Tagstate senate

Mike Kennedy sworn in to Utah State Senate

On Jan. 5, Mike Kennedy (R) was sworn in as a member of the Utah State Senate. Kennedy won a special election on Dec. 29, 2020, to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Daniel Hemmert (R). Hemmert resigned to take a job as the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development under newly elected Gov. Spencer Cox (R). 

Delegates from the Utah County Republican Party chose Kennedy to replace Hemmert in an online special election. He prevailed over Jeanette Bennett, David Shallenberger, Staci Valentine Carroll, Jon Anderson, and John St. Clair.

Kennedy previously served in the Utah House of Representatives, representing District 27 from 2013 to 2018. He left the legislature to mount an unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Mitt Romney (R) in the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The Utah Senate is the upper chamber of the Utah Legislature. With Kennedy filling Hemmert’s seat, the current partisan breakdown of the senate is 23 Republicans and six Democrats. 

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California State Senate special election filing deadline is Jan. 7, 2021

Candidates interested in running in the special election for California State Senate District 30 have until January 7, 2021, to file. The primary is scheduled for March 2, and the general election is set for May 4.

The special election was called after Holly Mitchell (D) left office when she was elected to represent District 2 on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Mitchell served in the state Senate from 2013 to 2020.

As of December 2020, 11 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in eight states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. California held 31 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2019.

Entering 2021, the California State Senate has 30 Democrats, nine Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 21 seats. California has a Democratic state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. 

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Wisconsin State Senate District 13 special election set for Apr. 6, 2021

Election officials have scheduled a special election for the District 13 seat in the Wisconsin State Senate on Apr. 6, 2021. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he will resign on Jan. 1 before he is sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3. Fitzgerald was elected to Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District on Nov. 3. The primary is on Feb. 16, and the filing deadline is on Jan. 8.

Kaiali’i Kahele resigns from Hawaii state Senate to join U.S. House of Representatives

Kaiali’i Kahele (D) resigned from the Hawaii state Senate on Dec. 16 after being elected to Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele defeated Joseph Akana (R), 63% to 31%, on Nov. 3. Kahele will be sworn in to the U.S. House on Jan. 3, 2021.

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Kahele to the District 1 seat in February 2016 to replace Gil Kahele (D), Kahele’s deceased father. Kaiali’i Kahele represented District 1 from 2016 to 2020. 

According to Hawaii law, the governor appoints a replacement within 60 days when a vacancy occurs in the state Senate. The political party that last held the vacant seat has 30 days to provide the governor with a list of three prospective candidates. The party to submit a list of prospective candidates. According to a report in Big Island Video News, “The selection body will meet electronically on Wednesday, December 23, at 6:00 p.m. to identify three names to forward on to the Governor.” 

As of Dec. 21, there have been 129 state legislative vacancies in 41 states during 2020. Ninety-seven (97) of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 129 vacancies, 71 are Republican, and 58 are Democratic. Republicans have filled 49 vacancies, while Democrats have filled 48. 

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Voters to decide special election runoff in Texas State Senate District 30

A special general election runoff is being held on December 19 for District 30 of the Texas State Senate. Shelley Luther (R) and Drew Springer (R) advanced to the general runoff. The winner will serve until January 2023.

A candidate needed to earn more than 50% of the vote to win in the general election. As no candidate earned more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers advanced to a general runoff. Luther and Springer each received 32% of the vote. Jacob Minter (D) followed with 21%. No other candidate received over 10% of the vote.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of Pat Fallon (R), who was selected by local Republican Party county and precinct chairs to replace incumbent John Ratcliffe on the general election ballot for Texas’ 4th Congressional District after Ratcliffe withdrew from the race following his confirmation as director of national intelligence. Fallon submitted his letter of resignation on August 22, with an effective date of resignation on January 4.

As of December, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 27 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Six candidates file to run in Oklahoma State Senate special election

Candidates interested in running in a special election for a seat in the Oklahoma State Senate had until December 9, 2020, to file. The primary is scheduled for February 9, 2021, and the special election will be held on April 6.

In the District 22 special election, Dylan Billings and Molly Ooten are running in the Democratic primary. Former state legislator Rob Johnson, Darrick Matthews, Jake Merrick, and Keri Shipley are running in the Republican primary.

The special election became necessary after Stephanie Bice (R) was elected to represent Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District on November 3, 2020. Her resignation is effective on December 31, 2020. Bice was elected to the state Senate in 2014. She won re-election in 2018 with 68.3% of the vote.

Oklahoma 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 39-9 margin and the state House by an 82-19 margin.

As of December 2020, four state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in three states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Ward resigns from Alabama state Senate

Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward (R) resigned Dec. 7 to become the director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. Ward was appointed to his new position by Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Nov. 17. 

“It’s got to be the hardest job in state government,” Ward said in a phone interview. “They have a lot of issues going on. My number one issue is criminal justice reform.”

Ward’s successor in state Senate District 14 will be determined by a special election, which Ivey has set for July 13, 2021.

Ward served in the state Senate since 2010 and previously served in the state House from 2002 to 2010. He was most recently re-elected to another four-year term in 2018, defeating Democrat Jerry McDonald. This year, Ward unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court. Incumbent Greg Shaw defeated him in the Republican primary on March 3.

The Alabama State Senate is the upper chamber of the Alabama state legislature. With Ward’s resignation, the state Senate’s current partisan breakdown is 26 Republicans, seven Democrats, and two vacancies.

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