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Mercedes Yanora

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

October 2020 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 46.80% Democrats, 52.07% Republicans

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

46.80% of all state legislators are Democrats and 52.07% are Republicans, according to Ballotpedia’s October partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States.

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 hold a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats hold a majority in 39 chambers. Alaska’s chamber is the only one to have a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Democrats hold 875 state Senate seats—gaining one since September—and 2,580 state House seats—up one from last month. Republicans hold 3,844 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,084 state Senate seats (up three seats) and 2,760 state House seats (up one from last month). Independent or third-party legislators hold 34 seats, of which 30 are state House seats and four state Senate seats. There are 50 vacant seats.

In the October prior to the 2016 general election, Democrats held 818 state Senate seats (57 fewer than today) and 2,332 state House seats (a decrease of 248), while Republicans held 1,086 state Senate seats (an additional two when compared to today) and 3,016 state House seats (an increase of 256).

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Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination Oct. 22

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to advance Judge Amy Coney Barrett‘s nomination for consideration before the full Senate. Twenty-two senators currently sit on that committee, including 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

President Donald Trump (R) nominated Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 29 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18. Barrett’s confirmation hearings were held Oct. 12 – 15 before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On day one of the hearings, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) provided opening statements, followed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) then introduced Barrett. After the introductions, Barrett gave her opening statement. The day ended with Barrett’s introduction to the committee by professor Patricia O’Hara, which was delayed due to technical difficulties during the initial introductions.

Day two of the hearings consisted of senators questioning Barrett for 11 hours, with each senator allotted 30 minutes. Recurring themes in the questioning included abortion, the Affordable Care Act, election disputes, legal access to firearms, and same-sex marriage. On day three of the hearings, senators continued to question Barrett for nearly nine hours—with each senator allotted 20 minutes. Recurring themes in the questioning included abortion, election administration, immigration, and presidential power.

On the fourth and final day of hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 to hold a committee vote on Barrett’s nomination. Most Democrats voted by proxy because they did not appear in person. The committee also heard witness testimony. Witnesses in support of Barrett’s confirmation included the American Bar Association, former Judge Thomas Griffith, a law school professor, a former student, and a former mentee and employee of Barrett. Witnesses opposed to Barrett’s confirmation included the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a medical doctor, a small business owner and activist, and a nonprofit leader.

The average vacancy length on the Supreme Court since 1962—when defined as the length of time elapsed between a justice’s departure date and the swearing-in of their successor—is 88 days. Four of these vacancies lasted for only a few hours each; the successor was sworn in the same day the retiring justice officially left office. The longest vacancy under this definition was 422 days, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

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West Virginia state legislator resigns

On Oct. 3, Delegate John Mandt Jr. (R) resigned from the West Virginia House of Delegates. He announced his resignation following accusations that he made discriminatory social media posts against gay people and Muslims. 

As reported by Cumberland Times-News, Mandt responded to the accusations in a deleted Facebook post: “Everything electronic can be fabricated. It’s by design, my family, my business are being attacked.” On the night of his resignation, the West Virginia House of Delegates issued a statement in which Mandt said, “Right now, my focus and priority needs to be on my family and business, and feel it is best at this time to terminate my campaign and make room (for) other individuals to serve the state.” Mandt was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2018.

Heading into the general election, the partisan composition of the West Virginia House of Delegates is 57 Republicans, 41 Democrats, one independent, and one vacancy. West Virginia has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. 

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Rep. Tom Graves leaves Congress October 4

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R) resigned from Congress effective Sunday, Oct. 4. He announced his resignation on Sept. 11. Graves had previously announced on Dec. 5, 2019, that he would not seek re-election in 2020.

Graves issued the following statement via Twitter on Oct. 2: “Today I sent letters to Gov. Kemp & House officials to say I would be stepping down from Congress on Sunday, 10/4. It is time to begin the next season in life. I will be forever grateful for the incredible privilege of serving my country & community as a member of Congress.” Graves was first elected in 2010 in a special election.

Graves is one of 12 members of Congress to leave office early or announce resignation. Of these 12, nine are Republicans and three are Democrats. There are currently 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one Libertarian, and five vacancies in the U.S. House.

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September 2020 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.0% Republicans, 46.8% Democrats

According to Ballotpedia’s September partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 52.01% of all state legislators are Republicans and 46.77% 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 hold a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats hold a majority in 39 chambers. Alaska’s chamber is the only one to have a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Republicans hold 1,081 state Senate seats—remaining the same since August — and 2,759 state House seats — up one from last month. Democrats hold 3,453 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—874 state Senate seats (down one seat) and 2,579 state House seats (the same as last month). Independent or third-party legislators hold 34 seats, of which 30 are state House seats and four state Senate seats. There are 56 vacant seats.

In the September prior to the 2016 general election, Democrats held 821 state Senate seats (53 fewer than today) and 2,334 state House seats (a decrease of 245), while Republicans held 1,087 state Senate seats (an additional six when compared to today) and 3,017 state House seats (an increase of 258).

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Four temporary city council members selected in Toledo, Ohio 

On Sept. 18, Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger selected John Hobbs III, Vanice Williams, Tiffany Preston Whitman, and Cerssandra McPherson to fill vacancies on the Toledo City Council. Each will hold their position in a temporary capacity while legal proceedings continue for four previous council members.

On July 21, council members Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, and Gary Johnson were suspended from office after being charged with bribery, extortion, and conspiracy. According to an FBI investigation, the four members are alleged to have accepted $34,000 in bribes in return for votes on zoning requests. All four voluntarily stepped down from their council positions in July.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) stated: “Until allegations of public corruption are resolved in court, a suspension is the proper remedy to balance the accused’s right of a presumption of innocence with the public’s interest to have a functioning city council.”

Hobbs, Williams, Whitman, and McPherson assumed office on Sept. 22. Though the position is non-partisan, the Toledo Blade identified all four as Democrats. Each council member will hold their position in a temporary capacity until their predecessor’s term ends or until the suspended council member resigns or is found innocent.

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July 2020 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.01% Republicans, 46.80% Democrats

July’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States shows 52.01% of all state legislators are Republicans and 46.80% 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 hold a majority in 61 chambers and Democrats hold a majority in 37 chambers. Alaska’s chamber is the only one to have a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

The state legislatures include 1,972 state senator and 5,411 state representative offices. Republicans hold 1,077 state senate seats—4 less than in June—and 2,763 state house seats—down five seats from last month. Democrats hold 3,455 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—875 state senate seats (up two seats) and 2,580 state house seats (down four seats). Independent or third-party legislators hold 33 seats, of which 29 are state house seats and four state senate seats. There are 55 vacant seats.

For the month of July, both parties saw a decrease in state representation, with Republicans and Democrats holding .15% and .02% fewer seats, respectively.

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