CategoryState

Voters in Cheshire County to decide New Hampshire House district special election on Oct. 26

A special election will be held on Oct. 26 to fill a vacant seat in the Cheshire 9 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Andrew Maneval (D) and Rita Mattson (R) are facing off in the special election. Mattson advanced to the special election after defeating Lucille Decker in the Sept. 7 Republican primary with 83.2% of the vote. Maneval was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The winner of the special election will serve until December 2022 and join Richard Ames (D) in representing the district. The seat became vacant after Douglas Ley (D) died from cancer on June 10. Ley had represented the district since 2012. He was re-elected in 2020 with 27.5% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 207-188 majority in the New Hampshire House with five vacancies. New Hampshire 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 October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Additional reading:



House District 12 tops Virginia battleground fundraising list with nearly identical candidate donation totals

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground races in these elections. Sixteen are in Democrat-held districts, and six are in Republican-held districts. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance.

To determine these battleground races, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:

  1. The 2019 winner received less than 55 percent of the vote.
  2. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the 2019 winner won by a margin of 10 percentage points or less.
  3. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the incumbent is not on the ballot this year.
  4. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and that presidential candidate won the district by a margin of 20 percentage points or more.

Five battleground districts with the most fundraising

#1 District 10 – $1,427,115.04

Incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) raised $713,788.18 while Nick Clemente (R) raised $713,326.86.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#2 District 40 – $1,100,583.90

Incumbent Dan Helmer (D) raised $751,851.02 while Harold Pyon (R) raised $348,732.88.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#3 District 31 – $1,029,964.75

Incumbent Elizabeth Guzman (D) raised $918,627.01 while Ben Baldwin (R) raised $111,337.74.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#4 District 12 – $935,729.31

Incumbent Chris Hurst (D) raised $666,962.18 while Jason Ballard (R) raised $268,767.13.

The Democratic candidate won 54-46 in the 2019 general election.

#5 District 73 – $928,158.74

Incumbent Rodney Willett (D) raised $643,732.59 while Mary Margaret Kastelberg (R) raised $284,426.15.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, October 19-23, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened October 19-23, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, October 19, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Barron County Circuit Court Judge James Babler allowed Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) Oct. 6 order limiting public gatherings in bars and restaurants to go into effect, overturning a court ruling last week that blocked enforcement of the order while the case was being litigated. The Tavern League of Wisconsin, which filed the lawsuit along with two bars, said it would not appeal the decision.
  3. Election changes:
  4. The North Carolina State Board of Elections directed counties to accept absentee/mail-in ballots received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 and postmarked on or before Election Day. The state board of elections also issued new guidance on how voters could resolve problems with their absentee/mail-in ballots.
  5. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order extending the receipt deadline for mail-in ballots to Nov. 6 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day.
  6. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously upheld a district court decision that temporarily suspended a Tennessee law requiring first-time voters to vote in person.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a draft of the state’s plan for distributing a coronavirus vaccine once one became available.
  3. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced he would be extending an executive order allowing local governments to impose mask requirements through the end of the year.
  4. Election changes:
  5. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declined to block the extension of North Carolina’s absentee/mail-in ballot return and receipt deadlines. As a result, ballots would be accepted if they were postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an executive order implementing targeted mitigation measures in nine counties with high rates of coronavirus infection. The order limited gatherings in those counties to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. It also required masks in all indoor public places where social distancing was not possible. Hospitals statewide were also required to maintain at least 10% of their total capacity for coronavirus patients. Facilities that could not maintain that capacity were required to pause elective procedures.
  3. Election changes:
  4. The Iowa Supreme Court upheld an Iowa law barring county election officials from sending absentee/mail-in ballots to voters who omitted information on their ballot application forms.
  5. The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-3 vote, reinstated Alabama’s prohibition against curbside voting.
  6. Federal government responses:
  7. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance changing the definition of close contact for an individual infected with coronavirus. Under previous guidelines, a close contact was defined as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The new guidance defined a close contact as someone who was within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
  8. School closures and reopenings:
  9. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced some schools in New York City’s state-defined hotspots were allowed to reopen. He also said the state would consider loosening restrictions in hotspot zones and drawing the zones on a block-by-block basis instead of using zip codes.
  10. Mask requirements:
  11. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced an extension of the state’s mask mandate for “the foreseeable future.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020

  1. Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
  2. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered nursing homes and assisted living facilities to allow children to visit residents indoors. His order also allowed outdoor visits regardless of a facility’s case count, as long as visitors and residents practiced social distancing and wore masks. DeSantis said residents would also be allowed to leave facilities for overnight visits with family.
  3. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) amended the state’s coronavirus emergency order. The new order required restaurants to complete the state’s Safe Certification training program no later than Oct. 30 if they wish to continue offering indoor dining at 25% capacity beyond that date. Restaurants that did not complete the certification were still able to offer outdoor service at 75% capacity. The order also required retail establishments to close by 10 p.m. every night and shut down state museums and historical sites.
  4. Election changes:
  5. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit blocked a district court order that would have allowed Missouri voters to return their mail-in ballots in person. As a result, the law requiring voters to return their mail-in ballots by mail was upheld.

Friday, October 23, 2020

  1. Election changes:
  2. Texas’ Third Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s Oct. 14 ruling that suspended Governor Greg Abbott’s (R) order restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
  3. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled election officials could not reject a mail-in ballot because the signature on the ballot return documents did not appear to match the voter’s signature on file.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.



Checks and Balances: Federal and state challenges to Biden’s vaccine mandate

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law.

This edition: 

In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review the uncertainty surrounding the status of the federal immigration judge’s union; a new constitutional challenge to adjudication by administrative law judges (ALJs) at the U.S. Department of Labor; and a call from Republican lawmakers to seek congressional review of President Joe Biden’s (D) proposed vaccine mandate on private businesses. 

At the state level, we take a look at Arizona’s legal challenge to Biden’s vaccine mandate; the North Carolina governor’s veto of a bill that would have transferred executive power to state legislators; and the continued executive power struggle between Idaho’s governor and lieutenant governor.

We also highlight recent remarks from Judge Neomi Rao of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding executive involvement in the legislative process. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 167 proposed rules and 286 final rules added to the Federal Register in September and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.

In Washington

Immigration Judge’s union in administrative limbo

What’s the story? 

The status of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) remained uncertain as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sought to undo the union’s decertification while simultaneously claiming that the union no longer exists—a seeming contradiction that has mystified union leaders, according to NAIJ president Mimi Tsankov.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) ordered the union’s decertification in November 2020, arguing that IJsa type of federal administrative adjudicatorconstitute management officials for collective bargaining purposes. NAIJ filed a motion for the FLRA to reconsider, which the union claims delayed an agency order to implement the decertification. NAIJ officials argue that the DOJ’s subsequent action barring the union’s activities violated NAIJ’s collective bargaining agreement since the FLRA had yet to rule on NAIJ’s motion.

The DOJ changed course in June, both withdrawing its opposition to NAIJ’s motion and seeking permission from the FLRA to rescind the underlying decertification order. Contrary to NAIJ’s position, however, the department claims that the underlying order remains in effect since the FLRA has yet to issue a ruling on NAIJ’s motion to reconsider.

“As the authority has not ruled on any filings post its November 2020 order, the November 2020 order remains in full force and effect,” argued DOJ attorneys. “As a result of the authority’s November 2020 ruling, there are no longer any employees in the bargaining unit. As there are no employees in the bargaining unit, in essence, NAIJ is defunct.”

Want to go deeper?

New constitutional challenge to ALJs 

What’s the story? 

A nonprofit on September 8 filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey claiming that the U.S. Department of Labor’s use of administrative law judges (ALJs) to adjudicate certain visa disputes violates Article III of the U.S. Constitution because it allows the department to serve “as prosecutor, judge, and jury.” The case follows in the footsteps of Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and United States v. Arthrex Inc., in which the U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional flaws in agency rules governing ALJs.

The organization Institute for Justice appealed a final order from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board holding that New Jersey-based Sun Valley Farms had violated laws governing the H-2A visa program for agricultural workers. The nonprofit claims that the DOL’s governing statute is silent on the department’s use of ALJs and that Congress never authorized ALJs to adjudicate H-2A visa disputes. The challengers contend that the use of ALJs in such cases violates Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which calls for an independent judicial branch.

“We’re focused in this case on adjudication for H-2A violations, but the implications of these Article III-type challenges extend beyond that to the whole system of ALJs for the Department of Labor,” said Institute for Justice attorney Rob Johnson in an interview with Bloomberg Law. Johnson argued that H-2A cases, which can result in penalties or property loss, should be heard before independent Article III judges.

The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed constitutional challenges to ALJs in two recent cases. In 2018, the court held in Lucia that SEC ALJs qualified as officers of the United States and must be appointed by the agency head in accordance with the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In the 2021 Arthrex case, the court held that the statute governing the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) violated the Appointments Clause because the PTO director lacked direct review power over decisions by administrative patent judges (positions similar to ALJs).

Want to go deeper?

Republican lawmakers call for CRA review of vaccine mandate on private businesses

What’s the story? 

A coalition of Republican legislators aims to challenge President Joe Biden’s (D) vaccine mandate on private businesses by calling for congressional review of the rule through a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution. 

Biden on September 9 announced that the U.S. Department of Labor would issue a rule requiring employees of businesses with 100 or more staff to either obtain a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination or undergo weekly testing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on October 12 submitted the proposed rule to the White House for review.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” said Biden during a White House briefing, adding that the “unvaccinated minority can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

U.S. Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Mike Braun (R-In.), Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Ut.), and Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12) stated their intent to seek congressional review of the mandate once OSHA issues the final rule. CRA resolutions create a path for lawmakers to review federal agency rules and vote to reject them. To reject a rule, both chambers of Congress must pass a resolution disapproving the rule and President Joe Biden (D) must sign the resolution into law. 

“The White House continues to ignore the Constitution as well as the science proving the benefits of natural immunity so they can justify an Executive Order that wipes out Americans’ control over their own healthcare options,” said Marshall in a September 15 press release. “Simply put, the Administration is overstepping its authority and we must hold them accountable with a formal challenge under the Congressional Review Act.”

Want to go deeper?

In the states

Arizona attorney general challenges Biden’s vaccine mandate on private businesses

What’s the story? 

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) on September 14 filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona arguing that President Joe Biden’s (D) proposed vaccine mandate on private businesses violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Biden on September 9 announced that the U.S. Department of Labor would take regulatory action to mandate that businesses with 100 or more employees require their employees to either receive a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination or undergo weekly testing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on October 12 submitted the proposed rule to the White House for review.

Brnovich claims that the proposed mandate violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by placing vaccination and testing requirements on U.S. citizens that do not extend to immigrants residing in the country without legal permission. The Biden administration’s proposed “policy of absolutely excluding unauthorized aliens from all vaccination requirements, while subjecting U.S. citizens to multiple, unprecedented, sweeping, and intrusive mandates is wildly unconstitutional and should not stand,” argued Brnovich in the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit also suggests that OSHA could be unlawfully exercising legislative power by issuing the mandate.

Want to go deeper?

North Carolina governor vetoes bill requiring legislative approval of agency settlements

What’s the story? 

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) on September 27 vetoed legislation that would have transferred executive powers to the state legislature by requiring legislative approval of certain state agency lawsuit settlements.

State legislators on September 16 voted along party lines to approve Senate Bill 360, which would have required legislative approval for state agency settlements in cases involving the speaker of the House of Representatives or the president pro tempore of the state Senate. 

The legislation arose after the state Board of Elections in 2020 entered into a settlement agreement that loosened voting requirements in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Republican leaders described the settlement as a collusive agreement by the Democrat-controlled executive branch that ignored the General Assembly’s decision to require witness signatures on absentee ballots.

In his veto message, Cooper claimed that the legislation would have unlawfully transferred executive branch authority to the legislative branch. “This bill is unconstitutional and unwise, and would have prevented the Attorney General from doing his job,” argued Cooper.

“This bill is necessary to keep corrosive, secretly negotiated rule changes out of future elections,” state Sen. Paul Newton (R) remarked on social media in response to Cooper’s veto. “Governor Cooper just deepened distrust in the electoral process at a time when we should focus on improving it.”

Republican leaders would need to garner Democratic support in order to override Cooper’s veto before the close of the legislative session, according to The News & Observer.

Want to go deeper?

Déjà vu in Idaho executive power struggle

What’s the story? 

The executive power struggle between Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) and Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin (R) heated up last month when McGeachin, during Little’s absence from the state, attempted to deploy the Idaho National Guard to the southern border and issued an executive order outlawing vaccine mandates. 

McGeachin took similar action in May when she issued an executive order banning mask mandates in her capacity as acting governor while Little traveled to a conference out of state. McGeachin claimed that the order aimed “to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses.” Little rescinded the order, referring to McGeachin’s action as an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.”

McGeachin, who is running for governor in 2022, attempted to issue two further directives during Little’s most recent absence from the state on official business. McGeachin on October 5 released an executive order banning vaccine requirements and mandatory testing in schools. She claimed on social media that the order fixed Little’s April executive order banning vaccine mandates by extending it to cover public schools and universities. 

McGeachin also requested information from the head of the Idaho National Guard, Major General Michael Garshak, about deploying troops to the southern border. Garshak responded that the border states had not requested Idaho’s assistance and stressed that “the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency.”

Little described McGeachin’s attempted troop deployment on Twitter as political grandstanding. He issued an executive order the following day to rescind McGeachin’s order, referring to her action as a “redundant and unwarranted use of executive powers.” Little’s order could lay the groundwork for a legal challenge over the exercise of executive power in Idaho, according to Fox News

Want to go deeper?

____________________________________________________________________________

Neomi Rao urges executive branch to scale back legislative involvement

Judge Neomi Rao of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit called for decreased executive involvement in the legislative process during a September conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of Justice Elena Kagan’s “Presidential Administration” hosted by George Mason University’s C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State. Rao, a former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President Donald Trump (R), urged presidents to scale back the use of executive agencies to further their political agenda—a phenomenon highlighted by Kagan that gained momentum during the Reagan and Clinton administrations.

“The Constitution vests the legislative power with Congress and I think, there are a lot of important, deep reasons why it did that,” said Rao, arguing that elected representatives, rather than agency staff, are authorized to exercise legislative power.

Rao also weighed in on the nondelegation doctrine—a legal principle holding that legislative bodies cannot delegate their legislative powers to executive agencies or private entities. “Non-delegation is a very deep principle of the structure of the Constitution and maybe the most important separation of powers principle we have,” she said. 

Want to go deeper

Regulatory tally

Federal Register

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s September regulatory review activity included the following actions:

  • Review of 38 significant regulatory actions. 
  • One rule approved without changes; recommended changes to 35 proposed rules; two rules withdrawn from the review process.
  • As of October 1, 2021, OIRA’s website listed 89 regulatory actions under review.
  • Want to go deeper? 


Redistricting timeline update: California and Connecticut set final deadlines

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Nevada, and Washington.

California: On Sept. 22, 2021, the California Supreme Court set a Nov. 15, 2021, deadline for the release of initial draft district plans by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. The court also set a Dec. 27, 2021, deadline for the delivery of final district plans to the secretary of state.

Connecticut: According to the Connecticut Constitution, the Reapportionment Committee was required to select a map, which needed two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, by Sept. 15, 2021. The committee did not meet this deadline due to delays in the release of census data and was disbanded. Under state law, since the initial eight-member Reapportionment Committee did not meet the Sept. 15 deadline, a nine-member Reapportionment Commission was formed with a final deadline of Nov. 30, 2021.

New Jersey: On Oct. 5, 2021, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission announced it would hold ten public hearings, five of which would be in-person and five of which would be virtual. The first virtual hearing will be held on Oct. 23 at 10 a.m., the first in-person hearing will be held on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m., and the second virtual hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30.

Nevada: The Nevada Committee to Conduct an Investigation into Matters Relating to Reapportionment and Redistricting held its first public meeting on Oct. 7, 2021. Committee Chair Brittney Miller (D) said the committee will hold at least three public hearings. One will be held in the Reno metro area, one in the Las Vegas metro area, and another in Carson City.

Washington: In an Oct. 14, 2021 press release, the Washington State Redistricting Commission reminded the public that third-party maps should be submitted by Oct. 22 in order to receive full consideration. Maps can still be sent until Nov. 15, but the commission said “we notify the public of the suggested deadline only to ensure that Commissioners have the time to properly consider public submissions.”



State race spotlight: Virginia House of Delegates District 66

The Virginia House of Delegates is one of three state legislative chambers holding general elections this year. All 100 seats are up for election, with Democrats defending a majority for the first time in more than two decades. Today,

Ballotpedia identified 22 battleground districts based on four criteria. Sixteen battleground districts met one of those criteria and five met two. The only district to meet three of the criteria was District 66, located in between Richmond and Petersburg. The district is currently represented by Kirk Cox (R), who was first elected in 1989 and last re-elected in 2019, defeating Sheila Bynum-Coleman (D) 51.7% to 47.0%. Cox, who served as speaker of the House before control of the chamber flipped, ran for governor this year rather than seeking re-election. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 54.5% to 44.2% in the district.

This year, Katie Sponsler (D) and Mike Cherry (R) are running for the seat. Both filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey; see their profile pages on Ballotpedia for the complete survey responses.

Who are you? Tell us about yourself.

Cherry:

Mike Cherry is an educator, veteran, pastor, and patriot. From the flight line to the classroom to City Council, Mike has proven he will work with anyone and everyone to support and protect our community. Mike’s deep belief in Faith, Family, and Freedom drives his commitment to protect the American Dream for all Virginians. Mike was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and graduated from Roanoke Rapids High School in 1990. After graduation, Mike joined the United States Air Force as a Loadmaster on C-141B and C-17A aircraft. He is a decorated veteran with many Commendations, Achievements, and Meritorious Service medals to his credit. Mike traveled around the world defending our values and our freedom — visiting 6 of the 7 continents and more than 75 different countries. That exposure to different parts of the world strengthened his love for our country and his dedication to protecting our values. He is married to Teresa. They have two children, Jonathan and Madison, a daughter-in-law, Mikala, and the most precious granddaughter, Jovie. Mike is a Staff Pastor at Life Church and is Head of School at Life Christian Academy, a growing, thriving, a fully accredited school in South Chesterfield and Colonial Heights.

Sponsler:

I am a veteran of the US Air Force, a former Park Ranger with the National Park Service and a mother to 2 children on the autism spectrum. I am running to bring a working class voice to the GA.

Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

Cherry:

When Mike entered the USAF, he took an oath to protect our constitutional rights. He believes all Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mike believes a strong and safe Virginia is only possible with a strong police system.

As an educator, Mike has a very clear understanding of what is going on in today’s education system.

Sponsler:

Education should be public, equitable, and fully funded to serve the needs of diverse communities and a wide range of abilities

Economic Justice is central in every American family’s needs. Without reliable, fair, and safe employment our communities and families can not thrive.

Our environment is not just climate change, it is the landfills and factories in our our backyards. We must address the air, water and soil pollution in our district.

What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

Cherry:

Preservation of constitutional rights and individual liberties. Support for law enforcement and allowing the flexibility to do their jobs and preserving qualified immunity.

Sponsler:

Labor, Education, Gun Violence Prevention, Healthcare, Disability and Mental Health Advocacy

What characteristics or principles are most important for an elected official?

Cherry:

Honesty. Integrity.

Sponsler:

Integrity, and compassion. The ability to listen and process the stories and requests of your constituents into effective policy that makes real differences in the lives of those you serve is the most important ability anyone should bring to this office.

What qualities do you possess that you believe would make you a successful officeholder?

Cherry:

Honest, caring, integrity, personable.

Sponsler:

I have a knowledge of policy and how it actually impacts those on the ground. This is my reality and has been for most of my life. When I look at policy I know how it impacts many communities because I’ve lived in them, but I also know what I don’t know. I can listen and integrate the stories of others.

What legacy would you like to leave?

Cherry:

Change in the direction of returning this state back to its conservative values.

Sponsler:

That the Commonwealth and the 66th District are a little bit less painful for people on the margins.

What is your favorite book? Why?

Cherry:

The Bible. It is the most impactful book in the history of mankind. It is the instructions for a successful life.

Sponsler:

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It’s discussion of the human experience and how that forms us in different ways causing a deep internal look no matter how many times I read it and that is what I think all the best books do.

Do you believe that it’s beneficial for state legislators to have previous experience in government or politics?

Cherry:

Yes. It gives the citizens a real representation of how you will vote and represent them in the legislature.

Sponsler:

I believe networks, knowledge, and connections matter but that those can be built through many means. Too much experience often creates a complacency and a withdrawal from the real life experiences of the people within the district they represent.

Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer.

Cherry:

Yes. You are more likely to get a positive response if you know them and they know you.

Sponsler:

Relationships are always valuable. Those relationships should be based in values that align and should not override the needs of the people you represent or the values that you represented on the campaign trail, however. Bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship or personal relationships that distance you from what you have set out to do should never be acceptable.

Both sitting legislators and candidates for office hear many personal stories from the residents of their district. Is there a story that you’ve heard that you found particularly touching, memorable, or impactful?

Cherry:

Recently there was a young man who ran 100 miles to raise money for a new police dog. That is the kind of community togetherness that I love and appreciate.

Sponsler:

After my first run in a district in which the partisan shift was severe and in opposition to my party I was wondering if a run to move the needle had been worth the exhaustion I was feeling . A young couple in one of the reddest part of the district reached out. I had never met them in person, but had knocked on their door a few times, each time leaving a note with my literature. They reached out to tell me that they were queer and had been both kicked out of their homes at the age of 16. They asked me to officiate their wedding in 3 months, saying simply that they had felt that all they had in the world since being shunned by their families was each other, until they started receiving my notes. Knowing that I lived around the corner made them feel like they were seen. The request was too beautiful to be ignored and watching this quirky, wonderful couple celebrate their love and getting to be a part of it, made me certain that not only was running worth it, but that I would never stop advocating for people like them.



Democratic candidates in Virginia House battleground districts raised 69% more money than Republican candidates

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground races in these elections. Sixteen are in Democrat-held districts, and six are in Republican-held districts. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance.

To determine these battleground races, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:

  1. The 2019 winner received less than 55 percent of the vote.
  2. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the 2019 winner won by a margin of 10 percentage points or less.
  3. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the incumbent is not on the ballot this year.
  4. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and that presidential candidate won the district by a margin of 20 percentage points or more.

Total money raised

Across these battleground districts, Democratic candidates have raised a total of $10.0 million, while Republican candidates have raised a total of $4.8 million. The average is $455,162 per Democratic candidate and $220,148 per Republican candidate.

For comparison, across all general election candidates in the state, Democratic candidates raised an average of $309,606 and Republican candidates raised an average of $113,046.

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice selects Philip Carchman as Legislative Reapportionment Commission tiebreaker

On Oct. 7, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner named Philip Carchman as the tiebreaker member of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Carchman is a former state appellate court judge of the New Jersey Superior Court.

In July, Rabner requested tiebreaker proposals from the Democratic and Republican members of the commission, saying: “If there is a match, I would be favorably inclined to appoint the individual.” The members submitted lists of candidates in August, but no names matched between the lists. Carchman did not appear on either party’s list of recommended candidates.

The New Jersey Supreme Court also selected the tiebreaker for the Congressional Redistricting Commission. A majority of the court voted to select John Wallace, a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice, to act as a tiebreaker after the commission members were unable to agree on a candidate.

The state constitution gives the chief justice authority to choose an 11th member of the commission to break a tie in the event that the commission cannot reach agreement on state legislative district maps. The redistricting process will officially begin in New Jersey on Oct. 23. Legislative redistricting maps must be approved by March 1, 2022.



Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Oct. 6 and 13

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

At least eight states made progress in either proposing or advancing new congressional and state legislative district maps as part of the 2020 redistricting cycle between Oct. 6 and 13, 2021.

Proposed

Massachusetts: The Special Joint Committee on Redistricting released proposed maps of state House and Senate districts on Oct. 12. The committee will accept public comments on the proposals until Oct. 18. In Massachusetts, the state legislature is responsible for redistricting, though Gov. Charlie Baker (R) may veto any proposals. Democrats currently hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

View the proposals here.

South Dakota: On Oct. 7 and Oct. 11, the South Dakota House and Senate Redistricting Committees released two new state legislative maps titled Grouse and Eagle, respectively. These maps join the two Senate proposals—titled Blackbird and Falcon—released on Oct. 2 as the four proposed maps circulated during the committees’ statewide public hearing tour between Oct. 11 and Oct. 13. 

The committees will meet next on Oct. 18 to incorporate public feedback.

Since South Dakota was apportioned a single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, there will be no congressional redistricting in the state in 2020.

View the proposals here.

Utah: Both the Utah Independent Redistricting Committee (UIRC) and the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee (ULRC) released initial congressional, state House, and state Senate maps.

This is the first redistricting cycle after Utah voters approved Proposition 4 in 2018. As written, the proposition created the UIRC, which would draft maps and recommend them to the state legislature for final approval. Before this, the legislature alone proposed and approved maps. In 2020, the Utah State Legislature reached an agreement with Proposition 4 supporters and altered the proposition to reintroduce a legislative committee (ULRC) that could also propose maps.

View the proposals here.

Advanced

Arkansas: On Oct. 7, the Arkansas General Assembly approved two identical proposed congressional maps, sending them to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). The proposals—House Bill 1982 and Senate Bill 743—were introduced by Rep. Nelda Speaks (R) and Sen. Jane English (R), respectively.

On Oct. 13, Hutchinson announced that he would not sign the bills into law, meaning they would go into effect without his signature in 90 days. Hutchinson said he was concerned about how the maps might affect minority voters.

The proposals split Pulaski County—where less than 50% of voters identify as white alone—into three separate districts. Proponents of the proposal said splitting Pulaski County, which is located in the center of the state, allowed them to avoid splitting counties elsewhere.

Hutchinson could have vetoed the legislation, but in Arkansas, a gubernatorial veto can be overridden with a simple majority vote. Hutchinson said the 90-day window would allow interested parties time to challenge the maps.

View the proposals here.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission approved its final state House and Senate maps. The commission approved its final House map on Oct. 11 with an 11-1 vote. The group could not agree on a Senate map and reconvened on Oct. 12, its self-imposed deadline. Commissioners ultimately approved a Senate map with a 12-0 vote on Oct. 12.

The approved maps will now move to the Colorado Supreme Court, which will receive commentary. The court will either approve the final maps or send them back to the commission for further work by Nov. 15.

The separate Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission previously selected its final map on Sept. 28.

View the proposals here.

Michigan: The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted on Oct. 11 to approve four congressional maps, three state Senate maps, and three state House maps for a final series of public hearings, which will take place around the state between Oct. 20 and Oct. 26.

View the proposals here.

Texas: On Oct. 7, the Texas House of Representatives approved a proposed map of the state’s House districts. The following day, on Oct. 8, the Texas State Senate approved a congressional district map proposed by Sen. Joan Huffman (R). The Senate previously approved a new map of the state’s Senate districts on Oct. 4.

New district plans must be finalized on or before Nov. 15 in order for the state’s primary election calendar to remain unchanged. The filing deadline for 2022 elections is currently Dec. 13, the earliest in the nation, and the primary is scheduled for March 1, 2022. If maps are approved after Nov. 15, the filing deadline could be moved to as late as March 7, 2022, with the primary on May 24.

View the proposals here.

West Virginia: The West Virginia Senate Redistricting Committee voted to recommend a proposed congressional and state Senate map to the full Senate on Oct. 11, 2021, the first day of the legislature’s special session. Both proposals were introduced by Sen. Charles Trump (R), the committee’s chairman. Due to population decline, West Virginia was apportioned two congressional seats following the 2020 census, a decrease from the three seats the state received following the 2010 census.

View the proposals here.

Enacted

No new maps were enacted between Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. 

As of Oct. 13, four states—Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon—had enacted new congressional district maps. Those four states plus Illinois and Ohio had also enacted new state legislative district maps.



Special election to be held in New Hampshire House district

A special election is being held on Oct. 26 for the Cheshire 9 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Andrew Maneval (D) and Rita Mattson (R) are running in the general election. The winner of the special election will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant after Douglas Ley (D) died from cancer on June 10. Ley had represented the district since 2012.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 207-188 majority in the New Hampshire House with five vacancies. New Hampshire 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 October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Additional reading: