In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from May 2, 2020, to June 2, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.
HIGHLIGHTS • Vacancies: There have not been any new judicial vacancies since the April 2020 report. There are 74 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 80 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant. • Nominations: There have been five new nominations since the April 2020 report. • Confirmations: There have been four new confirmations since the April 2020 report.
There were 74 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.5.
• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
• One (0.6%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions is vacant.
• 71 (10.5%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.
A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.
No judges created Article III life-term judicial vacancies by leaving active status. Vacant Article III judicial positions must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.
The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) and as of April 2, 2020.
President Trump has announced five new nominations since the April 2020 report.
1. Roderick Young, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
2. Toby Crouse, to the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas
3. Edmund LaCour, to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
4. Fred Federici, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
5. Brenda Saiz, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 260 individuals to Article III positions.
Since May 2, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed four of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of June 2, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 197 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—142 district court judges, 51 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
1. Scott Rash, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
2. Anna Manasco, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
3. John Heil, confirmed to the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma
4. John L. Badalamenti, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for June 3, 2020.
After this Friday, June 5, Coronavirus Daily Updates will become Coronavirus Weekly Updates. Every Thursday afternoon, starting on June 11, we’ll give you updates on all of the same topics you’ve found here. For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.
As of June 3, stay-at-home orders have ended in 35 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 17 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order).
Of the eight states with active stay-at-home orders, seven have Democratic governors and one has a Republican governor. They are (with expiration date):
Pennsylvania (June 4, Democratic governor)
New Hampshire (June 15, Republican governor)
New York (June 27, Democratic governor)
New Mexico (June 30, Democratic governor)
California (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
Kentucky (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
New Jersey (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
Oregon (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
The chart below shows when stay-at-home orders ended in other states.
The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.
On October 23, 1918, the Indianapolis Star published an article titled, “Politics Seem Doomed By Flu.” The article discussed how a ban on public gatherings would affect political campaigning ahead of the 1918 midterm elections.
“On the heels of information from the Republican national organization yesterday that a number of prominent speakers have been assigned to Indiana for the closing week of the campaign came the doleful word from the state health authorities that more than likely the order prohibiting all public meetings until midnight, October 20 will be extended for at least another week.
An extension of one week would make it impossible for politicians to run up the curtain for the brief but spectacular closing speeches they have been planning. They have been setting the rival stages with feverish haste hoping all the while that the ‘flu’ epidemic would subside so that they could go before the voters with the arguments they have prepared.”
United States Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced Monday that the Department of Energy will enter the first phase of its reopening plan June 8, allowing some mission-critical personnel to return to work at facilities in Washington and Maryland.
To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 99 lawsuits, spanning 34 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 34 of those lawsuits.
Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 90 lawsuits, spanning 32 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 39 of those lawsuits.
Forty-eight states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states to not close schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year are Montana and Wyoming.
All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
Oklahoma – The state Department of Education released a plan for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. The plan provides guidance for four categories: school operations, academics & growth, whole child & family supports, and school personnel.
Pennsylvania – The state Department of Education announced that schools in green and yellow reopening zones could resume in-person instruction on July 1. Schools would need to develop plans in consultation with local health agencies and be approved by the department.
Twenty-one states have released inmates at the state level.
Twelve states have released inmates on the local level.
Eleven states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
Four states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declined a request to release sentenced inmates due to coronavirus. The court said that while incarceration increases the risk of contacting coronavirus, it does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s provisions against cruel and unusual punishment. The court did rule that those committed to addiction treatment involuntarily could seek immediate release. The court’s decision follows a request for a preliminary injunction filed by Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts.
Forty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) executive order temporarily prohibiting evictions and foreclosures in Kansas expired on May 26, the governor’s office confirmed on June 1. Gov. Kelly originally issued an executive order suspending evictions and foreclosures through May 1 and extended the order on April 30 through May 26.
To date, 1,741 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
Of these, 143 significant bills have been enacted into law, 8.2 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
Donald Trump has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 197 Article III federal judges through June 1, 2020, his fourth year in office. This is the second-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since Jimmy Carter (D). The Senate had confirmed 228 of Carter’s appointees at this point in his term.
The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through June 1 of their fourth year in office is 176.
The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. Along with President Trump, Presidents Barack Obama (D), Bill Clinton (D), and George H.W. Bush (R) had each appointed two Supreme Court justices at this point in their first terms. Ronald Reagan (R) had appointed one, while Carter and George W. Bush (R) had not appointed any.
The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 32. Trump appointed the most with 51, while Reagan appointed the least with 25. Trump’s 51 appointments make up 28% of the total 179 judgeships across the courts of appeal.
The median number of United States District Court appointees is 142. Carter appointed the most with 176, and Reagan appointed the fewest with 109. Trump has appointed 142 district court judges so far. Those appointments make up 21% of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.
Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the: Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.
What is reopening in the next two days? Which stay-at-home orders will expire?
Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Personal care services will be allowed to expand capacity to 50% occupancy or 50 individuals, whichever is fewer, on June 4. Also on that day, child care facilities will be allowed to operate at their full occupancy. Gov. John Carney (D) announced on June 2 that the state would enter Phase Two of its reopening plan on June 15. At that time, Restaurants, retail stores, and malls may increase capacity from 30% to 60%. Personal care services and gyms will remain at 30% occupancy.
Michigan (divided government): Retail stores statewide will be allowed to reopen on June 4. Capacity will be limited to 25% for stores with less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space. For larger stores, the number of customers cannot exceed 4 per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space.
Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On June 4, Gov. Kate Brown will announce a list of counties that have been approved to enter the second phase of the state’s reopening plan. Phase Two will allow recreational sports and businesses like movie theaters, bowling alleys, and pools to begin reopening.
Pennsylvania (divided government): The state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on June 4, which will make Pennsylvania the 36th state to lift a stay-at-home order. The 10 remaining red-phase counties are expected to enter the yellow phase on June 5. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced a phased reopening plan for K-12 schools in the state that will allow yellow and green phase counties to start opening schools on July 1.
Louisiana (divided government): Louisiana will move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan on June 5. In Phase 2, the following businesses will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity: restaurants and coffee shops; shopping malls; gyms and fitness centers; barbershops and nail salons; movie theaters; racetracks (without spectators); museums, zoos, and aquariums; bars and breweries with food permits; massage services; spas; tattoo parlors; esthetician services; pool halls, bowling alleys, and skating rinks; event centers and wedding venues; and outdoor playgrounds and play centers. Phase 2 will last at least 21 days.
Vermont (divided government): Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced at a press conference on June 3 that he hopes to reopen restaurants to indoor dining on June 5. He also said he was working on a change to the quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors and would say more about that plan on June 5.
Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that much of the state would advance to Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Northern Virginia, the city of Richmond, and Accomack County will remain in Phase 1. Northam said he would provide more guidance for areas entering Phase 2 on June 3.
West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Movie theaters and casinos may reopen on June 5. Both types of businesses will need to limit their capacity to 50%.
Since our last edition
Have any states opened? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.
Florida (Republican trifecta): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that beginning on June 5 bars may reopen at 50% capacity inside and full capacity outside, with service only for seated patrons. Movie theaters and bowling alleys can reopen at 50% capacity on that day. The new rules apply to all counties except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.
New York (Democratic trifecta): On June 2, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that summer day camps can reopen on June 29. The Capital region entered Phase 2 of Cuomo’s reopening plan, “NY Forward,” on June 3. It is the seventh region to move into that phase, out of 10 regions in the state. Under Phase 2, the following businesses and activities can resume: offices (50% occupancy), real estate, in-store retail (50% occupancy), vehicle sales, leases and rentals, retail rental, repair and cleaning, commercial building management (50% occupancy), and salons and barbershops (50% occupancy).
North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said on June 2 that North Carolina was not yet ready to move into Phase 3 of the reopening plan, based on recent health and hospital data. Phase 2 will run through at least June 26 unless changed or canceled by state officials.
Ohio (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said on June 2 that he plans to address the reopening of large-attractions, such as museums and zoos, in a briefing on June 4.
Washington (Democratic trifecta): Following the expiration of the stay-at-home order on May 31 and the transition to a fully regional approach to reopening, three counties on June 3 applied to advance to Phase 3 of the reopening plan. Counties must stay in Phase 2 for three weeks before they can apply to move to the next stage. In Phase 3, theaters and gyms can reopen at 50% capacity, and public gatherings can include up to 50 people.
Update on stay-at-home orders
Forty-three states issued orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activities and the closure or curtailment of businesses each state deemed nonessential. Seven states did not.
As of June 3, stay-at-home orders have ended in 35 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 17 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order).
Of the eight states with active stay-at-home orders, seven have Democratic governors and one has a Republican governor. They are (with expiration date):
Pennsylvania (June 4, Democratic governor)
New Hampshire (June 15, Republican governor)
New York (June 27, Democratic governor)
New Mexico (June 30, Democratic governor)
California (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
Kentucky (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
New Jersey (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
Oregon (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
The chart below shows when stay-at-home orders ended in other states.
Tracking industries: Places of worship
All 50 states have reopened in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: in which states may you attend an indoor religious service?
New Jersey is the only state that does not allow indoor religious services at places of worship, in any regions or counties. Services must be held outdoors and patrons must remain in their vehicles. If cars cannot be spaced six feet apart, windows must remain closed.
Here are examples of other rules in place around religious services:
Rules vary by region in some states, like Pennsylvania and Washington. For example, some counties only permit outdoor or drive-up religious services.
In Pennsylvania, places of worship in counties in the red phase of the reopening plan are permitted only to hold drive-up services. Ten counties are in the red phase, though they are expected to move to the yellow phase by June 5. In the yellow phase, places of worship may open for up to 25 people. In the green phase, there are no restrictions except requiring individuals to follow CDC and Pennsylvania Health Department guidelines.
In Washington, places of worship in counties in Phase 1 of the reopening plan may hold outdoor services only with up to 100 people. Phase 2 permits houses of worship to hold indoor services with 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
Places of worship in California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont are limited to 25% capacity.
In Maryland and Virginia, places of worship are limited to 50% capacity.
This is an in-depth summary of one of the latest reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know. Click a state below to read a previous Featured Plan.
On April 16, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced the initial framework for the “Show Me Strong” recovery plan, outlining four pillars on which reopening would be based:
Rapidly expand testing capacity and volume in the state, including testing for those who are currently contagious and those who have developed immunity to the virus
Expand reserves of PPE by opening public and private supply chains and continuing to utilize Missouri businesses in that effort
Continue to monitor and, if necessary, expand hospital and health care system capacity, including isolation and alternate care facilities for those that cannot self-quarantine at home
Improve ability to predict potential outbreaks using Missouri’s public health data
On April 27, Parson announced a new health order allowing Phase 1 to begin on May 4, citing “favorable data and approval from state health officials.” All businesses could reopen as long as they adhered to social distancing requirements. Additional restrictions apply to restaurants and retail businesses.
The plan also includes social distancing requirements for individuals and other guidelines for businesses, individuals, and communities.
The state had not moved into Phase 2 as of June 3, and details on the phase were not available. On May 28, Parson said the next phase would involve moving away from orders: “We’re gonna have to live without an order and … we’re gonna have to take it upon ourselves to do [social distancing].”
Local governments are allowed to implement greater restrictions on businesses and individuals than the state reopening plan.
Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, issued a stay-at-home order that went into effect on April 6. It directed individuals to stay home unless necessary and to practice social distancing outside the home. It limited gathering sizes to 10 people. The order also said that nonessential businesses must adhere to gathering limits and social distancing guidelines and that workers must practice good hygiene and work from home where feasible. The order was set to expire on April 24. Williams extended the order, and it expired on May 3.
On April 27, Williams issued the Show Me Strong Recovery order, requiring individuals and workers to socially distance and allowing businesses to reopen under certain guidelines. It went into effect on May 4 and was set to expire on May 31. Williams extended the order until June 15.
“In accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every person and business in the State of Missouri shall abide by social distancing requirements, including maintaining six feet (6’) of space between individuals. This provision shall not apply to family members or individuals performing job duties that require contact with other people closer than six feet (6’).”
“Individuals performing job duties that require contact with other people closer than six feet (6’) should take enhanced precautionary measures to mitigate the risks of contracting or spreading COVID-19. This provision shall apply in all situations, including, but not limited to, when customers are standing in line or individuals are using shared indoor or outdoor spaces.”
The plan’s FAQ page further says of individuals performing jobs that require contact with people closer than six feet:
“Businesses and employees should work together to implement public health and safety measures for employees and customers, using this site as a guide, in addition to any guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under these conditions, businesses such as barber and cosmetology shops, hair salons, and tattoo parlors are allowed to operate.”
Gyms and hotel swimming pools can also open if they adhere to strict social distancing and sanitation protocols.
Capacity limits for retail businesses
Requirements for retail buildings subject to fire or building code occupancy limits:
For smaller locations (less than 10,000 square feet), they must maintain 25 percent or less of the authorized occupancy;
For larger locations (10,000 square feet or greater), they must maintain 10 percent or less of the authorized occupancy.
The plan includes a formula for businesses not subject to local fire or building code occupancy limits.
Employees and vendors do not count toward capacity limits. The restrictions do not apply to hotels or restaurants. For additional details on capacity limits, click here.
Requirements for restaurants
Restaurants may reopen for dine-in services under the following conditions:
“Restaurants may offer dining-in services, but must adhere to social distancing and other precautionary public health measures. Tables must be spaced at least six feet apart. Communal seating areas for parties that are not connected are prohibited. There can be no more than ten people at a single table. The continued use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options is encouraged.”
Closely monitor and track the containment, spread, and any resurgence of COVID-19 and adjust plans as necessary.
Limit situations where citizens cannot maintain social distancing.
Facilitate widespread testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic citizens.
Work to protect the most vulnerable populations.
Local authorities may issue additional orders consistent with the state health order.
Individuals may go to and from a place of worship, provided that limitations on social distancing are properly adhered to.
Schools shall remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year.
Summer school may proceed under guidelines set forth by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
On May 4, Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Jean Evans said, “One of the things about our Governor is that he definitely trusts local leaders to make good decisions for themselves. From the get go, he has taken a very aggressive approach to dealing with this. I know Governor Parson pretty well. … He is somebody who doesn’t react, he responds. He looks at all the information, talks to the experts and comes up with a plan.”
On May 14, KRCG reported that the Missouri Democratic Party requested records detailing the epidemiological data the governor’s office and state health department have used to guide reopening:
“In a records request, the Democratic Party requested copies of this model, and any underlying data, work product, and supplementary materials developed by the Department of Health and Human Services to model the COVID-19 pandemic, between March 1, 2020 and May 12, 2020.
According to the Democratic Party, Williams said he would release the epidemiological model on May 6, but the data still has yet to be released.
‘Parson and Dr. Williams have repeatedly promised to release their epidemiological model to the public and then failed to do so,’ Missouri Democratic Party Executive Director Lauren Gepford stated in a Thursday news release.
In the news release, Gepford said the state’s decision to reopen was an act of ‘defiance’ against the guidance passed down by the White House.”
On May 4, the Southeast Missourian editorial board wrote,
“It’s nice to see businesses start to reopen following a four-week statewide shutdown in Missouri, longer in some individual municipalities. The coronavirus pandemic has not only been a health issue but an economic one.
As people return to work and customers resume their patronization of businesses, it’s important to adhere to public health guidance. …
The chambers of commerce in Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City along with VisitCape and Magnet are promoting a Reclaim Our Region campaign. Along with encouraging individuals to observe state and local orders, they ask individuals to seek opportunities to support the local economy and shift as much of your spending to local establishments. While online shopping has been convenient and even necessary during this pandemic, patronizing businesses with a local presence is important to the local recovery.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress. Adhere to public health guidance. And support your local economy. We’re all in this together.”
On April 27, The Kansas City Star editorial board wrote,
“[Parson] is depending on residents to exercise their own judgment — to stay home if sick, to wash hands regularly, to work from home if allowed.
He also says testing and tracing should improve, enabling the state to identify hotspots and respond quickly.
But how can he ask individuals to be cautious when he is not? It’s clear some Missourians will take the governor’s order as an ‘all-clear’ signal that life can return to normal. That’s a risky gambit. …
There are some redeeming features of the order. Cities and counties will be able to retain stricter rules for businesses, which means Kansas City’s stay-at-home order can remain in effect, as can Jackson County’s. Both expire May 15.
The different rules will undoubtedly cause confusion and resentment in some quarters. And the patchwork of deadlines will scramble the coronavirus calculus: Kansas Citians will be at greater risk because their neighbors in other counties are opening so soon.
Still, the later deadline in Kansas City and Jackson County makes more sense than Parson’s rush to reopen May 4.”
In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.
Chicago, Illinoisentered Phase 3 of its reopening plan on June 3. Phase 3 includes allowing offices, hotels, retail, and personal services such as nail salons and barbershops to reopen. Restaurants may also reopen for outdoor dining. The city released industry-specific guidelines for reopening.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisorsvoted 4-1 to send a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) requesting permission to open several sites not allowed in Phase 2 of the state’s plan, including gyms, nail salons, theme parks, and churches. On May 20, the state granted San Diego County variance, allowing it to open restaurants and retail.
Cinemark announced its plans to begin a four-phased reopening of its theaters on June 19. CEO Mark Zoradi said reopening will begin with five theaters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. One-third of the chain’s theaters will reopen each following week through July 10. Cinemark is the third-largest movie theater chain in the U.S.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority issued a letter to New York City officials outlining when subways and buses are expected to return to full service. The agency said that regular bus and subway schedules would return the first day the City enters Phase 1 of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) reopening plan. New York City is expected to enter that phase on Monday, June 8.
Yes on 805, sponsors of proposed Oklahoma State Question 805, turned in 260,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on June 1. State Question 805 would prohibit a convicted person’s former felony convictions from being used to “enhance the statutorily allowable base range of punishment, including but not limited to minimum and maximum terms.” The initiative would provide for sentence modifications for eligible persons.
Yes on 805 President Sarah Edwards said, “Oklahoma has an incarceration crisis. This crisis separates families, damages communities and hurts our state’s chances of success. For several years, legislators have tried to pass legislation that would rein in sentence enhancements and reduce extreme sentences. These efforts have failed despite widespread support from state leaders and Oklahoma voters. This campaign is a continuation of recent criminal justice reform efforts, acknowledging that much more still needs to be done to address this crisis.”
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R), who opposes the initiative, said, “Trying to put this into our state’s constitution, it peels back enhancements for DUIs, human trafficking, domestic violence — some of the things I don’t think we need to put into our constitution.”
To qualify for the ballot, 177,958 valid signatures are required. Proponents had collected more than 260,000 signatures as of early March. On March 17, 2020, Sarah Edwards, president of Yes on 805, made the following statement regarding COVID 19: “Effective immediately, Yes on 805 will suspend all of its public activities, including signature gathering. The health and safety of our signature collectors and the public at large is our number one priority. We are doing our part to protect and support our communities by taking steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’re confident in the status of the campaign and the strength of our movement, and look forward to fulfilling the will of Oklahoma voters by filing the signatures needed to put State Question 805 on the 2020 ballot.”
On March 18, 2020, the Oklahoma Secretary of State tolled the signature gathering deadline for initiative petitions until the governor lifts the state’s emergency declaration, which meant the window for signature gathering for each initiative was pushed forward instead of continuing to run during the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 7, 2020, Yes on 805 filed a petition with the Oklahoma Supreme Court asking for Oklahoma Secretary of State Michael Rogers to accept the more than 260,000 signatures the group had already collected. Sarah Edwards, president of Yes on 805 said, “It’s imperative we place State Question 805 on a 2020 ballot. People who are serving excessive sentences can’t wait another year. Their families can’t wait. We hope this legal move will prompt quick action from the Secretary of State to ensure the thousands of Oklahomans who signed our petition to place SQ 805 on the ballot have their voices heard.”
Secretary of State Michael Rogers said he would not accept the signatures until the state’s emergency declaration ends, which was set to end at the start of June. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on May 26, 2020, that the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office must accept the signatures within 10 business days. Sponsors submitted signatures to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office on June 1, 2020.
A signature count was expected to begin on Wednesday. It was not known how long the count was expected to take. After the count is complete, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will determine the sufficiency or insufficiency of the number of signatures as counted by the Secretary of State. At this time, the state attorney general will review the ballot title and make any changes deemed necessary.
Signature validity and ballot title changes could be challenged legally within ten days after the Secretary of State publishes the signature count and final ballot title. Once all legal objections are resolved, the governor places the state question on the ballot.
Today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that starting June 5, bars will be able to reopen at 50% capacity inside and full capacity outside, with service only for seated patrons. Movie theaters and bowling alleys will also be permitted reopen at 50% capacity the same day. These new rules will apply to all counties in the state except Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.
Florida began its phased reopening in late April, with the above three South Florida counties excluded due to heightened positive coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations. Each of those counties has since been granted permission by the governor to reopen at a slower rate than the rest of the state.
In this edition of The Ballot Bulletin, we take a closer look at five of what we think are the most noteworthy lawsuits filed to date. We selected these lawsuits because they deal with a variety of election-related issues and originate in different regions of the country. For a complete list of all the election lawsuits we’re tracking, click here.
Esshaki v. Whitmer (Michigan)
The parties to the suit: The plaintiffs were Eric Esshaki, Matt Savich, and Deana Beard, candidates for Congress, the Forty-Seventh Judicial District Court, and the Third Circuit Court, respectively. The defendants were Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), and Elections Director Jonathan Brater.
The issue: Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which disallowed large gatherings and closed numerous businesses, prevented them from collecting the number of signatures needed to earn a place on the ballot. They argued that these conditions imposed a severe burden on the plaintiffs’ ability to seek elective office, violating their constitutional free-speech and associational rights.
The outcome: On April 20, Judge Terrence Berg, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and issued an order reducing the petition signature requirements for certain primary candidates to 50 percent of their statutory thresholds. Berg also extended the filing deadline from April 21 to May 8 and directed election officials to develop procedures allowing for the collection and submission of electronic petition signatures. Berg’s order applied only to candidates for offices without a filing-fee option: U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, and judicial offices. The order did not apply to state legislative candidates, who could pay filing fees to get on the ballot.
Berg’s order was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which ruled on May 5 that Berg had erred in his initial order. Although the appeals court agreed that the original ballot requirements were unconstitutional, it ruled that Berg had exceeded his authority in mandating new requirements. The appeals court directed the state “to select its own adjustments so as to reduce the burden on ballot access, narrow the restrictions to align with its interest, and thereby render the application of the ballot-access provisions constitutional under the circumstances.” On May 8, state authorities announced they would abide by the requirements laid out in Berg’s original order. Jake Rollow, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of State, said, “As the district court declined to amend its order, and with the revised filing deadline today, May 8, the best course of action to reduce further uncertainty in advance of the rapidly approaching August elections is to maintain the procedures that have been in place for the last two and a half weeks.”
Issa v. Newsom (California)
The parties to the suit: The plaintiffs are former U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R) and four registered California voters: James Oerding, Jerry Griffin, Michelle Bolotin, and Michael Sienkiewicz. The defendants are Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D).
The issue: On May 8, Newsom issued an executive order directing county election officials to deliver mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election. California law allows any eligible voter to vote by mail, but the voter is required to submit a mail-in ballot application first in order to receive an actual ballot. Under Newsom’s order, all voters will automatically receive the mail-in ballots.
On May 21, the plaintiffs filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. In their complaint, attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that Newsom’s order violates both the Elections Clause and the Electors Clause of the United States Constitution. The Elections Clause (Article I, Section 4) establishes that “the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.” The Electors Clause (Article II, Section 1) establishes that each state may appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that neither Newsom nor Padilla meet the definition of a “Legislature” for the purposes of these provisions.
The outcome: The case is pending before Judge Morrison England, who was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush (R).
League of Women Voters of Oklahoma v. Ziriax (Oklahoma)
The parties to the suit: The plaintiffs were the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma and two qualified Oklahoma voters, Angela Zea Patrick and Peggy Jeanne Winton. The defendant was Paul Ziriax, in his capacity as secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board.
The issue: Attorneys for the plaintiffs alleged that official absentee ballot forms and other instructional materials were misleading voters by suggesting that a notarized affidavit was required in order for absentee ballots to be counted. The plaintiffs argued instead that a personally signed statement, under penalty of perjury, was sufficient in lieu of a notarized affidavit.
The outcome: On May 4, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the plaintiffs, striking down the contested requirement. The court ruled that the requirement did not qualify as an exception under a state law establishing that statements, signed and dated under the penalty of perjury, carry the force of an affidavit.
However, on May 7, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed SB210 into law, reinstating the absentee ballot notarization requirement. The legislation also included provisions applicable only to the 2020 election cycle. SB210 permitted voters to submit copies of their identification in lieu of fulfilling the notarization requirement in the event of a state of emergency occurring within 45 days of an election. The legislation also specified that individuals experiencing symptoms indicative of COVID-19, and individuals classified as vulnerable to infection could cast absentee ballots under the ‘physical incapacitation’ eligibility criterion.
Wisconsin Legislature v. Evers (Wisconsin)
The parties to the suit: The plaintiff was the Wisconsin Legislature, in which Republicans have majorities in both chambers. The defendant was Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat.
The issue: On April 6, Evers issued an executive order postponing in-person voting in the spring election, scheduled to take place on April 7, to June 9. Evers also extended the receipt deadline for absentee ballots to June 9.
State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) argued that Evers’ order exceeded his constitutional authority. They filed suit in the state supreme court, seeking an emergency stay of Evers’ order. In their motion for the stay, plaintiffs’ attorneys said, “Given that the Governor’s order comes mere hours before the in-person election is set to begin, the Legislature will suffer irreparable harm if Executive Order 74 is not immediately enjoined. Moreover, such sweeping changes to an election made just before the election is set to begin will undoubtedly cause voter confusion and call into question the integrity of the electoral process.”
In an unsigned opinion, the court majority wrote, “The question presented is not whether the policy choice to continue with this election is good or bad, or otherwise in the public interest. … Rather, the question presented to this court is whether the Governor has the authority to suspend or rewrite state election laws. Although we recognize the extreme seriousness of the pandemic that this state is currently facing, we conclude that he does not.”
Bradley wrote the following in her dissent, which Dallet joined: “[The] majority gives Wisconsinites an untenable choice: endanger your safety and potentially your life by voting or give up your right to vote by heeding the recent and urgent warnings about the fast growing pandemic. These orders are but another example of this court’s unmitigated support of efforts to disenfranchise voters.”
Yang v. Kellner (New York)
The parties to the suit: The plaintiffs were Andrew Yang, a former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and several candidates for New York’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention. The defendants were Robert Brehm, Douglas Kellner, Peter Kosinski, Andrew Spano, and Todd Valentine, all members of the New York State Board of Elections, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
The issue: On April 27, the New York State Board of Elections moved to cancel the Democratic presidential preference primary, which had been scheduled to take place on June 23. The Republican presidential preference primary had already been canceled. The statewide primary election was scheduled to proceed as planned on June 23. Earlier in April, the state enacted a law authorizing the board of elections to remove candidates’ names from the ballot upon the suspension or termination of their campaigns. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) suspended his presidential campaign on April 8, making former Vice-President Joe Biden (D) the presumptive Democratic nominee.
In their complaint, filed April 28, attorneys for the plaintiffs alleged that “this unprecedented and unwarranted move infringes the rights of Plaintiffs and all New York State Democratic Party voters … as it fundamentally denies them the right to choose our next candidate for the office of President of the United States.”
The outcome: On May 5, Judge Analisa Torres, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate the Democratic presidential primary. Torres wrote, “[T]he removal of presidential candidates from the primary ballot not only deprived those candidates of the chance to garner votes for the Democratic Party’s nomination, but also deprived their pledged delegates of the opportunity to run for a position where they could influence the party platform, vote on party governance issues, pressure the eventual nominee on matters of personnel or policy, and react to unexpected developments at the Convention.” Torres joined the court in 2013, having been nominated by President Barack Obama (D).
On May 6, the state board of elections appealed the decision. On May 19, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed Torres’ ruling. The panel comprised Judges Amalya Kearse, Dennis Jacobs, and Jose Cabranes. Kearse, Jacobs, and Cabranes were appointed to the court by Presidents Jimmy Carter (D), George H.W. Bush (R), and Bill Clinton (D), respectively. The state board of elections indicated it would make no further appeal.
Since our May 20 edition, we’ve tracked the following election postponement updates:
Puerto Rico: On May 21, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico announced its presidential preference primary would take place on July 12. The primary was originally scheduled for March 29. It was first postponed to April 26. It was then postponed indefinitely.
To date, 20 states and one territory have postponed upcoming state-level elections. These states are shaded in dark blue on the map below.
Absentee/mail-in voting modifications
Since our May 20 edition, we’ve tracked the following absentee/mail-in voting modifications:
Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order extending absentee voting eligibility to any registered voter in the Aug. 11 primary if there is no “federally approved and widely available vaccine for prevention of COVID-19” at the time he or she requests an absentee ballot.
Montana: On May 27, the Montana Supreme Court voted 5-2 to halt a lower court order that had extended the absentee ballot receipt deadline for the June 2 primary to June 8.
Pennsylvania: On June 1, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued an executive order extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline for the June 2 primary to 5:00 p.m. on June 9 (with a postmark deadline of June 2) in Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
South Carolina: On May 25, Judge J. Michelle Childs, of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee ballots in the June 9 primary and subsequent runoff elections.
Texas: On May 27, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify as a disability under the state’s election laws and, therefore, cannot be cited as an excuse for voting absentee.
To date, 28 states have modified their absentee/mail-in voting procedures. These modifications can be divided into five broad categories:
Automatic mail-in ballots: Five states (California, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey) have opted to send mail-in ballots automatically to all eligible voters in certain elections to ensure that most voting takes place by mail. These states are shaded in yellow in the map below.
Automatic mail-in ballot applications: Twelve states (Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and West Virginia) are automatically sending mail-in ballot applications to all eligible voters in certain elections. These states are shaded in dark blue in the map below.
Eligibility expansions: Seven states (Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia) have expanded absentee voting eligibility in certain elections. These states are shaded in light blue in the map below.
Deadline extensions: Four states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin) have extended absentee/mail-in ballot request or submission deadlines in certain elections. These states are shaded in dark gray in the map below.
To date, we have tracked 165 bills that make some mention of both election policy and COVID-19. States with higher numbers of relevant bills are shaded in darker blue on the map below. States with lower numbers of relevant bills are shaded in lighter blue. In states shaded in white, we have tracked no relevant bills.
On June 2, Ballotpedia covered 1,990 primary elections for 1,011 offices across 12 states and Washington, D.C. In our June 17 issue, we’ll examine the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the conduct of these elections, turning our attention to the use of absentee/mail-in voting, consolidation of polling places, and preliminary data on voter turnout rates.
This week: Key June 2 election results, NRA endorses Caldarera over Trump-endorsed Malliotakis in NY-27, and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to seek re-election.
On the news
Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
On racism in America
“While I understand the frustration and anger, I do not condone the violence spreading across this country in response to Floyd’s horrific killing. Rioting tearing apart Minneapolis and cities coast-to-coast will never lead to anything but more suffering. Those who are committing crimes are distracting us from the even larger group of people who are peacefully demonstrating.
But we cannot shrug off Floyd’s killing – along with the killings of so many other black Americans throughout our nation’s history and up through today.
How many more black people must die, and how many more times will statements of sympathy have to be issued? How many times will protests have to occur? How many more committees will have to be formed until America admits that racism is still a problem in this country?
Racism in America is a fatal wound. Every time another incident occurs we put a Band-Aid on it, but the Band-Aid keeps falling off. Band-Aids are not enough to ever stitch this country back together.”
“When the violence began, what we needed more than anything was clarity in the middle of this. It’s hard to see when the tear gas starts. Someone in America needed to tell the truth to the country. Instead, almost all of our so-called conservative leaders joined the left’s chorus, as if on cue. …
Meanwhile, Kay Coles James, who is the president of the Heritage Foundation — that’s the largest conservative think tank in the country. You may have sent them money, hopefully for the last time. Kay Coles James wrote a long scream denouncing America as an irredeemably racist nation: ‘How many times will protests have to occur?’
Got that? ‘Have to occur.’ Like the rest of us caused this by our sinfulness.
The message from our leaders on the right, as on the left, was unambiguous: Don’t complain. You deserve what’s happening to you.”
Iowa’s 4th Congressional District: State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) defeated Rep. Steve King (R) in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. Feenstra received 45.7% of the vote to King’s 36.0%. The last Democrat to win election from the 4th district was Neal Smith (D) in 1992. King is the second member of the House to lose a primary this year; Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was defeated by Marie Newman (D) in March. In 2018, four members of the House were defeated in primaries: Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).
Indiana’s 5th Congressional District: State Sen. Victoria Spartz (R) defeated 14 other candidates to win the Republican nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. Susan Brooks (R) in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. Spartz received 40.6% of the vote with 88% of precincts reporting. Beth Henderson (R) had 17.6%, while Micah Beckwith (R) had 13.7%. Over 90% of the satellite spending in the race took the form of mailers and advertisements released by Club for Growth in opposition to Henderson and Carl Brizzi (R). Spartz will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election, which two forecasters rate “Leans Republican” and a third rates “Likely Republican”.
Montana’s At-Large Congressional District: State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) defeated five other candidates, including Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R), to win the Republican nomination for Montana’s at-large U.S. House seat. Rosendale received 48.3% of the vote to Stapleton’s 33.2% with 94% of precincts reporting. Rosendale will face Kathleen Williams (D) in the general election. The national branches of both major parties are targeting this open seat currently held by outgoing U.S. Rep. and Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte.
New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District: Yvette Herrell defeated Claire Chase and Chris Mathys to win the Republican nomination in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. Herrel received 44.8% of the vote to 31.6% for Chase and 23.6% for Mathys with 96% of precincts reporting. Herrell, who was the GOP’s 2018 nominee, will again face Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) in the general election. In 2018, Torres Small defeated Herrell 50.9% to 49.1%.
Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District: As of 10:00 a.m. on June 3, this race remained too close to call. Incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick led with 56.7% of the vote, followed by challenger Andy Meehan (R) with 43.3%. Although 99% of precincts had reported results, Bucks County’s election officials will continue to count mail-in ballots received through June 9, as long as they were postmarked by June 2. Fitzpatrick is one of the two House Republicans running for re-election this year in a district Hillary Clinton (D) carried in 2016.
Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District: As of 10:00 a.m. on June 3, this race remained too close to call. Lisa Scheller (R) led with 51.8% of the vote to Dean Browning’s (R) 48.2%. Both Scheller and Browning are former members of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. The National Republican Congressional Committee and President Trump (R) endorsed Scheller, while former candidate Matt Connolly backed Browning. The winner will challenge incumbent Susan Wild (D) in the general election.
Montana gubernatorial: U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) defeated Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-06) to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Montana for the second election cycle in a row. Gianforte received 53.4% of the vote to Fox’s 27.2% and Olszewski’s 19.3% with 94% of precincts reporting. Gianforte was also the 2016 nominee for governor and lost to Steve Bullock (D), 50.2% to 46.4%. Bullock is term-limited and unable to run for re-election. Gianforte will face Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D). The 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial elections were decided by margins of 1.6 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.
Montana Secretary of State: As of 8:00 a.m. Mountain Time on June 3, this race remained too close to call. With 90% of precincts reporting, Christ Jacobsen (R) leads with 29.4% of the vote, followed by Scott Sales (R) with 25.3%, Brad Johnson (R) with 23.1%, and Forrest Mandeville (R) with 10.3%. Two other candidates each received under 10%. The winner will face Democratic nominee Bryce Bennett (D) in the general election.
Wagle drops out of Senate primary in KS
Susan Wagle dropped out of the Senate primary in Kansas. Nine candidates remain in the Aug. 4 primary.
Wagle cited family needs following the death of her daughter in March. She also said her duties as state Senate president to “stop Laura Kelly’s plan to advance socialized medicine and take the necessary steps to rein in her executive overreach during the pandemic” required her full attention.
As we reported earlier, Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mike Kuckelman sent Wagle and Dave Lindstrom letters asking them to drop out of the primary. State party executive director Shannon Golden said the party wanted a contest between Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall.
Wagle’s campaign representative Matt Beynon said at the time, “Private conversations with Mike Kuckelman over the past year have made it clear he’s been opposed to Susan’s campaign from the start, and today, he simply put that on paper. Others can speculate on his motives, but it may be as simple as he doesn’t support strong, pro-life conservative women.”
Kobach was Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019. He defeated incumbent Jeff Colyer in the 2018 gubernatorial primary and lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election 43% to 48%. Marshall was first elected to the House in 2016.
Bob Hamilton, a former owner of a plumbing business, led in fundraising through March 31 with $2.2 million, including $2 million in self-funding. Marshall raised $2.1 million. Wagle had raised $728,000, including $275,000 in self-funding, and was third in fundraising. Kobach had raised $595,000.
Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R), who was first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election.
NRA endorses Caldarera over Trump-endorsed Malliotakis in NY-27
The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently endorsed Joe Caldarera in New York’s 11th Congressional District primary. He faces state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. President Donald Trump endorsed Malliotakis in February.
Caldarera said, “I have always been steadfast and strong in my support for our 2nd Amendment constitutional rights, and I am thrilled that the NRA has endorsed my campaign. Nicole Malliotakis does not share the values of the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn, and I am looking forward to offering them a loyal conservative choice on June 23rd.”
Rob Ryan, a Malliotakis campaign representative, said, “It’s easy to get a high grade on any questionnaire when you’ve never held elective office. … For 10 years, Nicole Malliotakis has served in the legislature and has cast votes that reflect the views of her constituents. She is endorsed by President Trump and the Republican County Committees and Conservative Party in the 11th Congressional District and she is the conservative Republican candidate who can defeat Max Rose.”
The New York Post reported that the NRA gave Malliotakis a C- grade on her legislative record and that she voted for the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in 2013, which the NRA opposed. The bill, which became law, expanded the definition of assault weapon and expanded background checks, among other changes.
Malliotakis will appear on the general election ballot regardless of whether she wins the Republican Party primary, as she is the Conservative Party nominee.
Incumbent Rep. Max Rose (D) was first elected in 2018, defeating incumbent Daniel Donovan (R) 53% to 47%. Three election forecasters rate the general election a Toss-up.
The primary is June 23.
Incumbent Jim Justice leads in first public poll of West Virginia’s gubernatorial primary
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) leads all six of his challengers ahead of the June 9 gubernatorial primary, according to a Triton Research & Polling survey released May 28.
The poll, the first in the primary to be publicly released, found Justice leading with 55% of the vote, followed by former state Del. Michael Folk with 16% support and businessman Woody Thrasher with 15%. No other candidate had more than 2% support. Eight percent of voters were undecided. The survey’s margin of error was 3.7 percentage points.
As of May 24, Justice also led the Republican candidates in fundraising with $630,000 raised to $450,000 for Thrasher and $100,000 for Folk. None of the other candidates reported raising more than $5,000.
Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party in August 2017. His backers include President Trump (R) and the National Rifle Association. Thrasher, a former Justice administration official, has endorsements from the Charleston Gazette-Mail and the West Virginia University Republicans.
The June 9 primary is open only to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters. The last Republican to win election as governor of West Virginia was Cecil Underwood (R) in 1996.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to seek re-election
May 28 was the filing deadline for candidates seeking a major party’s nomination for governor of Vermont. Incumbent Phil Scott (R) announced that morning he would seek election to a third two-year term, setting up a primary with four challengers on Aug. 11. Scott said he did not intend to actively campaign as long as the state remained under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Scott was elected governor 53-44 in 2016 over former Secretary of the Agency of Transportation Sue Minter (D) and defeated businesswoman Christine Hallquist (D) 55-40 to win re-election in 2018. He faced contested Republican primaries in both years, defeating Bruce Lisman (R) 60-39 in 2016 and Keith Stern (R) 67-33 in 2018.
Four other Republicans filed for the nomination: Douglas Cavett (R), John Klar (R), Bernard Peters (R), and Emily Peyton (R). Both Peters and Peyton ran in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Peyton received 1.6% of the vote on the Liberty Union ticket, while Peters won 0.7% of the vote as an independent candidate.
The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters.
Alaska District 30 GOP asks incumbent Rep. Gary Knopp (R-30) not to run as a Republican
On May 29, Alaska’s House District 30 GOP committee published an open letter to incumbent Rep. Gary Knopp (R-30). In the letter, Chairman Thomas Daly wrote, “Since your election the team is disappointed and no longer supports your candidacy.” He added, “it falls to me to ask that you with draw [sic] from the primary as a Republican candidate. If you wish to continue affiliated [sic] with some other group, good luck to you.”
Knopp was first elected in 2016. Following the 2018 elections, Republicans held a 23-16-1 majority in the House of Representatives. They were unable to form a majority coalition after Knopp and seven other Republican representatives created a power-sharing agreement with Democratic members to establish a bipartisan majority.
On June 1, Knopp responded, saying, “I represent all of my constituents, not just a handful of short-sighted individuals. Many people in our party have divergent views on many issues that will face the Legislature next session.” He continued, “I decline your invitation to withdraw from the Republican primary, however, I do look forward to debating with the other Republican candidates.”
District 30 is a strongly Republican district. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 71-21 in the district in 2016. Knopp will face Kelly Wolf and Ronald Gillham in the Republican primary. The District 30 GOP has not yet endorsed either candidate.
Tulsa Beacon and Tulsa World endorse competing candidates in Oklahoma’s House District 69 primary
On May 21, the Tulsa Beacon endorsed Angela Strohm (R) in Oklahoma’s House District 69 primary. Strohm is challenging Rep. Sheila Dills (R), who was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Chuck Strohm (R), Angela Strohm’s husband, in the Republican primary 64-36%. On May 9, the Tulsa World endorsed Dills. Charter schools and school choice are top issues in the 2020 primary.
In Strohm’s endorsement, the Tulsa Beacon described the candidate as “a genuine conservative Republican who believes in smaller, more efficient government.” In a later piece, the paper wrote that “Dills opposes school choice options.”
In its Dills endorsement, the Tulsa World said she “is a realistic conservative, who has made a name for herself with work for common-sense reforms and transparency in the state’s online charter school system.” The paper added that Strohm’s website “advocates plans to starve public schools and fund voucher schemes for private schools.”
There are no other candidates filed to run in the election, meaning the winner of the Republican primary will likely win the seat.
“Winning For Women is building an infrastructure that will allow right-of-center women leaders to succeed in their pursuit of leadership opportunities, and working to advance free-market principles and a strong national defense.” – Winning For Women website
Winning For Women is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says it is “dedicated to identifying and creating paths forward for women leaders who share core values of economic freedom and strong national security.”
Winning For Women is affiliated with WFW Action Fund, a hybrid political action committee. According to the group’s website, “WFW Action Fund recognizes that there is no shortage of qualified Republican women. But we’ve seen time and again that the most challenging part of running as a woman is getting through the primary.” The group says, “WFW Action Fund will be playing big in the 2020 primaries to make sure that Republican women have every advantage that their opponents may have – and that means giving them support from start to finish.”
Winning For Women released its second round of 2020 endorsements at the end of May, endorsing Kelly Loeffler for Senate and Tiffany Shedd, Mary Miller, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Claire Chase, and Renee Swann for the House. To see a full list of the candidates the group has endorsed, click here.
This week: Key June 2 primary results, Andrew Yang endorses Perelman in FL-23, and Jennifer Carroll Foy launches 2021 campaign for governor of Virginia.
On the news
Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
On property destruction in protests
“People are going out again, all over the United States. But it’s not to celebrate a vaccine or a debt jubilee. The first national connecting event coming out of lockdown is mass protest against police violence after the lynching of George Floyd, and the state’s attempt at suppressing it. The coronavirus—which disproportionately is killing Black Americans—drove us inside. Policing—which also disproportionately is killing Black Americans—is drawing us back out. Almost overnight, the streets have gone from largely empty—though the rate of police killings remained mostly unchanged—to filled with thousands of masked people, often being gassed or beaten. The conditions before, during and after the lockdown are part of a continuum in America—a miserable nation maintained by policing. …
As any military tactician or social justice organizer can tell you, direct action gets the goods. The destruction of a police precinct is not only a tactically reasonable response to the crisis of policing, it is a quintessentially American response, and a predictable one. The uprising we’ve seen this week is speaking to the American police state in its own language, up to and including the use of fireworks to mark a battle victory. Property destruction for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party and the Stonewall Riots. And before he unconvincingly qualified a statement so violent Twitter put it behind a warning screen, the president saying he would order shots fired to protect property—that’s as American as the MOVE bombing and apple pie.”
“There are folks who romanticize riots, at least when the destruction happens to someone else’s property. But fighting fire with fire will only burn the whole house down. Or, as the rapper Killer Mike said in an emotional press conference with the Mayor of Atlanta: ‘it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy.’
Few living Americans have more moral authority when it comes to confronting the forces of racial oppression than Rep. John Lewis, who was almost killed by Alabama troopers while peacefully protesting on the Edmund Pettus Bridge 55 years ago. On Saturday, he again reminded us of the discipline that is required to ultimately triumph over injustice, stating: ‘I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive.’
Every word of this is true. We must confront the deep legacy of bigotry that leads too many black and brown and immigrant lives to be treated with callous disregard and sometimes become the victims of pure hate. But the answer does not lie in demonizing all police officers or indiscriminately destroying property. That will only spur a backlash and lead some to see moral equivalence between the two sides in the larger struggle between right and wrong. The riots in the late 1960s only succeeded in burning out inner cities and electing Richard Nixon on the back of his Southern strategy.”
U.S. Senate, Iowa: Theresa Greenfield defeated Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham, and Eddie Mauro to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa. Greenfield received 47.8% of the vote to Franken’s 25.0%, Graham’s 15.0%, and Mauro’s 11.0%. Greenfield will face first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in the general election.
Indiana’s 1st Congressional District: Frank Mrvan (D) defeated 14 other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District. Mrvan received 34.1% of the vote with 80% of precincts reporting. The only other candidate to win more than 10% of the vote was Thomas McDermott with 29.3%. This was the first open primary for the seat since 1932. Retiring incumbent Pete Visclosky (D) has held the seat since the 1984 election. Mrvan will face Mark Leyva (R) in the general election. Election forecasters rate the seat “Safe Democratic”.
Montana’s At-Large Congressional District: Kathleen Williams (D) defeated state Rep. Tom Winter (D-96) to win the Democratic nomination for Montana’s at-large U.S. House seat for the second election cycle in a row. Williams received 89.6% of the vote to Winter’s 10.4% with 79% of precincts reporting. Williams lost the 2018 general election to Greg Gianforte (R), 50.9% to 46.2%, which was the seat’s narrowest margin of victory since 2000. Gianforte is running for governor. Williams will face state Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) in the November general election. The national branches of both major parties are targeting the seat.
New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District: Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) defeated Valerie Plame (D), state Rep. Joseph Sanchez (D-40), and four other candidates to win the Democratic nomination for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Fernandez received 41.8% of the vote with 70% of precincts reporting. Plame received 22.9% and Sanchez 13.7%. Fernandez received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and groups like the Working Families Party and EMILY’s List. Outgoing Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-03) was first elected in 2008 and never received less than 55% of the vote running for re-election.
Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District: Christina Finello (D) defeated Skyler Hurwitz to win the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District. Finello received 77.4% of the vote to Hurwitz’s 22.6% with 99% of precincts reporting. Incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick (R) is one of the two House Republicans running for re-election in a district Hillary Clinton (D) carried in 2016. Finello will face the winner of the Republican primary—either Fitzpatrick or challenger Andy Meehan (R)—in the general election.
Montana gubernatorial: Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) defeated Whitney Williams (D) to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Montana. Cooney received 55.1% of the vote to Williams’ 44.9% with 79% of precincts reporting. Cooney will face U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R), who won the GOP nomination for the second election cycle in a row. The 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial elections were decided by margins of 1.6 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.
New Mexico State Senate: All 42 New Mexico State Senate seats are up for election this year. There were 13 contested Democratic primaries, 10 of which had an incumbent running. As of 8:15 a.m. Mountain Time on June 3, the Associated Press had reported that at least two incumbents—Richard Martinez (D-05) and Gabriel Ramos (D-28)—had been defeated. In the 2016 elections, there were eight contested Democratic primaries, four of which involved incumbents. All four incumbents won their primaries that year.
Baltimore Mayor: As of 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time on June 3, this race remained too close to call. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) led with 30.2% of the vote, followed by City Council President Brandon Scott (D) with 24.4%, former U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury Mary Miller (D) with 17.1%, and former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah (D) with 12.2%. Incumbent Jack Young (D) received 7.2% of the vote, followed by 19 other candidates. The winner of the Democratic primary is favored to win the general election.
Yang endorses Perelman in FL-23
Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang endorsed Jen Perelman in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District primary. Perelman faces incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Yang said, “Jen Perelman is first and foremost an activist. She was born and raised in Florida where she attended marches and protests with her parents growing up. Today, she uses her law degree to protect voting rights, defend women’s reproductive health, and help people navigate the criminal justice system—all pro bono.”
Schultz was first elected in 2004. She was re-elected in 2018 with 59% of the vote to Joe Kaufman’s (R) 36%. In her most recent contested primary in 2016, she defeated Tim Canova 57% to 43%. Schultz served as Democratic National Committee chairwoman from 2011 to 2016. She resigned as chair after WikiLeaks published emails indicating that party officials favored Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary campaign over Bernie Sanders’.
Perelman said, “It’s time for our representatives to stop putting the interests of corporations and wealthy CEOs before their constituents.” She supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. She says her campaign doesn’t take money from corporate interests. In addition to Yang, Perelman’s list of endorsers includes Brand New Congress, Our Revolution Broward, and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.
Schultz’s campaign website says she is “a true progressive champion who will fight for South Florida families.” She says she passed legislation to make swimming pools safer, support federal child exploitation interdiction efforts, and make it easier for women who conceived a child by rape to terminate parental rights of the rapist. Schultz’s endorsers include Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, the Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
The primary is Aug. 18.
Jones releases first TV ad in NY-17
Mondaire Jones released his first TV ad in New York’s 17th Congressional District primary. The ad says he’s the only candidate who supports Medicare for All and who has endorsements from leading progressives, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). It highlights his background working in the Justice Department during the Obama administration and attending Harvard Law School.
Incumbent Nita Lowey, who was first elected in 1998, isn’t seeking re-election. Six candidates are running in the June 23 primary. In addition to Jones, they are:
David Buchwald, a member of the state Assembly since 2013. Eight local Democratic committees have endorsed him.
David Carlucci, a member of the state Senate since 2011. Carlucci was part of the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate until April 2018. (The group caucused with Republicans from 2013 to 2018, giving them an effective majority even when Democrats held a numerical majority.)
Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, a college professor and Army veteran
Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Obama administration
Allison Fine, former chairwoman of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation and founder of Innovation Network, Inc., an evaluation and research firm that works with nonprofits
Adam Schleifer, former assistant U.S. attorney
Catherine Parker ended her primary bid last week but will still appear on the ballot.
As of March 31, Schleifer led in fundraising with $2.3 million, including $1.7 million in self-funding. Farkas was second with $925,000 and Jones third with $831,000.
Final pre-primary campaign finance report shows Stephen Smith leading West Virginia gubernatorial candidates in fundraising
According to campaign finance reports filed on May 29, Stephen Smith leads the Democratic gubernatorial field in fundraising.
The reports showed Smith raised $920,000. Ben Salango raised $720,000, and Ron Stollings banked $250,000. Two other candidates reported raising less than $3,000.
A Triton Polling & Research survey released May 28 found Salango at 30% and Smith at 27% support, respectively. Ron Stollings followed with 10% support, while 29% of voters were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 6.4 percentage points.
The Stollings campaign criticized the survey, calling it “an unscientific poll with a high margin of error [that] only counts voters with landline phones. The poll misses everyone who uses a cell phone, which is everyone.”
Salango, a member of the Kanawha County Commission, is backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D), former Gov. Gaston Caperton (D), and the state AFL-CIO. Smith’s backers include Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic.
The June 9 primary is open to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters only. Democrats have won every West Virginia gubernatorial election since 2000.
Jennifer Carroll Foy launches campaign for governor of Virginia
Virginia state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D) kicked off her campaign for governor of Virginia on May 27. Foy has represented House District 2, a coastal district that includes the Marine Corps’ Quantico Base, since 2017.
In her campaign kickoff video, Foy said she was running because “We are still being told no. No to affordable health care. No to criminal justice reform. No to a clean and safe environment. No to common sense gun safety legislation.”
Foy is the first Democrat to kick off her campaign. Other figures who have indicated they were considering a run include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), state Attorney General Mark Herring (D), and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Virginia is the only state to prohibit governors from serving consecutive terms, meaning incumbent Ralph Northam (D) cannot run for re-election.
Virginia will elect its next governor on Nov. 2, 2021. Virginia is currently a Democratic trifecta, where a Democrat is governor and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.
Washington District 37 Democrats and retiring incumbent endorse competing candidates
On May 19, Washington’s 37th Legislative District Democrats endorsedKirsten Harris-Talley (D) in the seven-way primary for Legislative District 37, Position 2. This endorsement comes after retiring state Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37-2) endorsed Andrea Caupain (D). Pettigrew’s retirement leaves the District 37-2 seat open for the first time since 2002.
Harris-Talley is the interim executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. She previously was an at-large member of the Seattle City Council for two months in 2017. The council appointed her to the seat following Tim Burgess’ resignation. She described herself as an “activist working shoulder to shoulder with community in Seattle … for over 20 years for racial, gender, and economic justice.”
Caupain has been the C.E.O. of Byrd Barr Place, a community advocacy organization, since 2008. She was appointed to the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs in 2018. Caupain said, “I have worked on behalf of Communities of Color and working-class families to make a positive change on issues of racial and social equality.”
Both Harris-Talley and Caupain could advance to the general election. Washington has a top-two primary system. All candidates, regardless of partisan affiliation, compete in a single primary with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election. In District 37-2, there are five Democrats, one Republican, and one Progressive Party member competing in the top-two primary. The other Democrats in the primary include Chukundi Salisbury, a Seattle Parks and Recreation manager, Andy Goeres, a corporate financial consultant, and Robert Redwine. The remaining two candidates are Stephen Richter (R) and Kathy Woodward (P).
Progressive organization endorses challenger to incumbent Washington District 5 senator
On May 27, Fuse Washington issued a sole endorsement for Ingrid Anderson (D) in the Legislative District 5 Senate race. The group describes itself as “the state’s largest progressive organization,” and said that it is designed “to give ordinary people a strong voice in politics.” Anderson is challenging incumbent state Senator Mark Mullet (D) for the District 5 seat.
Anderson and Mullet are the only two candidates in the election, which means both will progress to the general election in Washington’s top-two primary system. Organizations like Fuse Washington and others have opted to endorse only one of the two candidates, highlighting an ideological divide.
Anderson is a psychiatric nurse. In addition to Fuse Washington, she received sole endorsements from the Washington Conservation Voters, the Washington State Labor Council, and the Working Families Party.
Mullet is a restaurant owner with a background in international finance. He was first elected in 2012 and won re-election in 2016. He received sole endorsements from the Washington Fire Chiefs, Washington State Realtors, and the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association.
This is the first time Mullet will face a Democrat in the primary and general election. During his 2012 and 2016 campaigns, Mullet was the lone Democrat versus a Republican candidate.
“The LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus serves as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBTQ+ issues at the federal level. The Caucus works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.” – Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus website
Founded in 2008 by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucussays it is “strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. and around the world.” To view the members of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, click here.
The LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus is affiliated with Equality PAC, a political action committee that says it is “dedicated to bringing nearer the full legal and societal equality of LGBT people and creating a federal legislative environment conducive to that goal.” The group says it supports “openly LGBT candidates running for federal office, as well as members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus who are facing tough re-election challenges.” Equality PAC designates its endorsed candidates as Allies for Equality and LGBTQ Leaders.
June 3, 2020: Biden and Trump won presidential primaries in seven states and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The Republican National Committee said it would not hold the nomination portion of the Republican National Convention in North Carolina.
“President Donald Trump has realized that these riots have become a national-level threat to the safety and security of the American people. They are kicking at the load-bearing walls of our society. Trump knows it’s time for action. …
We must end the riots now. That means a willingness for police to use force against those who break the law and refuse to comply with lawful arrests.
To be clear: Trump is not advocating for peaceful protesters to be harassed or harmed. But there’s a clear distinction — morally and legally — between ‘protester’ and looter or rioter. That so many of the people choose to conflate these terms is evidence of their dishonesty and cowardice in this tense moment.”
– Buck Sexton, USA Today
Joe Biden and Donald Trump won primaries in Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Biden won an estimated 337 pledged delegates in those races and Bernie Sanders won six, with most races partially reporting. This brought Biden to 1,903 out of the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the nomination, according to the Associated Press.
Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday. He said, “I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I’ll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain. I’ll do my job and I’ll take responsibility — I won’t blame others”
The Hillreported that a group of former George W. Bush administration officials created a super PAC called “43 Alumni For Biden.”
Trumptweeted, “Had long planned to have the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a place I love. Now, @NC_Governor Roy Cooper and his representatives refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena – Spend millions of dollars, have everybody arrive, and … then tell them they will not be able to gain entry. Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised. Would have showcased beautiful North Carolina to the World, and brought in hundreds of … millions of dollars, and jobs, for the State. Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”
A statement from the Republican National Committeesaid, “Due to the directive from the governor that our convention cannot go on as planned as required by our rules, the celebration of the president’s acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city. … Should the governor allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte.”
Trump criticized Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally in San Jose, California. He said, “Anything Obama wants, she’s going forward with. … Because you know why? She doesn’t want to go to jail. That’s why.”