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Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 9 (March 11, 2020)

This week: Trump endorses Tuberville in Senate primary runoff in Alabama, Redistricting becomes issue in LA-05 race, and ballot set for Georgia’s special Senate election

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“There is still a chance that state and local efforts to contain the virus can succeed, and there are still ways in which the White House could exert strong leadership to help that happen. But right now we are headed for a scenario of rising death rates and overwhelmed hospitals, shuttered schools and empty stadiums and cancellations everywhere.

Combine this scenario’s inevitable economic consequences with the optics of the president’s blundering and solipsistic response, and the coronavirus seems very likely to doom Trump’s re-election effort, no matter where he casts the blame.

And how ironic that would be. In 2016 we elected a China hawk who promised a ‘complete shutdown’ in response to foreign threats, a germaphobic critic of globalization who promised to privilege the national interest above all.

Now he is in danger of losing his presidency because when the great test came, in the form of a virus carried by global trade routes from Communist China, he didn’t take the danger seriously enough.”

Ross Douthat, The New York Times, March 7, 2020

“Trump’s opponents have taken to the media to predict that he will no doubt mishandle America’s coronavirus response and are predicting this will become the scandal that leads to his defeat in the November election. …

But Trump’s opponents – including their left-wing media allies – don’t realize that the president was made for this crisis. There is nothing he loves more, or is as good at, as taking personal charge of a crisis and bulldozing his way through the bureaucracy to a solution. …

Unlike most professional politicians, Trump isn’t afraid of crises. I honestly think he relishes them. There is nothing he likes more than personally taking charge of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, especially when others are wringing their hands.

Plus, who better to deal with a pandemic than someone who believes in border security, doesn’t mind ruffling the feathers of political correctness and is a germophobe? …

Americans don’t cower in a crisis, but they do want a leader to get them through it. Rather than being Trump’s ‘Katrina hour’ the coronavirus crisis could prove to be his finest hour.”

K.T. McFarland, Fox News, March 8, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ballot set for Georgia’s special Senate election

Twenty-one candidates qualified for Georgia’s Nov. 3 special Senate election. The race includes eight Democrats, six Republicans, five independents, one Green Party candidate, and one Libertarian. The qualifying deadline was Friday. 

Candidates of all affiliations will compete in the election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two will be Jan. 5, 2021.

A recent University of Georgia poll found Republicans Doug Collins and Kelly Loeffler, the appointed incumbent, tied within the margin of error at 21% and 19%, respectively. Matt Lieberman (D) was third with 11% and Raphael Warnock (D), who the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed, had 6%. Thirty-one percent said they were undecided.

The poll was conducted Feb. 24-March 2—ahead of the qualifying deadline—and included eight candidates: three Republicans, four Democrats, and one independent.  

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the seat after Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned in December. 

Trump endorses Tuberville in Senate primary runoff in Alabama

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump endorsed Tommy Tuberville in the Republican primary runoff for Senate in Alabama. Trump tweeted the following:

“Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville) is running for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Alabama. Tommy was a terrific head football coach at Auburn University. He is a REAL LEADER who will never let MAGA/KAG, or our Country, down! Tommy will protect your Second Amendment (which is under siege), is strong on Crime and the Border, and truly LOVES our Military and our Vets. He will be a great Senator for the people of Alabama. Coach Tommy Tuberville, a winner, has my Complete and Total Endorsement. I love Alabama!”

Sessions responded to Trump’s endorsement with the following:

“Of course, President Trump can endorse anyone he chooses for the U.S. Senate election in Alabama. But the Constitution expressly empowers the people of Alabama, and only them, to select their Senator. I intend to take my case directly to the people of Alabama. Even before he declared for the presidency, I fought for the principles that Donald Trump so effectively advocated in the campaign and has advanced as President. I believed in those principles then, I have always fought for them, and I will continue to do so.”

Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before the president appointed him U.S. attorney general in 2017. Sessions resigned in 2018 at Trump’s request. 

Tuberville received 33.4% of the vote to Sessions’ 31.6% in the March 3 primary

Sessions and Tuberville have both campaigned on their allegiance to the president and their criticisms of one another. Sessions says Tuberville is a Floridian and supports immigration amnesty. Sessions campaign ads feature audio of Tuberville saying he was mad at the president on the issue of veterans’ health care. 

Tuberville has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. His campaign ads have featured Trump saying he regretted appointing Sessions as attorney general. 

Two polls following the primary showed Tuberville leading Sessions—one by 7 percentage points and the other by 12. In the latter poll, 34% said they would definitely vote for Tuberville and 24% said they’d definitely vote for Sessions. An additional 18% said they’d probably vote for Tuberville, and 16% would probably vote for Sessions.

The primary runoff is March 31.

Redistricting becomes issue in LA-05 race

A priority among several current and potential Republican candidates in Louisiana’s open 5th Congressional District race is preserving the district’s existence following the 2020 census. The state legislature will draw new congressional district maps, which will go into effect in the 2022 election cycle.

Retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham’s former chief of staff Luke Letlow joined the race to replace Abraham on Monday. Abraham endorsed Letlow. Letlow joined Ouachita Parish Police Juror Randall Scott Robinson and state Rep. Lance Harris in the race, along with two Democrats. Former state Sen. Mike Walsworth (R) is also considering a bid. 

Greg Hilburn of the Monroe News-Star wrote, “Northern Louisiana currently has two districts — the 5th District represented by Abraham with the population and voting power in northeastern Louisiana and the 4th District represented by Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Benton with Shreveport-Bossier as the hub. During a period in the 1990s northern Louisiana was represented by one district with Shreveport-Bossier as the hub.”

Letlow said a single northern district would harm the agricultural community. 

Harris said, “I certainly think there will be some changes in the lines of every district, but I hope we’re able to keep a semblance of the district.”Robinson said, “We don’t need to be in a district with Shreveport. … Our commonalities and priorities are different, and if it happened Shreveport would clearly have an edge because of its population.”

Walsworth stated, “I think it’s by far the most important issue facing the next person who will represent the 5th District.”

Candidates of all affiliations will run in a Nov. 3 election. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, another election for the top two will be held Dec. 5. Ratings outlets view the race as Safe or Solid Republican.

State executives

Thomas Wright becomes first Utah Republican to qualify for gubernatorial primary

Former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright qualified for Utah’s gubernatorial primary ballot Thursday, becoming the first of the eight Republicans running to do so. 

Candidates running for governor of Utah have two paths to the June 30 primary ballot. Up to two candidates may qualify for the primary by receiving support from delegates at the state party convention on April 25, while any number of candidates may qualify by submitting petitions containing the verified signatures of 28,000 voters. Only signatures from registered Republicans who have not signed another candidate’s nominating petitions are counted. 

Every Republican candidate other than Jason Christensen, Aimee Winder Newton, and Greg Hughes is seeking to qualify via signatures, although a candidate who is collecting signatures can still win a place on the ballot at the convention. The only candidate to have submitted signatures other than Wright is Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. As of 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time on March 10, 26,120 of Cox’s signatures had been verified, leaving him 1,880 short of the required amount.

A Scott Rasmussen poll conducted Feb. 24-March 1 on behalf of Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute found Jon Huntsman, Jr. had 32% support to Spencer Cox’s 20%, while 30% were undecided. Hughes and Jeff Burningham each had 7%. No other candidate had more than 10% support. In a Scott Rasmussen poll conducted in January, Huntsman had 35% to Cox’s 25% with 25% undecided.

The candidate filing deadline is March 19. The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980. Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election.

Candidates for North Dakota Schools Superintendent seek party support

Incumbent North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and challengers Charles Tuttle and Brandt Dick will each have a chance to make their pitch for the state Republican Party’s letter of support. 

Baesler, who was first elected in 2012, was arrested for drunken driving Feb. 26. Tuttle, who launched his campaign earlier that month, said he intended to focus on education policy rather than criticism of Baesler, while Dick said Baesler’s arrest was not a factor in his decision to run.

Although the office of state superintendent is officially nonpartisan in North Dakota, candidates may seek a letter of support from any of the state’s political parties. Baesler won the GOP letter of support ahead of her successful 2012 and 2016 campaigns. The three were the only candidates to file the required signatures with the state party ahead of a Sunday deadline and will each be allotted speaking time at the state party convention during the final weekend of March. No candidates have filed to seek a letter of support from the state Democratic Party affiliate.

A process change currently under deliberation could mean that the party’s letter of support is published later this year than in previous elections. The 57-member State Committee is scheduled to vote March 19 on a motion that would delay the publication of the party’s letter of support until after the primary in June. 

The candidate filing deadline is April 6. The June 9 primary will be open to all registered voters, with the top two finishers advancing to the general election on November 3.


Ohio House candidates allege speaker is behind negative attack ads

Four candidates for Ohio House of Representatives held a press conference to call for an end to negative campaign ads against them and alleged that Speaker Larry Householder (R) was responsible. Householder had not yet responded.

Joe Dills (District 65), Adam Bird (District 66), Nick Owens (District 66), and Thad Claggett (District 71) accused Householder of coordinating with the group behind the negative ads, the Growth and Opportunity PAC.

According to the FCC, Growth and Opportunity PAC has spent $265,000 on broadcast ads in the Cincinnati television and radio markets in support of Householder’s preferred candidates in Districts 65 and 66. reported the PAC and the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) have also spent $265,000 in the Columbus market in ads opposing Claggett.

Growth and Opportunity is registered as a federal Super PAC, meaning it cannot raise or spend money in coordination with any candidate or candidate committee. A representative for the HRCC denied allegations of coordination with any satellite groups.

Former U.S. Rep. seeking Georgia State Senate seat

Former U.S. Rep. Max Burns (R-12) qualified to run for the District 23 seat in the Georgia State Senate. 

Incumbent Sen. Jesse Stone (R) is not seeking re-election. He was first elected to represent the 23rd District in 2010. Trey Allen (R) is also seeking the Republican nomination.

Burns served in Congress from 2003 to 2005. He won election in 2002 55-45, then lost his re-election campaign in 2004 52-48. He ran again in 2006 but lost by less than 900 votes.

District 23 covers 11 counties along the central Georgia-South Carolina border. Stone last faced a Democratic challenger in 2014, when he won by a 61-39 margin. Republicans hold a 35-21 majority in the chamber.

Hagenow retirement announcement sets up contest between college students for seat

Iowa Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-19), first elected in 2008, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Carter Nordman (R), a senior at Northern Iowa University, announced his intention to run for the seat. Already in the race was Nick Miller (D), a student at Drake University. Hagenow won re-election 56-41 in 2018.

Power players

“[The Susan B. Anthony] List is a nationwide network of more than 700,000 Americans. We combine politics with policy, investing heavily in voter education to ensure that pro-life Americans know where their lawmakers stand on protecting the unborn, and in issue advocacy, advancing pro-life laws through direct lobbying and grassroots campaigns.” – Susan B. Anthony List website 

The Susan B. Anthony List is a political organization that opposes abortion. The organization says its mission is “to end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.” The Susan B. Anthony List is affiliated with the Life Issues Institute, the National Pro-Life Women’s Caucus, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the Women Speak Out PAC, the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, and the Susan B. Anthony List Action PAC.  

The organization says it “fights for the election of women and men who will fight for life. We fight for laws that safeguard the innocent, and we develop research to demonstrate the good that flows from society from their protection.” To view a list of candidates endorsed by the organization, click here.

The Susan B. Anthony List also publishes a “National Pro-Life Scorecard,” which grades members of Congress on votes and other activities, such as bill sponsorship, related to abortion.

Ballot Bulletin March 2020

Virginia General Assembly passes bill allowing localities to use ranked-choice voting in some municipal elections 

On Feb. 27, the Virginia State Senate voted 22-18 to approve HB1103, which would allow local governments to implement ranked-choice voting (RCV) for select municipal elections. All of the Senate’s 21 Democrats and one Republican voted in favor of the legislation. Eighteen Republicans voted against it. The same bill had passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Feb. 7 by a vote of 57-42. Fifty-four House Democrats and three Republicans voted in favor of HB1103. Forty-two Republicans voted against it (one Democratic member did not vote). HB1103 now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for his action.  

If enacted, HB1103 would allow local governments to implement RCV in elections for county boards of supervisors and city councils. The state board of elections would be authorized to “promulgate regulations for the proper and efficient administration of elections determined by ranked-choice voting, including (i) procedures for tabulating votes in rounds, (ii) procedures for determining winners in elections for offices to which only one candidate is being elected and to which more than one candidate is being elected, and (iii) standards for ballots.” Localities would be liable for any implementation costs incurred by the state. The Department of Planning and Budget has estimated those costs at approximately $1.3 million.

What have been the reactions? 

The following is a sample of the commentary surrounding HB1103: 

  • Del. Sally Hudson (D), the bill’s chief sponsor, said, “It’s a benefit to communities like mine in Charlottesville that tend to have very low-turnout primaries in the summer and then local elections in the fall that often have multiple candidates running for a handful of open seats. You end up with really split elections and less certainty about which candidate has majority support from the community.”    
  • Del. Chris Runion opposed the bill, saying, “It confuses the voter, and it complicates the process. I would prefer that a voter goes in and makes his decision, casts their ballot and goes back and knows this is who they voted for and that’s who they support and they go home satisfied with that result.”
  • Elizabeth Melson, president of FairVote Virginia, which has advocated in favor of the bill, said, “With ranking, if a candidate meets a voter who favors an opponent, the conversation need not end; it can shift to second choices and areas of mutual concern. In places with ranked choice already implemented, candidates sometimes even campaign in groups of two or three and ask to be second or third choices. It could lead to more civilized and issue-based campaigns and less mud-slinging.”
  • Quentin Kidd, a professor at Christopher Newport University, said, “So if you had a city or a county that was 50-50 split, ranked-choice voting could really mix things up and make for some really healthy political competition. But in a county that’s really rural and really Republican, Democrats would almost be locked out. In a city that’s really Democratically-oriented, Republicans would almost be locked out.” 

What other jurisdictions have implemented RCV? 

Maine is the only state that has implemented RCV for federal and state-level elections. Nine states have jurisdictions with RCV at the local level. On the map below, these states are shaded in gold. Another four states have jurisdictions that have adopted, but have not yet implemented, RCV. These states are shaded in blue. A complete list of implementation sites is available here

In other RCV news …

On March 3, citizens in Portland, Maine, approved a charter amendment extending the use of ranked-choice voting to all city council and school board elections. Previously, ranked-choice voting only applied to mayoral elections. The charter amendment passed with 81 percent of the vote.  

Virginians to decide constitutional amendment transferring redistricting power from legislature to commission 

On March 5, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 54-46 to approve a resolution placing a redistricting-related constitutional amendment on the ballot for Nov. 3, 2020. The ballot measure would transfer the authority to draft the state’s congressional and legislative district plans from the Virginia General Assembly to a 16-member redistricting commission comprising eight state legislators and eight citizens. 

What does the constitutional amendment propose? 

Under the amendment, the commission would draft the maps and the Virginia General Assembly would vote either to approve or reject them. The Virginia General Assembly would be prohibited from amending the maps. If the Virginia General Assembly were to reject a map, the redistricting commission would draft a new one. If the second map is rejected, the state supreme court would enact a district map.

Maps would require approval by 12 of 16 (75 percent) commission members, including six of eight legislator-members and six of eight citizen-members. Leaders of the legislature’s two largest political parties would select members to serve on the commission. Based on the current composition of the General Assembly, the commission’s legislative members would include two Senate Democrats, two Senate Republicans, two House Democrats, and two House Republicans. The commission’s eight citizen members would be recommended by legislative leaders and selected by a committee of five retired circuit court judges.

How did the amendment make it to the ballot, and what comes next? 

In order to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, a majority vote in each chamber, in two successive legislative sessions, is required. In 2019, the House and Senate, with Republican majorities, approved the amendment. Democrats won control of both legislative chambers in November 2019. This year, the Senate approved the amendment 38-2. In the House, nine Democrats and all 45 Republicans voted to advance the amendment; 46 Democrats voted against the amendment. In November, a simple majority vote is required to enact the constitutional amendment. 

For more information on the support and opposition arguments on this amendment, click here

For more information about the legislative process that put the amendment on the ballot, click here.

Are other states considering similar measures this year? 

This is the first ballot measure certified for 2020 related to redistricting. Measures might also be on the ballot in Arkansas, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Oregon. In 2018, five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah — voted on initiatives to alter redistricting procedures or establish redistricting commissions. Voters approved all of them.

Ballot access requirements for U.S. Senate candidates in 2020 

Thirty-three seats in the United States Senate are up for election in 2020. How do prospective candidates get on the ballot in their respective states?

Generally speaking, a candidate must pay a filing fee, submit petition signatures, or both in order to appear on the ballot. Filing requirements vary from state to state. Filing requirements also vary according to a candidate’s partisan affiliation. Candidates of the major political parties are sometimes subject to different filing requirements than unaffiliated candidates. 

Petition signature requirements exist on a broad spectrum. For example, Kentucky requires partisan primary candidates to submit two petition signatures (candidates are also liable for a $500 filing fee). This petition requirement is the lowest in the nation for Senate candidates in 2020. By contrast, Texas requires unaffiliated candidates to submit 83,717 petition signatures, 1 percent of all votes cast for governor in the last election. This petition requirement is the highest in the nation. 

Filing fees are similarly variable. Kansas requires unaffiliated candidates to pay a $20 administrative fee. This fee is the smallest in the nation for Senate candidates in 2020. By contrast, Arkansas Republican candidates are liable for a $20,000 filing fee, a larger filing fee than that imposed in any other state this cycle.    

We have compiled complete filing requirements for major-party and unaffiliated Senate candidates in 2020. To peruse the data, click here

Legislation tracking 

Redistricting legislation

The map below shows which states have taken up redistricting policy legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of March 9, 2020

Electoral systems legislation

The map below shows which states have taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of March 9, 2020

Primary systems legislation

The map below shows which states have taken up electoral systems legislation this year. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2020 

Current as of March 9, 2020

Lewis Holley (D) advances to general election in race for North Carolina lieutenant governor

Yvonne Lewis Holley advanced from a field of six candidates in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. In North Carolina, primary runoffs occur if no candidate wins more than 30% of the vote and the second-place finisher calls for a runoff. Second place finisher Terry Van Duyn announced March 10 she would not request a runoff, making Lewis Holley the Democratic nominee. Lewis Holley received 26.6% of the vote to Van Duyn’s 20.4%. Lewis Holley will face Mark Robinson (R) in the November general election.

North Carolina is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is elected independently of the governor. Going into the 2020 election, North Carolina is one of three states where the governor and the lieutenant governor do not share a party affiliation, along with Louisiana and Vermont. That status is at stake in the North Carolina general, as Democrats and Republicans are competing for both offices.

Garcia (R) and Smith (D) advance in two primaries for California’s 25th Congressional District

Mike Garcia (R) and Christy Smith (D) advanced from a special top-two primary election and from a regularly scheduled top-two primary election in California’s 25th Congressional District. Third place finisher Steve Knight (R) conceded the race on March 8 and said he would support Garcia. As of Knight’s concession, Smith led in the special primary with 35.2% of the vote, followed by Garcia with 25.9% and Knight with 17.6%. In the regular primary, Smith led with 31.0% of the vote to Garcia’s 24.9% and Knight’s 19.5%.

Garcia and Smith will run in a May 12, 2020, special general election to fill the vacancy left by Katie Hill (D), who resigned her seat on November 1, 2019, amid allegations of extramarital relationships with staffers. Then, on Nov. 3, 2020, Garcia and Smith will compete in the regular election for a full, two-year term starting Jan. 3, 2021.

Democrats have a 232-197 advantage over Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. There is one independent member, and there are five vacancies. The 25th District special election could change that balance ahead of November. Currently, if Republicans win 18 Democratic-controlled districts in the Nov. general, they will win control of the House. If Democrats hold as many districts, they will maintain their control of the chamber.

2020 state legislative races less competitive than 2018 so far

Based on filing data in nine states, 2020’s state legislative elections are so far less competitive than 2018’s elections in three categories: open seats, incumbents with primary challengers, and total primaries. Those nine states are Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia.

Across those states in 2020, there are 1,167 state legislative seats up for election. In 2018, there were 1,187 seats up for election. Most of the drop can be attributed to the Illinois Senate, where one-third of all of seats (20) are up for election in 2020 after two-thirds of all seats (39) were up for election in 2018.

Fewer incumbents are retiring in 2020 than in 2018. In these states in 2018, 185 incumbents—61 Democrats and 124 Republicans—did not run for re-election. This year, 41 incumbents—59 Democrats and 82 Republicans—are not running for re-election. The biggest decrease came in the Ohio House, where 18 incumbents did not file to run for re-election this year after 32 incumbents retired in 2018. Twelve of the 18 representatives not running this year are term-limited, while 20 of the 32 in 2018 were term-limited.

Fewer incumbents are facing primary challengers in 2020. In these states in 2018, 258 incumbents—97 Democrats and 152 Republicans—faced at least one challenger in a primary election. This year, 202 incumbents—97 Democrats and 105 Republicans—face at least one primary challenger. The biggest decrease came in the Texas House, where 30 incumbents had primary challengers in 2020 after 43 had primary challengers in 2018.

In fact, there are fewer total contested primaries in these states in 2020. In 2018, there were 527 total primaries—258 Democratic and 269 Republican. In 2020, there are 425 total primaries—206 Democratic and 219 Republican. Both the California Assembly and Ohio House saw the biggest decrease in total primaries, with 21 fewer this year than in 2020.

Eighty-six of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers are holding legislative elections in 2020. There is a Republican majority in 61 chambers, a Democratic majority in 37 chambers, and a power-sharing agreement between the parties as part of a coalition in the Alaska House of Representatives.

As a result of the 2018 elections, Democrats gained majorities in five chambers and a power-sharing agreement in the Alaska House. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in the Virginia Senate and Virginia House.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock appoints new commissioner of labor and industry

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock named Brenda Nordlund as the new acting commissioner of labor and industry on March 5. Nordlund replaced interim Commissioner Tom Lopach, who took over when Galen Hollenbaugh retired on December 31, 2019. Since Nordlund was an employee of the department and retained her status as a classified employee, she assumed the title of acting commissioner. Her term is set to expire on January 4, 2021.

The position of labor commissioner exists in all 50 states. Commissioners are tasked with various duties, which may include overseeing the fair treatment of workers, non-payment investigations, the state minimum wage, and other labor-related issues. Most labor commissioners are appointed by the governor. Salaries can range from $60,000 to $195,000. Nordlund will earn $116,480, according to state officials and the Great Falls Tribune.

Additional reading:
Brenda Nordlund
Galen Hollenbaugh
Montana state executive offices 

Cincinnati City Council member steps down to join Trump administration, replacement sworn in

Photo credit: Arun Sreeranganathan

Former Cincinnati City Council member Amy Murray resigned from the city council on March 4, 2020, to take a position with the United States Department of Defense. She was first elected to the nonpartisan council in 2013. Murray ran for lieutenant governor on the Ohio gubernatorial ticket with former Rep. Jim Renacci (R) in 2018, up until Renacci withdrew from the race.

Murray’s replacement on the Cincinnati City Council is Elizabeth “Betsy” Sundermann, an attorney who was working as a probate court magistrate at the time of her appointment. Sundermann also worked as an assistant prosecutor in Hamilton County, Ohio from 2003 to 2016.

The Cincinnati City Council is made up of nine members, each of whom is elected at large. There is currently one vacant place on the council. That position was vacated by Tamaya Dennard, who resigned on March 2, 2020, after her arrest on federal bribery charges.

Additional reading:
Amy Murray
U.S. Department of Defense
Tamaya Dennard

Missouri Democrats select new state Senate Minority Leader

Missouri State Senator Gina Walsh (D) stepped down as State Senate Minority Leader after serving in the role since 2017 on March 3. Freshman Sen. John Rizzo (D) takes her place as the Democratic leader in the state Senate.

Walsh, who represents District 13, cannot run for re-election to the state Senate this year due to term limits. Missouri state senators serve four-year terms and are limited to two terms in the chamber, or eight years total.

Rizzo is in his first term in the state Senate, representing District 11 since winning election to the seat in 2016. He previously held office in the Missouri House of Representatives and served as the House Minority Whip.

As the State Senate Minority Leader, Rizzo is the floor leader of the minority caucus. In this role, the minority leader is the principal speaker for the minority party during debates on the Senate floor and works to coordinate the party’s legislative agenda. Minority and majority leaders are often assisted by whips, whose job is to ensure that members of the chamber vote in line with their party’s priorities.

As of March 2020, the partisan composition of the Missouri State Senate is 23 Republicans, eight Democrats, and three vacancies. Republicans have held majority control of the state senate since 2002. Seventeen of the chamber’s 34 seats are up for election in 2020, including Rizzo’s.

Additional reading:
Gina Walsh
Missouri State Senate
State Senate Minority Leader
Missouri State Senate elections, 2020 

Approval rates of local bond and tax measures in California’s March 3 election lowest in at least a decade

On March 3, California voters decided 292 local ballot measures. According to results available Monday evening, at least 111 were approved, at least 146 were defeated, and the remaining measures were too close to call because of the number of ballots left to be processed.

Of the 292 total local measures, 236 (81%) were bond or tax measures:
• 121 local school bond measures (in total, $17.24 billion in local school bonds was proposed)
• 54 parcel tax measures
• 45 sales tax measures
• 7 hotel tax measures
• 5 city or county marijuana tax measures
• 4 city, county, or district bond measures

Other topics included the following:
• 10 measures on housing, zoning, land use, and development
• 10 measures on local elections and campaigns
• 5 measures on the regulation of marijuana

The 292 local measures on the ballot were the most at a primary election since at least 2010. From 2010 through 2018, primary elections were held in June rather than March. There were an average of 139 local measures on primary ballots from 2010 through 2018.

School bond measures

With Monday evening’s election results update, Ballotpedia called all but 19 of the 121 total school bond measures on the March 3 ballot:
• at least 32 (26%) were approved
• at least 70 (58%) were defeated
• 19 remain too close to call with certainty

From 2008 through 2019, the average approval rate for local school bond measures in California was 75%.

In terms of bond revenue, at least $5.511 billion (32%) was approved, at least $10.037 billion (58%) was defeated, and $1.788 billion (10%) could still go either way. In the November 2018 election, there were 151 total school bond measures proposing a total of $15.2 billion, and $14.3 billion (94%) was approved. In 2016, there were 231 local school bonds proposing a total of $31.8 billion, and $28.9 billion (91%) was approved.

Voters also appear to have rejected Proposition 13, a $15 billion statewide bond issue of general obligation bonds for school and college facilities—including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges. As of Monday evening’s election results update, the measure was behind by 45.96% (3,250,570 votes) to 54.04% (3,822,718 votes), with about 2.9 million ballots left to be processed.

Local tax measures

Local parcel and sales tax measures were approved at a lower rate than the average over recent election cycles as well.

At least 16 (29.6%) of the local parcel tax measures were approved, at least 31 (57.4%) were defeated, and seven (13%) were too close to call. From 2003 through 2019, 57.5% of local parcel tax measures were approved.

At least 24 (53.3%) of the local sales taxes were approved, at least 19 (42.2%) were defeated, and two (4.4%) were too close to call. From 2014 through 2019, 76% of local sales tax measures were approved.

Additional reading:
California Proposition 13, School and College Facilities Bond (March 2020) 
School bond elections in California
Sales tax in California
Parcel tax elections in California
Hotel taxes in California 
Marijuana taxes in California

Biden wins MI and three other states, Sanders wins ND

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
March 11, 2020: Joe Biden won primaries in four states, and Bernie Sanders won North Dakota. Washington is still too close to call. Both candidates canceled rallies Tuesday night in Ohio because of coronavirus concerns. blank    blankblank   

Notable Quote of the Day

“But it’s clear that if [Bernie Sanders] doesn’t pick up more delegates from Biden in the Midwest, he’ll likely find it difficult to find much support elsewhere. The former vice president is poised to pick up huge delegate advantages in the remaining Southern states, like Georgia and Louisiana, due to his strength among African American voters. Florida, another big electoral prize, is projected to be a Biden win.

Though many of Sanders’ supporters say he should stay in the race. After all, there are still over 1,000 delegates up for grabs and soon more progressive states like New York will have the opportunity to weigh in.”

– Alexandra Hutzler, Newsweek

March 10 results

Six states and the Democrats Abroad held events for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

  • Joe Biden was the projected winner in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri. Across all six primaries, he is expected to win at least 184 pledged delegates.

  • Bernie Sanders won North Dakota and is expected to receive at least 115 delegates.

  • Washington is too close to call with 67% of precincts reporting. Sanders and Biden are separated by 0.2%.

  • The Democrats Abroad, which concluded its global primary on Tuesday, are expected to release their results on March 23.

  • President Donald Trump won all Republican primaries. He will finish the night with a cumulative total of least 1,099 delegates. To win the nomination, a candidate needs 1,276 delegates. No other Republican presidential candidate won any delegates last night.

The map below shows the projected winners of the Democratic primaries held yesterday.

The following chart shows the current Democratic delegate scoreboard.

Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio are holding primaries next week with 577 Democratic pledged delegates at stake. A debate between Biden and Sanders is scheduled to take place Sunday, March 15, in Phoenix, Arizona.


  • Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders canceled their respective rallies in Cleveland on Tuesday night for public health and safety. It was the first time concerns about the coronavirus led to canceled campaign rallies this election cycle.

  • The Democratic National Committee also announced there will be no live audience at the presidential primary debate in Phoenix on Mar. 15.

  • Biden received nine congressional endorsements from former Michael Bloomberg supporters, including Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Juan Vargas (Calif.), and Scott Peters (Calif.). Former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang also endorsed Biden.

  • Biden was also endorsed by Republican Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor. Sterling Heights is in Macomb County, one of 12 Pivot Counties in Michigan.

  • Tulsi Gabbard attended the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

  • Rep. Mark Takano (Calif.) endorsed Sanders on Tuesday.


  • Donald Trump announced he will travel to Milwaukee on Mar. 19 to launch the “Catholics for Trump” coalition.

Flashback: March 11, 2016

Ben Carson endorsed Donald Trump, and the National Review backed Ted Cruz.blank

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