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Two new states added—state legislative contested primaries up 30% compared to 2020

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 28, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Number of contested state legislative primaries is up 30% compared to 2020
  2. Here’s what’s on the ballot today
  3. A quick primer on New York’s primary elections

Number of contested state legislative primaries is up 30% compared to 2020

We are back with this week’s update on the elevated number of contested state legislative primaries throughout this election cycle. This week, we added New York and Wisconsin, bringing our total to 29 states that account for 3,661 of the 6,166 (59%) state legislative seats up for election this year.

There are 30% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 62% more Republican primaries and 18% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 9%.

A primary is contested when more candidates are running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Overall, eight states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 17 have Republican trifectas, and four have divided governments.

Of the 29 states in this analysis, 27 are holding partisan primaries. Two states—California and Nebraska—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in 10 states, decreased in 14, and remains the same in two. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 25 states and decreased in two. 

Use the link below to view these figures and additional state-specific statistics.

Keep reading 

Here’s what’s on the ballot today

Happy Election Day! Today, June 28, voters in five statesColorado, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah—will make their picks for this year’s state and congressional races. Plus, there’s a special U.S. House election in Nebraska and runoffs for various offices in Mississippi and South Carolina.

Here are some of the highlights:

Illinois: at least two U.S. House incumbents are guaranteed to lose in Illinois because of two incumbent vs. incumbent primaries. In the Chicago-area 6th District, Democratic Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman are facing off and, farther downstate, Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller are seeking their party’s nod in the 15th District.

Colorado: earlier this year, The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul wrote, “In virtually every major Republican primary race … voters will have a choice between a candidate or candidates who … believe the outcome of the last presidential election was fraudulent and those who don’t.” The topic has played a central role in two of the Colorado Republican Party’s primaries we’re watching, in particular—U.S. Senate and secretary of state—where voters will select nominees to challenge Democratic incumbents in November.

Mississippi: there are two Republican primary runoffs in Mississippi featuring incumbents. The primaries were on June 7, but since no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, there are runoffs in the 3rd District—between Rep. Michael Guest and Michael Cassidy—and 4th District—between Rep. Steven Palazzo and Mike Ezell.

Oklahoma: the state’s incumbent attorney general, John O’Connor (R), faces his first electoral test after Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed him to the position in 2021. Recent polling showed O’Connor at 28% behind challenger Gentner Drummond (R), a 2018 candidate for the office, with 41%. Thirty percent of respondents were undecided. 

New York: in another first, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) faces U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) in New York’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Hochul assumed office in 2021 following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Averages of two June polls showed Hochul at 56%, followed by Suozzi at 18%, and Williams at 9%, with 19% undecided.

Use the link below to view all of the races we will be covering, and be sure to check back later this week as we take a look at the results!

Keep reading 

A quick primer on New York’s primary elections

The primaries taking place in New York today, June 28, are the first of two statewide primaries this year. In May, a federal judge moved the primaries for the U.S. House and state Senate to Aug. 23 following lawsuits over the maps for those offices as part of the redistricting process.

That leaves primaries for state executive offices and the state’s 150 Assembly districts on the June ballot. The state is also holding a U.S. Senate election this year, but the Democratic and Republican primaries were canceled after only one candidate filed in each race—U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and Joe Pinion (R)—meaning they automatically advanced.

One unique feature of New York’s primaries is that the state allows fusion voting, where more than one political party can support a candidate. It is common for candidates to seek both major and third-party nominations. Under this system, candidates who lose one primary, but win another, can still appear on the general election ballot.

New York does not hold runoff elections. This means the candidate with the most votes in the primary—even if less than 50% of the total votes cast—advances to the general election.

If you have primaries coming up, use Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup to see what’s on your ballot and bring your choices to the polls with our My Vote app!

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Nearly $30 million raised among nine AGs

Welcome to the Monday, June 27, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Across nine states, attorneys general have collectively raised $48.4 million this election cycle
  2. A look at Utah’s June 28 elections 
  3. A look at Oklahoma’s June 28 elections

Across nine states, attorneys general have collectively raised $27.8 million this election cycle

Thirty states are holding attorney general elections this year. Let’s take a look at campaign finance numbers in nine of those states, where we partner with Transparency USA to provide detailed campaign finance data. 

In the current election cycle across nine states, attorneys general have collectively raised $27.8 million. Two attorneys general—Rob Bonta of California ($8.7 million) and Ken Paxton of Texas ($5.9 million)—have raised $5 million or more for re-election campaigns.

Figures from Virginia, which held an election for attorney general in 2021, are not included above. Jason Miyares (R) raised $7.4 million and spent $6.9 million during the 2021 campaign cycle. He defeated then-Attorney General Mark Herring (D) 50.4%-49.6%.

Here’s what the data show:

You can take a deeper dive into these fundraising figures by clicking on the links below:

Thirty states are holding attorney general elections this year. Of those 30 attorney general offices, Democrats hold 16 and Republicans hold 14. In 2018, the last time all 30 offices were up for election, Democrats gained control of four in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

Overall, Democrats hold 22 attorney general offices, while Republicans hold 26. 

This year, we plan to publish several hundred articles breaking down campaign finance numbers in the 12 states covered by Transparency USA: Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. To learn more about our partnership with Transparency USA, click below.

Keep reading

A look at Utah’s June 28 elections 

By the time July comes around, a majority of states will have held statewide primaries. In contrast to May and June, when states held primaries nearly every week, only Maryland will hold statewide elections in July. 

Let’s turn to this month’s final primaries. Five states will hold primaries on June 28—Colorado, Illinois, New York (state legislative districts and state executive offices only), Oklahoma, and Utah. Here’s a preview of what’s on the ballot in Utah and Oklahoma. 

Congress

Utah will hold elections for a U.S. Senate seat and all four U.S. House districts. Seven candidates are running in the Republican Senate seat, including incumbent Mike Lee (R). Lee first took office in 2011. One candidate, Kael Weston, is running in the Democratic primary. Three independent election forecasters consider the general election Solid Republican or Likely Republican

All four of Utah’s House districts are up for election. Republicans represent all four districts. Thirteen candidates filed to run across all four districts, including four Democrats and nine Republicans. All four incumbents are running for re-election, and all four face primary challengers. There are no contested Democratic primaries.

State

Utah voters will decide primaries for state treasurer and eight of the 15 seats on the Board of Education. Voters will also decide primaries for state Senate and state House

Fifteen districts in the state Senate are up for election. Republicans have a 23-6 Senate majority. Seventy-five districts in the House are up for election. Republicans have a 58-17 majority. Fifteen of the 82 Utah state legislators running for re-election this year—two Democrats and 13 incumbents—have contested primaries. 

Utah uses a unique convention-primary structure where candidates participate in party conventions before advancing to the primary. Conventions were held on April 23. Three incumbents were defeated in conventions this year: Reps. Stephen Handy (R), Douglas Sagers (R), and Steve Waldrip (R). This was the most state legislative incumbents defeated in Utah’s conventions since 2014.

In Utah, the primary candidate with the most votes wins—even if that candidate receives less than 50% of the total vote. Utah is one of 40 states without primary election runoffs. The state cancels uncontested primaries, and write-in candidates participate only in general elections, not primaries. 

Keep reading 

A look at Oklahoma’s June 28 elections

Now, over to Oklahoma’s June 28 primaries. If necessary, primary runoffs will be held Aug. 23.

Congress

Voters will decide primaries for two U.S. Senate seats and all five U.S. House districts. 

Oklahoma is the only state this cycle in which both its U.S. Senate seats are up for election. Longtime U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who took office in 1994, announced he would retire on Jan. 3, 2023, triggering a special election. The candidate who wins in the general election will serve the remainder of Inhofe’s term, which ends in 2027. Ten candidates are running in the special Republican primary. The special Democratic primary was canceled because Kendra Horn was the only candidate to file. The winner of the Republican primary will face Horn, Robert Murphy (L), and Ray Woods (I) in the November general election. 

Approximately one-third of U.S. Senate seats is up for election every two years. In 2020, Georgia held two U.S. Senate elections (both went to runoffs in January 2021). Before that, both of Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seats were up for election in 2018.   

Sen. James Lankford (R) is running in a regularly scheduled U.S. Senate election. Three candidates—Lankford, Joan Farr, and Jackson Lahmeyer—are running in the Republican primary. Six candidates—Arya Azma, Dennis Baker, Jason Bollinger, Jo Glenn, Madison Horn, Brandon Wade—are running in the Democratic primary. 

All five of Oklahoma’s U.S. House districts are on the ballot this year. Republicans represent all five districts. Twenty-eight candidates are running for Oklahoma’s five U.S. House districts, including five Democrats and 23 Republicans.

State

Oklahoma voters will decide primaries for a range of state executive offices, including governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Additionally, voters will decide primaries for 24 districts in the state Senate and all 101 districts in the state Assembly. 

Republicans have a 39-9 Senate majority and an 82-18 majority in the Assembly. Eighty-eight of the 125 districts up for election in Oklahoma in 2022 are uncontested, meaning voters in 70% of districts will have either only a Democrat or only a Republican on their general election ballots. This is both the largest number and highest rate of uncontested districts since 2014. 

In Oklahoma, primary candidates must get a majority of the vote to win. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the total vote, the two candidates with the most votes advance to an Aug. 23 runoff election. Oklahoma is one of 10 states that conduct runoff elections as part of their party nomination process.

Keep reading



ICYMI: Top stories of the week

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Another look at Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

On June 14, Mayra Flores (R) defeated Dan Sanchez (D), Rene Coronado (D), and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R), claiming for the GOP Filemon Vela’s (D) previous district. Vela resigned on March 31. Flores will serve the remainder of Vela’s term, which ends in January 2023. 

Flores defeated Sanchez, her closest challenger, 51% to 43.3%—a margin of 7.7 percentage points. Vela won the district in 2020 55.4% to 41.8%. That year, Democrats won 56 districts by margins smaller than Vela’s 13.6% margin of victory. 

This is the first time partisan control of a U.S. House district changed in a special election since Mike Garcia’s (R) May 2020 victory in California’s 25th Congressional District. The chart below shows all U.S. House elections in 2020 decided by margins of less than 20 percentage points.

Read more

Here’s where states have passed or enacted Juneteenth legislation

Juneteenth became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden (D) signed a bill making it the 11th federal holiday.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws observing Juneteenth. Texas, where Juneteenth originated, was the first state to do so in 1980. Currently, 18 states close state offices for Juneteenth and offer state employees paid time off.

Read more

Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report shows sustained interest in school board recall

In the first half of 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 152 recall efforts against 240 officials. For the second year in a row, school board members drew more recall petitions than any other group. One-third of officials who faced recall campaigns in the first half of 2022 were school board members. City council members—the officials who drew the most efforts from 2016 to 2020—accounted for 32% of officials targeted for recall in 2022. 

Read more

The percentage of state legislative open seats is at a decade-high

A decade-high 23% of state legislative seats up for election this year are open, meaning no incumbents are running. This elevated rate of open seats is similar to the last post-redistricting cycle, 2012, in which 22% of seats up for election in these 30 states were open.

Open seats typically occur when an incumbent leaves office. But in post-redistricting cycles it is also common to see open seats when incumbents are drawn into other districts, leaving their old districts open.

Read more

The latest on ballot measure certifications

Three new measures in two states were certified for the ballot last week, meaning voters will have a chance to weigh in on them in November:

Supporters have submitted signatures that are pending verification for nine initiatives in five states:

Read more



Election Legislation Weekly Digest: June 24, 2022

Here is our weekly round-up on election-related legislation. In it, you’ll find the following information: 

  • Noteworthy bills: Here, we identify and report on the contents and legislative status of noteworthy bills. 
  • Recent activity: Here, we report on the number of bills acted on within the past week. 
  • The big picture: Here, we look at the bills in the aggregate. 
    • Legislative status: How many bills have been introduced, voted upon, or enacted into law?
    • Concentration of activity: What states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity?
    • Partisan affiliation of sponsorship: How many bills have been sponsored by Democrats vs. Republicans? 
    • Subject: What subjects are most commonly addressed in the bills? 

Noteworthy bills

This part of our report highlights recent activity on specific noteworthy bills. A bill is noteworthy if it meets one or more of the following criteria: 

  • It has been enacted into law. 
  • It is poised to be enacted into law. 
  • It is the subject of significant debate in the legislature. 
  • It is the subject of significant commentary by activists, journalists, etc. 

NY S01046: This bill establishes new legal rights of action for vote suppression, vote dilution, voter intimidation, deception, and obstruction and lays out suggested court-ordered remedies (e.g., postponing election dates, extending voting hours, or adding polling locations). This bill authorizes the attorney general to issue subpoenas and hold fact-finding hearings to enforce the provisions of the bill. This bill applies to all elections, with exceptions carved out for school-district and library elections, the conduct of which is governed by the state’s Education Law. 

Legislative history and status: On May 31, the state Senate passed the bill 43-20, with Democrats casting all “yea” votes and Republicans casting all “no” votes. On June 2, the state House passed the bill 106-42, also along partisan lines. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the bill into law on June 20. 

Political context: New York is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Recent activity

Since June 17, 78 bills have been acted on in some way (a 13.0 percent increase as compared to last week’s total of 69 bills). These 78 bills represent 3.1 percent of the 2,519 bills we are tracking. Of these 78 bills, 35 (44.9 percent) are from states with Democratic trifectas, 19 (24.4 percent) are from states with Republican trifectas, and 24 (30.8 percent) are from states with divided governments. 

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks.

 

  • 20 bills were either introduced or saw pre-committee action (e.g., new sponsor added, subcommittee hearing scheduled, etc.). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 2.
    • Republican trifectas: 6.
    • Divided governments: 12.
  • 3 bills advanced from committee (or saw post-committee action). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 2.
    • Divided governments: 1.
  • 34 bills passed one chamber (or saw pre-adoption action in the second chamber). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 24.
    • Republican trifectas: 5.
    • Divided governments: 5.
  • 10 bills passed both chambers (or were acted on in some way after passing both chambers). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 5.
      • DE HB25: An Act To Amend Title 15 Of The Delaware Code Relating To Elections.
      • NY A07933: Includes individuals who do not identify exclusively as a binary gender in eligibility for party positions.
      • NY S00253: Relates to ballots where the express intent of the voter is unambiguous.
      • RI H6656: Mail Ballots.
      • RI S2118: Mail Ballots.
    • Republican trifectas: 5.
      • AZ HB2710: Registrations; counting procedures; observers; verification.
      • AZ HCR2015: Initiatives; supermajority vote; requirement.
      • NH HB1174: Relative to election challengers.
      • NH HB1567: Relative to the removal of election officials from office.
      • NH SB366: Requiring an audit of ballots cast in the 2022 primary and general election.
  • 9 bills were enacted. 
    • Democratic trifectas: 2.
      • HI SB2162: Relating To Ranked Choice Voting.
      • NY S01046: Relates to the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York; establishes rights of actions for denying or abridging the right of any member of a protected class to vote; provides assistance to language-minority groups; provides for preclearance of certain voting policies; makes related provisions.
    • Republican trifectas: 3.
      • NH SB405: Relative to fines and penalties for election law violations.
      • NH SB418: Relative to verification of voter affidavits.
      • SC S0202: Inspector General, definitions.
    • Divided governments: 4.
      • LA HB1065: Provides relative to notice of changes to polling places
      • LA SB144: Provides relative to hand delivery of absentee by mail ballots.
      • LA SB283: Provides relative to submission of redistricting plans to the secretary of state.
      • WI SJR101: Prohibiting the use of a donation or grant of private resources for purposes of election administration and specifying who may perform tasks related to election administration (first consideration).
  • 2 bills were vetoed. 
    • Divided governments: 2.

The map below visualizes the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week. 

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 2,519 election-related bills. This represents a marginal increase as compared to last week’s 2,518 bills. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Legislative status 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of the bills we are tracking. The following status indicators are used: 

  • Introduced: The bill has been pre-filed, introduced, or referred to committee but has not otherwise been acted upon.
  • Advanced from committee: The bill has received a favorable vote in committee. It has either advanced to another committee or to the floor for a vote. 
  • Passed one chamber: The bill has been approved by one legislative chamber.
  • Conference committee: Differing versions of the bill have been approved by their respective chambers and a conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the differences. 
  • Passed both chambers: The bill has cleared both chambers of the legislature. 
  • Enacted: The bill has been enacted into law, by gubernatorial action or inaction or veto override. 
  • Vetoed: The bill has been vetoed. 
  • Dead: The bill has been defeated in committee or by floor vote. 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of bills in Democratic and Republican trifectas, respectively. 

Concentration of activity

The map below visualizes the concentration of legislative activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been introduced. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of relevant bills. 

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

The pie chart below visualizes the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors.

The bar chart below visualizes the correlation between the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors and trifecta status (e.g., how many Democratic-sponsored bills were introduced in Democratic trifectas vs. Republican trifectas).



Decade-high rate of state legislative open seats

Welcome to the Friday, June 24, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. The percentage of state legislative open seats is at a decade-high
  2. The latest on ballot measure certifications
  3. Election preview—Illinois’ Republican gubernatorial primary

The percentage of state legislative open seats is at a decade-high

A decade-high 23% of state legislative seats up for election this year are open, meaning no incumbents are running. This is based on an analysis of 30 states where Ballotpedia has collected post-filing deadline data in 2022.

This elevated rate of open seats is similar to the last post-redistricting cycle, 2012, in which 22% of seats up for election in these 30 states were open.

Open seats typically occur when an incumbent leaves office. But in post-redistricting cycles it is also common to see open seats when incumbents are drawn into other districts, leaving their old districts open

When compared to 2012, these three states have the largest increase in the number of open seats this year:

  • Oregon: a 140% increase from 10 open seats to 24;
  • Pennsylvania: a 122% increase from 18 to 40; and,
  • Georgia: a 96% increase from 26 to 51.

These three states have the largest decrease in the number of open seats this year compared to 2012:

  • Utah: a 43% decrease from 14 open seats to eight;
  • New Mexico: a 41% decrease from 22 to 13; and,
  • North Carolina: a 37% decrease from 22 to 15.

Open seats can alter the makeup of state legislatures both in terms of politics and personality. Since no incumbents are present, newcomers to the chamber are guaranteed to win these seats. Open seats represent a baseline, but the number of newcomers can increase if incumbents lose in primaries or general elections.

There are four states—Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Idaho—where over one-third of the state legislature will be represented by newcomers based solely on the number of open seats.

Of these four, Arizona, Colorado, and Maine all have term limit laws, which can require incumbents to leave office after serving a maximum number of years. Maine had the largest number of term-limited incumbents in this group with 46, followed by Colorado with 13, and Arizona with nine.

In three states—Utah, Indiana, and South Carolina—less than 10% of the state legislature is guaranteed to newcomers based on open seats. None of these states have term limit laws.

Open seats are just one of the many primary competitiveness statistics Ballotpedia analyzes throughout the election cycle. Use the link below to view more information on primary competitiveness at all levels of government in 2022.

Keep reading 

The latest on ballot measure certifications

We’ve got another update on this year’s statewide ballot measure certifications! The last time we checked in on certified measures, on June 8, we reported 103 statewide measures certified for the 2022 ballot in 34 states. That number is now up to 108 measures in 35 states, 16 less than the average number certified at this point in other even-numbered years from 2010 to 2020.

Here’s an update on the most recent news from the world of ballot measures:

Three new measures in two states were certified for the ballot last week, meaning voters will have a chance to weigh in on them in November:

Supporters have submitted signatures that are pending verification for nine initiatives in five states:

From 2010 to 2020, the average number of statewide ballot measures certified in an even-numbered year was 164. By this time during those years, an average of 124 statewide measures had been certified for the ballot.

Use the link below to read more about this year’s statewide ballot measures. And to keep up with all things ballot measures, click here to subscribe to the State Ballot Measure Monthly!

Keep reading 

Election preview—Illinois’ Republican gubernatorial primary

With this week’s quiet primary scheduled behind us, we’ve got a busy Tuesday coming up on June 28 with five states holding primaries. Today, we’re taking a closer look at one of those primaries in particular: Illinois’ Republican gubernatorial race.

Six candidates are running for the Republican nod for governor of Illinois. State Sen. Darren Bailey and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin have led the field in fundraising and media coverage. Here’s a bit more on those candidates :

  • Bailey was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2020. In his campaign ads, he has highlighted his support of law enforcement and former President Donald Trump (R) and his opposition to the state’s current tax and spending structure.
  • Irvin was first elected mayor of Aurora, the state’s second-largest city, in 2017. His ads have highlighted his experience as a prosecutor, support for increasing police department budgets, and his economic record as mayor.

Both candidates have also emphasized their opposition to incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) who is seeking a second term.

Gary Rabine, Paul Schimpf, Max Solomon, and Jesse Sullivan are also running in the primary.

Donations and campaign ads have been a point of focus in the race. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Tina Sfondeles wrote, “Rather than on debate stages, the race is largely being played out via millions of dollars worth of competing TV campaign ads.” 

As of May 22, Bailey and Irvin had both received noteworthy individual campaign contributions, including $9 million to Bailey from businessman Richard Uihlein and $50 million to Irvin from hedge fund manager Ken Griffin.

Recent polling has shown Bailey in the lead followed by Irvin but with large percentages of undecided voters. Averages from three polls since the start of May show Bailey with 30% support followed by Irvin with 20%. Collectively, all other candidates have received 23% support and 27% remain undecided.

In Illinois, a candidate can win a primary with a plurality, rather than a majority, of the vote, meaning the winner is the candidate with the most votes regardless of whether he or she crosses the 50% threshold.

Illinois has had a Democratic governor since Pritzker defeated then-incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) 55-39% in 2018. In that race, the two candidates contributed a total of $240 million to their own campaigns, $172 million for Pritzker and $68 million for Rauner.

Two race forecasters rate the 2022 general election as Solid Democratic and one gives it a Likely Democratic rating.

Keep reading



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 28

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

June 23, 2022

In this issue: This week’s marquee primary results and responses to Eric Greitens’ new ad

Primary results roundup

Here are recent results from marquee elections we’ve been following.

Alabama U.S. Senate primary runoff: Katie Britt defeated Mo Brooks 63% to 37% on Tuesday. The pair advanced from a field of six candidates in the May 24 primary. Incumbent Richard Shelby (R), first elected in 1986, did not run for re-election. This is a solidly Republican seat.

Alabama’s 5th District primary runoff: Dale Strong defeated Casey Wardynski 63% to 37% on Tuesday. Mo Brooks has represented this district for more than a decade. Strong has served on the Madison County Commission since 2012.

Alaska’s special U.S. House primary: Sarah Palin (R), Nick Begich III (R), Al Gross (I), and Mary Peltola (D) were the top four finishers in Alaska’s special U.S. House primary—the first top-four congressional primary in U.S. history. 

Gross withdrew on Monday. The Division of Elections said Tuesday that fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney (R) would not advance to the Aug. 16 special general election because Gross withdrew fewer than 64 days before the general. Lawsuits are possible. The final ballot count was Tuesday, and the Division plans to certify results Saturday. 

Forty-eight candidates ran in the special primary. Unofficial results from the final ballot count for the top five candidates are below.

  • Palin (R): 27%
  • Begich (R): 19%
  • Gross (I): 13%
  • Peltola (D): 10%
  • Sweeney (R): 6%

Virginia’s 7th District: Yesli Vega defeated five other candidates, receiving 29% of the vote on Tuesday. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) is running in the redrawn 7th District. Vega serves on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and had endorsements from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), whom Spanberger defeated in the old 7th District in 2018. Three independent forecasters rate the general election as Toss-up, Lean Democratic, or Tilt Democratic

We’ve been tracking former President Donald Trump’s endorsements in primaries. After Tuesday’s elections, Trump’s endorsement record is 123-10 (92%). Two endorsees—Vernon Jones and Jake Evans—lost U.S. House primary runoffs in Georgia on Tuesday. 

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

At least four state legislators—all Republicans—lost in primary runoffs on June 21. Including those results, 111 state legislative incumbents have lost in primaries this year. This number will likely increase: 37 primaries featuring incumbents remain uncalled.

Across the 21 states that have held state legislative primaries so far this year, 5.4% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 21 states that have held primaries so far, five had Democratic trifectas, 13 had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments, with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 21 states, there are 2,650 seats up for election, 43% of the nationwide total.

Primary opponents criticize Greitens’ new campaign ad

Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens released a campaign ad Monday in which he carries a gun and tells viewers to get a “RINO hunting permit.” Greitens’ primary opponents and the state Fraternal Order of Police criticized the ad.

Greitens identifies himself in the ad as a Navy SEAL and says, “Today, we’re going RINO hunting.” Greitens and a group of armed men in military gear then break into a house and throw a flash grenade inside. Greitens says, “Join the MAGA crew, get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country.”

Facebook removed the video from its platform for violating its policies “prohibiting violence and incitement.” Twitter added a warning to the video, saying, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Other Senate GOP primary candidates in Missouri criticized the video.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long said the video was distasteful, adding, “[Missouri Attorney General Eric] Schmitt nor [U.S. Rep Vicky] Hartzler can beat him, but he may be able to beat himself. … The way to beat RINOs like Schmitt and Hartzler is at the ballot box.”

State Sen. Dave Schatz tweeted, “Completely irresponsible. That’s why I’m running. It’s time to restore sanity and reject this nonsense. Missouri deserves better.”

Hartzler said, “Eric Greitens is an abuser, a blackmailer, and less than ten years ago — a Democrat. … To be clear: The only RINO featured in Eric Greitens’ web video is himself.”

Greitens was governor of Missouri from 2017 to 2018, when he resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of campaign information. This year, Greitens’ ex-wife alleged that he abused her and one of their children. Greitens denied the allegations.

The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) said, “The creation and release of this video again demonstrates that Mr. Greitens does not possess the sound judgement necessary to represent the people of Missouri in the United States Senate.” The Missouri FOP has endorsed Schmitt in the primary.

Greitens said, “We just wanted to demonstrate with a sense of humor and with a sense of fun that we are going to take on RINOS.” Greitens said it was “entertaining to watch the faux outrage of all of the liberals and RINO snowflakes around the country and around the state.”

Twenty-one candidates are running in the Senate GOP primary on Aug. 2. In an Emerson College poll from early June, Greitens received 26% support, followed by Schmitt with 20%, Hartzler with 16%, and Long with 8%. Twenty-seven percent were undecided. The margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is not running for re-election. 

First Michigan gubernatorial poll post-Kelley arrest shows plurality undecided, Kelley among leading candidates

As we wrote last week, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested on June 9 on misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach. A poll the Detroit Free Press commissioned from June 10-13 showed 45% undecided, Kelley with 17%, Garrett Soldano with 13%, Kevin Rinke with 12%, and two others with 5% or less. The margin of error was +/- 4.9 percentage points.

A Target Insyght and Michigan Information and Research Service poll from late May showed 49% undecided. Kelley had 19%, Rinke 15%, Tudor Dixon 9%, and Soldano 6%. The margin of error was +/- 5 percentage points.

The primary is on Aug. 2.

Indiana Republicans nominate Diego Morales for secretary of state

Indiana Republican Party delegates nominated Diego Morales for secretary of state during the party’s state convention on June 18. Morales will run against Destiny Wells (D) and Jeff Maurer (L) in the general election. Four candidates competed for the nomination: Morales, incumbent Holli Sullivan, Paul Hager, and David Shelton.  

In Indiana, political parties nominate candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and attorney general at state party conventions.  

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) appointed Sullivan in 2021. The Indianapolis Star’s Kaitlin Lange wrote that “with some frustration within the Republican party over Holcomb’s handling of the pandemic and other policy choices, [Sullivan’s] ties to the establishment hurt her campaign more than they helped as she faced three other candidates. … [Morales] primarily garnered the support of the more conservative faction of the party, capitalizing on discontent with Holcomb and those associated with him.” 

According to the Associated Press’ Tom Davies, Morales said the 2020 presidential election was a scam. Brian Howey of Howey Politics Indiana wrote, “[Morales’] campaign says that he was misquoted … His campaign texted this statement from Morales: ‘I proudly voted for Trump twice, but Joe Biden was elected president in 2020 and legitimately occupies that office today. … There were a number of irregularities in that election, including the secretary of state in Pennsylvania changing election rules only 30 days before election day. Those kinds of actions are unacceptable.'”

According to Davies, Morales wants to shorten the early voting period, require proof of U.S. citizenship from newly registering voters, and create an election task force.

Competitiveness data: Colorado and Oklahoma

Colorado and Oklahoma hold primaries on June 28. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Colorado

Oklahoma

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 28

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

June 23, 2022

In this issue: Updates on Alaska’s special House primary and SEIU switches candidates in FL-20

Primary results roundup

Here are recent results from marquee elections we’ve been following.

Alaska’s special U.S. House primary: Sarah Palin (R), Nick Begich III (R), Al Gross (I), and Mary Peltola (D) were the top four finishers in Alaska’s special U.S. House primary—the first top-four congressional primary in U.S. history. 

Gross withdrew on Monday. The Division of Elections said Tuesday that fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney (R) would not advance to the Aug. 16 special general election because Gross withdrew fewer than 64 days before the general. Lawsuits are possible. The Division plans to certify results Saturday. 

Forty-eight candidates ran in the special primary. Unofficial results from the final ballot count for the top five candidates are below.

  • Palin (R): 27%
  • Begich (R): 19%
  • Gross (I): 13%
  • Peltola (D): 10%
  • Sweeney (R): 6%

Texas’ 15th runoff: A recount of votes in the May 24 runoff showed Michelle Vallejo defeating Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes. The Associated Press wrote that Vallejo’s victory “sets up a significant test this fall for progressive Democrats who backed her in the 15th Congressional District, one of two new U.S. House seats awarded to booming Texas after a decade of explosive growth driven by new Latino residents.”

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

At least four state legislators—all Republicans—lost in primary runoffs on June 21. Including those results, 111 state legislative incumbents have lost in primaries this year. This number will likely increase: 37 primaries featuring incumbents remain uncalled.

Across the 21 states that have held state legislative primaries so far this year, 5.4% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 21 states that have held primaries so far, five had Democratic trifectas, 13 had Republican trifectas, and three had divided governments, with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both legislative chambers. Across these 21 states, there are 2,650 seats up for election, 43% of the nationwide total.

SEIU endorses Cherfilus-McCormick over Holness in switch from 2021

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida chapter endorsed Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in Florida’s 20th Congressional District, where she’s in a rematch with several candidates who ran in the 2021 special Democratic primary. That includes Dale Holness, who the SEIU backed last year. Cherfilus-McCormick defeated Holness by five votes in the 2021 special primary

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Anthony Man wrote, “SEIU mobilizes lots of campaign workers, easily recognizable by their trademark purple shirts, and can provide money. In the final days of the 2021 special primary campaign, expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed the Service Employees International Union spent about $100,000 on behalf of Holness.”

Holness said when announcing his rematch bid for the district, “Families are hurting these days as the costs of everyday necessities — including housing, childcare, healthcare, gas, and groceries — continue to rise but wages fail to keep up. … Our communities deserve a champion with experience and follow-through to build a stronger, healthier future for all of us.” 

Cherfilus-McCormick said within her first 30 days in office, she cast important votes including for the COMPETES Act, which she said would contain inflation and “bolster American independence and self-sufficiency in manufacturing.” Cherfilus-McCormick said she is “the first Democrat of Haitian descent elected to Congress, and I am here to bring that voice and understanding and cultural competency of being a Caribbean, being a woman and representing a district full of minorities.”

Eight candidates are running in the Aug. 23 primary, five of whom ran in 2021.

SEIU Florida announced its endorsement as part of a slate of more than 60 candidates, including Charlie Crist in the gubernatorial primary.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez endorses Carlina Rivera in NY-10 primary

On June 16, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) endorsed New York City Council member Carlina Rivera in the Democratic primary for New York’s 10th Congressional District. Rivera is one of 17 candidates running in the Democratic primary. 

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D) represents the current 10th District. Due to redistricting, Nadler is running in the 12th District against Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-17) is running in the redrawn 10th District on a ballot that includes former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, and former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman.

Velázquez is the fourth current member of Congress to endorse in the race so far. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) endorsed Jones in late May.

Velázquez said, “I’m sorry, why didn’t [Jones] run in the district that is a 9-plus Biden district?” The New York Times said she was referring to the 17th District. 

Jones’ campaign spokesman Bill Neidhardt said, “Rep. Jones refused to primary fellow Black progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman when his residence was drawn into Bowman’s district. … He also wanted to avoid a member-on-member primary with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney,” who is running in the redrawn 17th.

New York’s U.S. House primaries are on Aug. 23.

Updates in IL-03: Satellite spending and candidate surveys 

Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District primary has seen around $2 million in satellite spending supporting two candidates: state Rep. Delia Ramirez and Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas. 

VoteVets Action Fund has spent nearly $1 million supporting Villegas and opposing Ramirez. A recent ad criticized Ramirez for joining a statement in 2020 calling to “defund the Chicago Police Department immediately.” 

Ramirez said in April, “I’m not the ‘Defund the police’ candidate. I actually helped secure $200 million for violence prevention and pension benefits for police and firefighters.”

The satellite spenders supporting Ramirez include the Working Families Party and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. The Working Families Party has run ads saying Ramirez will support Medicare for All and abortion access and that Villegas helped send COVID relief funds to the Chicago police. 

All four primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

  • Juan Aguirre: “Anti-Corruption legislation as well as legislation to end corporate America’s [exploitation] of the working class AND the nursing profession.”
  • Iymen Chehade: “[Chehade] proposes an ambitious Marshall Plan for the United States, inspired by the post-World War II rebuilding of Europe.”
  • Delia Ramirez: “Affordable Housing – Delia grew up volunteering at her church’s homeless shelter and became the Director of a homeless services agency at 21 years old.”
  • Gil Villegas: “Public Safety … Families have a right to feel safe and secure in their own neighborhood, but crime is completely out of control. Enough is enough.” 

Click here to read the candidates’ full responses to this and other questions.

The district was drawn as a plurality-Latino district after the 2020 census. Rep. Marie Newman (D), the old 3rd District’s representative, is running in the 6th District. The primaries are on June 28.

United Democracy Project gets half of May donations from major GOP donors

Politico Weekly Score wrote that the “second-biggest-spending group in Democratic primaries this year was financed last month by major Republican megadonors,” referring to United Democracy Project and donors Paul Singer and Bernard Marcus. The super PAC, affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), reported $1 million in donations each from Singer and Marcus in May.

United Democracy Project has spent exclusively in U.S. House Democratic primaries this year, including Texas’ 28th (opposing Jessica Cisneros) and Ohio’s 11th (supporting Shontel Brown and opposing Nina Turner). The group recently released an ad opposing former Rep. Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District primary, which takes place on July 19.

The United Democracy Project website says the group is “comprised of American citizens—Democrats, Republicans and Independents—united in the belief that America’s partnership with our democratic ally Israel benefits both countries.”

According to Open Secrets, the highest-spending group in this cycle’s Democratic primaries so far is Protect Our Future PAC at $19.9 million. United Democracy Project has spent $9.9 million. The third-highest is Democratic Majority for Israel at $5.8 million.   

Competitiveness data: Colorado and Oklahoma

Colorado and Oklahoma hold primaries on June 28. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Colorado

Oklahoma

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report shows sustained interest in school board recall

Welcome to the Thursday, June 23, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report shows sustained interest in school board recall
  2. An update on this week’s battleground primary results
  3. New York court overturns state Assembly map for 2024; rules existing boundaries be used for this year’s elections

Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report shows sustained interest in school board recall

In the first half of 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 152 recall efforts against 240 officials. These figures represent an 8% drop in recall efforts from 2021, when we tallied 165 recall efforts against 263 officials by midyear. In comparison, the highest number of recall efforts we have tracked by midyear was 189 in 2016. The lowest was 72 in 2019.

For the second year in a row, school board members drew more recall petitions than any other group. One-third of officials who faced recall campaigns in the first half of 2022 were school board members. City council members—the officials who drew the most efforts from 2016 to 2020—accounted for 32% of officials targeted for recall in 2022. 

For the first time since Ballotpedia started tracking this statistic in 2015, Michigan was the state with the most officials facing recall efforts in the first half of the year. Michigan saw 70 officials subject to a recall campaign, surpassing California, which had the most officials targeted for recall midway through the year from 2015 through 2021. 

In 2020, Ballotpedia began following recalls related to coronavirus and government responses to it. We have tallied 245 such efforts since 2020, including 27 efforts against 66 officials in the first half of 2022.

In this report, Ballotpedia also highlighted five noteworthy recall campaigns: the effort against Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D), the effort against San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, the effort against County Commissioner William Bunek (R) in Leelanau County, Michigan, and the efforts against members of the San Francisco school board in California and the Newberg school board in Oregon.

Keep reading

An update on this week’s battleground primary results

We covered elections in four states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, including statewide primaries in Virginia and statewide primary runoffs in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia.

Here’s a look at election results in the four races we identified as battlegrounds:

  • Katie Britt wins Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Alabama: Katie Britt defeated Mo Brooks in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Alabama, winning 63% of the vote to Brooks’ 37%. Britt, a former chief of staff to outgoing incumbent Richard Shelby (R), had endorsements from Shelby and former President Donald Trump (R). Brooks, a member of the U.S. House, had endorsements from U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
  • Dale Strong wins Republican nomination in AL-05: Dale Strong defeated Casey Wardynski in the Republican primary runoff in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. Strong had 63% of the vote to Wardynski’s 37%. Neither President Trump (R) nor incumbent Mo Brooks (R) endorsed in this race.
  • Wes Allen wins Republican nomination for Alabama Secretary of State: Wes Allen defeated Jim Zeigler in the Republican primary runoff for Alabama Secretary of State. Allen had 65% of the vote to Zeigler’s 35%.
  • Yesli Vega wins Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger: Yesli Vega defeated four other candidates to win the Republican nomination in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Vega had 29% of the vote to runner-up Derrick Anderson’s 24%. She will face incumbent Abigail Spanberger (D) in a general election that forecasters expect will be close.

As of writing, three incumbent state legislators had lost renomination in Arkansas’ primary runoffs and a fourth lost renomination in a primary runoff in Georgia. All four legislators were Republicans.

This year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 1,265 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 93 (7.3%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 18 of the 786 who filed for re-election (2.3%) have lost.

Keep reading 

New York court overturns state Assembly map for 2024; rules existing boundaries be used for this year’s elections

An appellate division of the New York Supreme Court ruled on June 10 that the state’s Assembly district boundaries adopted in February 2022 were invalid but should still be used for the 2022 legislative elections. The appellate division ruling determined that the Assembly district map was enacted in violation of the state’s constitutional redistricting process and that a New York City-based state trial court should oversee new boundaries for the 2024 elections.

New York enacted new state Senate districts on May 20 when Steuben County Surrogate Court Justice Patrick McAllister ordered the adoption of maps drawn by a court-appointed redistricting special master. McAllister had overturned the Senate district boundaries on March 31 for violating the state’s process for redistricting. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, upheld McAllister’s decision on April 27. On April 29, McAllister postponed New York’s primary elections for U.S. House and state Senate districts to August 23.

In 2014, New York voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing new redistricting procedures beginning in 2020. This amendment created a 10-member commission to adopt redistricting plans, with state legislative leaders appointing eight members of the commission and the commission itself selecting the other two members. The amendment required that the legislature reject two separate sets of redistricting plans before amending the commission’s proposals and that districts not be drawn to favor or disfavor candidates or parties. In prior redistricting cycles, the legislature was responsible for its own redistricting.

The commission voted 5-5 on January 3, 2022, on two sets of proposals for legislative redistricting, so it submitted both sets of proposals to the legislature. Both the state Assembly and state Senate voted down the map proposals on January 10, and the commission did not submit a new set of maps to the legislature. On February 3, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed new state legislative district boundaries that the legislature had developed after the state Senate approved them 43-20 and the state Assembly approved them 120-27. 

In other recent redistricting-related developments, the Louisiana state legislature finished its special redistricting session on Friday without approving a new congressional map. A federal judge had given the state until June 20 to draw a new congressional map after finding the original draft unconstitutional because only one of the state’s six congressional districts was majority Black. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States Friday requesting the court overturn the order and allow the original maps to stand.

Keep reading



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #18

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: the debate over arming teachers 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • U.S. Supreme Court rules in Carson v. Makin
  • Extracurricular: links from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

The debate over allowing teachers to carry firearms

Following the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed, politicians and commentators have proposed policies intended to make schools safer. 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed legislation June 13 to make it easier for teachers to carry firearms in school safety zones. This section will examine the debate over arming teachers and whether it would make schools safer. 

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board writes that armed teachers would be ineffective against school shooters and training would prove impractical. The Editorial Board also says keeping guns in schools could create dangerous situations and add daily stress to teachers trying to keep classroom guns out of students’ hands.

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker compares current school shooting procedures to Cold War nuclear drills where students were made to hide under their desks. Parker writes that it’s better to allow teachers to arm themselves than be at the mercy of a school shooter. 

Editorial: Don’t expect teachers to be substitute police officers when the shooting starts | The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times

“Fans of arming teachers are ignoring the teachers themselves, who for the most part don’t want anything to do with guns in the classroom. Several states, including Texas, already allow individual school districts to permit teachers to carry guns. Only 300 teachers in Texas have done so — less than one in a thousand. … Most teachers believed the situation would make schools more dangerous. … Let’s not forget that police have bulletproof vests to protect them when encountering people with guns. Teachers, unless they are remarkably quick, agile and terrific shots, would be vulnerable to the first bullet fired as well as the daily stress of trying to ensure that students don’t have access to the classroom gun.”

Opinion | Yes, it has come to this. It’s time to arm teachers. | Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post

“I’m not inclined to hide under a desk waiting for the Soviets to launch a nuke, as schoolchildren were made to do in the ‘60s — or today, hoping the bullets from an AR-15 won’t find my quivering hide. I’d rather take my chances defending myself — and any children in my care — than die watching my babies being mowed down by a homicidal maniac. … I’m not a teacher, but if I were, I’d want to have ready access to a gun. Some teachers, God bless them, aren’t up to such a challenge and shouldn’t be asked to be. Others are willing and able. In the absence of anyone else, why not allow them to defend our children? None of these policies should be necessary, but, clearly, we’re not doing enough. Until we can figure out broad, societal remedies short of cloning my father — a dicey proposition, I’ll admit — I’d feel better knowing my grandchildren were in a school where someone knows how to stop a killer.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

Election results from the past week

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days   

Districts in our scope in Texas held general runoff elections on June 18. Districts in our scope in Georgia and Alabama held general runoff elections on June 21. Click the links below to see results. 

Texas

We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 18.

Georgia

We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 21.

Alabama

We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 21.

Upcoming school board elections

Districts in Utah are holding primary elections on June 28. Districts in Maryland are holding primaries July 19.

Utah

We’re covering primary elections in the following districts on June 28.

Maryland

We’re covering the following school board elections on July 19.

School board candidates per seat up for election

Since 2018, we’ve tracked the ratio of school board candidates to seats up for election within our coverage scope. Greater awareness of issues or conflicts around school board governance can result in more candidates running for each office. Click here to see historical data on this subject.  

This year, 2.34 candidates are running for each seat in the 968 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed. The 2.34 candidates per seat is 18.7% more than in 2020.

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Carson v. Makin

On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in Carson v. Makin, one of two cases with implications for public education that were set to be decided before the justices begin their summer recess in late June. The other case, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, is still pending as of this writing. 

Today, we’ll look at what was at stake in Carson v. Makin and what the Court’s ruling means for public education. We’ll also preview Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, so you know what to expect when the Court issues its opinion in that case. 

Carson v. Makin concerns public education funding and religious education, while Kennedy v. Bremerton School District concerns religious expression at a public school and the Constitution’s establishment clause.

Click the headings below to read more of our coverage of each case. Click here to see our full coverage of the Court’s 2021-2022 October term. 

Carson v. Makin

Carson v. Makin concerned public education funding and religious education. On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Maine violated the Constitution when it excluded private religious schools from a state-funded tuition program. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Regardless of how the benefit and restriction are described, the program operates to identify and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.” 

Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. According to SCOTUSBlog’s Amy Howe, Breyer “Breyer emphasized that the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses were intended to strike a balance on the interaction between government and religion, with the ultimate goal of ‘avoiding religious strife’ in a country that now has over 100 different religions. Maine’s program is intended to foster precisely this kind of balance, Breyer argued, and the state has the right to opt not to fund religious schools.”

Summary: In Maine, more than half of the state’s 260 school districts do not operate their own high schools. The Maine Town Tuitioning, which the legislature created in 1873, pays for students in districts that do not operate their own high schools to attend public or private schools inside or outside of the state. According to the program’s requirements, approved private schools must be nonsectarian, meaning that it is not related to a religious group or organization.

In August 2018, three sets of parents sued the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, alleging the program’s nonsectarian requirement violated their First Amendment rights. The parents sought to send their children to private Christian schools that the state deemed sectarian, and ineligible for funding. 

The district court ruled against the parents in April 2019, at which point the parents appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

Two weeks after the 1st Circuit heard oral arguments, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which concerned whether the government could exclude religious institutions from student-aid programs. On June 30, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Montana ban on state aid to sectarian schools violated the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.

Both parties in Carson v. Makin filed briefs with the 1st Circuit on how Espinoza affected  U.S. District Court for the District of Maine’s ruling in the case. Attorneys for the parents said Espinoza supported their claim that the state program’s nonsectarian requirement violated the free exercise clause. Attorneys for the Maine Education Commission said Espinoza had no effect on the case, and the district court’s ruling should be upheld. On Oct. 29, 2020, the 1st Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine’s ruling against the parents. 

The parents suing the state presented the following question the Court: “Does a state violate the Religion Clauses or Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution by prohibiting students participating in an otherwise generally available student-aid program from choosing to use their aid to attend schools that provide religious, or ‘sectarian,’ instruction?”

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

Let’s turn to Kennedy, a case the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide within the next two weeks.

Summary: Joseph Kennedy was an assistant high school football coach with Bremerton School District (BSD) in Bremerton, Wash., from 2008 to 2015. At the end of football games, Kennedy would kneel at midfield and say a prayer. At first, Kennedy kneeled and prayed alone. Several games into his first season as a coach, some players asked if they could join him. Over time, Kennedy began giving motivational speeches that included prayer and religious content. According to Kennedy, he never required nor asked any student to pray or participate in any religious activity. 

The school district told Kennedy his actions violated school board policy and required him to stop so as not to risk violating the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. Kennedy said he would not comply. The school district offered to accommodate Kennedy’s prayers by allowing him access to a private location in the school or athletic facilities. Kennedy declined the offers and prayed on the field again after two more games. Kennedy was placed on administrative leave. Kennedy sued the school in U.S. district court for violating his right to free speech. The court ruled that the school district suspended Kennedy solely to avoid violating the establishment clause. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgment. 

Kennedy presented the following questions to the Court:

  1. “Whether a public-school employee who says a brief, quiet prayer by himself while at school and visible to students is engaged in government speech that lacks any First Amendment protection.”
  2. “Whether, assuming that such religious expression is private and protected by the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses, the Establishment Clause nevertheless compels public schools to prohibit it.”

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

Williamson County Board of Education general election survey responses

Today, we’re highlighting survey responses from the upcoming Aug. 4 Williamson County Board of Education school board general elections in Tennessee. Six seats are up for election—Districts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. Sixteen candidates are on the ballot. Primaries were held May 3.

Today, we’re featuring responses from two of those candidates—Tiffany Eccles (I) and Kristi Bidinger (I). Eccles is running to represent District 2, while Bidinger is running to represent District 6. 

Here’s how Eccles responded to the question “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

“Curriculum – The purpose of public school is to educate and prepare students for real life situations. They should be challenged to think critically, to see the world from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. Well rounded students are better equipped for life beyond school.

Staff Retention – Faculty shortage has reached a critical point. Teachers are being stretched too far. Teachers are leaving the profession and going into corporate roles that can provide better hours and salary. As a community, we rely on the entire school faculty and we should be treating them as the critical resource they are to all of us.

Growth – Williamson County is growing at a rapid rate, with no signs of slowing down. We need to prepare with additional schools and staff as well as ensuring current buildings are equipped to meet changing needs in equipment and education. Growing class sizes will impact all aspects of educating and we need to ensure everyone in the district has what they need to support all students.”

Click here to read the rest of Eccles’ answers. 

Here’s how Bidinger responded to the question “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

“Advocating to our local and state leaders the importance of fully funding our public schools.

Increasing a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

Listening to parents and the community about issues that are important to them and finding transparent solutions.”

Click here to read the rest of Bidinger’ answers. 

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey. The survey contains more than 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also appear in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.
If you’re not running for school board but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!



Making sense of the US House special election in Alaska

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 22, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Gross ends campaign for U.S. House
  2. All candidates in IL-03 Democratic primary complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey 
  3. Another look at Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

Gross ends campaign for U.S. House 

On June 20, Al Gross (I) announced he was ending his campaign for Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District, leaving the Aug. 16 special general election candidate list in flux. Gross was one of 48 candidates who filed to run in the June 11 special primary to replace Rep. Don Young (R), who died in March. 

This was the first top-four congressional primary in U.S. history. In 2020, Alaska voters passed Ballot Measure 2, establishing a primary system in which candidates for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices run in a single primary, regardless of party affiliation. The top four vote-getters advance to a general election. 

As of June 21, the four candidates are Sarah Palin (R), with 28.6%, Nicholas Begich (R), with 20%, Al Gross (I), with 13.1%, and Mary Peltola (D), with 9.8%. A final ballot count was scheduled for June 21.

In a statement, Gross said, “There are two outstanding Alaska Native women in this race who would both serve our state well, and I encourage my supporters to stay engaged and consider giving their first-place vote to whichever of them best matches their own values. Thank you for your support.” His campaign specified that he was referring to Peltola and Tara Sweeney (R), who came in fifth with 6% of the vote. 

The Washington Post reported that a representative for the Alaska Division of Elections said the agency was looking into whether the fifth-place finisher—Sweeney, in this case—would move into fourth and appear on the special general election ballot. According to Alaska Public Media, the Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai released a letter Tuesday afternoon stating the law does not allow the fifth-place finisher to appear on the general election ballot.

Fenumiai wrote: “Because this withdrawal occurred less than 64 days before the election, Alaska law does not permit the fifth-place candidate to advance.” Fenumiai also wrote that “any party that disagrees with these decisions should file suit immediately.”

Alaska Statute 15.25.100, a section of the codified version of Ballot Measure 2, describes the process of replacing a general election candidate: “…if a candidate nominated at the primary election dies, withdraws, resigns, becomes disqualified from holding office for which the candidate is nominated, or is certified as being incapacitated in the manner prescribed by this section after the primary election and 64 or more days before the general election, the vacancy shall be filled by the director by replacing the withdrawn candidate with the candidate who received the fifth most votes in the primary election.”

The law does not mention special general elections. The Aug. 16 special general election is 55 days from June 22. 

The winner of the Aug. 16 special general election will serve until the end of Young’s term—Jan. 3, 2023. The special election is one of two elections, alongside the regularly scheduled election, for Alaska’s at-large House district this year. Twenty-four candidates filed to run in both the regular and special elections, including all those named above except Santa Claus, Andrew Halcro, and Emil Notti.

Nine special elections for the 117th Congress have been held, and five are scheduled for later this year (including the special general election for Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District). 

Click below to read more about Alaska’s special U.S. House election.

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All candidates in IL-03 Democratic primary complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey 

We often mention our Candidate Connection survey. Here’s an update from a race in Illinois in which all the candidates completed the survey. 

The four Democratic candidates running in the June 28 primary for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District are registered nurse Juan Aguirre, Columbia College Chicago history professor lymen Chehade, state Rep. Delia Ramirez, and Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

  • Aguirre: “Anti-Corruption legislation as well as legislation to end corporate America’s [exploitation] of the working class AND the nursing profession.”
  • Chehade: “[Chehade] proposes an ambitious Marshall Plan for the United States, inspired by the post-World War II rebuilding of Europe.”
  • Ramirez: “Affordable Housing – Delia grew up volunteering at her church’s homeless shelter and became the Director of a homeless services agency at 21 years old.”
  • Villegas: “Public Safety … Families have a right to feel safe and secure in their own neighborhood, but crime is completely out of control. Enough is enough.” 

The redrawn 3rd District is a plurality-Latino district. The Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne said the redrawn district “extends from progressive Chicago neighborhoods to historically conservative towns in the far reaches of what used to be the Republican stronghold of DuPage County.” The current 3rd District’s incumbent, Rep. Marie Newman (D), is running in a primary in the 6th District against Rep. Sean Casten (D).

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Another look at Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

Last Thursday, we looked at the results from the June 14 special election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District. Let’s take another look at that race and how the results compare to U.S. House races in 2020. 

On June 14, Mayra Flores (R) defeated Dan Sanchez (D), Rene Coronado (D), and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R), claiming for the GOP Filemon Vela’s (D) previous district. Vela resigned on March 31. Flores will serve the remainder of Vela’s term, which ends in January 2023. 

Flores defeated Sanchez, her closest challenger, 51% to 43.3%—a margin of 7.7 percentage points. Vela won the district in 2020 55.4% to 41.8%. That year, Democrats won 56 districts by margins smaller than Vela’s 13.6% margin of victory. 

The chart below shows all U.S. House elections in 2020 decided by margins of less than 20 percentage points. Vela’s 13.6 percentage point margin of victory in Texas’ 34th Congressional District election is highlighted near the upper-left corner. 

This is the first time partisan control of a U.S. House district changed in a special election since Mike Garcia’s (R) May 2020 victory in the California congressional district previously represented by Katie Hill (D). Garcia defeated Christy Smith (D) 55% to 45%, a 9.8 percentage point margin of victory.

Flores is the Republican nominee for the regular election in November, where she will face fellow incumbent Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (D). This election was held under district lines dating to before the 2020 round of redistricting. Joe Biden (D) won the old 34th district in which this election took place by a margin of four percentage points. Under the new district lines that will be in place for the November election, Joe Biden would have won the district by more than 15 percentage points. 

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