CategoryState

Connecticut holds sixth state legislative special election in 2019

On Tuesday, Tammy Exum (D) defeated Robert Margolis (R) to win the vacant District 19 seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives. She won with 64.6% of the vote, according to the unofficial election night tally. No primary was held in the race – both Exum and Margolis were both nominated by their respective political party committees in early March.
 
This was Connecticut’s sixth special state legislative election held so far in 2019; three state Senate and two state House seats were up for special election on February 26. All five of those races were caused by Democratic officeholders resigning to take positions in Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) administration. The state House’s District 19 seat was vacated by Derek Slap (D) after he won the Connecticut State Senate’s District 5 special election earlier this year.
 
All six of the state legislative seats up for special election so far previously had Democratic officeholders; Republicans won control of two of those seats on February 26. A seventh position, District 130 in the state House, is up for special election on May 7. It was vacated by Ezequiel Santiago (D), who died on March 15, 2019.
 
Following the special election, the Connecticut House of Representatives has 90 Democrats, 60 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 76 seats. Connecticut has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
As of April, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


Maine special election filing deadline coming on April 18

Political parties in Maine have until April 18, 2019, to submit candidate nominations to the secretary of state for the special election in District 45 of the state House of Representatives. The special election will be held on June 11.
 
The special election became necessary after Dale Denno (D) resigned his seat on March 27, 2019, for health reasons. He had held the seat since 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 with 65% of the vote. The winner of the special election will finish the remainder of Denno’s term, which ends in December 2020.
 
In 2019, there have been 52 state legislative special elections scheduled or held so far in 20 states. So far, six partisan flips have occurred in 2019—four Republican wins, one Democratic win, and one independent win. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) will have the chance to fill two state supreme court seats

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) will have the chance to appoint two new justices to the nine-member state supreme court. Justice Patrick Wyrick vacated his seat on April 10, 2019, when he was nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Justice John Reif announced in March that he would retire on April 30, 2019.
 
Under Oklahoma state law, the governor appoints a justice to the court based on a list of names submitted by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission.
 
The nominations will be Stitt’s first two appointments to the court and will immediately shift the balance of the court from a 6-3 majority of justices appointed by Democratic governors to a 5-4 majority of justices appointed by Democratic governors.
 
Stitt’s appointments will serve until the next general election in 2020. They will then be on the ballot for retention with current justices Tom Colbert (appointed by a Democrat) and Richard Darby (appointed by a Republican) in a set of elections that could further change the makeup of the court.
 
The court’s makeup before the two vacancies was:
  • John Reif (retiring) – appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)
  • Tom Colbert – appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)
  • James Edmondson – appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)
  • Noma Gurich – appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)
  • Douglas Combs – appointed by Gov. Brad Henry (D)
  • Yvonne Kauger – appointed by Gov. George Nigh (D)
  • James Winchester – appointed by Gov. Frank Keating (R)
  • Patrick Wyrick (vacant) – appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin (R)
  • Richard Darby – appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin (R)
Justices on the court represent single judicial districts and serve six-year terms. The appointed justice must come from the appropriate supreme court judicial district. If the governor does not appoint a replacement within 60 days, the chief justice is responsible for selecting a successor.
 
The Oklahoma Supreme court is one of two courts of last resort in Oklahoma. The supreme court is the court of last resort for civil matters and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decides all criminal matters. Texas also has two courts of last resort. A court of last resort is the highest judicial body within a jurisdiction’s court system.
 
The Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission consists of 15 members: six lawyers elected by the Oklahoma Bar Association, six non-lawyers appointed by the governor, and three additional non-lawyers, who serve as at-large members. The state Senate president pro tempore and the state House speaker each choose one at-large member. A majority of commission members selects the third at-large member. Lawyers and non-lawyers serve six-year staggered terms. The at-large members serve for two years.
 


April 16 special election to fill Connecticut House seat

A special election for the District 19 seat of the Connecticut House of Representatives is being held April 16. Candidates running for special elections in Connecticut are nominated through party conventions. The March 8 Republican nominating convention chose Robert Margolis as the party’s candidate, and the March 9 Democratic nominating convention chose Tammy Exum.
 
The seat became vacant after Democrat Derek Slap won the February 26 special election to fill the vacant District 5 seat in the Connecticut State Senate.
 
The April 16 election is the sixth state legislative special election the state has held in 2019. A seventh is scheduled for May 7.
 
Entering this election, the Connecticut House of Representatives has 89 Democrats, 60 Republicans, and two vacant seats. Connecticut has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Second electoral do-over for Georgia House seat results in conclusive victor

In Georgia and Florida, state legislative special elections were held on Tuesday.
 
A special election was held for District 28 in the Georgia House of Representatives. This was the third election for the seat in the past year. The regularly scheduled primary on May 22, 2018, and a new primary on December 4, 2018, were both deemed inconclusive due to ballot errors so a judge ruled that a new election should be held. Since no Democratic candidate filed in the original election, both the December 2018 do-over and the April 9 race consisted of only Republican primaries to determine the seat’s winner. Chris Erwin defeated the former incumbent, Dan Gasaway, with 75.5 percent of the unofficial election night vote to win the seat.
 
Special primaries were also held for the District 7 and District 38 seats in the Florida House of Representatives. The general election is on June 18, 2019. Ryan Terrell (D) and Jason Shoaf (R) advanced to the general election in District 7; Terrell ran uncontested and Shoaf defeated three challengers with 48.9 percent of the unofficial election night vote. Kelly Smith (D) and Randy Maggard (R) advanced to the general election in District 38; Smith also ran unopposed, and Maggard defeated David McCallister to win the Republican nomination. A special primary was also originally scheduled for the District 97 seat, but it was canceled after Dan Daley (D) was the only candidate to file and won the seat by default.
 
The District 7 seat was vacated by Halsey Beshears (R), who resigned on January 11, 2019, to become the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The District 38 seat was vacated after Daniel Burgess (R) was appointed as the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on January 24, 2019. The District 97 seat became vacant when Jared Moskowitz (D) resigned in January 2019 to become the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
 
Entering the election, the Georgia House of Representatives had 75 Democrats, 104 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 91 seats. The Florida House of Representatives had 46 Democrats, 71 Republicans, and three vacancies. A majority in the chamber requires 61 seats.
 
Georgia and Florida both have Republican trifectas, which exist when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Arkansas governor appoints judge to state Court of Appeals

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) appointed Meredith Blaise Switzer as the District 4, Position 2, judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Switzer succeeds Judge David “Mac” Glover, who died on March 23, 2019. Switzer will serve until December 31, 2020.
 
A new judge will be elected to the position in 2020. Under Arkansas law, appointed judges are prohibited from running to succeed themselves in the next election.
 
District 4 is composed of Clark, Garland, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Little River, Logan, Miller, Montgomery, Pike, Polk, Scott, Sebastian, Sevier, and Yell counties.
 
Switzer obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2001. She received a J.D. with honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Law School in 2004. During her legal studies, Switzer served as executive editor of the UALR Law Review.
 
From January 2019 to April 2019, Switzer was the chief legal counsel of Quapaw House, Inc. She was a district judge in Garland County from 2016 to 2018. Hutchinson appointed Switzer to this position in December 2016, to succeed her father, David B. Switzer. She served in this position until 2018, when she was prohibited from running to succeed herself.
 
The Arkansas Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in Arkansas–in other words, the Court of Appeals is the second-highest state court in Arkansas. It is composed of 12 judges elected in nonpartisan elections from seven appellate court districts to serve renewable eight-year terms. The court is located in Little Rock, Arkansas.
 
Courts of appeal serve as an intermediate step between the trial courts and the courts of last resort (usually the state supreme court) in a state. There are 972 intermediate appellate court judgeships nationwide.
 
Of the 19 states with popularly elected appeals court judges, only Arkansas and Louisiana outright prohibit interim judges from seeking a full term. Interim judges in Pennsylvania are traditionally expected to not seek full terms.
 


94 state legislative seats have flipped in special elections since 2010

Ninety-four state legislative seats have changed partisan control, or flipped, in special elections since 2010. Democrats have won 51 of these special elections, Republicans have won 37, and independent and third-party candidates have won six.
 
So far, six partisan flips have occurred in 2019—four Republican wins, one Democratic win, and one independent win.
 
The year with most flips was 2017 when 17 seats (14 Democratic wins and three Republican wins) changed party control. There were 16 flips in 2018—12 Democratic wins and four Republican wins—and 15 flips in 2015—five Democratic wins, eight Republican wins, and two third-party wins.
 
2017 and 2018 saw the largest net partisan gains in state legislative special elections as Democrats picked up 11 seats and eight seats, respectively. The largest net partisan gain favoring Republicans occurred in 2013 when they picked up five seats.
 
The states with the most flipped seats are New Hampshire and Connecticut. There have been 10 flips in New Hampshire—nine Democratic wins and one Republican win. Five of the Democratic flips in New Hampshire occurred in 2017 and 2018.
 
Connecticut has seen nine flips—one Democratic win, seven Republican wins, and one third-party win. So far in 2019, one Connecticut House seat and one Connecticut Senate seat have flipped from Democratic to Republican control.
 
About two-thirds of state legislative flips in special elections have occurred in state house seats rather than state senate seats. Since 2010, there have been 62 flips in state house seats (66.0 percent of total) and 32 flips in state senate seats (34.0 percent).
 
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Recall targeting Colorado lawmaker approved for circulation

The Colorado Secretary of State approved a recall petition for circulation against state Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D) on April 4. Recall supporters have until June 3, 2019, to collect 5,696 signatures to force a recall election.
 
According to the recall supporters, Galindo is being targeted for recall because of her support for an oil and gas regulation bill and a gun bill. The gun bill would temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Other reasons for the recall are due to Galindo’s support of legislation related to the national popular vote and sex education.
 
Galindo was elected to District 50 in the state House in 2018. She defeated Michael Thuener (R) in the general election with 54.4 percent of the vote. Prior to the 2018 election, Colorado Treasurer Dave Young (D) held the seat from 2011 to 2019.
 
After the recall petition was approved, Rep. Galindo said, “People are free to disagree with the decisions I make at the state capitol, and they’re free to vote for someone else in 2020. I will fight every day for our community and our shared best interests, and even for the people who disagree with me.”
 
Recall efforts have also been started in Colorado against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D). Rep. Tony Exum (D) and Senate President Leroy Garcia (D) have also been discussed as possible recall targets. Gov. Jared Polis (D) is the target of a recall effort, but he must be in office for six months before an official recall can begin.
 
Since 2011, 76 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 54 did not go to a vote, and four are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 election. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Jared Polis (D) was sworn into the governor’s office in 2019.
 


Georgia to hold third consecutive election for state House seat after two cancellations

Both Florida and Georgia have state legislative special primaries on the ballot on April 9.
 
In Georgia, Chris Erwin and Dan Gasaway are running in a Republican primary for the state House’s District 28 seat. The special election will be the third contest between Gasaway and Erwin. The regularly scheduled primary on May 22, 2018, was deemed inconclusive due to ballot errors, so a new primary took place on December 4, 2018. The results of the December 2018 special election were also deemed inconclusive, so a judge ruled that another new election should be held.
 
Because the special primary election is being held to rectify the results of the original primary, and because no Democratic candidates filed to run in 2018, the winner of the April 9 primary will be declared the winner of the seat outright.
 
Gasaway held the seat from 2013 to 2019. After Erwin was declared the winner of the special primary in December 2018, he was sworn in on January 14. On February 8, a judge determined that Erwin was no longer a member of the state House.
 
In Florida, special primaries are being held on April 9 for three state House seats. General elections will take place on June 18.
  • In District 7, Lynda Bell, Virginia Fuller, Jason Shoaf, and Mike Watkins are running in the Republican primary. Ryan Terrell is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The seat became vacant after Halsey Beshears (R) resigned on January 11, 2019, to become the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • In District 38, Randy Maggard and David McCallister are running in the Republican primary. Kelly Smith is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. The seat became vacant after Daniel Burgess (R) was appointed as the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on January 24, 2019.
  • In District 97, Dan Daley is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. No Republican candidates filed to run for election. The seat became vacant after Jared Moskowitz (D) resigned in January 2019 to become the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
In 2019, there have been 52 state legislative special elections scheduled or held so far in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


South Dakota governor makes first appointment to state supreme court

Governor Kristi Noem (R) appointed Patricia DeVaney to the South Dakota Supreme Court on April 4, 2019. Noem selected DeVaney to succeed Justice Steven Zinter, who died on October 30, 2018. DeVaney was Noem’s first appointment to the five-member court.
 
Under South Dakota law, state supreme court justices are appointed by the governor from a list provided by the South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission. The South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission is composed of seven members—two circuit court judges elected by judicial conference, three attorneys appointed by a majority of the state bar, and two citizens appointed by the governor. The attorneys must not all be from the same political party. Likewise, the governor cannot appoint individuals to the commission from the same political party.
 
Newly appointed justices serve for at least three years, after which they must run in a yes-no retention election during a regularly scheduled general election. Subsequent terms last eight years.
 
DeVaney graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in 1990. She earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia. DeVaney worked as an assistant attorney general in the Attorney General’s Office from 1993 to 2012. Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) appointed DeVaney to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of South Dakota in 2012.
 


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