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20% of state legislative incumbents faced primary opposition this year

Welcome to the Friday, August 20, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Twenty percent of state legislative incumbents faced primary opposition this year
  2. Republican win in Connecticut Senate district is first to change party control in a state legislative special election this year
  3. 17 candidates file to run for mayor of Minneapolis

Twenty percent of state legislative incumbents faced primary opposition this year

Most states hold legislative elections in even-numbered years, and New Jersey and Virginia are the only states holding such contests this year. On Monday, we looked at the percentage of open seats in this year’s state legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia and how that compared to past years. Today, let’s take a look at the number of incumbents that faced primary opponents.

Of the 203 incumbents that filed for re-election, 40—19.7%—faced opposition in the primary. That’s down from 30.1% in 2019 but is the third-highest percentage in an odd-numbered year since 2011.

Here’s the breakdown of incumbents that faced primary opposition by chamber:

  • New Jersey Senate: 4 of 36 incumbents (11.1%)
  • New Jersey Assembly: 19 of 72 incumbents (26.4%)
  • Virginia House of Delegates: 17 of 95 incumbents (17.9%)

The Virginia Senate is not up for election this year.

Republican incumbents faced more contested primaries this year than Democratic incumbents. Of the 78 Republican incumbents that sought re-election, 17—21.8%—had a primary opponent. Of the 125 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election, 23, or 18.4%, faced a contested primary.

Overall, eight incumbents out of 40 lost their primaries, meaning that 80% of incumbents with contested primaries won. That’s less than in the previous two odd-year election cycles. In 2019, 93% of incumbents in contested primaries won, and, in 2017, every incumbent won their contested primary. In 2020, 85% of state legislative incumbents that faced primary opposition won. Since 2010, approximately 88% of state legislative incumbents have won contested primaries.

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Republican win in Connecticut Senate district is first to change party control in a state legislative special election this year

Ryan Fazio (R) defeated Alexis Gevanter (D), 50% to 48%, in Tuesday’s special election in a Connecticut state Senate district. The seat was vacant after Alex Kasser (D) resigned on June 22. This is the first district to change party control in a state legislative special election this year.

Kasser was first elected in 2018, defeating Scott Frantz (R), 50% to 49%. Kasser was re-elected in 2020, defeating Fazio, 51% to 49%. In the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) in this district, 57% to 39%. Last year, President Joe Biden (D) defeated Trump, 62% to 37%.

In The Hill, Reid Wilson wrote that “Fazio is likely to be held up as an example of the GOP’s momentum as the midterm election season begins, and as voters in states like Virginia and New Jersey prepare to hit the polls this year.” He also stated, “Democrats dismissed the results as a low-turnout affair that would bear little resemblance to the political realities of the forthcoming year.”

Voters have decided 35 state legislative special elections so far this year. In 2020, eight seats changed partisan control in 59 state legislative special elections. The chart below shows the number of state legislative seats that switched partisan control in special elections since 2010.  

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17 candidates file to run for mayor of Minneapolis

The filing period for candidates wishing to run for municipal office—including mayor—in Minneapolis ended on Aug. 10. Mayor Jacob Frey (D), who was first elected in 2017, faces 16 challengers on Nov. 2.

There are no municipal primaries in Minneapolis, which uses ranked choice voting to elect city officials. Then-City Councilman Frey defeated 15 other candidates, including incumbent Betsy Hodges (D), in 2017 after the fifth round of vote tabulations.

Fifty-eight candidates filed to run for 13 seats on the Minneapolis City Council. In 2017, 43 candidates ran for one of the 13 council seats. Minneapolis voters will also elect two members of the city’s Board of Estimate and Taxation and all nine members of the Park and Recreation Commission. 

Elections in Minneapolis are officially nonpartisan, but candidates can select a party label to appear on the ballot. Every mayor since 1978 has been a member of the state’s affiliate of the national Democratic Party—the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). The DFL also currently holds 12 of 13 seats on the city council.

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Montana could become fifth state to elect supreme court justices by district

Welcome to the Thursday, Aug. 19, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Montana voters to decide measure on electing state supreme court justices
  2. Clallam County municipal primary results certified
  3. Seattle primary results certified

Montana voters to decide measure on electing state supreme court justices

Montana voters will decide three statewide ballot measures in November 2022. Let’s look at one of them, which addresses how the state’s supreme court chief justices are elected.

Montana voters will decide on LR-132, a legislatively referred state statute that would:

  • require that the seven state Supreme Court justices be elected by district and 
  • provide for the selection of the chief justice by a majority vote of the justices beginning with the general election of 2024. 

If adopted, the law would make Montana the fifth state to elect supreme court justices by district. Four states—Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—have state supreme courts that represent districts. Twenty-four states select their supreme court chief justices via majority vote of the justices.

Currently, Montana Supreme Court justices serve eight-year terms following a general statewide nonpartisan election. Montana Supreme Court chief justices are also elected through a nonpartisan election to eight-year terms.

If passed, here’s how the law would work:

  • Montana LR-132 would divide the state into seven districts for each of the seven supreme court justices. The measure would not remove any sitting state supreme court justice. 
  • Associate justices would be assigned district numbers according to their seat number, and the chief justice would be assigned the seventh district. 
  • Associate justices may seek re-election in the district assigned to them or resign from their current district to file to run in another district. 
  • The Montana State Legislature would be required to review the districts after the decennial census to ensure the districts contain approximately the same number of residents without dividing counties.

A similar law was referred to Montana ballots in 2012, but it was removed before the primary election by the Montana Supreme Court because it required justices to reside in the district they wished to represent. The 2022 law would not require that justices live in the district in which they wish to represent. In Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana, supreme court justices are required to reside in the districts they represent.

For the full background of the measure, click the link below.

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Clallam County municipal primary results certified

As part of our efforts to provide coverage of local elections, we’re branching out of our normal scope of elections in the 100 largest cities by population, as well as elections for mayors, city councils, and district attorneys in all 50 state capitals and school boards in the 200 largest public school districts.

Today, we’re focusing on Clallam County, Washington. Clallam County is on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and has a population of 77,331. Why this county in particular? Clallam has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Clallam County became a Boomerang Pivot County in 2020, meaning voters voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and then voted for Joe Biden in 2020. 

The county held top-two primaries in three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks—on Aug. 3. The county auditor certified the results on Aug. 17. The following offices were up for election:

  • Fire District #3, Commissioner Position No. 1 (multi-county race which includes votes from Jefferson County)
  • Forks City Council Position No. 2
  • Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2
  • Port Angeles City Council (four seats) 
  • Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 

Click the link below to view the results for the above races.

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Seattle primary results certified

In other Washington state elections news, Seattle, Washington, held municipal primaries on Aug. 3 for mayor, two at-large city council seats, and city attorney. Washington is a vote-by-mail state, so election results were delayed. On Aug. 19, King County Elections certified the results. They are listed below.

Mayor

Former City Council President Bruce Harrell and current City Council President Lorena González advanced in the mayoral primary with 34.0% and 32.1% of the vote, respectively. Fifteen candidates ran in the primary. Current Mayor Jenny Durkan didn’t seek re-election.

City council

For the position 8 council seat, incumbent Teresa Mosqueda and Kenneth Wilson advanced with 59.4% and 16.2% of the vote, respectively.

For the position 9 council seat, which González currently holds, Creative Justice executive director Nikkita Oliver and Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson advanced with 40.2% and 39.5% of the vote, respectively. 

City attorney

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davison advanced after incumbent Pete Holmes conceded on Aug. 6. Thomas-Kennedy received 36.4% of the vote followed by Davison with 32.7% and Holmes with 30.6%.

The general election is on Nov. 2.

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13 states currently require masks in schools

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Thirteen states require staff, students to wear masks in schools for the upcoming year
  2. Six recall efforts targeting school board members have petition filing deadlines in August
  3. Redistricting Roundup

Thirteen states require staff, students to wear masks in schools for the upcoming year

Schools are coming back into session across the country. Here’s an update on state-by-state mask rules:

  • 13 states require staff and students to wear face-coverings in schools for the upcoming year. 
  • 30 states have left school mask decisions up to local authorities, 
  • 7 states—Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah—have banned school mask requirements.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance for K-12 schools on Aug. 5 that said, “safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall [of] 2021 is a priority,” and recommended “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

Here are a few developments regarding mask requirements in schools in three states:

Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled on Aug. 16 that Arizona’s law banning school mask requirements could not take effect until Sept. 29. Warner said, “Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is Sept. 29 this year.” The ban on school mask requirements was passed as a budget amendment during the 2021 regular legislative session.

Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enacted mask requirements. If a parent or guardian provides written notification to school authorities, a student will not be required to wear masks at school, on school buses, or at school functions.

Texas: The state supreme court temporarily overturned lower court orders in Bexar and Dallas Counties on Aug. 15 that would have allowed those local governments to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) ban on mask requirements. Abbott issued an executive order on May 18 prohibiting government entities from requiring masks.

The map below identifies the status of face-covering requirements in schools for the 2021-2022 school year. Nevada’s school mask requirement only applies to districts with more than 100,000 residents, and New Mexico’s only applies to unvaccinated individuals and all individuals in elementary school.

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Six recall efforts targeting school board members have petition filing deadlines in August 

Six recall efforts targeting local school board members in four states—Arizona, California, North Dakota, and Wisconsin—must submit petitions this month to move their efforts forward. Here is a brief summary of these recalls and the reasons supporters have given for each effort. Click on the links provided to learn more:

Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 58 efforts against 144 members as of Aug. 12. This is the highest number of recalls since we began tracking them in 2010.

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Redistricting Roundup

Virginia

The Virginia Redistricting Commission voted on Aug. 16 to officially begin the state’s redistricting process on Aug. 26. The commission is expected to receive data that an outside consultant is reformatting by that date. The Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. 

Virginia law requires that the commission submit proposed state legislative maps to the General Assembly within 45 days of receiving census data and proposed congressional district boundaries within 60 days. This means the commission will propose new state legislative districts by Oct. 10 and congressional districts by Oct. 25. When adopted, the new congressional map will take effect for the 2022 U.S. House elections, and new state legislative districts will be used in 2023. This year’s state legislative elections will continue to use maps that were enacted after the 2010 census.

Ohio

The Ohio Redistricting Commission announced on Aug. 13 that it had scheduled 10 public hearings across the state. The hearings will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily between Aug. 23 and Aug. 27 at eight colleges and universities.



46 years ago today, Missouri voters approved gubernatorial term limits

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 46 years ago today, Missouri voters approved limiting governors to two terms
  2. Vice President Harris has cast eight tie-breaking votes so far in the Senate
  3. Aug. 16 was the deadline for California counties to mail out ballots in recall election of Gov. Newsom

46 years ago today, Missouri voters approved limiting governors to two terms 

Forty-six years ago—on Aug. 17, 1965—Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment that established term limits for the governor. The Missouri Governor Term Limits Amendment limits a governor to two consecutive terms, or one full term if they serve more than two years of the previous officeholder’s term. Voters approved the measure, 73% to 27%.

The amendment’s second provision applies to Missouri’s current governor—Mike Parson (R)—and it means that he is ineligible to be re-elected governor in 2024. Parson assumed office on June 1, 2018, following the resignation of former Gov. Eric Greitens (R), and served more than two years of Greitens’ term from May 2018 to January 2021. Parson was then elected to a full four-year term in 2020, but is now term-limited.

The governors of 36 states are subject to some type of term limits, which can be either lifetime or consecutive, and may be based on years or terms served.

  • In the 28 states where the limits are consecutive, an incumbent is ineligible to run again after serving the maximum number of terms or years in office. In most cases, the person may be able to run for another elected position. After a period of time out of office, usually four years, the person is allowed to run for governor again.
  • Eight states have a lifetime gubernatorial term limit. Once a governor has served the maximum allowable number of terms in office, that person may never again run for or hold the office of governor. 

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Vice President Harris has cast eight tie-breaking votes so far in the Senate

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) has so far cast eight tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Her two most recent tie-breaking votes were to invoke cloture and then confirm Jennifer Abruzzo on July 20 and 21 as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.

Under Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution, the vice president of the United States also serves as the president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president may cast the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate.

John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789. As of July 21, 2021, 37 vice presidents had cast 276 tie-breaking votes. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden and Dan Quayle, never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office.

Harris’ eight tie-breaking votes are tied for the second-most such votes by vice presidents since 1981. Among all vice presidents, 14—including Harris—have cast eight or more Senate tie-breaking votes.

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Aug. 16 was the deadline for California counties to mail out ballots in recall election of Gov. Newsom

Yesterday—Aug. 16—was the deadline for California counties to mail ballots to all registered voters for the Sept. 14 recall targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). All registered voters will receive ballots for this election by mail. Counties that allow voters to cast their ballots in person before the election may open such centers from Sept. 4 to Sept. 10.

Voters who are not currently registered must do so by Aug. 30 to vote in the recall election.

Ballots for the recall election will have two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled as governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. If a majority votes “yes” on the first question, Newsom will be recalled, and the candidate receiving the most votes on the second question will become governor. 

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, will appear on the ballot. The filing deadline for write-in candidates is Aug. 31.

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92% of state legislative incumbents in NJ, VA running for re-election this year

Welcome to the Monday, August 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 92% of state legislative incumbents in NJ, VA ran for re-election this year
  2. Candidate filing deadline is today in seven Texas school districts, including Houston
  3. U.S. House to consider 2022 budget resolution starting the week of Aug. 23

92% of state legislative incumbents in NJ, VA ran for re-election this year

Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—are holding state legislative elections in 2021. Most states hold legislative elections in even-numbered years, but four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia—typically hold such elections in odd years. 

The percentage of open seats in this year’s state legislative elections is 7.7%, which is the second-lowest rate since 2010. Of the 220 seats up for election in Virginia and New Jersey, 17 incumbents did not file to run for re-election. In elections held nationwide in odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021, only the 2013 state legislative elections had a lower percentage of open seats at 6.8%. The open-seat rate in even-numbered years since 2010 ranged from 15.0% to 20.4% 

This low rate of open seats is driven by Virginia. Ninety-five incumbents ran for re-election this year to their seats in the House of Delegates, which is the highest number this decade. Of the five open seats, one was most recently held by a Democrat and four by Republicans.

In New Jersey, 120 seats are up for election—40 in the Senate and 80 in the Assembly. Incumbents filed to run for re-election in all but 12 of them, or 10.0%. Compared to previous elections, New Jersey’s rate of open seats in 2021 is tied with 2017 for the state’s second-highest percentage in the past decade. Of those 12 open seats, six were most recently held by Democrats and six by Republicans.

In both states, the 2011 state legislative elections were the first ones conducted after redistricting that occurred after the 2010 census. Due to delays in releasing data after the 2020 census, state legislative elections in both New Jersey and Virginia will continue to use maps that were enacted after the 2010 census.

Neither New Jersey nor Virginia has term limits for state legislators, meaning all open seats this year were left by incumbents voluntarily choosing not to file for re-election.

The chart below shows the annual percentage of open seats in state legislative elections since 2010: 

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Candidate filing deadline is today in seven Texas school districts, including Houston

The filing deadline is today—Aug. 16— for candidates seeking to run for certain school board seats in Texas. Ballotpedia is covering races for 21 board seats across the following seven districts that are holding general elections on Nov. 2:

The largest of these is in Houston, where five seats on the nine-member board are up for election. As of the 2018-2019 school year, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) was the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest school district in the United States, serving 209,772 students in 280 schools with a budget of $2.04 billion.

In November 2019, the Texas Commissioner of Education decided to appoint a board of managers to replace the HISD’s elected board members after a state investigation into the board’s governance and repeatedly poor academic performance ratings at a high school in the district. The district sued to prevent the state’s action. In March 2021, the Texas Supreme Court upheld a lower court injunction that blocked the takeover. Click here to read more about these events.

Ballotpedia also covered school board races in 58 other Texas school districts that held elections on May 1. We provide in-depth coverage of school board elections in the 200 largest school districts by enrollment in the nation, as well as those school districts that overlap with the 100 largest cities by population. 

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U.S. House to consider 2022 budget resolution starting the week of Aug. 23 

The House of Representatives will consider the $3.5 trillion Congressional Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2022 beginning the week of August 23. The Senate had agreed to the budget resolution on August 11 by a 50-49 vote along party lines.

Congress is considering the budget resolution at the same time as the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 that the Senate passed on August 10 by a vote of 69-30. That bill would allocate $550 billion to transportation, water and power infrastructure, and pollution cleanup.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she would not take up the infrastructure bill until the budget resolution had passed. Nine House Democrats sent Pelosi a letter on Aug. 12 that they would not consider supporting the budget plan until the infrastructure bill was adopted. With three vacancies in the House, Democrats have a 220-212 majority in the chamber.

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An early look at 2022 primary dates and filing deadlines

Welcome to the Friday, August 13, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An early look at 2022 primary dates and candidate filing deadlines
  2. Two more House members running for Senate
  3. Redistricting roundup

An early look at 2022 primary election dates and candidate filing deadlines

Texas and North Carolina are set to have the nation’s earliest primaries and candidate filing deadlines in the 2022 cycle. Texas’ primary is slated for March 1 and its candidate filing deadline for Dec. 13, 2021. North Carolina’s primary is scheduled for March 8 and its candidate filing deadline, Dec. 17, 2021.

Some states could postpone primaries or extend candidate filing deadlines due to the delayed release of census data the states use for redistricting (more on that in the final story below). Illinois moved its March 15, 2022, primary election to June 28 for this reason. 

Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas held the first primaries in 2020 on March 3. (Nine other states and American Samoa held presidential primaries on that day but scheduled the remainder of their primaries for a later date.) In response to the coronavirus pandemic, 10 states postponed their scheduled primaries (not including states that only postponed primary runoffs or presidential primaries). All 10 had originally planned to hold their primaries between March and June. For more on primary election postponements during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

The months of candidate filing deadlines for the 2020 and 2022 election cycles are shown below. November and December refer to the years before the election (2019 and 2021, respectively). At the start of 2020, seven states’ candidate filing deadlines had passed. At the start of 2022, two states’ deadlines are currently set to have passed. Again, filing deadlines for the 2022 elections are subject to change.

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Two more House members running for Senate

Earlier this month, two members of the U.S. House announced they’ll run for U.S. Senate rather than seeking re-election in 2022: Conor Lamb (D-Penn.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.). Both Senate elections are open, and the current incumbents are Republicans. 

This brings the total of current representatives seeking Senate seats in 2022 to seven. In 2020, five representatives ran for Senate, and two won. In 2018, 10 ran and four won (in addition, Martha McSally (R) of Arizona lost the Senate election and was later appointed to the chamber).

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) announced this week he will retire from public office. So far, 21 members of Congress—five senators and 16 representatives—have announced they will not seek re-election in 2022. 

Ten U.S. House members are running for other offices. Four Republicans and three Democrats are seeking Senate seats. One Republican and one Democrat are running for governor, and one Republican is running for secretary of state. 

Eleven members—five senators and six representatives—announced retirements. All five retiring senators are Republicans. Four retiring representatives are Democrats and two are Republicans. 

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Redistricting roundup

The U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. The data includes county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

Here are some findings from the Bureau’s press release:

  • “The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.”
  • “The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population. … Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census. These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.”
  • “The 2020 Census showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.”

The Bureau will also release a complete tabulated version of the census dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, federal agencies and local governments use census data in allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.

Other redistricting news from the week:

  • The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission announced it may hire Mark Braden and law firm BakerHostetler as legal counsel.
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court selected retired state supreme court Judge John Wallace as the congressional redistricting tiebreaker. Also, New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way (D) said that she would release adjusted census data within seven days of the census data release on Aug. 12 to all members of the redistricting commissions and the public concurrently.

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One year ago, Trump administration announces Moderna vaccine deal

Welcome to the Thursday, August 12, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. One year ago, Trump administration announced $1.5 billion agreement with Moderna to develop 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine
  2. Supporters file initiative in Massachusetts to classify app-based drivers as independent contractors
  3. California Republican Party votes to not endorse a candidate in Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom

One year ago, Trump administration announced $1.5 billion agreement with Moderna to develop 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

One year ago this week, President Donald Trump’s (R) administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD), announced a $1.5 billion agreement with Moderna Inc. to develop and deliver 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. This was the third vaccine deal announced last year.

Here are noteworthy events in the development of vaccines from last year:

  • May 15, 2020: Trump announced the creation of Operation Warp Speed, an administration task force launched to help develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Trump named Moncef Slaoui as the task force’s chief scientist and U.S. Army General Gustave Perna as its chief operating officer.
  • July 22: Pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech announced they had reached a $1.95 billion deal with the HHS and DOD to supply 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the federal government by the end of 2020.
  • Aug. 4: The HHS and DOD announced a $2.1 billion deal with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to supply 100 million doses of a vaccine for the United States.
  • Aug. 11: The Trump administration announced a $1.5 billion agreement with Moderna to supply 100 million doses of a vaccine.
  • Aug. 14: The HHS and DOD announced a partnership with healthcare company McKesson Corp. to help distribute a vaccine when one became available.
  • Sept. 16: The Trump administration released its vaccine distribution strategy, including guidance for working with states, tribes, territories, and local public health programs to distribute a vaccine when it became available.
  • Nov. 20: Pfizer announced it had applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its vaccine.
  • Nov. 30: Moderna announced it had also applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
  • Dec. 11: The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine.
  • Dec. 18: The FDA granted emergency use authorization to Moderna’s vaccine.

For a full timeline of federal activity in response to the pandemic, including major legislation, executive actions, and department policies under both the Trump and Biden administrations, click Keep reading below. 

For the latest news on government responses to the pandemic, including mask and vaccine requirements, subscribe to the free, twice-weekly, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery newsletter here.

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Supporters file initiative in Massachusetts to classify app-based drivers as independent contractors 

Proponents of a Massachusetts ballot initiative that would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors and enact related labor and wage policies filed two versions of such a measure with the state attorney general’s office on Aug. 4. 

The Massachusetts App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative would:

  • define app-based drivers as independent contractors, 
  • set a guaranteed earnings floor that would be equal to $18 per hour in 2023, excluding tips,
  • require paid occupational safety training program requirements and earned paid sick leave,
  • require a healthcare stipend for workers who meet weekly hour requirements, and
  • require occupational accident and accidental death insurance. 

The initiative is similar to California Proposition 22, which voters approved last year, 59% to 41%. That measure defined app-based transportation and delivery drivers as independent contractors, overriding a 2019 state law governing how to determine if a worker was an employee. It also adopted labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies. Proposition 22 was the most expensive ballot measure campaign in California history, with supporters such as Uber, Doordash, Lyft, InstaCart, and Postmates raising $205.4 million. Opponents, including the Service Employees International Union and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, raised $18.9 million.

In Massachusetts, the attorney general’s office must approve an initiative to ensure it complies with the state’s single-subject rule before proponents can gather signatures. After that, the petition is sent to the secretary of the commonwealth, where it receives a summary that is included on the official petition form for circulation. If supporters gather and submit 80,239 signatures—3 percent of the votes cast for governor—by Nov. 17, the measure goes to the state legislature which may approve it as a state statute. If the legislature rejects the measure or fails to act, supporters can collect more signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.

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California Republican Party votes to not endorse a candidate in Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom

The Republican Party of California voted on Aug. 7 not to endorse a candidate in the Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). During a virtual party meeting, about 90% of delegates voted against making an endorsement. Party chair Jessica Millan Patterson supported the no endorsement motion amid concerns that backing one candidate would decrease turnout among supporters of other candidates, according to Politico.

Also last week, the California Secretary of State’s office released summary campaign finance data through July 31. See the chart below and click Keep reading for the numbers. 

Lastly, we’re holding a briefing on Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. Central Time to explore recall news, outline how the recall election will work, and compare it to the last (2003!) recall. Click here to register, and if you can’t attend the live, we’ll email you a link to watch when it’s over.

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Andrew Cuomo to become ninth New York governor to resign

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 11, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces resignation
  2. Here’s an update on Seattle’s Aug. 3 municipal elections
  3. One year ago — on Aug. 11, 2020 — Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces resignation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced he would resign effective Aug. 24. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will serve the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which ends on Jan. 1, 2023. New York’s next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2022.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report on Aug. 3 that said Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” James began the investigation in February.

The New York State Assembly had initiated impeachment proceedings against Cuomo in March, examining the allegations of sexual misconduct among other accusations of impeachable conduct. At the time of Cuomo’s announcement, the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee had planned to finish its impeachment inquiry by Aug. 13, allowing for a vote on impeachment later this month or in September. Had Cuomo been impeached, the next step would have been a trial before the state Senate.

Cuomo denied these allegations, saying, in part, “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.” At a press conference announcing his resignation, Cuomo said, “Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

Cuomo was first elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He was New York’s attorney general from 2007 to 2010. Cuomo also served in President Bill Clinton’s (D) cabinet as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1997 to 2001.

Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. Before that, she served in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2013 after winning a special election. Hochul will be the first woman governor in the state’s history. 

Since 1776, 218 state governors have resigned before the expiration of their term. Andrew Johnson (D) resigned as Governor of Tennessee on two separate occasions, so there have been 219 gubernatorial resignations. Of these, 76% took place because the governor was elected or appointed to another office, 7% took place following allegations of misconduct, and 17% were for various personal reasons, such as illness or policy disputes with the state legislature.

Cuomo is the ninth governor of New York to resign. Six resigned to take another office, and three resigned following allegations of misconduct. New York’s last elected governor, Eliot Spitzer (D), resigned in 2008 amid allegations of misconduct. Spitzer’s lieutenant governor, David Paterson (D), served through 2010. Twelve governors of New Jersey have resigned, more than any other state. 

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Here’s an update on Seattle’s Aug. 3 municipal elections 

The deadline for voters to send their ballots in Seattle’s top-two primaries for mayor, city council, and city attorney was Aug. 3. Since elections in Washington are conducted entirely by mail, it often takes a few weeks to determine the outcome. In all Seattle municipal races, the top-two finishers advance to the general election on Nov. 2. 

Here’s where these races stand as of Aug. 10:

City Attorney
Incumbent Pete Holmes conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on Aug. 6. Holmes was first elected city attorney in 2009 and won re-election unopposed in 2013. In 2017, he defeated Scott Lindsay for a third term, 75% to 25%.

Unofficial results have Thomas-Kennedy leading with 35.5% of the vote, followed by Davison with 33% and Holmes with 31.2%. Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney. Davison is an attorney and arbitrator who ran as a Republican for Lieutenant Governor of Washington in 2020. 

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. 

Mayor

Former city council member Bruce Harrell leads with 34%, and city council president Lorena González is second with 32% among the 15-candidate field. Colleen Echohawk—who is third with 10% of the vote—has conceded, as has Jessyn Farrell, who is fourth with 7%. 

Incumbent Jenny Durkan, elected in 2017, did not run for re-election.

City Council

Incumbent Teresa Mosqueda leads 10 other candidates for one at-large city council seat with 59% of the vote. Kenneth Wilson is in second with 16%. In the race for the other at-large position, Nikkita Oliver leads with 40%, and Sara Nelson is second with 39.5%. This seat is open since incumbent Lorena González is running for mayor. 

The city’s other seven council seats are elected by district every four years, with the next elections in 2023.

One year ago — on Aug. 11, 2020 — Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate

One year ago today, President Joe Biden (D) selected then-California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) as his vice presidential running mate. In a tweet sent that day, Biden said, “Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

Harris was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. She served as the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017 and district attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011. Harris ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination from January to December 2019. 

Harris is the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to appear on a major party’s presidential ticket in the United States.

Biden announced his selection of Harris the week before the rescheduled 2020 Democratic National Convention, which was originally set to take place July 13-16, 2020. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers postponed the convention to the week of Aug.t 17, 2020. Most of the convention’s events took place remotely.

During the 2016 cycle, Donald Trump (R) announced he had selected Mike Pence (R) as his running mate via Twitter on July 15, 2016, and Pence was formally nominated at the Republican National Convention on July 19. Hillary Clinton (D) announced she had selected Tim Kaine (D) to be her running mate on July 22, 2016, and Kaine was formally nominated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 27.

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Biden’s judicial nominations through August compared to his predecessors

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. President Biden has appointed the most federal judges through Aug. 1 of a president’s first year
  2. Texas House lacks quorum as second special session begins
  3. Louisiana reinstates indoor face-covering requirement

President Biden has appointed the most federal judges through Aug. 1 of a president’s first year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed eight Article III federal judges through Aug. 1 of his first year in office. This is the largest number of Article III judicial appointments at this point in a president’s first term since President Richard Nixon (R). 

The Senate has confirmed three Appeals Court and five District Court judges that Biden nominated. It had confirmed five of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term. Presidents have appointed an average of three judges through Aug. 1 of their first year in office.

The president appoints, and the Senate must confirm, all Article III federal judges. They include judges on the Supreme Court, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

Biden’s first successful federal judicial appointment was Julien Neals to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on June 8. Biden announced the first federal judicial nominations of his presidency on March 30. 

Presidents Bill Clinton (D) and Barack Obama (D) did not have their first judicial appointment until August of their first terms, and both were to the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor on Aug. 6, 2009, after Obama nominated her on June 1 of that year. The Senate confirmed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Aug. 3, 1993, after Clinton nominated her on June 22. Neither Obama nor Clinton appointed any appeals or district court judges until September of their first year.

There are currently 80 Article III federal judiciary vacancies. Biden has 24 pending nominations for those positions before the U.S. Senate.

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Texas House lacks quorum as second special session begins 

The Texas House of Representatives began a new 30-day special legislative session Saturday—on Aug. 7—without the minimum number of members required to conduct official business, known as a quorum. The House has lacked a quorum since July 12.

According to CBS News, State Rep. Eddie Lucio (D), who has returned to Texas, said he expected enough members of the Democratic caucus to return to Austin within a week so that a quorum can be re-established, while at least 26 of the 50 Democrats that left in July issued a statement saying they would remain in Washington, D.C. 

Here’s a quick timeline of what has happened with this story to catch you up:

  • May 30: All 67 members of the Democratic House caucus left the chamber during consideration of a package of election-related legislation. This prevented the House from passing the legislation ahead of the regular session’s conclusion that day.
  • June 21: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vetoed the part of the state budget that funds the legislature, including salaries for legislators, staff, and legislative agencies.
  • June 22: Abbott calls a special session of the legislature.
  • July 8: The legislature convenes its first special session.
  • July 12: Fifty-one of 67 Democratic state representatives leave the state and travel to Washington D.C., ahead of expected votes on election-related legislation.
  • July 15: Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) announced he had removed Joseph Moody (D) as speaker pro tem, who performs the duties of the speaker when the speaker is absent. According to the Texas Tribune, “Moody’s appointment to the position was seen as an olive branch by Republicans,” and he was “one of Phelan’s top allies in the Democratic Party.”
  • Aug. 7: The legislature convenes a second 30-day special session, one day after the first session ended on Aug. 6.

Supporters say the voting-related legislation includes updates that will improve election integrity. Opponents say the bills amount to voter suppression.

The rules of the Texas House of Representatives require that two-thirds of the 150 legislators—100 members—must be present to establish a quorum, or the minimum number of members required to conduct official business. According to the rules, “Until a quorum appears, should the roll call fail to show one present, no business shall be transacted, except to compel the attendance of absent members or to adjourn. 

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Louisiana reinstates indoor face-covering requirement

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an executive order on Aug. 2 reinstating the state’s indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Louisiana is the only state so far that has reinstated a statewide face-covering order after previously allowing such an order to expire. 

Edwards said the order would be in place until Sept. 1 and could be extended beyond that date. The requirement came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its masking guidance, recommending fully vaccinated people wear masks while indoors in parts of the country with substantial or high transmission. 

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced a mask mandate on July 27 in counties with “substantial or high transmission” of COVID-19. In those counties, vaccinated and unvaccinated people would be required to wear masks indoors, also due to the CDC’s new guidance.

Five states currently have statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and three have such orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All eight states have Democratic governors.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide mask requirements during the coronavirus pandemic. Thirty-two states —16 with Republican governors and 16 with Democratic governors—have allowed statewide orders to expire. 

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22 states allow recall of school board members

Welcome to the Monday, August 9, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 22 states allow recall of school board members
  2. Proponents of three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by Aug. 2 deadline
  3. COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

22 states allow recall of school board members

Thirty-nine states allow for the recall of elected officials at some level of government. Of those 39, 22 specifically allow for the recall of school board members. For the purposes of this count, we are defining a school board recall as the process of removing an elected school board member from office before their term is completed. Here are a few things to know about the 22 states.

  • Six states that allow school board recalls require proponents of such a recall to show specific grounds—such as malfeasance or misfeasance in office—for the effort to move forward.
  • In all but one state—Virginia—recall elections are held if enough signatures are collected. The recall process is different in Virginia than in other states. Recall organizers must gather signatures from 10% of the number of people who voted in the last election for that office. If enough signatures are collected, a circuit court trial is held to determine if the official should be recalled. Proponents must show that the official demonstrated neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence. If the judge rules in favor of the recall, the official is removed from office, and voters elect a replacement in a special election.
  • The number of signatures required to place a school board recall question on the ballot varies by state. Common factors for calculating the signature requirement include the size of the board member’s jurisdiction and the number of votes cast in a previous election. In Virginia, if enough signatures are collected, a circuit court trial is held to determine if an election should take place.
  • The amount of time recall petitions circulate also varies by state. Georgia, Nebraska, and North Carolina have the shortest petition circulation time, at 30 days. Of the states with a time limit for circulating petitions, Washington has the longest period at 180 days. New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia do not have a time limit for when proponents can circulate petitions.

Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 57 efforts against 143 members as of Aug. 3. This is the highest number of school board recalls Ballotpedia has tracked in one year since our tracking began in 2010. The next highest year was 2010, with 39 efforts against 91 school board members.

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Proponents of three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by Aug. 2 deadline 

Proponents of three statewide initiatives in Colorado submitted signatures by the Aug. 2 deadline to qualify for this year’s ballot. The Colorado secretary of state’s office is reviewing those signatures to determine whether enough are valid for the measures to go before voters. To get an initiated state statute or constitutional amendment on the ballot this year, proponents needed to have collected 124,632 valid signatures—5% of the total votes cast for secretary of state in the last general election. 

Here is a brief summary of each proposed measure:

  • Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative
    • This initiative would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds—which is state revenue not generated through taxes, such as pension and court-approved settlement funds—from the state treasurer to the state legislature.

Colorado law requires that ballot measures in odd-numbered years be limited to topics that concern taxes or fiscal matters arising under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This includes measures proposing new taxes, tax increases or extensions, and changes to fiscal obligations. This requirement was added in 1994.

From 1999 through 2019, an average of one statewide measure appeared on odd-year ballots. The last time Colorado voters decided a citizen initiative during an odd year was 2013.

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COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

Here’s a look at some noteworthy policy changes and events regarding COVID-19 that took place one year ago this week:

Federal government responses:

  • On Aug. 11, the Trump administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, announced a $1.5 billion agreement with pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc. to develop and deliver 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a partnership on Aug. 14 with healthcare company McKesson Corp. to help distribute a coronavirus vaccine when one was available.

Election changes:

  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) directed each county election board on Aug. 12 to provide one drop-box for absentee/mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced on Aug. 14 that the state would automatically send mail-in ballots to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

State court changes

  • Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the state’s judicial emergency, which had been set to expire on Aug. 11, through Sept. 10. Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings remained prohibited.

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