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Governor calls special election for Wisconsin Assembly district

On February 14, Gov. Tony Evers (D) called a special election for District 64 in the Wisconsin State Assembly. The primary is scheduled for April 2, and the general election is on April 30. The filing deadline for candidates to run is March 5.
 
The District 64 seat has been vacant since January 2019. Incumbent Peter Barca (D) stepped down after Evers nominated him to serve as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Barca represented the district from 2008 until January 4, 2019. He served as Assembly Minority leader from 2011 to 2017.
 
The election in District 64 is currently the only state legislative special election scheduled for Wisconsin in 2019.
 
Currently, Republicans control the Wisconsin State Assembly by a margin of 63-36. Republicans also control the Wisconsin State Senate, but they do not have a trifecta because the governor is a Democrat. A trifecta exists when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both state legislative chambers.


President Trump announces he will nominate Kelly Knight Craft to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

On February 22, 2019, President Donald Trump (R) announced that he would nominate Kelly Knight Craft to be the 30th U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to announce that Kelly Knight Craft, our current Ambassador to Canada, is being nominated to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations…Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level. Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!”
 
Craft was confirmed to be U.S. Ambassador to Canada by the United States Senate on August 3, 2017. She is originally from Kentucky and served as the state finance chair for the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2012, as well as for other Republican campaigns in the state. She was a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention and a member of the RNC Rules Committee.
 
If confirmed, Craft would succeed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Haley served as the 29th U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from January 27, 2017, to December 31, 2018.
 
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is responsible for assisting the President of the United States and the U.S. Department of State in conducting U.S. policy at the United Nations, an international organization founded in 1945 with 193 member states.


One-third of Dallas school board up for grabs in May

Three of nine seats on the Dallas Independent School District school board in Texas are on the ballot this year, and none of the three incumbents are seeking re-election. The general election is on May 4. If no candidates receive a majority of the vote in the election, the top two vote recipients will advance to a runoff scheduled for June 8. A total of nine candidates filed for the three seats.
 
The former District 4 incumbent, Jaime Resendez, recently resigned, and the school board will appoint someone to the seat to serve until the May election. Four candidates filed for District 4: Karla Garcia, Omar Jimenez, Amalia Lozano, and Camile White. First elected in 2001, District 5 incumbent Lew Blackburn is not seeking re-election. Blackburn is the longest currently serving member of the Dallas ISD school board. Candidates Ola Allen, Maxie Johnson, and David King filed for his seat on the board. In District 7, single-term board member Audrey Pinkerton is also not running for re-election. She stated her new career would not allow her to fulfill the position’s requirements. Two candidates, Ben Mackey and Brent McDougal, filed for the seat.
 
This election cycle marks the first time in over five years that no incumbents filed for re-election in the district. Between 2014 and 2018, at least one incumbent filed for another term each year; in 2017 and 2018, 100 percent of incumbents sought re-election. In that same time frame, an average of 2.0 and 3.0 candidates per seat were on the ballot, respectively. The 2019 election follows that trend with an average of 3.0 candidates running per seat. In four of the five most recent election cycles, one seat advanced to a runoff from the general election each year. Only during the 2015 election—in which exactly two candidates competed in each race—was no runoff held.
 
Dallas ISD enrolled 157,886 students during the 2016-2017 school year.


One Democrat and six Republicans file for Minnesota House special election

The candidate filing deadline for the special election in District 11B of the Minnesota House of Representatives passed on February 19. Tim Burkhardt was the only Democratic candidate to file, but Michael Cummins, Ayrlahn Johnson, Traci LeBrun, Nathan Nelson, Carl Pederson, and Joe Wolf will face off in the Republican primary on March 5. The general election will take place on March 19.
 
The seat became vacant after Jason Rarick (R) won a special election for District 11 of the Minnesota State Senate on February 5. Rarick had represented District 11B of the state House since 2015. He was re-elected in 2018 with 59.7 percent of the vote in the general election.
 
The Minnesota House of Representatives currently has 75 Democrats, 58 Republicans, and one vacancy. Minnesota has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.


Nevada Governor appoints Bulla to fill Court of Appeals vacancy

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has appointed Bonnie Bulla to serve on the Nevada Court of Appeals. She was appointed to replace Justice Abbi Silver, who was elected to the Nevada Supreme Court in 2018. Bulla will serve the remaining two years of Silver’s term. When she is sworn in on March 4, 2019, she will be joining judges Jerome Tao and Michael Gibbons on the three-member appeals court.
 
Bulla has served as a discovery commissioner for the Nevada Eighth Judicial District Court since 2007. She obtained a J.D. from Arizona State University in 1987.
 
Nine attorneys applied to fill the vacant seat. The Nevada Commission on Judicial Selection’s recommendations to the governor consisted of Bonnie Bulla, Carson City attorney Tracie K. Lindeman, and District Judge Jerry Wiese. Regarding Bulla, Sisolak said, “I couldn’t be prouder to appoint Commissioner Bulla to the Court of Appeals. Her decades of experience practicing law in Nevada, including her extensive time in public service, make her highly qualified to serve as an appellate judge. I am confident Judge Bulla will bring the same skill and integrity she has shown her entire career to the Court of Appeals.”


Three candidates qualify for Florida special election

Two Republicans and one Democrat qualified to run in an upcoming special election for the District 38 seat of the Florida House of Representatives.
 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered the special election on January 25, 2019, after he appointed state Rep. Danny Burgess (R) as executive director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Burgess was first elected to the District 38 seat in 2014.
 
Randy Maggard and David McCallister are competing in the Republican primary on April 9, 2019. The winner of that contest will face Kelly Smith (D) in the general election on June 18, 2019.
 
Two other Florida districts will also hold special elections in June: District 7, where incumbent Halsey Beshears (R) was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and District 97, where incumbent Jared Moskowitz (D) was appointed Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
 
Florida is currently a Republican trifecta, which occurs when a single party has control of the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. Following the November 2018 general election, Republicans held a 73-47 majority in the Florida House of Representatives.


Seven Louisiana special elections could result in up to three flipped State House seats

Seven seats on the Louisiana House of Representatives are up for special election on February 23, 2019. In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, face off in the primary election. If a candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary election, he or she wins outright. If no candidate reaches that threshold on Saturday, the top-two candidates in each race advance to a general election scheduled for March 30. Four of the seven races have only two candidates on the ballot, meaning they will not advance to a general election. The other three have between four and six candidates appearing on the ballot.
 
Six of the seven previous incumbents vacated their seats after winning election to another office, with the last resigning to take a job with the state. Three seats were previously held by Democrats and four were held by Republicans. A total of 14 Democratic candidates, seven Republican candidates, and one independent candidate will compete for the seats. Districts 17 and 26 will remain in Democratic hands as no Republican candidates filed for those seats. Likewise, Districts 12 and 47 will stay Republican. The remaining three races could result in a flipped seat; District 18—previously held by a Democrat—and Districts 27 and 62—previously held by Republicans—all have candidates from multiple parties on the ballot.
 
As of February, 42 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Before the February special elections, the Louisiana House of Representatives has 36 Democrats, 59 Republicans, three independents, and seven vacancies. All 105 seats are up for election in 2019. A majority in the chamber requires 53 seats. Louisiana has a divided government with a Democratic governor but Republican majorities in both state legislative chambers.


North Carolina State Board of Elections orders new election in state’s 9th Congressional District

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously on February 21 to order a new election in the state’s 9th Congressional District following four days of hearings on alleged ballot tampering and election fraud.
 
The state Board will set the date for the primary and general election, unlike the nearby 3rd Congressional District, whose upcoming special election will be scheduled by the governor. Rep. Walter Jones (R), who represented North Carolina’s 3rd District since 1995, died on February 10.
 
Pastor Mark Harris (R) led businessman Dan McCready (D) by 905 votes according to unofficial returns last November. The board declined to certify the results after reports surfaced of voting irregularities in Bladen County.
 
In the months-long investigation that followed, evidence was presented allegedly showing that Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a Harris campaign contractor, and others had engaged in misconduct in the handling of absentee ballots.
 
Harris said during the hearing that he was unaware of any illegal behavior and also called for a new election. While prosecutors are examining the Dowless operation, no criminal charges have been brought against anyone in the matter.
 
Incumbent Robert Pittenger (R), who was first elected in 2012, was defeated by Harris in the Republican primary last May.


Constitutional amendment regarding sewage systems certified to appear on the ballot in Wyoming on November 3, 2020

The measure, introduced as House Joint Resolution 2 by Republican Representative Lloyd Charles Larsen, would remove the constitutional limit on debt a municipality could incur for municipal sewer projects. The current limit on debt is 4 percent of the assessed value of the taxable property within the municipality. This measure would remove that limit and instead allow the legislature to provide for additional indebtedness.
 
HJR 2 was approved in the House on January 24, 2019, by a vote of 45-12 with three Republican Representatives not voting. It passed in the Senate on February 21, 2019, by a vote of 27-3.
 
Vote totals by party:
  • House Democrats: 9 yes, 0 no
  • House Republicans: 35 yes, 12 no, 3 absent or not voting
  • Senate Democrats: 3 yes, 0 no
  • Senate Republicans: 24 yes, 3 no
As of February 21, 2019, seven statewide ballot measures have been certified for the 2020 ballot in five states.


Sanders raises nearly $6 million in first 24 hours of presidential campaign

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised nearly $6 million in the first 24 hours of his 2020 presidential campaign, marking a record total for 2020 candidates with his initial fundraising haul and the number of donors—223,000—who contributed.
 
Sanders, who came in second in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary with 46 percent of pledged delegates, formally entered the race Tuesday.
 
Former American Civil Liberties Union national political director Faiz Shakir will serve as Sanders’ campaign manager. Shakir has previously worked with top Democrats Harry Reid (Nev.) and Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Jeff Weaver, who managed Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, is expected to join the team as a senior adviser this time around.
 
Sanders is one of twelve elected officials or notable public figures running in the Democratic primary for president, as of February 21.