TagState executive

Virginia closes schools for the remainder of the school year

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that all schools statewide would remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus outbreak. This was an extension of a previous order on March 13 when Northam ordered all schools to close from March 16 to March 27.

Virginia became the second state to end its school year amid the coronavirus outbreak. Kansas ended its school year on March 17 under an executive order from Gov. Laura Kelly (D).

So far across the country, 45 states have ordered a statewide school closure in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Schools in those states served 48.4 million public school students in the 2016-2017 academic year, of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.

Florida governor delays state supreme court selection due to coronavirus

On March 19, 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced he would delay nominating individuals to two Florida Supreme Court vacancies until at least May 1. The governor said he had not had time to review the candidates’ application materials because of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally under state law, DeSantis would have needed to select the two new justices by March 23.

Two seats on the Florida Supreme Court became vacant after Justices Robert J. Luck and Barbara Lagoa were confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on November 19 and November 20, 2019, respectively. President Donald Trump (R) nominated both judges to the 11th Circuit on October 15, 2019.

Under Florida law, state supreme court justices are chosen through a process of assisted appointment, where the governor chooses a nominee from a list of potential candidates provided by a judicial nominating commission (JNC). On January 23, the JNC submitted nine nominees to the governor. Lagoa’s and Luck’s replacements will be Gov. DeSantis’ fourth and fifth nominees to the seven-member supreme court.

DeSantis declared a state of emergency on March 9 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of the emergency declaration, the Florida Department of Health confirmed that 13 residents tested positive for the virus.


Additional reading:
Florida Supreme Court
Judicial selection in Florida
Florida Supreme Court elections, 2020
Florida judicial elections

Rhode Island Supreme Court selection of justices

The Rhode Island Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has five judgeships. The current chief of the court is Paul Suttell.

The selection of supreme court justices begins with the Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission is composed of nine members. Five of the members must be attorneys. Various elected officials must submit lists of nominations for commission members. The governor receives those lists and then makes his or her selection for the commission seat. The governor picks one name from each of five lists compiled by the speaker of the Rhode Island House, the president of the Rhode Island Senate, the speaker and the president together, and the minority leaders of both houses respectively. The governor selects the final four members of the commission, but without any requirement that he do so from a previously prepared list.

This governor controlled commission submits three to five names to the Governor of Rhode Island, and upon receiving the names, the governor selects and appoints one. The appointed justice must then be approved by both the state senate and house of representatives.

Justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court hold office for life. The seat of one Rhode Island Supreme Court justice, Justice Gilbert Indeglia, will be open upon Indeglia’s retirement on June 30.

Indeglia was a Republican member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 1985 to 1991. From 1989 to 2000, he served on the Rhode Island District Court. He joined the Rhode Island Superior Court in 2000 and served there until his appointment to the Rhode Island Supreme Court in 2010.

As of March 2020, all five justices on the court were appointed by a Republican governor. This will be Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo’s first appointment to Rhode Island’s highest court. She assumed office on January 6, 2015. Her current term ends on January 3, 2023.

Additional Reading:
Rhode Island Supreme Court
Rhode Island Judicial Nominating Commission
Gilbert v. Indeglia

Washington lieutenant governor will not seek re-election

Washington Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib (D) announced on March 19 that he will not seek re-election and instead leave politics to join the Society of Jesus, a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church.

Habib was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 2012 and the state Senate in 2014. He was elected lieutenant governor on November 8, 2016.

The Lieutenant Governor of Washington is the second-ranking officer of the state and separately elected from the Governor. Washington’s lieutenant governor is up for regular election on November 3, 2020, with a top-two primary scheduled for August 4. The filing deadline to run is May 15.

Ballotpedia is covering the Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election here.

Additional Reading:
Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2020
Joseph Brumbles
Mark Greene

Maryland Legislature refers constitutional amendment to 2020 ballot concerning the legislature’s power over the state budget

Maryland Legislative Authority over State Budget Amendment would authorize the Maryland General Assembly to increase, decrease, or add items to the state budget as long as such changes do not make the budget exceed the total proposed budget submitted by the governor. The amendment is the first measure certified to appear on the statewide ballot in Maryland this November.

Currently, the Maryland General Assembly receives a budget proposal from the governor. The legislature is not allowed to add expenditures to it or reapportion expenditures. It can only reduce the state’s operating budget.

In Maryland, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment requires a 60 percent vote by each chamber of the Maryland General Assembly during one legislative session. The amendment was introduced as Senate Bill 1028 on February 14, 2020, and was sponsored by Democratic Senators Jim Rosapepe, Sarah K. Elfreth, Melony Griffith, Guy Guzzone, Nancy J. King, Douglas J. J. Peters, and Craig J. Zucker. On March 17, 2020, the state Senate passed SB 1028 in a vote of 30-15. On March 18, 2020, the state Legislature passed the amendment in a vote of 95-39. The vote occurred on the last day of the legislative session, which was adjourned early due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 session was originally set to adjourn on April 6, 2020.

The legislature also approved a referendum to authorize sports and event wagering at certain licensed facilities before adjourning. As a legislatively referred state statute, the measure requires the governor’s signature to be certified for the ballot. The measure would also change the uses of the Problem Gambling Fund to target treatments and prevention programs towards individuals with gambling problems that relate to sports wagering.

Since 1996, 34 measures appeared on Maryland ballots. Of that total, 31 were approved, and three were defeated.

Maryland Legislative Authority over State Budget Amendment (2020) #Path to the ballot
Maryland 2020 ballot measures

Coronavirus daily update: March 20, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 20, 2020, as of Friday afternoon.
Federal responses
  • Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced S.3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). According to The Hill, the CARES Act includes the following provisions:
    • $1,200 in direct cash payments for individuals making up to $75,000 annually, with an additional $500 per child
    • Delay the federal tax filing deadline to July 15
    • $208 billion in loans for major industries
    • $300 billion in loans for small businesses
    • Delay payments on federal student loans for three months, with a possible extension of another three months
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the federal tax filing deadline would be delayed to July 15.
  • The United States and Mexico mutually agreed to close the border to non-essential traffic.
Election changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Twelve states have changed primary, municipal, or special election dates.
    • One state (New York) has adjusted candidate filing requirements.
    • Four states have either implemented or attempted to implement changes to voting procedures.
    • Political parties in six states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
  • Details:
    • Indiana postponed its primary election to June 2.
    • North Carolina postponed the Republican primary runoff for the 11th Congressional District to June 23.
    • Texas postponed the special election for Texas Senate District 14 to July 14.
    • The Virginia Department of Elections announced that all voters will be eligible to vote absentee in May’s municipal elections.
State legislative changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
    • Two (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
    • Five have implemented partial suspensions.
  • Details:
    • The Delaware General Assembly suspended its session for an indefinite period. The suspension had initially been scheduled to last through March 24.
    • Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R) announced a partial suspension of legislative activity in the State Senate beginning March 18 and ending March 20.
State court changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Thirty-two states have suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
    • Sixteen states have suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
    • Two states, West Virginia and Wyoming, have made no changes to their court schedules on the state or local level due to coronavirus.
  • Details:
    • The Alaska Supreme Court is suspending all superior and district court proceedings until April 3.
School closures
  • Overview to date:
    • Forty-five of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 45 states served 48.4 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 95.7 percent of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  • Details:
    • California – Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order Thursday night closed the schools that remained open in the state. Newsom did not announce an end date for the order.
    • Hawaii – The Hawaii Department of Education announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to April 7.
    • Missouri – Gov. Mike Parsons announced that all schools in the state had closed. The schools were closed by local action rather than statewide announcement.
    • Chicago – Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago Public Schools would remain closed from March 30 to April 20. At the time of the announcement, all schools in Illinois were closed until March 30.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials who have entered quarantine
  • U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi (R-NY)
  • U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS)
  • U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
  • U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Jane Garibay (D-CT)
  • State Rep. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-NY)
  • State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-CO)
  • State Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D-HI)
Local officials who have entered quarantine
  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (WI)
  • Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D-PA)

Additional reading:

Filing deadline passes for state executive, legislative offices in Maine, Colorado, and Utah

The filing deadline to run for elected office passed this week in Maine, Colorado, and Utah. Maine’s filing deadline was March 16, Colorado’s was March 17, and Utah’s was March 19.

In Maine, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (35 seats)
  • State House (151 seats)
In Colorado, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Board of Education (3 seats)
  • State Board of Regents (3 seats)
  • State Senate (18 seats)
  • State House (65 seats)
In Utah, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (15 seats)
  • State House (75 seats)
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Auditor
  • Treasurer
  • State Board of Education (8 seats)

Maine, Colorado, and Utah’s statewide filing deadlines are the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 26, 2020, in Virginia.

Maine and Colorado have Democratic state government trifectas, while Utah has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:

Ohio Democratic Party sues Ohio Secretary of State over primary election postponement

On March 17, 2020, the Democratic Party of Ohio and Kiara Sanders, a registered voter in Franklin County, filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) in the state supreme court, alleging that LaRose was “patently and unambiguously without jurisdiction and legal authority to suspend, move, or set the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election.” They argued instead that the legal authority to set the date of the primary election rested with the state legislature.

The plaintiffs asked the court to do the following:
• Bar the secretary of state from setting a date for the 2020 primary election
• Order election administrators to accept and process absentee voting applications until 12:00 p.m. on April 25, 2020
• Order election administrators to direct local boards of elections to accept and count all valid absentee ballots postmarked on or before April 28, 2020, and received on or before May 8, 2020
• Order election administrators to accept and count all valid absentee ballots delivered personally by a voter or his or her family member on or before April 28, 2020
• Order the secretary of state to provide for prepaid postage for all absentee ballots and applications

Earlier this week, LaRose ordered the postponement of the primary from March 17, 2020, to June 2, 2020, after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the closure all polls on March 17 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of actions surrounding the postponement of Ohio’s primary. On March 16 (before LaRose moved the state’s primary date) a group of private citizens filed suit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas at the request of Governor Mike DeWine (R)seeking a postponement of the state’s primary election.

Judge Richard Frye declined to postpone the primary. Frye said, “There are too many factors to balance in this unchartered territory to say that we ought to take this away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a common pleas court judge in Columbus 12 hours before the election.”

In a joint press release issued shortly after 9:00 p.m., DeWine and LaRose said, “Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights.” Shortly after 10:00 p.m., DeWine announced that polls would be closed on March 17 by Acton’s order.

In response to this announcement, a candidate for office in Wood County, Ohio, filed suit in the state supreme court, alleging that the postponement violated state election laws. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., the court rejected this argument, allowing the postponement to stand.

LaRose then issued a directive to election administrators postponing in-person voting to June 2, 2020. The absentee ballot application deadline was extended to May 26, and the postmark deadline was extended to June 1. The voter registration deadline, originally February 18, was left unchanged. All ballots already cast, either by mail or in person, would be counted as usual.

Coronavirus daily update: March 18, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary for March 18, 2020.

Federal responses
• The Senate passed the coronavirus relief bill sent by the House earlier this week.
• The U.S.-Canada border is closed to nonessential travel.

Election changes
• Alabama – Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that the state would postpone its primary runoff election, originally scheduled for March 31, 2020, to July 14.
• Missouri – Governor Mike Parson (R) ordered the postponement of all municipal elections originally scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 2.
• Ohio – On March 17, the Democratic Party of Ohio sued Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) over his postponement of in-person voting in the primary to June 2.

State legislative changes
• California – Session suspended until April 13.
• Hawaii – Session suspended indefinitely effective March 17.
• Iowa – Session suspended for at least 30 days.
• Louisiana – Session adjourned until March 31.
• Maine – Session adjourned effective March 16.
• Maryland – Session adjourned effective March 18.
• Minnesota – Legislative activity conducted remotely through April 14.
• Nebraska – Session suspended effective March 17.
• New York – Session suspended until at least March 18.
• Pennsylvania – Lawmakers voted to allow remote voting on legislative actions.

School closures
• Nationwide – Forty states have ordered statewide closures of public schools. The schools impacted by these closures served 33.9 million students as of the 2016-17 school year (most recent available data), accounting for 67 percent of the 50.6 million public school students nationwide.
• Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly (D) closed all schools in the state from March 23 through May 31.
• Wisconsin – Governor Tony Evers (D) announced that the statewide closure, originally ordered to end April 5, would instead last indefinitely.

Judicial changes
• Arkansas – The Supreme Court of Arkansas suspended in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and district courts.
• Connecticut – The Judicial Branch announced it would curtail courthouse operations. One courthouse in each of the 13 judicial districts will remain open for priority court business.
• Massachusetts – All courts will be closed to the public from March 18 until at least April 6.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
• Colorado – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R) and U.S. Representative Jason Crow (D) both announced they entered a self-quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
• Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht announced a self-quarantine on March 17 after one of his children tested positive for coronavirus.

Additional Reading:
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
State Court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 10 (March 18, 2020)

This week: Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland postpone primaries, NRA, Club for Growth split endorsements in Senate runoff in Alabama, and former Rep. Brat endorses Freitas in VA-07 convention contest.

Election updates

Ohio among three states to postpone primaries—decision made less than 24 hours before polls open 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Monday night that polls would be closed on Tuesday by the order of the state health director. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) postponed in-person voting to June 2.

Ohio was scheduled to hold primaries for president, the state’s 16 U.S. House seats, both chambers of the state legislature, the Ohio Supreme Court, and local elections Tuesday. 

DeWine said:

During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.

Later Monday, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) announced that he and Gov. Andy Beshear (D) had agreed to postpone the state’s primary from May 19 to June 23. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) postponed Maryland’s primary from April 28 to June 2. The special election for Elijah Cummings’ U.S. House seat will still take place April 28 but will be conducted via mail-in ballot only.

For an account of events related to the postponements, and for details on changes to the election calendar in other states, click here.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from March 17.

Illinois’ 6th Congressional District: Jeanne Ives defeated Gordon “Jay” Kinzler in the Republican primary for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District. With 99% of precincts reporting, Ives had received 70.8% of the vote to Kinzler’s 29.2%. 

Both candidates highlighted their military backgrounds and opposition to socialism. Ives graduated from West Point and came from a military family. She said, “Our family has served. So I’ll tell you what, we are all in to defeat any socialism that comes to sneak in the back door of this country.” Kinzler joined the U.S. Army Reserves and became a corporal. He said he entered the race out of a concern “that many in congress are promoting a socialist agenda that is taking our nation down a dangerous path.”

Incumbent Sean Casten (D) was unopposed in the March 17 Democratic primary. In the district’s 2018 general election, Casten won 54-47. Major race rating outlets vary in their assessments of the 2020 general election, with ratings ranging from Lean Democratic to Solid Democratic

Illinois’ 14th Congressional District: Jim Oberweis won the Republican primary for Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, defeating six other candidates. Oberweis received 25.6% of the vote, followed by Sue Rezin with 22.8%, Catalina Lauf with 20.1%, Ted Gradel with 13.3%, and James Marter with 11.0%. Jerry Evans and Anthony Catella also ran in the primary. 

Gradel, Oberweis, and Rezin led in fundraising and media activity, with the latter two candidates also receiving the majority of endorsements. Three groups—Illinois Conservatives PAC; Our Future, Our Fight PAC; and the New Prosperity Foundation—spent a combined $1.14 million opposing candidates in the race. Of that total, around $1.08 million was spent against Oberweis, roughly 94% of all oppositional satellite spending. 

Illinois’ 15th Congressional District: Mary Miller won the Republican primary for Illinois’ 15th Congressional District. Four candidates ran. With 95% of precincts reporting, Miller had 57%, followed by Darren Duncan with 22%.

Incumbent John Shimkus (R) announced he would not seek re-election, leaving the district open.

Both Miller and Duncan highlighted their support for President Donald Trump’s agenda. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Miller. The House Freedom Fund and its affiliated super PAC, House Freedom Action, spent $489,000 to support Miller. In response to the satellite spending, Duncan said, “Mary Miller has sold out central and southern Illinois for hundreds of thousands of dollars from D.C. special interests.” U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) endorsed Duncan.

On the news

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

“As a particularly outspoken opponent of universal basic income, I would emphasize: 

Direct cash payments are the correct policy in this crisis and have nothing to do with UBI, whose entire premise (and greatest flaw) is that you know in advance you will receive it in perpetuity.

In the past I’ve made this point from the other direction, noting that short-term UBI pilots are bad tests of the UBI concept, precisely because they are random and short-term. Similarly, a crisis response does not share UBI’s characteristics or drawbacks.”

Oren Cass, Twitter, March 17, 2020 

“[Sen. Mitt Romney] wants the government to give every citizen a one-time cash payment of $1,000. This is intended to boost consumer spending and provide economic stability for those hardest hit by the virus’s ample negative economic impacts, as well as help avoid the general slowdown it has caused from spiraling into an all-out recession.

But this is, frankly, a foolish idea. Welfare for the rich and other workers who remain relatively unaffected won’t help us avoid a recession. …

If we do decide that civil society and charity are unable to step up and fill in this void, a narrowly tailored government response specifically helping only those most harmed by the coronavirus is what’s needed.”

Brad Polumbo, Washington Examiner, March 17, 2020

U.S. Congress

Former Rep. Brat endorses Freitas in VA-07 convention contest

Former Rep. David Brat (VA-07) endorsed state Del. Nick Freitas in the district’s Republican convention contest. The convention nominee will face incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) in November.

Brat was first elected to represent Virginia’s 7th in 2014, the year he defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary. Spanberger defeated Brat in the 2018 election 50% to 48%.

Before Spanberger took office, a Republican had represented the 7th District since 1971. 

Brat said, “To beat Abigail Spanberger, we need a candidate that is a proven conservative leader, can articulate the conservative message, and has what it takes to overcome the millions of dollars that will pour into our district from billionaires like Michael Bloomberg as they try to save the congressional seat that they bought in 2018.”

Republicans in the 7th District will hold a nominating convention to select their nominee. The date is currently set as April 25. Delegates elected to the convention will choose the party’s general election nominee. Republican voters may run to be elected as convention delegates.

Nine candidates are currently running for the convention nomination. Freitas, a member of the state House of Delegates since 2016, is also backed by 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 candidates.

NRA, Club for Growth split endorsements in Senate runoff in Alabama

The National Rifle Association (NRA) Political Victory Fund endorsed Jeff Sessions in the Senate primary runoff in Alabama. The Club for Growth PAC endorsed Tommy Tuberville. 

NRA representative Lars Dalseide said Sessions “has long been a stalwart defender of Second Amendment freedoms for law-abiding Alabamians.”

Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh said Tuberville “is a principled, free market conservative who has the support of President Trump and has put together a great campaign to defeat Doug Jones.”

As we reported earlier, the president endorsed Tuberville March 10. 

Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before the president appointed him U.S. attorney general in 2017. Sessions resigned in 2018 at Trump’s request. Tuberville is a former college football coach.

Tuberville received 33.4% of the vote to Sessions’ 31.6% in the March 3 primary. A candidate needed 50% to win the primary outright.

The runoff is currently scheduled for March 31. Secretary of State John Merrill has asked state attorney general Steve Marshall (R) for an opinion on whether the primary date can be postponed amid concerns around the coronavirus.

State executives

Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson files to run for his old office

Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson filed to run for his old office one day before the March 9 filing deadline, bringing the number of Republican candidates to six. 

Johnson was elected as secretary of state in 2004 and unsuccessfully sought re-election in 2008 and 2012. He was elected to the state’s utilities regulation board in 2014 and has served as its chairman since 2015.

Other Republicans in the running include state Supreme Court Clerk Bowen Greenwood, former state Senate President Scott Sales, Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, state Rep. Forrest Mandeville, and Kurt Johnson.

The June 2 Republican primary is open to all registered voters. The winner will face state Sen. Bryce Bennett (D), the only Democrat to file for the office. Incumbent Corey Stapleton (R) is running for U.S. House rather than seeking re-election.

Longtime Republican lawmaker to face former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Oregon Secretary of State primary

The Republican primary for Oregon Secretary of State will pit a 15-year veteran of the state legislature against a former Democratic candidate for governor. State Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) and attorney Dave Stauffer (R) were the only two candidates who filed ahead of the March 10 deadline.

Thatcher was first elected to the state Senate in 2014 after serving ten years in the state House. She has served as vice chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee since the 2017 legislative session.

Stauffer is an attorney and environmental engineer who has run for governor twice in recent years. In the 2016 special election, Stauffer challenged incumbent Kate Brown for the Democratic nomination, receiving 2.8% of the vote. Stauffer ran as a Republican in the 2018 primary, where he received 0.7% of the vote.

Unlike in most states, Oregon’s secretary of state is first in line to the governorship. There is no lieutenant governor of Oregon. Four governors, including incumbent Kate Brown (D), were originally secretaries of state who succeeded to the office after a governor left office early.

The current secretary of state is Republican Bev Clarno, meaning that if Brown were to leave office, Republicans would gain Oregon’s governorship and break the state’s Democratic trifecta. Clarno, who was appointed to the office following the death of Dennis Richardson (R) in February 2019, will not seek a full term in 2020. 

The May 19 primary is open to registered Republicans only.


Four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in Portland-area house district

Following last week’s filing deadline, four candidates, including one former state representative, are on the ballot seeking the Republican nomination in Oregon’s 26th House District. The Portland-area district’s current representative is Rep. Courtney Neron (D) who narrowly defeated incumbent Richard Vial (R) 51-47 in 2018.

The candidates are Derrick Kitts, Dan Laschober, Larry McDonald, and Peggy Stevens. Laschober previously ran in the Republican primary against then-incumbent Vial in 2018. He lost 70-30. Kitts is a former Oregon state legislator. He represented Oregon’s 30th House District for two terms from 2002-2006 before leaving office to challenge U.S. Representative David Wu (D) of Oregon’s 1st Congressional District in 2006. Kitts lost 63-34.

Alaska representative charged with 2018 voter misconduct following loss of local party support

Last Friday, Alaska state prosecutors charged state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-15) with voter misconduct and unlawful interference with voting over actions that took place during the previous Republican primaries in House District 15.

LeDoux was one of three Republicans who formed a majority coalition with 17 Democrats and two independents following the 2016 elections (where Republicans won 21 of 40 seats). In 2018, LeDoux faced a primary challenge from Aaron Weaver. She won the primary by a margin of 117 votes. 

Last February, before the charges, the District 15 Republican Convention formally withdrew support from LeDoux. Since then, David Nelson (R) has filed to run. District 15’s Republican chairwoman, Madeleine Gaiser, said: “We…plan to throw our full support behind him and his campaign.”

Following the filing deadline, Huseman retirement sets up three-way primary for Iowa House seat

Earlier this year, Iowa Rep. Dan Huseman (R-03) announced he would not seek re-election in 2020 for his northwestern Iowa seat. First elected in 1994, Huseman is the longest serving Republican member of the Iowa House of Representatives. 

Following the passage of the final filing deadline for state legislative candidates last Friday, three Republicans are running in the June 2 primary: Cherokee County supervisor Dennis Bush, former Alta-Aurelia superintendent Lynn Evans, and Mark McHugh.

Since no Democratic candidates filed before the deadline, the winner of the Republican primary will likely be the district’s next representative.

Power players

“The National Rifle Association is America’s longest-standing civil rights organization. Together with our more than five million members, we’re proud defenders of history’s patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment.” – National Rifle Association website

Founded in 1871, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says of itself, “While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world.”

The lobbying arm of the NRA is called the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). The NRA-ILA was founded in 1975 and says it is “responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The NRA’s political action committee, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), grades and endorses political candidates. The group’s endorsement policy says, “NRA has a pro-gun incumbent-friendly policy that dictates our support for pro-gun incumbents seeking reelection. It is important that we stand with our friends who stand with us in Congress or the state legislature through their actions.” To search candidates endorsed by the NRA-PVF, click here.