State Legislative Tracker: Projections show twelve legislative chambers are toss-ups

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August 6, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at Ballotpedia's recently released projections for the November 6, 2012 elections.

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Weekly highlight

On August 1, Ballotpedia released a new report on projected outcomes of the 123 State Executive, State Senate and State House elections. This set of projections, the first of four, seeks to indicate which races to watch, and which parties might have more to lose or gain from the election. Expected outcome is displayed in 1 of 7 classifications.

Going into the elections, Democrats hold 36 state legislative chambers up for election, while Republicans hold 59.

According to Ballotpedia's projections:

  • 12 are Toss-up
  • 8 Lean or Likely Democrat
  • 19 Lean or Likely Republican
  • 17 Safe Democrat
  • 29 Safe Republican

See Ballotpedia:Statewide projections for the November 6, 2012 elections for full projections. In addition to more detailed information on the races above, the projections include an analysis of State executive races and Trifectas (when one political party holds the governorship and both chambers in a state) as well as an aggregation of various projections about Congressional races made by other organizations.

Ballotpedia's next set of projections will be released September 1, 2012, with updates on October 1 and November 1.


This week 2 out of 50 state legislatures - Ohio and California - are meeting in regular session, while Massachusetts is meeting in informal session, which it will continue to do throughout the rest of the year. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions. No states are projected to adjourn this week.

Thirty-eight states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Current sessions capture for the week of August 6, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

All states have convened their regular 2012 legislative sessions.

The following states have ended their regular session:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, August 6, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,298 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,957 (53.6%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 37
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 4
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 29
Total Special Sessions 16

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 16 special sessions in 13 states. There are no special sessions currently ongoing.


Gov. Pat Quinn (D) announced on July 30 that he was calling a special legislative session on August 17 in order to address pension reform. Currently, Quinn said, the state has an $83 billion unfunded pension liability, which continues to grow every day.[1]


On July 27, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced a special session on gambling for August 9. Maryland was tentatively scheduled to hold a special session to address the issue on July 9 but an 11-member work group appointed by the governor could not reach consensus on a plan to expand gambling in the state. Joined by Democratic legislative leaders at a news conference, O'Malley said immediate action was required on gambling in order to positively influence job creation and increase revenue.[2]

The House of Delegates won't convene until July 10 as many delegates have scheduling conflicts. The Senate is still set to convene on July 9.[3]


In July, Governor Mark Dayton (D) announced that there will be a special session to address flood relief. Now set to begin the third week of August, the session, which has not officially been called yet, remained without a date for some time as state and local officials were waiting to hear how much the federal government would cover.[4]

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier granted federal money for damage to public infrastructure, Dayton received a shock in late July when FEMA said they would not provide any assistance to individuals whose homes were damaged in the flooding. The governor appealed the decision and has considered a personal appeal to President Barack Obama.[5]

State Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL) said the special session will begin on either August 21 or 22.[6]

In recess

As of today, August 6, 6 state's sessions are currently in recess:

  • Illinois - In recess until January 7, 2013.[7]
  • New Jersey - In recess from July 3, 2012 to August 19, 2012.
  • New York - In recess from June 22, 2012 to January 7, 2013.[7]
  • Michigan - In recess from July 20 to August 14, 2012.
  • Pennsylvania - In recess from July 3, 2012 to September 23, 2012.[7]
  • Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to December 31, 2012.[7]
See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
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A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,301 (65.97%) of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,714 (87.12%) of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 6,015 (81.47%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats will be up for election during the presidential election year.

  • 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
  • 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.

The 6,015 seats up for election is 110 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

As of July 12, all signature filing deadlines have passed:


See also: 2012 election dates

There are state legislative primaries taking place this week in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Washington, and Hawaii.

A total of 103 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary - 71 Republicans and 32 Democrats.

So far, primaries have taken place in 26 states:

States with upcoming primaries:

Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, four of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there have been four state legislative recalls - three have failed while one succeeded.


Recall efforts are currently targeting four Republican members of the Louisiana House of Representatives - Charles "Chuck" Kleckley, Kevin Pearson, George Cromer and Ray Garofalo.

The legislators have been targeted primarily because of their support for controversial public education reforms backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).[8]


2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but in April organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[9] The Caswell campaign remains active.

Following several attempts to get recall language approved against Sen. Randy Richardville, organizers succeeded on June 12, 2012. The approved petition language against Richardville states that one reason for the recall is Richardville's support for a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.[10]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

So far in 2012 there have been 29 special elections in 12 states.

There is one special election scheduled to take place this week in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Senate District 40

Jane Orie (R) was convicted of 14 criminal counts on March 26, including five felony counts, relating to the use of state resources for campaign purposes. She officially resigned on May 21. Two and a half years remain in her four-year Senate term. A special election to replace her has been scheduled for August 7, 2012.[11][12][13]

Democratic Party Democratic Candidate:
Republican Party Republican Candidate:
Independent Independent Candidate:

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • August 7: Pennsylvania Senate District 40
  • September 4: Virginia Senate District 5, Virginia House of Delegates District 45
  • November 6: Kentucky Senate District 19
  • November 6: Mississippi State Senate District 19
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly Districts 16, 26, 68
  • November 6: Texas House of Representatives District 41

See also