Filing deadline passed for Tennessee special election

The filing deadline passed on January 24 for a special election to fill the District 22 seat in the Tennessee State Senate. Seven candidates filed to run in the special election.
The District 22 seat was left vacant when Rep. Mark Green (R) was elected to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District on November 6, 2018. Green represented District 22 from 2012 to 2018 and succeeded Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) in Congress.
Rosalind Kurita (I) was appointed by the Montgomery County Commission to fill the seat until the special election. Kurita previously represented District 22 from 1996 to 2008.
One Democratic candidate, four Republican candidates, and two independent candidates filed to run in the special election: Juanita Charles (D), Betty Burchett (R), Jeff Burkhart (R), Jason Knight (R), Bill Powers (R), Doyle Clark (I), and David Cutting (I). The four Republican candidates are set to face off in the primary on March 7. The special general election is on April 23.

Special election candidates file for Maine House seat

The candidate filing deadline passed on January 18 for the special election in District 124 of the Maine House of Representatives. Joseph Perry (D) and Thomas White (R) are facing off in the general election on March 12.
The District 124 seat became vacant after Aaron Frey (D) was elected by the Maine State Legislature to succeed Janet Mills (D) as state attorney general. Frey had represented the district since 2012. He was last re-elected in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote.
The Maine House of Representatives currently has 88 Democrats, 57 Republicans, five independents, and one vacancy. Maine has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
In 2019, 35 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 14 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Special election filing deadline passed for three Mississippi House seats

The candidate filing deadline passed on January 22 for special elections in three districts of the Mississippi House of Representatives.
  • In District 32, Troy Brown Sr. and Solomon Osborne are competing.
  • Edelia Cartham is running unopposed in District 71.
  • Garl Crist, Kent McCarty, Steven Utroska, and Daniel Waide are facing off in District 101.
In Mississippi, candidates appear on the special election ballot as nonpartisan. The special general election is on March 12. Runoff elections are scheduled for April 2 in the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes.
The Mississippi House of Representatives currently has 73 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and three vacancies. Mississippi has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
In 2019, 35 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 14 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Utah’s legislative session starts January 28

Utah’s state legislature will be in session from January 28 through March 14, 2019—a total of 45 days.
Utah joins 39 other states that are currently in regular session. It is one of 46 states that hold annual legislative sessions, with the other four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas—meeting only in odd-numbered years. Nine states have full-time legislatures, meaning they meet throughout the year.
In 2018, Utah held three sessions in addition to its regular session: one veto session and two special sessions. During these sessions, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed bills dealing with Medicaid expansion, a child tax credit, and medical marijuana, among other topics.
Utah is one of 22 Republican trifectas, with the GOP controlling the governor’s office, the state House, and the state Senate.

Bluegrass and Bedlam: How Kentucky’s 1899 election led to America’s only gubernatorial assassination

The filing deadline for the race to become Kentucky’s next governor is on January 29, 2019. Gubernatorial elections can be dramatic in the state. Back in 1899, a series of events including the only assassination of a sitting state governor in U.S. history brought widespread civil disorder to Kentucky and ended in a protracted legal battle.
At the time, Kentucky law prohibited governors from serving consecutive terms, making Gov. William Bradley (R) ineligible to seek re-election. Republicans nominated Attorney General William Taylor (R) succeed him.
Democrats nominated state Sen. William Goebel (D) after 26 rounds of voting at their convention, but party members dissatisfied with the selection of Goebel nominated their own candidate, former Gov. John Brown (D).
The general election was close. Taylor defeated Goebel by under 2,500 votes—less than one-fifth the share of the vote captured by Brown.
Supporters of Goebel accused the Taylor camp of voter intimidation and election fraud. Still, the State Board of Election Commissioners certified Taylor as the winner.
Goebel and Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial candidate J.C.W. Beckham (D) contested the results. In response, the majority-Democratic state legislature authorized the creation of a special commission to determine the elections’ results. While membership on the 11-member commission was officially random, it ended up including nine Democrats.
As the special committee was in the process of determining a winner, armed Goebel and Taylor supporters poured into the capital and massed outside government offices. Goebel was shot in the chest by an unknown assassin firing from the Executive Building as he was entering the Capitol.
The next day, the special committee proclaimed Goebel, then on his deathbed, the rightful winner of the election. He died three days later.
After Goebel’s death, two parallel state governments—a Democratic government based out of Louisville and a Republican government based out of London—continued to operate.
An initial proposal under which Taylor and the Republican lieutenant gubernatorial winner would step down to be replaced by Democratic Lt. Gov. Beckham fell through. Eventually, both sides agreed to allow the courts to resolve the matter.
The state Court of Appeals (then the court of last resort in Kentucky) ruled in favor of Lt. Gov. Beckham. Although the Republican government appealed the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, it declined to hear the case on the basis that it did not concern the federal government, leaving Beckham (D) to serve the remainder of the term. Taylor fled to Indiana, where he later died.

State senator resigns in North Carolina, one of 10 states where governor fills vacancies

Louis Pate (R), who served as an elected official in North Carolina for more than 20 years, resigned from office last week for health reasons. Pate won re-election in November 2018 to state Senate District 7, defeating David Brantley (D) 54-45 percent in the general election.
North Carolina is one of 10 states where the governor appoints the replacement for any state legislative vacancy. When making an appointment, the governor must make a decision from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the political party committee that last held the vacant seat. North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper (D), will appoint a Republican, which will leave the partisan balance unchanged. The person selected to the seat serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.
25 states hold special elections to fill vacancies.
Find out more about how state legislative vacancies are filled.

Montana Attorney General Fox becomes second Republican to announce for governor in 2020

On January 24, state attorney general Tim Fox (R) announced he was running for governor of Montana in 2020. Fox was first elected attorney general in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He is the second Republican to declare his candidacy after Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) announced that he was running for governor on January 4.
Montana’s current governor, Steve Bullock (D), has held that office since 2013 and is term-limited.
President Donald Trump (R) carried Montana by over 20 percentage points in the 2016 election. The state has voted for the Republican nominee for president in 12 of the last 13 presidential elections, as Bill Clinton (D) in 1992 was the only Democrat to win Montana’s electoral votes since 1964. In that span, Democrats have won gubernatorial elections in the state nine times, and Republicans four times.
Democrats have held the governor’s mansion in Montana since 2005, as Bullock’s predecessor, Brian Schweitzer (D), was elected to consecutive terms in 2004 and 2008. Prior to that, the state elected Republican governors from 1988 to 2000.
In addition to governor, Montana has four other elected state executive officials – attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, and the superintendent of public instruction. Republicans hold all four of those positions and the state will hold elections for all in 2020.
Montana currently has a divided government, since the governor is a Democrat and Republicans control both houses of the state legislature. The GOP holds a 30-20 majority in the State Senate and a 58-42 majority in the state House.

Filing deadline approaches for seven Kentucky state offices

On January 29, Kentucky’s filing deadline will pass to run for one of the following seven offices: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer. The primary is scheduled for May 21, and the general election is on November 5.
The governor and lieutenant governor will be elected on a joint ticket, but the other five offices are all elected individually. All seven offices carry four-year terms. Entering the 2019 election, the governor, lieutenant governor, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer positions are held by Republicans. The attorney general and secretary of state positions are held by Democrats Andy Beshear and Alison Lundergan Grimes, respectively.
Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline is the second to take place in the 2019 election cycle. The first was in Wisconsin on January 2, and the next statewide filing deadline is on March 1 in Mississippi. There are only three states (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi) holding elections for a combined total of 23 state executive positions in 2019.
Kentucky is one of 22 Republican trifectas. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
The Kentucky state legislature is currently considering a constitutional amendment to change the election calendar for state executive offices. The amendment would first go before voters as a ballot measure in 2020, and if approved, it would move the election that would typically take place in 2027 to 2028 to align with the presidential election schedule. The 2023 election would be the last to take place in an odd-numbered year. As of 2019, Kentucky was one of five states that held their gubernatorial elections during odd-numbered years.

Alaska House splits 20-20 on vote for Republican speaker; majority still uncertain

Republican leader David Talerico’s bid to become Alaska House speaker failed Tuesday in a 20-20 vote. Talerico needed 21 votes to become the House’s permanent presiding officer and organize the House under a Republican majority.
Republicans, who won 23 seats in the 2018 elections, split 20-3 on the Talerico vote, with Reps. Gary Knopp, Gabrielle LeDoux, and Louise Stutes voting no. Rep. David Eastman (R), who previously said he might want a more conservative speaker than Talerico, voted yes. All 16 Democrats and independent Daniel Ortiz voted no.
The Alaska House has been without a majority since the 2019 legislative session began on January 15. Without a majority in place, legislative business cannot be conducted and standing committees cannot be appointed. Rep. Neal Foster (D) is serving as speaker pro tempore, but his powers are limited to administrative tasks and accepting nominations for the permanent speakership.
Knopp first announced he was leaving the Republican caucus on December 8, 2018. He said a narrow Republican-only majority would be unstable and announced his intention to form a bipartisan majority with power sharing between the parties. Before Tuesday’s vote, he said he would not support Talerico or Rep. Bryce Edgmon, the Democratic speaker from 2017 to 2018.
LeDoux and Stutes did not caucus with Republicans from 2017 to 2018 and helped swing control of the House to a mostly-Democratic coalition led by Edgmon. Both have expressed interest in joining another bipartisan coalition for the 2019-2020 session.
Rep. Chris Tuck (D) nominated Edgmon for speaker as well on Tuesday. However, Tuck withdrew the nomination shortly after Talerico was voted down. He said Edgmon did not have enough votes to advance either.

Florida Gov. DeSantis (R) appoints third supreme court justice

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appointed Carlos G. Muñiz to the Florida Supreme Court on January 22, effective immediately. Muñiz is DeSantis’ third appointment to the court. DeSantis previously appointed Florida Third District Court of Appeal Judges Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck. The seats were vacant following the retirement of Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince on January 7. Pariente and Lewis were appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Quince’s appointment was a joint decision between Chiles and incoming Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in December 1998.
All seven members of the Florida Supreme Court were appointed by Republican governors–three by Gov. DeSantis, one by Gov. Rick Scott, and three by Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist was the Republican governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. He changed his party affiliation to Democrat in 2012.
The 2018 gubernatorial election was framed by pundits and media members as a battle for control of the state court. Prior to the appointments by DeSantis, the Florida Supreme Court was labeled as having a liberal majority. The new appointments are considered a shift to a conservative majority of judges.
Muñiz is the 89th Florida Supreme Court justice since Florida statehood. Prior to his judicial appointment, Muñiz was the general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education. He was appointed to the position by President Donald Trump (R) and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2018. Muñiz was the deputy attorney general and chief of staff for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) from 2011 to 2014. He also previously served as deputy general counsel for the Jeb Bush gubernatorial administration and as deputy chief of staff and counsel in the Florida House of Representatives for then-Speaker Marco Rubio (R).
Muñiz obtained a B.A. with high honors from the University of Virginia in 1991. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1997. During his legal studies, Muñiz served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they appear in a yes-no retention election held during the next general election. If retained, judges serve six-year terms.
Florida is one of 22 Republican trifectas.