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Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #28

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 more than 13,000 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 Minneapolis’ collective bargaining agreement 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • How DeSantis and Crist-backed school board candidates fared in Florida’s Aug. 23 school board elections
  • DeSantis removes four Broward County School Board members
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey
  • School board candidates per seat up for election

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.

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) struck a collective bargaining agreement with the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) on March 25, 2022. The agreement requires the school district to base any financially motivated layoffs on teacher seniority, with newer teachers getting laid off first. The provision included an exemption from the seniority layoff rule for what the agreement called underrepresented teachers.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board writes that the layoff policy discriminates based on race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The Editorial Board says all hiring and firing decisions should be based on performance and job qualifications and not on race or seniority.

Michael Harriot, a writer and cultural critic, writes that MPS’ hiring policy historically favored white teachers and that a policy firing teachers based on seniority would cause more minority teachers to lose their jobs before white teachers. Harriot says the white teachers in the district are not equipped to assist minority students, so they would also be fired first in a merit-based system.

Minneapolis Schools Discriminate by Race | The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

“School districts ought to hire and fire based on job qualifications and performance, which would prevent an unintended disparate impact on minorities. But unions oppose personnel decisions based on merit because this could undermine labor solidarity. Minneapolis is instead discriminating by race. … [The agreement] states that the exception to the senior layoff rule is intended to ‘remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination’ and that ‘past discrimination by the district disproportionately impacted the hiring of underrepresented teachers.’ If the district is sued, it will have to substantiate this claim. It may also be hoping to dodge strict scrutiny legal review by not explicitly referring to racial classifications. The undefined term “underrepresented” could be interpreted to include low-income teachers. But what matters is how the rule is applied. … When institutions favor certain racial groups, they discriminate against individuals of other groups. … The Minneapolis teachers contract underscores why the [U.S. Supreme Court] Justices need to state clearly that racial preferences are always constitutionally forbidden.”

The whitelash behind Minneapolis’ plan to fire white teachers, explained | Michael Harriot, TheGrio

“Somehow people who lack critical thinking skills and seasoning [sic] experience can be beguiled into believing a contract that was collectively bargained by a majority-white coalition is ‘anti-white.’ Perhaps they are willing to ignore the ‘past discrimination’ part of the story. … For most of its existence, the district’s hiring policy not only favored white teachers, but it did so to the detriment of its non-white students. But, for some reason, Fox News pundits and right-wing propagandists don’t seem interested in this part of the story. … Most of MPS’s students are non-white. Most of its teachers are white. According to the district’s own data, most of the non-white students are lagging behind white students. And, according to people who know things, students of color do better when they are taught by educators of color. So, I’m not assuming that the white teachers are the worst teachers; I am assuming that most of the teachers are less equipped to teach most of the students. … To become more equitable for its students, the cohort of teachers must be more diverse. To become financially solvent, the district must cut staff. The only path to better schools, more educated children and a financially stable district is to fire white teachers.”

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.

Upcoming school board elections

Idaho

We’re covering school board general elections in Boise on Sept. 6. Five seats are up for election, including special elections for three at-large seats. 

How school board candidates endorsed by DeSantis and Crist fared in Florida’s Aug. 23 school board elections

On Aug. 23, Florida’s 69 school districts held school board primary elections. The Republican and Democratic nominees for governor—Gov. Ron Desantis (R) and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D)—endorsed candidates.  

DeSantis endorsed 30 candidates. Twenty-five of the candidates won outright or advanced to a Nov. 8 general election, an 83% success rate. Crist endorsed seven school board candidates, five of whom won outright or advanced to the general—a 71% success rate.  

Politico’s Andrew Atterbury wrote, “Florida Republicans, led by DeSantis, poured thousands of dollars into school board races this year and offered up endorsements in historically nonpartisan races to push their education policies at the local level. Democrats followed suit by endorsing candidates of their own, setting off a new elections battleground.” 

DeSantis said the candidates “are committed to the student-first principles of the DeSantis Education Agenda.” The DeSantis Education Agenda is a 10-point plan. The plan’s planks include “Keep Schools Open and Reject Lockdowns,” “Ensure Parental Rights in Education and Keep Woke Gender Ideology Out of Schools,” and “Increase Teacher Pay.” 

Crist said he endorsed candidates who are “keeping politics out of the classroom, protecting our students’ freedom to learn, and truly defending parental rights.”

Crist backed candidates in Lee, Marion, Polk, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties. Both DeSantis and Crist backed candidates in Hillsborough. DeSantis endorsed incumbent Stacy Hahn, who won her election for District 2 outright. Crist backed District 6 At-Large incumbent Karen Perez, who also won her election outright.

In our Aug. 17 edition, we looked at some of the Florida races we identified as part of our project on conflicts in school board elections. That project tracks elections where candidates take a stance on race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and/or sex and gender in schools. 

Our list included elections for seats on the Miami-Dade County Public Schools school board, the state’s largest district. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) endorsed two candidates—Roberto Alonso (District 4) and Monica Colucci (District 8). Alonso defeated two candidates to win his election outright with 57.3% of the vote. Colucci defeated incumbent Marta Pérez with 53.7%. Perez held the seat since 1998. Pérez voted to approve a mask mandate the district implemented in August 2021. The wins give conservative board members a majority on the school board

DeSantis-backed candidates won outright in Sarasota and Duval counties. Those school boards will now also have a conservative majority. 

We’ll bring you more coverage of the general elections in November. Meanwhile, click here to see election results for school districts within our scope. 

DeSantis removes four Broward County School Board members

On Aug. 26, DeSantis removed four members of the Broward County School Board for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, and incompetence,” following a grand jury’s 2021 recommendations. After the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, DeSantis requested the state Supreme Court convene the grand jury to investigate the management of an ongoing safety and capital improvement program first approved in 2014.

DeSantis removed Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray, and Laurie Rich Levinson and appointed replacements. The appointed members were sworn in Aug. 30.

The grand jury’s report found that five board members—Good, Korn, Murray, Levinson, and Rosalind Osgood—mismanaged the STAR program, an $800 million bond apportioned for safety and renovations. The jury recommended DeSantis remove the board members. The program was originally scheduled for completion in 2021 but is not expected to be completed until 2025.

Osgood, a state senator, no longer serves on the Broward County School Board. Osgood released a statement, saying, “It is my personal belief that unless someone commits a crime, no one has the right to remove them because then they go against the voters’ choice. And no crime was committed here or we would have been arrested.”

Stand with Parkland, a group of parents whose children were victims in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, released a statement: “We applaud the Governor’s action to follow the recommendation from Florida’s 20th Statewide Grand Jury and remove the Broward School Board members — citing their gross-negligence, misfeasance, malfeasance, and shear incompetence caused the mishandling of many of the aspects of the tragic date that took the lives of so many at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.”

Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said, “I do not support taking any elected officials out, especially ones who did not commit any crime. It’s politics over people, that’s what it is in a nutshell.”

DeSantis appointed Torey Alston, Kevin Tynan, Ryan Reiter, and Nandy Serrano. All are registered Republicans. 

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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Today, we’re highlighting survey responses from the Nov. 8 general election for Chandler Unified School District Governing Board At-large in Arizona. Incumbent Lara Bruner is running for re-election against challenger Kurt Rohrs. 

Two seats on the board are up for election. 

Here’s how Bruner responded to the question “What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • “All CUSD children deserve excellent teachers dedicated to continual growth through district and outside professional development opportunities.
  • “All CUSD children deserve evidence-based curricula at the appropriate level of rigor, whether they perform at grade level, need interventions, or require acceleration and enrichment.
  • “All CUSD children deserve physically and emotionally safe schools where they can thrive.”

Click here to read the rest of Bruners’ responses. 

Here’s how Rohrs responded to the question “What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • “Education Fundamentals should be the primary focus of Curriculum. Achieve Minimum 50% Reading and Math proficiency at all schools.
  • “Political and Social Activism has no place in our classrooms. Don’t use Classrooms to promote personal agendas.
  • Let Teachers Teach. Provide a safe, supportive, and secure environment for teachers to practice their craft.”

Click here to read the rest of Rohrs’ responses. 

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.

And 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!

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, 2.48 candidates are running for each seat in the 1,277 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed. The 2.48 candidates per seat is 24% more than in 2020.



More state legislative seats are open this year than at any point since 2012

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 31, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. More state legislative seats are open this year than at any point since 2012
  2. Medicaid, marijuana, and multiple uncontested Republicans on the ballot in South Dakota
  3. Candidates advance in Alaska congressional elections

More state legislative seats are open this year than at any point since 2012

The number of open state legislative seats, those where no incumbents are running, is at its highest point in a decade.

Open seats contribute to incumbent turnover. Since no incumbents are present, a newcomer is guaranteed to win every open seat.

There are 1,495 open seats this year, meaning newcomers will win at least 24% of all seats up for election

Open seats can occur because an incumbent leaves office or runs for re-election in a different district than the one they currently represent.

Term limits, which can require an incumbent to leave office, also affect the number of open seats. Fourteen states holding elections this year have term limits for state legislators.

This year’s state legislative elections are taking place under new district lines adopted following the 2020 census, leading to more open seats. There are 64 state legislative seats nationwide that are open because the incumbent is running for re-election to the same chamber in a different district and no other incumbent is running.

There were 252 term-limited state legislators in 2022, representing 4.0% of all seats up for election. This is a larger number than in 2020 and 2014 but lower than in 2018 and 2016. 

While the number of term-limited legislators increased this year, the effect these limits have on the overall number of open seats lessened.

Typically, term limits have accounted for 23 or 24% of all open seats. This year, term limits account for 17% of those seats.

Here’s a breakdown of how open seats figures vary by state:

  • There are four states where more than 40% of seats up for election are open: Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, and Nebraska. All four states have term limits.
  • There are 18 states where between 25% and 40% of seats are open.
  • There are 15 states where between 10% and 25% of seats are open.
  • There are nine states, none of which have term limits, where less than 10% of seats are open.

Nebraska had the highest percentage of open seats this year, with 54% (13) seats open. However, Nebraska is also the state with the fewest seats up for election this year (24). In Arizona, where all 90 seats are open, 48% (43) are open.

Utah had the lowest rate of open seats this year at 9% of seats up (eight open seats).

Use the link below to view more historical state- and chamber-specific data about open state legislative seats.

Keep reading

Medicaid, marijuana, and multiple uncontested Republicans on the ballot in South Dakota

Today is the third day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring South Dakota, the Mount Rushmore State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana

On the ballot in South Dakota

South Dakota voters will elect one U.S. Senator and one at-large representative to the U.S. House.

All elected state executive offices are on the ballot, including the governorship and the offices of secretary of state and attorney general. 

Monae Johnson (R) defeated incumbent Secretary of State Steve Barnett (R), first elected in 2018, at the state Republican Party convention. In 2021, Barnett sponsored a bill to create an online voter registration system. The bill did not pass. Johnson campaigned against online voter registration. Johnson faces Tom Cool (D) in the general election.

This is also the first election following the impeachment and removal of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R). Former Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) is the only candidate on the general election ballot and will return to office.

Voters will also elect a treasurer, auditor, commissioner of school and public lands, and one of the three positions on the state’s public utilities commission.

All 105 state legislative seats are up for election: 70 in the House and 35 in the Senate. Thirty-four seats are open, guaranteeing newcomers will make up at least 32% of the legislature next year.

Two state supreme court justices must stand for retention elections.

Click here for more information about the races on the ballot this year.

Redistricting highlights

  • South Dakota’s number of congressional districts remained the same at one, making it one of six states that elects a single at-large representative.
  • State legislative elections will take place under new district lines. Our side-by-side map comparison tool shows how redistricting affected those districts. Here are the state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in South Dakota:

To interact with this tool and learn more about redistricting in South Dakota, click here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of South Dakota’s U.S. senators—Mike Rounds and John Thune—are Republicans.
  • South Dakota’s at-large U.S. representative, Dusty Johnson, is a Republican.
  • Republicans hold a 32-3 majority in the state Senate and a 62-8 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, South Dakota is one of 23 Republican trifectas. It has held this status since 1995.
  • South Dakota has had a Republican governor since 1979, the longest current streak for the party in the country.
  • Along with the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general are also Republicans, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex among those offices.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 57 state legislative seats in South Dakota, or 54% of the seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, that party is effectively guaranteed to win the seat.

Democrats are contesting 46% of all state legislative seats. Fifty-seven seats (54%) do not have a Democratic candidate, meaning a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are contesting all state legislative seats, meaning there are no seats where a Democrat is all but guaranteed to win.

Key races

  • South Dakota’s House District 12: In this two-member district, Rep. Greg Jamison (R) is running for re-election and Rep. Arch Beal (R) is running for state Senate, leaving his seat open. Beal placed second in 2020, defeating Erin Royer (D) by 0.37 percentage points, the 34th-narrowest state legislative margin of victory in the country last cycle. Royer is running again this year along with Kristin Hayward (D) and Amber Arlint (R).

Ballot measures

There are two statewide measures on the ballot in 2022.

  • Constitutional Amendment D would require the state to provide Medicaid benefits to adults between 18 and 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level.
  • Initiated Measure 27 would legalize marijuana use, possession, and distribution for individuals 21 years and older. Voters approved a similar measure in 2020 with 54% of the vote. The state supreme court declared that measure unconstitutional last year.

In South Dakota, 112 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Forty-nine were approved, and 63 were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.
  • South Dakota requires identification to vote. For more information about voter ID requirements in South Dakota, click here.
  • Early voting is available to all voters beginning on Sept. 23 and ending on Nov. 7.
  • The voter registration deadline is Oct. 24. Registration can be done in person or by mail, with mailed forms received by the deadline.
  • All voters are eligible to cast absentee/mail-in ballots, which must be received by county election officials by 5 p.m. on Nov. 8, either delivered in person or mailed. The deadline to request an absentee/mail-in ballot is Nov. 7. To check the status of your ballot, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool!

Keep reading 

Candidates advance in Alaska congressional elections

Alaska voters will choose between three Republicans and one Democrat in both congressional elections ongoing in the state this year, based on preliminary election results from the Aug. 16 top-four primary.

In use for the first time this year, the top-four primary system places all candidates running for a given office on the same primary ballot. The top four finishers, regardless of their partisan affiliation, advance to the general election, which is conducted via ranked-choice voting.

In the U.S. House election, Mary Peltola (D), Sarah Palin (R), Nicholas Begich (R), and Tara Sweeney (R) were the top four finishers. As of this writing, Peltola had 37% of the vote, followed by Palin with 30%, Begich with 26%, and Sweeney with 4%. 

Sweeney announced on Aug. 23 that she would withdraw from the race, meaning the fifth-place finisher would take her spot on the general election ballot. As of this writing, Chris Bye (L) was the next-place finisher with 0.6% of the vote, followed by J.R. Myers (L) with 0.3%.

In the U.S. Senate election, the top four finishers were Lisa Murkowski (R), Kelly Tshibaka (R), Patricia Chesbro (D), and Buzz Kelley (R). Murkowski led with 45% of the vote, followed by Tshibaka with 39%, Chesbro with 7%, and Kelley with 2%.

As of this writing, the special election for Alaska’s at-large House district remained too close to call. Alaska held a special election for U.S. House Aug. 16 to fill the vacancy created when U.S. Rep. Don Young (R) died in March. 

Keep reading



Economy and Society, August 30, 2022: Texas lists 10 funds ineligible for business with state over ESG policies

Economy and Society is Ballotpedia’s weekly review of the developments in corporate activism; corporate political engagement; and the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics.


ESG Developments This Week

In the States 

Texas issues list of funds ineligible for business with the state over ESG policies

On August 24, the government of Texas joined West Virginia in issuing a list of companies and funds that are ineligible to do business with the state because of their ESG policies and/or statements. The list – an outgrowth of a law passed last year – hits many of the biggest names in ESG investing, including BlackRock:

“Texas comptroller Glenn Hegar on Wednesday accused ten financial companies, including investing titan BlackRock, and 350 investment funds of taking steps to “boycott energy companies.”

The move could force certain Texas government funds, such as retirement funds for state workers, to sell any shares in these companies. It also places these companies alongside lists of other classes of companies covered under Texas divestment statutes, such as companies with “links to foreign terrorist organizations” and ties with Iran and Sudan.

The list, which grows out of an investigation first announced in March, is an effort to publicly highlight companies that are, in Hegar’s view, advancing agendas that threaten the energy industry in Texas, which is the top oil and natural gas producing state in the country. Texas produced 43% of the total crude oil produced in the United States in 2021 and 25% of its natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Texas also has 31 petroleum oil refineries representing 32% of the nation’s refining capacity, making it the state with the most refineries and refining capacity of any state in the country.

Hegar said the focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards in finance had become a proxy for political agenda setting….

In response to the announcement from Hegar on Wednesday, BlackRock said it objected to the ruling.

“We disagree with the Comptroller’s opinion. This is not a fact-based judgment. BlackRock does not boycott fossil fuels — investing over $100 billion in Texas energy companies on behalf of our clients proves that,” a BlackRock spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.”

In fact, the very next day, BlackRock responded to the move by the Texas government, insisting that the declaration was, in its view anti-competitive:

“BlackRock has come out fighting against Texas’s decision to single it out as hostile to fossil fuels, calling the state’s targeting of it “opportunistic”, “anti-competitive” and “bad for business”.

The world’s biggest asset manager was the only US company included by Glenn Hegar, Texas comptroller, on a list of 10 financial institutions that “boycott” fossil fuels. The groups face possible divestment by state pension funds.

“Trying to stop a US company from doing business in its own backyard is bad for business,” said Mark McCombe, the head of BlackRock’s US business, who made multiple trips to Texas to lobby state officials while the list was being drawn up. “It looks opportunistic in this climate.”

“We have never turned our back on Texas oil and gas companies,” said McCombe, noting that BlackRock is the single largest investor in the state’s oil and gas industry and has $290bn in Texas-based assets. “This is anti-competitive.”…

Hegar denied in an interview that the list was politically motivated. Companies on the initial list of 19 as well as the 150 behind the specific investment funds were invited to explain their position on fossil fuels, he said. He added that some were able to provide information that allayed the state’s concerns.

Those who did not, and those who failed to respond, were put on the final list of 10, which included Credit Suisse, UBS and BNP Paribas, among others.

“The process was open and transparent,” Hegar told the Financial Times. “No matter what you do you run the risk of criticism.”…

The financial groups on the list have 90 days to convince Texas to change its mind. State pension funds will then have to notify the comptroller of their holdings, but the law gives them some flexibility on selling out if it affects their fiduciary duty to retirees.”

Texas state Senate committee seeks documents from funds, including BlackRock, in ESG probe

In addition to the state comptroller’s actions, last week, state senators in Texas jumped into the ESG battlespace, demanding documents from large asset management firms about their ESG investment strategies in the state and those strategies’ effectiveness:

“A Texas state Senate committee is demanding that four top financial services firms hand over details of their investment practices as part of an investigation into the companies’ so-called environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards and how they impact the state’s public pensions.

The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs, led by Chairman Bryan Hughes, sent letters to investment giants BlackRock Inc., State Street Global Advisors, and The Vanguard Group, along with Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) on Aug. 10, requesting documentation related to the companies’ decision-making involving their respective ESG practices….

Neither BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard nor ISS immediately responded to FOX Business’ request for comment on the letters they received from the Texas Senate committee, but Hughes said all have responded to the state via attorneys and signaled that they would comply.

But if the institutions refuse to hand over the documents or the committee finds them insufficient, the panel will start issuing subpoenas. That means lawmakers could force company leaders like Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock – the largest asset management firm in the world handling more than $10 trillion – to testify under oath about their institution’s ESG initiatives….

Texas lawmakers are particularly interested in the practices of the major financial firms because of their involvement with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Employee Retirement System of Texas, which have entrusted the companies with managing their investments. Hughes says those companies “have a duty to maximize returns, not to play politics, not to push their left-wing agenda.””

 

DeSantis declares win in an effort against ESG

Last week, the Florida State Board of Administration agreed to changes Governor Ron DeSantis (R) had requested concerning ESG investing. Although the decision was not unexpected, it gave the Governor an opportunity to declare a win over ESG:

“Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida yesterday advanced his campaign against environmental, social and governance investing. The State Board of Administration, on which he sits, adopted his proposal to ban the consideration of “social, political or ideological interests” when making investment decisions for the state’s pension fund.

“Corporate power has increasingly been utilized to impose an ideological agenda on the American people through the perversion of financial investment priorities under the euphemistic banners of environmental, social and corporate governance and diversity, inclusion and equity,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a statement.

The resolution imposes broad limits on the pension fund’s investments. State administrators will be instructed to prioritize “the highest return on investment for beneficiaries, without consideration for nonpecuniary beliefs or political factors.”…

Red and blue states are increasingly split: In the past year, more than a dozen have introduced new initiatives, either to divest state pension funds from gun and ammunition companies, or oil and gas companies and coal companies — or, conversely, to divest from ones that boycott fossil fuel companies.

Asset managers may not be as divided as states, according to Joshua Lichtenstein, a partner at the law firm Ropes & Gray who has been tracking the battle. “Florida and Texas have a lot of money, but it’s not clear we’ll see enough money line up for the red states to change things,” he said, noting that the European Union has already adopted E.S.G. investment principles. When it comes to pensions, managers play a long game, and ignoring E.S.G. could be risky.”

On Wall Street and in the private sector

The SEC isn’t scaring people away from ESG

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has, for more than a year, been warning ESG providers that it will be paying close attention to them and to the promises they make to investors. And regulators in the European Union have, if anything, been even more aggressive with investors than the SEC has, going so far as to strip some companies of their ESG/sustainable designation. That has not, however, stifled the growth in the industry, at least as measured by companies offering new ESG products:

“In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission may soon start requiring managers to disclose additional information about how environmental, social and governance principles fit into their investment strategies. Industry trade groups, including the Investment Company Institute, and some asset managers are already opposing parts of the SEC’s plan.

And in Europe, almost a quarter of funds claiming to “promote” sustainability were stripped of their ESG labels by influential market researcher Morningstar Inc. because they fall short of applicable standards.

Given this backdrop, one would think managers would be hesitant about bringing more ESG-labeled funds to market, but instead, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

“If a new fund is created in the EU, there’s a good chance it’s sustainable — at least in name,” wrote BloombergNEF analyst Maia Godemer in a note published last week. In fact, 67% of exchange-traded funds introduced since 2020 factor in sustainability, she said.

While BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, said it supports the overall push to clarify asset managers’ strategies, the firm added that the SEC’s proposal to require new disclosures for funds that just consider ESG criteria among many other factors may further confuse the situation. It could end up overstating the significance of ESG considerations for some funds, BlackRock said.”

Notable quotes

To Delist or not to Delist. That is the Question.

Scott Shepard, the Director of the Free Enterprise Project and the National Center for Public Policy Research, used his regular column at RealClear Markets to argue that the delisting of Chinese companies from American stock exchanges is likely to create significant problems for investors and for American corporations:

“Chinese government-owned companies are beginning to delist from American stock exchanges. While this might seem like a minor win for those who seek to decouple the American and Chinese economies in the wake of, among other things, tensions over Taiwan, the bigger story is – as is so often true these days – one of the so-called ESG movement and the insurrection of the C-suites. That story is predictably one of giant investment managers and lenders holding American publicly traded companies to debilitating and stifling political-policy-driven standards that they do not apply to private-equity firms or to foreign companies with which these managers and lenders happily deal.

Last week two companies owned by the Chinese government delisted from American exchanges: PetroChina Sinopec and China Life Insurance. Reports indicate that Aluminum Corporation of China and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical will also delist soon, and some analysts expect that other China-owned companies will follow. Alibaba, meanwhile, has released plans to have dual primary listings in both New York and Hong Kong, raising its secondary Hong Kong listing to primary.

By delisting from American exchanges, these corporate arms of the Chinese government – and therefore of the Chinese Communist Party – excuse themselves from having to submit to audits by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), a federal statutory oversight outfit. By moving now, the companies are also getting out before the SEC finalizes new disclosure rules that, as proposed, would force companies traded on American exchanges to make highly expensive and speculative carbon-emission disclosures – including the emissions created by all of a company’s suppliers….

Fink and other stewards of Americans’ assets are once again faced squarely with a test of their fidelity. They have already violated their fidelity to their fiduciary duties by embracing the ESG push that privileges their personal policy preferences over their duty to invest the assets entrusted to them only in consonance with the law (broken by equity-based discrimination) and complete and objective research (the opposite of which underpins their activist-schedule decarbonization demands). Now we will see if they even have fidelity to the policy positions that they have staked out here in the States.”



How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 30, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022
  2. Explore Indiana’s elections
  3. A look at the recall in Johnstown, Ohio

How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022

This November, 88 of the 99 state legislative chambers will hold regularly-scheduled elections for 6,278 of the country’s 7,383 state legislative seats (85%). 

To better understand and prepare for what lies ahead, let’s take a look back at 2020. 

In 2020, the average margin of victory in state legislative elections was 27 percentage points, meaning most winning candidates won by a fairly large margin. For example, a candidate winning 63%-36% would have a margin of 27 percentage points. 

But for 928 seats, 16% of those up for election, the margins were less than 10 percentage points, making them some of the most competitive of the cycle. Democrats won 444 of those seats and Republicans won 484.

The graphic below shows major party margin of victory statistics from 2020, broken down by the size of the margin or whether the seat was unopposed.

What were these margin of victory stats like in some of the 2022 battleground state legislatures?

Here’s a list of a few battleground states where the “Need” column shows the net gain in seats each out-of-power party would need in order to break an existing state government trifecta.

When it comes to battleground state legislatures, we look at whether a majority is in jeopardy. But, equally important, is whether a party has the opportunity to create a veto-proof supermajority, especially in states where the governor is from a different party. 

Here’s a look at one of those states—North Carolina—where Democrats control the governorship and Republicans could potentially create a veto-proof supermajority.

Keep in mind, every state legislature redrew its district lines following the 2020 census, so districts that existed during the last cycle might not match up with districts on the ballot this year.

Still, the margins of these races in 2020, and the possibility of changing the balance of power in 2022, mean we will be keeping a close eye on the outcomes.

Use the link below to view our entire analysis and learn more about how the close races in 2020 might affect elections this November.

Keep reading 

Explore Indiana elections

Today is the second day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and it’s bringing us to Indiana—the Hoosier State!

Week One: Pennsylvania

On the ballot in Indiana

At the federal level, voters will elect one U.S. Senator and nine U.S. Representatives. 

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R) is retiring, leaving the 9th District open. Voters in the 2nd District will decide two elections: one, a special election, to fill out the remaining months of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (R) term, and another regularly-scheduled election to select a new representative for a full term.

At the state level, the offices of secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and one seat on the state supreme court are up for election. 

Twenty-five out of 50 seats in the state Senate and all 100 seats in the state House are up for election. Of the 125 state legislative seats up for election, 14 are open. 

Additionally, we are covering municipal elections in Indianapolis and Allen County.

Redistricting highlights

Indiana was apportioned nine seats in the U.S. House after the 2020 census, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines. With our side-by-side map comparison tools, you can see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Indiana: 

To interact with this map, visit our Indiana redistricting page.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Indiana’s U.S. Senators–Mike Braun and Todd Young–are Republicans. 
  • Republicans represent six of the state’s U.S. House districts. Democrats represent two. One district has a vacancy.
  • Republicans hold a 39-11 majority in the state Senate and a 71-29 majority in the state House. The governor–Eric Holcomb–is a Republican, making Indiana one of the nation’s 23 Republican trifectas. Indiana has been a Republican trifecta since 2011. 
  • Indiana’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Republicans, making the state one of the nation’s 22 Republican triplexes.

State legislative seats contested by only one major party

Fifty-four state legislative seats, 43% of those up for election, do not have major party competition. When only a Democrat or Republican runs for a state legislative seat, the candidate running is all but assured of being elected.

Democrats are running for 68% of all seats up for election. Forty seats (32%) do not have a Democratic candidate.

Republicans are running for 88% of the seats up for election. Fourteen seats (11%) do not have a Republican candidate.

Key races

  • In Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan (D) faces Jennifer-Ruth Green (R) in his first re-election bid. Democrats have held the district since 1930. Two race forecasters rate the contest as Toss-Up and one as Likely Democratic.
  • A special election to fill the vacancy in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District will be held on Nov. 8, 2022. The previous incumbent, Jackie Walorski (R), died in a car accident on Aug. 3, 2022.

Ballot measures

There are no statewide ballot measures in Indiana this year.

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. An individual in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote. 
  • Indiana requires voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about voter ID requirements in Indiana, click here
  • Early voting in Indiana is available to all voters. Early voting starts on Oct. 11, 2022, and ends on Nov. 7, 2022. 
  • The voting registration deadline in Indiana is Oct. 11, 2022. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. Indiana does not allow same-day voter registration.
  • In Indiana, voters meeting certain eligibility requirements can vote by absentee ballot. Eligible voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. Ballots must be received by Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. 

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

Keep reading 

A look at the recall election in Johnstown, Ohio

Today, Aug. 30, voters in Johnston, Ohio, will decide whether to recall Mayor Chip Dutcher and City Council President Marvin Block.

Recall supporters initiated the campaign after alleging Block had tried to intimidate former Police Chief Abe Haroon into dismissing a mayor’s court clerk and dispatcher from his office. 

Block said he did nothing wrong and, regarding the recall efforts, said, “That’s in our charter and part of the American way … I fully support that right and I support my right to defend myself.”

Recall supporters extended the effort to include Mayor Dutcher, saying, “He is the one presiding over the council … So, he is part of the problem. It’s a failure of leadership.”

Dutcher said, “It’s certainly the right of the voters to file whatever petition they like … I’m not afraid of my voters at all,” adding, ‘There are important things to focus on and this is just a distraction.”

This is the first scheduled recall election Ballotpedia has followed in Ohio this year.

Recall activity this year has decreased compared to 2021. Halfway through 2022, there had been 152 recall efforts against 240 officials. At that point in 2021, there were 165 efforts against 263 officials.

Of the 240 officials included in recalls by the middle of 2022, voters removed 20 from office.

The chart below compares recall statistics at all levels of government through June 22 of this year to the same overall counts in previous years. Based on data from the past five years, 55% of each year’s total recall efforts were initiated by the middle of the year, on average. 

If the pace from previous years holds, we project that 2022 will have 436 officials included in recall efforts by the end of the year.

Keep reading



50 states in 50 days—Pennsylvania

Welcome to the Monday, August 29, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Explore Pennsylvania elections
  2. Federal Register update—more than 300 significant documents issued so far this year 
  3. Come work with us!

Explore Pennsylvania elections

Today is the first in our 50 states in 50 days series. Long-time Brew readers will remember this from 2018 and 2020. In this series, we will preview what’s on the ballot in each state, which parties control state and congressional offices, and what you should know to cast your ballot. The next 50 Brew issues take us all the way up to the general election. So—buckle up!

We’ll go in order of when early voting starts and how early each state held their primary. The first state in our series is Pennsylvania—the Keystone state!

On the ballot in Pennsylvania

At the federal level, Pennsylvania voters will elect one U.S. Senator and 17 U.S. Representatives. At the state executive level, the governor and lieutenant governor offices are up for election this year. Twenty-five out of 50 seats in the state Senate and all 203 state House districts up for election. 

There are two open U.S. House districts and 40 open seats in the state legislature this year. 

Redistricting highlights

Pennsylvania lost one congressional districts after the 2020 census, going from 18 in 2020 to 17 this year. 

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Pennsylvania:  

To see Pennsylvania’s state legislative maps in effect before and after redistricting visit our Pennsylvania redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • One of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators—Bob Casey Jr.—is a Democrat and the other—Pat Toomey—is a Republican.
  • Republicans and Democrats represent nine U.S. House districts each.
  • Republicans have a 28-21 majority in the state Senate and a 113-89 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Democrat, Pennsylvania is one of 13 states with a divided government. It has held this status since 2015.
  • Pennsylvania’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of the commonwealth are Democrats. This makes Pennsylvania one of 18 states with a Democratic triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 103 state legislative seats in Pennsylvania, or 45% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. 

Democrats are running in 75% of all state legislative races. Fifty-six state legislative seats (25% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 79% of all state legislative races. Forty-seven seats (21% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Republican candidate and a Democrat is likely to win.

Key races

Ballot measures

There are no statewide ballot measures in Pennsylvania in 2022. 

Sixty-nine ballot measures were on the ballot from 1968 and 2021. Sixty-two were approved and seven were defeated.

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. An individual in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote. 
  • Pennsylvania does not require identification to vote except for first-time voters. For more information about voter ID requirements in Pennsylvania, click here
  • Early voting is available to all voters. Start dates vary by county, starting as early as Sept. 19. Early voting ends on Nov. 1. 
  • The voting registration deadline in Pennsylvania is Oct. 24. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. Pennsylvania does not allow same-day voter registration.
  • All Pennsylvania voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots. Voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. In both cases, ballots must be received by Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. The deadline to request an absentee or mail-in ballot is Nov. 1. To check the status of your ballot, click here
  • Absentee ballots include return envelopes printed with a declaration that the voter must sign for the ballot to be counted.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool!

Click below to learn more about Pennsylvania’s 2022 elections. 

Keep reading

Federal Register update—more than 300 significant documents issued so far this year 

From Aug. 22 through Aug. 26, the Federal Register added 1,424 pages for a year-to-date total of 52,660 pages.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 525 documents:

  • 412 notices
  • Two presidential documents
  • 25 proposed rules
  • 86 final rules

Six proposed rules and eight final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866. Significant rules are those defined by the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. The proposed and final rules deemed significant include amendments to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regulations and to the Federal Management Regulation (FMR) regarding physical security standards.

The Biden administration has issued 144 significant proposed rules, 164 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of August 26.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

Click the link below to learn more about the Federal Register and our Administrative State Project.

Keep reading 

Come work with us!

Few voters know who is on their ballot, and they don’t always have an easy way to find out. This is the ballot information problem—a problem we’re solving by making unbiased information available about elections, candidates, judges, ballot measures, policies, and more. Want to help us solve the ballot information problem? Come work with us!

We’re a team of fast learners and creative problem solvers. We believe the world will be a better place if every citizen has access to information they need to make informed decisions in every election in which they are eligible to vote. 

Our work takes place across several departments—editorial, communications, external relations, operations, tech, and more. If our mission to close the ballot information gap resonates with you, then click—and bookmark—the link below to see our current openings. Check back often for new opportunities! 

Apply today



ICYMI: Top stories of the week

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Ballotpedia report provides first-ever comprehensive breakdown of U.S. school board members

A new Ballotpedia report provides objective, comprehensive data about all public school districts in the country. Here’s what we found:

  • There are 13,194 public school districts in the country
  • Around 82,423 elected school board members represent those districts. 
  • The average number of school board members per district ranges from 3.45 in West Virginia to 9.97 in Connecticut. Hawaii, with one overarching school district across seven islands, has nine board members.
  • Nationwide, 52.15% of school board members are male, while 43.29% are female.

Read more

A look at the Aug. 23 primaries and runoffs

Voters in three states—Florida, New York, and Oklahoma—cast ballots on Aug. 23. Here are some highlights:

  • Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary: U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist defeated Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and two others with 60% of the vote. Cristi served as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican before switching parties. He will face Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the general election
  • New York’s 19th Congressional District special general election: Pat Ryan (D) defeated Marcus Molinaro (R) to serve in Congress until January, filling a vacancy left by Antonio Delgado’s (D) appointment as lieutenant governor. Ryan is running for a full term in the 18th District while Molinaro is the Republican nominee in the 19th District’s general election.
  • New York’s 23rd Congressional District Republican primary: State GOP Chair Nicholas Langworthy defeated Carl Paladino 52% to 47%. The district is currently vacant.

Read more

The number of U.S. House incumbents defeated in primaries reaches 20-year high

U.S. Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) lost in their respective primaries on Aug. 23, bringing the total number of U.S. House incumbents defeated in primaries this cycle to 15, a 20-year high. Primary defeats tend to increase in election cycles following redistricting as incumbents often run against other incumbents under newly-drawn lines.

Read more

Initiative to change election and voting policies certified for Arizona ballot

The Arizona secretary of state’s office announced on Aug. 24 that the Arizona Election and Voting Policies Initiative qualified for the ballot. Among other things, the initiative would make changes to early voting policy and repeal the existing law that makes it a felony to collect another person’s ballot. If approved, Arizona would become the 21st state to enact automatic voter registration policies.
Read more



Election Legislation Weekly Digest: August 26, 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. 

California AB2608: This bill makes the following changes to state law:

  • Requires an elections official to provide a second vote-by-mail ballot to a voter’s representative upon receipt of a written request, signed by the voter under penalty of perjury, stating that the voter failed to receive, lost, or destroyed the original ballot.
  • Requires the number of registered voters in the jurisdiction where an election is being held to be determined on the 88th day before the election.
  • Makes administrative changes to the state’s military and overseas voter program.

Legislative history: The state Assembly passed the final version of the bill on May 25 by a vote of 57-19. The state Senate approved the bill on Aug. 17 by a vote of 29-9. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill into law on Aug. 22. 

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

 

Recent activity

Since August 19, 11 bills have been acted on in some way (representing no change as compared to last week’s total of 11 bills). These 11 bills represent 0.4 percent of the 2,524 bills we are tracking. Of these 11 bills, all 11 (100 percent) are from states with Democratic trifectas. 

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

  • 2 bills passed one chamber (or saw pre-adoption action in the second chamber). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 2.
  • 6 bills passed both chambers (or were acted upon in some way after passing both chambers). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 6.
  • 3 bills were enacted. 
    • Democratic trifectas: 3.
      • CA AB2037: Polling places: alcoholic beverages.
      • CA AB2608: Vote by mail ballot applications.
      • CA AB2967: Elections: petition records and requests: vote-by-mail ballot.

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 2,524 election-related bills. This represents no change as compared to last week’s total. 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).

Bills by topic

The chart below presents information on the total number of bills dealing with particular topics. The number listed on the blue portion of each bar indicates the number of Democratic-sponsored bills dealing with the subject in question. The number listed on the red portion of the bar indicates the number of Republican-sponsored bills. The purple and gray portions of the bar indicate the number of bipartisan-sponsored bills and bills with unspecified sponsorship, respectively. Note that the numbers listed here will not, when summed, equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.



Election-related initiative in Arizona certified for the ballot

Welcome to the Friday, August 26, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Initiative to change election and voting policies certified for Arizona ballot
  2. Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions
  3. #FridayTrivia: What state will be the first to begin early voting this year?

Initiative to change election and voting policies certified for Arizona ballot

In June, we debuted our Election Administration Legislation Tracker, a powerful resource to help you quickly and easily track election-related legislation in all 50 states. We’ve tracked 247 enacted election-related bills this year. In total, legislators have introduced 1,713 bills. 

The Arizona secretary of state’s office announced on Aug. 24 that the Arizona Election and Voting Policies Initiative qualified for the ballot.  

Among other things, the initiative would:

  • Make changes to early voting policy, including automatically sending an early ballot to any voter on the early voting list
  • Repeal provisions that would remove voters from the early voting list if they do not vote using an early ballot in all eligible elections for two consecutive election cycles and do not reply to a notice from election officials. 
  • Repeal the existing law that makes it a felony to collect another person’s ballot and instead make it a felony to collect a ballot and intentionally fail to deliver it). 
  • Establish same-day voter registration, authorize the funding of dropboxes, and change campaign contribution limits.
  • Provide that people with disabilities can vote with or without assistance.
  • Provide that a court order placing a person under guardianship cannot inhibit that person’s ability to vote
  • Require election officials to communicate with tribes or tribal representatives regarding the conduct of elections.

In order to qualify for the ballot, petitioners needed to collect at least 237,645 valid signatures. Signatures were verified through a random sampling process. On July 7, the Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections campaign submitted 475,290 signatures to the secretary of state.

If approved, Arizona would become the 21st state to enact automatic voter registration policies. Anyone qualified to register to vote would be registered or have their registration updated when they apply for a driver’s license or report a change of name or address to the department of transportation unless they opted out of registration.

The proposal is the second citizen-initiated measure certified for the ballot in Arizona. Twenty-one states allow for citizens to initiate state statutes. 

Currently, there are nine other measures on the ballot in Arizona. There are five election or campaign-related measures certified for the ballot in 2022, including the Nevada Top-Five Ranked Choice Voting Initiative and the Alabama Amendment 4, Prohibit Changes to Election Conduct Laws within Six Months of General Elections Amendment. Click here for a full list. 

Click below to read more about Arizona’s Election and Voting Policies Initiative. 

Keep reading

Delaware auditor faces primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions 

Incumbent Kathy McGuiness and Lydia York are running in the Democratic primary for Delaware state auditor on Sept. 6. 

Delaware is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governor’s office, the state Senate, and the state House. 

McGuiness was elected to the office in 2018. Before becoming state auditor, she served five terms on the Rehoboth Beach City Commission and worked as a pharmacist. McGuiness is running on her record as auditor. Her campaign website said, “Under Kathy’s leadership, the Auditor’s Office has become a nationwide leader in innovation and efficiency. McGuiness has created a new mobile app for Delaware taxpayers to report fraud, waste and abuse, and also created an interactive CARES Act Fund Tracker portal.”

McGuiness was convicted on three misdemeanor charges in July—conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the legislature called on McGuiness to resign. This was the first time an incumbent statewide elected official in Delaware had been convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count. 

McGuiness said the charges were politically motivated and that it was not illegal to hire a family member. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court. “I have a great team so I look forward to working again with them to rectify the situation,” McGuiness said.

York’s professional experience includes working as an accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (then Coopers & Lybrand) and as a tax attorney. York said she filed to run because of the charges against McGuiness. “[R]egardless of your views on the trial and the outcome and all of that all a lot of witnesses testified to a work environment that was described across the board as toxic and it would be one of my primary missions frankly is to make that stop so people can do their work,” she said.

The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed York in July. Chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms.York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons. Her legal, business, and finance backgrounds make Lydia York an immensely qualified Auditor who we are confident will do right by all Delawareans.”

The auditor’s office is to serves “Delawareans by providing independent objective oversight of the state government’s use of taxpayer dollars with the goal of deterring fraud, waste and abuse through unbiased assessments, including the use of various audits, special reports, and investigations of financial operations designed to ensure statutory compliance while enhancing governmental economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

Click below to read more about this race. 

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: What state will be the first to begin early voting this year?

In the Monday Brew, our top story was about general election early voting. Even though primary season hasn’t quite wrapped up, voters in some states are only a few weeks away from being able to head to the polls and vote in the general election (as if to underscore how quickly this year has flown by, Thanksgiving is only 89 days away!). 

So…what state will be the first to begin early voting this year? 

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Arizona
  4. Alaska


U.S. House incumbents defeated in primaries reaches 20-year high

Welcome to the Thursday, August 25, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. The number of U.S. House incumbents defeated in primaries reaches 20-year high
  2. The six federal major party committees raised $64 million in July
  3. Comparing the top state senate fundraisers across 11 states

The number of U.S. House incumbents defeated in primaries reaches 20-year high

U.S. Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) lost in their respective primaries on Aug. 23, bringing the total number of U.S. House incumbents defeated in primaries this cycle to 15, a 20-year high.

Primary defeats tend to increase in election cycles following redistricting as incumbents often run against other incumbents under newly-drawn lines. 

Maloney’s defeat, for example, came in an incumbent v. incumbent primary with U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler winning the nomination. This was the final incumbent v. incumbent primary of the cycle, which accounted for six of the 15 defeats – four for Democrats and two for Republicans.

Here’s a look at some of the other key races we’ve been following:

Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist defeated Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and two others with 60% of the vote. Cristi served as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican before switching parties. He will face Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the general election

New York’s 17th Congressional District Democratic primary

U.S. Rep. Sean Maloney won, defeating state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, received endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) while U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Biaggi.

New York’s 19th Congressional District special general election

Pat Ryan (D) defeated Marcus Molinaro (R) to serve in Congress until January, filling a vacancy left following Antonio Delgado’s (D) appointment as lieutenant governor. Ryan is running for a full term in the 18th District while Molinaro is the Republican nominee in the 19th District’s general election. 

In both races, two forecasters rate the general election as a toss-up, with one forecaster rating the 18th as Lean Democratic and another rating the 19th as Lean Republican.

New York’s 23rd Congressional District Republican primary

State GOP Chair Nicholas Langworthy defeated real estate developer Carl Paladino 52% to 47%. The district is currently vacant. U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs initially signaled a run but dropped out amid pressure from party officials over his support of legislation regulating firearm ownership.

State legislative incumbents defeated

Three state legislative incumbents lost in primaries, two Democrats in Florida and one Republican in New York. This brings the total number of incumbents defeated this cycle to 202, representing 4.8% of incumbents running for re-election. 

Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 2,337 Republicans who ran for re-election, 145 (6.2%) have lost. For Democrats, 57 of the 1,873 who ran for re-election (3.0%) have lost.

Learn more about state legislative incumbents defeated in primaries here.

You can view full race results using the link below!

Keep reading 

The six federal major party committees raised $64 million in July

The six federal major party committees have raised a combined $1.3 billion so far this cycle. In July, these committees raised $64 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Overall, the three Republican committees have raised 1.1% more than the three Democratic committees: $666 million to $659 million. The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is down from 1.8% last month.

Democrats currently hold the fundraising advantage among the House committees, while Republicans hold advantages among the Senate and national committees.

Here are some takeaways from each committee’s campaign finance filings:

  • In July, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the party’s main fundraising arm for U.S. House candidates, raised $13.5 million and spent $16.2 million, the most they’ve spent in this cycle.
  • Its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $9.8 million and spent $8.6 million.
  • The DCCC has raised a cumulative $259 million this cycle to the NRCC’s $225 million. At this point in the 2020 cycle, the DCCC had raised $226 million to the NRCC’s $174 million.
  • Among the Senate committees, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $10.1 million and spent $9.5 million in July, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $8.1 million and spent $13.3 million.
  • The NRSC has raised $182 million so far compared to the DSCC’s $172 million. The NRSC also held the advantage at this point in 2020.
  • Finally, among the national committees, the Republican National Committee (RNC) outraised and outspent the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in July. So far, the RNC has raised $259 million to the DNC’s $234 million. At this point in 2020, the RNC raised $365 million to the DNC’s $203 million.

Keep reading 

Comparing the top state senate fundraisers across 11 states

We recently took a look at the state senate candidates who raised the most money this cycle across 11 states. Collectively, the top Republican candidates in each of these states raised $25.7 million. The top Democratic candidates raised $7.2 million.

On the Republican side, the top fundraiser in seven of the 11 states raised more than $1 million, with Florida’s Wilton Simpson raising the most ($9.0 million). 

Among Democrats, the top fundraiser in two of the 11 states raised more than $1 million, with California’s Steve Glazer raising the most ($2.8 million). This would have ranked Glazer fourth among Republicans.

Glazer is also the only Democrat across these 11 states to raise more money than the state’s top-fundraising Republican candidate. In the remaining 10 states, Republican candidates outraised the top-fundraising Democrats.

This list includes one state with a Democratic trifecta, five states with Republican trifectas, and five states with divided governments.

This year, we plan to publish several hundred articles breaking down campaign finance numbers in the 12 states covered by Transparency USA. This coverage includes the 11 shown above as well as Virginia, which is not holding state legislative elections this year. Use the link below to learn more about our partnership with Transparency USA.

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Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 36 (August 25, 2022)

August 25, 2022

In this issue: Primary results from Florida and New York and a look ahead to September

Primary results roundup

Florida and New York held statewide primaries Tuesday, while Oklahoma held a statewide primary runoff. We were watching four battleground Democratic primaries in Florida and New York. Here’s how those races unfolded:

Florida gubernatorial: Charlie Crist defeated Nikki Fried and two other candidates in Florida’s gubernatorial primary.

Crist had 60% of the vote to Fried’s 35%.

Crist, a U.S. Representative, won a single term as governor in 2006 as a Republican. Fried was elected state agriculture commissioner in 2018.

Crist will face incumbent Ron DeSantis (R) and six other candidates in the general election. Forecasters rate that election as Likely Republican.

New York’s 10th District: Dan Goldman defeated incumbent Mondaire Jones in New York’s 10th District.

Goldman was first with 26% of the vote, followed by Yuh-Line Niou with 24%. Jones was in 3rd place with 18%. 

Jones was elected to the 17th District in 2020 and ran in the 10th because of redistricting. The new 10th District does not overlap the old 17th District.

Goldman is a former prosecutor who was lead counsel during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump (R). Niou has been a member of the state Assembly since 2017.

New York’s 12th District: Incumbent Jerrold Nadler defeated fellow incumbent Carolyn Maloney and two others, 55%-25%.

Nadler, who represents the 10th District, was running for re-election in the 12th following redistricting. This was the sixth and final incumbent v. incumbent primary of the year.

Both Nadler and Maloney were first elected in 1992 and campaigned as progressives. Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Maloney chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Nadler’s endorsers included U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D) and Elizabeth Warren (D), while Maloney’s included the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and EMILY’s List.

New York’s 17th District: Incumbent Sean Maloney defeated Alessandra Biaggi, 66%-33%.

Maloney was first elected to Congress in 2012 and chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Biaggi was elected to the state Senate in 2018 and was deputy national operations manager for Hillary Clinton’s (D) 2016 presidential campaign.

Maloney currently represents the 18th District but is running in the 17th due to redistricting.

Biaggi cast herself as the progressive candidate in the race. Maloney’s endorsers included former President Bill Clinton (D) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D), while Biaggi’s included U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and the Working Families Party.

Media analysis

The New York Times wrote that incumbents had performed better last night than in recent cycles:

Not long ago, New York was a haven for young insurgent candidates who defeated powerful, well-funded incumbents up and down the ballot.

But despite clamoring among some Democratic voters this summer for generational change, and simmering frustrations with Democratic leadership after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Tuesday was a strong night for the establishment, at least toward the top of the ticket.

In a newly redrawn New York district that includes parts of Westchester County and the Hudson Valley, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, 56, who chairs the Democratic House campaign committee, easily dispatched a challenge from State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, 36, who ran to his left.

In Manhattan, Suraj Patel, 38, a lawyer, ran an underdog campaign against Ms. Maloney and Mr. Nadler, two septuagenarians who were elected to Congress three decades ago. But his efforts to press a message that it was time for a new generation of leadership fell short against two established leaders. He came in third.

Politico wrote about the effect of the Dobbs decision on the Florida gubernatorial primary:

Everything we know about the overturning of Roe v. Wade is that it will likely be a major motivator for Democrats in the fall.

What abortion does not appear to be — given Nikki Fried’s wipeout in the Florida gubernatorial primary on Tuesday night — is singularly determinative.

Fried, the state agriculture commissioner — once heavily promoted as the future of the Democratic Party in the state — had spent much of the primary campaign casting her opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), as at best untrustworthy on the issue. Crist, a former Republican governor of the state before morphing into an independent and, eventually, a Democrat, said during his U.S. Senate run in 2010 that he would advocate for “pro-life legislative efforts.”

Even days before this year’s primary, when asked if he was “pro-life,” Crist responded, “I’m for life, aren’t you?” before adding, “I’ve been pro-choice in every single decision I’ve made that affects a women’s right to choose.

So, what’s more important to Democrats than Roe?

Electability, it seems.

State legislative incumbents defeated

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

Three state legislative incumbents—two Democrats and one Republican—lost primaries in Florida and New York on Aug. 23. One incumbent faced a contested primary runoff in Oklahoma and won. Overall, there are 11 uncalled state legislative primaries featuring incumbents: four Democratic and seven Republican.

Across the 42 states that have held statewide primaries so far, 202 incumbents, 4.8% of those running for re-election, have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 42 states that have held primaries, 11 have Democratic trifectas, 21 have Republican trifectas, and 11 have divided governments. Across these states, there are 5,479 seats up for election, 87% of the nationwide total.

Incumbent Delaware Auditor trails party-backed primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions

Last month, Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuinness (D) was convicted on three misdemeanor charges: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court.

Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed McGuinness’ primary challenger, Lydia York, in July. Party chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms. York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons.”

Campaign finance reports filed last week showed York having raised $47,000 since January to McGuinness’ $24,000.

The primary is Sept. 13.

Another poll shows McKee and Gorbea within margin of error in Rhode Island gubernatorial primary

A few updates since we last wrote about the Rhode Island governor’s race: 

A 12 News/Roger Williams University poll released on Aug. 16 showed incumbent Gov. Dan McKee at 28% and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea at 25%, within the 4.9 percentage point margin of error. Helena Foulkes, who has held a number of executive positions with CVS Health, came third at 14%. Twenty-one percent of poll respondents were undecided, and 42% said there was a good chance they might change their minds before the election. 

McKee and Gorbea have been similarly close in other polls released over the past few months.  

WPRI’s Ted Nesi and Tim White wrote, “With just a three-point gap separating the two frontrunners, Rhode Islanders are likely to see an intense four-week sprint to the Sept. 13 primary[.] … Multiple campaigns are revving up their paid media this week[.]”

Forward Rhode Island, a group affiliated with the Laborers International Union of America, is spending $500,000 supporting McKee. According to The Providence Journal’s Katherine Gregg, the group is airing an ad “saying [McKee] is a known quantity in the gun control, voting and abortion-rights arenas.” A new McKee ad highlights his tax policy. 

According to Nesi and White, Gorbea is tripling her spending on ads heading into the primary. Gorbea recently began airing an ad in which she says, “As your governor, I will protect abortion rights no matter what.”  

Nesi also reported that Foulkes’ campaign intends to spend $1.2 million in August and September. Her latest ad focuses on her healthcare background. 

Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who received 8% support in the 12 News poll, spent $50,000 on his first ad last week. In the ad, Brown and unofficial running mate Cynthia Mendes dance while their daughters speak to the camera, highlighting their parents’ support for progressive policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. 

Five candidates are running in the Sept. 13 primary.

Competitiveness data: New York

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive New York’s primaries were compared to recent cycles. The state legislative numbers include figures for both the state Senate primaries held earlier this week and the state Assembly primaries in June.

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.

Nevada voters to consider implementing top-five primaries

Nevada voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would implement a top-five primary system in their state on this year’s November ballot.

Earlier this year, Alaska became the first state to hold top-four congressional primaries. 

The Nevada proposal would allow five candidates to advance from the primary. It would adopt the new voting system for state executive and state legislative elections as well as congressional races. The measure would not affect presidential or local elections.

Alaska is not the first state to end the use of partisan primaries for congressional nominations. California and Washington use a top-two system in which only two candidates advance from the primary, eliminating the need for ranked-choice voting in the general election. 

Louisiana uses a majority-vote system which is similar to the top-two system but allows a candidate who wins more than 50% of the primary vote to win the election outright.

Although Maine still uses partisan primaries, it uses ranked-choice voting for general elections for Congress.

Supporters of the initiative include the Institute for Political Innovation and Vote Nevada. Opponents include Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D), and the state branch of the AFL-CIO.

Nevada requires that initiated constitutional amendments win approval twice before taking effect. This means voters would need to approve the measure again in 2024 if it passes this year before the new system is adopted. 

Between 1985 and 2020, 73% of citizen-initiated constitutional amendments that made the ballot in Nevada won approval after voters passed them twice.