One-fourth of contested Kentucky state executive primaries since 2007 have been decided by less than 5 percent

Twenty-six percent of contested state executive primaries in the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 2007 have been decided by five percentage points or less, including four where the winner’s margin of victory was less than one percent of total votes cast.
All four of the races decided by less than one percent during this time were Republican primaries, and all of them were for open seats in the general election.
These four primaries decided by less than one percent were:
  • in 2007, the Republican primary for state treasurer was won by Melinda Wheeler by 1,107 votes, or 0.7 percent, over Lonnie Napier. In the general election that year, Todd Hollenbach (D) won the open-seat race over Wheeler.
  • in 2011, the Republican primary for secretary of state was won by Bill Johnson by 1,108 votes, or 0.8 percent, over Hilda Legg. Johnson was defeated in the open-seat contest in the general election by current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D).
  • in 2015, Ryan Quarles won the Republican primary for agriculture commissioner by 1,429 votes, or 0.8 percent, over Richard Heath. Quarles then defeated Jean-Marie Lawson Spann (D) in the open-seat contest that November.
  • in 2015, Matt Bevin won the Republican primary for governor by 83 votes out of more than 214,000 votes cast, or 0.04 percent, over then-Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Bevin went on to win the open-seat governor’s race over Attorney General Jack Conway (D) in November 2015.
Kentucky elects six constitutional officers every four years – governor/lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and commissioner of agriculture. Over the past three election cycles (2007, 2011, and 2015), 23 primaries held during this time were contested, an average of just under eight per year. In 2019, there are nine contested primary elections in Kentucky for these offices – four Republican and five Democratic – which will take place on May 21.
Click here to see a chart showing the distribution of the margin of victory in contested Kentucky state executive primaries from 2007 to 2015.

Two Georgia Republicans competing in February 5 special runoff

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.
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 has 75 Democrats, 103 Republicans, and two 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.

North Carolina gets new state board of elections with NC-09 investigation still pending

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) appointed three Democrats and two Republicans to the new North Carolina State Board of Elections: Stella Anderson (D), David Black (R), Jeff Carmon III (D), Bob Cordle (D), and Ken Raymond (R). Cordle was elected chairman of the board Thursday.
Reaching a conclusion in the 2018 election for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, where there is an ongoing investigation into alleged election fraud, is the top priority of the new board. Four board votes are required to order a new election and three votes are required to certify the current returns that have Mark Harris (R) leading Dan McCready (D) by 905 votes. At least one board member must cross party lines to move forward on the race.
The board will also work to implement new voter identification requirements and evaluate voting equipment for upcoming elections.

The 1981 Alaska House has parallels to current leadership deadlock

The Alaska House of Representatives has not yet formed a majority. Twenty-one members are needed to elect a permanent House speaker, and only 20 of the chamber’s 23 Republicans are in alliance.
The history of the House shows that narrow majorities formed after lengthy bargaining periods have failed before.
In 1981, the Alaska House set the state record for the longest period without a majority in place. Democrats won 22 of 40 seats in the 1980 elections, but their members were unable to agree on the leadership of the Finance Committee. Twenty-two days after the session began, Democrats formed their majority and elected Rep. Jim Duncan (D) as speaker.
In June 1981, several Democrats unhappy with Duncan, particularly over the length of time he kept them in session, joined with Republicans to depose Duncan. They elected Rep. Joe Hayes (R) as speaker in his place. Duncan and his allies attempted to sue the new majority over the incident, but an Alaska superior court dismissed their case.
One of the unaligned Republicans today, Rep. Gary Knopp, says he will not join with other Republicans because he believes a 21-member majority would be unstable. In December 2018, he said he believed the majority would unravel in the middle of the legislative session if Rep. David Eastman (R) was among its members. The Alaska Daily News reported that Eastman was the sole “no” vote against legislation 75 times from 2017 to 2018 and that he had more solo “no” votes than all other legislators combined from 2013 to 2016. Because of this, Knopp says he wants to form a bipartisan power-sharing coalition with members from both parties.
Eastman responded to Knopp’s plans in a January 28 op-ed. He questioned whether the proposed bipartisan coalition would accurately represent the result that Alaskans voted for in 2018 when Mike Dunleavy (R) was elected governor over Mark Begich (D). Eastman originally did not align with other Republicans behind caucus leader David Talerico, saying he might want a more conservative leader. However, Eastman joined all Republicans except Knopp, Gabrielle LeDoux, and Louise Stutes in voting for Talerico as speaker on January 22. LeDoux and Stutes both caucused with Democrats from 2017 to 2018.

Minnesota State Senate District 11 special election on Tuesday

A special election in Minnesota State Senate District 11 will take place Tuesday. If state Rep. Jason Rarick (R) wins the special election, Republicans will gain a 3-seat majority in the chamber. If Stu Lourey (DFL) wins, Republicans will again hold a 1-seat majority.
Lourey, Rarick, and Legal Marijuana Now candidate John Birrenbach are running in the special election. The election was called when state Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL)—who is Stu Lourey’s father—resigned in January 2019 after Governor Tim Walz (DFL) appointed Tony Lourey to serve as human services commissioner.
The district has been represented by a Lourey since 1997. Tony Lourey was in the seat since 2007, and his mother, Becky Lourey (DFL), held the seat from 1997 to 2007. Donald Trump (R) won the district in the 2016 presidential election by 13 points.
Before Tony Lourey’s resignation, Republicans held a 34-33 majority in the state Senate. Republicans gained that majority in the special election for Minnesota State Senate District 13 won by Jeff Howe (R) on November 6, 2018. The state Senate had been split 33-33 since May 2018, when Michelle Fischbach (R) resigned to serve as lieutenant governor.
Democrats control the governorship and the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Governor appoints Ives to fill New Mexico Court of Appeals vacancy

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) appointed Zachary Ives to the New Mexico Court of Appeals on January 31. He was appointed to replace Justice Michael Vigil, who was elected to the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2018.
Ives earned his B.A. from Vassar College in 1995 and his J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2000. His professional experience includes working in private practice for 17 years and as a clerk under Chief Justice Pamela Minzner of the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Gov. Lujan Grisham picked Ives from a list of six candidates provided by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Grisham said about Ives that, “I’m pleased to name an accomplished legal mind in Zachary Ives to this seat. He has broad experience, having represented clients at every level of our state and federal systems, and a demonstrated commitment to the craft of legal writing and reasoning.”

Kentucky filing deadline review

Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline passed on January 29, 2019. Seven state executive offices are up for general election on November 5: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer. Primary elections are scheduled for May 21.
Ballotpedia will also cover special judicial elections for a seat on the State Court of Appeals and a seat on the 22nd Circuit Court. Both were called after the previous officeholders were elected to higher judicial offices.
Gov. Matt Bevin (R), Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon (R), and State Treasurer Allison Ball (R) all filed for re-election. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) was not able to file for re-election due to term limits, and Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) filed to run for governor. Incumbents Harmon and Ball will not face challengers in the Republican primary, and candidate Gregory Stumbo is unopposed in the Democratic primary for attorney general. All other primaries have at least two candidates.
A total of 40 candidates filed for the seven state executive seats up for election, including 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans. The offices of governor and secretary of state are tied for the most candidates, with each seeing four Democratic and four Republican candidates running in the primary. The two special judicial elections drew eight total candidates—two for the Court of Appeals and six for the Circuit Court.
Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline was the second to take place in the 2019 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 1 in Mississippi. Kentucky has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Special election candidates set for Pennsylvania State Senate seat

Democratic and Republican committees have chosen candidates to run in the Pennsylvania State Senate District 37 special election. Pam Iovino (D) and D. Raja (R) are facing off in the general election on April 2. Candidates running for special elections in Pennsylvania are selected by their respective political parties rather than through primary elections.
The District 37 seat became vacant after Guy Reschenthaler (R) was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House on November 6, 2018. Reschenthaler had served in the state Senate since 2015. He was last re-elected in 2016 with 60.7 percent of the vote.
The Pennsylvania State Senate currently has 28 Republicans, 21 Democrats, and one vacancy. Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
In 2019, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 15 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

New York Legislature approves extreme risk protection order bill

New York’s legislature sent a firearms regulation bill to Governor Cuomo earlier this week.
The New York State Legislature approved SB 2451 along party lines on January 29. According to the New York State Senate website, the bill “establishes extreme risk protection orders as a court-issued order of protection prohibiting a person from purchasing, possessing or attempting to purchase or possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun.”
The bill, introduced by Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-District 26), authorizes law enforcement officers, family members, and certain school officials to ask a court to issue an order restricting a person deemed likely to harm themselves or others from accessing firearms.
Kavanagh said in a statement, “Until now, this bill, which we have been working to pass for several years, has been blocked by Senate Republicans.”
Republicans opposed to the bill, such as Sen. Pamela Helming (R-District 54) said it would “infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens.” Assm. William Barclay (R-District 120) said the bill was passed too quickly without public input or a “willingness to accept reasonable input from people who want to ensure that New Yorkers are safe but also worry about the infringement on people’s Second Amendment rights.”
Prior to the 2018 elections, New York had a divided government. Democrats held the governor’s office and the state House while Republicans controlled the State Senate. The Democratic Party gained a trifecta in 2018 by taking control of the State Senate. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
Extreme risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws, gun violence restraining orders, or ERPOs, authorize family members, household members, and law enforcement officers to petition a court to restrict an individual’s access to firearms. If the court finds that the person presents a danger to him- or herself or others, the person must surrender his or her firearms to law enforcement officials and is prohibited from buying, selling, or possessing firearms for a certain amount of time.
As of January 2019, 13 states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—had enacted laws authorizing courts to issue extreme risk protection orders.

Most popular governors of 2018 continue to top charts in fourth quarter

America’s three most popular governors throughout 2018 remained the most popular in the fourth quarter of the year, according to a poll of gubernatorial approval ratings conducted by Morning Consult. The quarterly poll measures approval ratings for all 50 state governors.
For the eighth consecutive quarter, Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) was the most popular governor in the country. His 72 percent approval rating was his strongest in the Morning Consult poll since the first quarter of 2017. Baker was followed by Larry Hogan (R-Md.), marking his eighth consecutive quarter in second place. Kay Ivey (R-Ala.) came in third place for a sixth consecutive quarter with 63 percent.
The least popular governor was Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) with a 16 percent approval rating. She was followed by Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) with 20 percent and Bruce Rauner (R-Ill.) with 25 percent. All three recently left office. Fallin was term-limited, Malloy did not run for re-election, and Rauner lost his re-election bid to J.B. Pritzker (D).
David Ige (D-Hawaii) experienced the largest increase in approval rating during 2018: it went up 17 percentage points from 37 percent in the first quarter to 54 percent in the fourth. Ige was followed by Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) and Tom Wolf (D-Penn.), who each gained 7 percentage points in approval over the course of the year.
Click here to see how your governor compares.