Tagelection results

Hickman defeats Duong in Mississippi state Senate special runoff election

A special general runoff election was held for Mississippi state Senate District 32 on Nov. 23. Rod Hickman earned 59.8% of the vote, defeating Minh Duong, who earned 40.3%

State legislative special elections are nonpartisan in Mississippi, meaning that candidates’ party affiliations do not appear on the ballot. 

Hickman and Duong had advanced from the general election held on Nov. 2, where they were the top two finishers, defeating seven other candidates. A runoff was necessary because no one earned a majority of the vote during the general election.

The special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) resigned on June 30. Jackson served from 1992 to 2021.

As of November 2021, 66 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

Mississippi is a Republican state government trifecta, meaning that the Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans control the state Senate by a margin of 36 to 15, with one vacancy.

Party control of mayor’s office in Columbia, S.C., flips from Democratic to Republican in runoff

Daniel Rickenmann defeated Tameika Isaac Devine in the runoff election for mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 16. Rickenmann received 52% of the vote to Devine’s 48%. Both Rickenmann and Devine are members of the Columbia City Council.

While mayoral elections in Columbia are nonpartisan, Rickenmann is affiliated with the Republican Party. Incumbent Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a Democrat, did not run for re-election. Benjamin endorsed Devine, also a Democrat, in the runoff.

Fifteen state capitals held mayoral elections in 2021. Before these elections, 14 officeholders were Democrats and one was nonpartisan. As a result of the 2021 elections, 12 mayoral offices will remain under Democratic control (Atlanta, Georgia, will hold a runoff election between two Democrats on Nov. 30). The election in Columbia flips one office from Democratic to Republican control. One office continues to be held by a nonpartisan mayor, and one newly-elected mayor has not responded to inquiries.

Currently, the mayors of 39 state capitals are affiliated with the Democratic Party. Four are Republicans, one is independent, and two are nonpartisan. Four mayors have not responded to inquiries about their partisan affiliation.

In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

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Virginia to become the third state with a split legislature following 2021 general elections

As a result of the 2021 elections, Republicans gained a 52-48 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats hold a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate. When the new legislature takes office in January, Virginia will join Alaska and Minnesota as the only states where control of two legislative chambers is split between parties.

Alaska’s legislature has been under split control since the start of 2016 when Democrats successfully created a minority-led coalition in the Alaska House of Representatives. Republicans have held a majority in the Alaska State Senate since 2012.

Minnesota’s legislature has been under split control since 2019. Republicans control the Minnesota State Senate, while Democrats control the Minnesota House of Representatives. The legislature was also split from 2015-2016 and 1999-2006.

Across the rest of the country, Republicans hold majorities in both state legislative chambers in 30 states, while Democrats hold majorities in 17 states.

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Pillsbury wins Dover City Council special election

The city of Dover, D.E., held a nonpartisan special election for District 1 on the city council on Nov. 16. The filing deadline for this election was Nov. 1.

Julia Pillsbury defeated Brandy Walker in the special election with 53.5% of the vote. According to unofficial results, Pillsbury received 272 votes to Walker’s 236. The special election was called after Matthew Lindell resigned from his seat on the nine-seat city council after deciding to move from the district. Lindell served from 2017 to 2021.

Dover is the capital city of Delaware and the second-largest city in the state. It had an estimated population of 39,403 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.

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Nine state legislative seats changed party hands on Nov. 2

On Nov. 2, 2021, control of at least nine state legislative seats flipped from one political party to another. Eight of those seats flipped from Democratic to Republican control and the other flipped from Republican to Democratic control. There are 14 outstanding races still to be called, so these numbers could still change.

The nine seats flipped out of the 220 seats up for election means that 4.1% of the state legislative seats up for election on Nov. 2 changed party control. The net change was +7 for Republicans and -7 for Democrats. In 2019, 33 of 538 seats (6%) changed party hands. The net change that year was +6 for Republicans, -2 for Democrats, and -4 for Independent or third parties.

More state legislative seats flipped this year as a result of special elections, which are not included as part of this analysis. Five seats have changed party hands as a result of special elections in 2021: three from Democratic to Republican and two from Republican to Democratic. Two flips (one each way) happened as a result of a Nov. 2 special election.

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Democrats flip Maine state House seat in Nov. 2 special election

Democrats picked up a seat in the Maine House of Representatives on Nov. 2. In the District 86 special election, Augusta City Council member Raegan LaRochelle (D) defeated U.S. Army veteran James Orr (R) with 56.2% of the vote. LaRochelle’s term will last until December 2022. To keep hold of her seat, LaRochelle will have to run for re-election in 2022 for a two-year term.

The seat became vacant on July 4 when Justin Fecteau (R) resigned because he moved outside of the district. He had represented the district since 2018. He was re-elected in 2020 with 57% of the vote.

Democrats currently have a 79-65 majority in the Maine House with five third-party members and two vacancies. Maine has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of Nov. 4, 65 state legislative special elections were scheduled or had taken place in 2021. Including the District 86 race, five seats have changed partisan hands in 2021. Two seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control, while three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Maine held 15 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Two Atlanta Public Schools races head to runoff election

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) school board in Georgia—three at-large and six by-district seats—were up for general election on Nov. 2. Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 and At-Large Districts 8 and 9 were decided in the general election, but District 2 and At-Large District 7 will go to a runoff election scheduled for Nov. 30, 2021.

General election winners were Katie Howard in District 1, Jennifer McDonald in District 4, Erika Yvette Mitchell in District 5, Eshé Collins in District 6, Cynthia Briscoe Brown in At-Large District 8, and Jason Esteves in At-Large District 9. Aretta Baldon and Keisha Carey will advance to a runoff election for the District 2 seat, while Tamara Jones and KaCey Venning will advance to a runoff for the At-Large District 7 seat.

Six incumbents were seeking re-election: Brown (At-Large District 8), Esteves (At-Large District 9), Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Mitchell (District 5), and Collins (District 6). Three incumbents did not seek re-election: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4).

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools were major issues in this race. In 2018, the board voted 5-4 to allow KIPP Metro Atlanta, a network of charter schools, to continue to operate until 2023 when the charter must be renewed or terminated. Of the incumbent candidates in this election, Esteves and Collins supported the KIPP charter, while Brown, Mitchell, and Olympiadis opposed it.

COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, were also an issue. In addition to implementing a school-wide mask policy and mandatory twice-weekly testing requirement for staff for the 2021-2022 school year, APS released a statement on Oct. 7, 2021, saying the school district would “continue to study the feasibility and need for a vaccine mandate in our district.”

The 2021 election is the last election during which every board seat is up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The candidates who won in odd-numbered districts will serve two-year terms expiring Dec. 31, 2023. Candidates who won seats in even-numbered districts will serve four-year terms ending Dec. 31, 2025.

Atlanta Public Schools is located in northwestern Georgia in Fulton County and DeKalb County. It is classified as a large city school district by the National Center for Education Statistics. The district served 52,377 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 89 schools.

Phil Murphy becomes the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) defeated former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R), becoming the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977.

As of 9:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 3, Murphy led Ciattarelli by a margin of 19,440 votes or 0.8 percentage points. If this margin holds, it will be 13 percentage points narrower than Murphy’s initial election in 2017. It would also make this election the closest gubernatorial election in New Jersey since Thomas Kean (R) defeated James Florio (D) by a margin of 0.1 percentage points in 1981. The results may also be subject to a recount. In New Jersey, any candidate can request a recount within 17 days of the election.

Charles Stile of NorthJersey.com called the election a “race to the bottom” in a September 2021 article, citing Murphy and Ciattarelli’s negative attacks targeting the other. Murphy used campaign ads and events to portray Ciattarelli as out of touch with the state’s electorate and wanting to introduce former President Donald Trump‘s (R) agenda to the state. Ciattarelli highlighted issues such as taxes and the handling of sexual abuse allegations to frame Murphy as an elected official who does not understand the needs of average New Jerseyites.

Murphy’s win preserves New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta, as well as its Democratic triplex. A win for Ciattarelli would have broken New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta and replaced the state’s Democratic triplex with a Republican triplex.

In New Jersey, gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates run together on joint tickets. Along with Murphy, incumbent Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D) was re-elected.

Learn more here.

Colorado voters reject three ballot initiatives, including measure to create education program and raise marijuana sales tax

Three initiatives—Amendment 78, Proposition 119, and Proposition 120— were on the ballot on Nov. 2, and were rejected by voters.

Proposition 119 would have created the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, also known as the LEAP Program, and would have increased the marijuana retail sales tax incrementally from 15% to 20% to partially fund the program. The measure was rejected by a vote of 54.5% against to 45.5% in favor.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids led the Yes on Prop 119 campaign. The committee reported raising $2.58 million in contributions. The top two donors were Gary Community Investment Company, which gave $1.97 million, and Ready Colorado, which gave $625,000. Three committees registered to oppose the initiative: No on Prop 119, Coloradans Against School Vouchers, and Cannabis Community for Fairness and Safety. Together, the committees reported raising $73,530 in contributions.

Michael Fields, executive director of Colorado Rising Action, sponsored Amendment 78 and Proposition 120. Amendment 78 was rejected by a vote of 56.5% against to 43.5% in favor. It would have transferred the power to appropriate custodial funds from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Examples of such funds include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The committee supporting the initiative raised $1.275 million, all given by Unite for Colorado, which describes itself as an “issue advocacy organization that believes in a smaller, more accountable government.” No committees registered to oppose the measure.

Proposition 120 was rejected by a vote of 57% against to 43% in favor. It would have reduced the residential property tax assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5% and the non-residential property tax assessment rate from 29% to 26.4%. It would also have authorized the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) spending cap for five years, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers, to fund reimbursements to local government entities for lost revenue due to homestead exemptions given to qualifying seniors and disabled veterans. The committee supporting the measure raised $1.53 million from Unite for Colorado ($875,000), Colorado Rising State Action ($347,000), the Apartment Association of Metro Denver ($241,900), and United Dominion Realty Trust, Inc. ($52,000). No committees registered to oppose the measure.

In total, $3,329,466.92 was spent by the initiative campaigns on signature gathering for the three 2021 Colorado initiatives. Campaigns needed to submit 124,632 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The average cost-per-required-signature was $8.42.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR. The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates.

New Jersey voters reject expanded sports betting amendment, approve change to raffle law

Voters in New Jersey decided two constitutional amendments on Nov. 2, approving one and rejecting the other. Proposal 1 was rejected by 56.8% of voters. It would have allowed wagering on all college sports competitions. As of 2021, the state constitution permitted sports betting except on games held in New Jersey and on games featuring New Jersey-based college teams. Therefore, the ballot measure would have expanded sports betting to include all college sports competitions.

Proposal 2 was approved by 64.1% of voters. The ballot measure allowed organizations that are permitted to hold raffles to keep the raffle proceeds to support themselves. As of 2021, the New Jersey Constitution limited bingo and raffles to several types of organizations, including 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. Of these organizations, veterans and senior citizen organizations were allowed to use proceeds from bingo or raffles to support their groups. The other organizations were prohibited from doing so.

Both of the constitutional amendments were put on the ballot by the New Jersey General Assembly. Legislative Democrats and most Republicans voted to put Proposal 1 on the ballot. Legislators unanimously voted to put Proposal 2 on the ballot.

Between 1995 and 2020, New Jersey voters decided 35 constitutional amendments, approving 32 (91.4%) of them. Before 2021, the last amendment to be rejected was Question 1 of 2016. It would have authorized two casinos in northern New Jersey.