Sarah Doyel

Sarah Doyel is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at

Governor appoints Murdock to North Carolina State Senate

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) appointed Natalie Murdock (D) to the District 20 seat of the North Carolina State Senate. Murdock’s appointment took effect on April 1, 2020.  She won the Democratic primary in the district on March 3.

Murdock replaces Henry Michaux, Jr. (D), who represented the district since January 13. Gov. Cooper appointed Michaux following the resignation of Floyd McKissick (D) in January 2020. At the time of his appointment, Michaux stated that he expected to serve briefly in the state senate until the North Carolina primaries took place and Cooper appointed the winner to the seat. Michaux resigned from the Senate on March 31, 2020.

Murdock defeated Pierce Freelon and Gray Ellis with 45.2% of the vote in the primary on March 3. Freelon and Ellis received 37% and 17.7% of the vote, respectively. Murdock will face Republican candidate John Tarantino in the general election on November 3. Ballotpedia has identified the North Carolina State Senate as one of 22 state legislative battleground chambers.

New Hampshire Treasurer Resigns, Deputy Treasurer Appointed to Finish Term

Former New Hampshire Deputy State Treasurer Monica Mezzapelle assumed her new position as Commissioner of the Treasury on March 25, 2020. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) appointed Mezzapelle to the nonpartisan position following the resignation of former state treasurer William Dwyer, who left office that same day.

Mezzapelle, a certified public accountant who had served as deputy state treasurer since May 2014, will finish the remainder of Dwyer’s term. The New Hampshire legislature will select a new treasurer in a joint session following the November 2020 general election.

Mezzapelle is the 54th leader of the New Hampshire State Treasury. The position is one of 12 state executive offices Ballotpedia covers in New Hampshire. Of those, the governorship and the five seats on the Executive Council are up for election in 2020.

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New Hampshire Treasurer
New Hampshire state executive offices

North Carolina Representative Black dies

North Carolina State Representative MaryAnn Black (D) died on March 26. She represented District 29, which includes parts of Durham, in the state House.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) first appointed Black in February 2017 to replace former Rep. Larry Hall, who left the legislature to take a cabinet position in state government. Black defeated Charles Becker (R) with 88% of the vote in 2018 to win her first full term in the state House. She had already announced that she would not run for re-election this year.

Black is the second member of the North Carolina House of Representatives to pass away in 2020, following the death of Linda Johnson (R) in February 2020. After Johnson’s seat was filled on March 19, Black’s district represents the only current vacancy in the chamber. Vacancies in the North Carolina General Assembly are filled by gubernatorial appointment from a list recommended by the political party committee that last held the seat.

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Michigan state Rep. Robinson dies

Michigan State Representative Isaac Robinson (D) died March 29 at age 44. He had represented District 4 in the Michigan House of Representatives since January 1, 2019. Robinson’s family stated that his suspected cause of death was coronavirus infection.

At the time of his death, Robinson served on the tax policy, regulatory reform, and commerce and tourism committees in the state House. He had previously run unsuccessfully for a seat on Michigan’s Third Circuit Court in 2016.

Members of the Michigan House of Representatives serve two-year terms with term limits. Vacancies are filled by special election. Robinson’s death creates the only current vacancy in the chamber, with 58 Republican and 51 Democratic members. Michigan’s statewide primary is scheduled for August 4, 2020.

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Longest-serving legislator in U.S. history announces retirement

Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser (D) announced March 27 that he will not run for re-election this year for the first time in more than six decades. After 64 years as a member of the Wisconsin legislature, Risser is the longest-serving legislator at the state or national level in United States history. He is also the only remaining World War II veteran serving in a state or national legislature.

Born in 1927, Risser was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1956. He has represented District 26 in the state Senate since his election to the chamber in 1962. Throughout his time in the senate, Risser served as Senate Minority Leader and spent 25 years total as Senate President. A statement released by his office stated that he has worked alongside 13 governors—seven Democratic and six Republican—and that he has never missed a legislative roll call. Risser will be 93 years old when he retires at the end of his current term on January 3, 2021.

State legislative filing deadlines have passed in 21 states this cycle. Five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia—are not holding regular state legislative elections this year.

In the 2018 general elections, 1,181 state legislative incumbents did not seek re-election. Of those, 723 were Republicans and 427 were Democrats. With 6,073 seats up for election that year, that means 19.4% of the seats had no incumbent running for re-election. That’s up from 17.6% in 2016.

After Risser, the next longest-serving state legislator is Rep. Tom Craddick (R), who has represented District 82 in the Texas House of Representatives since 1969. Craddick advanced from Texas’ Republican primary and is running for re-election Nov. 3.

There are no other state senators currently serving who were first elected in the 1960s. There are six state senators still in office who were first elected in the 1970s. Of those senators, the longest-serving is Sen. Thomas Miller, Jr. (D), who represents District 27 in the Maryland State Senate. Miller assumed office in 1975, meaning he has served in the chamber for 45 years.

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Meadows resigns from Congress to become new White House Chief of Staff

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) resigned from Congress on March 30 to assume his new role as White House Chief of Staff for Pres. Donald Trump (R). Meadows replaces Mick Mulvaney, who had served as the acting White House Chief of Staff since January 2, 2019. Meadows’ first day in his new role is March 31.

Meadows was first elected to represent North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District in 2013. He was a member of the House Freedom Caucus and chaired the group at one time.

Meadows announced in December 2019 that he would not run for re-election in 2020. Trump announced Meadows as his pick for chief of staff in March 2020. Trump tweeted on March 7, “I am pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House Chief of Staff. I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one.”

As White House Chief of Staff, Meadows will lead the staff of the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and advise the president on policy issues. Meadows is the fourth White House Chief of Staff in the Trump Administration. He was preceded—before Mulvaney—by Reince Priebus, who served in the role from January to July 2017, and John Kelly, who filled the position from July 2017 to July 2018. Including Meadows, there have been 30 White House Chiefs of Staff since the position was created in 1946.

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Cain resigns from Maryland House of Delegates

Rep. Alice Cain (D) announced her resignation from the Maryland House of Delegates March 19 at the close of the chamber’s legislative session. She stated that she had planned to resign at the end of the session due to “family circumstances,” and that her resignation is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic. The Maryland State Legislature adjourned early on March 18, 2020, in response to the outbreak.

Cain occupied one of two seats representing District 30A in the House, with the other held by Shaneka Henson (D). Seth Howard (R) represents District 30B in the House. Both districts are in Anne Arundel County.

Cain’s resignation created the third vacancy of the year in Maryland’s legislature and the second in the House of Delegates. All three vacancies were left by Democratic state legislators. The two vacancies preceding Cain’s resignation have already been filled, bringing the partisan composition of the House of Delegates to 98 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and one vacancy.

Baker appointed to the North Carolina House of Representatives

Rep. Kristin Baker (R) was appointed to the District 82 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, replacing the late Rep. Linda Johnson (R). Johnson died in February 2020. Baker assumed office on March 19.

Baker’s appointment fills the only vacancy in the state House this year. The current partisan composition of the chamber is 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats with zero vacancies. The Republican Party has controlled the state House since the 2010 elections.

Baker is the Republican nominee for the District 82 seat in North Carolina’s state legislative general elections on November 3. She received 54% of the vote in the three-way Republican primary in the district on March 3. She will face the Democratic nominee, Aimy Steele.

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Stitt appoints Hixon to Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed Stacie Hixon on March 10 to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Hixon, a Tulsa-area attorney, replaces former judge Jerry Goodman, who retired in August 2019.

At the time of her appointment, Hixon was a partner at the Tulsa law firm Steadley & Neal. Goodman had served on the court since 1994 and would have been up for a retention election in 2020.

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate state appellate court composed of 12 judges in four divisions. Of the current judges on the court, six were nominated by a Democratic governor and six were nominated by a Republican governor.

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Senate confirms Danly to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Danly on March 12 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). President Donald Trump (R) nominated Danly, who previously served as the FERC’s general counsel, in fall 2019. The Senate voted 52-40 to confirm Danly to the commission.

Danly’s confirmation filled one of two vacant seats on the five-person commission. The Hill reported that “Danly’s nomination was somewhat controversial, as, in a break from tradition, a Democrat was not nominated alongside him to fill a vacant Democratic seat on the five-member board.” The three other current members of the commission are chairperson Neil Chatterjee, Richard Glick, and Bernard L. McNamee. All were nominated by Pres. Trump. Commissioners serve five-year terms.

The FERC is an independent federal agency responsible for regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, crude oil, and natural gas. In addition, FERC regulates hydroelectric dams and oversees utility mergers.