CategoryState

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) sworn into office

On January 8, 2019, Ron DeSantis (R) was sworn in as Florida’s 46th governor. DeSantis succeeds Rick Scott (R), who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018, as governor. His lieutenant governor is Jeanette Nunez (R).
 
DeSantis is a former United States Representative from Florida. He defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) in the gubernatorial election, which Ballotpedia designated as a 2018 battleground election.
 
Prior to the 2018 election, Florida was a Republican trifecta, and the state retained that status following the election. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.


Democrats win majority in Colorado State Senate and gain trifecta control

Colorado state legislators were sworn in on January 4, 2019, and for the first time since 2012, Democrats gained control of the state Senate. Since Democrats also maintained control of the state House and the governorship, the outcome of the 2018 election made Colorado into a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
Seventeen of the Colorado Senate seats were up for election in 2018. Going into the election, Republicans held 18 seats, Democrats held 16, and one seat was held by an independent. Ballotpedia identified six battleground races where the incumbent had last won with less than 55 percent of the vote in 2014. These battleground races took place in Districts 5, 11, 16, 20, 22, and 24. Prior to the election, three of these battleground seats were held by Democrats (one of whom was term-limited in 2018), two by Republicans, and one by an independent (who was also term-limited in 2018). Democrats won all six of the battleground races and shifted the chamber’s partisan balance to 19 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
 
In addition to Colorado, five other states also became Democratic trifectas as a result of the 2018 elections: Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York.


Candidate filing deadline passes to fill seven vacant Louisiana House of Representatives seats

On January 11, the filing deadline passed to run in the special primary on February 23 to fill vacancies in seven Louisiana House of Representatives districts: 12, 17, 18, 26, 27, 47, and 62. Louisiana’s filing deadline was the sixth special election filing deadline covered by Ballotpedia this year. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary, a general election will be held on March 30 between the top two vote recipients.
 
The special elections were triggered after three Democrats and four Republicans resigned from their seats to either take another job or serve in another elected position. Heading into 2019, the Louisiana House is controlled by the Republican Party, with 59 Republican members, 36 Democratic members, three independent members, and seven vacancies.
 
All 105 seats in the Louisiana House of Representatives are up for election in 2019. The primary is on October 12 and the general election will be held on November 16, if necessary. The regular candidate filing deadline is August 8, 2019.


Filing deadline for Texas House District 125 special election

A special election for Texas House of Representatives District 125 has been called for February 12, 2019. Candidates wishing to run in this election are required to file by January 14, 2019. Justin Rodriguez (D) vacated the seat after he was appointed in January 2019 to serve as the Precinct 2 representative on the Bexar County Commissioners Court. Rodriguez held the seat from 2013 to 2019.
 
Three special elections have already been called to fill vacancies in the Texas House of Representatives in 2019, and all three seats were previously held by Democratic representatives. By comparison, five special elections for the Texas State Legislature were called in 2018, three to replace Republican legislators and two to replace Democratic legislators. Texas did not hold any state legislative special elections in 2017.
 
As of January, 24 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 12 states for 13 Democratic seats and 11 Republican seats. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Following the November 2018 election, the Texas House of Representatives had 67 Democrats and 83 Republicans. A majority in the chamber requires 76 seats. Texas has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.


Date set for Pennsylvania State Senate special election

A special election has been called for the District 37 seat of the Pennsylvania State Senate on April 2, 2019. This is the third special state legislative election scheduled in Pennsylvania this year; Pennsylvania House Districts 114 and 190 are up for election on March 12.
 
District 37 was left vacant after its previous officeholder, Guy Reschenthaler (R), was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House on November 6, 2018.
 
Candidates running for special elections in Pennsylvania are selected by their respective political parties. Independent candidates can file a petition with the state to run in a special election. The deadline for party nominations and independent petition filing is February 11, 2019.


Four candidates file to run in Georgia House special election

The candidate filing deadline passed on January 8 for the special election in District 176 of the Georgia House of Representatives. Barbara Griffin (D), Barbara Seidman (D), James Burchett (R), and Franklin Patten (R) filed to run in the special election being held on February 12. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held between the top two candidates on March 12.
 
District 176 became vacant after Jason Shaw (R) was appointed to serve the remainder of H. Doug Everett’s term on the Georgia Public Service Commission, beginning January 1, 2019. Shaw was elected to District 176 in 2010, which was also the only year in which he faced general election opposition. He won in 2010 with 69 percent of the vote.
 
The Georgia House of Representatives currently has 64 Democrats, 112 Republicans, and four vacancies. Another special election is being held in District 5, which has gone to a runoff scheduled for February 5. Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
In 2019, 21 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.


Six candidates file to run in Minnesota State Senate special election

The candidate filing deadline passed on January 8 for the special election in District 11 of the Minnesota State Senate. Michelle Lee and Stu Lourey will face off in the Democratic primary on January 22. Justin Krych, Carl Pederson, Jason Rarick, and Matthias Shir are running in the Republican primary. The general election will take place on February 5.
 
District 11 became vacant when Tony Lourey (D) resigned in January 2019 after Gov. Tim Walz (D) appointed Lourey to serve as human services commissioner. Lourey was elected to District 11 in 2006. He last won re-election in 2016 with 55 percent of the vote. Stu Lourey is his son.
 
The Minnesota State Senate currently has 32 Democrats, 34 Republicans, and one vacancy. Minnesota currently operates under divided government. Republicans control the state senate, Democrats gained control of the state house in the 2018 elections, and the governorship is held by Tim Walz (D).
 
In 2019, 21 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.


Kentucky governor to face at least seven challengers in 2019

Democrats and Republicans are lining up to challenge Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in his 2019 re-election bid. The incumbent closed out 2018 with a 34 percent approval rating—the lowest of any governor who is set to remain in office after the 2018 midterm elections.
 
Four Democratic candidates have announced they are running for governor: Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, state Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, and retired engineer Geoff Young.
 
Beshear, the son of Kentucky’s last Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, was the first to announce his candidacy last year. He entered 2019 with the most cash on hand with more than $850,000.
 
Adkins, who has been in the state legislature for three decades, is counting on his eastern Kentucky background and support for coal to appeal to rural voters across the state. Adkins was re-elected to the state legislature in 2016 with 66 percent of the vote, even as his county backed Donald Trump (R) for president.
 
Bevin also faces a challenge from within his own party. State Rep. Robert Goforth announced he was entering the Republican primary with Lawrence County attorney Mike Hogan as his running mate on Tuesday. Goforth is a relative newcomer to politics, having first been elected to serve in the Kentucky House of Representatives in a special election in February 2018.
 
U.S. Rep. James Comer, who lost to Bevin in the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary by 83 votes, also said he would run for the office if Bevin decided not to seek re-election. Although Bevin has repeatedly said he intends to run again, he has not yet filed paperwork to do so.
 
Truck driver Bryan Messenger and manager William Woods are also running in the Republican primary.
 
The filing deadline for candidates is January 29, 2019.


Florida governor makes first state supreme court appointment

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed Florida Third District Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa to succeed Fred Lewis on the Florida Supreme Court. Lewis retired from the court on January 7 after reaching the mandatory retirement age. Lagoa is DeSantis’ first appointment to the seven-member court. Her appointment is effective immediately.
 
Lagoa was a judge on the Florida Third District Court of Appeal from 2006 to 2019. She was appointed to the appellate court by Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in June 2006. She worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida from 2003 to 2006.
 
Lagoa graduated from Florida International University in 1989 and received her J.D. from Columbia University in 1992. During her legal studies, Lagoa served on the Columbia Law Review.
 
Retiring Justice Lewis was an associate justice of the Florida Supreme Court from 1998 to 2019. Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) appointed Lewis to the court. He served as chief justice of the court from 2006 to 2008.
 
Two supreme court seats remain vacant following the January 7 retirements of Justices Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente.


Previewing 2019’s state executive races

Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are the only three states holding regularly-scheduled elections for state executive positions in 2019. All three states have governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, and treasurer offices on the ballot. Other state executive positions up for election include auditor in Kentucky and Mississippi, insurance commissioner in Louisiana and Mississippi, and public service commissioner in Mississippi. In total, 23 executive positions are on the ballot. There were 303 state executive seats up for election across 43 states in 2018.
 
Two of the sitting governors, Matt Bevin (R) in Kentucky and John Bel Edwards (D) in Louisiana, are completing their first terms. Bevin announced in August 2018 that he plans to run for re-election but has not filed to do so yet. Edwards is also running for re-election to a second term. In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) was first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. He is ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits, which leaves an open seat.
 
Following the 2018 election, there are 27 Republican governors and 23 Democratic governors across the United States. There were 36 governorships on the ballot in 2018, and there are another 11 up for election in 2020. Of the 14 governor’s offices up for election across 2019 and 2020, nine are currently held by Republicans. Only one of those 14 elections have received a toss-up rating from Sabato’s Crystal Ball, however, and that is the Montana seat currently held by term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D) and up for election in 2020. The Cook Political Report did not identify any of the races as a toss-up; they rated the Montana race as Leans Democratic as of January 9, 2019.
 
The 2019 state executive filing deadlines are January 29 in Kentucky, March 1 in Mississippi, and August 8 in Louisiana. The primaries are on May 21 in Kentucky, August 6 in Mississippi, and October 12 in Louisiana. Mississippi will hold primary runoffs on August 27 if no primary candidate receives a simple majority of the vote. General elections will occur on November 5 in Kentucky and Mississippi and November 16 in Louisiana.


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