CategoryState

Two Arizona school board recall efforts fail to qualify for the ballot

Efforts to recall school board members in the Vail Unified School District and the Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona did not submit the required signatures to get on the ballot.

In the Vail recall effort, two of the five school board members were named in the recall petitions, Board President Jon Aitken and Clerk Claudia Anderson. To get the recalls on the ballot, recall supporters would have had to collect 4,364 signatures per board member by Aug. 27.

The recall effort started after parents and community members held protests over the school district’s requirement to wear masks. Recall supporters said that under Aitken’s and Anderson’s leadership, “the mental, emotional and physical health of the Vail students has steadily declined to an alarming level.” 

After a school board meeting was canceled in April 2021 due to a protest, Superintendent John Carruth said, “This past year has been incredibly intense and emotional. Providing education during this pandemic has produced an endless series of new challenges that must be overcome.”

In the Litchfield recall effort, two of the five school board members were named in the recall petitions, Kimberly Moran and Melissa Zuidema. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters would have had to file petitions with 6,856 signatures per board member. The petition against Zuidema had to be filed by Aug. 27, and the petitions against Moran had to be filed by Sept. 1.

The recall effort started after the board voted to approve an equity statement in December 2020. The statement outlined how the district’s administration could make the district more inclusive and successful, according to The Arizona Republic. After the vote, board member A. Jeremy Hoenack sent emails to district parents and community members, accusing his fellow board members of adopting critical race theory. Groups of community members who opposed and supported the district’s equity statement and goals attended school board meetings throughout March and April 2021. In April 2021, the district announced it would revise its equity goals and seek feedback through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. The recall effort was started by two district parents who opposed the district’s equity goals.

In response to the recall effort, Moran said, “It’s been challenging to receive emails or feedback from parents or students or community members who have very different sources of information that they believe to be factual.”

The Vail Unified School District is located in Pima County, and the Litchfield Elementary School District is located in Maricopa County. Vail Unified served 13,392 students during the 2018-2019 school year, and Litchfield Elementary served 11,566 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 62 school board recall efforts against 158 board members in 2021, which is the highest number of school board recalls that we have ever tracked. The second-highest number of school board recall efforts—39—was tracked in 2010.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Illinois legislature approves new legislative maps in special session

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

The Illinois House and Senate approved new state legislative boundaries on Aug. 31 during a special session. The maps, which passed 73-43 in the state House, and 40-17 in the state Senate, revised legislative redistricting plans enacted in June. The legislature approved maps in June in order to meet the state constitution’s June 30 deadline for approving a state legislative redistricting plan. They were adopted before the U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12.

Click here to view the new state House map and here to view the Senate map.

Two lawsuits that were filed in federal district court challenging the June legislative maps were consolidated on July 14. The minority leaders of the Illinois House and Senate and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued that those redistricting plans did not ensure that the districts had substantially equal populations because they used data from the American Community Survey (ACS) instead of the 2020 census. The trial in the consolidated lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Sept. 27. 

Legislators have not yet proposed a congressional redistricting plan in Illinois.

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Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in North Carolina

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in North Carolina by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active North Carolina candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE). It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 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.

Top North Carolina Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in North Carolina elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top North Carolina Democratic candidate PACs raised $1.70 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $961,124. North Carolina candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $5.42 million. Combined, these North Carolina candidates account for 49% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 69% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 41% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for North Carolina races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Josh SteinDemocratic Party$875,809$126,325
Phil BergerRepublican Party$384,827$74,684
Sam SearcyDemocratic Party$381,210$3,383
Mary-Ann BaldwinNonpartisan$302,791$31,879
Timothy K. MooreRepublican Party$193,440$67,792
Robert C. ErvinDemocratic Party$185,292$25,119
Roy CooperDemocratic Party$176,658$197,130
Donnie HarrisonRepublican Party$146,092$37,101
Brent JacksonRepublican Party$130,011$27,043
Richard DietzRepublican Party$106,753$13,778

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in North Carolina must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for North Carolina legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

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



Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in Michigan

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Michigan by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Michigan candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 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.

Top Michigan Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in Michigan elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top Michigan Democratic candidate PACs raised $8.47 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $990,870. Michigan candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $12.36 million. Combined, these Michigan candidates account for 77% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 90% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 36% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Michigan races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Gretchen WhitmerDemocratic Party$6,893,245$1,518,563
Dana NesselDemocratic Party$948,129$131,424
Jocelyn BensonDemocratic Party$494,146$59,145
Garrett SoldanoRepublican Party$427,288$218,528
Jason WentworthRepublican Party$178,775$187,849
Aric NesbittRepublican Party$176,408$52,743
Mark HuizengaRepublican Party$104,225$88,762
Ralph RebandtRepublican Party$104,175$102,356
Pamela HornbergerRepublican Party$96,094$95,557
Curt VanderWallRepublican Party$89,800$60,229

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the Michigan Secretary of State cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Michigan must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Michigan legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

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



Texas House of Representatives District 10 special election heads to runoff

Image of a red sign with the words "Polling Place" a pointing arrow.

A special general election was held for the Texas House of Representatives District 10 on Aug. 31. Brian E. Harrison (R) and John Wray (R) advanced to a general runoff election and defeated six other candidates. The candidate with the third-most votes was Pierina Otiniano (D). A runoff date had not been announced as of Aug. 31.

The special election was called after Jake Ellzey (R) won a special election to Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27. Ellzey won the 2020 election for the Texas House of Representatives District 10 seat and assumed office in January 2021.

As of Aug. 31, 57 state legislative special elections have been scheduled across the country. The District 10 election was the second state legislative special election for Texas thus far in 2021. A special election for the Texas House of Representatives District 68 was called for Jan. 23, after Drew Springer (R) won a special election to Texas state Senate District 30 on Dec. 19. David Spiller (R) won the general runoff election for the District 68 seat on Feb. 23.

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Special elections to be held in two New Hampshire House districts

A special primary election is being held on Sept. 7 in the Cheshire 9 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. A special general election is also being held to fill a vacant seat in the Hillsborough 7 District in the state House. The winners of the special elections will serve until December 2022.

In the Hillsborough 7 District race, Catherine Rombeau (D) and Linda Camarota (R) will face off in the Sept. 7 special election. Since only one candidate from each political party filed, the primary that was originally scheduled to be held on Sept. 7 was canceled, and the special general election was moved to that date. The special general election was originally scheduled for Oct. 26. The seat became vacant after David Danielson (R) passed away on May 22. He was elected to the state House in 2012.

In the Cheshire 9 District race, Lucille Decker and Rita Mattson are running in the Republican primary on Sept. 7. Andrew Maneval is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The primary winners will face Donald Primrose (ind.) in the Oct. 26 special general election. The seat became vacant after Douglas Ley (D) died from cancer on June 10. He had served in the state House since 2012 and was the state House majority leader from 2019 to 2020.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 208-186 majority in the New Hampshire state House with six 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 September 2021, 57 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 20 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.

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Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in Ohio

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Ohio by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Ohio candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 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.

Top Ohio Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in Ohio elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top Ohio Democratic candidate PACs raised $2.35 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $4.83 million. Ohio candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $10.60 million. Combined, these Ohio candidates account for 68% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 85% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 62% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Ohio races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Richard Michael DeWineRepublican Party$2,261,657$150,866
Nan WhaleyDemocratic Party$1,193,508$479,016
Jim RenacciRepublican Party$1,102,608$14,409
John CranleyDemocratic Party$998,075$204,252
Dave YostRepublican Party$790,556$29,983
Matt HuffmanRepublican Party$359,614$25,117
Frank LaRoseRepublican Party$317,181$148,671
Joe BlystoneRepublican Party$286,086$123,927
Keith FaberRepublican Party$254,010$22,795
Robert SpragueRepublican Party$230,184$36,187

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the Ohio Secretary of State cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Ohio must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Ohio legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

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



Filing deadline approaches for Mississippi state legislative special elections

Candidates interested in running in special elections for Mississippi state Senate Districts 32 and 38 have until Sept. 13 to file. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote in the general elections, runoffs will be held on Nov. 23.

In District 32, the special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) retired on June 30. He served from 1992 to 2021. 

The District 38 seat became vacant when Tammy Witherspoon (D) was elected as mayor of Magnolia, Mississippi. Witherspoon served from 2016 to 2021.

Mississippi has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Mississippi state Senate by a margin of 36 to 14 with two vacancies.

As of September 2021, 57 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.



Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in Texas

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Texas by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Texas candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Texas Ethics Commission. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 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.

Top Texas Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in Texas elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top Texas Democratic candidate PACs raised $1.91 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $34.10 million. Texas candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $168.82 million. Combined, these Texas candidates account for 21% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 2% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 57% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Texas races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Greg AbbottRepublican Party$20,872,440$8,866,677
Dan PatrickRepublican Party$5,025,624$827,206
Donald HuffinesRepublican Party$4,123,108$1,386,026
George P. BushRepublican Party$2,264,138$883,852
Ken PaxtonRepublican Party$1,819,469$263,713
Eva GuzmanRepublican Party$1,051,723$50,755
Dade PhelanRepublican Party$1,040,018$833,007
Glenn HegarRepublican Party$853,050$763,007
Mike CollierDemocratic Party$757,110$508,361
Dawn BuckinghamRepublican Party$587,780$155,187

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Texas must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Texas legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

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



Vincent Polistina selected to fill New Jersey state Senate vacancy, unclear when he will take office

On Aug. 4, 2021, the Atlantic County Republican Committee selected Vincent Polistina (R) to fill the vacant District 2 seat in the state Senate, replacing Chris Brown (R). However, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D), who traditionally administers the oath of office, had in late June gaveled the chamber out of session until November.

According to WPG Talk Radio, Polistina was sworn in by retired superior court judge Joseph E. Kane on Aug. 23, 2021. However, according to the New Jersey Globe, a Senate Majority Office official said Polistina’s swearing-in “is not official until he’s sworn in at a quorum.” The executive director of the nonpartisan New Jersey Office of Legislative Services (OLS), Peri A. Horowitz, agreed, stating that “Mr. Polistina is not a member of the Legislature at this time. OLS considers Mr. Polistina to be a senator-select, pending receipt of confirmation from the Senate that he has been sworn-in and his election and qualifications have been judged acceptable by the members of the house.”

According to Politico, Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. and state Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R) both say the swearing-in session was legitimate.

As of Aug. 31, 2021, Senate President Sweeney has not indicated he will convene the state Senate early for Polistina’s swearing-in.

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