Author

Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Three-hundred and forty-four elected officials at the state and federal levels sought another office in 2020

In 2020, Ballotpedia tracked 344 officials in Congress and state legislatures who ran for a different office than the one to which they were elected. Of those 344 officials, 162 (47%) won election to a new position.

Fourteen members of the U.S. House and eight members of the U.S. Senate sought election to a different office. Four members of the House and all eight members of the Senate ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, losing to Joe Biden (D). Five members of the House won election to different offices, one lost in the general election, and three were defeated in their party’s primary. One withdrew before the primary.

The 14 House members who sought election to a different office included seven Democrats and seven Republicans.

Compared to 2018, fewer members of the U.S. House sought a different office in 2020. In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 21 members of the House who sought election to statewide offices, including 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Forty-three percent won the general election.

At the state level, 322 state legislators from 44 states ran for other elected office, with 49% winning their elections. Fifty-four percent of state representatives and 32% of state senators were successful in their bids for other elected office. Of the 322 state legislators, 162 were Republicans and 158 were Democrats. Two ran as independents.

Of the 244 state representatives who ran for a different office, a majority (59%) sought a state senate seat. Seventy-eight state senators ran for a different office, with the most sought-after (35%) being a seat in the U.S. House.

Compared to 2018, 150 fewer state legislators ran for another office in 2020. In 2018, 472 ran for a new position, with 46% successfully doing so.

To learn more about the results of elected officials seeking other offices in 2020, click the link below:

https://ballotpedia.org/Results_of_elected_officials_seeking_other_offices,_2020

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U.S. Small Business Administration relaunches Paycheck Protection Program

On Friday, January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would make another round of loans available to new and some existing borrowers on January 11. Congress allocated $284 billion to the program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which President Donald Trump (R) signed into law on December 27, 2020.

The PPP, which Congress first authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020, was created to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the SBA, beginning January 11, the new loans will only be available to first-time borrowers working with community financial institutions, which include banks and credit unions that focus on low-income and underserved borrowers. On January 13, community financial institutions can distribute loans to qualified borrowers who received PPP money last year. The SBA said the program would open to all other qualified first or second-time borrowers shortly thereafter.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act included a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that authorized a second round of direct stimulus payments, $20 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, and $28 billion towards acquiring and distributing doses of the vaccine. It also extended some policies, such as a moratorium on evictions and federal unemployment assistance.

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In five elections since 1920, the winning presidential candidate’s party has lost seats in the U.S. House

On Dec. 14, 2020, the Electoral College cast votes for president and vice president of the United States. Joe Biden (D) won 306 electoral votes, defeating President Donald Trump (R) who won 232. In the same 2020 election cycle, Biden’s Democratic party lost 13 U.S. House seats (one race remains uncalled). How many times has a winning presidential candidate’s party lost U.S. House seats in modern American history?

Since 1920, there have been five presidential election years where where the winning presidential candidate’s party lost U.S. House seats. In all of these cases, the party that lost seats in the House maintained the majority it had going into the election.

The greatest loss of seats in the House by a party that won the presidency happened in 1960. That year, John F. Kennedy (D) won the White House for Democrats and the party lost 21 House seats.

The three other cases all occurred after 1990:

  1. In 1992, Bill Clinton (D) won the White House and the Democratic Party lost nine seats in the House.
  2. In 2000, George W. Bush (R) won the White House and the Republican Party lost two seats in the House.
  3. In 2016, Donald Trump (R) won the White House and the Republican Party lost six seats in the House.

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Jason Williams defeats Keva Landrum in Orleans Parish District Attorney race

Jason Williams (D) defeated Keva Landrum (D) in the December 5, 2020, general election for the Orleans Parish, Louisiana, District Attorney. Williams received 57.8% of the vote, while Landrum received 42.2%.

Williams is an at-large member of the New Orleans City Council, a seat he won in 2014. Landrum served as a judge at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court until July, 2020, when she resigned to enter the District Attorney race.

Williams and Landrum advanced from the first-round of voting on November 3 after neither received more than 50% of the vote to win, as required under Louisiana’s majority-vote system. Landrum received 34.8%, while Williams received 29.4%.

Incumbent Leon Cannizzaro (D), who was first elected in 2008, declined to seek re-election, leaving the seat open for the first time in 12 years.

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States publish coronavirus vaccine distribution plans

All 50 states have released plans for distributing a coronavirus vaccine once one or more have been made available. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set an October 16 deadline for states to submit first drafts of the plans.

The CDC asked states to respond to a set of planning assumptions in a document released to states on September 16 titled “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations.” The playbook identified 15 broad categories, including critical populations, vaccine storage and handling, and vaccine safety monitoring, that states were asked to consider in their plans.

As of December 3, 2020, the CDC’s website said, “The federal government will oversee a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines will be ordered through CDC. Vaccine providers will receive vaccines from CDC’s centralized distributor or directly from a vaccine manufacturer.”

The federal government will work with state, territorial, and tribal governments, which will have final authority over distribution priorities. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said governors are “going to tell us which hospital, which pharmacies, where they would like it [the vaccine] to go. … And they will be determining which groups to be prioritized.” The CDC voted on December 1 to recommend health care workers and long-term care residents receive vaccines in the first phase of distribution before the general population, but the decision was not binding on governors.

Ballotpedia has compiled links to all 50 distribution plans. To read your state’s plan and learn about the federal government’s role in distributing vaccines, click the button below.



Traveling over Thanksgiving? Here are the states with restrictions on travel

Heading into Thanksgiving, 12 states plus the District of Columbia have active restrictions on travel intended to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, 26 states have issued restrictions on travel, and 14 have been rescinded.

The states (plus D.C.) with active travel restrictions as of Nov. 23 are:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

All twelve states plus the District of Columbia require out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Some states, including Alaska, Massachusetts, and New York, allow travelers to avoid or reduce the length of the quarantine period if they can produce a negative COVID-19 test—usually taken within 72 hours of departure—upon arrival.

Of the states on that list, Alaska was the first to impose restrictions on travel in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pennsylvania, which issued its restrictions on November 20, was the most recent to do so.

Many states that have not issued enforceable orders limiting travel have instead issued advisories encouraging travelers to quarantine upon arrival. For example, on November 13, Govs. Jay Inslee (D-Wa.), Kate Brown (D-Ore.), and Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) issued  advisories asking out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. They also asked residents to limit non-essential travel.

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Senator Rick Scott, other federal lawmakers test positive for coronavirus

On November 20, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fl.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. On November 14, he announced he would quarantine himself after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.

Scott was the 31st member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19, and the seventh to announce a positive test since Monday, November 16.

On November 16, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mi.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) announced they tested positive. Senate President pro tempore Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.) announced positive test results on November 17. On November 18, Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Co.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wa.) announced positive test results.



Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) wins Wisconsin

As of Nov. 4, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the presidential election in Wisconsin. As of 4:00 p.m. E.T., 99% of the popular vote had been tabulated in the state, with Biden receiving 49.4% of the vote and former President Donald Trump (R) receiving 48.8% of the vote. Wisconsin is worth 10 electoral votes.

In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin with 47.2% of the vote, beating Hillary Clinton (D) by a margin of .7%.

Wisconsin favored Democratic presidential candidates in the four elections between 2000 and 2012, then voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Between 1900 and 2016, Wisconsin supported Republicans candidates in 50 percent of presidential elections and Democratic candidates in 47 percent.

There were 23 counties in Wisconsin that voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. These counties accounted for 17.35% of Wisconsin’s population.



All 50 states have active declared emergencies related to the coronavirus pandemic

All 50 states are currently operating under active states of emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic, with several set to last until rescinded by the governor.
Starting in late February, governors across the country declared states of emergency as coronavirus cases climbed. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) was the first governor in the country to declare a state of emergency on February 29, and other governors soon followed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency on March 4. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (R) declared a state of emergency on March 6. Governors continued declaring states of emergency through March and into April.
States of emergency declarations are set to expire in several states at the end of July and early August and throughout the rest of the year, while some are set to last until ended by the governor. New Mexico’s public health emergency is scheduled to expire on July 30, New Jersey’s public health emergency on August 1, Indiana’s public health emergency on August 3, and Colorado’s disaster emergency on August 5. Alabama’s and Connecticut’s are scheduled to expire on September 9, and Kansas’s is set to expire on September 15. The states of emergency declarations in Missouri and South Dakota are scheduled to last through December 30.
Generally, declaring a state of emergency allows governors to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and to waive or suspend certain rules and regulations.
According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), “Traditionally states have a general statute that permits the governor to declare a state of emergency for any type of emergency or natural disaster, which can be construed broadly to include disease epidemics and other public health emergencies. In the last decade, states have begun to refine their approaches to defining emergencies; a state may have one or more statutory definitions to define emergencies, including ’disaster, ‘emergency,’ and ‘public health emergency.’”
The laws surrounding emergency declarations vary by state. In at least 16 states, the emergencies declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic were set to last until rescinded by the governor. In other states, governors have renewed their emergency declarations every 15 to 30 days as required by law.


Virginia Supreme Court rules that Walmart must purchase electricity from Virginia Electric & Power Co.

On July 9, 2020, the Virginia State Supreme Court issued a ruling that affirmed the State Corporation Commission’s denial of Walmart’s petition to seek an alternative energy supplier to the state utility. Justice Arthur Kelsey penned the unanimous opinion of the court.

In December 2017 Walmart sought permission to buy its electricity from a non-state utility. Walmart lied on two provisions of the state utility code. Walmart first relied on the provision which grants that any customer who uses more than five megawatts may choose to exit the utility’s customer pool. Second, Walmart relied on the provision which says that a customer with multiple sites in Virginia that collectively use more than five megawatts of electricity may combine those loads and buy energy from a non-utility. The two prior provisions are governed by a provision which reads “approval of such petition is consistent with the public interest.”

After Walmart’s 2017 petition to purchase electricity outside of the state’s utility, the State Corporation Commission held a notice and comment period followed by a public evidentiary hearing.

According to the hearing records, the examiner made factual findings, including that Walmart’s petitions “would likely increase the monthly bills of remaining, non-shopping customers. VEPCO customers using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity per month would see a total increase of $0.13 in their monthly bills, and similar customers of APCO would see a total monthly increase of $0.05.” The hearing examiner concluded that “The question for the Commission is not whether the impact of granting Walmart’s Petitions is de minimis, but rather is whether granting Walmart’s Petitions will adversely affect the remaining retail customers . . . in a manner contrary to the public interest.” The commission claimed that granting Walmart’s petition would be a breach of the provision of state contracting code which asks them only to grant contracts “consistent with the public interest.”

The question that the state supreme court was asked to decide is whether or not a regulatory commission may define “the public interest” in granting petitions for exclusion from purchasing electricity from public utilities.

Walmart argued that “The public interest cannot be offended… if the adverse effect is simply recasting the marginal-cost savings enjoyed by the benefitted party into higher marginal costs to remaining customers or lost revenue to the incumbent utility.”

Justice Kelsey wrote that “Walmart’s argument is a tightly constructed syllogism, and it might be persuasive if subsection (A)(4)(a) were the only relevant statutory language informing us of the General Assembly’s intent. But it is not. Subsection (A)(4)(a) is immediately followed by subsection (A)(4)(b)’s general reference to the ‘public interest,’ and both subsections are preceded by the highly permissive ‘may’ language governing the ultimate scope of the Commission’s discretion.” Justice Kelsey went on to write “We are not tempted to repurpose ‘may’ as a polite form of ‘shall.’”

Walmart’s 140 stores across the state of Virginia will continue to purchase power from the Virginia Electric & Power Co. Walmart’s representatives have not spoken on the decision of the state supreme court.

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