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Mercedes Yanora

Mercedes Yanora is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

May 2022 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.33% Republicans, 44.39% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s May partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.33% 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. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. 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.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,961 state senators and 5,368 state representatives. Democrats hold 860 state Senate seats—losing one since April—and 2,417 state House seats, up two from last month. Republicans hold 4,011 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,093 state Senate seats (down three since April) and 2,918 state House seats, an increase of one. Independent or third-party legislators hold 41 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and eight are state Senate seats. There are 54 vacant seats.

Compared to May 2021, Democrats have lost seven state Senate seats (867 v 860) and 33 state House seats (2,450 v 2,417). Republicans have gained two state Senate seats (1,091 v 1,093), while the number of state House seats has remained the same.  

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Karen Peterson resigns from Louisiana State Senate

Karen Peterson (D) resigned from the Louisiana State Senate on April 8 to focus on recovering from depression and a gambling addiction. She represented District 5 from 2010 to 2022. According to The New Orleans Advocate, a federal probe is being conducted into Peterson’s finances and gambling addiction. 

Prior to joining the state Senate in 2010, Peterson served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1999 to 2010. She most recently ran for election in 2021, challenging Troy Carter (D) in the special election for U.S. House Louisiana District 2. Carter was elected with 55.2% of the vote.

If there is a vacancy in the Louisiana State Senate, the vacant seat must be filled by a special election. An election is required if there are six months or more left in the unexpired term. The presiding officer in the house where the vacancy happened must call for an election no later than 10 days after the vacancy occurred. The presiding officer must determine the dates for the election along with all filing deadlines. The person elected to the seat serves for the remainder of the unexpired term.

As of April 11, there have been 52 state legislative vacancies in 28 states during 2022. Twenty-two (22) of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 52 vacancies, 34 are Democratic and 18 are Republican. Democrats have filled 15 vacancies, while Republicans have filled seven.  

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Calvin Smyre, longest-serving member, resigns from Georgia state House

Image of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia.

Calvin Smyre (D) resigned from the Georgia House of Representatives on April 4, 2022, after being appointed ambassador to the Dominican Republic by President Joe Biden (D). Smyre served from 1975 to 2022, most recently in District 135.

Smyre was elected to the state House in 1974. He is the longest-serving Georgia state lawmaker according to Axios. Smyre also served as executive vice president of Synovus Financial Corporation from 1976 to 2014.  

If there is a vacancy in the Georgia General Assembly, the vacant seat must be filled by a special election. The governor must declare a special election no later than 10 days after the vacancy happens. The election must be held no less than 30 days and no later than 60 days after the governor calls for the election. The counties representing the vacant district are responsible for conducting the election.

As of April 5, there have been 51 state legislative vacancies in 28 states during 2022. Twenty-two (22) of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 51 vacancies, 33 are Democratic and 18 are Republican. Democrats have filled 15 vacancies, while Republicans have filled seven. 

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Patricia Guerrero joins California Supreme Court

Patricia Guerrero was sworn in to the California Supreme Court on March 28, 2022. Founded in 1849, the California Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. Of the seven current justices, five were appointed by Democratic governors and two by a Republican governor. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Guerrero on Feb. 15, 2022, to a seat on the California Supreme Court to replace Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar. He resigned on Oct. 31, 2021, to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed Guerrero’s appointment on March 22, 2022, and she was sworn in on March 28. Prior to joining the court, Guerrero was a judge of the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One from 2017 to 2022.

The seven justices of the California Supreme Court are selected by gubernatorial appointment. The state bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominee Evaluation recommends candidates to the governor after examining their qualifications and fitness. If they wish to retain their seat for the remainder of the unexpired term, newly-appointed judges are required to participate in yes-no retention elections occurring at the time of the next gubernatorial race, which is held every four years. After the first election, subsequent retention elections are for full 12-year terms.

California is one of 46 states to fill supreme court vacancies via a form of gubernatorial appointment. Illinois fills vacancies via the state supreme court, while Louisiana uses the special election method. Virginia and South Carolina fill vacancies through legislative elections. 

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February 2022 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.40% Republicans, 44.29% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s February partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.40% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.29% are Democrats.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. 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.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,965 state senators and 5,362 state representatives. Democrats hold 861 state Senate seats—losing one since January—and 2,409 state House seats, the same as last month. Republicans hold 4,016 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,096 state Senate seats (up two since January) and 2,920 state House seats, a loss of two. Independent or third-party legislators hold 41 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and eight state Senate seats. There are 56 vacant seats.

Compared to February 2021, Democrats have lost five state Senate seats (866 v. 861) and 40 state House seats (2,449 v. 2,409). Republicans have gained 11 state Senate seats (1,085 v. 1,096) and three state House seats (2,917 v. 2,920).  

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October 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.11% Republicans, 44.71% Democrats

54.11% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.71% are Democrats, according to Ballotpedia’s October partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,957 state senators and 5,379 state representatives. Democrats hold 864 state Senate seats and 2,437 state House seats, a gain of three state Senate seats and a loss of one state House seat. Republicans hold 3,995 of the 7,383 total state legislative seats—1,086 state Senate seats (five fewer than September) and 2,909 state House seats (a decrease of three).

Independent or third-party legislators hold 40 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and seven are state Senate seats. There are 47 vacant seats.

Since our last partisan count, Democrats saw a net increase of two seats, while Republicans saw a net decrease of eight seats. 

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Andrew Yang leaves Democratic Party

Former candidate for mayor of New York and president of the United States Andrew Yang announced his registration as an independent on Oct. 4, 2021. Yang previously belonged to the Democratic Party since 1995.

Yang ran for mayor of New York in 2021 as a Democrat. He lost during Round 7 of the Democratic Party’s ranked-choice voting primary. Yang also ran as a Democrat in the 2020 race for president of the United States, filing his candidacy on Nov. 6, 2017, and suspending his campaign on Feb. 11, 2020. 

Yang announced his party change on Oct. 4 via a blog post on his personal website. Of his decision to change his party affiliation, he said, “My goal is to do as much as I can to advance our society.  There are phenomenal public servants doing great work every day – but our system is stuck.  It is stuck in part because polarization is getting worse than ever.  Many of the people I know are doing all of the good they can – but their impact is constrained.  Now that I’m not a member of one party or another, I feel like I can be even more honest about both the system and the people in it…I believe I can reach people who are outside the system more effectively.  I feel more . . . independent.”

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September 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.22% Republicans, 44.68% Democrats

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

54.22% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.68% are Democrats, according to Ballotpedia’s September partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,959 state senators and 5,383 state representatives. Democrats hold 861 state Senate seats and 2,438 state House seats, a loss of two state Senate seats and one state House seat. Republicans hold 4,003 of the 7,383 total state legislative seats—1,091 state Senate seats (the same as August) and 2,912 state House seats (a decrease of three).

Independent or third-party legislators hold 40 seats, of which 33 are state House seats and seven are state Senate seats. There are 41 vacant seats.

During the month of September, both Democrats and Republicans saw a net decrease of three seats. Compared to September of last year, the state legislatures are 2.09% less Democratic (46.77% to 44.68%) and 2.21% more Republican (52.01% to 54.22%).  

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Kirsten Engel, Wesley Breckenridge resign from state legislatures

Two Democrats, Kirsten Engel and Wesley Breckenridge, resigned from their state legislatures on Sept. 8 and 10, respectively. Senator Engel represented Arizona Senate District 10 from Jan. 11, 2021, to Sept. 8, 2021, while Rep. Breckenridge represented Iowa House District 29 from 2017 to 2021.

Engel resigned to focus on her 2022 campaign for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. As of Sept. 10, Engel was one of three Democrats Ballotpedia identified as running in the primary. Before joining the state Senate, Engel represented Arizona House District 10 from 2017 to 2021.

Breckenridge resigned to take a job with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. He most recently won re-election in 2020, winning with 51.5% of the vote to Jon Dunwell’s (R) 48.4%.

Arizona is one of seven states to fill state legislative vacancies through appointments via Board of City Commissioners. Iowa is one of 25 states to fill such vacancies through special elections. 

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Seven new judges join the Virginia Court of Appeals

Seven new judges joined the Virginia Court of Appeals on Sept. 1. The Virginia General Assembly elected eight judges to the court on Aug. 10, 2021. The eighth judge, Dominique Callins, will take office on Nov. 1, 2021, following the retirement of Judge William Petty. 

Established in 1985, the Virginia Court of Appeals was originally made up of 11 judges, but the passage of Senate Bill 1261 in March 2021 increased the number of judges to 17. The bill also expanded the “jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals of Virginia by providing for an appeal of right in every civil case.” Apart from the increase in judges, the bill has a delayed effective date of Jan. 1, 2022. 

The following seven people joined the court on Sept. 1. Their terms end on Aug. 31, 2029:

  1. Doris Henderson Causey 
  2. Vernida Chaney
  3. Frank Friedman
  4. Junius P. Fulton III
  5. Lisa Lorish 
  6. Daniel E. Ortiz
  7. Stuart Raphael

Virginia is one of two states to use legislative elections to select judges. The legislative election method of judicial selection is a process by which state legislators choose judges to serve on a court. This method is unique among selection types in that neither the governor (via appointment powers) nor the public (via direct elections) has a role in this selection process. South Carolina is the other state to use this method.  

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