State Legislative Tracker: Indiana senator calls for Article V convention

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November 4, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a partisan count update and a look at one state senator's call for an Article V convention.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no state ended its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Arizona: A vote by Arizona State Senate Democrats this week to change up leadership revealed a rift within the minority party. In an 8-5 vote on October 29, the minority party caucus ousted Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor as State Senate Minority Leader in favor of Sen. Anna Tovar, who served as State Senate Minority Whip during the 2013 legislative session. The decision drew a heated reaction from several party members with Sens. Taylor, Linda Lopez, David Bradley, Olivia Cajero Bedford and Barbara McGuire reportedly storming from the room following the vote. The eight remaining caucus members then picked Sen. Lynne Pancrazi to serve as State Senate Assistant Minority Leader and Sen. Steve Gallardo as State Senate Minority Whip. Following the meeting, Taylor — who is exploring a run for Arizona Secretary of State in 2014 — expressed shock over her removal. The 13-member caucus had met with the purpose of replacing Lopez, who resigned her post as State Senate Assistant Minority Leader in order to focus on new job responsibilities. Taylor said the caucus had no cause to remove her from the minority leader position, adding that the vote was “the most blatant, racist, disrespectful move I’ve ever seen in my life.” According to Gallardo, who opened up the floor to elect a new minority leader, the decision wasn't personal, " was just about the caucus wanting to go in a different direction." Tovar refuted Taylor's comments about the vote being over race. “I feel sorry she feels that way, because that is definitely not the case. If you look at me I’m a female and I’m a minority as well, and that was not the issue,” she said. According to reports, party members had called into question Taylor's effectiveness as a party leader if running for statewide office.[1][2][3]
  • Indiana: The President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate has joined a call to organize a meeting that could initiate a constitutional convention. Joining legislators from Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, David Long (R) signed his name to a letter calling for states to send a three-person bipartisan delegation to Mount Vernon in Virginia on December 7. The purpose of the so-called 'Mount Vernon Assembly' is to plan what is known as an Article V convention, named for its provision in the United States Constitution. Under Article V, two-thirds of state legislatures may call on Congress to initiate a convention, and three-fourths of states may ratify any passed amendments without Congress' involvement. Long and other supporters say an Article V convention, which has never occurred previously, would serve as states' check against what they call federal "dysfunction." The meeting would not cover topics for such a convention, but the legislators argue that by focusing on process, a later application can be considered "solely on [its] merits." Criticism of an Article V convention includes the concern that through bypassing Congress, states could go as far as discarding the Constitution entirely. No neophyte to the idea, Long sponsored a 2013 joint resolution calling on Congress to call an Article V convention; although it passed the Senate, it stalled in the House Judiciary Committee. He also successfully advanced two bills delineating the selection and duties of an Indiana delegate to such a convention.[8][9][10]
  • Texas: State Senator Tommy Williams officially resigned his seat in letters to Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst on Friday, October 25. The resignation took effect October 26. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Williams resigned to take a government relations position at Texas A&M University, his alma mater. Until a successor is chosen, Williams's Senate staff will continue "to help serve the people of" District 4. Multiple senators are vying for Williams' former position as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, with the appointment made by Drewhurst. Dewhurst's spokesman Andrew Barlow said that "there's a number of strong candidates in the Senate" to potentially succeed Williams, including Senators Robert Duncan and Kevin Eltife. A special election will be held in 2014 to fill the empty seat through the rest of Williams' term, which ends in 2016. Texas Representatives Steve Toth and Brandon Creighton, as well as Woodlands Township Director Gordy Bunch, have announced intentions to run for the empty seat. Although no primary election is to be held, a candidate would need to win the special election with more than fifty percent of the vote, or a runoff will take place.[11][12][13][14]

As of today, November 4, 2013, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 51.7% of all seats while Democrats hold 46.7%. All told, Republicans control 57 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 41 chambers. One chamber is nonpartisan.

Representation in 50 State Legislatures
Party Number of Percentage
Democratic state legislators 3,444 46.6%
Republican state legislators 3,817 51.7%
Independent (and nonpartisan) state legislators 67 0.91%
Third party (and non-voting) legislators 12 0.16%
Vacancies 47 0.64%

State Senates

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 1,972 state senators.

As of October 7, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 21 chambers
  • Republican Party 28 chambers
  • Independent 1 chamber (Nebraska)
See also: Partisan composition of state houses

Cumulative numbers

As of April 6, 2015, 1,911 state senators are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. This total is updated monthly.

Party Number Percentage
Democratic state senators 825 41.7%
Republican state senators 1,086 54.9%
Nonpartisan state senators 49 2.47%
Independent state senators 2 0.10%
Third party state senators 1 0.05%
Vacancies 13 0.65%


As of April 6, 2015, there are 13 vacancies in 11 states. This total is updated monthly.

State Vacancies
Arkansas 2
California 1
Florida 1
Kentucky 1
New Mexico 1
Oklahoma 1
Pennsylvania 1
South Dakota 2
West Virginia 1
Wisconsin 1
Wyoming 1


As of April 6, 2015, there are three state senators in three states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican. This total is updated monthly.

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

State Houses

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 5,416 state representatives.

As of October 7, 2013, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party 20 chambers
  • Republican Party 29 chambers

Cumulative numbers

As of April 6, 2015, 5,367 state representatives are affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. This total is updated monthly.

Party Number Percentage
Democratic state representatives 2,345 43.3%
Republican state representatives 3,022 55.9%
Independent state representatives 18 0.33%
Third party representatives 6 0.11%
Vacancies 15 0.277%


As of April 6, 2015, there are 15 state house vacancies in 11 different states. This total is updated monthly.

State Vacancies
Florida 3
Louisiana 1
Massachusetts 2
Missouri 1
New Hampshire 2
New Jersey 1
Pennsylvania 1
Rhode Island 1
South Carolina 1
Texas 1
Virginia 1


As of April 6, 2015, there are 24 state representatives in nine states identifying as independents or parties other than Democratic and Republican. Three members of the Maine House of Representatives are non-voting Native American representatives. This total is updated monthly.

State Independents/Third Party
Alaska 1 (Independent)
Georgia 1 (Independent)
Louisiana 2 (Independent)
Maine 7 (3 non-voting Native American representatives, 4 Independent)
Missouri 1 (Independent)
New Hampshire 1 (Independent)
North Carolina 1 (Independent)
Rhode Island 1 (Independent)
Vermont 12 (6 Vermont Progressive Party, 6 Independent)

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of November 4, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently three out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state is meeting in special session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[15]

The following states have ended their regular session:[16]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Saturday, April 25, 2015
There are 7,387 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,444 (46.6%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,817 (51.6%)
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 57
Total Special Sessions 21

Hawaii's legislature is currently meeting in special session to discuss Senate Bill 1. SB1 would recognize same-sex marriages within the state and extend to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive. If it passes, the bill would be effective November 18, 2013.[17]

In recess

As of today, November 4, there are 5 state legislatures currently in recess:[18]

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 46/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, 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 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.[19]

  • 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.[20]


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:[21]

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.[22]

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.[23][24] 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.[25]

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 the June 11 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 are fifteen special elections scheduled for this week. Check out our preview article here.

Recent election results

October 29, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgSouth Carolina House of Representatives District 93
Rep. Harry Ott, Jr. (D) resigned on July 20, 2013 to work as the state director for the Farm Service Agency in the federal government. A special election was called for October 29. The filing period for candidates ran from July 12 to July 26.[26][27]

October 29 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Russell L. Ott Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Charles H. Stoudemire Jr.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 16: Louisiana House of Representatives District 87
  • November 19: California State Assembly District 45 (Runoff)
  • November 19: Iowa State Senate District 13
  • November 19: Wisconsin State Assembly District 21
  • November 19: Wisconsin State Assembly District 69
  • November 21: Tennessee House of Representatives District 91
  • December 3: Alabama House of Representatives District 74
  • December 3: California State Assembly District 54

See also


  1. "," "Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor ousted as minority leader," accessed October 30, 2013
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Tovar
  3. "," "Ariz. Senate Dems oust Landrum Taylor as leader," accessed October 30, 2013
  4. "," "Hawaii Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate Panel ," accessed October 31, 2013
  5. "," "Opponents of Same Sex Marriage Overwhelm the Capitol, but Bill Easily Passes Senate Judiciary Committee," accessed October 31, 2013
  6. "," "Hawaii Senate passes bill to legalize gay marriage," accessed October 31, 2013 (dead link)
  7. "," "Day Three – Hawaii Special Session on Same Sex Marriage, accessed October 31, 2013
  8. NWI Times, "Indiana Senate leader working toward U.S. constitutional convention," October 26, 2013
  9. Howey Politics Indiana, "Sen. Long calls for bipartisan 'Mount Vernon Assembly,'" October 22, 2013
  10. NWI Times, "Ind. lawmakers drop call for U.S. constitutional convention," April 19, 2013
  11. The Eagle, "Texas Sen. Tommy Willimas to leave Senate; may take job at Texas A&M University System," October 4, 2013
  12. My San Antonio, "State Sen. Tommy Williams Resigns," October 25, 2013
  13. The Potpourri, "State Sen. Tommy Williams makes senate resignation official," October 26, 2013
  14. Community Impact Newspaper, "Williams makes official resignation from Senate," October 26, 2013
  15. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed November 4, 2013
  16. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed November 4, 2013
  17., "2013 Second Special Session," accessed October 28, 2013
  18., "Daily Session Summary," accessed November 4, 2013 (dead link)
  19. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013 (dead link)
  20. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  21., "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  22. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  23. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  24., "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  25. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  26., "State House of Representatives District 93 Special Election," accessed July 31, 2013
  27., "Ott wins House 93 special election," October 29, 2013