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Katz wins Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney after manual recount

On July 29, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was announced as the winner of the Democratic primary for the Queens County District Attorney position in New York following a manual recount. The primary took place on June 25, 2019. Attorney Daniel Kogan ran unopposed in the Republican primary. The general election for the open seat will take place on November 5, 2019.
On election night, public defender Tiffany Cabán appeared to have the most votes in the Democratic primary. After the mail-in ballots were counted, Katz appeared to have the most votes. Ultimately, Katz was declared the winner with 38.9% of the vote, leading Cabán by 60 votes; Cabán garnered 38.8% of the vote, according to the New York Board of Elections’ certified results.
Prior to the vote certification, the Cabán campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the results and alleging that several ballots were improperly invalidated. A hearing before the New York Supreme Court has been set for August 6, 2019.
The District Attorney seat was vacated when Queens District Attorney Richard Brown (D) died in May 2019. He was first elected in 1991.

August 7 filing deadline for Ohio school board hopefuls

Ballotpedia is covering school board elections in 20 Ohio school districts in 2019. The general election is on November 5, and 19 of the school districts have their candidate filing deadline on August 7. The one exception is Columbus City Schools, which had its filing deadline earlier on February 6. Columbus also had a primary scheduled for May in case more than two candidates filed per seat, but that did not happen and the primary was canceled.
Across the 20 school districts, 46 of 104 seats are up for election. Three districts—Columbus City Schools, the Olentangy Local School District, and the Washington Local School District—have a majority of their seats on the ballot this year. This means one or more of the election winners could hold the deciding vote on future board decisions.
Ballotpedia previously covered Ohio’s school board elections in 2017. That year, 57 out of 98 seats were on the ballot, and 15 of the 18 school districts covered had a majority of their school board seats on the ballot.
Ballotpedia covers the 200 largest school districts by student enrollment in the United States as well as the school districts that geographically overlap with the nation’s 100 largest cities by population.
These 20 Ohio school districts served a combined total of 270,401 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Nashville to vote for mayor, metro council Thursday

Incumbent David Briley faces nine challengers in the nonpartisan election for mayor of Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday. Nashville voters will also elect all 41 members of the metro council, including the vice-mayor. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in any race Thursday, a runoff election will be held September 12.
A mayor of Nashville’s Metro government (formed in 1963) has never lost a re-election bid. Briley succeeded former Mayor Megan Barry upon her resignation in March 2018. He won a special election in May 2018 to complete her term. Media outlets identified Briley’s top three challengers as state Rep. John Clemmons (D), At-Large City Councilmember John Cooper, and former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain. Policy debates in the race have largely centered on how the city raises and spends money.
Briley has campaigned on his record as mayor, saying his accomplishments include a $500 million public investment in affordable housing over the next decade and avoiding property tax increases. Clemmons was the only top candidate to support a recently rejected property tax increase, saying it was needed to fund teacher pay raises. Cooper highlights his background in real estate and finance and says the city has invested too much in developing downtown as opposed to neighborhoods. Swain describes herself as a conservative who would reduce budgetary waste in the city.
Briley’s endorsers include the Nashville Business Coalition, former Tennesse Governor and Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen (D), and the Nashville Tennessean editorial board. Clemmons has been backed by several unions and the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association’s PAC. Cooper was endorsed by the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police, the Nashville Neighborhood Defense Fund, and U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D), his brother. Swain is backed by several radio show hosts.
Nashville was the 24th-largest U.S. city as of 2013, with a population of 634,000. The mayors of 62 of the country’s 100 largest cities are affiliated with the Democratic Party. There are 30 Republican, four independent, and four nonpartisan mayors among the largest cities. Briley is a Democrat, as is state Rep. Clemmons. Swain is a Republican, and Cooper’s affiliation is unknown.
Additional reading:

U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) announces retirement

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) announced that he would not run for re-election in 2020. Twelve members of the U.S. House—nine Republicans and three Democrats—have said they are not running for re-election in 2020. Democrats currently hold a 235-198 majority in the U.S. House with two seats vacant.
Conaway was first elected to represent Texas’ 11th Congressional District in 2004 and was last re-elected 2018 with more than 80 percent of the vote. Conaway led the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and previously served as the Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. He also served as a leader of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
He is the second Texas Republican to announce his retirement this cycle after Pete Olson from the 22nd District did so last week.
In 2018, 52 members of the U.S. House did not run for re-election, including 34 Republicans and 18 Democrats. Thirteen of those 52 districts changed party control. Ten seats flipped from Republican to Democrat and three seats flipped from Democrat to Republican.

July 2019 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.2% Republicans, 47.0% Democrats

July’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States shows 52.2% of all state legislators are Republicans and 47.0% are Democrats, which is consistent with previous months.
Ballotpedia also completes a count of the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. The partisan composition of state legislatures refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate and state house. Republicans hold a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats hold the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska’s state House) shares power between the two parties.
Altogether, there are 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Republicans held 1,084 state senate seats–down two seats from June–and 2,770 state house seats–down six seats. Democrats held 3,468 of the 7,383 state legislative seats–880 state Senate seats (up one seat from June) and 2,588 state House seats (no change). Independent or third-party legislators held 34 seats–down three seats from June. There were 27 vacant seats.
At the time of the 2018 elections, 7,280 state legislators were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. There were 3,257 Democratic state legislators, 4,023 Republican state legislators, 35 independent or third-party state legislators, and 68 vacancies.

Kansas governor to appoint two state supreme court justices

Governor Laura Kelly (D) of Kansas will be able to appoint two justices to the seven-member Kansas Supreme Court due to two justices retiring in 2019. Justice Lee Johnson will retire on September 8, and Chief Justice Lawton Nuss will retire on December 17.
Under Kansas law, in the event of a state supreme court vacancy, the governor selects a replacement from a list of three individuals submitted by the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission. Newly appointed justices serve for at least one year, after which they must run for retention in the next general election. Subsequent terms last for six years. Johnson’s and Nuss’ replacements will be Gov. Kelly’s first and second nominees to the court.
The Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission is a nine-member independent body created by the state’s constitution to recommend individuals to the governor for appointment to the state supreme court. When a vacancy opens on the court, the commission reviews applications and interviews candidates in public hearings. The commission then recommends three candidates to the governor.
The commission has nine members: four must be non-attorneys and are appointed by the governor, while another four are attorneys selected by members of the bar in each of the state’s four congressional districts. The chair of the commission, the ninth member, is a lawyer chosen in a statewide vote of lawyers who belong to the Kansas Bar Association.
The court’s chief justice is chosen by seniority. Justice Marla Luckert will succeed Nuss as chief justice of the court.
The Kansas Supreme Court currently consists of:
  • Justice Carol Beier – Appointed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D)
  • Justice Daniel Biles – Appointed by Gov. Sebelius
  • Justice Lee Johnson – Appointed by Gov. Sebelius
  • Justice Eric Rosen – Appointed by Gov. Sebelius
  • Justice Caleb Stegall – Appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R)
  • Justice Marla Luckert – Appointed by Gov. Bill Graves (R)
  • Justice Lawton Nuss – Appointed by Gov. Graves
The Kansas Supreme Court is the highest court in Kansas. It sits in Topeka in the Kansas Judicial Center.

11 candidates file for four Jersey City school board seats

In New Jersey, 11 candidates have filed to run for four seats on the Jersey City Public Schools school board. The general election is scheduled for November 5. The candidate filing deadline passed on July 29.
Three at-large seats with three-year terms are on the ballot, and incumbent Gerald Lyons, incumbent Sudhan Thomas, and Darwin Ona are running under the Education Matters ticket. Incumbent Gevonder Dupree was appointed to the board in March 2019 and did not file to run for a full term. Noemi Velazquez and Asheenia Johnson are running on the Change For Children ticket. The other candidates on the ballot include Neisha Louhar (ticket: Trust, Personalization, Inspire), Tara Stafford (ticket: Passionate Dedicated Caring), and Reginald Jones.
One additional seat is on the ballot to fill the unexpired one-year term of former board member Amy DeGise. Incumbent Gina Verdibello, David Czehut, and Anthony Sharperson are competing for the unexpired term. Incumbent Verdibello is running under the Education Matters ticket and was appointed to the seat in 2019 to replace DeGise.
In the 2018 election, all three Jersey City school board candidates who ran on the Education Matters ticket were elected to the board. Candidates who run under this ticket are supported by the Jersey City Education Association.
Jersey City Public Schools is the second-largest school district in the state and served 29,659 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

2020 Dems spar over healthcare and criminal justice records in second debate


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

August 1, 2019: The 2020 Democratic candidates debated healthcare and criminal justice in the second night of the debate. Democratic donor George Soros founded a super PAC for 2020 elections.

Poll Highlights 

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Poll One (July 23-25, 2019)

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Poll Two (July 23-25, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“The Dark Psychic Forces of Collective Hatred won tonight’s debate. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me that the Democratic candidates think their best path forward is to aggressively and personally attack one another over the finer points of their white papers and decades-old positions, given the intensity of their base’s desire to remove Trump from the White House. It’s mind-boggling that there would be several candidates taking shots at Barack Obama when he’s broadly popular, Trump isn’t, and the whole point of this enterprise is beating Trump.”

– Tim Miller, former Jeb Bush communications director

Debate Highlights

Ten candidates met on stage to debate in Detroit, Michigan, on Wednesday night. CNN hosted and Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper moderated the event. Read a transcript of the debate here.

  • Michael Bennet said the Affordable Care Act should have a public option and criticized Medicare for All plans that “would make illegal employer-based health insurance in this country and massively raise taxes on the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion.” Bennet said Congress needed to be smart in how it approached impeachment since the U.S. Senate could acquit Trump if it reached that chamber.

  • Joe Biden advocated expanding the Affordable Care Act and questioned Medicare for All proposals that had lengthy phase-ins or would significantly increase taxes. He defended his record on immigration and deportations during the Obama administration, pointing to a $750 million aid package for Central America and efforts to help Dreamers. He said he would not rejoin the TPP unless it was renegotiated to include greater accountability for China.

  • Bill de Blasio said he would “tax the hell out of the wealthy to make this a fairer country and to make sure it’s a country that puts working people first.” He also cautioned that impeachment proceedings could be distracting and take focus away from economic issues. De Blasio questioned whether Biden pushed back on deportations during the Obama administration. 

  • Cory Booker said he worked to reduce racial disparities in criminal justice and criticized Biden’s record and 1994 crime bill. He also said Democrats lost Michigan in 2016 “because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.” Booker said impeachment proceedings needed to begin regardless of the politics.

  • Julián Castro presented his proposal on new policing standards. He also advocated decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings and criticized Biden on immigration policy during their shared time in the Obama administration, saying “one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t.” He also said Trump should be impeached immediately regardless of the political outcome.

  • Tulsi Gabbard criticized Harris’ record as a prosecutor and on the death penalty and healthcare. She said insurance and pharmaceutical companies should not be involved in the drafting process for new healthcare legislation. Gabbard also opposed TPP, saying the agreement gives away American sovereignty, and called for the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan. 

  • Kirsten Gillibrand emphasized that insurance companies are for-profit companies and said healthcare should be a right. She opposed the USMCA, particularly its provisions protecting intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical companies. She criticized Biden for a 1981 op-ed where he said expanding the childcare tax credit for wealthy families would subsidize the deterioration of family.

  • Kamala Harris discussed her healthcare proposal, which would replace employer-based coverage but allow some people to keep Medicare Advantage. She criticized Biden’s plan, saying it would not hold insurance and pharmaceutical companies responsible for cost issues. She also called Trump’s trade policy a Trump trade tax on goods.

  • Jay Inslee called Trump a white nationalist while discussing immigration and said the U.S. needed to expand its refugee programs. Inslee said his climate change plan was called the gold standard and that the U.S. could not delay getting off of coal and fossil fuels past a timeline of 10 years.

  • Andrew Yang said “the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math” and the country needed to do something different. He highlighted his universal basic income proposal in several contexts, including pay equity for homemakers. Yang also said money spent on conflicts abroad should have been invested in U.S. communities.


  • Booker introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty with fellow Sens. Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy.

  • The John Delaney campaign said it had its best online fundraising day following the debate, increasing his donor rate twenty-fold.

  • The Mike Gravel campaign tweeted it was coming to an end. The campaign would donate its funds to charity and form the Gravel Institute, a self-described leftist think tank.

  • Beto O’Rourke campaigned in Macomb County, a pivot county in Michigan.

  • The Bernie Sanders campaign announced it had raised $1.1 million since the Tuesday debate from more than 70,000 contributions.

  • During Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, Marianne Williamson was the top-searched candidate on Google in 49 states.


  • The pro-Donald Trump super PACs America First Action and America First Policies raised $17.8 million in the first half of 2019.

General Election Updates

  • Investor George Soros, who said last year that he did not plan to become involved in the Democratic primaries, founded Democracy PAC in preparation for the 2020 elections. He contributed $5.1 million to the new group.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 1, 2015

Receiving an endorsement from Friends of the Earth, Bernie Sanders called climate change “the single greatest threat facing the planet.”



The Daily Brew: The mayoral election taking place today

Today’s Brew previews the municipal elections in Tennessee’s second-largest city + our upcoming Ballotpedia Insights webinar with Adam Probolsky on market research  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, August 1, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Nashville Mayor seeks re-election today against nine challengers
  2. Register for our August 7 Ballotpedia Insights webinar on market research
  3. Rep. Conaway (R-Texas) becomes 12th U.S. House member not to seek 2020 re-election

Nashville Mayor seeks re-election today against nine challengers

Most elections in the U.S. take place on Tuesdays with some states—Hawaii, Louisiana, and Texas—holding certain primary and special elections on Saturdays. One state—Tennessee—elects state and county officers on Thursdays as required by the state constitution, and many local jurisdictions, such as Nashville and Memphis, do the same. 

Incumbent David Briley faces nine challengers in today’s nonpartisan election for mayor of Nashville. 

Briley succeeded former Mayor Megan Barry upon her resignation in March 2018 and won a special election in May 2018 to complete her term. In that special election, Briley received 54.4% of the vote in a 13-candidate field. Since Nashville’s Metro government was formed in 1963, no mayor has ever lost a bid for re-election.

Briley’s top three challengers according to local media outlets are state Rep. John Clemmons (D), At-Large City Councilmember John Cooper, and former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain. Policy debates in the race have largely centered on how the city raises and spends money.

Thirty-one mayoral elections in the country’s 100 largest cities are being held in 2019. In 20 of those cities, the incumbent was a Democrat at the start of 2019. Seven incumbents were Republican, three were independent, and the affiliation of one was unknown. Briley is considered a member of the Democratic party.

Voters will also elect all 41 members of the metro council, including the vice-mayor. Twenty-seven incumbents are running for re-election and there are 14 open-seat races. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in any race, a runoff election will be held September 12—which is also a Thursday. Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee and the 24th-largest city in the United States.

Learn more



Register for our August 7 Ballotpedia Insights webinar on market research 

Our next Ballotpedia Insights session will discuss a topic that is a large part of modern campaigns—market research. While market research is often associated with business strategy and understanding customers’ behavior, its’ principles have been increasingly applied to analyzing the wants and needs of voters.

Ballotpedia Insights is a Q&A series with political and legal scholars, researchers, reporters, and subject matter experts. Each installment, we host a new speaker and ask them tailored questions designed to gain in-depth insight into their work. They’re a great opportunity to learn from some leading professionals involved in politics. Even better, they’re free to register and attend.

Ballotpedia’s Director of Outreach, Sarah Rosier, will interview Adam Probolsky of Probolsky Research—a nationwide opinion and market research firm—on the state of market and opinion research on elections and public policy. 

Probolsky has served as a pollster and strategic advisor on hundreds of successful crisis communications and public affairs projects, local, county and statewide initiatives and candidate campaigns as well as citizen outreach and education efforts. Probolsky Research conducts opinion and market research for business, association, non-profit, election, and government clients.

What is market research? How does it differ from polling? Join Sarah and Adam to learn the answers to these questions and the changes in market research he’s seen over his career. Register today by clicking the link below and then send us your questions about polling to get expert answers.

Learn more→

Rep. Conaway (R-Texas) becomes 12th U.S. House member not to seek 2020 re-election

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Five things to know related to House members retiring:

  1. So far, 12 members of the U.S. House—three Democrats and nine Republicans—have announced they are not running for re-election in 2020. 
  2. Nine are retiring from public office, two are seeking a U.S. Senate seat, and one is running for governor. 
  3. Conaway was first elected to Congress in 2004 and was re-elected seven times to represent Texas’ 11th Congressional District. He received 80.1% in the 2018 general election. 
  4. He is the second Republican representative from Texas to announce his retirement this cycle after Pete Olson—from Texas’ 22nd District—did so last week.
  5. In 2018, 52 members of the U.S. House—18 Democrats and 34 Republicans—did not run for re-election. Thirteen of the 52 seats changed partisan control in the 2018 elections. Ten seats flipped from Republican to Democrat and three seats flipped from Democrat to Republican.

Learn more→


Voters in Ohio could decide whether nuclear, coal and solar plants should receive subsidies in 2020

On July 29, 2019, the campaign Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts filed a petition for a veto referendum against House Bill 6 (HB 6), which was designed to enact surcharges on customers of electric utilities to provide credits to FirstEnergy Solutions’ Davis–Besse Nuclear Power Station and Perry Nuclear Power Plant, Ohio Valley Electric Corporation’s (OVEC) two coal-fired power stations, and six solar-power stations. HB 6 was also designed to decrease the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 12.5 percent (by 2027) to 8.5 percent (by 2026) and decrease the state’s energy efficiency standards from a 22-percent reduction from 2008 levels to 17.5-percent reduction from 2008 levels by 2027.
Gene Pierce, spokesperson for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, described the campaign’s goal, stating, “Ohio families and businesses know H.B. 6 is a costly attack on Ohio consumers. This is the first step in rolling back this corporate bailout and reinstating Ohio’s renewable standards.” Pierce also said the organizations behind Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts are not being disclosed at this time. While HB 6 was in the Ohio State Legislature, Americans for Prosperity–Ohio, the Environmental Defense Fund, and The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, among others, testified against the legislation.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-72), a supporter of HB 6, responded to opponents. He said, “The only folks that have a tremendous interest in closing down our nuclear power plants, where Ohio generates its energy and where there are Ohio jobs, are people from outside the state of Ohio who want to monopolize our grid. And who are they? They’re foreign nationals from China.”
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed House Bill 6 (HB 6) into law on July 23, 2019. Rep. Jamie Callender (R-61) and Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-91) sponsored HB 6. The final version of HB 6 was passed in the Ohio State Senate on July 17, 2019. The vote was 19-12. The Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 6 on July 23, 2019, in a vote of 51-38. About two-thirds of legislative Republicans and one-third of legislative Democrats supported HB 6.
Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts can begin collecting signatures for the veto referendum if Attorney General Dave Yost (R) determines that the petition contains a fair and truthful statement on House Bill 6. Yost has until August 8, 2019, to make the determination. In Ohio, signatures for a veto referendum need to be filed 90 days after the bill’s enrollment, which gives Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts until October 21, 2019, to collect the 265,774 required signatures.
Since the adoption of the referendum process in Ohio in 1912, voters have addressed 13 veto referendums. Voters repealed 11, or 85 percent, of the bills put on the ballot via a veto referendum.