State Legislative Tracker: Iowa special election in November could trump general elections

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September 19, 2011

Edited by Geoff Pallay

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This week's tracker features a preview of a uniquely compelling special election in Iowa in November.

Sessions

So far this year, 43 out of 50 state legislatures have officially adjourned their regular session. However, several special sessions remain on tap for the rest of the year.[1] This week, no states are scheduled to adjourn their 2011 regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of September 19, 2011

Regular sessions

The following 7 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

* Wisconsin is convened in an ongoing special session, but is still in regular session. It held a one-day session on September 13 and although no upcoming meetings are scheduled, it is still technically in special session.
** New Jersey and Pennsylvania are in recess until September 26. New Hampshire is in recess until October 12.
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 New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin continue special sessions.

Last week the Missouri Legislature adjourned a special session with plans to once again meet this Wednesday (September 21).

So far this year, there have been 30 special sessions in 21 states.

State Legislative Tracker: A glance at state legislatures
Number of special elections this year 84
Number of special sessions this year 30
Number of states that held special sessions this year 21
Number of seats up for general election this year 578

The following states have special sessions scheduled:

  • Maine: To begin on September 27 to conduct redistricting
  • Utah: To begin on October 3 to conduct redistricting
  • Rhode Island: October 2011 to discuss pensions issues
  • Maryland: To begin on October 17 to conduct redistricting
  • South Dakota: To begin on October 24 to conduct redistricting
  • North Dakota: To begin on November 7 to conduct redistricting

In recess

As of September 19, 18 states' sessions are currently in mid-term recess:

  • Alaska - Mid-term recess April 18 through January 16, 2012[2]
  • California - Mid-term recess September 9 through January 4, 2012.[3]
  • Delaware - July 1, 2011 through January 10, 2012[2]
  • Georgia - Mid-term recess April 15 through January 8, 2012[2]
  • Hawaii - Mid-term recess May 6 through January 7, 2012[2]

  • Illinois - June 23 through October 24, 2011 (est.)[2]
  • Iowa - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 8, 2012[2]
  • Kansas - Mid-term recess June 1 through January 8, 2012[2]
  • Maine - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 3, 2012 (est.)[2]
  • Minnesota - Mid-term recess May 24 through January 23, 2012[2]

  • Tennessee - Mid-term recess May 22 through January 9, 2012[2]
  • Vermont - Mid-term recess May 7 through January 3, 2012[2]
  • Washington - Mid-term recess April 23 through January 8, 2012[2]

Elections

See also: State legislative elections, 2011
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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 on October 22, 2011. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2, and Virginia held primaries on August 23.

The signature filing deadline for candidates in Louisiana was Tuesday, September 8. A total of 39 state senate and 105 state house seats will be up for election in 2011. Louisiana uses a blanket primary system. Because Louisiana uses a blanket primary system, a candidate can be declared the overall winner of the seat by garnering 50 percent +1 of the vote in the primary on October 22, 2011. However, if no candidate reaches this threshold, then a general election will take place on November 19, 2011.

Elections spotlight

See also: State legislative elections

Currently, the Democratic Party holds a majority in the Iowa State Senate by a 26-24 margin. Republicans nearly won back control of the Senate during the 2010 elections -- prior to November 2, 2010, Democrats held a 32-16 (with 2 vacancies) lead in the chamber.

There are 25 seats up for election again in 2012, setting the stage for a tight race for control of the chamber.

But in less than two months, partisan control of the Senate will already be up-for-grabs when a special election is held to fill a recently vacated seat previously held by Democratic Senator Swati Dandekar. Earlier this month, Republican Governor of Iowa Terry Branstad (R) appointed Dandekar to a position on the Iowa Utilities Board. This appointment now leaves the Senate at a 25-24 (1 vacancy) breakdown. If the GOP wins the special election, it create a 25-25 tie.

According to the Des Moines Register, there are more registered Republicans in the district.[4] Dandekar narrowly won election in 2008 during a strong Democratic campaign.

Iowa State Senate District 18 General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngSwati Dandekar 54.3% 20,667
     Republican Joe Childers 45.7% 17,367
Total Votes 38,034

The special election on November 8 could ultimately be a more closely-monitored contest than any of the 578 other seats up for election that night.

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2011

There are three states holding special elections tomorrow, New Hampshire (Republican seat), Massachusetts (Democratic seat) and Georgia (Republican seat):

New Hampshire House, Hillsborough 3

Robert Huxley (R) resigned in early May, citing personal and financial reasons. Since only two candidates have filed, no primary was necessary.[5][6]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidate:
Republican Party Republican Candidate:

Massachusetts House District 12th Bristol

Stephen Canessa (D) resigned on June 24 to take a job as a legislative liaison for SouthCoast Health System. A special election primary was held on August 23, 2011.[7][8]

Democratic Party Democratic Primary Candidates:
Republican Party Republican Primary Candidates:
General election candidates:
Democratic Party Roger Brunelle Jr.
Republican Party Keiko Orrall

Georgia House District 43

Former representative Bobby Franklin (R) passed away in late-July 2011.[9] The election is a nonpartisan special election. Party affiliation will be listed, but all candidates will appear on the same ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held on October 18, 2011.[10]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidates:
  • No Democrats have filed.
Republican Party Republican Candidates:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • September 27: South Carolina District 100
  • October 11: Oklahoma Senate District 43
  • October 18: Massachusetts House District 3rd Berkshire
  • October 18: Minnesota Senate Districts 46, 61

References