CategoryState

Gov. Sununu (R) to nominate Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to New Hampshire Supreme Court

On January 6, 2021, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that he will renominate Attorney General Gordan MacDonald (R) to the New Hampshire State Supreme Court. 

In New Hampshire, the governor makes nominations to the state supreme court and those nominees are then subject to the approval of the Executive Council. In order for the nominee to become a justice on the court, a majority of the members of the council must vote to approve them. 

Sununu appointed MacDonald to the State Supreme Court in 2019, but the Executive Council rejected MacDonald’s nomination. Councilman Andru Volinksy (D) stated, “Mr. MacDonald has worked for and supported highly partisan politicians with shockingly extreme views.” After MacDonald was rejected, Sununu left the seat vacant throughout 2020. Sununu said, “If someone of Gordon MacDonald’s character and background is going to be dragged through the mud like this, why would I dare do it to anybody else?”

The first time Sununu nominated MacDonald, there were three Democrats and two Republicans on the Executive Council. In November 2020, every seat on the Executive Council was up for election. The balance on the Executive Council is now one Democrat and four Republicans. 

In our Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship study, we analyzed the partisan data on each state supreme court in the country. In our study, we found that two justices on the court have Republican affiliations, one justice on the court has Democratic affiliations, and one justice on the court has an indeterminate party affiliation. If the Executive Council approves MacDonald, a majority of the justices on the court will have Republican party affiliations.

Additional Reading:

New Hampshire Executive Council election, 2020

Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship



Special election to be held Jan. 19 in Alabama state House district

A special general election is being held on January 19 for District 33 of the Alabama House of Representatives. Fred Crum (D) and Ben Robbins (R) are running in the general election. The winner will serve until November 2022.

The seat became vacant after the death of Ronald Johnson (R). Johnson had represented the district since 1978. He last won re-election in 2018, earning 67% of the vote in the general election.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 76-28 majority in the Alabama House. Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of January, 15 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 10 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:



New York, Kentucky ease school restrictions, New Mexico, West Virginia start temporary school closures

On Jan. 4, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced schools could remain open in communities with 9% or greater positivity rates if positivity among students and school staff was lower than in the surrounding community. Previously, the state required schools to close in communities where the positivity rate was 9% or greater.

The same day, Kentucky’s Healthy at School guidelines became mandatory and middle and high schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction.

Temporary statewide school closures also began in New Mexico and West Virginia. New Mexico’s closure is effective through Jan. 15, while schools in West Virginia are closed through Jan. 18. 

The nationwide status of school closures and reopenings is as follows:

  1. Two states (N.M., W.Va.) and Washington, D.C. have state- or district-ordered school closures
  2. 2016-17 enrollment: 695,968 students (1.38% of students nationwide)
  3. Five states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., R.I.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only
  4. 2016-17 enrollment: 8,319,164 students (16.44% of students nationwide)
  5. Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
  6. 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  7. Thirty-nine states leave decisions to schools or districts
  8. 2016-17 enrollment: 32,391,809 students (64.03% of students nationwide)


Republican incumbent re-elected to Public Service Commission in Georgia’s statewide runoff election

District 4 Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. (R) won re-election to Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. He defeated challenger Daniel Blackman (D) with 50.6% of the vote, according to unofficial results posted on January 7. There were 4.40 million votes cast in the race.

The runoff was held after no candidates received a majority of the vote in the general election on November 3, 2020. McDonald received the highest number of votes in that race, winning 49.9% of the 4.84 million votes cast, roughly 0.1 percentage points below what he needed in order to win the election outright. Blackman received 47.0% of the vote, and Libertarian candidate Nathan Wilson received 3.1% of the vote.

While the PSC race had the lowest total votes of the night, McDonald received the third-highest number of votes (2.22 million votes), behind U.S. Senate challengers Raphael Warnock (D) (2.26 million) and Jon Ossoff (D) (2.24 million). Both Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) (2.19 million) and Sen. David Perdue (R) (2.20 million) received fewer votes than McDonald. Each U.S. Senate race saw approximately 4.45 million total votes.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities—that is, electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms—and is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms.

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.

Additional reading:



Five candidates file to run in Texas state House special election

Candidates interested in running in a special election for the District 68 seat in the Texas House of Representatives had until January 4, 2021, to file. The special election will be held on January 23.

Five candidates—Charles Gregory (D), John Berry (R), Jason Brinkley (R), Craig Carter (R), and David Spiller (R)—filed to run in the special election.

The special election became necessary after Drew Springer (R) won a special election to Texas State Senate District 30 on December 19, 2020. Springer was elected to the state House in 2012. He won re-election in 2020 with 85.5% of the vote.

Texas has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by an 18-12 margin with one vacancy and the state House by an 83-67 margin.

As of January 2021, 14 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 10 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:



New Oregon Secretary of State sworn in; state becomes Democratic triplex

On January 4, Shemia Fagan (D) took her oath of office as Oregon Secretary of State. This gives Democrats triplex control of the state because Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum are both Democrats. A triplex occurs when one party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. There are 20 Republican triplexes and 18 Democratic triplexes.

Oregon already had a Democratic trifecta, where one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.

In 32 states, the same political party has both a trifecta and a triplex. Republicans hold such positions in 19 states, while Democrats hold it in 13. Of the 18 states without both a trifecta and a triplex of the same party, six have only a trifecta, six have only a triplex, and six have neither.

Additional reading:



Newly elected Montana state executives take office; state becomes Republican trifecta and triplex

On January 4, Governor Greg Gianforte (R), Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras (R), Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen (R), and Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) took oaths of office in Montana. Each won election in the general election on November 3, 2020.

Gianforte’s victory returned control of the governorship to Republicans (from previous Democratic governor Steve Bullock), who also held onto control of the secretary of state and attorney general offices. This gives Republicans both trifecta and triplex control in the state. A trifecta occurs when one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. A triplex occurs when one party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

Across the country, there are currently 23 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas. There are 20 Republican triplexes and 17 Democratic triplexes.

In 31 states, the same political party has both a trifecta and a triplex. Republicans hold such positions in 19 states, while Democrats hold it in 12. Of the 19 states without both a trifecta and a triplex of the same party, seven have only a trifecta, six have only a triplex, and six have neither.



Voters to decide Georgia’s U.S. Senate races

Georgia was the only state to hold two Senate elections in 2020. In addition to the regularly scheduled election for the seat David Perdue (R) won in 2014, a special election was held to fill the rest of retired Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) term. Both races advanced to runoffs as no candidate received a majority of votes in the Nov. 3 elections.

If Republicans win at least one of the Senate elections, they’ll retain a majority in the chamber. Democrats would need to win both elections to reach a 50-50 split, which would give them effective control as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D) would serve as a tie-breaker for Senate votes.

The Senate seat Perdue held is currently vacant as his term ended Jan. 3. The seat will remain vacant until the runoff election results are certified. He faces Jon Ossoff (D). Kelly Loeffler (R) was appointed to the seat Isakson vacated and will fill it in her appointed capacity until the special election winner, either herself or Raphael Warnock (D), is decided. 

Perdue and Loeffler say they have delivered relief for Georgia amid the pandemic and that their opponents would work toward socialist policies if elected. Ossoff and Warnock say they would work to make progress on healthcare and COVID-19 recovery, and they have criticized their opponents’ stock trading amid the pandemic. Click the links below for more on candidates’ backgrounds, key messages, and policy proposals.

As of Jan. 1, 3 million people had cast runoff ballots, compared to 3.9 million at the same point ahead of the Nov. 3 elections in Georgia.

In both races, Democratic candidates led in total election cycle fundraising as of Dec. 16. Ossoff raised $140 million to Perdue’s $90 million. Warnock raised $125 million to Loeffler’s $92 million. The majority of candidates’ fundraising occurred in the reporting period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 16:

  • Ossoff: $107 million
  • Warnock: $103 million
  • Perdue: $68 million
  • Loeffler: $64 million

As of December 28, satellite groups supporting the Republican candidates had spent $181 million in the runoff alone, and groups supporting the Democratic candidates had spent $63 million.

Georgia has held two runoff elections for U.S. Senate prior to this year: one in 2008 and the other in 1992.

Additional reading:



Bitnami