TagState executive

Hala Ayala wins Virginia’s lieutenant governor Democratic primary

Hala Ayala (D) won the Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial Democratic primary on June 8, 2021, defeating five other candidates. Ayala received with 39.1% of the vote, followed by Sam Rasoul (D) with 25.2% and Mark Levine (D) with 11.7%.

Andria McClellan, Sean Perryman, and Xavier Warren also ran in this election. At the time of the election, Ayala, Levine, and Rasoul all served in the Virginia House of Delegates. McClellan was elected to the Norfolk City Council in 2015. Perryman’s career experience includes working as the director of social impact at the Internet Association. Warren has worked as an NFL sports agent and lobbyist for non-profit organization.

Ayala will face Republican nominee Winsome Sears in the Nov. 2 general election. Sears won his party’s nomination at a May 8 nominating convention.

The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Virginia State Senate and may cast tie-breaking votes. The lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession to the governor; in the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor.

Of the four lieutenant governors who have been elected since 2002, three were Democrats and one was a Republican. Two of them, Tim Kaine (D) and Ralph Northam (D), went on to become governor. The lieutenant governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and, unlike the governor, may run for re-election.

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Incumbent Mark Herring wins Democratic attorney general primary in Virginia

Incumbent Mark Herring (D) defeated Jerrauld “Jay” Jones (D) in the Democratic primary for attorney general on June 8, 2021. Herring received 56.5% of the vote to Jones’ 43.5%.

Herring has served as Virginia’s attorney general since 2014. He was endorsed by U.S. Reps. Gerry Connolly (D) and Don Beyer (D), and The Washington Post. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) endorsed Jones.

Herring led the race in fundraising between January 1, 2020 and May 27, 2021. He raised $3.1 million and spent $1.9 million, while Jones raised $2.2 million and spent $2.0 million.

The general election for attorney general will take place on November 2. The Republican candidate is Jason Miyares (R), who won the May 8 Republican convention.

Herring was first elected in 2013, defeating Republican Mark Obenshain by 907 votes. A Republican candidate has not won statewide office in Virginia since 2009.



Former Virginia Gov. McAuliffe wins Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe defeated four candidates to win the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination in Virginia. McAuliffe received 62.3% of the vote followed by former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy with 19.8% and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan at 11.5%. Two other candidates—Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter—received less than 5% of the vote each.

In addition to his tenure as Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005 and was the national chairman of Hillary Clinton’s (D) 2008 presidential campaign.

Democratic Party leaders in Virginia supported McAuliffe’s primary campaign. He received endorsements from incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and 36 Democratic members of the Virginia General Assembly, including House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D).

McAuliffe will face Glenn Youngkin (R) in the general election. Three independent candidates—Princess Blanding, Paul Davis, and Brad Froman—will also appear on the general election ballot.

This was the fourth contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia since 1977. It was also the largest Democratic primary field for a gubernatorial nomination in the state’s history. Democrats have won every statewide election in Virginia since 2012.

Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats gained majorities in the state House and Senate. In addition to the gubernatorial election, all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates will be up for election in November.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, June 8-12, 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. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened June 8-12, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, June 8, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that out-of-state visitors from New Hampshire and Vermont no longer had to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) eased the quarantine requirement on out-of-state travelers from counties across New England with similar COVID-19 caseloads to Vermont. The Agency of Commerce and Community began releasing a weekly map identifying quarantine and non-quarantine counties based on COVID-19 case rates. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ended the state’s stay-at-home order. Murphy first issued the order on March 21. 
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Defense announced that it was lifting travel restrictions on installations in 38 states, Washington D.C., and five countries (Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., and Japan). Service members could travel between those areas without needing permission. Travel restrictions remained in place in 12 states.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state and returning travelers through July 31. He first issued the two-week quarantine requirement on March 17.
  • Election changes:
    • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed HB167 into law, extending the deadline by which a ballot-qualified party must notify the state of its presidential nominee from August 18 to August 25.

Friday, June 12, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed HB1169 into law, reducing the witness signature requirement on completed absentee ballots from two to one.
    • California Judge Perry Parker, of the Sutter County Superior Court, issued a temporary restraining order suspending Executive Order N-67-20, which had authorized counties to consolidate polling places in the November 3 general election, provided they offer three days of early voting.

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



Idaho governor rescinds lieutenant governor’s executive order banning mask mandates

Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) on May 28 rescinded an executive order issued in his absence by Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin (R) that banned mask mandates in the state. Little called McGeachin’s executive order an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt” that, in his words, “amounts to tyranny—something we all oppose.”

McGeachin issued the executive order on May 27 in her capacity as acting governor while Little traveled to a conference out of state. The order prohibited state and local government entities from issuing mask mandates in order to mitigate the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19. 

In a statement posted to her gubernatorial campaign website, McGeachin claimed that she signed the order, “to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions—including public schools—from imposing mask mandates in our state.”

Little told the _Idaho Capital Sun_ that McGeachin issued the executive order without his knowledge or approval. He rescinded the executive order the following day.

“Taking the earliest opportunity to act solitarily on a highly politicized, polarizing issue without conferring with local jurisdictions, legislators, and the sitting Governor is, simply put, an abuse of power,” said Little in a statement.

Idaho Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane on May 28 issued an opinion stating that, in his view, McGeachin’s executive order exceeded her authority as acting governor. “Oddly, it seems to have been issued in an effort to undermine the existing authorities of the state and its political subdivisions to issue mask mandates,” wrote Kane. “This executive order appears to run counter to both the Idaho Constitution and the Governor’s statutory executive order authority.” 

McGeachin on May 19 announced her candidacy for Idaho governor in the 2022 election. Little, a first-term governor, had yet to announce whether he will run for reelection as of June 3. The Idaho governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and do not run on a joint ticket.

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Massachusetts, Ohio end face-covering requirements

Two states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between May 29 and June 4.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) ended the statewide mask mandate on May 29, along with other COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and individuals. The state will still require masks in state offices open to the public, schools and childcare centers, on public transportation, and in health care settings. Baker recommended unvaccinated individuals continue wearing masks in public settings.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) ended most statewide COVID-19 restrictions including the statewide mask mandate on June 2. The state left mask requirements in place in nursing homes and residential care settings. DeWine recommended unvaccinated individuals continue wearing masks in public indoor settings.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Fifteen states had statewide mask orders as of June 3, including 13 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and two out of the 27 states with Republican governors. Of those 15 states, at least 13 exempted fully vaccinated people.

Of the 24 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 14 have Republican governors and ten have Democratic governors. Twenty-one states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



Amy Beard appointed commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Insurance

Amy Beard assumed office on June 2 as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance. Governor Eric Holcomb (R) appointed Beard to the position in May to replace outgoing commissioner Stephen Robertson. Robertson announced in April he would resign as commissioner, effective June 1.

Beard has worked at Indiana’s Department of Insurance since 2013, serving as a legal counsel from 2013 to 2017 and a general counsel from 2017 to 2021.

The Indiana Commissioner of Insurance is an appointed state executive position in the state government. The commissioner is appointed by the governor and is responsible for overseeing the Department of Insurance, which regulates insurance companies operating in the state.

Insurance commissioners are elected in 11 states and appointed in 39. Of the 39 states in which the insurance commissioner is appointed, 37 give the power of appointment to the governor; in New Mexico and Virginia, the insurance commissioner is appointed by a multi-member commission.

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Ruth Ruggero Hughs resigns as Texas Secretary of State

Ruth Ruggero Hughs resigned as Texas secretary of state effective May 31, after the Nominations Committee of the Texas State Senate did not take up her nomination for another term.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appointed Hughs on August 19, 2019, to succeed David Whitley after he did not receive enough confirmation votes from the state Senate to remain in office. Hughs previously served as the chair of the Texas Workforce Commission.

The Texas secretary serves as the chief election officer for Texas, assists election officials at the county level, and ensures that election laws are uniformly throughout Texas. Additionally, the secretary publishes government rules and regulations and commissions notaries public.

Texas is one of nine states where the governor selects the secretary of state. So far, Gov. Abbott has appointed four secretaries of state.

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Looking back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, June 1-5, 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. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened June 1-5, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, June 1, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ended the statewide stay-at-home order, allowing bars, restaurants, and retailers to reopen with restrictions. Whitmer first enacted the order on March 23, and extended it on April 25 and May 7.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney Jr. (D) ended the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers.
  • Election changes:
    • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) issued an executive order extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline for the June 2, 2020, primary to 5:00 p.m. on June 9(with a postmark deadline of June 2) in Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.
  • Federal government responses:
    • United States Secretary of Energy Dan Brouilette announced the Department of Energy would enter the first phase of its reopening plan June 8, allowing some mission-critical personnel to return to work at facilities in Washington and Maryland.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) issued an executive order extending the voter pre-registration deadline in the July 14, 2020, election to July 7.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He first issued the order, which applied to seven counties, on March 24. A subsequent order expanded that number to 26 counties. On April 1, the stay-at-home order applied to all 67 counties. 
  • Election changes:
    • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit halted a district court order that all eligible Texas voters be allowed to cast absentee ballots throughout the pandemic in order to avoid transmission of COVID-19.
    • The Chancery Court for Tennessee’s Twentieth Judicial District ruled that Tennessee’s absentee voting law, which limits eligibility to those meeting certain criteria, “during the unique circumstances of the pandemic, constitutes an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.” The court ordered the state to extend absentee voting eligibility to all Tennessee voters during the course of the pandemic.
    • Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) signed SB631 into law, permitting any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot in any 2020 election, subject to a notarization requirement.

Friday, June 5, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that travelers from Louisiana would no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days. The requirements remained in effect for visitors from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
    • Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that he would lift the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers from counties across New England with similar COVID-19 caseloads to Vermont on June 8. Additionally, on June 8, Vermont residents would be allowed to travel to the non-quarantine counties and return home without quarantining for 14 days.
  • Election changes:
    • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed HB751 into law, extending the candidate qualifying deadline for the November 3, 2020, election to July 24.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would resume committal services in all but two VA national cemeteries on June 9.

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.



Newsom recall update: 37 filed candidates, a new poll, and a $3 million donation

The recall campaign against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is currently in the signature removal phase, when voters can request to have their signatures removed from the recall petitions through June 8. At that point, if at least 1,495,709 signatures remain, the recall election will be certified and proceed to a budgeting and scheduling phase. If that happens, political analysts expect the recall to take place in October or November 2021.

So far, 37 candidates have officially filed with the California Secretary of State to run in a recall election. Among those candidates are eight Democrats, 17 Republicans, two Green Party candidates, and a Libertarian Party candidate. The remaining candidates filed with no party preference. Ballotpedia has tracked an additional 13 candidates who have declared their intent to run in the recall election but have not yet officially filed. In the 2003 recall election, 135 candidates ran.

On May 25, the Public Policy Institute of California published a poll finding that 57% of respondents opposed a recall, 40% supported a recall, and 3% were undecided. These numbers were about the same as a March poll by the same group, which found 56% opposed, 40% supported, and 5% undecided. Both polls surveyed 1,700 people and had a margin of error of around 3%.

On May 21, multiple media outlets reported a $3 million donation from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to Stop The Republican Recall, a committee registered in opposition to the recall effort. According to The Hill, Hastings donated $7 million in 2018 to the gubernatorial campaign of Antonio Villaraigosa, who lost in the primary. Hastings has also previously donated to ballot measure campaigns in the state—Ballotpedia has tracked donations to at least eight propositions since 2009.

Newsom was elected governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then Gov. Gray Davis (D). and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement.