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Three open-seat Boston City Council races in November

Primaries took place for four at-large seats and four district seats on the 13-seat Boston City Council on September 24, 2019, in Massachusetts. The council’s other five seats are also on the ballot this year, but they did not hold primaries because two or fewer candidates filed per seat. The primary winners advanced to the general election on November 5.
 
  • At-large (four seats): All four at-large incumbents—Michael Flaherty, Althea Garrison, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu—and challengers David Halbert, Julia Mejia, Erin Murphy, and Alejandra St. Guillen advanced from the 15-candidate primary. Eight candidates advanced from the primary because there are four at-large seats up for election, and two candidates advance per seat.
  • District 5: Ricardo Arroyo and Maria Esdale Farrell advanced from the eight-candidate primary. Incumbent Tim McCarthy did not run for re-election.
  • District 7: Incumbent Kim Janey and challenger Roy Owens defeated Valerie Hope Rust to advance from the primary.
  • District 8: Kenzie Bok and Jennifer Nassour advanced from the five-candidate primary. Incumbent Josh Zakim did not run for re-election.
  • District 9: Liz Breadon and Craig Cashman advanced from the seven-candidate primary. Incumbent Mark Ciommo did not run for re-election.
 
The five city council races not on the primary ballot were for Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. District 4 is scheduled to hold a contested general election between incumbent Andrea Campbell and challenger Jeff Durham in November. The incumbents in the other four seats—Lydia Edwards in District 1, Edward Flynn in District 2, Frank Baker in District 3, and Matt O’Malley in District 6—are all running unopposed for re-election.
 
Boston is the largest city in Massachusetts and the 24th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Georgia school board recall effort makes it on to December ballot

A recall election seeking to remove Doris Black from her position on the Jackson-Madison County School System school board in Tennessee is scheduled for December 10, 2019. Black currently serves as the representative for District 4, Position 1. For the recall election to be successful, at least 66% of voters must vote in favor of the recall.
 
Black was targeted for recall along with District 2 representative Kevin Alexander due to allegations that they were too resistant to Superintendent Eric Jones and his plan for the district, according to district resident Robert Curlin. Alexander said that neither he nor Black had done anything unethical. Black said that she felt attacked by the recall effort against her.
 
Recall supporters had to collect approximately 1,151 signatures from residents of the school board’s District 4 to get Black’s recall on the ballot. That signature total was equal to 66% of the votes that Black received in the previous election. The recall effort against Alexander is still underway; petition signatures have not been submitted yet.
 
Residents of the district did not have the ability to recall board members legally until May 10, 2019, when House Bill 0983 was signed into law by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R).
 
In 2018, Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.
 


Florida voters to decide 2020 ballot measure regarding voter citizenship

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, September 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Florida voters to decide 2020 ballot measure requiring voter citizenship
  2. Local Roundup
  3. Quiz: Which state has hosted the most presidential debates?

Florida voters to decide 2020 ballot measure requiring voter citizenship

I hope you were able to join us yesterday for our webinar about 2020 ballot measures. ICYMI, here’s a link to the recording. One of the topics we discussed was whether voters in multiple states would decide constitutional amendments making citizenship a requirement to vote.  

The Florida Division of Elections reported September 19 that the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative—sponsored by Florida Citizen Voters—qualified for the 2020 ballot. This measure would amend the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified to vote.

The state constitution currently reads, “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” If approved, the ballot measure would change that section to state, “Only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”

Voters in North Dakota approved a similar measure in 2018. That measure amended the North Dakota Constitution to state that “only a citizen” rather than “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections. It was approved by a vote of 66% to 34%. A similar amendment is certified to appear on the ballot in Alabama in 2020. 

Voters in San Francisco approved a measure—Proposition N—in 2016 which allowed non-citizens to register to vote in school board elections. New York City allowed noncitizens to vote in local school board elections from 1968 to 2003 until the city abolished elected school boards. Members of the New York City Board of Education are now appointed by the mayor and five borough presidents. As of 2019, 11 cities in Maryland, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park allowed non-citizens to vote. 

All state constitutions mention United States citizenship when discussing voting qualifications. Here are five additional facts about statewide constitutions.

  • Twenty-one states use the specific phrase “Every citizen of the United States…” when discussing who is a qualified elector. 

  • An additional 16 states use the word “every” but structure the sentence differently. 

  • Six states use the word “all” or “any” when discussing citizenship and suffrage. 

  • Six other states have some other way of phrasing the sentence. 

  • North Dakota is currently the only state to use the phrase “Only a citizen of the United States…” after having changed it from “every” via Measure 2 in 2018.

The map below shows the specific language used in state constitutions regarding citizenship and voter qualification: 

Language regarding citizenship

Map key:

  • Purple: “Only a citizen of the United States…”
  • Dark green: “Every citizen of the United States…”
  • Light green: Uses the term “every”
  • Dark blue: Uses the terms “any” or “all”
  • Grey: Unique language concerning citizenship and suffrage
Learn more blank    blankblank   


Local Roundup 

At Ballotpedia, we provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as county officials and local ballot measures.

Here’s our weekly summary of the local news we’re covering. Email me to suggest some interesting local election coverage in your area—I’d love to hear about it!

Boston

Boston held primary elections September 24 in four of nine city council districts and for the four at-large seats on its 13-member city council. The top two finishers in each district race—and the top 8 finishers in the at-large race—advanced to the November 5 general election. 

All five incumbents who competed in the primary—the four at-large council members and District 7 councilwoman Kim Janey—advanced to the general election. In total, 10 of 13 incumbents are running for re-election and four incumbents are unopposed. In 2017, 10 incumbents sought re-election and all 10 won another term. In 2015, all 13 city council incumbents ran for re-election and two were defeated in the general election. 

Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham voters will elect three city council members and decide three ballot measures on October 8. The three council races are special elections for seats that were vacated and filled through appointments in 2018 and 2019. In all three districts, the appointed members are running for a full term on the council. Thirteen candidates in total are running.

The three ballot measures are property tax measures to raise revenue for operations and debt service of Birmingham City Schools. The taxes were first collected in 1951 and are set to expire in September 2021. Approval of the measures would authorize the taxes for an additional 25 years. Birmingham City Schools reported that the tax revenue associated with these items is approximately $32 million per year, which is about 14 percent of the district’s budget.


#BallotTrivia

Which state has hosted the most presidential debates?  

Yesterday’s Brew included a story about the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has sponsored and organized every presidential and vice presidential general election debate since 1988. Our page on the Commission lists the date, location, and participants of those previous debates.

I don’t know if you noticed, but some states have hosted more debates than others. Which state has hosted the most presidential and vice presidential general election debates since 1988?


 



Great America PAC releases anti-Biden ad

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 26, 2019: Great America PAC spent six figures on an ad calling for an investigation into Joe Biden. Tom Steyer is airing a new ad on congressional term limits in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. blank    blankblank   


 Presidential poll highlights - Monmouth University (September 17-21, 2019)
Presidential poll highlights - Suffolk University/USA Today (September 19-23, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“It is easy to forget that Democrats won back the majority in the House last year by pressing their case on issues that shape the everyday lives of families. With impeachment proceedings underway, there will be little oxygen left for any discussion of health care or infrastructure or college costs or anything beyond the question of Trump’s fitness for office. And if the investigation turns up anything short of a slam-dunk case to remove him, swing voters might punish a party they see as determined to overturn the result of the last presidential election.”

– Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

Democrats

Republicans


Special guest analysis

Jim Ellis is a 35-year political veteran who now analyzes election data for major corporations, associations, and legislative advocacy firms. He is president of EllisInsight, LLC. We invited him to share analysis on the presidential election.

Current polls are telling us that the Democratic presidential contest is evolving, at least during the present time, into a three-way contest among former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But polling and popular votes are not the only elements involved in choosing a nominee. Delegate votes are the third leg of the presidential political stool, and just when one of the candidates will amass a convention vote majority is anyone’s guess.

To qualify for either state at-large or district delegates, a candidate must exceed a 15% popular vote threshold. 

In examining polls from a sample of 11 states (including Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, the four states that will vote first in February), only the three aforementioned candidates would qualify for convention votes.

To be nominated, a candidate must earn 1,885 first ballot delegate votes.  

According to current polling and the delegate formulas from the 11 states, Biden would establish a lead with an unofficial cumulative 40.2% of delegates, for a raw total of 482. Warren is second with 395 delegates, or 32.2%, and Sanders would have 328 committed delegates, which equals 27.6%. 

It is clear that no candidate is on pace to reach 50% on the first ballot. If Biden were on track to clinch the nomination under these numbers and tested states, his delegate total at this juncture would need to be closer to 680.  

If these estimates land close to the actual numbers, the convention process would become interesting. Going to the second ballot, superdelegates—those in the party elite that a 2018 Democratic National Committee rule change barred from voting on the first ballot—would regain full voting privileges. This means the aggregate delegate total would rise to 4,535; therefore, the winner would now need 2,268 delegate votes to win.  

If the candidates were to perform in the rest of the convention as they broke in the 11 studied states, Biden would end with 1,515 votes on the first ballot, some 370 votes away from victory.  On the second ballot, because 766 superdelegate votes are added to the total, he would find himself 753 votes away from winning.  

Many people believe the superdelegates would band together to provide the winning margin for a candidate, but in this example, Biden would have to secure 98.3% of the superdelegate votes just to earn a bare majority, which would be highly unlikely.  

Therefore, should the present polling patterns translate into voting, we could see multiple roll calls and delegates becoming free for the first time since the mid-1920s. At that point, all the candidates would be fighting for votes in a free-for-all atmosphere that could end in a most unpredictable manner.

Flashback: September 26, 2015

Politico described Tim Scott as a potential kingmaker in South Carolina and interviewed him about the 2016 presidential field.



Californians could vote on ballot initiative expanding consumer information law

Californians could vote on expanding the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and creating an agency to oversee the act’s implementation and enforcement in 2020. Proponents will have 180 days to collect at least 623,212 valid signatures after Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) writes the petition language, which is expected December 2, 2019. The recommended dates to file signatures in order for them to be verified before the deadline on June 25, 2020, is between March 3 and April 21.
 
Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco-based real estate developer, filed the ballot initiative. He was the proponent of a ballot initiative that qualified for the ballot in 2018 but was withdrawn after negotiations with the California State Legislature, which passed a revised version of the initiative called the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). Mactaggart contributed $3 million to the initiative’s campaign, which spent $1.63 million to collect signatures ($4.46 per required signature).
 
With the ballot initiative for the election on November 3, 2020, Mactaggart said his intention “is to go to the ballot.” He described the CCPA of 2018 as a “great baseline. But I think there are additional rights that Californians deserve.” Unlike the CCPA, which the legislature passed, the ballot initiative couldn’t be amended without the approval of voters at the ballot box due to the state constitution’s limits on legislative alteration. “The only thing I want to make sure is they can’t undo the act,” said Mactaggart, “There is basically unlimited resources on one side of the fight. If you don’t do anything, they will win eventually.” Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-18) was involved in the negotiations with Mactaggart that resulted in the CCPA of 2018. Sen. Hertzberg said that “[t]here is no reason to negotiate” this time, adding, “What [Mactaggart] is doing is the right thing.”
 
Of the several changes that the proposal would make, the 2020 ballot initiative would (a) require that businesses provide consumers with the ability to opt-out of having their sensitive personal information, as defined in law, used or disclosed for advertising or marketing; (b) require that businesses obtain permission before collecting data from consumers younger than 16; (c) require that businesses obtain permission from a parent or guardian before collecting data from consumers younger than 13; (d) require that businesses disclose information regarding profiling algorithms used to determine a consumer’s eligibility for financial or lending services, housing, insurance, and other services; and (e) require that businesses collecting personal information for political purposes disclose the name of the candidates and committees for which the consumer’s information was used.
 
As of September 2019, a campaign had not formed to oppose the ballot initiative. In 2018, opponents of the Mactaggart-backed initiative raised $2.15 million before the initiative was withdrawn. Companies that provided funds to the opposition committee included Facebook, Google, Amazon, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Uber. The opposition campaign had argued that the initiative was “unworkable, requiring the internet and businesses in California to operate differently than the rest of the world — limiting our choices, hurting our businesses, and cutting our connection to the global economy.”
 
California is one of two states (Arizona being the other) that require voter approval for changes to or the repeal of citizen-initiated state statutes, thereby preventing legislative alteration of citizen initiatives. Eleven of the 21 states that feature the initiated state statute power have no restrictions on how soon or with what majority state legislators can repeal or amend initiated statutes. The other states restrict how soon the legislature can amend or repeal an initiative, require a supermajority vote of legislators, or a combination of the two.
 


Half of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. have adopted local climate action plans

Half of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. by population have adopted local climate action plans. These plans include goals like community-wide and municipal operations greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy use, mostly with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Opponents say that such plans increase living costs and cause economic harm. Supporters say they are important for combating climate change and promoting public health.
 
Twenty-three of these 25 cities currently have Democratic mayors, and two cities, Miami, Florida, and San Diego, California, have Republican mayors.
 
Of the top 10 largest cities in the country, seven have adopted climate action plans: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, and San Jose. Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas are the largest cities without climate action plans, although all three cities have plans in progress.
 
Almost all of the cities with climate action plans are members of at least one climate association, such as 100 Resilient Cities, Climate Mayors, or C40 Cities.
 


Two Republicans in Georgia House runoff on Tuesday

A runoff election is scheduled for October 1 in District 71 of the Georgia House of Representatives. Marcy Sakrison (R) and Philip Singleton (R) are competing in the runoff. Sakrison and Singleton advanced to the runoff after defeating Jill Prouty (D) and Nina Blackwelder (R) in the September 3 general election. The runoff election was called since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the overall vote.
 
The seat became vacant after David Stover (R) resigned on June 25. In his resignation letter, Stover wrote that he wanted to spend time with his family. Stover had represented District 71 since 2013. He was last re-elected in 2018 with 74% of the vote in the general election.
 
As of September, 77 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Heading into the election, Republicans have a 103-75 majority in the Georgia House with two vacancies. Georgia has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 


Trump administration restricts admissibility of immigrants needing public assistance

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law.

This edition:

In this edition, we review the Trump administration’s tighter restrictions on U.S. residency for immigrants who have been or are likely to become “public charges” (e.g., recipients of income assistance, or in need of public health, nutrition or housing services); stricter standards from the U.S. Department of Education for forgiveness of federally backed student loans; and the loss of a quorum at the Federal Election Commission. At the state level, we examine a constitutional challenge to Arizona’s process for registering child abusers; a proposal from the Maryland governor to shift responsibilities for compensating wrongly incarcerated individuals from an elected board to state administrative law judges; and a New Hampshire woman’s victory over a humorless bureaucracy.

As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 196 proposed rules and 290 final rules added to the Federal Register in August and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.

The Checks and Balances Letter

Key readings.jpg

In Washington

Trump administration restricts admissibility of immigrants needing public assistance

What’s the story? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on August 12 published a final rule that details how federal agencies are to determine the inadmissibility of aliens who have been or are likely to become “public charges” (e.g., dependent on public assistance).
The new rule replaces a 1999 guidance document that applied the term “public charge” only to receipt of cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at taxpayer expense.
The Immigration and Nationality Act renders inadmissible (i.e., ineligible for admission, a visa or adjustment of status) any alien who is likely at any time to become a “public charge.” However, Congress did not define the term in the statute. The rule is scheduled to take effect on October 15, 2019.
Want to go deeper?

DeVos tightens standards for student loan forgiveness

What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Education on August 30 announced a new final rule to prevent student loan fraud and restrict forgiveness of federally backed loans.
Under the previous rule adopted by the Obama administration, the department forgave about $222 million owed by 20,000 borrowers.
The new rule restricts loan forgiveness to cases of schools knowingly making fraudulent or misleading statements about loans to students. The previous, looser standard allowed loan forgiveness for school statements with a “likelihood or tendency to mislead.”
The new rule also eliminates the discharge of loans in the event a school closed before borrowers completed their degree.
Department officials estimate that the new rule will reduce loan forgiveness by $512 million annually, and save taxpayers $11.1 billion over the next decade.
Critics say the new rule will make it harder for defrauded students to obtain loan forgiveness.
Want to go deeper?

FEC lacks quorum

What’s the story? The Federal Election Commission (FEC) lacks the quorum of members necessary to oversee campaign finance disclosures, perform audits or enforce fundraising violations following the August 31 resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen (R).
Petersen did not specify a reason for his resignation. His departure left the six-member commission with only three members: Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub (D), Steven Walther (I), and Caroline Hunter (R). Vacancies created by the resignations of commissioners Ann Ravel (D) in February 2017 and Lee Goodman (R) in February 2018 have yet to be filled. President Trump’s 2017 nominee to fill one vacant seat has not been voted upon by the U.S. Senate (as of August 2019).
An August 27th statement by Weintraub said that FEC staff will continue to make campaign finance documents available to the public and issue recommendations regarding campaign finance complaints. However, the commission will be unable to vote on the recommendations until a quorum is re-established.
Want to go deeper?

In the States

Group challenges constitutionality of administrative review by Arizona state agency

What’s the story? The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a public interest law firm focused on the administrative state, is challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s process for registering child abusers.
The case involves a defendant who was placed on the registry by Director Gregory McKay, of the state’s Department of Child Safety, despite a finding by an administrative law judge (ALJ) that no probable cause existed to do so. Arizona law does permit the DCS director to substitute his own judgment for that of the ALJ.
The New Civil Liberties Alliance is challenging the low standard of proof (probable cause) in the review process; the lack of cross-examination of witnesses; and the unilateral power of the DCS director to reverse an ALJ’s findings.
NCLA aims to stay the DCS decision in order to prevent the defendant from being listed on the child abuser registry until he has received a fair trial.
Want to go deeper?

Maryland governor proposes shifting responsibilities to ALJs

What’s the story? Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on September 4 proposed that state administrative law judges (ALJ), rather than the Board of Public Works, should be tasked with awarding compensation to wrongly incarcerated individuals. Hogan later directed the board counsel on September 18 to work with the state’s chief ALJ to devise a compensation process.
The Board of Public Works is made up of three elected officials: the governor, the state comptroller, and the state treasurer. State law authorizes the board to compensate wrongly incarcerated individuals. However, the board has not done so since the last wrongly incarcerated individual received compensation in 2004.
Hogan argued that state ALJs are more qualified than the members of the Board of Public Works to make compensation determinations because the board lacks the “expertise, capacity [and] personnel” to evaluate damages, pain, and suffering.
Five wrongly incarcerated men have petitioned the board for compensation over the last 19 months. Lawyers have asked the board to award $100,000 to each man for each year he spent behind bars for a total of roughly $12 million.
Want to go deeper?

Mother of four defeats bureaucrats in Live-Free-Or-Die State

What’s the story? New Hampshire resident Wendy Auger refused to bow to the state Division of Motor Vehicles which ordered her to surrender her 15-year-old vanity license plate, PB4WEGO.
Auger received a letter in mid-August informing her that the plate violated a state administrative rule that prohibits phrases related to “sexual or excretory acts or functions.”
Auger argued that the phrase was intended to be humorous rather than offensive.
After Auger’s story gained media attention, Governor Chris Sununu (R) “strongly urged” the DMV to back off, and Auger was allowed to keep the license plate.
Want to go deeper?

Symposium on Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy

The Yale Journal on Regulation hosted a web symposium on Professor Rachel Potter’s new book, Bending the Rules: Procedural Politicking in the Bureaucracy. Participants offered commentary and critiques on the book’s content, including the following from the University of Chicago Press:
“With Bending the Rules, Rachel Augustine Potter shows that rulemaking is not the rote administrative activity it is commonly imagined to be but rather an intensely political activity in its own right. Because rulemaking occurs in a separation of powers system, bureaucrats are not free to implement their preferred policies unimpeded: the president, Congress, and the courts can all get involved in the process, often at the bidding of affected interest groups. However, rather than capitulating to demands, bureaucrats routinely employ “procedural politicking,” using their deep knowledge of the process to strategically insulate their proposals from political scrutiny and interference. Tracing the rulemaking process from when an agency first begins working on a rule to when it completes that regulatory action, Potter shows how bureaucrats use procedures to resist interference from Congress, the President, and the courts at each stage of the process. This exercise reveals that unelected bureaucrats wield considerable influence over the direction of public policy in the United States.”
The following scholars contributed to the symposium:
  • Bridget Dooling (The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center)
  • Bernard Bell (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Law School)
  • Jennifer Nou (University of Chicago Law School)
  • Christopher Carrigan (The George Washington University, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration)
  • Andrew Rudalevige (Bowdoin College, Department of Government and Legal Studies)
  • Emily Bremer (University of Notre Dame Law School)
  • Chris Walker (The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law)
  • Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy)
  • Rachel Potter (University of Virginia, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics)
Click here to view the symposium archive.
Click here for Potter’s response to the symposium.

Regulatory Tally

Federal Register

Want to go deeper?

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s August regulatory review activity included:
  • Review of 48 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 53 significant regulatory actions each August.
  • Recommended changes to all 48 proposed rules.
  • As of September 3, 2019, the OIRA website listed 123 regulatory actions under review.
Want to go deeper?
 


Trifecta vulnerability update for November 2019 statewide elections

Five states are holding gubernatorial or state legislative elections this year: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. All five states could see a change in trifecta status as a result. A state government trifecta exists when one party controls a state’s governorship and holds majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Today, there are 22 Republican trifectas and 14 Democratic trifectas. Sixty-three trifectas have been broken or formed in the past 10 years.
 
Here is the latest update on the possibility for trifecta status changes as a result of November 2019 statewide elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia.
 
Kentucky has been under a Republican trifecta since the party gained a majority in the state House in the 2016 elections. This year, only the governorship is up for election, so Democrats cannot gain a trifecta in Kentucky. If Matt Bevin (R) is re-elected, Kentucky’s Republican trifecta will hold, and if he is defeated it will be broken. 
 
Louisiana is under divided government, meaning that neither party has a trifecta, as a result of John Bel Edwards’ (D) victory in the 2015 gubernatorial election. Edwards is up for re-election this year along with all 144 state legislative seats. To gain a trifecta, Democrats would need to hold the governorship and gain majorities in both legislative chambers while Republicans would need to hold their legislative majorities and win the governorship. Political racetrackers rate the gubernatorial election as leaning towards Democrats. In order for partisan control of the state Senate to change, 15% of seats up would need to flip, while 11% of seats up in the House would need to flip to change control of that chamber.
 
Republicans have held a trifecta in Mississippi since winning control of the state House in 2011. This year, the governorship and all 174 state legislative seats are up for election. In order to hold their trifecta, Republicans would need to hold the governorship and majorities in both legislative chambers, while Democrats would only need to win the governorship or gain a majority in one chamber to break the Republican trifecta. Political racetrackers say that the gubernatorial election leans towards Republicans. In order for partisan control of the state Senate to change, 14% of seats up would need to flip, while 12% of seats up in the House would need to flip to change control of that chamber.
 
New Jersey has been a Democratic trifecta since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) took office in 2018. New Jersey is holding elections for all 80 state Assembly seats in 2019. In order to preserve their trifecta, Democrats would need to maintain their majority in the state Assembly. In order to break the Democratic trifecta, Republicans would need to win a majority in the state Assembly. Because there are no gubernatorial or regularly scheduled state Senate elections in New Jersey in 2019, New Jersey’s trifecta status can only change as a result of the Assembly elections. In order for partisan control of the Assembly to change, 18% of seats up would need to flip.
 
Virginia has been under divided government since Gov. Mark Warner (D) took office in 2002. Gov. Ralph Northam is a Democrat while Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Virginia is holding elections for all 40 state Senate seats and all 100 state House seats. Because the governorship is not up for election, Republicans cannot win a trifecta in 2019. In order to prevent Democrats from gaining a trifecta, Republicans must prevent them from gaining control of both chambers. In order to gain a trifecta, Democrats must win both. The Republican majority in both chambers is held by a two-seat margin; if Democrats gain a net of one seat in either chamber, that chamber will fall under a power-sharing agreement. Democrats would need to flip two or more seats in each chamber to gain a majority.
 
 


Maine Supreme Court Justice Hjelm is retiring

Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm announced on September 20 that he is retiring, effective upon the confirmation of his successor.
 
Selection of state supreme court justices in Maine occurs through gubernatorial appointment, although the governor’s nominee must be confirmed by the Maine State Senate. Once confirmed, justices serve seven-year terms and must be reappointed if they wish to serve additional seven-year terms.
 
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the court of last resort in the state. It currently includes the following justices:
 
  • Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley – first appointed by Gov. Angus King (I)
  • Justice Ellen Gorman – first appointed by Gov. John Baldacci (D)
  • Justice Thomas Humphrey – first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage (R)
  • Justice Joseph Jabar – first appointed by Gov. John Baldacci (D)
  • Justice Andrew Mead – first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage (R)
  • Justice Donald Alexander – first appointed by Gov. Angus King (I)
  • Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm – first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage (R)
 
Hjelm was nominated to the court by LePage on May 7, 2014, to succeed Jon Levy. Hjelm’s appointment was confirmed July 24, 2014. He previously served on the Knox County Superior Court from 1998 to 2014 and the Maine District Courts from 1992 to 1998. Hjelm received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and his J.D. from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
 
In 2019, there have been 19 supreme court vacancies across 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 19 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Six vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while another occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints replacements.