TagDemocratic primaries

Kunselman, McCaffery running in May 16 Democratic primary for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Deborah Kunselman and Daniel McCaffery are running in the Democratic primary for one judgeship on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on May 16. The winner will face the Republican nominee—either Patricia McCullough or Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio—in the general election on Nov. 7. The filing deadline for the primary was March 7.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort, and justices run in partisan elections for 10-year terms. After a judge’s first term, he or she must run in a retention election to serve subsequent terms. The winner of this election will succeed Justice Max Baer (D), who passed away on Sept. 30, 2022. Baer’s term expired in 2023, and he could not run for re-election since Pennsylvania judges must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reach 75 years of age.

The state supreme court can hear appeals from both statewide and local courts and assume jurisdiction over any case in the Pennsylvania court system. Peter Hall of the Pittsburgh City Paper wrote, “The Supreme Court hears appeals in cases involving unsettled areas of the law, reviews all death penalty convictions, and has played the decisive role in redrawing Pennsylvania’s congressional districts in recent years.”

As Kate Huangpu wrote for Spotlight PA, “The state’s primaries are closed, meaning only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote for candidates during these spring contests. (Unaffiliated and third-party voters can, however, vote on ballot questions, other referendums, and special elections during a primary.)”

Kunselman is a judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, a position to which she was elected in 2017. She also worked as an attorney, a solicitor with Beaver County, and was first elected as a judge in Beaver County in 2006. Kunselman emphasizes her judicial experience in her campaign, saying on her website that she had “the most experience of any candidate for the Supreme Court with 17 years as a judge” and had “developed expertise in Civil, Family, Juvenile, and Criminal court.”

McCaffery is also a judge on the Pennsylvania Superior Court, a position to which he was elected in 2019. He is an Army veteran and worked as an attorney, an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, and was first elected as a judge in Philadelphia in 2013. McCaffery also emphasizes his judicial experience, saying on his website, “Assigned to one of the busiest trial divisions in Pennsylvania, Judge McCaffery presided over one hundred jury trials and thousands of bench trials…McCaffery is currently the supervising judge for wiretaps and was selected by the Supreme Court to serve on the Court of Judicial Discipline.”

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party endorsed McCaffery at a meeting of state party committee members on Jan. 29.

The partisan balance of the court changed as a result of the 2015 elections from a 4-3 Republican majority to a 5-2 Democratic majority when Justices Kevin M. Dougherty (D), David Wecht (D) and Christine Donohue (D) were elected to three open seats. The partisan composition of the court cannot change as a result of the 2023 election.

Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso wrote for Spotlight PA that “Justices elected as Democrats have been in the majority since 2015, and flipping the court back has been a top Republican priority since then. The seven-member court is currently composed of four Democrats and two Republicans.”

The most recent state supreme court election in Pennsylvania was in 2021, when Kevin Brobson (R) defeated Maria McLaughlin (D), 52% to 48%. Brobson’s election did not change the partisan composition of the court since he succeeded Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who did not run for another term because he turned 75 in 2021.

The next scheduled state supreme court elections in Pennsylvania will take place in 2025 when the three Democratic justices first elected in 2015 will be up for re-election. Unless there are unexpected vacancies, 2025 is the first year that the partisan balance of the court can change from a Democratic to a Republican majority.

Additional reading:

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Elections 2021

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Elections 2015

Incumbent Galvin defeats Sullivan in Massachusetts’ secretary of state Democratic primary

Incumbent William Galvin defeated Tanisha Sullivan in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts secretary of state on Sept. 6. Galvin was first elected secretary of state in 1994 and won re-election in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018.

Galvin will face Rayla Campbell—who was unopposed in the Republican primary—in the general election for secretary of state on Nov. 8.

Before being elected secretary of state, Galvin worked at a car dealership, as an aide on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council, and served as a state Representative. He had faced Democratic primary opposition in two previous re-election campaigns—defeating John Bonifaz, 83% to 17%, in 2006 and Josh Zakim, 67% to 33%, in 2018. Matt Stout of the Boston Globe wrote in April 2022 that Galvin was “the only incumbent Democratic secretary of state being targeted within his own party.”

Galvin had said his experience was important given the increased focus on elections, saying to the Boston Globe, “This is a critical time for democracy. That’s why I think I can provide a unique service. Probably the biggest shift is the national climate, the importance of elections. I believe I can continue to do it effectively. I don’t believe anyone else can [do it as well] at this point.”

In June 2022, Sullivan received the Democratic Party’s official endorsement with the support of 62.4% of delegates at the state convention. According to Colin A. Young of the State House News Service, Sullivan “was supported by more than 2,500 delegates while Galvin was backed by about 1,500 delegates.”

Sullivan’s professional experience included serving as the Chief Equity Office for Boston Public Schools, president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP, a corporate counsel for Sanofi Genzyme, and a fellow for CEO Action for Racial Equity. Before the primary, she said she would do more to promote voting among minority communities, saying at the state party convention, “Despite record voter turnout in 2020, hear me on this, voters from some of our most vulnerable communities still saw the lowest voter turnout across Massachusetts, leaving behind far too many voices…Simply put, Massachusetts needs a secretary of state who fights on the ground with us every day, fighting for the democracy we deserve.”

Prior to the 2022 elections, the last Republican that served as secretary of state in Massachusetts was Frederick Cook, who left office in 1949.

The secretary of state is a state-level position in 47 of the 50 states. The position does not exist in Alaska, Hawaii and Utah. Voters directly elect the secretary of state in 35 states. In the other 12, the secretary is appointed by either the governor or the state legislature. Although the duties and powers of the secretary of state vary from state to state, a common responsibility is management and oversight of elections and voter rolls, which are assigned to the secretary of state in 41 states. Other common responsibilities include registration of businesses, maintenance of state records, and certification of official documents.

There are 27 secretary of state seats on the ballot in 2022. There are 13 Republican-held secretary of state offices, 13 Democratic-held secretary of state offices, and one independent office on the ballot in 2022.

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Nadler defeats Maloney in final incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary

U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler defeated U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Suraj Patel, and Ashmi Sheth in the Democratic primary for New York’s 12th Congressional District on Aug. 23, 2022. Nadler received 55% of the vote to Maloney’s 24%, followed by Patel with 19%.

This race was the last of six primaries featuring two U.S. House incumbents due to congressional redistricting. Maloney currently represents the old 12th District, and Nadler represents the old 10th District. According to data from Daily Kos, Maloney represents 61% of the redrawn 12th District’s population, and Nadler represents 39%.

Both Nadler and Maloney were first elected in 1992. Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Maloney chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee. Both are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Patel, an attorney, challenged Maloney in 2018 and 2020. In 2020, Maloney defeated Patel 43% to 39% in a four-candidate race.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos wrote of the primary, “With overwhelmingly similar views, the candidates … toiled through the summer to differentiate themselves.” Fandos said that Nadler “tried to claim the progressive mantle and highlighted his status as the city’s last remaining Jewish congressman,” Maloney’s campaign “centered on women — both their electoral potential to sway the outcome and the importance of protecting one of their own,” and Patel “[targeted] younger voters, stressing the need for generational change against two septuagenarians[.]”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and The New York Times editorial board endorsed Nadler. Maloney received endorsements from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and EMILY’s List. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Indian American Impact endorsed Patel.

Major independent observers rate the general election as solid or safe Democratic.

Maloney defeats Biaggi in New York’s 17th Congressional District Democratic primary

Sean Patrick Maloney defeated Alessandra Biaggi in the Democratic Party primary for New York’s 17th Congressional District on August 23, 2022. Mondaire Jones (D) had represented the 17th Congressional District since 2021, but ran in New York’s 10th Congressional District this election cycle.

Maloney has represented New York’s 18th Congressional District since 2013 and has served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2020. Maloney was a candidate for attorney general of New York in 2018, but lost to Letitia James in the Democratic primary. He served as a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton (D) and first deputy secretary in former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s (D) administration. Maloney said he is “focused on getting results for my neighbors in the Hudson Valley – despite gridlock and dysfunction in Washington.” 

Biaggi has represented District 34 in the New York State Senate since 2019. Biaggi also served as lead counsel to the NYS Council for Women and Girls, as the deputy national operations director for Hillary Clinton’s (D) presidential campaign, as the assistant general counsel for the Office of Storm Recovery, and as a legal fellow for New York State Homes and Community Renewal. Biaggi said she ran for Congress “to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all.” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) endorsed Biaggi.

As a result of redistricting, the 17th Congressional District’s boundaries shifted to encompass Putnam County. According to data from The New York Times, President Joe Biden (D) received 60% of the vote in the old district, but would have received 55% of the vote in the new district. The The New York Times‘ Nicholas Fandos said congressional redistricting in the state “erased outright gains that Democrats had counted on based on the Legislature’s map and made other Democratic swing seats more competitive.”

According to Axios‘ Andrew Solender, “Maloney stoked anger from the left by running in a redrawn district mostly represented by Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a progressive freshman who is now running for an open seat in New York City miles away from his home turf. Biaggi, who had been running in an open district that was similarly upended by redistricting, then opted to run against Maloney.”

Biaggi said Maloney was “a selfish corporate Democrat” and that “having the head of the campaign arm not stay in his district, not maximize the number of seats New York can have to hold the majority” was hurtful to the party. 

Maloney said, “From my point of view, I’m just running from where I landed. If someone else is looking at the district, as well, obviously we will try to work through that as colleagues and friends.”

As of July 2022, The Cook Political Report and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated the district Lean Democratic, while Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated it Likely Democratic. In the previous election, Mondaire Jones defeated Maureen McArdle Schulman (R) 59% to 35%.

Crist defeats Fried in Florida gubernatorial Democratic primary

Charlie Crist defeated Cadance Daniel, Nikki Fried, and Robert Willis in the Democratic primary for governor of Florida on August 23, 2022. Crist had received 60% of the vote, followed by Fried with 35%.

Crist was elected to the U.S. House in 2016. He served as governor from 2007 to 2011, attorney general from 2003 to 2007, state education commissioner from 2001 to 2003, and in the state senate from 1992 to 1998. Crist was elected to state office as a Republican before becoming an independent in 2010 and a Democrat in 2012. Crist campaigned on five steps he says would make voting easier in the state, including reversing 2021 changes to the state’s mail ballot policies, providing clean water, and easing transitions for out-of-state transplants as key issues. Three members of Florida’s U.S. House delegation, at least 22 state legislators, the Florida Education Association, and the Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Crist.

Fried was elected as agriculture commissioner in 2018 and is the only Democrat holding statewide office in Florida. Before holding elected office, Fried was a public defender, an attorney in private practice, and a government affairs advocate for the marijuana industry. Fried campaigned on reducing housing costs, lowering the price of homeowner’s insurance, a $15 minimum wage, and creating a small business growth fund. At least four state legislators and the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida endorsed Fried.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is running for re-election. At the time of the primary, three independent election forecasters rated the general election as Likely Republican.

Barnes wins Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Wisconsin

Mandela Barnes won the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin on Aug. 9 and will face incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in the general election.

Leading up to the primary, Barnes, along with state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, and former state Rep. Tom Nelson, led in media attention. Between July 25 and July 29, 2022, Godlewski, Lasry, and Nelson withdrew from the race and endorsed Barnes. Since ballots were printed before the withdrawals, their names still appeared on Democratic primary ballots.

Kou Lee, Steven Olikara, Peter Peckarsky, and Darrell Williams also ran.

Wisconsin is one of two states holding a U.S. Senate election this year that President Joe Biden carried in 2020 in which the incumbent is a Republican. It is also one of six states with one Democratic and one Republican Senator as of the 2022 U.S. Senate elections.

Barnes was elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2013 to 2017. According to Isaac Yu of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Barnes entered the Senate race as the most well-known candidate” and “is running on issues that range from rebuilding the middle class to bringing manufacturing back to Wisconsin to supporting family farms.” He received endorsements from the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

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Primary watch: number of contested state legislative primaries is up 23% compared to 2020

There are 23% more contested state legislative primaries this year than in 2020, including 53% more Republican primaries and 8% more top-two/four primaries. Democratic primaries are down 10%.

These figures include elections in 39 states that account for 5,011 of 6,166 state legislative seats up for election this year (81%).

A primary is contested when there are more candidates running than available nominations, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Since our last update on Aug. 1, we have added post-filing deadline data from Florida and Vermont. Overall, 11 states in this analysis have Democratic trifectas, 20 have Republican trifectas, and eight have divided governments.

Of the 39 states in this analysis, 36 are holding partisan primaries. Three states—California, Nebraska, and Washington—use top-two primaries.

The number of Democratic primaries has increased in 11 states, decreased in 21, and remains the same in three. The number of Republican primaries has increased in 31 states, decreased in four, and is unchanged in one. The table below shows partisan statistics for the three states with the largest increases and decreases so far.

In addition to a state’s political makeup and party activity, redistricting is another reason for an increase in primary competitiveness.

After redistricting, some states—like Arkansas—hold elections for every district, while in other years, fewer districts are up each cycle. This creates more opportunities for primaries to occur. Or, like in West Virginia, redistricting creates new districts and, by extension, more primary opportunities. Currently, the total number of possible primaries affected by these changes is up 3.0% compared to 2020.

For states like New Mexico and South Carolina, where only one chamber is up for election every two years, only those chambers holding elections in 2022 that also held elections in 2020 are included.

Ballotpedia will continue to update these figures as information becomes available. In addition to this analysis, Ballotpedia collects competitiveness statistics at all levels of government, available here. This data is calculated following candidate filing deadlines and readjusted at the time of the primary to account for any changes to candidate lists.

Final incumbent vs. incumbent primary upcoming in NY-12

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, Suraj Patel, and Ashmi Sheth are running in the Democratic primary for New York’s 12th Congressional District on Aug. 23. Maloney, Nadler, and Patel lead in endorsements, funding, and media attention.

This race is the last of six primaries featuring two U.S. House incumbents in 2022.

Maloney currently represents the 12th District as it was drawn before redistricting, and Nadler represents the old 10th District. Heading into the election, Maloney represents 61% of the redrawn 12th District’s population, and Nadler represents 39%, according to Daily Kos data.

Both representatives were first elected in 1992. Maloney chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee. Maloney and Nadler are both members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and are campaigning as progressives.

Maloney’s campaign website says she has fostered “lasting bipartisan agreement in an increasingly polarized government, without giving up the ideals and causes she’s fought for throughout her career: promoting equality, protecting consumers, building infrastructure that serves New Yorkers and the region, extending and protecting healthcare coverage for all, protecting the environment, and working to understand and find solutions for everyday issues like affordable housing and small business support.”

Nadler’s campaign website says his record includes “standing up to Republican attempts at voter suppression, providing justice to survivors of sexual assault and harassment, [and] leading the impeachment of President Trump as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.” The website calls Nadler “a relentless defender of our country’s democracy and a fierce fighter for civil rights, racial justice, and a safer, more equal America.”

Patel, an attorney, was a campaign staffer for Barack Obama’s (D) presidential campaigns. Patel challenged Maloney in 2018 and 2020, receiving 40% of the vote to Maloney’s 60% in 2018 and 39% to Maloney’s 43% in 2020.

Patel calls himself “an Obama Democrat” and said, “Democrats need a new generation of leaders – practical and progressive leaders who can deliver new energy and fresh ideas on how to get things done.” Patel said, “New Yorkers are hungry for change. They want more affordable housing, better jobs, safer streets, modern infrastructure that actually gets built in their lifetimes, and representatives who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect and codify their human rights at the federal level.”

Major independent observers rate the general election as solid Democratic or safe Democratic.

Stevens defeated Levin in race incumbent-vs.-incumbent Democratic primary for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens defeated U.S. Rep. Andy Levin in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District on August 2, 2022. Stevens received 59.5% of the vote, and Levin received 40.5%.

This race was one of six incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries occurring for the U.S. House in 2022 as a result of congressional redistricting.

Michigan lost one congressional district following the 2020 census, and when the lines were redrawn, its new 11th district included areas represented by multiple Democratic incumbents. According to data from Daily Kos, the newer 11th district contains about 45% of the older 11th district, which Stevens began representing in Congress in 2019. The newer 11th contains about 25% of the older 9th district, which Levin began representing in Congress in 2019.

When asked why he decided to run for election in the new 11th district instead of the new 9th, Levin said, “I’m running where I live, and I’m very happy about that decision, no regrets.” Levin’s campaign website said of the newer 11th district that Levin’s “roots in Oakland County, Michigan, go back well over 100 years” and that his father Sandy Levin (D) represented parts of the newer 11th in the older 9th district from 1983 to 2019.

Stevens called the incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary unfortunate, saying, “No one asked for this…In ten months, we are not going to be colleagues and that is not good. That is not good for Michigan. That’s not good for the Democratic Party. It’s not good for the country.” 

Levin served on the Education and Labor and Foreign Affairs committees in the 117th Congress. He was also a member of the Progressive caucus. Levin’s campaign said he had a progressive record in Congress, citing his co-sponsorship of bills to implement the Green New Deal and Medicare for All and his endorsements from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D). Levin also emphasized his background on the campaign trail, saying of his former jobs as union organizer for the national AFL-CIO and SEIU, “It’s my life. I’m the union organizer in Congress.” Heading into the final month of the race, Levin had raised more than $4.5 million.

Stevens served on the Education and Labor and Science, Space & Technology committees in the 117th Congress. She helped launch the Women in STEM Caucus in 2020, which said that its goal is to support and increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Prior to her election to Congress in 2018, Stevens served as the chief of staff for the U.S. Auto Rescue Task Force under former President Barack Obama (D). Heading into the final month of the race, Stevens had raised more than $2.5 million. In a July 2022 Target-Insyght poll, Stevens led Levin with 58% of voter support to his 31%.

Before the primary, the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections all rated Michigan’s 11th Congressional District as a solid/safe Democratic seat, meaning that the winner of the Democratic primary was very likely to win the general election as well.

4.7% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 156 state legislative incumbents—39 Democrats and 117 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 33 states that have held primaries, 4.7% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, an elevated level of incumbent losses compared to previous cycles.

These totals include data from Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Washington, which held state legislative primaries on Aug. 2. No incumbents have lost, so far, in Arizona, Michigan, and Washington, though races featuring incumbents remain uncalled. For the remaining states:

  • Kansas: one Democrat and three Republicans lost;
  • Ohio: one Democrat and two Republicans lost; and,
  • Missouri: four Democrats and two Republicans lost.

This year, Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 1,901 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 117 (6.2%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 39 of the 1,432 who filed for re-election (2.7%) have lost.

Thirty-four of these 156 incumbent defeats (22%) were guaranteed due to redistricting. When states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can oftentimes end up in a new district with other incumbents leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections. Since, in these races, there are more incumbents running than nominations or seats available, at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 33 states that have held primaries so far, nine have Democratic trifectas, 18 have Republican trifectas, and six have divided governments. Across these 33 states, there are 4,306 seats up for election, 70% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 will likely increase. There are currently 87 uncalled primaries featuring incumbents: 24 Democratic, 33 Republican, and 30 top-two.

You can view more information about state-specific and historic information regarding incumbent defeats by clicking “Learn More” below.