Author

Tyler King

Tyler King is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Special election to be held Sept. 29 in Texas state Senate district

A special election is being held on September 29 for District 30 of the Texas State Senate. Jacob Minter (D), Craig Carter (R), Andy Hopper (R), Shelley Luther (R), Drew Springer (R), and Christopher Watts (R) are running in the special election. A general election runoff will be scheduled if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of Pat Fallon (R). Fallon submitted his letter of resignation on August 22, with an effective date of resignation on January 4. On August 8, local Republican Party county and precinct chairs selected Fallon to replace incumbent John Ratcliffe on the general election ballot for Texas’ 4th Congressional District after Ratcliffe withdrew from the race, following his confirmation as director of national intelligence.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 19-12 majority in the Texas Senate. Texas 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.

As of September, 58 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 26 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:
State legislative special elections, 2020
Texas State Senate
Texas State Senate District 30



State legislative special elections to be held in Mississippi

Special elections are being held on September 22 for two districts in the Mississippi State Senate and two districts in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Runoff elections will be held for each race if no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote in the general election. Candidates in Mississippi state legislative special elections run without party labels on the ballot.

In Senate District 15, Joyce Meek Yates, Bricklee Miller, Levon Murphy Jr., and Bart Williams are running in the general election. The seat became vacant after Gary Jackson (R) resigned on June 30. Johnson cited health concerns in his announcement that he would be retiring. He had represented District 15 since 2004.

In Senate District 39, Jason Barrett, Beth Brown, Cindy Bryan, Mike Campbell, Josh Davis, Ben Johnson, Prentiss Smith, Michael Smith, and Bill Sones are running in the general election. The seat became vacant on July 15 after Sally Doty (R) was appointed as the executive director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff. Doty had represented District 39 since 2012.

In House District 37, David Chism, Vicky Rose, and Lynn Wright are running in the general election. The seat became vacant after the resignation of Gary Chism (R) on June 30. Gary Chism suffered a stroke in 2017 and said that serving in the state House had become more difficult since then. He also cited his wife’s health concerns as a reason for his resignation. He had represented District 37 since 2000.

In House District 66, Gregory Divinity, Bob Lee Jr., Fabian Nelson, Kathryn Perry, De’Keither Stamps, and Calvin Williams are running in the general election. The seat became vacant on July 2 after Jarvis Dortch (D) resigned to accept a position as executive director of the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He had represented District 66 since 2016.

Mississippi legislators are elected to four-year terms, and elections are held in odd-numbered years. All seats in the state Senate and state House are up for election again on November 7, 2023.

As of September, 58 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 26 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:


Ballot deadline for November election passes in Boise recall effort

Efforts in Boise, Idaho, to recall Mayor Lauren McLean and Councilmember Lisa Sanchez were initiated in July 2020. The deadline to put the recalls on the November 2020 ballot was August 28. Recall organizers did not meet that deadline but said they were not trying to get the recalls on the November ballot. The earliest the recall elections can be on the ballot is now March 2021. The deadline to submit signatures in the recall against McLean is September 30, and the deadline for the recall against Sanchez is October 5.

The recall efforts are being organized by Karene Alton and Joe Filicetti. Alton and Filicetti have accused McLean of being dishonest in the way she campaigned for election. Filicetti also cited COVID-19 shutdown orders, failure to support police, and the contents of a report from the mayor’s transition team after she was elected as reasons to recall McLean. The effort to recall Sanchez was initiated in response to statements she made about an 18-year-old who was arrested for firing his rifle in city limits while counter-protesting Black Lives Matter in June 2020.

McLean responded to the recall campaign against her when the recall effort was still unofficial. She said, “That’s an information collecting effort that everybody has a right to do. I remain focused on ensuring that I am working with an economic recovery task force, that we are partnering with businesses and other agencies to support our community as we recover. We are focused on ensuring that Boise remains Boise. Now, and into the future.”

A recall election for a city official requires valid signatures equal to at least 20 percent of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general city election held in the city for the election of officers. Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 75 days after the form of the recall petition is approved for circulation. Recall organizers are required to submit 26,108 valid signatures for the recalls against McLean and Sanchez.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading


Guam governor cancels primary due to COVID-19

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D) signed a bill on August 28 to cancel the primary taking place on August 29 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Bill 391 was passed in the Guam Legislature by a 12-3 vote on August 27. The Guam Election Commission said that it wasn’t confident it could conduct a safe election while Guam remains under lockdown due to the pandemic.

Guerrero signed an executive order on August 27 to extend Guam’s public health emergency an additional 30 days. At the time of the executive order, Guam had recorded 1,232 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. Governor Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio (D) both tested positive for coronavirus in early August.

Officials looked at options for postponing the primary, but any delay would prevent Guam from meeting federal requirements for the general election. Bill 391 extends the window for voters to cast in-office absentee ballots by 15 days. Absentee ballots will be accepted starting on September 19. The bill also requires that the Election Commission submits a safety plan to the legislature by September 14.

All primary candidates automatically advance to the general election on November 3. This means that some races will have multiple candidates from the same party on the general election ballot. In the election for Guam’s non-voting member in the U.S. House, incumbent Michael San Nicolas (D) is running against Robert Underwood (D) and William Castro (R) in the general election.

Additional links:


Judge allows recall election to move forward in Stevensville, Montana

A Ravalli County District Court judge has ruled that there are sufficient grounds for a recall election to move forward against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey. Judge Howard Recht’s ruling on August 14 said that Dewey “acted outside the law and without legal authority” when he signed a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. In June, Dewey filed a lawsuit with the district court, arguing that the recall shouldn’t have been approved for circulation. Dewey’s position was that the recall petitions misrepresented the situation surrounding the recall effort.

The recall effort is organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh. Petitions accused Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of the size of the First Call contract would normally require approval from the town council. Rodabaugh said that the way the contract was signed bypassed the competitive bid and contract award process.

Petitions were approved for circulation on April 7, giving petitioners until July 6 to submit 251 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot. Petitions were accepted by Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg on May 22, and 254 signatures were found valid. The recall election is scheduled to take place by mail-in ballots on November 3, 2020.

Dewey responded to the recall effort and said, “If you strictly took state law and municipal ordinance, I think, yes, a case could be made that there was some impropriety. But that’s only true if you completely ignore the purchasing policy which the council adopted a number of years ago and has reviewed on a regular basis since delegating this authority to department heads and the mayor.”

Dewey sent a letter to Plettenberg after the signatures were verified. He wrote that the recall petition is “invalid and should be rejected on the basis of unsworn falsification and tampering with public records or information. These facts presented in the meeting by City Attorney Scott Owens conclude that there was no merit to the allegations brought forth, now presented in the recall petition, and that no illegal action had been taken by the mayor or administration. Ms. Rodabaugh was aware of these facts when submitting the petition and further omitted the authority given to the Mayor in the purchasing policy from the language in the petition she submitted. Therefore, she has knowingly submitted false allegations and information in the recall petition.”

Dewey provided a written statement that will be included on the recall election ballot:

“The Mayor did not violate Montana Law, Stevensville Code, or his oath in authorizing the purchase of IT services needed for the Town. The Town’s Attorney investigated and determined that all purchasing activities were done legally and compliant with laws.

“Montana law has a process for bidding when dealing with “other than professional, technical, engineering, or legal services.” This process does not apply to IT services. According to MCA 7 5-4301 contracts for professional, technical, engineering, or legal services are excluded from certain provisions.

“The Council adopted a Purchasing Policy in 2014 to delegate authority to departments and the Mayor for purchases in varying dollar amounts. Though this policy, the Council puts trust in the Mayor to spend within the budget without direct oversight.

“The purchasing policy states that for other professional services, including non-construction services totaling between $1,501 – $25,000 per agreement, purchases contained in the current fiscal year budget …, Departiment Supervisor’s need only get confirmation by the Mayor prior to purchasing.

“With Council’s approval in the 2019-2020 Budget, the services totaling less than $25,000 in FY2019-2020 was consented to by the Town Council. The Council had authorized several payments to the vendor after the Mayor authorized the purchase.”

In a town council meeting after the contract was signed, Stevensville Town Attorney Scott Owens stated that Dewey did nothing illegal because, while an agreement had been signed by the mayor for an amount of money that usually would require council approval, the money had been included in the budget that the council approved and was only being paid out incrementally. Owens said that Dewey’s actions were close to illegality but did not cross the line.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.



Special election primary to be held in Alaska Senate district

A special election primary is being held on August 18 for District M of the Alaska State Senate. Anita Thorne and Nicholas Willie are running in the Democratic primary. Josh Revak, Harold Borbridge, and Ray Metcalfe are running in the Republican primary. The general election is being held on November 3.

The seat became vacant after Chris Birch (R) passed away on August 8, 2019. Birch had represented the district since January 2019. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Josh Revak to the seat on September 27, 2019.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 13-7 majority in the Alaska Senate. Alaska has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of August, 56 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 26 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:


Special election runoff to be held in Georgia Senate district

A special election runoff is being held on August 11 for District 4 of the Georgia State Senate. Republicans Scott Bohlke and Billy Hickman are facing off in the runoff. Bohlke and Hickman advanced past the June 9 primary election with 32% and 33% of the vote, respectively. The two candidates are also running in a primary runoff in the regularly-scheduled election. The winner of the primary runoff will be unopposed in the general election.

The seat became vacant after Jack Hill (R) passed away on April 6. Hill had represented District 4 since 1991.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 34-21 majority in the Georgia Senate with one vacancy. Georgia 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.

As of July, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:


Special election primary to be held in Alabama House district

A special election primary is being held on August 4 for District 49 of the Alabama House of Representatives. Cheryl Patton is running in the Democratic primary. Russell Bedsole, James Dean, Donna Dorough Strong, Chuck Martin, Jackson McNeely, and Mimi Penhale are running in the Republican primary. A primary runoff is scheduled for September 1 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote. The general election is being held on November 17.

The seat became vacant after April Weaver (R) resigned to become a regional director in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 75-28 majority in the Alabama House of Representatives with two vacancies. Alabama 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.

As of July, 51 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:


Special election primary being held in Washington Senate district

A special election primary is being held on August 4 for District 38 of the Washington State Senate. June Robinson (D), Kelly Fox (D), and Bernard Moody (R) are running in the special election. The top two candidates in the primary will compete in a general election on November 3. Candidates are running to serve the remainder of the unexpired two-year term.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of John McCoy on April 17. McCoy had represented the district since 2013. Robinson was appointed to the seat by the Snohomish County Council on May 13.

Heading into the special election, Democrats have a 29-20 majority in the Washington State Senate. Washington has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of July, 50 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/State_legislative_special_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_State_Senate_District_38



Mayoral recall effort underway in Seattle

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is facing a recall effort over actions by the Seattle Police Department during protests following the death of George Floyd. Petitions were approved for circulation on July 10, 2020. Recall organizers have until January 6, 2021, to gather about 54,000 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot.

The recall effort is organized by Elliott Grace Harvey, Alan Meekins Jr., Courtney Scott, Leah Solomon, and Charlie Stone. Petition filings made seven accusations against Durkan. King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts found that the second charge was sufficient grounds for the recall effort to move forward. The second charge read, “Mayor Durkan endangered the peace and safety of the community and violated her duties under RCW 35.18.200, Seattle Charter Art. V, Sec. 2, SMC 10.02.010A, and her oath to uphold US Const., Amends. 1 and 4, Washington Constitution, Art. 1 Sec. 3-5, when she failed to institute new polices and safety measures for the Seattle Police Department when using crowd control measures during a public health emergency.”

The other six charges were dismissed as being insufficient for a recall election. The Superior Court hearings were to determine if the accusations were legally sufficient for a recall election. It is not the role of the court to decide whether any alleged facts are true or not.

A spokesperson for Mayor Durkan provided a written statement following the court decision to allow recall organizers to begin gathering signatures. The statement read, “In the midst of unprecedented challenges for the City, Mayor Durkan consistently has acted to protect the City’s public health and safety and to respect the constitutional rights of peaceful protestors. She also believes Chief Best has exercised her challenging duties lawfully and appropriately to protect the public peace. At this stage, the Court is required to accept the petition’s allegations as factually true. Even under this low standard, the Court dismissed six of the seven claims in the petition, in addition to dismissing outright another petition. The Mayor believes the remaining claim will be dismissed.”

A separate recall effort, relating to accusations of misuse of police force during protests, was deemed insufficient by the King County Superior Court on July 10.

The Washington Constitution allows for the recall of elected officials if they violate their oath of office or “in commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office.” To put a recall on the ballot, recall supporters have 180 days to collect valid signatures equal to 25% of the total vote for the office in the last regular election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


Bitnami