CategoryState

Marcia Washington sworn into the Nevada State Senate

Marcia Washington (D) was sworn into the Nevada State Senate District 4 seat on March 18 to replace former Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson (D). Atkinson resigned his seat on March 5 after pleading guilty to using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal purposes.
 
Washington previously served on the Nevada State Board of Education and as a fire inspector in Clark County. She also previously worked for the Clark County School District.
 
The Clark County Commission unanimously chose Washington for the seat on March 15. She was one of 11 applicants for the position. Washington will serve the remainder of Atkinson’s term, which runs through 2020, and she has stated that she does not plan to run for a full term. Assemblywoman Dina Neal (D), who also applied for the seat, has said that she will run for the position in 2020.
 
Ten out of the Nevada State Senate’s 21 seats will be up for election in 2020. Of the 10 seats up for election, Democrats currently control seven and Republicans control three.
 
The Nevada State Senate has 13 Democrats and eight Republicans. Nevada currently has a Democratic trifecta, which is where one political party holds the governor’s office and controls both state legislative chambers. Nevada became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 when the party took control of the governor’s office.


Democrats hold Iowa State Senate seat where 2020 presidential candidates campaigned

Cedar Falls School Board member Eric Giddens (D) defeated former state Rep. Walt Rogers (R) in a special election for the District 30 seat in the Iowa State Senate. Giddens won with 57 percent of the vote to Rogers’ 42 percent.
 
The appearance of current and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in the district helped this race garner national attention. At least three candidates made appearances with Giddens, while others held separate campaign events in the district or sent staff to canvass for the Democratic candidate. The district voted Democratic in the past two presidential elections. In 2012, Obama won the district by 7.4 percent. In 2016, Clinton won the district by 3.5 percent.
 
The seat became vacant after Jeff Danielson (D) resigned on February 14, 2019. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 32-17 majority in the chamber. A party needs 34 votes in the Senate in order to override a gubernatorial veto, so the outcome of this election did not impact either partisan control or veto-proof supermajority status.


Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Ellis resigns after allegations of sexual misconduct

On March 18, 2019, Rep. Brian Ellis (R) resigned his seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Ellis, who represented Pennsylvania’s 11th state House district, said the following in his resignation letter: “It is with immense gratitude to the sacrifices made by my family, the support of my constituents, and the friendship of my colleagues that I have concluded that it is in my best interests of my family, the residents of the 11th House district, and my own health that I resign from the General Assembly.”
 
Ellis was accused of sexually assaulting a state capitol employee in October 2015. Ellis allegedly offered to help an acquaintance after she fell down in a bar by taking her to his home, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her. The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she did not consent to any sexual acts. The Philadelphia Inquirer first published an account of the allegations on January 24, 2019. On January 25, 2019, House Republican leaders issued a statement calling for Ellis’ resignation.
 
The leaders said Ellis should focus on his family and addressing the allegations, which were under criminal investigation by the Dauphin County district attorney. They also removed Ellis from his committee leadership positions and committee assignments, pending the outcome of the investigation. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) also called for Ellis to step down.
 
Vacancies in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are filled by special election. The presiding officer of the House must call for the election. The state constitution does not establish a timetable for special legislative elections.
 
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Did you know? Five facts about the office of governor

The governorship is the only top-level elected executive office to exist in all 50 states. However, the powers and responsibilities of the office vary from state to state.
 
Here are five things you may not know about the office of governor:
 
1. Republicans have held a majority of the nation’s gubernatorial offices since the 2010 elections. There are currently 27 Republican governors and 23 Democratic governors. In the 2018 elections, Democrats gained seven previously-Republican governorships while Republicans gained one previously-independent governorship.
 
2. Vermont and New Hampshire have two-year gubernatorial terms. The other 48 states use four-year terms. Thirty-five states limit the governor to two terms (or eight years) in office, and eight of those impose a lifetime two-term limit like that on the presidency. Virginia prohibits governors from being elected to two consecutive terms, and the remaining 14 states have no form of term limits.
 
3. Forty-four states give the governor line-item veto authority, allowing them to veto a specific part of a bill while signing the rest into law. Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont do not.
 
4. Most states have an official governors’ mansion. The five states that do not are Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Michigan is the only state to have two governors’ residences; an official mansion in Lansing and a summer home on Mackinac Island. Pennsylvania is the only state to also have an official lieutenant gubernatorial mansion.
 
5. Three states are holding elections for governor this year. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), who were each first elected in 2015, are running for re-election. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is prevented from running for re-election due to term limits.


Two city officials competing in Minnesota House special

The special election for District 11B of the Minnesota House of Representatives is on March 19. Hinckley City Councilman Tim Burkhardt (D) and Clover Township Board Supervisor Nathan Nelson (R) are facing off in the general election.

The seat became vacant after Jason Rarick (R) won a special election for District 11 of the Minnesota State Senate on February 5. Rarick had represented District 11B of the state House since 2015. He was re-elected in 2018 with 59.7 percent of the vote in the general election.

The Minnesota House of Representatives currently has 75 Democrats, 58 Republicans, and one vacancy. Minnesota has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.



Kentucky governor receives shortlist for supreme court nomination

On March 13, 2019, the Kentucky Judicial Nominating Commission sent three names to Gov. Matt Bevin (R) as possible choices to fill a vacancy on the Kentucky Supreme Court. The justice Bevin selects will be his first appointment to the seven-member court.
 
The three possible nominees are:
  1. David Buckingham: Judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals from 1997 to 2005 and judge on a circuit court from 1987 to 1996.
  2. Tyler L. Gill: Judge on a circuit court since 1995 and on a district court from 1993 to 1995.
  3. Carla Williams: Judge on a circuit court since 2004.
 
The vacancy was created by the retirement of Justice Bill Cunningham. Under state law, if there is a midterm vacancy on the state supreme court, the governor appoints a successor from a list of three names provided by the Kentucky Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission is made up of the chief justice of the court, two attorneys elected by the Kentucky Bar Association, and four citizens appointed by the governor equally split by political party.
 
A special election will take place in November 2019 for the remainder of Cunningham’s term, which expires in January 2023. Bevin’s replacement will serve until the winner of that election is sworn in, and may choose to run in the November special election.


Eight state legislative special elections result in no partisan flips, but ninth race headed to runoff

Nine state legislative elections were held across six states on March 12, 2019. Seven were general elections, and two—one in Georgia and one in Texas—were general runoff elections. Four elections were called due to the previous incumbent being elected to different positions, three were called due to appointments to different positions, and one each was called due to a resignation and a death. Democratic incumbents previously held six of the seats, and Republican incumbents previously held the other three seats.

The special elections in Mississippi all featured nonpartisan candidates, although regular Mississippi elections are partisan. Mississippi House Districts 32 and 71 were previously held by Democrats, and House District 101 was previously held by a Republican. Both seats previously held by Democrats were won outright in the general, but the District 101 race advanced to a general runoff after none of the five candidates received over 50 percent of the vote. The general runoff election is scheduled for April 2, 2019.

In Maine House District 124, Pennsylvania House Districts 114 and 190, and Texas House District 125, Democratic candidates were elected to replace their Democratic predecessors. Similarly, Republican candidates won election to seats previously held by Republican incumbents in Georgia House District 176 and Tennessee House District 32.

A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Maine holds a Democratic trifecta. Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas have Republican trifectas. Pennsylvania is under divided government.

As of March 2019, 45 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.



Burchett wins runoff in Georgia House of Representatives

James Burchett (R) defeated Franklin Patten (R) in a runoff election on Tuesday, March 12, to become the next representative for Georgia House of Representatives District 176.

The district became vacant after former Rep. Jason Shaw (R) was appointed to serve on the Georgia Public Service Commission starting on January 1, 2019. Burchett and Patten advanced to a runoff after defeating two other candidates in the special general election on February 12.

Georgia is currently a Republican trifecta—a state where one political party holds the governor’s office and controls both state legislative chambers. Georgia became a Republican trifecta in 2005 when the Republican Party took control of the state House.



Party nominees chosen for Connecticut special election

The District 19 seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives is up for special election on April 16. On March 8 and March 9, political parties held conventions to select their nominees. The Democratic nominee is Tammy Exum, and the Republican nominee is Robert Margolis.

Derek Slap (D), the previous District 19 representative, vacated the seat on February 26 after he won a special election for the District 5 seat in the Connecticut State Senate. Slap was first elected to the state House in 2016 with more than 53 percent of the vote, and he ran unopposed for re-election in 2018. The prior officeholder, Brian Becker (D), was elected in 2010 and re-elected in both 2012 and 2014.

Entering the special election, the Connecticut House of Representatives has 90 Democrats, 60 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 76 seats. Connecticut has a Democratic trifecta, which exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

As of March 12, 45 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.



Gov. Cooper appoints judge to North Carolina Supreme Court

On March 11, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) appointed North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Mark Davis as an associate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Davis will succeed Justice Cheri Beasley, who was previously elevated to the position of chief justice. Davis will assume office on April 8, 2019. Davis must run for election in 2020 to remain an associate justice.

The associate justice position was vacant following Chief Justice Mark Martin’s retirement on February 28 and Beasley’s elevation as chief justice. In the event a supreme court justice retires midterm, he or she is replaced via gubernatorial appointment. Otherwise, selection of North Carolina Supreme Court justices primarily occurs through partisan elections. Supreme court justices serve eight-year terms.

Davis was appointed to the state court of appeals by Gov. Bev Perdue (D) on December 31, 2012. He was elected to serve a full term on the court in 2014. Before his judicial career, Davis was general counsel for Gov. Perdue from 2011 to 2012 and was a special deputy attorney general for the state Department of Justice from 2006 to 2011.

Davis received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He received a master of laws (LL.M.) degree in judicial studies from Duke University School of Law in 2018.

At the time of Davis’ appointment, the seven-member court included the following members:
–Cheri Beasley – Initially appointed by Gov. Beverly Perdue (D)
–Anita Earls – Elected in 2018 (D)
–Sam Ervin – Elected in 2014
–Robin Hudson – Elected in 2006
–Michael Morgan – Elected in 2016
–Paul Martin Newby – Elected in 2004

Although the justices elected between 2004 and 2016 were elected in nonpartisan elections, Justice Newby is known as the sole Republican on the court.