Virginia Supreme Court Justice McClanahan retiring in September

Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan is retiring on September 1, 2019. Under Virginia law, the Virginia General Assembly selects the justices of the supreme court. If the legislature is out of session, the governor appoints an interim justice who must be approved by the legislature. The Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly will choose a successor.
Selection of state supreme court justices in Virginia occurs through legislative selection. As outlined in Article VI of the Virginia Constitution, judges are selected by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly (the combined House of Delegates and Senate). Supreme court justices serve for twelve years and are subject to reappointment to additional terms by the legislature.
As of January 2019, Virginia was one of only two states in the country, the other being South Carolina, where judges were selected this way.
Four justices–McClanahan, Powell, Goodwyn, and Mims–on the seven-member Virginia Supreme Court were selected by a General Assembly with a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House. However, Republicans held a majority in the General Assembly overall. Justices McClanahan, Cleo Powell, and Bill Mims were selected when Republicans had a 77-61 majority. Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn was appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in 2007, while the legislature was out of session, and approved by the 74-63 Republican-majority General Assembly in 2008. Justices Donald Lemons, D. Arthur Kelsey, and Stephen McCullough were selected by a General Assembly with Republican control of both chambers.
McClanahan was first selected to this position by the Virginia General Assembly on July 29, 2011. She previously served on the Virginia Court of Appeals from 2003 to 2011. McClanahan obtained a J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1984.

Learn the voter registration deadlines for upcoming statewide elections in Kentucky, New Jersey, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Four states are holding statewide general or primary elections in the first six months of 2019. Below are the elections on the ballot and voter registration deadlines in each state.
  • Kentucky is holding primaries for governor and five other statewide executive offices on May 21.
    • Voters must submit their registration application 28 days before the primary, which is April 23.
  • New Jersey will hold elections in 2019 for all 80 seats in the state’s general assembly; primary elections are on June 4.
    • The voter registration deadline is 21 days prior to the election, or May 14.
  • Virginia is holding elections this year for all seats in both houses of the state legislature; the primary takes place on June 11.
    • The deadline to register to vote is 22 days ahead of the election, or May 20.
  • Wisconsin will hold spring elections for one seat on the state supreme court, as well as certain appeals and circuit court judges, on April 2.
    • The deadline for registering online is March 13. Voter registration forms which are mailed must be postmarked by March 14. In-person registration must be completed by 5 p.m. on March 29. Voters can register on Election Day at their polling place.
More information about requirements for registering to vote in every state can be found here.

Kentucky governor announces re-election campaign with new running mate

Incumbent Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) announced on Friday that he is seeking re-election. He will not be running with current Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, however, as Bevin opted to make State Sen. Ralph Alvarado his running mate. So far, the only other announced Republican in the race is State Rep. Robert Goforth (R), whose running mate is Lawrence County attorney Mike Hogan.
U.S. Rep. James Comer (R), who lost the 2015 gubernatorial primary to Bevin by less than 100 votes, had previously announced he’d run for the office again if Bevin chose not to.
Bevin was first elected as governor in 2015, defeating his opponent 53-44 to become only the second Republican to hold the post since 1971.
On the Democratic side, Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D), state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), former state Auditor Adam Edelen (D), and retired engineer Geoff Young (D) have already filed to run.
The full candidate field will be finalized after the filing deadline on January 29.
Both party primaries will take place on May 21, and the general election is November 5. Two other states, Louisiana and Mississippi, are also holding gubernatorial elections this year.

Nevada becomes a Democratic trifecta in 2019

When Steve Sisolak (D) was sworn in as Nevada’s governor on Monday, January 7, the state became a new Democratic trifecta.
A trifecta is a state where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house.
In 2018, Sisolak won the governor’s office that had been held by Republican Brian Sandoval. Democrats also kept control of the state Assembly and Senate. They currently hold a 27-13 majority in the state Assembly (with two vacancies) and a 13-8 majority in the state Senate.
Besides Nevada, five other states became Democratic trifectas as a result of the 2018 elections: Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and New York.

Trio of southern states holding gubernatorial elections in 2019

Only three states—Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—are holding elections for governor in 2019. In 2018, elections for governor were held in 36 states. Republicans won 20 of the 36 seats up for election, and Democrats won the other 16. Out of all the state executive offices, only the governor is elected in all 50 states. The last gubernatorial elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi were held in 2015.
In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is running for re-election to a second term. He announced on January 25 that his lieutenant gubernatorial running mate in the 2019 election would be state Sen. Ralph Alvarado instead of his current lieutenant governor, Jenean Hampton. The candidate filing deadline is January 29, the primary is on May 21, and the general election is on November 5.
In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is also up for re-election to his second term. He announced on January 22 that he would file for re-election. The candidate filing deadline is August 8, the primary is on October 12, and the general election is on November 16.
In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election, which leaves the seat open to a newcomer. The candidate filing deadline is March 1, the primary is on August 6, and the general election is on November 5.

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.