Tagelections to watch

Recall elections to be held in 3 Idaho school districts

Recall elections in three Idaho school districts—Pocatello-Chubbuck, Idaho Falls, and Nampa—are scheduled for March 9, 2021. Five board members are facing recall across the three districts.

  1. Three school board members—Zone 1 representative Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 representative Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 representative Dave Mattson—will be on the ballot in the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District. The recall effort began in September 2020 after the board unanimously voted to continue using a hybrid teaching model for middle school and high school students for the remainder of the first trimester of the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall supporters said the board was not fully representing the electorate on the issue of hybrid learning and other topics. The school district released a statement saying that the board weighs a number of factors when making decisions and that majority opinion does not always rule.
  2. In the Idaho Falls School District, Zone 4 representative Elizabeth Cogliati is on the ballot. The recall effort began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mix of in-person and online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cogliati voted in favor of the change in instruction along with two other board members who were also targeted for recall. Those other recall efforts did not make the March 9 ballot. Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.
  3. In the Nampa School District, Zone 2 representative Mike Kipp is on the ballot. The recall effort started after Kipp cast the sole dissenting vote against allowing sports to resume during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall supporters said that they were not being represented on the board and that their voices had not been heard at board meetings on multiple occasions. In response to the recall effort, Kipp said, “I have done my best to listen well to all input from teachers, students, patrons, our superintendent, other district leaders and all relevant experts. I then seek to utilize that information in determining my vote.”

In order for the recall elections to be successful, two things must happen: 1) a majority of voters must vote in favor of the recall; and 2) the total number of votes cast in favor of recall must be equal or greater than the number of votes that first put the board member in office.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 224 recall efforts against 269 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Voters in Connecticut state Senate district to decide special election on March 2

The special general election for Connecticut State Senate District 27 is on March 2, 2021. Patricia Miller (D), Joshua Esses (R), and Brian Merlen (Independent Party) are competing in the special election. No primary election was scheduled, as candidates running for special elections in Connecticut are nominated through party conventions.

The special election was called after Carlo Leone (D) resigned effective January 5, 2021, to become a special advisor to Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti. Leone served from 2011 to 2021.

As of February, 27 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Connecticut held 40 special elections between 2010 and 2020.

Connecticut 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. Democrats control the Connecticut State Senate by a margin of 23-12 with one vacancy. 

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Seven candidates running in special primary election for California Senate District 30

The special primary election for California Senate District 30 is on March 2, 2021. Seven candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for May 4. The filing deadline to run passed on January 7.

California holds top-two primary elections. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

The special election was called after Holly Mitchell (D) left office to become the District 2 representative on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Mitchell represented District 30 in the state Senate from 2013 to 2020.

California 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. Democrats control the California State Senate by a margin of 30-9, with one vacancy. 

As of February 2021, 26 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. California held 32 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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Voters in Texas House district to decide special election runoff on Feb. 23

A special general runoff election is being held on February 23 for District 68 of the Texas House of Representatives. Craig Carter (R) is facing David Spiller (R) in the runoff. Carter and Spiller advanced from the general election on January 23, earning 18% of the vote and 44% of the vote, respectively. Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on February 4 to schedule the runoff.

The seat became vacant after Drew Springer (R) won a special election for Texas State Senate District 30 on December 19, 2020. Springer was elected to the state House in 2012. He won re-election in November 2020 with 85.5% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have an 82-67 majority in the Texas House. Texas 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.

As of February, 26 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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Partisan control of U.S. Senate will come down to Georgia

Two of the 35 Senate races held in 2020 remain uncalled: the regular and special Senate elections in Georgia. Republicans have secured 50 seats in the next Senate, and Democrats have secured 48 (including two seats held by independents who caucus with Democrats). Control of the Senate will come down to Georgia.

Democrats would need to win both of Georgia’s Senate seats to split the chamber 50-50. Since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate, splitting the chamber would give Democrats an effective majority in 2021. Republicans would need to win one of the Senate races to maintain their majority.

Georgia is one of two states (alongside Louisiana) that requires runoff elections if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in a general election. As vote totals currently stand, it is projected that both Senate elections in Georgia will go to runoffs. That would mean we wouldn’t know which party will control the Senate until the January 5 runoff elections.

Republican incumbents are running in both Georgia Senate races: David Perdue in the regular election and Kelly Loeffler in the special election. Perdue was first elected in 2014. Loeffler assumed office in January 2020; she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned.

Perdue faces Jon Ossoff (D), who challenged Karen Handel (R) in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2017. Raphael Warnock (D), senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, is challenging Loeffler.

Of the 33 Senate races called, Republicans won 20 and Democrats 13. Democrats have a net gain of one seat, as they flipped two (in Colorado and Arizona) and Republicans flipped one (in Alabama).

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15 races we’re watching in 2020

On November 3, Americans will elect thousands of offices up and down the ballot, including the presidency, 35 seats in the U.S. Senate, all 435 seats in the U.S. House, 11 governorships, and 5,875 seats across 86 state legislative chambers. Ballotpedia has identified the top 15 races we’ll be watching (the presidential election aside), listed alphabetically and by race type.

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. We selected a mix of federal and state races.

  • U.S. Senate election in Georgia: Incumbent David Perdue (R) faces Jon Ossoff (D) and Shane Hazel (L). If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff on January 5, 2021. Depending on the results of other Senate elections, such a runoff could end up determining control of the chamber.
  • U.S. Senate special election in Georgia: Incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R), who was appointed to the Senate following Johnny Isakson’s (R) retirement, faces 20 challengers in this special election for the remainder of Isakson’s term. Special Congressional elections in Georgia do not have primaries, meaning every candidate advanced directly to the general election. The polling and fundraising leaders are Loeffler, Doug Collins (R), Matt Lieberman (D), and Raphael Warnock (D). Like the other Georgia Senate election, this race will advance to a runoff unless one candidate wins more than 50% of the vote.
  • U.S. Senate election in Iowa: Incumbent Joni Ernst (R), Theresa Greenfield (D), Rick Stewart (L), and Suzanne Herzog (I) are running for one of Iowa’s seats in the U.S. Senate. Iowa has been contested political territory in recent elections; its total of 31 Pivot Counties (which voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016) is greater than that of any other state.
  • U.S. Senate election in Kansas: Barbara Bollier (D), Roger Marshall (R), and Jason Buckley (L) are running for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Pat Roberts’ (R) retirement. Bollier, a state legislator who left the Republican Party in 2018, would be the first Democrat to win election to the U.S. Senate since 1932.
  • U.S. Senate election in Maine: Incumbent Susan Collins (R), Sara Gideon (D), and five other candidates are running for one of Maine’s U.S. Senate seats. This election will use ranked-choice voting, a system where voters rank candidates in order of their preference rather than voting for one.
  • U.S. Senate election in North Carolina: Incumbent Thom Tillis (R), Cal Cunningham (D), Kevin E. Hayes (Constitution Party), and Shannon Bray (L) are running for one of North Carolina’s seats in the U.S. Senate. Tillis would be the first incumbent to successfully win re-election to this seat since Jesse Helms (R) in 1996.
  • California’s 25th Congressional District: Incumbent Mike Garcia (R) and Christy Smith (D) are running in this Los Angeles-area U.S. House district. Katie Hill (D) flipped this district in 2018 before resigning the next year amid allegations of an extramarital affair. In the May 2020 special election, Garcia defeated Smith to flip the district back, becoming the first Republican to flip a U.S. House district in California since 1998.
  • Georgia’s 7th Congressional District: Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) and Rich McCormick (R) are running for this suburban Atlanta district, currently represented by retiring incumbent Rob Woodall (R). Bourdeaux was the Democratic nominee in 2018 when she lost to Woodall by a 433-vote margin; the narrowest of any U.S. House race that year.
  • Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District: Incumbent Collin Peterson (D), Michelle Fischbach (R), and Slater Johnson (Legal Marijuana Now Party) are running in this western Minnesota district. Donald Trump (R) won this district 62% to 31% in 2016, his largest margin of victory in any House district currently represented by a Democrat.
  • New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District: Incumbent Xochitl Torres Small (D), Yvette Herrell (R), and Steve Jones (I) are running for this southern New Mexico district. This is one of 56 U.S. House rematches in 2020; Torres Small and Herrell were their party’s nominees in 2018. That year, Torres Small defeated Herrell 51% to 49%.
  • South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Joe Cunningham (D) and Nancy Mace (R) are running for this southeastern South Carolina district. Cunningham became the first Democrat elected from the district since 1978 when he first won election in 2018. President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 54% to 40% in the district in 2016.
  • Utah’s 4th Congressional District: Incumbent Ben McAdams (D), Burgess Owens (R), and John Molnar (L) are running for this suburban Salt Lake City district. McAdams defeated incumbent Mia Love (R) to win election in 2018. His 694-vote margin of victory was the narrowest in any U.S. House election that resulted in a flipped seat that year.
  • Governor of North Carolina: Incumbent Roy Cooper (D), Dan Forest (R), Al Pisano (Constitution Party), and Steven DiFiore II (L) are running for governor of North Carolina. Cooper defeated incumbent Pat McCrory (R) 49.0% to 48.8% in 2016, the same year Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 50% to 46%.
  • Washington Secretary of State: Incumbent Kim Wyman (R) and Gael Tarleton (D) are running for Washington Secretary of State. The secretary of state, which serves as Washington’s chief elections officer, is one of two statewide offices currently held by Republicans. Tarleton would be the first Democrat elected to the office since 1960.
  • Michigan Supreme Court: Seven candidates are running for two seats on the seven-member Michigan Supreme Court. Currently, the court is comprised of four members appointed by Republican governors and three elected after winning a nomination from the Democratic Party. One Republican-affiliated and one Democratic-affiliated seat are up, meaning the elections have the potential to tilt the balance on the court.

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