State Legislative Tracker: Louisiana incumbents dominate legislative primaries

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October 24, 2011

Edited by Greg Janetka

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This week's tracker features a spotlight on the results of the Louisiana primary election that took place last Saturday.


So far this year, 44 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 October 24, 2011

Regular sessions

The following 6 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.

While most state legislatures are not currently in session, a good number of legislators remain active this fall with redistricting hearings and meetings. Meanwhile, although most states have concluded 2011 business, some states are already seeing 2012 action beginning. Drafting for 2012 has begun in Kentucky and Maine, while prefiling of legislation is going on in Alabama, Florida, Kansas, and Tennessee.[2]

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.

  • The Missouri State Legislature remains in special session to address an economic development plan. While initially optimistic, the session has dragged out due to GOP infighting between the Senate and House. The key to the plan is a new air cargo hub at St. Louis airport, but the two chambers continue to disagree over the scope of the plan. The session must adjourn by November 5 at the latest. The session has cost about $250,000 to this point.[3]
  • South Dakota convened a special session today to conduct redistricting.[4]
  • Wisconsin remains in special session to focus on job creation.[5]
  • Rhode Island continues a special session it began last week to address the state's pension system.[6]
  • Illinois will begin a two-week long special veto session tomorrow to address a major gambling bill, pensions and mental health and development centers.[7]
  • Connecticut will begin a special session on October 26 to discuss job creation[8]

So far this year, there have been 35 special sessions in 25 states.

State Legislative Tracker: A glance at state legislatures
Number of special elections this year 90
Number of special sessions this year 35
Number of states that held special sessions this year 25
Number of seats up for general election this year 578

The following states also have special sessions scheduled:

  • Nebraska: To begin on November 1 to consider challenging a planned transnational oil pipeline.[9]
  • North Dakota: To begin on November 7 to conduct redistricting
  • North Carolina: To begin on November 7.[10]
  • Minnesota: To begin November 22 regarding Vikings Stadium.[11]
  • Washington: To begin November 28 to cut $2 billion from the budget[12]

In recess

As of October 24, 18 states' sessions are currently in mid-term recess:

  • Alaska - Mid-term recess April 18 through January 16, 2012[13]
  • California - Mid-term recess September 9 through January 4, 2012.[14]
  • Delaware - July 1, 2011 through January 10, 2012[13]
  • Georgia - Mid-term recess April 15 through January 8, 2012[13]
  • Hawaii - Mid-term recess May 6 through January 7, 2012[13]

  • Illinois - June 23 through October 24, 2011 (est.)[13]
  • Iowa - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 8, 2012[13]
  • Kansas - Mid-term recess June 1 through January 8, 2012[13]
  • Maine - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 3, 2012[13]
  • Minnesota - Mid-term recess May 24 through January 23, 2012[13]

  • Tennessee - Mid-term recess May 22 through January 9, 2012[13]
  • Vermont - Mid-term recess May 7 through January 3, 2012[13]
  • Washington - Mid-term recess April 23 through January 8, 2012[13]


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, all legislative primaries have been held. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2, Virginia held statewide primaries on August 23, and Louisiana held statewide primaries on October 22, 2011.

Since Louisiana uses the blanket primary system, the majority of races have been determined - a candidate winning over 50 percent in the primary wins the seat with no need for a general election. Currently, 4 Louisiana State Senate and 21 Louisiana House of Representatives races remain undecided - the top two vote getters in these races will meet in the general election on November 19, 2011.

Additionally, there are seven states holding special elections on November 8, 2011.

  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

Sessions spotlight

The final legislative primary of the 2011 election cycle took place in Louisiana last Saturday. The 2011 election was the state's first election under its new legislative maps.

A total of 144 seats are up for election in 2011. During the primary, 119 races were decided. That means that in 82.6% of the legislative races, a candidate gained more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, rendering a general election unnecessary.


Following the primary, 4 races in the Louisiana State Senate remain undecided. Currently, Democrats have won 12 seats while Republicans have claimed 23 seats -- meaning the GOP is assured to retain the majority in the chamber. There are still four undecided races. They are:

Thus, of the four races, three are assured to be won by Democrats and one by the GOP.

The likely result of the 2011 elections in Louisiana is that the partisan control will be in the Republicans favor, 22-17 -- the same as before the election.

Louisiana State Senate
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 17 15
     Republican Party 22 24
Total 39 39


Following the primary there are 21 undecided races in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Currently, Democrats have won 35 seats while Republicans have claimed 49 seats -- meaning the GOP is assured to retain the majority in the chamber. There are still twenty-one undecided races. They are:

Thus, of the twenty-one races, six are assured to be won by Democrats and five by the GOP.

Louisiana House of Representatives
Party As of November 2011 After the 2011 Election
     Democratic Party 46 45
     Republican Party 57 58
     Independent 2 2
Total 105 105

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2011

There are no states holding legislative special elections this week. The next special elections will take place on November 8. On that day a total of 8 senate and 5 house seats will be up in 7 states. Seven of those seats were last held by Republicans, while six belonged to Democrats.

The most compelling race that day will be in Iowa, where partisan control of the Iowa State Senate is at stake.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • November 8: Georgia House Districts 10, 25 & Senate Districts 28, 50
  • November 8: Iowa Senate District 18
  • November 8: Mississippi Senate District 8
  • November 8: Missouri House District 15, 39, 41, 83
  • November 8: Tennessee Senate District 6
  • November 8: Texas House District 14
  • November 8: Wisconsin Assembly District 95
  • November 29: Alabama House District 45

Recall elections

See also: Recall campaigns in Arizona and Recall campaigns in Michigan

Currently, eighteen states permit the recall of state officials. This year has seen a flurry of recall activity take place, most notably in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona. In Wisconsin, nine state senators faced recall elections this past summer, resulting in the removal of two Republicans from office. Dozens of state legislators in Michigan were targeted for recall, but only one campaign successfully made the ballot.

On November 8, 2011, there will be two state legislative recall elections.

  • Arizona: State Senate President Russell Pearce (R) faces recall over his efforts against illegal immigration, especially controversial legislation SB 1070.
  • Michigan: Representative Paul Scott (R) faces recall over his support for cuts to education.