Kentucky to hold statewide primary on May 16

The statewide primary election for Kentucky is on May 16, 2023. The filing deadline to run passed on Jan. 6. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices: 

  • Governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor of public accounts, and commissioner of agriculture
  • Kentucky State Senate District 28 (special)

The Democratic and Republican primaries for attorney general were canceled after only one candidate filed for each election, respectively.

Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 7, 2023. Kentucky’s primary is the 5th statewide primary to take place in the 2023 election cycle. The next primary is also on May 16 in Pennsylvania.

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Amendment to require direct partisan primary elections will be decided by Arizona voters in 2024

Voters in Arizona will decide on a constitutional amendment to require that direct partisan primaries be conducted in a way that allows political parties to nominate a candidate or candidates (in multi-seat districts) for the general election. The amendment wouldn’t change the current process but could preempt top-four primaries, as seen in Alaska, or other types of primary elections in which every candidate, regardless of party affiliation, runs in the same primary. It would also say that a legislature-enacted direct primary election law supersedes any other law or ordinance. Voters will decide on the amendment at the November general election in 2024.

According to Rep. Austin Smith (R), who sponsored the bill, the amendment is part of a legislative proposal to preempt ranked-choice voting. He said, “[The amendment] will now be placed on the ballot in 2024 for the voters of Arizona to decide to amend Arizona’s Constitution even more and make it more clearer that we prohibit ranked-choice voting in this state. This is a huge accomplishment for conservatives and for Republicans … as long as I’m in this legislature, and as long as Republicans are here, we are going to continue to protect Arizona’s primary election system.”

The Arizona State Senate passed the amendment, House Concurrent Resolution 2033 (HCR2033), by 16-13 on March 28, 2023. All 16 Republicans voted to pass the amendment, while 13 Democrats voted against it. Previously, the Arizona House of Representatives passed the amendment on March 1 by 31-28, with all 31 Republicans voting for it and 28 Democrats voting against it.

The Arizona House of Representatives also passed House Bill 2552 (HB2552), which, if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, would prohibit ranked-choice voting under state law.

Heritage Action, a conservative policy advocacy group, supported the passage of the amendment and bill. Heritage Action said, “The ranked-choice voting scheme upends the democratic process and fundamentally changes the way elections operate, leaving voters confused, disenfranchised, and left with unpopular candidates who do not properly represent them … these bills would maintain election integrity by outlawing ranked-choice voting, ensuring direct elections, and affirming that the most popular candidates are declared the winners.”

Ranked-choice voting may appear on the ballot as an initiative proposed by the nonprofit group Save Democracy Arizona. The nonprofit is working with a group called Voter Choice Arizona to potentially circulate a petition that would enact ranked-choice voting in Arizona. Save Democracy Arizona said, “A partisan election system that creates barriers to participation and treats certain voters and candidates differently – particularly independents or those who choose not to affiliate with a party is surely not a system that works for every Arizonan. Arizona’s current partisan primary  provides taxpayer funds to private political party activities and excludes registered unaffiliated candidates from participating in the primary election.”

Currently, Alaska and Maine are the only states that have implemented ranked-choice voting for federal and/or state-level elections. Eleven states contain jurisdictions that have implemented ranked-choice voting at the local level. Most recently, Nevada voters approved an amendment that would implement ranked-choice voting; however, voters in Nevada need to approve the measure again in 2024 before the constitutional amendment can be ratified.

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New Hampshire State Senate passes amendment to keep first-in-the-nation presidential primary

The New Hampshire State Senate voted 23-0 on March 30 to approve a constitutional amendment providing that the New Hampshire primary will be the first in the presidential election.

The amendment would add the following language to the New Hampshire Constitution: The secretary of state shall ensure that the presidential primary election be held seven or more days immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election.

If the New Hampshire House of Representatives approves the amendment by at least 60%, the amendment will go to New Hampshire voters to decide in 2024.

State Sen. Daryl Abbas (R), who voted to approve the amendment, said, “The first-in-the-nation primary is celebrated in this state, but it’s also become very popular – because we made it popular. We’ve done it the right way and led by example on how our elections are performed, and we should continue to do that.”

Approval of this amendment comes after a decision made by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to reorder the states of its 2024 presidential primary. On Feb. 4, the DNC decided that South Carolina will be the first to hold a primary election on Feb. 3, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6. The previous order of the Democratic presidential primary ordered the Iowa caucus first, followed by the New Hampshire primary, Nevada, then South Carolina.

The New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus have long been the first contests in the Democratic presidential primary. After the 1968 Democratic presidential primary, Democratic party leaders made changes to the presidential nomination process to spread out the schedule of primaries in each state. After 1968, the New Hampshire General Court passed a statute providing that the New Hampshire primary would be held before any “similar contest”. 

Because Iowa holds a caucus, not a primary, New Hampshire’s law does not include any states that use the caucus system, such as Iowa. Iowa held the first Democratic caucus in 1972, and also changed its law saying that the Iowa caucuses need to be held at least eight days before any other nominating contest.

Jaime Harrison, the chairman of the DNC, supports the change in the primary schedule, saying: “This calendar does what is long overdue. It puts Black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina. It keeps Nevada, where Latinos have been building power … and it adds Michigan, the heartland, where unions built the middle class of this nation. And Georgia, the forefront of the new South.”

Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, opposed the change, saying: “[The DNC] did not give New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation primary. It is not theirs to take away. We will be holding our primary first.”

If the amendment passed by the New Hampshire State Senate is approved by the House of Representatives, it will go to New Hampshire voters on Nov. 5, 2024.

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Habush Sinykin and Knodl advance from Wisconsin State Senate District 8 special primary

A special primary election was held for Wisconsin State Senate District 8 on Feb. 21, 2023.

Representative Jodi Habush Sinykin ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, while Rep. Janel Brandtjen, Rep. Daniel Knodl, and Van Mobley competed in the Republican primary. Knodl advanced to the general election after receiving 57.4% of the vote to Brandtjen’s 31.8% and Mobley’s 10.8%.

The special general election is scheduled for April 4, 2023. The filing deadline passed on Jan. 3, 2023.

The special election was called after Sen. Alberta Darling (R) retired on Dec. 1, 2022. Darling served from 1993 to 2022. Darling’s retirement reduced Senate Republicans’ 22-member supermajority to a 21-member majority. The results of the special election will determine whether Republicans regain a supermajority. 

As of February 2023, 25 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2023 in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2021, an average of 74 special elections took place each year. Wisconsin has held 22 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2022.  

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Candidates advance from Wisconsin statewide primary

The statewide primary election for Wisconsin was held on Feb. 21, 2023. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for April 4, 2023.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices: 

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court
  • Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly advanced from the nonpartisan primary for Wisconsin Supreme Court, defeating Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow and Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell. With 99% of votes counted, Protasiewicz had received 46.4% of the vote and Kelly had received 24.2%. Dorow and Mitchell received 21.9% and 7.5%, respectively.
  • Wisconsin State Senate District 8 (special)
  • Representative Jodi Habush Sinykin ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, while Rep. Janel Brandtjen, Rep. Daniel Knodl, and Van Mobley competed in the Republican primary, with Knodl advancing to the general election after receiving 57.4% of the vote to Brandtjen’s 31.8% and Mobley’s 10.8%.
  • Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the following areas:
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

The primaries for Wisconsin Court of Appeals District I, Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, and Milwaukee County Circuit Court were canceled after fewer than three candidates filed for each election. The primaries for DeForest Area School District, Madison Metropolitan School District, McFarland School District, Middleton-Cross Plains School District, Milwaukee Public Schools, Sun Prairie Area School District, and Verona Area School District were canceled due to a lack of opposition. 

Wisconsin’s statewide primary was the 2nd to take place in the 2023 election cycle. The next statewide primary is on May 16 in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. 

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Candidates advance from Madison, Wisconsin primary

The primary election in Madison, Wisconsin, was on Feb. 21, 2023. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for April 4. The filing deadline to run was on Jan. 3.

Candidates ran for Madison Common Council Districts 1-20. The primaries for districts 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 were canceled after fewer than three candidates filed for each election.

Candidates also ran for mayor of Madison. Incumbent Satya Rhodes-Conway, Scott Kerr, and Gloria Reyes ran in the nonpartisan primary, with Rhodes-Conway and Reyes advancing to the general election with 60% and 28.1% of the vote, respectively.

While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party. Madison has a Democratic mayor. As of February 2023, 62 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 are affiliated with the Republican Party, three are independents, seven identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and two mayors’ affiliations are unknown.

Madison is the second-largest city in Wisconsin and the 79th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

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DNC votes to approve new early presidential primary calendar, uncertainties remain

Photo of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Democratic National Committee approved a new set of early presidential primary states on February 4. The plan sets South Carolina as the first primary state on February 3, 2024, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. In 2020, the early primary states were Iowa on February 3, New Hampshire on February 11, Nevada on February 22, and South Carolina on February 29.

Though the new plan has received final approval from the DNC, some uncertainties remain. In many states, presidential primary dates are not only governed by political parties but also by state law and state election regulators. 

Additionally, the Republican National Committee voted to approve its presidential primary calendar in April 2022, re-establishing the early line-up of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, in that order. Both parties penalize noncompliance with early primary line-ups by reducing the number of delegates a state has at the national convention, thereby limiting that state’s influence on the presidential nominating process.

Here’s where things stand in each state slated for a presidential primary by either the Democratic or Republican National Committees.

Iowa law requires presidential nominating caucuses to be held at least eight days before any other state’s primary. However, the law does not outline consequences for violation, and Iowa has previously held caucuses fewer than eight days before another primary. State parties select caucus dates in Iowa, and the state Democratic Party has expressed opposition to moving their caucus out of the early window. 

South Carolina presidential primaries are run and funded by the state government, but state parties select the date their primaries take place. This means that Democrats don’t need approval from the Republican trifecta state government to move the presidential primary earlier in the calendar, and a date change on the Democratic side would not affect the Republican primary date.

New Hampshire officials have expressed opposition to its new place in the Democratic primary line-up. Citing state law, which requires New Hampshire to hold the first presidential primary (excluding caucuses), New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) said he would ensure the state holds its primary first. This would violate DNC rules and result in fewer delegates at the national convention. However, consequences for violating New Hampshire’s primary law are unclear, so it may be possible for state parties to run and fund their own primary contests on a separate date.

Nevada passed a bill in 2021 changing its nominating process from a convention to a primary. The bill also requires the primary to take place on the first Tuesday in February, bringing it in line with the DNC’s proposed calendar. Depending on when Iowa and New Hampshire schedule their primaries, this calendar can work with the RNC’s schedule. It is also possible that the Republican state party could opt out of the state-funded primary election and hold a caucus on a date of their choosing instead.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who sets primary dates in the state, said he did not intend to change Georgia’s primary date to comply with the DNC calendar. He said, “This type of move would need to be equitable, take place on the same day, and ensure that no one loses delegates,” and expressed openness to an early Georgia primary in 2028. 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) recently signed a bill moving the state’s presidential primary to the date set by the DNC. But, newly passed state laws don’t take effect until 90 days after a legislative session ends. For the law to take effect in time for the 2024 primaries, the state legislature would have to adjourn early. Republicans would not be permitted to hold a primary on a separate date, though they could hold a party-sponsored caucus or convention on a separate date.

Georgia and New Hampshire, the only two states in the DNC’s new early primary line-up that haven’t yet demonstrated they can move their primaries, have until June 2023 to show the DNC they can change their primary dates and receive an early primary waiver.

President Joe Biden (D) holds narrow lead in PredictIt’s 2024 presidential market

As of January 3, 2023, PredictIt’s 2024 presidential market shows incumbent Joe Biden (D) holding a narrow lead at $0.33, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) at $0.32, and former President Donald Trump (R) at $0.16. No other candidate has more than a $0.10 share price. 

Trump is the only candidate of this group to have officially announced his presidential campaign.

The Democratic presidential primary market shows Biden leading the pack at $0.61. The only other candidates to have more than a $0.10 share price are California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) at $0.12 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) at $0.11.

DeSantis currently leads in the Republican presidential primary market at $0.44, followed by Trump at $0.26. No other candidate has more than a $0.10 share price. 

PredictIt is an online political futures market in which users purchase shares relating to the outcome of political events using real money. Each event, such as an election, has a number of contracts associated with it, each correlating to a different outcome. Services such as PredictIt can be used to gain insight into the outcome of elections. Due to action from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, PredictIt may halt trading on February 15, 2023.

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.