Booker, Steyer, and Yang bring November debate total (so far) to eight, DNC sets date

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

October 9, 2019: Cory Booker, Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang bring the total of candidates who’ve qualified for the November 20 debate to eight. Joe Biden was endorsed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

 Presidential Facebook ads, 2019-2020 (September 30-October 6, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“If Democrats learned anything in 2016 — an open question, surely — it is that it is impossible to win with a campaign that is not about anything except the all-consuming ‘Can you believe he said that?’ badness of one’s opponent. McMansion wine moms in Northern Virginia want to hear about what a misogynist the gross orange man is, and they will pay $4600 a pop for the privilege. The voters Democrats actually need in 2020 are the ones in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania who want to hear that Trump is right about trade and manufacturing and the swamp but that he has shown he can’t get the job done.”

—Matthew Walther, The Week


  • Eight candidates have qualified for the November Democratic debate so far. Cory BookerTom Steyer, and Andrew Yang qualified in recent days, joining Joe BidenPete ButtigiegKamala HarrisBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren on the roster. The debate will take place in Georgia on November 20, the Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday.

  • Five candidates will attend the Ohio Democratic Party’s annual dinner on Sunday: ButtigiegJulián CastroAmy KlobucharSteyer, and Tim Ryan.

  • Michael Bennet‘s campaign wrote in a press release that “candidates running on Medicare for All, like Elizabeth Warren, open themselves up to attack from Donald Trump in the general election if they are not clear about the $31 trillion middle-class tax increase that comes with their healthcare plan.”

  • Biden was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Tuesday.

  • Booker met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.

  • Steve Bullock announced $2.3 million in third-quarter fundraising. He has raised a total of $4.3 million in the five months he’s been campaigning. The campaign said it hopes to be approved for public matching funds.

  • Buttigieg released a digital ad titled “Light the Way” in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada Tuesday. The ad features video from a Buttigieg rally in Nevada where attendees used cellphones to light the stage amid a power outage.

  • Tulsi Gabbard was interviewed by John Stossel. They discussed foreign policy, government spending, and drug legalization.

  • Harris released her Children’s Agenda, which includes proposals for up to six months of paid family and medical leave, more nurses and social workers at schools, and criminal justice reforms. 

  • Klobuchar criticized Donald Trump’s decision to remove troops from the Syrian border. She told Iowa’s KMA News, “We should be dealing with China right now in trying to work out this trade war, all right? … We should be dealing with farm prices. Instead, he causes all these self-inflicted wounds, whether it is getting out of the Iranian agreement, so that that’s blowing up, and they are enriching uranium and blowing the caps, to what is happening now with Syria.”

  • Beto O’Rourke released a plan focused on women, including proposals to address pay gaps, provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and guarantee private insurance coverage of abortion.

  • Sanders said Tuesday he was “feeling good” and “getting stronger” after his heart attack. He also said, “[I]f there’s any message that I hope we can get out there is that I want people to pay attention to the symptoms. When you’re hurting, when you’re fatigued, when you have pain in your chest, listen to it.”

  • Warren gave details of her account of experiencing pregnancy discrimination after the Washington Free Beacon published documents stating that Warren’s contract to teach had been renewed and that she had resigned in 1971. Warren maintained that she was fired after her pregnancy began to show that year.


  • Mark Sanford said on Fox Business that he thinks there “will be a financial storm the likes of which we’ve never seen” within the next four years.

  • Donald Trump said of his decision to remove U.S. troops from the border of Syria, “We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters.” He said he had campaigned on ending wars. 

  • Joe Walsh was interviewed by Boston station WBZ. He discussed his criticisms of Trump and his past support for Trump. Asked whether Trump should be impeached, Walsh said, “Hell yes.”

  • Bill Weld published a piece in Foreign Affairs saying, “I am running against Trump for the Republican nomination for president in part to return the United States to the stable, bipartisan foreign policy that brought the United States through the Cold War.”

Flashback: October 9, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s campaign had aired around 5,500 TV ads in Iowa and New Hampshire—about one-quarter of ads in the 2016 presidential race to date from any source, including Democratic and Republican candidates, political parties, and super PACs, The Center for Public Integrity reported.


How did the 2010 elections affect the last redistricting cycle?

Trifecta control changed in 12 states in 2010 where state legislatures were responsible for redistricting

Eleven states are holding gubernatorial elections in 2020, and 44 are holding state legislative elections. In a majority of these states, the officials elected in 2020 will play a part in redrawing legislative maps governing elections for the subsequent 10 years.

The process by which legislative district boundaries are drawn is called redistricting. Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau delivers detailed population datasets to the states. Redistricting authorities in the states use these datasets to redraw congressional, state legislative, and even local district maps.

In 34 states holding state legislative elections in 2020, the legislatures themselves will play a significant role in that state’s 2020 redistricting. In eight of next year’s gubernatorial elections, the winner will have veto authority over the state legislative or congressional district plans approved by legislatures.

Redistricting authorities in the United States

Redistricting authorities in the United States

The 2010 election and redistricting cycle illustrate how elections can affect the redistricting process.

Trifecta control—where one party controls the governorship and both chambers of a state’s legislature— changed as a result of the 2010 elections in 12 states where legislatures were responsible for redistricting. Prior to these elections, seven of the 12 were Democratic trifectas and the rest had divided governments.

  • Six states changed from a Democratic trifecta to divided government—Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin.
  • Five states changed from divided government to a Republican trifecta—Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania.
  • One state—Maine—changed from a Democratic to Republican trifecta.

Of the 12 states which saw trifecta control change in 2010, three—Alabama, Indiana, and Ohio—are currently Republican trifectas. Three states have become Democratic trifectas—Colorado, Oregon, and Maine. The rest are divided governments.

Our briefing yesterday discussed which states have changed their redistricting processes since the 2010 cycle, recent federal and state court decisions regarding partisan gerrymandering, and the upcoming 2020 Census. If you weren’t able to attend, click here to view the recording. 

Learn more

Local Roundup 

At Ballotpedia, we provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as county officials and local ballot measures.

Here’s our weekly summary of the local news we’re covering. Email me to suggest some interesting local election coverage in your area—I’d love to hear about it!

Raleigh, North Carolina

Former at-large councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin finished first with 38% of the vote and attorney Charles Francis finished second with 31% in Raleigh’s mayoral general election October 8. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote in the six-candidate field, a runoff will be held on November 5 if Francis requests it. Second-place finishers have until October 17 to ask for a runoff.

Raleigh also held elections for all seven city council seats—two at-large and five district seats. Six of seven incumbents ran for re-election. Three incumbents won outright in the primary, one was defeated, and two incumbents—at-large councilman Russ Stephenson and District D councilwoman Kay Crowder—qualified for a runoff. Neither Stephenson nor Crowder has said whether they will request a runoff.

Birmingham, Alabama 

Two incumbent Birmingham City Council members appeared to win special elections October 8 and a third incumbent advanced to a November 19 runoff. The three incumbents had all been appointed by the council in 2018 to fill vacancies after the previous members had resigned. The winners of these elections will serve until all nine council seats will next be up for regular election in 2021.

Vote counting on election night was delayed because voting machine memory cards that contained results were inadvertently placed in sealed boxes with paper ballots in certain precincts. The results on those cards were tabulated after the sealed boxes were opened the following day after a judge’s order.

 Voters also appeared to approve three ballot measures renewing property taxes for the city’s public schools. Election night results showed all three measures ahead with about 90 percent of voters approving them. The total tax rate renewed by the propositions was $0.98 per $100 of taxable property for 25 years. Birmingham City Schools reported that the taxes generate about $32 million per year—14% of its annual budget. The taxes were last approved in 1991 and were set to expire in September 2021.

Quiz: How many Louisiana state legislative seats switched partisan control in 2015?

Our Brew story Tuesday previewing Louisiana’s October 12 state legislative primary elections—happening alongside the gubernatorial and other state executive primaries—said that contested elections will be held in 94 seats this year, more than either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles. There were 70 contested state legislative elections in 2015 and 81 in 2011.

Louisiana voters will elect all 144 members of the state legislature—39 state Senators and 105 state Representatives—using what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates appear on the ballot, regardless of party. Any candidate that receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote wins the election outright. If not, a general election will be held for the top two finishers Nov. 16.

This caused me to wonder—and quiz our Brew readers—how many Louisiana state legislative seats switched partisan control in 2015?

A.  3 →
B.  5 →
C.  8 →
D.  11 →

California had the fewest propositions this decade in the state’s history

This decade featured the fewest California ballot propositions in the state’s history

Since California has finalized its 2019 general election ballot, I wanted to share the results of our analysis of the number of ballot measures in the state this decade. 

  • Between 2010 and 2019, there were 69 statewide ballot measures in California, which means this decade featured the fewest number of measures since voters adopted the initiative process in 1911. 
  • The number of citizen-initiated measures—51—was the third-most over the previous 11 decades.
  • Over the last ten years, the state legislature passed fewer constitutional amendments, referred statutes, and general obligation bonds decided by voters. 

After peaking at 142 ballot measures in the 1970s, the number of ballot measures appearing on the ballot in California has decreased each decade. The average decade featured 116 ballot propositions, of which 39 were citizen-initiated.

In 1912, California voters decided the first citizen-initiated measures. Since then, there have been 1,271 ballot measures. Of those, 428—or 34%—were put on the ballot through citizen petitions which came either through the initiative or the veto referendum process.

The approval rate for all ballot measures in California—citizen-initiated measures and legislative referrals—from 1912 to 2019 is 57%. The approval rate for citizen initiatives during this time is 36%. 

California propositions by decade

Due to turnout in California’s 2018 gubernatorial election—which determines the number of signatures required for the two successive general elections—signature requirements increased by 70.3%. During the next two cycles—2020 and 2022—citizen-initiated measures will require the largest number of signatures to make the ballot in the state’s history. An initiated constitutional amendment will require 997,139 valid signatures and an initiated statute or veto referendum will require 623,212 valid signatures. 

Learn more

Louisiana’s 94 contested legislative elections this fall outpaces 2011 and 2015

Louisiana voters head to the polls October 12 (yes, this Saturday) to cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries. There are 94 contested legislative elections this year — more than there were in either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles.

There are 11 state Senate and 39 state House races that are uncontested in 2019, which is less than the number in the last two election cycles. In 2015, 21 Senate and 53 House races had a single candidate, while in 2011, 20 Senate and 43 House races had one candidate. In addition to elections for governor, six other statewide executive offices, and eight seats on the state board of education, Louisiana voters will elect all 39 members of the state Senate and 105 representatives in the state House. These are the first state legislative elections since 2015.  

Louisiana uses what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates in any race appear on the ballot Oct. 12—regardless of party. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the primary vote. If not, then a general election for the top two finishers will be held Nov. 16.

Here’s how many races were decided in the primary versus the general election in the last two cycles:

  • There were 18 contested elections for state Senate seats in 2015. Fourteen races were decided in the primary and four in the general election. 
  • There were 19 contested state Senate elections in 2011—with 15 races decided in the primary and four in the general election.
  • Fifty-two state House seats featured contested elections in 2015 with 37 races decided in the primary election and 15 in the general election.
  • Of the 62 contested state House elections in 2011, 41 were decided in the primary election and 21 in the general election.

Republicans currently hold a 25-14 majority in the state Senate. There are 60 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and five independents—with one vacancy in the state House. Heading into the elections, Louisiana is under a divided government; Gov. John Bel Edwards is Democratic while Republicans control both legislative chambers.

Click the link below to learn more about Louisiana’s 2019 elections.


Warren leads Democratic presidential candidates in Ballotpedia pageviews for second consecutive week

As part of our coverage of the presidential race, we track and report the number of views the candidates’ 2020 presidential campaign pages receive to show who is getting our readers’ attention. 

For the week ending Oct. 5, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 3,071 pageviews, more than any other Democratic candidate. This was the second consecutive week Warren’s page received the most pageviews among the Democratic field. 

Andrew Yang’s page had the second-most pageviews during this week and Joe Biden’s page was third.  The only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews last week than the week before was Tom Steyer, whose pageviews increased by 33.6%.

Andrew Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews among Democratic presidential candidates in 2019 with 124,790. He is followed by Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Warren. Those five candidates have each had more than 100,000 pageviews this year.

See the full data on all presidential candidates below.


Amy Klobuchar raised $4.8 million in Q3 2019



Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

October 8, 2019: Amy Klobuchar’s campaign raised $4.8 million last quarter. Next Tuesday’s 12-candidate Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio, will be the largest single primary debate ever.


In the past century, which presidential election had the highest estimated voter turnout?

Notable Quote of the Day

“One thing we can say for sure is that something has changed in the race in the wake of Sanders’ heart attack. The burden of proof has now shifted directly to Sanders and, to a slightly lesser extent, Biden and Warren. Rather than their opponents needing to find some non-tacky way to raise the age question, that trio now has to find ways to address voter concerns about it. Which is a subtle but important shift — particularly given that it is very hard to ask questions about whether candidates are too old without getting major blowback.”

—Chris Cillizza, CNN


  • The next Democratic primary debate is in one week on Tuesday, October 15. Twelve candidates will be on stage, making it the largest single presidential primary debate ever. Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer are the only two candidates who will participate that did not qualify for the September debate. The event takes place at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and Marc Lacey will moderate. 
  • Michael Bennet campaigned in New Hampshire, canvassing neighborhoods with a local school board candidate.
  • Joe Biden released a higher education proposal on Tuesday that would guarantee two years of free community college or technical training.
  • Cory Booker campaigned in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, part of a four-day swing through the state. He spoke at a climate change forum in Cedar Rapids and a town hall in Iowa City.
  • Pete Buttigieg called for an end to the war in Afghanistan Monday, on the 18th anniversary of the beginning of the war.
  • Julián Castro visited a refugee camp across the border from Brownsville, Texas, where he criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
  • Gabbard held a town hall in Fairfield, Iowa.
  • Kamala Harris campaigned in Des Moines, Ames, and Ankeny, attending a story time event at an elementary school and a town hall.
  • Amy Klobuchar announced $4.8 million in fundraising for the third quarter of 2019. That figure is more than her $3.9 million from Q2 but less than her $5.2 million from Q1.
  • Beto O’Rourke appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered on Monday.
  • Joe Sestak appeared on WMUR’s The Trail podcast. He discussed his foreign policy experience among the Democratic primary field.
  • Steyer released an economic plan calling for a $15 minimum wage, repealing the Trump tax cuts, and implementing a 1 percent wealth tax on individuals worth more than $32 million. His plan also includes congressional term limits and repealing Citizens United, which Steyer said would limit corporate power in the U.S. economy.
  • Elizabeth Warren released a plan that she says would “strengthen the integrity and impartiality of the federal judiciary.” It calls for a new recusal process, banning judges from holding stock, and requiring written explanations of recusal decisions from Supreme Court Justices.
  • Marianne Williamson spoke to supporters in Claremont, New Hampshire. She spoke about having a referendum to require one year of national service for adults under 30 and her plans to create a U.S. Department of Peace.
  • Andrew Yang appeared at Rich Brian’s The Sailor Tour in New York City.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: October 8, 2015

CNN Business detailed then-candidate Donald Trump’s (R) efforts to prevent the use of his trademarked phrase “Make America Great Again” on merchandise sold by vendors other than his official campaign website.


Warren raised $24.6 million in third quarter

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

October 7, 2019: Elizabeth Warren raised $24.6 million in the third quarter of 2019. Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh disagreed on impeachment during an appearance on CNN.

There are six new candidates running since last week, including one Republican and one member of the Green Party. In total, 886 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“As the 2020 election season ramps up, two global events beyond President Trump’s control threaten to be decisive in determining the U.S. economic environment in which he will be fighting that election. The first is the manner in which the United Kingdom might leave the European Union. The second is whether the political crisis in Hong Kong can be resolved without mainland China sending in troops to quell the island’s political unrest.”

—Desmond Lachman, The Hill


  • Seven Democratic candidates spoke at the Charleston Democratic Party’s Blue Jamboree on Saturday: Michael BennetSteve BullockJohn DelaneyTulsi GabbardKamala HarrisTom Steyer, and Andrew Yang.
  • Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing what he called Trump’s abuses of power.
  • Cory Booker campaigned in Decorah, Iowa, on Sunday. He met with Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand.
  • Bullock announced $2.3 million in fundraising for the third quarter of 2019. According to the campaign, it doubled its number of individual contributions, and the average online contribution was $24.
  • Pete Buttigieg released his prescription drug plan in a Boston Globe opinion piece on Monday. 
  • Julián Castro appeared on NPR’s Off Script series, speaking about impeachment, Castro’s early-state polling performance, and whether Castro would consider running as a vice-presidential candidate.
  • Delaney appeared on Newsy Tonight on Friday. He discussed healthcare, student loan debt, and climate change.
  • Gabbard appeared at the “Pints & Politics” event hosted by the Palmetto Brewing Company in Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday.
  • Harris held a town hall at Iowa State University on Sunday.
  • Amy Klobuchar spoke on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and discussed the U.S. House impeachment inquiry into Trump.
  • Beto O’Rourke attended a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday. He also appeared on NPR’s Off Script series.
  • Bernie Sanders released a campaign finance proposal. He said he would replace the Federal Election Commission with a law enforcement agency and prevent party conventions and inauguration ceremonies from corporate sponsorship.
  • Joe Sestak announced that he would walk across New Hampshire this month. In 2015, he walked 422 miles across Pennsylvania as part of the launch of his U.S. Senate bid.
  • South Carolina state Rep. Jerry Govan joined the Steyer campaign as a senior adviser. Govan is chairman of the South Carolina’s Legislative Black Caucus.
  • Elizabeth Warren announced $24.6 million in fundraising for the third quarter of 2019. This gave her the second-highest fundraising among Democratic candidates for the quarter, trailing Bernie Sanders by $0.7 million.
  • Marianne Williamson spoke in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday at the American Descendants of Slavery conference.
  • Rolling Stone published a summary of the 2020 Yang campaign, including his key staff hires, polling, fundraising, and online following.


  • Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Sanford said that any impeachment process should be more formalized than it is currently, while Walsh called Trump a traitor and called for impeachment to move forward. 
  • Donald Trump’s campaign announced that it would spend $1 million to air ads critical of Biden in early primary states.
  • Bill Weld told CNN that he supports impeaching Donald Trump.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: October 7, 2015

The Washington Post published an analysis of Gallup’s decision not to do horserace polling in 2016. This was a departure from the 2008 and 2012 election cycles when Gallup published daily national polls during the primary and general elections.


Where will RCV be in November 2019?

Ranked-choice voting round-up: the state of play heading into November

On Nov. 5, voters in New York City will decide on a city charter amendment that would, if adopted, establish ranked-choice voting (RCV) for municipal primary and special elections beginning in 2021. If approved, the amendment will make New York the largest city in the nation to use RCV for local elections.

What municipalities have enacted, or are set to enact, RCV in 2019? The following cities either have used or will use RCV for the first time as part of their 2019 election cycles: Eastpointe, Michigan; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Payton, Utah; St. Louis Park, Minnesota; and Vineyard, Utah.

How many jurisdictions have adopted RCV? On the map below, states shaded in blue and gold contain jurisdictions that have adopted RCV as part of their election processes. States shaded in yellow either have implemented or will implement RCV this year. States shaded in blue have adopted, but not yet implemented, RCV. To date, 21 jurisdictions (20 municipalities and one state, Maine) have adopted RCV and have either begun using it or are scheduled to begin using it in a coming election cycle. Another seven jurisdictions (six municipalities one state, Utah) have adopted legislation providing for the prospective use of RCV, although none mandate its use.

Ranked-choice voting map

What other noteworthy developments involving RCV have occurred this year? Maine is expected to use RCV in the 2020 presidential election, making it the first jurisdiction to do so. On Sept. 6, Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) announced she would take no immediate action on legislation providing for the use of RCV in presidential elections. Instead, Mills signaled she would allow LD1083 to become law without her signature in January. As a result, the law will not take effect in time for the March 3 primaries, but it will be in effect for the 2020 general election.

According to FairVote, a group that advocates for the expanded use of RCV, the following presidential preference primaries and nominating caucuses will incorporate RCV in 2020:

  • Nevada: Early voters in Democratic caucuses in February 2020
  • Hawaii: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
  • Alaska: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
  • Kansas: All voters in Democratic primary in May 2020
  • Wyoming: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020 

Redistricting in North Carolina: litigation update

On Sept. 27, a group of 14 registered Democratic voters in North Carolina filed a suit in state superior court alleging that the state’s congressional district plan is an illegal partisan gerrymander under the state constitution.

This lawsuit comes after a three-judge panel of the state superior court struck down North Carolina’s state legislative district plan for impermissible partisan gerrymandering. In that ruling, handed down on Sept. 3, the court held that the maps “do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting. It is not the free will of the people that is fairly ascertained through extreme partisan gerrymandering. Rather, it is the carefully crafted will of the map drawer that predominates.” The court ordered lawmakers to draft remedial maps.

On Sept. 17, one day before the court-mandated deadline, the state legislature adopted remedial House and Senate maps and submitted them to the court. The remedial House map can be accessed here. The remedial Senate map can be accessed here. In a court filing dated Sept. 27, the plaintiffs in the original suit objected to 19 remedial state House districts. They did not object to any of the remedial state Senate maps. On Oct. 4, attorneys for Republican lawmakers submitted a brief in response to these claims. The court has yet to rule on the viability of the remedial maps.

Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills

The maps below show which states are considering redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems legislation. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Redistricting legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Redistricting legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Electoral systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Electoral systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Primary systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Primary systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019

Join us tomorrow to talk about redistricting!

Register for tomorrow’s free briefing on upcoming redistricting

The official start of the 2020 Census is less than six months away—on April 1, 2020. Upon completion of the census, each state will draft and enact new district maps for the nation’s 435 congressional districts and 7,383 state legislative seats across 99 chambers.

We’re holding a free briefing tomorrow—on October 9 at 11 a.m. Central Time—to discuss how the census affects redistricting and recent news developments ahead of this important process. Among the topics the webinar will focus on are:

  • The different methods each state employs to redraw legislative districts and how upcoming elections may affect them,
  • Decisions by federal and state courts—including the U.S. Supreme Court—that have influenced current and future district boundaries.
  • Where and how the adoption of independent redistricting commissions in certain states has affected the process.

Redistricting will be a prominent topic in the months and years ahead, so you won’t want to miss this interesting webinar about what’s ahead. Click the link below to reserve your spot, and if you can’t attend live, we’ll send you an email with a link to the recording after it’s happened.

Register here!

Gubernatorial salaries ranged from $70,000 to $201,680 in 2018 

The salary of federal officials like the president, vice president, and members of Congress are set by law. The salary of the president was established at $400,000 in 2001 and cannot be changed during a current president’s term in office. The salaries of other federal officials were established in 1989 by the Government Salary Reform Act, which provides for automatic annual increases tied to a cost of living index.

The salaries of state governors are typically determined by a state’s constitution or statute. In 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) had the highest salary of the 50 state governors. Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) was the lowest paid. The average gubernatorial salary across all states was $143,270 in 2018—a 2.4% increase over 2017—according to figures published in the Council of State Governments’ 2019 Book of States.

The five governors with the highest base salaries:

  • California Governor Jerry Brown—$201,680
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—$200,000
  • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf—$194,850
  • Tennessee Governor Bill Lee—$194,112
  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker—$185,000

The five governors with the lowest base salaries:

  • Maine Governor Paul LePage—$70,000
  • Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper—$90,000
  • Arizona Governor Doug Ducey—$95,500
  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown—$98,600
  • Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer—$99,636

Map of gubernatorial salaries

In 17 states, gubernatorial salaries increased by, on average, $9,993, or 6.6%. Georgia had the largest salary increase of 25.6%. The salary of the governor in the remaining 33 states remained the same. In some states, gubernatorial salaries are automatically increased each year while in others, salary changes must be expressly passed by the state legislature.

 Most often, the salary portion of a governor’s compensation is defined by law, but additional benefits, such as insurance, official residence, and other work-related equipment may be established by state agencies, customs, or other methods. For instance, 45 states subsidize the governor’s travel and 44 states have official gubernatorial residences.


47% of Brew readers have attended a school board meeting

Last week’s What’s the Tea? question was part of a series of questions we’re asking Brew readers in the weeks ahead as to whether they’ve ever participated or done certain things related to politics and policy, such as attending or speaking at governmental meetings or signing candidate or initiative petitions. 

Have you attended a school board meeting poll

Ballotpedia covers school board elections in the 200 largest school districts by student enrollment and the school districts that overlap the 100 largest cities by population. In 2019, we’re covering elections for 542 school board seats in 188 school districts across 26 states. Collectively, these districts served 6,101,378 students during the 2016-2017 school year—approximately 11.7% of all public school students in the U.S.


SCOTUS begins 2019-2020 term

We #SCOTUS, so you don’t have to


The Supreme Court will hear arguments in five cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

In its October 2018 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 69 cases. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS will hear this week: 


October 7

  • In Kahler v. Kansas, James Kahler was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. According to Oyez, Kansas law prohibits a jury from considering mental disorders as a criminal defense “insofar as it shows ‘that the defendant lacked the mental state required as an element of the offense charged.'”

    On appeal, Kahler argued the prosecution violated his right to a fair trial. The Kansas Supreme Court rejected Kahler’s argument, affirming his conviction and sentence. Kahler appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Kansas law violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments and the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process guarantee.

    The issue: Do the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments permit a state to abolish the insanity defense?
  • Peter v. NantKwest concerns whether applicants challenging a patent rejection under Section 145 of the U.S. Patent Act (35 U.S.C. § 145) must pay attorneys’ fees for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

    Section 145 authorizes an applicant to challenge the PTO’s rejection of a patent application in federal district court. The law stipulates, “All the expenses of the proceedings shall be paid by the applicant.”

    The PTO rejected Dr. Hans Klingemann and NantKwest, Inc.’s, patent application. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the rejection. Klingemann challenged the rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 145 in federal district court. The district court and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the PTO’s patent rejection.

    The PTO filed a motion for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees under § 145, which the district court denied. On appeal, a divided Federal Circuit panel reversed the district court’s judgment. Sitting en banc, the Federal Circuit then vacated the panel’s decision and affirmed the district court’s initial rejection of the motion for attorneys’ fees reimbursement.

    The PTO appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the Federal Circuit’s en banc ruling “contravenes the ordinary meaning of ‘expenses’ and is inconsistent with Section 145’s history and purpose.”

    The issue: Whether the phrase “[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings” in 35 U.S.C. 145 encompasses the personnel expenses the USPTO incurs when its employees, including attorneys, defend the agency in Section 145 litigation.
  • In Ramos v. Louisiana, Evangelisto Ramos was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on a 10 to 12 jury verdict. He appealed his conviction to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, arguing his conviction by a non-unanimous jury violated his federal constitutional rights. The court of appeal affirmed Ramos’ conviction and sentence. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied review.

    The issue: Whether the Fourteenth Amendment fully incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous verdict?

October 8

  • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia is consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda.

    Gerald Bostock was an employee of Clayton County, Georgia. After his employment was terminated, Bostock sued the county for discrimination because of sexual orientation. Bostock argued his termination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal district court dismissed the case and, on appeal, the 11th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

    The issue: Whether discrimination against an employee because of sexual orientation constitutes prohibited employment discrimination “because of … sex” within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2.



  • In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC also concerns Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Aimee Stephens, an employee at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., was born biologically male. Stephens’ employment was terminated after she informed the funeral home’s owner that she would transition from male to female. Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which charged the funeral home with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted summary judgment to the funeral home. On appeal, the 6th Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and granted summary judgment to the EEOC.

    The issue: Whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) sex stereotyping under Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins.


Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the upcoming dates of interest in October:

  • October 7: 
    • SCOTUS will hear arguments in three cases.
    • SCOTUS will release orders.
  • October 8: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • October 11: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

SCOTUS trivia

When does the U.S. Supreme Court’s yearly term begin?

  1. Always on October 1
  2. Always on October 7
  3. The first Monday in October
  4. Whenever the justices determine summer is over and decide to reconvene

Choose an answer to find out!

Federal court action


The Senate has confirmed six nominees since our September 9 issue. 

The Senate has confirmed 152 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—105 district court judges, 43 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.


President Trump announced 23 new Article III nominees since our September 9 edition.

The president has announced 222 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Federal judicial nominations by month chart


The federal judiciary currently has 107 vacancies. As of publication, there were 40 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, an additional 13 judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status during Trump’s first term.

For more information on judicial vacancies during Trump’s first term, click here.

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee did not report any new nominees out of committee since our September 9 edition.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count, published at the start of each month, monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, if you prefer, we also maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.

Court in the spotlight

In each issue of Bold Justice, we highlight a federal court you should know more about. Right now, we’re taking a closer look at the 94 U.S. District Courts. The district courts are the general trial courts of the U.S. federal court system.

There is at least one judicial district for each state, and one each for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  

In this edition,  we’re placing a spotlight on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Eastern District of New York has original jurisdiction over cases filed in the following counties in the eastern part of the state of New York.

  • Kings County,
  • Queens County,
  • Richmond County,
  • Nassau County, and
  • Suffolk County.

Decisions of the court may be appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Eastern District of New York has 15 authorized judgeships. There are currently five vacancies. The breakdown of current active judges by appointing president is:

  • Barack Obama (D): Six judges
  • George W. Bush (R): Four judges

A record number of Appeals Court confirmations

The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Monday, October 7, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Trump has appointed the third-most federal judges at this point in his presidency in the last 100 years
  2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel upholds net neutrality repeal 
  3. Voters in Memphis, Tennessee, approve sales tax for public safety officer benefits

Trump has appointed the third-most federal judges at this point in his presidency in the last 100 years

Three years into his presidency, Donald Trump has appointed 152 Article III federal judges through October 1. Going back through history to the Theodore Roosevelt administration, only two previous presidents—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—appointed more judges at the same point during their first term. Of these, 43 were federal appeals court judges—the most among this group of presidents. 

Presidents appoint Article III federal judges for what can be life terms that must also be confirmed by the Senate. These include judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeal, U.S. District Courts, and the Court of International Trade. 

From the Theodore Roosevelt administration to the present, the average number of presidential judicial appointments through Oct. 1 of their third year in office is 86.5.

Table of judicial appointments by president

Here are some other insights regarding judicial appointments through this point:

  • The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. William Taft (R) appointed the most—five. Trump has appointed 2 justices—Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—so far.
  • The median number of U.S. Court of Appeals appointees is 18. Trump has appointed 43—which is 24% of the 179 judgeships on the appeals courts. The next most was Jimmy Carter, who appointed 36. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed the fewest with five each. 
  • The median number of U.S. District Court appointees is 58. Clinton appointed the most with 135, and Theodore Roosevelt appointed the fewest with 10. Trump has appointed 105 district court judges so far. Those appointments make up 16 percent of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel upholds net neutrality repeal 

Speaking of federal courts, let’s turn to a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. A three-judge panel of this court upheld the FCC’s 2018 repeal of net neutrality rules last week—on October 1—but struck down the agency’s preemption of state and local net neutrality regulations. Let’s back up a bit to put this ruling in context.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established net neutrality—which is the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally—through an order issued in February 2015. These rules classified ISPs as regulated public utilities that were prohibited from blocking or slowing web traffic or providing faster internet to certain content providers.

In February 2018, the FCC then repealed this order and ended the designation of ISPs as regulated public utilities. The FCC’s 2018 action also expressly preempted state and local authorities from imposing their own net neutrality rules or applying more stringent requirements on ISPs. 

Following that decision, attorneys general from 22 states and the District of Columbia asked the D.C. Appeals Court to reinstate the FCC’s net neutrality regulations in August 2018. They said that the repeal of net neutrality would harm consumers, public safety, and existing regulations and claimed the FCC was not authorized to preempt state and local laws on the matter.

Last week’s court ruling also directed the agency to consider how the repeal would affect public safety, broadband subsidies, and the regulation of cable pole attachments. The panel was comprised of two judges appointed by President Obama and a senior judge appointed by President Reagan.

The governors of six states—Montana, New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont—have issued executive orders requiring internet service providers that do business with each state to comply with net neutrality rules. Five of those states have Democratic governors and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is a Republican. Such orders only apply to ISPs that directly do business with state government agencies and do not apply to all ISPs in the state. Six states—California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington—have passed legislation relating to net neutrality. Five of those states were Democratic trifectas and one—Vermont—had divided government. Legislators in 29 states introduced net neutrality legislation during 2019.

Voters in Memphis, Tennessee, approve sales tax for public safety officer benefits

In addition to re-electing Jim Strickland last week to another four-year term as mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, voters also approved an increase to the city’s sales tax. 

The measure increases the sales tax by 0.5%—to 2.75%— in order to fund health benefits and pensions for fire and police public safety officers to the levels provided in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Any additional revenue generated by the tax increase will be earmarked for roads and pre-kindergarten education. The sponsors of the initiative estimated the increase would provide $52 million in additional revenue annually with $34 million going toward health benefits. The new 2.75% local sales tax is the maximum rate allowed under Tennessee state law. The initiative was approved, 52.5% to 47.5%. 

This measure was put on the ballot through a successful initiative petition campaign driven by the Memphis Police Association and the Memphis Fire Fighters Association, which submitted about 140,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot in January. A total of 38,450 valid signatures were required to put the measure on the ballot. 

Local option sales taxes apply only to the first $1,600 of a single purchase in Tennessee. The 0.5% additional tax rate proposed by this referendum would therefore result in a maximum $8 increase in sales tax on the purchase of a single item. Now that the measure has been approved, the Memphis city council will have to give final approval of the tax increase in the 2020 city budget. 

Before this election, Memphis last increased its sales tax rate in 1984 from 1.5% to 2.25%.

Federal court considers case over refund of previously paid agency fees

Note: This story concerns a lawsuit following up on the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. The case that is the subject of this story has the same name but is distinct.

On September 20, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, a case involving the refund of agency fees paid to unions before the Supreme Court of the United States disallowed the compulsory collection of such fees in a 2018 ruling.

Who are the parties to the suit, and what is at issue? The plaintiff is Mark Janus, who was also the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME, the similarly named 2018 case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that compelling workers to pay fees to a union is an unconstitutional infringement of their free-speech and associational rights. The defendant is the American Federation of State, Court, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). In the present suit, Janus is seeking a refund of the fees he had been required to pay to AFSCME prior to the high court’s 2018 ruling. He points to Harris v. Quinn, a 2014 decision by the high court that struck down an Illinois statute compelling a specific class of home healthcare workers to pay fees to the Service Employees International Union. Janus claims that the high court’s ruling in Harris suggested the ultimate unconstitutionality of agency fees. He also argues that unions were not acting in good faith when they continued to collect agency fees and, therefore, should be held liable for refunds.

How did the lower court rule in this case? On March 18, Judge Robert Gettleman, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, ruled that public-sector unions cannot be required to refund agency fees paid to them before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus. Gettleman, who was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton, rejected the arguments put forth by Janus: “Defendants’ action [sic] were in accord with a constitutionally valid state statute. Nothing presented by plaintiff prevents application of that defense to defendant AFSCME. Defendant AFSCME followed the law and could not reasonably anticipate that the law would change.” Gettleman’s decision prompted the appeal that is presently being considered by the appellate panel.

What comes next? A decision is pending by the appellate panel, which comprises Judges Diane Wood, Daniel Manion, and Ilana Rovner. Wood, Marion, and Rovner were appointed by Presidents Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, respectively.

In other news

Earlier this week, we reported on Alaska’s newly announced opt-in membership policy for public-sector unions representing state employees. We now want to bring you up to speed on how public-sector unions in the state are reacting to the news.

Jake Metcalfe, president of the Alaska State Employees Association, which represents 4,930 members, told KTUU that the union would seek a temporary restraining order to bar enforcement of the September 26 order. On October 4, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller issued that order. Miller was appointed by Governor Sean Parnell, a Republican.

In response to this development, Metcalfe said, “Our position is the right position. The governor was trying to take rights away from his own employees and that’s never a good thing.”

Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills said, “We are disappointed with the ruling, though we will, of course, abide by the court’s order. The Attorney General continues to stand behind his opinion, and the state will continue to pursue the case to get final resolution on this important constitutional question.”

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map October 4, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart October 4, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart October 4, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.