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State senator resigns in North Carolina, one of 10 states where governor fills vacancies

Louis Pate (R), who served as an elected official in North Carolina for more than 20 years, resigned from office last week for health reasons. Pate won re-election in November 2018 to state Senate District 7, defeating David Brantley (D) 54-45 percent in the general election.
 
North Carolina is one of 10 states where the governor appoints the replacement for any state legislative vacancy. When making an appointment, the governor must make a decision from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the political party committee that last held the vacant seat. North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper (D), will appoint a Republican, which will leave the partisan balance unchanged. The person selected to the seat serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.
 
25 states hold special elections to fill vacancies.
 
Find out more about how state legislative vacancies are filled.


Three years ago, Iowa caucuses were just around the corner

Three years ago more than a dozen presidential candidates were storming through Iowa, making their final pitches to voters ahead of the February 1, 2016 caucuses. The Des Moines Register announced its endorsements of Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. The New York Times reported that Michael Bloomberg was considering a run for president as an independent. These are just two of the items you can read about in Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing from January 25, 2016.
 
Ultimately, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. Clinton received 49.84 percent, edging Bernie Sanders by less than 0.5 points. Cruz, with 27.7 percent, bested Donald Trump and nine other Republican candidates. Clinton received 23 delegates with the Iowa win, while Sanders earned 21. Cruz took 8 delegates from Iowa, while Trump and third-place finisher Rubio received 7 each.
 
Learn more about the 2016 presidential election below, and sign up for Ballotpedia’s presidential briefing, re-launching next week.


Montana Attorney General Fox becomes second Republican to announce for governor in 2020

On January 24, state attorney general Tim Fox (R) announced he was running for governor of Montana in 2020. Fox was first elected attorney general in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He is the second Republican to declare his candidacy after Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) announced that he was running for governor on January 4.
 
Montana’s current governor, Steve Bullock (D), has held that office since 2013 and is term-limited.
 
President Donald Trump (R) carried Montana by over 20 percentage points in the 2016 election. The state has voted for the Republican nominee for president in 12 of the last 13 presidential elections, as Bill Clinton (D) in 1992 was the only Democrat to win Montana’s electoral votes since 1964. In that span, Democrats have won gubernatorial elections in the state nine times, and Republicans four times.
 
Democrats have held the governor’s mansion in Montana since 2005, as Bullock’s predecessor, Brian Schweitzer (D), was elected to consecutive terms in 2004 and 2008. Prior to that, the state elected Republican governors from 1988 to 2000.
 
In addition to governor, Montana has four other elected state executive officials – attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, and the superintendent of public instruction. Republicans hold all four of those positions and the state will hold elections for all in 2020.
 
Montana currently has a divided government, since the governor is a Democrat and Republicans control both houses of the state legislature. The GOP holds a 30-20 majority in the State Senate and a 58-42 majority in the state House.


Filing deadline approaches for seven Kentucky state offices

On January 29, Kentucky’s filing deadline will pass to run for one of the following seven offices: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer. The primary is scheduled for May 21, and the general election is on November 5.
 
The governor and lieutenant governor will be elected on a joint ticket, but the other five offices are all elected individually. All seven offices carry four-year terms. Entering the 2019 election, the governor, lieutenant governor, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer positions are held by Republicans. The attorney general and secretary of state positions are held by Democrats Andy Beshear and Alison Lundergan Grimes, respectively.
 
Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline is the second to take place in the 2019 election cycle. The first was in Wisconsin on January 2, and the next statewide filing deadline is on March 1 in Mississippi. There are only three states (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi) holding elections for a combined total of 23 state executive positions in 2019.
 
Kentucky is one of 22 Republican trifectas. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
The Kentucky state legislature is currently considering a constitutional amendment to change the election calendar for state executive offices. The amendment would first go before voters as a ballot measure in 2020, and if approved, it would move the election that would typically take place in 2027 to 2028 to align with the presidential election schedule. The 2023 election would be the last to take place in an odd-numbered year. As of 2019, Kentucky was one of five states that held their gubernatorial elections during odd-numbered years.


Early voting begins in Nashville special election

On January 23, early voting began in the special election for the Nashville Metro Council’s District 29 seat. The election is on February 12, 2019. Four candidates filed to run for the vacancy: Nicola Lamattina, Delishia Porterfield, Constance Smith-Burwell, and Vicky Tataryn.
 
The District 29 seat was previously held by Karen Johnson, who was elected as the new Davidson County Register of Deeds on August 2, 2018. Although the metro council is officially nonpartisan, Johnson is affiliated with the Democratic Party.
 
The winner of the special election will complete the remainder of Johnson’s term, which ends in August 2019. In August, Nashville is holding general nonpartisan elections for mayor and all 41 metro council seats. The filing deadline for the general election is May 16, 2019.
 
Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee and the 24th-largest city in the U.S. by population.


Colorado Springs filing deadline passes

The filing deadline to run for office in Colorado Springs passed on January 22, 2019. The city is holding elections for mayor and three of nine seats on the city council on April 2, with a possible runoff scheduled for May 21. The six other seats on the city council, elected to specific districts, will be on the ballot in 2021.
 
Mayor John Suthers is running for re-election against three challengers: Lawrence Martinez, Juliette Parker, and John Pitchford. Martinez ran against Suthers in 2015, when Suthers was first elected to the position. Although the election and office are officially nonpartisan, Suthers is affiliated with the Republican Party.
 
Two of the three at-large city council members are running for re-election: Bill Murray and Tom Strand. Council member Merv Bennett, serving his second term, cannot seek re-election due to term limits. Five other candidates filed for office, Tony Gioia, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Terry Martinez, Val Snider, and Wayne Williams. Three challengers have previously held office. Klingenschmitt was the District 15 state representative from 2015 to 2017. Snider was an at-large Colorado Springs City Council member from 2011 to 2015, when he chose not to seek re-election, and Williams served as Colorado Secretary of State from 2014 to 2019; he lost the November 2018 general election.
 
Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in Colorado and the 40th-largest city in the U.S. by population.


Orange County special election filing deadline is January 28

A nonpartisan special election to fill the vacant District 3 seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in California is being held March 12. The candidate filing deadline is January 28.
 
The vacancy occurred after the former District 3 representative, Todd Spitzer, was sworn into office as the county’s new district attorney. He was elected to the new position on November 6, 2018. Spitzer had held the District 3 seat since 2012.
 
Four days before the filing deadline, nine candidates had announced their intentions to run in the special election, including two city officials in the district—Irvine Mayor Don Wagner and Anaheim City Council member Kris Murray—and one former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez served in the U.S. House from 1997 to 2017; in 2016, she ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary against Kamala Harris for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barbara Boxer.


Trump administration asks U.S. Supreme Court to decide census citizenship question case early

On January 22, United States Solicitor General Noel Francisco filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision made by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The district court ruled on January 15 that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by including a question regarding citizenship status in the 2020 census.
 
In most cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit would review the district court decision first, but Francisco argued that time constraints meant that the U.S. Supreme Court should review the district court decision directly. Francisco asked the court to grant a writ of certiorari before judgment, which would allow the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case without waiting for the 2nd Circuit. Francisco argued that his petition would allow enough time to resolve the citizenship question dispute before the June 2019 deadline to print the 2020 Census questionnaire.
 
Francisco also argued that the court should grant his petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment because the case presents an important question of federal law that ought to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. He argued that the case is a matter of national importance with massive and lasting consequences. According to SCOTUSblog, the U.S. Supreme Court has only granted such petitions in a handful of cases over the past 75 years.


Federal Register allows for publication of significant rules during government shutdown

The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) issued guidance to administrative agencies on January 14, 2019, allowing for the publication of significant regulations during the government shutdown that, if otherwise delayed, would negatively impact funded government functions. Under the prior publication standard, the Federal Register could only publish emergency rules, such as those necessary to protect human life, provide emergency services, or safeguard property.
 
Significant regulations may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. They may also conflict with regulations from other agencies or presidential priorities. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) must review all significant regulations prior to publication in the Federal Register.
 
OFR received the new publication standards through guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice on January 11. The standards are drawn from a 1995 ruling by the Office of Legal Counsel, which held that “agency operations needed for government functions that do have appropriated funding may continue during a partial shutdown if the funding lapse would ‘prevent or significantly damage the execution of those funded functions,’” according to Bloomberg Government.
 
Following the change, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs published a significant regulation in the Federal Register on January 18 concerning the department’s claims and appeals regulations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also published a significant rule on January 24 concerning payment parameters for certain health insurance exchanges.


President Trump resubmits 51 nominees for federal judgeships

On January 23, 2019, President Donald Trump (R) resubmitted 51 judicial nominations to the U.S. Senate. The nominees had been returned to the president earlier in January at the sine die adjournment of the 115th Congress.
 
The list included 37 nominees for the U.S. district courts, nine nominees for federal circuit courts of appeal, two nominees for the Court of Federal Claims, two for the Court of International Trade, and one for the Court of Military Commission Review.
 
At the adjournment of the 115th Congress on January 3, 19 of these nominees were awaiting a full Senate vote, 25 were awaiting a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and seven were awaiting a committee hearing.
 
There are currently 57 pending judicial nominations, including six nominees the president submitted on January 16.
 
The Senate has confirmed 85 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—53 district court judges, 30 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.