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Shontel Brown wins Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th District special election

Shontel Brown won the special Democratic primary for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3. As of 11 p.m. ET, Brown had received 50% of the vote to Nina Turner’s 44%. Eleven other candidates split 6%.

Brown serves on the Cuyahoga County Council and chairs the county’s Democratic Party. She previously served on the Warrensville Heights City Council. Turner is a former state senator and worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. She also served on the Cleveland City Council and was chair of party engagement for the state Democratic Party. 

Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) were among Brown’s endorsers. Turner’s endorsers included Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Labor groups split endorsements in the primary.

Satellite spending groups spent more than $3 million toward the special Democratic primary. Of that, $2 million came from Democratic Majority For Israel, which endorsed Brown.

Former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) vacated the seat to become secretary of housing and urban development in President Joe Biden’s administration. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Democratic

Mike Carey wins Republican primary in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District special election

Mike Carey defeated 10 candidates to win the special Republican primary for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on Aug. 3. As of 9:30 p.m. ET, Carey had received 37% of the vote, Bob Peterson was second with 15%, Ron Hood was third with 14%, and Jeff LaRe was fourth with 11%.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by Steve Stivers (R), who resigned in May to become the CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Carey was chairman of the Ohio Coal Association and is a U.S. Army National Guard veteran. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed him. LaRe, who Stivers endorsed, is a state representative. Hood, a marketing consultant, had endorsements from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). Peterson is a state senator. The Ohio Right to Life PAC endorsed him.

The Make America Great Again Action Inc. PAC spent almost $350,000 supporting Carey. Stivers spent nearly $300,000 in remaining funds from his campaign account supporting LaRe, as well as an additional $60,740 on media supporting LaRe last week. The Protect Freedom PAC spent over $640,000 supporting Hood.

Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Republican. Stivers won the past six elections by an average margin of victory of 24 percentage points.

July 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.30% Republicans, 44.79% Democrats

54.30% of all state legislators are Republicans, and 44.79% are Democrats, according to Ballotpedia’s July partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,957 state senators and 5,363 state representatives. Democrats hold 867 state Senate seats—the same as the last two months—and 2,443 state House seats, a loss of three seats since the end of June. Republicans hold 4,010 of the 7,383 total state legislative seats—1,090 state Senate seats (down two since June) and 2,920 state House seats (an increase of one).

Independent or third-party legislators hold 39 seats, of which 32 are state House seats, and seven are state Senate seats. There are 24 vacant seats.

During the month of July, Democrats saw a net decrease of three seats, and Republicans saw a net decrease of one seat. Compared to July of last year, the state legislatures are 2.01% less Democratic (46.80% to 44.79%) and 2.29% more Republican (52.01% to 54.30%).  

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Alabama state Rep. Bill Poole resigns to become state finance director

Bill Poole (R) resigned from the Alabama House of Representatives on July 31 to accept a position as the director of the Alabama Department of Finance. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) appointed him to the position on July 16, effective Aug. 1, to replace Kelly Butler. Poole represented District 63 from 2010 to 2021. Poole was first elected to the state House on Nov. 2, 2010, and was most recently re-elected in 2018, winning 96.1% of the vote.

Vacancies in the Alabama legislature are filed by special election. If a vacancy occurs on or after Oct. 1 in the year of a regular election, the district will remain vacant until filled at the regular election. Otherwise, the governor must call for a special election if the vacancy happens before the next scheduled general election and the legislature is in session. 

As of Aug. 2, there have been 72 state legislative vacancies in 35 states this year. Fifty of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 72 vacancies, 38 were Republican and 34 were Democratic. Republicans have filled 27 vacancies, while Democrats have filled 23.

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for July 2021

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts from July 2 to Aug. 1. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.


  • Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the June 2021 report. There are 80 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 84 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
  • Nominations: There were no new nominations since the June 2021 report.
  • Confirmations: There has been one new confirmation since the June 2021 report.

Two judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) to the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) and as of Aug. 1.


New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) has announced no new nominations since the June 2021 report.

New confirmations

As of Aug. 1, the Senate has confirmed eight of President Biden’s judicial nominees—five district court judges and three appeals court judges—since January 2021.

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Campaigns for three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by August 2 deadline

Campaigns for three initiatives in Colorado faced a signature deadline of August 2. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures are required.

Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative (#25):

This initiative would amend state law to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program to provide out-of-school learning opportunities for children aged 5 to 17 in subjects including math, science, reading, writing, music, art, career education, and specialized support for those with special needs. The measure would increase the marijuana retail sales tax by 5% to partially fund the program. The initiative would result in a state revenue increase of $137,600,000 annually.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co) is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The committee reported $948,270 in contributions, with all but $20 coming from Gary Community Investment Company. The committee reported spending $609,012 on signature gathering through June 26. The committee’s August 2 campaign finance report covering data through July 28 was not yet filed at the time of this article. LEAP 4 Co reported submitting over 200,000 signatures on July 30.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative but has not yet reported campaign finance activity.

Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative (#19):

This initiative, which would amend the state constitution and state law, would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Examples of such funds include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided.

The Committee for Spending Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. According to the August 2 campaign finance report covering information through July 28, the committee had received $1.275 million in contributions, all from Unite for Colorado, and had spent $1.13 million on signature gathering.

Constitutional amendments in Colorado require a 55% supermajority vote to be ratified and added to the state constitution. This requirement was added by Amendment 71 of 2016.

Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative (#27):

This initiative would amend state law to reduce the residential and non-residential property tax rates and authorize the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers.

Cut Property Taxes is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. According to the August 2 campaign finance report covering information through July 28, the committee had received $875,000, all from Unite for Colorado, and had spent $868,728 on signature gathering.

Sponsor of initiatives #19 and #27 Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, said that around 200,000 signatures were gathered for each measure and that signatures would be submitted on August 2.

A fourth initiative, Initiative #31, which would amend state law to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, faces a signature deadline of October 29, 2021, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. The measure was sponsored by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute. A committee— Colorado Character— registered to support the initiative on July 20, 2021.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

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 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state statute in 1994.

Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

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. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.

Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly significant document total so far in 2021

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From July 26 through July 30, the Federal Register grew by 1,442 pages for a year-to-date total of 41,380 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 583 documents:

  1. 444 notices
  2. six presidential document
  3. 70 proposed rules
  4. 63 final rules

Two proposed rules, four final rules, and one notice were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 24 significant proposed rules, 19 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of July 30.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register 

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Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2019: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2019

Major party candidates selected in Pennsylvania House special election

Party executive committees for the Democratic Party and Republican Party in Lackawanna County have nominated candidates in the special election for District 113 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Republicans nominated Dominick Manetti in an executive committee meeting on July 29. Thom Welby was nominated by the Democratic executive committee on July 1. The official filing deadline is September 13, and the special election is being held on Nov. 2. The winner of the special election will serve until November 2022.

The seat became vacant after Martin Flynn (D) won a special election for state Senate District 22 on May 18. Flynn had represented District 113 since 2012. He won re-election in 2020 with 68% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 113-88 majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives with two vacancies. Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a 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 July, 48 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. Pennsylvania held 44 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Special elections in two Louisiana legislative districts to be held on Nov. 13

Election officials have scheduled the special elections for the District 16 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives and the District 27 seat in the Louisiana State Senate for Nov. 13. The seats became vacant after Frederick D. Jones (D) resigned on July 16 after his election to a Louisiana District Court judgeship, and Ronnie Johns (R) resigned to become chairman of the Louisiana State Gaming Control Board. The primaries are on Oct. 9, and the filing deadline is on July 30.

Former U.S. Senators Enzi, Levin die

Two former U.S. Senators died during the past week.

Former U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) died on July 26 after a biking accident after being hospitalized following the accident on July 25. He was first elected to the Senate in 1996 and was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Enzi did not run for re-election in 2020.

Before serving in the U.S. Senate, Enzi was the mayor of Gillette, Wyoming, and had been a member of both the Wyoming House of Representatives and the Wyoming State Senate. Before entering politics, he was a small business owner and accountant.

Former U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) died on July 29. Levin served In the U.S. Congress from 1978 to his retirement in 2014. Before being elected to the Senate, Levin served on the Detroit City Council.

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