TagState executive

Ten states have ordered the release of some inmates in response to the coronavirus

Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting America’s political and civic life. Our coverage includes how federal, state, and local governments are responding, and the effects those responses are having on campaigns and elections.

As of April 1, 10 states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level, 23 states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level, and 17 have not released inmates due to coronavirus.

Some state-level changes have been made by courts. On March 24, for example, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order that will suspend or commute county jail sentences for low-risk inmates due to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic. South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty wrote a memo on March 16 directing local courts to release persons charged with non-capital crimes, so long as they do not pose a danger to the public or are an extreme flight risk.

The governors of Michigan and Illinois issued executive orders allowing local governments to release incarcerated individuals who are vulnerable to the disease and do not pose a risk to the public. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order granting the director of the Colorado Department of Corrections “authority to release people within 180 days of their parole eligibility date, and suspended limits on awarding earned time, to allow for earlier release dates.”

In California, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva released 1,700 people from jail who were convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors and scheduled to be released within 30 days. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the release of at least 650 inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes and serving sentences of less than a year from Rikers Island.

One governor, Texas’ Greg Abbot, has issued an executive order prohibiting inmates accused or previously convicted of violent crimes from being released without paying bail.

Additional Reading:
New Jersey Supreme Court
Donald Beatty
Alex Villanueva (California)
Bill de Blasio
Jared Polis
Greg Abbott
J.B. Pritzker
Gretchen Whitmer



West Virginia postpones statewide primary to June 9, 2020

On April 1, 2020, Governor Jim Justice (R) issued an executive order postponing West Virginia’s statewide primary, including its presidential preference primary, to June 9, 2020. The primary was originally scheduled to take place on May 12, 2020.

According to the press release announcing the postponement, “Secretary of State [Mac] Warner said his office continues to work in conjunction with county clerks across the state and that details for the new election day are being finalized.”

Seventeen states and one territory have postponed state-level elections. In another five states, officials at the state level have either directly postponed or authorized the postponement of municipal elections.


Idaho to conduct May 19, 2020, primary election by mail

On March 30, 2020, Governor Brad Little (R) and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R) announced that Idaho’s May 19, 2020, primary election would be conducted entirely by mail.

According to the press release announcing the change, “The Governor and Secretary of State will work with the Attorney General and the clerks of Idaho’s 44 counties to refine the absentee voting process for these unique circumstances, including setting appropriate deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot be sent to your home, and returning the ballot. Governor Little will issue a proclamation addressing the election in the coming days.”

Seventeen states have implemented changes to their absentee voting procedures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Additional Reading:
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 12 (April 1, 2020)

This week: Nearly half of Jon Huntsman’s petitions rejected, Massie’s coronavirus bill procedural move becomes focus in primary, and we profile Senate Conservatives Fund.

Click here to follow developments on the Democratic side. Have a tip or see something we missed? Email us at geoff@ballotpedia.org. And please share this newsletter with your colleagues!

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“In the middle of the 20th century, conservatism went from being dismissed as a set of ‘irritable mental gestures’ to having several competing ideological frameworks—some more ‘libertarian,’ some more religious. These all found common cause in the fight against Soviet communism—but it is now clear, in retrospect, that in the absence of such a defined enemy (radical Islam served the role briefly), conservatism is falling apart. Not only is it losing whatever unity it had. It is losing its own sense of self-definition and instead is degrading back to the level of irritable mental gestures.

Nothing exposes this like the right’s response to the coronavirus. Conservatives have been almost comically prone to grasping at quack pseudo-science and wild speculation on social media, anything that will help them cast doubt on the real and evident epidemiology of a disease. Why? Simply to poke a finger in the eye of the mainstream media, the experts, the ‘Deep State,’ the ‘elites.’ All that is left of conservatism is ‘own the libs’: If their partisan enemies are for it, the conservatives are against it, and there is no other, deeper reality to consider.”

Robert Tracinski, The Bulwark, March 30, 2020

“Both the crude and sophisticated efforts [to psychologize the partisan divide] tended to agree, though, that the supposed conservative mind is more attuned to external threat and internal contamination, more inclined to support authority and hierarchy, and fear subversion and dissent. And so the political responses to the pandemic have put these psychological theories to a very interesting test. …

So one might say that the pandemic illustrates the power of partisan mood affiliation over any kind of deeper ideological mind-set. Or relatedly, it illustrates the ways in which under the right circumstances, people can easily swing between different moral intuitions. …

But the right’s varying responses to the pandemic also illustrate two further points. The first point is that what we call ‘American conservatism’ is probably more ideologically and psychologically heterogeneous than the conservative mind-set that social scientists aspire to measure and pin down.”

Ross Douthat, The New York Times, March 31, 2020

U.S. Congress

Massie’s coronavirus bill procedural move becomes focus in primary

Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District last week requested a roll call vote on the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which was ultimately passed by voice vote. News of Massie’s plan, which would have required a majority of House members to be present to vote on the bill, led several House members to travel to D.C. amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Massie said that “if we’re going to pass the biggest spending bill in the history of mankind … people should go on record for this.” He also said, “If this is truly a national emergency, and you’re being paid $174,000 a year to work, and you haven’t been to work in, you know, 10 days, I think you can go to work for this.”

Todd McMurtry, who is challenging Massie in the June 23 primary, tweeted, “People’s livelihoods are at stake while he’s playing political games. His top priority is to make himself the purest Libertarian politician in the House while failing to deliver results for Kentuckians.”

President Donald Trump tweeted Massie should be thrown out of the Republican Party, saying, “Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly.”

Massie said he hoped to patch things up with Trump. 

Massie was first elected to the House in 2012. McMurtry is an attorney. He recently represented a Covington Catholic High School student who settled a defamation lawsuit with CNN regarding its coverage of a confrontation between the student and an activist.

VA-05, VA-07 Republican conventions up in the air

Republicans in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Congressional Districts are scheduled to select their party’s nominees for the general elections at conventions, as opposed to primaries, on April 25. Amid the coronavirus outbreak and prohibitions on large gatherings, Republican leaders are considering contingency plans.

Fifth District incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman told Roll Call that prohibitions on gatherings could limit the convention vote to members of the 5th District Republican Committee. Roll Call‘s Stephanie Akin wrote the following: 

“That could shrink the number of eligible voters from about 3,000 registered delegates to less than 40 committee members, a potential political death sentence for Riggleman, who was censured by one county committee — the district includes all or part of 21 counties and two cities — last summer after he officiated a gay wedding. The larger district committee debated censuring him at the time as well. And the National Journal reported last month that at least four district committee members had donated to Good’s campaign.” 

Riggleman was first elected in 2018, defeating Leslie Cockburn (D) 53% to 47%. His 2020 challenger, Bob Good, said that “Republican voters within the 5th District want to choose a bright-red conservative over a purple, progressive Republican.”

In the 7th District, nine candidates are running for a chance to face freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) in November. Before Spanberger took office in 2019, a Republican had represented the 7th District since 1971. Spanberger defeated Dave Brat in 2018. Brat defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the district’s 2014 Republican primary.

Brat endorsed Nick Freitas, a member of the state House of Delegates, for the 7th District Republican nomination. Freitas also has support from the Club for Growth PAC.  Former Trump administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Andrew Knaggs, House of Delegates Member John McGuire, and nonprofit founder Tina Ramirez are among the nine candidates.

NY-27 special election, regular primary to be held same day

New York’s 27th District special election was originally scheduled for April 28, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo changed the date of the state’s special elections and presidential primaries to June 23 because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs is running in the special election and is one of four regular primary election candidates. Eight county Republican Party chairs selected Jacobs as the party’s special election nominee. Trump endorsed Jacobs in the special election.

The Buffalo News‘ Mary B. Pasciak wrote that, because the elections will be held on the same day, there is no chance Jacobs could enter the regular primary election as an incumbent.

The state Conservative Party and several county Conservative parties endorsed Beth Parlato in the regular primary election. Regarding the date change, Parlato said, “The people of NY-27 will be able to choose who they want to represent them. I have always felt confident going into the primary. (Jacobs’) voting record is too liberal for the voters in NY-27.”

Primary candidate Stefan Mychajliw Jr. said, “My opponent was banking on running as an incumbent. Now that potential strength has evaporated.” 

The special election will fill the vacancy left when Chris Collins (R) resigned Oct. 1, the same day he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements.

State executives

Nearly half of Jon Huntsman’s petitions rejected

Utah’s elections agency announced Thursday it had rejected nearly 20,000 signatures submitted by Jon Huntsman’s gubernatorial campaign. Huntsman must submit an additional 11,500 valid signatures before April 10 in order to earn a guaranteed spot on the primary ballot.

More than half of the 36,112 signatures the Huntsman campaign submitted—19,653—were rejected. According to UtahPolicy.com, Huntsman’s rejection rate is nearly twice that of the two campaigns that have submitted signatures so far. More than half of the rejected signatures were found to be from individuals who were not registered Republicans.

Candidates running for governor of Utah may qualify for the ballot by either submitting signatures from 28,000 registered party members or by winning a spot on the primary ballot at their party’s nominating convention. No more than two candidates can win a spot on the ballot at the convention.

Incumbent Gary Herbert (R), who is not seeking re-election, signed an executive order allowing campaigns to collect signatures online. Herbert said the measures were implemented to aid in social distancing. Huntsman and Jan Garbett are the only primary candidates yet to submit their signatures. Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright have already qualified for the ballot via signature. The other four candidates are focusing entirely on the nominating convention.

A Dan Jones & Associates poll of likely primary voters conducted on behalf of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce found Huntsman leading Cox 34% to 23%. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5%.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980.

Jim Justice, Woody Thrasher launch ad buys

West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher launched his tenth ad of the campaign season on March 26. The spot, titled “Leadership”, called for policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Thrasher outlined his support for expanding unemployment benefits, providing loans to small businesses, and allowing deferment of mortgage payments.

Incumbent Jim Justice launched his first television ad on March 18. It contains footage of Justice on stage with President Trump at a rally and says Justice has helped grow West Virginia’s economy while opposing regulations on firearms, supporting restrictions on abortion, and appointing conservative justices to the state supreme court.

The May 12 primary will be open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters only. No Republican has won election as governor of West Virginia since Cecil Underwood in 1996. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 69% to 27%. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party on August 3, 2017.

Legislatures

New York Senate Minority Leader will not seek re-election

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-02), once the state’s top Republican elected official, announced he would not seek re-election this November. Flanagan was elected to the state Assembly in 1986 and moved to the Senate in 2002. He became the highest-ranking Republican in New York in 2015 when he was elected Senate Majority Leader. After Democrats took control of the senate in 2018, he became Senate Minority Leader.

The Suffolk County GOP had already endorsed Flanagan for re-election. On March 30, the county party announced it had selected Mario Mattera, a member of the Suffolk County Water Authority Board, to replace Flanagan on the ballot. Democrat Mike Siderakis has also announced his intention to run.

Republicans currently hold 22 of the 63 seats in the New York state Senate. Flanagan is the eighth Republican senator not to seek re-election. The filing deadline for party-affiliated state legislative candidates in New York is April 2.

Term-limited South Dakota House Majority Leader faces first primary in bid for state Senate seat

State Rep. Lee Qualm (R-21) will run in a contested primary for the first time since winning election in 2012 as he attempts to switch chambers by running for state Senate.

Qualm is unable to run for another term in the House due to term limits. First-term state Sen. Rocky Blare (R-21) filed to run for one of the district’s two House seats. In February, Qualm filed to run for the Senate seat held by Blare, setting up the possibility of Qualm and Blare switching seats.

Later in March, Erin Tobin, a healthcare provider from Winner, also filed petitions to run for the state Senate seat. As a result, Qualm will face a contested primary for the first time since being elected to the state House in 2012. Qualm became Majority Leader in 2017.

Two candidates intend to run in primary after incumbent Tennessee representative announces his retirement

State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-18) announced he will not seek re-election this year. Following his March 24 announcement, two candidates—James Corcoran and Eddie Mannis—indicated their intentions to run for the Republican nomination.

Corcoran previously challenged Rep. Daniel in District 18’s 2016 Republican primary, placing third with 25% of the vote. Mannis ran for mayor of Knoxville in 2019 but lost to Indya Kincannon. Democrat Virginia Couch also intends to run for the seat. 

Daniel was first elected to represent District 18 in 2014 after defeating incumbent Rep. Steve Hall (R-18) in the Republican primary. The deadline to submit petitions to appear on the primary ballot is April 2.

Power players

“SCF seeks to bring bold conservative leadership to Washington by supporting candidates who have the courage to fight for limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional family values.” – Senate Conservatives Fund website 

Founded in 2008 by former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) is a political action committee that says it “helps candidates by bundling contributions for them from thousands of freedom-loving Americans across the country, and by running hard-hitting radio and television ads to promote their conservative campaigns.”

The SCF website lists policy goals in the following areas: “Stop Spending,” “Healthcare Freedom,” “Enforce Immigration,” “Term Limits,” “Ban Bailouts,” “End Earmarks,” “Protect Life,” and “2nd Amendment.”

SCF has endorsed seven Republican candidates in 2020 congressional races. Senate endorsements include incumbent Steve Daines (Mont.), challengers John James (Mich.) and Don Bolduc (N.H.), and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), who is running for an open seat.  

The group says it supports “a select group of House candidates each cycle to bolster our farm team for future Senate races and to help take back the House.” In 2020 races, SCF endorsed incumbent Reps. Chip Roy (Texas) and Scott Perry (Pa.), and Lynda Bennett, who is running for the open seat previously held by Mark Meadows in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.



States have issued 758 executive orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic

As of March 31, governors and state agencies have issued 758 executive orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Executive orders are orders issued by a state’s executive branch that do not require legislative approval and are typically based on constitutional or statutory authority.

The three states with the most executive orders so far are Massachusetts (31), Arizona (29), and Michigan (28). The three states with the fewest executive orders so far are Missouri (5), Oklahoma (6), and three states (Louisiana, Virginia, and Wyoming) who have issued seven executive orders.

These executive orders include school closures and stay-at-home or state lockdown orders. Across the country, 47 states have closed schools statewide via executive order, and 30 states have issued stay-at-home orders.

Additional reading:


Tennessee governor issues stay-at-home order

On March 30, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses and requiring individuals to remain in their homes except for essential activities.

Lee’s order is effective from March 31 through April 14. Schools are scheduled to remain closed through April 24.

Twenty-eight states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to residents. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 22 announced end dates.

Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.


Virginia governor issues stay-at-home order

On March 30, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses and requiring individuals to remain in their homes except for essential activities.

Northam’s order took effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10. It does not impact the state’s schools, which Northam closed for the academic year on March 23.

Twenty-seven states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to residents. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 21 announced end dates.

Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.

Additional Reading:
States with shelter in place and stay at home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



Effort to recall Colorado sheriff submits signatures

An effort to recall Lance FitzGerald from his position as Ouray County Sheriff in Colorado submitted 1,082 petition signatures in March 2020. Recall supporters had 60 days to collect 768 signatures from eligible Ouray County voters. If enough signatures are deemed valid, a recall election will be scheduled.

The recall effort began in January 2020. FitzGerald was targeted for recall after he was arrested on DUI allegations on November 27, 2019. The case was still pending at the time the petitions were turned in.

The recall effort was started by the Ouray County Republican Party, but the county Democratic Party joined in the creation of the recall committee. The recall petition reads: “In light of the recent arrest and continued negative events surrounding Lance Patrick FitzGerald, sheriff of Ouray County, we citizens of Ouray County do not have confidence that Sheriff Lance FitzGerald can uphold the duties and responsibilities of his elected position.”

FitzGerald was sworn into office in January 2019. He ran as an unaffiliated candidate and defeated Republican Joel “BB” Burk by 11 votes. He has not publicly responded to the recall effort.

Additional reading:
Recall campaigns in Colorado
Political recall efforts, 2020
County official recalls



Maryland governor issues stay-at-home order

On March 30, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses and requiring individuals to remain in their homes except for essential activities.

Hogan’s order took effect immediately and will remain in place until the state’s declared state of emergency is over. The order defines essential activities as trips for supplies or medical care, caring for family members, and outdoor exercise. Knowing and willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor offense and convictions may result in up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Twenty-five states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 19 announced end dates.

Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.

Additional Reading:
States with shelter in place and stay at home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 11 (March 25, 2020)

This week: Club for Growth active in AL-01, AL-02 runoffs, Loeffler responds to insider trading allegations, and the election dates changed in response to the coronavirus.

Election date changes

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted several states and localities to change election dates and administrative procedures. Here are the changes affecting party primaries right now:

  • Alabama: Primary runoff postponed to July 14
  • Alaska: In-person voting in Democratic presidential preference primary canceled; vote-by-mail deadline extended to April 10
  • Connecticut: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Delaware: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Georgia: Presidential preference primary postponed to May 19
  • Indiana: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Kentucky: Primary postponed to June 23
  • Louisiana: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 20
  • Maryland: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Mississippi: Republican primary runoff election for the state’s 2nd Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • North Carolina: Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • Ohio: In-person primary voting postponed to June 2
  • Puerto Rico: Democratic presidential preference primary postponed to April 26
  • Rhode Island: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Texas: Primary runoff elections postponed to July 14

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“Contrary to the partisan hand-wringing over Trump’s obvious restlessness with the national shutdown, Trump’s developing back-to-work plan ought to instill confidence in the public. Trump has only doubled down on his demand that Congress authorize immediate cash relief to consumers, so it’s not as though his willingness to strategize about what comes next signals defeat. If anything, it’s practically necessary, positioning us to be far more prepared for the secondary stage of the coronavirus than we were for the initial outbreak, and it’s politically expedient, a warning sign to Democrats holding the crisis relief bill as a partisan hostage. …

… Trump’s reported plan understands a necessary reality: We need those who cannot earn income from home back at work.

It won’t just be the elderly and immunocompromised stuck at home. Likely every worker who can work remotely, largely white-collar workers and middle- and upper-income earners, will be required to continue to do so. But then masks could be allocated to those who must work on-site, like those in the manufacturing or beauty industries. And those workers happen to be disproportionately lower-income. It’s not the stock market that will most benefit, but rather those workers who need economic relief the most.”

Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner, March 24, 2020

“There are certain strategies that we could eventually employ to return to some semblance of normal life while limiting the spread of the virus. One would be to have everybody wear masks whenever they go out. Another would be to follow the South Korean model of widespread testing coupled with isolating cases and tracking down their close contacts.

But the United States is not in a position to do either at the moment. …

Trump is right in the sense that we cannot sustain the current state of affairs and just sit around for the next few years waiting for a vaccine. But it would be an egregious error for him to change federal guidance and lean on state and local governments to prematurely open things up at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly and is nowhere near its peak.

So what he should do, instead of saying that he’s going to open things up, is say that his administration will be moving on a parallel track to put the system in place so that we can return to some semblance of life as soon as possible, and in a responsible well-thought-out way.”

Philip Klein, Washington Examiner, March 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Club for Growth active in AL-01, AL-02 runoffs

Club for Growth has ramped up activity in Alabama’s congressional runoffs,

The Club for Growth is getting more active in Alabama’s congressional runoffs, increasing its spending in the 1st District race and making an endorsement in the 2nd District contest.

Club for Growth Action, the group’s super PAC, spent $720,000 following the March 3 primary on ads and other activities opposing Jerry Carl. The group spent just under $150,000 supporting Bill Hightower ahead of the primary. 

Carl received 38.7% of the vote to Hightower’s 37.5% on March 3. The seat is open as incumbent Bradley Byrne (R) ran for the GOP Senate nomination.

In the 2nd District, Club for Growth PAC along with the House Freedom Fund endorsed Barry Moore in the runoff last week. Yellow Hammer News reported that the groups didn’t indicate how much they would spend on the race.

Jeff Coleman, the other 2nd District runoff candidate, had raised close to $2 million and spent $1.5 million as of Feb. 11. Moore reported raising almost $300,000 and spending around $250,000 as of March 11.

Moore, a former state legislator, has referred to himself as “the working man’s candidate” and to the runoff as “David and Goliath.” Coleman describes himself as a job creator and outsider. He is chairman of Coleman Worldwide Moving. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Alabama endorsed Coleman ahead of the primary.

Alabama’s 2nd is open as incumbent Martha Roby (R) isn’t seeking re-election. Coleman received 38.1% of the vote to Moore’s 20.4% in the March 3 primary, which included seven candidates.

Alabama’s runoffs were originally scheduled for March 31 but were moved to July 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Loeffler responds to insider trading allegations

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) joined outside ethics groups in accusing Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) of insider trading.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “financial disclosures show that either she or her spouse sold up to $3.1 million in stocks. They made just two purchase, [sic] both in companies whose software technology is now in demand as Americans are forced to work from home to stem the rise of the coronavirus.” The newspaper reported that the purchase took place after Loeffler attended a January briefing on the virus.

Loeffler has denied allegations of insider trading, saying, “There is a range of different decisions made every day with regard to my savings and 401(k) portfolios that I am not involved in.”

Collins said, “People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain? … I’m sickened just thinking about it.”

Loeffler and Collins are among 21 candidates running in the all-party special election on Nov. 3—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. Former Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned in December. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to fill the seat.

Trent Christensen files for UT-04 primary shortly before deadline

Trent Christensen filed for Utah’s 4th Congressional District Republican primary shortly before the March 19 deadline, joining six others in the race. Incumbent Ben McAdams (D), who is seeking re-election, defeated incumbent Mia Love (R) 50.1% to 49.9% in 2018.

Christensen was regional finance director of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. He has until April 20 to submit 7,000 signatures on a nominating petition to qualify for the ballot.

Also running are former Utah Republican Party communications director Kathleen Anderson, former state Rep. Kim Coleman, and former NFL player Burgess Owens. Not on the list of candidates is Love, who said last year she was considering a bid to regain the seat.

The primary is June 30.

State executives

Utah’s filing deadline passed Thursday, leaving eight candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination—the most since 2004.Three Utah gubernatorial candidates name running mates

Three candidates announced their running mates. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox will run alongside state Sen. Deidre Henderson, while businesswoman Jan Garbett selected former public health official Dr. Joe Jarvis and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder-Newton picked state Auditor John Dougall.

Two other candidates had already named their running mates. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. is running alongside Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, while former state party chairman Thomas Wright is running alongside Rep. Rob Bishop. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, businessman Jeff Burningham, and entrepreneur Jason Christensen have not yet announced running mates.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has made getting on the ballot much more challenging.

Up to two candidates for governor may qualify for the primary ballot by winning the support of state delegates at the convention. Any number may qualify by submitting petitions containing valid signatures from 28,000 registered voters. Candidates may choose to pursue one track or attempt to qualify via both at the same time. 

Owing to public health concerns, the state party convention was moved to an entirely online format, meaning candidates will no longer be able to interact with delegates in person. Meanwhile, Huntsman and Garbett, who are both seeking to qualify via petitions, have requested the state allow candidates to collect signatures electronically.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980. Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election.

Greg Gianforte leads Montana gubernatorial candidates in fundraising

According to financial disclosure reports filed Friday, Rep. Greg Gianforte has raised more money in the gubernatorial primary so far this year than state Attorney General Tim Fox or state Sen. Al Olszewski.

Between Jan. 1 and March 15, Gianforte raised $890,000 to Fox’s $110,000 and Olszewski’s $42,000. Gianforte’s figures include a $500,000 loan he issued his campaign. Olszewski loaned his campaign $17,000.

To date, Gianforte has raised $2.3 million to Fox’s $680,000 and Olszewski’s $270,000.

The June 2 primary is open to all voters. No Republican candidate has been elected governor in Montana since Judy Martz (R) in 2000.

Knudsen receives legislative endorsements in Montana Attorney General election, while Bennion reports fundraising lead

Two members of the Montana state legislature endorsed House Speaker Austin Knudsen for attorney general. State Sen. Gordon Vance, a former state house majority leader who currently serves as chairman of the Highways and Transportation Committee, announced his support for Knudsen Saturday. Current state House Majority Leader Brad Tschida followed on Monday.

Campaign finance reports filed Friday show Deputy State Attorney General Jon Bennion with a slight fundraising lead over Knudsen. Between January 1 and March 15, Bennion raised $29,000 to Knudsen’s $28,000. As of March 15, Bennion had $160,000 cash on hand to Knudsen’s $110,000. 

Bennion and Knudsen are the only two Republicans running in the June 2 primary, which is open to all registered voters.

Legislatures

A look at competitiveness in state legislative elections so far

Ballotpedia has been compiling information about competitiveness in state legislative elections for this year and comparing it to our 2018 data. 

When a state legislative filing deadline passes, we compile information about open seats, incumbents in primaries, total primaries, and total candidates. We then compare that data to figures for the same states as of the 2018 filing deadline. The 16 states highlighted in the graphic above show where we’ve been able to run this comparison so far.

In the states we’ve reviewed, competitiveness has fallen this year compared to the same point in 2018. This year, there are 273 open seats, versus 326 in 2018. The number of incumbents challenged in primaries is also down from 405 in 2018 to 357 in 2020. The number of primaries in general is also down from 845 to 702. All of these declines correspond with the overall drop in candidates seeking office. There are 416 fewer candidates running in state legislative races in 2020 compared to 2018.

Here are some specific highlights:

  • Ohio had the largest drop in the number of open seats. There were 42 open seats in 2018, and 22 this year. 
  • North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia had the largest increase in open seats. Each has eight more open seats this year than in 2018.
  • Both Texas and Oregon have 18 fewer incumbents facing primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. In 2018, Montana had ten incumbents facing primary challenges versus 25 in 2020, the largest increase.
  • Illinois has the largest decrease in total primaries from 61 in 2018 to 37 in 2020. Montana again has the largest increase in total primaries from 38 in 2018 to 55 in 2020.
  • Only two states—Oregon (23) and Georgia (32)—have more candidates running this year than in 2018. Ohio has 86 fewer candidates running in state legislative races this year than in 2018.

Term-limited representative challenges incumbent South Dakota state senator

State Rep. Nancy Rasmussen (R-17), who is term-limited and unable to run again for another term in the house, filed to run for the district’s single state senate seat, setting up a primary with incumbent Sen. Art Rusch (R-17). 

Rasmussen was first elected to one of the district’s two House seats in 2012 and won re-election three times, serving the maximum of eight years in one chamber. Rusch, at the time of his first election in 2014, was the first Republican elected to the state senate from District 17 since 1982. He has won re-election twice since then. This will be the first time he has faced a primary challenge.

The filing deadline for state legislative candidates in South Dakota is March 31. No Democratic candidates have filed to run for the District 17 senate seat thus far.

Power players

“The Republican Main Street Partnership is a coalition of nearly 80 members of Congress who represent the governing wing of the Republican Party. Our members are the Republicans who win in swing districts — that’s why we’re the party’s majority-makers.” – Republican Main Street Partnership website 

Founded in 1997, the Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says its members “share a commitment to conservative, pragmatic government that works to better American communities across the country” and are “solution-oriented legislators dedicated to defending Main Street Americans and advancing common-sense policies that can command bipartisan support.” To view a list of the organization’s current members, click here.

The RMSP is affiliated with the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC, which says it “exists to support governing Republicans who face the most challenging races,” and the Defending Main Street Super PAC, which describes itself as “the most effective independent expenditure organization supporting the governing wing of the Republican Party.”

The RMSP PAC endorses candidates which it says believe in “limited government, thoughtful, pragmatic governing and a strong economy.” To view a list of endorsed candidates, click here.