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Marielle Bricker

Marielle Bricker is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Three state legislative special elections to be decided in runoffs

Three state legislative seats up for special election in 2020 are still undecided as of November 20, 2020. All three are headed to runoff elections: Mississippi House of Representatives District 87 on November 24, Georgia State Senate District 39 on December 1, and Texas State Senate District 30 on December 19.

Although special state legislative elections in Mississippi are officially nonpartisan, it is the only seat that may result in a flipped seat. It was most recently held by Republican William Andrews. The Georgia race, previously held by Nikema Williams (D), is a special Democratic primary runoff that will not have a special general election. The Texas general runoff election features two Republican candidates running to replace Pat Fallon (R).

Eight state legislative seats have changed parties due to 2020 special elections: one seat flipped from Democratic to Republican, and seven seats flipped from Republican to Democratic. As of November 2020, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 27 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. 

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U.S. Senate confirms Cannon to federal district court judgeship

The U.S. Senate confirmed Aileen Cannon to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by a 56-21 vote on November 12, 2020. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida is one of 94 U.S. District Courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal courts.

After Cannon receives her federal judicial commission and takes her judicial oath, the 18-member court will have ten Republican-appointed judges, seven Democrat-appointed judges, and one vacancy. Cannon will join four other judges appointed by President Trump.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 222 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—three Supreme Court justices, 53 appellate court judges, 164 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017.

Cannon was an assistant attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida from 2013 to 2020. Before that, she worked in private practice and as a law clerk to the  United States Court of Appeals for 8th Circuit Judge Steven Colloton. Cannon earned her bachelor of arts degree from Duke University in 2003 and her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 2007.

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Ballotpedia to cover 2,449 local seats on November 3

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There are 2,336 local seats on the ballot this November in America’s 100 largest cities based on population, the 200 largest school districts based on student enrollment, and Washington, D.C. Ballotpedia is also covering a cumulative 113 seats in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. Incumbents are on the ballot for 1,869 seats out of the total 2,449 seats Ballotpedia is covering. Mayoral offices account for 118 seats. With 98 incumbent mayors in November 3 races, 20 mayorships will be won by non-incumbents. 

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196 state executive seats up on November 3

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Ballotpedia is covering 196 state executive seats across 29 states, Washington, D.C., and the five U.S. territories on November 3. Our coverage includes 13 governors, 10 lieutenant governors, 10 attorneys general, seven secretaries of state, and 156 down-ballot seats. There are 118 incumbents on the ballot, leaving 78 seats guaranteed to go to newcomers. Governors in Montana, Utah, and American Samoa did not file for re-election.

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Supreme Court announces it will use teleconferencing to hear oral arguments for November, December sittings

The Supreme Court of the United States announced on October 9, 2020, that it will hear oral arguments via teleconference for its November and December sittings. Currently, eight arguments are set for November, and ten are set for December.

The court previously heard oral arguments via teleconference in May and October of this year after closing to the public indefinitely on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The live audio from the arguments was made available to the public for the first time in the court’s history; previously, the court released audio and transcripts of oral arguments on Fridays.

The arguments will follow the same format the court used formerly, including rules dictating which Justices will ask questions based on seniority.

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Finalists for open Hawaii Supreme Court seat announced September 29, Gov. Ige to make selection by October 29

Hawaii’s judicial nominating commission published its list of four nominees for a state supreme court vacancy on September 29, 2020. The nominees are Judge Todd Eddins, David Forman, Judge Darolyn Lendio Heim, and Benjamin Lowenthal. Gov. David Ige (D) will appoint one of the four to the state supreme court with consent from the state Senate. Ige has 30 days to select his nominee after receiving the list.

The vacancy occurred when Justice Richard W. Pollack reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 years and retired on June 30, 2020. Pollack joined the court in 2012. His replacement will be the first nomination Gov. Ige makes to the five-member state supreme court. The most recent appointment to the court was made in 2014 by Ige’s predecessor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D).

In Hawaii, state supreme court justices are chosen through the assisted appointment method. Under this appointment method, Hawaii’s judicial nominating committee recommends four to six potential nominees to the governor, who chooses a nominee from the list. The governor’s nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate. Justices serve 10-year terms. If they wish to serve additional terms, they must stand for retention before the state judicial nominating commission. 

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia use the assisted appointment method for their courts of last resort. Seven states use gubernatorial or legislative appointments, 15 use nonpartisan elections, and six use partisan elections.

As of October 1, 2020, 21 state supreme court seats had been vacated in 2020, 10 vacancies had been filled, and 11 remained vacant.

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Assisted appointment (judicial selection)
Hawaii Supreme Court
Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission



When do election winners take office?

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With the 2020 election cycle coming to a close, voters may be wondering how quickly those they elected will take office. At the federal level, members of Congress will be sworn in on January 3, 2021, and the president will be sworn in on January 20, 2021.

Wondering about state-level offices? Check out Ballotpedia’s page, “Swearing-in dates of state legislators elected on November 3, 2020.” We also have information for state executives on their office overviews.

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Delaware primary review: less than 25% of offices up in November appeared on primary ballot

Delaware held its statewide primary on September 15, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3. In Delaware, unopposed primary candidates automatically advance to the general election. Consequently, only 13 state-level offices were on the primary ballot even though 55 seats are up for election in 2020. There were 15 state-level primaries held.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

• Governor: Incumbent Gov. John C. Carney Jr. defeated challenger David Lamar Williams Jr. in the Democratic primary. Julianne Murray advanced from the Republican primary, defeating five other candidates. They face Kathy DeMatteis (Independent Party) and John Machurek (Libertarian) in the general election.

• Lieutenant governor: Both the Democratic and Republican primaries were canceled. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long (D) and challenger Donyale Hall (R) automatically advanced to the general election.

• Insurance Commissioner: Incumbent Trinidad Navarro defeated challenger Kayode Abegunde in the Democratic primary. Navarro faces Julia Pillsbury (R), who had no primary opposition and automatically advanced to the general election.

• Delaware State Senate (11 seats): Five primaries were opposed and on the ballot—four Democratic primaries and one Republican primary. Two contested primaries featured incumbents, both Democrats. District 14 incumbent Bruce Ennis defeated two challengers to advance to the general election. District 13 incumbent David McBride lost to challenger Marie Pinkney. The remaining three primaries did not feature incumbents and were in Districts 1, 5, and 14. The District 14 primary was the only Republican state legislative primary on the ballot in Delaware. District 1 is the only open state Senate seat in the 2020 election cycle.

• Delaware House of Representatives (41 seats): Seven primaries were opposed and on the ballot—all Democratic primaries. Five contested primaries featured incumbents, all Democrats. Incumbents in Districts 4 and 10 advanced to the general election. Incumbents in Districts 7 and 27 were defeated. The District 26 race was still too close to call as of September 17, 2020. The remaining two primaries did not feature incumbents and were in Districts 8 and 34. District 8 is the only open state House seat in the 2020 election cycle.

Delaware’s primary was the 49th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next and last primary is on November 3 in Louisiana.



September 8 primary review: Unofficial results from New Hampshire and Rhode Island indicate majority of opposed incumbents defeated primary challengers

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New Hampshire and Rhode Island held statewide primaries on September 8, 2020. Candidates ran in elections for the following offices.

New Hampshire:
• Governor: Incumbent Chris Sununu (R) faced two primary challengers and advanced to the general election. He faces Dan Feltes (D) and Darryl Perry (L) in the general election.
• Executive Council (5 seats): Three incumbents—two Democrats and one Republican—filed for re-election. All three incumbents were unopposed and advanced to the general election.
• State Senate (24 seats): Twenty-one incumbents—11 Democrats and 10 Republicans—filed for re-election. Three incumbents faced a primary challenger. Of these, one incumbent, David Starr (R-1), lost his bid for re-election. The remaining 20 incumbents advanced to the general election.

• State House of Representatives (400 seats): Three-hundred and twenty-two incumbents—198 Democrats and 124 Republicans—filed for re-election. Ninety-six incumbents faced a primary challenger. As of September 10, eight incumbents had lost their bids for re-election (four Democrats and four Republicans), 281 incumbents advanced, and 33 incumbents’ races had not been called.

Rhode Island:
• State Senate (38 seats): Thirty-four incumbents—29 Democrats and five Republicans—filed for re-election. Ten incumbents faced a primary challenger. As of September 10, the contested incumbents’ races had not been called. Twenty-four incumbents advanced to the general election.

• State House of Representatives (75 seats): Sixty-nine incumbents—61 Democrats and eight Republicans—filed for re-election. Sixteen incumbents faced a primary challenger. As of September 10, no incumbents had lost their bids for re-election, but 15 incumbents’ races had not been called. Fifty-four incumbents advanced to the general election.

Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

New Hampshire has a divided government, meaning no political party holds a state government trifecta. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island were the 47th and 48th primaries to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on September 15 in Delaware.

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New Hampshire, Rhode Island holding primaries September 8

New Hampshire and Rhode Island are holding statewide primaries on September 8, 2020. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices in each state:

New Hampshire
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (2 seats)
• Governor
• Executive Council (5 seats)
• State Senate (24 seats)

• State House of Representatives (400 seats)

Rhode Island
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (2 seats)
• State Senate (38 seats)

• State House of Representatives (75 seats)

Candidates in the primary are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Only 35 out of 100 Senate seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 198 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

New Hampshire has a divided government, meaning no political party holds a state government trifecta. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the 47th and 48th primaries to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary is on September 15 in Delaware.

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