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State Legislative Tracker: 27 special sessions this year and counting

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August 29, 2011

By Jackie Arthur

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This week's tracker features the monthly partisan count update, and a section dedicated to the results from last week's state legislative primary election in Virginia and the runoff elections in Mississippi.

Note: The State Legislative Tracker will not run on Labor Day, Monday, September 5. The Tracker will resume on September 12.

Partisan breakdown

As of August 29, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.93% of all seats while Democrats hold 45.28%%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 37 chambers.

The totals represent an increase of two Democratic and two Republican legislators from the August 1 tracker.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 3,321 44.98%
Republican state representatives 3,955 53.56%
Independent state representatives 68 0.93%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 11 0.15%
Vacancies 33 0.46%
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The partisan composition of state houses refers to which party holds the majority of seats in the state house or the lower level of each state legislature. Altogether, in the 49 state houses, there are 5,413 state representatives.

As of August 29, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 18 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers
  • Purple.png 1 chamber (Oregon)
See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Cumulative numbers

As of August 29, 2011 5,367 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,443 45.13%
Republican state representatives 2,924 54.02%
Independent state representatives 14 0.26%
Third party (and non-voting) representatives 9 0.17%
Vacancies 27 0.50%

Vacancies

There are 27 state house vacancies in 13 different states as of August 29, 2011. They are as follows:

State Vacancies
Alabama 2
Maine 1
Massachusetts 2
Missouri 4
New Hampshire 3
New Jersey 2
New York 6
Ohio 1
Oklahoma 1
South Carolina 2
Texas 1
Vermont 1
Wisconsin 1

Independents

There are 23 state representatives in 11 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of August 29, 2011. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 3 (Independent)
Maine 3 (2 non-voting Native American representatives, 1 Independent)
New Mexico 1 (Independent)
New York 1 (Independence Party of New York)
North Carolina 1 (Independent)
South Dakota 1 (Independent)
Tennessee 1 (Carter County Republican)
Vermont 8 (5 Vermont Progressive Party, 3 Independent)
Virginia 2 (Independent)
Wisconsin 1 (Independent)

The partisan composition of state senates refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate. Altogether, in the 50 state senates, there are 1,971 state senators.

As of August 1, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of August 1, 2011, 1,908 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state senators 875 44.39%
Republican state senators 1,033 52.41%
Non-partisan state senators 49 2.49%
Independent state senators 4 0.20%
Third Party state senators 2 0.10%
Vacancies 8 .41%

Vacancies

There are 8 state senate vacancies as of August 1, 2011.

State Vacancies
Florida 1
Georgia 1
Minnesota 2
Mississippi 1
North Dakota 1
Oklahoma 1
Washington 1

Independents

There are 6 state senators in 5 states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Representative as of August 1, 2011. They are as follows:

State Independents/Third Party
Alabama 1 (Independent)
Kentucky 1 (Independent)
Maine 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 2 (Vermont Progressive Party)

Sessions

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 29, 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.

One special session is scheduled to begin this week:

Special sessions scheduled to end this week:

Special sessions scheduled to begin next week:

So far this year, there have been 27 special sessions in 19 states.

In recess

As of August 29, 23 states' sessions are currently in recess:

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

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

Elections

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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, one legislative primary remains in Louisiana. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2, and Virginia held primaries on August 23.

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

Election results

Virginia

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

Last week, Virginia held its state legislative primary elections. 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[2] after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process.[3].[4]

Out of the 280 possible primaries (140 total seats, one primary per party, per seat) in Virginia, there were 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, faced a primary opponent. Norment and Howell both advanced to the general election.

House

The total number of contested primaries has remained low from 2009 to 2011.

Comparing Contested Primaries in Past VA House Elections
Democrats Republicans Total
2009 2011 2009 2011 2009 2011
Open contested 6 1 3 5 9 6
Incumbent contested 2 1 0 0 2 1
Total contested 8 2 3 5 11 7

There are a total of 100 districts in the Virginia House of Delegates, meaning that normally there would be 200 primaries. However, some districts use a caucus or convention rather than a primary to decide which candidate to send to the general election. 39 out of the 200 potential primaries decided on a candidate this way, leaving 161 which used primaries. Of these 161 primaries, only 7 were contested (4.3%).

The following district/party combinations did not use a primary.

Democratic Party Democrats: Districts 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 25, 31, 32, 33, 50, 51, 56, 57, 59, 67, 72, 73, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 98

Republican Party Republicans: Districts 1, 3, 15, 26, 47, 59, 64, 75, 88

Senate

The total number of contested primaries has remained low from 2007 to 2011.

Comparing Contested Primaries in Past VA Senate Elections
Democrats Republicans Total
2007 2011 2007 2011 2007 2011
Open contested 2 2 2 6 4 8
Incumbent contested 1 0 4 1 5 1
Total contested 3 2 6 7 9 9

There are a total of 40 districts in the Virginia State Senate, meaning that normally there would be 80 primaries. However, some districts use a caucus or convention rather than a primary to decide which candidate to send to the general election. 17 out of the 80 potential primaries decide on a candidate this way, leaving 63 which use primaries. Of these 63 primaries, only 9 are contested (14.3%).

The following district/party combinations do not use a primary.

Democratic Party Democrats: Districts 7, 12, 13, 15, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 38, 39

Republican Party Republicans: Districts 6, 17, 25, 29, 38, 40

Mississippi

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

Mississippi held primary runoffs for several state house and senate seats last week.

State Senate

The following six districts required a runoff election on August 23 to select which candidate advanced to the general election. The runoff winner is bolded.[5][6][7]

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

State House

The following four districts required a runoff election on August 23 to select which candidate advanced to the general election. The runoff winner is bolded.[8]

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

Special elections

One special election is set to take place this week in South Carolina.

South Carolina House District 10

Representative Daniel Cooper (R) resigned in April (effective June 29). The 20-year veteran of the house explained that he wanted to spend more time with his family. A special election will be held on August 30 with a special election primary on July 12.[9] Joshua Putnam won the Republican nomination after the primary and a primary runoff elections.[10] Putnam lost a narrow primary election against Cooper in 2010.

Republican Party Republican Candidates:
  • Joshua Putnam
  • Mark Powell
  • Charles Hamp Johnson
  • Mike Jones
  • Joe Mills
  • Eric McConnell
Constitution Party Constitution Party Candidate:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

External links

References