State Legislative Tracker: 2013 Competitiveness Analysis

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July 15, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at the competitiveness of the 2013 state legislative elections.

Weekly highlight

Last week, Maine and Oregon ended their legislative sessions. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Illinois: Last week Governor Pat Quinn (D) announced that Illinois state lawmakers would not be receiving another paycheck until the legislature found a fix to the growing debt from the public employee pension plan. The day before Quinn's announcement, the Illinois General Assembly ignored a deadline put forth by Quinn to pass the bill on pension reform. The state's debt from the pension plan has reached $100 billion because of "high borrowing costs, low credit ratings, and money being squeezed from social services." Quinn used his line-item veto power on a budget bill to eliminate lawmakers' pay for August 1st from the budget. Quinn's veto will trim $13.8 million from the budget by eliminating salaries and stipends for state lawmakers. Until a deal is reached, Quinn has voluntarily suspended his own pay. Judy Baar Topinka, the state comptroller, questioned the legality of Quinn's budget cut. She promised to complete a legal review on Quinn's action before the scheduled date that lawmakers are supposed to receive their paychecks. Rep. Mike Smiddy (D) and other lawmakers were not surprised by Quinn's action, and had known for weeks that this could happen if the legislature did not find a solution to the pension debt problem. Quinn hopes that this act will force state lawmakers to find a quick solution to the problem.[1][2][3]
  • Maine: The Maine State Legislature voted on a long series of bills this week in an attempt to override vetoes by Governor Paul LePage (R) before the end of the legislative session. LePage vetoed a record number of bills, 83 in total, this legislative session. The Democratic legislature failed to override many of those vetoes, including laws gradually increasing the minimum wage, requiring police to obtain warrants before using surveillance drone aircraft, making changes to health insurance laws, increasing penalties and ownership restrictions for those who commit animal cruelty, and increasing fees for snowmobiles to maintain trails. The legislature did successfully override two of the dozens of bills they considered during Tuesday's marathon. The first requires police to obtain a warrant from a judge before accessing information about an individual's location using cellular phone records or other GPS devices from a company, and notifying the individual within three days of accessing the information that their records were examined. This new law makes Maine the second state, after Montana, to enact a cellular phone privacy bill. The second bill passed by the legislature over LePage's veto funds a group, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Council, that helps high school and college students pursue math, science, and technical careers. Of LePage's 83 vetoes this session, five have been overridden, including a substantial energy bill and the state budget. LePage was elected in the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of both the Maine State House and the State Senate. However, the 2012 elections swept the Democrats back into power. LePage is finishing his first four-year term.[4][5][6][7][8]
  • Missouri: Last week, the Missouri legislature began hearings on the possible expansion of Medicaid in preparation for the next legislative session. The first senate hearing on Tuesday, held at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, saw 22 witnesses give testimony, forming a consensus in support of reform and expansion with an emphasis on the latter. Statewide house hearings got off to a rockier start on Wednesday in Independence, with supporters crying foul after arriving around 4 p.m. only to find an empty room, even as the hearing was advertised as running from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Apart from several experts whose appearances were arranged in advance, only one witness from the general public gave testimony before the meeting was adjourned after three and a half hours. Todd Appleby, executive vice president of Local 6360 of the Communication Workers of America, charged Rep. Noel Torpey (R), chair of the working group, with misleading potential witnesses. Torpey apologized, saying that he wanted to give the option for people to testify closer to home rather than at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, and offering the option for witnesses who missed out to submit written or audiovisual testimony. He clarified that Tuesday's hearing in Springfield could also end early should there be a lack of turnout. An expansion proposal put forth by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) with the federal health insurance law in mind was rejected by the legislature earlier this year.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]
  • Oregon: Oregon's legislature approved a measure that would make the state's public universities free of cost for students in exchange for an average of three percent of their income over twenty-four years. This is the first "Pay It Forward" program in the nation, and a pilot program is expected to take place in 2015. As part of the bill, a Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) will be created to oversee the state's higher education program starting in July 2014. This function is currently performed by three different government organizations, which will all come under HECC's control. Some officials who are critical of the legislation are unsure where the estimated $9 billion in initial costs for the program will come from. Forty percent of Oregonians earn college diplomas, but lawmakers believe that number needs to double by 2025 and hope this pioneering Pay It Forward program will aid that. Legislators feel that such a program will allow students to enter college programs without needed to take on debt, which has become an increasing problem across the country. The bill is currently awaiting the signature of Gov. John Kitzhaber (D).[16][17][18]

2013 Primary Competitiveness

The following is a breakdown of the competitiveness in the 2013 state legislative elections:

  • In 206 (93.6%) of the 220 seats up for election on November 5, the incumbent is running for re-election.
  • Of the 206 incumbents running for re-election, only 15 (7.3%) faced a primary challenger.
  • 2 (13.3%) of the incumbents facing a primary challenge were defeated, or 1.0% of the 206 total incumbents running.
  • Of the 220 total seats up for election, 58 (26.4%) have only one major party candidate. This breaks down to 2 of 40 (5.0%) in state senates and 56 of 180 (31.1%) in state houses.

Click here to read the full report.


Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of July 15, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 6 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. Three states: California, Texas, and Washington are meeting in special session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[19]

The following states have ended their regular session:[20]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Friday, May 22, 2015
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,171 (42.9%)
Total Republican state legislators 4,114 (55.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 40
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 2
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 43
Total Special Sessions 9

There is one special sessions ongoing this week in Texas, as California is in recess. The West Virginia State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 17 to finish remaining business from the regular session.[21] The Mississippi State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 26 to approve incentives for a foreign tire maker to open a plant in the state.[22] The Arizona State Legislature held a brief special session this week concurrently with the end of their regular session, primarily to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion.[23][24] Mississippi held a two-day special session to approve Medicaid funding and reauthorization.[25]


Governor Rick Perry (R) called the legislature back into special session to work on an abortion bill after Sen. Wendy Davis (D) led an 11-hour filibuster to prevent its passing in time for the close of the first special session. Also affected by the filibuster and expected to be discussed are bills relating to transportation and juvenile justice.[26]

In recess

As of today, July 15, there are 4 state legislatures currently in recess:[27]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 140 out of 142 (98.6%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps ordered redrawn: TX)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, TX)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)
See also: Status of redistricting maps after the 2010 census

While the great majority of states have completed their redistricting following the 2010 census, the issue still remains for a handful of states. Maine and Montana are not required to have their maps completed until 2014. Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

A total of 3 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 5, 2013.

The 3 chambers with elections in 2013 are in 2 states. They are:

Louisiana and Mississippi also typically hold elections in odd years. However, legislators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

40 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2013, and 180 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 220 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 5, 2013.

Signature filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines were as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • April 1, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 4, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 100 voters in the legislative district. Candidates are required to disclose any criminal convictions.[28]

  • Virginia:
  • March 28, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 11, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters in the legislative district. Major party candidates are required to submit a primary filing fee equal to 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. In 2013, the primary filing fee was $352.80.[29]


The state primaries were as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013


New Jersey had a quiet election, with all competing incumbents winning their primaries.

There were only three hotly contested races, all in the Senate, but none resulted in the ousting of an incumbent:[30]

Republican PartyDistrict 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
Democratic PartyDistrict 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
Democratic PartyDistrict 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..

Virginia experienced two upsets in an otherwise quiet day of primaries for the House of Delegates. Voter turnout was expected to fall below 5 percent based on projections at polling locations.[31]

Virginia's legislative primaries yielded a pair of defeats for incumbent legislators. The defeated incumbents were supporters of a recently passed transportation bill that increases sales and gas taxes to improve roadways.[32][33] The successful challengers lodged primary challenges in part to protest the bill's passage, which they called the biggest tax increase in the state's history.[34]

Republican Party Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
Republican Party Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.

Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in Tuesday's primaries:

Republican Party C. Todd Gilbert defeated Mark W. Prince in District 15.
Republican Party Bill Howell defeated Craig E. Ennis in District 28.
Republican Party Bobby Orrock defeated Dustin R. Curtis in District 54.
Democratic Party Roz Dance defeated Evandra D. Thompson in District 63.
Democratic Party Algie Howell defeated Richard James in District 90.
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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is no special election taking place this week. The next one is scheduled for July 23 in California.

Recent results

June 25, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Massachusetts House of Representatives 8th Suffolk
Shortly after being sworn in for a 5th term, Martha Walz (D) announced she was resigning to head the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. A special election was called for June 25.[35] A primary took place on May 28, which Jay D. Livingstone won. Livingstone was unopposed in the special election on June 25. Candidates had until April 23 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[36][37][38]

June 25 Special election candidates:

Democratic Party Jay D. Livingstone Green check mark transparent.png

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Kentucky House of Representatives District 56
Rep. Carl Rollins, II (D) resigned on April 24 to take a job with the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. A special election was called for June 25. Candidates were chosen by party leaders instead of in primaries.[39][40][41][42]

June 25 General election candidates:

Democratic Party James L. Kay II Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Lyen Crews
Independent John-Mark Hack

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 23: California State Senate District 16
  • July 23: California State Assembly District 52
  • August 6: Virginia State Senate District 14
  • August 6: New York House of Representatives District 86
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District

See also


  1. "Chicago Tribune," "Quinn hits lawmakers 'in the wallet' as pension dispute simmers," July 11, 2013
  2. "Huffington Post," "Pat Quinn Pay Freeze: Lawmakers React After Illinois Governor Pulls Harsh -- And Maybe Illegal -- Move ," July 11, 2013
  3. "New York Times," "Illinois: Lawmakers May Miss Payday," July 11, 2013
  4. The Portland Press Herald, "Override bids leave most LePage vetoes standing," July 10, 2013
  5. MPBN, "Maine Lawmakers Fail to Override Most of Governor's Vetoes," July 9, 2013
  6. Bangor Daily News, "LePage wins most ‘veto rampage’ votes, but loses on cellphone privacy, STEM bills," July 10, 2013
  7. The Associated Press, "Maine lawmakers sustain most of LePage's vetoes," July 9, 2013 (dead link)
  8. WMTW, "Democrats, governor battle over last-minute vetoes," July 9, 2013
  9. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Medicaid studies kick off with marathon hearings this week," July 9, 2013
  10. Missourinet, "Senate Committee Told, 'Expand, Improve Medicaid,'" July 10, 2013
  11. Associated Press, "Panel hears pleas to expand Missouri's Medicaid program," July 10, 2013
  12. The Missouri Times, "Senate hearing continues Medicaid expansion debate," July 10, 2013
  13. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Advocates of Medicaid expansion say they were misled on hearing," July 11, 2013
  14. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Hearing on Medicaid draws little interest in KC area"
  15. Associated Press, "Mo. House Medicaid group to include 50 members," July 2, 2013 (dead link)
  16., "Oregon Legislature passes tuition-free higher education," July 5, 2013
  17., "Akron Students React to Oregon’s Higher Education Bill," July 5, 2013
  18., "Oregon higher education stands to get powerful new overseer," April 14, 2013
  19. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed July 15, 2013
  20. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed July 15, 2013
  21. West Virginia Legislature, "2013 1st Special Session," accessed June 1, 2013
  22., "Mississippi lawmakers pass incentives for tire maker," April 26, 2013
  23. Arizona Capitol Times, "Lawmakers prepare to adjourn as Medicaid expansion moves toward approval," June 11, 2013
  24. The Associated Press, "Arizona Senate ends special session after passing GOP Gov. Brewer’s budget, Medicaid expansion," June 12, 2013
  25., "Bryant calls Medicaid special session for Thursday (updated)," June 24, 2013
  26., "Perry calls lawmakers back to work on abortion bill," June 27, 2013 (dead link)
  27., "Daily Session Summary," accessed June 24, 2013 (dead link)
  28. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013 (dead link)
  29. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  30., "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  31. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  32. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  33., "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  34. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  35. Boston Globe, "State Rep. Martha Walz to lead Planned Parenthood," January 30, 2013
  36., "Dates set for special election to replace state Rep. Marty Walz," February 7, 2013
  37., "Special State Primary Candidates - Eighth Suffolk State Representative District," accessed May 14, 2013
  38., " Where Do I Vote on Beacon Hill Today?," June 25, 2013 (dead link)
  39., "Special Election First Test Of Military Voting Law," April 28, 2013
  40., "Democrats choose Woodford party leader to run for vacant Central Kentucky House seat," April 29, 2013
  41., "Kentucky Republicans choose Lyen Crews to run in special election for House 56th District seat," May 1, 2013
  42., "Democrat wins special House election in Kentucky," June 25, 2013