TagState leg

Candidates set for Arkansas state senate special primaries

Candidates interested in running in the special election for Arkansas State Senate District 7 had until Nov. 22 to file. The primaries are scheduled for Dec. 14, and the general election is set for Feb. 8. 

Lisa Parks and Derek Van Voast will compete in the Democratic primary. The Republican primary includes Jim Bob Duggar, Colby Fulfer, Edge Nowlin, and Steven Unger. 

The special election was called after Lance Eads (R) left office to assume another position on Oct. 28. Eads served from 2017 to 2021. Eads also served as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2015 to 2017.

The District 7 special election was the first special legislative election called for 2022 in Arkansas. 

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Arkansas special election filing deadline passes Nov. 22

The filing deadline for the Arkansas State Senate District 7 special election is on Nov. 22. The primary is scheduled for Dec. 14, and the general election is scheduled for Feb. 8.

The seat became vacant on Oct. 28 after Lance Eads (R) resigned to accept a position with Capitol Consulting Firm. Eads held the office from 2017 to 2021. Prior to becoming a member of the Arkansas Senate, Eads represented District 88 in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2015 to 2017.

The Feb. 8 election will mark the first state legislative special election scheduled in Arkansas for 2022. 

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Filing deadline approaches for South Carolina State Senate special election

Candidates interested in running in the special election for South Carolina State Senate District 31 have until Dec. 11 to file. A primary election is scheduled for Jan. 25, and the general election is set for Mar. 29. If no candidate earns a majority of the vote in the primary, a primary runoff election will take place Feb. 8.

The special election was called after Hugh Leatherman (R) passed away on Nov. 12. Leatherman served from 1981 to 2021.

South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta, meaning that the Republican Party controls the office of the governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans have a 29-16 majority in the South Carolina State Senate with one vacancy.

As of November 2021, 10 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in seven states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactment between Nov. 10 and 17

At least 16 states progressed in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new congressional and state legislative districts maps as part of the 2020 redistricting cycle between Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, 2021.

Proposed

California: On Nov. 10, five days before its deadline, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first draft maps of the state’s Assembly, Senate, congressional, and Board of Equalization districts. The release of these drafts began a two-week moratorium, during which time the commission may not display any other new maps for public comment.

The commission will continue to hold meetings and line drawing sessions and may release new draft maps towards the end of November or in December. The commission has until Dec. 23 to display its final maps, which must be delivered to the secretary of state by Dec. 27.

This is the second redistricting cycle California has utilized a non-politician commission for redistricting. Voters in the state approved a ballot measure in 2008 creating the 14-person commission made up of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four members who are unaffiliated with either major party.

Florida: The Florida Senate Committee on Reapportionment released four draft maps of the state’s congressional and state Senate districts. Due to population growth, Florida was apportioned 28 congressional districts, up from the 27 it was apportioned following the 2010 census.

The House and Senate Committees on Reapportionment are holding interim meetings throughout the fall with the redistricting process set to officially begin at the start of the next legislative session on Jan. 11, 2022. 

Tennessee: On Nov. 15, Democratic lawmakers released a congressional redistricting plan. Republican lawmakers have not yet released any proposed maps. Scott Golden, chairman of the Tennessee GOP, said the pace was normal and that legislation would most likely be released in January 2022.

Advanced

Georgia: On Nov. 12 and 15, the Georgia State Legislature approved maps redrawing the state’s 180 House districts and 56 Senate districts, respectively, sending the proposals to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for final approval.

Democratic lawmakers said the proposals were partisan gerrymanders. State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D) said, “We are a 50-50 state … This map creates a 60-40 split with the advantage given to the Republican Party for the next 10 years.” Republican lawmakers said the maps met the required redistricting criteria and were created in a transparent fashion. State Rep. Bonnie Rich (R), chairwoman of the House redistricting committee, said, “Georgians have requested transparency and yes, we have given them transparency.”

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Stephen Fowler said the proposed House map would create 97 Republican-leaning districts and 83 favoring Democrats. Fowler said the Senate map would likely elect 33 Republicans and 23 Democrats. Republicans currently hold a 103-77 majority in the House and a 34-22 majority in the Senate.

Ohio: On Nov. 15, Republican lawmakers in the state House and Senate released a joint congressional district map proposal. On Nov. 16, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-7 along party lines to approve the map.

Under congressional redistricting rules approved by Ohio voters in 2018, without bipartisan support, the proposed map may only be in effect for four years rather than the typical 10-year period. A congressional map must be supported by three-fifths of the legislature, including one-third of the minority party’s membership, in order to last for 10 years. Otherwise, a map can be enacted by a simple majority, but only apply for four years.

Ohio lost one congressional seat, leaving the state with 15 congressional districts, down from the 16 it was apportioned after the 2010 census.

South Carolina: The House Judiciary Committee voted 21-2 in favor of approving a new map of the state’s 124 House districts on Nov. 16. The Judiciary Committee received the proposal from a seven-member redistricting committee—four Republicans and three Democrats—which previously approved the map by a 7-0 vote. The Herald’s Zak Koeske wrote that the proposal splits 33 counties, creates two more Republican-leaning districts, and places ten incumbents—six Democrats and four Republicans—into districts with other incumbents. It will now advance to the full House for a vote. 

Wisconsin: The Republican-controlled State Assembly voted to approve new state legislative and congressional maps in a 60-38 party-line vote on Nov. 11. The Senate previously approved the maps on Nov. 8 with a 21-12 party-line vote. 

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D) said the maps were a partisan gerrymander, saying, “It is not normal in a 50-50 state to have 64 seats drawn to be more Republican.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said the maps met the criteria required for redistricting, saying, “It is the duty of the state Legislature laid out in our Wisconsin Constitution — not appointed commissions or the executive branch — to draw legislative districts.”

Prior to their passage, Gov. Tony Evers (D) said he would veto the proposals and ultimately did so on Nov. 18, sending redistricting to either a state or federal court depending on ongoing court cases.

Washington: The Washington State Redistricting Commission missed its Nov. 15 deadline to approve final congressional and state legislative maps to submit to the state legislature. Under state law, the redistricting authority now passes to the Washington Supreme Court, which has until April 30 to develop new district lines.

On Nov. 16, after missing the deadline, the commission released its approved congressional and state legislative district lines. While these lines do not carry any authority, the commission asked the state supreme court to use those agreed-upon lines when carrying out its newfound redistricting duties.

Enacted

Four states—Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah—enacted new congressional maps between Nov. 10 and 17. Idaho, Nevada, and Utah also enacted new state legislative district maps along with Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

As of Nov. 17, 14 states had finished their congressional redistricting and 20 had finalized their state legislative districts.

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Utah enacts new legislative maps

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed new state legislative district maps for both chambers into law on Nov. 16, 2021. After Cox called a special session to begin on Nov. 9, the Utah legislature voted to approve the House and Senate district maps on Nov. 10. The House passed a proposed map of their own districts in a 60-12 vote and voted 58-13 to approve the Senate map proposal. The Senate approved the House district proposal in a 25-3 vote and approved their own proposed map in a 26-2 vote. These maps take effect for Utah’s 2022 legislative elections.

Both proposals differed from those presented to the legislative committee by Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission on Nov. 1. The commission presented 12 maps (three each for House, Senate, congressional, and school board districts) to the Legislative Redistricting Committee, one of which was submitted by a citizen.

Lynette Wendel (D), who lost the election to represent Utah House District 39, said the districts were drawn to maintain Republicans’ majorities in the state legislature. “It was a very strategic approach so that very few people who have an insulated agenda can force that agenda continuously on this state,” Wendel said. Summit County Democratic Party Chair Katy Owens (D) said, “We would love to be able to have the opportunity to elect the representatives that we want but these maps have been deliberately drawn to prevent that.”

Sen. Scott Sandall (R), who along with Rep. Paul Ray (R) co-chaired the Legislative Redistricting Committee, said the new maps were drawn with citizens’ interests in mind. “After listening to Utahns and touring the state, Rep. Ray and I created maps that we believe incorporate the interests of all Utahns,” Sandall said. Ray said the legislature, not the Independent Redistricting Commission, “has the constitutional responsibility to divide the state into electoral districts” and he and Sandall “have worked tirelessly to come up with boundaries that best represent the diverse interests of the people we were elected to represent.”

As of Nov. 17, 20 states have adopted legislative district maps, one state enacted its legislative boundaries based on Census estimates which will be revised in an upcoming special session, and 29 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. At this point after the 2010 census, 29 states had enacted legislative maps.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 687 of 1,972 state Senate seats (34.8%) and 1,780 of 5,411 state House seats (32.9%).

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Texas State Rep. Ryan Guillen leaves Democratic Party, announces bid for re-election as a Republican

On Nov. 15, 2021, Texas State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R) announced he was leaving the Democratic Party.

“After much thought and much prayer with my family, today I am announcing that I’ll proudly be running as a Republican to represent house district 31,” Guillen said in a press conference held with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R).

Guillen most recently won reelection in 2020, defeating Marian Knowlton (R) 58.4% to 41.6%.

He first assumed office in 2003, when he ran in the general election unopposed. 

As of November 2021, Ballotpedia has counted 146 state legislators who have switched parties since 1994. Ballotpedia has counted 39 state senators who have switched parties and 107 state representatives. Fifty-three state representatives have switched parties from Democrat to Republican, and 75 state lawmakers have switched parties in total. 

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Virginia to become the third state with a split legislature following 2021 general elections

As a result of the 2021 elections, Republicans gained a 52-48 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats hold a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate. When the new legislature takes office in January, Virginia will join Alaska and Minnesota as the only states where control of two legislative chambers is split between parties.

Alaska’s legislature has been under split control since the start of 2016 when Democrats successfully created a minority-led coalition in the Alaska House of Representatives. Republicans have held a majority in the Alaska State Senate since 2012.

Minnesota’s legislature has been under split control since 2019. Republicans control the Minnesota State Senate, while Democrats control the Minnesota House of Representatives. The legislature was also split from 2015-2016 and 1999-2006.

Across the rest of the country, Republicans hold majorities in both state legislative chambers in 30 states, while Democrats hold majorities in 17 states.

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Mississippi Senate District 32 special election advances to runoff

The special general runoff election for Mississippi State Senate District 32 is on Nov. 23. Rod Hickman and Minh Duong are competing in the runoff, after finishing in first and second place, respectively, at the general election on Nov. 2. 

Hickman and Duong defeated seven other candidates in the general election, earning 25.8% and 22.5% of the vote, respectively. A runoff was necessary because no candidate earned more than 50% of the vote.

State legislative special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan, meaning that candidates’ party affiliations do not appear on the ballot.

The special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) resigned from office effective June 30. Sampson assumed office in 1992.

Mississippi 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. Republicans control the state Senate by a margin of 36 to 14 with two vacancies.

As of November 2021, 66 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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Democrats and Republicans deciding on candidates for Connecticut House 116 vacancy

A special election has been called for the Connecticut House of Representatives District 116 for Dec. 14. Prospective candidates will be nominated by their respective parties. 

Michael DiMassa (D) resigned from the state House on Oct. 25 following his arrest on Oct. 18. DiMassa first assumed office in 2016 after defeating incumbent Louis Esposito in the Democratic primary and Richard DePalma (R) in the general election. 

The Dec. 14 election will mark the fifth state legislative special election in Connecticut this year. Connecticut held 40 state legislative special elections between 2010 and 2020, which was the seventh-most in the country. 

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