Tagstate senate

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. 

Additional reading:



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. 

Additional reading: 



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.

Additional reading:



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.

Additional reading:



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.

Additonal reading:



Sonya Halpern wins Georgia State Senate runoff

Headshot photo of Sonya Halpern.

A special Democratic primary runoff election was held for Georgia State Senate District 39 on December 1, 2020. A special primary election was held on November 3.

The special election was called when incumbent candidate Nikema Williams (D) withdrew from the race after being chosen by the Democratic Party of Georgia to replace incumbent candidate John Lewis (D) on the general election ballot for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District race after Lewis’ death on July 17.

Because Williams was unopposed in the regular general election, no special general election was needed to replace her. The race was determined in the primary runoff. When no candidates in the November 3 primary received a majority of the votes, top-two vote-getters Sonya Halpern and Linda Pritchett advanced to the primary runoff. Halpern won the runoff after receiving 80.8% of the vote.

As of December 2020, 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. Georgia has held 63 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2019.

Additional reading:



Democrats gain veto-proof majority in New York State Senate

Democrats gained a veto-proof majority in the New York State Senate after enough remaining races were called over the weekend to bring them to a two-thirds majority in the chamber. Democrats already held a veto-proof majority in the state Assembly. In New York, two-thirds of members in both chambers must vote to override a veto, which is 100 of the 150 members in the New York State Assembly and 42 of the 63 members in the New York State Senate.

The status of a veto-proof majority has changed in four states as a result of the 2020 elections. These results are subject to change as more votes are counted and elections are certified.

– In Connecticut, Democrats gained a veto-proof majority in the state Senate.

– In Delaware, Democrats maintained a veto-proof majority in the state House and gained a veto-proof majority in the state Senate.

– In Nevada, Democrats lost a veto-proof majority in the state Assembly. 

– In New York, Democrats maintained a veto-proof majority in the state Assembly and gained a veto-proof majority in the state Senate.

The veto override power can play a role in conflicts between state legislatures and governors. Conflict can occur when legislatures vote to override gubernatorial vetoes or in court cases related to vetoes and the override power. Although it has the potential to create conflict, the veto override power is rarely used. According to political scientists Peverill Squire and Gary Moncrief in 2010, only about five percent of vetoes are overridden.

Prior to April 2018, factions in the New York State Senate included the mainline Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and an offshoot of the Democratic Party called the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Republicans controlled the chamber from 2012 to 2018 through an alliance with the IDC and Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder. In April 2018, the eight members of the IDC rejoined the mainline Democratic conference, but Felder stayed with the Republicans, giving them an effective 32-31 majority in the chamber. In the November 2018 elections, Democrats expanded their majority to 40-23, giving them full control of the state Senate for the second time since 1964.

Forty-four states held regularly-scheduled state legislative elections on Nov 3. At the time of the election, there were 22 state legislatures where one party had a veto-proof majority in both chambers; 16 held by Republicans and six held by Democrats. Twenty of those states held legislative elections in 2020.

Additional reading: