Tagprimaries

A look at contested state legislative primaries in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has 44 contested state legislative primaries this year, 11% of the total number of possible primaries, and a 19% increase from 2020.

A primary is contested when more candidates file to run than there are nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

Of the 44 contested primaries, there are 40 for Democrats and four for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from 33 in 2020, a 21% increase. For Republicans, the number remained the same compared to 2020.

Twenty-one primaries feature an incumbent, representing 12% of all incumbents running for re-election. This is down from 2020 when 23 incumbents faced contested primaries.

Of the 21 incumbents in contested primaries, 20 are Democrats and one is a Republican.

Overall, 314 major party candidates—236 Democrats and 78 Republicans—filed to run. All 160 House and 40 Senate districts are holding elections.

Twelve of those districts are open, meaning no incumbents filed. This guarantees that at least 12% of the legislature will be represented by newcomers next year.

Massachusetts has had a divided government since 2014 with the election of Gov. Charlie Baker (R). Democrats have controlled the House since 1955 and currently hold a 125-27-1 majority with seven vacancies in the chamber. The party has controlled the Senate since 1959 with a current majority of 37-3.

Massachusett’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Sept. 6, the 16th statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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Murkowski, Tshibaka, Chesbro, and Kelley advance to the general election in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race

Nineteen candidates ran in the top-four Senate primary in Alaska on August 16, 2022. Incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R), Kelly Tshibaka (R), Patricia Chesbro (D), and Buzz Kelley (R) advanced to the general election.

This was the first time the top-four primary was used in a Senate race since Alaska voters approved the concept in 2020. Under this system, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in a single primary election. The four candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election, where the winner is decided using ranked-choice voting.

The 19 candidates included eight Republicans, three Democrats, one Libertarian, five independents, and two Alaskan Independence Party candidates.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote it was likely at least two Republican candidates and a Democratic one would advance to the general election.

Murkowski, the incumbent since 2002, had the endorsements of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), fellow Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), and Sens. Joe Manchin (D) and Kyrsten Sinema (D).

Tshibaka, a former commissioner at the Alaska Department of Administration had the endorsements of former President Donald Trump (R) and the Alaska Republican Party.

Chesbro is an educator from Palmer, and Kelley is a retired mechanic from Wasilla.

Three election forecasters rate the general election Solid or Safe Republican.

Murkowski’s father, Frank Murkowski (R), was Senator from 1980 to 2002, when he resigned to become governor of Alaska. After taking office, the elder Murkowski appointed his daughter to the U.S. Senate seat. In 2010, after losing the Republican nomination, Lisa Murkowski successfully ran for re-election as a write-in candidate. As of 2022, she was one of two U.S. Senators, alongside South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond in 1954, to have been elected as a write-in candidate.



Ryan defeats Molinaro in New York’s 19th Congressional District special election

Pat Ryan (D) defeated Marc Molinaro (R) in the special election for New York’s 19th Congressional District on Aug. 23, 2022. Ryan received 51% of the vote to Molinaro’s 49%.

Former incumbent Antonio Delgado (D) resigned from Congress in May after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) selected him as lieutenant governor. Ryan will serve the rest of Delgado’s term, which ends on Jan. 3, 2023.

The Times Union‘s Timmy Facciola wrote in May, “The current 19th is a swing district, and the special election has outsized national implications, as it will determine the size of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives for the remainder of the 117th Congress.”

Ryan has served as Ulster County executive since 2019. In 2018, he ran in the Democratic primary for the 19th District, finishing in second place with 18% of the vote to Delgado’s 22%.

According to the Times Union‘s Roger Hannigan Gilson, “Ryan connected Molinaro with the Republican-supported Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, stating repeatedly that ‘choice was on the ballot'[.] … Ryan has called the election ‘a referendum on Roe.'” Ryan also highlighted his military service as an Army intelligence officer.

Molinaro was elected Dutchess County executive in 2011. In 2018, he was the Republican nominee for governor of New York, losing to then-incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D) 60% to 36%. Molinaro has also served as a member of the New York State Assembly and as mayor of Tivoli, New York.

Gilson wrote that Molinaro “attacked Ryan as being soft on crime” and said Molinaro “touted his broad experience in elected office and pointed to his history of keeping taxes low in [Dutchess County].” Molinaro also highlighted his support for measures encouraging investment in digital assets.

Both candidates also focused on opioid addiction and mental health issues.

The boundaries of the 19th District changed due to redistricting after the 2020 census. The special election was held under the old district lines, while the November general election will be held in the newly redrawn district. The old district had a partisan lean of R+4, according to FiveThirtyEight, while the redrawn district has a partisan lean of R+1.

In addition to running in the special election for the 19th District, Molinaro is running in the general election for the redrawn 19th District, and Ryan is running in the general election for the redrawn 18th district.

This election was one of 17 special elections called so far during the 117th Congress.



Nadler defeats Maloney in final incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary

U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler defeated U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Suraj Patel, and Ashmi Sheth in the Democratic primary for New York’s 12th Congressional District on Aug. 23, 2022. Nadler received 55% of the vote to Maloney’s 24%, followed by Patel with 19%.

This race was the last of six primaries featuring two U.S. House incumbents due to congressional redistricting. Maloney currently represents the old 12th District, and Nadler represents the old 10th District. According to data from Daily Kos, Maloney represents 61% of the redrawn 12th District’s population, and Nadler represents 39%.

Both Nadler and Maloney were first elected in 1992. Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Maloney chairs the Oversight and Reform Committee. Both are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Patel, an attorney, challenged Maloney in 2018 and 2020. In 2020, Maloney defeated Patel 43% to 39% in a four-candidate race.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos wrote of the primary, “With overwhelmingly similar views, the candidates … toiled through the summer to differentiate themselves.” Fandos said that Nadler “tried to claim the progressive mantle and highlighted his status as the city’s last remaining Jewish congressman,” Maloney’s campaign “centered on women — both their electoral potential to sway the outcome and the importance of protecting one of their own,” and Patel “[targeted] younger voters, stressing the need for generational change against two septuagenarians[.]”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and The New York Times editorial board endorsed Nadler. Maloney received endorsements from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and EMILY’s List. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Indian American Impact endorsed Patel.

Major independent observers rate the general election as solid or safe Democratic.



4.8% of state legislative incumbents who filed for re-election have lost in primaries

So far this year, 202 state legislative incumbents—57 Democrats and 145 Republicans—have lost to primary challengers.

Across the 42 states that have held primaries, 4.8% of incumbents running for re-election have lost, an elevated level of incumbent losses compared to previous cycles.

These totals include data from both legislative chambers in Florida, state Senate races in New York, and runoff elections in Oklahoma, all held on Aug. 23, 2022.

  • In Florida, two Democrats lost.
  • In New York, one Republican lost.
  • In Oklahoma, the one Republican incumbent in a primary runoff won.

Republican incumbents have lost at a higher rate than Democrats. Of the 2,337 Republican incumbents who filed for re-election, 145 (6.2%) have lost to primary challengers. For Democrats, 57 of the 1,873 who filed for re-election (3.0%) have lost.

Forty-five of these 202 incumbent losses (22%) were guaranteed due to redistricting. When states redraw legislative lines, incumbents can end up in a new district with other incumbents, leading to incumbent v. incumbent primaries or general elections. In these races, at least one incumbent must lose.

Of the 42 states that have held primaries so far, 11 have Democratic trifectas, 21 have Republican trifectas, and 10 have divided governments. Across these 38 states, there are 5,479 seats up for election, 87% of the nationwide total.

The figures for 2022 are subject to change. There are currently 11 uncalled primaries featuring incumbents: four Democratic and seven Republican.



Preliminary results from Alaska’s top-four U.S. House primary

A top-four primary took place on Aug. 16 in Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District to determine which four candidates will run in the general election on Nov. 8. As of 1:00 a.m. ET on Aug. 17, with 61% of results reported, Mary Peltola (D) led with 34.5% of the vote, followed by Sarah Palin (R) with 32.2%, Nicholas Begich (R) with 27.1%, and Tara Sweeney (R) with 3.2%.

All candidates appeared on the same ballot with their affiliations listed next to their names. The general election will use ranked-choice voting.

Former Rep. Don Young (R) died in March 2022. The regularly scheduled election is one of two elections, alongside a special election, for Alaska’s at-large House district in 2022.

Twenty-two candidates were on the regular primary ballot: nine undeclared or nonpartisan candidates, nine Republicans, one Democrat, and three minor party candidates.

Fifteen of the candidates also ran in the special primary election to fill the remainder of Young’s term. Begich (R), Palin (R), and Peltola (D) advanced from the June 11 special primary. Al Gross (I) also advanced but withdrew from the race.

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Missouri state legislative incumbents lost in primaries at an increased rate

Seven state legislative incumbents—four Democrats and three Republicans—lost to primary challengers on August 2. 

This represents 5.3% of incumbents who filed for re-election, the largest number and highest rate of incumbent primary defeats in the state in five election cycles.

A list of incumbents defeated, all of whom were first elected to office within the past four years, is included below:

Of these seven defeats, one was guaranteed before a single ballot was cast. This is because two incumbents—Reps. Mike Person and Raychel Proudie—were drawn into the same district following redistricting, meaning one or the other had to lose.

This year, Democratic incumbents lost at a higher rate than Republicans. Among Democrats, the four defeats represent 8.7% of the 46 incumbents who ran for re-election. For Republicans, the three defeats represent 3.5% of the 86 incumbents in that party who ran.

Learn more about incumbents defeated in Missouri and across other states by clicking “Learn More” below.



Wyoming sees most U.S. House candidates since 2016

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in Wyoming this year was May 27, 2022. Eight candidates are running for Wyoming’s At-Large U.S. House district, including three Democrats and five Republicans. That’s three more than the five candidates who ran in 2020 and in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Because it has only one U.S. House seat, Wyoming did not need to redistrict after the 2020 census.
  • The eight candidates running this year are the most candidates running for the U.S. House since 2016, when ten candidates ran.
  • Incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney (R) is running for re-election. Cheney was first elected in 2016, the last year Wyoming’s At-Large seat was open.
  • Both primaries are contested. The last year a Wyoming U.S. House primary wasn’t contested was 2014. 

Wyoming and Alaska are holding their primaries on August 16, 2022. Winners in Wyoming primary elections are determined via plurality vote, meaning that the candidate with the highest number of votes wins even if he or she did not win an outright majority of votes cast.



Twenty-two U.S. House candidates file to run in Alaska’s new top-four primary system, a decade-high

The filing deadline for candidates running for the U.S. House in Alaska was June 1, 2022. This year, 22 candidates are running in Alaska’s At-Large U.S. House district, a decade-high. The candidates running include nine Republicans, one Democrat, nine independents, and three third-party candidates. The 22 candidates running this year are 16 more than the six candidates who ran in 2020 and 15 more than the seven who ran in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Because it has only one U.S. House seat, Alaska did not need to redistrict after the 2020 census.
  • Alaska’s At-Large seat is open for the first time since 1970. Incumbent Rep. Don Young (R), who represented the district for 49 years, passed away in March. 
  • A special election to replace Young will take place on August 16, concurrently with the regular election primary.

Alaska and Wyoming are holding their primaries on August 16, 2022. This is the first regular election primary to take place using Alaska’s new top-four primary system. Under this system, primary candidates run in a single primary election, regardless of the candidate’s party affiliation. The four candidates that receive the most votes advance to the general election. In the general election, voters use ranked-choice voting to select the winner.



Number of contested state legislative primaries in Alaska drops as state introduces top-four primary system

There is one contested state legislative primary in Alaska this year, fewer than in previous election cycles. This decrease comes after the state began using a new top-four primary system, which voters approved in 2020.

Under the new top-four primary system, every candidate appears on the same ballot and the top-four finishers advance to the general election. As a result, at least five candidates must run to create a contested primary.

This year, the one contested primary represents 2% of all possible primaries, down from 31% in 2020.

Overall, 147 candidates filed to run in the state’s top-four primaries: 39 Democrats, 81 Republicans, and 27 minor party or independent candidates. Every candidate who filed will advance to the general election apart from the one candidate who will lose in the one contested primary.

There are fewer than four candidates on the ballot in 52, or 88%, of districts. 

Previously, Alaska had partisan primaries where members of the same party would compete against each other for a place on the general election ballot. Under this system, if more than one candidate from the same party filed, there would be a contested primary.

Alaska has had a divided government since a multi-partisan coalition formed in the House in 2019. While Republicans hold a numerical majority of seats in the chamber, a group of Democrats, Republicans, and minor party/independent officeholders formed their own governing majority.

Alaska’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Aug. 19, the 14th statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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