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The Federal Tap: House Speaker Pelosi defers infrastructure vote twice

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights updates on the infrastructure bill and the Colorado Redistricting Commission’s approval of a final congressional map. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is in session

The Supreme Court will hear five hours of oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday through Friday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.

Federal Judiciary

  • 86 federal judicial vacancies
  • 24 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 31 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. No new Article III judges have announced upcoming vacancies since our last report. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Dec. 1, 2020, when U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Judge Paul K. Holmes announced that he would assume senior status on Nov. 10, 2021. The most recent was on Sept. 20, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh announced her retirement due to her elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Thirteen vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judges have not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Oct. 1, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Judge Jeffrey Viken and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington Judge Rosanna Peterson assume senior status. As of Sept. 30, 2021, there were 32 total upcoming vacancies announced for the federal judiciary overall.

For historical comparison, the week of September 27-October 3, 2020, there were 64 federal judicial vacancies and four upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

SCOTUS releases COVID-19 procedures for oral arguments

SCOTUS released on Sept. 27 new procedures for oral arguments during the term’s October, November, and December sittings, in accordance with the court’s COVID-19 protocols.

According to the clerk of court’s announcement:

  1. Legal counsel presenting their cases in person must take a COVID test the morning before argument.
  2. Attorneys who test positive for COVID will participate remotely via teleconference.
  3. Counsel will be informed of courtroom procedures and may ask questions in the lawyer’s lounge before presenting their case. Argument audio will be made available in the lawyer’s lounge. Counsel must leave the court building once arguments in their case conclude.
  4. Counsel are required to wear masks covering their noses and mouths at all times while within the court building, except when eating or drinking. Counsel are required to wear N95 or KN95 masks in the courtroom, except when presenting arguments. The court will provide masks.

The court released new questioning procedures for oral argument for the 2021 term. At the end of each attorney’s time, the court will ask additional questions justice by justice, in order of seniority.

SCOTUS announced on Sept. 8 that it would hear oral arguments in person for the first time since March 4, 2020. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public, following the precedent set during the 2020-2021 term. Audio files and argument transcripts will be posted on the court’s website following oral argument each day.

Colorado Redistricting Commission approves final congressional map

The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final map of the state’s congressional districts on Sept. 28. Eleven of the twelve commissioners agreed on the final vote, satisfying the group’s constitutional requirement of at least eight votes in favor, two of which must come from unaffiliated members. 

This is the state’s first redistricting process using an independent commission after voters approved Amendment Y in 2018. That amendment also requires that the Colorado Supreme Court approve new congressional district boundaries. 

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said that the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness wrote, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”

Under Amendment Y, redrawn congressional districts must be competitive, which is defined as having a reasonable potential to change parties at least once every ten years. After the commission approves a final map, it is required to create a report demonstrating the extent to which districts are competitive. The legislature does not approve redrawn congressional districts and the governor cannot veto the plan. It is also not subject to the state’s veto referendum process.

Three states enact new congressional, legislative district maps

Three states—Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon—enacted new congressional and legislative district boundaries this week. In all three states, the maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

Maine: Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed legislation enacting redrawn congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Sept. 29. The Maine legislature unanimously approved the state’s new congressional and state Senate maps. The Senate unanimously approved new state House district boundaries and the Maine House approved them 119-10. A two-thirds majority was required to approve new district boundaries.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement saying, “I applaud Maine’s Apportionment Commission, especially its Chair, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government. To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

Nebraska: The Nebraska State Legislature approved congressional and state legislative redistricting maps on Sept. 30. Shortly after the legislature’s approval, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the maps into law. 

The congressional maps were approved by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democrats. All Republicans in attendance voted in favor of the map, along with four Democrats. The state legislative maps were approved by a 37-7 vote. Five of the seven dissenting votes came from Democrats, and two were cast by Republicans. Eight Democrats voted in favor of the maps, along with twenty-nine Republicans.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chair of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and, regarding the possibility of partisan impasse, said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps. If the maps are not changed by the state supreme court after any possible legal challenges, this would be the third time since 1910 that Oregon’s redistricting maps were approved by the legislature and governor without alteration.

The congressional maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-6, and the state House of Representatives, 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the state senate, 18-11, and the House of Representatives, 31-18. The Oregonian said the map created three safe Democratic seats, one safe Republican seat, one seat that leans Democratic, and one seat that is a toss-up.

​​After signing the maps, Gov. Kate Brown (D) released a statement saying: “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” Both the enacted congressional and legislative maps were amended after their initial proposal during the redistricting session.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

House Speaker Pelosi defers infrastructure vote twice

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) deferred a vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 twice after half of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) indicated they would not support the bill before the passage of a $3.5 trillion budget bill also being considered by Congress.

Pelosi deferred the infrastructure vote from the initial deadline of Sept. 27 to Sept. 30. She said in an interview, “I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the CPC, said that she believed there were around 60 votes against the bill.

The vote was again deferred after Democrats remained divided. President Joe Biden (D) met with House Democrats on Oct. 1.

Republicans in the House were also split on the bill heading into the vote. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he opposed the bill because of its connection to the budget measure. “You don’t get millions of dollars for roads and broadband. What you get is $5 trillion of more inflation, you get a bigger socialist government, you get harm to our economy,” he said.

Several Republican members of the Problem Solvers Caucus said they would support the bill, including Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Don Bacon (R-Neb.). Reed said, “I am a hard yes on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion deal that got 19 Republican votes in the Senate. It’s a good bill. It’s a compromise bill, and that to me is good legislation—sound policy that I’m proud to support.”



U.S. Supreme Court ends federal eviction moratorium

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the U.S. Supreme Court ending the federal eviction moratorium and the DCCC outraising the NRCC for the first time since April. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

The Senate will be out of session next week, and the House will be in session on Aug. 31. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden met with his national security team to discuss Afghanistan and delivered remarks on COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Biden met with G7 leaders to discuss Afghanistan and delivered remarks on evacuating Americans from Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Biden met with Cabinet members and others to discuss cybersecurity. 

On Thursday, Biden spoke about the attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport and the U.S. service members and Afghan victims killed and wounded.

On Friday, Biden met with Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of the State of Israel and received the weekly economic briefing.

Federal Judiciary

  • 85 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 33 future federal judicial vacancies

SCOTUS adds two cases to its 2021-2022 term

The U.S. Supreme Court accepted two cases for review during its 2021-2022 term on Aug. 23. With the addition of these two cases, the court has granted review in a total of 33 cases for the term, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 4. 

  • Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez concerns the right of non-citizens to a bond hearing after a certain amount of time in immigration detention. The question presented to the court was, “Whether an alien who is detained under 8 U.S.C. 1231 is entitled by statute, after six months of detention, to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community.” Arteaga-Martinez originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
  • Garland v. Gonzalez concerns the right of non-citizens in immigration detention to a bond hearing and the jurisdiction of federal courts to grant class-wide injunctive relief in such cases. Two questions were presented to the court: “1. Whether an alien who is detained under 8 U.S.C. 1231 is entitled by statute, after six months of detention, to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community. 2. Whether, under 8 U.S.C. § 1252 (f) (1), the courts below had jurisdiction to grant classwide injunctive relief.” Gonzalez originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The Supreme Court finished hearing oral arguments for its 2020-2021 term in May 2021. During the term, the court issued 67 opinions, with two cases decided in one consolidated opinion and 10 cases decided without oral argument. The court’s 2021-2022 term begins on Oct. 4 with oral arguments in Mississippi v. Tennessee and Wooden v. United States.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraises National Republican Congressional Committee for the first time since April

A recent Ballotpedia analysis found that six major political party committees have raised a combined $478 million over the first seven months of the 2022 election cycle. In July, the committees raised $83 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $7.0 million and spent $5.2 million in July, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $11.3 million and spent $6.2 million. July was the first month the DCCC outraised the NRCC since April. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the NRCC has raised 5.2% more than the DCCC ($86.3 million to $81.9 million). 

The senatorial committees raised less than their house counterparts last month. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $7.5 million and spent $8.4 million. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $6.5 million and spent $7.8 million. The NRSC has raised 10.1% more than the DSCC so far in the 2022 election cycle ($58.7 million to $53.1 million).

Between the national committees, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised more in July, and the Republican National Committee (RNC) spent more. The DNC raised $13.1 million and spent $8.3 million, while the RNC raised $12.9 million and spent $15.6 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the DNC has raised 2.3% more than the RNC ($100.2 million to $97.9 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 3.2% more than the  DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($242.9 million to $235.2 million). The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is down from 5.3% last month.

U.S. Supreme Court ends federal eviction moratorium

On Thursday, Aug. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Aug. 3 eviction moratorium in an unsigned opinion. The Court ruled only Congress could authorize a federal eviction moratorium. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan wrote dissenting opinions.   


The moratorium had halted evictions for nonpayment of rent in parts of the country experiencing what the CDC defined as “substantial or high” levels of COVID-19 spread. The plaintiffs, a group of real estate agents, asked the Supreme Court to overturn the moratorium on an emergency basis, arguing the CDC lacked the authority to issue such a policy.

The CDC first issued a moratorium on evictions on Sept. 4, 2020, and extended it several times throughout the spring and summer of 2021. The CDC extended the moratorium, which applied to tenants regardless of COVID-19 transmission levels, on June 24. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said it would be the final extension. On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to intervene to end the moratorium. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote at the time that he voted to allow the moratorium to stay in place because it was about to expire but that Congress would need to authorize any further extensions.



New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns, Hochul sworn in as successor

Intro: Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the swearing in of successor Kathy Hochul (D) and new mask requirements in Illinois and Oregon. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-eight statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing approved a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit rejected a revised city charter that would have changed policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters approved a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County decided property tax measures. Both measures were ahead according to election night results.

Special Elections

Fifty-two state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 19 states so far this year. Thirty-five specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 16 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 19. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Aug. 31

Sept. 7

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns, Hochul sworn in as successor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned on Aug. 24, effective at 12:00 a.m. Eastern. He first announced his plans to step down on Aug. 10.

Immediately after Cuomo’s resignation took effect, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (D) was sworn in as the 57th governor of New York. Hochul is the first female to serve as governor in the state. She will serve the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which ends on Jan. 1, 2023. New York’s next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2022.

On Aug. 25, Hochul announced her selection of state Sen. Brian Benjamin (D) to succeed her as lieutenant governor. Hochul stated he would be sworn in after Labor Day. Benjamin was first elected to the state Senate in 2017.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report on Aug. 3 that said Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees. James began the investigation in February.

The New York State Assembly had initiated impeachment proceedings against Cuomo in March, examining the allegations of sexual misconduct, among other accusations of impeachable conduct.

Cuomo has repeatedly denied these allegations. On August 23, in his final public address as governor, he said, “The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic and it worked. There was a political and media stampede, but the truth will out in time.”

Cuomo is the ninth governor of New York to resign. Six resigned to take another office, and three resigned following allegations of misconduct. 

Special election to be held in Texas House district

A special election will be held on Aug. 31 for District 10 of the Texas House of Representatives. The candidate filing deadline was Aug. 12. Pierina Otiniano (D), Kevin Griffin (R), Brian Harrison (R), Susan Hayslip (R), Clark Wickliffe (R), John Wray (R), Matt Savino (L), and Scott Goodwin (I) are running in the general election. A general election runoff will be scheduled if no candidate earns at least 50% of the vote. The winner will serve until January 2023.

The District 10 seat became vacant after Jake Ellzey (R) won a special election to Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27. Ellzey had represented District 10 since January 2021.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have an 82-67 majority in the Texas House with one vacancy. Texas 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.

As of August, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 19 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Texas held 28 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Kentucky legislator Robert Goforth resigns

Kentucky Rep. Robert Goforth resigned (R) on Aug.24, creating the second current vacancy in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Vacancies in the Kentucky House are filled by special elections.

Goforth was the target of a January 2021 impeachment effort. The petition listed domestic violence charges, allegations of abuse of office for personal and financial gain, and allegations of financial misconduct as reasons for his impeachment. According to the Courier Journal, Goforth said voters “overwhelmingly re-elected me last November despite a nearly constant assault upon my character. I am focused on the work of this session that the people who sent me here expect me to fulfill.” The House impeachment committee dismissed the petition on Feb. 11, 2021.

Goforth was arrested on several domestic violence-related charges at a private home in London, Kentucky, on April 21, 2020. He posted a $25,000 bond to be released from jail later that day. On June 1 of the same year, Goforth pleaded not guilty to three charges of strangulation, assault, and terroristic threatening. On Sept. 18, 2020, a Laurel County grand jury charged Goforth with one count of first-degree strangulation and one count of fourth-degree assault.

Legislators sworn in to Maryland House of Delegates, Oregon House of Representatives

Roxane Prettyman (D) was sworn in to the Maryland House of Delegates to represent District 44A on Aug. 23. Governor Larry Hogan (R) appointed Prettyman on Aug. 17 to replace Keith Haynes (D).

Christine Goodwin (R) was sworn in to the Oregon House of Representatives to represent the 2nd District on Aug. 25. Republican county commissioners in the three counties that make up the 2nd District (Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine Counties) appointed Goodwin to the seat on Aug. 12 to replace Gary Leif (R).

Both Prettyman and Goodwin will serve the remainder of their predecessors’ terms.

So far in 2021, there have been 88 state legislative vacancies in 37 states. Three of those vacancies occurred in Maryland, and five occurred in Oregon.

Illinois, Oregon announce new statewide mask requirements

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced on Aug. 26 a new statewide public indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and vaccinated individuals, which will go into effect on Aug. 30. Illinois’ first mask mandate began on May 1, 2020, and was lifted on June 11, 2021, lasting 407 days. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced an expansion of the state’s mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 24. Effective Aug. 27, vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will be required to wear masks in public outdoor spaces. Brown had previously reinstated Oregon’s public indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 13.

As of Aug. 26, three states had statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and six states had statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All nine of the states had Democratic governors.

In total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. Two states (Louisiana and Oregon) that allowed a statewide order to fully expire later reinstated a mask order.

Idaho Supreme Court overturns 2021 law that would have increased the state’s distribution requirement for ballot initiatives

On Aug. 23, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 1110 (SB 1110) was unconstitutional. The law was designed to change the state’s distribution requirement to require signatures from 6% of voters from all 35 legislative districts for ballot initiatives and veto referendums instead of the existing requirement of 6% of voters from 18 of the state’s legislative districts.

The court ruled that the state had no compelling interest to increase the distribution requirement. The court said the law “would result in a scheme that squarely conflicts with the democratic ideals that form the bedrock of the constitutional republic created by the Idaho Constitution, and seriously undermines the people’s initiative and referendum powers enshrined therein.” By overturning the law, the court reinstated the 18-district distribution requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by Reclaim Idaho, the campaign behind two 2022 initiatives related to initiative signature requirements and taxes for public school funding. 

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R), who supported the law, said, “These changes to the voter referendum/initiative process would’ve served to increase voter involvement and inclusivity, especially in the corners of the state too often forgotten by some.”

Seventeen states have a distribution requirement law for initiative or veto referendum signatures. 

In 2019, the Idaho Legislature passed a pair of bills that were designed to increase the state’s initiative signature requirement and its distribution requirement, among other changes. Governor Brad Little (R) vetoed the bills. In 2021, both chambers of the legislature passed SB 1110 by more than the two-thirds majority required to override a veto: 26-9 in the Senate and 51-18 in the House. Governor Little signed SB 1110.

Between 1996 and 2020, an average of three measures have appeared on even-numbered election year ballots in Idaho.



The State and Local Tap: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Aug. 24

Our weekly summary of state and local news highlights New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announced resignation and the California GOP’s vote to not endorse a recall candidate. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State and Local Tap. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Aug. 24

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced he would resign effective Aug. 24. Cuomo was first elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He was New York’s attorney general from 2007 to 2010. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (D) will serve the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which ends on Jan. 1, 2023. New York’s next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2022. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report on Aug. 3 that said Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” James began the investigation in February.

Cuomo denied these allegations, saying, in part, “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.” At a press conference announcing his resignation, Cuomo said, “Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. Before that, she served in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2013 after winning a special election. Hochul will be the first woman governor in the state’s history. 

Since 1776, 218 state governors have resigned before the expiration of their terms. Cuomo is the ninth governor of New York to resign. Six resigned to take another office and three resigned following allegations of misconduct. New York’s last elected governor, Eliot Spitzer (D), resigned in 2008 amid allegations of misconduct. Twelve governors of New Jersey have resigned, more than any other state. 

California GOP votes “No endorsement” for recall election

On Aug. 7, the Republican Party of California voted not to endorse a candidate in the Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). About 90% of the delegates attending the virtual party meeting voted to skip the endorsement vote and not endorse a candidate. The vote came amid concerns from delegates and party leaders that an endorsement of one candidate would decrease turnout among voters who support other candidates.

Republican National Committee members Harmeet Dhillon and Shawn Steel, who KPBS called two of the most powerful figures in the party, sent an email asking delegates to vote against an endorsement. “The polls are showing that the recall is in a statistical tie, and we cannot afford to discourage voters who are passionate about a particular candidate, yet may not vote because their favored candidate didn’t receive the endorsement,” they wrote.

State party chair Jessica Millan Patterson said in response to the vote, “Today’s overwhelming decision by our delegates to offer no endorsement speaks to the strength of our field of candidates and the outstanding position our party is in going into the recall election.”

Tony Navarrete resigns from the Arizona state Senate

Senator Tony Navarrete (D) resigned from the Arizona state Senate on Aug. 10. He represented District 30 from 2019 to 2021. He also represented Arizona House District 30 from 2017 to 2019.

Phoenix police arrested Navarrete on Aug. 5, 2021, on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. According to authorities, the alleged sexual conduct took place in 2019. Navarrete resigned on Aug. 10, stating, “I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence. In doing so, I will be focusing the vast majority of my time and energy on my defense.”

As of Aug. 12, there have been 82 state legislative vacancies in 36 states this year. Fifty of those vacancies have been filled, with 32 vacancies remaining. Navarrete’s vacancy is one of 38 Democratic vacancies to have occurred in 2021. So far, Democrats have filled 23 vacancies, while Republicans have filled 27.  

California mandates vaccines for school teachers and staff

On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that teachers and staff in K-12 public and private schools would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.

According to the California Department of Public Health, the requirement will take effect on Aug. 12. 

Although governors in other states have mandated that state employees get vaccinated, California is the first to extend the mandate to include school teachers and staff. 

Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy advance from Seattle city attorney primary

Pete Holmes, the incumbent Seattle city attorney, conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on Aug. 6, meaning the two will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, 2021. The latest election results showed Thomas-Kennedy with 36.5% of the vote followed by Davison with 32.8% and Holmes with 30.7%.

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote to Lindsay’s 25%, and ran unopposed in the 2013 general election. David Kroman of Crosscut called Holmes’ concession “a tectonic political upset that sets the stage for a stark and divisive race to succeed him as the city’s top lawyer.”

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s law department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the city’s management and prosecute violations of city ordinances.

Redistricting round-up: U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process (and other news)

The U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. The data includes county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

The Bureau will also release a complete tabulated version of the census dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, federal agencies and local governments use census data for allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.

Here are some overall findings from the data, as described in the Bureau’s press release:

  • “The 2020 Census showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.”
  • “The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.”
  • “The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population. … Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census. These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.”

Also, a majority of the New Jersey Supreme Court voted on Aug. 6 to select retired state supreme court justice John Wallace as the 13th member of the Congressional Redistricting Commission. His selection came after the six Democrats and six Republicans on the commission did not agree on a 13th member by the July 15 deadline.

Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto announces retirement

On Aug. 9, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto announced she would retire on Dec. 31, 2021. Nakamoto’s replacement will be Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Under Oregon law, midterm vacancies on the state supreme court are filled via gubernatorial appointment. Appointed judges serve until the next general election more than 60 days after they were appointed, at which point they must run for election in order to remain in office.

Justice Nakamoto joined the Oregon Supreme Court in 2016. She was appointed to the court by Gov. Brown. Upon her appointment, Nakamoto became the first Asian Pacific American on the state supreme court.

In 2021, there have been 15 state supreme court vacancies in 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

Ballot measures update

Thirty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in eight states so far.

  • The Washington attorney general certified ballot language for three automatic advisory questions on tax increases passed in the 2021 legislative session. The nonbinding measures will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.
  • Signatures were submitted and are pending verification for three additional initiatives in Colorado.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

State legislative special elections

Fifty-one state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Aug. 17

Aug. 31

Local ballot measures: The week in review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing approved a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit rejected a revised city charter that would have made changes to policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters approved a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County decided property tax measures. Both measures were ahead according to election night results.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.



The Federal Tap: U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the 2020 U.S. Census and a vaccine mandate for the military. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap. 

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process

The U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. The data includes county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

The Bureau will also release a complete tabulated version of the census dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, federal agencies and local governments use census data for allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.

Here are some overall findings from the data, as described in the Bureau’s press release:

  • “The 2020 Census showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.”
  • “The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.”
  • “The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population. … Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census. These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.”

Defense secretary sets mid-September deadline for military vaccination requirement

On Monday, Aug. 9, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo he would require military personnel to get a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-September. Austin said he could move up the timeline for military members to get vaccinated if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a vaccine before the middle of September. 

Currently, the FDA has only granted Emergency Use Authorization to three vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—in use in the United States. Without full FDA authorization, Austin would need to seek a waiver from President Joe Biden (D) to enact a vaccine mandate. 

In a statement, Biden said he supported the vaccine mandate. 

In recent weeks, several governors have announced they would require state employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, including governors in California, Maryland, and Virginia. 

Representative Ron Kind announces retirement

On Aug. 10, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D) announced he would not run for re-election in 2022. Kind, who has represented Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District since 1997, said he had “run out of gas” after 13 terms in office, but said “I’m not done. We have 16 months to go. I’m going to break the tape, as they say.”

A former state prosecutor for the La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office, Kind won his House seat in the 1996 election against James E. Harsdorf with 52% of the vote. He is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and was first assigned to that committee in 2011. In the 2020 general election, Kind defeated challenger Derrick Van Orden (R) by less than 3% after winning re-election in 2018 against Steve Toft (R) by nearly 20%.

Kind is the fourth Democrat to announce their retirement this year, including Ann Kirkpatrick (D), Cheri Bustos (D), and Filemon Vela (D). A total of 16 U.S. House members have announced they will not seek re-election so far this year, with six retiring and 10 seeking other offices.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 50%, congressional approval at 22%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 50% approval and 44% disapproval as of Aug. 12. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 53%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. His current approval rating of 50% is the lowest he has received.

Congressional approval is at 22% and disapproval is at 60%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 32%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is 36%, last seen on July 16. The lowest approval rating it has received is 16%, last seen on July 29.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 38% and congressional approval was at 14%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Are Congress and the Supreme Court in session?

Both the House and Senate are out of session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden remained in Wilmington, Delaware.

On Tuesday, Biden returned to Washington, D.C., from Wilmington, Delaware.  

On Wednesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Thursday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

On Friday, Biden departed Wilmington, Delaware, for Camp David, Maryland. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 84 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 32 future federal judicial vacancies


Final candidate list released for Newsom recall

In hyperlocal news this week, we launched a Ballotpedia Store, allowing you to be a Ballotpedia evangelist from your front porch! Check out our selection of t-shirts, totes, and mugs here.

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the final candidate list released in the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and a federal court upholds the CDC’s COVID-19 cruise line restrictions. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-three statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in seven states so far.

  • No new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for one additional 2022 initiative in Michigan. One indirect initiative in Michigan was approved by the legislature last week. The initiative repealed Michigan’s Emergency Powers of Governor Act.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing will decide a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit will, pending a Michigan Supreme Court ruling, decide whether to adopt a revised city charter that makes changes to policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters will decide a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County will decide property tax measures.

Special Elections

Forty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the districts, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No districts have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

July 27

Aug. 3

Aug. 17

Kentucky state Rep. John “Bam” Carney dies

Kentucky state Rep. John “Bam” Carney (R) died while in office on July 17, due to long-term health issues. 

Carney was first elected to represent House District 51 in 2008. He most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Richard Steele (D) 78.6% to 21.4%. He was elected state House majority leader in 2018 and served in that role until January 2020, when House Republicans named Rep. Steven Rudy (R) to serve as acting majority leader while Carney was ill. 

Carney was admitted to the ICU with pancreatitis in December 2019. He had spent the past year and a half in hospitals and was diagnosed with pneumonia in June 2021. He died on July 17 at age 51.

Carney is the second member of the Kentucky legislature to die this month; former state Senator Tom Buford (R) died on July 6. Kentucky is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

Final candidate list released for Newsom recall

On July 21, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) released the final list of 46 candidates that qualified for the gubernatorial recall election. The recall election seeking to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will take place on Sept. 14, 2021. Among the candidates that qualified were nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Larry Elder (R).

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall an incumbent California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.

New Jersey state Sen. Chris Brown resigns to take new role in Murphy administration

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) appointed state Sen. Chris Brown (R) to a position in the Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services on July 19. The position required Brown to leave the state Senate. Brown started his new job on July 20.

Brown first won election to the Senate to represent District 2 on Nov. 7, 2017, defeating incumbent Colin Bell (D) 53.52% to 46.48%. Brown had announced in February that he would not seek re-election.

Vacancies in the New Jersey legislature are filled by interim appointment by the county leadership of the party that last controlled the district. 

The New Jersey Senate is the upper chamber of the state legislature. Currently, there are 25 Democrats, 14 Republicans, and one vacancy in the Senate.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appoints new state supreme court justice, public service commissioner

Governor Brian Kemp (R) appointed Verda Colvin to the Georgia Supreme Court and Fitz Johnson to the Georgia Public Service Commission on July 20 and 21, respectively. Colvin will fill the vacancy left by Justice Harold Melton, who retired on July 1 of this year, while Johnson will take former Commissioner Chuck Eaton’s position. Governor Kemp appointed Eaton to the Fulton County Superior Court on July 20. 

Founded in 1845, the Georgia Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has nine judgeships. As of July 2021, Republican governors appointed seven judges (eight once Colvin is sworn in) on the court and one was initially selected in a nonpartisan election. Judges are selected using the nonpartisan election of judges system. They serve six-year terms. When an interim vacancy occurs, the seat is filled using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection with the governor picking the interim justice from a slate provided by the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission. 

The Georgia Public Service Commission is a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative state body responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities: electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms. The commission is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms. If a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until the next general election. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson must win election in November 2022 to serve the remainder of Eaton’s term, which expires in 2024.

Federal court upholds CDC COVID-19 cruise line restrictions

On July 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned a lower court order that blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) restrictions on the cruise industry, allowing the restrictions to stay in place. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sued the CDC in April, arguing the agency overstepped its authority when it issued its four-phase plan for reopening the cruise industry. U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday sided with DeSantis on June 18, granting Florida a preliminary injunction against the restrictions.

The CDC’s plan requires 95% of passengers and 98% of crews to be fully vaccinated. Florida’s Senate Bill 2006, which DeSantis signed into law on May 3, prohibits businesses in the state from requiring proof of vaccination. 

DeSantis said he would appeal the ruling. 

New Jersey chief justice asks political parties to submit consensus candidate for congressional redistricting commission

On July 20, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and select a consensus candidate as the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission

According to state law, 12 of the 13 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. These 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

According to The New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a thirteenth member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tie-breaker candidate by Aug. 10.



The State and Local Tap: California judge rules Gov. Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on recall ballot

The State and Local Tap

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights a state judge’s ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on California’s Sept. 14 recall ballot and members of Texas’ legislature travel to Washington, D.C. ahead of an expected vote on election-related legislation. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap:

California judge rules Gov. Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on recall ballot

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled on July 12 that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) party affiliation will not appear on the September 14 recall ballot. Newsom sued Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) on June 28 seeking to have his party affiliation added to the ballot. Weber cited Newsom’s February 2020 response to the recall petition, in which Newsom did not file a party preference form, as the reason for leaving his party affiliation off the recall ballot.

In the ruling, Judge Arguelles wrote, “First, Governor Newsom’s failure to designate a party preference will not result in a ballot identifying him as ‘Party Preference: None.’ Rather, there will be no reference to party preference next to his name one way or the other. Instead, the recall ballot will simply ask whether he should be recalled.”

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. Newsom was elected as California’s governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. The only successful recall of a California governor occurred in 2003, when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Voters chose Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement.

Texas Democrats leave state ahead of expected vote on election-related legislation

At least 51 Democratic state representatives in Texas left the state on July 12, traveling to Washington D.C., ahead of expected votes on election-related legislation. Supporters say the legislation includes updates to improving election integrity. Opponents say the bills amount to voter suppression.

The Texas House of Representatives requires 100 members—two-thirds of the 150 legislators—present to have a quorum. A quorum is the minimum number of members required to conduct official business. Democrats control 67 of the 150 state House seats in Texas.

It’s the second time Texas House Democrats have staged a walkout this year. The first took place on May 30, when all 67 members of the Democratic caucus left the chamber during consideration of another package of election-related legislation. This prevented the House from passing the legislation ahead of the regular session’s midnight deadline. Following the end of the legislature’s regular session, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special session to resume consideration of the legislation.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-one (31) statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in seven states so far.

No new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week.

Fifty-seven statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for two additional 2022 initiatives in California and Michigan. One indirect initiative in Michigan was certified to the legislature last week. The initiative would repeal Michigan’s Emergency Powers of Governor Act.

Arizona ends federal pandemic unemployment insurance program; courts rule program must continue in Indiana, Maryland

Arizona ended its participation in pandemic-related federal unemployment benefit programs on July 10, and courts in two states—Indiana and Maryland—ruled those states must continue to participate in the program. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) had announced that Arizona would end its involvement in the program on May 13.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on July 12 that the state must comply with Superior Court Judge John Hanley’s June 25 emergency order to resume participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) ended the state’s participation in those programs on June 19. 

In Maryland, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill ruled on July 13 that the state must continue participating in the federal pandemic unemployment program. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) had ended the state’s participation in those programs on July 3. Hogan said he would not challenge the ruling. 

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11. This legislation extended federal unemployment benefit programs related to the coronavirus pandemic, including a $300 per week addition to state unemployment benefits. The programs are scheduled to end on Sept. 6. 

Anna Scharf sworn in to Oregon House of Representatives District 23

Anna Scharf (R) was sworn in to the District 23 seat in the Oregon House of Representatives on July 12. Republican county commissioners in the four counties that make up the district had appointed her on July 6. 

Scharf replaced former Rep. Mike Nearman (R), who was expelled from the House on June 10 after video footage surfaced in which he helped protesters enter the state Capitol building on December 21, 2020, resulting in injuries and property damage. Scharf had served as a legislative policy analyst in Rep. Nearman’s office since February 2020 and will serve the remainder of Nearman’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

States in session

Eight states— California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Delaware ends COVID-19 state of emergency

Gov. John Carney (D) ended Delaware’s statewide COVID-19 state of emergency on July 12. Carney had signed an order on June 15 ending the state of emergency, which began on March 13, 2020. 

As of July 16, COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 25 states. They remain active in 25 states.

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and to waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. Governors and state agencies relied on emergency power authority to enact lockdown and stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals. 

Michigan Supreme Court rejects independent commission’s request to extend redistricting deadlines

The Michigan Supreme Court rejected a request on July 9 by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend the state’s constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. This means that the constitutional deadlines–presentation to the public by Sept. 17 and adoption by Nov. 1–remain in effect. 

The commission had argued that it would “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline” due to delays in receiving detailed redistricting data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The commission had asked the state supreme court to order the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days after that.

In its unsigned order, the court said that it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” In her concurring opinion, Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote, “The Court’s decision is not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues. It is indicative only that a majority of this Court believes that the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”

Maryland State Delegate Keith Haynes retires

Keith Haynes (D)—who was first elected to the state legislature in 2002—retired from the Maryland House of Delegates on July 15. Haynes most recently won re-election in 2018 after running unopposed in the primary and general elections. 

“After 18 1/2 years of service, I am retiring from the Maryland House of Delegates as of July 15, 2021,” Haynes wrote in a statement to the Baltimore Sun. “I would like to thank my constituents for the opportunity to serve them.”

When a vacancy occurs in the Maryland General Assembly, the governor must appoint a replacement within 30 days after the vacancy happens. The governor selects from a list of three prospective candidates submitted by the political party that last held the vacant seat. The person appointed to the seat serves for the remainder of the unexpired term. Haynes’ term was set to expire on January 10, 2023.

Special Elections

Forty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four (34) specials have already taken place. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

July 27

August 3

August 17



State and Local Tap: Newsom signature removal deadline passes

Intro: Our weekly summary of state & local news brings you an update on the Gavin Newsom recall effort and the statewide Democratic nominees from Virginia. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Twenty-eight statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in seven states so far.

Three new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week: 

Forty-four statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far.

Six new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week:

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for three additional 2022 initiatives in California and Michigan.

States in session

Thirteen states—Arizona, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire,  New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

Special Elections

Thirty-nine state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 17 states so far this year. Twenty-eight (28) specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 14 seats, and Republicans previously controlled 14. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

June 12

June 15

June 22

Jack Ciattarelli wins New Jersey gubernatorial Republican primary

Former New Jersey Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli defeated Philip Rizzo, Hirsh Singh, and Brian Levine for the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s gubernatorial election. Ciattarelli received 49.4% of the vote, followed by Rizzo with 25.9%, Singh with 21.5%, and Levine with 3.2%.

Ciattarelli will face Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in the general election on Nov. 2, along with Gregg Mele (L), Joanna Kuniansky (Socialist Workers), Justin Maldonado (I), and David Winkler (I).

The general election will determine New Jersey’s trifecta status for the next four years. A Murphy victory would maintain Democratic trifecta control, while a Ciattarelli victory would create a divided government. Election forecasters expect the Democratic party to retain control of the state legislature.

As of June 1, two of the three major race rating outlets rated the general election as Solid Democratic, and the third rated it as Likely Democratic. Still, Republicans have had success in the state’s gubernatorial races in the recent past. Between 1992 and 2021, Republicans held the governorship for 16 years, and Democrats held the governorship for 14 years.

Newsom signature removal deadline passes; counties have until June 22 to verify the number of remaining signatures

June 8 was the deadline for voters who signed the petition to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to request their names be removed from the petitions. County election offices now have until June 22 to report the number of remaining signatures to the California Secretary of State. If at least 1,495,709 signatures remain, the recall process will move forward. Supporters turned in 1,719,943 valid signatures by the March 17 submission deadline.

If sufficient signatures remain following the removal request deadline, the recall will be certified and move to a budgeting and scheduling phase. Based on the remaining procedural steps required by state law for the recall campaign, an election is likely to take place in October or November 2021.

Newsom was elected as California’s 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). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement.

A recall election would present voters with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second would ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required. In the 2003 recall of Davis, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.58 percent of the vote.

South Carolina ends COVID-19 emergency orders

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) declined to extend the statewide COVID-19 state of emergency, allowing it to expire on June 6. McMaster first declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic on March 13, 2020, and extended it every 15 days as required by South Carolina law.  

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and to waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. Governors and state agencies relied on emergency power authority to enact lockdown and stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals.

South Carolina is the eighth state to end a statewide COVID-19 emergency. Before that, on June 4, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed Assembly, No. 5820. This bill ended the statewide public health emergency while allowing Murphy to retain some emergency power authority related to vaccination efforts, testing, and coordination of local health departments. 

Statewide mask orders end in Illinois, Kentucky

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) moved the state to Phase 5 of reopening June 11, ending the statewide mask mandate. The state still requires masks in schools, public transit, hospitals, and congregate facilities like prisons and homeless shelters. Masks are also recommended in indoor public spaces for individuals who are not fully vaccinated. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) ended the statewide mask requirement, remaining social distancing requirements, and all capacity restrictions June 11. However, vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transit, at schools, and in healthcare settings.

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. As of June 11, 13 states had statewide mask orders, including 11 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and two of the 27 states with Republican governors. Of those 13 states, at least 11 exempted fully vaccinated people.

Virginia Democrats pick statewide nominees

Virginia Democrats picked their statewide nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general on June 8. Democrats have won every statewide election in Virginia since 2012. 

Governor

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) defeated four candidates to win the gubernatorial nomination. McAuliffe received 62% of the vote, followed by former Del. Jennifer Carrol Foy (D) and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D), who received 20% and 12% of the vote respectively. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) and Del. Lee Carter (D) both received less than 5% of the vote. McAuliffe will face Glenn Youngkin (R) in the general election.

McAuliffe previously served as Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018. Virginia’s constitution prevents the governor from running for a second consecutive term, though former governors may serve non-consecutive terms. Mills Goodwin (D), elected in 1965 and 1973, is the most recent governor to serve non-consecutive terms.

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. The outcome of this race will affect Virginia’s trifecta status. In 2019, Virginia became a Democratic trifecta after winning majorities in the state House and Senate. In addition to the statewide elections, all 100 House seats are up for election this year.

Lieutenant governor

Delegate Hala Ayala (D) defeated five other candidates to win the lieutenant gubernatorial nomination, receiving 39% of the vote, followed by Del. Sam Rasoul’s 25%. No other candidate received over 15% of the vote. Ayala will face Winsome Sears (R) in the general election.

Of the four lieutenant governors elected since 2002, three were Democrats, and one was a Republican. Two of them, Tim Kaine (D) and Ralph Northam (D), later became governor. The lieutenant governor is popularly elected every four years and, unlike the governor, may seek re-election.

Attorney general

Incumbent Mark Herring (D) defeated Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones to win the attorney general nomination. Herring received 56.5% of the vote to Jones’ 43.5%. Herring will face Del. Jason Miyares (R) in the general election.

Voters first elected Herring to the attorney general position in 2013. He won re-election in 2017 and is seeking re-election to a third consecutive term. No Virginia attorney general has served three consecutive terms since the 1945 re-election of Abram Penn Staples (D).

Illinois enacts state legislative, supreme court maps

Illinois became the first state to enact new district maps in this redistricting cycle on June 4, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed into law new maps for the Illinois state Senate, the Illinois House of Representatives, and the Illinois Supreme Court.

Illinois’ five state supreme court districts were last redrawn in 1964. Cook County (home to Chicago) forms a single district, but it is allocated three seats on the seven-member court. Downstate Illinois is divided into four districts, each with one seat on the court. The state constitution allows state lawmakers to redraw supreme court districts at any time. According to The Chicago Tribune, “lawmakers have traditionally used boundaries for the circuit, appellate and Supreme Court laid out in a 1964 overhaul of the state’s court system.” 

In Illinois, the General Assembly is responsible for redistricting. On May 28, the General Assembly approved the state legislative redistricting plan (HB2777) and the supreme court redistricting plan (SB0642). 

Because the U.S. Census Bureau does not expect to deliver granular redistricting data to the states until mid-August, Illinois lawmakers used population estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) to draft the new maps before the June 30 deadline set by the state’s constitution.

On June 9, Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie filed suit in U.S. district court, challenging the use of ACS data during the drafting process. The plaintiffs argue that “[ACS] estimates are not intended to be, and are not, a proper substitute for the official census counts.” They go on to allege that “because it uses ACS estimates for population data, the Redistricting Plan does not ensure that the Senate and Representative Districts satisfy the constitutional mandate of substantially equal populations [among districts].” They are asking the court to declare the enacted maps unconstitutional and to appoint either a bipartisan legislative commission or a special master (an outside expert) to draft new maps. 

It is not clear when lawmakers will begin the congressional redistricting process. The state constitution sets no deadline for congressional redistricting.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman resigns

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman resigned on June 11. Guzman’s replacement will be Gov. Greg Abbott‘s (R) fifth nominee to the nine-member supreme court. At the time of Guzman’s resignation, all nine judges on the court identified with the Republican party. 

Governor Rick Perry (R) appointed Guzman in 2009. She was elected to a full term in 2010, becoming the first Latina woman elected to statewide office in Texas. Guzman was re-elected in 2016, defeating Democrat Savannah Robinson, 56% to 39%.

Before she was appointed to the state supreme court, Guzman served as a district judge for Texas’ 309th District Court and an appellate judge for Texas’ Fourteenth Court of Appeals.

Under Texas law, in the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement. The Texas State Senate must then confirm the nominee. Appointees serve until the next general election, in which he or she must participate in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Mike Nearman expelled from OR state House

The Oregon House of Representatives voted to expel state Rep. Mike Nearman (R) on June 10. Nearman’s colleagues expelled him due to video footage that showed him helping protesters, some of whom were armed, enter the state Capitol building on December 21, 2020. This led to a struggle between the protesters and police officers, causing injuries and property damage. 

The resolution to expel Nearman passed 59-1, with only Nearman voting against. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Nearman is the first person to have ever been expelled from the Oregon Legislature. 

Nearman was first elected to represent District 23 in the Oregon state House in 2014, defeating incumbent Jim Thompson (R) in the Republican primary. Before he entered politics, Nearman worked in software engineering and tech support. 

There have been 52 state legislative vacancies in 30 states so far in 2021. Thirty-seven of those vacancies have been filled. Two other state legislators have been expelled this year; Luke Simons (R-ND) and Rick Roeber (R-MO). 



Federal Tap: Senate confirms first Biden-appointed judges

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights Biden’s first judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate and Val Demings’ announcement that she’s running for the U.S. Senate seat from Florida. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Status of the Federal Branches

Is Congress in session?

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

Is the Supreme Court in session?

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

  • On Monday and Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
  • On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks to U.S. Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom.
  • On Thursday, Biden participated in a bilateral meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom.

What’s the latest with the federal judiciary?

  • 83 federal judicial vacancies
  • 15 pending nominations
  • 30 future federal judicial vacancies

U.S. Supreme Court accepts case for next term

The U.S. Supreme Court issued orders on June 7 emanating from their June 3 conference. The court accepted one new case to be argued during the upcoming 2021-2022 term: Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga. The case concerns the state-secrets privilege and originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. 

Three residents of Southern California who practice Islam filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. district court against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They alleged that the FBI paid a confidential informant to surveil Muslims based solely on their religious identity for more than a year as part of a counterterrorism investigation and that the program included unlawful searches and anti-Muslim discrimination. The FBI asserted the state-secrets privilege and moved to dismiss the case. The district court dismissed all but one of the plaintiffs’ claims. On appeal, the 9th Circuit upheld in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings to review the case’s evidence for privilege.

To date, the court has accepted 19 cases for argument next term. Including FBI v. Fazaga, the court has granted review in four cases originating from the 9th Circuit. 

SCOTUS issues rulings in two cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued rulings in two cases. Sanchez v. Mayorkas was decided on Monday, June 7, and Borden v. United States was decided by the court on Thursday, June 10.

Sanchez v. Mayorkas concerned grants of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to non-citizens. In a unanimous ruling, SCOTUS upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling, holding that a TPS recipient who unlawfully entered the country is not eligible for lawful-permanent-resident (LPR) status solely based on their TPS grant. Justice Elena Kagan authored the court’s majority opinion. 

Borden v. United States concerned the “use of force” clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that a reckless offense cannot qualify as a “violent felony” if it only requires a mens rea of recklessness–a less culpable mental state than purpose or knowledge. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the court’s majority opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett.

To date, the court has decided 44 cases, and 21 are yet to be decided this term.

Senate confirms first Biden-appointed judges

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed three of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to Article III courts, marking the first federal judicial confirmations of the Biden administration. Two were confirmed on June 8, and one nominee was confirmed on June 10.

  • Julien Xavier Neals, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, by a 66-33 vote.
  • Regina Rodriguez, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, by a 72-28 vote.
  • Zahid Quraishi, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, by an 81-16 vote.

The three confirmed nominees were officially nominated by Biden on April 19 and had their nomination hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28. Each of the nominees was rated as well qualified by the American Bar Association.

The confirmed nominees will join their respective courts upon receiving their judicial commissions and taking their judicial oaths.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 53%, congressional approval at 26%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 53% approval and 41% disapproval as of June 11. At this time last month, his approval rating was also at 53%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. The lowest approval rating he has received is 51% on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 26%, and disapproval is at 60%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 30%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is 30%, last seen on May 11. The lowest approval rating it has received is 20%, last seen on March 3.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 42%, and congressional approval was at 18%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Demings announces run for U.S. Senate from Florida

U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D) officially announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate on June 9. Demings currently represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Marco Rubio (R) is Florida’s incumbent U.S. Senator who is up for election in 2022. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

Demings announced she was running in a three-minute video in which she discussed how her upbringing and experiences had given her “tireless faith that things can always get better.” Demings said in the video, “I have never tired of representing Florida. Not for one single moment.”

Demings first ran for Florida’s 10th Congressional District seat in 2012, losing to incumbent Daniel Webster (R), 51% to 48%. She ran again in 2016 to represent District 10 after Webster decided to run in the 11th District. Demings defeated Thuy Lowe (R), 65% to 35% in 2016. She was re-elected in 2018 and 2020.

Demings is the 12th member of the House of Representatives to announce they are retiring or seeking another office. Six of those are Democrats, and six are Republicans. Demings is one of four members who are seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Biden makes first overseas trip to Europe as president

President Joe Biden (D) began his first trip abroad as president on June 9 with a trip to the United Kingdom, where he met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the following day. Biden will remain overseas until June 16. Here’s the rest of his schedule:

  • June 11-13: Biden will attend the G7 summit and hold bilateral meanings with other G7 leaders. He will also meet with Queen Elizabeth II.
  • June 14: Biden will be in Brussels, meeting with NATO leaders and holding a private session with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
  • June 15: Biden will continue to attend NATO meetings before flying to Geneva.
  • June 16: Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 



The State and Local Tap: New Jersey, Virginia to hold statewide primaries June 8

The State and Local Tap

Our weekly summary of state & local news previews the statewide primaries in New Jersey and Virginia on June 8, municipal election runoffs taking place on June 5 in Texas, and updates to the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

New Jersey, Virginia to hold statewide primaries

New Jersey and Virginia will both hold statewide primaries on June 8. New Jersey will hold primaries for governor, state Senate, and state House. Virginia will hold Democratic primaries for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Both parties will hold primaries for seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in New Jersey and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Virginia. 

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces a write-in candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Murphy defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), 56% to 42%, in the 2017 general election to win his first term. Four candidates—Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh—are competing for the Republican nomination. All 40 seats in the New Jersey State Senate and all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly are up for election in 2021. Two local elections are also taking place, with Essex County holding a primary for county sheriff and Hudson County holding a primary for county register. 

In Virginia, five candidates are running in the Democratic primary for governor, six in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, and two in the Democratic primary for attorney general. Glenn Youngkin defeated six candidates in the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention on May 8 to become that party’s gubernatorial nominee. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election in 2021. The cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach will also hold municipal election primaries.

Voters in Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas to decide municipal runoff elections on June 5

The cities of Fort Worth, Arlington, and Dallas, Texas, will hold runoff elections for municipal offices on June 5. 

Fort Worth

Voters will decide between Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker in Fort Worth’s mayoral election. Incumbent Betsy Price (R), the longest-serving mayor in Fort Worth’s history, chose not to seek re-election to a sixth two-year term. Peoples and Parker advanced to the runoff after receiving 34% and 31% of the vote, respectively, in the city’s ten-way May 1 general election.

While mayoral elections in Fort Worth are nonpartisan, Peoples, an AT&T executive, was chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party before the mayoral election. Parker, an attorney and former city chief of staff, received endorsements from noteworthy Republicans, including Price and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Voters will also decide runoff elections in four city council races, two of which feature incumbents and two of which are open seats.

Arlington

Voters will decide between Mike Glaspie and Jim Ross in Arlington’s first open-seat mayoral election since 2003. Incumbent Jeff Williams (R) is term-limited. Glaspie and Ross advanced to the runoff after receiving the two largest vote totals in the seven-way May 1 general election. Ross placed first with 47.9% of the vote followed by Glaspie with 21.3%. 

While mayoral elections in Arlington are officially nonpartisan, the Arlington Spectator, a local blog, posted a spreadsheet showing that Glaspie had voted in two of the previous six Republican primaries and Ross had voted in two of the previous six Democratic primaries. The mayorship in Arlington has been held by Republicans since at least 2003, making it one of 25 of the country’s largest 100 cities led by a Republican mayor.

Dallas

Six of Dallas’ 14 city council seats advanced to runoff elections. Three races are for open seats and three feature an incumbent. During the May 1 general election, eight incumbents won re-election outright.

In Districts 2, 11, and 13, incumbent council members are not running for re-election due to term limits. Incumbents advanced to runoff elections in Districts 4, 7, and 14. 

Voters can remove signatures on Newsom recall petitions until June 8

Voters who signed a recall petition targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have until June 8 to request to have their signatures removed. 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 certified, 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 the 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 14 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.

Newsom was elected as California’s 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).

Ballot Measures Update

Twenty-five statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in six states so far.

Two new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week: 

Forty-seven statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 25 states so far.

One new measure was certified for the 2022 ballot last week: Louisiana Increase Maximum Amount Invested in Equities for Certain State Funds Amendment (2022).

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for three additional 2022 initiatives in California and Michigan.

Mike Hunter resigns as Oklahoma attorney general

Mike Hunter (R) resigned as attorney general of Oklahoma on June 1. Hunter cited “personal matters that are becoming public” as the reason for his resignation. The Oklahoman reported that Hunter allegedly had an affair with another state employee.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) appointed Hunter attorney general in 2017 after former state Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) was sworn in as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hunter was elected to a full term in 2018. 

The attorney general is an elected position in 43 states and the District of Columbia, including Oklahoma. When a vacancy occurs in the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, the governor appoints a successor to serve until the next election. 

Ohio, Rhode Island end face-covering mandates 

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) ended Ohio’s statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on June 2, along with most of the state’s other COVID-19 health orders. An order requiring masks at healthcare facilities and nursing homes, however, remains in effect. 

Governor Dan McKee (D) ended Rhode Island’s statewide outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on June 2. McKee did not revise or end the indoor mask mandate, which applies only to unvaccinated individuals as of May 18.  

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 15 states had statewide mask orders, including 13 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and two of the 27 states with Republican governors. Of those 15 states with statewide mask orders, at least 13 states exempted fully vaccinated residents from most indoor and outdoor masking requirements.

States in session

Seventeen states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Colorado Supreme Court strikes down proposed bill providing directions to state’s redistricting commissions

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on June 1 that Senate Bill (SB) 21-247, a bill that would have directed the state’s redistricting commissions “to take certain actions to account for census data delays,” would violate the state constitution. Specifically, SB 21-247 would have instructed the commissions to develop preliminary redistricting plans “using the data on the total population by state that will be released by the Census Bureau on April 30, 2021, and other population and demographic data from federal or state sources that are approved by the commissions.” 

The court ruled 5-2 on the matter, with Justice Monica Márquez writing the court’s opinion. Márquez noted that, because the constitutional amendments (Amendments Y and Z) forming the redistricting commissions did not require the “exclusive use of final census data,” the commissions were “thus free to consult other reliable sources of population data.” 

Special Elections

Thirty-eight state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 16 states so far this year. Twenty-seven special elections have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 13 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 14. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

June 8

June 12

June 15

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 state Senate did not take up her nomination for another term. Hughs previously served as the chair of the Texas Workforce Commission.

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. 

The Texas secretary of state serves as the chief election officer for Texas, assists election officials at the county level, and ensures that election laws are uniform throughout Texas. Additionally, the secretary publishes government rules and regulations and commissions notaries public. Texas is one of nine states to select its secretary of state by gubernatorial appointment. So far, Gov. Abbott has appointed four secretaries of state.

Maryland to end $300 pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits on July 3

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that Maryland would end its participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs, which included a $300 weekly add-on to state unemployment benefits, on July 3.  Hogan also said he would reinstate weekly work-search requirements starting July 4. 

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) was the first governor to announce on May 4 that his state would opt out of the federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits programs on June 30. Twenty-five states—all with Republican governors—have announced plans to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits related to COVID-19. Two states that have Republican governors have not announced an end to federal pandemic-related unemployment programs.

The American Rescue Plan, signed on March 11, 2021, extended federal unemployment benefit programs related to the coronavirus pandemic, including the federal government’s $300 per week add-on to state unemployment benefits, through Sept. 6, 2021.