State Legislative Tracker:Georgia continues special redistricting session, Wisconsin ends recall season

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August 22, 2011

By Jackie Arthur

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This week's tracker features a spotlight on the legislative efforts currently taking place to reform recall law in the badger state, and an update on last week's Democratic recall elections.


So far this year, 43 out of 50 state legislatures have officially adjourned their regular session. This week, no states are scheduled to adjourn their 2011 regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of August 22, 2011

Regular sessions

The following 7 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

* California and Wisconsin are both convened in ongoing special sessions, but are still in regular session. Wisconsin will be in recess until September 13.
** New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania are in recess.
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.

Special sessions

Special sessions have been and are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. This week California, Georgia, and Wisconsin continue ongoing special sessions.

Special sessions that ended last week:

West Virginia's special session wrapped up Sunday after Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement on an apportionment plan for the House of Delegates. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) has approved the state Senate and congressional redistricting plans passed in the previous special session.[1] Last week's special session was the legislature's second redistricting special session this year.

Special sessions scheduled to adjourn this week:

Today, Georgia state legislators released the proposed U.S congressional district map, containing the newly created U.S. House Congressional District 14. D14 spans most of Northwest Georgia and trails south to include Polk, Haralson and Paulding counties. The new district also shifted District 9 east, pushing it to extend to the South Carolina state line. The new district was created as a result of a population boom in northern Georgia.[2]

No special sessions are scheduled to begin this week.

In recess

As of August 22, 24 states' sessions are currently in recess:

  • Alaska - Mid-term recess April 18 through January 16, 2012[3]
  • Delaware - July 1, 2011 through January 10, 2012[3]
  • Georgia - Mid-term recess April 15 through January 8, 2012[3]
  • Hawaii - Mid-term recess May 6 through January 7, 2012[3]
  • Illinois - June 23 through October 24, 2011 (est.)[3]

  • Iowa - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 8, 2012[3]
  • Kansas - Mid-term recess June 1 through January 8, 2012[3]
  • Maine - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 3, 2012 (est.)[3]
  • Minnesota - Mid-term recess May 24 through January 23, 2012[3]
  • Nebraska - Mid-term recess May 27 through January 3, 2012[3]
  • New Hampshire - Summer recess June 30 through September 6, 2011[3]

Sessions spotlight


In light of the recent recall elections in Wisconsin, our spotlight this week focuses on the beginnings of attempted changes to the recall process in the badger state, and an update on the final round of Wisconsin recalls that took place last week.

Wisconsin: In the wake of the recent recall elections, some Wisconsinites are trying to prevent what they categorize to be a costly and dramatic ordeal from happening again so easily. To date, the Government Accountability Board and state taxpayers spent $88,300 to facilitate the recalls, while estimates for private party spending continues to climb to near the $40 million mark.[4][5]

On August 10, Wisconsin Assemblyman Robin Vos (R) announced his intent to draft legislation that would amend the Wisconsin Constitution to clarify the reasons for recall.[4] In a quote given to the Wisconsin Reporter, Vos said, "Losing an election does not mean you count down days until you can recall somebody," and that "despising someone should not rise to the level of a recallable offense."[6]

In his press release, Vos said, "No longer should taxpayer dollars be wasted on unnecessary recall elections that were triggered by a vote that some special interest group didn’t like. It undermines our democracy and wastes precious taxpayer dollars that are needed elsewhere."[4]

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), a business association with about 4,000 members, has recently thrown its support behind Vos' efforts. A statement on the organization's website outlined the group's position. "As we all know, uncertainty and political instability are not good for job creation. That’s why WMC will be supporting recall reform in Wisconsin."[7]

Among those opposing the idea is Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca. Barca issued the following statement in an August press release:[8]

"Floating this constitutional amendment the day after successful recall elections that held legislators accountable appears to indicate that Republicans are frightened that future actions to hold them accountable will also be successful. We must encourage and build on the amazing outpouring of public involvement in democracy that we have seen this year."

According to Article 13, section 12, the state constitution gives only these stipulations for recall:

  • Legislators must have served at least one year to be eligible for recall
  • To initiate a recall against a legislator, a recall petition needs to be signed by electors equaling at least twenty-five percent of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last preceding election, in the state, county or district which the incumbent represents

Presently, there is no requirement for state level recall petitions to declare a reason why the targeted legislator should be recalled. A reason is currently required at the local level. Vos' amendment would seek to unify the state and local requirements, thereby incorporating into state recall law a mandate requiring petitions to include a valid reason for recall.[4]

Vos is scheduled to introduce the constitutional amendment during the fall legislative session. It is intended to be the first piece of bi-partisan legislation introduced this September.[4] In order to become law, a Constitutional amendment must pass two sessions of the Legislature and be approved in a statewide referendum.

Recall results update
In the final installment of the Wisconsin state senate recall elections, both Democratic incumbents retained their seats, maintaining the razor-thin Republican majority.

Wisconsin State Senate Partisan Breakdown Before and After the 2011 Recalls
Party As of August 1, 2011 After the August Recalls
     Democratic Party 14 16
     Republican Party 19 17
Total 33 33

Democrats Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch triumphed over their challengers by double-digit margins in the August 16 election. Holperin defeated challenger Kim Simac, a tea party organizer, and Wirch defeated Jonathan Steitz, a corporate attorney.

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

District 12

August 16 Recall - District 12[9]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Holperin (D) Green check mark transparent.png 30,450 55.12%
Kim Simac (R) 24,682 44.67%
Scattering 110 0.19%

District 22

August 16 Recall - District 22[10]
Candidates Votes Percent
Robert Wirch (D) Green check mark transparent.png 25,524 57.35%
Jonathan Steitz (R) 19,662 42.51%
Brian Harwood (Write-in) 23 .05%
Scattering 42 .09%


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A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011.

In this year's 2011 election cycle, two state legislative primaries remain in Louisiana and Virginia. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, and Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2.

Upcoming elections

See also: Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2011 and Virginia State Senate elections, 2011

Tomorrow, Virginia will hold its state legislative primary. Mississippi will hold primary runoffs for several state house and senate seats. Virginia's signature filing deadline was June 15. Virginia's primary was rescheduled to August 23, 2011 instead of its usual date of June 14, 2011[11] after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process.[12].[13]

Out of the 280 possible primaries (140 total seats, one primary per party, per seat) tomorrow in Virginia, there are only 16 contested races on the ballot. Only two incumbents -- Thomas Norment, a Republican from Senate District 3, and Algie Howell, a Democrat from House District 9, face a primary opponent tomorrow.

The next state with a signature filing deadline in 2011 is Louisiana on September 8.

Mississippi runoffs

See also: Mississippi State Senate elections, 2011, Mississippi House of Representatives elections, 2011, Mississippi gubernatorial election, 2011 and Mississippi down ballot state executive elections, 2011

Despite some clear wins on August 2, an August 23 runoff election will be held for three state executive offices -- Governor, Treasurer and Public Service Commission -- as well as 10 state legislative districts in which no one candidate earned more than 50% of the vote.


Current Governor Haley Barbour is prevented by term limits from running again, and there are a number of candidates eager to take his place.

Democratic Party Democratic candidates
Gubernatorial Democratic Primary election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party ApprovedaJohnny DuPree 43.5%
     Democratic Party ApprovedaBill Luckett, Jr. 39.2%
     Democratic Party William Bond Compton, Jr. 9.8%
     Democratic Party Guy Dale Shaw 7.3%
Total Votes 412,530

The following candidates have already advanced to the general election.

Republican Party Republican candidate
Independent Independent candidates
Reform candidates


See also: Mississippi down ballot state executive elections, 2011

Tate Reeves, the current Mississippi State Treasurer, is a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi in 2011. Republicans Lee Yancey and Lynn Smith will compete in an August 23 primary runoff for the right to face Democrat Connie Moran in the November 8 general contest.

Republican Party Republican Candidates
Treasurer -- Republican primary results
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party ApprovedaLynn Fitch 38%
     Republican Party ApprovedaLee Yancey 34%
     Republican Party Lucien Smith 29%
Total Votes 269,726

State Senate

The following races are runoffs tomorrow.

Republican Party Josh Harkins vs. Knox Ross
Republican Party Charles Barbour vs. William Longwitz
Republican Party Bill Boerner vs. Sally Doty
Republican Party Sidney Albritton vs. Angela Hill
Republican Party Phillip Gandy vs. Connie Wilkerson
Republican Party Mickey Lagasse vs. Philip Moran

State House

The following races are runoffs tomorrow.

Democratic Party James Nunnally vs. Jody Steverson.
Democratic Party Don Randolph vs. Billy Gray.
Republican Party Roger Ishee vs. Greg Haney.
Democratic Party Sonya Williams-Barnes vs. Richard Marsh.

Special elections

No special elections are set to take place this week.

Last week, two special elections took place in Georgia and Maine.

Georgia runoff results

Georgia Senate District 26, Runoff Election

Robert Brown (D) announced his resignation in May, 2011 in order to seek the office of Macon Mayor.[14] The special election for State Senate District 26 took place in Twiggs County and portions of Bibb, Houston and Wilkinson Counties. The election was a nonpartisan special election with an open primary. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election was held on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.[15]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidates:
Republican Party Republican Candidate:

Maine results

Maine House District 121

Cynthia Dill (D) was elected to the Maine State Senate in a 2011 special election.[18] A special election was held to replace her on August 16, 2011.[19]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidate:
Republican Party Republican Candidate:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

External links


  1. Statescape, Session Updates, accessed Aug. 22, 2011
  2., New House district wraps up Northwest Georgia, Aug. 22, 2011
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 StateScape, Session schedules, accessed Aug. 8, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Robin Vos' press release, Aug. 10, 2011
  5. Appleton Post Crescent, Spending in Wisconsin Senate recalls climbs quickly, Aug. 20, 2011 (dead link)
  6. Wisconsin, WMC, others push recall reform, Aug. 17, 2011
  7. WMC, Wisconsin Needs Recall Reform, accessed Aug. 22, 2011 (dead link)
  8. Wisconsin State Assembly, Rep. Barca: Statement on Rep. Vos’ recall bill, Aug. 11, 2011
  9. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 12 recall election results," accessed August 26, 2011
  10. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 22 recall election results," accessed August 26, 2011
  11. Ballot Access News, "Virginia House Passes Bill Moving 2011 Primary from June to August," January 20, 2011 (dead link)
  12. Virginia General Assembly, "History of House Bill 1507 (2011)"
  13. Virginia Public Access Project, "Update:Primaries to be held August 23," January 30, 2011
  14. Macon Examiner, "James Beverly, Anissa Jones qualify for Macon's House District 139 seat," June 20, 2011
  15. Secretary of State News, "Secretary of State Kemp Sets Qualifying Dates for the Special Elections in State Senate District 26 and State House District 139," June 10, 2011
  16., "Paris defeats Lucas handily in Senate runoff," August 17, 2011
  17., "Lucas, Paris headed for runoff in state Senate race," July 19, 2011
  18., Dill Wins District 7 Election, May 11, 2011
  19. ME Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions, "Upcoming Elections," accessed August 9, 2011
  20. The Portland Daily Sun, "Monaghan-Derrig wins special election for legislative seat," August 16, 2011 (dead link)