TagDaily Brew

The highest and lowest governor’s salaries of 2020

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

  1. How much did your governor make last year?
  2. Tracking August mayoral elections
  3. COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

How much did your governor make last year?

Eighteen states paid their governor more last year than in 2019, according to the Council of State Governments’ Book of the States. Gubernatorial salaries in 2020 ranged from a low of $70,000 in Maine to a high of $225,000 in New York, with the average governor making $145,370. In the 18 states where a governor’s salary increased, the average increase was $6,604, or 4.3%. Washington was the only state to decrease its governor’s salary, registering a 0.5% decrease over the 2019 rate.

The states with the five highest gubernatorial salaries in 2020 were New York ($225,000), California ($209,747), Pennsylvania ($201,729), Tennessee ($198,780), and Massachusetts ($185,000). The states with the five lowest gubernatorial salaries were Maine ($70,000), Colorado ($92,700), Arizona ($95,000), Oregon ($98,600), and Nebraska ($105,000). Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon have been in the bottom five states for gubernatorial compensation since at least 2010. Only New York has been in the top five in every year since 2010. New York was also the state with the largest increase in gubernatorial salary in 2020, with a $25,000 increase relative to 2019.

Gubernatorial salaries are typically determined either by a state’s constitution or by statute. Most often, the salary portion of a governor’s compensation is defined by law, but additional benefits (insurance, official residence, and other work-related equipment) may be established by state agencies, custom, or other factors. For instance, 45 states subsidize the governor’s travel and 45 states have official gubernatorial residences.

In some cases, salaries automatically increase each year either at the rate of inflation or by another percentage chosen by the legislature. In other states, the legislature must pass salary increases for the governor. Five states have increased their governor’s salaries in each of the past three years: Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Vermont.

Find out how your governor’s salary compares to others’ at the link below.

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Tracking August mayoral elections

Although July tends to see a decrease in election-related activity, it never fully halts. And already, we’re looking to quickly-approaching August elections. Today, I wanted to give you a rundown of the mayoral races happening on Aug. 3. Let’s take a look at five races in particular.

  • Topeka, Kansas: Five candidates are running in the nonpartisan primary. Incumbent Michelle De La Isla is not running for re-election. She has served as mayor since 2018.
  • Detroit, Michigan: Ten candidates are running in the nonpartisan primary. Incumbent Mike Duggan is running for re-election. He has served as mayor since 2014. Economic development and public safety have been major issues in the race.
  • Lansing, Michigan: Six candidates are running in the nonpartisan primary, including incumbent Andy Schor. Schor has served as mayor since 2018.
  • Seattle, Washington: Fifteen candidates are running in the nonpartisan top-two primary. Incumbent Jenny Durkan is not running for re-election. Durkan has served as mayor since 2017. Each candidate has argued that their background best equips them to address issues including pandemic recovery, policing and public safety, affordable housing and homelessness, and transit.

The mayors of 63 of the country’s 100 largest cities are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Twenty-six mayors are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are Independent, and seven are nonpartisan or have no known affiliation.

To track all upcoming races, click below to view our elections calendar.

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

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans: 

  • On July 13, 2020, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) reimposed some coronavirus restrictions due to increasing coronavirus cases, including once again prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Indoor dining had been permitted since June 1. The state also closed state parks to out-of-state visitors and visitors who cannot prove their residency. The state’s mask requirement expanded to include anyone exercising in a public space.

Federal government responses: 

  • On July 16, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 20.

School reopenings: 

  • On July 17, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list would begin the public school year with online education only. At the time of the announcement, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list.

Mask requirements: 

  • On July 15, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a statewide mask order requiring individuals to wear masks inside certain businesses and at outdoor gatherings of greater than 50 people where social distancing was not possible. 

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3 congressional special elections in 4 weeks

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

  1. Voters to decide primaries, runoffs in three U.S. House races by Aug. 3
  2. Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether voters can cast ballots on Detroit’s proposed city charter
  3. Alaska governor appoints new state supreme court justice

Voters to decide primaries, runoffs in three U.S. House races by Aug. 3

This summer, voters will decide primary or runoff races in three U.S. House districts between now and Aug. 3. Here’s an update on all three elections:

  • Texas’ 6th Congressional District
  • Ohio’s 11th Congressional District
  • Ohio’s 15th Congressional District

Texas’ 6th Congressional District

A runoff election will take place on July 27 in this Dallas-area district between two Republicans—Jake Ellzey and Susan Wright. Both candidates advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1, where Wright received 19% of the vote to Ellzey’s 14%.

The previous incumbent, Ronald Wright (R), died from complications related to COVID-19 on Feb. 7. Susan Wright is his widow, and she has served as district director for two Republican state representatives. Ellzey is a state representative, first elected in 2020. In 2018, he ran against Ronald Wright in this district’s Republican primary, losing in the primary runoff, 52% to 48%.

The Club for Growth has spent more than $500,000 supporting Wright and opposing Ellzey. Former President Donald Trump (R) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed Wright. Ellzey’s supporters include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND.

Ohio’s 11th Congressional District

Voters will decide primary elections on Aug. 3 in this district which includes parts of Cleveland and Akron. The previous incumbent, Marcia Fudge (D), resigned in March after the Senate confirmed her as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Biden administration. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 special general election Solid Democratic.

Of the 13 candidates in the Democratic primary, Shontel Brown and Nina Turner have led in fundraising, endorsements, and media attention. Brown is a member of the Cuyahoga County Council and chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton endorsed her. Turner was a state senator and national co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential primary campaign. Sanders endorsed Turner.

Ohio’s 15th Congressional District

Primary elections will also take place on Aug. 3 in this Columbus-area district.  Steve Stivers (R) resigned in May to become the President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 special general election Solid Republican.

Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 3 special Republican primary. Mike Carey, Jeff LaRe, and Bob Peterson have led in endorsements and media attention. Stivers endorsed LaRe—a state representative since 2019— who has a background in law enforcement. President Trump endorsed Carey, who served in the Army National Guard and describes himself as a conservative outsider. Peterson is a state senator and former president of the Ohio Farm Bureau. The Ohio Right to Life PAC endorsed him.

Three special elections have already taken place to fill vacancies in the U.S. House this year. In all three, the special election winner was a member of the same party that previously held the seat. Fifty congressional special elections took place from 2013 through 2020. The table below details the net change in party affiliation in those elections:

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Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether voters can cast ballots on Detroit’s proposed city charter 

Here’s an interesting local ballot measure situation that I learned about recently when chatting with our ballot measures team.

The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments on July 7 in a lawsuit challenging a Detroit ballot measure that would establish a new city charter. The measure, known as Proposal P, would replace Detroit’s current charter with one that changes city policies on broadband access, police practices and training, health care, taxes, reparations, and other topics. If the state supreme court rules the measure is valid, voters will decide whether to adopt it on Aug. 3. 

In 2018, Detroit voters approved Proposal R, a ballot measure authorizing a charter revision commission. City voters then elected nine members to the Detroit Charter Revision Commission in November 2018. The commission completed the 145-page draft charter earlier this year and approved the text of Measure P in March. Voters last approved Detroit’s city charter—which is 120 pages—in 2011. 

Four city residents filed lawsuits challenging the charter revision measure, arguing that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) must approve the charter before it goes before voters. Whitmer provided comments to the charter revision commission but did not approve the measure. On June 4, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that the measure was invalid without the governor’s approval. The Michigan Supreme Court suspended both lower court decisions blocking Proposal P from the ballot.

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Alaska governor appoints new state supreme court justice

Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed state superior court judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson to the Alaska Supreme Court yesterday—July 8. Henderson is Gov. Dunleavy’s second appointee to the five-member supreme court. She replaces former chief justice Joel Bolger, who retired on June 30 and had served as chief justice since 2018.

Bolger is the only justice in Alaska’s history to have been appointed to all four levels of the state court system. Before joining the Alaska Supreme Court, Bolger was a judge of the Alaska Court of Appeals from 2008 to 2013, the Kodiak Superior Court from 2003 to 2008, and the Valdez District Court from 1997 to 2003. 

Republican governors have appointed four Alaska Supreme Court justices. Gov. Bill Walker (I) appointed the fifth.

When there is a midterm vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court, the governor selects a nominee from a list compiled by the Alaska Judicial Council (AJC). The AJC is a seven-member body consisting of three attorneys, three people who are not attorneys, and the chief justice of the state supreme court.

Alaska is one of 22 states that fills supreme court vacancies using a method known as assisted appointment. In these states, the governor makes the final selection after a commission or board submits a list of names for consideration. 

The second part of Ballotpedia’s state supreme courts study determined that the Alaska Supreme Court issued 127 unanimous rulings in the 138 cases it ruled on last year. Want to know more facts about state supreme courts nationwide? Click here to read Ballotpedia Courts: Determiners and Dissenters.

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Biden signs three CRA bills repealing Trump-era rules

Welcome to the Thursday, July 8, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Biden signs three Congressional Review Act bills repealing Trump-era rules
  2. Redistricting review: Virginia House of Delegates candidate sues over 2021 elections using existing maps
  3. Lander wins Democratic primary for New York City comptroller

Biden signs three Congressional Review Act bills repealing Trump-era rules

President Joe Biden (D) signed three Congressional Review Act (CRA) bills on June 30, reversing three administrative rules implemented near the end of the Donald Trump (R) administration. 

Signing these bills brings the total number of rules repealed under the CRA to 20. These CRA bills are the first Congress has used to reverse regulatory actions taken by a Republican president.

  • The first bill, S.J.Res.13, reversed a Trump-era Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule that changed what information the agency would share with companies accused of discrimination.
  • The second bill, S.J.Res.14, reversed a Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methane rule and restored methane emissions standards set during the Barack Obama (D) administration.
  • The third bill, S.J.Res.15, reversed a Trump-era U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) rule that changed regulations governing banks that give money to third parties to lend to borrowers. 

The Congressional Review Act is a federal law passed in 1996 that creates a 60-day review period during which Congress, by passing a joint resolution of disapproval later signed by the president, can overturn a new federal agency rule.

The law defines days under the CRA as days where Congress is in continuous session, so the estimated window to block any end-of-term regulatory activity from the Trump administration was between Feb. 3 and April 4. Congress had until then to introduce CRA resolutions to block regulatory activity that occurred between Aug. 20, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021. 

Since the law’s creation in 1996, Congress has used the CRA to successfully repeal 20 rules published in the Federal Register. Before 2017, Congress had used the CRA successfully one time, to overturn a rule on ergonomics in the workplace in 2001. In the first four months of his administration, President Trump signed 14 CRA resolutions from Congress undoing a variety of rules issued near the end of Barack Obama’s (D) presidency. Congress ultimately repealed 16 rules in total using the CRA during the Trump administration.

Interested in learning more about the Congressional Review Act? Click here to take our Learning Journey on the topic.

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Redistricting review: Virginia House of Delegates candidate sues over 2021 elections using existing maps

Here’s an update on what’s happening with redistricting across the country. Today, we’ll take a look at updates from Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Virginia: On June 28, Paul Goldman, a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, filed suit against Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and the Virginia State Board of Elections (among other state officials), asking that a U.S. District Court declare the Nov. 3, 2021, elections for the House of Delegates invalid, limit the terms of delegates elected in 2021 to one year, and order new elections to take place in 2022. Because members of the House of Delegates serve two-year terms, a court order to this effect would result in elections in three consecutive years: 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Because of the delayed release of U.S. Census redistricting data, redistricting authorities in Virginia were unable to draft new legislative district maps for this year’s elections. Consequently, existing maps will remain in force. Goldman argues that conducting the 2021 elections under the existing maps violates both the state and federal constitutions. Citing Cosner v. Dalton, a 1981 decision in which a federal court ordered the terms of delegates elected in 1981 under invalid maps be limited to one year, Goldman is asking that the court limit the terms of delegates elected in 2021 to one year and schedule elections under new maps in 2022.

Utah: On June 30, the Utah State Legislature announced an anticipated timeline for congressional and state legislative redistricting. Under that timeline, the Legislative Redistricting Committee will hold public hearings in September and October and adopt final maps before Thanksgiving.

Wisconsin: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that barred them from hiring private attorneys in anticipation of challenges to the redistricting process. The court set a July 8 deadline for briefs from all parties involved in the matter.

On April 29, Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled against Vos and LeMahieu and in favor of the plaintiffs, four Madison, Wisc., residents who argued that state law prohibits legislative leaders from hiring attorneys from outside the Wisconsin Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed. Vos and LeMahieu appealed that decision to a state appellate court, which declined to stay Ehlke’s original order. This prompted the present appeal pending before the state supreme court.

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Lander wins Democratic primary for New York City comptroller

We’re continuing our coverage of the June 22 New York City primaries with an update on the city comptroller race. Before we get to that, here’s a brief update on the city’s mayoral Democratic primary.

On July 6, the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) released the second set of unofficial RCV results for the Democratic primary, which included a majority of the 125,000 absentee ballots not included in the first release. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams defeated former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the eighth and final round by roughly 8,400 votes, 50.5% to 49.5%. Up to 3,699 defective ballots, if cured, remained to be counted. Click here to read more.

In the comptroller race, Brad Lander won the Democratic primary. The race was called after the New York City BOE released ranked-choice voting tabulations on July 6. Those tabulations included early voting ballots, election day ballots, and most absentee ballots. Voters were allowed to rank up to five candidates on their ballots.

As of Wednesday morning, Lander had 51.9% of the vote after 10 rounds of tabulation, followed by Corey Johnson at 48.1%, with 24,683 votes separating them. Johnson, whose endorsers included Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Ritchie Torres, along with the United Federation of Teachers, conceded the race Tuesday night.

Lander is a member of the New York City Council and a co-founder of the council’s Progressive Caucus. He received endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and The New York Times

The comptroller’s duties include performing audits of city agencies and managing five public pension funds. The next comptroller will also oversee how federal stimulus money issued in response to the pandemic is spent. The general election is on Nov. 2.

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Next steps in California’s gubernatorial recall

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 7, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. What’s next in the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom
  2. Adams leads Garcia in latest release of ranked-choice voting results for New York’s Democratic mayoral primary
  3. New Maryland superintendent of schools took office on July 1

What’s next in the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Last week—on July 1—California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) announced that the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will be held on Sept. 14. So what happens next? 

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled, and the second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. If a majority of voters approve the first question, Newsom will be recalled from office, and the candidate with the most votes on the second question becomes governor. In the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis (D), Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen among 135 candidates as Davis’ replacement.

The secretary of state’s office issued a recall election calendar and a list of qualifications for running for governor in this election. Here are the highlights:

Anyone who wants to run as a candidate in the recall election must:

  • be a registered voter and U.S. citizen,
  • file copies of each federal income tax return from the last five years with the secretary of state’s office,
  • not have been convicted of felony charges of bribery, perjury, or theft of public money, and
  • have not already served as governor of the state for two terms.

In order to appear on the ballot, candidates must have either 1) paid a filing fee of $4,194.94—2% of the governor’s current salary—or 2) submitted signatures from 7,000 registered voters to their county elections office by yesterday—July 6. Candidates could also submit a combination of registered voters’ signatures to cover all or any prorated portion of the filing fee. 

The deadline for candidates to file other documentation, 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. 

Gov. Newsom signed legislation in February authorizing counties to send mail ballots to all voters for any elections held this year. California enacted legislation in August 2020 to send mail-in ballots to all voters in last year’s general elections in response to the coronavirus pandemic. County election officials will begin mailing ballots on Aug. 16. Counties that are opening vote centers to allow in-person voting must have them open from Sept. 4 through Sept. 10. Voters may also cast ballots at vote centers or their county election offices on Sept. 14. Ballots postmarked by Election Day will still be counted if they are received by Sept. 21.

Recall efforts have taken place targeting 43 officeholders in California this year. Two efforts are underway to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. In each, recall organizers must submit at least 51,325 valid signatures to trigger a recall election. The deadline for the first effort is Aug. 11.

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Adams leads Garcia in latest release of ranked-choice voting results for New York’s Democratic mayoral primary 

On Tuesday evening, the New York City Board of Elections released the second set of unofficial ranked-choice voting results for the Democratic mayoral primary. This batch of results included a majority of the 125,000 absentee ballots not factored into last week’s release.

As of 9 p.m. EST last night, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams led former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia after the eighth and final round by roughly 8,400 votes, 50.5% to 49.5%. CNN and the Associated Press projected Adams as the winner last night.

Up to 3,699 defective ballots, if cured, remain to be counted.

Last week, Adams, Garcia, and attorney Maya Wiley—who was eliminated in the seventh round—filed preliminary lawsuits to preserve their right to request a review of the ballots.

Follow our coverage at the link below for election results and the latest updates.

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New Maryland superintendent of schools took office on July 1

Mohammed Choudhury took office as the new Maryland superintendent of schools on July 1. The state board of education appointed Choudhury to a four-year term on May 29. He replaces Karen Salmon, who stepped down at the end of her term on June 30. Salmon’s term was originally set to end on June 30, 2020, but it was extended for one year due to the pandemic.

The superintendent of schools is a statewide office responsible for overseeing and coordinating the state’s elementary and secondary schools. The position exists in all 50 states —  it is elected in 12 and appointed in the remaining 38. Of those 38 states, the state board of education appoints the superintendent in 18, the governor appoints the position in 18, and the state board of regents appoints the superintendent in two. 

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How Biden’s first judicial appointments compare with previous presidents

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Senate has confirmed seven judges nominated by President Biden
  2. Redistricting review: Federal court rejects Alabama’s attempt to force early release of Census Bureau redistricting data
  3. New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil retires

I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day weekend! 

Senate has confirmed seven judges nominated by President Biden

President Joe Biden (D) has nominated 30 individuals to Article III judgeships, and the Senate has confirmed seven of them. Biden’s first successful federal judicial appointment was Regina Rodriguez to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on June 8. Biden announced the first federal judicial nominations of his presidency on March 30. 

We track judicial confirmations by president, so we thought the halfway point in the year would be a nice time to look back on how President Biden compares to his predecessors. 

President Donald Trump’s (R) first judicial confirmation was on April 7, 2017, when the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. By the end of his first year in office, the Senate confirmed 16 of Trump’s judicial nominees. 

Here are some interesting facts regarding first-year judicial appointments since 1981: 

  • Before Trump, the president with the earliest judicial confirmation was George H.W. Bush (R). The Senate confirmed four of Bush’s nominees on May 18, 1989. By the end of his first year in office, the Senate had confirmed 15 judges that Bush had nominated.
  • Since 1981, the president with the latest first confirmation was Barack Obama (D). The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on August 6, 2009. By the end of Obama’s first year, the Senate had confirmed 11 judges.
  • Bill Clinton (D) also had his administration’s first judicial confirmation in August of his first year—the Senate confirmed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court on August 3, 1993. By the end of Clinton’s first year, the Senate had confirmed 28 judges.
  • Since 1981, Ronald Reagan (R) had the most Article III judges confirmed in his first year with 30. President Obama had the fewest. 

There are 77 current Article III judicial vacancies in the federal courts. 

  • 13 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Eight nominees are awaiting a committee vote to be reported to the full U.S. Senate for confirmation.
  • Two nominees have been reported to the full Senate and are awaiting a confirmation vote.

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Redistricting review: Federal court rejects Alabama’s attempt to force early release of Census Bureau redistricting data 

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on June 29 rejected an attempt by Alabama state officials to force the U.S. Census Bureau to release redistricting data in advance of Aug. 16, the date by which the  Bureau has said it will release the data to the states. Alabama had sued the Census Bureau on Mar, 11 asking the court to direct the Census Bureau to deliver redistricting data to the states by Mar. 31.

The panel unanimously rejected Alabama’s request. Their opinion said, “The court cannot force the Bureau to do the impossible – that is, comply with an already-lapsed deadline.” The ruling also said that the “Plaintiffs have acknowledged that date (Aug. 16) suffices for them to be able to complete redistricting without injury.”

The three-judge panel consisted of 11th Circuit Court of Appeals justice Kevin Newsom and the two active judges in this district court—Emily Marks and R. Austin Huffaker. All three were appointed by President Trump (R). There is one current vacancy on this court.

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New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil retires

New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil retired on June 30. She joined the court in 2012 after winning election to an open seat and won a retention election for a full eight-year term in 2016. Before that, Vigil served as a state district court judge for 12 years.

All five New Mexico Supreme Court justices have been either elected as Democrats or appointed by a Democratic governor. Vigil’s replacement will be Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D) fourth nominee to the supreme court. Current Chief Justice Michael Vigil (no relation) was elected as a Democrat. 

Ballotpedia’s study of partisanship on state supreme courts identified two of New Mexico’s current state supreme court justices as strong Democrats and one as a mild Democrat. Justice Julie Vargas joined the court in January after our partisan study was completed. To explore our analysis of partisanship of state supreme courts in New Mexico and across the country, click here for the full study.

So far this year, there have been 14 supreme court vacancies—all caused by retirements—in 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected.

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And that’s a wrap – SCOTUS concludes term

Welcome to the Friday, July 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. SCOTUS issues final two opinions of term
  2. Support Information for All
  3. #FridayTrivia

California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) announced that a recall election seeking to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will take place on Sept. 14. Click here to read more about the recall effort.

We hope you have a happy and safe Independence Day weekend with family and friends! The Brew will be back in your inbox on Tuesday, July 6.

SCOTUS issues final two opinions of term

Yesterday, July 1, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its final two opinions of the October 2020-2021 term. These two decisions brought the total number of opinions issued this term to 66. 

The court will now be in recess until the start of the next term in October. Now that this term is wrapped up, let’s look quickly at some top-level numbers.

  • The court issued 31 reversals (47%) this term.
    • Last year, that number was 22 (35%).
  • The court issued eight 5-4 decisions this term.
    • Last year, that number was 13. The year before, it was 19.
  • Between 2007 and 2019, the Supreme Court released opinions in 993 cases, averaging 76 cases per year. During that period, the court reversed a lower court decision 696 times (70.1%) and affirmed a lower court decision 289 times (29%). This year’s reversal rate of 47% was lower than the average by 23 percentage points.

Here’s an overview of the two cases decided yesterday.

  • Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta: In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the district court was correct in entering judgment in favor of the petitioners and permanently enjoining the California attorney general from collecting their Schedule B forms, and that the Ninth Circuit erred when it vacated those injunctions and directed the entry of judgment for the attorney general.
    • The case: Two conservative advocacy groups, the Thomas More Law Center and Americans for Prosperity, challenged a California policy requirement that tax-exempt §501(c)(3) charitable organizations must disclose the names and addresses of major donors. The groups argued that the policy violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of the state.
  • Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee: In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy and HB 2023 did not violate §2 of the Voting Rights Act, and that HB 2023 was not enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose.
    • The case: In 2016, several arms of the Democratic Party (ongoing referred to as the DNC) sued Arizona, saying its out-of-precinct policy and its ballot-collection law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. District Court denied the DNC’s petition, which a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed. In an en banc rehearing, the 9th Circuit granted a preliminary injunction, which the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the next day.

We have much more data about this year’s term on Ballotpedia. Click the link below to explore it all.

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Support Information for All

James Madison once said: “What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of Liberty and Learning, each leaning on the other for mutual support.”

Informed citizens are the foundation of our democracy, and it is essential that voters have a source they can go to for accurate, truthful, and trustworthy information. 

This Independence Day, help us celebrate 245 years of democracy with a donation to our Freedom for All. Information for All initiative. 

Our nation needs a resource it can trust to stay informed. Donate today and give all Americans the gift of information.

Donate to support Freedom for All. Information for All.

#FridayTrivia

On Tuesday, I wrote about the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle, which took place two years ago this week. The debate featured 20 candidates, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

For today’s question, I’m asking: How many Democratic primary presidential debates took place during the 2020 election?

  1. 12
  2. 9
  3. 7
  4. 11


Freedom for All. Information for All

Welcome to the Thursday, July 1, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Freedom for All. Information for All.
  2. The latest on NYC’s mayoral primary
  3. An update on statewide ballot measures

The Supreme Court is expected to issue opinions for the two remaining cases heard this term today (July 1). Click here to read more about these remaining cases or to catch up on all the rulings this term! 

Freedom for All. Information for All.

How are you celebrating the 4th of July this weekend? 

We’ll be alongside you for the parades, the fireworks, and the hot dogs, but we also want to give you one more way to show your support of the red, white, and blue.

Make a donation to Ballotpedia today as we celebrate Freedom for All and Information for All. 

Your donation will support our efforts to provide accurate information about American politics and policy to all who seek it.

As we think about our Declaration of Independence, a document signed 245 years ago, we reflect on the first time in history, a people collectively decided to abdicate a government based on force and embrace a government based on liberty and freedom. 

The Declaration laid the foundation for a democracy that would hold its government accountable to ensure it would act with the peoples’ best interest at heart. 

You and I know that informed voters are the foundation of that democracy. Our nation needs a resource it can trust to stay informed. 

Ballotpedia is dedicated to producing timely, unbiased, and trustworthy information regarding politics and policy. But there is still much to be done. 

Your support today will be instrumental in keeping voters informed, updated, and engaged. 

Donate to support Freedom for All. Information for All.

The latest on NYC’s mayoral primary

We’ve been following the results of the mayoral primary in New York City. ICYMI, here’s an update on the race.

  • On June 29, the New York City Board of Elections released an unofficial round of ranked-choice voting (RCV) results for the Democratic primary, but later issued a statement saying it had erroneously counted 135,000 sample ballot images as votes. 
  • The board posted revised results on June 30 showing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (D) leading former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia (D), 51.1% to 48.9%, after the ninth and final round of vote tabulations. Attorney Maya Wiley (D) was eliminated in the eighth round.

Adams leads Garcia by approximately 14,700 votes. More than 207,000 absentee ballots were distributed in the Democratic primary. As of June 29 approximately 125,000 absentee ballots—which were not included in this first set of unofficial RCV results—had been returned.

Thirteen Democrats ran in the June 22 primary. In the Republican primary, Curtis Sliwa defeated Fernando Mateo.

The primary featured the first use of ranked-choice voting for a mayoral primary in the city’s history. Official tabulations are not expected until the week of July 12 due to the deadlines for voters to submit absentee ballots and fix ballot issues.

Bookmark the page at the link below to follow along with us as we track the election results.

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An update on statewide ballot measures

Yesterday, I wrote about the local police-related ballot measures that have been certified so far. There have also been some interesting statewide ballot measures that were recently certified. Here’s a brief overview.

  • Arizona: 
    • At the 2022 general election, voters will decide a constitutional amendment to require that citizen-initiated ballot measures embrace a single subject. The ballot measure would also require the initiative’s subject to be expressed in the ballot title, or else the missing subject would be considered void. 
    • Also in 2022, voters will decide a ballot measure to allow the state legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives in cases where the Arizona Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court declare that a portion of the ballot initiative is unconstitutional or illegal. In Arizona, the legislature must propose a ballot measure to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot initiatives. Initiatives often include severability clauses, meaning that if the courts declare a provision to be unconstitutional, other provisions can remain valid. 
  • Oregon: At the 2022 general election, voters will decide a constitutional amendment that would remove language that allows slavery or involuntary servitude for duly convicted individuals. The amendment would also add language to authorize an Oregon court or a probation or parole agency to order alternatives to incarceration for a convicted individual as part of their sentencing.

So far, 56 statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot. Click the link below for an overview of the 2022 ballot measure landscape.

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The latest on police-related local ballot measures

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 30, Brew. 

So far this year, Ballotpedia has tracked six certified local police-related ballot measures. We define these to include ballot measures concerning:

  • police oversight, 
  • the powers and structure of oversight commissions, 
  • police practices, 
  • law enforcement department structure and administration, 
  • reductions in or restrictions on law enforcement budgets,
  • law enforcement training requirements, 
  • and body and dashboard camera footage. 

We’re also tracking potential measures later this year in Minneapolis and Cleveland.

Of the six measures already certified, voters approved three and defeated two in elections this spring. One measure is certified for the Aug. 3 ballot in Detroit pending a state supreme court ruling.

Last year, we identified 20 notable police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties that qualified for the ballot after the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Voters approved all 20 measures. 

Here’s a quick collection of recent events related to the police-related measures we’re tracking.

One quick note: If you didn’t receive Ballotpedia’s special update yesterday, click here to read about recently enacted legislation in North Carolina that allows municipalities to postpone local elections until next year due to delays in redistricting.

Cleveland Community Police Commission and police oversight initiative faces signature deadline next week 

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced on June 25 that proponents of an initiative to amend Cleveland’s charter on police oversight and discipline authority fell several hundred signatures short of the required number. Citizens for a Safer Cleveland has 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference and qualify the measure for this year’s ballot. 

The initiative would give certain duties and authority over police oversight, investigations, and discipline to a Civilian Police Review Board and a Community Police Commission.

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Michigan Supreme Court to hear arguments on Detroit charter proposal, which includes police policy changes

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments on July 7 over Detroit’s Proposal P that is scheduled to go before voters on Aug. 3. Proposal P would replace Detroit’s charter with a new charter. Among its provisions are several related to police policy.

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether Proposal P requires Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) approval to appear on the ballot. The charter commission that drafted the proposal submitted it to Gov. Whitmer, but she declined to approve it. On June 1, the state supreme court suspended previous circuit and appeals court rulings that blocked the measure from the ballot. 

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California Public Employment Relations Board overturns parts of Sonoma County’s 2020 oversight measure

One week ago, the California Public Employment Relations Board overturned portions of Measure P, a police oversight-related measure that Sonoma County voters approved last November 65% to 35%. The board ruled that certain provisions of Measure P violated the collective bargaining rights of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

The California Public Employment Relations Board is a commission of four gubernatorial appointees that rule on government labor issues. The board said the unions representing county sheriffs should have had the opportunity to negotiate these provisions before they were enacted. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors can appeal the decision to the California First District Court of Appeal, one of the state’s intermediate appellate courts.

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California superior court judge tentatively overturns Los Angeles County measure on law enforcement budget restrictions

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel announced a tentative decision on June 17 to overturn Measure J, which voters approved 57% to 43% last November. Strobel said that Measure J unconstitutionally limits how the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can decide revenue allocations. Strobel gave plaintiffs and defendants 15 days to submit more evidence. Strobel said she expected to issue a final ruling within the following weeks.

Measure J, among other provisions, requires that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration, such as health services and pre-trial non-custody services. It also prohibits those funds from being allocated to law enforcement. 

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A veto in a trifecta state

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 29, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Maine governor vetoes bill prohibiting ballot measure contributions from foreign government-owned entities
  2. Six national party fundraising committees have raised a combined $337 million through the end of May
  3. Flashback: First Democratic presidential debate two years ago this week

Maine governor vetoes bill prohibiting ballot measure contributions from foreign government-owned entities

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) vetoed legislation on June 23 which would have prohibited entities in which foreign governments have a 10% or larger ownership share from making contributions or expenditures to influence ballot measures.

The bill would have applied to an initiative certified for the 2021 ballot which I wrote about last week. That initiative would prohibit the construction of a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine. It would also require a two-thirds vote of each state legislative chamber to approve certain electric transmission line projects. A subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, a public utility owned by the government of Québec, has given $8.3 million to campaigns opposing the initiative.

Maine is a Democratic state government trifecta. The House approved the legislation 87-54 with 74 Democrats and eight Republicans in favor and four Democrats and 50 Republicans opposed. The Senate passed the bill 23-11 with 14 Democrats and nine Republicans in favor and seven Democrats and four Republicans voting against. A two-thirds (66.7%) vote in both chambers of the legislature is required to overturn the governor’s veto.

Governor Mills is not the first governor to veto a ballot initiative restriction this year. Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) vetoed a bill in May that would have required initiative and referendum petitions to be signed while the signer is physically located within the state. Gov. Little cited concerns over the legislation’s constitutionality. Idaho is a Republican state government trifecta.

Legislators in eight states—Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah—have passed restrictions on their state’s initiative processes this year. Ballotpedia is currently tracking 198 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 39 states. Notable topics include:

  • supermajority requirement increases,
  • signature requirement and distribution requirement increases,
  • single-subject rules,
  • pay-per-signature bans,
  • residency requirements and other circulator restrictions,
  • fiscal impact statement and funding source requirements, and
  • ballot measure campaign contribution restrictions.

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Six national party fundraising committees have raised a combined $337 million through the end of May 

With 2021 nearly halfway over, let’s check in on national party fundraising. Six national party fundraising committees have raised a combined $337 million during the first five months of the 2022 election cycle. According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, the committees raised $65 million in May alone.

Through the end of May, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have raised a combined $168.6 million this year. The Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee raised a combined $168.5 million. 

Both parties each have three national fundraising committees: 1) a national committee, 2) a committee dedicated to U.S. Senate elections, and 3) a committee dedicated to U.S. House elections. Click on the link below to see how much these committees have raised and spent monthly this year and every month since the 2016 election cycle.

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Flashback: First Democratic presidential debate two years ago this week

Two years ago this week, the first of 11 Democratic presidential primary debates occurred in Miami. Spread over two days—June 26 and 27—20 candidates took the stage, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

Biden and Harris debated on the same night and took up the top two spots in total minutes spoken during the debate, respectively. Click the link below to read the transcript, watch a recording of the entire debate, or skim the highlights.
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The too-far-ahead look at the 2024 presidential calendar

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

  1. Nevada enacts legislation replacing state’s presidential caucus in 2024
  2. New Jersey voters to decide at least two state constitutional amendments this year
  3. COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

Nevada enacts legislation replacing state’s presidential caucus in 2024

We’re not even halfway through 2021, but states are already making changes to the 2024 presidential nominating calendar. So, let’s take a look at the activity.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed legislation on June 11 that replaces the state’s presidential caucus with a primary and seeks to make that primary the first presidential nominating event in 2024.

In 2020, the Nevada Democratic caucuses took place on Feb. 22, and the Republican Party canceled its caucus. In 2016, Democrats held their caucus on Feb. 20, and Republicans held theirs on Feb. 23. Nevada’s Democratic caucus was the third nominating event of the cycle in 2016 and 2020. Among Republicans, the Nevada caucus was the fourth delegate-awarding event for that party’s nomination in 2016.

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael J. McDonald issued a joint statement with Republican leaders from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, saying, “As the GOP leaders of the four carve out states, we want to make clear that we stand together in protecting the Presidential nominating schedule as it has existed for many years. Our alliance is strong and we will continue to work together to preserve this historic process.”

The Democratic National Committee has not yet released its plans for the 2024 presidential calendar. It can increase or decrease the number of convention delegates allocated to each state based on when they hold their primaries.

Iowa has held the first nominating event of each presidential election cycle in the United States since 1972. The results of 2020’s Iowa caucuses were delayed by technological issues and tabulation errors.

The maps below show the months when states held presidential nominating events in the 2020 presidential election cycle: 

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New Jersey voters to decide at least two state constitutional amendments this year

Over the past five odd-year cycles, voters in eight states on average decide statewide ballot measures. Let’s take a look at one of those states—New Jersey. 

Garden State voters will decide at least two constitutional amendments on Nov. 2 regarding gaming and wagering. The state legislature referred both measures to the ballot and could possibly refer additional measures up through Aug. 2. Measures passed after that date—three months before the general election—would be placed on the 2022 ballot.

One measure would allow organizations that are permitted to hold raffles to retain the proceeds from those events to support themselves. The New Jersey Constitution allows the following groups to hold bingos and raffles: veterans, charitable, educational, religious, and fraternal organizations; civic and service clubs; senior citizen associations; and volunteer fire companies and volunteer first-aid and rescue squads. Currently, only veterans and senior citizen organizations are allowed to use bingo and raffle proceeds to support their groups. Other groups must use the proceeds for educational, charitable, patriotic, religious, or public-spirited uses. Both the state Senate and Assembly approved this measure unanimously.

The other amendment would allow wagering on postseason college sports competitions held in the state and competitions in which a New Jersey-based college team participates. Currently, the state constitution permits sports betting except for games held in New Jersey or where one or both teams are based in the state. This measure would expand sports betting to include all postseason college sports competitions, as long as a nonprofit collegiate athletic association sanctions the game.

Between 1995 and 2020, voters in New Jersey decided 35 constitutional amendments and approved 91% of them. 

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

Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:

  • Kentucky, Maine, and Rhode Island moved into different phases of reopening plans, permitting increased numbers of people to gather indoors and the reopening of certain businesses—such as bars, movie theatres, and restaurants—with limited capacity.

Federal government responses:

  • The Treasury Department and the IRS announced that the deadline to file taxes would not be extended beyond July 15. The IRS postponed the original April 15 deadline for filing federal tax returns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

School reopenings:

  • Governors or state education departments in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, and Wyoming released guidelines for reopening schools.

Mask requirements: 

  • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued mandates requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces and in outdoor settings when social distancing was not possible. 

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