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12 candidates file to run in Tucson mayor and city council races

Four mayoral candidates and eight city council candidates filed to run in the 2019 city elections in Tucson, Arizona. A primary is scheduled for August 27, and the general election is on November 5. The filing deadline was May 29.
Three of the four mayoral candidates—Randi Dorman, Steve Farley, and Regina Romero—will compete in the Democratic primary. The fourth candidate, independent Edward Ackerley, will face the Democratic primary winner on the general election ballot. Incumbent Jonathan Rothschild announced in December 2018 that he would not seek re-election, ensuring a newcomer will take the office. Rothschild was first elected mayor in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.
Three of the six seats on the city council—Wards 1, 2, and 4—are also on the ballot in 2019. Ward 1 incumbent Regina Romero is running for mayor instead of for re-election. Four Democrats filed to run for her seat. In Ward 2, Democratic incumbent Paul Cunningham is running for re-election against Republican Ewart Williams Jr. Ward 4 incumbent Shirley Scott did not file to run for re-election. Democrat Nikki Lee and Republican Michael Hicks are running for that open seat.
Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Ballotpedia’s Federal Vacancy Count shows 15 federal judges confirmed in past month

According to Ballotpedia’s monthly federal judicial vacancy count, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 15 of President Donald Trump’s (R) nominees to Article III federal judicial seats since April 25, 2019. Article III judges are those judges who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, which created and enumerated the powers of the judiciary. The Senate confirmed 11 nominees to U.S. District Courts and four nominees to U.S. Circuit Courts. The Senate has confirmed 112 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—69 district court judges, 41 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
President Trump also announced six new federal judicial nominations since April 25. The president has announced 186 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on January 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018.
Since Ballotpedia’s April 2019 judicial vacancy count, four judges vacated their active statuses, creating life-term judicial vacancies. As Article III positions, these vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
There are 126 vacancies out of 870 Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 137 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant. A vacancy occurs when a judge passes away, resigns, retires, or takes senior status. Senior status is a classification for federal judges at all levels who are semi-retired. Senior judges continue to serve on federal courts while hearing a reduced number of cases.
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The Daily Brew: Want your city to host the Olympics? Denver voters may decide to put it to a vote


Welcome to the Friday, May 31, Brew. We are halfway through our Ballotpedia Society membership drive! If you haven’t already, please consider supporting the work we do through a monthly donation. You can find more information about the program here. Now, here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Denver ballot measure requires voters to approve spending public funds to host Olympics
  2. Illinois voters to choose whether to change state’s income tax from flat to graduated rate
  3. State regulation of plumbers in Texas to expire in September

Denver ballot measure requires voters to approve spending public funds to host Olympics

Denver voters will decide Tuesday whether a future attempt to bring the Olympics to the city will require citywide voter approval.

Initiated Ordinance 302 (I-302) would prohibit the city and county from using public funds in connection with future Olympic Games unless a majority of voters approve at a municipal election.

In 2018, the city of Denver proposed spending $1.9 billion to host the 2030 Winter Olympic Games in a bid to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The USOC identified Denver and Salt Lake City as its top two finalists and ultimately selected Salt Lake City as its choice to bid for the games before the International Olympic Committee.

After Denver’s USOC proposal, the group Let Denver Vote led the petition effort to place I-302 on the ballot. Proponents were required to collect 4,726 valid signatures or 5 percent of the votes cast for mayoral candidates in the preceding mayoral election.

Proponents of the measure submitted their arguments supporting it in the city’s official local ballot question guide, which included, “Hosting the Olympics brings significant financial risk and long-lasting impacts. Host cities are expected to cover the consistent (every year since 1968) cost overruns of the Olympic games, and Denver voters deserve a right to decide if they are comfortable writing a blank check to cover such overruns.”

Opponents submitted arguments against I-302 to the official ballot question guide, which included, “This seemingly innocuous initiative to ‘protect the taxpayer’ is dangerously broad, has extensive unintended consequences, and is brought by a group that is woefully misinformed about the risks, namely potential costs to the taxpayer of bidding and hosting an Olympic & Paralympic Games, that the ballot initiative seeks to mitigate.”

I-302 is the only local ballot measure being voted on in Denver on Tuesday. The city is also holding runoff elections for mayor, city clerk and recorder, and five seats on the city council, since no candidate in any of those races received a majority of the vote in the city’s municipal election on May 7.

Last month, Denver voters approved a measure that decriminalized the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms and rejected a measure which would have allowed people to engage in activities such as resting and sheltering oneself in a non-obstructive mannerin outdoor public places without limits.

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Illinois voters to choose whether to change state’s income tax from flat to graduated rate  

Illinois—one of eight states that has a flat tax rate—may join the 33 states with a graduated income tax.

Voters in Illinois will decide on a constitutional amendment in 2020 that would repeal the current requirement that the state personal income tax be a flat rate and instead allow the state to enact legislation implementing a graduated income tax.

In 1970, Illinois held a constitutional convention and drafted a new state constitution, which voters approved on December 15, 1970. That document enabled the state to assess a flat-rate income tax but prohibits a graduated one. The constitution also set limits on the relationship between the tax rates imposed on corporations relative to individuals.

To approve the 2020 ballot measure, both chambers of the state legislature needed to approve it by a 60% supermajority. All 40 state Senate and 73 state House Democrats voted in favor, and all 19 Senate and 44 House Republicans voted against. In 2018, Democrats gained seven seats in the state House to achieve a supermajority in that chamber.

The ballot measure itself would not enact a graduated income tax, just allow for one. In 2018, the personal income tax in Illinois was a flat rate of 4.95 percent. On May 1, 2019, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 687 (SB 687), which would go into effect only if voters approve the constitutional amendment in 2020. SB 687 would change the state’s income tax from a flat rate to six graduated rates—ranging from 4.75 to 7.99 percent—beginning on January 1, 2021. It is estimated that the new tax rates would bring in $3.3 billion of additional state revenue. The state House has not yet passed SB 687.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D)—a supporter of the measure—issued a statement which said, “Middle-class families bear too much of the burden under the current tax system, and a Fair Tax will enable us to make the wealthy pay their fair share to balance the budget and invest in critical resources like education and health care—all while providing relief for 97% of taxpayers.”

Republican representative Paul Schimpf (R), who opposed the initiative, told the Belleville News-Democrat, “Changing our taxing structure, without providing a means to limit spending or make it more difficult to raise taxes in the future, solves nothing. In fact, this plan will most likely only lead to more tax increases and higher spending in the future.”

In Illinois, a ballot measure amending the state constitution must be approved by either a 60 percent vote of those voting on the ballot measure or a simple majority vote of those voting in the election. The initiative allowing for a graduated income tax will be the 23rd constitutional amendment to be decided by state voters since 1970. Fourteen of the previous 22 amendments have been approved, while eight were rejected.

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State regulation of plumbers in Texas to expire in September

The Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners will disband and the state’s plumbing regulations will cease to exist after the state legislature declined to approve sunset review legislation before it adjourned last Sunday. The state plumbing code will expire on September 1, 2019, and the state agency that enforced it will wind down operations by September 2020.

Sunset review legislation—a type of legislation that establishes a date on which an agency or law will expire without specific legislative action—was proposed to move the responsibilities of the plumbing board under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Lawmakers who supported the bill stated that the move would improve efficiency, such as reducing the state’s eight-month processing period for issuing a plumbing license. Opponents stated that the lengthy licensing period and other alleged inefficiencies served to protect public health and safety in a specialized industry. A proposal to maintain existing plumbing regulations and delay the sunset review process to the next legislative session—which in Texas is not until 2021—was not voted upon.

The Texas Tribune reported that some plumbers have asked Governor Greg Abbott (R) to call a special legislative session to address plumbing oversight. While Abbott has not specifically commented about plumbing regulations, on Monday he tweeted his thanks to state legislators for their efforts during the session which included the phrase, “NO SPECIAL SESSION.”

In the 2017 session, the legislature did not pass reauthorizations for five government agencies, including the Texas Medical Board. Abbott called a special session where the legislature passed the reauthorizations and also considered additional legislation proposed by the governor. The additional bills were related to bathroom usage, property taxes, school finance, and mail-in ballot fraud.

In the absence of a state plumbing code, oversight of plumbers will occur at the local level through municipal plumbing regulations and ordinances.

To stay up to date on actions at the federal and state level related to rulemaking, the separation of powers, and due process, subscribe to our free monthly Checks and Balances newsletter.
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Booker, Buttigieg, and Gillibrand call for impeachment proceedings for the first time

May 30, 2019: The 2020 Democratic candidates respond to Robert Mueller’s statement. Beto O’Rourke released his immigration platform.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Poll Spotlight

Notable Quotes of the Day

“For the [Democratic primary] debates to be meaningful, they have to winnow down the participants. This is the uncomfortable reality both the DNC and the candidates have to face.”

–  Patti Solis Doyle, 2008 Clinton presidential campaign manager


“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at that criteria and know who’s going to get kicked out. It’s easy to see that the debates in the fall are going to be a bunch of white men and, if that’s the case, that’s a big misstep.”

– Jess Morales Rocketto, 2016 Clinton presidential campaign adviser


  • Following special counsel Robert Mueller’s statement about his investigation into potential foreign intervention in the 2016 presidential campaign and obstruction of justice, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Kirsten Gillibrand said for the first time that impeachment proceedings should begin against Donald Trump.
  • Eric Swalwell said he was “preparing for impeachment” as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m the only candidate that has to try the case, so I want to make sure that I’m doing all I can as we go down this road,” Swalwell added.
  • Neither Joe Biden nor Bernie Sanders called for impeachment. Sanders said he would support the House Judiciary Committee if it initiated proceedings.
  • Michael Bennet joined four other presidential candidates in supporting the call for a Democratic primary debate dedicated to the issue of climate change.
  • Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) endorsed Biden. Dallas is the ninth largest city in the country.
  • During an interview on The Gaggle podcast, Julián Castro discussed how his economic and immigration policies would affect Arizona.
  • The Center for Responsive Politics examined personal finance information from the 12 Democratic presidential candidates who have filed financial disclosures with the Office of Government Ethics. John Delaney had the highest net worth with an estimated $56 million to $280 million.
  • During a town hall in Greenville, South Carolina, Kamala Harris discussed increasing teacher pay, addressing gun violence, and the Mueller’s statement.
  • John Hickenlooper proposed increasing Title X funding by $700 million to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices.
  • Jay Inslee met with Washington state employees Wednesday to discuss ways to improve the safety, efficacy, and accountability of the workforce.
  • Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Nevada Thursday, including a meeting with the Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Families Caucus.
  • Wayne Messam discussed his efforts to improve infrastructure in Miramar in Mass Transit Magazine.
  • Beto O’Rourke released his immigration platform proposal, including ending plans for a border wall, creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million individuals residing in the United States without legal permission, and expanding naturalization and visa processes.
  • Sanders is campaigning in Nevada until Friday and California over the weekend. According to The Washington Post, Sanders is also developing a plan to mandate large businesses give a portion of their stocks to a fund paying out dividends for employees.
  • Elizabeth Warren will hold a town hall in Oakland, California, Friday.
  • Marianne Williamson will campaign in Santa Monica, California, Friday.
  • VICE News interviewed Andrew Yang during a campaign stop in South Carolina.


  • Donald Trump responded to Mueller’s press conference, tweeting, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
  • Axios reported that the Trump campaign was developing digital micro-targeting operations for three demographic groups: black, Hispanic, and suburban women voters. The potential messaging would be criminal justice policy, school choice, and funding childhood cancer research for each respective group.


What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 30, 2015

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced he was running for president, joining Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary.

Voters in Denver headed to polls for runoff election four weeks after general election

Denver is holding runoff elections on June 4 for seven nonpartisan seats after no candidate received a majority of the vote in the general election on May 7. On the ballot are mayor, five of 13 city council seats, and the city clerk and recorder position.
In the mayoral race, incumbent Michael Hancock faces Jamie Giellis. The candidates advanced from a six-way race with 38.7% and 24.9% of the vote, respectively. Hancock was last up for re-election in 2015, when he received 80.2% of the vote in the general election.
City Council Districts 1, 3, 5, 9, and 10 also advanced to the runoff election. The District 1 and District 3 seats are both open; incumbents in Districts 5, 9, and 10 are all seeking re-election and advanced to the runoff. By comparison, a total of four city council seats advanced to runoff races in 2015 and all four were open. That year, seven incumbents sought re-election. In 2019, 11 incumbents filed for re-election.
The city clerk and recorder runoff election features City Council District 3 incumbent Paul López and Peg Perl. Incumbent Debra Johnson did not file for re-election. López received 36.2% of the vote, and Perl received 32.6% of the vote. They advanced from a three-way general election race.
Denver is the largest city in Colorado and the 22nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.

In 2020, Nevada voters will decide a ballot measure to create a declaration of voters’ rights in the state constitution

On November 3, 2020, voters in Nevada will decide on a ballot measure to create a declaration of voters’ rights in the Nevada Constitution. The ballot measure is similar to a declaration passed as statute in 2003.
The ballot measure would provide voters with a constitutional right to receive and cast a ballot that is written in a “format that allows the clear identification of candidates” and “accurately records the voter’s preference in the selection of candidates.”
The measure would provide registered voters with other constitutional rights, including:
  • to have questions about voting procedures answered and have voting procedures posted in a visible location at the polling place;
  • to vote without intimidation, threats, or coercion;
  • to vote during any early-voting period or on election day if the voter is in line at the time polls close;
  • to return a spoiled ballot and receive a replacement ballot;
  • to request assistance in voting if necessary;
  • to a sample ballot “which is accurate, informative and delivered in a timely manner;”
  • to receive instruction on how to use voting equipment;
  • to equal access to the elections system without discrimination, including on the basis of “race, age, disability, military service, employment or overseas residence.”
  • to a “uniform, statewide standard for counting and recounting all votes accurately;” and
  • to have “complaints about elections and election contests resolved fairly, accurately and efficiently.”
In Nevada, a majority vote is required in two successive sessions of the Nevada State Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The constitutional amendment was introduced into the legislature in 2017 and sponsored by 13 legislative Democrats. The 2017 legislative session followed Democrats winning a majority of seats in both legislative chambers at the 2016 general election, which broke Republicans trifecta control of the state government. During the 2019 legislative session, both Democrats and Republicans supported placing the constitutional amendment on the ballot.
As of May 30, 2019, five statewide ballot measures have been certified to appear on the ballot in Nevada for the election on November 3, 2020. The state legislature could refer additional ballot measures before adjournment, which is expected on June 3, 2019. Citizens have until June 16, 2020, to file signatures for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments and veto referendums to appear on the ballot. Across the U.S., 32 ballot measures have been certified in 16 states for 2020.

Early voting for Dallas runoff elections takes place from May 28 to June 4

Early voting for the June 8 runoff elections in Dallas, Texas, began on Tuesday, May 28. The final day of early voting is Tuesday, June 4. Nonpartisan runoff elections are being held for mayor and for city council districts 4, 7, 9, and 14.
District 1 City Councilman Scott Griggs and state Rep. Eric Johnson (D) are running in the mayoral race. Incumbent Mayor Mike Rawlings, in office since 2011, was prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. Griggs and Johnson say their respective experience on the council and in the state House equip them to build consensus on the city council.
Dallas uses a council-manager form of government in which the mayor serves as a member of the city council along with 14 elected council members. The council appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations. The mayor appoints city council committee members and chairs, determines what policy-related agenda items will be considered by the council, and makes policy and budget recommendations.
Griggs lists among his accomplishments on the city council his role in passing pay increases for police officers and economic growth in the neighborhood he represents. Johnson says he has a record of working across the aisle in the state House to increase affordable housing and for full-day pre-K.
Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the U.S., with a population of 1.3 million.
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Texas plumbing code and oversight board set to expire

The Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners and the state’s plumbing regulations will cease to exist after the Texas State Legislature on Sunday failed to approve associated sunset review legislation. The state’s plumbing code will expire on September 1, 2019, and the board will wind down operations by September 2020.
The sunset bill—a type of legislation that establishes a date on which an agency or law will expire without specific legislative action—proposed to move the responsibilities of the plumbing board under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Lawmakers in support of the bill argued that the move would improve efficiency, such as reducing the state’s eight-month processing period for issuing a plumbing license. Opponents claimed that the lengthy licensing period and other alleged inefficiencies functioned to protect public health and safety in a specialized industry.
Some plumbers in Texas have asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) to call a special legislative session to address plumbing oversight. Abbott had not responded to requests for comment on the issue as of May 29. In the absence of a state plumbing code, municipal plumbing codes will govern plumbing oversight at the local level.

Special primary for New Jersey state legislative seat on Tuesday

A special primary for the District 1 seat of the New Jersey State Senate is scheduled for June 4. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was April 1, and the general election is on November 5, 2019.
The seat became vacant after Jeff Van Drew (D) won election to New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House on November 6, 2018. Bob Andrzejczak (D) was appointed to fill the seat until the special election could be held. In New Jersey, special elections coincide with the next general election unless the vacancy occurs within 51 days of the election.
Andrzejczak is unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Mike Testa is unopposed in the Republican primary.
As of May 29, 55 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 22 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
Entering the special election, the New Jersey State Senate had 26 Democrats and 14 Republicans. The New Jersey General Assembly had 54 Democrats and 26 Republicans.
New Jersey has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

June 3 filing deadline for Wichita mayor and city council races

Prospective candidates for mayor and city council in Wichita, Kansas, have until June 3 to file to run in the nonpartisan races. A primary will be held on August 6 for any races where three or more candidates file. The general election is scheduled for November 5.
The mayor and city council members each serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms (eight years) in office.
Wichita’s current mayor, Jeff Longwell, has filed for re-election. Longwell became mayor in 2015 after serving on the Wichita City Council from 2007 to 2015. As of May 28, three additional candidates, had also filed for the mayoral election.
Three Wichita City Council seats are on the ballot in 2019. District 2 incumbent Becky Tuttle, District 4 incumbent Jeff Blubaugh, and District 5 incumbent Bryan Frye have all filed for re-election. As of May 28, the candidate list showed no opponents had filed to run against any of the three incumbents.
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 48th-largest city in the U.S. by population. In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population. In addition to the cities, Ballotpedia is also covering elections in 23 counties across 11 states.