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Sarah Doyel

Sarah Doyel is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

South Carolina State Rep. Clemmons resigns from legislature

A little over a month after advancing from the Republican primary for his seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, Alan Clemmons resigned from the state legislature. Clemmons had represented District 107 in the chamber since 2002. He submitted his letter of resignation on July 17, effective at noon that day.
Clemmons, who defeated Case Brittain with 58.5% of the vote in the June 9 Republican primary, said that he was stepping down in order to meet his obligations outside the legislature. Clemmons said in a statement, “These past 18 years have truly been an honor but have also weighed heavily on my family and my business. I fully believed that I could effectively serve my constituents for one more term, but it has become increasingly clear in the last few weeks that my time needs to be spent with my family and at my law practice.” He also formally withdrew his candidacy from the ballot.
The Charlotte Observer quoted Election Commission member Chris Whitmire as stating that there will not be a special election for the seat given the vacancy’s proximity to the general election. State elections officials plan to reopen candidate filing for the November election for both major parties for one week, since no Democratic challengers previously filed in the district. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta, and the Republican Party has held a majority in the state house since 1994.


Senate confirms Vought as OMB director

In a 51-45 vote along party lines, the U.S. Senate confirmed Russell Vought as the director of the Office of Management and Budget on July 20. Vought had served in the role in an acting capacity since Jan. 2019, when then-OMB director Mick Mulvaney began serving as acting White House chief of staff. Mulvaney did not resign from OMB at the time but dedicated all of his time to his chief of staff duties. Vought, then the deputy director of the agency, assumed directorial responsibilities as a result.
Mulvaney left the White House in Mar. 2020, the same month that President Donald Trump (R) announced his intent to permanently nominate Vought as OMB director. Senate committees advanced Vought’s nomination to a full Senate vote in June. A group of Republican members in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Senate in April encouraging the chamber to confirm Vought to the role.
Vought is the second OMB director to serve under Pres. Trump; Mulvaney took office in Feb. 2017, shortly after Trump’s inauguration. The agency, which is the largest element of the Executive Office of the President, is tasked with managing the development and execution of the annual federal budget, overseeing federal agencies and executive branch operations, and coordinating and reviewing agency regulations. The agency was first organized in 1970 under President Richard Nixon.


Longest-serving member of Alabama House of Representatives dies

Ronald Johnson (R), who had represented District 33 in the Alabama House since 1978, died of liver cancer on July 14. His tenure in the chamber made him the longest-serving legislator in the state House at the time of his death.
Johnson’s death creates the second vacancy in the chamber this year. The first occurred when April Weaver (R) resigned from the District 49 seat on May 12 to take a position in President Trump’s administration.
Vacancies in the Alabama state legislature are filled by special election. The special election for the District 49 seat is scheduled for November 17, 2020. A special election for Johnson’s former seat has not yet been called.
There were three state legislative special elections in Alabama in 2018, two in the state House and one in the state Senate. In each of the special elections, the seat was won by a candidate belonging to the same party as the legislator who previously held the seat. Republican candidates Parker Moore and Rex Reynolds won the District 4 and District 21 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives, last held by Micky Hammon (R) and Jim Patterson (R), respectively. Democrat David Burkette won the special election to replace former Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross (D) in Senate District 26.


Lucas resigns from New Hampshire House of Representatives, creating 10th vacancy in chamber

The current vacancy count in the New Hampshire House of Representatives this week reached a total of 10 seats. Rep. Gates Lucas (R) resigned from the chamber on July 14, citing a move outside his district as the reason. Lucas announced his resignation on Twitter and said, “Today I resigned from the @NHHouseofReps given I am moving to Portsmouth. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in the house to uphold @GovChrisSununu’s vetoes and reject many of the radical policies of the left. It’s been an honor serving Sunapee & Croydon!”
Lucas had represented New Hampshire’s House District Sullivan 2 since 2018. He did not file to run for re-election this year. The other vacant seats in the chamber are in Grafton 12, Cheshire 4, Hillsborough 23, Grafton 9, Hillsborough 43, Hillsborough 37, Strafford 10, Hillsborough 27, and Hillsborough 7. Eight of the 10 vacancies occurred this year.
Vacancies in the New Hampshire state legislature are filled by special election. A town or city in the district represented by the vacant seat must make a formal request to the governor and executive council for a special election. The governor and council then approve or deny the request within 21 days. So far, there has only been one special election called in New Hampshire this year. It was for the Merrimack 24 district and took place on March 10.


Hodges resigns from Arkansas House to take new job with community college

Grant Hodges (R) resigned from the Arkansas House of Representatives on July 10. Hodges’ resignation came just before he started a new job as the executive director of community and government relations at Northwest Arkansas Community College on July 13.
Hodges’ resignation was expected after he announced his acceptance of the new role in late June. First elected to represent District 96 in 2014 and re-elected in 2016 and 2018, Hodges did not file to run for re-election this year.
Hodges’ resignation creates the second vacancy in the chamber this year. The first was created when Chris Richey (D) resigned less than two weeks prior to Hodges, after moving out of his district for an employment opportunity. With the departure of Hodges and Richey, the current partisan composition of the Arkansas House of Representatives is 75 Republicans and 23 Democrats. Ten incumbents in the chamber, including Richey, did not file to run for re-election this year. Of those, Richey was the only Democrat.


Loucks resigns from Wyoming House of Representatives

Carl “Bunky” Loucks (R) resigned from the Wyoming House of Representatives on July 6, citing a need to focus on his small business due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is not running for re-election this year.

Loucks was first elected to represent District 59 in the chamber in 2010. Three Republican candidates–David Carpenter, Leah Juarez, and Kevin O’Hearn–are running for the seat in the August 18 primary. No candidates filed for the Democratic primary.

All 60 seats in the Wyoming House of Representatives are up for election this year. In 40 of the 60 races, no candidates filed in the Democratic primary. No candidates filed for the Republican primary in just five of the 60 districts. Wyoming has had a Republican state government trifecta in 18 of the last 29 years, with a Republican majority in both chambers of the state legislature every year since 1992.

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Douglass-Boone appointed to Thompson’s Nevada State Assembly seat

Clark County commissioners in Nevada appointed Kasina Douglass-Boone (D), a social worker for Clark County Schools, on July 7 to represent District 17 in the Nevada State Assembly. The seat has been vacant since the late Representative Tyrone Thompson (D) died on May 4, 2019.

Douglass-Boone is not running for the District 17 state House seat has been represented by a Democrat since at least 2003. She recently ran for election to represent District B on the Clark County School Board, finished third with 15% of the vote. District 17

Except for a power-sharing agreement from 1994 to 1996 and a Republican majority from 2014 to 2016, the Democratic Party has controlled a majority of seats in the assembly since 1992. The chamber flipped from 27-15 Democratic Party control to 27-15 Republican Party control in 2014, and back to a 27-15 Democratic majority in 2016.

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FEC loses quorum once again with commissioner’s resignation

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is down to having three members after former chair Caroline Hunter (R) resigned from the commission July 3. The six-member body requires four members to form a quorum, which is the number of active commissioners needed for the FEC to formally conduct business. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, a quorum is required for the agency to promulgate rules, issue advisory opinions, and decide enforcement actions.

In her resignation letter to President Trump (R), Hunter wrote, “The FEC would benefit greatly from new faces and fresh perspectives.” She also stated that “Congress established the FEC to prevent single-party control, with every significant decision requiring bipartisan approval.” The current members of the FEC are Republican chair Trey Trainor, independent vice chair Steven Walther, and Democratic member Ellen Weintraub. Three positions are unfilled.

The Senate confirmed Trainor on May 19. Before that, the FEC only had three members after Matthew Petersen (R) resigned on August 31, 2019. Vacancies created by the resignations of commissioners Ann Ravel (D) in February 2017 and Lee Goodman (R) in February 2018 have yet to be filled.

After Hunter announced her resignation on June 26, Trump nominated Allen Dickerson—the current legal director of the Free Speech Institute—to the commission. If the Senate confirms Dickerson, the FEC will return to having four members.

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Illinois House deputy majority leader resigns

Arthur Turner II (D), formerly the Deputy Majority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, resigned on July 3. He had represented the 9th District in the chamber since 2011. Turner’s father, Arthur Turner, previously held the seat from 1981 until his son took office.
Turner did not file for re-election this year. Lakesia Collins won the Democratic primary in the district on March 17 with 46% of the vote. The Republican primary was canceled. Collins is running unopposed in the general election on November 3. Officials from the Democratic Party committee in Turner’s district will appoint a replacement to serve until the end of his term, which expires in January 2021.
There are nine open seats in the Illinois House of Representatives elections this year in which the incumbent did not file for re-election, including Turner’s. That’s the fewest number of any election in the chamber in the last decade. Of the incumbents who did not file for re-election, six are Republicans and three are Democrats. Two incumbents were defeated in the March primaries, both Democrats who had been appointed to their positions.
In the 2018 elections, which had the most open seats of any election since 2010, Democrats increased their seat holdings in the Illinois House from 67-51 to 74-44. The gain created a supermajority for the party in the chamber.
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Hawaii Supreme Court justice Pollack retires

Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack retired from the court July 2 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years old. He served on the court for eight years after being nominated in August 2012.
Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald said about Pollack, “During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Pollack was extraordinarily productive, authoring more than 150 opinions, all of which were meticulously researched and clearly written. He shaped the court’s jurisprudence in areas including public trust resources and the environment, criminal procedure, evidence, and public access to governmental proceedings.”
Hawaii Supreme Court justices are selected using the assisted appointment method in which the governor chooses from a list of four to six qualified candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The Hawaii Senate then confirms the nominee. Judges serve ten-year terms on the court unless, like Pollack, they reach the mandatory retirement age before the end of their term.
Pollack’s replacement will be the first justice appointed by Hawaii Governor David Ige (D). Of the remaining four judges, Democratic governors appointed three and a Republican governor appointed one.