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.
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 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.
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.
On January 8, Jesse Vaughn (R) and Matt Barton (R) defeated four other candidates in a special general election for the District 5 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. Vaughn and Barton advanced to a special runoff election scheduled for February 5, 2019. According to the unofficial results, Barton surpassed the third-place finisher, J. Scott Tidwell (R), by a margin of 76 votes out of 3,520 total votes cast.
The seat was previously held by John D. Meadows III (R), who passed away on November 12, 2018. Meadows was first elected to the office in 2004. He won his last re-election bid on November 6, 2018, with more than 81 percent of the vote against challenger Brian Rosser (D). Rosser was also the only Democratic candidate to file in the special election to replace Meadows, and he finished in fifth place with less than 5 percent of the vote. Meadows ran unopposed in the 2018 Republican primary and won re-election unopposed in 2014 and 2016. He had served as the chair of the chamber’s Rules Committee.
Entering the special election, the Georgia House of Representatives had 64 Democrats, 112 Republicans, and four vacancies. Another special election is scheduled on February 12 for the District 176 seat, which was previously held by Jason Shaw (R). A majority in the chamber requires 91 seats. 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.
State Del. Jennifer Boysko (D) defeated former state Del. Joe T. May (R) in the special election for Virginia State Senate District 33 on Tuesday. Boysko received 69.8 percent of the vote to May’s 30.1 percent.
This was the highest margin of victory in the district since 2003, when William Mims (R) ran in an uncontested race.
Incumbent Jennifer Wexton (D) won election to Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in the 2018 midterm, leaving the seat vacant.
Republicans will continue to hold a 21-19 majority in the state Senate and all 40 seats are up for election on November 5, 2019. If Democrats flip the state Senate and the State House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a 51-49 majority, Virginia will become a Democratic state trifecta.
Democrats emerged from the 2018 elections with trifecta control of 14 states—a net gain of six states.
With a new year, comes a new batch of state legislators. Thousands of legislators will be sworn into office this month. In the November 2018 general elections, 322 incumbent legislators were defeated. Including the incumbents who retired or were defeated in primaries, the 2019 legislative sessions will see 1,599 new state legislators taking their oath of office. The new legislators reflect 21.7% of all state legislators nationwide.
Today, seven states are swearing in legislators:
Three fun facts about state legislators being sworn in this term:
1) Fifteen states have term limits, accounting for 1,930 of all state legislative seats (26.1%).
2) Two legislators have been in office since the 1960s.
The longest-serving state representative, Republican Tom Craddick, began his tenure in 1969. This is his 50th year in the Texas State Legislature. He is one of two state legislators elected in the 1960s.
The other is Fred Risser, Democratic state senator from Wisconsin.
3) More than 15 percent of state legislators were elected before the year 2000:
1960s: 2 (<0.1%)
1970s: 41 (<0.1%)
1980s: 101 (1.3%)
1990s: 984 (13.3%)
The remaining 7,383 legislators (84.7%) were all elected in the 21st century.
Today, legislators in New York will be sworn in. In the state Senate, this marks a change of power from a Republican-led coalition to a Democratic majority. Although Democrats have held a numerical majority in the chamber since 2012, a faction of Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Caucus aligned with the chamber’s Republicans, helping create a coalition majority. Democrats now have 40 members in the chamber while Republicans have 23. Prior to the election, Democrats held a 32-31 numerical majority. New York was previously a Democratic trifecta from 2009 to 2010; in every other year since 1992 it has been under divided government.
New York is one of six states to change from a divided government to a Democratic trifecta as a result of the 2018 elections. It joins Democratic pickups in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and Nevada. Democrats also gained ground in four other states: Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. These states moved from Republican trifectas to divided government.
Prior to the 2018 elections, 20 percent of Americans lived under a Democratic trifecta, 48 percent under a Republican trifecta, and 31 percent under divided government. Once all lawmakers elected in 2018 are sworn in, 35 percent of Americans will live under a Democratic trifecta, 42 percent under a Republican trifecta, and 24 percent under divided government.
Rep. Larry Householder (R) was elected as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives on January 7 by a coalition of 26 Republicans and 26 Democrats. Thirty-four Republicans, who hold a 61-38 majority in the chamber, voted for sitting House Speaker Ryan Smith (R). No Democrat ran for the position.
In the May 2018 Republican primaries, Smith and Householder supported opposing candidates in 20 races. Householder-backed candidates won 15, Smith-backed candidates won 3, and candidates affiliated with neither won two.
In June 2018, Smith was elected as the interim speaker after Republican Cliff Rosenberger resigned early due to an FBI investigation into his activities with lobbyists. Householder-aligned Republicans opposed Smith’s speakership bid, which he won with 44 votes in a four-way race with Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn and two other Republicans.
This will be Householder’s second stint as speaker, following a term from 2001 to 2004 after he beat Bill Harris, who was backed by outgoing Speaker Jo Ann Davidson (R). Similar to the 2018 primaries, Householder supported successful primary challengers against candidates aligned with Harris and Davidson.
Householder is one of at least six state speakers elected with support from only a minority of the majority party since 1995.
Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R) is one example. He was elected speaker in 2009 after the Republican majority fell to 76-74 in the 2008 elections. He unseated the sitting speaker, Tom Craddick (R), with support from 72 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
Similarly, California Assembly Democrats helped elect two Republican speakers in 1995 after Republicans won a 41-39 majority in the 1994 elections. The speakers were both opposed by a majority of the Republican caucus.
On January 4, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld Bart LeBon’s (R) one-vote victory over Kathryn Dodge (D) in the Alaska House District 1 election.
The court affirmed a finding by special master Eric Aarseth that the State Division of Elections acted properly when it held a recount in the race. Dodge had appealed the recount result, arguing that several ballots were improperly counted for LeBon.
The conclusion of the legal battle in District 1 means that all 40 seats in the Alaska House have been decided—Republicans won 23, Democrats won 16, and a Democratic-aligned independent won District 36.
However, control of the chamber is not yet decided because only 19 Republicans have committed to caucusing together. Here are the four Republicans who have not committed:
• Rep. David Eastman (R) said he would likely join with other Republicans, but he might want a more conservative speaker than David Talerico (R), the caucus’ original choice.
• Rep. Gary Knopp (R) originally said he would caucus with the other Republicans, but he left the caucus in mid-December, saying that a one-member majority would be unstable. He announced his intention to form a 24-member bipartisan majority caucus with power sharing between the parties.
• Reps. Louise Stutes (R) and Gabrielle LeDoux (R) caucused with Democrats from 2017 to 2018 and signed onto a letter in late December announcing their intention to join a bipartisan coalition again.
If no majority has organized the chamber by January 15, Lieutenant Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) will preside over the chamber (or appoint a speaker pro tempore) until the House decides its organization.
If Republicans organize a majority, they will have gained trifecta control of the state in the 2018 elections. If they do not, the state will operate under divided government.
The chamber was controlled by a Democratic-led bipartisan majority caucus from 2017 to 2018 even though Republicans won 21 of 40 seats in the 2016 elections.