How much did your governor make last year?

Eighteen states paid their governor more last year than in 2019, according to the Council of State Governments’ Book of the States. Gubernatorial salaries in 2020 ranged from a low of $70,000 in Maine to a high of $225,000 in New York, with the average governor making $145,370. In the 18 states where a governor’s salary increased, the average increase was $6,604, or 4.3%. Washington was the only state to decrease its governor’s salary, registering a 0.5% decrease over the 2019 rate.

The states with the five highest gubernatorial salaries in 2020 were New York ($225,000), California ($209,747), Pennsylvania ($201,729), Tennessee ($198,780), and Massachusetts ($185,000). The states with the five lowest gubernatorial salaries were Maine ($70,000), Colorado ($92,700), Arizona ($95,000), Oregon ($98,600), and Nebraska ($105,000). Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon have been in the bottom five states for gubernatorial compensation since at least 2010. Only New York has been in the top five in every year since 2010. New York was also the state with the largest increase in gubernatorial salary in 2020, with a $25,000 increase relative to 2019.

Gubernatorial salaries are typically determined either by a state’s constitution or by statute. Most often, the salary portion of a governor’s compensation is defined by law, but additional benefits (insurance, official residence, and other work-related equipment) may be established by state agencies, custom, or other factors. For instance, 45 states subsidize the governor’s travel and 45 states have official gubernatorial residences.

In some cases, salaries automatically increase each year either at the rate of inflation or by another percentage chosen by the legislature. In other states, the legislature must pass salary increases for the governor.

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California secretary of state determines there are enough signatures for recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom to proceed

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) announced that the recall campaign against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) had enough signatures following the removal period to move forward. She directed the state Department of Finance to begin its cost analysis for the election.

Voters who signed the recall petitions had until June 8 to request their signature’s removal. Forty-three signatures were removed during the removal period, leaving 1,719,900 valid signatures on the petitions, more than the 1,495,709 required to trigger a recall.

Based on the remaining procedural steps required by state law, an election is likely to take place in October or November 2021. Political analysts and legislators have speculated that an election could take place as early as August, while the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials wrote a letter to Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) requesting that a recall not take place before September 14, citing supply chain issues with paper and envelopes given the unknown number of candidates. Kounalakis is the official responsible for setting the date of the recall election.

Newsom was elected as California’s governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required. In the 2003 recall of Davis, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.58 percent of the vote.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signs legislation replacing state’s presidential caucus

Earlier this month, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed a bill into law that replaces the state’s presidential caucus with a primary and seeks to make that primary the first presidential nominating event in 2024.

Sisolak said, “This brings me great pride, as the diversity and culture found in the people in the great state of Nevada undoubtedly represent the demographical composition of who we are as a nation.”

Democrats and Republicans in Nevada are not unified in the push. Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael J. McDonald said in a joint statement with Republican leaders from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, “As the GOP leaders of the four carve out states, we want to make clear that we stand together in protecting the Presidential nominating schedule as it has existed for many years. Our alliance is strong and we will continue to work together to preserve this historic process.”

The Democratic National Committee, which can penalize or reward states through delegate allocation based on when they hold their primaries, has not yet released its plans for the 2024 presidential calendar.

The debate over which state should cast its presidential primary votes first has centered on voter demographics, candidate viability, regional diversity, and structural issues.

After the results of the Iowa Democratic caucus were delayed for several days in 2020, Democratic leaders from Nevada and South Carolina renewed the call for a change to the primary calendar.

Click here to learn more about the arguments for replacing or maintaining Iowa and New Hampshire as the first states to vote during the presidential primary.

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California secretary of state announces gubernatorial recall candidates must release tax records

On June 15, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) announced that candidates in an election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) would be required to release five years’ worth of tax records to run. The California Supreme Court previously struck down portions of a 2019 law that pertained to presidential candidates but left the sections related to gubernatorial candidates.

The law specifies that it applies to candidates “on a direct primary election ballot.” Weber’s office ruled that it applied to the potential recall election, while Politico noted that several legal experts disagreed with Weber’s ruling and that candidates could file lawsuits in response.

Representatives for the campaigns of former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) and former Rep. Doug Ose (R) said the campaigns would comply with the ruling. A spokesperson for Newsom said that the governor would also release his records, even though the governor would not technically be a candidate on the recall ballot.

The state legislature approved and Newsom signed the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act in July 2019. It required candidates for president or governor to file copies of their IRS returns for the five most recent years at least 98 days before a primary election. In a November 2019 decision in Patterson v. Padilla, California Supreme CourtChief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye wrote for a unanimous court that the law was “in conflict with the Constitution’s specification of an inclusive open presidential primary ballot.”

Organizers of a campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) turned in 1,719,943 valid signatures, exceeding the 1,495,709 required to trigger a recall election. Organizers turned in more than 2.1 million signatures by the March 17 filing deadline. Voters who signed the petition had until June 8 to request removal from the petition. The California secretary of state has until June 22 to verify that enough signatures remain to move the recall forward.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates seek to define themselves, one another as the general election begins

Campaigns for Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) in the election for Governor of Virginia released new adsshortly after the major-party nominating contests came to a close in recent weeks.

Following Youngkin’s nomination on May 10, former Gov. McAuliffe released an ad titled “Virginia Forward” where he compared Youngkin to former President Donald Trump (R), saying, “Youngkin wants to bring Trump’s extremism to Virginia.” McAuliffe went on to say he would defend policies from his administration including the expansion of Medicaid, protections for reproductive rights, and the expansion of voting rights.

After McAuliffe won the Democratic primary on June 8, Youngkin released an ad titled “Time For Change” featuring one of McAuliffe’s Democratic primary opponents, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, criticizing the former governor’s tenure. At the end of the ad, Youngkin described himself as “a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia.” A second ad—”A New Day”—reiterated this theme with Youngkin saying he would create jobs, improve education, and make communities more safe.

Two satellite groups—the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV)—also released ads following the nomination contests. The DGA associated Youngkin with Trump and said his main priority was, “telling the same Big Lie Trump tells about the last election and trying to restrict your right to vote in the next.” The RPV’s ad used a speech given by McAuliffe interspersed with a series of news clips from the previous eight years on topics including rates of violent crime, changes to public school curricula, and a transportation company’s decision to move out of Virginia.

A recent poll of 550 likely voters shows a close race. The poll, commissioned by CNanalytics and conducted by JMC Analytics, showed McAuliffe receiving support from 46% of respondents to Youngkin’s 42%, a difference within the poll’s ± 4.2 margin of error. The remaining 12% of the respondents were either undecided or did not respond. No third party candidates were included in the poll, though at least one candidate, Princess Blanding (I), will also appear on the general election ballot.

Every four years, the Virginia gubernatorial election is one of the first major statewide elections following the presidential election. Since 1977, the state has elected a governor from the opposite party of the president in every election except for 2013 when McAuliffe was elected governor following Barack Obama’s (D) re-election. In more recent years, Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012.

The gubernatorial election will determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 for the first time since 1994 after Democrats won majorities in the House of Delegates and the state Senate. A McAuliffe victory could continue the Democratic trifecta if Democrats also retain a majority in the House of Delegates. A Youngkin victory would make Virginia a divided government since the Democrat-controlled Senate is not holding elections this year.

Learn more about the Virginia gubernatorial election here.

Idaho governor rescinds lieutenant governor’s executive order banning mask mandates

Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) on May 28 rescinded an executive order issued in his absence by Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin (R) that banned mask mandates in the state. Little called McGeachin’s executive order an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt” that, in his words, “amounts to tyranny—something we all oppose.”

McGeachin issued the executive order on May 27 in her capacity as acting governor while Little traveled to a conference out of state. The order prohibited state and local government entities from issuing mask mandates in order to mitigate the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19. 

In a statement posted to her gubernatorial campaign website, McGeachin claimed that she signed the order, “to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions—including public schools—from imposing mask mandates in our state.”

Little told the _Idaho Capital Sun_ that McGeachin issued the executive order without his knowledge or approval. He rescinded the executive order the following day.

“Taking the earliest opportunity to act solitarily on a highly politicized, polarizing issue without conferring with local jurisdictions, legislators, and the sitting Governor is, simply put, an abuse of power,” said Little in a statement.

Idaho Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane on May 28 issued an opinion stating that, in his view, McGeachin’s executive order exceeded her authority as acting governor. “Oddly, it seems to have been issued in an effort to undermine the existing authorities of the state and its political subdivisions to issue mask mandates,” wrote Kane. “This executive order appears to run counter to both the Idaho Constitution and the Governor’s statutory executive order authority.” 

McGeachin on May 19 announced her candidacy for Idaho governor in the 2022 election. Little, a first-term governor, had yet to announce whether he will run for reelection as of June 3. The Idaho governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and do not run on a joint ticket.

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Voters have until June 8 to remove signatures from recall petitions of California Gov. Newsom

The next major deadline in the recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is June 8. Voters have until this date to request to have their signatures removed from the recall petitions. At that point, if at least 1,495,709 signatures remain, the recall election will be certified and proceed to a budgeting and scheduling phase. If certified, political analysts expect the recall to take place in October or November 2021.

So far, 37 candidates have officially filed with the California Secretary of State to run in the recall election. Among those candidates are eight Democrats, 17 Republicans, two Green Party candidates, and a Libertarian Party candidate. The remaining candidates filed with no party preference. Ballotpedia has tracked an additional 13 candidates who have declared their intent to run in the recall election but have not yet officially filed. In the 2003 recall election, 135 candidates ran.

Official committees registered with the California Secretary of State have raised at least $10 million during the campaign. Support committees raised $7 million through March 31, while opposition committees raised $3.6 million. The deadline for the next scheduled reports is August 2.

Newsom was elected as California’s governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.

Newsom recall update: 37 filed candidates, a new poll, and a $3 million donation

The recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is currently in the signature removal phase, when voters can request to have their signatures removed from the recall petitions through June 8. At that point, if at least 1,495,709 signatures remain, the recall election will be certified and proceed to a budgeting and scheduling phase. If that happens, political analysts expect the recall to take place in October or November 2021.

So far, 37 candidates have officially filed with the California Secretary of State to run in a recall election. Among those candidates are eight Democrats, 17 Republicans, two Green Party candidates, and a Libertarian Party candidate. The remaining candidates filed with no party preference. Ballotpedia has tracked an additional 13 candidates who have declared their intent to run in the recall election but have not yet officially filed. In the 2003 recall election, 135 candidates ran.

On May 25, the Public Policy Institute of California published a poll finding that 57% of respondents opposed a recall, 40% supported a recall, and 3% were undecided. These numbers were about the same as a March poll by the same group, which found 56% opposed, 40% supported, and 5% undecided. Both polls surveyed 1,700 people and had a margin of error of around 3%.

On May 21, multiple media outlets reported a $3 million donation from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to Stop The Republican Recall, a committee registered in opposition to the recall effort. According to The Hill, Hastings donated $7 million in 2018 to the gubernatorial campaign of Antonio Villaraigosa, who lost in the primary. Hastings has also previously donated to ballot measure campaigns in the state—Ballotpedia has tracked donations to at least eight propositions since 2009.

Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then Gov. Gray Davis (D). and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement.

Petitions rejected in recall effort against Montana mayor

Two recall petitions filed in Montana against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey this month were rejected by the office of the Ravalli County Clerk over issues with how the petitions were filed. State statutes also limit new recall efforts from moving forward until petitioners reimburse expenses from an earlier recall election against the same official. Dewey retained his position following a recall vote on Nov. 3.

The recall efforts were organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh, who accused Dewey of violating his oath of office by signing contracts on behalf of the town without approval from the Stevensville Town Council. The first petition was filed in response to a three-year contract with MySidewalk, Inc. costing $23,000 per year. The second petition was over a three-year contract with Billing Document Services, Inc. for an unspecified dollar amount.

Rodabaugh led the 2020 recall effort against Dewey over a $79,800 contract signed with First Call Computer Solutions. Dewey survived the recall election with 52% of voters casting ballots against removing him from office.

Recall organizers are given 90 days to collect valid signatures equaling 20% of registered voters in the city. Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg rejected the petitions because they weren’t filed with a written statement including reasons for a recall election. Petitioners are also required to swear before a person authorized to administer oaths that the written statements are true. Recalls cannot be filed against officials who were the subject of a recall election within two years prior to and during the official’s term of office unless petitioners reimburse the cost of the earlier recall election.

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Charlie Crist announces he’s running for governor of Florida

U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D) announced he is running for governor of Florida on May 4. Crist is the first Democrat to declare he’s challenging incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who was first elected in 2018. Crist currently represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District and served as governor of Florida as a Republican from 2007 to 2011. 

As reported in The Hill, Crist said when announcing his candidacy, “we can build a Florida for all Floridians. We can create a society that values every person. We can break the fever of division and hatred that has afflicted our politics.”

Crist began his political career serving as a Florida state senator as a Republican from 1993 to 1999. He also served as Florida’s state education commissioner and then its attorney general before running for governor in 2006. Rather than running for a second term as governor, Crist mounted a campaign for Senate in 2010, losing to Marco Rubio (R). 

Crist became an independent after his loss to Rubio in the Republican primary, and became a Democrat in 2012. In 2014, Crist ran for governor, losing to Rick Scott (R). He was elected to the U.S. House in 2016 from Florida’s 13th congressional district. 

Crist is the 11th member of the U.S. House to announce they are retiring or running for another office. 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.

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