TagState executive

39 state executives left office early in 2021—the most since at least 2012

In 2021, Ballotpedia identified 39 irregular state executive official office changes—the most since we started tracking these changes in 2012. An irregular office change is when an officeholder leaves office before their term ends. 

Of the 39 who resigned, 19 were nonpartisan, 11 were Democratic, and nine were Republican.

One notable change in 2021 was the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (D) took his place as governor in August.

Of the 39 office changes, 18 were due to resignation, nine were appointed to another office, four left for the private sector, four left for political reasons, two retired, one passed away, and one (Kathy Hochul) succeeded the office of Governor of New York.

Of the offices vacated, attorney general, secretary of state, and public service commissioner were all tied for the most frequent resignations (six). The next-highest office was treasurer (three).

Between 2012 and 2021, there have been 29 irregular changes in public service commissioner offices; the most of any office. This is followed by the office of lieutenant governor, which has had 19 irregular changes, and superintendent of public instruction with 15 changes.

The three years with the most irregular office changes since 2012 have been those following a presidential election; Ballotpedia tracked 36 irregular office changes in 2013, 23 irregular office changes in 2017, and 39 irregular office changes in 2021.

36.5 percent of Americans live in a Democratic trifecta, 41.8 percent live in a Republican trifecta

At the start of 2022, 36.5 percent (120 million) of Americans lived in a state with a Democratic trifecta, while 41.8 percent (137 million) lived in a state with a Republican trifecta. The other 71 million Americans lived in a state with a divided government.

A state government trifecta is a term to describe single-party government, when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. At the start of 2022, there were 38 trifectas—15 Democratic and 23 Republican.

Virginia’s will change from a Democratic trifecta to a state with divided government when legislators and Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) are sworn into office on Jan. 12. In the 2021 elections, Republicans won control of the Virginia House of Delegates and the governor’s office, currently held by Democrat Ralph Northam. Democrats still control the Virginia State Senate.

When this happens, 33.9 percent of Americans (112 million) will live in a state with a Democratic trifecta, 41.8 percent (137 million) will live in a state with a Republican trifecta, and 24.3 percent (78 million) will live in a state with divided government.

Additional reading:

Republicans gain a triplex in Virginia

Virginia will have a Republican triplex as a result of the 2021 state executive elections. It entered the election with a Democratic triplex. A political party has triplex control in a state when it holds the offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated Terry McAuliffe (D) in the election for governor of Virginia and Jason Miyares (R) defeated incumbent Mark Herring (D) in the attorney general election, breaking the state’s Democratic triplex. In Virginia, the governor appoints the secretary of state, meaning Republicans will gain a triplex.

New Jersey’s post-election triplex status remains unclear. In New Jersey, the governor appoints the secretary of state and attorney general, meaning the gubernatorial election alone will determine triplex status. If incumbent Phil Murphy (D) wins, the state will remain a Democratic triplex. If Jack Ciattarelli (R) wins, the state will become a Republican triplex.

Heading into the 2021 elections, there were 37 state government triplexes—20 Republican and 17 Democratic. As a result of the 2021 elections, there will be at least 21 Republican triplexes and at most 16 Democratic triplexes.

Young Boozer (R) sworn in as Alabama state treasurer

Young Boozer (R) became the 41st Alabama state treasurer on Oct. 1. Governor Kay Ivey (R) appointed Boozer on Sept. 17, following the resignation of John McMillan (R), effective Sept. 30. McMillan had served as treasurer since 2019.

Boozer previously served as state treasurer from 2011 to 2019. He is the fifth Alabama state treasurer since 1819 that has served two non-consecutive terms as treasurer.

In 2021, Ballotpedia has identified 31 state executive officeholders who have left office before their term end date. Of those, 7 were Republican officeholders, 7 were Democrats, and 17 were nonpartisan.

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Brian Benjamin sworn in as New York’s lieutenant governor

Brian Benjamin (D) was sworn in as New York’s lieutenant governor on Sep. 9. Governor Kathy Hochul (D) had appointed Benjamin to the position on Aug. 25, after Hochul became governor in the wake of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) resignation.

The Lieutenant Governor of New York is the second-ranking officer of the executive branch and the first officer in line to succeed the governor. The lieutenant governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and has no term limit.

Previously, Benjamin had served in the New York State Senate since 2017, representing District 30. So far in 2021, there have been 98 vacancies in 39 state legislatures. 

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New Mexico Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart resigns

Ryan Stewart resigned as New Mexico’s secretary of education on Aug. 20, citing health issues in his family. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) first appointed Stewart to the position in August 2019. Stewart said he would continue serving at the Public Education Department in an advisory role. 

Lujan Grisham announced on July 29 that former Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus would become the new secretary of education. Steinhaus retired as superintendent in May. He previously served as deputy cabinet secretary of the state Public Education Department and as director of student and education programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Steinhaus began his career as a music teacher at Alamogordo Public Schools.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Stewart for his steady leadership and guidance during these past two years. I’m among the many who will miss him. I’d also like to thank my colleagues at the Higher Education and Early Childhood Education and Care departments for their warm welcome and expressions of support,” Steinhaus said during a news conference. “I look forward to collaborating with them regularly as we work together to build the nation’s best cradle to career education system. We are united in that commitment.”

The New Mexico secretary of education is an appointed state executive position in the New Mexico state government. The secretary serves as head of the state Public Education Department and is responsible for overseeing New Mexico’s education policy and program development, operational management of the department, and the distribution of educational funding.

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New York attorney general releases results of sexual harassment inquiry into Gov. Cuomo, impeachment inquiry approaches conclusion

On Aug. 3, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released the findings of an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

The report found that Cuomo sexually harassed at least eleven women, breaking state and federal laws in doing so. The report’s executive summary stated that Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”

Cuomo responded to the report’s release, stating: “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.” 

On Aug. 5, the New York State Assembly announced that it was close to completing an impeachment investigation of Cuomo, which it began in March. The Assembly Judiciary Committee asked Cuomo to provide any materials he would like to submit as part of the investigation by the end of the week.

James’ office began the inquiry in February 2021 after multiple women came forward over several months accusing the governor of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior.

Also in February, the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney’s office began an investigation of the actions of a task force Cuomo led in relation to the handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This investigation followed James releasing a report stating that many nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in hospitals after they were transferred from nursing homes and that these deaths were not reflected in the Department of Health’s count of nursing home deaths. The report stated that nursing home resident deaths appeared to be undercounted by about 50%.

Cuomo said about the timing of the release of nursing home fatality data, “More than anything it was just a capacity issue. … Remember, at the same time we’re managing the pandemic; that’s what everyone was doing, and these things take time and the No. 1 priority was saving peoples’ lives.”

Throughout these events, multiple prominent Democrats have called for Cuomo’s resignation. They include President Joe Biden (D), U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Govs. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), Tom Wolf (D-Pa.), Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Dan McKee (D-R.I.), state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D), and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D).

In New York, a simple majority vote by the New York State Assembly is required to impeach a sitting governor. If that occurs, the case would go before a High Court of Impeachment made up of all sitting state senators except the majority leader, a well as the members of the court of appeals. Two-thirds of the 69-person court, or 46 members, would have to vote to impeach the governor.

In New York, if the governor resigns, the lieutenant governor fills the position until the remainder of the term. New York’s lieutenant governor is Kathy Hochul (D). Cuomo’s current term runs through 2023.

New York has removed one governor from office in the state’s history. Governor William Sulzer was impeached in 1913 after 10 months in office.

Additional reading:

Andrew Cuomo

Kathy Hochul

Letitia James

A closer look at major-party expenditures in the Virginia gubernatorial election

In the race for Governor of Virginia, investment executive Glenn Youngkin (R) has outspent former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) according to the most recent campaign finance reports covering spending through June 30, 2021. Youngkin, who launched his campaign three months after McAuliffe, has spent $16.9 million dollars to McAuliffe’s $11.3 million.

McAuliffe recorded his first expenditure on Sept. 6, 2020. Youngkin recorded his first on Jan. 14, 2021, and passed McAuliffe’s total expenditures on Feb. 8, 2021. Since then, Youngkin has exceeded McAuliffe in total expenditures throughout the campaign.

The chart below shows the progression of campaign expenditures since Jan. 1, 2021. McAuliffe’s largest single-day expenditure was $995,982 on April 29 and Youngkin’s largest was $1.2 million on June 18. For both campaigns, these expenditures primarily consisted of media buys, where campaigns spend money to reserve digital, television, and radio ad space.

Producing and placing media ads make up the majority of both campaigns’ total expenditures.

Roughly 41% of all of McAuliffe’s expenditures have gone to a single vendor: Grassroots Media LLC, which offers strategic media planning services and carries out media buys. Similarly, 42% of all of Youngkin’s expenditures have gone to Smart Media Group LLC, an advertising agency and media buy company.

Princess Blanding, the Liberation Party candidate, will also appear on the general election ballot. She spent $11,043 as of June 30 and has $7,739 on hand according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Her expenditures primarily have been for campaign supplies and canvassing costs, with her largest expenditure—$1,193 on March 4, 2021—going towards yard signs.

Virginians will elect their new governor on Nov. 2, 2021. Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in Virginia for the first time since 1994.

A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, August 3-7, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened August 3-7, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, August 3, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed high school football and volleyball practices to resume.
    • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said that private and religious schools could choose when to reopen. Hogan also issued an emergency order preventing county officials from requiring such schools to remain closed after Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles prohibited private schools in the area from resuming in-person classes. 
  • Election changes:
    • Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed AB4 into law, directing election officials to distribute mail-in ballots automatically to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Minnesota Second Judicial District Judge Sara Grewing approved a consent decree between the plaintiffs and the state defendants in LaRose v. Simon, a lawsuit that challenged state election law. Under the terms of the consent decree, state election officials agreed to waive the witness requirement for mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 3 general election. The state also agreed to count all mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by official county canvassing dates.
  • Federal government responses:
    • President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order that made permanent certain regulatory changes expanding telehealth services, especially in rural areas
  • Mask requirements:
    • Maryland Gov. Hogan expanded the statewide mask mandate to require everyone older than five to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including churches, gyms, and stores. The mandate originally required masks only in retail, food service businesses, and public transit.
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) modified the mask mandate for schools to allow students to remove masks in a classroom if they could maintain three to six feet of distance from other people.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Alabama Department of Public Health released an 85-page school reopening toolkit that contained recommendations and guidelines for school districts to use in their reopening plans.
  • State court changes:
    • In Colorado, jury trials were allowed to resume on a limited basis so long as a Chief Judge of a judicial district determined the jury pool could be safely assembled consistent with health directives and executive orders.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an order requiring the Michigan State Police and state departments to prioritize enforcement of her COVID-19 orders. She also ordered licensing agencies to consider license suspensions for individuals who violated her orders.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Rhode Island had been added to the tristate quarantine list, requiring visitors from that state to quarantine for 14 days upon entering New Jersey, Connecticut, or New York. The governors removed Delaware and Washington D.C. from the list.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced a $2.1 billion deal with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to develop and manufacture up to 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for U.S. use.
    • President Trump announced the federal government would continue to fund the cost of National Guard units deployed to states through the end of the year, though at a lower level than before. Beginning Aug. 21, Trump said the federal government would reduce its level of funding for National Guard units assisting states with their coronavirus responses from 100% to 75% for most states.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced public schools could reopen with a combination of in-person and remote learning in September. 
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) mandated that all students and teachers wear masks on school property. He delayed school reopenings in eight counties to Aug. 17. Previously, the counties had been allowed to set their own start dates for the academic year.
    • Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine (R) announced that all K-12 students would be required to wear face coverings in public schools.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced on Aug. 5 that the state would stay in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks.
  • Election changes:
    • The parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections reached a settlement providing for the suspension of the absentee ballots witness requirement in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued an order requiring individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing was not possible.
    • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued an order requiring people to wear masks in restaurants, in state government buildings, and at large gathering venues and events like movie theaters, festivals, auditoriums, and concerts.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced a new metric for determining if schools could reopen to in-person instruction. She said schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents would be prohibited from fully reopening to in-person instruction.

Thursday, August 6, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced a phased reopening plan for long-term care facilities. The plan said facilities could submit an application to the state to begin the reopening process on Aug. 12. The plan called for easing restrictions on visitations as facilities move through the phases of reopening. 
  • Election changes:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 423 into law, authorizing counties to consolidate polling places in the Nov. 3 general election, among other modifications to administrative procedures.
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive permitting counties to conduct the Nov. 3 general election entirely by mail. Bullock also authorized counties to expand early voting opportunities for the general election.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) rescinded the executive order requiring travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an executive order Aug. 6 updating the state’s quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and returning residents. The new order exempted New Mexico residents who left the state to seek medical care or who left the state for less than 24 hours as part of their parenting responsibilities.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Michigan Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order requiring children over the age of two and all employees to wear face masks at Michigan camps and childcare centers.

Friday, August 7, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson issued an executive order extending absentee ballot eligibility to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election “who conclude their attendance at the polls may be a risk to their health or the health of others due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The order formalized a policy Hutchinson and Secretary of State John Thurston (R) announced on July 2.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
    • In a 5-3 ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) request to extend an eviction moratorium. The moratorium was set to last through September 7.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • California Gov. Newsom released reopening guidance for colleges and universities. The guidance called for requiring students and staff to wear masks in all indoor public spaces. In counties on the state’s monitoring list, the guidance said only courses like labs and studio arts would be allowed to take place in-person.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery

A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 27-31, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. In subsequent months, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 27-31, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 27, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • As part of Phase Two of D.C.’s reopening plan, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) ordered non-essential travelers from high-risk states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the city. Bowser defined “high-risk states” as areas where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 case rate was 10 or more per 100,000 persons.
  • Election changes:
    • West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced that all voters “concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19” would be eligible to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election by six days. Originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 19, the proclamation moved early voting to Oct. 13.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) face-covering order went into effect. The order required anyone eight or older to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, transportation services, and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is not possible. He issued the order on July 24.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • State court changes:
    • The Idaho Supreme Court delayed the resumption of criminal jury trials until Sept. 14 and civil jury trials until Dec. 1.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks. Beshear also asked schools to avoid reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August. 
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Illinois, Kentucky Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico had been added to the joint travel advisory, bringing the number of states on the list to 37.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire Judge Joseph Laplante ordered that nomination petition signature requirements for the Libertarian Party’s candidates in New Hampshire’s general election be reduced by 35 percent. In his ruling, Laplante said he reduced the signature requirements because the risk of contracting COVID-19 and Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) stay-at-home order imposed a burden on the Libertarian Party’s right to access the ballot.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that schools would not reopen until Sept. 8, when school districts could decide whether to return students to physical classrooms or offer distance learning. 
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all K-12 students and staff to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced metrics that would guide school reopening decisions. Brown said counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction could resume. Brown also said the state must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction could resume.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations covered testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan through August 28. Raimondo also reduced gathering limits from 25 people to 15.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that he was extending three public health orders passed on June 15 that deal with limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. The order continued to limit indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 250 people. The school reopening order included a modification requiring teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing wasn’t feasible.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas, where the percentage of positive test results was over 10%. Hogan urged people who had traveled to those states to get a coronavirus test.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school.

Friday, July 31, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order placing restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions included capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derived more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent agreement reached by the parties in Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea. Rhode Island officials agreed not to enforce witness or notary requirements for mail-in ballots in both the September 8 primary and November general elections.
    • Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) announced that the state would provide prepaid return postage for all mail-in and absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed HB6002 into law, allowing voters to cite concern over COVID-19 as a reason for voting by absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students age five and older to wear masks.
    • South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks would be required in all public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery