaumbush—competed in the Democratic primary. Gordon received 44.1% of the vote and advanced to the general election, where she is unopposed. No Republican candidates filed for the primary.
Sheriff Jewell Williams lost his re-election bid in the Democratic primary. Rochelle Bilal defeated Williams, Malika Rahman, and Larry King Sr. with 41.1% of the vote. Bilal is unopposed in the general election after no Republican candidates filed for the primary.
Minor party and independent candidates have until August 1, 2019, to file for the general election. Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the fifth-largest city in the U.S. by population.
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All 11 Jacksonville City Council members who filed for re-election won following general runoff

All 19 Jacksonville City Council seats were up for election in 2019. Fourteen races were decided outright in the general election on March 19, but five advanced to a runoff election held on May 14. Those seats were At-large Positions 1 and 3 and Districts 8, 10, and 14.
Eleven of 19 incumbents filed for re-election. City council members are term-limited and restricted to serving two consecutive four-year terms. Two incumbents advanced to the runoff election and were re-elected: At-large Position 3 member Tommy Hazouri (D) and District 8 member Ju’Coby Pittman (D). The remaining three seats in the runoff were open. All 11 incumbents who ran for re-election won another term.
The incoming city council will have six Democratic and 13 Republican members. Currently, Democrats hold seven seats and Republicans hold 12. The open At-large Position 2 seat changed from a Democrat-held seat to a Republican-held seat in the general election. There were no flipped seats in the general runoff election.
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and the 13th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
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Baird wins Lincoln, Nebraska, mayoral election

Lincoln, Nebraska, held general elections for mayor, city council, and one seat on its airport authority on May 7, 2019. City elections are officially nonpartisan and political parties do not appear on the ballot, but candidates have the option to file with political parties. Of the six seats up for election, four were won by Democrats, one by a Republican, and one by a nonpartisan candidate.
Incumbent Mayor Chris Beutler (D) could not run for re-election due to term limits. At-large city council member Leirion Gaylor Baird (D) defeated District 1 city council member Cyndi Lamm (R) in the general election. Baird received 54.4% of the vote to Lamm’s 45.4% of the vote. They faced three other candidates (one Democrat and two nonpartisan candidates) in the officially nonpartisan primary.
The Lincoln city council is made up of four by-district seats and three at-large seats. All four by-district seats were on the ballot. District 3 council member Jane Raybould (D) was the only incumbent to seek re-election. She won another term on the board with 67.8% of the vote. Newcomers James Michael Bowers (D-District 1), Richard Meginnis (R-District 2), and Tammy Ward (D-District 4) all won terms on the board. The last time these seats were on the ballot was in 2015. That year, two Democratic candidates and two Republican candidates were elected.
One of five seats on the Lincoln Airport Authority was also on the ballot. Incumbent Nick Cusick (nonpartisan) received 66.1% of the vote to challenger Aurang Zeb’s (D) 33.1% of the vote.
Lincoln is the second-largest city in Nebraska and the 71st-largest city in the U.S. by population.

No incumbents defeated in Fort Wayne primary, incumbent mayor advances with 86% of the vote

Fort Wayne, Indiana, held partisan primaries for mayor, city clerk, and all nine city council seats on May 7, 2019. Nine incumbents filed for re-election and all advanced to the general election on November 5, 2019.
Current Mayor Tom Henry (D) defeated two challengers in the Democratic primary, Gina Burgess and Tommy Schrader, receiving 86.2% of the vote. Henry will face Tim Smith (R) in the general election. Smith received 56.4% of the vote in the Republican primary. He faced candidates John Crawford and David Roach.
The Fort Wayne City Clerk Democratic and Republican primary elections both featured unopposed candidates. Incumbent Lana Keesling is facing Katie Zuber in the general election.
A total of 25 candidates filed for the nine city council seats. Seven incumbents are seeking another term on the board; one at-large incumbent and the District 6 incumbent did not file for re-election. District 1 incumbent Paul Ensley (R) and District 2 incumbent Russ Jehl (R) did not face challengers in the primary and are unopposed in the general election. District 5 incumbent Geoff Paddock (D) was also unopposed in the primary but faces Taylor Vanover (R) in the general. District 6 candidate Sharon Tucker (D) is the last unopposed candidate in the general election. She defeated two other candidates in the Democratic primary. The remaining six races are all contested.
Independent candidates have until July 1 to file for election. Fort Wayne is the second-largest city in Indiana and the 75th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Are 2019’s state primaries on track to be more or less competitive than in recent election cycles?

In 2019, Ballotpedia is publishing primary election competitiveness data following each state’s major-party candidate filing deadline. Five states will hold regular statewide elections: Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana will hold elections for state executive offices, and Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia will hold elections for state legislative seats. Filing deadlines have passed in every state except Louisiana, whose filing deadline is August 8. Ballotpedia will update the data set after that final candidate filing deadline has passed.
A contested primary is defined as one in which voters have a choice on the ballot. As of the publication of this report, 20.7% of possible state primary races are contested in 2019. State executive primaries are contested in 61.1% of the races, and state legislative primaries are contested in 18.6% of the races. Comparatively, 16.1% of primaries were contested in 2017, and 28.9% were contested in 2015.
Approximately 25.6% of incumbents face contested primaries in 2019. Twenty-five percent of state executive incumbents face challengers across 18 seats, and 25.6% of state legislative incumbents face challengers across 394 seats. The number of state executive incumbents facing opponents is lower than in both 2017 (66.7% across seven seats) and 2015 (68.8% across 25 seats). By contrast, the number of state legislative incumbents facing opponents is greater than in 2017 (16.0% across 220 seats) but lower than in 2015 (26.9% across 398 seats).