A bipartisan Women’s Caucus has been established in the New Mexico State Legislature after historic gains in the 2018 election. Currently, one-third of the state legislature is made up of women. Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R) and Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D) were nominated to lead the 39-member caucus. The group will focus on helping women, children, and families.
In the 2018 elections, 31 women were elected to the 70-seat state House of Representatives. Women currently hold eight out of 42 seats in the state Senate. The 39 women in the 2019 legislative session is a 31 percent increase from 2016 and 7 percent higher than the national average. This is the highest number of female legislators in New Mexico since 1967, which is the earliest year that records are available.
New Mexico is currently one of 14 Democratic trifectas. Democrats control the state Senate by a 26 to 16 margin and the state House by a 46 to 24 margin. The governor’s office is controlled by Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).
The special election for District 125 of the Texas House of Representatives is on February 12. Steve Huerta (D), Ray Lopez (D), Coda Rayo-Garza (D), Arthur Reyna (D), and Fred Rangel (R) are running in the election. A runoff between the top two candidates will take place if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.
The seat became vacant after Justin Rodriguez (D) was appointed in January to serve as the Precinct 2 representative on the Bexar County Commissioners Court.
Entering the special election, the Texas House of Representatives has 64 Democrats, 83 Republicans, and three vacancies. Special elections were previously held on January 29 in District 79 and District 145, and the latter race is headed to a runoff. Texas has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
The special election for District 176 of the Georgia House of Representatives is on February 12. Barbara Griffin (D), Barbara Seidman (D), James Burchett (R), and Franklin Patten (R) are running in the election. A runoff between the top two candidates will take place on March 12 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.
The seat became vacant after Jason Shaw (R) was appointed to serve the remainder of H. Doug Everett’s term on the Georgia Public Service Commission, beginning January 1, 2019.
Entering the special election, the Georgia House of Representatives has 75 Democrats, 103 Republicans, and two vacancies. A special election runoff was previously held on February 5 for the District 5 seat. A majority in the chamber requires 91 seats. Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
On February 1, 2019, a judge ordered a third election for Georgia House of Representatives District 28, ruling that the second primary election in December 2018 was invalid.
Chris Erwin (R) challenged Rep. Dan Gasaway (R) in the original Republican primary for the seat on May 22, 2018. No Democratic candidate filed. Erwin won that election by a margin of 67 votes, but the election was deemed inconclusive due to a mapping error in which dozens of voters—more than the margin of victory—received the wrong ballots.
Erwin and Gasaway faced off again in a repeat primary on December 4, 2018, which Erwin won by two votes. However, Gasaway challenged the election results.
In the February 1 decision, Senior Superior Court Judge David Sweat ruled that a third election was necessary because four votes—double the margin of victory—were improperly cast. Three voters had moved out of District 28 before casting their votes, and one voter cast two votes in the December do-over.
Erwin was sworn into office on January 14, 2019, but he was ordered to step down on February 8.
The third election is set for April 9, 2019. Because no Democratic candidate has filed in the district, the winner of the Republican primary will represent the district in the Georgia House of Representatives.
Three states are holding state executive elections in 2019—Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Each of them is holding an election for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Other offices up for election include agriculture commissioner (KY, LA, MS), auditor (KY, MS), insurance commissioner (LA, MS), public service commissioner (MS), and treasurer (KY, LA, MS).
In both Kentucky and Mississippi, general elections will be held on November 5. Kentucky’s statewide primary will be May 21, while Mississippi’s primary will be August 6, with a runoff on August 27 if needed. Louisiana will hold a jungle primary on October 12. If no candidate wins a majority of the votes in the primary, a general election will be held on November 16.
Two of the three sitting governors in these states, Matt Bevin (R-KY) and John Bel Edwards (D-LA) are running for re-election. The other, Phil Bryant (R-MS), is prevented from seeking re-election because of term limits. Each of these elections will impact the trifecta status of these states.
This Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the state and federal candidate filing deadlines for Alabama and Indiana’s 2018 elections. Both states played host to high-profile elections last year.
In Indiana, offices up for election in 2018 included one of the state’s seats in the U.S. Senate, all nine of its seats in the U.S. House, three state executive offices, all 100 seats in the state house, and half of the 50 seats in the state senate.
This time last year, we were watching the U.S. Senate race, where state Rep. Mike Braun (R) emerged from a three-candidate primary to mount a successful challenge to incumbent Joe Donnelly (D).
Republican U.S. House primaries were also notable, including the seats left vacant by Senate candidates Luke Messer (R) and Todd Rokita (R). State Rep. Jim Baird (R) defeated six other candidates in the primary and went on to win Rokita’s Lafayette-centered seat over Tobi Beck (D). In Messer’s southeastern Indiana district, businessman Greg Pence (R)—the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence (R)—defeated four opponents in the primary before facing Jeannine Lee Lake (D) in the general election.
In Alabama, all seven U.S. House seats, 13 state executive offices, and all 140 seats in the state legislature were up for election. Alabama’s governor and attorney general had both resigned in 2017, leaving their replacements to defend their seats for the first time. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) defeated four challengers in the primary and secured election to a full term over Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D). Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) defeated three Republican challengers including former Attorney General Troy King (R), who advanced to a runoff. Marshall defeated attorney Joseph Siegelman (D) in the general election.
Ivey’s accession to the governorship left the lieutenant governorship vacant. State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R) won the Republican nomination following a runoff against state Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R). He defeated Will Boyd (D) in the general election. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyn Stuart (R), who had served since the suspension of Roy Moore (R) in 2016, faced a successful primary challenge from Justice Tom Parker (R), who went on to win election to a six-year term.
We also watched the Republican primary in the Mobile-area 2nd Congressional District. Rep. Martha Roby (R) faced four challengers, including Bobby Bright (R), who had represented the district as a Democrat before Roby unseated him in 2010. Roby and Bright advanced to a runoff, which Roby won.
On February 5, 2019, the New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the legality of closed primaries in the state. The initial suit was brought by former attorney general Paul Bardacke (D), who argued that New Mexico’s closed primary process serves private organizations (in this case, political parties) in violation of a state law prohibiting the use of public money to benefit private organizations. The state supreme court did not address this argument in its order, which summarily dismissed the challenge.
A closed primary is a type of primary election in which a voter must affiliate formally with a political party in advance of the election date in order to participate in that party’s primary. In 14 states, including New Mexico, at least one political party conducts closed primaries for congressional and state-level offices. In 11 of these states, including New Mexico, all political parties conduct closed primaries. In the 2016 presidential election cycle, political parties in 27 states utilized closed primaries and/or caucuses as part of the presidential nominating process.
In New Mexico, state supreme court justices are appointed by the governor, who selects from a list of candidates recommended by a commission. After being appointed, the justice must stand in the next partisan election in order to retain his or her seat.
On February 5, June Speakman defeated Richard Ruggerio in the special Democratic primary for the Rhode Island House of Representatives District 68 seat. Speakman received 73.6 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election night results. She will face William Hunt Jr. (L) and two independents, Kenneth Marshall and James McCanna III, in the special general election on March 5. No Republican candidates filed for the seat either in the special election or last November’s regular election.
On December 5, 2018, Laufton Ascencao (D) announced that he would not take the oath of office for the Rhode Island House of Representatives District 68 seat he had won the previous month. Ascencao admitted that he had lied to local Democratic town committee members about mailing out a six-page political brochure during the election. He also acknowledged creating a fake invoice statement for expenses associated with the mailer, which he said was completed but not in time for it to be published and mailed prior to the election, so there were no actual expenses incurred for it. Ascencao had won the November election with 64 percent of the vote; his only opponent was the Libertarian nominee, William Hunt Jr. His decision not to take office resulted in a special election being called.
Marshall currently holds the District 68 seat as a Democratic member. He was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 and 2016; he did not run for re-election last year after acknowledging in July 2018 that he had not reported more than $10,000 in campaign contributions. However, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) decided in December 2018 that Marshall’s term would be extended until the special election had passed.
Entering the special election, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has 66 Democrats and nine Republicans. Rhode Island has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
Former Calhoun Councilman Matt Barton (R) defeated attorney Jesse Vaughn (R) for the Georgia House District 5 seat in a special election runoff on February 5. The runoff came about after none of the six candidates in the special election on January 8 won more than 50 percent of the vote. Vaughn, who earned the most votes on January 8, and Barton, who placed second, advanced to the February runoff.
The special election was called in November 2018 after the death of Rep. John Meadows (R). Meadows had represented House District 5 since 2004. He died on November 12, 2018, at the age of 74, just a few days after winning re-election.
Georgia will also hold a state legislative special election on February 12 to fill the House District 176 seat. Former Rep. Jason Shaw (R), who represented the district from 2011 to 2018, was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal (R) as the District 1 member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, beginning January 1, 2019. Four candidates–Barbara Griffin (D), Barbara Seidman (D), James Burchett (R), and Franklin Patten (R)–will face off in the special election. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getting candidates will advance to a runoff.
A state government triplex is a term describing single-party control of three of a state’s highest executive offices: governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. Control of all three offices can help a party advance its governing agenda, while divided control can spark conflict within the executive branch.
Currently, there are 18 states with Republican triplexes, 17 states with Democratic triplexes, and 15 states where neither party has a triplex. In the 2018 elections, Democrats gained triplexes in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, while Republicans lost triplexes in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and North Dakota.
Republicans also gained the previously-Democratic triplex in Alaska while Democrats gained the previously-Republican triplex in Michigan.
The 15 states where neither party has a triplex include six where the governor’s party differs from the other two officials. The Democratic governors of Kansas, Louisiana, and Montana, as well as the Republican governors of Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Vermont, serve alongside an attorney general and secretary of state of the opposing party. With the exception of Kentucky, the governor’s party is in the minority in both chambers of the state legislature in each of those states.
Regularly-scheduled elections this year have the potential to change both Kentucky and Louisiana’s triplex status. All three executive offices are also on the ballot in Mississippi, where the governor and secretary of state are Republicans and the attorney general is a Democrat.