Newest Maryland Commissioner of Insurance Kathleen Birrane assumed office May 18. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appointed Birrane May 1 to replace former commissioner Alfred Redmer Jr. Redmer left the Maryland Insurance Administration to become executive director of the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund starting May 18. He had served as commissioner since 2015 after previously holding the position from 2003 to 2005.
The Maryland Commissioner of Insurance serves as head of the Maryland Insurance Administration, an independent agency within the state executive branch created in 1993. The commissioner oversees the department’s efforts to regulate the state’s insurance companies and producers and investigate complaints consumers have about their insurance coverage. Commissioners are appointed by the governor with advice and consent from the Maryland State Senate and serve four-year terms.
Ballotpedia covers 12 state executive offices in Maryland. Seven of those offices are nonpartisan, including the Commissioner of Insurance. Three offices–Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary of State–are held by Republican officials. Democratic officials hold the offices of Attorney General and Comptroller.
Eight states are holding statewide primaries on June 2, 2020: Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Four states did not originally plan to hold primaries on this date, but postponed them amid the coronavirus pandemic. Maryland and Pennsylvania’s primaries were originally scheduled for April 28, Indiana’s primary was scheduled for May 5, and Idaho’s primary was scheduled for May 19.
Three states are holding their primaries largely by mail instead of in-person due to the pandemic. Idaho maintained its original election day, May 19, as the final day for voters to register to vote and request mail-in ballots. June 2 is the deadline for county clerks to receive mail-in ballots. All counties in Montana opted to conduct their primaries by mail after a state directive gave them the authority and choice to do so. Maryland is also conducting its primary largely by mail.
Three states expanded absentee voting in response to Covid-19. In Indiana, the regular absentee voting eligibility requirements were temporarily suspended, meaning all voters can request to vote by mail. Iowa and South Dakota, which have no-excuse absentee voting, sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. Iowa also extended the absentee voting period from 29 days before the election to 40 days.
In addition to moving its primary date, Pennsylvania is allowing counties to begin tabulating absentee ballots before 8 p.m. on election day and counties can temporarily consolidate polling places. In Pennsylvania, all voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots.
No changes to the statewide primary were announced for New Mexico amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state does not have eligibility requirements to vote absentee.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) outraised the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by nearly two-to-one in April, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on May 20. The DNC had reported its best fundraising totals of the campaign cycle in March 2020, outraising the RNC for the first time since October 2018.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $11.5 million and spent $6.2 million last month, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $9.0 million and spent $5.0 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the NRSC has raised 8.8% more than the DSCC ($109.5 million to $100.3 million). The NRSC’s 8.8% fundraising advantage is up from 7.0% in April but down from 10.1% in March.
On the House side, the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) raised $11.4 million and spent $8.0 million, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $11.3 million and spent $9.6 million. So far in the cycle, the DCCC has raised 27.8% more than the NRCC ($179.8 million to $135.9 million). The DCCC’s 27.8% fundraising advantage is down from 30.0% in April and 30.9% in March.
At this point in the 2018 campaign cycle, Democrats led in both Senate and House fundraising, although their advantage in the House was smaller than in this cycle. The DSCC had raised 17.6% more than the NRSC ($76.3 million to $63.9 million), while the DCCC had raised 21.5% more than the NRCC ($150.9 million to $121.6 million).
Last month, the RNC raised $27.1 million and spent $27.0 million to the DNC’s $15.3 million in fundraising and $10.7 million in spending. So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC has raised 72.4% more than the DNC ($345.7 million to $161.9 million). The RNC’s 72.4% fundraising advantage is down from 73.9% in April and 88.4% in March.
At this point in the 2016 campaign cycle (the most recent presidential cycle), the RNC had a smaller 44.0% fundraising advantage over the DNC ($150.4 million to $96.2 million).
So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 28.9% more than the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($591.1 million to $442.0 million). The Republican fundraising advantage is up from 28.4% in April but down from 35.0% in March.
Special elections are being held on June 2 for the Thirty-seventh Middlesex District and Third Bristol District of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The special elections were originally scheduled on March 31 but were moved to June 2 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Primaries were held on March 3. The filing deadline for candidates was January 21.
• Danillo Sena (D) and Catherine Clark (R) are running for the Thirty-seventh Middlesex District. The seat became vacant on January 8, when Jennifer Benson (D) resigned to take a job as president of the Alliance for Business Leadership. Benson had represented the district since 2009.
• Carol Doherty (D) and Kelly Dooner (R) are running for the Third Bristol District. The seat became vacant after Representative Shaunna O’Connell (R) resigned on January 6, after being elected mayor of Taunton, Massachusetts. O’Connell had represented the district since 2011.
Heading into the special elections, Democrats have a 125-31 majority in the Massachusetts House with one independent member and three vacancies. Massachusetts 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.
Special elections were held on May 19 for the Second Hampden & Hampshire District and Plymouth & Barnstable District of the Massachusetts State Senate. Both seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control as a result of the special elections. Four seats have flipped as a result of state legislative special elections this year.
As of May, 43 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
On May 19, U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus ordered Ohio to accept electronic signatures from the campaigns sponsoring the Minimum Wage Increase Initiative and the Voting Requirements Initiative. The judge also extended the signature deadline from July 1 to July 31. The judge’s order only applies to the ballot measure campaigns that sued the state, including several local marijuana decriminalization initiative campaigns.
On March 30, 2020, Ohioans for Raise the Wage and Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas asking for the July 1 signature deadline to be extended, the number of signatures required to be reduced, and permission to gather signatures online. On April 28, Judge David C. Young dismissed the case arguing that since the petition requirements for initiatives are in the Ohio Constitution “the ability to change those requirements is reserved only to the people.” He added that there is no exception for public health emergencies. Following the case dismal, the campaigns brought their case to the federal court.
U.S. District Judge Sargus argued in his opinion that “these unique historical circumstances of a global pandemic and the impact of Ohio’s Stay-at-Home Orders, the State’s strict enforcement of the signature requirements for local initiatives and constitutional amendments severely burden Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.” The ruling did not change the number of signatures required or the state’s distribution requirement.
Ohio filed an appeal of the ruling on May 20. If the decision is not reversed, Ohioans for Raise the Wage and Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections have until July 31 to collect 443,958 valid signatures.
The Minimum Wage Initiative would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage to $13 per hour by January 1, 2025. After 2025, the minimum wage would be tied to inflation. The first increase would be on January 1, 2021, to $9.60 per hour.
The Voting Requirements Initiative would remove the requirement that voters must be registered 30 days prior to an election; require absentee ballots requested by military personnel or voters outside of the U.S. be sent 46 days before the election; automatically register citizens at motor vehicle departments unless the citizen refuses registration via a written statement; allow voter registration at polling locations; and require 28 days of early voting.
Ballotpedia has identified 11 lawsuits in nine states seeking changes or suspensions of ballot measure requirements. The topics of the lawsuits include:
• the number of signatures required,
• notary requirements for remote signatures,
• the ability to collect signatures electronically, and
• the extension of signature deadlines.
Before March 2020, no states allowed the use of electronic signatures for statewide initiative and referendum petitions. While some states allowed remote signatures through petition sheets printed, signed, and mailed, no states allowed remote signature gathering through email before the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 29, 2020, Massachusetts became the first state to allow campaigns to collect electronic signatures for statewide citizen-initiatives for the 2020 cycle after four campaigns filed a lawsuit and the secretary of the commonwealth agreed to a settlement.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed an executive order on May 17 that authorized the Colorado Secretary of State to establish temporary rules allowing for remote petition signature gathering to be signed through mail and email. The rules were expected to be finalized by the Secretary of State in early June. Prior to the order, petition circulators were required to witness each act of signing in person. The order also removed individual initiative signature deadlines of six months after ballot language finalization and instead required that signatures for all initiatives are due by August 3, 2020.
The Washington, D.C., Council passed a bill on May 5 that allowed remote signature gathering for initiative campaigns through email.
On May 13, 2020, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a request made by four ballot initiative campaigns to allow them to gather signatures through E-Qual, which is the state’s online signature collection platform, during the coronavirus pandemic.
On April 30, Missoula District Judge John Larson rejected a request by Montana ballot initiative petitioners to allow them to use electronic signatures. Judge Larson ruled that the State’s “compelling interest in maintaining the integrity and security of its election process outweighs any burden on [the] Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”
On May, 21, 2020, Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann announced she tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Lehrmann made the announcement on Twitter, noting that her husband had also tested positive.
Justices on the Texas Supreme Court are working remotely during the pandemic.
Lehrmann is the first statewide Texas official known to have tested positive for the virus.
Ballotpedia tracks politicians and government officials who have been diagnosed or tested for coronavirus, or become quarantined.
As of May 22, we have tracked:
• Six federal officials diagnosed with coronavirus, and 40 federal officials quarantined
• 31 state officials diagnosed with coronavirus, and 67 state officials quarantined
The statewide primary for Oregon was held on May 19, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020. Due to Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, vote totals are continuing to be reported. Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:
Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General
• Secretary of State: Incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not file for re-election. Kim Thatcher (R) advanced from the Republican primary to the general election. The Democratic primary remained too close to call based on the unofficial results as of May 21. The candidates on the ballot included Shemia Fagan, Mark Hass, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
• Treasurer: Incumbent Tobias Read (D) and Jeff Gudman (R) advanced from the primary to the general election.
• Attorney General: Incumbent Ellen Rosenblum (D) and Michael Cross (R) advanced from the primary to the general election.
Sixteen seats in the Oregon State Senate
• Each incumbent who filed for re-election advanced from the primary to the general election. In Districts 18, 21, 22, and 23 no Republican candidates filed in the primary. All Democratic primaries saw at least one candidate file and advance to the general election.
All 60 seats in the Oregon House of Representatives
• Each incumbent who filed for re-election advanced from the primary to the general election. In Districts 34, 42, 43, 45, 46, and 48 no Republican candidates filed in the primary election. All Democratic primaries saw at least one candidate file and advance to the general election.
Three Oregon Supreme Court justices
• Position 1: Incumbent Thomas Balmer won re-election outright in the nonpartisan primary after winning 71.5% of the vote. He defeated Van Pounds.
• Position 4: Incumbent Chris Garrett was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Garrett automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 7: Incumbent Martha L. Walters was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Walters automatically advanced to the general election.
Four Oregon Court of Appeals justices
• Position 1: Incumbent Josephine H. Mooney was the only candidate to file in the nonpartisan primary. The election was canceled, and Mooney automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 9 (special election): Incumbent Jacqueline Kamins was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Kamins automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 11: This race remained too close to call based on the unofficial results as of May 21. The primary race included incumbent Joel S. DeVore and Kyle Krohn.
• Position 12: Incumbent Erin C. Lagesen was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Lagesen automatically advanced to the general election.
• Position 13: Incumbent Douglas L. Tookey was the only candidate to file in the primary. The election was canceled, and Tookey automatically advanced to the general election.
Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the following areas:
• Portland: The primary for mayor could not be called based on the unofficial results as of May 21.
• Multnomah County: The primary for Multnomah County Commission Districts 1, 3, and 4 could not be called based on the unofficial results as of May 21.
Oregon exclusively uses a vote-by-mail system. Voters may return their ballots to the office of the county clerk by mail or in person. Because of this system, there is no need for explicit absentee or early voting procedures.
Oregon’s primary was the 10th statewide primary to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide primaries will be held on June 2 in the following states:
• New Mexico
• South Dakota
The statewide filing deadlines to run for state-level offices in Vermont and Wyoming are approaching. Vermont’s deadline is on May 28 and Wyoming’s deadline is on May 29.
In Vermont, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• Lieutenant Governor
• Secretary of State
• Attorney General
• Vermont State Senate (30 seats)
• Vermont House of Representatives (150 seats)
In Wyoming, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• Wyoming State Senate (15 seats)
• Wyoming House of Representatives (60 seats)
Wyoming is also holding retention elections for two state Supreme Court justices on November 3, 2020.
Vermont’s primary is scheduled for August 11, and Wyoming’s primary is scheduled for August 18. The general elections in both states are scheduled for November 3, 2020.
Vermont’s statewide filing deadline is the 39th and Wyoming’s deadline is the 40th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadlines are on June 1 in Alaska, Kansas, and Wisconsin.
Wyoming 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. Vermont has a divided government where no party holds a trifecta.
Thomas Balmer won re-election to the Oregon Supreme Court, Position 1, on May 19. He defeated challenger Van Pounds. According to unofficial results, Balmer received 71.5% of the vote to Pounds’ 28.1%. In Oregon, candidates in nonpartisan primaries can win an election outright if they receive over 50% of the vote in the primary.
Balmer, the court’s most senior member, was appointed in 2001 by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). He was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014, running unopposed in each race. Balmer served as chief justice from 2012 to 2018. He was endorsed by The Oregonian, the Bend Bulletin, and the Eugene Weekly editorial boards in the primary.
Pounds worked as a policy analyst and chief of enforcement and securities at the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Services. He previously worked as an attorney with the Missouri Department of Revenue. Pounds was recommended by the Oregon Right to Life PAC and endorsed by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon in the primary.
Two other incumbents justices, Chris Garrett and Martha Walters, were also up for re-election. Both ran unopposed in their primaries.
The Oregon Constitution establishes nonpartisan elections as the mode of selection for state court justices. In the event of a vacancy, justices are appointed by the governor. All seven justices currently serving on the Oregon Supreme Court were appointed by Democratic governors.
Every week, we compile the latest numbers on state legislative candidates across the country. As of May 19, 2020, we’ve collected post-filing deadline data in 29 states. In 2020, 3,574 state legislative seats are up for regular election in those states, compared to 3,547 in 2018.
7,686 major party candidates—3,686 Democrats and 4,000 Republicans—have filed to run for state legislature in these states, compared to 8,248—4,153 Democrats and 4,095 Republicans—in 2018.
Elections in open seats tend to be more competitive than those where an incumbent is seeking re-election. So far, there are fewer open seats in 2020 than in 2018. In 2020, 543 major party incumbents (15% of seats up for election) are not running for re-election, compared to 730 major party incumbents (21%) in 2018.
More incumbents face primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. So far in 2020, 622 primaries feature an incumbent. Additionally, one independent incumbent faced a top-two primary in California. In 2018, there were 611 such primaries in addition to a Libertarian incumbent facing a nonpartisan primary in Nebraska. In 2018, 87% of incumbents in these states won their primaries.
Overall, there are fewer contested state legislative primaries in 2020 than in 2018, with 1,257 and 1,454, respectively. These totals include all competitive top-two and nonpartisan primaries.
On November 3, 2020, 1,164 state senate seats and 4,711 state house seats are up for regular election for a total of 5,875 seats across 86 chambers in 44 states. There is a Republican majority in 52 chambers, a Democratic majority in 33, and a power sharing agreement in the Alaska House.