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Voters in Kansas will decide a constitutional amendment to end the practice of adjusting census data for legislative apportionment

On November 5, 2019, voters in Kansas will decide a ballot measure to end a process that requires the state to adjust its census population for state legislative redistricting. Kansas is the only state that adjusts its census population for redistricting.
 
Before 1988, Kansas reapportioned state legislative districts based on the state government’s own census. In 1988, voters approved a constitutional amendment to use the decennial federal census for state legislative redistricting, with adjustments to (1) exclude nonresident military personnel stationed in Kansas and nonresident students and (2) include resident military personnel and resident students in the district of their permanent residence.
 
The 2019 ballot measure would eliminate the requirement to adjust the census population for state legislative apportionment. Secretary of State Scott Schwab (R), who supports the ballot measure, said the state would spend an estimated $834,000 to adjust the 2020 U.S. Census. He said the state would hire a private consultant for the adjustment, who would contact military personnel and students and ask where they want to be counted.
 
The ballot measure was referred by the Kansas State Legislature. On March 14, the state Senate voted unanimously to approve the constitutional amendment. On March 27, the state House voted 117 to seven. As a constitutional amendment, the governor’s signature is not required.
 
Following the 2010 federal census, Kansas used a mix of electronic and paper questionnaires to make the adjustments for military personnel and students. Riley County, Kansas, was the only county with a negative adjustment of over two percent. The adjustment resulted in a decrease of 11,017 residents, or 15.5 percent, for the purpose of redistricting. Riley County is home to Kansas State University and the U.S. Army’s Fort Riley.
 
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Bevin makes appointment to Kentucky Supreme Court

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) appointed former appeals judge David Buckingham to the Kentucky Supreme Court on March 27. Buckingham succeeds Bill Cunningham, who retired on January 31. A special election will be held on November 5 to elect a replacement to fill the remainder of Cunningham’s term.
 
Bevin chose Buckingham from a list of three potential nominees provided to him by the Kentucky Judicial Nominating Commission. Buckingham is Bevin’s first appointment to the seven-member court.
 
Buckingham will be the third member of the court appointed by a Republican governor. One justice was first appointed by a Democratic governor, and the three remaining justices first joined the court as the result of a nonpartisan election.
 
Buckingham graduated from Murray State University in 1974 and earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law in 1977. He began serving as a judge for the 42nd District Court in 1982, then joined the 42nd Circuit Court in 1987 and the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1997. He was a senior judge for the Court of Appeals from 2006 to 2010. In 2011, he retired from the bench and returned to private practice.
 
So far in 2019, there have been 11 supreme court vacancies across seven states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Republicans are responsible for filling nine of those vacancies, while Democrats are responsible for filling the other two. Eight of those vacancies have been filled.
 
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State legislative special elections contested across four states on Tuesday

Four states—Maine, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—each have one state legislative seat up for special election on April 2, 2019.
  • In Maine, Sean Paulhus (D) and Kenneth Sener (R) are running in the general election for the state House’s District 52 seat. The seat was vacated when Jennifer DeChant (D) resigned on February 1, 2019, to work for Charter Communications. This is the second state legislative special election in Maine for 2019; Joseph Perry (D) won the state House’s District 124 seat vacated by Aaron Frey (D) on March 12. Prior to the special election, the Maine House of Representatives has 88 Democrats, 56 Republicans, five independents, one Common Sense Independent, and one vacancy.
  • In Mississippi, Kent McCarty and Steven Utroska are running in the general runoff election for the state House’s District 101 seat. Mississippi special elections are nonpartisan, but both candidates identify themselves as Republicans on their campaign websites. The seat was vacated when Brad Touchstone (R) was elected as a Lamar County Court judge. The runoff was called after none of the five candidates in the March 12 general election received a majority of the vote; McCarty and Utroska advanced as the top two vote recipients. This is the third state legislative special election in Mississippi in 2019; Solomon Osborne won the state House’s District 32 seat, and Ronnie Crudup Jr. won the state House’s District 71 seat on March 12. Both Osborne and Crudup Jr. identify as Democrats. Prior to the special election, the Mississippi House of Representatives has 46 Democrats, 73 Republicans, one independent, and two vacancies.
  • In Pennsylvania, Pam Iovino (D) and D. Raja (R) are running in the general election for the state Senate’s District 37 seat. The seat was vacated when Guy Reschenthaler (R) was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House in 2018. This is the fourth third state legislative special election in Pennsylvania in 2019; Bridget Malloy Kosierowski (D) won the state House’s District 114 seat, and Movita Johnson-Harrell (D) won the state House’s District 190 seat on March 12. Prior to the special election, the Pennsylvania State Senate has 21 Democrats, 26 Republicans, and three vacancies.
  • In Wisconsin, Tip McGuire, Pedro Rodriguez, Gina Walkington, and Spencer Zimmerman are running in the Democratic primary for the state Assembly’s District 64 seat. Mark Stalker is running unopposed for the Republican nomination. The general election is on April 30, 2019. The seat was vacated when Peter Barca (D) stepped down in January 2019 after Gov. Tony Evers (D) nominated him to be secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. This is the first state legislative special election in Wisconsin in 2019. Prior to the special election, the Wisconsin State Assembly has 35 Democrats, 63 Republicans, and one vacancy.
In 2019, there have been 51 state legislative special elections scheduled or held so far in 19 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Maine has a Democratic trifecta, and Mississippi has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin both have divided governments. In both states, Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, but a Democrat holds the governor’s office.
 
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Comparing and contrasting methods for judicial selection in the states

Each state has its own specific method for selecting judges but there are four primary selection types: partisan election, nonpartisan election, legislative election, and gubernatorial appointment.
 
A majority (26) of state supreme courts use gubernatorial appointment, while 22 use either partisan or nonpartisan elections. Two states, South Carolina and Virginia, select state supreme court justices by a vote of the state legislature.
 
What do supporters and opponents say about each method?
  • Proponents of elections say elections allow people to hold judges accountable. Opponents say that such elections allow for the influence of special interests on judicial selection.
  • Proponents of gubernatorial appointments say that it protects the independence of the judiciary by eliminating political campaigns. Opponents say that voters should be given a voice in selecting judges to keep them accountable.
  • Proponents of legislative elections say that they prevent any one authority figure from having too much power, but opponents say that it promotes political inbreeding and create a judiciary primarily made up of past legislators.


Party fundraising update: Republican committees raise $54.4 million, Democratic committees raise $39.6 million

Republican Party Congressional party committees outraised their Democratic counterparts in the first two months of 2019 $54.4 million to $39.6 million, in line with trends from the 2018 campaign cycle.
 
The committees are the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), along with the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).
 
The DCCC was the one Democratic group to raise more money than its Republican counterpart in the first two months of 2019. It raised $19.0 million to the NRCC’s $12.1 million and spent $14.1 million compared to the NRCC’s $11.3 million. However, the NRCC had more cash on hand than the DCCC ($17.4 million to $10.4 million), and less debt ($5.8 million to $12.0 million). The DCCC raised more than the NRCC in 2018, $191.0 million to $120.8 million.
 
The RNC raised $30.3 million to the DNC’s $12.7 million. The RNC also spent more than the DNC ($22.7 million to $13.8 million) and had nearly five times the cash on hand as the DNC ($31.1 million to $7.5 million). In 2018, the RNC raised $192.4 million to the DNC’s $109.8 million and spent $207.6 million to the DNC’s $107.9 million.
 
The NRSC raised $12.0 million, while the DSCC raised $7.9 million, and spent $9.9 million to the DSCC’s $2.9 million. The DSCC reported more cash on hand, with $11.2 million to the NRSC’s $9.6 million, and nearly twice as much debt ($21.0 million to the NRSC’s $12.0 million). In 2018, the NRSC raised $109.7 million and spent $117.4 million to the DSCC’s $94.3 million raised and $107.1 million spent.
 
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Dallas city elections: What and who is on the ballot

Dallas, the nation’s ninth-largest city by population, will hold elections for mayor and city council on May 4, 2019. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in a race on May 4, a runoff will be held on June 8, 2019.
 
Current Mayor Mike Rawlings, in office since 2011, is prevented by term-limits from seeking re-election. Nine candidates qualified for the ballot, representing a mixture of backgrounds in local and state government, business, the nonprofit sector, and more.
 
Four candidates in the race hold or have held elected office: Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs, state Rep. Eric Johnson (D), Dallas Independent School District Trustee Miguel Solis, and former state Rep. Jason Villalba (R).
 
Candidates Albert Black and Regina Montoya have other forms of government experience. Black was the chairman of the Dallas Housing Authority under Mayor Rawlings. Regina Montoya was the chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty under Rawlings, and she was assistant for intergovernmental affairs to President Bill Clinton (D).
 
Candidate Mike Ablon is a real estate developer. Alyson Kennedy was the 2016 Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate. Lynn McBee is CEO of the nonprofit Young Women’s Preparatory Network.
 
In addition to the mayor’s race, Dallas will hold elections for all 14 city council seats. Ten incumbents are seeking re-election, and four races are open (Districts 1, 5, 9, and 12). Nobody is running unopposed.
 
The city of Dallas uses a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, the mayor serves on the city council—the city’s primary legislative body. The council and mayor appoint a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives. The mayor of Dallas presides over the city council and makes policy and budget recommendations. The mayor does not have veto power.
 
Dallas’ use of the council-manager system is unique among large cities. Most cities in the United States with populations over one million use a strong mayor system, in which the mayor—instead of a city manager—serves as the city’s chief executive.
 
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1,957 candidates responded to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in 2018

Ballotpedia introduced a new initiative in 2018: Candidate Connection. We surveyed candidates at the federal, state, and local levels to help voters choose representatives who reflected their values and upheld their ideals.
 
A total of 1,957 candidates responded. They came from all but two of the 50 states and ran for all levels of government from school board to U.S. Senate. Texans made up the largest portion of respondents in 2018 with 186 answering Ballotpedia’s candidate survey. A majority of respondents—56.06 percent—ran for state legislative office, and 24.37 percent of all respondents won their election bids.
 
Learn more about these candidates in our new report, which also highlights a few notable candidates who completed the survey, features the respondents who won their elections, and lists all of the 1,957 candidates who sent in answers.
 


Washington activist Tim Eyman to launch his third 2019 signature petition drive; this initiative would ban income taxes

Sponsor Tim Eyman announced on March 26, 2019, that he would launch a signature drive for Initiative 1650 beginning on April 1, 2019, leaving 96 days to collect 259,622 valid signatures. Eyman refers to the measure as the We Don’t Want An Income Tax Initiative. I-1650 would prohibit local and state governments from enacting or imposing taxes on income including net, gross, or adjusted gross income; capital gains income; or any other portion or type of income. Washington state does not currently have a personal or corporate income tax.
 
This is the third active initiative or veto referendum petition drive Eyman has sponsored targeting the 2019 ballot. He successfully qualified Initiative 976 for the 2019 ballot. I-976 is currently certified to the legislature. The legislature can either approve the measure, reject or refuse to act on the measure and send it to the ballot, or send it to the ballot accompanied with an alternative. Eyman is currently collecting signatures for Referendum Measure 80, which would block salary increases for state elected officials set by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials (WCCSEO). The signature submission deadline for Referendum Measure 80 is on May 7, 2019.
 
Tim Eyman has sponsored or worked on a number of ballot initiative campaigns in the state of Washington each year since at least 1998. Of the Eyman initiatives that have been filed over the years, 16 qualified for the ballot. Of the 16 measures that appeared on the statewide ballot, 10 of them were approved, although eight (50 percent) were later invalidated. Six of the 16 were defeated by voters.
 
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SCOTUS hears arguments in two partisan gerrymandering cases

On March 26, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in two partisan gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek. During the course of arguments, the justices appeared divided over the issues central to both cases: are partisan gerrymandering claims justiciable under federal law, and should federal courts intervene to settle disputes over alleged partisan gerrymandering?
 
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed to the court by Pres. Donald Trump (R), asked Emmet Bondurant, counsel for Common Cause, the following: “What do we do as well about the — the fact that about 20 states, as I understand it, from — from your friend on the other side, have dealt with this problem through citizen initiatives as a remedy to deal with this, including, I think, five of them just this last election and a bunch more on the ballot in the coming election. Why should we wade into this — when that alternative exists?”
 
Associate Justice Elena Kagan, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, disputed Gorsuch’s claim: “I mean, going down that road would suggest that Justice Gorsuch’s attempt to sort of say this is not so bad because the people can fix it is not so true because you’re suggesting that the people really maybe can’t fix it, you were wrong about the people being able to fix it, and if the people could fix it, while it’s not the constitutionally prescribed way because it’s never been done before, so Justice Gorsuch’s attempts to save what’s so dramatically wrong here, which is the Court leaving this all to professional politicians who have an interest in districting according to their own partisan interests, seems to fail.”
 
Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, echoed Gorsuch’s inquiry: “But what about, to pick up on something Justice Gorsuch said earlier, that there is a fair amount of activity going on in the states on redistricting and attention in Congress and in state supreme courts? In other words, have we reached the moment, even though it would be a — have we really reached the moment, even though it would be a big lift for this Court to get involved, where the other actors can’t do it?”
 
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an Obama appointee, responded as follows to the point made by Paul Clement, counsel for Rucho, that partisan gerrymandering claims are not justiciable under federal law: “Once we decided the one person, one vote concept, we’ve been pretty much in all of our jurisprudence saying that certain acts by the legislature are unconstitutional, including race discrimination and others. It can’t be that simply because the Constitution says that a particular act is in the hands of one — one branch of government, that that deprives the courts of reviewing whether that action is constitutional or not.
 
The high court is expected to rule on both cases prior to the conclusion of the current term in June of this year.
 
The phrase partisan gerrymandering refers to the practice of drawing electoral district maps with the intention of favoring one political party over another. In contrast with racial gerrymandering, on which issue the Supreme Court of the United States has issued rulings in the past affirming that such practices violate federal law, the high court has not yet a ruling establishing clear precedent on the question of partisan gerrymandering. Although the court heard two partisan gerrymandering cases last term, it ruled on procedural and standing grounds in each, without addressing the question of justiciability.
 
For more information about these cases, see our articles:
 


Senate confirms 9th Circuit Court nominee

The U.S. Senate confirmed Bridget Bade to be a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The vote on Tuesday was bipartisan, with 53 Republican senators, 24 Democratic senators, and Independent Angus King voting in favor. Home-state Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R) of Arizona both voted to confirm Bade. The overall vote was 78-21 (with 1 abstaining).
 
The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal courts. On August 27, 2018, President Donald Trump (R) nominated Bade to a seat on this court. She will join the court upon receiving her judicial commission and taking her judicial oath. Bade will be the fourth Trump nominee to join the 29-member court. She is the 37th appeals court judge to be confirmed under President Donald Trump.
 
Before Bade’s confirmation, the court had 24 members–16 appointed by a Democratic president and eight appointed by a Republican president. There were five vacant seats. Bade’s confirmation leaves four vacant seats.
 
Four nominees for the vacant seats are awaiting action from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Daniel Bress and Patrick Bumatay are awaiting a hearing before the committee. Daniel Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee are awaiting a committee vote.
 
The Senate has confirmed 92 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—53 district court judges, 37 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.