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Sarah Doyel

Sarah Doyel is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at sara.doyel@ballotpedia.org.

Matthews appointed to fill late Representative’s New Mexico House seat

Bernalillo County commissioners appointed Marian Matthews (D) to the New Mexico House of Representatives on January 7, 2020. She was sworn in that same day to represent District 27, which was represented by the late Rep. William Pratt (D) until he passed away on December 25, 2019. Pratt first assumed office in January 2019 following the death of Lorenzo “Larry” Larranaga.

Prior to her appointment, Matthews declared her candidacy for the District 27 seat. Before his death, Pratt had announced that he would not run for re-election.

Matthews is an attorney and longtime resident of the district. She previously served as the Deputy Attorney General to then-Attorney General Tom Udall (D). Her professional experience includes teaching at Central New Mexico Community College.

Matthews’ appointment fills the only vacancy in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

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Johnson appointed to state House seat in Washington

On January 13, 2020, Jesse Johnson (D) was appointed to fill the District 30-Position 2 seat in the Washington House of Representatives. The seat had been vacant since former Rep. Kristine Reeves (D) resigned in December 2019 to run for U.S. Congress.

Johnson represents District 30 along with Position 1 Rep. Mike Pellicciotti. Both of their terms end in January 2021.

Johnson’s appointment leaves zero vacancies in the Washington House of Representatives. All 98 House seats are up for election in 2020. The Democrats currently have a state government trifecta in Washington, holding a majority in both legislative chambers and the governor’s office.

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Two Missouri state senators resign to take positions in Gov. Parson’s administration

Two former Missouri State Senators – Shalonn “Kiki” Curls (D) and Jason Holsman (D) – have resigned their seats to take state executive positions. Both were appointed by Gov. Mike Parson (R) and confirmed by their colleagues in the Senate.

Curls, who previously represented District 9, assumed office as one of three commissioners on the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission following her confirmation on January 16, 2020.

That same day, Holsman joined the five-member Missouri Public Service Commission, which is charged with regulating electric, steam, natural gas, water and sewer and telephone companies in Missouri. Holsman previously represented District 7.

The departure of Holsman and Curls from the Senate leaves two vacancies in the chamber and reduces the number of Democratic senators’ from ten to eight. The Republicans hold a state government trifecta in Missouri with the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

The typical process for filling vacancies in the Missouri State Senate requires the governor to call for a special election. Both Curls and Holsman were term-limited at the time of their appointments, however, and were therefore not eligible to run for re-election. With both seats up for election later this year, Gov. Parson may elect not to call for special elections for the seats.

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Idaho state representative convicted of fraud, removed from office

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 65-0 to remove former Rep. John Green (R) from his District 2B seat on January 16, 2020, following his conviction on federal tax fraud charges the day before. Five members of the chamber were absent.

Green’s expulsion is a historic first for the Idaho legislature. The state constitution forbids anyone with a felony conviction from holding public office. Republicans in Green’s former district will recommend replacements to Gov. Brad Little (R), who will then appoint Green’s successor for the remainder of his term.

The District 2B position is currently the only vacancy in the 70-person Idaho House of Representatives, with Republicans holding a majority over Democrats 55-14. Republicans have controlled the house in Idaho since 1960.

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Davis Appointed to Louisiana State Board of Education

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) appointed Louisiana State University professor Belinda Davis to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education effective January 13, 2020. Davis fills the at-large seat formerly held by Lurie Thomason, who resigned in December 2019 for health-related reasons.

Davis ran unsuccessfully for the 70th District seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2019 and the East Baton Rouge Parish school board in 2014. She holds a master’s and a Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University and specializes in public policy.

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has 11 members—eight members elected by district and three appointed at-large. At the time of Davis’ appointment, the partisan split of the elected members was six Republicans and two Democrats. The at-large seats are non-partisan, though Davis ran for the Louisiana House as a Democrat.

Davis’ appointment comes after Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White’s announcement that he plans to resign in March 2020. The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is tasked with appointing the Superintendent.

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Additional reading:
Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Louisiana Superintendent of Education
Lurie Thomason



Mississippi Executive Director of Environmental Quality Resigns

The former Executive Director of Mississippi’s Department of Environmental Quality, Gary Rikard, resigned from his position on January 13, 2020. Newly elected Gov. Tate Reeves (R) was sworn in the following day.

Rikard served as director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality since 2014 after former Gov. Phil Bryant (R) appointed him to the position in July of that year. Rikard is an attorney and had previously worked in the department as an attorney and environmental engineer.

Rikard is one of several Mississippi state executives to step down as part of the transition to the new gubernatorial administration. At the time of Rikard’s resignation, his replacement had not yet been announced.

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Additional reading:
Mississippi Executive Director of Environmental Quality
Energy policy in Mississippi
Tate Reeves



Former Rep. Michaux Appointed to North Carolina State Senate

On January 13, 2020, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) appointed former state Rep. Henry “Mickey” Michaux, Jr. (D) to represent District 20 in the state Senate. Michaux had retired from the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2018. He was nominated by Durham County Democrats for the vacancy.

Former Sen. Floyd McKissick, Jr. (D) resigned the 20th District seat before joining the North Carolina Utilities Commission the week before. The News & Observer reported that Michaux expects Cooper to appoint the winner of the seat’s Democratic primary in March to take his place.

The partisan composition of the North Carolina State Senate is 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats. The Republican party also has a majority in the state House with 65 Republican seats to 55 Democratic ones.

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Additional reading:
North Carolina Senate elections, 2020
North Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2020



Grassley sworn in as speaker of the Iowa House

On January 13, 2020, Rep. Pat Grassley (R) was sworn in as speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives. House Republicans elected Grassley as speaker in October 2019 after Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R) announced she would step down as speaker at the end of 2019.

Grassley has served in the Iowa House of Representatives since 2007, representing District 50. He was most recently re-elected in November 2018.

All 100 seats of the Iowa House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. The current partisan composition of that chamber is 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats. Iowa has had a Republican state government trifecta since 2017, meaning the Republican party controls the governor’s office as well as a majority in both chambers of the Iowa General Assembly.

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Additional reading:
Iowa House of Representatives
Iowa House of Representatives elections, 2020
State government trifectas

 



Gonzalez Jr. appointed to Illinois House of Representatives

On January 10, 2020, the Democratic Legislative Committee of Illinois’ 21st Legislative District appointed Edgar Gonzalez Jr. (D) to the state House of Representatives. Gonzalez succeeds former state Rep. Celina Villanueva (D), who was appointed to the Illinois State Senate on January 7.

At 23 years old, Gonzalez is among the youngest legislators to ever hold office in the Illinois General Assembly.

Gonzalez is also running for a full term in this state House district, which is up for regular election in 2020. The primaries will be held on March 17 and the general election is on November 3.

All 118 seats in the Illinois House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Democrats gained a supermajority in the state House in 2018, and the current partisan composition is 74 Democrats and 44 Republicans. Illinois currently has a Democratic state trifecta, which occurs when Democrats hold the governor’s office and a majority in both chambers of the state legislature.

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Additional reading:
Illinois House of Representatives elections, 2020
Illinois State Senate elections, 2020
State government trifectas



Polis Appoints Perkins to Colorado Public Utilities Commission

On January 13, 2020, Gov. Jared Polis (D) appointed attorney Susan Perkins to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, succeeding Frances Koncilja. Polis had announced on Jan. 3 that he would not reappoint Koncilja when her term ended.

The Pueblo Chieftain reported that according to Koncilja, Polis said that he was satisfied with her work but that he was not reappointing anyone appointed by former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).

Perkins is a member of the group Pueblo’s Energy Future and has worked as an attorney in the energy sector. The two other members of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, chairman Jeffrey Ackermann and John Gavan, are both Hickenlooper appointees. Their terms will expire in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is an independent, quasi-executive agency in the Colorado state government and a subdivision of the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies. The commission is responsible for regulating the state’s telecommunications, electric, gas, and water utilities. It is composed of three members who are appointed by the governor to four-year terms. The members cannot all be from the same political party.

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Additional reading:
Frances Koncilja
Colorado Public Utilities Commission
Jared Polis



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