Tagstate senate

19 states saw at least one party with a net gain of seats in both state legislative chambers

Following the Nov. 3, 2020, elections, there were 19 states where either Democrats, Republicans, or both had a net gain of seats in both the state House and Senate.

Democrats had a net gain in both chambers of six states, seeing their largest net gains in Connecticut, where Democrats picked up a net of six seats in the state House and two in the state Senate. The smallest net gains for Democrats were in Massachusetts and Missouri, with a net gain of three seats across both chambers in each state.

Republicans had a net gain in both chambers of 15 states with their largest in New Hampshire where they gained a net 57 seats in the state House and four in the Senate. Aside from Alaska, where control of the state House had yet to be determined as of Jan. 26, New Hampshire was the only state where control of a legislative chamber changed in the 2020 elections. Both the House and Senate flipped from Democratic to Republican control. The smallest net gains for Republicans were in Missouri and Oregon, with a net gain of one seat in both the House and Senate of each state.

Both Democrats and Republicans had net gains in Missouri and Vermont due to flipping seats that were either previously held by third party legislators or winning seats that were vacant at the time of the election.

The map below shows those states where one party had net gains in both state legislative chambers shaded red, blue, or purple to indicate party gains.

The table below lists these states and the net gains made by each party in both state legislative chambers. Democratic gains are shown on the left. Republican gains are shown on the right.

Across all chambers that held regular state legislative elections in 2020, Democrats had a net loss of 114 seats, Republicans had a net gain of 175, and third parties had a net loss of 14.

To learn more about these chambers and the number of legislators by party following the 2020 election, click here.



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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