Welcome to Wednesday, September 22nd, Brew. This is what awaits you at the start of the day:
- Preview of this year’s battlefield elections
- Your help is needed today
- Three special elections are already planned in the states for 2022
Preview of this year’s battlefield elections
Election day 2021 is less than six weeks away! In yesterday’s edition we looked at the 999 elections in Ballotpedia’s coverage area on November 2nd, 2021. Today we will focus on the 25 elections that we have identified as battlefields.
Ballotpedia refers to elections, which we expect to have a significant impact on the political balance of power, as battlefields. Few elections have more potential to change the balance of power in the state government than those for Trifecta offices. A trifecta of the state government exists if the governor’s party also controls the majorities in both chambers of the state parliament. This year we have identified three choices for the Trifecta office as battlegrounds:
Virginia Governor: Virginia’s unique constitutional ban on governors serving consecutive terms means there is never an incumbent on the ballot. The Democrats have held a trifecta in Virginia since winning a majority in both houses of the state legislature in 2019. Between 1977 and 2009, the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election won the Virginia gubernatorial election. This trend was broken when Terry McAuliffe (D) was elected governor in 2013, one year after the re-election of Barack Obama (D).
This year McAuliffe, Glenn Youngkin (R), Princess Blanding (Liberation) and Paul Davis (I) are in the running. A victory for McAuliffe would preserve Virginia’s Democratic trifecta if the party also retained its legislative majority, and a victory for Youngkin would break it regardless of the results of the general election. Two election forecasting agencies say the race is leaning towards McAuliffe and a third says he is likely to win.
Virginia House of Representatives: Also this year, all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Representatives have risen. The Democrats hold a 55-45 majority, making this the first election year since 1999 when the Virginia Democrats held a majority in the state house. The party that won last year’s presidential election has lost seats in five of the seven years since the presidential election since 1993.
In 2019, the Democrats flipped six seats to gain control of the Chamber, which was under a Republican majority of 51-49. In the 2017 election, the Democrats swapped 15 seats, with control of the chamber limited to pulling straws.
If Republicans win a majority this year, they will break the Democratic trifecta regardless of the results of the gubernatorial elections. If the Democrats keep their majority and win the gubernatorial elections, they will keep their trifecta. There are no vacancies in the Virginia Senate.
New Jersey Governor: Incumbents Phil Murphy (D), Jack Ciattarelli (R), Madelyn Hoffman (G), Gregg Mele (L) and Joanne Kuniansky (Socialist Workers) are running for governor of New Jersey. Although New Jersey holds elections for both houses of state legislatures, Democrats are expected to retain their majorities, meaning New Jersey’s Trifecta status will likely stem from the gubernatorial elections.
Murphy was first elected in 2017, defeating Kim Guadagno (R) 56.0% to 41.9%. Two election forecasters say the race is firmly anchored in Murphy’s column, while a third says Murphy is likely to win. No Democrat has been re-elected as governor of New Jersey since Brendan Byrne (D) in 1977.
Our choice of political battlefields isn’t limited to Trifecta offices; Here is a selection of some of the other races we’ll be watching this November:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court: One of the seven seats in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is up for election this year. Pennsylvania State Supreme Court justices are elected in partisan elections. Currently, five members of the court have been elected Democrats, one has been elected Republican, and one has been appointed by a Democratic governor.
The post up for election is currently being held by Chief Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who will retire on December 31 after reaching the statutory retirement age. Maria McLaughlin (D) and Kevin Brobson (R) stand for a term of 10 years.
Mayor of Boston: Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George are running in the non-partisan election for Boston Mayor. Political observers describe the conflict between the two city council members as ideological, Wu is running as progressive and Essaibi George as moderate. The winner becomes the first woman and the first black person to be elected mayor of Boston.
Seattle City Attorney: Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are in the running for office after incumbent Pete Holmes is out of the non-partisan primary. Both have pledged to change Holmes’ course on law enforcement.
Davison, who ran for lieutenant governor as Republican in 2020, said she will step up the city’s law enforcement efforts and prosecute more criminal offenses. Thomas-Kennedy said it will put an end to the prosecution of crimes as these crimes were often committed by individuals facing other social problems such as poverty and addiction.
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Three special elections to parliament in the states are already planned for 2022
Election day 2021 is just around the corner, but the special election calendar never ends. Ballotpedia is pursuing three special elections in the states that have already been scheduled for 2022.
The three options include two in Alabama and one in Massachusetts. Two are for Democratic-held seats and one for a Republican-held seat. Here’s more about each:
Massachusetts (January 11): On January 11, following a primary scheduled for December 14, 2021, special elections will be held to fill the position that opened after the resignation of Senator Joseph Boncore (D) to accept a position in the private sector. The First Suffolk & Middlesex District last had a competitive parliamentary election in 2012. That year incumbent Anthony Petruccelli (D) defeated Thomas Dooley, III (R) 81.6% to 18.4%. No candidates have been submitted yet.
Alabama (February 1): Special elections will be held on February 1 to fill the post opened after State Representative Bill Poole (R) stepped down to take up his post as director of the Alabama Treasury. The 63rd State House District of Alabama last had a competitive general election in 2010. That year, Poole defeated Susan Pace Hamill (D) 63.8% to 36.2%. The only candidate to have signed up for the special election so far is Cynthia Almond (R), although smaller party and independent candidates have until October 19.
Alabama (March 1): Alabama’s second special parliamentary election of the year will be held on March 1st to fill the vacancy due to the death of State Representative Thad McClammy (D). Alabama’s 76th State House District has had no contested general election since at least 2006. The party’s only big candidate was McClammy’s daughter, Patrice McClammy (D). Smaller parties and independent candidates have until November 16 to submit their application.
So far, 64 parliamentary elections have taken place in 2021 or are planned for this year. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections to the state parliament took place every year. Several of this year’s elections (27) were convened after the incumbent stepped down to either accept another elected or appointed office, or run for another office.
Two of the elections so far this year have resulted in partial control of the change of seat. The Democrats picked up a seat from the Republicans in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, while the Republicans got a seat from the Democrats in the Connecticut Senate.