Tagelections

Eighty percent of state legislative incumbents seeking re-election advanced to the general election without a primary challenge

A greater percentage of state legislative incumbents advanced directly to the general election without a primary challenge in 2021 compared to 2019, according to Ballotpedia’s annual competitiveness report. Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—are holding state legislative elections this year with 220 seats up for election.

In 2021, 203 incumbents filed for re-election, 80.3% of whom (163) did not have a contested primary. The 19.7% who did have contested primaries (40) represented a 10.4 percentage point decrease from 2019. However, this rate of contested primaries was higher than those in 2017 and 2013, the last two times these 220 seats were all up for election.

Contested primary elections typically involve members of the same political party running to earn a spot on the general election ballot. They present the first test for incumbents in an election cycle: if an incumbent is defeated in a contested primary, he or she might be unable to appear on the general election ballot, thereby losing office. When a primary is not contested, the incumbent is guaranteed to advance to the general election.

In 2021, Republican incumbents faced contested primaries at a higher rate than Democratic incumbents. Of the 78 Republican incumbents seeking re-election, 21.8% (17) had primary challenges. Of the 125 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election, 18.4% (23) faced contested primaries.

Eight incumbents were defeated in these contested primaries, meaning 80% who ran in a contested primary won. This win rate is lower than the previous two election cycles. In 2019, 93% of incumbents in contested primaries won and, in 2017, every incumbent won his or her contested primary.

This analysis was conducted as part of Ballotpedia’s annual state legislative competitiveness study. In addition to incumbents in contested primaries, this study includes an analysis of open seats and seats with major party competition in the general election.

To learn more about state legislative incumbents in contested primaries in 2021, click here.



An early look at 2022 primary election dates and candidate filing deadlines

Texas and North Carolina are poised to have the nation’s earliest primaries and primary candidate filing deadlines in the 2022 election cycle. Texas’ primary is currently scheduled for March 1, 2022, with the candidate filing deadline on Dec. 13, 2021. North Carolina’s primary is scheduled for March 8, 2022, with the candidate filing deadline on Dec. 17, 2021.

Some states, like Illinois, have postponed their 2022 primaries due to the delayed release of the block-level census data the states use for redistricting. Illinois moved its 2022 primary from March 15 to June 28. At this time, all dates are tentative and subject to change.

At present, the 2022 primary calendar is shaping up as follows:

  1. Two states have primaries scheduled for March.
  2. Eleven states have primaries scheduled for May.
  3. Eighteen states have primaries scheduled for June.
  4. Fourteen states have primaries scheduled for Aug.
  5. Five states have primaries scheduled for Sept. or later.

And the primary candidate filing deadline calendar breaks down as follows:

  1. Two states have filing deadlines scheduled for Dec. 2021.
  2. Three states have filing deadlines scheduled for Jan. 2022.
  3. Five states have filing deadlines scheduled for Feb.
  4. Eighteen states have filing deadlines scheduled for March.
  5. Seven states have filing deadlines scheduled for April.
  6. Five states have filing deadlines scheduled for May.
  7. Ten states have filing deadlines scheduled for June or later.

In the 2020 cycle, Alabama had the earliest candidate filing deadline on Nov. 8, 2019. Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas held the cycle’s first primaries on March 3. Nine other states and the territory of American Samoa held presidential primaries on that day but scheduled the remainder of their primaries for a later date.

For comparison, in the 2020 cycle:

  1. Seven states held primaries in March.
  2. One state held its primary in April.
  3. Three states held primaries in May.
  4. Eighteen states held primaries in June.
  5. Two states held primaries in July.
  6. Fourteen states held primaries in Aug.
  7. Five states held primaries in Sept. or later.

The 2020 primary candidate filing deadline calendar was as followes:

  1. Two states had filing deadlines in Nov. 2019.
  2. Five states had filing deadlines in Dec. 2019.
  3. Four states had filing deadlines in Jan. 2020.
  4. Two states had filing deadlines in Feb.
  5. Sixteen states had filing deadlines in March.
  6. Six states had filing deadlines in April.
  7. Three states had filing deadlines in May.
  8. Twelve states had filing deadline in June or later.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, 10 states postponed their scheduled primaries (this number does not include states that only postponed primary runoffs or presidential primaries). All 10 had originally planned to hold their primaries between March and June.

For more on primary election postponements during the coronavirus pandemic, click here.



CA GOP votes “No endorsement” for recall election; SoS releases campaign finance summaries

On August 7, the Republican Party of California voted not to endorse a candidate in the September 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). About 90% of the delegates attending the virtual party meeting voted to skip the endorsement vote and not endorse a candidate. The vote came amid concerns from delegates and party leaders that an endorsement of one candidate would decrease turnout among voters who support other candidates.

Last week, the California Secretary of State’s office also released summary campaign finance data for reports filed through July 31. On the recall question, committees supporting a “Yes” vote have raised $8.7 million and spent $8.5 million. Committees supporting a “No” vote have raised $49.7 million and spent $21.5 million.

As of August 9, summary data was available for 16 candidate campaign committees. The five candidates that raised the most money so far were all Republicans: John Cox ($6.9 million), Larry Elder ($4.5 million), Kevin Faulconer ($1.9 million), Kevin Kiley ($834k), and Caitlyn Jenner ($747k). The Democrat to raise the most money was Kevin Paffrath ($388k). The top five spenders were Cox ($6.4 million), Elder ($2.2 million), Faulconer ($1.0 million), Jenner ($910k), and Paffrath ($398k).



Ninety-two percent of state legislative incumbents filed for re-election in 2021

In 2021, state legislative incumbents filed for re-election at a higher rate than any other year in the past decade other than 2013. When an incumbent does not run for re-election, his or her seat is left open, meaning it is guaranteed to a newcomer at the start of the next state legislative session.

Of the 220 seats up for election this year, 92.3% of incumbents (203) filed for re-election, leaving 7.7% of seats (17) open. From 2011 to 2021, only the state legislative elections held in 2013 saw a lower percentage of open seats at 6.8%.

Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—are holding state legislative elections in 2021. These states hold elections every two years in odd-numbered years.

In New Jersey, 120 seats are up for election, 10.0% of which (12) are open. Of those open seats, six were most recently held by Democrats and six by Republicans.

Compared to previous elections, New Jersey’s rate of open seats in 2021 is tied with 2017 for the state’s second-highest percentage of open seats in the past decade.

In Virginia, 100 seats are up for election, 5.0% of which (5) are open, a decade-low rate for the state. Of those five open seats, one was most recently held by a Democrat and four by Republicans.

Neither New Jersey nor Virginia has state legislative term limits, meaning all open seats this year were left by incumbents voluntarily choosing not to file for re-election. Of the four states that hold state legislative elections in odd-numbered years, only one—Louisiana—has term limits. 

As shown by the chart below, term limits can have a varying effect on the total number of open seats. In 2011, 15.2% of open seats were caused by term limits, while in 2019, term limits accounted for 45.6% of all open seats.

In the chart below, a voluntary open seat is one where an incumbent chose not to file for re-election. A term-limited open seat is one where an incumbent could not seek re-election due to term limits.

This analysis was conducted as part of Ballotpedia’s annual state legislative competitiveness study. In addition to open seats, this study includes an analysis of incumbents in contested primaries and seats with major party competition in the general election. 

To learn more about open seats in the 2021 state legislative elections, click here.



Nov. 2 candidates for Topeka mayor and city council determined in Aug. 3 primary

The primary for the Topeka mayor and District 3 council seat in Kansas was held on Aug. 3. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on June 1.

Five candidates competed in the mayoral race. Mike Padilla and Leo Cangiani both advanced to the general election. Padilla received 3,990 votes, and Cangiani received 1,803. Daniel Brown, John Lauer, and Patrick Klick received less than 1,000 votes each and will not move on to the general election. The current mayor of Topeka, Michelle De La Isla, announced she would not be running for another term in March 2021. 

Sylvia Ortiz and Regina Platt advanced from the primary for the District 3 council seat, defeating William Hendrix, David Johnson, and Lana Kombacher. The primaries for Districts 1, 5, 7, and 9 on the city council were canceled, but they will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

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Reps. Billy Long, Conor Lamb announce they will run for Senate next year

U.S. Representatives Conor Lamb (D-Penn.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.) both announced last week that they would run for the U.S. Senate in 2022. Lamb will run for the seat currently held by Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Long will run for the seat currently held by Sen. Roy Blunt (R). Toomey and Blunt are both retiring.

Lamb was first elected in a special election in 2018 and was last re-elected with 51% of the vote to Republican challenger Sean Parnell’s 49%. Long was first elected to the House in 2010 and most recently won re-election with 69% of the vote to Democratic challenger Teresa Montseny’s 27%.

Long and Lamb are the fourteenth and fifteenth members of the House to announce that they will not run for re-election next year. The 15 members of the House who are not running include eight Republicans and seven Democrats. Five members of the U.S. Senate, all Republicans, have announced they will not run for re-election.

Thirty-six members of the U.S. House did not run for re-election in 2020—26 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Libertarian. In 2018, 52 members of the U.S. House did not run for re-election, including 34 Republicans and 18 Democrats.

All 435 U.S. House seats will be up for election next year. Democrats currently have a 220-212 majority with three vacant seats.

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Duggan and Adams advance from Detroit, Michigan mayoral primary

Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan and Anthony Adams advanced from Detroit, Michigan’s mayoral primary on Aug. 4, 2021. Duggan received 72.4% of the vote and to Adams’ 10%. Tom Barrow received 6% of the vote followed by Myya Jones with 5%. No other candidate received more than 2%.

Before becoming mayor, Duggan was president and CEO of Detroit Medical Center from 2004 to 2012. He was assistant corporation counsel for Wayne County from 1985 to 1986, deputy Wayne County executive from 1987 to 2000, and Wayne County prosecutor from 2001 to 2003. Duggan was first elected mayor in 2013 when he defeated opponent Benny Napoleon (D) with 55% of the vote to Napoleon’s 45%. In 2017, he was re-elected by a margin of nearly 44 points, defeating Coleman Young II (D) with 71.6% of the vote to Young’s 27.8%. Duggan said that, if re-elected in 2021, he would “work every day to continue to make sure every neighborhood has a future and every Detroiter has a true opportunity to achieve your dreams.”

Adams was an attorney as of the primary and served as deputy mayor of Detroit under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D). He was also an executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young, was a board member and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools, and was interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Adams said his “extensive leadership experience, unwavering commitment, and enlightened skill-set uniquely position him to move the city of Detroit forward” and that he was “committed to serving the ordinary people of Detroit and not Special Interest Groups.”

Economic development and public safety were major issues in the race. Duggan said he would work with the city council and manufacturers to bring more high-paying jobs into the city. Adams said he would support a universal basic income plan and an income-based water billing system and emphasized early intervention as a means to reduce crime. Barrow also supported a water affordability program for Detroit residents and said neighborhood revitalization projects should focus on a broader area and not just downtown.

The city of Detroit uses a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.

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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.



Seattle city attorney primary undecided

The nonpartisan primary election for city attorney of Seattle, Washington, was undecided as of 8:00 p.m. on August 3, 2021. 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. 

The top two candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, 2021. Ann Davison led with 34.6% of the vote followed by incumbent Pete Holmes with 32.8% and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy with 32.2%.

According to a survey conducted by Crosscut, a nonprofit news site, the top issues for voters were housing and homelessness, police and public safety, taxes and the economy, and urban planning and transportation.

The Fuse Progressive Voters Guide, which endorsed Holmes, said his priorities were “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.”

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.”

Thomas-Kennedy ran on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her website said, “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.”

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote. 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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Voters decide municipal primary elections in Clallam County, WA

Clallam County, Washington, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in the county backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Top-two primaries took place on Aug. 3 in three cities in Clallam County—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. In total, 26 offices are up for election in those cities this year.

Results of the races are pending. Elections in Washington are conducted primarily by mail, though ballots may also be deposited in drop boxes or returned in person. Ballots postmarked by Aug. 3 will be counted. The Clallam County Auditor’s office releases updated vote totals on a daily basis until all ballots are counted.

In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district. Below are the preliminary results from races where primaries took place in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks as of Aug. 4. The top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, when the other 20 offices will also be on the ballot.

Port Angeles

Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2

Jesse Charles – 25.45%

Mary Hebert – 36.08%

Jean M. Stratton – 6.06%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 1

LaTrisha Suggs (incumbent) – 47.05%

John DeBoer – 11.43%

Adam Garcia – 41.44%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 2

Mike French (incumbent) – 57.02%

John Madden – 35.42%

Samantha Rodahl – 7.54%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 3

Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (incumbent) – 41.65%

Jason Thompson – 21.06%

Jena Stamper – 37.26%

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 4

Kate Dexter (incumbent) – 53.9%

Jon Bruce – 5.4%

John W. Procter – 40.65%

Sequim

Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 (multi-county race)

Derek Huntington – 16.02%

Kristi Schmeck – 29.07%

Virginia R. Sheppard – 28.17%

Rachel Tax – 26.56%

Forks

Forks City Council Position No. 2

Josef Echeita – 31.22%

Barbara Neihouse – 9.26%

Clinton W. Wood – 58.2%

Clallam County is located in the northwestern corner of Washington. The estimated population in 2020 was 76,770. The county sits at the westernmost point in the contiguous United States, on the Olympic Peninsula.