TagDaily Brew

The Daily Brew: Previewing next week’s special election primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 28, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Voters to decide special Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3
  2. Jake Ellzey wins runoff for Texas’ 6th Congressional District
  3. Here’s an update on the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom 

Voters to decide special Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3

Let’s continue our previews of next week’s highlighted elections with a look at the Democratic primary in the special election for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.

Thirteen candidates are running for the Democratic nomination in this district that extends from Cleveland to Akron in the northeast part of the state. Former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) resigned in March after being confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration.

The Hill‘s Julia Manchester wrote that the race “has become a proxy battle for the Democratic Party establishment and national progressives,” referring to endorsements for candidates Shontel Brown and Nina Turner. Brown is on the Cuyahoga County Council. Turner is a former state senator and worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. 

Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) endorsed Brown. Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Turner. Ocasio-Cortez campaigned for Turner in Cleveland on July 24. Clyburn and Sanders are scheduled to campaign for Brown and Turner, respectively, this weekend.

Seth Richardson of Cleveland.com wrote that local endorsements don’t break along the same dividing lines as national endorsements. Richardson noted Turner’s endorsements from local officials who supported Biden’s presidential primary campaign, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and Brown’s share of endorsements from labor groups.

Early voting began July 7 and continues through Aug. 2. Laverne Gore and Felicia Ross are competing in the Republican primary, and the winners of both primaries will meet in the Nov. 2 special election. Inside Elections rates the November general election Solid Democratic.

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Jake Ellzey wins runoff for Texas’ 6th Congressional District 

Jake Ellzey (R) won Tuesday’s runoff election over Susan Wright (R) in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. With 98% of precincts reporting, Ellzey received 53% of the vote to Wright’s 47%. The former incumbent, Rep. Ronald Wright (R), died on Feb. 7 from COVID-19 related complications. Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. 

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), U.S. Rep Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and The Dallas Morning News endorsed Ellzey. Former President Donald Trump (R) and the Texas Republican Party executive committee endorsed Wright. Both candidates advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1.

Since both candidates in the runoff were Republicans, the seat did not change party hands as a result of this election. Seven congressional special elections have been scheduled or held so far this year. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held. 

Keep reading 

Here’s an update on the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Here’s some recent news regarding the Sept. 14 recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). The recall will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled, and the second will ask who should succeed him if a majority of voters approve the first question. 

Candidate list finalized

Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) released the final list of certified candidates on July 21. Forty-six candidates qualified for the recall, including nine Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 13 candidates with a third party or no party affiliation. Among the candidates are radio host Larry Elder (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D). 

A California Superior Court judge ruled on July 21 that Elder had met the state’s ballot requirements to become a candidate after Weber’s office had previously rejected him. The judge ruled Weber was wrong to require candidates running in the recall election to submit five years of tax returns and said a 2019 state law requiring that information did not apply to the recall. 

Polls released

Two organizations released polls in the last week showing opposition to the recall slightly higher than support but within each poll’s margin of error: 

  • Berkeley IGS released a poll on July 27 that showed 50% of respondents opposed the recall, and 47% supported it. Three percent were undecided. Elder (R) led the survey’s candidate polling at 18%, with no other candidate receiving more than 10% support and 40% of respondents undecided.
  • Inside California Politics and Emerson College released a poll on July 22 finding that 48% of voters opposed the recall, 43% supported it, and 9% were undecided. Elder led candidate polling at 16%, with no other candidate polling higher than 6%. Fifty-three percent of respondents were undecided on the candidate polling.

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Policing structure ballot measure set for Minneapolis ballot

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 27, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Minneapolis City Council votes to certify Nov. 2 ballot language for initiative to replace police department
  2. Previewing the mayoral election in Detroit
  3. Missouri Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion amendment

Minneapolis City Council votes to certify Nov. 2 ballot language for initiative to replace police department

So far this year, Ballotpedia has tracked seven certified local ballot measures concerning police oversight and more. Here’s some information on the most recent one that was certified in Minneapolis.

On July 23, the Minneapolis City Council voted to approve a ballot question and explanatory note for a citizen initiative that would replace the police department with a department of public safety if approved by voters. The measure will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The initiative would:

  • remove language on the city’s police department from the city charter, including provisions requiring minimum funding for the department and giving the mayor control over the police department;
  • create a department of public safety; and
  • allow the new department to include “licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.” 
  • Under the initiative, the mayor would nominate and the city council would appoint the commissioner of the public safety department.

Yes 4 Minneapolis submitted more than the required 11,906 valid signatures on April 30. The city clerk certified the petition on May 14.  

The city council’s vote was to (a) set the ballot language for the measure and (b) accept a city attorney report stating the measure concerned a proper subject matter for the city charter and is constitutional. The resolution now goes to the mayor’s desk. Mayor Jacob Frey has five days to sign or veto it. Frey opposes the initiative, but the resolution before him does not affect whether the measure will go on the ballot.

Frey’s office stated, “The mayor will not be signing the measure, but appreciates the careful work and thorough analysis done by City staff to prepare fair and accurate language for voters to consider this fall.”

The city council considered putting its own charter amendment to replace the police department on the Nov. 2 ballot. Sponsors withdrew their proposal, citing concerns over voter confusion, when Yes 4 Minneapolis’ initiative qualified for the ballot. The city council passed a similar charter amendment in 2020, but the city’s charter commission took the full time allotted to review the proposal, effectively blocking it from the November 2020 ballot.

After Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, nationwide events were held calling for changes to policing. Ballotpedia has been tracking police-related local ballot measures in 2020 and 2021. Last year, Ballotpedia identified 20 local police-related ballot measures in seven states that appeared on the Nov. 3 ballot. All 20 passed, although at least one was overturned after the election.

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Previewing the mayoral election in Detroit

We’re tracking a handful of elections happening one week from today, on Aug. 3. Let’s take a look today at the mayoral election in Detroit, Michigan.

Ten candidates are running in a nonpartisan primary election for mayor. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 2. Media coverage has focused on incumbent Mike Duggan and challengers Anthony Adams and Tom Barrow. Economic development and public safety have been major issues in the race.

Karen Dumas, who worked as a communications strategist for former Mayor Dave Bing, said the city is “wrangling with the same things that the city has wrangled with all along,” including expanding the reach of economic development and ensuring affordable housing. 

Political consultant Mario Morrow said many voters “are not ready to throw [Duggan] out” and that Duggan’s challengers would need to convince voters that they could make better progress on these issues than Duggan has in his first two terms.

Duggan was first elected mayor in 2013 when he defeated opponent Benny Napoleon (D) 55% to 45%. In 2017, Duggan was re-elected by a margin of nearly 44 points, defeating Coleman Young II (D) 71.6% to 27.8%.

Adams is an attorney and served as deputy mayor of Detroit under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D). He was also an executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young, was a board member and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools, and was interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Barrow worked as a practicing certified public accountant, led the civic group Citizens for Detroit’s Future, and was an advocate for changes to the municipal election system. This is Barrow’s fifth mayoral run and the second time he has competed against Duggan.

Kiawana Brown, Myya Jones, Jasahn Larsosa, Charleta McInnis, Danetta Simpson, Art Tyus, and D. Etta Wilcoxon are also running.

Detroit is the 19th-largest city in the U.S. by population and the largest city in Michigan, although between 2000 and 2010, the city’s population declined by 25%. As of 2019, its population was 670,031. 

Keep reading 

Missouri Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion amendment

On July 22, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a constitutional amendment enacting Medicaid expansion was constitutional. The decision reversed a lower court’s ruling that found the amendment voters approved last August was unconstitutional because it did not include a revenue source for the state to pay for Medicaid expansion. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the amendment “does not remove the General Assembly’s discretion in appropriating money to MO HealthNet,” and “the circuit court erred in declaring article IV, section 36(c) constitutionally invalid.”

The Supreme Court concluded that the Department of Social Services and Missouri HealthNet, which are responsible for the administration of Medicaid in Missouri, are required to use the funds lawmakers appropriate on all eligible recipients under the adopted amendment. The amendment, which was approved 53.27% to 46.73%, expanded Medicaid eligibility in Missouri to adults that are between 19 and 65 years of age whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level or below under the Affordable Care Act.

Missouri joins 38 states and Washington, D.C., in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Our state partisanship study of the country’s state supreme courts found that the Missouri Supreme Court is under split control. This means that it does not have a majority of justices with a Democratic or Republican Confidence Score. For more on the report and the full list of our findings, click here.

For the full background on the Medicaid expansion amendment, click the link below.

Keep reading 

Note: Our item in yesterday’s Brew that discussed how uncommon it is for elections to be held on days other than Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays mistakenly identified New Jersey’s and Virginia’s 2025 statewide elections as being held on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2025. Those elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2025. We apologize for this error.



Emergency Powers Act removed in Michigan

Welcome to the Monday, July 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Michigan Legislature approves indirect initiative repealing Emergency Powers of Governor Act
  2. Recall election being held in Fairhaven, Massachusetts
  3. COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

Michigan Legislature approves indirect initiative repealing Emergency Powers of Governor Act

On July 21, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 60-48 to approve the indirect initiative that repealed the Emergency Powers of Governor Act (EPGA). The initiative was first filed in June 2020, three months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued the first coronavirus-related disaster declaration. Michigan is currently under divided government, with Democrats holding the governorship and Republicans holding a majority in both the state House and Senate.

The House’s vote followed the state Senate’s vote of 20-15 to approve the initiative. The governor cannot veto the legislature’s approval of an indirect citizen-initiated measure. In Michigan, indirect initiatives can be approved by the legislature without the governor’s signature needed, or go before voters at the next general election.

The EPGA, also known as Public Act 302 (PA 302) of 1945, was designed to empower the governor to issue rules and regulations to bring emergencies under control and protect life and allow violations of these rules and regulations to be punished as misdemeanors.

Here’s what happened leading up to the legislature’s approval.

  • June 2020: About three months after Gov. Whitmer issued the first coronavirus-related disaster declaration, the campaign Unlock Michigan filed the proposal to repeal the EPGA.
  • October 2, 2020: The campaign reported submitting 539,000 signatures. On the same day, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down the EPGA as violating the state constitution in a 4-3 decision. While the Supreme Court rendered the EPGA moot, Unlock Michigan continued to advocate for the law’s repeal to prevent the court from issuing a different opinion on the law in the future.
  • April 19, 2021: Elections staff reported that, based on a random sample, a projected 460,358 signatures were valid. The minimum number of required signatures was 340,047.
  • April 22, 2021: The Board of State Canvassers voted 2-2 on certifying the petition as sufficient. The divided vote meant that the motion failed. The Board’s two Republicans voted in favor, and the Board’s two Democrats voted in opposition.
  • June 11, 2021: The Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the board “has a clear legal duty to certify the petition.” 
  • July 13, 2021: The Board of State Canvassers certified the petition. 

Since March 2020, 12 bills aimed at increasing legislative oversight of gubernatorial emergency power authority have been enacted in nine states: Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah. 

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Recall election being held in Fairhaven, Massachusetts

We’ve been covering lots of recall elections this year一we tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials in the first half of 2021. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. You might have heard about some of the more notable recalls, such as the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

Here’s an overview of one recall you probably haven’t heard about. Further, it’s being held on a Monday, which is pretty rare! An effort to recall Selectman Dan Freitas in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, is being held today, July 26.

Organizers said that they were attempting to recall Freitas because of abusive and disruptive behavior. They also alleged that Freitas had circumvented the standard process for selecting a new town administrator in order to advance an insider candidate. Freitas denied the allegations and said that the recall attempt was a smear campaign against him.

As I mentioned, it’s uncommon for an election to occur on a Monday. Elections are usually held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays. We looked into how many elections have been held outside of those three days of the week since 2018. To do this, we asked our data team to poke through our database and see how many elections were held based on each day of the week.

We found that 41 elections have been held or scheduled on a Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, or Friday since 2018. Of those 41, 36 have already been held, and five are scheduled up to four years in the future. They include the statewide general elections in New Jersey and Virginia, scheduled for Wednesday, November 5, 2025.

The 41 elections include 15 party conventions一12 state party conventions and three national party conventions. The remaining are a mix of special, primary, general, and ballot measure elections. 

Keep reading 

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

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans: 

  • On July 28, 2020, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks. 

School reopenings: 

  • On July 31, the Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students aged five and older to wear masks.

Mask requirements:

  • On July 24, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) enacted a face-covering requirement requiring anyone eight or older to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, transportation services, and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is not possible.

Keep reading



The politicians who were Olympians

Welcome to the Friday, July 23, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Politics & Olympians
  2. Group submits signatures for November ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in Tucson, Arizona
  3. #Fridaytrivia

Politics & Olympians

Today kicks off the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—held one year later than scheduled due to COVID-19. We thought it would be interesting to bring you an overview of the politicians who have also been Olympians. From time to time, we enjoy looking into the crossover between politics and other areas of interest. For example, we featured a story in February looking at politicians who have run in the Superbowl

We found examples of at least seven politicians who participated in at least one Olympics before serving as a member of Congress. Of those seven, three won gold medals in their events. Bill Bradley (D) won gold as a member of the Olympic basketball team in the 1964 Olympics before becoming a Democratic U.S. Senator for New Jersey. Bob Mathias (R) won his gold medal in the decathlon in both 1948 and 1952, going on to represent California’s 18th Congressional District. Ralph Metcalfe (D), who later represented Illinois’ 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House, won gold in the 4 x 100 meter relay in 1936.

These Olympians-turned-politicians represented seven different states—California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Two of these Olympians served in the U.S. Senate, four served in the U.S. House, and one (Ben Nighthorse Campbell) served in both the U.S. Senate and House.

The table below contains the full list that we found.

Keep reading

Group submits signatures for November ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in Tucson, Arizona

On July 2, Tucson Fight for $15, the campaign behind a local minimum wage increase, submitted 29,526 signatures to the city’s clerk office.

In Tucson, Arizona, petitioners needed to submit 14,826 valid signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November 2021 ballot. If enough signatures are certified, the measure will go before the city council. The city council will have two options: approve the initiative, precluding an election, or send the initiative to the ballot.

The initiative would amend the city code to incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The minimum wage would increase by the following increments:

  • $13 by April 1, 2022,
  • $13.50 by January 1, 2023,
  • $14.25 by January 1, 2024, and
  • $15.00 by January 1, 2025.

The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards by April 1, 2022. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative. A violation of the initiative would be a civil infraction with a civil penalty of up to $100 per employee affected by the violation paid to the city. If multiple violations occur, the city may revoke, suspend, or decline to renew any licenses of the employer.

In 2016, Arizona passed Proposition 206, which increased the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, and then incrementally to $12 by 2020, and created a right to paid sick time off from employment. It was approved by a margin of 58.33% to 41.67%.

Since 2016, Ballotpedia has tracked 18 local minimum wage ballot measures, including the 2021 measure in Tucson. 

The average state minimum wage in 2021 is about $9.59, up from $9.17 in 2020. The highest statewide minimum wages are

  • $14.00 in California,
  • $13.69 in Washington, and
  • $13.50 in Massachusetts.

Keep reading 

#Fridaytrivia

On Tuesday, I wrote about the federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations six months into Biden’s presidency. So for today’s quiz, we’re asking:

How many judicial vacancies did Biden inherit at the start of his term?

  1. 37
  2. 60
  3. 72
  4. 46


Previewing the fourth special congressional election of this year

Welcome to the Thursday, July 22, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27
  2. Redistricting review: New Jersey Chief Justice asks parties to submit consensus candidate
  3. Curious about the administrative state? Join us for our webinar on judicial deference!

Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27

This Tuesday—July 27—voters in Texas’ 6th Congressional District will head to the polls to vote in the district’s runoff election. Jake Ellzey (R) and Susan Wright (R) are running to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Ronald Wright (R), who died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. 

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Her endorsements include former President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R), and the State Republican Executive Committee. 

Ellzey’s endorsements include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), U.S. Rep Daniel Crenshaw (R), and Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND.

Since both runoff candidates are Republicans, the seat will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote, while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote.

Three special elections to the 117th Congress have taken place so far in 2021. The election in Texas’ 6th is one of four more currently scheduled. There were 10 special elections to the 116th Congress and 17 special elections to the 115th Congress.

Keep reading

Redistricting review: New Jersey Chief Justice asks parties to submit consensus candidate

New Jersey: On Tuesday, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and pick a consensus candidate for the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission. 

According to state law, the first 12 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature, and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. The 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

Last week, when the commissioners could not reach a consensus by their July 15 deadline, they submitted former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. and former Superior Court Judge Marina Corodemus to the court for a decision.

According to the New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a 13th member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tiebreaker candidate by Aug. 10.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court put a stay on a Dane County Circuit Court ruling that blocked Republican legislators from hiring private attorneys with taxpayer funds. The original lawsuit argued state law prohibits legislative leaders from hiring attorneys other than from the Wisconsin Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed. On April 26, Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke issued a ruling that barred Republican leaders in the state legislature from hiring private attorneys, and on June 24, an appeals court decision denied a motion to stay the order. 

On June 30, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to invalidate the appeals court ruling. The supreme court unanimously agreed to take up the case on July 15, and in a 4-3 decision, ordered that Republican lawmakers be allowed to hire private attorneys pending their decision.

Keep reading 

Join us for our webinar on judicial deference!

Are you curious about the administrative state? Join us on Monday, July 26, at 5 p.m. Eastern for the next webinar in our ‘You Ask, Ballotpedia Answers’ series, where Ballotpedia’s administrative state team answers your questions and demystifies one of the pillars of the administrative state. This month, we’ll be discussing judicial deference. 

In the context of administrative law, deference applies when a federal court yields to an agency’s interpretation of either a statute that Congress instructed the agency to administer or a regulation promulgated by the agency. We’ll discuss the types of deference as well as explore both the current state of deference and its future.

Click the link below to grab your spot today!

Register Here



The first 6 months of judicial nominations under President Biden

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

  1. Federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations six months into Biden’s presidency
  2. Making sense of the filing deadline for Newsom recall 
  3. Rhode Island ends statewide mask mandate

Federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations six months into Biden’s presidency

Today is the six-month anniversary of President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration. Let’s take a look at how his first six months of judicial nominations compare to those of the past six presidents. For the full data that ran in our Bold Justice newsletter, or to subscribe, click here.

Let’s specifically take a closer look at vacancies, nominations, and confirmations.

Vacancies

  • Biden inherited 46 Article III lifetime federal judicial vacancies requiring a presidential nomination when he was inaugurated on Jan. 20. 
    • These vacancies represented roughly one-twentieth of all life-term judicial positions (5.29%). 
  • The 46 vacancies were the lowest number of federal judicial vacancies at the beginning of a presidency since 1989, when George H.W. Bush had 37.
  • Since 1981, every president has had more judicial vacancies six months into his administration than at the start of his administration.
  • The number of judicial vacancies created during Biden’s first six months in office is the second-highest in our data (28), and is equal to the number of vacancies created during President George W. Bush’s first six months (28). President Barack Obama had the highest number of judicial vacancies during his first six months as president, with 29.

There are currently 78 Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary out of 870 total Article III judgeships. 

Nominations

  • Since taking office, President Biden has nominated 30 individuals to federal judgeships.
  • Biden has submitted nominations to fill more than 38% of federal judicial vacancies during his first six months in office. This is the highest percentage since George W. Bush, and the most since 1981. President Bill Clinton (D) had the lowest percentage among the presidents since Reagan, submitting no Article III nominations during his first six months in office.

Confirmations

  • Biden has the highest number of judicial confirmations in the first six months of his presidency (7) since 1981. Neither President Clinton nor President Obama had any nominations confirmed by this point in their presidencies. President Donald Trump (R) is the only president since at least 1981 to have a Supreme Court, a circuit court, and a district court nominee confirmed in his first six months in office.

Keep reading

Filing deadline for Newsom recall passes, 41 candidates qualify

We’ve been watching the election to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, which will be held on Sept. 14. The filing deadline to get on the ballot passed on July 16. Let’s catch up on the most recent news.

On July 17, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) announced that 41 candidates had qualified to run in the recall election. The list of candidates includes eight Democrats and 21 Republicans, among whom are former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), and Caitlyn Jenner (R).

On Wednesday, July 21, the California secretary of state’s office will release to the counties the final list of candidates who will appear on the ballot.

Before the July 16 filing deadline, 76 candidates had filed paperwork with Weber’s office stating their intention to run in the election. In the successful 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D), 135 candidates ran in the election.

Newsom was elected as governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall an incumbent California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled Davis and chose Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement.

For a full overview of the election, keep reading at the link below.

Keep reading 

Rhode Island ends statewide mask mandate

On July 6, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) signed an executive order ending the statewide mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. In accordance with CDC guidelines, vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transportation and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. Currently, seven states have statewide mask orders. All seven states have Democratic governors. Six of the seven states exempted fully vaccinated people from most requirements.

We’re tracking mask mandates and much more in our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery newsletter. Click the link below to sign up.

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Trifecta vulnerability in 2021

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

  1. Assessing the vulnerability of the Democratic trifectas in New Jersey and Virginia
  2. Flashback: Trump announced Pence as VP five years ago
  3. Don’t miss our July 21 briefing on donor disclosure and privacy

Assessing the vulnerability of the Democratic trifectas in New Jersey and Virginia

We recently released trifecta vulnerability data about New Jersey and Virginia—two states where gubernatorial and state legislative elections are taking place this year. Trifecta status is at stake in both states. As a reminder, a trifecta is where one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house in a state’s government.

Each year, we release an analysis of trifecta vulnerability. Ballotpedia calculates trifecta vulnerability by assessing each trifecta component’s chance of changing control. Gubernatorial races are rated using race ratings from the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections. Legislative races are assessed based on the absolute number of seats and the proportion of seats that would need to be flipped. Both chambers in a state’s legislature are evaluated individually.

In 2020, Republicans gained trifectas in Montana and New Hampshire. Both had divided government at the time of the election. Democrats neither gained nor lost any trifectas in 2020.

Now, let’s look at the data on New Jersey and Virginia.

New Jersey has been a Democratic trifecta since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) assumed office in 2018. This year has scheduled elections for governor, all 40 state Senate seats, and all 80 state Assembly seats. Election forecasters rate the governor’s race as Solid Democratic. Republicans need to either win the gubernatorial election, flip six out of 40 state Senate seats (15%), or flip 13 out of 80 state Assembly seats (16.25%) in order to break the Democratic trifecta. Ballotpedia assesses New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta as not vulnerable.

Virginia has been a Democratic trifecta since the start of the 2020 legislative session. It has scheduled elections for governor and all 100 state House seats in 2021. Election forecasters rate the gubernatorial election as Leans Democratic. Republicans need to either win the gubernatorial election or flip six of the 100 state House seats (6%) in order to break the Democratic trifecta. Ballotpedia has assessed Virginia’s Democratic trifecta as moderately vulnerable.

There are currently 38 trifectas: 23 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas. The remaining 12 states have a divided government where neither party has a trifecta. Between 2010 and 2020, 72 state government trifectas were broken or gained.

To learn more about this year’s trifecta vulnerability, or about how Ballotpedia calculates trifecta vulnerability, click the link below.

Keep reading

Flashback: Trump announced Pence as VP five years ago

On July 16, 2016, Donald Trump held a press conference to formally introduce Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) as his running mate. “Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was my first choice. I’ve admired the work he’s done, especially in the state of Indiana. I admire the fact that he fights for the people and he fights for you,” Trump said.

Also five years ago this week: Both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions were held. 

For a snapshot of the 2016 presidential election landscape during that time, keep reading below.

Keep reading 

Don’t miss our July 21 briefing on donor disclosure and privacy

Take a look at 2021’s legislative activity surrounding donor disclosure and privacy policy with the team behind Ballotpedia’s Disclosure Digest. In this free briefing, we will catch you up on this year’s statutory trends and review important court rulings.

Under federal law, nonprofits are generally only required to disclose to the public information about donors who contribute to fund campaign expenditures. State laws, however, may require more disclosure. Some say expanded donor disclosure provisions minimize the potential for fraud and establish public accountability. Meanwhile, others say that disclosing information about donors violates privacy rights and can inhibit charitable activity.

Ballotpedia is tracking 39 bills related to donor disclosure or privacy throughout the United States: 11 sponsored by Republicans, 17 by Democrats, and the rest by committees or bipartisan groups. Six of these 39 had been enacted into law.

Following a discussion of the legislative trends, our team will review the impacts of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta.

The webinar will be on Wednesday, July 21, at 11:00 a.m. Central Time. Click here or register at the link below to secure your spot. All those who register will get a copy of the briefing following the live call.

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The most recent data on state state legislators switching parties

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

  1. Louisiana state Representative leaves Democratic Party
  2. Ballotpedia’s analysis of federal judicial vacancies shows 8.9% of seats were open at the end of June
  3. Read our two studies examining partisanship on state supreme courts

Louisiana state Representative leaves Democratic Party

Louisiana state Rep. Malinda White switched from the Democratic Party to no party on July 1. According to a text White sent to The Advocate, “This decision came after many years of consideration for the people I represent. It was not a snap decision but one I have struggled with for a while.” The current partisan composition of the Louisiana House is 68 Republicans, 33 Democrats, three independents, and one vacancy.

White was first elected to the Louisiana House in 2015, defeating Chuck Nassauer (D), 65% to 35%. She defeated Phillipp Bedwell (R), 64% to 36%, to win re-election in 2019. White ran in both elections as a Democrat.

Ballotpedia has identified 143 state legislators—39 state senators and 104 state representatives—who have switched parties since 1994. White is the 13th state legislator in Louisiana we’ve identified who has switched parties and is the only one to switch to independent. The other 12 became Republicans.

White is the ninth state legislator to switch parties this year. Seven state legislators switched parties last year, and 12 switched in 2019.

Nationwide, 74 state lawmakers switched from Democrat to Republican, and 19 switched from Republican to Democrat since 1994. The others switched to or from being independent or other parties.

In December 2019, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J. – 2) announced he was switching his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican. Van Drew was re-elected to the U.S. House last year as a Republican, defeating Amy Kennedy (D) 52% to 46%. 

The Washington Post reported that Van Drew was the 10th member of Congress—two Senators and eight U.S. Representatives—to switch parties since 2000. Six switched from Democrats to Republicans, and three switched from Republicans to Democrats. Rep. Justin Amash left the Republican Party to become an independent in July 2019.

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Ballotpedia’s analysis of federal judicial vacancies shows 8.9% of seats were open at the end of June

Ballotpedia’s monthly tracking of federal court vacancies showed 8.9% of judgeships were open as of June 30. There are 77 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, including seven on U.S. Appeals Courts, 68 on U.S. District Courts, and two on the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Two U.S. District Court judges left active status, and the Senate confirmed seven of President Joe Biden’s (D) judicial nominees—two appeals court judges and five district court judges—last month. Those judicial confirmations are the first of Biden’s presidency. Since taking office, Biden has nominated 30 individuals to federal judgeships. 

The chart below shows federal court vacancies since April 2011:

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Read our two studies examining partisanship on state supreme courts 

An article earlier this week in Axios highlighted the findings of Ballotpedia’s recently completed state supreme court study. If this topic intrigues you, let me explain our work in a little more detail. 

The first phase of our study established the partisan balance on each of the 52 state supreme courts. We gathered data on 341 active state supreme court justices to evaluate how much each was affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties at the time of their selection.

As of June 2020, 178 (52.2%) state supreme court justices were affiliated with the Republican Party, 114 (33.4%) were affiliated with the Democratic Party, and 49 (14.4%) had an indeterminate affiliation.

We released the second phase of our study—titled Determiners and Dissenters—in May. In it, we determined the partisan balance on all 52 state supreme courts. We tracked each justice’s position in every case decided last year and counted the number of times the justices ruled together.

What were some notable highlights from this research? The most divided state supreme court in the country last year was the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which issued unanimous rulings in 43% of cases. It heard 116 cases, and at least one justice dissented—or concurred in part and dissented in part—in 66 of them. The state supreme court with the highest rate of unanimous decisions? Massachusetts and Nebraska, at more than 98%. 
Want to explore both studies? Here are the links to Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship and Ballotpedia Courts: Determiners and Dissenters. Happy reading!



SCOTUS 2020 term reversal rate higher than average since 2007

Welcome to the Thursday, July 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. SCOTUS 2020 term reversal rate higher than average since 2007
  2. Redistricting review: Michigan Supreme Court declines to extend redistricting deadlines
  3. Keeping tabs on local filing deadlines

SCOTUS 2020 term reversal rate higher than average since 2007

During its most recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed 55 of 69 lower court decisions (79.7%) and affirmed 14. This term’s reversal rate was nine percentage points higher than the average in all cases from 2007 to 2019 (70.7%). Sixteen cases originated from the Ninth Circuit, more than any other, including state courts. SCOTUS reversed the Ninth Circuit’s judgment in 15 of those cases.

SCOTUS decides an average of 76 cases each year. The court can either affirm a lower court’s ruling or reverse it. Most cases originate from a lower court—any one of the 13 federal appeals circuits, U.S. district courts, or state courts. Original jurisdiction cases, which typically involve disputes between two states, cannot be considered affirmed or reversed since SCOTUS is the first and only court that rules in the case.

Here’s a breakdown of all U.S. Supreme Court activity since 2007:

  • SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases.
  • SCOTUS reversed a lower court decision 751 times (70.7%) and affirmed a lower court decision 303 times (28.5%)
  • 207 cases originated in the Ninth Circuit, more than any other. The Fifth Circuit was next with 79 cases.
  • SCOTUS overturned more cases from the Ninth Circuit (164) than any other, but it overturned the highest percentage of cases from the Sixth Circuit (81.1%, or 60 of 74 cases).

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Redistricting review: Michigan Supreme Court declines to extend redistricting deadlines

Here’s our weekly summary of news in the redistricting world.

Michigan: On July 9, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission’s request to extend constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. The deadlines to present redistricting plans to the public by Sept. 17 and adopt plans by Nov. 1 remain in effect.

New York: The New York Independent Redistricting Commission (NYIRC) announced on July 12 that public hearings would begin on July 20. A full list of hearing dates is available here. NYIRC also said it would release its first redistricting proposal on Sept. 15. 

Pennsylvania: On July 12, redistricting authorities in Pennsylvania launched a redistricting website and announced a schedule for public hearings on congressional redistricting. The first hearing will be on July 22. A full list of hearing dates is available here.

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Keeping tabs on local filing deadlines

We’ve got a handful of local election filing deadlines coming up. Here are the ones through July.

  • July 16: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Toledo, Ohio municipal candidates
  • July 19: Santa Fe, New Mexico publicly funded candidates
  • July 23: Manchester School District, New Hampshire candidates
  • July 26: Hialeah, Florida, and Annapolis, Maryland municipal candidates

Before we know it, we’ll be covering the first filing deadlines of 2022. Those deadlines are still being set, but the first five states’ filing deadlines (North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Maryland, and West Virginia) for 2020 primaries occurred between Dec. 20, 2019, and Jan. 25, 2020.

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31 statewide ballot measures certified for the 2021 ballot (so far)

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 14, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Comparing this year’s statewide ballot measures to previous odd-numbered years
  2. California judge rules Gov. Newsom will not have party designation on recall ballot
  3. Texas Democrats leave state ahead of expected vote on election-related legislation

Comparing this year’s statewide ballot measures to previous odd-numbered years

Now that we’ve moved into July, I thought it would be a good time to review the number of certified statewide ballot measures this year and how that compares with previous years. So far, voters decided 11 measures—four in Pennsylvania and seven in Rhode Island—and voters in at least five states will decide upwards of 20 measures in October and November. Here’s a quick recap of what lies ahead.

Louisiana voters will decide two legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on Oct. 9. 

  • One measure would remove the requirement that voters approve the assessment of property taxes in Louisiana’s levee districts that were created since 2006. Levee districts represent areas along Louisiana’s major waterways, and the boards of these districts take actions to control and prevent flooding in these areas. 
  • The other measure would increase the limit on funding changes the state could adopt during a projected budget deficit.

Voters in four states—Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Texas—will decide 18 measures on Nov. 3. 

Ballotpedia tracks potential statewide ballot measures that could still go before voters this year. This includes proposed initiatives that have been filed, are being reviewed, or have begun gathering signatures to earn a spot on the ballot. It also includes potential legislatively-referred measures that have progressed at least halfway through the legislative process. 

I spoke with our Ballot Measures editor, Josh Altic, regarding deadlines for states to certify additional measures. In Washington, supporters have until July 24—90 days after the legislature adjourned—to submit signatures for possible veto referendums. Supporters in Colorado have until Aug. 2 to submit signatures for three potential initiated state statutes. And legislatures in several states could still certify legislatively-referred measures. For example, Texas’ legislature is in a special session that is set to adjourn on Aug. 7.

The chart below shows the number of statewide measures appearing on the ballot in each odd-numbered year since 1987. Nationwide, voters decided 27 measures in 2017, the lowest number of certified measures in seventy years. Voters decided 36 measures in 2019.

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California judge rules Gov. Newsom will not have party designation on recall ballot 

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled on July 12 that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) party affiliation will not appear on the state’s recall ballot on Sept. 14. Here’s a quick recap of how we got here:

  • Newsom signed legislation in October 2019 specifying certain procedures surrounding recalls. Among other things, the law allows an official subject to a recall election to designate his or her party preference on the ballot.
  • Orrin Heatlie filed a recall petition against Newsom on Feb. 13, 2020.
  • In his official response to the recall on Feb. 20, 2020, Newsom did not file a form stating his party preference.
  • Newsom sued Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) on June 28, 2021, after Weber ruled that Newsom would not have his party affiliation listed on the recall ballot.
  • Judge Arguelles held a hearing in the lawsuit on July 9, 2021.

In his ruling, Arguelles wrote: “Governor Newsom’s failure to designate a party preference will not result in a ballot identifying him as ‘Party Preference: None.’ Rather, there will be no reference to party preference next to his name one way or the other. Instead, the recall ballot will simply ask whether he should be recalled.”

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. 

The deadline for candidates to file certain forms, such as their past five years’ tax returns, personal financial disclosures, nomination signatures, and a declaration of candidacy is July 16. The secretary of state’s office will publish the names of all official candidates on its website on July 17. 

California enacted legislation earlier this year authorizing counties to send mail ballots to all voters for any elections held in 2021. County election officials will begin mailing ballots to voters on Aug. 16.

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Texas Democrats leave state ahead of expected vote on election-related legislation

In case you haven’t come across it in your regular news following, here’s a summary of what is going on in Texas’ special legislative session.

At least 51 of 67 Democratic state representatives in Texas left the state on July 12, traveling to Washington D.C. ahead of expected votes on election-related legislation. Supporters say the legislation includes updates to improving election integrity. Opponents say the bills amount to voter suppression. 

It’s the second time Texas House Democrats have staged a walkout this year. The first took place on May 30, when all 67 members of the Democratic caucus left the chamber during consideration of another package of election-related legislation. This prevented the House from passing the legislation ahead of the regular session’s midnight deadline. 

The Texas House of Representatives requires 100 members—two-thirds of the 150 legislators—present to have a quorum. A quorum is the minimum number of members required to conduct official business. Democrats control 67 of the 150 state House seats in Texas. 

Ballotpedia has identified seven other noteworthy legislative walkouts—where legislators left the state for at least a week or received significant national media attention—since 2000, including the following:

  • 2021 (Oregon): All 11 Republican state senators were absent from the legislature and sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown (D) saying the governor had ignored their proposals related to COVID-19. Those senators returned on March 2.
  • 2011 (Wisconsin): Fourteen Democratic members of the state Senate did not come to a scheduled session to prevent the passage of right-to-work legislation. The walkout ended after five weeks when Republicans removed fiscal provisions from the measure, which lowered the quorum required to hold a vote.
  • 2003 (Texas): Eleven Democratic members of the Texas Senate and 51 Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives did not come to a scheduled legislative session to prevent the passage of a redistricting plan they claimed would have benefited Republicans. That walkout lasted for 43 days.

For more information about quorum requirements by state and other noteworthy walkouts by state legislators, click the link below.

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