Latest stories

Milwaukee to hold municipal primaries on February 18

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is holding nonpartisan primaries on Tuesday, February 18. A general election will occur on April 7, 2020.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, the following offices are up for election:
• Mayor
• Common council (15 seats)
• City attorney
• City comptroller

All 15 Milwaukee Common Council seats are up for election in 2020. A primary is held if more than two candidates filed to run for a seat. Primaries are being held for Districts 1, 5, 7, 8, 11, and 14. Candidates running for Districts 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15 automatically advanced to the general election in April.

Four candidates filed to run in the primary for mayor of Milwaukee. Paul Rasky, Lena Taylor, and Tony Zielinksi are challenging incumbent mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett first assumed office in 2004.

Three candidates filed to run in the primary for Milwaukee City Attorney. Grant Langley, the current city attorney, first assumed office in 1984. He faces Vincent J. Bobot and Tearman Spencer in the primary.

Alex Brower, Jason Fields, and Aycha Sawa are competing in the primary for Milwaukee City Comptroller. Martin Matson, the current city comptroller, did not seek re-election in 2020.

A general election will be held for the office of Milwaukee City Treasurer in April. The primary was canceled after only two candidates filed for the race. Incumbent Spencer Coggs, who first assumed the office in 2012, will face Brandon Methu in the general election on April 7, 2020.

City offices in Milwaukee are officially nonpartisan.

Click here to learn more about Milwaukee’s city elections
Click here to learn more about Milwaukee’s mayoral elections

Additional reading:
Wisconsin elections, 2020 
Elections calendar
List of current mayors of the top 100 cities in the United States
Largest cities in the United States by population 

Federal judge will uphold San Francisco donor disclosure rules

On Feb. 14, Judge Charles Breyer, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, said he would uphold most provisions of a San Francisco ordinance establishing donor disclosure requirements for all committees producing campaign advertisements.

What is at issue? On Nov. 5, 2019, San Francisco voters approved Proposition F, establishing the following donor disclosure requirements for all committees producing campaign advertisements supporting or opposing any candidate for city office or any city ballot initiative:

  • Printed advertisements must include a disclaimer with the names and contribution amounts of the committee’s top three donors.
  • Audio and video advertisements must include a spoken disclaimer at the beginning of the advertisement listing the committee’s top three donors.
  • In any case where a top-three contributor is a secondary independent committee, the advertisement (print, audio, or video) must also disclose the identities of the top two donors to the secondary committee.

These requirements apply to contributors who give $5,000 or more to a committee.

Who are the parties to the suit? The plaintiffs are “Yes on Prop B,” a committee advocating for the passage of a bond issue to fund earthquake safety and emergency services in San Francisco, and its treasurer, Todd David. The defendant is the consolidated city and county government of San Francisco.

What are the plaintiffs’ allegations? The plaintiffs allege the disclosure requirements violate their First Amendment rights “by requiring their core political speech to carry disclaimers that will consume significant portions of those communications and in some cases entirely consume those communications.” The plaintiffs had asked the court to bar enforcement of the rules: “The new disclaimer rules effectively drown out plaintiffs’ message on their selected forms of communication, making their participation in the March election infeasible unless the new disclaimer rules are enjoined.”

What did Breyer say? Breyer said, “[The ordinance] is geared to making sure that when voters exercise their franchise, they have as good an understanding … that it’s all right out there.” While Breyer said he would uphold most of the ordinance’s requirements, he will issue a partial injunction against its disclosure requirements for small-print and short-length advertisements. Breyer said the disclosure requirements for these advertisements would “clearly just overwhelm the message,” violating the producers’ First Amendment rights.

It is unclear when Breyer will issue a formal order and full opinion. The Proposition B election is scheduled for March 3. As of Feb. 17, the plaintiffs have not indicated whether they intend to appeal Breyer’s decision.

Case information: Breyer was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton (D). The case name and number are Yes on Prop B v. San Francisco, 3:20-cv-00630-CRB.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 41 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Disclosure Digest map February 17, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart February 17, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Disclosure Digest partisan chart February 17, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Minnesota HF2050: This bill would amend the definitions of express advocacy and electioneering communication and revise disclosure requirements.
    • House Government Operations Committee hearing scheduled Feb. 13.
    • Democratic sponsors.
  • New Hampshire HB1525: This bill would alter the definition of a political advocacy organization for the purposes of campaign finance reporting.
    • House Election Law Committee work session rescheduled from Feb. 12 to Feb. 18.
    • Bipartisan sponsors.
  • Tennessee HB2396: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Referred to House Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Sub-committee Feb. 11.
    • Republican sponsors.
  • Tennessee HB2665: This bill would prohibit public agencies from requiring 501(c) entities to furnish them with personal information about donors.
    • Referred to House Constitutional Protections and Sentencing Sub-committee Feb. 11.
    • Republican sponsors.
  • Virginia HB849: This bill would subject political campaign communications made via online platforms to the same disclosure requirements currently applied to print media, television, and radio advertisements.
    • Senate Privileges and Elections Committee hearing scheduled Feb. 18.
    • Democratic sponsors.
  • Virginia SB979: This bill extends the applicability of the state’s campaign finance disclosure act to candidates for directors or soil and water conservation districts.
    • Referred to House Privileges and Elections Committee Feb. 13.
    • Republican sponsors.

Caddo Parish Public Schools schedules special election for November 3

Caddo Parish Public Schools in Louisiana announced a special election for the District 8 seat. The election is being held on November 3, 2020. The filing period for the special election is from July 15 to July 17. The seat was previously represented by Denee Locke (R), who announced her resignation on February 11 after moving out of the district.

The board is appointing an interim school board member after applicant interviews are conducted during a February 21 special meeting. Applicants had until noon on February 14 to submit letters of interest to the board. The interim member will serve until the special election winner is sworn in.

Caddo Parish Public Schools has a 12-member school board. All board members serve four-year terms and are elected concurrently in by-district partisan elections. Following the 2018 election, seven board seats were held by Democratic members and five were held by Republican members, including Locke in District 8. That year, Democrats picked up one seat previously held by an independent board member and the number of Republican members remained the same.

Click here to read more about Caddo Parish Public Schools 2020 election

Additional reading
Caddo Parish Public Schools, Louisiana
Caddo Parish Public Schools elections (2018)

Recall election scheduled for clerk of the Superior Court of Graham County in Arizona

Cindy Woodman, clerk of the Superior Court of Graham County in Arizona, will be on the ballot in a recall election on May 19, 2020. The recall effort against Woodman started in September 2019. Recall organizers cited high turnover, lack of institutional knowledge, and a court ruling that found Woodman was derelict in her duties as reasons for the circulation of petitions.

Woodman declined to comment on the recall effort, but Graham County Republican Party chairman John Duane Rhodes spoke in support of her. Rhodes said Woodman inherited a hostile work environment from her predecessor. He said he believed Woodman had done a good job despite the lack of training provided to her from the county.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall organizers had to collect signatures from at least 2,697 registered voters. They submitted 3,147 signatures on November 18, 2019, and enough signatures were deemed valid for the Graham County Board of Supervisors to schedule a recall election. The deadline for candidates to submit nomination papers to run against Woodman in this election is March 23.

On October 11, 2019, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel signed an order that placed the Graham County Clerk of the Court’s Office under the direct supervision of Judge Michael Peterson. Woodman was prohibited from conducting clerk’s duties but continued to receive her full salary.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Click here to learn more about Cindy Woodman’s recall election

Additional reading:
Graham County, Arizona
Recall campaigns in Arizona
Political recall efforts, 2020 
County official recalls 

Bloomberg qualifies for primary debate in Las Vegas

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
February 18, 2020: Michael Bloomberg qualified for the Las Vegas primary debate on Tuesday morning. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott endorsed Bill Weld. blank    blankblank   

Poll Spotlight

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (WPA Intelligence • Nevada • February 11-13, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (St. Pete Polls • Florida • February 12-13, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“So achieving victory through a boost in turnout is far more complicated than whether a presidential candidate is inspiring. There are procedural impediments, widespread disaffection among some natural Democratic constituencies and the likelihood that Republicans will be just as enthusiastic about defending Trump as Democrats are about getting rid of him. Just as important, boosting turnout is a practical problem that has to be solved with time-consuming and labor-intensive work.

What Democrats would love to duplicate is the election of Barack Obama in 2008, when turnout rose to 61.6 percent, higher than it had been in four decades. Unfortunately, they likely won’t have a new, exciting, charismatic candidate in 2020, nor will they benefit from a less-inspiring Republican or a catastrophic economy. They’ll have to pound it out, voter by voter. It’s not going to be easy, no matter who their nominee is.”

– Paul Waldman, The Washington Post


  • Nevada Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall endorsed Joe Biden on Sunday. Biden attended a fundraiser in Denver on Monday night.

  • Michael Bloomberg released two new ads nationwide and in 28 states focused on economic investments in black communities, “Greenwood” and “Justice.” Bloomberg qualified for the Las Vegas primary debate on Tuesday morning, receiving 19 percent support in a national poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Marist.

  • Pete Buttigieg held Nevada town halls in Reno, Carson City, and Elko, and a rally in Utah on Monday. He also began airing a statewide ad in Nevada titled “Our Chance.”

  • Tulsi Gabbard held a town hall in Fairfax, Virginia, on Monday. She will continue to campaign in the state with another town hall in Richmond on Tuesday.

  • The Houston Chronicle, the second-largest newspaper in Texas, endorsed Amy Klobuchar on Sunday. Klobuchar announced she had raised $12 million in less than two weeks since the Feb. 7 debate. Her campaign also released a Spanish-language television and radio ad airing in Nevada between Feb. 15 and 22. A new super PAC, Kitchen Table Conversations, was formed on Friday to support Klobuchar’s presidential bid.

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed Bernie Sanders on Friday. The campaign launched its final two ads in Nevada, “Nevada First” and “Belong to Us,” on Monday. Sanders held a rally in Washington with Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Monday night with more than 17,000 attendees. The Latino activist group, Mijente, backed Sanders on Tuesday, marking the group’s first presidential endorsement.

  • Tom Steyer campaigned in Greenville, South Carolina, on Monday. He is hosting a Black History Month concert in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

  • Tucson Mayor Regina Romero endorsed Elizabeth Warren. Warren spoke at the College of Southern Nevada on Monday.


  • Donald Trump ran a television ad during the broadcast of the Daytona 500 called “New Heights.” He is meeting with 2028 Olympic Games organizers and attending a fundraising event in Beverly Hills Tuesday.

  • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott endorsed Bill Weld on Saturday, making him the first Republican governor to endorse a challenger to Trump.

Flashback: February 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders participated in town halls hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo.blank

Click here to learn more.

Virginia State Senate approves legislation allowing local governments to bargain collectively with unions

On Feb. 11, the Virginia State Senate approved SB939, legislation that would allow, but not require, counties, cities, and towns to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.

What specifically does the bill propose? SB939 would make the following changes to the state’s public-sector labor laws (existing law is rendered in standard text; changes are italicized):

No state, county, municipal city, town, or like governmental officer, agent, or governing body is vested with or possesses any authority to recognize any labor union or other employee association as a bargaining agent of any public officers or employees, or to collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with any such union or association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to them or their employment or service unless, in the case of a county, city, or town, such authority is provided for or permitted by a local ordinance. As used in this section, “county, city, or town” includes any local school board, and “public officers or employees” includes employees of a local school board.

The bill would not compel union membership, and it would retain an existing ban on strikes.

How did the Senate vote, and what comes next? The Senate voted 21-19 to approve SB939. All Democrats voted in favor of the bill. All Republicans voted against it.

The bill now goes to the Virginia House of Delegates, where Democrats hold a 55-45 majority. If the House approves the bill, it will then go to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for his action.

What are the reactions?

  • Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D), the bill’s sponsor, said, “When I got elected in ’76, [localities bargaining with unions] was permitted, and what happened, I think, in the very first year, the Virginia Supreme Court said that without legislation from the General Assembly, they could not do this, and essentially that’s where it’s been until 2020.”
  • Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, opposed the bill, saying, “The simple fact is under union monopoly bargaining, workers are forced to accept union representation, whether or not they want that representation in the first place. Just as Saslaw denied public input on the bill in favor of union boss rhetoric, monopoly bargaining denies public servants the right to choose their own representation and forces them to accept one-size-fits-all union boss representation.”

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 82 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map February 14, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart February 14, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart February 14, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Florida H0001: This bill would require employees who wish to join a union to sign a membership authorization form. It would require unions to revoke an employee’s membership upon his or her written request. It would also require a signed annual authorization to deduct dues from an employee’s salary.
    • House State Affairs Committee approved Feb. 13.
    • Republican sponsorship.
  • Kansas HB2586: This bill would permit public employees to rescind dues deduction authorizations at any time.
    • House Commerce, Labor, and Economic Development Committee hearing Feb. 12.
    • Committee sponsorship.
  • Kansas SB361: This bill would permit public employees to rescind dues deduction authorizations at any time.
    • Senate Commerce Committee hearing Feb. 12.
    • Committee sponsorship.
  • Maine LD900: This bill authorizes certain classes of public-sector employees to strike.
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing Feb. 12.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • New Hampshire HB1290: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to permit employees to vote by mail in certification elections.
    • House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee approved Feb. 10.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship.
  • New Hampshire HB1322: This bill would prohibit university system funds from being used to oppose the formation of unions.
    • House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee approved Feb. 12.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • New Hampshire HB1399: This bill would allow a bargaining unit to request certification of its union/representative.
    • House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee approved Feb. 10.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • New Hampshire HB1554: This bill would provide for changes to public employee voting in certification elections.
    • House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee reported inexpedient to legislate Feb. 12.
    • Republican sponsorship.
  • New Mexico SB110: This bill would make various amendments to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.
    • Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Feb. 14.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Virginia SB939: This bill would permit local governments to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.
    • Senate approved Feb. 11.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Washington SB6224: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges.
    • Referred to Rules Committee Feb. 11.
    • Democratic sponsorship.

Bloomberg leads in weekly pageviews for the first time; lifetime Democratic leader Yang ends campaign

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers reflect the time investments of our community of thousands of readers who visit a Ballotpedia because they think the candidate is worth knowing more about, whether they believe the candidate has a strong chance of winning or is an unknown who warrants a closer look.

Last week, Michael Bloomberg led all Democratic campaigns in pageviews. His campaign page was viewed 8,849 times, equaling 20.8% of pageviews for all Democratic campaigns. He was followed by Pete Buttigieg with 18.2% of pageviews and Bernie Sanders with 17.9%. This was the first week that Bloomberg led all Democratic candidates in pageviews since his page on Ballotpedia was published the week of November 30.

Three Democratic candidates received more pageviews this week relative to the last: Amy Klobuchar, Bloomberg, and Sanders. Klobuchar had the largest increase of 50.6 percent. Elizabeth Warren saw the largest decrease in pageviews relative to last week among Democratic candidates with 16.1 percent.

The top three current Democratic presidential candidates in lifetime pageviews are Buttigieg with 173,550, Joe Biden with 161,665, and Sanders with 146,596. Three candidates ended their campaigns last week: Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick, and Andrew Yang. Bennet’s campaign received 86,706 pageviews since publication, accounting for 7.2 percent of all Democratic presidential campaign pageviews. Patrick’s campaign received 11,929 pageviews (0.99 percent of the total) and Yang’s campaign received 172,329 pageviews (14.3 percent of the total).

Donald Trump ranked second of the three Republican candidates in pageviews last week. Trump received 6,586 pageviews, while Roque de la Fuente received 8,285 and Bill Weld received 6,479.

Click here to learn more.

2,557 major party candidates filed for 2020 Congress elections, no new retirements last week

As of February 17, 2020, 2,557 major party candidates have filed to run for the Senate and House of Representatives in 2020.

So far, 360 candidates are filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. Of those, 307—163 Democrats and 144 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.

For U.S. House, 2,472 candidates are filed with the FEC to run in 2020. Of those, 2,250—1,070 Democrats and 1,180 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.

No new congressional retirements were announced last week. Thirty-six representatives are not seeking re-election in 2020. Of those, 27 are Republican and nine are Democratic. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.

On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, Democrats currently hold a majority with 232 seats.

Click here to read more about the U.S. Senate elections in 2020.
Click here to read more about the U.S. House of Representatives elections in 2020.
Click here for a list of U.S. Congress incumbents who are not running for re-election in 2020.

Federal Register weekly update; 11 significant final rules published so far in 2020

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From February 10 to February 14, the Federal Register grew by 1,526 pages for a year-to-date total of 8,716 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 4,676 pages and 7,106 pages, respectively. As of February 14, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 4,040 pages and the 2018 total by 1,610 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016. After President Donald Trump (R) took office in 2017, the Federal Register’s year-end page total decreased by 36.1% for a total of 61,950 pages. The page total has since increased by 9.7% in 2018 for a total of 68,082 pages and by 6.2% in 2019 for a total of 72,564 pages. It is common for the Federal Register’s annual page total to decrease during a president’s first year in office and fluctuate in subsequent years. For example, President Barack Obama’s (D) first-year page total decreased by 13.6% from the previous year, President George W. Bush’s (R) first-year page total decreased by 13.2%, and President Ronald Reagan’s (R) first-year page total decreased by 21.2%.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 539 documents:
  • 414 notices
  • Two presidential documents
  • 65 proposed rules
  • 66 final rules

Two final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued three significant proposed rules and 11 significant final rules as of February 14.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017.

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016.

Florida Supreme Court declines to hear Coral Gables preemption case

On February 12, the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from the City of Coral Gables of a ruling by the Third District Court of Appeal that upheld the state’s preemption of local bans on plastic packaging. Preemption occurs when law at a higher level of government is used to overrule authority at a lower level of government.

The city of Coral Gables banned the retail use of expanded polystyrene (plastic foam) in February 2016. In July 2016, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) filed a lawsuit against the city, and Judge Jorge Cueto of the Eleventh Circuit Court upheld the city’s polystyrene ban in February 2017.

On August 14, 2019, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling, stating, “Because the trial court erred in finding [Florida Statutes sections 403.708(9), 403.7033, and 500.90] unconstitutional and concluding that the City’s Polystyrene Ordinance was not preempted, we reverse.” After the Third District Court denied the city’s motion to certify the question to the Florida Supreme Court, Coral Gables invoked the supreme court’s discretionary jurisdiction.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading: