State Legislative Tracker: 27 special sessions this year and counting
By Jackie Arthur
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.
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|
|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%|
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:
- 18 chambers
- 29 chambers
- 1 chamber (Oregon)
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
As of August 29, 2011 5,367 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.
|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%|
There are 27 state house vacancies in 13 different states as of August 29, 2011. They are as follows:
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:
|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)|
As of August 1, 2011, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:
- See also: Partisan composition of state houses
As of August 1, 2011, 1,908 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.
|Democratic state senators||875||44.39%|
|Republican state senators||1,033||52.41%|
|Nonpartisan state senators||49||2.49%|
|Independent state senators||4||0.20%|
|Third Party state senators||2||0.10%|
There are 8 state senate vacancies as of August 1, 2011.
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:
|Rhode Island||1 (Independent)|
|Vermont||2 (Vermont Progressive Party)|
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 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:
- September 2 - Mississippi
Special sessions scheduled to end this week:
- September 2 - Georgia
Special sessions scheduled to begin next week:
So far this year, there have been 27 special sessions in 19 states.
As of August 29, 23 states' sessions are currently in recess:
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.
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 after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process..
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.
|Comparing Contested Primaries in Past VA House Elections|
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.
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
Republicans: Districts 1, 3, 15, 26, 47, 59, 64, 75, 88
|Comparing Contested Primaries in Past VA Senate Elections|
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.
Democrats: Districts 7, 12, 13, 15, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 38, 39
Republicans: Districts 6, 17, 25, 29, 38, 40
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.
- District 4 Results still unavailable
- District 13 Results still unavailable
One special election is set to take place this week in South Carolina.
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. Joshua Putnam won the Republican nomination after the primary and a primary runoff elections. Putnam lost a narrow primary election against Cooper in 2010.
- Joshua Putnam
Mark Powell Charles Hamp Johnson Mike Jones Joe Mills Eric McConnell
- Constitution Party Candidate:
Upcoming special elections include:
- September 6 - New Hampshire House, Rockingham 14.
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed Aug. 8, 2011
- Ballot Access News, "Virginia House Passes Bill Moving 2011 Primary from June to August," January 20, 2011 (dead link)
- Virginia General Assembly, "History of House Bill 1507 (2011)"
- Virginia Public Access Project, "Update:Primaries to be held August 23," January 30, 2011
- Clarion Ledger, "Longwitz, Harkins apparent winners in GOP Senate races," August 23, 2011
- WDAM "Election 2011 Runoff Results," August 23, 2011
- Sun Herald, "Legislative incumbents toppled," August 23, 2011
- Sun Herald, "Legislative incumbents toppled," August 23, 2011
- Anderson Independent Mail, "Republicans field six candidates for Cooper seat," May 23, 2011
- Independent Mail, "Joshua Putnam wins Republican runoff in House District 10," July 26, 2011