Tagelections to watch

Ballotpedia’s Top 15 races to watch in 2021

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While there are no federal elections taking place this year other than special elections, statewide elections for political office are taking place in three states and local elections are occurring across the country.

Ballotpedia’s top 15 races to watch this year include:

Attorney General of Virginia: Incumbent Mark Herring (D) and challenger Jason Miyares (R) are running in one of the two races that will determine Virginia’s triplex status.

Governor of New Jersey: Incumbent Phil Murphy (D), Jack Ciattarelli (R), and three other candidates are running for governor. The race will determine the status of New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta and triplex.

Governor of Virginia: Terry McAuliffe (D), Glenn Youngkin (R), and two others are running for governor of Virginia. This race will impact Virginia’s trifecta and triplex status.

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia: Hala Ayala (D) and Winsome Sears (R) are running for lieutenant governor. Virginia is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are nominated and elected separately.

Virginia House of Delegates: All 100 House seats are up for election, with Democrats defending a 55-45 majority. If Republicans net six or more seats, they will break Virginia’s Democratic trifecta, while if Democrats lose fewer than five net seats or gain seats, they will maintain their majority.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Kevin Brobson (R) and Maria McLaughlin (D) are running for a 10-year term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court currently has a 5-2 Democratic majority.

Mayor of Atlanta: Incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms did not file for re-election this year, becoming Atlanta’s first mayor since World War II to do so. Sixteen candidates are running in the nonpartisan election to succeed her. If necessary, a runoff will take place Nov. 30.

Mayor of Boston: Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu are running for mayor of Boston. Incumbent Kim Janey, who succeeded to the office to fill a vacancy earlier in the year, was defeated in the primary.

Mayor of Buffalo: India Walton (D) and five write-ins, including incumbent Byron Brown (D), are running for mayor. Walton defeated Brown in the Democratic primary.

Mayor of Minneapolis: Incumbent Jacob Frey (D), AJ Awed (D), Katherine Knuth (D), Shelia Nezhad (D), and thirteen others are running in a ranked-choice election for mayor of Minneapolis.

Mayor of Seattle: Bruce Harrell and Lorena González are running for mayor of Seattle. Incumbent Jenny Durkan did not file for re-election.

Minneapolis City Council: All 13 seats on the Minneapolis City Council are up for election. Fifty-eight candidates, including 11 of the incumbents, filed for the seats. Democrats currently hold 12 seats on the council and the Green Party holds one.

Seattle City Attorney: Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running for Seattle’s top prosecutorial post after defeating incumbent Pete Holmes in the primary.

Seattle City Council: The two at-large seats on Seattle’s nine-member city council are up for election. Local commentary has focused on the position 9 seat, which is open as incumbent Lorena González is running for mayor.

JeffCo Colorado Schools: Three of the five seats on the JeffCo school board are up for election. This was among 71 school boards in 18 states where we had identified conflict over responses to the coronavirus as an element in the 2021 elections, as of Oct. 26.

These elections were selected by members of Ballotpedia’s editorial department based on past election results, unique election-specific circumstances, and race ratings published by elections forecasters. The final selections were made with the goal of including a mix of state and local races in mind.

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Update on Seattle’s mayor and council primary election results

Seattle, Washington, held top-two primary elections on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Results of the races are pending. Elections in Washington are conducted primarily by mail (ballots may also be deposited in drop boxes or returned in person). Ballots postmarked by Aug. 3 will be counted. King County Elections plans to release updated vote totals each weekday until results are certified on Aug. 17. 

Below are the top five candidates in each race as of preliminary results released Aug. 3. 

Mayoral primary

Fifteen candidates ran in this election. Incumbent Jenny Durkan did not seek re-election. 

  • Bruce Harrell – 38.2%
  • Lorena González – 28.5%
  • Colleen Echohawk – 8.3%
  • Jessyn Farrell – 7.5%
  • Arthur Langlie – 5.8%

City Council position 9

Seven candidates ran in the primary for the seat González currently holds. 

  • Sara Nelson – 42.4%
  • Nikkita Oliver – 35.0%
  • Brianna Thomas – 14.3%
  • Cory Eichner – 4.2%
  • Lindsay McHaffie – 1.8%

City Council position 8

Incumbent Teresa Mosqueda is seeking re-election. The primary featured 11 candidates. 

  • Mosqueda – 54.6%
  • Kenneth Wilson – 18.3%
  • Kate Martin – 12.5%
  • Paul Glumaz – 5.7%
  • Alexander White – 1.6%

Seattle holds elections for mayor and two at-large city council seats every four years. The seven other council seats are elected by district every four years. The last election for those seats was in 2019.



Primary election set for Aug. 3 in Tucson, Arizona

The municipal primary in Tucson, Arizona, is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2021. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on April 5.

Candidates filed for three seats on the six-seat city council. In Ward 3, Kevin Dahl will face Juan Padres in the Democratic primary. In the Ward 6 Democratic primary, Andres Portela and Miranda Schubert are challenging incumbent Steve Kozachik. No Republican candidates qualified for the ballot in these races, but voters can still choose to write in a candidate’s name.

Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and the 33rd-largest city in the United States by population.

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Washington sheriff recall to be held Aug. 3

A recall election seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington is being held on Aug. 3. Recall supporters had to collect 13,937 signatures in six months to put the recall on the ballot. 

The recall effort began in July 2020 and was led by the Benton County Sheriff’s Guild. Members of the guild said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. 

Hatcher, who first took office in May 2017, said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.

Washington requires recall petitions to be reviewed by a judge before they can be circulated. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition against Hatcher on Aug. 20, 2020. Hatcher appealed the decision to the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled on Nov. 6 that the recall effort could move forward and begin collecting signatures. The 13,937 signatures required to get the recall on the ballot was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election. Recall supporters submitted 16,552 signatures on April 23. The Benton County Auditor verified 14,215 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Candidate filing deadline for school board positions in Ohio is Aug. 4

Candidates interested in running for their local school board in Ohio have until Aug. 4 to file, unless the district held a primary earlier in the year. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2, and new board members will take office on Jan. 1, 2022.

Ballotpedia is covering elections in 20 Ohio school districts in 2021. Columbus City Schools’ filing deadline was Feb. 3. The remaining 19 districts are:

  • Berea City School District
  • Canal Winchester Local School District
  • Cincinnati Public Schools
  • Dublin City Schools
  • Euclid City School District
  • Gahanna-Jefferson City School District
  • Groveport-Madison Local School District
  • Hamilton Local School District
  • Hilliard City Schools
  • Maumee City School District
  • New Albany-Plain Local School District
  • Olentangy Local School District
  • Pickerington Local School District
  • South-Western City Schools
  • Sylvania City School District
  • Toledo Public Schools
  • Washington Local School District
  • Westerville City School District
  • Worthington Schools

These 19 school districts served a combined total of 220,070 students during the 2016-2017 school year. 

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Special primary elections to be held on August 3 in Michigan State Senate Districts 8 and 28

The special primary elections for Michigan State Senate District 8 and 28 are on Aug. 3. The major party candidate filing deadline passed on April 20, and the filing deadline for minor party and independent candidates is Aug. 4. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

District 8

In the Democratic primary, John Bill and Martin Genter are competing to advance to the general election. In the Republican primary, Mary Berlingieri, Bill Carver, Kristi Dean, Grant Golasa, Pamela Hornberger, Terence Mekoski, and Douglas Wozniak are competing to advance to the general election.

Andrew Kamal is running as an independent in the general election.

The special election for District 8 was called after Peter Lucido (R) left office after being elected Macomb County Prosecutor on Nov. 3, 2020. The seat has been vacant since Lucido resigned on Dec. 31. Lucido had served since 2019. 

District 28

Keith Courtade and Gidget Groendyk are competing in the Democratic primary to advance to the general election. In the Republican primary, Tommy Brann, Kevin Green, and Mark Huizenga are competing to advance to the general election.

The special election for District 28 was called after Peter MacGregor (R) left office after being elected Kent County Treasurer on Nov. 3, 2020. The seat has been vacant since MacGregor resigned on Dec. 31. MacGregor had served since 2015.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 20-16 majority in the Michigan State Senate. Michigan has a divided government, and no political party holds astate government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. 

As of July 2021, 46 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 18 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Since 2010, Michigan has held 16 state legislative special elections. 

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Seattle city attorney primary to take place August 3, 2021

Incumbent Pete Holmes, Ann Davison, and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running in a nonpartisan primary election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, on August 3, 2021. The top two candidates will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021. According to a survey conducted by Crosscut, a nonprofit news site, the top issues for voters are housing and homelessness, police and public safety, taxes and the economy, and urban planning and transportation.

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote. In a poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute from July 12 through July 15, 53% of voters were undecided in the race. Sixteen percent of respondents backed Holmes, 14% back Davison, and 14% back Thomas-Kennedy. The poll’s margin of error was 4.3%.

As of July 19, Holmes led in fundraising with $92,691, followed by Thomas-Kennedy with $16,102 and Davison with $7,014.

After attending Yale College and the University of Virginia School of Law, Holmes worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council and was a business litigation attorney before being elected city attorney in 2009. According to the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide, which endorsed Holmes, his priorities are “passing stronger gun laws, reducing excessive force on the part of the Seattle Police Department, vacating marijuana charges, and keeping people housed post-pandemic, among other policies.” Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (D), State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti (D), King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and a number of state senators and representatives also endorsed Holmes.

Davison is a Seattle attorney and arbitrator and attended Willamette University College of Law and Baylor University. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and said she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Former governor Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison.

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney and attended Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and Seattle University School of Law. She is running on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her campaign website says “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” The Seattle newspaper The Stranger endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

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Democratic, Republican candidates advance unopposed to special election in Tennessee state House district

The special primary election for Tennessee House of Representatives District 29 is on July 27. DeAngelo Jelks is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Greg Vital is running unopposed in the Republican primary. The candidates will advance to the general election, scheduled for Sept. 14.

The special election was called after Mike Carter (R) died from cancer on May 15. Carter served from 2012 to 2021.

The filing deadline to run for the seat passed on June 17.

Tennessee has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Tennessee House of Representatives by a margin of 73 to 26.



Candidate filing deadline to pass on July 26 in Hialeah, Fla.

Candidates interested in running for mayor and three city council seats in Hialeah, Fla., have until July 26 to file. The primary election will be held on Nov. 2. If no candidate earns a majority of the vote in the primary election, the top two vote-getters will advance to a general election. The general election, if necessary, will be held on Nov. 16.

Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández is ineligible to run for re-election in 2021 due to term limits. He has served as the city’s mayor since 2011. Mayoral elections in Hialeah are nonpartisan, but media outlets have reported that Hernandez is affiliated with the Republican Party.

The city council seats currently held by Group V incumbent Carl Zogby, Group VI incumbent Paul Hernandez, and Group VII incumbent Katharine Cue-Fuente are on the ballot in 2021. Zogby has served on the city council since 2017. Hernandez was appointed to the city council in 2010, and Cue-Fuente was appointed in 2008. Cue-Fuente is ineligible to run for another term due to term limits.

Hialeah is the sixth-largest city in Florida. It had an estimated population of 233,339 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 22 counties and 68 cities, including 40 mayoral elections.

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